The Meditations is a curated series of reflections on writing and storytelling from contributors to the thirty-third issue of Going Down Swinging. This reflection comes from Emilie Zoey Baker on her spoken-word piece ‘Fuck You, Glee’.
A couple of friends and I co-produce a literary cabaret called Liner Notes, which is a spoken-word tribute to a classic album. Each year we pick a legendary album and allocate its tracks to different artists – be they poets, cabaret performers, comedians, hip hop artists, musicians, playwrights, whatever (this year, we had Climate Change Commissioner Tim Flannery!) – and they use it as source material to develop it into whatever they please. It’s a great show – you should totally come next time. Anyway, a few years ago we chose Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and the show premiered at the Melbourne Writers Festival. It was an amazing night, which delivered an unholy amount of lace and tulle, along with about two-hundred cocaine jokes.
The first time we did it I went against the ‘write what you know’ rule and performed a spoken-word piece about a transsexual oracle called Craig, who runs ‘The Night of 1000 Stevies’ (an actual event – Google it – where hundreds of people dress as Stevie Nicks and compete in a parade). I don’t know why on earth I chose to do this. I’m not an actor and I’m pretty terrible at impersonations. Unless you caught my flawless impression of Jeff Goldblum for Liner Notes #8 Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which was smokin’ [cough].
In any case, Craig’s ‘power’ was that he gets a spiritual visitation from Stevie Nicks herself every year, on the night before TNO1000S (or ‘the Evie of Stevie’, as he called it). But this particular year, he was visited by one of the more boring members of Fleetwood Mac instead – Christine McVie.
Consequently, everything changed as he transformed into McVie on stage, while talking about Mick Hucknall naked (you had to be there).
I totally Google image searched that and came up with weird things you don’t want to see.
So, in short, I dressed up like a man who dressed up as a woman who dressed up like Stevie Nicks who revealed he was actually Christine McVie, ripping off my hooded midnight-black velvet gown and long blonde wig to reveal sensible slacks, a more sensible blonde wig and a nice blouse. But when I went to tear off the Nicks wig, the McVie wig came with it and went flying off onto the band’s drum kit, and I had to scramble and quickly slap it back onto my head, so I could properly announce that, yes, I was now in fact a drag Christine McVie. You can imagine. So much comedy.
After Liner Notes finished there was coincidentally a drag show on at the same venue. The boys performing had seen our show and when we were chatting backstage they asked me what my part was. ‘I was the transsexual Stevie Nicks impersonator,’ I replied enthusiastically. They exchanged a look and didn’t speak to me again. I wondered if I’d offended them somehow. My drag queen voice was a little too much? My wig unbelievable? My dance moves shithouse? Or was it just offensive that a woman impersonated a gay man? But then I thought, well, they impersonate women ALL THE TIME and that doesn’t offend me. Surely me impersonating a man pretending to be a woman wasn’t that big a deal? Either way, though, I was kinda mortified that I’d offended anyone, for whatever reason, because I’m sensitive like that.
About three or four months later, we did an encore performance of Liner Notes: Rumours and I decided to leave the wigs in the cupboard and ditch the Craigster. I chose instead to tell the true story of my nails. ‘Write what you know’ – back with a vengeance. ‘Fuck You, Glee’ is an honest blow-by-blow account of actual (wildly exaggerated) occurrences. I heard Fleetwood Mac while getting a manicure and I did start feeling calm until I realised that it was infact that bowl of Fuckslaw that is the cast of Glee and my eyes switched to murder; there was something about the fakeness of their saccharine compositions that made me realise I am no longer to tread the path of beauty modifications. (Wait til you hear my eyelash story). So as a result I have stayed away from this kinda crap generally, although I occasionally walk past a salon and get tempted. But something always holds me back. SOMETHING LIKE SENSE, I GUESS.
I did in a moment of weakness go back to get shellac nail polish, which apparently won’t budge, the same way Alan Jones won’t say sorry. But it chipped, like, immediately. And when I went to get it removed I had to soak my hands in hot acetone for an hour – they don’t tell you THAT on the packet. Fucken, fuck you, NAILS! I’m sticking solidly to the write what you know rule from now on (Unless it involves Jeff Goldblum).
And have a new one: Don’t impersonate a man impersonating Stevie Nicks who underneath is really Christine McVie. Ever.
Buy a copy of the issue here, or from your local bookstore.