Flying the flag to transcend new reality
Mx Justin Vivian Bond
KIKI DuRane is deceased. The bitterly comic chanteuse who played Carnegie Hall emerged from retirement in July last year to briefly appear at a Scissor Sisters concert in New York.
Kiki promptly dropped dead on stage. ''Oops,'' says Kiki's creator, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, who several years ago began stripping away the performance art persona of Kiki for the real deal: a gender ''neither male nor female but trans'', or ''transperson''.
Bond identifies not as he, not as she, but V: capitalised when replacing Bond's proper name; lower case for the pronoun. Bond's beautifully crafted short autobiography Tango explains it all, laying out the lost love and childhood fears and hopes of being beyond strictly defined genders. Kiki was a mask for something much more evolved.
''My friend Billy's father once said you could tell the depth of a person's tragedy by the amount of distance between how they see themselves and how they're seen by others,'' says Bond, 49.
''As an American and as a transperson I found this hypothesis to be really interesting.''
Bond, who will perform shows at the Spiegeltent next week, has been busy building a new career, first with the album Dendrophile, which includes original material such as Equipoise: A bird that has no feet to land / Can only just aspire / To breathe more strength into its wings / And keep on climbing higher.
''Yes, well, that's the most personal song on the record,'' says Bond.
''I have tried to maintain a positive relationship with my family, but unfortunately I've never really gotten much emotional support from them. I could list many reasons why that might be, but at this point those reasons are their problem. I have risen above that nonsense - as so many queer kids must.''
Never fear, there's plenty of wit left in Bond's kit for the touring show, Mx America, which explores ''ways of seeing'' and in turn being seen as a patriot, a gender non-conformist and cabaret artist.
''I'll be using video, spoken word, and original songs from my records. Plus I bought a few cheap jokes off a drunk queen in San Francisco, so look out.''
Awkward, curious question time: Bond has written about taking oestrogen. Did that affect - here comes the personalised proper name - V's singing?
''No,'' says Bond. ''So many transwomen would be delighted to hear it did but oestrogen doesn't affect your vocal cords once you've gone through puberty. I don't mind that though because I'm trans; I'm not a woman so I'm not too concerned about sounding like one.''
One person can never be all things to all people, yet Bond has just launched a limited-edition scent, The Afternoon of a Faun, the perfume's ad line being, ''to be a Mx is to be Everything''.
Did Bond think: ah, now here's an inventive way to get people discussing defined gender roles and gender binary pronouns?
''In a certain way,'' says Bond, ''everything I do kind of does that, but with the scent I was hoping to create something beautiful for people like me who have already gone there.
''This is a scent for people who just want to feel lovely - no matter what their gender. It's not for people who want to feel like a 'man' or a 'woman'; it's for people who want to feel wonderful as themselves.
''Being more of a 'man', or more of a 'woman', is aspirational. Being 'trans' is real.''
Bond performs at the Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne, February 24 and 25.