Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Venus Xtravaganza

For a commission for a really lovely client, he told me to watch "Paris is Burning", the documentary of 1980s "Balls" in New York. Mainly for gay black guys segregated in society, but it seems the balls were open to anyone who felt lowly or misplaced in society. The balls were a celebration of individuality. Watching the film you see these absolutely spellbinding beautiful drag queens and transvestites; what shines through is their utter commitment to themselves and their gut of who they want to be. It's an intensely beautiful strength.

So how does this fit into heroin(e)?

The above picture is of Venus Xtravaganza, a pre-op transsexual. My fascination in gender leads me to the belief that she is a woman. You look at the beautiful dainty bird-like way she moves, not unlike Edie Sedgwick, the camera absorbs her every nuance and loves it. You see an unusual strength in her as she tells of everything she has been through: leaving home at an incredibly dangerous young age, not eating for days, having to jump out of windows to escape enraged clients who discover she's a man (she lives off prostitution) but then you see her at the balls. She glides along the floor looking stunning, you believe (like she does) that she was born to be more than this. Gliding with an innate sense of class and composure, she belongs on catwalks and being spoilt.

Then the film cuts to her drag mama giving the details of her death. Venus was killed during the making of the documentary, found dead under a motel bed four days after she died.

Death to me is a mystery that crawls into my mind heavy with fear. Its unfair, its inevitable. But you just kinda think, what would've happened if it didn't happen?