What a drag: The evolution of Jack E. Dickinson, Part 1

8 01 2011

I’ve been meaning to post some thoughts on drag performance for quite some time. As described here, performing as a drag king was a major step in my transition process. And it continues to be a significant means through which I explore my own gender and the very concept of gender. So here Part 1 of a series of posts describing the different stages of my “drag career” and how they were linked with my transition from “woman” to “gender blended woman” to “questionning” to “trans guy” to … whatever the hell I am now. I’ll be discussing how my drag and personal lives impacted each other and how doing drag went from leading me to question the very core of my identity to a way of expressing that core.

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It was in 2004, or thereabouts, that I started putting serious thought into performing as a drag king. I had done some amateur theatre and I loved the stage. In addition, I was beginning to explore an identity as a “gender blended” woman (I hadn’t encountered the term “genderqueer” yet) and I thought that being a drag king would be an awesome way to explore and express this.It was also around that time that I started to go out in drag from time to time, especially when hanging around with my bi friends (that I made in the course of my involvement with a local bi group called Bi Unité Montréal). I learned to pack, bind and create a beard thanks to websites and tips from a mailing list for kinky queer women in Montreal.

So, a good 2 years before hitting the stage, I would sit at home drinking beer or wine, practicing making a beard and putting together drag king numbers in my head. The first number I thought about was Hair, from the movie musical. I wanted to celebrate the masculine aspect of long hair. Hair was a big issue at this point in my personal identity. I had almost always had long hair up until then. While it often served to get me labeled as “femme” in the dyke community, no matter what I was wearing (!), I had always felt that my long, straight, rocker hair was one of the things susceptible to giving away my “masculine” essence. As a metal head, my hair connected me to my roots (ha!) as a headbanger. The song “Hair” represented this well for me.

I also wanted to do “I Need a Hero.”  This was to be a theatrical piece which I won’t give away since I haven’t wound up doing it ….YET ; ) Finally, I had an idea about creating a theatrical piece around “Aline,” a classic French song about a guy who had lost his lover. In spite of the drama, it would be humourous.

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Highlights: Buffy Sainte-Marie

28 07 2009

First up in my new Highlights Series is the Buffy Sainte-Marie concert I saw in the summer of 2008 at Place-des-Arts in Montreal.  If you have never heard any of her music, you need to go to YouTube now and look her up. A songwriter, singer and activist, Buffy Sainte-Marie has one of the most vibrant voices I’ve ever heard. She is a true inspiration, having stood up against war and injustice, especially against Native peoples, through her music. She was even blacklisted in the U.S. at some point in the 60s or 70s. (All that info is on the webpage I linked to above).

I already had goosebumps when I listened to her recordings, especially Los Pescadores and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,  so I was stoked when I found out from a friend that she was finally going to be performing in Montreal. I went with 3 friends and I was amazed at the positive energy this lady has.  I spent the whole show marvelling at how, even from a distance, I could feel her. Her voice gave me even more goosebumps live. When she sang classics such as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Universal Soldier, the air was palpable. She also rocked the house with a tune from her newer album. She even played her mouth bow! That night, I found out that one of her songs, Until It’s Time for You to Go, was recorded by a bunch of people ranging from Elvis Presley to Barbara Streisand to Neil Diamond.

In short, it was a glorious event, made even more special, in a way, by the fact that I may never get to see her live again since it was her first performance in Montreal and there seems to be little chance of her coming back with her reducing the number of speaking engagements and shows that she does.

To give you a taste:





Music Challenge

23 07 2008

OK, I’ll play. It’s kinda fun. I was challenged by Punk Fairy to list my five current favourite songs. It’s hard to narrow it down to 5 so I’ll just list 5 songs that I’ve had in my head a lot lately and why.

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Blast from the past: Gracious – A prog rock discovery that led to some weird, psychadelic stuff happening in my brain

26 01 2008

(Originally written a long, long time ago and transferred between a couple of old blogs.)

Close friends know this story. A long time ago, when I was 20, I lived with a guy who was 17 years my senior. It ended in disaster (sort of) but the upshot is that, while I was with him, I was exposed to tons of excellent music that existed before I had even been born in 1973. Among this music was a gem of a band called Gracious.

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Blast from the past: Up the Irons!

26 01 2008

(Originally written July 29, 2005 on a much older blog)

Well, I’m still in the afterglow of yet another fantastic Iron Maiden adventure. I don’t believe I could ever get tired of seeing the boys live and of feeling the music course through my veins in a way that just isn’t possible when listening to them on the stereo.

We were 3rd row this time and the guards at the Collisée Pepsi in Quebec would not let us move up to the gate for some strange reason . . . but it was still a great show.

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Blast from the past: Making Love to Metal

26 01 2008

(Originally written March 15, 2006 on my old blog).

I just got back from seeing “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” . This film was created by an anthropologist from B.C. who is a total metalhead. How could someone who can combine two of my great passions go wrong? He could have, but he didn’t, or barely did. 

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Blast from the past: A Matter of Life and Death

26 01 2008
(Originally written October 14, 2006 on my old blog). 

Yes, yes, yes. I’m about to go on about Iron Maiden again. Yes, I am obsessed. Yes, I am in the fan club. Yes, I should have named this the Iron Maiden blog. Sue me!

We, in Québec, have been immensely spoiled Iron Maiden-wise in the last few years:

2003: Give Me Ed Till I’m Dead Tour (both Québec City and Montréal)

2004: Dance of Death Tour (both)

2005: Early Days Tour (Québec City only)

2006: A Matter of Life and Death Tour (both Québec City and Montréal)

Now, I wasn’t nuts about the new album and, at first, I wasn’t nuts about the fact that they played the album in its entirety with 5 older songs thrown in at the end. But listening to the album AFTER hearing it live (two nights in a row!), I am having massive musical orgasms over and over again. This is an amazingly complex album: it reminds one of the old stuff but with added maturity and sophistication, both musically and lyrically. And of course the boys kicked ass live, as always.

I can’t even begin to explain the high that I feel in the days that follow a show. I have more energy, more optimism about everything, little things don’t bother me so much . . .heck, I even have better posture! (Although I think a lot of this also has to do with my growing number of opportunities to do Drag King performances . . .to be discussed in another post).

I’ve been listening to nothing but Maiden for the past few days, with no signs of getting sick of it. While my roommate usually complains if I listen to too much of it, I think she knows better this week somehow . . .not a single anti-IM peep out of her!

Anyway, other than raving about Iron Maiden and getting some excess energy out of my system so I can actually get some shut-eye eventually, there isn’t much point to this post.

But fuck do I love Iron Maiden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!