Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Well, what a year this has turned out to be. It started with a Derek Jarman marathon and ended with a nice little hat trick of features in Out There, Tetu and Attitude. Along the way I've visited Warsaw, Cornwall and Edinburgh for the first time and spent a lot more time in Berlin that I had expected. I had some rather hair-raising moments (running the gauntlet between the Nazis and the Catholics at EuroPride in Poland was no fun), some rather lovely ones (holding my new nice for the first time), some rather huge arguments and some entirely unexpected tenderness. The Winter was contemplative, the Spring was constructive, the Summer was unfeasibly busy, and Autumn brought me great satisfaction - all in all a solid year.
En route to Chantal's House of Shame, Berlin (by Gerry Visco)
Vogue.com, street style, Manchester
Onstage with Alexander, Berlin
Shooting in the snow, Berlin
Dressing for the Tranny Olympics
Onstage for "Good Morning, This Evening!", London
Pet Cemetery, Cornwall
Backstage at the Barbican
Thurnham Hall, Lancashire
POP magazine, Spring Studios
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Time Out Live, London
Tete a Tete Opera Festival, London
"Underclass Hero" at the Hot August Fringe
Out There magazine (by Adrian Lourie)
Eat Your Heart Out, Camden People's Theatre
With Bruce Benderson on set for Tetu
Berlin Fashion Week
Backstage in Warsaw (by Stevie Hanley)
Bodypainting session with Scottee in Camden
Charing Cross (by Earl Dax)
Leaving the Attitude birthday party, London
Next year, God willing, the music of Alexander will FINALLY be out there in the big bad world. Plus "Underclass Hero" is getting another showing in London, and I'll be back at the Summer festivals. See you there!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I'm super thrilled to be a part of Darin Klein's latest opus, the zine after which this post is named. In it the work of 100 queer artists comes together in a manner half catalogue, half telephone book, with each supplying a sample of their work and their contact details. Isn't that such a great idea? An exciting act of community and inspiration circulation? Of course I have my dearest darling Max Steele to thank for the connection (what'up gurl?). I submitted the above schwarz und weiß bilder, by Fussy Lo Mein, and this extract "Monologue for Divine", which is taken from my new play "Kill Everyone Now":
“Power that’s what it all comes down to, that’s what it always comes down to. Knowledge is power, know thyself and rule the world. That’s why I cause such a scene at the grocery store – because I’m a very powerful person! This va-va-voom body in this skin tight gown, my bombastic tits, my outrageous hair do, well, it makes everyone else feel, insignificant. There they are with their wimpy little stalks of broccoli clasped to their emaciated little bodies, all chewed up in mock horror, standing on at the cheese counter, disgusted at the very sight of me. Horrified and simultaneously sexually electrified by my mere presence. Oh sure, the battle lines have been drawn up and I’m outnumbered 100-1 but they all know that I’m winning this one. My very appearance in amongst the cucumbers, in the heartland of their commodified universe is confirmation that I’m the superpower in this supermarket. That I’m inching forward step by step, through the no-man’s land of moral ambiguity and tarmac and into, actually into, their neat little back yards. That I’m dancing in amongst their geraniums like a wild pagan love goddess, and I’m stamping on their patio furniture, kicking over their ornamental fencing, and grinding up their planters, their urns and their all-weather vases with the heel of my cha-cha shoes. I’m coming down the drive and they’re apoplectic.
You see, really, people don’t care what I wear. They don’t give a shit! They barely care what they wear themselves! I mean, have you seen how people dress? Absolutely no self-respect, no pride. They don’t care that I’m wearing a dress, they don’t care that I have on high heels, they’re upset that I’m not playing by the rules. When I dress like this it upsets people, because they feel as though I’m trying to fool them , that I’m trying to trick them into believing that I’m a real woman, or that I believe I am a real woman, or that I believe such a thing as a real woman exists. They hate me for not abiding by the rules, because they hate the rules. Only they don’t realise this, or they’re too stupid or too cowardly to admit it, because they’ve built up their whole self-worth, their whole identity, their whole stupid morality up on those rules, and if they go and start investigating it now, well who knows what they’ll find? Who knows how deep the cracks run? Your whole value system is based on an arbitrary set of images that you stumbled upon in magazines in the doctor’s waiting room, and you don’t even know it. You’ve never thought about it for one second have you? Why you believe what you believe and about whom. Why do little girls wear pink ribbons in their hair? Why do little boys like to play with cars? Admit it, the most complex debate you ever had with yourself was which toilet roll to buy.
There’s this unspoken set of rules to follow and nobody really wants to follow them but nobody really bothers to question them, so everybody just forgets they exist and agree to pretend that they’re spontaneous, natural, predetermined orders. People hate that, and they see me, flaunting it all, throwing all that out the window, flushing it all down the john – and they’re mad. They’re pissed, because nobody wants to wear black nylon trousers and sensible shoes , nobody wants to leave their home and family at 7am, 5 days a week, with the only light at the end of the tunnel being that festival of debt you call the weekend, but they somehow all got together and collectively decided that it’s the right thing to do. And then you see me, and clearly I’m not working an office job, clearly my only master is bation, and it’s just too much.
The only rules that need exist are the ones we make up for ourselves, and hold onto for as long as we find them useful, then we discard them with all the other floatsam and jetsam of modern life. We don’t cling to fax machines do we? We don’t hold on desperately to daguerreotypes or typewriters, or dial-up internet, or powdered egg do we? No. People need something to cling to, anything, I see that, or else why would there be so many speed freaks and alcoholics out there in the audience tonight?, but, the uninvestigated life is not worth living. Don’t cling to it just because it’s there. You see girl? I’m a self-made woman. And if I get bricks through the window? Well, I make a rockery.”
Monday, December 13, 2010
From the new issue of Tetu, a piece by Bruce Benderson on Berlin's provocateurs and party kids. It was a marvellous experience meeting Mr Benderson, a man of immense knowledge and an outrageous sense of humour, combined with an inquisitive nature and a keen eye for contextualization. Okay yes, I'm a fan. And here's what he had to say about us all (click on the text to see it bigger):
Monday, December 6, 2010
Well lover, what do you know? The nice people at Attitude asked me to contribute something on pornography to their sex issue, so I did. I wrote it on Halloween, in a face full of vampire make-up - bit of context for you there. For those of you who live in places where the magazine is not stocked, here's the piece in full:
"Porn can really teach you a lot about yourself, it can educate you on your own sexuality and desires by showing you things you probably wouldn’t ever see otherwise, acts and images you most probably didn’t even know existed. I remember watching lesbian porn for the first time and encountering the term “high femme top.” That was such an “A-ha!” moment for me, I think it informed my sexual identity more than any other experience, cinematic or otherwise.
Porn can almost act like a magic mirror in that sense, it shows you such unexpected aspects of sex, it can teach you a lot of new tricks. From a queer standpoint that’s powerful because so much of our experience is hidden in shame and obscured by a society that is so uncomfortable with its own sexuality. To reveal images so provocative and opposed to mainstream thinking is an act of liberation.
I think it’s important though, to remember that what you’re being shown in porn, is a fantasy. Even with “amateur” porn what you are seeing is most often a staged, edited and carefully constructed daydream whose codes of behaviour, though exciting, need not necessarily be a template for your own. Morality and responsibility are weighted differently on film, there are no repercussions inside the porno flashbacks. What’s hot onscreen is not necessarily safe, desirable, or even pleasurable in the non-cinematic world. The fantasies of pornography are a privilege we enjoy in this particular, epoch, the ability to revel in graphic images charged with such potency is as a marvellous thing, but as with all privileges it entails responsibility. Noblesse oblige, lover."
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The question arose this week if linguistically, in English, you can attach singular or plural articles to the word "freedom" e.g. "a freedom" or "my freedoms". The German speakers were determined that you could not, the British were not at all sure, the North Americans were insistent that you could. I thought about how you can (without any argument) say; "I have the freedom to wear what I want", but realised this is not quite the same as saying "The freedom to wear what I want is just one of my freedoms." It sounds wrong to all but North American ears, and even some of those listeners find it strange, but why so? Moreover it is not just awkward to hear, but unsettling, a thorny concept.
When you make freedom an object, by applying an indefinite article to it, it enters into an economy of commodity and exchange, it becomes a product. As with all products in advanced capitalist economies, you are require to buy or trade for it and this is exactly what is happening, right now. The linguistic newness of "a freedom" and "my freedoms" are a central part of this era of terror, it's a marketing ploy which highlights exactly how far the language of counter-terrorism has affected the lexicon and capacity for thought in the US and Europe. All of the post-9/11 language, of "terrorists hating our freedom" put such a focus on the concept of freedom and with concurrent sleight of hand, changed the meaning of freedom.
Singular and plural freedoms, in stark opposition to definite freedom (the freedom) allow for freedom to be treated like a multipack of liberties. Freedom is broken down into units (freedoms), so we notice less when they're removed from us. It's not our freedom (our liberty, our rights as human beings) that is at stake, we argue, we are just trading certain freedoms (specific privileges) for protection against some semi-fictional force that wants to wipe us out. In this logic, since we are not losing our access to facebook, or our cars, or the ability to buy new jeans, we don't seem to notice that all we are being left with is the most empty kind of freedom. We have governments who rule almost totally and openly in the name of the rich, who have no qualms in waging wars against the better judgments of the people, who set-up teenagers as scapegoats, and deliberately stir up fear to stimulate support for their insane policies, backed by a masochistic media which kneels to lick their boots.
Breaking freedom down into freedoms allows for this, it suggests to us in its very language that we can pick and chose, that some freedoms are more equal than others, that we can drop some and trade them for something else. We are no longer concerned with liberty for all (wo)mankind, but rather protecting these few fake freedoms we're still holding onto (to all intents and purposes "a lifestyle"). In short it is the end of the Enlightenment, the death of idea that everyone should be free, the grave of Martin Luther King. Only now the epitaph has been deface, it no longer reads "no man is free until we are all free" but "Souvenir postcards $15.99". We are now entering the middle-ages again, we are all becoming serfs again, because we have forgotten what it was that led us so briefly out of servitude - collective struggle and an honest belief that the world could be made a better place. All we have now is cynicism, greed, irony and fatigue, and in this state we are allowing ourselves to be stripped bare.
Witness the new US airport regulations which have brought controversial full-body "naked" scans into major airports. The German government looks likely to follow suit next year. Not only is this a horrible violation of privacy and a miserable windfall for the cyborgs who make these machines (already $247m from US airports) but drastically increases psychological paranoia in an already thoroughly traumatised population. Now terrorists are even further advanced than technology! And the only people who can save us are our beloved leaders, who really have our best interests at heart. It was Benjamin Franklin who wrote, "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither," I think.
And meanwhile we have the CIA training a teenage Somalian boy for almost two years, in how to plan a mass impact suicide bombing. At a Christmas market in Oregon he was arrested only 20 minutes before detonating his (fake) bomb, which is a rather brilliant PR coup for the CIA, since it allows them to simultaneously say "Look! You need us!" and "Don't worry we know everything!" It posits them as an omnipotent God, in some Cartesian paradox in which they rescue us from what they put into motion themselves. The German newspapers are full of terror alerts also, warning that terrorists planned to hit "soft targets" at Christmas markets. Not long ago wikileaks shared information with the world that this exact tactic (of putting terror plots into the media) had been discussed by the US government as a way of increasing support for its unpopular foreign policy within Germany. Or rather, I should say that these stories were all over the news, now the news says we must go shopping at the Christmas markets because if not (You guessed it!) the terrorists will have won.
And now 19 year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, will go to prison for a long, long time, probably forever, because one of the world's most powerful, best resourced, most advanced institutions found him when he was 17 and persuaded him to take up the role of this year's would be festive slayer.