I guess I love female singer-songwriters most because I crave the insight, experience and company of women. Men burnt that bridge for me a long time ago.

THE WOMEN YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO:

Christine and the Queens, Patti Smith, Lily Allen, Joni Mitchell, Lee Ann Womack, Rickie Lee Jones, Kacey Musgraves, Ella Fitzgerald, Miranda Lambert, Bjork, Angaleena Presley, Olof Arnalds, First Aid Kit, Warpaint, Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos, Elizabeth Fraser, Nina Simone, Sandy Denny, Mary Black, Dolores Keane, Sheila Chandra, Indila, Faye Wong, Sarah Vaughan, Marianne Faithfull, Karen Matheson, Kim Burrell, Laura Marling, Laura Mvula, Maria Callas, La Lupe, Renee Fleming TO NAME BUT A FEW…

PLEASE ADD MORE!

La Lupe, further evidence of my gayness and a kind of feminism, and a liberation panic attack…

“A bitch with a drug habit and you’re anybody’s. Marlene and Judy rolled into one I suppose” – Edina Monsoon.

I really hate being a cliché, but that line could have been written to me, or to soooo many gay men. Today I’ve spent a huge proportion of my awake time listening to and reading about La Lupe, the Queen of Latin Soul. PLEASE, go on youtube and look up La Lupe’s recordings of Cualquiera, Puro Teatro, Que te pedi, or Si vuelves tu, among many great cuts. It’ll be the most remarkable voice you’ve heard all year, if you don’t already know her work.

We love the tragic heroines of the stage, we gays, or so it would seem. La Lupe is one to add to the pantheon. But can I just say, that this is not just because their personae so often play up to a kind of campness, but because I, like many, am not threatened by women wearing their hearts on the creative sleeves, unlike our heterosexual brothers. In fact, for many gay men there is nothing that we want more than the kind of closeness to our women friends that women nurture between each other. Despite what some people say, gay men love women. We do. And more than that, we recognise their talents in ways that the heterosexual male mainstream does not. We love them.

I’ve spent the other half of my day watching Germaine Greer videos on youtube, one of my favourite pastimes. It’s interesting to me how youtube could become a kind of oral history of our culture. More interesting still by the fact that it can obviously only show cultural products made in the photographic and video ages, therefore anything from times before could be lost to time in memoriam if youtube were all we had left to go by. Just like any history it begins at the point that the format is conceived and leaves out anything that came before. The Bible is one example of this, we know so little about human society before the Old Testament, so it is lost to us until archaeology gets lucky and finds some evidence. The two documents are not so dissimilar. All of this has happened before and will happen again.

Finally, watching Germaine Greer briefly skirt on the issue of gay liberation, it is a chilling thought that our liberation as LGBTIQ people might have set back the liberation of women. The equality we fight for is just, it is essential and it is a struggle. But by normalising ourselves into patriarchal society, have we just made it harder for women to change it? Certainly our struggle has had a lot more publicity and public support than women’s liberation, and yet we’re a small minority of people. Has our plight distracted from the essential feminist goal of putting an end to war? It’s not a subject that is brought up in LGBTIQ activism, is it? Have we set back the vital aspirations of feminism. One answer is that if we have, it has been in the service of acquiring our basic human rights. That cannot or should not be taken away from our movement. Another is that any group or collective is only capable of fighting so many wars for its own survival, and Lord knows that LGBTIQ have had and still have a global campaign on our hands. But maybe it’s time to use our privileged position as LGBTIQ citizens in Western, tolerant societies to help fight for women’s liberation, in the knowledge that eventually the rest of the world will follow, just as it is slowly following us on our rainbow rights. The eradication of homophobia and the eradication of violence against women are battles in the same war – the war against patriarchy and masculinism. And if we really are to achieve the close sisterly bonding with the women that WE LOVE SO MUCH, we’re going to have to stand on the front line with them hand in hand.

 

Is the male fitness industry the new enemy of women’s liberation?

When you look at photos of a supposedly “perfect” muscular male body, what do you see? Your answer may depend on your age, your gender, your sexual orientation, your relationship with men, but the words that will come up the most often are fit, healthy, beautiful, strong, disciplined, sexy, firm etc etc etc…

These are the things we are meant to see, but look a little deeper and the picture changes.

Muscle magazines and now any marketing of male-targeted products exist on the hypothesis that muscularity is a good thing, and that the journey towards that goal will be self-improving and beneficial for your health. This may be true if we achieved this goal through purely ‘natural’ means, such as excercise and healthy diet, but for the most part it is achieved purely artificially. We subscribe to well-equipped and expensive gyms where man-made excercises on man-made machinery stimulate the development of muscle – a far cry from the limited food supplies, hunting and manual labour of our ancestors that would have enabled SOME men to develop a muscular frame. That was called life, whereas now we talk about ‘regimes’. Regimes, by definition, are forms of government, and when you look at this connection with male fitness you begin to see what it’s really about.

The muscular ideal of Western media and the male fitness industry comes from representations of the supreme male physique from the classical era – Rome and Greece, two military empires, and such representations were always intended to be inspirational, or rather didactic to their citizens, and instilled a very clear message of what masculinity was supposed to look like in their populations, and those ancient ideas have stuck with us. Man was a soldier to the emperor.

Nowadays when we talk about regimes they invariably have a militaristic or violent connotation that is not lost on the arenas of musculation (borrowing that word from French). The body of the muscle magazines and male marketing is the soldier’s body. It is a hyper-masculine version of the male form, hyper-masculine in the sense that the very shape of the male body has been pumped and exaggerated far beyond what it would be for most men not engaged with those activities.

The soldier in its purest sense is the violent agent of the government, so to privilege his iconography and all but requiring it of all men in Western society, aren’t we just going back to Classical times?

Germaine Greer wrote about the world becoming more sexist in the thirty years after she published The Female Eunuch, with the dominant image in world consciousness (in no small part due to the media), being that of the soldier for a man, and a weeping mother for a woman. Aren’t we simply reinforcing this through our fitness industries by promoting the buffed up soldier-like man and the emaciated, waif-like woman? When did self-improvement become less about the books you read, the work you did, the knowledge and wisdom you gained, and more about how battle-ready the human body is? Worth has become less about contribution and more about the fulfilment of materialist aspirations, the militaristic body now apparently being one of them.

So is the male fitness industry the enemy of women’s liberation? Well, the hyper-muscularity of the male body has been a symbol of capacity for violence rather than of health, and with a third of all women in the world being victims of gender violence including rape according to the UN – 1 billion women – this symbolism should not go unchallenged. It is also telling that as more and more men begin their journey towards the soldier’s body, more and more begin to drop nutritional food in favour of protein powders and so-called fitness drinks. This has lead to a dramatic increase in eating disorders amongst young men, whereas traditionally they were the province of women. It is not good enough to say that this is men finally getting a taste of what women have endured for centuries, as when men apply ruthless standards to their own behaviour they then redirect them towards women, which will do nothing if not further entrench the requirement of the hyper-gendered body both male and female; and where the body itself leads, the role of the sexes then follows.

But most sinister is the fact that muscular definition and the eradication of all softness and excess flesh only serves to define physically more profoundly the difference between the man and the women, their physical differences exaggerated no longer by the results of their different activities but now by ‘regimes’. People have created these regimes to create physical difference. And when we as people are commodified, as we are increasingly, based on our appearance or literally by the body we have, then sexism will persist. When we are taught that the exaggeration of our physique in conformity with Greco-Roman patriarchal iconography is the measure of worth then the old enemies of women’s liberation are also invoked and the struggle for women’s liberation will without doubt be set back again. We should not allow that to happen.

My own little private disco…

Ever get into an iTunes cycle? It starts with one song to get you going in the morning, then the next one comes and you’re in an emotional maelstrom, then the next one that makes you start dancing, then the next one comes on and all of a sudden you’re ready for a dancefloor and some drinks? Welcome to Wednesday!

I’ll challenge anyone to come up with a more fucked up playlist. Mine so far today:

Cardo o Ceniza – Susana Baca

Las Muchachas – Susana Baca

Los Pastores – Estrella Morente

Sappho – Eleftharia Arvanitaki

American Middle Class – Angaleena Presley

Heart First – Black Submarine

Le vent nous portera – Noir Désir

Blue Lagoon – Laurie Anderson

Your Mine (Eternal) – Mariah Carey

Meteorite – Mariah Carey

Squeeze Wax – Cocteau Twins

ENJOY BITCHES!

 

“The Drop of Dew”

I’m sure I mentioned it in Fairytale, but for anyone unfamiliar with it The Box of Delights was one of the most influential pieces of children’s TV to come out of the 80’s. It’s a beautiful drama with wonderful acting and a score that brings the magic and mystery of its story to life. Ladies and Gentlemen please take the time to browse “The Box of Delights Archives”. It’s splendiferous…

http://theboxofdelightsarchives.wordpress.com/

Calling for all FRAKKNUCKLE book and album art collaborators. I need your talents!

Hello creative community of internet users!

In the coming months I look forward to publishing a pamphlet of poems and releasing an audio Spoken Word album to accompany it.

The project is called FRAKKNUCKLE, and my name is KAMIKAWA.

If anyone is interested in contributing art work to the project, please, PLEASE get in touch. It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, I’m open to all ideas.

Terms of collaboration will be subject to mutual agreement before the public release of FRAKKNUCKLE.

EMAIL YOUR IDEAS TO: fairytaletris@gmail.com

I look forward to working with you!

 

Art v. Business (written with a “Muffnut” and half a glass of wine)

Firstly, it’s not really called a “muffnut”, and more’s the pity. The snack to which I refer is a muffin made of doughnut dough and with jam in the middle, AVAILABLE ONLY AT TESCO! It’s called a “Duffin”, but when I found out that the rest of the world hadn’t cottoned on to how great they are, I suggested that a re-naming to “Muffnut” might garner a bit more attention and sales. I live in hope that I’ll be taken seriously.

Secondly, Chardonnay is such a lame varietal. It’s either too grassy and heavy, or it’s flimsy like a Pinot Grigio (the former being most Australian versions and the latter being from everywhere else). Where white wine is concerned, the ultimate is a New Zealand Marlborough Savignon Blanc (even a cheap one can hit the spot), a Western Australian Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, or a Swan Valley Verdelho. Take note and then have a drink.

BUT ON TO THE POINT OF THIS POST – ART v. BUSINESS.

The job of the artist is not to fit in with business.

When one thing is commercially successful, a raft of copies, plagiarisms and variations on the exact same theme then appear. It’s the oldest business strategy in the book, and there’s not enough space here to list all the examples. But when you hear a song that sounds similar to that big hit a few months earlier it’s deliberate.

Joni Mitchell once said “nobody told Van Gogh to paint another Starry Night“, and yet it is required of musicians all the time. The same with books, films, food, drink and anything that can be commodified.

The job of the artist is not to fit in with trends. She is not there to fit the mould, she is there to BREAK IT.

You should always be suspicious of those that are trying to recreate something that brought someone else success. Some artists will even try and replicate their own triumphs. BE SUSCPICIOUS OF THIS, IT IS ALWAYS WITH THE INTENTION OF COMMERCIAL GAIN.

Art and business go hand in hand, but our job as artists is to tell business what it should be trying to sell, and not the other way round.