Friday, November 23, 2012
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.