Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Grayson Perry

Perry wins the Turner prize.

And I am as bad as the interviewer at the Grauniad by using
an image of a cross-dressing Grayson Perry to start my
own thoughts on the article.

It's as though all I see Grayson Perry as is a transvestite too.
So much for me being progressive. Mind you, I love the fact
that the family are together here.
I think I've mentioned the artist, Grayson Perry, before. My teaching friend regards Perry as one of the most down-to-earth people around in the UK today and I'm not sure that I can easily disagree. I saw a link to an article in the Grauniad, the newspaper for people in the UK who are lefty-liberal and consider themselves intellectual, about this artist and took a read. It was worth it, you can find it here, and it spoke much about the interviewer and, with that, about the society in which I feel part in the UK. The interviewer seems a tad confused about transvestism, in that the view is put forward subtly that transvestism is something that can be picked up, an identity that is much like clothing. It was Perry's response that, in these circles, although common still had me paying attention: "you don't stop being a transvestite because you're not wearing a dress". And that, arguably, is the best explanation I've read about how I feel about myself that I've read in a long time.


This is a long diatribe. I'll put a line break in.



See, I would suspect that Perry views things more from this
perspective than any other. In the article it is stated, baldly,
that Perry's girlfriends (and one assumes his wife) have
embraced the cross-dressing tendencies. Does this suggest
that they have done so out of love for Perry, or gone for him
because he cross-dresses or that it is down to the circles in
which Perry moves.

In short, if I were moving in more 'arty' circles, would
there be a larger chance of acceptance?

Or is this all a chimera - Perry is unusual, an oddity, and as
much a part of the art world as the pots and pictures and
tapestries. There is a fascinating section on the reasons for
Perry going into pottery in the interview.
Perry also discussed the concept of identity without a sense of self when talking about a self-portrait being produced for a TV show (that I rather suspect I shall be watching). In this portrait the subject has been shown as a city, a concept I have often played with in my own head actually, and I rather like the little bit I could see of it. There are streets and thoroughfares named with traits and concepts that play a role in the life of Perry. Interestingly, the interviewer sees the street named 'casual sexist' and believes that it is part of Perry bluffing, a method of hiding any great truth about the full personality. This is, in part, because of Perry's known penchant for cross-dressing. The fact that Perry uses terms such as 'tranny' when discussing clothing choices and identity suggests, to me, that this term on the map of the self-portrait is no bluff but a very honest and very vulnerable part of himself. The fact that the interviewer sees nothing wrong with Perry using the term 'tranny' and even seriously asks about how far transvestism affects Perry's sexuality in terms of attraction (no, Perry is not gay) speaks volumes about where we are in the UK.

At the BAFTAs, and I am jealous.

This is someone having a great deal of
fun and revelling in the attention.

In the interview, Perry claims that his
drug, albeit obliquely, is humiliation.
That's why there's no attempt made to 'pass'.

I find it fascinating that this is not only
accepted without challenge by the
interviewer but left hanging as though that
explains everything. There are also lots of
references to the fact that Perry has had a
great deal of therapy.
And where do we seem to be in the UK? We seem to be in a place where it is understood that dressing in clothes designed for the opposite binary gender is considered deviant. It is fine for creative types and rugby blokes on a bar crawl - that is, where it seems to have a special outward meaning or no significance - but it is not alright or accepted that people can identify that way. My society seems to believe that one can drop something like this in a way that sexual attraction cannot be dropped. That there are heterosexual people who don't actually want to 'pass' (well, okay, I would kinda like to try) or have no interest in being bi-curious (I find nothing particularly attractive in the male physique) is a mystery and one that people don't want to have to face.

Perry has to defend this too. The interviewer notes with some amazement that Perry rates 7 out of 10 as a male (on Perry's scale) and 0 out of 10 as a female. As if this should be based on the clothes that Perry wears. Indeed, if you have read it, you'll note that the interviewer is put off by the fact that Perry arrives in masculine garb. Perry has attended the BAFTAs and been awarded the CBE in a 'mother of the bride' outfit; the alter-ego of 'Claire' is well known in the work produced and caused quite a stir when the award of the Turner prize was made. In other words, cross-dressing is seen as something that Grayson Perry should 'do', part of the performance and part of the popular image. As an artist, the freedom is there to express through cross-dressing but, and this is important, only as a gimmick and there is no freedom to admit to being a cross-dresser whilst dressed in clothes that reflect the binary gender set by sexual organs. There's even a picture in there of Perry painted with bell and ribbon tied to his genetalia. I found it fascinating that this picture was included, as evidence of the fact that Perry is 'out there' and much of the reported speech aims at showing that Perry remains an artistic snob (which I'm sure is true) and avant garde.

Grayson Perry. Perhaps the most honest depiction.

I'm not sure what point I'm making that no one reading this didn't already know, but there we go.

2 comments:

  1. Haven't the foggiest idea who the person is. Its interesting that the UK considers it deviant still considering that I think of the British Kingdom as a whole being the most accepting place. Isn't gadding about in women's clothing a very university thing to do? There are numerous songs entrenched in music, like "Arnold Layne" by early Pink Floyd and "Lola" by the Kinks. You also have Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, David Bowie, Tim Curry, Boy George, Annie Lennox, Pete Burns. etc .. The British also seemed to be ahead of the rest of the world in the "Gay and Proud" with the likes of Oscar Wilde, Elton John, Rob Halford (Judas Priest) Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, Marc Almond, Teddy Boy & Glam fashion, etc .. Rupert Everett, Ian McKellan, Olivier and Guinness (closeted but acknowledged) and I'm sure you'd know a ton more.

    The US still has a long way to catch up in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right in many ways, yes. Perry's worth looking up.

      But it's still considered something for the elite, the eccentrics who can 'afford' that kind of thing. Tennant, for example, is tolerated rather than celebrated - though the recent Prom has me wondering if that is turning.

      Izzard is a famous *executive* transvestite, Python used cross-dressing as a short-hand for humour (hardly a positive image). Bowie was bonkers. Is considered bonkers, but creative. Basically, the 80s are often forgotten. 'Normal' people, 'respectable' people don't cross-dress - it is deviant still.

      I agree, we're good with homosexuality, we're less liberal than we appear though. Much less liberal socially than legally or judicially.

      And yes, even then, I agree that the US has a way to go to catch up.

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All comments are welcome, I have a thicker skin virtually than I do in real life!