Saturday, November 24, 2012
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.