Sunday, April 28, 2013

Six Year Olds and Drag Queens

This morning for work, the professer I partnered with last semester and I took some of our students to Drag Brunch at Perry's in Adam's Morgan. It was a lot of fun, even though it's a little pricey and you need to get there pretty early. A great show, about ten ladies each of whom performed twice, and an impressive variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Admittedly, men dressing up as women and dancing on me still throws me off a bit (I made the mistake of sitting at the seat along the walkway, a dangerous move), but that is, essentially, what I came for. Okay, well, actually, we came to sociologically observe an optimization of gender as a performative action, but whatever.

Anyway, in the corner of the room there was a little boy. The first time I noticed him he was handing a dollar bill to one of the performers which made me whip around and stare wide-eyed at my professer, which was supposed to communicate "What the hell? Why is there a little kid here?" She got the message, but just sort of shrugged and ignored me. As the show went on, the boy continued to be sent down with bills. The point, let me clarify, is that you give queen a bill and she dances on or at you for a moment. Many of the performers clearly did not know what to do with the kid, obviously you can't dance on him. One of the queens, Justin, who talked to the audience for a while called the kid over.

"What is your name?" Justin asked.
"Isaiah," he answered.
"And how old are you, Isaiah?"
"Are you having fun?"

Good, because it's important that the six-year-old be having fun at the sex parade.
I turned back around to my professer, making another face. Instead of the "Wow," I expected, she said that his parents were probably here a lot and it just isn't a big deal to them or him.

Now I have mixed feelings. On one hand, yes, I think sex is absurdly under-discussed and, quite frankly, over-sexualized in our society. And part of me feels like this restaurant is a really open, friendly, and welcoming place where there were all sorts of patrons, performers, and staff. But the other side of me questions the appropriateness of a drag queen bouncing splits on the ground with gigantic fake breasts falling out of a few bedazzled coverings three feet away from a six-year-old. And I wonder why his parents thought that would be good. I wonder more why they think he should be the one to run over and hand the performers money.

I know I want to say that it is great that we can be that open about sex and the human experience, but I don't think I believe that. There's a difference between explaining the emotions and biology associated with sex and letting a Kindergartener watch porn. At least, they stil seem different to me.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Do you hear the people sing?

I first heard the song of angry men a few days after I turned 12. It was a birthday present to go see my first real show. My grandma, mom, and I went to the National in Washington, D.C. on a school night and saw Les Miserables. I was taking French at the time and I suppose they picked it for being one of the more "serious" shows touring at the time. I was absurdly excited and sang the entire way home. I also remember that some character made a sex joke and I thought that was pretty impressive. It started to snow on the way home, which later became a theme for my mom and me seeing shows. It also meant I usually went in to school late the next day, which was helpful. Les Mis has never stopped fascinating me, or making me cry. Over the next few years I saw the movie version (which isn't a musical) in French classes and listened to the soundtrack pretty frequently. It has always struck me for its passion. Any good show should have passion, that isn't my point, but the pasion of two or three people and the passion of a nation are very different things. Les Mis makes me sad that I wasn't alive to fight the French Revolution because half way through the show I'm ready to leap up on stage, risk my life, and stand on the barricade. Last fall, the movie came out. I have some issues, but, overall, it captured me in just the same way. Tonight, I will go see the musical production again, at a theatre I have grown to love. Every time I revisit something I love, I worry for a split second in the midst of excitement that perhaps it will have lost its magic. But that isn't how magic works. Watching Brigadoon emerge out of the Scottish highlands is still just as impressive and magical now that I know it's on a sound stage in Hollywood as it was when I was five and very possibly really thought there was a town like that across the ocean in what, accurately or not, I consider my motherland. So, will you be strong and stand with me? I want to see the world beyond the barricade, over and over and over again.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Searching for Silver

I often find myself surprised by the moments and people who give us the most strength. I would never have expected a young woman I've met once in my life and tend to think isn't that impressive to become the silver lining that puts a sparkle in what will undoubtedly be a long, dark tunnel, but she did it. And she didn't even do anything for me: all she did was ask for a phone number and make a few Facebook friends. I would never have expected the people who keep me sane and give me hope to be people I've exchanged just a few sentences with in my life and mostly see from the distance of a front row, at best. But that's the power music has. I debated with a friend once about the difference/similarity between music and books. We each argued (I for music, she for books) that it was an escape. I think that was a poor assessment. Music doesn't take me away, it brings me back to the present. When my mind races and life is overwhelming, music grounds you to the singer and the instrument and the message and the moment you're in, and isn't identical to your life and your problems, but it's just close enough that you can think about them without them killing you. Funny, that the people who help us the most will never know.