Tag Archives: Noir Carnival

Drag Noir: Tracy Fahey

Richard Dadd’s The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke

Fairy Drag: Or, How I Wrote The Changeling by Tracy Fahey

You don’t mess with the fairies in Ireland. They are malignant force, older than humanity, who live by their own laws. Unlike their elegant Victorian English counterparts, the Irish fairies are Other, different in every way; both in looks and in character. They’re tall and pale, with a warlike approach to life and an immense propensity for revenge. Country life, until well into the 20th century was ruled by a series of invisible boundaries –folk who lived there didn’t cut down the whitethorn, didn’t build a house on a fairy path, didn’t meddle with the forts. These sites, demarcated by fairy behaviour became forbidden zones

Alan Lee’s Changlings

As with all stories, the writing of this started as a result of several unaligned thoughts coming together – the persistence of supernatural rituals in rural Ireland, a gruesome murder in Northern Ireland, and the old belief that you needed to disguise the sex of a baby to save it from been ‘swept’ or ‘fetched’ by the fairies. The fairies, it was said, would steal away an unprotected baby and replace it with a sickly fairy child who would dwindle and wither away, despite all human efforts. I became fascinated with the idea of ‘infant drag’, where clothing, hair and adornment function as a protective, gender-masking disguise. The idea of drag in this story is a double-edged sword. It is a catalyst for concealment, transformation, but also for revenge. I began wondering how this experience might translate into later life…and so this story came to life.

The story has an unhappy ending, but then, all fairy stories do. They end in tears, in partings, in kidnappings, desolation and death. Our poor changeling fares no differently.

DRAG NOIR is out now.

Drag Noir: Jack Bates

Cover by S. L. Johnson

Cover by S. L. Johnson

Jack Bates: How I Came to Write LUCKY AT CARDS

Two things happened at once. I saw the call for submissions for Drag Noir in a Short Mystery Fiction Society newsletter and a young lady announced to me that she was transgender. Pretty soon her long, curly blonde locks were gone. She swore off wearing dresses. All she wore was men’s clothing. Sports jerseys, mostly. She asked to be called Paul. It gave her a sense of control. She openly pursued a couple of young women at work. She showed up at a wedding with a very cute young woman. Paul wore a vintage three piece, pin stripe suit. Paul had a black eye. I didn’t ask her about it but I knew I had the start of a story. I have no idea if Paul ever played blackjack in her life or if she even went to any of the Detroit or Windsor casinos.

ThuglitWhat Drag Means to Me

I have a very good friend who operates a very successful stage theater here in Detroit. When we were kids, we did a Saturday Night Live type of variety show at our high school. I wrote sketches that put Joe in drag quite often. He seemed very comfortable in a dress. Now, thirty years later, he’s graced his stage several times in shows like Die, Mommie, Die and Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy where he out Close-s Glenn Close. When I think of drag I think of my good friend Joe and his campy, hilarious performances. He’s so comfortable in that skin you forget he’s Joe and not actually Joan- as in Crawford. I put on a dress and just look ridiculous. Joe comes alive.

DRAG NOIR out now in ebook or paperback!

Drag Noir: Chloë Yates

The lovely Paulina Succotash

Kiki and Me
Chloë Yates
One night in the dim and distant long ago, I was working the graveyard shift at that notorious punk drag dive, Axolotl Snot, on the grimy lower east bank of The City. The night outside was cold and inside the clientele wasn’t much warmer. One moment I was wiping down the ever-sticky bar for the hundredth time, the next I was slack jawed with awe as the infamous drag queen Kiki Le Shade sashayed into my world. She was a dame and she had balls. One look into those hypnotically glacial peepers and I was spellbound. She bent me to her will and I thanked her for every displaced vertebrae… At least that’s how I wish it had gone, but I’ve never worked in a bar and I’ve only ever admired drag queens from afar. I have, however, been in love with them since I was a kid.

 

Ideas of gender have always fascinated and appalled me. The way we step into the construct of gender identity at birth and then stick to it as though it’s all perfectly natural and right when it’s clearly absolute bollocks has plagued me my entire life. Arbitrary rules of behaviour and “deportment” (ugh) that depend upon whether or not you have a tallywackle or a witch’s cackle have never made the least bit of sense to me. I never understood why I was supposed to do this or that because I was a “girl” or why my friend couldn’t wear this or act like that because he was a “boy”. I just wanted to do the things I wanted to do because I wanted to do them. I believe that’s how everybody feels, deep down at least, but all too often life teaches us that stepping out from the baaing masses is fraught with castigation and derision – those wicked sharp whip licks of social control. Well, fuck, as they say, that shit.

 

The long and the short of it is I’m a fan of chutzpah, if you’ll allow me the indulgence. Bold, in-your-face, no apologies types are my number one poison, my idols and my role models, and who’s better at in-your-face than drag queens? Undoubtedly I have a romanticised view of them, but it certainly seems to me that drag queens make no apologies. More often than not it is their opportunity to act out, play up and throw their besequinned shit in the face of folks with wild abandon – and they seize it. Drag has never seemed like a mask to me. It is, rather, a medium for liberation. An excuse to be fearlessly bold, a ticket to kick the world in the tits while sticking your tongue out and wiggling your glitter-encrusted arse at it. That beautiful bright light of subversion being thrown so boldly in the face of a generally conservative world that pouts and frowns at “otherness” like we don’t all have secrets, fears, desires and frustrations that torment and thrill us, tickles me in all the best places.

 

Needless to say, I really wanted to write a story for Drag Noir but, after whacking my brain into inanimate object after inanimate object, I was stumped. Not because I couldn’t think of a million and one scenarios, but because I couldn’t think of the right one (some might argue I didn’t do that anyway but they can kiss my big fat bellend). Then I came across the song ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’ by Scissor Sisters. I can’t remember if it was on the telly or if someone posted it on Facebook, but it stuck in my head like only the most vicious of earworms are wont to do. It did the job though, one of those mental switch thingummies. I listened to that fucking song about eight million times while sitting in front of my screen and not once did my fingers stop typing. Kiki was pretty much born in one go, but she felt like she’d always been with me. First came the image of the faded drag queen, a shadow of her former self that long ago night at the Axolotl, sitting in a parking lot on one of those awful white plastic chairs, inches long ash clinging to a still blazing cigarette, lipstick smudged, wig askew. And I wondered what she was waiting for, because she was definitely waiting for something. Turns out, it wasn’t what I expected… which is just how I like it.


Click to buy!

Drag Noir: Paul D. Brazill

Paul DeLiberace Brazill relaxing at home (thanks to S. L. Johnson for the photo)

Paul DeLiberace Brazill relaxing at home (thanks to S. L. Johnson for the photo)

How I Wrote A Bit Of A Pickle for Drag Noir

Paul D. Brazill
It goes like this: A rainy  night in Soho, thrown out of The French House and off to Ronnie Scott’s til dawn. Then a gypsy cab driven by an Islamic fundamentalist over to the East End and a dodgy pub near a meat market.  Go for a slash on in an alleyway near Crucifix Lane and get lost just off Druid Street. Follow a group of old women into a pockmarked terraced house and realise that they’re having a séance. A tall Polish woman with a turban gives me a message from beyond. And that message becomes A Bit Of A Pickle.

Pick up Drag Noir today by clicking on the picture below and get your glad rags on.

Cover by S. L. Johnson

Cover by S. L. Johnson

Drag Noir: Redfern Jon Barrett

RedfernJonBarrettDisability as Drag
Redfern Jon Barrett

Regardless of the social progress made in recent years, our world is still not yet kind to the subversive: women who love women remain the target of stares and lewd comments; men who love men have blood which is considered unclean by the majority of the planet’s health authorities (because ‘AIDS was invented by homos’); whilst men who dress as women are still victim to physical and verbal abuse. Public acceptance may be on the increase, but as every queer person and drag queen knows, we have a long way to go.

Meanwhile, a different yet parallel rights movement is fighting for its own social and legal equality: rights for the disabled. Those with cerebral palsy are still the target of stares and verbal abuse; those with mobility needs are still denied access to the majority of the planet’s public transportation (back of the bus? You’re not even getting on!); whilst closed-circuit hearing loops are still absent from most public spaces. Progress has been made, but as every blind or autistic person knows, we have a long way to go.

Of course there are more similarities between disability and gender nonconformity than my structuring two similar paragraphs on each. Firstly, each has the ability to make the public uncomfortable, as each causes us to question our own identities: whether the shaky and often-transitional nature of our perceived gender, or our immortal able-bodiedness. Each presents us with  a deviation from the norm which a great number of people still feel uncomfortable with, and which presents this difficult truth: that the privilege one receives for cis-heterosexuality or able-bodiedness is a result of random chaotic chance.

The second similarity is that both gender nonconformity and disability have been heavily medicalised by both public discourse and institutions. The very term ‘homosexuality’ was coined in an attempt to diagnose a mental condition; trans people are subject to intense physical and mental scrutiny by medical professionals who pass ultimate judgement on their personal identities; the disabled are also still viewed through this same medical lens. Are deaf people merely a medical condition, or a culture with its own language and social groupings? The nonconformists share a history of dehumanising medical discourse. Both groupings have been the target of eugenics programs. It is this similarity which prompted me to write my sci-fi short story ‘Straight Baby’.

It is this shared discourse lies at the heart of the story. In a world in which parents have (or believe they have) genetically engineered every aspect of their children, the disabled and the queer face the same threat of marginalisation and persecution. This shared struggle is embodied in Thomas, a disabled homosexual who faces intense persecution because of the random chaotic chance of his birth – a deviance which can never be truly eradicated, regardless of technological advancement.

Yet the story also examines the interplay between his identities as a gay, disabled man. Whilst other gay men are beaten and arrested when caught with other men, Thomas’ physical disability has, thus far, allowed him to escape the clutches of the heterosexist legal system. In this future, as in our own time, the disabled are frequently viewed as asexual. Thomas’ physical state covers his deviance as a homosexual: his disability is his drag.

Yet Thomas’ drag is not merely external. He manages his position in society via an internal drag, mentally conceiving of himself as a female femme-fatale – a perspective which allows him to navigate his affairs with married men. In short, Thomas is a sexual being in the ‘asexual’ drag of disability, perceiving himself in female terms. Each ‘deviance’ contradicts and reinforces the other. He is a threat masquerading as harmless.

At its root, the story is based in the fact that every struggle is a shared struggle. Gay men and wheelchair users, lesbians and the blind, drag queens and the autistic have all been marginalised by social and medical discourse. Without solidarity and recognition of our shared fight, we risk a future in which society once again uses technology in an attempt to eradicate the nonconformists – a future in which no drag can save us.

DRAG NOIR is out tomorrow!

 

Drag Noir: Becky Thacker

Becky Thacker

Portrait of the author in her younger days

How I Came to Write ‘Geezer Dyke’

Becky Thacker

A port stop during a cruise disembarked us in Mexico, facing a row of tour vans and buses.  Most of these were staffed by sign-wielding native folks with weary, worldly-wise faces; obviously they did this job for the living it provided and not because they found it fun. One of the tour guides was a lesbian, white-skinned, aging none too gracefully, and it was evident from her accent that she’d begun life as a North American Midwesterner. She looked and clearly felt, however, more akin to her brown-skinned career associates than to the flocks of North American tourists who surrounded her. We wondered what, or who, had led her to this path.   And of course, romantics that we are, we wondered whom she went home to when her day of tourist-wrangling was over.

DRAG NOIR: Out this Halloween!

Cover by S. L. Johnson

Cover by S. L. Johnson

 

Drag Noir Cover Artist: S. L. Johnson

Cover by S. L. Johnson

Cover by S. L. Johnson

Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets — faboo artist S. L. Johnson tells us how she came up with her latest eye-catching design for the cover of Drag Noir:

When I was asked to create a cover for the “Drag Noir” antho, it was quite a challenge. “Drag” is a full-on gender-bending costumed performance role, meant to be seen and heard, while “noir” is dark and nefarious, and hidden. Resolving these two ideas in visual form led to a lot of dead-end ideas, and my desire to represent both male & female gender conventions in drag further muddied the creative waters. After several false starts, I decided I would take one face and split it down the middle, with the idea of that the face could be seen as the woman or the man in drag. I felt this was the obvious solution, but in such a graphic, flat form, it would work well. It’s shadowy, a la noir, but with bright red half-lips, and a green face that represents the very made-up faces of drag queens, yet could also be corpse-like in the pulpiest way.

It works, for sure!

Be sure to check out Johnson’s other work which runs the gamut from book and CD covers to posters and more! Including her other noir covers for us.

 

What is Noir?

extricate ebook 72ppiBy Graham Wynd

What is noir? You can Google the term and come up with a bunch of answers, but as librarians will ask you, are you sure you have the right one? I always say I’m a ‘duck test’ sort of person — an out-dated Americanism for recognising ‘communists’ viz. if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck (though Senator McCarthy might have been wise to have looked into more stringent methods).

Most people who like the genre of noir will point to the films with their bleak cityscapes, inky shadows and sudden gun shots. Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart frown with worry, Lauren Bacall and Gloria Grahame show their gams, while Farley Granger looks lost. In novels, Patricia Highsmith’s slippery Tom Rippley worms his way into people’s lives while keeping his intentions hidden, or Dashiell Hammet sends the Continental Op to a seedy location and the blood spills red down the walls.

When I think of ‘noir’ I tend to think of women who don’t see the options and men who make bad choices. The very gendered split of that thought is what led me to thinking about Drag Noir and how people might play with that divide. In the noir world, people invest in the gender divisions because it brings them some certainty in an uncertain and dangerous world.

Buddhists say desire is the beginning of suffering: noir is all about the suffering. And the desire — whether it’s for money or sex or something less certain. Fred MacMurray lusting for Barbara Stanwyck: we know the Double Indemnity story so well. But what about Lily Dillon in Jim Thompson’s The Grifters? Especially as embodied by Anjelica Huston in Frears’ film, she’s hungry and restless as a shark, but nothing really fills it for long. Sometimes there’s a hunger that can’t be fed.

Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take

Till one day they just cut it loose
Cut it loose or let it drag ’em down…

Yeah, that’s noir.

Extricate is out now: buy it Amazon.

A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub.

Weird Noir Carnival at Bouchercon

WEB Final Noir Carnival AMZfinalWeird Noir

Fox Spirit is pleased to announce that we have arranged to hold a celebration WEIRD NOIR CARNIVAL at Bouchercon 2013 in Albany. For those unfamiliar with it, Bouchercon is a moveable feast celebrating the very finest in crime and mystery writing. Consider it the Woodstock for writers in the genre. It runs from the 19th to the 22nd of September in Albany, NY. Guests of honour include Sue Grafton, Anne Perry, Tess Gerritsen and many many more big names (and small!).

Friday afternoon at 1:30 PM we will be holding the “WEIRD NOIR CARNIVAL” with readings, promotional items and some giveaways! Join editor K. A. Laity, and authors Jan Kozlowski and Chris L. Irvin (and maybe some surprise guests!) for the fun and get weird, get noir.

Follow Bouchercon on Facebook — and if you haven’t already done so, drop by our Fox Spirit page and give us a like!

Can’t be there in person? Join our live Google Hangout!

‘Noir Carnival’ Teaser Day 3