Monthly Archives: April 2012
So in honor of the twentieth anniversary of my favorite childhood tv show Sailor Moon, a show I credit with keeping me sane whilst being teased by the jerk-faces I went to school with, and with teaching me that there’s beauty in everything…even monsters, but especially in feelings that I was told were “girly and wrong for me to indulge in” like friendship and gentleness, I wanted to highlight some of the great parts of Sailor Moon throughout the year in little articles and blurbs here and there. This is the first, and for this edition I wanted to showcase the oft-forgotten monsters-of-the-day. Though typically dispatched by Sailor Moon after being roughed up by her team within the span of five minutes, their lines, antics and aesthetics are some of the most memorable, well for me anyway (meanwhile, you’re like…’how do you even remember their names?’). So anyway… ever the champion of underdogs everywhere, I decided to list my top picks for most original and just plain fab monsters. Because…at the heart of every monster…is a diva!
NUMBER 1! Binah
From the very first season. One of the rainbow crystal carriers and a mousy-looking artist whose transformation into one of the Dark Kingdom’s warriors seemed to include a complementary fashion makeover. Either way, the white feathers and angelic motif provide a stark contrast to the bitchiness of Miss Binah. Her main line of defense included drawing objects into reality, which she mostly used to draw rocks and such…had she done what I would have and drawn a rocket-launcher instead, I’m certain she wouldn’t have been bested by Sailor Moon and turned back into Ugly Betty. Still, a lovely design. Ethereal yet evil.
NUMBER 2! Murido
I’ve always had a thing for dolls. I just love them and the creepier-looking the better. Murido starts out as a sweet, fairytale princess-type character and transforms (accompanied by eerie calliope music) complete with a 360 degree rotating head into a glam cross between Harley Quinn and Bride of Chucky. I just love the whole twisted fairytale theme, from sweet princess to evil queen in two seconds flat, with an army of animatronic woodland critters which she commands with her (I’m assuming poison?) apple. Maybe not the most original, but certainly a disturbingly eerie pastiche of other common tropes, spiced up with a dash of b*tch.
NUMBER 3! Reci
She’s lovely. She’s cherry blossoms. She’s kabuki. She’s…a tree. Sort of. Racy’s character design was another masterful stroke of contrast. Beauty, but also beast. She was a fierce Cardian who nearly destroyed the Sailor Team altogether by sealing them inside of trees… moving on.
NUMBER 4! Amaderasu
Another Cardian named after the Japanese Sun Goddess. She drew her powers from the sun and whatnot…obvs. I loved the orange on blue color scheme that was utilized for her. If there was a fashion show scene in Avatar, Amaderasu would be TURNING. IT. OUT. And also, using babies as human shields. This is what I love about Sailor Moon…it was so colorful!
NUMBER 5! Ryuax
I must admit, I have a thing for Arabesque fashions. Always have. So when harem pants came back in style, I seriously contemplated buying a pair until I realized how ugly they were. End of tangent. Seriously though, I love what the character designers did with this monster. She was a cross between 1920’s art deco and Arabian Harem Queen. Plus, those nails.
NUMBER 6! Chikuon
I’m a sucker for masquerade masks and anything with a cat-eye. Chikuon…well, honestly I can’t really remember what she did, but I remember thinking it was so awesome watching Sailor Moon go toe-to-toe with a snooty French noblewoman, or a monster that looked like one. If a gramophone were to somehow become personified by way of dark magic, I really think you could find no one to do that specific job better that Chikuon. But seriously, did the person who created her really believe that of all objects, a gramophone, given life would be able to defeat a bunch of super-powered, hormonal Japanese teenagers? I mean…at least choose something that’s hazardous. Like…a lighter, say. Or a thumb tack.
NUMBER 7! U-Tahime
The Songstress Daimon. I seem to recall, she was charging up to perform her ultimate vocal attack but forgot the words to her friggin’ song and got wiped out as a result. Still, the character design was on point. I detected 1960’s Motown diva mixed with…a Vulcan or something else with pointy ears. Elegant, poised, shrill…a perfect representation of Diana Ross…no just kidding, I love Diana Ross.
NUMBER 8! Mizugeiko
Honestly I can’t even recall what this one did…but her Geisha-inspired design was FIERCE!
NUMBER 9! U-Ikasaman
This shady, shady b*tch trapped all the Sailor Senshi inside playing cards because she CHEATED!! And it was up to Chibi-Usa and Hotaru to stop her. But when they did, she still wouldn’t let everyone go. What a heifer! But of course, Sailor Moon broke out her wand and dusted her. I must say, out of all the monsters, she was one of the more colorful ones and the “Playing Card Queen” look they gave her was indeed, a perfect fit.
NUMBER 10! Atsugessho
Having worked as a make-up artist at a department store, I can safely say that most of the women I worked with looked like Atsugessho…only overweight and much more dour. Either way, an overly-made up monster of a woman with a powder puff of doom and acid spittle who flew into a b*tch rage after Usagi refuted her claim that make-up is what makes a man fall in love with a girl is a winner in my book. Or a drag queen. Same difference.
And there you have it. You might say I have too much time on my hands, FALSE! Well…not completely I guess. Either way, these monsters were a part of my childhood and, in a childhood where you’re sometimes made to feel monstrous yourself just for being who you are, I came to sympathize with them a bit. Plus, they were campy as all hell…it was like RuPaul’s Drag Race…For Youngsters…the ANIME! And all the creativity that went into designing these outlandishly costumed characters (all of whom were, I believe, created solely for the anime), must be applauded and appreciated as a piece of hard work that contributed to one hell of a great show. There was nothing I looked forward to more during the miserable year of my life that was fourth grade than getting up extra-early at 6:30 in the morning and watching Sailor Moon and Co. beat the crap out of everything…in a positive way. So, thanks to character designers: Kazuko Tadano, Ikuko Itoh and Katsumi Tamegai and to Naoko Takeuchi herself, for creating such an amazing series.
So as promised in my last video, I want to take some time to delve into my own interests a bit more, not just as a transwoman (BTW, can I just randomly volunteer…every time I use that term I feel like one of the X-men…but like, one of the ones who never leaves the mansion), but as a person who has had 25 years to cultivate a garden (get it?) of interests and loves. One of those being a lifetime love of the arts in every form, literature, visual art and of course, film. So this is one of my very first reviews…or should I call it a ‘reflection?’ I have always fancied that term more than ‘review,’ which sounds so generic, so that’s what I’ll be using. ^_^ Ok, so let’s get on with this.
Firstly, I must admit my introduction to Grey Gardens was through RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4. One of the contestants, the ever-creative Sharon Needles wore an ensemble that was according to both she and the judges, “evocative of Grey Gardens and the smell of cat piss” for a challenge that revolved around coming up with a look based on a fictitious magazine each contestant was assigned…and since Sharon Needles’ was a “Cat Fancy” type publication, the look matched up perfectly. Well…I knew as soon as I’d heard about a movie centered around cat ladies living in a dilapidated mansion that reeked of cat piss that I had to get my grubby little paws on it, not only because it sounded high-camp, which I love, but also because I’ve been raised by two cat ladies and had a harem of constantly-changing cats as companions throughout my life. So, it would be a bit of campy nostalgia only bigger and better.
To begin my experience, I perused the documentary, which was honestly quite disturbing. I mean that, however, in the best way possible. It was a ‘slice of life’ piece cut from a pie that had been left out of the fridge for too long and had grown mold. The dilapidated mansion covered with years of overgrown vines and garbage was such a poignant real-life metaphor for the past memories that seemed to have piled up and dominated the two Edie’s lives. The discordant arguments that the two used to fill the silence of each monotonous day were painful to listen to, not only because of the shrill over-lapping of the two women’s voices, but also because there was a genuine pain that resonated through each barb, each song and each dance. Big Edie, for me, seemed to be so utterly entwined with Grey Gardens itself that she came to personify the mansion and it’s ivy-like grip on Little Edie, whose concern for her mother, coupled probably with her own insecurities about performing , led her to remain voluntarily shackled to her home. For all the gloom of the picture, there were tiny rays of hilarity that shone through which I’m certain can be attributed to the lively personalities of the cast. To me the two Edies were timeless gems, perhaps a bit dimmer with the ebb and flow of time…but never, never dull. Some of my favorite lines, paraphrased… (from Big Edie) “He doesn’t want to sleep with you, not with an old person like you,” (about Little Edie’s concerns that their repairman wanted to sleep with her), “You guys need to save your, save that stuff because this is just…NUTS!!” (about a tantrum Little Edie was throwing) and of course, the incomparable Little Edie’s delightfully rambling monologue about her “costume of the day” and her “revolutionary look.”
After walking away from the documentary with an admiration and sympathy for the two Edie’s and their ruined state of affairs, I decide to survey the HBO film version starring Jessica Lange as Big Edie and Drew Barrymore as Little Edie. Above all, I must say how completely phenomenal I thought both women were in their respective roles. Appearance-wise they matched their targets perfectly and, coupled with the firm adoption of the real-life Edie’s mannerisms and dialogue, the illusion was an enthralling success. To me, the film clarified much of the name-dropping cacophony in the documentary between the mother and daughter which could become confusing at times due to the viewers uncertainty as to who “so-and-so” was. Interspersing parts of the faithfully re-enacted documentary with glimpses into the two Edie’s past was ingenious and perfectly punctuated the line Little Edie delivers in the documentary, “It’s awfully hard to see the line between past and present,” or something to that effect. In addition to the finely polished talent, the raw heart of the story was exacerbated in the fullest way possible and in concordance with the masterful soundtrack, brought a tender sadness to the surface…the best metaphor I can think of, though maudlin, is like tears about to well up in ones eyes…only to be constantly swept back by a sudden burst of singular wit from one of the two Edie’s, like for example, “I’ll be right down as soon as I put some lipstick on!” shouted in that marvelous New England accent or Little Edie’s exchange with Jackie O. “Is it true Jack Kennedy gave you gonorrhea?” The film was no better or worse than the documentary and it would be unfair to compare the two in any way…I will say, however, that each was the perfect accompaniment to the other, expanding upon a story with a sincere love at its root, that between mother and daughter, underneath the accumulated grit of life’s sometimes tragic experiences.
In conclusion, should you watch this movie? Hell yes you should! The documentary makes for an intriguing look into two multifaceted, sometimes tragic, sometimes hilarious characters who seem stranger than fiction, in the most sterling way possible. The film was a stellar work of artistry that I recommend extremely highly especially to those who adore camp classics and over-the-top female characters like Norma Desmond from “Sunset Blvd.” or Blanche and Baby Jane Hudson from “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.” This is a masterpiece that I think anyone who appreciates superb story-telling will enjoy as evidenced by the Library of Congress’ decision to preserve it in the US National Film Registry as being culturally significant. So, as Little Edie would say, “Cement the deal already!” Get to watching!