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Six questions for… Vaginal Davis

INTERVIEW. The Camp/Anti-Camp: A Queer Guide to Everyday Life special! Vaginal Davis opens her mouth about talking from the diaphragm. Camp/ Anti-Camp runs Apr 19-21.

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Photo by John Vlautin

Drag artist extraordinare and member of the CHEAP performance collective, Ms. Davis will host a talkshow installation each night of the festival, with guests ranging from filmmaker Wilhelm Hein to queer music duo Lieseylento to “twisted German noble” Landgraf Jan Klesse.

So what’s in the Queer Guide to Everyday Life, according to Vaginal Davis?

My queer guide to everyday life includes plenty of scandalous gossip.  Gossip is far from trivial as gossip is a powerful productive instrument out of which relationships and reputations are made or unmade and new possibilities for difference are envisioned. 

My talkshow/installation will also feature plenty of important gossip and beauty moments.  From all my years of working with CHEAP I’ve realized one can never be too beautiful, and that the right accessory is just what one needs to feel good, look good, and get people talking.

So expect some planned and spontaneous beauty moments to allow for that added dose of unexpected loveliness that makes every day shimmer and sparkle.  Looking good and thinking imaginatively: that’s what its all about with CHEAP, and with Speaking from the Diaphragm.

What are you looking forward to at the festival?

I am really looking forward to seeing living legends like Miss Holly Woodlawn and Jayne County, two wo-men who are big influences to me and other gender queers.  The art band Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black is also a festival coup, and it is a rare treat for Berlin audiences to be able to take in the wonder of Ms. Kembra Pfahler & Co.

Your piece at the Getty museum last year was called My Pussy is Still in LA (I Just Live in Berlin). Explain!

Well, that title was very tongue planted firmly in butt cheek.  I have been coming to Berlin on and off since the early 1990s, but I didn’t move here till 2006.  I feel fortunate that I live in the old working class/leftist neighborhood Rote Insel in Schöneberg.  It’s a part of Berlin that not many people know about, but is quite well known in certain circles. Marlene Dietrich, Hildegarde Knef and Albert Einstein all grew up in my neighborhood.  Blixa Bargeld still has a home here so I am in good company.

How have you liked working at Hebbel am Ufer, as opposed to theaters and museums in the States?

I have had a long, loving relationship working with Hebbel am Ufer right from the very beginning.  The theatre’s director Matthias Lilienthal’s international focus is sharp and smart.  I will really miss him when he leaves at the end of the year.  He surrounds himself with a bevy of amazing women curators, programmers and managers, and that’s what makes HAU different from the ickyness of other patriarchal institutions in Europe and in the States.

Describe one of your top Berlin moments.

Ending a tawdry sex affair with a tall, muscular 35-year-old German ginger man from Charlottenburg who had one of the largest penises I have ever chowed down on – at least 26 centimeters in length and as fat as a beer can, but although he was more than well-endowed he was still awful in bed and was obsessed with antique furniture that cluttered his huge split level flat that he inherited from his great aunt.  He was actually stunned that I didn’t want to give up my art career to become his Hausfrau.

 And what’s the story with Gwyneth? What’s happened since your affair?

My lesbianic moment with Ms. Paltrow happened over a decade ago.  She’s gotten way too heteronormative with her rock star husband and domesticity with giving birth to children.  We rarely see each other, though she did come to my performance  “Memory Island” in 2011 at the Tate Modern with her brother Jake, who I want as my new lesbian husband.

Vaginal Davis is Speaking from the Diaphragm, April 19, 23:30, April 20, 22:00, April 21, 23:00 | HAU 2, Hallesches Ufer 32, Kreuzberg, U-Bhf Hallesches Tor