Friday, September 23, 2011
I don't relish the job of creating a name for a rock group. In the world of naming, much like the perennial complaint of women about available men, it often feels like "all the good ones are taken." Some group names are enigmatic. Others, such as Leftöver Crack and Transgendered Jesus, give a strong impression, and seeing them in person confirms any preconceived notions that WYTIWYG - what you thought is what you get. Why do I say that?
Meet cofounder of Transgendered Jesus, Anne Hanavan, a recovered East Village drug addict and prostitute. Hanavan hails from Buffalo, New York, and came to NYC in the 1980s to attend Fashion Institute of Technology. However, a cocaine habit was followed by heroin addiction. Her career as prostitute began at the downtown strip club, Pussycat Lounge, where she was originally employed as a bartender, then went on to dancing and turning tricks. This eventually evolved to streetwalking on East 12th St. and Allen St. for 8 years.
Anne cleaned up her drug habits and built her life back up, worked various jobs, and later made a foray into short films, taking film classes at NYU. The films deal with themes of growing up Irish Catholic, sex work, drug addiction, and punk rock, and are often sexually explicit.
The group name, Transgendered Jesus, is certainly provocative. In an interview in Artvoice, Anne says:
A transgendered friend of mine had posted a crazy link on Facebook to some transgendered Jesus site, and I thought it was fantastic. It summed up everything I’m about: making your own choices, believing whatever you want to believe, and that nothing has to be black and white.
I did peruse a few websites, and it was clarified that the concept of a transgendered Jesus is not to be associated with sexual orientation, only disposition. I came across statements such as:
Jesus's feminist politics worked in tandem with his transgendered disposition.
Jesus's Transgendered Disposition Always in Plain View!
In flesh, Jesus was the Son of Man but, in spirit, the Daughter of Mary.
The group's shows have elements of performance art, reflecting Anne's background as an artist and filmmaker. The show I saw was in Tompkins Square Park - the outdoor environment was not conducive to the full range of performance elements, including custom video projections, etc. that I understand often accompany their shows. But the music was loud, brash, angry, and not for mainstream tastes. But neither is the image of a Transgendered Jesus :)
Related Posts: WYSIWYG, False Assumptions, Piercing Al Fresco