The Emperor’s Premiere, 2005

Documentation of a gender-ambiguous fashion show performance. Each model is wearing clothes out of recycled fabrics and perform an identity they create inspired by the clothes while escorted by men in military uniform. During the performance, one model gets harassed on stage, forced down to the ground, and humiliated. The show climaxes with a sexualized Abu Grab/Ku Klux Klan/Homeland Security inspired outfit. The performance incorporates political subversion, dance as resistance, and the construction of gender. The performers excite the audience through sexual flirtation and fantasy while at the same time are kept in line by men in military uniforms causing tension between freedom and oppression. The performance shift perspectives, bordering between subversive fashion and symbolism to expose ideas of how cultures, political movements, and identity can be co-opted and rendered powerless through superficial trends in style and popular media relegated towards consumerism, voyeurism, and inherent dynamics in sexualized power relationships. From torturer to tortured, fantasy to reality, acceptance to resistance, each model transgresses gender.

Radical Polygender Fashion in the East Village

Featuring: Seraphim B. Penumbra, Joe Tullgren, Douglas Lussier, Frank Susa, Jonah Tully, Stephen Kent Jusick, Ananda La Vita, Mike Diana, David Boutille, Ileana
Military Escorts: Frank Gargiulo, Shane Luitjens, Robert Cafaro, Cornelius Conboy
Make-Up: Seraphim B. Penbumbra
Video: Carlo Quispe, Andrew D’Angelo, Peter Cramer

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