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Joans’ is a performance collaboration between myself and M.C. Elberg. When Elberg and I realized we were both working within the murder mystery genre, we discussed our mutual interest in the romanticization of art and crime, and the political potential of gossip as a feminine, “unofficial” speech act that can deliver social consequences beyond those enacted by the law. We set out to make two gossip parlours that resulted in looping participatory performance environments with competing aesthetic tonalities according to author. My version was loosely based on a recurring set in Murder She Wrote, a beauty parlor Jessica Fletcher frequented to get the real scoop on the private (potentially murderous) lives of suspects and victims.


Visitors were separated by an upstairs/downstairs structure: those who wanted only to be spectators could watch the performance and video installation from the studio balcony; those who wished to participate were invited to have hair, nails, and makeup treatments resulting in various forms of feminine demi-drag. These were delivered by performing “hair-apists” who encouraged their patrons to chat while being transformed. Once made up, visitors were led outside to Elberg’s parlour: a song-poem set to a recurring drone played by live musicians. Texts were provided to participants to perform from Elberg’s poem/play hybrid about Joan Vollmer, prominent beat poet killed by her husband, William Burroughs in a game of William Tell.

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