Monday, 29 July 2013

Traumfrau, Trans* Frau, and Lana Wachowski

A regular club event called Traumfrau has been running in Brighton since 2012, popping up in various venues but lately settling on the Blind Tiger Club. I'd best give you various links to click on. The home page for Traumfrau - which means 'dream woman' in German, if I'm not very mistaken - is at http://www.traumfrau.co.uk/, where they say this about themselves:

Music you actually like, talented performers and a touch of DIY.
 

Traumfrau is the new queer* night for Brighton and beyond, born to bring together and support queer performers, artists and DJs, and to generally just rock your pants and your dance shoes off. Calling all beautiful queers and homos, yes we want you to get involved! If you are a performer, an artist, a musician and want to get on board, or if you’re just a dancing queen and want to know what and when next, get in touch via our Get in Touch page!

*Traumfrau is a queer, non judgemental, inclusive, non ageist, non sexist, non sceney, non exclusive, safe space. It welcomes people of all age and gender in all their  fluid expressions. Please help keep this space a happy one for others too.


Well, that's pretty clear. Pension-age post-op disco dollies who like music will be welcome. But not only them.

Interesting that the word 'homo' is now in the process of being reclaimed, i.e. brought back from being a pejorative term for homosexual men, and rehabilitated as a word of pride, rather as 'black' has so gained in respectability that it has supplanted 'negro'. Homo is not there yet, but you can see how this word might, after generations in the wilderness, become standard, and let 'gay' usefully return to its original meaning of 'bright and joyful'.

I'll give you some more flavour of what Traumfrau is supposed to be like. This from BrightonSource at http://brightonsource.co.uk/reviews/traumfrau-review/:

There’s a great gay scene in Brighton of course, but as Traumfrau recognises it can be a little too shiny, young and pretty. The girls behind this exciting new queer – not gay – night try to be a bit more inclusive for those girls that don’t fit into the mainstream. Normally at The Tube, this jaunt over to The Blind Tiger sees Le Tigre legend JD Samson take to the decks, playing a hip and poppy selection that culminates in Deniece Williams’ ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’.

“I’m trying to be the cool kid at school because everyone is so cool,” Samson says, but the Traumfrauen are perhaps the most receptive and non-judgemental crowd around. As well as a live band and a theme – in honour of their guest this one was genderqueer – Traumfrau has interactive posters to encourage people to break down their barriers. This is not just a night to get drunk and dance at – it’s more playful than that.

JD enjoyed it so much that she wants to come back. High and deserved praise for this exciting queer night.


And this is from ZhooshBrighton at http://www.network.zhooshbrighton.co.uk/events/traumfrau-brighton-s-queer-night-for-girls-and-their-friends:

Brighton’s queer night for girls and their friends. Music you actually like, talented performers and a touch of DIY. Get in early if you want to catch some comedy gold with young and talented Canadian comedian Mae Martin. And as always expect a night packed with surprises, great music and 4 DJs on rotation - riotgrrrl/postpunk/electro pop/rockabilly - so you will never get bored, and glue and crayons for those who enjoy some cutting and sticking in between a dance and a drink.

A much needed girls - but not girls only - club night, Traumfrau was born for the joy of all those who love a night out, really good music and a queer crowd to share it with. An intellectual dancefloor for the unusual crowd. If you have joined it once, you will be back.


By the way, 'queer' in Brighton parlance - I'm not assuming it applies anywhere else, though it may do - merely indicates that 'my gender or sexual orientation is not standard', and that in turn might mean 'just a tad' or 'desperately in need of a life-changing makeover'. It doesn't mean 'gay man', although not so long ago it most certainly did. Helpful Brighton & Hove City Council officials know the term well. But I'd say it would still be unsafe to go up to the average male or female Brighton resident and say, 'Are you queer?' with full certainty of being understood. And don't try it on a tourist, no matter how hip and clued-up they seem.

Back to Traumfrau. They were much in evidence during Fringe time last May, and now, with Trans* Pride and main Brighton Pride upon us, their posters have been everywhere, updated. Their special Trans* Frau poster featured an eye-catching young lady:


Gosh, she looked good! Natal or trans? Really, I couldn't decide. She must be trans, but if so she'd had a marvellous job done on her face. The eyes, nose, mouth and chin looked as perfect as it gets, even allowing for the usual cleaning-up that publicity shots receive. I wasn't sure about the vivid pink dreadlocks, but had to admit they suited her, and were the finishing touch if the purpose of the photo was to get across the message that Trans*Frau was a confident celebration of life and fun.

It wasn't hard to trace who she was: Lana Wachowski, the trans-female half of the brother/sister Wachowski duo who were responsible for the film The Matrix, its sequels, the whole gamut of Matrix-related media products, and later films too. Plus much else, such as comics. See the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wachowskis. In October 2012, after a reclusive ten years or so of changing from one state to another, Lana had received recognition in the Human Rights Campaign, for coming out as trans in an industry that is not well-known for being gung-ho about anything that might put off audiences. Although it'll take up half an hour of your time if you look at it all, this high-quality YouTube video - which, having watched it, I recommend - is all about her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crHHycz7T_c.

The greater part of the video covers her speech at the Human Rights Campaign award ceremony. An interesting speech, which may inspire you. I thought the end part, in which she speaks about her supportive mother and father, and her super-supportive brother, was especially worth watching. At the twenty-seven minute mark, she describes how her dad said this to her after she'd become Lana:

What matters is that you're alive, you seem happy, and I can put my arms around you and give you a kiss.

Gulp. My Dad never said that to me... As for her brother, she describes how they were both at a press conference, and her brother thought it best to say this to the reporters:

Just so that we are clear, if anyone asks my sister something I don't like, I will break a glass bottle over their head.

How protective is that? I have nobody who would say those words for me. You may be in the same boat too.

All right, Miss Wachowski was an established media personality with cash and family support, no worries about her industry credibility, and able to call the tune with the news people rather be their victim. Lucky girl! But she obviously does feel that she is an inspiration to many others, and although to my mind she does not come across as quite so young and bubbly as the Trans* Frau poster might suggest (she was born in 1967, and will be forty-six in December) I am happy to salute her as a trans icon.

Having seen her and heard her and watched her mannerisms on the YouTube video, I also admit to some envy. Yes, I know she's fifteen years younger than me. But these images are so much how I'd like to be sometimes:


The bald-headed man is her protective brother. Mine's dead.


Whereas this is me, taken yesterday:


Or - looking slightly less windswept - a month ago in St Andrews in Scotland:


Or, to be really fair, as I was in October 2012, perhaps at the very moment that Lana was making her award speech:


Hmmmm. She's still better-looking! But I can get over it. And I take consolation in five things:

1. I'm not famous, I'm not an icon, and I can live a private life.
2. I've got a better voice. Hers is very good, but I think mine is even better - so there.
3. I do it with my natural grey hair. That saves a fortune on pink dye.
4. You can pronounce my surname far more easily.
5. I've got Fiona.

But I've got no brother. And no mum and dad. Boo hoo.

1 comment:

  1. All I can say is I'm glad I don't live in Brighton

    Shirley Anne x

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