Loose Strife

An MP3 blog

Saturday, October 15, 2005

#23 - Transgenderism, vaporization, and the glory of Antony

“Mysteries of Love” – Antony and the Johnsons

Been awhile. Much to catch up on. I’ll do it in a few sequential posts so you don’t get bored with another long ramble.

Went to see Antony and the Johnsons last night at Carnegie Hall. Yes, Carnegie Hall.

For those not familiar with Antony, this is surprising. He is a downtown performance artist, a boy who straddles genders aesthetically and spiritually, who I last saw perform in a sort of kabuki whiteface at a small club called Tonic, where I recall him sitting at a piano and singing songs of such delicately weird and transcendent beauty, with his wildly quavering and bravely vulnerable high tenor (low alto?), I got all teary eyed.

He also did one about blow jobs that was very funny.

I managed to wrangle a ticket out of his booking agent, Gigi (formerly George), a very beautiful transvestite (or possibly transgender; I’ve never asked, though if he/she is doing anything in terms of breast implants, it’s a very understated effect). I was invited to dinner at a Greek restaurant with a bunch of his/her friends, and we talked about real estate and rocket science (one guy, very handsome, was a jet propulsion engineer) and music and recreational drugs over retsina and priorat and some lovely grilled octopus. Afterwards we huddled in a doorway to smoke some excellent Mendocino green bud in a gadget called a vaporizer, which you used with a Bic lighter just like a regular pipe. But instead of burning the weed, the flame instead bakes it inside of a metal chamber, which causes the plant matter to generate a very tiny amount of smoke that contains all the active ingredients you need.

I gotta say, it’s a little less sensuous than filling your lungs with a big fat cloud. But as its owner pointed out---a 40-something FTM tranny who worked as a very high paid corporate lawyer in San Francisco---it's much healthier. "Lung cancer," she pointed out, "is not sensuous."

True, that.

The show was wonderful, with a hilarious but also genuinely sorrowful version of Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" (which the singer remade as a love letter to Shania Twain) and an incredibly beautiful version of the Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says,” which Lou Reed---a friend of Antony’s who appears on his most recent LP, I Am A Bird Now---came out to play guitar on. It’s a song about Candy Darling, the transgender star in Andy Warhol’s circle whose deathbed photo appears on the cover of I Am A Bird Now.

When Antony hit the high notes at the end of each chorus, it was so sublime I nearly fainted, and would have were I not sitting down. On my left was Gigi, smelling like honeydew and sinsemilla, on my right a transgender journalist I did not know scribbling notes on his/her program, from whom I detected a scent of red wine and roses. The seats in the balcony were close together, and during the really emotional parts of the show, she moved her black-stockinged leg up and down not quite in rhythm to the music, rubbing it occasionally against mine.

I think heaven is something like this. Only with more comfortable seats, I hope.

Jimmy Scott, the veteran jazz singer with a voice and presentation that is also gender-blurring, sang a few songs. And I thought about how many great divas had sung on the stage of Carnegie Hall in years past. My father told me he saw Billie Holiday there on more than one occasion, back in the day.

Gender – so arbitrary.

Above, a cover from Antony’s I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy EP. “Mysteries of Love” is the wonderful song written by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch for the film Blue Velvet, where I recall it appearing as a slow-dance number at a house party. Originally sung gorgeously by Julee Cruise (where is she now?), its slightly Cocteau Twins electronic ambience sounded somewhat out of place in the film’s neo-fifties setting---intentionally, no doubt. But this version might have even worked better. I will keep it in mind (along with that Whitney cover, if Antony ever records it) for a slow-dance mix tape. You never know when you might need one.


At 8:36 PM, December 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I didn't want to like Anthony & The Johnsons. A friend made me a classy little mix CD which included "Man Is The Baby", and all my quivering soul tried to hate that song. My finger hovered over the "Forward" button every time it came on (Dolly Parton's delicious "Jolene" was next) but something always held me back. And sure enough, after a few weeks of this, Anthony's quaver, his weepy keys and bombastic melody, won me over completely. Now your rave about his live show helps confirm my conviction, and I no longer have to hide my embarassed ardor. Next stop, buying the CD.

Thanks for the songs, LS, and really great writing. You're now bookmarked as one of the MP3 blogs that I care to peruse, as opposed to just ransacking the music. Keep it coming, hombre.

--The Spanish Bum

ps. Want Unsolicited Advice From A Stranger? Providing the sperm for an ex(whatever)'s baby isn't such a hot idea. Not that it's any of my business...

At 8:44 PM, January 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU SAID "Originally sung gorgeously by Julee Cruise (where is she now?)"

Please Try:

Pluramon "Dreams Top Rock" (Karoke Kalk) Marcus Schmickler + Julee Cruise + Guests. "It's a beautiful time for a lie" is a great song.
Time of Orchids (Tzadik)

At 8:57 PM, September 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a TransWoman [my preferred term because all the others are so lame] I appreciate the sentiment - not to mention your lovely writing skills. Keep up the good work!


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