Sunday, 23 October 2011

Celebrity Skin

As Halloween approaches my thoughts have turned once again to dead celebrities, my absolute favourite theme for new acts and creations. I will be dancing at Annabel's Cabaret & Discotheque, Plymouth, and their theme for Halloween is 'Hollywood Horror'. I must admit that I am a little responsible for this, having suggested the theme and volunteered my signature act for the evening, my Marilyn Monroe tribute piece.

I first showcased this act in the first edition of the alternative cabaret night 'Twirls of the Unexpected' to general revulsion, as the audience witnessed dear Ms Monroe drag herself out of a body bag to inspect her autopsy scar.The genesis of the routine had come about around 4 months earlier when I dressed up a dead Marilyn Monroe for Halloween last year, after several years of despairing that all the really challenging and interesting costumes were being created and worn by the men in my life, while I found a different set of animal ears each October. No more, said I, and so began my morbid fascination with the rest of the world's positively gruesome fascination with Marilyn Monroe. How many among us can say we know nothing about her, and in particular, how she passed away? I certainly have an indecent knowledge of the circumstances of her death, because the information is freely available to all that seek it. Over the past 40 years men and women have made films about it, written songs about it and even dedicated episodes of Quantum Leap to the last days of Marilyn Monroe (a clear indicator of her place in modern American history).

But the fascination doesn't stop there. In my quest for the perfect Monroe tribute, I encountered several pretenders to the throne: Madonna; Gwen Stefani; even Lady Gaga is living the dream of Monroe through her hair. It's always the hair you see, it practically screams 'I'm a Star!', and now I want a piece of it. I want to be a Star, with the beautiful hair and the provocative dress (with additional wind machine at no extra cost), and I feel like I can have it, because the hair, and the dress, and the sound of her voice don't really belong to her anymore, do they? They belong to us, because we took them and turned them into posters on the wall, and pop stars, and songs about misspent youth and now it's almost as though these material things that should be reminding us of her have become her. Which leads me back to the bodybag...

I want to tell it like it is. The body of the woman in the picture is not smiling. The body of the woman with the curled blonde hair is not gliding across the stage. The body of the woman singing sultry love songs to you cannot speak, on account of the autopsy scar. And the body of this woman, though black and blue and clad in nothing more than a toetag and some oddly familiar white underpants, belongs to nobody. Hang that on your wall.

Fanny LaRue's 'Hollywood Horrors' - Saturday 29th October 2011, Annabel's Cabaret & Discotheque, Plymouth. Entry £5.00, open 8.30pm til Late.

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