By July of 2013 I was beginning to doubt much of the fear and panic I had experienced about being involved in networked publics as a faux queen. With little traffic to my site, I wondered if Agorafauxbia was really that much more visible than she used to be behind closed bedroom doors. It is arguable that she had the potential for vast visibility, but this notion that “everyone can see me” was being offset by “nobody wants to look”. With the private nature of many of my stories and pictures which I share, the notion of “intended audience” comes into play.
Often we consider the internet and those who engage in it to be a huge public space where everything is visible and a sense of privacy is completely unattainable. I would argue that this is true to some extent, however many of our social conventions from RL (real life) interactions spill over into how we engage in networked publics.
I can remember my partner’s sister asking me about the site. We had a conversation something like this:
Her: Have you put anything new up on your website recently?
Me: Yeah, I update the blog twice a month, sometimes more depending on how busy I am.
Her: Ok, I really like reading it. Is that ok with you?
Me: Yeah ofcourse, why wouldn’t it be?
Her: I kind of feel like I’m snooping.
Me: Why? It’s a website.
Her: I know, it’s just… I don’t know, that’s your life and I feel like I’m intruding.
Me: No, it’s not snooping at all. It’s a website and I want it to be read. Please read!
This idea that a person could be snooping or intruding on something private which is placed in a very public space is interesting. I wonder how many visitors to my site turn their head (virtually), when they feel that they may not be the intended audience for my words or images…
Also in July, I was in full scale preparation mode for the upcoming Faux Queen Pageant in San Francisco. It was becoming clear that connecting Agorafauxbia with my personal history and culture was important. I designed my costumes for the Faux Queen Pageant in an attempt to reflect these values. The theme of the pageant was fairy tales, and I wanted to share something from Australia and from my lived experiences.
I choose to create a huge gum nut baby costume inspired by May Gibbs’ SnugglePot and CuddlePie, and for my talent section and caricatured a trashy, rude version of myself when I had worked in a Mexican themed fast food restaurant. For me, drawing on my life histories is an important aspect of my drag. I want it to be autoethnographic; zooming in on the personal to develop a central narrative, and then zooming out to critique more broad social/political concerns. I’m not sure I have quite mastered this in a way which expresses everything I want to the audience.
Using life histories is tricky; there are so many opportunities for misreading and misinterpreting. A wig, a pair of glasses, a word or situation may have particular situated meaning for me, but for others may produce countless alternate meanings. Using life histories at the Faux Queen Pageant was a risk, and I don’t think that it gained the rewards I was hoping for.