On Saturday February 27 2016, I performed at the Pretty Witty and Gay Cabaret in Lethbridge, Alberta, as Princess Edward. Pretty Witty and Gay is an annual festival put on each year by Theatre Outré, the queer company I am proud to be technical director for since coming to Lethbridge in 2012. The festival culminates in a cabaret and this year I wanted to to celebrate Lethbridge, Theatre Outré and Club Didi as the forces that helped Princess Edward come into being. Below is a transcript of the performance and the audio/video that I produced to accompany the piece. During the piece I played and looped fretless bass live as Princess Edward and lip synched the final stanza and an edit of the song “We Belong” by Pat Benatar, who I want to thank sincerely for writing this anthem. Also big thanks to Equiloud for the visual I use at the end. Love.
I am Princess Edward. I am performing at the 2016 Pretty, Witty and Gay Cabaret in Lethbridge, Alberta. I’m grateful to be here. Right here. I’m a dancer, musician and performance artist. I love my family; the House of d’Edada, and especially Abel. I am male, and I am undeniably attracted to males. I often spend my time at a little place called Club Didi. Club Didi is a special place where a person can become real, whereas before they were just a forgotten memory.
Not here, but somewhere else I am sitting on top of a cabinet in the corner of a small third floor room. I’m wearing a suit, a wig and makeup and I’m nervous. I wonder whether it’s safe to be here, but I’m getting some encouragement from a person called Didi, who seems pretty sure about this. Didi names the cabinet I’m sitting on Princess Edward Island, and from this I take my name. I have a name. Princess Edward. I take one step into the place I was always was afraid of.
In another place I am ascending the stairs to a bar, my usual hangout, with my two best friends. It’s Patrick’s birthday, and Amber is Charlottetown’s drag matron and she has just spent the last few hours putting us both into full drag. I can’t believe how I feel; like I’m on fire and people’s eyes are spouts pouring gasoline. Some of my movements and instincts just make sense – where did I learn them? But everything is not a fit; I don’t sit “right”, I don’t walk “right” either. After this, I’ll get lost in a million voices and questions and fears, preferring to camouflage myself amidst heteronormative ideals for more than a decade.
In yet another place I am moving and flailing my body in all directions, fully taking for granted it’s 8 years young lightness. I’m smaller than all the other kids, but that doesn’t seem to matter yet, not like it will in another 8 years. I can see a boy and I think he’s beautiful. His smile and laugh, I actually want to kiss him. I think this is wrong though. The full power of this paradox is not tearing me apart right now, like it will in another 8 years.
Another place; I’m wearing a gown of my mothers, some of her pearls and clip on earrings and some lipstick and I’m acting out a pudding commercial. The women is beautiful and blonde, and she declares seductively that the pudding is “smooth, creamy”. My is family is cracking up, but at night in my bed a voice is telling me to stop this. Stop this. Stop this.
In another place I’m dancing to records being played on a jukebox. A mix of old rock’n’roll, pop and country plays and I feel as light as a feather. I can move to the music in a seemingly infinite amount of combinations. Sometimes I dance hand in hand with the adults, my Mother often. This is fun but my favourite is just letting my body move. The adults encourage me when I want to show them new dances I’ve just created. It feels great but there’s a small voice somewhere that is asking me “Are you sure?” the voice says, a little louder “You look really stupid”. I won’t really listen to this voice much, not like I will later on. I’ll keep dancing, but the voice will start shouting eventually.
Now. Right now. Here, with you. In this place I want to be free. I want to listen to your voice and here what you say. I want to be a part. I want you to be a part. I want to watch you as you dance. I want to dance for you. I am here. Right here.
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