ARE YOU SCARED OF ART?
by Jessica Delfino
I was on the L train headed into Manhattan from Williamsburg after the Floating Vaudeville show at Galapagos with my two dear friends, the O'Debra Twins (Tonya and Diane, who'd just performed on the show) when a slim, 20-something hipster type approached the three of us and complimented the O'Debbies on a job well-done.
He was in company with three slim, attractive yupplettes and the hour was closing in on near 2 am.
The O'Debs accepted his compliment as graciously as possible as the three of us not so glamorously smashed pizza into our faces. At his stop, he said good night, we said good bye, and the train continued on. Moments later, we were accosted by the three ladies who had been in his company. They asked the O'Debra's some questions about their performance with a 'tone' in their voice bordering on irritation, jealousy, and perhaps the remnants of a whiff of several snorts of crank.
"So, you girls do that kind of show a lot?" They asked. The O'Debra's entertained their questions and
sarcastic attitudes with grace and politeness, answering their pointless and insulting inquiries with charm and calm responses. Finally, two of the ladies retreated to a pair of empty seats while the third lady began to bombard them, slowly at first, then more intensely, with criticism.
"So, what inspires you to get up on stage and shake your fat asses? Because I didn't think you were funny." Diane (what a slick, smart lady!) nodded and accepted the insult respectfully. "Well, we don't expect everyone to love what we do. But we do it because we think it's funny."
"What is so funny about that? You really think that is funny? You get on stage almost naked and act like sluts?" Tonya attempted to reason with the high bitch. "We think it's funny, yes. It's not funny to everyone, but it's funny to us."
"Didn't you make up stupid dances to songs when you were in 6th grade?" Diane inquired.
"Yes, but why don't you just stand up to what you're doing? It is a sexual thing you're doing, acting slutty and shaking your fat asses on stage."
"I think they are very funny," I offered.
"You do?" asked the woman.
"Yes, I do."
"What do you think is funny about that?" she asked in a foreign accent.
"The jokes are intelligent, their performance is a parody. It's sarcastic and not supposed to be taken seriously."
"But you think it is funny to be like all sexual on stage?"
"It's funny because we are on stage acting ridiculous, dressed up like clowns," said Diane. "We are obviously not trying to be sexy. We're out of shape and purposefully unattractive. We're not going out of our way to be sexy."
"You are lying, you're pretending you're not doing something that you're doing."
I began to get really irritated at this bitch, because she was a slim, fit, sexy little thing herself, wearing tight jeans and make-up, and had probably used her sexuality to get everything that she had ever gotten in her entire life. In addition, she was probably rich or from an upper middle class family at the least, and didn't have to be inspired or artistic. She was most certainly awarded the finest things in life just by chance, luck of the draw. Here were two women (Tonya and Diane) who were trying to inspire people to delve into topics that others fear - sex, periods, sarcastic opinions of love and twisted grammar school memories among other things, and they were being verbally attacked and accosted with pure ignorance.
As we reached our stop, we got off the train and Diane loudly announced, "Gee, you know what I could really go for right now? A big fat rail of crank," and I laughed because she'd echoed my own thoughts exactly. That's the thing I love so much about the O'Debra's. Their sense of humor mirrors my own in many ways. It is hard to find a dark, sarcastic funny girl who takes all the shittiness of life as lightly and finds as much humor in the bleakness of life as I do. If you don't see the bleakness in life, you are walking around blindfolded. Life is dark. Life is funny. Therefore, dark must be funny.
I voiced my opinions of anger towards the ignorance of the subway bitch, but both Tonya AND Diane stuck up for her. "Everyone is entitled to their opinions," they said. "We set ourselves up to get assaulted by people by doing what we do. Not everyone is going to like our act." I agreed with them, and I understand their point of view, being a dark, instigative comic myself. "I agree with you," I said, "But I don't like it when people's opinions stem from ignorance and stupidity, and shallow-mindedness, and fear, and jealousy."
Unfortunately, fear motivates the world, especially in the entertainment business. Fear instigates jealousy and inspires hatred and makes people worry about the future and act callous and rude and stupid. Why do some women fear other women? Why do people fear the naked form? Why is that lady suing because she saw Janet Jackson's breast? What is wrong with the people in this country? Why are so many so closed-minded? Instead of choosing to be inspired by art, they choose to be inspired by fear and their own self-loathing.
The next time you hear a rape joke, the next time you see something you don't quite understand, the next time you see a naked breast, the next time you hear someone fart on stage or do something you deem as 'gross' or 'not art,' take a minute to think about what you are seeing. This is New York, this is America. This country was FOUNDED on FREEDOM of SPEECH and THOUGHT. So, maybe you don't like boobs, maybe you don't like butts, maybe you don't like jokes that make you feel dirty. Or maybe you're lying to yourself. Maybe you are scared of art. Are you scared of art? Cause art ain't scary. Life is much scarier than art.