Jibz Cameron is a Los Angeles–based artist who has been performing as her alter ego Dynasty Handbag for over a decade. In conjunction with a staging of her 2015 piece Good Morning Evening Feelings at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s TBA:15 festival on September 17, Cameron’s exhibition “Simply the Worst” is on view through October 18, 2015, at the Portland Museum of Modern Art in Portland, Oregon. Here Cameron discusses these shows in addition to the TV pilot she is developing.
GOOD MORNING EVENING FEELINGS is a one-woman show. It’s like a daytime, nighttime, children’s, and adults’ talk show. It stars me as the host, Dynasty Handbag, and then all the guest stars that come on the show are me too, or just different versions of Dynasty Handbag in other costumes. There’s a lesbian chef who creates a morning smoothie out of terrible childhood memories, a useless exercise routine by a very angry Broadway starlet, some headlines are read that are not very contemporary and basically just end up shaming me for all the things I don’t really know about. There’s also a musical guest, which is a version of Madonna doing not vogue, but vague, where the voguing is really imprecise, the opposite of voguing—vaguing. Which is what I feel like my life is—I’m not exactly sure a lot of the time. It’s based around the idea of helping you get through the day facing Fear, Anger, Guilt, and Shame—FAGS. You can make a lot of good jokes that way, like: “Beware of FAGS that pop out throughout the day” and “FAGS will follow you no matter where you go,” which is true. It’s kind of a play on “We are everywhere, us fags,” and also this idea that you can’t really escape yourself, your actual FAGS.
After my last show, Soggy Glasses, a one-woman show about Homer’s Odyssey that was really difficult to make, I wanted to do something fun with more room for improvisation. I was thinking about talk shows and how the morning ones are designed to help you have a good day, give you some of what’s going on in current events, maybe show you some helpful hints about how to live better. But that’s not the kind of morning show I need. I need one that will help me combat the terror of being alive more than giving me a new recipe for a buttermilk pancake. I was also thinking a lot about why women get to do the morning and men get to do the evening shows. There are a lot of reasons for this, I’m sure, and none of them really that good.
In “Simply the Worst,” the retrospective of Dynasty Handbag costumes at the PMOMA, they all have drawings that abstractly explain the origin story of the outfit. For example, I have one outfit that’s a disgusting collage of just animal prints. I like thinking about the significations of animal print culturally; images of tourism and the invention of the long airplane ride to another country, colonialism, the jungle, sexualizing so-called savages—deep, weird racism. When a woman is wearing animal print, like a ’50s pinup model, there are so many things that go into what we register when we see it. And there isn’t just any old version of animal print; there are all kinds of subdivisions of the patterns as well. The outfit drawings are a little bit like trying to figure out the terrorist complex in Homeland, lots of string and Post-it notes on the wall.
I’ve always wanted to perform at TBA, and it’ll be a break from working on the TV pilot that I’m developing with Amanda Verwey, my writing partner for Good Morning Evening Feelings. The pilot is about a performance artist who goes to Los Angeles to try to make a TV show and high jinks ensue. The character has a really crazy mother who lives in LA, so she’s sort of forced to deal with all of these outer and inner demons as well as a sister. There are also flashbacks to how she grew up in a really dysfunctional hippie commune. Not that dissimilar to my life.