PhantomFemme is a Queer-Crip, intersectional Feminist riff, in words and music – sometimes together and sometimes separately, on the story and character of the Phantom of the Opera. It is the name I’ve (finally) come up with to describe my gender/Disability/Deformed identity, so I took it as a stage/pen name as well. I’ve loved the Phantom since I was ten, because his story, especially as told in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, spoke powerfully to my own experience of being different as a Disabled person. But it also spoke to my desire for creative resistance, and gave me a powerful example and a rich symbolic language with which to enact my resistance! Thus, Phantom was a key catalyst in inspiring my activism. But it/he also gave me a life-long love for music and the performing arts, and an abiding awareness of their potential for transformative power.
It also, however, sent me on a long, and probably not over yet, journey of thinking/feeling through gender. Because, deformity/bodily difference is very gendered in Phantom, and, at least on the surface of it, in some very problematic ways. The masculine figure of the Phantom gets to be deformed, but Christine, the feminine figure who is his love-object, doesn’t. But that leaves a girl who’s Disabled and Deformed in several kinds of dilemma, especially if her particular deformity (or one of them anyway) is more than usually? disruptive of her ability to perform normative femininity! LOL Oops! Yeah. Look up the term “hirsutism” and you’ll know what I mean. Anyway, clearly the story needed/s some creative Queering in order to bust open that dynamic without loosing the magic we all love so well. Or rather, the Queer possibilities already implicit in the story, especially in the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage-musical (as originally staged by Hal Prince and designed by Maria Bjornsen), need/ed to be creatively brought forward and explored. So the figure of the PhantomFemme is my on-going attempt to do that through my music and my writing, and through their live performance!
My art as PhantomFemme is also how/where I explore the connections and interconnections between different modes of othering and oppression – gender, sexism, racism, environmental racism, ableism, classism, etc, as I very much understand all those systems as being inter-related. But don’t worry, it’s not all serious :-)! Resistance is just as much about creating joy, fun and celebration as it is about calling out the bad shit, because that’s how you create hope and the space to imagine new and liberating possibilities. So there’ll be plenty of just plain entertainment too. After all, I enjoy a good party as much as the next Femme! 🙂 Although, I generally prefer my parties to involve black capes, organ music, and lots and lots of candles.
All that being said, not every single song/story/poem I do is obviously or explicitly Phantom-related/derived, or even implicitly so. LOL I do have other interests/sources of inspiration as well! Although, many of those other fandoms/interests/inspirations have themes and/or traits in common with POTO. It does mean, however, that Phantom provides much of the symbolism and imagery I use in my music, lyrics, poetry and other writing, not to mention in my costumes and staging.. 🙂 But, yes, there will, of course, be a significant number of pieces that are explicitly POTO-related! Naturally! LOL Like I could resist? Though, obviously, I can’t actually use material from the show itself, as that would piss off the powers that be. Yeah, I know!
As for what you’ll find on this site, I’ll mainly be posting general life updates and updates on my work. But I’ll also be posting reviews and opinions of events, books, movies, etc, that I find awesome and/or inspiring. 🙂 And, of course, reviews and squees whenever I manage to go to Phantom!
So that’s who the PhantomFemme is and what she’s about. Feel free to check out my Facebook, and/or follow me on Twitter at @phantom_femme. And, of course, do check out my work and enjoy! (Sub-pages for my music and writing coming ASAP.)
P.S. If you feel that PhantomFemme describes your political gender/ability identity too, then absolutely feel free to use it! I cannot exclusively own an identity! Indeed, part of the reason I use it as the name for my artistic practice is so that the term and the idea are out there in the world and available to others. 🙂 Maybe just add a number or your location or something to it on social media so the world can tell us all apart?
P.P.S. A word about my use of the word “Deformed”, as I realize my describing myself that way may shock some folks. I use it here capitalized to indicate that it is more than simply a descriptor, although it is that – a word that describes the lived experience of my body in this culture. But it is also a word that I’m claiming as a political identity, like Disabled, Femme, Queer, etc,. I was inspired to do this by Mia Mingus’s absolutely amazing blog-post “Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability”, which has been hugely influential in helping me think through the PhantomFemme!
P.P.P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Really Useful Group, or anyone officially in charge of Phantom, and I plan to keep it that way. LOL I don’t think they and I would dig each other’s politics, especially with regard to copyright and intellectual property!
P.S.4. That being said, one of my dreams in life is to participate, in some significant capacity, in the mounting of an ecologically sustainable, fair-trade production of Phantom! After all, since, to me, POTO is a story about the need for justice, it’d be awesome if it’s staging could walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Plus, I’d just love to show that it can be done!