Thursday, September 06, 2007

Symphony In Black

I have long been a fan of art deco. Back before I really understood what art deco was, I fell in love with its long, sleek lines, chrome accents, and punches of black and purple. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to buy an old silver bus and convert it into an apartment. Perhaps it was art deco's association with jazz, perhaps its association with Chicago, perhaps it was the thoroughly modern fashions of high society puttin' on the ritz - whatever it was, I loved it (you can imagine my glee when black lacquer and chrome was all the rage in the 80's).

And then one day flipping through a book, I saw Erte's Symphony in Black, arguably his most famous artwork. And I fell in love with her. The sassy fur hat, the daring bare shoulder, the glorified muff, the Morticia Adams train! I shuddered. I think it was my first awake wet dream. Tall and slender with killer purple eyeshadow - she was the epitome of garish style, taking her black greyhound out for a walk on its diamond collar and leash.

I wanted to be her.

Several years ago, I was at a drag show and when the curtain parted, there stood my favourite piece of art in the flesh. I was overcome by the strange feeling you get when you realize there are others out there who think like you do. Granted, no one with me knew what we were witnessing. But I was about to see my heroine come to life - albeit through the body of a drag queen. The music started, and without moving, SIB sang, "How Lucky Can You Get" from Funny Lady. I went all giddy. I don't remember the drag queen's name, but I thanked her afterwards for doing great justice to something I had long admired.

When art deco makes another revival about 20 years from now, Symphony In Black will be hanging back up on my wall for me to admire, envy and adore. Some little boys want to grow up to be firemen, policemen, even ballet dancers. I just wanted to walk a dog.
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