Have I ever mentioned my mother’s custom made green and purple tinted bifocals? They are tinted in a sort of color fade that goes from lime green at the bottom to lavender at the top. She designed the color blend herself, and had them produced by a gay optician on Broadway (the gay district) in Seattle. I went with her to pick them up and got to listen to her try and argue with the gay optician that she was a bigger queen than he was. I don’t know how far my mother’s knowledge of gay male culture extends, whether or not she’s aware of the custom of certain gay men referring to themselves and others as queens. She has always had a deep desire to be royalty, and I suspect that she just couldn’t handle hearing the term used on anyone besides herself, no matter how potentially culturally appropriate. In the photograph above, it sort of looks like my mother is giving the peace sign. She is in fact reaching out to try and block the camera, making the classic “no photos” gesture.
I have done some further investigation in follow up to my previous post about Lady Blah-Blah, because it occured to me that I could be guilty of stereotyping, and that can be an ugly thing. I fell sick with a flu, and in the first days of the sickness I conducted a poll via text message to all of the gay boys in my phonebook. I asked each participant, “What do you think of Lady Gaga?” The results were somewhat heartening to me, in that there were definitely some statements of uncertainty about her, and a bit of legitimate critique of what she is doing. I was relieved to find that my pals hadn’t totally united in a lockstep headed for her next concert. But I have to say, the boys that did subvert the trend seemed to be fighting upstream to maintain their critical stance. They said things like, “it’s complicated…” Meanwhile I received two responses which were literally just the words: “Love her.” (Just like I said in my earlier post!!!!) My favorite response was this: “Thumbs down but it’s a long conversation. The concept and reality don’t match, and in that failure I turn my back.” Ahh the gay opinion, so glad to have you on board.
I received one positive comment about her, which I did enjoy, which was: “She works hard and talks less. She reminds the gays of ourselves.” I get that.* I see her working hard. But I feel like, following the sentiment of the “thumbs down” comment above, the whole thing just isn’t totally working for me. I get that she is kind of trying to make a meta-comment about fame, attempting to be a court jester among the stars and to make the system visible for the game that it is. What I end up experiencing more, though, is the sensation of onslaught by the whole marketing machine behind her. When I see her, mostly what I see is a successful business plan. A caustic voice in my head comments that she probably saw the gay audience as a resource which was being underutilized, and took obvious steps to capitalize on their loyalty. Ugly stereotypes indeed, from my very own mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see anyone showing love to the gays. I am just more excited when I see it coming from somewhere less predictable. For example, what do Marvin Alverado and Angel Hernandez have to say about Gay Marriage? Only click that previous link if you want to have your stereotypes messed up.
And here is my last statement on L.Gg.: I would love her so much more if she would come out and say something like, “I stole everything I have from Madonna and The Homos. The only thing that’s really mine is my big nose.” (Which is in fact the best thing about her if you ask me.)**
And my last statement in general is: How are we ever going to make it without Alexander McQueen to lead the way? We can all stand around arguing all day long about who is the queen of this or that, he just quietly went ahead and blew our minds. I mean, talk about challenging genres and making performance and art where none was expected. RIP, dear sir. The world will certainly only be more predictable without you in it, and I am not looking forward to that one bit.
*The friend who wrote me the comment that Lady Gaga works hard and talks less knows that I talk A LOT and can tend to be fairly lazy, so his comment especially tickles me.
**Look, I can’t stop talking about her! One more comment: Lady Gaga repeatedly refers to her work in pop music as being performance art, and of course a statement like this would snare me. I guess, if her idea of performance art is dressing wacky and smearing yourself in blood, then she does have some historical grounds for making that reference. However, she isn’t necessarily referencing very good performance art.