Magazine article Out

Art's a Drag

Magazine article Out

Art's a Drag

Article excerpt

In the hands of cross-dressing artist Kalup Linzy, soap operas become fodder for hilariously campy explorations of race and sexuality.

Many of us love to watch soap operas, but how many artists can claim soaps as raw material for their work? Step forward Kalup Linzy, a 29-year-old video artist on the verge of major art stardom who freely admits that his staunchly gay and outrageously campy video art would barely exist without the high drama of soapland.

Linzy's tour de force is the compelling five-part Conversations Wit de Churen, which takes its name from the long-running soap All My Children. It follows a web of working-class characters as they confront love, betrayal, and sundry other dramas. With their lo-fi quality and raunchy content, his videos feel closer in spirit to YouTube than Art, with Linzy channeling Divine, Cindy Sherman, Wigstock, and local public access shows. Talk about addictive!

Just what is it about soap operas and old sitcoms that Linzy finds so compelling? "Good Times and The Jeffersons both dealt with issues that were uncomfortable but important to talk about," he says, counting off child abuse, poverty, racism, and interracial marriage among those tough subjects.

If Linzy's themes are likewise serious, his method is not: In CWDC II: All My Churen (2003) he plays a family of three generations, with characters including Taiwan, a drag queen explaining to his mother, "I just want to be an entertainer," and Jo Jo, victim of a drive-by shooting who turns out to be the pet dog of Taiwan's sister, and not, as we are initially led to believe, her husband. …

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