Marco Marco: Going Against the Heteronormative Grain

Marco Marco has been a buzz word in the fashion industry since his beginning in 2000. Having styled movie stars and pop artists, the brand Marco Marco enjoys making a big statement and utilizing pop icons to display extravagant pieces of fashion that has redefined modern fashion. The start of its fame began in 2013 when a video of the Collection 2 Runway was posted on Youtube. The fashion show launched a social media craze when the show began and the models were not slender female models and hyper masculine male models, but actually drag queens and transgender women modeling the dresses and gay men, thicker models, “vogue-ers”, and transgender men modeling the underwear and hoodies.

Marco Marco is renowned for his use of geometric shape, neon color, and form fitting clothing. His clothes, unlike the haute couture brands of modern fashion, are made specifically for the personalities wearing them; meaning each garment fits perfectly with the style and body shape of the model wearing it.  Yes, all fashion runway clothes are made to fit their models, but Marco Marco makes it apparent that with his clothing he is trying to emulate the personality of the model. For example during an interview with The Huffington Post Marco himself said the following about what started his whole perspective in fashion and the use of non-traditional models, “There is a (drag) queen named Vicky Vox… All I wanted was for her to open the first show, and when she said yes, that was the first seed… It’s also nice to give credence to a social group that doesn’t get the appropriate type of attention they (drag queens) deserve. I wanted a legitimate opportunity for my friends to show the world what being a ‘bad ass bitch’ is really about.” Through his experience of watching Vicky perform he became inspired by what she does daily: perform. The bright lights and atmosphere of where he saw her perform became an inspiration for him and he knew he had to make a clothing line inspired by it starring her as the entrance look. Marco Marco succeeded in combining his style with the character of an LGBTQ+ icon from the beginning of his show when he styled Vicky in a beautiful robe and bathing suit that she would wear off the runway as her character.

The use of LGBTQ+ models in Marco Marco’s runways makes a giant statement on heteronormativity. Utilizing models who aren’t all the same shape and size pushes the boundaries of what his fashion can do. He is making a statement on what fashion and gender is when he styles drag queens and transgender women in extravagantly colorful gowns and masculine and feminine gay men in underwear with full faces of makeup. For the aforementioned reasons, Marco Marco’s playfulness with the gender binary and the normativity of feminine women and masculine men in the fashion world has revolutionized the fashion world and redefined what is “normal” in fashion today.

 

Slam Poetry, Walt Whitman, and the LGBTQ+ Community

Slam poetry first arose in the 1980’s in small cafes in big cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. Its creator is believed to be Chicago construction worker and poet Marc Smith (known as Slam papi) who started a poetry reading series in a Chicago jazz club looking for a way to refresh the open mic poetry scene and let off steam. The purpose of slam poetry was originally to discuss social and political issues that aggravated the performer; it was a way to release aggression and address those who exasperated the performer. Today slam poetry has become a means of self-expression and emotional ventilation for the majority of the population especially the LGBTQ+ community worldwide.

As slam poetry has been historically tied to proclamation of social and political wrong doings, it has become one of the leading forms of emotional outlet for the LGBTQ+ community.  The current slam poetry scene has seen many breakout LGBTQ+ poets such as Elliot Darrow, Karen Grace, Denice Frohman, and Steven Boyle. The content of their poetry becomes very impactful as it is obvious that the words they are saying have come from personal experience and from a place of fear, or anger, or sadness that lies somewhere within them. The topics they discuss in their poetry covers a very wide spectrum. In Elliot Darrow’s God is Gay and Karen Grace’s Push: A Holy Thursday religion becomes a starting point of emotional turmoil in their rage filled free verse. Others such as Denice Frohman’s Dear Straight People angrily calls for justice and acceptance for the gay community from straight people; while Steven Boyle’s Modern Meltdown (I Hit Send) discusses the stresses that come with finding love in the gay community. All of these are  examples of how the LGBTQ+ community has found solace in slam poetry.

Walt_Whitman_by_Mathew_Brady

 

Slam poetry as a whole can be related to the works of Walt Whitman. As one of the pioneers of free verse poetry, Walt Whitman did the same thing that Marc Smith did. Tired of the classical structure of poetry (rhyming, classical rhyme scheme, etc.) he created poetry that did not require rhyme but still carried a rhythm. In his collection of works Leaves of Grass many of his pieces are seen as homoerotic, specifically his most popular piece In Paths Untrodden. With lines such as “From all the standards hitherto publish’d, from the pleasures, profits, conformities; Which too long I was offering to feed my soul; Clear to me now standards not yet publish’d, clear to me that my soul; That the soul of the man I speak for rejoices in comrades…” Here Whitman is saying that he has been pushing away from the life he knows he wants and finds solace in the presence of homosexuality within himself and his comrades. This poem was viewed as his coming out poem by the majority of the population and also broke boundaries with its lack of rhyme and rhyme scheme just like the origins of slam poetry.

“Till Death Do Us Party” by Adore Delano

Till Death Do Us Party is the debut album of drag queen, singer-songwriter, and television personality from Season 6 of Rupaul’s Drag Race, Adore Delano (Danny Noriega). Released June 3, 2014, this eleven track album quickly gained popularity peaking at Number 59 on the US Billboard Top 200, Number 3 on the US Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums, and Number 11 on the US Billboard Independent Albums in 2014. Till Death Do Us Party was the first of hopefully many more serious projects by Adore Delano, and was received with open and eager arms by the public during its release.

Although most albums made by past Rupaul’s Drag Race contestants have been well received by the public, Adore Delano’s album Till Death Do Us Party was the first to involve personal experience and performance to emphasize the life of a young aspiring drag queen. Some songs on the album such as Party and Hello, I Love You are based on her high school experiences as a gay boy growing up in California. Party is about her nostalgia for her high school days; she was young, gay, and not afraid of gender binaries.

Hello, I Love You is Adore’s homage to herself as a gay boy in high school. In Let the Music Play, an online show produced by WOWPresents, she describes the song meaning as, “Me – when I was in high school. I was basically in love with this guy … he came up to me and gave me his number because he thought I was a girl and I assumed he loved me.” I Look Fucking Cool ft. Alaska Thunderfuck is drawn from the criticisms that came from within the drag community after she left high school. Being constantly judged by the “polished” queens of the industry is not something she was concerned about. This song was her smack back at those queens telling them that she does not care what they have to say about her because she knows she looks beautiful even if she is not a cookie cutter image. All of these songs and others come together in a collection of self-love, expression, performance, and nostalgia that is Till Death Do Us Party.

As a drag queen Adore Delano has branded herself as a female in the entertainment industry even though she is biologically male. The drag persona “Adore Delano” and the man underneath “Danny Noriega” represent two halves of a whole person. This album served as the ultimate form of gender performativity for Adore Delano. In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler states “Performativity of gender is a stylized repetition of acts, an imitation or miming of the dominant conventions of gender.” Adore utilizes this method of gender performativity just as many other drag queens do. Her persona is based off of a ditzy young girl who is boy crazy but increasingly confident. In her school years she saw the acts of female classmates and has combined them into her drag persona today. She is a gender performance.