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Beautiful Monsters

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 TadanoIkuko Itoh and Katsumi Tamegai and to Naoko Takeuchi herself, for creating such an amazing series.

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Fashion’s where you find it…

Riding my wave of nerddom, I present you with a dazzling array of high fashion eye candy from visual artist, Kevin Wada. Please be sure to support him, subscribe to him, buy his prints, etc. etc. at: http://kevinwadaart.blogspot.com/

His work came up in one of my news feeds many moons ago, but the first time it graced my retinas, I just adored it. Comic book characters, especially female ones, believe it or not, have always had a huge influence on me personally, my fashion and how I model myself. I think this is true for lots of people in the community, especially future drag artists and transsexual divas such as myself, because to a little effeminate boy’s parents, a comic book (filled with rugged, handsome, lusty superheroes) is much more innocuous than say, an issue of Vogue and therefore becomes much more accessible to the child in question whose sole method of attaining such objets d’art is through his parents’ wallets. But if you look hard enough, there is beauty to be found even within such a male-dominated industry; a quality that Kevin Wada is really able to expound upon in the elegance and utter, utter glam of his work. I LOVE IT! So without further ado, here are some of my favorites:

X-23, Radiant and Razor-Sharp…

Lady Deathstrike, serving adamantium REAL-NESS…

Miss Kitty Pryde, serving catty coyness…

Miss Karma, prim and self-possessed

Miss Dani “Mirage” Moonstar, Cheyenne and hotter than Cayenne!

Mystique in Shapeshifting Shift-Dress

And finally…

Scarlet Witch, serving psycho-sultry for all it’s worth!

Does anyone else feel these should be their standard uniforms? Because I sure do. Also, if one of them had to lip-synch for their lives…which do you think would win?? My money’s on Moonstar…but that’s probably just because I love feathers.

The Spark

Whether I liked it or not, that July 4th, my world had been turned upside-down. I started to question all the choices and declarations I had made previously. Was I really just a fabulous gay boy as I had thought or was this slightly unstable social worker right about me? Was I “a transgender?” The word brought up all sorts of associations, most of them terribly flawed by society’s misconceptions. I thought of the freak-outs on daytime trash tv shows like Jerry Springer and of the “from he to she” shows on Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones. Sadly, that was really the extent of my exposure to anything remotely trans back then…that and my favorite movie “To Wong Foo,” a tale of three fictitious drag queens driving cross-country. The talk shows sensationalized trans-individuals and made their stories something tawdry and steeped in misinformation. For example, many of those shows presented drag queens or female illusionists as transgendered individuals, which many of them were not. For those that were genuinely transgendered, a mockery was made of their circumstances and oftentimes, audience members at the end of the show would say some tripe little blurb about God making Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve and the crowds would hoot and holler wildly. 

I knew even then living as an ultra-femme queer boy that I was different, and often when I’d go out in public and be mistaken as female, I would get upset. Later I’d realize that this was because although I longed for acceptance and stability, other people longed for conformity and a sense of normalcy, which I would upset with my presence and which in turn would make me feel freakish and unsure of the identity I was putting forth. I think deep down I knew even then that my gender identity was always a rather contentious issue, I just hadn’t been ready to admit it and when people probed or made errors by calling me a “she,” it forced that issue up in front of my face and I didn’t like that.

After that talk on the steps, a spark had been ignited and I decided to use the one resource I had to investigate this deeply personal matter further. I searched (on yahoo! at the time) for whatever information I could find on being trans and what the process entailed. One of the best discoveries I made was this website and I would urge anyone even considering this journey to go there and read up on everything you can. At first, being only 17 and more than a little lazy, I felt inundated by the whole process. It seemed so terribly involved; hormones, surgeries, document changes, etc. It was just overwhelming. I had no money and was being supported by my mother and grandmother who were still trying to get their heads around me coming out of the closet as a gay boy, and a flamboyant one at that. That had been a bombshell in and of itself, if I sprung this on them it would be completely ATOMIC and I couldn’t have that. I just couldn’t cope…so for the moment, I decided I would try to wash my hands of the idea that I was anything but an ultra-femme boy who happened to liked womens’ fashions and cosmetics. And I did. But the tricky thing about washing your hands, is that they will always get dirty again. And they would, in the most delicious way…sooner than I’d expect.