Vp Issue 7: “'What’s YOUR Platform?' To be a performance artist"

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Vp Issue 7: “'What’s YOUR Platform?' To be a performance artist"

[Originally published in Vp issue 7, intro by Kelly McCartney (2004)]

“What’s YOUR Platform?” To be a performance artist is to define your art way outside the proverbial box and by doing so, discover the freedom that the artist’s life demands, though often not granted. In a world where commerce generally dictates creativity, the sight of Imani Henry portraying the inner-workings of an FTM is more than refreshing; it is absolutely critical to the progress of our society’s understanding of queer culture.

The same can be said for the spoken word onslaughts of Alix Olson and the poetic musings of Staceyann Chin, two of the few artists bold enough to shout about pussy and mean it in a nice way. And while not all performance artists assault us with righteousness, their messages and presence on the stage is just as important, for we all know that the positive impact of a good belly laugh or a lingering melody goes a long way toward bridging gaps of consciousness.

The hilarious stylings of Poppi Kramer and the rock harmonies of BETTY are also fine examples of these powers. The varied colors, styles, platforms, and volume of the performers featured here beautifully reflect the diversity that is life, queer or otherwise. We are indebted to them, and all of the others who out there rocking the boat without a life jacket. 

Ms. Public Agitator: Alix Olson

“Are you sure you can see me through all of this green eye shadow?!” Alix Olson: wielder of words, de-constructor of socio-political mores, spoken-poetry-artist, all around ‘live it, write it, shout about it’ — kind of grrl, faces me fresh from the photo shoot for the cover of this magazine. We speak of the shoot — the farcical nature of radical, feminist performers ‘glamming it up,’ feigning excitement at the prospect of winning this faux pageant. We also speak of other implications, happy for the edgier photos shot after some voiced discomfort with the subject matter of beauty contests.

Upon entering Meow Mix a few hours earlier, I was met with boisterous laughter erupting from Alix’s mouth. She was crouched on the ground holding the wide-eyed, cooing baby girl of a fellow performer. This seems like the essence of the woman I had come to interview — down on the floor, playing, investigating, investing herself in the beauty of possibility, reveling in the prospect of human communion without