26 October 2010

Lauren, Katherine, Lana too: On Channeling Glamour

I met Sarah Green, of the band Dangerous Ponies, a while back when we both performed at QueerChannel to benefit The Attic Youth Center here in Philadelphia.  I performed as a drag king that night, complete with flannel and a false mustache, but was headed out to the Bar AIDS fundraiser afterwards in full fabulosity - AKA a twenty four inch lime waist cincher with rhinestones and paillettes.  Sarah complimented my cincher, I was drawn to her zebra jumpsuit, and magic happened.

As it turned out, Sarah was producing her second annual genderqueer calendar and looking for models.  I was familiar with the calendar from the previous year and was excited to work with her.  We met at my favorite local coffee shop, One Shot in Northern Liberties, and talked art, careers, Dangerous Ponies' touring schedule and amazing two-tune purple tour van, and my inspirations for our upcoming photo shoot together.  My goal was to evoke and create a post-modern, genderqueer homage to Bettie Page.  One of the most iconic things about Bettie was her luxurious black hair and.  However, in my drag and genderfuck performance I do not wear wigs and do not perform "realness," as it's referred to in drag circles.  My goal is not to pass convincingly as female bodied, but rather to disrupt and deconstruct the gender binary by a conscious mixing of gender signals and signifiers.

This meant that to capture Bettie's spirit I was going to have to nail the poses and the energy.  All of our initial shots were on a sofa, posed after a few iconic pictures of her, including some with a riding crop, as Bettie created some of the earliest and best known images of bondage and BDSM.  Interestingly, I haven't seen any of these photos yet since the Ponies are touring and Sarah's editing time is slim.  After we did some of the classic poses, we got me up off the sofa and channeling my inner glamourous femme queen.  This is what we've come up with so far:

The first two pictures that went up on Sarah's blog were ones where she had played with some color filters.

  In the first I think I look very send-up of a 50's house wife who has just burnt the toast and is trying to look innocent and a little dumb.  Also, though I love the color on this, the filter (or perhaps just the lighting) did substantially change the color of the lipstick away from the very classic red that I choose. Moot, though, because this wasn't a classic Bettie pose anyway.

The color from the second is very 70's Playboy, which I love in terms of the look, and is interesting in terms of further muddling signifiers, because the pose and the outfit are not at all of that era.

On the other hand, the picture that Sarah most recently posted in an album previewing the entire calendar put me very much in mind of Marilyn Monroe as photographed my Richard Avedon. It's not exact (since I wasn't going for that look) but the way it came out is stunning, and I give all of the credit to Sarah for being such a great director from behind the camera.   All I can say is that it's absolutely stunning, and I could not be more in love.


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