September 30, 2004

Bleeding Art, Minus the Tampon

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by Freda Ready Red Letter Daze Staff Writer Alix Olson wants you to know that her ‘art forgot her tampon and she”s bleeding through her jeans.’

No one was safe last Thursday, when Olson came to Barnes Hall to spread her message of discontent and progressive rage with Pamela Means and her ‘safro.’ (Sappho. Afro. Get it?) ‘You cannot be afraid of being called the same names as the women before you,’ she told the nearly at capacity audience.

She demanded attention at every moment as she declared war on capitalism, social injustice, and Bush (George, that is).

In fact, as a lesbian in her late-20s, much of Olson”s work is avidly pro-bush of the non-presidential sort.

‘If it”s dick you”re after, darlin”, try my top dresser drawer,’ she told an fictitious straight woman in a performance of ‘Cute for a Girl.’

There”s no doubt that watching Olson”s performance is a good time. Her challenging rhetoric and unmatched energy are fun to watch and provide a pleasant alternative to say, working at The Sun.

One of her more entertaining pieces, ‘America”s On Sale,’ called to attention the ‘9 to 5 folk, cell-phone masses, the up and coming classes,’ as well as the ‘sports-utility, plastic-surgery suburbanites, Viagara-popping, Gucci-shopping urbanites’ and the ‘George-Clooney loonies, promise-keeper sheep, stockbroker sleep-walkers, big investment talkers, Ricki Lake-watchers,’ and what she called the ‘Walmart congregation, shop til you drop generation,’ in other words, just about everybody in the audience, and demanded that they pay attention to the fact that ‘America”s being downsized, citizens, and you”re all fired.’ Olson started her career as a slam poet, and it shows. First and foremost is her performance, aided by the soothing groove coming out of Pamela Means” guitar, and the poetry is a far second. Watching her perform for two hours is entertaining, but not because what she says is particularly illuminating or original. Her jokes often feel recycled, and anyone who has seen her perform more than once can tell you that, in fact, they are.

The poems themselves are somewhat repetitive, especially after more than ten of them. But, what makes her shows so enjoyable is the energy that seems to rush across the audience like a tsunami coming from the stage — an energy that is largely of the sexual sort. And let”s get real, who doesn”t like thinking about sex for two hours? The way she gyrates through almost every word as she makes eye contact with individual members of the audience forces Biblical thoughts. When she”s not actually talking about sex or gyrating, even her political metaphors seem to take on a lascivious meaning.

‘I am just one citizen with my hands tied behind my back, and this is why I use my teeth and tongue to attack,’ she declared.

After her performance and a question and answer session that started with someone from the audience handing her a thank you note, Olson sat down with The Sun and chatted about her clothes (she performs in whatever”s clean), her marital status (she doesn”t believe in marriage, but ‘the government has no business patrolling love. Five people should be able to get married if they want.’), activism on campus (she sees more awareness about the trans movement across the country and pointed to the audience member who referred to himself as a ‘bio-boy’ during the question and answer session as an example), MFA programs (she doesn”t have an opinion), and practice time (performances are practice). After all, her art”s just built like that.

Archived article by Freda Ready
Red Letter DAZE Staff Writer