After them leaving Adelaide, then me leaving also, then arriving almost two months after the show, I finally got some photos of all the people i can remember sleeping with…. These are some I took in the wings at the Star Theatre, I think the best night of the season, rough, angry, a bit thrashy and it felt real, made me nervous to watch knowing people I knew were there seeing it, and the theatre, kinda rundown and a bit scuffed suited it so well, it was … this night, the storm coming in and wings you’d crash into the wall if you didn’t stop in time, the stage almost too small and lights to bash into, and the four, who made it personal and … this was what I wanted. So, Daniel Jaber, Paea Leach, Tara Sor and Yang Xiao-Xuan, my little gang of trouble who made it real.
Due to the content of my Ignition 7 – Gender Studies performance, all the people i can remember sleeping with…, it will not be shown at the following venues:
Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth.
Ignition Opening Night
Friday October 12
Golden Grove Arts Centre
Saturday October 20
Talking talking talking. I was really not so prepared for this rehearsal, but it turned into a bit of a long conversation … mostly me talking really, about where the work came from and just going through all my notes out loud.
I’ve been trying to work the Rape of Lucretia scene into something that isn’t a repetition of what I’ve done before, and started to see it maybe as being part os a larger scene that is a combination of all the scraps of ideas littering my notebook. Both before and after, tonight on a bus again, my new favourite place of rehearsing, I tried to make this germinal idea something real and tangible enough to be played with. There’s a long gap between talking about an idea and making dance with it.
Talking and watching porn movies.
This was a closed rehearsal, I don’t think I’m going to say much about our conversations here. I found myself at one point surprised at how awkward I was to talk about certain things in front of four people I feel very comfortable around when I seem to blog to a mostly unknown public with exhibitionist impunity.
The piece has taken a very personal turn for the moment. A friend of mine said to me while sitting in the Black Cat in Fitzroy and talking about – of course – Judith Butler and my gender, “You know, you’re really lucky, you get to live what we only theorise about”.
So when I leave writing about stuff for a few days, things get … blurry. The last few days have been bewilderingly intense in the world of dance here, and personally. I suspect chocolate at next rehearsal. I really am deeply grateful and overwhelmed by the love and support I’ve received from the dancers here, and how much they’ve made me feel like I am part of a family. This really is an amazing and wonderful place, and I do feel so lucky to be here.
I’ve been meaning also to write about Daniel’s rehearsals, as I’ve found myself playing a boy snake who emits female pheromones to attract other boy snakes so they will sleep on top of me while I hibernate. Yes, the personal pronouns are all a bit confused around here. It’s fun and having not been in the process of developing a performance as a dancer for what seems like a lifetime, I am deliriously happy to do one of the things I truly love.
Playtime. I had a list of things to get through without a doubt naively optimistic, but we actually got through over half of it, and altogether gave me plenty to think about in conceptualising the piece as a whole. Back to the Sabine Women, and more amnesiac and hysterical, panic-stricken comings-to-life of Rubens’ paintings, and pulling it together rather successfully with the biting and punching stuff. It could have been a disaster and I’d have been left with no idea what to do next.
Mostly it was just a day of working through things we’d already done, considering what worked, talking about it a bit, and then finish. After all this, sitting around somewhere dark and pondering what to do next was the bit of endurance. My notebook is being eaten by a bacterial sprawl of letters and words. I think I know where to go next, and also have a constantly replenished list of things to try, but it feels like it’s close to a point where there is a parting, it’s going to have to become one thing or another.
Sometimes when I get to this point in a development I feel an emptiness at what has been left behind. At the beginning, there is this sense of all these possibilities the work could be and slowly it gets collapsed into one thing. This time, it feels like it is unfolding into what it could be, becoming itself. Plenty of embarrassment for me.
A visit to the giant porn supermarket next to ACarts yesterday, to search for any book I could find on instruction in Shibari しばり, Japanese rope bondage. The woman working there said, “I dunno … I just work here”, but rifled through all her magazines and turned up “Japan Bondage 9”. I’m particularly fond of the photograph of the suspended woman with the birdcage hanging from her groin. So tomorrow I need to buy some rope.
That was not the point of today though. I really wanted to work through the “Rape of the Sabine Women” scene, a biting, fingers like teeth, grabbing, entangled limbs colliding with the floor mess of rape and orgasmic frenzy. It was one of those … processes … that is not like a moment of transcendental clarity, when you realise in a vertiginous wave how it’s all supposed to work, it was a blind stumbling away from what I know and don’t want to repeat and near to desperate and likely failure.
I don’t mind things not working, but the luxury of the slightly patronising, “Oh yes, all artists need to fail, for things not to succeed”, is only realistic when you have the time to deal with the residue of disaster. When – like all choreographers in Australia who endure the torture of miserly budgets and infinitesimal rehearsal periods – there isn’t really the time to indulge, the point when working through an idea should be discarded as a deadend is too close.
Biting, falling over, Paea with a brand new root canal, trying with everyone at once and no delineation between each cycle of collapse. It looks like a brawl. I have an idea in my head what it should be but to try and apprehend it is to see it slip away. So we go back to the basic elaboration of what works, the performance of teeth biting as well as the literal physical act, flesh remaining in this maw until the fall is complete and then for an instant more, or if it breaks apart, lunging to obtain that bite again. Lots of other things, just casual possibilities that need to be coaxed into foci of intensity the way undifferentiated cells coalesce and bloom into organs, viscera, bodies.
There is a feeling I get of unwilling apprehension, that I know I have to do a particular thing but if it doesn’t work … We were looking at a bunch of different paintings of the Rape of the Sabine Women, like what I did with Goya’s etchings Disasters of War in extermination, Shunga and Chungongtu in hell ad nauseam. Despite the not copious rehearsal time, I really want to not repeat what I know and have done. Yes I can make cool things from turning old paintings into performance by following a specific process, yes I can make steps, and I’m really good at it. I don’t want to ossify what I do now or ever otherwise there’s no point.
I do like working from paintings or film or photographs or … though. So knowing things weren’t working too well and really without some fundamental addition to all the teeth and fingernails it was not going to survive the evening, and time dwindling, just look at the painting, take stuff from it, like a memory, or amnesia, try and find what would have been the real trajectory of that person if the painting was one frame from a film and …
Something about Bacchus and Dionysis, not just getting drunk with some nymphs but consuming in a frenzy until it erupts in an orgy of fucking, drinking, brawling, tearing each other apart, not pleasant or nice or polite but terrifying the berserk ecstasy and cataclysmic madness and not wanting to stop. I think we got there, Paea has this intensity within her body, earlier she was just whirling like a dervish, Xuan both panic stricken and rapaciously lascivious, and Tara caught in a loop tripping over, bursting to her feet. It made me twitch, I wanted to not be just watching, far away on the outside.
I don’t really know how it’s going to work with the biting, I can see possibilities but … always but. But … Japanese Rope Bondage Porn!
Being the day when a carpenter who has fantastically scant evidence for ever having existed in the first place was hung up on the objects of his trade and encouraged to die, I thought I start my erratic wasting a couple of hours by mocking god-botherers.
Pharyngula mostly writes about biology and has dead sexy aquatic porn, like photos of Hagfish embryos. Quite regularly though he likes to ridicule, and laugh at creationists, believers, all the usual vacuousness of faith, especially if it comes from a scientist.
In a lazy Friday destruction of Dr Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, he says, “I would suggest that this argument by Collins would be better answered by supporting the divinity of Julius Caesar. His existence is far better supported than that of Jesus; we even have examples of his writings preserved, with monuments and first hand personal accounts of his life. He allowed himself to be called a god — Deo Invicto, no less — and his successor built temples to the Divus Julius. It’s awfully silly that Collins thinks the argument that either Caesar or Jesus was a god generates uncertainty, that he resolves in one direction for one of the pair, and in the other direction for the other.”
Far more important though, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month if you live in the United States. I doubt a month will make much difference though, but I would like to see all my friends who have complete assholes for partners stop making excuses and choose April as the month to take out the garbage.
Back to China.
The Chongqing Nailhouse suddenly became news if you spoke English. The New York Times had a piece, and I was sitting at Orange a couple of days ago and saw it in The Age too. Hamish McDonald used to be the Beijing correspondent replaced a while ago by Mary-Ann Toy, but there’s no change in the approach to China coverage from either The Age or Sydney Morning Herald. Admittedly I read a lot of blogs and news coverage coming out of China, but these papers are consistently a week or two behind, provide inadequate and cursory appraisal, and largely seem to get their news from a small subset of China blogs. If that’s all it takes to get a gig at The Age, I wanna be in the Guangzhou office. (I’ll just read 在桥下流 and put my name to whatever Feng37 blogs about.)
One of those news sources is the excellent Global Voices Online, founded by Rebecca Mackinnon. Writer 杨恒均 Yang Hengjun talks about how he kept on finding himself drawn into encounters with the various writers from the website (ESWN translates the Boxun article), again Feng37 turns up, translating Yang’s novel 致命弱点 Fatal Weakness.
Oh, and don’t drink the water in Guangzhou, how many times do I have to say that? “It contains high levels of ammonia, fluoride, faecal coliform bacteria and heavy metals.”
Meanwhile even in China people said, 哀悼。。。 and 难受… when they heard about 鲍德里亚 I mean Jean Baudrillard dying.
Another Global Voices person is Ethan Zuckerman, who has been in Doha, Qatar for the Third Annual Al Jazeera Annual Forum. He’s been covering it in a series of posts I’ve been devouring each day. Together they constitute an incisive look at Al Jazeera and the media in Qatar, the Middle-East and globally. Read them all or pick one at random: Things to do in Doha when you’re dead tired, Seymour Hersh kicks things off at the Al Jazeera Forum, International news: pack a parachute?, “Politics, media and misinformation” – a panel that contained all three…, Falling down on the job, A new era? Al Jazeera’s cautious embrace of citizen media, Al Jazeera English. I want it., Lessig: “Help us in the US to remember these ideals. Help us by living them yourselves.”, Al-Jazeera panel on the rights and safety of journalists, Media in the Middle East: bridges or walls, or the need for a cigarette, Last post from Doha: Five Stories.
Mainstream Media and the dereliction of Theatre. Both Nicholas Pickard and Alison Croggin from different incidents come to the same point about their respective city’s papers attenuated interest in performing arts, which is pretty similar to their coverage of China, viz. the nailhouse above. Over the other side of the world, New York Times previews Becky, Jodi and John that opened a couple of days ago.
Of course I have to finish with trannys, what do you think I am?
The title is sheer class: I was born a boy, but even my fella never guessed. The article illustrates that with a supportive family being transsexual is no big deal.
Another sublime one-liner dressed in a lurid font, Meghan Chevalier’s Confessions of a Transsexual Porn Star, who is the rather famous subject to whom the title refers. I sometimes wonder about my social standing when I seem to have quite a familiarity with the world of shemale porn…
Revenge of the lezzie shemale feminists caused Stephanie’s Pillowbook to write about Labels, and then some Explanations, and I was gonna post a comment there but saw a bit of a monster emerging and thought it would be better off here.
It really all comes from six words that out of context reads like an incomplete sentence, and within that is where the ellipsis belongs at the end of that story of Michael and me drinking Long Island Ice Tea in Guangzhou. Stephanie says, “Probably, I have been lucky, though.”, meaning the acceptance by a group of her “preferred gender”.
I was going to write about the pervasive amazement in tranny communities about individual stories and moments of acceptance, and how everyone was expecting the worst. And yeah the list of abuse, discrimination, hate, bigotry, violence, murder just goes on and on. But I got sidetracked.
I ended up writing about someone whom I don’t know, who nonetheless had something of an effect on me. Anna was a transsexual in the porn world, and who recently died in a car crash. As an aside here into porn, Dennis Cooper who has been working with Gisèle Vienne on Kindertotenlieder often writes at great length about porn stars he has known and fucked. That I like porn and think it’s one of the great pinnacles of human culture is not the point, rather, do you, or more precisely, do you look at porn? Obviously if come here often enough you’ve been exposed to my completely unfocussed adoration of smut.
Because, and here I think I have not so much in common with many trannys as evinced by most of the internet forums I have been on, and left feeling … well … like god, I am a freak … nah actually I think, “Jeez these people are uptight”, and get back to smut. I think one of the many things that seduced me into having a sex-change (such old and funky nomenclature I like) was the representations of transsexuals in porn.
If you read many books or forums or interviews where transsexuals are doing the talking, so often Cocks Are Bad OMG!!! I don’t touch it! (I don’t even talk about it and jesus-fucking-christ I do NOT masturbate. Ever. And No Sex Before The Op.) Contra this, shemale porn is pictures of chicks-with-dicks and it’s all cock. Forget for a moment blah-blah-exploitation-blah-blah-opressive-representations-of-women, because that’s not what I’m writing about. On one side there is the first version of the trannysphere, and on the other pictures that profoundly undermine these statements. It’s no different from the “gay for pay” homo-porn boys.
So coming back to Anna, who I stumbled on just after I finished VCA, along with a couple of other shemale pornstars who … I was utterly awestruck at these women, who for me after years of reading boring no-sex-please-we’re-transsexuals at worst or seriously obtuse academic wank from the 90’s identity politics world, were an epiphany.
Despite making some unfair generalisations viz. tranny forums – there are quite a few people out there who share a somewhat similar view to me on our bodies – there is an issue I don’t think I’ve ever seen discussed. For the moment I’m not even sure how to assemble such an idea but …
An anecdote. When I was maybe 12-ish and living in New Zealand, my dad, living in Toronto sent a parcel, birthday, I can’t remember. What’s important is not the contents of the box, but the newspaper used to wrap the gifts (I think Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cups amongst other things). One sheet had this photo of an 18 year old girl who’d been arrested for shoplifting dresses. The freaky-wow factor in all this was “she was a he!”. I was like (extremely without speaking), “omg I wanna be her”.
Which brings me to the issue and back to Anna again. Transsexuals present their situation as – to be really reductionist about it – ‘female trapped in male body’, and ‘I just wanna be the woman I am’. In the scheme of going from male to female (or vice versa, though the dyke/boi/ftm/drag king scene seems to understand this better) the transsexual meat in the sandwich is just an unfortunate waypoint on the journey.
So if I’m looking at a picture of Anna and thinking, “Waah! I wanna be a shemale!”, what does that make me?
And that’s the issue, the idea of choice, that someone might choose to become a tranny because that’s what they wanted to be. To extricate this from the almost identical wanting to be female is … tricky. And yes, if I look at a female body, in a magazine, on the street, a friend, I’m like, “yeah I want to be that”, or … language sometimes gets difficult in that it can’t keep up with multiple tenses and things happening at once, so, “yeah I want to be that/that’s what I am”, though currently +cock.
To be absolutely clear here, this isn’t me questioning my being transsexual/intersex/generally odd in the gender binary department. But to change the word ‘female’ to ‘transsexual’, to look at a transsexual’s body – and this is where I think porn is kinda helpful in that it is the complete body, naked, and also sexual – and say “I wanna be that”, irrespective of if it’s an intermediary on the way to being female or not, is … sometimes my strangeness is weird even for me. Especially when you don’t talk about it.
South-East Asia’s biggest sex market that is, though I always expected Thailand, or Korea or Japan who have the first three places when it comes to matters of size, located off 战前路 Zhanqian Lu, near the main station, and like all main stations in all cities I’ve been, the part of town I have a mental border around labeled ‘dodgy’, though that is not the word that springs to mind to describe a meter high fat, erect schlong radiating a smutty deep orange glow.
Really I didn’t know whether to choose the walls of full-leather masks, ball-gags, restraints, harnesses and designer ropes, or the shelves of 20cm high manga-porno models, or the endless fields of dildos, vibrators, plugs, jelly-vibrating-crustations, things to insert into other things… So I settled on Orgaster! super vibration!, something about skinship scandal g-spot pornography? Is this turning into one of those sex-spam blogs? The other option was a poster of 鄧小平 Deng Xiaoping.
It started with Hanzi Smatter‘s year-old piece on someone who’d got 妖 tattooed on their neck, which might mean “charming” in Japanese on occasion, but is more likely to mean something more demonic, like “goblin, devil, monster”, and is mostly seen in combination with 人, as in人妖 or 变性人妖, both of which mean transsexual. Halfway through the comments, ‘right-on-tranny’ comes in with the yawn about how 人妖 is akin to ‘shemale’, or ‘chick-with-a-dick’ and that feels quite safe to say that the ‘vast majority of transsexual and transgendered women’ find these terms ‘exceedingly offensive’, backing it up with a boring and earnest page of tranny terms explained. Personally, I like tranny coz it’s alot quicker to type, and while I appreciate not being burned at the stake or dragged behind a horse, I don’t really feel part of a movement that’s emerging from the shadows. Maybe this is an American thing…
And though it’s very out-of-date, I’m not sure how Transsexual Seeks Mate Online is news unless the meta-narrative of “see how the exotic oriental dwarfs are beginning to enjoy the same freedoms we in the enlightened English-speaking Empire do” is the true subtext. I mean for fuck’s sake, trannys and internet go hand-in-hand, even besides the debt we all owe to internet porn for such joys as password-protected sites and internet banking, places like URNotALone has the whole ecosystem of girls, M2F, admirers, chasers in China going on like a bomb.
Speaking of porn, somehow all of that lead to this: Pornographic Film and Video: Transsexual, on qlbtq, kinda worth a read about a cultural theory perspective on tranny porn, but somehow it makes it all boring and not as fun as Buck and Allanah, though I’ll settle for an Almodovar-esque tranny flick like 20 Centímetros … actually anyone who knows me might think “A narcoleptic transvestite who yearns to become a transsexual dreams up elaborate musical numbers in which she’s the star” is all about me.
Buck Angel is a sex pig. I thought so last year when he and Allanah Starr made shemale porn spectacular, Allanah Starr’s Big Boob Adventures, and I still think he makes the world a better place just by waking up every morning. Queerty had an interview with him a couple of days ago, on life with a mangina and making gay clown porn.
We loved Cirque Noir. What has been the reaction to it from fans? From the gay porn industry?
Thanks! Well, the reaction has been phenomenal! It is really causing a stir. I’ll be at the GayVN awards in Los Angeles next month with the Titan crew.
I have received a huge amount of fan mail from guys who have seen the movie. It is great because these guys are writing to me saying I’m the sexiest man they’ve ever seen and that they do not desire to be sexual with women, but they want to fuck MY man pussy. They wonder if it makes them bi or straight because they want to fuck me. Well, no, it definitely doesn’t make them straight, because I’m a man. I’m really making people rethink gender and sexuality, which is cool.