Home Theatre Making Area for Queer Futurity in Texas

Making Area for Queer Futurity in Texas

Making Area for Queer Futurity in Texas


Nicolas Shannon Savard: Hi there and welcome to Gender Euphoria: The Podcast, a collection produced for HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide. I am your host, Nicolas Shannon Savard. My pronouns are them and theirs.

The audio you may hear in right now’s episode is from a digital pre-conference occasion hosted by the Affiliation for Theatre in Increased Schooling’s LGBTQ+ Focus Group, for which I’m the 2023 convention planner. Annually, we host a panel that includes queer artists native to the convention’s host metropolis. Historically, it has been a part of the convention itself, nonetheless this yr we hoped to make it extra accessible and open to visitor artists’ dwelling communities by internet hosting it earlier than the convention on Zoom and recording.

Our graduate pupil consultant, Melissa Sturges, who you may hear later, organized a panel with two Austin, Texas-based efficiency artists, Sam Mayer and p1nkstar. Sam Mayer is an Austin-based playwright and performer. He is doing tremendous fascinating experimental work, blurring the boundaries of private and non-private, digital and actual world, and viewers and actor and creator. His newest undertaking known as poolboy00, a dwell interactive actuality present that began as a Twitch stream and has morphed right into a durational dwell efficiency artwork set up. I will embrace a hyperlink within the transcript. Extremely suggest checking that out.

This episode goes to focus totally on p1nkstar’s tasks, constructing and sustaining trans group by music and efficiency artwork in Texas. Her work aligned actually completely with the making house theme of this season, and I’m so excited she agreed to have her presentation became a podcast episode and that I get to share her work with all of you. So with none additional ado, I will flip issues over to Melissa and p1nkstar.

Rebecca Kling: Gender euphoria is—

Dillon Yruegas: Bliss.

Siri Gurudev: Freedom to expertise masculinity, femininity, and all the things in between.

Azure D. Osborne-Lee: Getting to point out up—

Siri: With out another thought however my very own pleasure.

Azure: As my full self.

Rebecca: Gender euphoria is opening the door to your physique and being dwelling.

Dillon: Unabashed bliss.

Joshua Bastian Cole: You’ll be able to really feel it. You’ll be able to really feel the aid—

Azure: Really feel secure.

Joshua: And the sense of validation.

Azure: Celebrated.

Joshua: Or actualization.

Azure: Or typically it means—

Rebecca: Being assured in who you might be.

Azure: But in addition to see your self mirrored again.

Rebecca: Or perhaps not, however being excited to search out out.

Melissa Lin Sturgess: My identify is Melissa Sturges, and I exploit she, her pronouns, and I might be moderating, facilitating, however I might love for this to be simply an open dialog as effectively.

So, the Doric Wilson Panel is an annual occasion hosted by the LGBTQ Focus Group at ATHE [Association for Theatre in Higher Education], all the time highlighting the work of queer artists native to the host metropolis. And this yr we’re quote unquote dwell from Austin proper now. And we’re thrilled to function Sam Mayer and p1nkstar.

So just a bit bit about the place LGBTQ Focus Group at ATHE suits into Austin. Austin’s identification as a metropolis is so deeply rooted as a efficiency capital harboring DIY and rising abilities. In fact, as a consequence of systemic intense and speedy gentrification and historic erasure of LGBTQ communities, Latinx and Black communities, it has change into more and more untenable for a lot of artists to take care of a thriving apply.

That being stated, there’s an unimaginable apply occurring in Austin. There may be an expressive, great, stunning apply occurring in Austin. And we need to contemplate each the challenges and the celebrations behind that. And that is why we as a spotlight group are actually dedicated to bringing practising artists right here. And one of many issues we love about this panel is that many occasions at conferences basically, educational conferences basically, is that this type of synthetic divide occurs.

So, what I’d love for the dialog, if it goes there, if it does not that is okay, is to consider what we as students and educators and members of an academy can do to raised help, higher advocate for, and higher bridge the hole between artists as effectively.

That was a number of discuss, that was a number of phrases. And now I am passing it on to… Okay, let me introduce you. p1nkstar creates a world far faraway from this dimension’s binaries by music and conceptual reveals merging hyperpop with neoperreo and membership. She has been described as “early aughts Paris Hilton on Hi there Kitty steroids” by the Austin Chronicle, who topped her as their pop princess in 2020.

Since 2016, p1nkstar has quickly change into an emblematic determine within the Texas artwork and nightlife scenes by opening inclusive areas that heart the work of trans and queer artists. p1nkstar is the primary trans particular person to obtain an Austin Music Award and has obtained three Better of Austin Awards for her house making work within the metropolis. Most lately, she was featured on the quilt of Austin Girl Journal representing the way forward for Austin girls in music. In 2022 she was featured on Billboard’s Talking Towards Texas’ Anti-Trans Initiatives and recorded a dwell session with NPR.

Beforehand p1nkstar has been on the quilt of the Austin Chronicle, the Austin American Statesman, and Austin 360, and her music has been chosen in Spotify’s Recent Finds Playlist. p1nkstar’s work has been exhibited at the Modern Austin, the Blanton Museum of Artwork, the Visible Arts Heart, Fusebox Pageant, and the Roots and Tradition Modern Arts Heart in Chicago; and she or he has supported acts like Charli XCX, Crystal Waters, Pussy Riot, the Girls of LCD Sound System, Alok V. Menon, Dorian Electra, and extra. And I will drop all of those hyperlinks within the chat for everybody to peruse at their very own time is as a result of they’re superior. Are the hyperlinks going to work? I hope they do.

p1nkstar: Oh, thanks. I assume I needed to start out with, simply to contextualize p1nkstar as it’s in the meanwhile and the issues which have occurred achievement sensible, after which go into extra of the backend of p1nkstar and the way it all originated.

I’m skilled as a efficiency artist, and I come from a advantageous arts educational or cultural analysis background. That is each of my undergrad levels, what I did at UT [The University of Texas at Austin]. And I feel as a efficiency artist, I’ve used the aesthetics of the pop icon to embed my work into the world. And I feel after I began, I assume, yeah, issues began after I was nonetheless a pupil at UT, an undergrad, and it was a approach for me to resign the establishment of artwork, which in my eyes just isn’t making important change. And the way, I do not know, I actually appreciated the concept of constructing work that existed on this planet and that interacted with the world to create optimistic change in our communities quite than speaking about it and conceptualizing the experiences of marginalized folks as an alternative of truly making them higher in the actual world.

As a result of I feel issues began in a bizarre, bizarre, bizarre approach, turning into a pop star made probably the most sense for me on the time. And I feel partially I consider American popular culture, it is probably the most business types of artwork that speaks to the most individuals. And in addition we see celeb and we see pop musicians as they’re the gods of our time in a approach in American tradition. And so all of it made sense for me on the time. And I assume I will go to… And these are the preliminary tasks, issues began as a social media efficiency. So very equally as Sam, I used to be vibing with all the things that you simply have been saying, and issues began as a persona that I used to be acting on Instagram and creating this transmedia narrative supplementing with video work that I used to be doing on the time. So I used to be making pilot episodes for a children TV present after which simply various things.

And I feel the best way that p1nkstar truly obtained embedded into the world is I made a music video that went viral in my hometown in Mexico as a result of it was very controversial, as a result of it was very homosexual and celebrating being a backside basically. And so I feel that preliminary legwork obtained picked up by Co-Lab Initiatives. That is an artwork group right here in Austin. On the time they’d an area in downtown Austin on Eighth and Congress, which is simply most likely half a block away from the Modern Museum of Artwork in Austin. And so they gave me this window show. And we simply began doing that branding of the persona of p1nkstar in the actual world, and so they additionally pushed me to do the efficiency on this planet, within the gallery house, in life, in nightlife.

I am slowly getting within the door, and I will maintain that door open for as many individuals behind me as I can.

And I imply, that actually fully modified the undertaking actually shortly as a result of I needed to discover ways to make music. I needed to discover ways to carry out on this planet. I needed to… Yeah, I do not know, it has been actually nice for me, the reception of my work in Austin, as a result of I went straight from exhibiting at a extremely wonderful house. This was my first exhibition ever in a gaggle present in downtown Austin. From there obtained plugged into queer nightlife after which began getting bookings in nightlife. And that turned the primary stage of my work.

And I assume this type of p1nkstar 1.0 stuff. That is a few of my first reveals.

Nicolas: I’m going to offer some picture descriptions of what we have been seeing in the course of the presentation so that you all listening can respect the wonderful queer popstar evolution as a lot as we did. Early p1nkstar 1.0 wears her curly brown hair in pigtails and ribbons. She wears a fluffy sizzling pink zip-up vest and a knee size white flared skirt. Girlish hyperfemininity is contrasted with a thick mustache. Within the window show, p1nkstar’s picture is printed on a glittery pink star that hangs above a pile of vibrant blue and inexperienced throw pillows and balloons. The show is lit from above with a delicate pink gentle.

p1nkstar: These actually bizarre movies. This was a star YouTube video, like a gossip celeb YouTube video on this bizarre alternate actuality that is futuristic and queer-centric. And the host is a few bizarre trying drag queen from the long run, however they’re speaking like the most recent information on p1nkstar. I do not know. We have been creating this bizarre world that existed in dialog with the actual world but in addition spoke to the long run and what queer futurity might seem like.

That is additionally a efficiency that we did. We hosted a meet and greet, and this was most likely three months into creating p1nkstar. And I do not know, p1nkstar was all the time well-known and p1nkstar was all the time large and p1nkstar was all the time, I imply, a star. And so the entire idea of this efficiency—it was a number of performative activations at this house in Austin. And I collaborated with an artist named Sasha Fishman to create the surroundings for it.

Nicolas: For her VIP lounge meet and greet, she arrives within the basic furry vest, a silvery metallic skirt, and matching knee-high platform heel boots. The house is a comfy lounge: velvety purple bench, pink shag throw rug, colourful lava lamp-esque design painted on the partitions, all bathed in pink, purple, and blue gentle.

p1nkstar: However on the house we have been having a celebration, and I invited a bunch of queer raver children that I used to be very impressed by and have been truly my pals, and we have been simply all served appears to be like in nightlife within the underground, after which I simply invited them to return and hang around. And I had a photograph sales space for those who have been on the occasion. And there is these actually humorous photos right here, like me signing somebody’s physique and this image with this outdated white couple that was simply there.

So I do not know, that felt actually thrilling on the time, simply to mix this hyper-queer, hyper-futuristic world into, I do not know, into our actuality, into what was occurring, and the way, in these areas, how, I do not know, there was some friction that felt actually fascinating as a result of these environments put queer folks on a pedestal, on a better floor or on the bottom that felt extra snug for us. And so, when folks got here into these areas, particularly cis white straight folks, they felt actually de-centered. Yeah, it was simply, yeah, I do not know. It was good. It was enjoyable.

And I feel for some time p1nkstar straddled efficiency artwork and nightlife and music. And I feel through the years, simply due to the reception of my work, I’ve change into far more of a musician, and I am working within the music world. I am all the time out and in of the artwork world and likewise very concerned in nightlife and group and get together.

And so I feel how I see my work now’s each as a pop star—a pop musician—and likewise a group chief. And on this bizarre approach, I’ve change into a pioneer for trans artists in Texas and within the South. And I am the primary trans particular person to do a number of issues, which was actually odd and bizarre and disgusting. Yeah. After I obtained the Austin Music Award I obtained final yr, I felt very bizarre about it. I am like, “It is 2022 and I am the primary trans particular person to obtain an Austin Music Award in Austin.” Okay, I am grateful, however that is simply off.

A whole lot of what I have been fascinated about is how one can create areas for trans folks to thrive.

And so I feel simply having that focus has made me notice how a lot we’re missing as a group and the way me having the ability to get within the door… I am slowly getting within the door, and I will maintain that door open for as many individuals behind me as I can. And so I feel that is an important a part of my work and the way I spend a number of my time and my apply in the meanwhile, particularly within the political local weather that we’re in Texas this final yr with anti-trans laws basically.

Nicolas: Going to pause for a minute. This deserves somewhat further context. Temporary overview of the state of trans affairs in Texas. I feel it might be simple to write down off the complete state as hostile to trans existence in so some ways—significantly politically and structurally proper now, it completely is. Final yr, Texas governor Greg Abbott made nationwide headlines when he issued a directive to state well being companies to analyze mother and father of transgender kids classifying gender-affirming medical care as baby abuse.

The ACLU is presently monitoring fifty-three anti-LGBTQ payments launched within the 2023 legislative session in Texas alone. A complete of 5 payments have been signed into legislation, particularly affecting trans people entry to healthcare, schooling, and sports activities participation. Trans, queer, and drag artists have additionally flagged Texas’s SB 12, which criminalizes quote unquote “sexually oriented performances” in public areas and business venues as a sixth anti-trans legislation due to the best way that trans and queer people are usually inherently overly sexualized by our tradition. On the identical time within the capital metropolis that’s pumping out all of those political assaults, simply blocks down the road, there’s a thriving queer and trans efficiency scene and artwork scene.

p1nkstar: I feel a number of what I have been fascinated about is how one can create areas for trans folks to thrive and trans folks to remain in Texas and be secure in Texas and for trans folks to search out group and to collaborate with one another and to help one another. I feel for some time I have been doing work like this, and I will share my display screen once more and simply present a few of the archive web sites of a few of the tasks I’ve labored on through the years.

So, perhaps Texas Delight On-line first. And this was one thing that we did within the pandemic. It was a gaggle of 4 totally different promoters in Austin that was the core group who conceptualized this undertaking, and we collaborated with queer group leaders in all places in Texas. I feel there’s 5 – 6 totally different cities. Oh, it is truly extra: eight totally different cities in Texas. And we discovered group leaders that we knew in nightlife and efficiency to curate, to showcase this for every metropolis. We had this enormous four-hour program that was fairly effectively attended. And this was in 2020. It is proper when the pandemic had hit. There was no Austin Delight that yr. There was no approach for us to have a good time and produce group collectively.

And I feel for me and for many individuals that exist in nightlife or that function in nightlife, that’s the supply of group and inspiration. I obtained extraordinarily depressed in the course of the pandemic simply because I could not see different queer and trans folks carry out or simply exist on this planet and be celebrated. And so I feel a few of these tasks are reacting to states of the world in the meanwhile. So this was a approach for us to have a good time queer group. And we, I imply, we had an entire four-hour program, DJ units, drag performances, music performances.

One thing that is actually particular about these digital tasks is that it is a doc of what was occurring in Texas, within the queer world in Texas in 2020 for the remainder… this may exist on-line so long as YouTube is on-line and even perhaps if it turns into one thing else. This has change into a approach additionally to doc for efficiency in Texas and what’s essential to us right here in Texas.

And equally, I feel one other iteration of that was Women Like Us, which is, we known as it a dwell music video expertise, and it was along with my first EP launch. So, I launched an EP the day earlier than, I assume, the USA declared there was a worldwide pandemic and that it was truly actual and that we needed to be indoors. And so I hosted an enormous eve of launch get together earlier than we even knew that the world was collapsing. And that was the final get together too, the final large queer get together in Austin earlier than the pandemic. And so it was this actually bizarre factor the place I really feel, particularly that yr, a number of my friends and I have been working in direction of South by Southwest and in direction of… Yeah, I imply, I feel a number of us had been booked formally for South by Southwest, and we have been making an attempt to push our work somewhat additional after which invested hundreds of {dollars}, invested hundreds of hours engaged on this. And simply the world shut down for 2 years. And that was additionally shattering, I feel, for lots of us.

And Women Like Us was… After which one other essential a part of that was, I had created an entire multimedia present that went together with my music, and I used to be solely capable of carry out it as soon as. And so Women Like Us was a method to broaden on that and to truly create a efficiency, a dwell music efficiency, of the work or of the music.

Nicolas: For a visible description: the p1nkstar who seems in Women Like Us has shaved off the mustache. She’s obtained that basic mega popstar look, bigger than life, surrounded by a pink glowing gentle heart stage together with her microphone. She wears her curls unfastened this time. A white fake fur jacket over a metallic leotard. Her background singers and dancers put on asymmetrical, form-fitted, metallic black and silver crop tops; skirts; leggings; leotards; thigh excessive boots; heels in quite a lot of combos. Gender is irrelevant. They’re all sharp and glossy, futuristic, endlessly cool.

p1nkstar: I imply, one thing that was actually essential for this undertaking was to showcase trans artists in Texas, and particularly the artists that I used to be working with have been largely making pop music in Texas speaking about queer stuff. And so, I feel, for us additionally the standard, the visible high quality of no matter we created needed to be very elevated as a result of pop music can solely exist if it is larger than actuality, larger than… it is glamorized. And we needed to create that, too, for all these artists that do not have the sources to try this sort of stuff in Texas.

And so it is like a present to these artists, a present to the people who have been tuning in simply to see these unimaginable performers. I do not know, this undertaking actually modified rather a lot for me and the best way I take into consideration my work and the best way I take into consideration being a pop star and likewise showcasing group and dealing group on the identical time. It is simply very a lot that it is like my profession as a musician is essential to me and reaching larger issues as a musician are essential to me solely as a result of that may give me entry to extra sources to assist my group.

And so I feel that is an iteration of that, too, the place I had the chance to create this prime quality, movie high quality dwell efficiency present, and I needed to deliver extra folks into it. In complete, I feel everybody that labored on this manufacturing was queer, based mostly in Texas. We have been thirty queer artists that made this occur, and it showcases trans girls, largely transfems. So it was very cool. It is a undertaking that actually showcases the best way that I need to function and the best way I design group tasks and the best way… Everybody obtained paid, they paid thirty-plus artists, queer artists, in the course of a pandemic. And it showcased, yeah, Ariel Zetina; Gavilán Rayna Russom; simply Natalie Lepore, the mom of the Home of Lepore; BabiBoi. These are all artists which might be making unimaginable work in all places and all trans. So I do not know, I do the sort of work that I feel I might be doing on a regular basis.

And what was actually cool about Women Like Us, too, is that everybody in Texas obtained very excited for it. It was this bizarre factor the place the NPR radio station of Austin was selling the discharge of Women Like Us with out us even reaching out to them. And it was nerve-racking as a result of I used to be making an attempt to finalize this undertaking, and it was simply in all places as a result of nobody in Texas had carried out one thing like this within the pandemic at this degree of high quality. However not solely that, it was showcasing a bunch of queer and trans expertise.

And this undertaking, I feel, additionally solidified me as an artist within the eyes of the Austin music scene as a musician and never a performer. I feel that there was additionally some friction that I used to be touring for some time the place musicians or the Austin music scene noticed me not as a musician, however as a performer, due to the hyper queer aesthetics of my work.

And I feel after this, after receiving the Austin Music Award, that needed to be dissolved. And I feel to me that is additionally essential as a result of there’s so many artists which might be creating work just like mine in Austin that now are literally being perceived as musicians within the Austin music scene.

I assume, that is one other group undertaking that I work on now’s Serving Face, and that is the fundraising collection. It is a get together and a fundraising marathon for trans people who find themselves searching for gender-affirming surgical procedures. And we simply throw this large get together at Cheer Up Charlies and lift hundreds of {dollars}. And it is a number of the queer group, queer drag artists, DJs coming collectively on stage to help simply our siblings, our trans siblings, to get the care that they want. Yeah, it is actually enjoyable. I am excited as a result of it is coming again September thirtieth.

I feel these tasks, particularly creating extra institutionalized areas for group, for trans group within the South and in Texas and in Austin, have gotten actually, actually essential for everybody within the trans group.

However yeah, these sorts of tasks, these group tasks, I feel are very thrilling to me. Typically much more so than my very own music. However I feel to me, utilizing the stardom and the coolness of being a pop star to make work that is truly group centric. And I imply, I do not know, yeah. I have been telling folks lately, I am a one-person nonprofit, and it is bizarre as a result of I am not a nonprofit and I do not need to be, however I see gaps in my group and I do know that I will make a optimistic change, so I simply need to do it and I’ve to do the work.

After which, I assume, into the way forward for the works that I need to be doing, I am trying into opening an artwork house specializing in the work that transgender and gender-nonconforming artists in Texas are making and looking for important institutional funding from nationwide artwork establishments to pay for that or metropolis grants with tax cash from bigots in Texas to pay for me to open an establishment that helps trans artwork. It is one thing that may be very within the works and really looking for a method to get that began financially. And in addition to open a trans faculty of music and artwork in Austin. So I feel these are the 2 tasks I am trying ahead to. And hopefully that occurs inside the subsequent two years.

I feel these tasks, particularly creating extra institutionalized areas for group, for trans group within the South and in Texas and in Austin, have gotten actually, actually essential for everybody within the trans group. As a result of we’re actively getting displaced, and it is turning into extra unsafe to dwell in Texas. I see an enormous want for areas that help artists like us and folks like us, and that create jobs for folks like us and that enable for us to change simply expertise and information with one another.

I feel that is all of it. It is scrambled. However I imply, that is additionally the character of my work the place it is like I’m DJing one night time, I am doing a convention the subsequent night time, and I am additionally engaged on simply group work on daily basis. So I wish to strive a number of various things and I wish to get my palms soiled and I like to have the ability to function inside the world. I feel finding out artwork made me hate the artwork establishment. And finding out queer efficiency research made me perceive that drag at a homosexual dive bar in the course of nowhere within the US is as essential as a efficiency piece on the Museum of Trendy Artwork. And I feel one thing that is actually particular, I feel, about queer efficiency students is that they perceive that these two several types of efficiency are equals and so they’re simply working in numerous contexts.

I feel particularly, too, coming from Mexico, seeing the several types of efficiency that exists right here that do not function on this European worth system of artwork, it is having the ability to perceive that every one these varieties go hand in hand with one another and are creating the identical sort of influence. I feel that is also mirrored with the best way I’ve a inventive apply and constructing all these items, all of them go hand in hand constructing for trans folks. I feel that is all I’ve for y’all.

Nicolas: Thanks a lot to Melissa for coordinating this occasion and to p1nkstar for letting us share your work with the Gender Euphoria: The Podcast viewers. You’ll be able to take a look at extra of p1nkstar’s work on YouTube, Fb, Instagram, Spotify, or at p1nkstar.com.

This has been Gender Euphoria: The Podcast, hosted and edited by me, Nicolas Shannon Savard. The voices you heard within the intro poem have been Rebecca Kling, Dillon Yruegas, Siri Gurudev, Azure D. Osborne-Lee, and Joshua Bastian Cole. The present artwork was designed by Yaşam Gülseven.

This podcast is produced as a contribution to HowlRound Theatre Commons. You will discover extra episodes of this collection and different HowlRound podcasts in our feed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you discover your podcasts. Remember to search “HowlRound Theatre Commons podcasts” and subscribe to obtain new episodes.

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