So, my dreams came true! Through the impetus and help of my friend Wayne Bund and his project Mimesis, I was able to relive my childhood fantasy of being She-Ra Princess of POWER! Wayne’s project Mimesis explores childhood fantasy among some of his queer friends in Portland OR. His (mostly) finalized exhibit will be up at The Cock Gallery Sept 6th.
Fantasy is important to me. Fantasy is the realm where glamour comes from. Our ability to imagine the fantastic, and embody it is the glamourous act. I think the link between the material world and the wholly unrealistic/play/pretend world is a queer bridge. A bridge I’m down to prance and play across.
When Wayne asked me what my childhood fantasy was when he first started this project I knew exactly who it would be. It had to be She-Ra.
The first part of Wayne’s process was to take a photo of me in my room as an adult. I guess I was one of the only models out of the group that abstained from cleaning my room or creating the fantasy of cleanliness. Not to say my room is a mess or that I’m a complete slob. No-no it’s just I feel more comfortable in a room that isn’t created as an installation for his photograph. That photo has some very telling cues as to the rituals and interests I carry as a private individual. When I saw the photo mounted with the others I was struck vulnerable with how exposed I felt. I doubt other people read into it so heavy, but it definitely is a window into the Kaj-anne Pepper who hangs out in his room alone, playing with Tarot cards, lighting candles, dancing around to pop music and doing yoga amongst piles of books, trinkets, cloths, and art projects. (An installation of it’s own)
Back to the fantasy.
So the other day I go to the studio on a Thur. This day was already packed with a video shoot, a group meeting with The DECEPTiCONS, a doctors phone call, breakfast, a work phone call… working artist schedule.
I get to Wayne’s studio and we start setting up, I do my best She-RA make-up application. (Liner on top and a little on bottom, high cartoon brows) we trouble shoot her head piece which was Valkerie esque and made of cardboard and wire. We set the wig, grabbed the sword and started to test the lights.
I was placed amidst some very vaginal flames, with a very phallic sword. My costume is a white and gold dance contest jumper I bought while camping in Souther Oregon. My whole look was She-Ra like… it wasn’t an exact replication. The lack of polish, the ripped sequins here and there, the lack of boots, the cardboard sets exactly what the 7 year old boy/girl in side me wanted. S/he wants to play! They don’t care about the exactness of the costume, any more than they care about the exact shade of eye shadow She-Ra wears (which is none by the way). My young self didn’t have a fierce she-ra wig, they didn’t have the perfect skirt and outfit… (although I did have the figurines, the Mattel sword, the castle greyskull fortress, the sheets, lunch pail, AND VHS tapes) that little part of me used hir imagination to live in the fantasy.
And while the little part of me was happy to play assemblage with the props, the
fantastic gender performer, a drag queen, dancer and performance artist in me was absolutely delighted with the perfect wig, the fancy red cape and the expensive make-up I get to wear. I thought I was going to “serve she-ra realness” like it was a performance.
To my surprise when I lifted that cardboard sword felt the fan (yes we had a fan to blow my hair and red cape around) and yelled I HAVE THE POWER I started to cry. I started to feel and experience the exhilaration and fantasy that little me self held so dear as a poor queer kid growing up in central california. I yelled timidly at first and with the support of the neighbors I started yelling louder and with more bravado. Each time I would get louder and more sincere the more the she-ra magic fell over me and I could feel her tingles of power I could feel her transformation from boring ole Adora into the Heroine power princess. I could feel the little me walk over the queer bridge across genders and walk into a land of light, fire, transformation and the power of the woman I wasn’t but felt I could be. There were moments where I felt righteous, small, powerful and full of light. This was all supported by the cardboard props, the fan, all the base (dare I say cheap) elements to go into this set. But, it doesn’t take much to set a space up to cue the brain to delve back into the mythic world.
All the world is a stage. And we all need a little nudge to get us in the right brain wonderment fantasyland. I would suggest taking a moment and finding one or two of your childhood fantasies and find a way to act them out. Don’t stress on the perfection of it… that wont work. Remember how exciting a blank cardboard box was? Work it out! Get yourself a nice wig and some toys, and start to play.