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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Movies With Matvey Cherry: Fantastic Beasts 3

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Movies With Matvey Cherry

Fantastic Beasts:

The Secrets of Dumbledor

Illustration by Paco May


What I saw in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledor deeply offended my intellectual dignity. How can anyone older than ten like the ridiculous clowning of Mikkelsen and Law filmed with the chroma key? It is absolutely unclear to me. However, there was not a single child in the cinema!

Respected, serious actors talk about good and evil and the responsibility of the wizard to the universe while stroking some platypuses and grasshoppers. 

Mikkelsen plays Hitler of the magical world. He’s in Berlin, while around him is the appropriation of all cultures at once. Jude Law is a mix of Churchill and Miss Marple. Eddie Redmayne is again playing Oliver Twist but he’s over forty. A long time ago, let’s be honest, he got out of the age of The Danish Girl. The cozy British five o’clock is mercilessly exploited, all the good heroes are with freckles. All the bad ones come from The Night Porter, including Alexander Kuznetsov in the role of a stereotypical gauleiter with only a single line in this movie. 

In short, it’s time to let a lot of Hollywood screenwriters go. All this is unbearable. I think Johnny Depp should be glad that he has been canceled

In most films like Fantastic Beasts, the world is constantly being saved from villains, yet it should be from idiots. First of all, they bring the villains to power. Secondly, they provide an insatiable demand for shitty cinema.

Matvey Cherry

Artist

Paco May

Illustrator


If you enjoy Paco’s work, plese consider donating:

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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Filmography Portrait of Keanu Reeves

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Filmography Portrait

of Keanu Reeves

by Matvey Cherry

Illustration by Paco May

— along with Pitt and Depp —

belongs to the last generation of real stars,

but seems more accessible,

closer to a coming-of-age story.


Pitt smiled too widely, Depp was unattainably cool. And Keanu, with the gait of a provincial bumpkin who had stumbled into the cinema from the Canadian frosts, from the hockey arena without taking off his skates, turned out to be very important as an alter ego and a secret best friend. Everything about him appealed to empathy: complex ethnic provenance, fatherlessness, and clubfoot. But the main thing that was felt instantly was his kindness, before the memes about him, before the photos from the subway or the city square; Keanu crushed by existence, but not dropping humanism from his hands. Katherine Bigelow was not mistaken in choosing Keanu. He looks more like a sea deity, though clean-shaven. He is the only one on earth who can wear a denim jacket with jeans. He has a very deep voice as if he has just woken up from the oblivion of Elysium and doesn’t choose words after the fall, as befits the first of people or, maybe, the last. No one knows for sure at all. Up on the crest of a wave, Keanu drifted with the flow. He hung out between roles – the son of my mother’s friend, a neighbor’s boy, one of your teenage friends, someone who reality bites from time to time.

In 1991, Keanu worked with Gus Van Sant, who had already become a singer of the youth, the main Peter Pan of independent cinematography. But My Own Private Idaho became mine much later, to be honest. Scott Favor is probably the best of people and therefore hesitantly wanders from words to deeds, trying to talk about the Quietest, but already felt. It’s good to be someone who can try. It’s bad to be Mike Waters, whose on-screen fate was almost repeated frame by frame by River Phoenix, who, contrary to his last name, never resurrected in the parking lot in front of a nightclub. The myth of the Phoenix is comparable to the legend of James Dean; he became immortal, leaving Keanu and Joaquin on the banks of the River Styx, crying out — let us also be swallowed up by these waters, we agree even to oblivion.

Life is about long send-offs and short meetings. On October 31, 1993, for the first time, Keanu was orphaned. Exactly then, on the eve of All Saints’ Day, when the dead rise from their graves to remind us: we were like you and you will become like us. But Keanu has already become. It was already too late for him to read Rilke, who advised young poets to live only with questions. And what if the answer is received?

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, he struggles with hell (in his head, not in medieval Transylvania); Bertolucci brings up a Buddha. Everywhere his face bears the seal of mourning — for dreams that lead nowhere. He is becoming more and more like an evil god from the Indian pantheon. In these years, it would be just right for him to play the transgression of Anakin Skywalker. On the other side of the permissible, because death is unacceptable in general.

The apotheosis of this transformation, of course, is The Devil’s Advocate, a mockery of America, which in 1997 didn’t yet need either justification or repentance. This was the America of our childhood which we said goodbye to forever. It bristled with skyscrapers as if it boasted a healthy, reinforced concrete erection. In this America, only the dollar deserved beatification.

The Devil’s Advocate today looks like an extremely naturalistic caricature, a repulsive, truly terrible sight about the temptations of this world, about the relationship with conscience, about the madness of capitalism that divorced ethics from aesthetics. The mourning is over, it’s time to fight. With everything in general, just in case.

1999 was, according to Brian Raftery, the best year in the history of cinema. The twentieth century gave mankind a scattering of masterpieces at parting. The Matrix is among them. All this cinema, all that jazz that we watched and listened to for almost a hundred years, was not what it seemed. Keanu guessed it first again. No matter how naive all these metaphors of the crisis of faith from 2022 were, The Matrix, of course, helped viewers who were trembling on the eve of the millennium to leap into a sad and dark future. Another thing is that The Matrix needed neither a reboot nor a revolution, much less a resurrection.

In the new Matrix, the screenwriters still persuaded him to lie down on the couch – Freud and Marx are still the most alive. But is Keanu alive? Does he really need it? Isn’t this a projection instead of a man of flesh and blood? Did he swallow the blue pill by mistake?

Matvey Cherry

Artist

Paco May

Illustrator


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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Oscars Portrait of Adam Driver

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Oscars Portrait

of Adam Driver

by Matvey Cherry

Illustration by Paco May

is likely to be nominated

for the Oscar.


He really did a lot last year to impress us (and it’s not just a Burberry ad). A similar effect could have been assumed ten years ago when he masturbated in front of Lena Dunham. After this, he gave Lena twenty bucks for watching, plus cab money. By then Adam had become a crush for many.

Driver is a creep, he has perfect milky skin with just a scattering of moles, and not a single hair on his sternum (which he once broke while riding a bike). Dunham came up with the idea that Driver would be a sociopath with comic potential. He either smiles or yells like an out-of-tune musical instrument. Very tall, blatantly unsexy, and yet you want to cuddle him.

Adam Driver takes time very seriously, so he has a perfect filmography. There are no questions. He mixes Jarmusch’s Patterson with The Dead Don’t Die or the BlacKkKlansman. In The Marriage Story, he is unbearable, but this is the director’s fault. In Star Wars, too. Driver in a helmet and with a blaster looks like Santa Claus hired for an hour to entertain children. In Annette, he’s amazing. Driver finally plays a really bad person. Rage suits him. He masterfully shows how a murderer is born out of the abyss of selfishness. He understands everything and still kills. Self-love is colder than someone else’s death. House of Gucci, thank Ridley Scott. Cashmere – from the word Cash. Unfortunately, it’s not a TV series and he won’t be able to wear a white sweater for several weeks, which by today’s standards is almost an eternity.

Among the Brooklyn guys, it turned out that there are true demons found. They can not only jerk off to Scorsese, mutter Cassavetes and sourly regurgitate Allen, but also at the last breath, on the edge of a knife, on the front line, be a genius of the screen, a star of the time. Adam with the seal of Cain. I am grateful to him for this.

Matvey Cherry

Artist

Paco May

Illustrator


If you enjoy Paco’s work, plese consider donating:

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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Birthday Portrait of Timothée Chalamet

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Birthday Portrait of

Timothée Chalamet

by Matvey Cherry

Illustration by Paco May

That a brown-eyed squishy boy

with a sharp, fragile chin

like a porcelain espresso cup

would very soon come at night

to every teenager that languishes from lust,


I guessed almost immediately after watching Hot Summer Nights (2017). The trivial pop drama feels like the classic Aerosmith and Bon Jovi music videos and smells like bubblegum and One by Calvin Klein. Timothée plays Daniel, a clumsy, insecure kid who has just lost his beloved father. Grief blurs his eyes, so that he goes through life like a blind newborn kitten. From scene to scene, his initiation (defloration) lasts, and every viewer of it feels like an old pedophile-fetishist.

In the same year, Call Me By Your Name was released. Not a film, but THE FILM. Outwardly, all decency is observed, but in fact it’s not a movie, but an ode to unclouded joy and the recognition of a voyeur. Luca Guadagnino can’t take his eyes off Chalamet, like the rest of the world that has learned to call this little prince, the child of vice, by his name. He is not your Anglo-Saxon Timothy, he’s Timothée. Only French pronunciation, accent on the last syllable! Like any idol, he needs a mysterious overseas fleur. And, of course, Call Me By Your Name is not about peaches. It doesn’t matter who exactly poured out the juice, who tasted the forbidden fruit. It’s obvious that Timothée’s cheeks are silkier than any gifts of nature. However, Guadagnino, as an experienced aesthete, didn’t fail to place an exotic fruit in a suitable interior — there are lutes, antiquity, brocade, and velvet — the arrangement is composed according to all the laws of the magnificent eloquence of classical painting. Surprisingly, Chalamet didn’t become a gay icon after this film, which is more a Power Point presentation of pre-Raphaelite art. Same-sex love is idealized there, all the sharpness of the dish is muted by sweet dressing. Guadagnino’s film tries to be a manifest, but it’s not. It’s far from the transgressive antics of Alain Guiraudie or the feverish visions of Derek Jarman. Homosexuality of Call Me By Your Name is a candy-bouquet, with Mozart and Brahms, quotes from Rousseau and curtsies to Bronzino. Those gays have descended from the pages of Architectural Digest magazine. Nevertheless, Elio’s tears at the train station or at Christmas in front of a crackling fireplace are real. Finally, Chalamet made us believe that his lips are not only to lick foamy milk or steal kisses. He can bite them until they bleed, having fainted from the blow below the belt.

In the films of Wes Anderson and Denis Villeneuve, Chalamet is again in the image of an irresistible boy. No matter what outfit he is wearing, whether the mantle of an intergalactic aristocrat or a sweater from Haider Ackermann, he is allowed to do everything — to make fun of May 68th or to decide the future of the planet Arrakis.

Matvey Cherry

Artist

Paco May

Illustrator


If you enjoy Paco’s work, plese consider donating:

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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Movies With Matvey Cherry: The Hand Of God

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Movies With Matvey Cherry:

The Hand of God

Illustration by Paco May

The outstanding director

didn’t betray his style and has,

skillfully and with pleasure,

created a masterpiece again.


He uses references to the classics of Italian neorealism by Fellini, but without turning his film into an imitation of the genius of the past. A chaotic jumble of moments from youth are remembered by the author, passed through the filter of his adult outlook, ironic but touching . Memory acts like a magnifying glass, turning a half-forgotten reality into something grotesque. Every person is obliged to turn around one day, as Orpheus and Lot’s wife did.

The risk is great, because either the past will disappear forever, or the memory carrier will turn into a pillar of salt. A personality is born out of a million insignificant details which leave scars for various reasons. The main character has silence in his cassette player until the end of the movie, because music can’t replace those who are not with us. This is how teen dramas become adult traumas. The Baroness, like the goddess of fate of the Park, lets Fabietto into her super pussy before cutting the umbilical cord that connected the boy with the past. She gives him the most important lesson: look at this life and think about your own. Think about what you like in this life. In this life there is already everything that is needed, everything that death will take away.

Matvey Cherry

Artist

Paco May

Illustrator


If you enjoy Paco’s work, plese consider donating:

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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

Movies With Matvey Cherry: The Velvet Underground

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Movies With Matvey Cherry:

The Velvet Underground

Illustration by Paco May

Shots flash by in a confused rhythm:

Winston cigarettes,

a black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoon,

newspapers, late night shows,

Elizabeth Taylor.


Guess what? American mainstream culture of the 60s. But as soon as we get under its skin, the sensuously hypnotic sound of Venus In Furs is bumping. This cyclical melody rhymes with the noise of New York, where everything is not the same as everywhere else. 

Todd Haynes‘ filmography, imbued with a nostalgic melancholy for decades long gone, is proof of his unconditional and devoted love for the exalted and magnetic musical aesthetics of the 20th century. Stories about famous people and significant events abound. The Velvet Underground documentary in fact doesn’t fit into any genre and is perceived rather as a mosaic portrait captured on camera, assembled from video chronicles, archival photographs, interviews and fragments of experimental cinema of those times. At the emotional level, Todd Haynes’ film works with the audience in exactly the same way as the American underground cinema of the last century, in the spirit of Jonas Mekas or Andy Warhol (both, of course, are in the film). Andy was an artist and a producer, a conceptualist with a mission, a celebrated figure of the world of nightlife and fashion journalism. He knew the price of pain, appreciated scars and declared his love for everyone. His red carpets lead to eternity, where he will stay forever. The music of The Velvet Underground mixes an experimental search for how to sound elegant and brutal at the same time. Lou Reed knew what proud despair meant. Later in his life he recorded “Sad Song” for his great Berlin album. It mentions the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots and narrates a story of the suicide of a beloved girl, also providing some incredibly euphoric overtures replete with cascades of arpeggios and a chorus of people endlessly, very lightly repeating “sad song, sad, sad song”. That’s how sadness may have looked when viewed through the lens of the countercultural festivities of the 60s.

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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

#FreeBritney Bitch!

Paco May

Illustrator

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

#FreeBritney BITCH!

An MTV news segment from 1999 encapsulates that time for me. It was a report from a shoot of MTV’s TRL “1999 Class Photo”. John Norris introduces the segment and passes off hosting duties to Brian McFayden, a newer VJ who looks like the 6th member of NSYNC as he sits with the boyband at the table. They are all ogling Jennifer Lopez, who is seated behind them and clearly aware. Fred Durst is floating around, as is Tyrese. But the segment changes tone when McFayden gets a few seconds with Britney Spears before the shoot starts, as if to say, “OK, here she is.” She tells him she expects craziness from David LaChappelle, the photographer. When the segment transitions to the photo shoot, it does so with a close up of Britney walking, looking at the camera and beaming as the iconic 3-note opening of …Baby One More Time plays. She then takes her rightful seat in the front of the class of 1999.

I was a TRL kid. I didn’t watch any of the teen soap operas or the adult cartoons marketed at kids that were the height of pop culture at the time. Pokémon passed me by. I was all MTV. My obsession was borne out of a seismic shift in music culture and marketing; the messy, “dangerous” MTV of the 80’s and 90’s was making way for something glossier and with more dance moves just as I was hitting puberty. Teen pop replaced alt-rock as the dominant money maker, and MTV evolved to meet the moment, focusing on a younger, brighter aesthetic throughout. The VJs no longer looked like music journalists, but pop stars. Unplugged was replaced with Making the Video.

This new crew of teenage stars was sold to us through their relatability. MTV made sure we not only idolized them, but also got to know them; these were our classmates. A whole new set of documentary-style shows debuted that allowed fans to feel closer to our idols. With each promotional cycle, we didn’t just get a new song and visual, we watched them Making the Video. We weren’t meant to interpret their updated image, we heard the “truth” from them in the supposedly candid and raw Diary series (“You think you know…but you have no idea”). The teen pop marketing tropes of sharing favorite colors, embarrassing stories, and backstage jokes was as old as the genre, but MTV expanded it into primetime programming.

Britney Spears was the most popular girl in the MTV class of 1999. She was as good for them as they were for her, as shown through the multitude of Britney-specific programming they would air when she had a new album to promote. She didn’t just get the standard Diary and Making the Video episodes, she got full days of programming where they would all air in a marathon, culminating in live events where she’d perform and give an interview. There was even a First Listen special for her Oops…I Did It Again album where she sat in a room filled with fans to listen to 30-second clips of each song on the album and tell us stories about how the album was “edgier” and “more personal.”

While watching the New York Times’ Framing Britney Spears (available to stream on Hulu), it was jarring to view this era of her career documented from a distance, without the personal connection fostered by MTV, and with an updated cultural understanding of misogyny and patriarchy. Each of the tests and expectations placed upon Britney felt normal to me, because they were all part of the narrative in her most recent Diary episode. Her breasts, her relationships, and her sexiness were all on the table and she was made to answer for them apologetically or defensively depending on the high school narrative of the moment. It’s particularly unsettling to watch the way Britney’s breakup with Justin Timberlake was framed universally in the media:

“What did she do to him?”

These things were normal to all of us in the sex-obsessed late 90’s. In the documentary, critic Wesley Morris helpfully contextualizes Britney’s rise in the time of Monica Lewinsky, another young woman who was ceremoniously torn apart by the culture. We were in a moment of 2nd wave (white) feminism controlling the conversation and an extreme panic among adults about the sexualization of “our young girls.” This was also the time of Sex and the City and The Vagina Monologues, which were met with equal adoration and ridicule, with women demanding that they be less frivolous or less self-serious. The greater culture, however, hated women as much as always. The general perception of Sex and the City was that the ladies were stupid and slutty and of The Vagina Monologues, that they were weird and unsexy. Progress was being made in women’s autonomy, especially in the way they were telling their stories, but it was met with a resounding “that’s girl stuff” mockery from the culture at large.

The respectability politics of sex in the 90’s was fraught for any woman who reached a certain level of fame because she could only get there by violating them. Young women across the entertainment spectrum were expected to strip down and pout to promote their new projects and those images were then widely disseminated so we could both shame the women and remark with awe at how they were “not little girls anymore.” It was a deeply gross rite of passage for any young performer and it spared no one, including Melissa Joan Hart and both the daughters from 7th Heaven. Even Michelle Branch had a Maxim cover. 

It should be no surprise then, that Britney Spears received the same treatment. It was normal then, which made it all the more confusing to me that adults decided to place the entire morality of a generation on Britney Spears’ shoulders when she was merely doing what was expected at that time. Her Rolling Stone photoshoot from 1999 is problematic to my 2021 eyes, but back then I remember being genuinely confused as to why this bra and hot pants was somehow different. Maybe she sold sex too well for them, or was too popular, too magnetic.

What they missed was that her fans were responding to her power, not her chest. Britney’s sexiness was athletic and suggestive, not pornographic. When she performed at award shows, she would often remix her songs to have more breaks, more industrial metallic clangs or cymbal smashes during which she would throw her hips or flip her hair, as if the sheer force of her movements was forcing the song to stutter. It’s worth noting that during most of these “controversial” performances, Britney was wearing some version of a crop top, pants, and sneakers. Even her famously scandalous school girl outfit reads more cheerleader than seductress.

It was gutting now to watch Britney from a distance and not as a peer in my MTV high school. The chorus of bad faith that followed her was cruel and targeted, and we all laughed it off, we all participated. This is exemplified in a scene in Love Actually that I came across completely by accident after viewing the documentary. Bill Nighy’s old rock star is asked who his best shag was, to which he replies:

“Britney Spears….no just kidding…..she was rubbish.”

Cue laughter. Britney was 22 then.

While the elements of her current conservatorship discussed in the documentary are illuminating and shocking, what stays in my brain is the way the media and culture treated young women at the turn of the millennium. It really can’t be examined enough. Britney was the one we chose to take down and obsess over – her generation’s Diana or Marilyn – but she was far from the only one. For more than a decade, we watched girl after girl get blonder, skinnier, and more dead behind the eyes as she ran from a mob of men chasing her with flashbulbs. And we loved it. We didn’t even think it was strange to love it. We thought they were out of touch when they complained about it. “That’s your problem?,” we all eye-rolled. We gleefully shared their mugshots and pictures taken up their dresses without their consent. And we blamed them for it. We called them “crazy” when it affected them.

A key moment not featured in the documentary also comes from the famous Diane Sawyer interview. She asks Britney if regrets any of her sexy photo shoots, to which Britney says she has no regrets. Sawyer then pulls out an 8×10 glossy image of Britney from a recent magazine and insists, “Not even this one?” Watching Britney’s face as she was forced to concede that she had gone too far filled me with a mix of rage and sadness I am only beginning to understand as I look back on that time. It makes me happy that the culture has evolved to give us Billie Eilish, a young woman who refuses to conform to the impossible, almost cartoonish beauty ideals of today, who talks about her mental health struggles, and still sweeps the Grammys.

I’m also happy that we’re reevaluating Britney. At her peak, music journalism was full of men who wanted nothing more than to make her the avatar for bad music, bad culture, sissy stuff, fake stuff, lame stuff, uncool stuff. Now, pop critics can’t escape the influence of Britney’s music and performances, which were increasingly adventurous, weird, and forward-thinking. They also can’t escape her power. Every girl in my high school was trying to serve Britney. Low rise jeans were Britney, lip gloss was Britney, those shirts that said ROCK STAR in rhinestones were Britney. She’s too much of a force to ignore or to trivialize. She was lightning in a bottle and everyone who came of age during her reign knows that no one else could do what she did with a hair flip and a purr into a headset microphone.

Paco May

Illustrator


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EDITORIAL The Mixer Timeline

#UsToo: The Alexander Wang Case and Sexual Abuse of Men in the Fashion Industry

EDITORIAL

#UsToo

The Alexander Wang Case & Sexual Abuse of Men in the Fashion Industry

Illustrations by Paco May

asked her female Twitter followers

to reply with #MeToo

if they had been sexually abused.


Even though civil rights activist Tarana Burke originally founded the Me Too movement on Myspace in 2006, only after the hashtag went viral in 2017 did the Me Too movement become part of today’s dominant cultural and social media conversations. Me Too has unarguably contributed to the growth of today’s cancel culture, where many public figures face the backlash of the general public based on something offensive they’ve either done or said, or based on certain allegations. Sometimes there is no legal trial, as we saw in the Harvey Weinstein case; instead, the crowd takes on the role of judge, jury, and executioner, in some cases leading to a person and/or their career being “cancelled.”

The latest big name that might be next up on the chopping block is Alexander Wang. The famous fashion designer came to prominence after winning a highly coveted Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund award in 2008; now, after nearly two successful decades in the fashion industry, he is facing sexual assault allegations. 

On December 11, male model Owen Mooney made a TikTok video replying to another user’s question, “What is your weirdest ‘seeing a celebrity in public’ experience?” He proceeded to recount a night where he was groped by a “really famous fashion designer” in an NYC club in 2017.

Without skipping a beat, another TikTok user left a comment under the video claiming it was Alexander Wang. In the next video Owen confirmed the comment, saying that he was surprised that the person got it right. Two weeks later, the story was blown up by Instagram fashion gossip accounts @diet_prada and @shitmodelmgmt. Since Mooney’s accusations, countless people have chimed into the conversation, and several more anonymous male victims are currently being represented by high-profile attorney Lisa Bloom. As Vogue reminded us,

“Wang’s alleged misconduct has been discussed previously on social media as early as 2017 and within the trans community; several of Wang’s accusers are trans.”

Even though the sexual abuse of men in the fashion industry has been around for far too long, it has never really made as big of a headline as with the Alex Wang case. As an ex-fashion model, I have never had any similar experience with Wang himself, but there are a few stories I would like to share that happened to me and a few of my male model friends. Hopefully, these stories will shed some more insight into what male models have to deal with in the predatorial world of fashion, and why they might hold on to their stories, sometimes taking them to the grave.

Story Time

It’s not typical for men to come to the forefront about sexual abuse, and there may be many reasons behind this – shame, guilt, denial, the influence of toxic masculinity, the fear of not being believed, the fear of ridicule, the danger of career annihilation by the people in power. Having worked as a model in Miami, New York City, and in Malaysia over the span of almost a decade, I’ve faced my own share of sexual abuse by the industry. I sadly always considered this to be a norm, sort of a rite that every model had to go through. I’ve heard countless similar stories from other male models: some losing big jobs because of their refusal to participate in sexual acts with the photographer or a casting agent, some having to get hard for a famous photographer’s “private” photo collection in exchange for images for their own portofolios, and so on and so on. Obviously, 100% of the time the abuse would come from those in power to “change” someone else’s destiny. More often than not, the victims crumble under pressure and are made to feel helpless, fearing that all of the hard work they’ve put into getting themselves towards their goal could be smeared in a minute by someone in power displeased with their lack of subordination. Most of the guys would never tell their agents or anyone else about this abuse for fear of being ridiculed, blacklisted, discredited, or emasculated; they would relegate it to the “not a big deal” bucket, only having to deal with the emotional (and in some cases physical) scarring for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, some of these agents, the ones who are supposed to look after you, are silent complicitors, knowingly sending you to a client’s hotel for a “casting” or brushing you off after you’ve reported an instance of sexual abuse, either for fear of severing ties with a profitable client or simply not wanting to be involved in the drama that might follow. 

When I first moved to New York, I was barely out of high school. I was 19 years old and looking forward to running away from an unbearable family situation in Miami. I had lived in the US for only three years at that point – I was fresh off the boat and scared of taking the wrong step.

I was scouted by Click Model Management on models.com and was offered a contract on the spot. This was going to be my big break – something that I could have only dreamed about. I didn’t realize that shit wasn’t going to be so easy and started navigating the tough motherfucker that is New York City all by myself. I did not end up landing any jobs with this agency for an entire year. I was advised that I should look for “something else to do with my life” by one of many indifferent agents on the men’s board. A few months later I went to an open call with Q Models, only to come out with another contract offer. I actually started getting some jobs and thought to myself,

“I CAN do it, that agent bitch was wrong!”

Of course, due to the competitive nature of the industry and male models being notoriously underpaid, I had to find another gig. I started working as a server at the well-known celebrity and fashion hub Indochine. I was told that this was the place to be discovered, and every single night I would turn out looks in hopes of being noticed by a big shot from the fashion industry. 

One night, it finally happened! One of the staff told me that there was a very important fashion stylist at one of my tables. She was sitting at a table for two with her male friend. Throughout the dinner her friend, a celebrity hairstylist, was extremely nice, and by the end of the dinner I was offered a chance to work with him. When I went to his website, I was blown away – he had worked for major campaigns and even done covers for Vogue, imagine fucking that!

The shoot was properly arranged through my agency, but there was very little detail given to me about it. When I showed up at the designated shoot location, it turned out to be a regular apartment building. I took the elevator to the second floor and found myself stepping right into a humongous open-air loft that took up the entire floor of the building. To my surprise it was his apartment and there was nobody else but him. I asked where the team was and he skirted the subject, saying something along the lines of “They will be here later.”

Here I am thinking, “Oh I guess he’s going to style my hair first.” I glanced at a couch and it was strewn with female lingerie. “Is he having another shoot after this?” I naively thought to myself once again.

After my hair was done, he pointed me to the couch and told me to pick an outfit from what was on it. It was only female lingerie bottoms … I grabbed the small bunch of the choices presented to me and headed to the bathroom – where I found the lingerie was all fucking see-through. There was one regular Speedo thrown into the bunch, and that was my obvious choice – at least my dick and my hole wouldn’t be showing. I stepped outside but it was still only me and him, no photographer or a stylist like he promised. He took out a small point-and-shoot camera, slumped one of the living room floor lamps onto a wall and told me to go close to the light. After the first vignette he graciously allowed me to wear a fur coat that I also picked up from the couch, and he told me to climb on top of the living room sofa.

“Yes, good, now spread your legs a little bit more,”

he said, taking pictures from the floor while I was towering over him on the sofa.

He told me to go back into the bathroom and pick out another “outfit.” When I went back inside, there was no option for another Speedo, and so I decided that this was a wrap. I came out from the bathroom fully dressed and went towards a small office space that he was now sitting in, looking through our photos on a big monitor. What I saw on the screen shook me. Even though you couldn’t see any of my private parts, some of the angles that he took were straight-up pornographic.

“Hey, I actually have to go,”

I told him and ran out of that apartment as fast as I could. I called my agency immediately and told them what happened. They shrugged it off in an “Oh well, it’s not a big deal” manner, but I couldn’t stop shaking from the adrenaline, feeling like I had just narrowly missed an encounter with a grizzly bear’s claws.

He ended up stalking me over the next several years, incessantly messaging me on dating websites, but I was so disgusted that I would be thrown into nausea every time he tried to contact me. It was just the sleazy way he had about him. At that time it was beyond me why a man with such power and success had to resort to such methods for someone to sleep with him. I think dinner and a nice wine would have been a better bet, even though I’d still never fuck him.

In early 2016 a fellow model sent me a screenshot of an awful picture of me that one of the photographers I worked with back in the day took of me. The photographer posted this photo as a throwback image on his Twitter with one of the hashtags saying #whatwasithinking. My friend said,

“Giiiiiirrrlll, know when to say no.” 

At that time the said photographer was shooting any and every cute model boy that was coming to New York to take a shot at modeling. He’s had this book project going on, where the models were promised to be shot for free for their modeling portfolios as long as they participated in this project of his, which obviously required for you to shoot butt naked. I came over to his apartment to talk about some ideas involving our future collaboration, and we decided to just spontaneously start shooting right there and then. I went into a bathtub with white undies he provided me with, we turned on some water, it was obviously getting very sexy.

Alex Wang’s allegations include drugging his victims

During one of the looks he told me to drape myself in these beaded curtains and to take my underwear off, since “it’s going to be hard to Photoshop it out” – he wanted the full nude illusion. After the shoot was wrapped up, I came out of the bathroom where I changed into my civilian clothes, only to see my asshole fully blown up on one side of his dual desktop monitor.

“You have a very nice hole, but it would look better if you shaved it. Don’t worry, no one will see these outtakes but me.”

At the time I brushed it off as him just trying to be funny, even though the thought of this guy staring at my hairy asshole any time he pleased really bothered me. Indeed, #whatwasithinking by letting him get away with it. 

I shared this BTS story with the friend who sent me this throwback photo, to which he shared his own account with the same guy:

”He tried shooting my asshole too! I said no! My last conversation with him was him telling me how he wanted nudes of me. I was like ‘No, they serve no purpose and will do nothing for my career or image and I don’t need them floating around the internet.’ To which his queeny ass told me ‘If I’m shooting you for free, you do what I say.’”

Then my model friend shared another experience that he had with another prominent NYC photographer:

“I shot with him once and told him 100 times I wasn’t doing nudes. After arguing with him, then him threatening to stop the shoot and tell other photographers I was hard to work with, I agreed on the condition that my dick would be covered and he wouldn’t use the pictures on the internet. He says yes, begs me to show half my shaft. Now if you Google my name and go to images, one of the first images is me in the window with half my shaft out. If I could sue I would.”

After, or sometimes even before every shoot, the photographer gives you a photo release where you essentially sign away all of the rights to your photos. The exchange is that you get to use them for your portfolio or personal use.

One of the guys I used to work with at Indochine once told me what happened at the height of his modeling career back in the ‘90s. This guy used to be huge, and had worked on the most prestigious catwalks, countless campaigns, billboards on Times Square. He was told that he was on hold as an option for a huge underwear campaign and the photographer wanted to do a test shoot in his hotel room before they made a final decision on his booking. When he arrived at the big-shot photographer’s hotel room, the photographer told him to undress and put on the brand’s underwear. The photographer took out a Polaroid camera and started snapping away.

“Now get on the bed, turn around, lower your underwear, show me your butt cheeks.”

The next thing you know, the photographer is on top of him, trying to jam his dick in his ass. At that point my friend pushed him away, jumped up from the bed, and told him that even if he was gay he would rather die than fuck an ugly motherfucker like him. The next day his option was dropped and he obviously never got the job. When the Polaroids were delivered to the agency, they were completely unusable.

This next story takes the cake, given the circumstances that were occurring at that moment of my life.

A really good friend of mine set me up with an agent who specialized in signing models to overseas agencies, mostly in Asia. I had been dying to be a traveling model and couldn’t wait to try it out. There was only one agency that was interested in signing me and it was in Malaysia. Back then I looked like a girl more than ever before, or ever since. Smooth face, skin and bones, long horse mane of hair. All of the agencies passed on me precisely because of that – they wanted macho guys. Miraculously, not this particular agency. The only caveat was that I cut my hair at least shoulder length. The contract was for 3 months, so I quit my job, moved a subletter into my room, and was on my way to what I thought would be inevitable newfound stardom during/after this trip. To make this really long story shorter, one of the agents (the main one) was kind of obsessed with me. He would subtly throw sexual hints/innuendos at me here and there. At the same time, he was feared by models and a bit abrasive. One night he calls my cell and tells me to come by his apartment, which was in the same building as the model house, but on another floor. At that moment I was with a fellow model who was already aware of the agent’s previous advances towards me. I felt that I couldn’t say no to him, especially as he mentioned that he wanted to talk about my career. At the same time I was weary and thinking he might want to stick his small dick in my tight ass. So I asked my friend to follow me to our agent’s abode. When we were outside of the apartment he texted me that the door was open. When we came in, my friend and I just looked at each other – the whole place was totally dark, with the exception of a faint light coming from the agent’s bedroom. Shit was about to go down, I just knew it. 

I called out to him saying that I was with a friend. He came out. He put on a movie for us and for the entire ten minutes that he managed to stay on the couch next to us, he was tossing and turning and sighing. It was obvious that he wasn’t happy about me not coming there alone and he was handling it like a five-year-old brat.

He abruptly got up and went into his bedroom. From there he started texting me that he wanted me to come by alone (no shit) and to send my friend off. I told my friend,

“Alright, listen, if I don’t come back tonight call George W. Bush.”

I went into his room and that’s when the all-night cat-and-mouse chase began. 

Basically, I was in there for five(!) hours trying to fight for my decency. At first, he started coaxing me into sitting on his bed next to him. It took him about 30 minutes to convince me to do it. He was prying and prying, lying and conniving me into that first step so well and so expertly, that I just had to oblige. Then it got more intense. He asked me to take off my socks…

I told him my feet were cold (it’s 120 degrees in Malaysia on any given day). He said he hated people wearing socks on his bed.

Well, you asked me to sit on it, so that’s on you,

I responded. How clever he thought he was, using the dumbed-down cause-and-effect method to sexually advance on someone. During our back-and-forth battle of him trying to convince me to do something as simple as taking off my socks or sitting on his bed, he told me many stories, like how he got some straight model guy drunk and probably roofied and took advantage of him the night before the model’s wedding. He said that the guy got up in the morning and just stumbled out of his room in shock. He was laughing and was very proud of that accomplishment. Then he began to threaten my career in his agency. Saying he’s powerful enough to not arrange any jobs for me. Blah blah. It was a battle of perseverance, and I fucking persevered. No way in hell was I going to touch that dick even if it cost me my entire modeling career. I finally pried myself out from his molestation hands of steel and got the fuck out of the room. 

“No way in hell

was I going to touch that dick

even if it cost me my entire modeling career.”

The next morning the first thing that I did was call my agent in New York and tell him the whole story. He didn’t believe me. He was speechless, he said that he has been working with this guy for ages and nothing like that had ever happened with any of the models he sent his way. Obviously, that was because not everyone was naturally sexy and seductive like me. But all jokes aside, maybe no one had the balls to report him or even say no?

One little detail I didn’t mention above is that I recorded the whole molestation session on my Razr Motorola. Yes, I’m gonna fry this dick and eat it for breakfast! Oh, wait. I’m in fucking Malaysia, by myself, I’m totally dependent on that guy for jobs, money, my whole entire well-being, in a foreign country. I quit my job and I’m on the fucking contract, I have nothing to come back to in New York after only 2 weeks of being gone. After I told my NY agent that I could prove the harassment with the recording on my phone, he believed me and said he would take care of it. So then, I had two ways of dealing with it: either going back to New York with nothing, no job, no money, no apartment, and most importantly, no fame. Or I could stick it out and stay until the end of my contract on the promise the Malaysian perv provided to my agent that nothing of that sort would happen with me again. I ended up choosing the latter and staying until the end of my contract, with no further sexual advances from the bastard.

Sadly, most guys that I’ve spoken to about their assaults never reported them because of the pure shock and then a burning desire to just bury the traumatic memory and quickly move on. A few of them shared that it was too embarrassing for them to talk about it in the open. At some point, I myself felt that it was all my own fault for allowing some of the abuses to happen to me. Let’s not even start exploring the legal drama that you can be dragged into by someone who might have many more connections and liquid assets than you to defend themselves in court – this in itself plays a part in not coming forward after you are sexually attacked.

One of the first people I met when I first moved to New York is currently a successful jewelry designer, but back in the day he was trying out the modeling gig just like me. He said that the reason he quit modeling was because of a celebrity photographer that made him whip out his dick and get hard for the camera,

“At first he told me to touch myself, because he wanted the image to be strong. I started touching myself and then I thought, ‘This is a bit much,’ but when you were in his studio there were so many top models naked on the walls, it felt like it was normal. It was after I left the studio, I thought to myself, ‘What just happened?’ and I started crying. I couldn’t tell anyone as I was embarrassed, I still feel embarrassed to this day.”

The End of Wang (?)

On January 5, 2021, Alex Wang issued a statement via his personal Instagram account:

“Firstly, I’d like to take the opportunity to connect directly with the people who have helped me grow this brand into what it is today and address the recent false, fabricated, and mostly anonymous accusations against me. While I have always been active in my social life, frequently attending various industry gatherings, parties, and concerts where drugs and alcohol were present—contrary to what has been said, I have never taken advantage of others in a sexual manner or forced anything on anyone without consent. I also have never abused my status or fame for my own benefit. These baseless allegations were started on social media by sites which repeatedly disregarded the value and importance of evidence or fact-checking. It’s my priority to prove these accusations are untrue and are fueled by solely opportunistic motives. It is important for people to speak up and be heard, but there is a need to ensure accusations are credible, so that we don’t harm these important causes. Our team is doing everything in its power to investigate these claims and we promise to remain honest and transparent throughout that process. We are fortunate to have received an overwhelming amount of support over the last few days and are thankful to our staff, clients, and industry peers for standing by our side at this time.”

Alexander Wang statement

Owen Mooney statement

It seems that the camp has split in two: the civilians who are speaking out for Wang’s victims, and the people from Wang’s camp who view those who came out as opportunistic liars. It seems that most of Wang’s fashion and Hollywood acquaintances are holding their tongue on the matter altogether. The only high-profile person who has spoken in support of Owen Mooney’s #UsToo post so far is fashion model Karen Elson via her IG Stories. Otherwise, the lack of general support from other famous people, including Hollywood supporters of the #MeToo movement, resulted in Owen Mooney issuing a statement of his own:

“The silence of the fashion industry and Hollywood in general is quite deafening. In an era of #MeToo and the solidarity victims received from Hollywood, where is the same support for the victims of Wang? This is why so many accusations of his get brushed under the rug, along with other accusations of prominent figures in fashion for that matter. His celebrity acquaintances are still following him, changing captions of pictures with him, deleting comments. Anything but condemning his actions. This is staying complicit. What he’s done to some people is evil and he needs to be held accountable. Almost a week later, still more victims are coming forward with stories. How many more people have to come forward before people in fashion and Hollywood condemn him. I can’t help but question if this has something to do with this being about men, queer and trans people? Does the ideology that we are not victims of sexual assault exist? What would the response be if a world renowned fashion designer was drugging and sexually assaulting cis women? Well we’ve seen it happen, with #MeToo. How about #UsToo? Because there is no shame in coming forward and pointing to your assaulter. We need to be taken more seriously, this happens to us too and the response should be equal.”  

Can you really take the word of Wang’s camp or friendly business associations vouching for his innocence? Probably not; the industry will try to protect those within its ranks for as long as it can, until there is enough danger to be considered guilty by association. Once things start looking towards a messy trial, the deafening silence of Alex’s supporters might change. At the end of the day, everyone only looks out after their own skin, especially in any sort of business context. Models who have had a chance to work with Alex might not have experienced unwanted sexual advances in the professional setting, but it doesn’t mean that this did not happen in other situations. At the end of the day, there needs to be certain checks and balances in place – models have been fending for themselves this whole time in the cruel world of fashion with no one to back them up. The agents don’t care about you, even though they promise your gullible parents that you will be in good hands once they let you leave your tiny town; the only thing they are after is someone who brings in the checks. A third-party system-level overhaul, like a model’s union, is long overdue, and it might be the only solution to the persistent problem of abuses in the fashion industry. 

#UsToo

Regarding the Alex Wang case, it begs the question: As a society, do we keep believing those in power and possibly letting them get away with more than they should, and not believing those who speak out and shun them because we think there might be opportunistic reasons behind their claims; or do we keep taking on an angry-mob mentality and keep perpetuating the vicious cancel culture through a heartless social media machine that swallows the souls of not only the ones under scrutiny, but also the ones who drive that machine? Because right now it seems that these are the only two available options.

In any case, this is truly a sad moment for everyone involved. We all could do a little better as a society, and the cancel culture needs to stop. It’s toxic, and the private-vigilante whiff that it carries just doesn’t work. Cancelling a person or bullying them into self-harm will never be a solution. Comments on Alex’s IG page like “YOU DISGUST ME! GO TO PRISON AND ROT THERE” are not constructive or helpful. Humans’ natural reaction is to make quick assumptions without possessing all of the information, and destroying or rejecting something that makes them feel uneasy or that they don’t understand. It’s easy to annihilate, but it’s not easy to make the conscious decision to approach something broken with kindness.

I’ve forgiven everyone who’s violated me sexually in the past, even the vilest predators like this bitch from Malaysia – even though they’ve never asked for forgiveness. With so many years gone by, now I look at these situations from another perspective: What made these people approach their subjects of interest in such a predatory way? Is it their upbringing, the pressure of society, insecurities, a fetish? There could be many causes, but one running theme seems to be apparent:

“I don’t deserve to be loved for who I am.”

Some sexual predators might really regret such behavior afterwards, some may be so overcome by their ego and power to the point of not recognizing their sexual misconduct, and then again, some may only ask for forgiveness because they got caught. Will there ever be a moment when a harasser who is found guilty and punished can be offered another chance, or are they to be completely disposed of and “cancelled” without any possibility of redemption? Personally, I didn’t think I’d do myself any favors if I clung to a painful past, logging the mental burden of sexual abuses everywhere I go. I will never forget the many other instances of sexual abuse I’ve had to go through, but I must forgive – I believe that this is the only way to move forward and start healing yourself and the world around you. 

Alexey Kim

Founder

Paco May

Illustrator


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Categories
EDITORIAL Timeline

Untitled (America) Is Our Future (?)

THE MIXER | EDITORIAL

Untitled (America)

Is Our Future (?)

Brooklyn-based drag artist Untitled Queen offers a glimpse at a new America, through her July 4th digital fundraiser.

07-04-20

Illustrations by Paco May

No one could have predicted

That the new decade

Would start off the way that it did.


As most of the world was put under coronavirus-related lockdown, the landscape of our day-to-day lives started shifting. It wasn’t a “free” world anymore as we knew it – perspectives on what’s important started changing, and it seemed that the value of human connection finally started outweighing the value of clout and material things. People started missing things that they had taken for granted, like seeing your abuela or walking down a crowded street.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed so many elderly and immuno-compromised lives, another pandemic has long been present in the US for over 400 years which has also claimed countless lives. A pandemic that doesn’t care about your age, gender, or the status of your immune system – it only cares about the color of your skin. It’s not that systemic racism was news, like the outbreak of this strain of the SARS virus that was named COVID-19, it’s just that a combination of unfortunate events happening all at the same time made people say, “Enough.”

The shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while out on a jog, the killing of George Floyd by a cop kneeling on his neck, and then a video of a white woman, Amy Cooper, calling cops on a Black man and pretending she was attacked, fueled the fire that has yet to be stopped. Large-scale protests and rallies, some of which turned violent, erupted all over the country, sparking the conversation about racial injustice not only in the US, but all over the world. It’s a month into the protests and there is no end in sight. People are demanding real change. Even though the mass outrage has yielded some fruitful results – such as the arrest of all 4 cops involved in George Floyd’s murder, NYC’s section 50-a repeal, and Colorado’s police reform bill signed into law – the officers that killed young EMT worker Breonna Taylor in her own home are still walking free, and there are many other police officers on the job that have yet to be held accountable for their abusive actions. And while certain municipalities have promised to defund and/or shift police budgets (LAPD slashed by $150 million, NYC slashed by $1 billion), in general the local and federal government have yet to meet the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands regarding defunding the police.

Enough

For the most part of the spring it was all about supporting LGBTQIA+ creatives that were suddenly out of work due to the coronavirus, with no means to apply for unemployment; right now it’s all about supporting Black and grassroots organizations. Even though it’s still far from possible for NY nightlife to resume with the normal pace of operations in physical venues, nightlife hosts and performers have carved out an online niche as the means for raising money for needed causes. For example, one of NYC’s nightlife impresarios, Susanne Bartsch, collected $32,000 for the Black Lives Matter movement during one of her On Top virtual parties. Ceyenne Doroshow, the founder of G.L.I.T.S. (Gays and Lesbians Living In a Transgender Society) secured over $1 million in donations for permanent housing for Black trans people, all thanks to the power of the internet.

Untitled Stitched

Amongst the sea of virtual fundraisers promoted all over social media, one particular event, hosted by drag artist Untitled Queen, stands out on its own. Brooklyn-based Untitled has a master’s degree in fine arts and puts on meticulously executed poetic performances that are as profound as they are beautiful. On July 4th, she will be hosting her own version of a fundraiser, an all-captioned digital drag show named Untitled (America).

“We’re doing this fundraiser on the Fourth of July because it denotes the mass genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples and then of course enslavement and oppression of Black people in the creation of this country,” says Untitled on why she chose that specific American holiday as the date for the show. The show’s lineup is fully composed of drag artists of color, each representing the US state/territory in which they currently reside. There are four indigenous drag artists amongst the 52 scheduled acts.

A charity that Untitled decided to benefit is the Navajo Water Project, which is an indigenous-led, community-managed utility alternative that brings hot and cold running water to indigenous communities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Untitled adds, “Every year I do this one big fundraiser called the Brooklyn Ball, for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. They do get a lot of funding but it’s still a really important cause. Some of my smaller fundraisers are for more local organizations that are lesser known, and that are not getting any national aid or big corporate sponsorship, and the Navajo Water Project is one of them.”

Lynn Troller

It seems that for Untitled, it always came as second nature to be a patient learner and a compassionate advocate for inclusivity. Untitled Queen is adamant about adding captions to all of her videos and encourages others to do the same, “I became more aware of deaf and hard-of-hearing communities as well as accessibility, because I went to the drag scene in Rochester. They have a huge deaf community because of their deaf interpreter school. And so when I went to do their show, their shows were completely live-interpreted all the time and they had a big deaf community in their queer club. They were interpreting and signing and I was like, whoa, I’ve never seen this before. That night I met a deaf drag queen. I’ve never met a deaf drag queen before. I was so stunned by that. I feel like in New York we think we’re really ahead of the curve in a lot of ways and we’re not. So then I started to learn more about deaf culture. Deaf culture loves drag, loves queer culture, just as much as anyone else. I realized, why would you go to a drag show or any live event if you’re not being encouraged to be welcomed there. So that’s when I started to get really passionate about it.”

Ricky Rosé

Cherub Borne

Untitled has also become very interested in learning more about community-organizing aspects such as fundraising and charitable efforts. She says that uplifting and focusing on brown and Black voices has always been a part of her community in the Brooklyn drag scene, “I’ve always tried to challenge myself to widen the understanding of what community means, what it looks like and how to increase accessibility on lots of different levels, and I always realize how much more you can be challenging yourself to really understand what those ideas are about. Lady Quesadilla is a friend of mine and is another amazing drag queen and she’s been saying this stuff for years. In her pre-show speeches she’d always say, ‘We need to question what our community boundaries are, your community doesn’t look like you. Your community is the homeless, people with disabilities, the incarcerated. What are you doing for your community?’ And now its resonating with me even more hardcore. I want to also be an example for people to really acknowledge their complicity, acknowledge that you have something to work on. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I just do these parties so I’m exempt from this conversation.’”

Anya Knees

In a recently resurfaced clip from a 1992 episode of Golden Girls, Blanche Deveraux is challenged by then up-and-coming actor Don Cheadle, when she proudly hangs up a Confederate flag at a party and defends it as a family heirloom and a reminder of the good ole days. After a few rebuttals from Don Cheadle’s character, Blanche finally concedes,

“…Everything that I grew up believing in, all of my wonderful memories, they are tarnished now by the truth.”

Fragility seems to be another topic associated directly with people’s resistance to change and progress, and is something that Untitled is familiar with as a light-skinned Puerto Rican and Filipino descendant, “Everybody who’s not Black and who’s not indigenous is in some proximity to white supremacy and white privilege. I feel like people of color that are non-Black often feel defensive because it feels like it diminishes our struggles or our shared feelings of oppression. I feel like I felt that in other people and even in myself. I feel like I’ve come to the realization that it’s not the same at all and that is the big distinction. I think that we are not exempt from the white supremacy machine. The only people that aren’t in proximity to whiteness are Black people and indigenous people. So that’s where I feel like we should recognize that we have the advantages, because of how we look… Being a non-Black, non-indigeous PoC doesn’t exempt you from having to work to dismantle white supremacy. I think it’s often an assumption that being a PoC means we share the same struggle as Black and indigenous people. We don’t, because we still benefit from white supremacy, and therefore still have privilege and work to do.”

A fine arts background served as an inspiration to Untitled’s name, and it also makes perfect sense why the show was named Untitled (America): “Untitled comes from just like the sort of a beginning as an art term, sort of a blank slate and an empty line that you can fill and project and create from what’s really not a fixed point of view. I’m really interested in constant deconstructing and constructing identity that is completely fluid and that understands that all these things are fluid. To me, that is what drag really is – it’s finding that kind of a light that brings all these art forms together. Drag for me is like the quintessential form of this construction, deconstruction, challenging labels, ideas and binaries. Drag does it constantly and on a big level, in lots of different ways and with lots of different approaches. Then you realize, wow these things are everywhere – you don’t have to be any certain way. But I think drag really emphasizes that because it’s made up of all these moves that you manipulate… I think that’s what’s so exciting about the show is that there’s this whole assumption of when people say ‘America’ and they mean ‘white.’ We’re always answering the questions, ‘Where are you from? No, really. Where are you from? Where are your parents from?’ because if you are a person of color, they don’t understand that you’re an American. The assumption is that America is white and so this show is talking about that.”

Untitled (America)

“I did a vampire show and I did a whole poem number about a Filipino vampire that looks herself up on Wikipedia. She basically begins to understand who she is based on what other people have told her on the internet and there’s really not that much. There’s not many images, there’s no video and so this is a parallel about what it means to be a Philippine X, because a lot of it is told identity. Not necessarily what I reflect out.”

– Untitled Queen

America ≠ white

Untitled (America)’s casting was pretty specific. Untitled Queen says that local drag is her favorite thing. She feels that what makes it so political and punk is its response to the immediate place that you are in with the people that you make that space with. She wanted to make sure that all of the participants would be PoC and that they didn’t have nationwide recognition or a following that other drag artists might have. Untitled really wanted to focus on people who were really doing something in their communities, like creating art in direct conversation with people in America, but then also not having had the chance to tell their stories. Untitled emphasizes that the show is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive, “There are so many different ways of gender and drag expression. This is why I say ‘drag artists,’ it’s because so many people only want to talk about drag queens and it’s so nauseating, so not wide, not a conversation. This is not just about drag queens, and the drag scene has never been just about them as much as we want to talk about them. The show is not exhaustive as in it doesn’t represent everybody, but it is a challenge for everyone, and myself, to expand what our community looks like, discover new artists, and uplift their work.”

Catch Untitled (America) on Untitled Queen’s Twitch account, at 5 PM EST on July 4, 2020. Half of the donations will be split between the performers, while the other half will be donated to the Navajo Water Project. Sidewalkkilla has collaborated with incredible illustrator Paco May, who was kind enough to contribute the beautiful illustrations of Untitled Queen, Cherub Borne, Ricky Rosé, Anya Knees, and Lynn Troller that accompany this article. All of the proceeds from the print sales of the drag artists’ illustrations will additionally benefit the Navajo Water Project. Please visit Paco May’s Etsy store and support the inidigenous grassroots organization and the incredible artists involved in the production of this show and the article (Untitled Queen and Paco May.)

Alexey Kim

Founder

Paco May

Illustrator


If you enjoy Paco’s work, plese consider donating:

If you enjoy Alexey’s work: