Every little school girl…
Picture by Peter Korchnak
…so I was wearing my favorite dress …jumping up and down …taking swigs of bourbon from the flask that I’ve hidden in my bra …the blow-up doll was being spanked pretty hard …one of the other school girls was riding the dog pretty hard …wait! Let me start at the beginning. There’s this band called Chervona…
I discovered them last summer at the Lagunitas Beer Circus. There, under the Hawthorne Bridge, with a Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ in my hand and my It’s motherfucking booze time flask concealed in my pants, I waited for Vagabond Opera, a famed Portland ensemble, to take the stage. Chervona was one of the supporting acts that I’d not heard of before. But when they came on the stage, I was impressed right away. Not just because their music immediately began to make me nod my head and swell my plastic pint from side-to-side, but because the crowd, at this point in the afternoon, was still pretty thin, and this did not stop any member of the band from playing their asses off. You might have thought they were performing for a screaming crowd. Later, I’d learn that crazy crowds are more or less the norm at their shows, especially when they play the Alberta Public House on Last Thurdays. Theirs is the music that makes you want to grab a stranger by the arm and do that dancing-around-in-circles thing happy drunk people do in movies. In fact, as more people trickled in, my girlfriend and I joined arm-an-arm with members of the crowd and began line-kicking. Now that’s tribal connection!
Picture by Peter Korchnak
Being an old-school Gogol Bordello fan, I was immediately attracted to their music. Now, for full disclosure, Chervona has been around for five years; in fact, they actually opened for Gogol before. Comparing the two bands is a big disservice to them. Yes, the singer has an accent; yes, they’re a fantastic party band; yes, they have an accordion—but these are not copycats. Saying so would rob them of five years of hard work crafting their sound. Now, there’s no way to describe what they sound like without sounding ridiculous. Since Gogol got picked up by a major label they’re probably the most mainstream point of reference. So, let’s leave it at that. If you haven’t seen them live, here’s your chance: Chervona at Dante’s on January 11th Old New Year Party
To celebrate their five-year anniversary, Chervona decided to shoot a video for “Bottoms Up,” a song they’ve written for the holidays. Think of a Polka version of Feliz Navidad about getting drunk with your friend on Christmas Eve sang by a Russian punk rocker. Yeah. So a call for outrageous characters and extras was made on the band’s facebook page.
Where does the crafty transvestite fit into all this?
Oh, I fit into the “outrageous” part of the casting call. Both auditions and the shoot were held at Lent’s Commons, a coffee, beer and wine venue in Southeast Portland. The audition, if you can call it that, involved me showing up in my favorite dress, and being told by V, the director, that I’d be playing one of the school girls. There’s something reassuring about this town when you walk into a public venue full of strangers and everyone is happy to see a plus-size transvestite in a cocktail dress. Of course, I had a secret Agenda. If you’re a friend or follower of any of my previous blogs you probably already know that if I’m in girl-mode, 99% of the time I’m wearing this:
It’s my fucking favorite dress and I love it to death. This was the first dress I ever wore that made me feel pretty. In the course of a transvestite’s life a great deal of damage is done to our self-esteem simply because wanting to feel pretty is a counterintuitive and alien longing for men. It implies vulnerability and the inherent weakness society imposes on being feminine. It implicates surrounding males to engage in homoerotism if they fetishize and objectify the feminine image. As such, the transvestite is a great tool in the feminist arsenal.
Surprise! It comes with a side of wiener.
Wanting to feel good about who we are and for our outward appearance to reflect what we feel inside is such a basic intellectual need. Transvestites just happened to cross the stringent expectations of gender lines. Now, a big chunky girl like me has plenty to complain about when I look in the mirror and not just on a fat/bad make-up day. This dress made me understand all that. It was the first dress that made me feel like the cherry on top of cream-cheese frosted cupcake. I was fat and sassy and on top of world. Most transvestites don’t understand why we cross-dress. At least I didn’t for the longest time. And even if we did finding the narrative that’ll make sense is an overwhelming task to undertake. Perhaps, somewhere in trajectory of my lives, I experienced something, it may now be repressed or forgotten but whatever it was; it made feel alive. I went on looking for this feeling everywhere never really knowing what it was. And now I’m here, terrified of letting go of this dress because of the dim chances of finding anything that’d provide me that sense of empowerment again. I know intellectually that yes, there are other dresses out there and it’s my job to find them. But what can I say? I’m attached to the damn thing. But I agree. It has to go. I just wanted to make sure it went out with a bang.
Picture by Peter Korchnak
So where was I? oh yeah, I was wearing my favorite dress …jumping up and down …taking swigs from my It’s motherfucking booze time flask that I’ve hidden in my bra …the blow-up doll was being spanked pretty hard …one of the other school girls was riding the dog pretty hard… and Alan, a fellow member of the cast turned to me and said, Something tells me you’re not really acting.
I am a method actor, I said.
The photographs for this entry were kindly provided by Peter Korchnak, a fellow cast member and new friend. You can find a great write up of the shoot at his blog: American Robotnik.