HomeMusicA Queer Punk Vaudevillian’s Surreal Tackle ‘Titanic’

A Queer Punk Vaudevillian’s Surreal Tackle ‘Titanic’


In some methods, turning the movie “Titanic” right into a farce about local weather change makes a number of narrative sense. Instead of an iceberg — which has melted, after all — the ship goes down as a result of it hits a mountain of underwater rubbish.

In different methods, “Titanic Depression,” a brand new multimedia efficiency, may solely have come from the madcap mind of Dynasty Handbag, the queer vaudevillian with punk origins and questionable style in unitards.

The 1997 movie was a blockbuster, certain, however Dynasty Handbag’s imaginative and prescient could also be much more epic than James Cameron’s. Clad principally in frilly underwear, with a recalcitrant therapist on speed-text, she’s a bawdy model of Rose (Kate Winslet’s character within the movie). Jack, the Leonardo DiCaprio love curiosity, is performed by an octopus, who sneaks aboard the vessel disguised as a whimsical hat. Billy Zane’s villainous snob is changed by a dildo in a black idler. A camel and a microscopic tardigrade make cameos. Mark Zuckerberg is there. The entire factor is a metaphor concerning the seeming futility of preventing industrial capitalism and impending environmental doom, however it is usually: a hilarious romp! A sexcapade, with consent types! A self-own, with a pause for meditation — about dying! And Dynasty Handbag, the alter ego of the artist Jibz Cameron, inhabits all of the elements.

Cameron, 48, has been working varied levels in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles as Dynasty Handbag for over 20 years, constructing a fan base each at august cultural establishments like the Brooklyn Academy of Music and at underground freak spectaculars.

“Jibz is ready to deal with all types of points — whether or not it’s physique dysmorphia or childhood trauma or local weather change — with essentially the most hysterical absurdity and in methods that you’d by no means count on,” mentioned Ed Patuto, director of viewers engagement at the Broad in Los Angeles, which programmed and commissioned her work. “She’s an important performer, in that you simply by no means see her rehearsals — it appears to be like fully spontaneous.”

“Weirdo Night,” her fashionable, long-running month-to-month selection present in Los Angeles, which she summed up as a “dwell ‘Muppet Show’ meets demented queer ‘Star Search,’” has change into a Mecca for the surreal. “The ‘Weirdo Night’ neighborhood is freak church and Dynasty Handbag is the weirdo priest,” mentioned Sarah Sherman, the breakout “Saturday Night Live” star, who has carried out there. (The sequence was the topic of a well-received 2021 Sundance documentary.)

“Titanic Depression,” which was commissioned by the Brooklyn cultural venue Pioneer Works in 2017 and can premiere there on Saturday and Sunday, is Cameron’s most bold and multidisciplinary undertaking but; it includes animation, video, soundscapes, singing, historical past and dance. It arrives on the heels of her Guggenheim Fellowship, lots for an artist who refers to her crew as “dirtbag queers.”

As her imaginative and prescient for “Titanic” grew, “it simply saved getting extra money and extra consideration,” Cameron mentioned, with an avant-gardist’s observe of shock. “And then I saved feeling prefer it needed to be larger and larger.”

“What retains it contemporary for me is realizing that I can simply make myself one thing to do, if I need to do it,” she added, on a break from rehearsals close to her house in Los Angeles final week, in a studio the place she additionally takes punk aerobics. “I undoubtedly belief that it’s what it needs to be.”

Her instincts are being acknowledged throughout: She may have visible artwork in “Made in L.A.,” the Hammer Museum’s biennial this fall; a comedy album, on the artist Seth Bogart’s Wacky Wacko label, can be forthcoming.

But even amongst efficiency artists — not precisely a conformist bunch — Cameron’s alchemy of comedy, artwork, music, theater and trend stands out for really delivering on its lunacy.

“Jibz is a power of nature,” mentioned Jack Black, the actor and musician, including that he and his spouse, Tanya Haden, “have been fully blown away” once they first noticed Dynasty Handbag. “We have been laughing uncontrollably,” he wrote in an electronic mail. “It felt like a hallucinogenic expertise.”

With a pointy jawline, an askew wig and options that contort right into a bouquet of disdain, Cameron performs Dynasty as an alternate-universe star, whose aesthetic is “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” crossed with a minor ’80s Aaron Spelling crime drama (currently she’s been a fan of “Hart to Hart”), “however lined in goo, and a lesbian,” she mentioned.

One of these inspirations, Paul Reubens — Pee-wee Herman himself — was impressed by her character work. “To a sure diploma, she appears type of undefinable,” he mentioned. “You should see it; you’ll be able to’t clarify it very properly. And that in itself looks like an unbelievable factor to have going for your self.”

The present, initially developed with the artist and technologist Sue-C, and introduced as a part of the New York Live Arts festival Planet Justice, is carried out with a video backdrop; our heroine is dwell onstage, and everybody else is animated, principally from Cameron’s personal drawings, and typically together with her face.

At a current rehearsal in Brooklyn, Cameron and a group of her collaborators — together with her co-writer Amanda Verwey, and the visible director, Mariah Garnett, who’s Cameron’s romantic associate — have been working via a scene. À la Rose and Jack, Dynasty trails the octopus via gilded-age state rooms — generated partly by Dall-E, the picture A.I., as a result of, Cameron defined, that makes them visibly off-kilter, like Dynasty herself. In the bowels of the ship, they discover a throbbing dance celebration. (Cue techno beats, not fiddle.) Cameron choreographed a wiggly duet together with her cephalopod lover.

A variety of the hourlong present is that this crazy, till it will get to what David Everitt Howe, the Pioneer Works curator who commissioned the undertaking, known as “the bonkers dying sequence.” A literal meditation, it underscores how consumerist greed led to the tragedy then, and to the huge bother we’re in now.

“It was such a tonal shift,” he mentioned. “It’s darkish. I bear in mind I laughed uncomfortably, however I feel it’s highly effective, too. It makes the silliness stronger.”

Jibra’ila Cameron, generally known as Jibz since childhood, grew up scrappy and poor in Northern California, with glimpses of artistic freedom. A performing arts summer camp run by Wavy Gravy, the hippie clown and a pal of her dad and mom, “completely saved my life as a child,” she mentioned.

Her household life was risky, although, and she or he left house at 15 or so, bumming across the Bay Area. Though she hadn’t graduated from highschool, she was accepted on the San Francisco Art Institute on the energy of some Edward Gorey-style comics she drew. There, she was launched to efficiency artwork and started making movies and joined bands. “I might simply type of freak out onstage, play the keyboard,” she mentioned. (One of the teams was an all-female post-punk act known as Dynasty; when it cut up up, she saved the identify, tacking on Handbag — I at all times thought the phrase purse was actually humorous.”)

Later, hoping to change into an actor, she studied at a theater conservatory. She had already embodied Dynasty Handbag, who debuted at Ladyfest in San Francisco in 2002, and her look stays remarkably the identical: a misguided take on femininity, a studied failure of aesthetics. “She’s carrying tights, however they’re beneath a showering swimsuit,” Everitt Howe famous. “It’s all layered unsuitable.”

Her quixotic readability has influenced a youthful era of artists, like Sherman. “Jibz gave me the very best piece of recommendation ever — after seeing me carry out with all my props and costumes and devices and gizmos, she mentioned, ‘You don’t have to WORK so exhausting, you’re humorous! You’re ENOUGH!’” Sherman wrote. “I actually took that to coronary heart.”

Cameron shouldn’t be associated to the “Titanic” director James Cameron, however he’s within the present, alongside industrialists like Benjamin Guggenheim, who “made his cash within the mining and smelting companies,” Dynasty Handbag says, punctuating her monologue about him with fart and bomb sounds. The disembodied voice of Guggenheim, who really died aboard the Titanic, responds: “How dare you, I gave you a Guggenheim in 2022 and also you wouldn’t be making this ridiculous present with out me!”

Cameron was nonetheless understanding the ending for “Titanic Depression” final week, conjuring a second out of a discarded plastic straw, a Lou Reed track and a robe fabricated from rubbish.

“I really feel like what I need to evoke with that is making one thing out of nothing — this tiny hope, survivability,” she advised her crew. “People make music irrespective of the place they’re, what socioeconomic class. I get to come back out in my showstopper outfit — that’s the showbiz half I actually like. And then it will get bizarre.”

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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