And tomorrow, for my last performance in class, I’m crawling my way out of this giant egg / black silk cocoon.
This new performance is based on research and theories surrounding queer utopias. Through my movement/vocal/sound/dance work, I’m exploring the concept of being dis-gendered (similar do dysfunction, dystopia, discord, dissonance): failure of one’s gender presentation to “stick” to a binary.
I’m also incorporating themes of primitivism and sexuality, based on research on histories of Asian/Filipino masculinities.
This is probably the craziest, weirdest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m super stoked about it.
THIS IS MY CHILDHOOD in the Philippines! These kids are amazing and so cute.
My friends and I would hold beauty pageants like this too, rearranging our clothes to make strange shapes, and adorning ourselves with plants. I remember one time I picked a bunch of flowers and put them in a piece of cellophane I found in the trash and made a bouquet as a first prize for the winner.
Another time, we had a pageant by the river, and we were wearing makeshift swimsuits. Someone wore a plastic bag (literally - arms through the handles, 2 holes at the bottom for their legs). I was in the final 2, and the question was “Who would you marry? A rich man or someone who loves you?” My competitor chose the rich man, so they could have a better life (snap, snap, snap. that’s real). I chose someone who loves me because when someone loves you, you always feel rich (damn, that’s real too). Of course, I won.
It’s strange how a video can transport you back 20 years as if it were last week. Had I seen this video a few years ago when I was still in the military and uncomfortable with my femininity, I would have felt weirdly embarrassed. But now, I’m cheering on these kids (WERQQQQ!) like they deserve to be cheered.
I recently wrote this short essay about what and who Jerry Blossom is to me, and the importance of queer people and queer spaces in my development as a person and and artist.
Please read and support In Our Words, a salon for Queers & Co. And as always, comments appreciated :)
Who is Jerry Blossom?: Clearing Misconceptions, Confronting Privilege and the Politics of Representation http://wp.me/s1VgfI-21427
“Jerry Blossom is a refusal to adhere to gender and sexual binaries. Jerry Blossom is not separate from me. Jerry Blossom is not simply an act, a character, a fetishization, or an embodiment of man/womanhood. Jerry Blossom is the distillation of parts of myself -actions, vocal accent, mannerisms that have been subdued and assimilated through my own socialization – through family, religion, the immigrant experience, social norms, and military career. Jerry Blossom is about the instability of personhood. The ﬂux of identity as something learned and always in negotiation.” - Kiam Marcelo Junio on their performance persona Jerry Blossom
At Queergasm: “Sewing Station.”
During the performance, I sit in a reduced version of an old US Navy uniform and cut and sew garments using my birth certificate (from the Philippines) printed on fabric. I do not speak.
Here’s a short story:
Between the ages of 1-5, my biological mother worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and I rarely saw her. The person who took care of me most- bathed me, fed me, clothed me, took me to school - was our landlady, who worked as a seamstress. This is a tribute to her, a person whose name I no longer remember.
On a related note this piece is about the exportation of human capital from the Philippines into other countries, usually in silent subservient jobs as custodians, nannies, nurses, tech, factory, or sex workers. It is about the work and labor produced by Filipino bodies for the benefit of other nations, and relatedly, capitalism. The Philippine government promotes this market highly, treating it as a source of national pride, to show the world the strong Filipino work ethic.
This piece is also about the quiet labor produced by military service members, serving the country at the expense of silencing our own individual identities.
And it is also about a paper document as a “proof” of one’s existence, even though it only lists the most impersonal information.
It is about choosing one’s own name, and forging one’s own identity.
TONIGHT!!! QUEERGASM, at Northwestern University.
Performances by Rebecca Kling, Kiam Marcelo Junio/Jerry Blossom, Keijaun Thomas, Dirty Grits, Amanda Stefanski, and Ejaz Ali & Oeshik Chowdhury.
I’ll be performing my durational piece, “Sewing Station” during the social hour, and “AmeriKararoke” to open the show.
Don’t miss this if you’re in Chicago or Evanston!