#SQUADGOALS (52)

By: Karinne Keithley Syers
December 27, 2017

One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.

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Blacklips pictured clockwise from top left: Flloyd, Antony, Lost Forever, Johanna Constantine, Lulu, Kabuki Starshine, Pearls, Psychotic Eve, Sissy Fit, James F. Murphy, Hattie Hathaway, Mouse, Howie Pyro, Clark Render (not pictured here: Lily of the Valley, Ebony Jet, Herr Klunch) Photo by Michael James O’Brien

Before the video archive of everything that ever was started manifesting itself online, the way for dancers and performers to gain some sense of the past was to get near a body that had been there. In the early aughts I had the good fortune to be occasionally in rooms with Stacy Dawson Stearns, a mutable, fearsome performer and director who can walk the flyways that politely connect dance and theater as they merge in various acceptably experimental performance forms while wielding alongside herself an energetic cloud sourced from the less acceptable, weirder turnpikes of physical and psychical experience. One of the things I gained from being in her presence was a little education in a drag fantasy channel of intense performative power and visual splendor that I understood to be a fruit of her time (as “Herr Klunch”) with the Blacklips Performance Cult, which convened regularly at the Pyramid Club in New York’s East Village from 1992–95. Silently absorbing the performance energies of Stacy and also the magnificent drag queen Flloyd, who occasionally guested in downtown theaters, I constructed an imagined microchamber in my own chosen performance genealogy that I understood not as my direct lineage, my received training, but an adjacency I could access if I were to become brave and powerful enough to make the attempt. As a squad hanging out in the backroom of my appointed pantheon of heroes, a squad of which I had barely caught more than a glimpse, Blacklips represented to me a line of invasion, a little feed tube that secretly piped itself into my task-oriented, expressively reticent, loose pedestrian clothes-wearing postmodern dancing body. Here for you when you’re ready, girl. I had imagined writing this appreciation by undertaking an oral history and archival plunge, but the web-matter out there on Blacklips is scarce, despite its famous daughter Antony/Ahnoni. And anyway, once I started to think about it I realized the ephemeral but physically precise squad-adjacency, the unauthorized transmission of energy and vitality from a room we were never part of, but are, by a respectably small degree of separation, linked to, ultimately gives us more to work with than a YouTube deep cut ever could. In performance, which transmits itself orally and physically even now, this archaic, bodied, undocumented pedigree persists. The photograph, as fragment, is only an imaginative aid.

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#SQUADGOALS: Annie Nocenti on THE WILD BUNCH | Alice Boone on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS | Gordon Dahlquist on BOWIE’S BAND | Rob Wringham on THE HOME GUARD | Jennifer Krasinski on WATERSHIP DOWN RABBITS | Annalee Newitz on ROBIN HOOD’S MERRY PALS | Adrienne Crew on THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | Mark Kingwell on THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | Adam McGovern on KAMANDI’S FAMILY | John Overholt on THE CLUB | Greg Rowland on THE VULTURE SQUADRON | Sara Ryan on BETSY, TACY & TIB | Chelsey Johnson on VI ÄR BÄST! | Brian Berger on THE JOHN FORD STOCK COMPANY | Sherri Wasserman on THE WARRIORS | Jessamyn West on FAREYNIKTE PARTIZANER ORGANIZATSYE | Josh Glenn on DADA | Matthew De Abaitua on THE TIME | Mandy Keifetz on THE FOUNDING FATHERS | William Nericcio on ZOOT SUIT PACHUCOS | Deb Chachra on FIREFLY CREW | Matthew Battles on THE ANIMAL FAMILY | Ingrid Schorr on THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS | Joe Alterio on THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS | Dan Reines on THE BREAKFAST CLUB | Rob Walker on LES TROIS INSÉPARABLES | Devin McKinney on 1975 RED SOX | Steph Burt on DAMAGE CONTROL | Elina Shatkin on THE HOLOGRAMS | Chris Spurgeon on THE ALKALI METALS | Carl Wilson on NEW YORK SCHOOL POETS | Barbara Bogaev on THE MOD SQUAD | Franklin Bruno on THE AACM | Judith Zissman on THE FUTURIANS | Mimi Zeiger on ARCHIGRAM | Jacob Mikanowski on THE RATBASTARDS | Lynn Peril on THE DALY SISTERS | Anindita Basu Sempere on MEG MURRY’S FAMILY | Libi Rose on THE ENIAC TEAM | Gary Panter on THE TRIBE OF HIPPIES | Peter Doyle on CORNEL WILDE BOYS | Ken Layne on THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG | Molly Wright Steenson on BAUHAUS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | Mimi Lipson on THE RUNAWAYS | Jordan Ellenberg on BOURBAKI | Michael Campochiaro on THE SUICIDE SQUAD | Deborah Wassertzug on THE BLOODHOUND GANG | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Douglas Wolk on SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACKLIPS PERFORMANCE CULT.

MORE ENTHUSIASM at HILOBROW

WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads. GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.

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