Sunday, October 31, 2010

vamping it up

This is what I look like with hair!

It's been fun having a bob, actually. It just surprised me how few people recognized me, considering the makeup is more or less the same I do every day, perhaps a little heavier on the eyes.

Tonight, time for THIS IS NOT A COSTUME PART 2.

But hey, if the shoe fits.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

stephen fry on straight cruising and slut-shaming

Breaking from fashion and goth music to address something that really, really pisses me off.

I'm a huge fan of Stephen Fry. He's absurdly intelligent and I probably quote...bits...from A Bit of Fry and Laurie every day. So seeing this interview with Stephen was quite disheartening, to say the least.

I think most straight men feel they disgust women. They find it difficult to believe that women are as interested in sex as they are. For good reason. If women liked sex as much as men there would be straight cruising areas in the way there are gay cruising areas. I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want. They want a boyfriend and then they want commitment.

Of course a lot of women will deny this and say, ‘Oh, no, but I love sex, I love it!’ But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?

This, very unfortunately, is not an isolated incident. He's made quite a few questionable comments before; many accused him of transphobia when, during the "Girls and Boys" episode of QI, he referred to trans women as "ladyboys." Which is indeed fucked up and COMPLETELY disrespectful--great way to delegitimize someone's gender identity. I haven't seen the episode, but I believe this was also the one that tried to justify why QI rarely has female panelists: "women don't think women are funny." I'm glad I haven't seen it (or any of the G series) because it sounds like a fuckload of misogynist, transphobic pseudo-science.

So back to the quote above. Aside from the fact that I don't want Stephen Fry telling me what I apparently think--and also, apparently in his world there are only gay men and straights, lesbians are too busy wearing combat boots or something--the notion that there should be "straight cruising" areas is ridiculous, bottom line. For one, there's a whole lot of slut-shaming going on that makes being a proud, sexual female a difficult thing to claim in public. For two, many straight men already seem to regard all public domain as a "straight cruising" area. It's not like going to a designated ~*seedy park*~ looking for a one-night stand; there's very little way to avoid it, and even the sidewalk becomes a place to try and pick up a woman. I can't wait for a bus in suburban Long Island, wearing generally ~*man repellent clothing*~ (TANGENT TIME the notion of personal style as a way to above all attract male attention is fucked up, but, y'know), without having at least three people in their cars hoot and holler at me. This too can quickly slide into dangerous territory about class, race, and socially mandated attitudes about how to approach women, although it's a good long discussion to have and, for the most part, it's not relevant to what the white, privileged Stephen Fry has to say here.

I'm not reinventing the wheel with what I have to say (and actually, my superstar friend Meg has an awesome post on similar things). But here's a disturbing anecdote: last night, after leaving the Ford Models party with Maheen (which was pretty much a sweaty, open arena for sexual harassment anyway), I get on the train to go home, leaving my wig and makeup on because I wanted to show people how awesome and unrecognizable I looked in said wig. Giving the train conductor my ticket, he looks me up and down and says, "Girl, I wish I could take your picture." Despite getting no response, when he comes to take my ticket the second time around, he persists. "Looks like you had fun tonight." He's more or less leering at me and I have to leave the train car to avoid him the rest of the ride. I'm guessing he simply assumed I was a drunken slut because I was one of few people in costume--because a reconstruction 20's dress screams I'M LOOKING FOR SOME, BOYS--but either way, not what one expects on the LIRR.

Getting dressed shouldn't be a fear. If I know I have to be somewhere late at night, I shouldn't want to make myself invisible by taking along the schlubbiest clothing I own. Unlike gay cruising areas in parks or whatnot, the sidewalk, the LIRR train, the pharmacy is not a fixed social space. While I can hold my own when catcalled, I don't want to mentally prepare myself for it any time I know I'll be in a crowded area. I don't want to keep my middle finger at full mast, because when I walk down the street or get chips from the deli, I'm not looking for sex or sexual conversation.

I'm not the most overtly sexual person. I like it fine and I'll get it when I want it, but when I was at Oberlin, I wasn't really keen on college hookup culture. There's a long list of reasons why I don't go for casual sex, but most are irrelevant. I may not be particularly promiscuous, but that doesn't mean other women are like me. We love sex, but we don't go on blathering about it or seeking it out publicly because we get vilified for it. After all, every bimbo in a miniskirt in heels is ASKING for it, isn't she? Stephen more or less says it in this interview:

"[Women don't] hang around in parks waiting for casual encounters with men. They just don't. The only ones who do it properly, they do it for money. Which proves another point--they have to be paid to do it!"

So every sexually active woman is a prostitute, and those who aren't only put up with sex out of desperation for a long-term relationship. What Stephen sees as sex aversion isn't a reflection of desire, but of the disparity of consequences between men and women. Social stigmatization, shame, a higher likelihood of violence, unwanted pregnancy, a world that already polices female sexuality and a woman's right to choose...

And here's an excerpt from his novel The Hippopotamus, the protagonist of which seems to be a far cruder version of Stephen:

Do gay men tarting themselves up for a night in a club whine about the vile sexism which insists they must be made attractive in order to be inspected like cattle? Do they hell.

Sometimes, in my dreams, I imagine a world in which women enjoy sex: a world of heterosexual cruising areas in parks and promenades, heterosexual bars, heterosexual back rooms, heterosexual cinemas, heterosexual quarters of the town where women roam, searching for chance erotic encounters with men. Such an image is only conceivable in one's fantasising bedroom, jerked into life by an angry fist and a few spastic grunts. If women needed sex as much as men did then - duck, Ted, duck, run for cover - then there wouldn't be so many rapists around the place.

The fact that such a misogynist message is being spread by a "NATIONAL FUCKING TREASURE" makes it even worse. Many people around the internets are thankfully outraged, but just as many are justifying it because "you guys, he's soooooo cool! He's so smart and funny and I will luff him forever."

No. Fuck that. I can't quite articulate all I want to say right now, but...Stephen, however clever a comedian you may be, you are hopelessly, ignorantly naive about gender, sexual chemistry (in the scientific sense), and societal standards for women. So piss off.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the witching hour

al jourgensen threatens to shut down this blog in three, two...

Perhaps it's because I just got run down by a bunch of zombies outside Penn Station (excellent marketing on AMC's part; also, the trailer for The Walking Dead features the Walker Brothers classic The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore. Scott Walker + zombies? Fine by me), but I am legitimately excited for Halloween. It could be the fact that I'm actually doing things (Ford Models bash + a party for Convent), or maybe it's because I'm a sucker for all things autumn. I love pumpkins and squash, I love jackets, and I do kind of love witches. Recent years have resulted in Halloween cop-outs (Oberlin College house parties, hanging out in a Fort Greene warehouse for an hour, sitting in Penn Station long past the final drunk train, watching sexy cops and guidos masquerading as supermen stumble and vomit through the LIRR)...and if we're honest, this year is no different costume-wise.

I have a bad habit of planning EPIC costumes and promising myself that this year will be the one to go all out. Instead, I've ended up dressed as a mime (wearing a black-and-white striped turtleneck I'd worn to class three days earlier), throwing on a silly hat and calling it Victorian, and trying to convince people that no, I WASN'T just wearing normal clothes, I was totally dressed like Dieter of Sprockets fame. (Addendum: Kyle MacLachlan looks EXQUISITE there.) Meg had the super-awesome idea of me being Rachael from Blade Runner, but I sadly didn't have the time, patience, or money to buy/make an 80's-meets-40's blazer with huge shoulders. I also don't have nearly enough hair.

next year, i swear

Other ideas included Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice (capitalizing on how everyone says I looked like Winona Ryder when she was relevant; Chelsey nabbed this costume first), every member of The Human League Mk. II (no wig required!!!!), and Jane Lane (wig required ;__;). In the end, I just bought a cheap black bob wig and will go as Random Twenties Floozy. I already have a great reconstruction dress and the false eyelashes, and the decade's definitely hot right now: Boardwalk Empire steeze, right?

anita berber + sebastian droste: decadent weimar idols

I figure it's a good costume for Ford; I'd love to look luxe next to the altogether more glamorous models, who will undoubtedly be decked out in their sexy finest. For future, comparatively casual Halloween weekend adventures (running away from evil ghouls in haunted houses???), I'll take the same wig, hairspray it up, and become...

...the ULTIMATE lazy costume. At least Cesare would involve some meticulous makeup--those black eye triangles!

Friday, October 22, 2010




A million times yes!

It's very easy to please me with black and grey, but this editorial from Vogue Turkey's October 2010 issue is so incredibly lush. Shot by Hans Feurer and starring Elise Crombez (good to see her back in VT after they 'shopped her beyond recognition--where did her nose go?), the pieces featured have such an incredible sense of movement; I love seeing so much Yohji Yamamoto and Haider Ackermann in an editorial.

The dramatic coats, hats, and leather gloves (and those Rick Owens wedges!!!) have such an arch, lady-of-the-manor vibe; the way they blow and change shape in the wind is epic, to say the least. Elise is also rocking the deep plum lips of the season without looking like a 90's castoff (am I contradicting myself here? Yes. I don't care).

The newer Vogues are sort of knocking it out of the park lately. (See also "A Lo Twiggy" in Vogue Latin America. It's oodles of fun, and stop me before I say "whimsical" because that word is fucking TIRED.) Perhaps it's because they don't have established reputations; perhaps it's because they're not eating out of a dated, old-guard elite's hand; perhaps it's my own bitterness because I'm exasperated with people like Carine Roitfeld. But heaven knows I want every piece in this editorial.

...except, y'know, that Ann Sofie Back cutout jumpsuit. I don't think that would work.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

from boys to men (from NYT sunday styles)

Well, scratch everything I said about men's fashion, body image, and androgyny four months ago; seems Guy Trebay and LEADING INDUSTRY EXPERTS like the editor of Maxim have declared that pipe-cleaner prepubescents are out, and rugged, MANLY MEN are in.

josh brolin + jeff aquilon, both v man

I needn't repeat the obvious about Hedi Slimane's history at Dior Homme and as a photographer. We know he loves youth, pin-thin tailoring, and the indie rock world; he's credited with making those baby-faced androgynous male models on the catwalks ubiquitous. But the industry is tiring of "skinny skate-rats," as Trebay so eloquently puts it, and looking towards older, weathered, more traditionally masculine standards. Which, as it tends to do, leads to really offensive language about the nature of manliness.

"The twink thing seems over. When people open GQ, I don’t want them to feel like they’re looking at clothes on 16-year-olds," Jim Nelson, editor of GQ, says. "When we cast, we want a model with some heft to him and a few years on him. Someone who has aged a little bit and who feels like he’s a man.”

I can understand the movement away from boys who look like they've been plucked out of high school; in difficult economic times, male consumers want to see well-built men who work and do manual labor--men who look like they're mature enough to purchase the goods they're selling. They want their icons to embody purchasing power and heritage luxury, and an emaciated teenager isn't going to do it. (Not to mention I'm not super keen on 16-year-olds being pushed onto the runway, male OR female.) Sam Shahid, creative director of Shahid & Company, says, "Look back to movies during the Depression, and all you saw was real guys like James Cagney. In tough times, people want a strong man." (Of course, it's a rather frustrating point that men become stronger, tougher, and more MANLY post-recession whereas women's skirt lengths just get shorter and heels higher--which I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE is a legitimate socioeconomic theory. Male success is rugged, protective strength, female is overt sexuality. Hmm.)

hedi slimane photography

That said, no matter how snappy and headline-grabbing such language may be, there is no reason to conflate skinniness and youth with a false, or rather lacking, manhood. Other than Levy rather charmingly calling models like Slimane's boys "twinks," the NY Times article also throws around words like "waify," "jailbait," and diametrically opposed, "Real Man" capitalized. I suppose it's the gay male gaze of the fashion industry, as well as the objectifying nature of modeling, turned negative and dehumanizing; just because such a homosexual male demographic of "twinks" exists doesn't mean that every ectomorph in the modeling biz is wide-eyed, immaturely naïve, and effeminate.

If I'm allowed to quote/paraphrase myself, it's the fear of more ambiguous gender presentation in fashion rearing its ugly head again. It's the same reason why Polly Vernon declared that "gobsmackingly lean silhouettes" in male modeling would lead to the mainstreaming of "manorexia" in that old Guardian article--it's not that anyone is really concerned about male body image, just that fashion industry darlings like Cole Mohr ("a model with jug ears and the body of a teenager" as Trebay puts it) are too frail, too awkward, and too delicate to be men. Such notions of the Real Man, or the Mad Men-ification of fashion (square-jawed, mature masculinity, a time-travel symbol of a man who likes a stiff drink and who sports a few lines around the eyes), is just a more microscopically-focused expression of queerphobia and misogyny. It's like the bullshit pipe-dream stories about "curvy" female models: how even now, Lara Stone can't give an interview without the writer making reference to her size 4 physique or her tits, or how putting (a recently slimmed-down) Crystal Renn on your runway or in your Vogue is a sign of progress. (Which, Terry Richardson and Carine Roitfeld, we have a problem.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

holy money, holy love

This past Friday, my friend Maheen and I went to see Swans at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple. I'd heard a lot of insanely positive reviews about this tour, drawing on the sonic assault of the new incarnation's performance and Michael Gira's, masturbation during the Montreal gig. (Thankfully, friends tell me he hid it behind his guitar. I guess he was as moved by hearing "Sex, God, Sex" as we all were.)

BMT has been host to a lot of intense shows, Throbbing Gristle and sunn o))) among them; it hasn't earned its reputation as "the loudest venue in NYC" for nothing. In my humble opinion, though, this was one of the most impressive, bone-crushing gigs they've ever had. It was a set heavy on material from Swans' latest album, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (incredible, FYI, and one of the best of the year), but it was quite the treat to hear "I Crawled" and other early songs. Quite frankly, for a show so powerful that it rocked your eardrums to the very center, it was actually quite beautiful, almost religious in its scope. Even though I was a wimp two-thirds of the way through and went up to the old-people balcony seats (even with heavy-duty ear plugs, being shoved against the amp at a Swans show is no picnic), staring down at a packed crowd of rapt, headbanging concertgoers was such an epic feeling. It was a definite treat to be at their first NYC show in 13 years.

Also worth mentioning: before the show, Maheen ran into opener Baby Dee in the restroom. She actually changed into a special, fuzzy dalmatian-print pair of pajamas for the concert. Afterwards, we took a brief trip downstairs to catch Sasha Grey, DJ JonBenet, and other folks spin some tunes at the after-party; the music they were playing was right up my street (I heard the Human League's "Being Boiled," for one), but the middle school dance vibe was not. As Meg so eloquently put it on my Tumblr, "a bunch of aging goths hangin’ around the basement like some sort of David Lynch bar mitzvah sponsored by Hot Topic." Indeed. We cut out pretty early.

Oh, and Steve Buscemi was there. Love Boardwalk Empire.