The international adventures of a singing, dancing zombie queen.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Today, spring broke like the water of a woman two weeks overdue. I just walked home from BART in the soft evening sunshine, nostrils full of the warm scent of wisteria and jasmine in full, manic bloom. The small roses have all bloomed, and there were giant, white-tipped red tulips straining up at the baby blue sky... It made me realize once again how rarely I get home in time to enjoy nature. Not that I dislike coming home at night, but the smells and colors of a dwindling afternoon are much appreciated after months of strutting home in the nervousness of shadows with the idea of a rapist still in the area.

On a lighter note, however, I went to a talk this week that was taking place at UCSF. It was called PIERCED, INKED, & MODIFIED: BODIES & IDENTITY, presented by Dr. Victoria Pitts. Since she was having problems with the projector at first, she gave us the sense that we were missing lots of pictures, but I really didn't see as many as I expected when the problem was finally fixed. Here's an excerpt from the email I sent to my friend who let me know about the talk:

The speaker was a young woman doctor who did a pretty good job of looking at differing viewpoints on body modification. But in general, it was rather too broad of a talk for one hour. She had a really nice stance about insisting that plastic surgery, electro peels, diets, etc. were also forms of body modification. She set the public acceptance of these actions against piercing, tattooing and branding in order to point out the rational disconnect in society's alienation towards "alternative" body modifications. At the end of the talk, an older woman was just pushing at her with a question, trying through repetition to get Dr. Pitts to state that there is sickness (mental) involved in body mods. Dr. Pitts answered rather nicely that her rule was whether the body modification expressed or produced suffering that was the measure of whether it is unhealthy.

Oh, I wasn't very saucy... i could've piped up... My rule is always whether people make sure that they heal properly, and whether after going through an experience that causes pain and changes the body, do they respect their body more, care for it, keep the wound sterile, and honor what their body has allowed them to experience? Because lots of folks don't take good care of their piercings/tattoos. Lots of folks just get the same tattoos as everyone else, and treat the ritual/act of body modification like accessorizing with make-up. That seems to me to be a rather disrespectful and careless way of treating one's body. On the other hand, through respect, one's body modifications can be celebration of individuality and the power of self.

Another thing that I noticed was the focus on appropriation of other cultures' (those that white westerners think of as tribal) symbols and texts, and how that plays into the same exoticising of foreignness that we've been guilty of since colonialism. This is an interesting (but obvious?) question. And I wonder more about what it means to intellectually/academically ignore the majority of tattoos, which are in fact based on plenty of very modern american things. This seems to me to be another sign of "whiteness" being considered a cultural blankness. Sure, there is a wealth of cultural appropriation that takes place, but what about the trends in realistic tattoos, celtic tattoos (of course, this could be considered cultural appropriation as well), pin-ups, fantasy, gothic, metal, biker..... And yet those are all ignored for some reason...

I'm super excited about my next tattoo. I'm either going to fill my arm with the heart on it in so that it's a short sleeve, or start in on my left upper arm with a lovely collage of Mark Ryden's work. I definately want The Last Rabbit, as well as many different parts of The Butcher Bunnie; the little girl, perhaps holding out her hand to touch the last rabbit's ear instead of Abe Lincoln, the meat, some of his bees.... I'm super excited. Yey! Here's a link to Mark Ryden's site, if you'd like to know what I'm talking about. I would theive a pic with this link, but they're pretty well protected, so....

Ooooh! I just found a place to snatch them from; I'll post them for you all to see...

(by the way; Mozilla isn't letting me use the spell check, so please forgive me...)

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Dance & Fitness Faculty member at San Francisco Peninsula Community Colleges, Director, Choreographer & Featured Dancer, Founder of the Living Dead Girlz, and Owner of the Steele Dance Company, which provides entertainment for festivals, corporate events, conventions and private events. Teaching private dance lessons and creating choreography since 1997, Steele graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Double Major in Dance and Comparative Literature and completed her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography at Mills College. She has toured all the major cities in Germany and performed at the Cannes Film Festival as the featured dancer in TRIP -- Remix Your Experience, a multimedia exhibition of film, live music and art. Steele has also performed as a featured dancer for RJ Reynolds (CAMEL) promotional events. Steele currently manages the go-go dancers of "Poor Impulse Control," who perform frequently in San Francisco's industrial, alternative, and rock venues.