I Know why the Caged Bird Lip-Synchs
I was asked to do a performance for Iconica, a fashion exhibit by Fiber Hawai'i where the artist choose a pop icon to make wearable art. I found a papasan chair, birdcage, bedsprings, and electric cables all outside in the bulk trash by my condo. I decided the chair would be a great skirt and the cage shape could be molded into a great bustier with the hair being bed springs. I decided to also make large shoes out of coat hangars. Somehow the lines of the outfit reminded me of vintage Grace Jones videos, so I decided to add contact mics to different parts of the dress and violently sing Demolition Man. I wore a white bodysuit underneath it with a bullet bra and vintage girdle so the colors and lines would "pop" of the painted cage and chair. Then I added white makeup to blend in to the suit and neon stickers for eyeshadow with construction paper eyelashes. It was a part of three costumes (the other two can be seen under PERFORMANCE STILLS for Iconica). I liked the outfit so much I decided to enter it into a wearable art competition.
I wanted a model I had previously worked with. I realized though that this would be awkward because she is black and I had a white bodysuit and painted my face white. I knew I would not paint her face white, but still wanted to use the spectacle neon tape eyes. The event was to be near Baltimore, Maryland where severe racial tension was all over the news along with Ferguson, Missouri. I was raised in Missouri. So it added another dimension that I had not really considered. The Senate had also recently passed gay marriage and Bruce Jenner had become Caitlyn. Minority rights were all over the news. Love is love, Black lives matter. I decided the outfit had a larger meaning with its' caged look. It was a bit uncomfortable to wear and the shoes awkward to walk in. It was trying to fit into something that it was not. Trying to fit into a norm something that was different. That is how I came up with the title morphed from Maya Angelou's famous poem based on Paul Laurence Dunbar's work. My outfit is about having to force yourself into something that is considered acceptable even if it's unnatural to you, using what you have to pretend to be something you're not. A minority trying to pass into the majority even though it is awkward to the point of nearly humorous. I know this feeling all too well. Although I cannot speak for the black or transgender community, as a gay man I know why the caged bird lip-synchs.