Glitter in Their Eyes

“As far as I’m concerned, being any gender is a drag.”

–Patti Smith

Contrary to popular opinion, glamour isn’t pretty.  It’s not all about glitz and gold lamé, kids.  And although it may be mysterious, there’s really nothing evanescent about glamour.  Glamorous people–and even objects–are unmistakable.  My point here is simple; we all instantly recognize glamour when we see it, even when it takes unpredictable forms.

Case in point, punk icon, writer, and artist Patti Smith, who channels a gritty, bohemian glamour into everything she does.  I love her androgynous “uniform”–the skinny tie, white shirt, and mannish black jacket–which she’s been wearing since the 70s with an anarchistic insouciance that borders on antistyle. What could be more glamorous than that?

PS  “Glitter in Their Eyes” appears on Smith’s album Gung Ho (2000).

Top 10 Lesbian Style & Fashion Icons

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I can’t say I agree with all their picks, but I’m happy to see Kate Moennig, Beth Ditto, kd lang, and Joan Jett on Autostraddle’s Top 10 Lesbian Style & Fashion Icons list

I love that dapper kd talks about herself almost as a third gender while simultaneously owning her “womanly” body.  I’m not a Jackie Warner fan, but I think she deserved to make the list.  But hey where’s Rachel Maddow, the new “Butch Fatale?”

I should admit that Ellen Degeneres is #1 on their list, but I would much rather put up a pic of Kate Moennig (#2) than Ellen.  In addition to being everyone’s favorite sexy andro tomboy, she really does have great style. So there, Autostraddle!  And you’re welcome, dear readers.

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A Sublime Blogiversary

Hello darlings, I’m back from my vacay just in time for my one-year blogiversary!   Van and I had a great time on our cruise and also enjoyed ourselves at the gorgeous Mayfair Hotel in Miami, which was wonderful despite the heat.  

Just how much fun did we have?  On the cruise I discovered that minibar bottles of Absolut are an excellent remedy for puffy eyes.  Chilled bottles should be applied directly to the eyelid for maximum benefit.   Unfortunately, Van snapped several incriminating photos of me while I was testing my new beauty treatment.  Note to self:  destroy evidence of debauchery tout suite.

Perhaps it was all the fabulous mojitos, but I seem to have left my brain somewhere in the Bahamas.   So in honor of my blogiversary (and, let’s face it, because I am incapable of composing something new), I’m sharing with you my inaugural post.   Kisses to you, my sublime readers!   

“What Does a Lesbian Look Like?” by Sublimefemme, August 17, 2008

I’ve always loved discovering that beautiful, glamorous women are queer because it’s such a delightful surprise.  I certainly think that femmes are “real” lesbians, but even I find that my gaydar is based on stereotypes most of the time.  In an effort to challenge these stereotypes, I offer up this iconic image of Greta Garbo, which asks (but does not answer) the question, “what does a lesbian look like?”  

In this photograph, Garbo’s face might be described as “a pool to swim in” (to borrow from the critic David Thompson).  Although part of me just wants to swoon over this sculptural face, what especially interests me is how it highlights some of the embodied contradictions of femme identity.  There is certainly something overly precious about this image–if we are to appreciate its aesthetic we must surrender to Garbo’s cool and androgynous eroticism, which is dependent upon being idealized, deified and mystified.   And yet, although she was called the Divine Garbo, her beauty is distinctly human in its fragility.  Her persona is so seductive and haunting because it is both fragile and strong, veiled and expressive, distant and intimate, masculine and feminine. 

These contradictions are what I love about Garbo.  Parker Tyler famously reminds us that “Garbo ‘got into drag’ whenever she took some heavy glamour part, whenever she melted in or out of a man’s arms, whenever she simply let that heavenly-flexed neck…bear the weight of her thrown back head…   How resplendent seems the art of acting!  It is all impersonation, whether the sex underneath is true or not.” In short, Garbo performs queer femininity as drag, and in so doing calls into question what we thought we knew about the look (and act) of lesbian gender.

Andro-Butch Style

Thought it was time to butch things up around here. 

No, not me, silly!  I’m thinking more like Jenny Shimizu. But wait, I know what you’re thinking. She’s looking femmey as a judge on Bravo’s series Make Me a Supermodel, right? I can understand why she wouldn’t want to get stuck in one look. (I’m lying, actually–I can’t!)  Sigh. The femme-inization of Jenny Shimizu is a sad development for yours truly, so I’m posting some photos of her sizzling andro-butch side.

For inquiring minds, that famous tattoo–which you can see clearly in Ellen Von Unwerth’s photograph–is an image of a pin-up girl riding a crescent wrench.  The lettering on the wrench says “strap-on” instead of  “snap-on,” which is actually Jenny’s preferred brand of hand and power tools. (“I use snap-on, bitch,” she snarled at one interviewer. )  Speaking of which, those motocycles are not just props, girls.  Shimizu is probably the first (and only?) lesbian supermodel who rides bikes and is a mechanic.  Is it hot in here or is it just me?

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Shimizu

More High Fashion Androgyny

Because you can’t get enough!  Here are some of my favorite photos of the stunning Dominican model Omahara Mota.   I like these images because they highlight her gender fluidity.  Because she’s so edgy, she doesn’t really read as androgynous to me–I see her as more genderqueer or tomboy femme. 

The first 2  photographs are by Ellen von Unwerth.  Sorry I don’t know  the name of the other model (reclining on the bed) in the first image.  If anyone else does, please let me know.  The third photo is from a fantastic series by Phillip Meuller.  I believe the last pic was taken at Fashion Week in Paris last year.  Enjoy!

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High Fashion Androgyny

In her comment on my Tomboy Chic post, angiesyounglover posted a great Studio Show movie  featuring the androgynous Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen.   (Thanks AYL!)  For me, Freja highlights the distinction between being a tomboy and being androgynous.  Like Jenny Shimizu, Freja is so gender flexible that she’s almost post-gender.  And yet, she really does take the risks of identifying with the extremes of gender much like tomboy femmes.  

Especially in light of the “tomboy chic” phenomenon, I’m curious about the influence of Freja and other contemporary models (of various sexual orientations) who are known for their androgynous looks.   Omahyra Mota?  Agyness Deyn?  Anja Rubik?  Who else?  I’m not very familiar with the world of high fashion modeling so please make suggestions.  

Here are some pics of Freja from the February 2009 issue of i-D magazine.  What do you think?

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freja4

freja2

 

 

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What does a lesbian look like?

I’ve always loved discovering that beautiful, glamorous women are queer because it’s such a delightful surprise.  I certainly think that femmes are “real” lesbians, but even I find that my gaydar is based on stereotypes most of the time.  In an effort to challenge these stereotypes, I offer up this iconic image of Greta Garbo, which asks (but does not answer) the question, “what does a lesbian look like?”  

In this photograph, Garbo’s face might be described as “a pool to swim in” (to borrow from the critic David Thompson).  Although part of me just wants to swoon over this sculptural face, what especially interests me is how it highlights some of the embodied contradictions of femme identity.  There is certainly something overly precious about this image–if we are to appreciate its aesthetic we must surrender to Garbo’s cool and androgynous eroticism, which is dependent upon being idealized, deified and mystified.   And yet, although she was called the Divine Garbo, her beauty is distinctly human in its fragility.  Her persona is so seductive and haunting because it is both fragile and strong, veiled and expressive, distant and intimate, masculine and feminine. 

These contradictions are what I love about Garbo.  Parker Tyler famously reminds us that “Garbo ‘got into drag’ whenever she took some heavy glamour part, whenever she melted in or out of a man’s arms, whenever she simply let that heavenly-flexed neck…bear the weight of her thrown back head…   How resplendent seems the art of acting!  It is all impersonation, whether the sex underneath is true or not.” In short, Garbo performs queer femininity as drag, and in so doing calls into question what we thought we knew about the look (and act) of lesbian gender.