B.d.P. Get U.G.L.Y. Butchlalis de Panochtitlan. Highways Performance Space. 2/24/07.
No, not sell out to the man, sell out the venue. As in, Highways was packed. Which is great for the artists, but not so much fun for audience members waiting to get in. I don't think people were turned away, but I'm not sure. It did mean that the crowd had a decent amount of energy, which always helps the show.
I love the butchlalis shows. They continue to cross boundaries and raise questions in challenging ways. They bring together an engaged audience of interesting, queer, intelligent people. Their experimentation with balancing video and live performance doesn't always work for me, but I appreciate the effort. This particular performance seemed too video-heavy, especially at the beginning. I come to the theater to see live performance, and this time there were only a few short monologue interludes before "Cosa Rara" right before intermission.
Each of the video pieces was interesting, with the real heart being in "Beautiful Torture," an editing of home videos to depict queer fatherhood through Nadine/o's experience of watching and participating in hir girlfriend giving birth. This piece was sweet and heartfelt if a little longer than it needed to be, and oh so personal. I felt as if I were intruding on a very private moment, sharing feelings of love and pride and amazement with the couple who opened up their personal experience for an audience in this piece.
"Cosa Rara," the first extended live piece in the show, was a fascinating if problematic dialogue between Claudia/o as butch lesbian and Mari as a trans woman. You've gotta love the fact that the butchlalis aren't afraid to gender bend and cross dress in girl drag. The shock of Mari decked out in wig and tight jeans had the audience shouting and laughing from the beginning of the piece, but it wasn't necessarily a humorous piece. It started out with the premise that technically a butch woman and a transwoman could legally marry, but proceeded to the transwoman character insisting that she was straight. Which left ambigious the relationship between the two characters if it could be intimate enough to inspire one to propose but distant enough that the transwoman could be anti-lesbian. This whole piece was an interesting thought problem and characterization, but also problematic. Why did they give voice to the transwoman's character and experience but not the butch's? Claudia/o's character was mostly tongue-tied and silent while Mari's talked and danced. What compelling idea in this piece needed to be said by these people at this time and why? Why not have a transwoman write and play this role herself?
After intermission came the strongest and most compelling performance of the show. It began with Claudia/o as an early LA punk rocker and Mari in a fabulous suit as an embodiment of Rubén Salazar introducing the piece. He felt a little bit like Rod Serling. This vignette of a moment in Los Angeles history at the intersection of the Chicano Movement and the emergence of punk was a beautiful confluence of local history and character development. Raquelito played Chonch, a butch barber in East LA, with Nadine/o as Carny, her young "pretty boy" baby butch assistant. Claudia/o comes in wearing a miniskirt and holey fishnets as Betty Basta, punk rocker ("you may be a punk, but I'm punk") to get a mohawk. The historical confluence of resistant identities is fascinating and powerful and by far my favorite part of the evening. I feel that in this piece, the butchlalis have found their groove in exploring the relationship between identity and local history in a way that both informs the audience and entertains them.
Congrats to the butchlalis for another interesting and complex show. I'll certainly keep coming back for more.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
B.d.P. Get U.G.L.Y. Butchlalis de Panochtitlan. Highways Performance Space. 2/24/07.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 10:09 AM
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
There are some super-cool events surrounding the WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution exhibit at the MOCA, which runs March 4-July 16. The exhibit itself sounds quite extensive and includes several names I recognize such as Marina Abramovic, Judy Chicago, Tee Corinne, Barbara Hammer, Linda Montano, Yvonne Rainer, Sally Potter, Carolee Schneemann, Valerie Solanas, and Spiderwoman Theater.
There are two events related to this exhibit that caught my eye. The first, Shared Women, is opening tomorrow and I'm not sure I'll make it to the opening reception because I have an academic committment that will probably go until at least 8pm, but I will definitely check out the exhibit at some point.
Shared Women at LACE, curated by A.L. Steiner, Emily Roysdon and Eve Fowler advertises itself as:
an exhibition that is dependent on cronyism, feminism and nepotism. We are supposed to be doing it for the love of the craft, for the love of humankind, for the love of the planet but we are not. We sleep with each other, inspire, plot, plan, respond, complain, collaborate, and analyze. We reorganize and reaffirm our histories every few years, culling histories from ‘the women’ and ‘the gays,’ from outsiders now insiders. This is a gay feminist show that picks up the tools of our mothers and refashions them to seduce and influence each other. Maybe some artists in this show have slept their way to the middle. Maybe some are using that bridge called my back, but all are creating conscientious contemporary feminist art that needs to be seen by more than the “communities” that form around alternative venues, ideologies, and shared women. Welcome to our dirty commerce.
The opening reception, wednesday February 28th, 2007, 7-9 pm at LACE in Hollywood, will feature performances by Marriage, Taisha Paggett, Tri-state Area, Edie Fake & Dewayne Sleightweight with interactive opportunities with Tit Pin and A.K. Burns in the Transaction Station. Contributors to the exhibit that I recognize (not already mentioned) includeChicks on Speed, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, JD Samson, K8 Hardy, Stanya Kahn & Harry Dodge, The Third Leg, and Ulrike Mueller. Many of these are young queer feminist artists who have collaborated on projects before, including the journal lttr.
The second event that caught my eye was:
Aqui No Hay Virgenes: Queer Latina Visibility
curated by Jennifer Doyle & Raquel Gutierrez
Opening March 15 7PM and running through April 30
The Advocate & Gochis Galleries
at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza
The artists in this group show present us with atypical images of radical Latina selves. They forego the compulsory iconographies associated with mainstream Latina identity - no corn husk goddesses, no Virgenes de Guadalupe. These are anarchic visions of bruisers, brooders, and romantics that will knock you out with a kiss. Thus the title: “here lie no virgins”. In their place we have women of subcultural distinction; women with attitude and a strong sexual presence- divas, punk rockers, malcriadas (bad girls) and peleoneras (fighters). Featuring the work of Delilah Montoya, Alice Bag, Nao Bustamante, Diane Gamboa, Alma Lopez, and Shizu Saldamando.
This exhibit features an opening reception on March 15 from 7 to 10pm (free). The Butchlalis will also be doing a performance in conjunction with this exhibit on March 31 at 8pm. Tickets are $15, but I have no information on how to get them. I hope this won't be overbooked the way their Highways show was.
Friday, February 23, 2007
I thought I had written this post before, but looking back in the archives, it's not readily apparent. So perhaps I have never actually posted musings on femme identity. It's something I think about often and don't talk about a lot because it's easy to fall into the trap of saying things that have been said before and that doesn't interest me much. So here's my femme story. It's simple and very personal and not terribly unique, but perhaps it needs to be said. Apologies if it's a bit rambly.
My relationship to femminity has always been vexed. I was a feminist long before I identified as queer or femme or lesbian. Instinctually, long before I had the proper language or political awareness, I identified with women and yet hated a lot of the ideas associated with feminity.
In high school, I saw my wonderful guy friends dating pretty, dumb girls and I was jealous and angry and mad at the world for the fact that it was in any way acceptable for girls to be dumb. Yes, I admit a tendency toward intellectual snobbery and complete impatience with anyone who is willfully ignorant and girls in my high school were often willfully ignorant or incompetent as a way of performing femininity. They were also manipulative, so that I associated femininity with acting dumb and manipulating boys into doing things. That was profoundly unattractive to me and resulted in a severe disidentification with femininty in high school that might have bordered on misogyny. I was not nice to the pretty, stupid girls.
But I also very much enjoyed the accoutrements of femininity. I went through phases of wearing dresses and makeup for long periods of time. I played with bubble baths and lotions and all sorts of girly products. But I was also always already a failure at feminity because I was not pretty. I also have a fairly pathetic innate fashion sense and I generally looked pretty frumpy throughout high school.
The end result was that I spent large portions of high school in ratty jeans and paint-splattered t-shirts building sets and hanging lights with the boys and trying to distance myself from most of the girls. There were, of course, excpetions; nerdy girls are always OK with me and I still fondly remember Cheese Danish girl, who was probably my first recongizable girl crush. She was wonderfully unique with her princess leia buns and her retro dress and swing dancing. Sigh. But the point is, that I mostly rejected feminity because I couldn't express the fact that I deeply desired to be feminine without the associated manipulativeness, stupidity, and traditional standards of beauty.
In college, I continued to be tough and dirty and bossy, spending much of my time working in the theater and covered in paint and dust, but I also met women who were both tough and feminine for the first time. Satan, a firey redhead who carried a knife and climbed ladders to hang lights in high heels, taught me a lot about finding other ways to be feminine. So I would bounce back and forth between work clothes and dresses, learning to embrace and enjoy the times when I got to dress up and wear a skirt and heels and be girly.
But it wasn't until I met my First Girlfriend that everything really fell into place. When I first saw her, I was on top of a ladder, and I had to look twice to tell if she was a boy or a girl. When she first noticed me, I was wearing heels and makeup and a tight sweater. She loved my girly side, and under her appreciation, it blossomed. Within the context of a queer relationship, I rediscovered my love of makeup and heels and decolletage in a way that made feminity exciting rather than creepy. I didn't have to be dumb or fake or anything else to be feminine, and I didn't feel like I failure just because I didn't look like everyone else.
Since then, my approach toward femininity has grown and changed. I've learned many of the ways that femininty can be fun and playful and provocative rather than confining and heteronormative and exclusionary. And I love that. I always freak out just a little when I start dating someone and they treat me like a girl (or a lady). I'm very bad about having a butch open doors and pay bills for me if I'm just getting to know them. I feel the need to demonstrate that I'm tough and independent and capable first, before I can be soft and flirty. Because that femininity is so charged and carefully negotiated for me, it takes me a while to settle into my own femininity with a new person. But when I'm relaxed and comfortable with someone, there's nothing better than having my feminity recognized, respected, and appreciated. And when I'm in a safe space for queer femininity, I'm so much happier with myself and the world.
Femmes have always been tough, and I love that; it's a proud tradition of strong women. Queer femininity requires walking a narrow line, defending oneself against the many people who will assume you're straight despite vast amounts of evidence to the contrary while trying to mobilize the markers of femininity in queer ways. Using the same things that women have always used to appeal to men, femmes work hard to change the signification of lipstick and heels, stockings and skirts, breasts and legs. In a femme's hands, all of these things become queer, but you're always fighting to make sure people know they're queer. That's a tough, in-your-face process, and it's hard to articulate how that process works. Actually, I'd like to talk more about these strategies. Do any of you out there have insight into how markers of femininity get resignified as queer? What strategies work? How do you know if a femmy girl is queer? How does one recognize a femme?
Some of the strategies for performing femininity queerly that come to mind for me are excess, displacement, and contextualization. Of course, all of these are intertwined, but perhaps I can begin some sort of articlation. Excess is performing super-femininity. That there's something about queer femininity that's just a little bit more than heterofemininity. An extra embrace of makeup or pink or or heels. I love going to parties with drag queens because then I don't feel self-conscious about displaying my body, which is already excessive, or wearing too much bright makeup, because their makeup is inevitably even more multicolored and bright and shiny. Displacement, which I find fascinating, is about marking your performance of femininity so that it can't be naturalized. I picture this as being achieved (for me) by retro clothing or perhaps by specifically class-marked clothing as well (I'm thinking a sort of 'trashy' aesthetic such as gold lamé). By wearing clothes evokative of another time period or social milieu, you distinguish yourself from the everyday performances of femininity that surround you. And contextualization is simply that I'm queer, so if it's on me, it's queer. When a femme is in queer space, her femininity can be recognized and appreciated as queer. This is the one where femme visibility becomes more of an issue. If a femme is obviously with another woman, then her femininity can easily be read as queer. If she's in close physical contact with someone butcher than herself, people can read that as queer. When she's on her own walking down the street, people sometimes have trouble with recognizing that that too can be a queer context. Are there other strategies for performing queer femininity? Other thoughts on the matter out there?
Great night tonight. Katastrophe and Nicky Click at club butchin at Mr. T's Bowl.
The show started with Sharp Ease who were kind of cute and fun, but a bit redundant-sounding.
Katastrophe makes me squeal. Eeep! He was super-fun to watch, even though the crowd was mysteriously subdued and not giving him a lot of good feedback in terms of dancing and screaming. Usually I blame the artist's audience management skills for any dearth of crowd energy, but Katastrophe was giving a good, energetic performance complete with adorably expressive gestures and faces. That boy communicates a lot with his eyes. I seriously could have watched him perform for hours. It made me realize how much I love his first CD, let's f*ck then talk about my problems, which a friend borrowed from me like a year ago and never gave back. I seriously need to get that back or order a new one, because it's awesome. Katastrophe did a great job balancing songs from both his albums and generally being great. Sigh. Love.
Finishing off the night was Nicky Click, who was pretty darn fun. I didn't know anything about her before tonight, but she was totally entertaining and I found myself bopping and singing along even though I didn't know the words. She puts on an awesome stage show and seriously works the audience.
I'm glad to be back in LA, and though I'm exhausted, being out in queer space tonight really made me happy. And I'm totally impressed with the demographics of club butchin. As the name implies, there was a delightfully wide range of queer masculinity, butchness, genderqueerness, and transness. There were cute, interesting folks to look at everywhere I turned and that makes me super-happy. I got introduced to cute boys, had some conversations with acquaintences who may be becoming friends, and generally enjoyed myself all around. I seriously came home still buzzing with the exitement of chatting and fliriting and dancing and just generally being around cool, intelligent queer folks. Yay! Cheers to those who organize club butchin; if this is its regular crowd, I'll definitely be back.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 3:01 AM
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Adrift in Macao. Primary Stages. 59E59 Theaters. 2/14/07
I wouldn't date someone who was cute but dumb, and I'm a little dubious about a musical with the same qualities. Christopher Durang's new musical (with music by Peter Melnick), Adrift in Macao, has moments when it's really fun, but generally eschews being clever in favor of being wacky. In the program, Durang distinguishes his "satiric and dark comedy plays" and "entertainments" which include "parodies and what I might call my 'friendly, silly' plays." Adrift in Macao has nothing dark about it, which is odd for a parody of a genre that's all about light and shadow, discontent with society and the darker side of human nature.
It manages to be a fun play with some good moments, but more attention to the strengths of the genre being parodied would help quite a bit. There are some fun musical numbers, paticularly "Adrift in Macao" and "Mr. McGuffin" even though I find the whole McGuffin plot irritating. The night club songs, as they often are in '40s films, are more irritating and stupid than compelling. And the premise of Rick (Will Swenson as Rick Shaw) inserting a song because he's not getting enough attention, while briefly funny, seems to me a rip off of the self-conscious songs of Spamalot. Swenson is, however, an interesting and underused actor and character. He looks the part of the film noir hero more than Alan Campbell does; Campbell's a bit too cuddly for the role, in my opinion, and the stubble fails to make him look tough at all. This is funny, though, since he also played the lead in another film noir musical, Sunset Boulevard.
The elements that Adrift in Macao picked up from the film Macao are by far its strongest parts, though Durang seems to have chosenthe one noir film without much in the way of femme fatale. While Jane Russel's character in the film (Lureena played by Rachel De Benedet in Durang's version) is tough and interesting and capable of taking care of herself, all she wants is to settle down somewhere, preferably back in the USA. In Durang's version, she actually says all she wants is a man to take care of her. Groan. And does she really have to be that blond? I hated her wig.
Macao itself, for a film set in distant and exotic Asia, actually isn't that bad in terms of Asian sterotypes, so Durang adds a few for good measure. Tempura, the "inscrutable" Asian who frequently insists "I'm very scrutable!" is an annoying and offensive role played hilariously by Orville Mendoza.
Michele Ragusa plays Corinna, a rival nightclub singer, and she's fun and funny and has excellent comedic skills. She and Mendoza may be the best things about this play. But unfortunately, noir is not a genre in which a second lead comedic pair really works, so their roles are rather nonsensical despite their talents and best efforts.
Overall, Adrift in Macao had many jokes that made me laugh outwardly and groan inwardly at the same time. I did have fun watching the play, but that's not really enough for me. I kept feeling that with a little tweaking it could have been a much better play, especially if it hadn't assumed its audience was stupid. For example, in a few of the early scenes, Tempura carries around the Maltese falcon, which is a fun reference for those of us in the know. Eventually, Rick Shaw explains that he's going to use it to smuggle fake diamonds, which actually makes the reference less funny than when it was just a funny object hanging around. At one point, Corrina invites Mitch to "come up and see me some time." Why use a Mae West line, when there are fabulous seduction scenes between Bacal and Bogart that would have been just as familiar and so much more noir ("You do know how to whistle, don't you" springs to mind). I would have loved to see more references to noir films that actually assume some people in the audience might have some knowledge of the genre. Concepts such as existentialism and film noir are not entirely foreign to most people with any sort of education, so even though it's not safe to assume that people have seen Macao or any given specific noir film, it would have been nice to have given them credit for familiarity with film noir in general.
Darn you, Blogger. I was just forced to upgrade to the new Blogger, which would have been fine if there were any new features I particularly cared about, but really, as far as I see it this is a lot of hassle without much progress.
What bugs the heck out of me is the fact that I happen to have two gmail accounts, one related to this blog and one where I receive all of my school email. I HATE that I now have to sign out of my regular email account, which I am accustomed to having open all the time, in order to blog. I think this is just dumb. There are, of course, solutions, such as opening blogger in a different browser (safari rather than firefox, not just a different window) or using mail to download my email, but I think either of these is an unnecessary inconvenience. Grr.
It also sucks that in the process of transferring, Blogger threw all of the links in my sidebar into one large list that is then not easy to separate out into the 3 categories I had before. This does give me the opportunity to rethink and reorganize my lists, but again, it's certainly more hassle than progress. I'm not going to have time to do this for at least a week, since I'm in New York and have more important work to do. So if you just got cut from my link list, I apologize, and I will fix it in a week or two. Feel free to drop me a note about it if you want.
And in all this, I thought the advantage was that the templates would be more easily customizable, but I still can't manage to change the background color of this to a slightly less bright pink. And there still isn't much in the way of purple options, which would make more sense for something called violet. I assume most of you read this in a newsreader of some sort anyway, but if not and you have opinions on how it should look, I'd love to hear them.
Of course, prophecy boy is right when he said this is why you use something that's fully customizable instead of locked into templates and whatnot. But I was intimidated by that thought and not that serious about it when I first started blogging and I didn't have any serious problems with blogger until now. Sigh.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 6:27 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Annalee Newitz, who I try not to obsess over publicly on a regular basis, just posted an Alternet column about a website that maps gender neutral bathrooms. This is super important for so many people, and the folks who did this are obviously brilliant and super-cool. I'm really glad such a site exists and I think those of you who read my blog might want to know this and/or pass it on. It doesn't look like LA has been extensively mapped as of yet, so local folks should totally get on this and input gender neutral and unisex bathrooms wherever they exist. Three cheers to www.safetopee.org.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 10:33 PM
I arrived safely in New York after only small amounts of fascism at the airport. My deadly moisturizer was confiscated (my fault for forgetting it was in my carryon, but seriously stupid rules that suggest it's dangerous).
I come to the heart of the U.S. theater world not to see plays, but to watch videos of past performances in the library. The life of a grad student is soooo thrilling. V-Day itself will be completely devoted to research, though I do have some fun queer activities looming later in the week. Yay!
Posted by Violet Vixen at 10:26 PM
Monday, February 12, 2007
This looks to be a good show - I'm sorry I'm missing it.
Fully Functional: Variety is a Transgender Disease!
Down-home transgender comedy, music, philosophical musings to soak your teabags!
Sunday, Feb. 18th at 7:00 PM
Silver Screen Theater
Pacific Design Center at 8687.
Cost is only $5 at the door!
"Fully Functional—Variety is a Transgender Disease" happens on Sunday, Feb. 18th at 7:00 PM at the Silver Screen Theater at the Pacific Design Center at 8687 Melrose Avenue (the "Big Blue Whale" in West Hollywood) West Hollywood, CA 90069. Cost is only $5 at the door. There are only 380 seats, so get there early! "Fully Functional" presents some of LA's finest transgender performers alongside some of the bravest and most dedicated heroes in our transgender/genderqueer community! Think of it as "Performing with the Stars" for transgendered Los Angeles!
"Fully Functional" is directed by ryka aoki de la cruz, and features Maddie Deutsch, D'Lo, Charlene Mackenzie, Trystan Reese, Helen Wong, Lorelei Erisis and the Fully Functional Players, Charlene Mackenzie, Shauna Madrigal, Trystan Reese, Alexis Rivera, Skim, Lauren Steely, Studs Clothing, DJ Trannity, Mr. Tuffnstuff, with art by the renowned Trisha Van Cleef and much more!
Who are we? We are doctors, blues musicians, and porn stars. We are hip hop artists, Shakespearean actors, and professional gamblers. We are combat vets, professors, and fashion designers. We are social workers, geologists, and standup comics. We've got people who like marinara and people who like meatballs, people who know when to hold'em and when to fold'em. We've got hardcore fashionistas, and people who couldn't accessorize if Coco Chanel hit them on their heads with a quilted leather handbag!
So come and taste a some down-home transgender comedy, music, philosophical musings that will soak your teabags!
"Fully Functional----Variety is a Transgender Disease" will donate all proceeds toward the installation of a Transgender Memorial at Matthew Shepard Triangle to honor all the TG family who have been killed as a result of hate and prejudice.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 11:16 AM
Friday, February 09, 2007
Here are the super awesome, super queer events that are on my radar. Sadly, I'll miss most of them because I'm heading to NYC, but I'll be seeing super awesome New York shows and doing research. But those of you in LA should get yourself to one or many of these events.
HomoRevolution Tour Fundraiser. A tour of the southwest promoting several queer HipHop artists, including Deadlee. The tour itself begins at the end of March, but this fundraiser will be a bit of a preview of local homohop talent. Here's a newspaper article on the event.
Miracle Whips Burlesque at Shotgun at the Eagle on Wednesday, 2/14. These girls are awesome performers, and while they seem to be doing just a "a cameo," I'd love to spend V-Day watching them shake their booties. Shotgun is a fun event anyway and totally worth turning up for.
Katastrophe at Club Butchin LA at Mr. T's Bowl on Feb. 22 and also at The Echo Feb. 17. Katastrophe rocks. Don't miss it.
Speaking of VDay, there are many, many performances of the Vagina Monologues happening in the near future to raise money to end violence against women and girls. To find one near you, go to www.vday.org. The lovely Darrah du Jour is working on VDay Hollywood on March 23 and they're having a Drag Queen Bingo fundraiser at Hamburger Mary's West Hollywood on Wednesday, Feb. 21.
The Butchlalis will be performing at Highways Feb. 23 and 24. I wish Highways would program more cool butch and genderqueer artists such as the butchlalis and the only way to make that happen is to show up in force, so I'll be there.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 8:29 PM
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Somehow, I happen to have come across two interestingly interconnected articles at the same time.
Frank's Wild Lunch points to this AfterEllen article on lesbians in theater while Playgoer comments on this article that claims that gay men are abandoning Broadway.
Together, these two pieces raise all sorts of questions about LGBT-identified authors and audiences and the economics of theater in general. For example, the After Ellen article points out that theater can be a much cheaper to make than film, but the Variety article focuses on the fact that an audience can go to a movie or watch TV for a few bucks, but Broadway costs a fortune. The Variety article mourns a perceived loss of the blind allegience of a gay (male) audience because of the proliferation of other gay (male) stories out there, while the After Ellen article celebrates the possibility for telling new and different stories in the theater and encourages lesbians to attend performances (blindly?).
I think it's fascinating that of all the lesbian playwrights mentioned in the After Ellen article, Carolyn Gage and Lisa Kron are the only ones whose work I actually know. And, I had no idea that The Little Dog Laughed dealt with gay issues even though I did know that it had good buzz and impressive acting. So, obviously I need to read the NY reviews more carefully, but still, this isn't a very good sign.
Basically, I think both articles are interesting but a little misguided, but the Variety article suggesting that the gay (male) audience (it really could care less about lesbians and might not realize they exist) is abandoning Broadway is making crazy unfounded generalizations phrased as questions. I honestly don't believe that the gays are abandoning Broadway, but I also think we might have higher standards than we may have had in the past. I mean, honestly, The Boys in the Band is awfully painful from today's perspective, but it was a huge step when it first hit Broadway. According to the article, gay audiences turned out for Little Dog Laughed when it was off Broadway (and more affordable), so it sounds to me like the gay audience are still ahead of the curve, willing to go to Off Broadway shows and beyond to see what they want rather than waiting for the show to appear in the mainstream venue for megabucks. Similarly, I'm not seeing an explosion of lesbian theater in on or off Broadway. The final argument of the After Ellen article is to go see interesting lesbian theater wherever it's happening, which I, of course, support wholeheartedly, but the rest of the article doesn't really have a lot to say. And for any lesbians out there rocking small theaters, good for you, and of course I do try to attend all the local queer performance I can.
Also, what mainstream television representations are we seeing that are satisfying our need to see gay people in the theater, anyway? Are Will and Grace reruns and the receptionist on Ugly Betty really all the gay characters I need in my life? While I'm quite happy drooling over Starbuck on Battlestar, that's not the same as actual depictions of actual lesbians, which are still pretty few and far between. "Homophilic" programming on Bravo, Showtime and HBO aren't exactly the self-representation and intelligent cultural criticism offered by, say, Angels in America or the work of lesbian performance artists at the WOW Cafe in the '80s. If I stay home and watch TV instead of going to the theater, it's because I'm tired and lazy and broke, but not because TV is filling all of my identificatory needs.
In the meantime, I'm currently planning my own trip to New York, and I'm not sure I will end up seeing anything on Broadway. Of course, I'll be there for research purposes so will be spending most of my time in the NY Public Library and attending one dissertation-relevant Off Broadway musical. And I think we're going to Evil Dead for some hopefully campy fun. But I'm poor, and I have friends with whom I will be attending parties, lectures, and clubs, and I'm not sure how much disposable time and money I will have to spend on theater tix, whether or not the shows are gay. So I think of this as another casualty of high Broadway ticket prices. A Broadway-loving out of town visitor who can't afford to attend the theater doesn't do anyone much good.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 12:33 AM
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Sigh. My long distance internet crush continues. Annalee Newitz posts fabulous cultural criticism in so many disparate places that I have no idea whether or not I manage to follow it all, but I'm often impressed and amused with what I do read. You can find her on her website, Techsploitation, at her weekly Alternet column, on the Table of Malcontents* for WIRED blogs, with occasional posts on SciFi television at MeeVee, and sometimes blogging to promote the book she co-edited, She's Such a Geek. You can also find her in print in many places, doing book readings mostly in SF, and occasionally making guest appearances on Cranky Geeks. Anyway, she's a brilliant queer feminist science and technology writer and commentator and sci-fi and horror fan. That's hot.
She's done a series of really great feminist analyses recently and I wanted to point you toward her analysis of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy (emphasis on the his). I think she overstates the perversion of science - Pullman's dark matter didn't ever seem to me to have anything to do with actual dark matter to me and I wrote it off as one of the premises of an alternate universe rather than an attempt to define a real astrophysical phenomenon in religious terms. But her analysis of the gender and sexuality politics of the series is spot on and needs to be said more. Though I enjoyed the books a lot, it's bad when this is what what we set up as our example of a female heroine and a coming of age story.
And speaking of feminist analysis of pop culture, Newitz also has a very good point about an inappropriately transphobic and anti-feminist throw-away line on Veronica Mars last week. While I wasn't paying close enough attention to catch that particular line, which was obviously stupid, the whole premise of last week's episode was a bit offensive to me. First of all, it was all about a guy being a virgin who goes to comic book conventions [yawn]. So they make a bunch of unfunny jokes about nerds and Battlestar Galactica, which is silly because the show and Veronica both seem to like Battlestar in general. He meets this great girl, who happens to be a prostitute that his friends have hired to help him lose is virginity. He believes he has genuinely connected with her, so he buys her out of prostitution, and then is so obsessed with the fact that she's not a virgin that he can't date her. Which just pisses me off because it reinforces the whole idea that women must be pure and perfect in order to have a relationship with them. Which is dumb. Get over it, or at least try to deal and don't act as if its perfectly OK to be all judgemental about something you knew going into he relationship. Issues of young adult and especially female sexuality are hugely important and difficult in VM, and it's one of the only shows I know of that talks about rape and recovery and actively making serious choices about the sexual issues facing young women. It annoys me that there's still this image of the 'slut' (ugh, and the feminist) hanging over the show that they feel like they need to bash every once in a while. Plus, I want more of Mac. She's the kickass female computer whiz sidekick and just plain awesome.
Also, today Newitz broke the absolutely devastating (to me at least) news that, according to Whedonesque, Joss Whedon is no longer writing and directing the Wonder Woman movie. Yes, we all knew that this was taking a long time and that he has many other projects that he's working on. And as Newitz has posted before (quoting from Charlie Anders at othermag), the comic book version of Wonder Woman isn't as exciting as it could be (Joss, could you at least help out with that?). But I was really excited to see the campy old TV show that I remember watching in reruns as a very young child transformed into a kickass movie with a strong, intelligent, complex superheroine, which is one thing that Joss Whedon is good at and which I don't trust other writers and directors to bother to do. Somehow I doubt that they'll hire a woman, but that's really the only scenario in which I could picture getting excited about the movie again. It was such a perfect Whedon project.
*Table of Malcontents drives me crazy! The blog itself seems to be a group blog vaguely reminiscent of Boing Boing with an abiding affection for zombies, tentacles, and steampunk, which is pretty cool. The problem is, it's edited by John Brownlee who is the main contributer and often comes across as a sexist prick. He seems to think he's just being funny, but he consistently includes in his posts unnecessary, throw-away comments that are decidedly anti-woman. The most recent example is this post about Valentines Day and his crack about desperate women. It's certainly mostly harmless, but also unnecessary and unfunny. But the fascinating thing about the blog is that everyone else who posts on it is a woman and brilliant and interesting. He jokes about it here in this post about lap pillows. They all seem to get along and like each other, which indicates to me that perhaps John Brownlee isn't actually a sexist prick, but the fact that I don't know him personally and I only get snippets of his personality in TOM posts, makes it seem as if he is. I love Eliza Gauger's beautiful Victoriana posts and of course Annalee's insightful commentary. I wish I could read it without the unnecessary sexism.
Posted by Violet Vixen at 2:32 PM
Friday, February 02, 2007
Los Angeles Pride/Christopher Street West will be taking place June 8-10 here in West Hollywood. Which means it's currently in the planning stages. In fact, they are currently accepting applications for entertainers who would like to perform on the mainstage (Due March 5 and available for download at the LA Pride website). This is super important, because LA Pride has a pretty strong reputation for being mainstream and superficial and all gay men and celebreties and divas as performers, so some of us are working to get much more diversity on that main stage, particularly trans and genderqueer artists who could use the exposure. The fabulous Ryka happens to have the ear of some folks who are doing the booking, so what we need is to get applications from the genderqueer and trans artists out there who are capapble of and/or interested in drawing a crowd and performing on the mainstage. So trans and genderqueer (and other superfabulous) artists out there, APPLY TO PERFORM AT LA PRIDE. And then let me know that you've applied so that we can push them to take you on the mainstage. These are uncompensated spots that are still open, but with huge exposure and plenty of opportunity to sell CDs. Please, please pass this on to people who may be interested and encourage them to apply.
In other news, the Empowerment stage (one of the sidestages, yes it's a dumb name) is specifically looking for cool trans and genderqueer musicians and spoken word artists for short sets. So if you know awesome genderqueer or transgender performers, tell me, please.
I'll be listening to a bunch of CDs and trying to see more shows and reviewing them here on this blog and hopefully passing some of the performers on for consideration for the empowerment stage, but in the meantime, tell cool people to apply for the mainstage!
Posted by Violet Vixen at 5:17 PM