Check it out HERE!
Betty Davis, Miles Davis’ ex-wife, is a funk-rock cult legend. Her musical performance career began in the early 1970’s. At a time when depictions of open, frank sexuality by black women were unheard of, Betty Davis professed the proclivities of her lover in this to-the-point song from her album They Say I’m Different. More than just a recitation of bedroom secrets, this piece of musical history celebrates a sexual relationship wherein the male partner is not dominant but, instead, gets his jollies being beat with her “turquoise chain.” Davis up-ends the male-dominant scheme with a story that doesn’t cave to the political calls to blend quietly into the middle-class, but asserts her presence as a black woman in control of herself and her partner.
Notably, there is no video of Betty’s performances. When her albums were re-released in the 2000’s, In the Attic Records searched for video of her 1970’s concert performances – none could be found. This is not surprising, considering how little industry support Betty received during her short career. She was considered “too black” for the white music industry and “too rock” for the black music industry.
Also check out her song, “Don’t Call Her No Tramp,” an interesting proto-critique of “slut bashing.”
Empress Stah is an internationally renowned, award winning Aerial Artist, Neo Cabaret Performer and Show Producer, whose signature performance is ‘Swinging from the Chandelier’.
Famed for her provocative and controversial style of show, Stah has toured the world with her repertoire of unique acts as well as produced her own sell out cabaret extravaganza’s in London and on tour, most notably “The Very Best of Empress Stah”.
Visit her site HERE
Fauxnique is a San Fransisco-based faux/bio queen and dancer. Her claim to fame comes from her 2003 win in the annual Miss Trannyshack Pageant, causing a massive uproar within the drag community (Hedda Lettuce is quoted to say that Heklina, the head of Trannyshack, allowing a woman to win the pageant degrades the nature of drag and its history).
She currently has a residency at the deYoung Museum in San Fransisco.
Grace Jones (née Grace Mendoza) burst onto the fashion, music, and art scenes in the early 1970’s. Throughout her tumultuous career, she has garnered praise and criticism for her bold, assertive inquiries into sexual roles and power, race, and gender legibility (via androgyny).
In this 1986 music video to the single “I’m Not Perfect, But I’m Perfect For You”, we see many of the hallmarks of Grace Jones’ videos from the 1980’s and 1990’s – namely stop animation, montage, cameos, and selective speeding-up/slowing-down of motion sequences. However, the video also depicts (intentionally or not) a certain reality of the non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual body in American culture. From the first few scenes, we see Grace waxed, styled, tweaked, and prepared for the stage – often to the pleasure of the white “professionals”, but to Grace’s horror. It all culminates in Jones’ performance for an adoring throng, clad in a dress/tent painted by Keith Haring in black and white – one of many deployments of whiteness and blackness shown in this video. (Also note the white face and white bath.)
Near the middle of the video, Grace’s outfit reaches out and injures her fans. At the end, driven mad by the “beautifying” process, Grace seems to move erratically and destabilize. Perhaps it’s a suggestion that, even subjected to the white, male-determined rules of beauty and desirability, Grace can use hope, agency, and queer madness (not to mention the political power of her presence as a non-apologetic, aggressive woman of color) to attack the very system that tried to normalize and regulate her. (I’d like to think so, and I’d like to think that’s why she’s such a queer icon.)