You know, when people around you don’t get the joke, when laughter doesn’t circulate, well, it’s easy to turn to Earnest & Dour.
Janice Dickinson admits she’s having fun testing male models with her transsexual protege, Claudia Charrie[NO PICS HERE, SORRY GUYZ]z: “”When it was time for a photo session with another man I had to disclose to the other model that she truly is a man.””
Oh, god, when you have allies like that, who needs enemas?
In the early 1960’s, when Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis Jr. were onstage, everyone knew that Sammy was black, or at least that he was a negro. But to them, Black was just another ethnicity, like Italian or Jewish, a source of humor.
In the late 1960’s, though, black activism was in force, and for the new generation it was hard to see being black as just something to joke about anymore. Sammy’s classic “low hug” of Richard Milhous Nixon seemed to finally write off that humor as a pathetic attempt to be accepted by powerful whites.
Still, in Sammy’s performances there was lots of brilliance that let him take the essentials from his marginalized culture and make really potent art with it. That division between mainstream and marginalized left him as an outsider on both sides, but it also left him unique and memorable.
When I look at drag performers today, I think about the black performers of early in the century. Black performers often had to appear in blackface, and even after they didn’t, they kept up at least a surface veneer of shuckin’ & jivin’ even if there were subversive and ironic elements laced though their shows that the marginalized could get while the mainstream missed them.
Dragface is what is acceptable as trans today. Nora Grinberg has been talking about Jillian Todd Weiss’ notion that since marginalization or assimilation is the norm for trans expression, it’s trans expression that are both out and normative that are the queerest, most transgressive expressions.
I laughed recently when Lady Bunny (or at least her alter-ego) went on jury duty. Her biggest revelation was that women are kind of smart and cool, and maybe she should spend more time with them. A drag queen who characatures women actually being forced to spend time with women born female and deciding that there was something to be learned there? Amazing!
I love it when I talk to TBB, because with her I can talk about what’s funny around trans without having to turn to just dick jokes. What’s funny is funny, but unless you have experienced it, immersed in it, there is no way you can get the joke. And trust me, subsituting jokes that make people laugh because trannys are “really men,” well, that’s not funny at all.
I miss, miss, miss opening my sense of humor. I hate being earnest & dour. But until others can get the joke, and not just demand mainstream dragface, well, earnest & dour is what I need to be.