project image
Bousa Concepts & Abel Del Rio

first performed on September 20, 2012
CounterPULSE, San Francisco, CA
performed eight times in 2012


George Maguire, Dimas Guardado, Lil-Miss Hot Mess, Michelle Maynard, Mariana Olvera, Sean Malroy, Karla Hargrave, Richi Israel, Cathie Anderson, Rob Fatal

Oakland, CA


“FML” is a silent solo performance work that combines physical theater, burlesque, minstrelsy, sound and video. “FML” communicates the backstory, logic and failure of my burlesque persona La Chica Boom (LCB). The staged work takes place between the burlesque stage and bathroom that features LCB’s toilet altar to Lupe Velez, a burlesque and Hollywood Mexican actress who purportedly died with her head in the toilet. Velez and LCB’s story are presented side by side in order to foreshadow the destiny of my burlesque persona.

The most important technique used in the show is the “happening,” a time-based art practice in which the audience is the participating component. I draw on ten years of burlesque audience commentary to develop racist sound montages and voiceovers that force FML audiences to play the role of the interracial incompatible racist audience, LCB’s source of racial melancholia. To accomplish this, speakers are placed in audience seating so as to convey that voiceovers are coming from audience. They are also asked to throw tortillas at LCB throughout the show. These active audience strategies implicate the audience in LCB’s misrecognition and melancholia and illuminate how her performance of spictacles, perverse Mexi-phobic minstrel spectacles that aim to disrupt colonial gazing, fail as the result of the audiences reading these subversive minstrel performances as reality.

Featured spictacle performances include LCB as La Virgen de Guadalupe who gives birth to a Hatachi Wand Vibrator, a Mexican servant who jacks off onto tacos with a Tapatio strap-on, and finally a performance where LCB shovels soil into a bathtub in preparation for her own burlesque death. The aggression toward the audience within each spictacle performance increases as she realizes she is being misrecognized via the racist voice-overs assigned to the audience. LCB hatefully glares, shouts and threatens to hit the audience with a shovel. LCB’s inner landscape is explored via video montage in bath, via an endurance-based performance of laughter, and finally through an emotional performance where LCB retires/flushes her burlesque persona into Lupe’s toilet alter and transforms into a reviled creature, a cockroach. The final performance has LCB dressed as a cockroach and using the passage of time strategically, three minutes, to smile. This expressive use of the human body calls for the recognition of endurance amidst the consequences of failure. Through FML, I illustrate the consequences of misrecognition that lead to failure and a fatigued state for my racialized burlesque persona.