This is my newest Best Thing Ever.
With many recent exhibitions, screenings and publications, the queer community, particularly in New York, seems to be on an archival bent, mapping a genealogy of various aspects of LGBTQ history. Not only is queer culture experiencing archive fever, but the era of the 1980s and 1990s has been given an inordinate amount of attention by curators, critics and writers. Adding to that dialogue, Simpson’s Drag Explosion presents an archive of the drag scene, which seems to often appear on the periphery of many exhibitions and publications on the 1980s art scene or LGBTQ history despite its influential humor, camp and fashion that still pervades culture today.
The photos themselves are a blast. I hope there are a lot more screenings, but if you can’t catch one, you can watch a slideshow of the photos online with Linda’s narration.
This looks great.
Queens all over the country were the ones who got the crossdressing laws off the books.
Tonight is Lawrence’s Drag Show, put on by (mostly) LGBTQIAA students, and I think it’s the 4th (5th?) one I’ve been here for. I haven’t missed one.
I get to go whether or not I drag anyone with me, and every year I’m blown away – first, because I usually get to hear some song I have never heard before that they all know, and so I get to remind myself that I am ancient. That’s honestly a great reminder to someone who teaches.
Almost every year there is some student who does drag (in public, at least) for the very first time, and that is always remarkable. I don’t even personally know what that’s like as someone who would never step onto a stage to perform anything but a lecture, but I do know that I have held a lot of first-time-out crossdressers by the elbow to make sure they don’t just faint. For some, of course, it’s just fun, and they’re naturally extroverted, theatrical types. One former student is out in San Francisco doing drag as I type, no doubt.
But I am pleased it seems to have become an institution here, now, & I hope I’ve had at least some small part in making it that.
She stayed in drag & accepted the “best female performance” award in drag, too, which I can’t help but appreciate. I can’t stand the song – ugh, rock ballads. So what’s the vote? Does she make a decent king? I like the way her physicality changed – you can see how she’s keeping her shoulders, torso and hips a little stiffer.
Lawrence King was killed in 2008 and Taylor Mac performed this piece that same year – the very first year I taught Transgender Lives at Lawrence. Ever since then I’ve shown this video, but somehow failed to put it here.
I love this piece so much, and it’s so good to see Taylor Mac getting credit from the likes of PBS. He’s a very old friend of ours who acted with Betty in an era that seems like a lifetime or two ago now.
No one ever believes me that Yul Brynner did drag, so here’s proof. He was Jean Cocteau’s opium runner, after all; it’s not like he was squeaky clean.
I think he did this just to prove he was the sexiest person who ever lived, entirely independent of gender.
At the TransOhio “Fabulously Fluid” performance night, I got to see Adam Apple do a fantastic performance based on Dylan’s signs that was intense & personal, & made a whole bunch of us in the audience cry.
This series of gorgeous photos asking questions about gender by L. Weingarten reminded me of Adam Apple’s performance, which I found on YouTube (even if the video/audio quality is crap, it gives you an idea).
Kumar is an Indian drag queen who works & lives in Singapore. A documentary about hir was broadcast in 2006 that’s found its way to YouTube.
and you can see hir do a bit of stand-up that’s also in three parts
but may be harder to understand without subtitles – and as zie points out, zie talks fast, on top of the regional humor about the first family of Singapore, Malaysia, and the Chinese in Singapore, but I think the joke about rooster eggs translates okay.
In response to this last post, I received this short email:
“My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser”
This is where you loose me Helen. You say you don’t use words like “Husband or Wife”….but then you write books using that exact terminology.
I wrote that book 6 years ago. My thinking is surely allowed to change, no?
& I responded:
Is that how youâ€™d talk to Betty about her decision to transition? That it was â€œconvenientâ€?
My partner was a self-identified straight drag queen when we met, with a male identity.
She is living as a woman & doing what paperwork she can to reflect that.
One of the reasons I canâ€™t & donâ€™t use â€œhusbandâ€ anymore is because people then start using â€œheâ€ pronouns about my partner. She is not a he. To avoid that, I avoid the gendered terminology that leads to it.
When she had a genderqueer/androgynous presentation, she didnâ€™t mind mixing up the pronouns â€“ as I did in the 2nd book. Now, â€œheâ€ chafes her, doesnâ€™t fit.
So sue me for having had to make adjustments â€“ especially ones that are entirely out of consideration of my partnerâ€™s gender.
Please donâ€™t write back. Your response was rude beyond belief. I shouldnâ€™t be justifying it with a response at all, but I like to give people a fair shake.
If I stop using “husband” then it’s somehow just “convenient” that I’m doing so. Surely it couldn’t have anything to do with my partner’s change in gender! *sigh* I’m having one of those days.
Tom Ackerman, a gay man, has vowed to call his friends’ wives their girlfriends, because he’s decided his religious views don’t allow him to recognize opposite-sex marriage.
The New Scientist tells you everything you ever wanted to know about female ejaculation (& maybe a few things you didn’t want to know).
A woman named Brenda Lee got dragged bodily off of Air Force One when she tried to give President Obama a letter asking him to stand up for heterosexual marriage.
Publishers Weekly reports from the BEA that US Publishers have vowed to fight digitized piracy.
This is the text of the talk I gave at the Liberty Conference on May 2nd, 2009:
How We Love You: Let Us Count the Ways
There are partners who are male, female, and trans; there are partners who met their trans person before the trans person knew what was going on; there are partners who married crossdressers who had sworn off crossdressing who purged and then dressed and then purged and then dressed again; there are partners who met their husbands crossdressed; there are partners who met their trans person during transition; there are partners who met their trans person long after transition; there are partners who didnâ€™t know their trans person was trans when they met.
You, the individuals who are in love, were in love, who are seeking companionship and partnership and occasionally a good spanking, are said to be like snowflakes. Flawless Mother Sabrina told me that one night at the now defunct Inaâ€™s Silver Swan, and she was right. Each of your stories is unique, even when there are similarities; each of you realizes your transness, as I like to call it, in a different way: some crossdress, others do drag, others transition. Some do all three, and others â€“ none of these, but you express your genders in some other way. But you have your stories, your characters in movies, even if and when they are comically or tragically or unfairly drawn, but those you love have â€“ well, weâ€™ve got a machete and a spot on the edge of the wood we mean to get through.
via Susan Stryker:
Michelle Lawler is producing a documentary film about Vicki Marlane, a 74-year-old transsexual woman who is an amazing drag performer, and who still puts on two shows a week at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Drag performance, particularly the traditional “record pantomime” style that Vicki does, is a joyous, subversive, heart-warming art form. Vicki has been doing professional theatrical drag for 50 years. She is a total inspiration to me, and an honored elder of my community.
Michelle and her editor Monica Nolan have completed a final cut of the film, titled “Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight,” (so-called after a line in Vicki’s signature number, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”). We expect the film to premiere at Frameline’s San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival in June 2009–look for the official press release on May 19!
We’re still trying to raise the last few thousand dollars we need to pay for music rights and the final audio mix to finish the film. I’m writing to ask you to make a donation that will help us complete this important film.
You can watch a short clip from the film at our page on the BAVC web site (our fiscal sponsor). Check out Vicki’s performance, too, while you’re at it.
You can make a tax-deductible contribution online from that page or you can make a non-tax deductible donation by sending a check made out to the film’s Executive Producer, Kim Klausner, at 1541 Alabama Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.
All donations — $5, $25, $100, $500 or whatever — will help. Feel free to forward this email to people who might be interested in supporting this project.
Just got this cool press release which makes me wish I was anywhere near West Hollywood:
Grrrl, boi, lezbo, butch, femme, lipstick, drag king, trans, dyke, bulldagger, tomboy, genderqueer, one-way, kiki, power femme â€¦
Each generation of lesbians uses new and different terms to describe how we present ourselves and what attracts us. GenderPlay in Lesbian Culture is the first ever Los Angeles exhibit to talk about labels and explore gender and its boundaries.
The OPENING EVENT, at the One Museum on Saturday March 14, will feature singer Phranc, emcee Marie Cartier and performance art from Latina trio, Butchlalis de Panochtitlan. More
Today is the 1st annual Drag Day at Lawence University. Okay, it’s just the first, but I’m hoping it’s not the last. The students in my Trans Lives course expressed a desire to play with gender, and I thought it’d be safest on a day that’s already a little nuts: Mardi Gras.
So laissez les bon temps rouler & have a good Drag Day!
My friend Shirene, who I met while I was researching My Husband Betty, and at a SPICE conference to boot, has contined to work with wives who have just found out their husbands are crossdressers. She wrote this letter recently to one such wife, and I thought it was worth sharing here, for any husband who might want to use it to help come out to his wife, or for any wife who has just found out.
I don’t necessarily agree with how she simplifies certain issues – like the “crossdressers are heterosexual” meme – but a lot of the rest of it is a good “talking down” for a new wife who might be completely panicking.
Hi.Â I hope you donâ€™t mind receiving a letter like this from a stranger, but my husband isÂ transgender also and I know that if I could have received a letter such as this when I found out, it would have made it easier on both me and my husband. My name is Shirene, Iâ€™m 43, we live in S******, IL and Iâ€™ve known about Shayla since â€˜98.Â Weâ€™re at 555 555 5555.
I will admit itâ€™s somewhat of an adapted form letter so please ignore the things that donâ€™t apply to your situation and please excuse the things Iâ€™m telling you that you already know. More
An old friend of mine is in town, and she was asked to guest drum at a bellydance performance tonight. As I’ve rarely gotten to see her drum, I went, & dragged my sister with me. (Betty, sadly, is not very mobile). I’ve seen bellydance performed before, but tonight, on top of my usual introverted discomfort, I kept thinking about how I was supposed to be in that room.
The dancers were all lovely. The first act, Sri Devi, was (I’m guessing) still pretty young to dancing, but she was fabulously talented and funny and fun in her performance. She seems like the type of performer who has a real star in her.
The final performance, by Hannah Nour, was really a hit out of the park. She had what I call “sea legs” for a performer – the way sailors are more comfortable on a boat than on land, some people are more comfortable performing than not. (Betty was that kind of actor.) She showed no self-concsiousness, seemed like she was really engaged and enjoying herself, and was technically stellar. And her clothes! Like a Hindu Love Goddess, all light blues and greens and whites and pinks – like a female version of the traditional representation of Rama.
Because on one level bellydance is a seductive art, sexual, exhibitionist, and yet it’s also social. It’s not burlesque. And I couldn’t figure out how to watch, at all. Most of the guys sit there just kind of ga-ga (in a more or less sexualized gaze) and a lot of the women were other dancers who were there to cheer on their friends or learn or just to appreciate the art.
But I was just there, looking like a dyke in the corner, and now that I’m aware people see me as a lesbian, it’s all I think about. I suppose if I actually desired women, I’d sit there like most of the guys, enjoying the sensuality & beauty of the ladies dancing without feeling weird about it. But because my desire, per se, is not engaged, I just sit there wondering how to watch, because it’s still titillating – dance is innately seductive, no?. I find myself tied up in knots, and kind of uncomfortable despite the performers being very comfortable with themselves and the dance form.
(I know, I know; I’m self-conscious & I think too much. Tell me something I don’t know.)
But despite my own silliness, DO GO see bellydance if you can! It’s a cool art form. The night I saw tonight happens every Sunday (thought with different performers, I think).
I was reading over at feministing.com about casual sex, & read a recent bulletin from GenderPAC about the increase in Purity Balls, & then was mourning over the loss of another trans woman who got beaten to death by a guy who she’d previously given a blowjob to, & it got me thinking.
See, I wasn’t comfortable being a nubile when I was younger. I wasn’t comfortable ever being a nubile, & am still only wont to dress in sexier ways in very safe spaces – like DO, or certain queer/drag/fetish events, or the like. As much as I know it’s never a woman’s fault if she is hurt because of the way she’s dressed, I also had enough contact with non-sexual street violence to be twice as cautious about leaving myself open to any kind of sexual abuse or harassment, much less violence.
Which probably makes me painfully Second Wave, but there you go. I just don’t get it, & I’m never going to get it. I never had good sex that was casual; a long-standing “booty call” type relationship was a little closer to my experience of having good, non-committed sex, and maybe here we’re just defining “casual” in different ways, and the folks over at feministing are talking about the same kind of relationship. More
A gay bar, and its gay bar owner, have decided to ban drag queens and trans women from their “Trashy Tuesday” night – exactly because the bar night is so crowded that they don’t have time to babysit the bad apples of their crowd.
â€œHow do I separate one draq queen that is being bad from others?â€ Moore said. â€œWe donâ€™t have the time on Tuesday nights with all the people in here to sit there and tell them apart from one another. If a drag queen misbehaves one week and then the next comes back in a different outfit I wouldnâ€™t be able to recognize them. Thatâ€™s why I donâ€™t want any of them in here on Tuesdays.â€
Wow, now that IS tricky! How about you just ban the person who does the bad stuff?
A great rant about Pride by Joe.My.God, which he wrote back in 2005 after watching a NYC Pride Parade:
Because even if Pride doesn’t change many minds in the outside world, it’s our PARTY, darlings. It’s our Christmas, our New Year’s, our Carnival. It’s the one day of the year that all the crazy contingents of the gay world actually come face to face on the street and blow each other air kisses. And wish each other “Happy Pride!” Saying “Happy Pride!” is really just a shorter, easier way of saying “Congratulations on not being driven completely batshit insane! Way to go for not taking a rifle into a tower and taking out half the town! Well done, being YOURSELF!”
I’m not worried what the outside world thinks about the drag queens, the topless bulldaggers, or the nearly naked leatherfolk. It’s OUR party, bitches. If you think that straight America would finally pull its homokinder to its star-spangled bosom once we put down that glitter gun, then you are seriously deluding yourself. Next year, if one of the Christian camera crews that show up to film our “debauched” celebrations happen to train their cameras on you, stop dancing. And start PRANCING.
It seemed a great way to end Pride Month.