SO YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL WHICH WAY I'M GOIN'...
It's a quietly grey Sunday afternoon in the latent Spring of the San Francisco Bay Area. The chat room at Studio 19 is abuzz with word that drag performance sensation goGo dAncer will be joining us momentarily from Switerzland, via cyberconference. As a recent addition the the STANDARDS' editorial team, I'm feeling every bit the novice, and am so pleased our techies weren't able to get the video monitors up for this gig. What would Ms. dAncer say about my black leather mini-skirt and lace-up bodice? Surely even the new-again patent leather clogs would make her delicate sensibilities shudder. I'd been in wardrobe for over 5 hours when the word came down from master control that it was now or never...
Bobby: We've got a direct link, babe. Make us proud.
I hear techies in the background, re-booting in the event of a crash or netsplit. Even a lag will not be tolerated by Mr. Halpern, when it comes to goGo dAncer. Soft reading lights come up. Ms. dAncer is online. And, before I can type a syllable, goGO has begun the interview...
gogo: So happy to be with you here today.
STANDARDS> Thank you, Miss dAncer. And thank you for agreeing to correspond with us from such a distance. Has your valet forwarded the questions for you?
gogo: Oh yes. I'm visiting an old friend at the CERN laboratories in Switzerland. She's given me access to this whole system. I'm not really up on all this, but a girl has friends.
STANDARDS> Are you ready to begin our chat, Miss Gogo?
gogo: I am.
STANDARDS> and can I have our staff in Switzerland bring you a refreshment of any kind?
gogo: Your shining presence is refreshment enough.
STANDARDS> Oh my. How you talk.
gogo: Actually, the girls at the lab have me well set up.
STANDARDS> Let's begin, then. You've told so many of us here that friends are a very good thing, in today's climate. Do you believe, then, that it's also true that a girl can no longer count on the "kindness of strangers," as Tennessee Williams would have it (and that perhaps no longer, for all our delicate sensibilities, can we exist in a glass menagerie)?
gogo: Oh, I don't suppose there are many strangers for this girl. Everyone assumes they know me well, and I support that. I mean, it's important to trust in life. I've not gone wrong so far.
STANDARDS> We take your meaning, yes. Most importantly, then, is one's view of the self; how one creates that trust.
gogo: Of course, one has to be clear about where one ends and others begin, but they sure do begin, don't they.
STANDARDS> To begin getting to the more personal, then: Tell us a little about yourself.
gogo: Well, I've just been doing some exciting work. I'm at the CERN laboratories in Switzerland. I'm here negotiating a peace treaty, but I decided to visit a friend and she let me use the terminals for an interview.
STANDARDS> Exciting work, to say the least. And what qualities do you bring to this assignment?
gogo: It's going well. As I told your assistant, they've found that celebrities do far better at negotiating than the average diplomat. I wanted to do what I could. With regard to my qualifications, I really am able to cut to the chase, as it were.
STANDARDS> Well said. Now, we're told that as an international girl-on-the-go, you continue the tradition of wearing dresses, pumps, and sparkling accessories. At a time when so few women beyond the pages of magazines are investing in this level of glamor, what brings you to re-create these fashions anew?
gogo: I also command no small amount of attention. Fashion, is of course, central to that. Once upon a time, a girl just threw together whatever was the latest. Now, of course, everything you wear has very specific meaning. So, what am I saying by all that? I would assert that the look speaks for itself.
STANDARDS> What would you say is the distinction between "fashion" and "style"?
gogo: Well, that's an important question. I may have been a bit sloppy in the wording of my last response, because style holds a higher register for me. For me, style is representative of personality, fashion of trend. I know the fashions, but I pick from them.
STANDARDS> You say that "now, everything has a very specific meaning." What specific meanings do you attribute to your "look," as pertains to your personality?
gogo: Well, for example, this morning I was attending a negotiating session and I said, "I need to stand out from this grey-suited crowd." Of course, that wasn't difficult, but I did so with a snappy little green number. It said: "Look fellas, I mean business."
STANDARDS> GoGO, with the likes of the edible Cindy Crawfords and and the wafer-thin children of the glossies, where do you think your look stands? I mean: Can a woman like Cindy Crawford ever command the "Look fellas, I mean business" ensemble?
gogo: Well, I'm not the Cindy Crawford type of course. She's very interesting, don't get me wrong, but I hold to the older generation--Marilyn, etc., who were allowed to say something and did. Cindy might have a lot to say, but not so anyone would know.
STANDARDS> We at STANDARDS still have a deep and abiding affection for the kind of woman who can straddle all the bounds of both fashion and style: a Kate Hepburn, perhaps. In Kate, we find that delicious blend of meaning within both speech and silence. Do you share this perception? That is, how important is it for today's girl to be able to vary her personae?
gogo: It's really Sophia Loren I always turn to, but I do love Kate myself. Sophia can still knock down a room, you know what I mean? And I really miss Audrey as well. I do like to vary my look, but goGo remains within a certain range. Sometimes when Madame and I travel, I go incognito.
STANDARDS> Now, you mention the Madame. We understand that your range of fashion and style extends beyond the bounds of drapery and accoutrement to include actual "states of being." Can you tell our readers how that works for you?
gogo: You bet. However, I try to keep the names consistent, so I don't confuse myself too much. Plus, GogO travels a lot, so she packs for action. Can't change too often under these conditions.
STANDARDS> Within our post-modern, hip-hop, post-post structuralist realm of mutability and amorphousness, do you believe it's possible for any one person, let alone a performer of the rank and style you have achieved, can be held to one personae? We think, for example, of our poor President Clinton...
gogo: No one can be held to such cruel limits. This girl doesn't talk about slick Willie, but she does agree with your analysis. And with all this talk about the "local" among these pomo homo critic types, there is too little discussion about the "conditions."
STANDARDS> In view of our need to release from "such cruel limits," what are the "conditions," goGO?
gogo: Well, some girls like to be taken to cruel limits, but that's another matter. Free your mind, says Ms. dAncer.
STANDARDS> "and the rest will follow," says En Vogue...
gogo: Well, that's just it. With El Nino and La Nina coming, who is to say? And we've found that the Conditions, like the STANDARDS, are ever-changing.
STANDARDS> Yes indeed. So, I think we've established through this initial portion of our chat, that you, Gogo, are a performer, "cross-dresser," homosexual feminist bastion of good will. Is that an accurate descriptor of you?
gogo: I think I like that.
STANDARDS> And how do you stand apart from the fallow drag princesses and boys in dresses of our tired times?
gogo: By standing in front of them, my dear.
gogo: goGo's sexuality is a little more in flux than might be implied, and she does believe in the liberation of all people. Ladies first, of course. goGo prefers "Ladie" as in the old rap of Queen Latifah's.
STANDARDS> Speaking of Queen Latifah, we're told that you consider your life a musical, while so many others are trapped in a rap video. Can you elaborate?
gogo: As you can tell, goGo does appreciate Rap, and she has many good girlfriends in the business, as it were. It's just that she likes to vary the musical foreground, if you'll allow.
STANDARDS> Allowance is our nature, naturally. And, in reference to your flux in sexuality, I know our readers are dying to know: is drag, like, a sex thing for you?
gogo: Only when I wear a man's suit.
STANDARDS> And what comes up for you when you don a man's suit, Ms. dAncer?
gogo: It's so clichéd now, isn't it, after Madonna did it in that damnable "Vogue" video. But the suit just gives a girl a chance to put herself right there and say, "hello, good children."
STANDARDS> It does indeed.
gogo: What most troubles gOgo is that children today have forgotten where so much of it all comes from.
STANDARDS> Isn't that the truth.
*** Action: Emmanuela mourns the lack of Motown across the nation...
gogo: Thank you. And, I can just listen all day to Nina Simone, but do these children pay attention? I don't think so.
*** Action: Emmanuela shakes her head at the lost children of today
STANDARDS> On the subject of future generations, and healing the gaps in consciousness of today's generation, what words of wisdom do you have for the children?
gogo: Well, for one, pick up some Nina, thank you very much.
STANDARDS> Mmm hmmm.
gogo: I would also say, though, that the kids today have really tuned it well. They are into a groove that makes a lotta sense to us older children, but they need guidance and they do need memory.
STANDARDS> Very well said, Ms. dAncer.
gogo: Angela Davis was on tour recently, and she said it was time for some folk to step back and let the kids make it happen. I must say, I breathed a sigh of relief, but I think she's only partly right.
STANDARDS> How so?
gogo: Well, too many people could hear that and say, "Okay, I put in my time." But I think we all need to stay there until the work is done. It's just that some of us could put our egos aside, and make a difference in the establishment circles into which we have found ourselves dizzyingly thrust.
STANDARDS> Understood. And, on the subject of aging: any skin care hints for our readers?
gogo: I'm such a simple girl, that way. Witch hazel and very simple makeup. No excess -- understatement's the thing, and the way to stay healthy.
STANDARDS> And for the youngsters with the neo-goth eye-makeup and the overkill foundation? What say you to them, goGo?
gogo: Oh please. That's what I mean about memory. I mean, it is not 1983, thank you.
*** Action: Emmanuela laughs and snaps!
gogo: And we are not stuck in LA, even if we live there (apologies to Rodney King).
STANDARDS > What fashion tips do you advise for the PIBs (People in Black), Miss dAncer?
gogo: goGo comes from the era of VERY bright color. She often is seen in all white, with accents. She has nothing against black--in fact, Madame wears it well, but it's not her. Madame Rosenthal, is, of course, of a very different complexion than goGo.
STANDARDS> Do tell.
gogo: Well, recently Madame was out, dressed head to toe in black. She did very well, but she's an Eastern European type, and goGo is more Norwegian in origin. Our Delta Dawn went out in black at Halloween, but she had a lot of colorful accessories. Overall, it's: choose your color, sweetie, but make it good and do it well.
STANDARDS> Complexion does make a difference, one supposes. Yet, as freed-man Frederick Douglass asked at the turn of the last century, "What difference does difference make?"
gogo: And that was last century, not to be disrespectful, but as the late century has proven, difference does make a difference. I don't think Mr. Douglass would disagree, though.
STANDARDS> Returning for a moment to earlier issues: How is your sexuality different from your personae and performances?
gogo: Ms. dAncEr is not big on kissing and telling, so, I presume you mean sexuality in the public sense?
gogo: Though, of course, for some there is no distinction. : )
STANDARDS> Ain't that the truth, girl...
gogo: I suppose that brings me to your central issue--PRIDE--which my assistant told me was the subject of this issue. goGo puts it this way--"I did not join the movement to regulate people's sexuality. You go out and be how you are." And I say this evenly to those who attack expressions of sexuality from all directions. That's what I mean by movement. We had this amazing sexual revolution and then everybody's rushing to say how normal they are...
*** Action: goGo sighs.
gogo: Ms. DanCEr does have her limits, though, and those are all questions of consent. She simply doesn't believe that consent is always possible between two people, and where it isn't possible, nothing should transpire (or perspire, if you prefer).
STANDARDS> How so? Tell us: Have there been instances in which you have not felt "safe" dressed in skirts and pumps?
gogo: Safe is an interesting question--isn't it a lot to ask of the Universe? To be safe? But to take your question more seriously, goGo knows how to use those pumps, and where to use them, if you know what I mean.
STANDARDS> I do indeed. A girl needs to assess her weapons...
gogo: Us sissygirls, you know, actually, it's all about wit and not really violence. The key to getting out of danger it identifying it and disarming it. Wit is the greatest weapon, and pumps help, too. "Is this it?," a girl can always say, and then she can pull out her magnifying glass. But, pride, honey, PRIDE. There's the beef!
STANDARDS> Ah. Such treachery! And safety from without may be of some difficulty for "sissy girls," which may beg the question: Do you take pride in your accomplishments as a performer?
gogo: I'm just happy that sometimes people listen. But, yes, I do have a great deal of pride. I think you have to, just to get up on that stage. I mostly feel inspired, though. I feel the torch singers backin' me up, you know what I mean?
STANDARDS> Flamingly so, yes. So, tell us: what would be your absolute ideal venue for performance? And: what would you wear; what would you perform...lay it out for us, girl...
gogo: Oh, that's a tough one. Some days I'm Laura Petrie and I just want people to hang out in my living room. Other days, I want to find some old elegant theatre, drippin' in drapes, you know what I'm sayin'? Obviously, for the former, I'd wear Laura Petrie pants--you know, the kind dancers wear.
STANDARDS> Lovely, yes: pedal pushers. Black, obviously. Very slimming.
gogo: And for the old theatre, I'd go for something bright and shiny, you know, sequins, rhinestones, diamonds...Then, I'd have many layers, so you could get down to the goGO fringe, if you can picture it.
STANDARDS> Do explain the goGO fringe for our readers, please...
gogo: I guess it is a little dated for the younger set. A good goGo costume is laden with fringe so that you can always tell which way I'm goin'.
STANDARDS> Any sparkle or dazzle in such an ensemble?
gogo: Yes, because the fringe catches the light just so. Lighting is very important. And, of course, the curtains are richly colored so that I occupy their negative spaces.
STANDARDS> Excellent. We can picture it now...And your influences for this fashion statement, Ms. dAncer?
gogo: Simplicity, of course.
STANDARDS> But of course.
gogo: Actually, I've always loved the Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet. He makes these diamond, ruby, emerald dresses for the ingenue.
STANDARDS> And does goGO consider herself an ingenue?
gogo: An ingenue? No. I'm too seasoned for that role. Wouldn't want it anyway. I don't play dumb for anyone.
STANDARDS> Of course you don't play dumb. What a concept. And on that note: any final words of wisdom for our readers? Keeping in mind, of course, that we are international...
gogo: I think you've summed it up in the title of the issue. If not the song itself, the sentiment is correct: "Don't go changin' to try to please me." Or the more recent: "Peace. Out."
STANDARDS> And please to tell us how it is for you to be an American.
gogo: The international aspect is so important. I've been lucky to have the opportunity to travel, but if you can't be there, the internet is your venue. On being American, I do my feeble best. It's a curse of sorts--one that always tags along. But, I think we really need to move past all that. The nation is meaningless, but still lumbers along. I mean isn't it really now about Netscape vs. Internet Explorer? And you know where I stand on that count.
STANDARDS> Are you one, then, for the "global village"?
gogo: Well, as I said, it's not 1983. But the sentiment is right.
STANDARDS> Understood. Now, some final queries from our online readers, who have been sending in email questions as we've been chatting. The phone lines are jammed, but we're only going to be able to get in a few of the questions now...
From Scott in New York City: "Ms. dAncer, I'm 17 years old and everybody at school teases me for wanting to be like you. How do I deal with the strain? I'm not getting any beauty rest, and my skin is sooo damaged..."
gogo: Sweetie, it's terrific that you are trying to be somebody in a school, where the whole point seems to be not to BE. But don't bother being like me, just hold on, and soon your skin will glimmer like there is no tomorrow. I know it's hard, but you can be strong. Sleep, by the way, sweeties, is the key to all good things. goGo doesn't need as much as many, but she does work on getting enough.
STANDARDS> And from Hyak in Alaska, "Don't you think men like you are just trying to oppress women by making us look like a bunch of carrots on a produce shelf? We're not all alike, you know, and most of us don't want your damned 'fashion sense.' Where I live, you'd die trying to wear pumps and a skirt. And my girlfriend thinks so, too."
gogo: I'm sorry, I was confused by the question: "men like you." To whom is the gentleman referring? Carrots, by the way, are very good for the skin.
STANDARDS> Uh, it's woman, goGO. She's referring to the male part of you.
gogo: Oh, I see. Well, Alaska can be rough on a girl, but of course, one should always wear clothing appropriate to the region. Fashion and style needn't be dangerous. Good luck to you then.
STANDARDS> From Kris in Amersterdam: "My father is a homosexual, yes? And my mother, she wears the pants in the family. We all still live in the same house, yah, with my father now married to his man. Do you think this is okay for growing children? Can I grow up and be as beautiful as you, even though most gays are born of straight parents?"
gogo: Well, anyone can be beautiful, of course. Like me, probably not, but like yourself. Your sexualitiie, Kris, is immaterial--you just enjoy yourself no matter what. Do you promise?
STANDARDS> Kris is still on the line, Miss dAncer, and he emphatically promises.
gogo: Oh, I'm so glad.
STANDARDS> Finally, from Rosalinda, in Limon, Peru: "I love you, goGO, and I every night will light a candle at that altar of La Virgen and pray to the Santos y Santas for your continued light in our lives!"
gogo: Rosalinda, you just made my day. I recently threw a dinner party here for the diplomats, and they all were so fascinated by the candles I brought in. I had many, from around the world, and one of my favorites, of course, is "La Virgen." Now goGo is Jewish, but she is also very ecumenical. And, frankly, don't we all need all the help we can get? That's why blessings from wonderful women like Rosalinda just make the world an easier place. May I ask that Rosalinda say a prayer for our friend Hyak in Alaska?
STANDARDS> Rosalinda extends her prayers to the frozen tundra.
gogo: It was chilly, wasn't it?
STANDARDS> Well! Thank you for being with us, goGo dAncer! Just so you know, there's a shoe designer on the line who wants to bring you into one of his international advertising campaigns.
gogo: Take a message, won't you?
STANDARDS> We'll have his people contact your people. Thank you again, and all our best on the peace treaties.
gogo: For now, then, goGo is signing out. Peace.
STANDARDS> We'll look foreward to speaking with you again soon. Yes. Peace. Out.
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