Final Project

Camilla Vaernes

Gender, Race, and Class

For my final project I teamed up with Emily, Cat, Jake, and Mike. Together we experimented with how different genders, races, and classes are viewed in New York City. Emily was a butch Latina, Cat our host, Jake a homeless man, Mike a transvestite, and myself a wealthy brat. “…American society is now imposing a Eurocentric, Christian, heterosexual male ethos on all of us in order to maintain a uniquely American identity against the incursion of other…gays, coloreds, and practitioners of outlaw sexuality into its inner sanctum.” This is a quote from Adrian Piper’s piece in The Triple Negation of the Colored Women Artists. I thought this related to our project considering this is everything they want us not to be. Her story proves the suffering and pain of black women throughout history. It shows their strength and power throughout history, defying the principles of freedom and the truth of the American people.

We each took on these roles to see what kinds of reactions and rises we could get out of people. Some created more than others, but overall we each got to experience the life a person outside of our own for a day. Emily’s transformation was great. She made her skin completely orange, slicked her hair back, and put on baggy clothes as a lesbian Latina woman. She went to a store in Times Square to buy an outfit for her “boo”. Jake poses as a homeless man behind a Sephora with a sign and a blanket. Though he gets no money, he gets plenty of stares. Its definitely different seeing someone so young out on the streets asking for help. “Homelesssness is as old as the first permanent settlement. The wandering stranger was viewed with suspicion, if not hostility, and was often treated harshly. After centuries of assisting, denying, and rejecting the needs of the homeless, we are still searching for solutions to the problem.” This quote from an article by Leland Axelson and Paula Dail pretty much describes how Jake was treated. No one wants anything to do with the homeless. We using see them as dirty and bothersome. Though for some reason it is usually not frowned upon, there needs to be a change. We cannot have people as young as Jake living homeless on the street. No matter what gender, race, or class everyone deserves a chance to get up on their feet.

Mike the train, dressed in my clothes, got the most reactions out of all of us. He was definitely not one to miss. The pink fur vest and floral blouse stood out like no other. The makeup was so well done it made you think about what gender he really was. A quote by Pauline Greenhill reminded me a little of this. “I add to this series of interpretations the suggestion that cross-dressing ballads express and embody the possibility of same-sex attraction and of nonheterosexual activity. They provide historical examples of the possibility of breaking away from compulsory heterosexuality—or at least conceiving of doing so—which provides a counterpoint to analyses by those who focus upon the performativity of sex, gender, and sexuality. They also provide potentially current examples for gender bending and queer expression.” She basically explains cross-dressing as a form of expression. It is how one becomes open and free to be who they are. We see a lot of that in New York, and though they are bound to get stares, it is what they identify as and that’s something everyone should accept.

And then there was my role, which by definition doesn’t seem too hard at all, but it really was. I was made to play an obnoxious rich girl with money problems in the middle of Times Square. I definitely had some trouble with this role. Either I wasn’t loud enough or I was facing the wrong direction to the people. The role made me nervous and uncomfortable. I didn’t want to stand in the middle of Times Square screaming to my dad about money; that’s just embarrassing. Doing this project put me outside my comfort zone, but it also made me realize how easily we judge and view other people. Each and every one of us was viewed by the crowd as weird or not normal. We definitely made people uncomfortable. That’s what we were trying to accomplish. The odds are that we would’ve had the same reaction if we saw this happening in the street. Even in such a diverse and culturally accepting place like New York, people will judge.

 

“Neither a Man nor a Maid”: Sexualities and Gendered Meanings in Cross-Dressing Ballads

Pauline Greenhill

The Journal of American Folklore , Vol. 108, No. 428 (Spring, 1995), pp. 156-177

Published by: American Folklore Society

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/541377

 

K, Aren. “Adrian Piper.” Raisin in the Sun. N.p., 30 May 2006. Web. 17 Dec. 2012.

 

The Changing Character of Homelessness in the United States

Leland J. Axelson and Paula W. Dail

Family Relations , Vol. 37, No. 4, The Contemporary Family: Consequences of Change (Oct., 1988), pp. 463-469

Published by: National Council on Family Relations

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/584121

Advertisements

PS1 was definitely the most interesting of all the field trips. I loved the glittery madness upstairs. It all seemed so childish, as if a kindergarden class did an art project. It was unlike any art I had seen before. I could definitely see how the Queens museum differed from the MoMA. I would call it more “hipster” art. The MoMA is fancier, and more stuck up. lol I mean i love the MoMA, but MoMA PS1 was something more relatable to our age. It wasn’t one of those places where i wanted to leave right away. The art was different, and sometimes you might not even think to consider it art. Back to glitter galore, it was amazing. Looking at the materials used, you could find it all at any crafts store. The starry sky was by far the best. I felt as though i was walking through a little girls room. The whole exhibit looked as though it came out of the 80’s. It was just so colorful. I just wonder how someone comes up with idea to make that art. Another interesting part of the trip was the poop movie in French or Italian…i dont really remember, or know the name. I came in late and just saw a bunch of naked girls serving poop on a platter. WHAT??? Weirdest performance art ive seen by far…..I am still confused by it. Queens was definitely an experience and I will surely miss going on these field trips with a group of people i have gotten to know so well 😦

Against Expectations

Going to the performance rendition of a drag ball, I was expecting to see a lot of feather boas and colorful costumes. I thought the performance would be similar to the acts in the movie Paris is burning. It was going to be my first time seeing a show of this kind, and I was excited to experience this form of art so new to me.

Waiting outside the St. Mark’s Church where the performance was, all sorts of thoughts and ideas about the show were going through my head. Will these guys be wearing heels? Are they going to have a vogue off? What crazy colored wig will they be wearing? I was pretty much thinking all the typical stereotypes about a drag queen. Again, I had never been to or seen such a performance before so I really didn’t know what to expect.
Walking into the church they had chairs and pillows set up in front, where all the critics and performance artists sat, and “bleacher” seating on the sides, where we sat. We sat there for a good ten minutes before a tall man with an accent, probably from Germany, came out and gave a brief explanation of what was going to happen. He went back into the room where he came from and suddenly a remix of Adele’s song “Set fire to the rain” came on. The song went on for approximately 8 minutes without anything. It was just the audience and the song. I am a very impatient person, so at this point I was already getting antsy. I was wondering how long could this song possibly go on for when finally, three men came out at separate times and each sat down on their own chair. They were dressed in what looked like black see-through robes. I was so confused. Where were the men in crazy costumes and makeup? Once they sat down, they just sat there. Nothing was happening. I kept looking around at the audience to see their reactions, and I’m pretty sure no one else knew what was going on either.

The first thing that really stuck out to me was Trajal Harrell, the choreographer, in the back who looked like he was in extreme pain. For the first ten minutes or so I was concerned, I thought he was going through some sort of panic attack and that the other guys didn’t see what was going on. Looking at the rest of the audience, they seemed pretty confused too. Honestly, he made me slightly uncomfortable, only because I didn’t know whether I should go help him or if that was actually part of the show. Eventually he started to sing, so by that time I had figured it really was part of the show. They then all got up and formed a triangle, moving around in the room and trading seats. They did this three times around until they were all back in their own seats.

Next came the “don’t stop” and “mama said”. They were chanting like a mantra. This part of the show (which was pretty much the entire show) made me so angry. Honestly, I was just confused as to what this had to do with anything. I was unsure as to how this was considered good performance art. I wanted to confiscate the microphone from the guy with the beard. …And the bird. OH MY GODDDDDDDDD…I swear I was about to walk up in the middle of the show and throw it across the room. I couldn’t tell if it was intentional, but that bird would just not shut up. Only after the show did I find out that is was based off of a music video “Don’t stop the dance” by Roxy Music. If I had watched this before and learned more about what their performance was about, I might have understood and appreciated it a little more.

The end of the performance was my favorite. Their dancing was very entertaining. Especially the tall guy 😉 with the nice face. Their moves were everywhere. The performance definitely took a huge turn at the end. I could see how they built up to it. The upbeat, loud and exciting ending definitely woke me up. I felt bad, but I just could not keep my eyes open for the majority of the show. I must say though I was disappointed with the overall performance. I was going in expecting some drag performance like the ones from Paris is Burning and this was definitely a different outlook on that. The show just didn’t make sense to me. I felt like there was no story behind it, and the whole thing seemed pretty improvised. I just don’t understand how they could have possibly practiced that. There wasn’t really much to practice. All in all, I thought it was a funny experience, but it didn’t really teach me about the performance of drag.
The one thing I would’ve liked to do differently would be to have sat down for a class and learned what these performers were about. It would’ve also been interesting to see the videos in which the performance is based off of, before I had seen it. This was definitely a new experience for me and hopefully we’ll get to go on another one as a class.

Sistah Talk

In Sisters Spin Talk on HipHop, I definitely enjoyed the style of writing and how they were talking back and forth. This was one of the more interesting topics we’ve read about. I also agree with whats being said by Tara. To me HipHop music is degrading to women, and most of it has no real meaning. Rap tends to be a tragedy story about someones messed up life, or about how girls need to “get down” or “bump and grind”.
Now women rappers are rising and becoming more respected. They are changing the HipHop scene into something more relatable to regular women.

I loved the Nicki Minaj article just because i never really understood or knew what she was about. I just thought of her as some crazy female rapper with colorful hair. Knowing her back story changes a lot of my perspectives on her. In a way she becomes more real. I also like how she doesn’t have a type, and doesn’t associate herself with being one sexual orientation, she just does what she does. Shes a “bad bitch”. She is definitely big in the music scene right now and will continue to inspire women to empower themselves. Something great about Nicki Minaj is that she just doesn’t really care. She’s the first to ever take such a huge risk with appearance and how she presents herself. That is definitely what makes her stand out.

Drag Performace: Paris is Burning

Going to the performance, I was expecting to see a lot of feather boas and colorful costumes. I thought the performance would be similar to the acts in the movie Paris is burning. It was going to be my first time seeing a show of this kind, and I was excited to experience this form of art so new to me.
Waiting outside the church where the performance was, all sorts of thoughts and ideas about the show were going through my head. Will these guys be wearing heels? Are they going to have a vogue off? What crazy colored wig will they be wearing? I was pretty much thinking all the typical stereotypes about a drag queen. Again, I had never been to or seen such a performance before so I really didn’t know what to expect.
Walking into the church they had chairs and pillows set up in front, where all the critics and performance artists sat, and “bleacher” seating on the sides, where we sat. We sat there for a good ten minutes before a tall man with an accent, probably from Germany, came out and gave a brief explanation of what was going to happen. He went back into the room where he came from and suddenly a remix of Adele’s song “Set fire to the rain” came on. The song went on for approximately 8 minutes without anything. It was just the audience and the song. I am a very impatient person, so at this point I was already getting antsy. I was wondering how long could this song possibly go on for when finally, three men came out at separate times and sat down on their own chair. They were dressed in what looked like black see-through robes. I was so confused. Where were the men in crazy costumes and makeup? Once they sat down, they just sat there. Nothing was happening. I kept looking around at the audience to see their reactions, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t know what was going on either. The first thing that really stuck out to me was the little black guy in the back who looked like he was in extreme pain. For the first ten minutes or so I was concerned, I thought he was going through some sort of panic attack and that the other guys didn’t see what was going on. Looking at the rest of the audience, they seemed pretty confused too. Honestly, he made me slightly uncomfortable, only because I didn’t know whether I should go help him or if that was actually part of the show. Eventually he started to sing, so by that time I had figured it really was apart of the show. They then all got up and formed a triangle, moving around in the room and trading seats. They did this three times around until they were all back in their own seats.
Next came the “don’t stop” and “mama said”. This part of the show (which was pretty much the entire show) made me so angry. Honestly, I was just confused as to what this had to do with anything. I was unsure as to how this was considered good performance art. I wanted to confiscate the microphone from the guy with the beard. …And the bird. OH MY GODDDDDDDDD…I swear I was about to walk up in the middle of the show and throw it across the room. I couldn’t tell if it was intentional, but that bird would just not shut up. Only after the show did I find out that is was based off of a music video “Don’t stop to dance”. If I had watched this before and learned more about what their performance was about, I might have understood and appreciated it a little more.
The end of the performance was my favorite. Their dancing was very entertaining. Especially the tall guy 😉 with the nice face. Their moves were everywhere. The performance definitely took a huge turn at the end. I could see how they built up to it. The upbeat, loud and exciting ending definitely woke me up. I felt bad, but I just could not keep my eyes open for the majority of the show. I must say though I was disappointed with the overall performance. I was going in expecting some drag performance like the ones from Paris is Burning and this was definitely a different outlook on that. The show just didn’t make sense to me. I felt like there was no story behind it, and the whole thing seemed pretty improvised. I just don’t understand how they could have possibly practiced that. There wasn’t really much to practice. All in all, I thought it was a funny experience, but it didn’t really teach me about the performance of drag.
The one thing I would’ve liked to do differently would be to have sat down for a class and learned what these performers were about. It would’ve also been interesting to see the videos in which the performance is based off of, before I had seen it. This was definitely a new experience for me and hopefully we’ll get to go on another one as a class.

Camilla says..Please Stop!!!!

The first thing i remember from the performance was the little black guy in the back who looked like he was in extreme pain. For the first ten minutes or so i was concerned, i thought he was going through some sort of panic attack and that the other guys didnt see what was going on. Looking at the rest of the audience, they seemed pretty confused too. Honestly, he made me slightly uncomfortable, only because i didnt know whether i should go help him or if that was actually part of the show.

Next came the “dont stop” and “mama said”. This part of the show (which was pretty much the entire show) made me so angry. I wanted to confiscate the microphone from the guy with the beard. …and the bird. OH MY GODDDDDDDDD…..i swear i was about to walk up in the middle of the show and throw it across the room. I couldnt tell if it was intentional, but that bird would just not shut up.

The end of the performance was my favorite. Their dancing was very entertaining. Especially the tall guy 😉 with the nice face. I must say though i was disappointed with the performance. I was going in expecting some drag performance like the ones from Paris is Burning and this was definitely a different outlook on that. The show just didnt make sense to me. I felt like there was no story behind it, and the whole thing seemed pretty improvised. I just dont understand how they could have possibly practiced that. There wasnt really much to practice. All in all, i thought it was a funny experience, but it didnt really teach me about the performance of drag.

Paris is Buring

Watching Paris is Burning was extremely interesting to me. This class, let alone this topic, is  something very new to me. I never realized all the struggles these women go through, and the different ways there are to identify with your self.
Before this movie I had never heard about these Balls for drag queens. I found it interesting how there are several houses each with their own “mother”. The mother of the house was the hardest worker. She cares for everyone in her house and organizes the events. She also becomes their new mother. Most of them are runaways or thrown on the street by their own parents for being who they are.
The Ball was their Oscars in a way. It was their form of entertainment, and it was as close to reality as they’d get. The Ball made them feel real, it was their fame and fortune.
Another interesting point in the movie was when they said being able to blend was what realness is. For example, if a drag queen was able to walk down a street without getting weird looks or comments and actually passing as a women, they’d be considered real. They try not to give away that they are gay. That is when they know and feel that it has become reality.
Paris is Burning really allowed me to understand what it is these women go through, the changes they make to their bodies to perfect themselves, and how they identify with themselves, whether that be male, female, gay, or transgender. They want to be seen as what they want and they want to be beautiful. They understand the precautions that come with being who they are and in the end we see that it even takes Venus’ life.
All in all, I think its important for us to understand why they do what they do, and come to accept them for what they are. It is their life and their art, and I think its great that they  express themselves for everyone. After watching the movie, this is definitely something i’ve come to understand and appreciate more.