ROAR WITH MS. MUSCLE
I performed “Roar with Ms. Muscle” as part of Art in Odd Places 2019: INVISIBLE, a visual and performance art festival that took place along 14th Street in Manhattan. The festival was curated by LuLu LoLo, who sought work by artists over 60—work that would highlight what is often overlooked.
As “Ms. Muscle” I endeavored to make the power of older women visible and audible. I was dressed for a beauty pageant, wearing a long gown, a tiara, opera gloves, and a sash with the words “Ms. Muscle.” My bicep muscles were augmented with sculpted breast shaped biceps. I traversed the entire length of 14th Street. As I waltzed along, I assumed the competitive bodybuilder double biceps pose while singing, “I am woman hear me roar. Rooooar.”
Passersby did not expect to encounter “Roar with Ms. Muscle.” The performance took place during a busy afternoon on public sidewalks through a variety of neighborhoods from East to West, rundown areas with flea markets, crowded big-box shopping areas, stretches with closed office buildings, abandoned stores, upscale restaurants, and boutiques. While ignored by some people, along the way I was met with cheers, friendly smiles, questions, catcalls, and requests to pose for pictures. I was challenged to be flexible and responsive to the type of reception I received.
When people noticed me, an older gray-haired woman making a spectacle, I acknowledged their attention and engaged them with a smile, a royal wave, an arm pump, and / or a word or two. If people showed more curiosity, I asked them if they wanted to roar with me. I told them that instead of “woman” they could sing their name or “man” if they wished. Many people were interested and took me up on it. They seemed to relish the invitation to express their inner power by roaring. The interaction created a bond with a shared feeling of expressing the power of presence, I am HERE, hear me ROAR!