Subcultures and Suburbia

As a storyteller, I delight in taking disparate elements and weaving them together to tell a (sometimes) coherent tale.

These past weeks, I have been obsessed with a sultry summer single released by one of the pre-eminent pop artists of our times, an Emmy-award winning reality-tv series, and my own penchant for scribbling out lines of verse. Without further ado…

Lemons

Fetish by Selena Gomez is an audio-visual treat, that is sure to set pulses racing. Gomez sings about a languid fascination that her lover has towards her, likening it to an eponymous sexual fixation. In the Petra Collins-directed music video, she carves out the titillating experiences of a frustrated middle-class housewife.

The sun-washed music video conjures up ready images of balmy California, and has us yearning for a summer escapade (in more ways than one).

The video dabbles heavily in surrealism. Gomez sings her verses at a decadent dining table as it starts raining inside her house. She fondles, and tastes, a medley of unusual items ranging from soap to an eyelash curler. She finishes by exploring a cooling unit, where she traces patterns amidst crates of frozen peaches. Gucci Mane is also featured in the video, as he raps his corresponding verses in a smoky subterranean basement.

Diverse sources of inspiration have been cited for the video, ranging from cult classics to Vogue photoshoots. As a much-reluctant psychology graduate, Freudian principles leap out at me as well. The video’s playful allusions to being ‘orally-fixated’ are obvious, and are presented in an interesting and artistic way…

Mohawks

I must confess that it was only a month ago or so that I got hooked on RuPaul’s Drag Race. And I must re-iterate: I. Am. Obsessed!

If you are ever in need of a good laugh, over-the-top extravagance and creativity, and a sense of genuine joie de vivre, look no further than Drag Race. Having wrapped up nine seasons, and two special versions of All Stars, the programme has quickly captivated diverse audiences to become a much-loved classic. Indeed, the Guardian ranked it highly in a list of entertainment that will bring some much-needed happiness and optimism into your life.

In its most-recently concluded season; New-York based artist, creative director and drag queen Sasha Velour was crowned ‘America’s Next Drag Superstar’. Throughout the competition, Sasha brought an uniquely personal and delightfully creative approach to her drag; which was especially reflected in her outfits and accessories, that which strongly marked her out from the rest.

In an episode that called for the queens to parade their ‘big hair’ down the runway, Sasha went against the stream of glamorous pageant queens donning their best coiffed wigs by donning a gravity-defying Mohawk and a revealing leather outfit in homage to Brooklyn’s underground punk subculture. She sure knew how to make a statement, and it was guaranteed to be one of the most-memorable looks on the runway!

Verses

And to conclude, I will leave you with a poem from a small collection that I am working on. It is tentatively to-be titled Summer, and will feature plenty of seductive imagery that is bound to captivate. On a further note, inspiration for the series comes from both classic and underground Americana and sub-culture…

I hope now that that brings this article to a satisfying conclusion as I had hoped for!

Bougainvillea Baby

Daddy had an angina,
Sharp pain, pin-prick slash,
He buckled forth, in his drugstore suit,
Fell forth, brief-case split,
Target haul off forty-fourth street,
Chain link-fence with weed underneath,
Split paper bags; come unlikely wreath.

Daddy worked nights,
And afternoons, when the light slanted low,
Slash of courage to call a woman like me,
Baby-pinked briefs, pantyhose ripped,
His bristles telling me tales, of lessons skipped,
Throbbing through plate-glass, a finger he licked,
Stuck in my hair.

Bougainvillea Baby, riding low,
Skimming tarmac and curve balls and edges all glo’
We ran on our own down Compton parties,
Found the quiet dignity in bougie boulevards.
I sang of samsara, everywhere I go,
Till one afternoon when the light flaked so,
I saw light down by a slaked-lime door.

We went by Fifty-fifth street, with the afternoon call,
Swaying cypresses, hushed in their boughs.
Crouched by the grave, of a man who loved
He was never one for flowers, so I took care,
Dropping a record; Billy Joel he liked,
That evening, to lost summer touch,
I found my salvation and laid it bare.

(Dilshan, 2017)

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