Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Reflecting on my Activism

Being that this class was both my first art and computer class, I must say I learned ALOT. From the very first day of class I was learning so much about artist and their artwork and how closely related art and activism is. Before this class it never occurred to me that artist can just as well be activist and they can use various mediums of art to advocate for change. Before I started diving into the information in this course, my once closed mind did not connect activism to art in any way. Though there use to be a disconnect between activism and the artworld in my mind, through the works of professor Lopez, and other artist such as Terisa Siagatonu, and writers such as Jeanne Cordova, I now understand that activism can be what ever the individual makes it. I now realize that there are more than one way to be an activist for something or someone.
This idea of activism has fueled my learning in this class. I say this because for me the idea of being an activist by creating a website was great. To make the website I had to use a program that I never personally used before (i.e. dreamweaver). My experience with dreamweaver was interesting to say the least. I found the basics to building a website to be fairly easy and I enjoyed the idea of one day building a website on my own with the knowledge I have acquired.
On this journey as a student who helped created the QALA website, not only did I learn how to build a website by using programs such as dreamweaver and photoshop, I also learned about artist from various mediums of art, and for that, I am grateful. I am grateful to have learned so much in so little time, and I am grateful that I will now be able to use what I have learned to continue being an activist through my own artwork. Being apart of this class has opened my eyes to realize that I can use my talent in photography to educate others on important issues in our community.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

To a wonderful first quarter...

This class was an enlightening experience and I'm grateful that it was a part of the beginning of my career at UCLA. One of the topics that had a strong impact on me came about the first day of class. It was a discussion about the word, queer, and what definitions it encompasses. Before this day, my understanding of the word queer was not that of the umbrella term for the LGBT community, but a term that is used to vilify my community. Therefore, I never embraced this word and only viewed it as vocabulary to circumvent. However, as the quarter progressed, my views on this word were challenged and redefined. Both Professor Lopez and my classmates offered numerous perspectives on the word queer, all quarter long. I'm happy to say that I embrace this word, now knowing the powerful and positive outlooks it can embody.

Jeanne Cordova's When We Were Outlaws, was another portion of the class that will remain with me for a very long time. Her writing was so authentic, so passionate! I felt as though I was living her experiences, flying through the pages desperately wanting to know what came next. I have so many questions for her (particularly regarding Rachel) and I can't wait to ask them this coming Monday. The lab time in Charles Young Research Library was an enjoyable way to explore creative outlets. Though I've used Photoshop in the past, Dreamweaver was a fun, new tool to try. While bringing together my artist's page, I learned something very intriguing about him: he's a native French speaker. Since he was born in the North Carolina town of Ft. Bragg, this caught me off guard. In all the times I've chatted with him, his French roots never came up. There's much more to Roy than the languages he can speak (which is striking to me on a personal level), and I can't wait to present about him on Wednesday.

Overall, I can say with no doubt or hesitation, that this class led to growth. 





Blog Reflection

In doing the class website, as well as participating in the class blog, I found myself learning how I personally see different art forms and artists, especially those that create and produce their own one-man (or woman) shows. The amount of work one needs to put in these type of shows, and other pieces of work, is incredible.

What I also like about both the website project and the blog is that it felt like the whole class is doing their best to complete something together, and help each other out with it. It felt like a family of sorts, where even though we may not have talked to each other, we can still identify with each other because of this work. We know what we did, and we can be proud of it.

For me, personally, I had slight trouble with doing the website page for my artist because of the lack of recorded interviews out there concerning his different facets of his paintings. I did find a museum that held information on one of his works that was up on an exhibit before, but now I know that I was lucky enough to find something like that at all. Although, now knowing how hard it is to create a website, I can see why there is no specific webpage with an artists' works. That was the main issue for me.
That being said, I loved doing this work with my fellow classmates, and the way that our work looks so far is enough to make me think all the intense digging for information was worth it.

My Blog

Overall my website project experience went really well despite a few problems here and there. For example the first time we met in the yrl I was one of the few people who could not link my email with the blog website. It was frustrating but I eventually figured it out a few days later. Another problem that I encountered was losing my tabs and having to do the first Dreamweaver assignment all over again the next week. However besides those minor issues I found the instructions Professor Alma provided to be easy to follow along. The work load was fast-paced but not overwhelming. I am really excited to see the final product in class next week. As for the weekly blogs, I really enjoyed posting my thoughts, research on my queer artist, and sharing with my peers information about myself. Blogging is something I have never experimented with so I am glad something like that was incorporated in to the class. All in all, I had a good time with the project and can not wait to see how the final website turned out!!! My overall process researching Tony De Carlo was tedious and required a lot of time surfing the web for information because there really was not much sources out there. Aside from his own website, I eventually found a blog on his work and an interview between him and an art historian. The interview provided good background on the meaning of his paintings. I chose De Carlo because of his surrealist, colorful, and statement-making pieces. His subjects represent gay culture, protests of religious attacks on homosexuality, and male sensuality. Not only are his paintings beautiful, but they come together to fight for and represent the need for gay liberation which I found very powerful.

Blog!


Initially I was going to choose visual artist Lee Relvas, but I was having trouble finding information on him, as was expected for many of these artists’ who did not have websites. Then Professora Lopez proposed that I research Robert Cyclona Legorreta, so I did. I went to the UCLA Chicana/o Studies Research Library, and found this book written by Robb Hernandez called The Fire of Life: The Robert Legorreta- Cyclona Collection. The book also came with a bonus DVD; I was stoked because I had the opportunity to watch one of Cyclona’s performances. I learned that Robert is a very difficult person to understand, based on comments made by individuals that learned of my research on him. Although I’ll never truly understand what people meant by calling Robert “crazy,” I did learn that his work is very influential, and I believe that his character, Cyclona, has inspired many upcoming artists such as our special guest VISA. Robert’s experience as a Chicano growing up in the 1960s is a powerful story that should be recognized, as well as the role it has played in his performance art. Thanks to Professora Lopez for teaching us, the students, all these nifty skills in both Dreamweaver and Photoshop, that we all have had an important position in acknowledging these L.A.-based queer artists.

I think that any beginner learning these two new programs would have trouble, but the more you repeat the steps the quicker you can comprehend them. I noticed that the time I spent coming to work on my project at the Young Research Library, really gave me the time to learn from mistakes and made me so much more comfortable with both Dreamweaver and Photoshop. Coming to the library also allowed me to move at my own pace, but the overall project wasn’t too demanding. The workload was just right. The most rewarding part of this class is actually witnessing all of our accomplishments, and seeing how beautiful everything came together. 

To blog, or not to blog

Chicana/o Studies 188 has been my first foray into any sort of blogging, be that reading someone else's thoughts, or putting down my own. As an outlet for expression, or any sort, I find blogging to be a great medium. In the increasingly connected cyber web that expands across the globe, one is potentially sharing their thoughts with the whole world; that is a powerful idea.

As a means of teaching, I found the blog to be a great way to stay connected with other students in the class, as well as receive information from the professor. To be able to  read, and sometimes view, the information that my classmates were covering, and their thoughts about that information was enlightening, as well as a lot of fun. The blogs had an almost familial effect on the class, which I found very inviting.

It may be no surprise then that this was also my first experience with web design. Technology is the way of the future. It seems almost silly to say that now, but it is true, and will remain true for....ever. The value of the skills gained though our short 10 weeks together will prove invaluable. Not necessarily because I think I will remember all the steps or processes, but because I know they are possible, and relatively simple.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blog Reflections

I think the use of a public blog as a forum for our class communications was a very effective layout. I really like the formatting of the posts and allowed for us to freely look over what each classmate decided to write. I think it was a good interim way to display our research and findings about our artists as we started to create the full website.
I had never made a website from scratch before this class and found Dreamweaver to be a very accessible program and really liked learning the technical aspects of the html code vs. the overall graphic and visual aspects. Having used Photoshop before, I was able to get the tasks done rather quickly, but was happy to help out with the extra projects given to the design team as well. Looking forward to see the entire completed website.

Oscar Ernesto



Oscar Ernesto is another fun piece with a tone of playfulness and youth conveyed through the bright colors and the costume.  This self-portrait is filled with memories and a celebration of life as Terrill extracts these emotions from a photograph when he was 25 on the cusp of life first moving to New York in 1980. The painting is done retrospectively 25 years after the picture is taken commemorating that moment before he was diagnosed with HIV and also as a celebration of life. 

This piece feels very personal as Terrill is in a room surrounded by various fun objects. The bright yellow on the walls of the room gives off a warm and welcoming tone along with his colorful collection of personal images on the wall such as the purple and green skulls, flowers, a bat, paintings, etc. His costume also adds to the light-hearted tone as the young Terrill has angel wings and a domino-like mask. Many of Terrill’s painting revolve around the malleability of the costume as these subjects are given the freedom to become whatever they wish behind the playfulness of make-up and masks. 

Website Project Experience

Building a website was a smooth experience for me.  Luckily, I did not run into some of the technical problems a few of my classmates had.  The lab worked out really well, with the ability to watch Professor Lopez and copy her editing.  Creating the website with Adobe Dreamweaver was a great learning experience and is an excellent skill to know.  I had previously used Dreamweaver to create a website for class, but that was several years ago and I had forgotten most of it.  I did find that editing the code could be rather nerve-wracking as I was constantly worried that I would delete the wrong part of the code and have to start all over.  It was extremely rewarding to complete all the detail-oriented editing and preview the finished design.

I especially appreciated learning Adobe Photoshop, a program I have never used before.  I really enjoyed manipulating photographs to create a self-portrait and create my artist’s portrait.  I plan on continuing to work in Photoshop as a beginner, although I do not plan on becoming a professional artist or website builder, I still believe that knowing the skills are valuable.  I am excited to see the final, finished website, with all of my classmates’ pages linked and uploaded as well.

Monday, November 26, 2012

QALA Flyer MockUp

Here is a version of the flyer I made after some of the suggestions in class. I wasn't quite sure what Chris had originally said in the body of the text, but this is just an idea. Any suggestions? What else should the flyer say?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

la que aparece de nada


Karen Anzoategui… she didn’t get there until after I did, and I was already late. I walked into the normal classroom we tend to inhabit on Monday mornings, but instead of having the eyes of Profe Alma Lopez meet me in a ‘not so surprised your late,’ I became consumed by a smoky look and big red lips of a prosti, Visa, a pre-op M to F sexy thick womyn. She looked into my eyes
            “Have I seen you on Santa Monica Blvd before?”
            “No, at least not that I remember”
Immediately when she mentioned the street and bumping into each other I knew she was asking me if I had paid for a night with her. Being from Huntington Park, I am aware of trans womyn selling themselves on the street.
            I feel that when I run into trans womyn in Los Angeles they tend to be Latinas, and one of their key ways of getting around is by prostitution. I am not sure if this is something that is being discussed in the trans community, but it would not surprise me if it wasn’t, for issues that minorities face are still over looked in communities that should discuss the experiences of others.
            Visa mentioned that her appearance at the conferencia de joteria made some people feel uncomfortable, and I can see how and why a womyn who owns sexuality and wears it can create a ruckus. Visa tackles issues that others might feel too uncomfortable to shift through and discuss. I believe this has a lot to do with the lack of trust we have in being able to break through the barriers we hold in our own minds. If we cannot sit through that which challenges us, in thought, in action, in beliefs, we cannot trust to be a source of change.  




*based on my experience.

Visa's Visit to Queer Art in LA

This past week our class got a unique wake-up call in our Monday morning class. Performance artist Karen Anzoategui barged into the classroom dressed as one of her characters "Visa", a  transgender, Cuban sex-worker with a love for men and women alike. I enjoyed Visa's performance tremendously, although at first I was a bit confused and honestly wondered if Visa had really just wandered into our classroom; (Karen's acting was that good). When Visa began to use comedy and dance to talk about issues that pertain to the Latino community and the U.S. at large, I began to understand the statement she was trying to convey. Visa's performance of femininity and promiscuity made the point that women whom are scantily clad are often not taken seriously in our society. This devaluing of femininity and gender performance is further complicated by Visa's identity as a transgender individual.  Visa's "in your face" performance forces the audience to open up wounds and begin the healing process. I can see why Karen's performace could be mistaken as parody but I understood that she was conscious of her message throughout. I hope that with laughter people in the community can begin to talk about our own biases involving gender, femininity and queerness, I would certainly love if Visa helped spark that conversation. 

Visa--She's Everywhere You Want To Be



I think it is safe to say that most people rarely get excited about Monday mornings. I personally find them to be dreadful, but last Monday definitely wasn’t. Our class was treated to a surprise visit from Visa—a boisterous, transgendered, Cuban sex worker dressed in lingerie and bright red lipstick. From the moment I heard the familiar Spanglish accent, I knew we were in for a treat. Visa shared her view on a range of serious issues such as immigration, health care reform, sex workers, and the turmoil in the Gaza Strip all while infusing a bit of camp. Although Visa’s performance was both insightful and provocative, what I really found shocking was when Visa left and Karen Anzoategui, the performance artist, entered. I could have never imagined the two entities were the same person! As she spoke with Prof. Gaspar De Alba, Karen explained that she had received some backlash at one of her performances from a couple of the audience members who took offense at her portrayal of transgendered individuals. As a first generation Cuban American, I felt that Karen’s performance of “Visa” was actually more in line with the way Cuban refugees are stereotyped in the Latino community than it was a representation of the transgendered community on the whole. That being said, I think Visa should not be viewed as merely a representation of one community or another, but instead as an individual that represents and reflects several communities and influences at once just as anyone of us does. Fantastic work Karen!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Surprise Guest

     I was a little thrown off by Visa's abrupt entrance in our classroom this past Monday. I was expecting Profe Gaspar de Alba to give a talk about her accomplishments as a queer, chicana, feminist writer when Visa barged in and made her presence known. I love that she came in playing Selena on her laptop, signifying her Latina background. Like Selena her red lips were big and bold. Her breast were out there in your face and her skirt was a little short but I figured she had come in this way with a purpose.
     Along with my fellow classmates I listened to her attentively and had a few laughs. The topics she spoke about ranging from immigration to elections outed her as an intellectual individual. She played her character very well and I was impressed with her ability to shine light upon various issues from a very serious yet comedic stance. No matter how controversial her words were I was comfortable listening to Visa, I felt like I knew her. Looking back on the performance I have a few questions...of all the identities she can portray why that of a loud Cuban, transgender, prostitute. I believe she somewhat addressed the reasoning behind the prostitute, by noting that prostitution is a real issue within communities but I would like to know more.

Karen Anzoategui


In her performance as a transgender sex worker named Visa, Karen Anzoategui raises eyebrows and sensitive questions about several social issues. Her act is as much representation as it is activism, which is why her act is so challenging to audiences: we do not know whether to laugh at or with or protest. What I appreciated most about the performance was the unapologetic attitude that both Visa and Karen have. What makes the message stronger and what makes people pay closer attention is the fact Karen allows Visa to shine through and through. What resonated most for me was what Karen said about being able to connect with someone; that an in-your-face character is easy to form an opinion about. 
As for the controversy involving Anzoategui’s act, I personally was not offended. However, I can see how some people who have lived the life which Visa represents could be sensitive to the material in the performance. It is difficult to say what makes something offensive at all but in the case of Visa, she is an intersection of so many different personas and characters that it is impossible to say that she is stereotyping. If anything, she is typecasting a whole new character who is sexually liberated and culturally aware. With Visa, Karen Anzoategui sheds light on issues that are uncomfortable and in fact her aggressive treatment of the character makes the issue a priority. 

Our Surprise Guest Speaker

  What seemed like a normal class last week Monday, was interrupted by a pre-op transgender m to f prostitute named Visa. Only later did we find out that this was actually our surprise guest speaker Karen Anzoategui. Initially, when Karen came in as Visa, and just started going off and taking over the class. I was surprised that Professor Lopez didn't stop her, kick her out of the class, or call security. Here, from my knowledge, some random person walked into our class with an in-your-face vulgar attitude discussing somewhat controversial topics and here our professor was not only letting it happen, but assisting this "stranger" with the technical part of her presentation. I thought that this could only be allowed in a class like this one with a professor like ours that would see a spectacle like this as an opportunity for discussion rather than to disregard and cast out Visa as an interruption to our learning. I just kept thinking how in any other class, Visa would not have gotten one or two words out before being asked and or eventually forced out of the class room. 
  The post discussion with Karen was also very interesting. One thing that stuck out for me was her discussion about growing up Argentinian in a predominantly Mexican community while also dealing with issues of being a person of color but suffering from the misconceptions of being someone of a lighter complexion. It was something I related to. Being Belizean and growing up also in a predominantly Mexican community, there was a lot of subtle differences in the way I was treated by the other kids. I would notice the difference in how they treated me once they found out I wasn't Mexican. For the most part, everyone always assumed I was Mexican until it came into question. So certain things she mentioned, like being noted as ok because she "grew up Chicano" by association was something I also experienced. Monday's class was one I'll never forget. 

Karen Anzoategui


I honestly didn’t know that VISA was a character played by Karen Anzoategui even after she entered and chatted with the professor. It was quite hard to understand what she said because of her accent. I inferred that most of what she said was in Spanish, but I was confused. However, I do believe she succeeded to convey what she wanted to express to us. Her costume really shocked me to the point that I couldn’t really concentrate on what she said for a period of time. The way that she chose to address people, dressing like a Cuban prostitute and speaking in a harsh accent, could cause controversy. There exists the possibility of a misunderstanding that the audience could interpret her performance as a parody instead of a statement. I understand the fact that she can draw more attention with her costumes and her personality, but I can see why there was also a negative view of her performance. Anzoategui’s performance was accused of making fun of transgender sex workers and continuing their stereotype. I was astounded by Karen Anzoategui’s performance- I initially believed that VISA and Karen were two different performance artists. I think Karen’s multicultural background plays an important role in her capacity as an actress. Through her performance, I once again realized that art can be used to open a new dialogue of issues from different aspects such as politics, genders and immigrants.  

Karen Anzoategui

Going to class that morning, the guest speaker professor Lopez had planned for us was the last thing I expected to happen. I was sincerely surprised and thought Visa was in the wrong class, especially because Lopez and Gaspar de Alba both acted suprised as well. I thought it was really interesting that Visa used comedy to address certain issues that aren't addressed enough. I strongly feel that transforming something into a comedic show and being in your face about it attracts more attention while getting a message across as well. Visa talked about politics, sexuality, the LGBT community, and immigration in a way that alot of people might find offensive but I applaud her for doing so. She was blunt, honest, and was not afraid to express her opinion and I really admire people who are like that. Her humor and over-sexualized image kept m eentertained and made me really listen to what she was saying. After Visa left, Karen Anzoategui herself talked to us and I saw how passionate she truly is for what she does as a performer and writer. I hope I get the opportunity to see her perform again sometime in the future.

Guest Speaker: Karen Anzoategui


What I admire of Karen Anzoategui character, VISA, is her ability to use humor to address issues that affect people today—immigration, LGBT/sexuality, politics, and voter’s rights to name a few.  The way VISA also compares these issues with sexual terms—like orgy, puta, pussy—adds to not only humor, but also illustrates the intensity of these issues.  Just like it tends to be uncomfortable to hear or talk about anything related to sex, VISA also shows that it can also be uncomfortable to hear and accept that there are struggles that exist and need to be addressed.  For example, it may be uncomfortable for a politician to talk about immigration, and for a Christian to talk about LGBT-related concerns.  But for VISA, it is not unpleasant for her to speak about sensitive issues, and use common stereotypes to attack them in a humorous manner.  It also important to point out that there is the belief that by using stereotypes in a performance, it can be interpreted as an act that promotes those stereotypes rather than to challenge them.  However, what makes VISA’s performance as unique is that she gives an “in your face” performance, instead of promoting the stereotypes she uses.

Anzoategui as VISA

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Visa came storming in the classroom requesting for a song to be played for her. I honestly thought she was a random person trying to be political in a comedic way. I thought that both professor Gaspar de Alba and Lopez were genuinely surprised at her presence. Either way, I thought how awesome I mean its not everyday we have someone performing in class!!
I liked how political Visa was with her Spanglish comments and joke, she asked the class if we have voted and then proceeded to make fun of the fact that people are still counting votes for the recent presidential election. She spoke about the political difficulties around the world regarding boarders, borders she said she herself did not have nor boundaries or underwear! Which I thought was hilarious because she is also speaking about the current sex-workers in the streets of Los Angeles, also a political subject.
I really liked how she read GAZA in Spanish, therefore she said that it seemed feminine and then it made sense as to why they were screwing them over, she also understood the STRIP part as ironic because they do not “strip” there but they did cover up. What Visa said made sense to me so I felt I understood and appreciated her comments.
The last thing I liked was that Karen said that she identified as queer and not butch or lesbian because she felt those identities were constraining and people are constantly having to prove themselves to those identities. I completely see her point of view. I also think that this sort of identity constraint is also causing some of the criticism Karen is receiving for being a woman playing a role of a Cuban transgender sex worker. I’m glad she uses this type of tactic to bring up issues we feel uncomfortable with, it does begin the conversation that needs to happen.

VISA


The artist that I have been writing about throughout this quarter is the transgender performance artist Vaginal Davis. Needless to say, there are some crucial similarities between Vaginal and Visa – similarities beyond their hermaphroditic births. Both are educated, comedic writers who use their wit to address issues from immigration to the queer community, equality, and politics. Both also, which I find rather interesting, dress in flashy makeup, pumps, and risqué dresses during these performances- which are actually undercover lectures in a way. They perform a comedic routine meanwhile sneaking in critique-heavy dialogue on the issues of today. I honestly cannot make up my mind as to whether their tactical approaches are effective or just distracting-  the contrast between their drag performances and the true content of their routine brings focus- but depending on how easily you are offended, the focus may be either on the drag or on the content. Having been exposed to drag and the transgender community before Visa, I was not so much distracted by the performance as I was the Spanglish! Next time I see Visa perform, I’ll be sure to brush up on my Spanish, but regardless of the language barrier, she was really funny and brought an interesting approach to raising awareness of certain issues.
Furthermore, addressing the two offended transgenders as the convention, though I feel quite out of my element commenting on it at all, I do think there is no cause for offense regarding Visa’s routine. If I put myself in their shoes and there was a white woman on stage spewing obscenities and talking/acting crudely I would not take offense as a woman nor as a member of the white community- for she is an individual acting independently of others. I believe Visa’s situation is similar and that it is a struggle, as a minority, to be viewed as an individual and not as a representative of your whole race, gender or culture. If Visa was viewed as her own person, separate from the communities with which she identifies, I believe a lot fewer people would be offended by her work. 

Visa


Karen's performance of Visa was both funny and meaningful. Not only was her acting meant to be over the top and controversial, but it was also meant to address important issues in today's society. The role of Visa, a Cuban sex-worker in Los Angeles, used sexual and crude humor to deliver her stance on transgender issues, immigration issues, and political issues. One of the lines that stood out to me was when she said she would (if she could) hide all of the refugees and illegal immigrants in her “pussy” which was hilarious but also played in to how ridiculous a lot of the immigration laws are especially in Arizona. As for the controversy with the two transgender people at the convention, I can understand where they are coming from because the performance could have came off a bit offensive and insensitive. On the other hand, Karen in no way meant for Visa to be a representation of any group of people and rather it was meant to portray a particular character with those ideas and insane qualities. The element of surprise definitely worked because at first when Visa walked into the room, I wasn’t sure if it was planned or not. So I felt Karen’s technique of surprise was great. Lastly, I was shocked by how much of a transformation she made from Visa the character back to Karen. That just goes to show how great of an actress and artist she is.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

VISA


This past Monday we were introduced to the performance artist Karen Anzoategui, and her character VISA. VISA came storming in, requesting to play a song by the famous Latina singer Selena. She adorned her face with exaggerating makeup such as an overabundance of red lipstick. VISA wore a lingerie dress, and some thick high heels. She performed a small dance where she pulled a sock over a dildo, and also spoke of immigration issues and voting. Anzoategui declared that VISA does not necessarily represent the whole transgender community, but instead a combination of adult figures in her life. I realized that there was no real connection between the transgender community and Selena. Therefore VISA is personalized character that embodies Anzoategui's idiosyncrasies. Would that make VISA a character that is exclusive? Based on VISA’s performance, Anzoategui is focusing on a transgender in the Latina/o community. I found it interesting how in one of the artists’ recent performances she had caused a controversy among some transgender individuals. It was shocking because I feel that many people would agree that being transgender defies traditional conventions which is a more prevalent topic for discourse rather than a transgender that witnessed VISA’s performance and felt disturbed. Although LGBTQ individuals are still underrepresented, I feel that many people have developed a more liberal approach to their interests. 

I couldn’t help but make a correlation between VISA’s performance and Robert “Cyclona” Legorreta’s piece called Caca-Roaches Have No Friends. I didn’t realize it until now, but I wish I could have asked if Cyclona had any influence on Anzoategui's art. Both artists sought to perform a character that was untraditionally acceptable, while also highlighting political issues which encompassed immigration, gender, race, and activism. 

Visa, by Karen Anzoategui

Last Wednesday, our class was presented with a self-proclaimed queer transgender Cuban sex worker named Visa, as well as the performer embodying her, Karen Anzoategui. Visa graced her audience with a few short explanations of who she is and what she does, and concluded with a gratuitous reverse strip tease. After Visa left us, Anzoategui arrived to talk with the class about Visa's conception as a character, public responses to performances of her, and Anzoategui's own personal philosophies as an artist.

One aspect of Visa's interactions with us that I enjoyed was her generous use sexual wordplay. It was not only just technically impressive how cleverly and quickly she could litter a sentence with puns and asides, but also effective in complicating her character – it added an additional dimension to Visa's particular type of femininity. Visa's participation in camp, traditionally a realm for effete gay men, forces the onlooker to confront assumptions about gender expression and sexual orientation in transgender individuals. Anzoategui touched on this topic when she mentioned an instance in which some transgender audience members were offended by her performances of Visa, claiming that Visa was an unfair, stereotypical representation of transgender people. I think in light of this controversy, it is even more apparent that Visa represents a kind of unarticulated, complex femininity. For a transgender person to get offended at Visa, I think, is indicative yet of an expectation of normativity, even in groups so marginalized as the transgender community. Of course, I am not qualified to speak for any transgender individuals, and Visa is a performance after all and not necessarily a factual representation of transgender per se.