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Owning it. - Piano wire. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The richest girl in town.

[ website | www.laurenwheeler.com ]
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Owning it. [Thursday, Feb. 7th, 2008|02:56 pm]
The richest girl in town.
[current mental state |mischievousmischievous]

Being in a social scene that is as given to performance and costuming and general, unadulterated dumb as mine sometimes provides reminders of just how limiting being black and female can be when it comes to performance. When certain mainstream or classical tropes are revisited, even within subcultural performance and even as parody, they're often still reaffirmed as an immovable standard against which all else is cast. I think of the return of the blonde bombshell as the ultimate feminine ideal and how the Vargas girls have been experiencing a renaissance in everything from tattoos to fashion spreads in the last few years. In some ways, I will always feel estranged from and barred access to this iconography. And unless it's done delicately, the irony of my attempting to subvert these tropes ends up looking less like parody than farce. And I don't want to be a punchline.

As for what's inspiring this train of thought (which is a lot less frustrated than it may seem--my brain is doing that teasing-out thing that it does quite often when I get a little whiff of something interesting and abstract and contradictory within my world) is an opening act that I'm participating in next Friday at Hubba Hubba Revue. Now, this is an act that I may have simultaneously thought up alongside those who put it in motion, but for me to participate will require... effort. What effort? Slicking back my hair.

This should be interesting.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: goodbadgirl
2008-02-07 11:26 pm (UTC)
I feel like there is a longer essay here. And I feel like once you write it someone needs to publish ASAP.



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[User Picture]From: whittles
2008-02-07 11:50 pm (UTC)
yes yes and yes.
I've been thinking about this stuff for a while. I definitely want to talk to you more about it.
Write it, girl!
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[User Picture]From: lilmissnever
2008-02-07 11:32 pm (UTC)

You will make an awesome Robert Palmer girl.

The non-white pin-up is only a punchline to the culturally illiterate. That girl happens to be Dorothy Dandridge.
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[User Picture]From: mollena
2008-02-07 11:35 pm (UTC)

Oh yes....

.....add 75 pounds and stir, and I feel your thing.

xoxo
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[User Picture]From: tristan_crane
2008-02-08 12:08 am (UTC)

mmm huh.

Second what everyone else has said. I also wonder why even in our performance/subculture scene do regular stereotypes get reinforced so often.

Looking forward to seeing the performance, I think I'm finally gonna drag my boy out for some dressed-up dancing action.
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[User Picture]From: elusis
2008-02-08 05:36 am (UTC)

Re: mmm huh.

Yayyyyy!
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[User Picture]From: latemodel
2008-02-08 01:56 am (UTC)
What I can't understand is why so many people want to play into that stereotype in the first place. (I mean, I understand it, but...) The whole Burlesque/Vaudeville thing embodies — literally, instantiates using bodies — the idea that of womens' objecthood. The women are on stage to shake their asses and look good in pasties and a g-string, and it only looks uglier with HHR, where you put men on stage to speak and run the show. I mean, how much more literal can you get than having guys speak while the women are silent?

I'll believe there's something subversive going on when I see it. It's not that these shows can't be a means of poking fun at gender, but that's so rare. I don't care enough about either girlie shows or standup, so I mostly don't bother with HHR.

The whole thing was especially glaring at the Spectacular Spectacular Atomic Jungle, one of the first things I came to at DNA after moving here. There, in addition to the man-woman binary, they decided to add the imperialist-savage binary. Unsurprisingly, the savages were on stage to a) look exotic and b) try to cook white folks for dinner. It would have been funnier if there had been some laughs at the expense of the white guys.
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[User Picture]From: sparklydevil
2008-02-08 02:18 am (UTC)
i'm the promotions manager for HHR, considered part of "the brain trust" behind the scenes, and i have emceed the shows before - most recently, the christmas show, where i played on stage as an equal with the male MCs.

there is a tremendous amount of subversive play, humor and commentary going on both at HHR and in burlesque in general (ANY time a woman who doesn't mirror the playboy stereotype takes her clothes off on stage, it makes a political statement)

but if, as you say, you don't bother with HHR, i don't think that puts you in a position to judge us.
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[User Picture]From: browniegirl322
2008-02-08 02:39 am (UTC)
you should do some crazy slicked up finger waves, and like bright red lipstick (you would rock it).
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[User Picture]From: olamina
2008-02-08 07:30 am (UTC)
uh, that's not possible with dreadlocks...
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[User Picture]From: srallen
2008-02-08 02:46 am (UTC)
I'd like to add my name to the petition for a longer essay. Speaking as a fellow subverter (nobody wants to see my pale ass on the stage... tough!), I'm eager to read about your perspective.
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[User Picture]From: jwz
2008-02-08 03:30 am (UTC)
Politics aside, I'm still stuck trying to understand how slicking back your hair is even physically possible.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2008-02-08 07:10 am (UTC)
Politics aside, that's my MAIN POINT!!!

:P
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[User Picture]From: dykestar
2008-02-08 04:53 am (UTC)
I feel this whole post. Even though I do a lot in my performance to try and counter-act that sort of iconoclast (ie: This is Eartha Kitt, you will never be this fierce! This is Nina Simone, you will never be this smooth! This is Sharon Jones, you wish you had this groove, etc.) it is still frustrating to realize that you will never be able to successfully pull-off a fully-done Marilyn Monroe number and will look like the out-of-place chorus girl if your burlesque troupe does something from Guys and Dolls.

*sigh*
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[User Picture]From: elusis
2008-02-08 05:39 am (UTC)
I can feel my way in from a fat girl perspective. It frustrates the hell outta me every time I see Miss L having to squeeze her way into the white girl mold of the month. (And yet, she remains fierce and hot and smart all at the same time, how DOES she do it?)
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[User Picture]From: jette
2008-02-08 05:36 am (UTC)
I had actually been wondering how you and other woc involved in burlesque etc navigated that (it can't all be Dorothy Dandrige and Josephine Baker all the time - or can it?), look forward to reading more.

And I'm with j - I am having a hard time imaging your with slicked back hair. I mean, I know it's physically possible but I just can't see it. :-D
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[User Picture]From: elusis
2008-02-08 05:40 am (UTC)
it can't all be Dorothy Dandrige and Josephine Baker all the time - or can it?

It can't, and shouldn't have to be - but it's particularly bad when the mandate from above is "OK, this month you're all blonde frauleins in lederhosen!" The cognitive dissonance is often sassy, funny, and subversive, but it's still quite "grrr" even from an observer's viewpoint. I can only try to imagine what it might be like from the inside.
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[User Picture]From: olamina
2008-02-08 07:30 am (UTC)
I always wondered what your thoughts were on this subject. I have a feeling you could probably fill a book. And in that book you'd probably innumerate all the reasons why I was always uncomfortable in the NYC circus/performance scene. Alongside all of that I am desperately curious to know why and how you stay.
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[User Picture]From: dali_drama
2008-02-08 11:44 pm (UTC)
this so wonderfully captures the thought and feelings that have been floating around in my head.

especially after i shot those pin-up portraits.

some more thought and discussion on the issue is in order.
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