Makeup For Men: How Drag Queens Reclaimed A Medium Part II

Our documentary follows the life of two drag queens as they transform from their dressed down everyday looks to their fully elaborate drag looks.

We kicked our shoot off this week with an early morning interview on Thursday.

It's Adam!

Meet Adam Newborne, actor by day, Coco Pop by night (and sometimes at brunch on Sundays). Adam is relatively new to the drag world. Unlike Charlie:It's Charlie!

Charlie has perfected his craft a bit more, and has a meticulous process by which he completes his look as Stella Novella.

We interviewed each in their fully dressed down looks, then documented their transformation. This culminated in a shoot of their show that they were both hosting last Friday evening.

Our Queens Dressed Up

Our original storyboard called for the documentation of each queen’s makeup process. This proved difficult as our subjects were so involved in their process of making up that it was almost difficult for them to articulate what they were doing as they were doing it. They also seemed to open up during this time, and share some of their more insightful comments as they were doing (or having done) their makeup.

Additionally, as we interviewed our subjects we realized that a different, less formal approach would emerge. This is especially necessary because, as it turns out, Adam doesn’t do his own makeup. In our discovery of this an additional theme emerged, which was that the comfort level of our subjects as drag queens seemed to correspond with their ownership in being able to do their own makeup.

We intend to explore this in further detail during our documentary.

Makeup For Men: How Drag Queens Reclaimed A Medium PART I

makeup-for-men_storyboard-01

Collaborators:Laura Kerry and Chester Dols

PART I

The last four weeks of our Video & Sound class with Marina Zurkow will be spent storyboarding, scripting, shooting and editing a five minute sound piece.

None of us have experience in this arena.

Prompted to portray a specialist in a field, we decided to explore how reclaiming a medium (makeup) typically -though not correctly- identified as a CIS female tool, is an empowering mechanism.

From our storyboard:

“We want to approach the idea of expertise through the lens of the Drag community…Melding the youtube tutorial format with a classic interview profile, we hope to demonstrate the Drag Queens transformation…of character that is achieved when one becomes an expert in their medium and thusly, a more empowered version of themselves”.

Documentation

We decided to identify three different “color zones” for the storyboard: Full Drag (pink), Full Dressdown (green), and Transformation (orange).

We then applied this color coding to the storyboard shots as well as the questions we would ask our subject and at what time. In delivering certain prompts during certain time “categories”, we would have greater control over our subject’s appearance as they answered our prompts.

B Roll, color zone yellow, will be cut in and out of scenes as needed and relevant.

Next week, we will demonstrate the process of shooting and interviewing.

Jean’s An Alien

Today in class we were prompted to create a quick and dirty storyboard using 1, 2 or 3 point lighting with one of the following prompts:

  1. Drink paint, it’s good for you!
  2. I miss you and wish you were here.
  3. Jean is actually an alien being.

My middle name is Jean, so my partners and I went with the third prompt. Scroll down for the results…

 

Happy Awkward Fam

Jean be pregs

That doesnt look like a human baby.

Baby Makes Three

End scene.

Afterward

Baby alien didn’t make it very far. Oh well. #RIP little egg.

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The circumcision cut more than just his foreskin.
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Never forget.

Bloodchild: The Podcast

This sound piece is inspired by Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, the coming-of-age tale of a young man as he becomes more cognizant of the world around him.

Given the potential depth of the subject matter, my sound partner and I both agreed that it would be interesting to approach this with a bit of humor. Inspired by the SNL skit “NPR Delicious Dish” and the characters Terry Rialto (played by Molly Shannon) and Margaret Jo McCullin (Ana Gasteyer) we wanted to take a satirical approach to the T’lic birthing process and in doing so, make it funnier than the original piece (so, funny).

Music from Bensound.

More importantly, we wanted a way to showcase the range of sound we had gathered and we thought the radio platform might do that best.

Here’s a few attempts and generating SFX, not all successful:

We also experimented with different vocal effects in audition to create two different characters from the same voice. The above is the end result.

Thanks to: Eddie! Yay Eddie! for his top notch acting skills, particularly in the screaming/moaning arena, and to Marina for showing us how to convert our stupid files. And of course, my lovely sound partner Melissa Parker, for being a trooper.

Stealing Well: The Act Of Creation As Collaboration

Part I: The Agony* of Influence 

* I thought that I was being original here, but I was not.

When I started to tackle how I would respond to this week’s assigned works I initially thought I would create my own companion piece to each work in its given medium. For instance, After completing The Ecstacy of Influence, I started mining through old ITP blog posts and literary criticisms of Jonathan Lethem’s work under the valiant delusion that I could create a “collage response” piece of my own based on quotations and sentiments that echoed my findings.  The plan was to work backwards by writing my piece, then to find original quotes and theorems that supported my message, swap them out, and cite them later. Anything in [brackets] was a note for further research.

Thusly I commenced:

Part of the reason why I came to ITP was because I was told, time and again, that it was an environment for collaborators. [blog response from ms669 in ITP student essay -find more!]. When I tried to contextualize my new environment, I realized almost immediately that the greatest offerings of the program [same blog response (I think) but different commenter] were not the hard line technical skills I’d come to learn [notes from conversations I had with Emily, Cole, Christine, etc. Also,  ITP website and I think iPhone notes?] but rather the environment of recently possible [ITP description? Look up] I’d access. [Also: cite discussions with ITP alum].

All sorts of profiles are attracted to ITP -the magic happens [Daniella’s instagram quote? ugh, look up] when a group of people come together and their perspectives converge.

Part II: Reject The Remix

I quickly realized how much research and citation would go into even two paragraphs of such a collage piece, especially when I was still only summarizing, not expounding. Feeling a bit frustrated, I decided to fixate on something else arbitrary, like footnoting the title of my post, which turned out to be a rabbit hole in its own right:

  1. Title: The concept of “Stealing Well” of course, comes from the Kirby Ferguson citation that Steve Jobs said that Picasso said. Upon further investigation: There isn’t evidence that Picasso said those words, other than Steve Jobs saying Picasso said those words.  But! Those words do appear to be a rephrasing of a passage from T.S. Eliot’s book The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (1920). In this passage, Eliot notes: “Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal”. Adding to the meta-ness of this whole experience, I myself lifted this information via a Quora passage from a gentleman named Robert Frost, who, apropos of nothing, is not a poet but an Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA.

Yeah, scratch that.

Part III: I Can Haz Create?

so-predictable

Then I thought, OK! I can write a poem based on our Poetry Walk where each line is in the style of one poet, and assemble them chronologically so that the verse is both a callback to the poet before and a segue to the poet ahead, thusly demonstrating the inevitability of absorption and imitation in ones own work, how none of us are ever creating anything in a vacuum.

I was feeling all romantic (I had chosen to do the walk at night having taken the idea of gaining a new perspective -I have lived in the East Village for the past 15 years- very literally). How would I incorporate the other readings? Later. Here are my notes:

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…and here’s my attempt at making them into something:

Whitman is about Lincoln being brave in his words.

Emerson is about providing the manual for brave, loud yawps.

Whitman is about our minds/hearts/americana.

Auden is about predicting the towers & where I would live.

Ginsberg is about.

Ashbery is about looping his efficiencies.

ee cummings is about falling through words in the sawdust o

f  back

b   a   r

tidings

Problem was these were neither properly cited lines nor inclusive of any other poets’ work than Ginsberg’s and like maaaayyybe cummings. To do that properly I would have to research each poet’s history, style, influence and influences, generate a representative line, and assemble. How? No idea. Back to the drawing board.

Part IV: Progress Inevitable.

It’s at this point that I realized what all my non-starters amounted to, which was essentially the creative process in a painful little microcosm. I:

  1. Learned. This goes without saying but I took a deeper dive into each subject matter in attempting to properly cite it.
  2. Got (the slightest, tiniest bit) inspired. Maybe. I’d like to state for the record that I’m not a poet. But I do think the exercise of (attempting to) imitate an approach helped free my words and inform my ability to meld styles of writing ie, be creative.
  3. Absorbed. A ton of the time I was writing I didn’t even realize from where in the ether I was pulling my sources. It wasn’t until halfway through my poetry experiment that I remembered the structure was not mine, but Ginsberg’s.
  4. Experienced A Creative Process It’s nearly impossible to be completely singular in your work, or to synthesize new ideas in a vacuum. But it seems the point of these musings that it’s ok. It’s encouraged. It’s vital. Learn from your surroundings and those lessons will be greater than the sum of their parts. It’s a perfectly poignant start to a two year long creative process.

In closing: Our ideas come from others and that is liberating to admit. Who said that? I’m not sure. Maybe it was Lethem, maybe it was an East Village beat, maybe I heard it on a TED Talk. Or maybe, since all the parts were there, it was completely and inevitably me.