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Queer Lady Magician
September 12, 2018 - September 15, 2018
Can an overly honest person be a good magician?
If you failed at something once should you never try again?
And what’s with all these straight White men in Orientalist drag?
Queer Lady Magician tells the story of my first love of stage magic, losing the love from failure, and revisiting my childhood passion as an adult. In the process of doing so, I am forced to confront my demons: impostor syndrome, fear of failure, trauma from emotional abuse.
Interwoven with autobiographical storytelling are acts that politicize stage magic to question norms about magic and society: assumptions about people’s identities based on their appearance, gender stereotypes of (male) Magician and (female) Assistant, cultural appropriation in magic, and much more. Serious social and personal issues are tackled with humour, silliness, saltiness, and heartfelt sincerity.
Through this show, I learn what it means to be a Queer Lady Magician, eventually taking ownership of an artform that has traditionally been dominated by straight cis able-bodied White men and making it queer, feminist, decolonial – by battling internalised and externalised oppression.
Many of us probably grew up with a love of magic – whether it’s watching magic shows on TV or even playing around with magic kits. But, as we know with other media, it can be hard to sustain an interest in something if you don’t see someone like you involved in it. While there is a very strong Asian presence in worldwide magic, especially in countries like India, South Korea, and Japan, stage magic in the West is still overwhelmingly White (with a lot of Orientalism); Asian magicians who are female, non-binary, queer, disabled, or otherwise marginalised are rarer still.
I wanted to see someone like myself in magic – so I decided to *be* that someone. My artistic work has always been very political, so I wanted QLM to be political too, even though politically-tinged magic shows are uncommon. I also wanted to be honest about my fears of manipulation and impostor syndrome – and I’m sure there will be Peril readers that relate.
If you grew up loving magic but couldn’t keep loving it because it didn’t reflect you, I hope this show becomes the magic mirror you wanted. At the very least, come see me skewer Chung Ling Soo’s whole “silent Chinese magician” schtick.
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