Panic. Friendship. Celebration. by Mica Sigourney

on Feb 17 in Benefit, Blog Salon, Mapping, Special Presentation by

Mica Sigourney

I am sort of tired of trying to define queer, and then also struggle with the ideas of economy, as the global one topples towards failure and the national one is tenuous. I’ve been living below poverty line (chosen lifestyle) for a few years. About 3 years ago when I became a full time performer I felt the impact on my wallet and also on my queerness. Working fulltime in queer celebration/ nightlife/ performance I found myself solidly located outside the mainstream and the gaystream. I want more money. I want a ton more money. I want more things. Most of what I make goes right back into paying for making new costumes or props. And at the same time my main endeavor SOME THING pays out a lot of money each week to drag queens, nightlife performers and djs. We know that when work and creativity can be supported financially it ought to be. Before SOME THING we did Tiara Sensation for 2 years, which was a free party and no one got paid but there was an abundance of creativity, and community. I witnessed some of the most genius performances of my life on Monday nights at the Stud.

Also when economy and queer are pushed together I can’t help but think about sex. Desirability. Fuckability. As a drag queen I’ve found that my general fuckability among most “average” faggots has plummeted due to my profession and creative endeavors. There’s an ostracisation.

Everyone wants to be a drag queens friend, but just friend. I think it’s an important point to bring up, I don’t need to solve it here, or even dismantle, just note it. I feel that I’ve dropped out of the economy of this country. I’ve dropped out in many ways. This past year I decided to do my taxes after a few years of not. I’m sort of sticking my head out again by applying to grants and finding more “legitimate” ways of funding my projects. But there is something to be said for the scrappiness that comes along with dropping out.

I recently read an article by JD Samson of Le Tigre and Men fame, about being an artist and having a good time, traveling and meeting folks, and then not having good enough credit to find somewhere to live. As my credit plummets, these things cross my mind. I guess I have faith that it will work out in some way. That it has to. That with such lovely folks around me I won’t want for a home or for food. I hope so at least.

How do you understand the term “queer economy”? What does it mean to you?

I woke up very hungover today. Last night at SOME THING (the weekly party I throw, emcee and perform at) I managed to drink one drink per hour with a pint of water in between each cocktail, but as we edged closer to last call I doubled up on my booze intake and my water practice slowed and stopped. At 2:30 Rita grabbed me and we snuck across the still hopping dancefloor and out into the unseasonably warm night, a roll of bills in the front left pocket of my jeans (this money for the payment of performers door people, etc). When we got to her yellow minicooper I realized I had left my baseball hat at the club, second week in a row, a $24 purchase I’d have to make in the coming week.

I peeled off my lashes and gave them to Rita as she was driving, she pulled over to apply a fresh layer of eyelash glue along the already gummy edges of the lashes and carefully pressed them to her eyes, allowing them to dry before driving off again. My bag was heavy on my lap, with a pair of heels, two blouses, a jacket, tights, a make up kit, and some leftover boyclothes.

At the door to the speakeasy I paid for the two of us, ten dollars each. Inside it was smokey and loud, and hot. We pushed through the dancefloor to the back where we joined Adam and John. Once situated with the bag properly stashed (coatcheck costs dollars, pressed the gorged bag behind one of the speakers next to the dj booth) we climbed the steep stairs to the bar. My memory cuts in and out here. I remember talking to Adam about the recent film he made for free for a nightclub, and catching up with John about current and continuous boy problems and issues, slurring through list of desired changes in myself, which may or may not happen. Jack was there and he used the mascara wand I had in my pocket to draw features on my freshly shaved face (eyebrows and head too). We danced and laughed, Drew was there with their wiglet taped to their head, glasses, and overall freak expressionisms. We danced, it felt like family, it felt like a good reason to still be up at 5a.m. I drank more, this time my brain ticked at me, it said “You really shouldn’t” a note that I usually ignore or rebel against.

So when I woke up at 1p.m. my head spinning and eyes and heart vibrating with a psychedelic anxiety I cursed the night, I cursed also the sun for having to be up, I cursed the sleeping bag I use instead of a blanket and the pile of jeans and jockstraps and t-shirts on the floor. I cursed the loudness of the shower and it’s proximity to my room. I cursed it all. Drew shows up and we get burgers ($16), and talk. Then we sew for 3.5 hours, they pin and sew together 7 vintage wedding dresses, breaking one needle. I cut and sew a two person body bag out of 3 yards of 99cent fabric. We break for dinner (fancy cheeses and homemade pizzas at a friend’s birthday party with hendrick’s gin cocktails). Back at home Drew paints their face while I reshave my head and we spend 2 hours painting our faces to match. Jack comes with a pint of whiskey, a diet coke, and stories from last night, filling in the blanks of my memory.

We leave at 11:45 to walk to the club, Drew has their faceguard on, and a block from the venue I tape mine to my head, so no one can see our make up before we perform. We realize we’ve left the wedding dresses at home, Jack brightly volunteers to go get them, I say I’ll pay for a cab but he refuses. The bouncer won’t let me in because I don’t have an id, but David comes out and rescues me. Once inside Drew and I set up our stuff and wait, drinking till the show. We perform.

Drew cuts themselves, and my lash gets chewed off my face. The performance left me just in a jockstrap. Several folks like my ass, that’s what they say, and I chalk it up to the frequency I ride the bike my boyfriend frankenstiened together for me over the past year.

Then the lights come up and it’s last call, David puts some bills in my hand, I force my last drink ticket at the bartender, and we are walking back to my house with three other queers in tow. Drew thanks me for my time, for my support, for the monopolization of my whole day. I say “But this is what we do”

After we drop off the costumes and dresses we walk to an after party where almost everyone seems to be on drugs. I leave an hour later, Jack has drawn eyebrows on my face in pink sharpie. At home I call Paris to talk to Jaye. It’s morning where he is, and this is the third time we’ve talked during which one of us is drunk. I tell him about my day, about my lovely times with Drew. The excitement of the show. Walking around the bar after in my underwear. Sweating and dancing. Loving my friends. He moves in a few days, to Berlin. He says, “You HAVE to come to Berlin.” I say “Oh but you know I already am coming.” I fall asleep with the computer playing reruns of thirty rock and wake 2 hours later with my light on, and my boots on. I rise, brush my teeth, wash my face, and tuck in for the night.

Today was a work day, 8 hours all told. For which I earned $40. My relationship with Drew was strengthened, I learned about making a body stocking, and the best way to sew 7 wedding dresses together. I refigured out how to perform in a small club with no lights, I remembered the importance of hydration. I wished a friend happy birthday, and I did exactly what I wanted. My teeth hurt, and I need to buy new contacts this week. I will sit here and write this article for at least two hours of unpaid work, and also work on flyers and send emails to support the club and two different ongoing performance projects. Some of which cost me dollars and some of which bring me dollars. I will log my time worked on my “work hours” log, which weekly tops out between 30 and 70 hours depending on the season, only about half of which I am paid for. I will cobble together a few dollars from go-go dancing and bartending which I will separate into the rent envelope, the daily living envelope, the “Fly To Europe” envelope and the “Emergency Funds” Envelope. This week I will pay my best friend to make me a custom jacket, I will buy lunch or dinner for my boyfriend at least once, I will talk about art and performing for an innumerable amount of unstructured hours, I will rehearse my 7 person cast for 7 hours (for free), I will make a new number for the club and spend at least 10 hours booking and meeting and talking. I will host a dinner for the cast of the nightclub and feed them and booze them. I will sit with Drew for half an hour in the office of a bar after the gogo gig talking about gender, and representation sipping on a jager and soda. I will make love or fuck (hopefully) and I will look at free porn. I will drink 14 cups of coffee and meet with my interns (free) to catch up on work. I will spend $15 calling oversees to talk to Jaye. I will rearrange my room, and pick through my clothes donating those I don’t use or need. I will read about art and performance. I will make a video. I will make more costumes with Drew. I will pay my accountant and my grantwriter and I will apply to grants. I will ask at least 5 friends for favors, and deliver many as well. I will fall in love twice. I will go to the gym 4 times for an hour each time and ride my bike everywhere. I will avoid several letters from collection agencies as well as talk to my lawyer about the debt I have yet to contend with. I will panic about money and pay to get my laundry done. I will panic about love, about lonliness and I will stay busy and make more work. I will read about the failing economy on the news and be greatful that I’ve already learned to live
this way.

-What are the TOP 5 resources that keep you afloat. They can be anything from mantras, to anecdotes, to theories, to places to have fun on the cheap. How are you living, friend?

1. Social Currency
2. Panic
3. Friendship
4. Celebration
5. The Nightlife
6. Drink Tickets

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About Mica- Mica Sigourney has 15 years of training and 25 years of experience in performance. The bulk of his education has centered on physical techniques in performance . Utilizing his15 years of training Sigourney creates performance that rides the tension between artifice/construct and vulnerability/authenticity. By combining strong images, physical movements/execution, vibrant emotional energetic and spiritual work Sigourney manipulates audiences while betraying the manipulation, which allows for a deeper connection and joint journey.

After a 4 year break from the stage Sigourney re-emerged as VivvyAnne ForeverMORE!. Considering lipsynch a physical performance practice he has applied his learned rigor to drag making. VivvyAnne ForeverMORE!’s cannon ranges from the bleak to the absurd. With VivvyAnne Sigourney challenges traditional notions of drag with the inclusion of high drama, heady narratives, and vulnerability combined with high glamour. Sigourney’s work shines when taken out of traditional performance contexts, at May Day 2010 he and Maryam Rostami created a drag queen peepshow installation, which was then curated into YBCA’s big idea night in 2011. His method go-go installations at Qbar on Wednesday nights have drawn attention and notoriety to the artist.

Next Projects - SOME THING every Friday at the Stud!
MASTERWORK March 22-25th at CounterPULSE as part of their Winter 2012 Artist in Residency Season.
Home Theater Festival April 16th (email for more information)

To learn more about this visit mica’s website at http://micasigourney.com/

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3 Comments

  • Thank you for this telling, thoughtful, honest essay. In response to the economy in general and not just the queer economy, I am finding bits of this everywhere among the artists I know and love. So many of our beautiful creators seem stuck between purposes, compelled, yet unable to go on, move forward. It seems the Western artist is beginning to suffer in new and palpable ways because perhaps of the imbalance of power or the corruption or is it the economic wars or the business of prisons or the failure of democracy or… I am sorry for it all wherever I look, especially within myself, where it freezes me. Panic about affording to live and eat also freezes me at times. I too am living below poverty, by choice, to be the artist I am called to be. The climate, it seems, is bringing about a new, more desperate artist, capable of so much more and yet incapable in ways. And what of the audience, are they stronger or weaker? Weaker, I suppose. Who grows when the artist suffers? The resources that keep me afloat are: (1) my time alone, (2) the very short phone videos I feel compelled to make daily, (3) the wind in the green bamboo outside my window, and (4) the belief that the light will one day turn again toward me. Congratulations on your bravery and resolution!!

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