pawspauseprose

Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen


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So very, very twisted

twistyEntertainment and the media circus which brings it to town, is nothing to clown around with – and I mean that literally! Growing up in the one-horse driven, antenna TV town of Black and Whiteville, I remember sitting thisclosetothescreen, when Bozo the clown made a full facial close-up (later it would be Mick Jagger, but trust me, that was a completely different story). Now past my fiftieth year, I still can see that head shot vividly.  However, anything else, such as what I was eating, wearing or bodily functions I lost because of it, are thankfully forgotten. In one single, albeit innocent moment I was left scared to death of clowns.

Coulrophobia, the fear of such garishly painted people, with red bulbous noses and big black shoes, is not just my own personal packet of fear. Bumper stickers, cartoons, music groups, you name IT, all prove these white-faced individuals rein not just supreme, but King, over normal fears such as spiders, snakes or the dark. All in all, the clown often represents a very twisted and sinister side of laughter, one which I personally feared would be waiting for me when I’d least expect it, like sagging breasts or crow’s feet…yes, eventually I knew IT would catch up to me!

That was until American Horror Story, and the increasingly twisted inhumanity of America as a whole.

As a writer and someone lost to the Noir and intrigue of mystery, I’ve never enjoyed blood and gore genres of entertainment. Nightmare on streets or under beds, slashing and squirting for the sake of great FX just never made it to my dance card. That being said, when American Horror Story took us to the Freak Show this past season, I had to give pause. Thinking of Tod Browning’s vision, and his pennywise arcades and barkers, both stark in black and white, I bought a ticket, and found the splatter was far less than anticipated, but the matter was so much more.cdn.indiewire.com

Just like the classic Browning film, I found myself attached to characters, more than the limbs they should have been born with. I identified, loved and cared about the struggles they faced, and sadly understood how hearts turned cold, after years of abuse and humiliation. The simple message screaming out, as always was…we are all the same, regardless of the Halloween costume we were born into. Then we met Twisty.

Promotions for this horribly disfigured and homicidal clown made the show a must see for most, just as any vintage sideshow would have hoped, and had me prepared for therapy. That being said, the first episodes did offer brutal murders, happening for no reason, other than Twisty the Clown just wanted to kill…and so he did, as bloody as possible. There was just one small problem for the storyline…the sorrow shown behind the eyes of the clown. No Billboard top fifty with a bullet could have offered lyrics any more poignant…there was damage, and the clown didn’t cause it himself.

For me, that was when entertainment and empathy went for popcorn and changed seats. I knew the look. In the 70’s, growing up as a flat-chested, string bean daughter of a cop, I was rejected by all the cliques. I wasn’t cool enough for the Rah-Rah table; the nerd table let me visit but never accepted me, since there was a distant promise of beauty of my horizon, despite thick glasses and acne. The jock and sport tables also laughed regularly at my expense, whether it was in my polyester issued gym suit, my inability to climb a rope or just the fact I carried a Campus Queen metal lunchbox, complete with thermos. Yes, I had membership…somewhat hunched over…but in good standing, at more than a few freak shows in life.

When you are a card carrying member of the outcast society, you see life differently and hope all the while to make a difference, prove them wrong, and never do to others, the injustice, hurt and pain done to you. That time however, was of course before you could humiliate the face, without being face to face, by holding a cell phone or trolling the Internet, in a nasty world of cameras and intrusion. Suddenly, anyone with a few brain cells has the ability to be a troll under the bridge of compassion.

I am horrified that there is no saturation point,  like those found in a scary film, when someone covers their eyes and screams to stop IT, because of the damage and pain inflicted upon hurting youth and adults, that often take their own lives, due to revenge porn, gender hate, dating site lies and stalking, cyber bullying, Facebook bullies, or twitter rants. Instead of anything being stopped, society just watches day after day, while never ending parades of stupid, featuring fake and beautiful people, marshal in another generation of sheep, those who will never understand there is nothing grand at having an empty soul.

Twisty the Clown may have been created as a demonic force of violence, only to draw in a televised audience share at the Nielsen house, but in truth, he was a beacon of honest reveal for those same viewers if they really watched. His facial appearance and unyielding rage were the result of a botched suicide attempt, one made in the darkest moment of his life, after humiliation as blood sport by those thinking they were better than he was. Yes, I know there is no real Twisty, but that character was real, just like those who face bullies and depression, feeling they will never measure up. The same souls that are the confetti of society, left after the show is over and everyone has walked on them, not noticing or caring, self-absorbed and off to another victim.

The true clowns in our world don’t hide behind greasepaint or colorful ruffles, but instead, are sitting at computer screens, carrying platinum cards, looking for agents, or gathered in groups secure behind job titles, caring only about themselves. They take no responsibility for their actions, oblivious to who they hurt, and because society has evolved into what it is, their show and scary laughter will go on!

As a child a real clown scared me, and as a teen nameless faces hurt me. However, now as an adult I see even more twisted and invisible faces, not from inside a television, as much as from a computer screen, doing more harm than imagined. It is then that I find myself again thinking back to Mr. Jagger, and wonder if there will ever be a time when people stop jumping out at each other in faux entertainment, almost untouchable and stop looking for their pound of Satisfaction.


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Can you see me?

see meCloset doors open and close, mirrors reflect black or white, and all the time the question is the same…or is it? In the past few days and weeks, we have seen a world class athlete expose his intimate secrets and gender identity, as well as a black leader in our sea of society, exposed as Caucasian. Excuse me as I sit down and shake my head for a moment, while brushing off all the twitter and headline backwash that came with the headlines.

In my home and in my heart, I find such personal announcements to be quite sad. After all, they have exactly the same soul as the person who woke up last month, last year or even last week, all that changed, was a little decorative window dressing, and for that alone the world fell off its nut, and they felt a need to explain.

Respecting anything or anyone has long since expired in our culture, and with that has followed compassion and trust. Why is it so damn important in our lives, who is married to who, who wears a bra or a jock strap, buzz cut, Afro or pin curls? The core value of life isn’t connected to some sparkle, shine, shade or flavor on the outside. Just ask yourself, when was the last time you bought something and kept the box, throwing the contents in the trash? Ever craved just a candy bar wrapper? How about settling for a picture of a house instead of some cozy 2 bedroom with a kitchen? When your beloved pet ages do you kick them to the curb? How about a special dinner date with empty plates? The part that makes a difference is the core component…the soul, the meal, the heart, the security and nothing else!

We label and judge everything, forgetting to care or help, and it doesn’t take more than a two minute check on social media or the world as a whole, to see that sad fact. People are showered with celebrity, for no reason other than they have opportunity, money or are attractive, pushing the world further into ignorant pits of self-loathing. How hard is it to understand we are all in life together for a reason, and that together we have the ability to make incredible things happen! Caring for one another should be as easy as breathing, but instead, we work at having selfish and cruel intentions, which never better anyone or anything.

Just like a chain or the DNA we all carry, each link is vital for survival and strength, and I like to think that is also why our hands can hold, and our hearts can open, making them ready to attach others in life. If a person or child is secure and happy, we have no right to judge the social structure where or how they live, and it should never be up for a vote by a government, or be a form of media news. If someone is doing the job they can, or living an honest life, all that should be up to us, is to maybe see if we can offer something to better the process, thus forging another link in humanity.

There has never been a moving van behind a funeral procession. Material things, along with opinions and judgments stay behind after we die. What does remain, however, is who we were, who loved us and the difference we made or tried to make. So the next time you are at the store, reach over and buy a candy bar…but save just the wrapper. Think about what you wasted in time, money and content after you threw the chocolate away, and how stupid it was…then, apply that same principle to your life.

The next time you decide to judge someone for their appearance, social standing or values, especially when they have no impact on you personally, remember two things. One, an empty wrapper and second, the simple fact that when you ask someone where they are…they usually say Here, something as basic as life itself.  Maybe then you will understand all any of us ever have is a simple, but sometimes earthly decorated soul, which lives in the only here and the only now, just wanting acceptance.

 

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Hey neighbor, can I borrow a cup of sequins?

hey neighborThe average straight person looks forward to Halloween, a time when they dance and prance, crawl or howl, all effectively disguised from the person they know waits in the mirror. There are usually celebrations, a lack of inhibition and a general feeling of good will, since all of the fears and emotions normally keeping us at bay, are finally set ashore, allowing a true acceptance of who we are. It’s a drag it can’t last for more than a day.

Drag on the other hand, is a time honored, and yes, respected, form of exactly the same thing for the gay community. For years, it was the only window allowing a peek into a culture and world most of us would never know, but were curious about. However, Drag is so much more than just a few feathers and a blast of lip syncing music, honoring the true birth of karaoke. Drag in itself, is the heart of self-expression, living under judgment and political frustration.

Putting gas into the tank of the Texaco Star Theater, Uncle Miltie once amused America from inside a small black and white screen, camping up his masculine appearance with frills, lipstick and over-the-top gestures of faux femininity, proving some did like it hot. It was applauded as comedy and we laughed, and for some there was also a hidden hope to someday slip into a dress, draw on lips and express who they were as well. Entertainment and reality had yet to become the one man show they are now, so Drag continued to be fake flamboyant, and over the top, with a large demographic looking down in laughter.

As years and minds attempted to stretch forward, so did the confidence and stability of Drag, and its performing platform became more than glittered shoes. Although not accepted as it should have been, the acknowledgement of being gay was nevertheless, getting a nod in the mainstream, apart from the stage of ridicule. We aren’t there yet, but we have come a long way baby, and the smokin’ hot talent and beauty emerging from the garden has opened many a closed mind.

Television also changed, offering Drag performers at their best, competing, lip syncing and reading the world whenever we desire a refreshing look at reality. No longer hidden behind darkened club curtains, the positive and reaffirming presence found in this self-acceptance has spread across more than a screen in colorful pride, giving each of us something to strive for ourselves. Social media also developed, offering instant clips and quotes, all zipping by on the fly, letting us feel part of the family as they say.

However, as with anything in life, the direction or evolution of Drag also changed, no longer just a bevy of sequins, wigs and tucks, we now see costumed creations of science fiction fear, and Gothic shades in black, that would please any Lily Mister, happily living on Mocking Gay Lane. This darker side of Drag, and the shade it brings, accent not hopes and dreams, but instead, expose the pain where many performers have lived, and now confident, they dismiss  shadows once threatening to consume them, and stereotypes they refuse to fit into.

Likewise, taking a further detour from the Lady Bunny trail we’ve grown to accept and love, intense implications of S&M and lashes far from the eye, are also replacing the over sized bosom and padding, which was once a comfortable norm for those in the audience. I would be remiss; if I didn’t say I find it sad seeing skinny Queens with model perfect make-up, and expensive couture walking the thin line, from in your face to in your heart. I love the Drag Queens that represented the alter egos of uppity old ladies in church, the grandma I wanted, the neighbor I hoped would move in and the sharp tongue saying things I couldn’t, through heavy eye shadow, crystals, glitter and more tulle than heaven could order. However, like the world we live in, it was inevitable darkness would creep into these colors as well.

Lucky for us, there will always be a few Rit dyed in the velvet Queens, still seeing their art as more than self-expression,  using slick satin and intense sparkle to lower walls of resistance, impact political points and prove that dress up is more than a holiday statement or something we relegate to an event. In the end, they will also be the ones who continue to keep club and closet doors open, like rainbows across once stormy skies, confirming there is a place for such beauty and uniqueness, against the harsh landscape of ordinary life.

For them I am eternally grateful, and will continue to bask in their overheated, fast Double entendre, below the belt commentaries and punched out satirical statements, always followed by shady diatribes aimed at our dysfunctional human condition. Anyone can play king, wear leather and take control, but only a select few can be a real queen, knowing that a punch from a softly padded underbelly into society will forever say more than anyone can imagine.