Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'll Bait a Trap Real Good.

Nervous Gender in TV Land
-- by Karen Lillis

"Uh, do you have any EXPERIENCE with that?" acquaintances and certain friends would later say when I told them I was going to be appearing on network television as a Gender Illusionist--revealing that perhaps GENDER, and not sexuality, is (was?) the last taboo.

"It's a long story." I'd reply; and indeed, I am the only woman here that doesn't regularly perform a drag act. "Here" is the Green Room at The Maury Show, (which actually is periwinkle blue) walls lined with couches, couches lined with women in sideburns and beards. A huge framed photo of Maury--hand on hip and Rolex on wrist--smiles down on all of us.

Like I said, I'm the only one here who isn't a regular drag performer. The other girls have great characters worked out. There's Johnny Kat, who says she draws on her family's Southern roots for her persona; Jake is acting out her brother--an angry, white, suburban male. Lance belongs in a boy-band and Duncan's going for the hot butch-mechanic look, complete with name tag. Pat Riarch's looking boyishly mischeivous in her baseball jersey and impish smile.

It isn't that I haven't appeared in drag before. At a (costumed) reading for my novel, I dressed in boy to illustrate the paradoxical Lesbian/Daughter chapter; I ran around as Riff Raff when the regular Riff stormed away from the Rocky Horror movie theatre one Saturday night; I practiced for the part of Eddie (Meatloaf in Rocky)--and consequently held a long-standing misconception that men's eyebrows look like Eddie Muenster's. Fortunately for my eyebrows, I've been working on a film noir detective character more recently, and now have a photo of Humphrey Bogart next to my mirror.
Karen Lillis is a writer and artist based in Brooklyn. In 2000, she self-published the novel, i, scorpion: foul belly- crawler of the desert, which fucks with gender whenever possible. She also performed a series of costumed readings of the novel, in New York and across the country. See highlights at: Contact:


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