Stage Notes: Brothers and Sisters and Motherfuckers

Tom Murrin
Performance artist Jibz Cameron, one of PAPER's Beautiful People in 2008, has really blown up this year.  Her Dynasty Handbag persona, a character of multiple loopy personalities that insists upon being heard, filled the new Dixon Place during their July Hot Festival.  First-time viewers become dedicated fans, partly because she likes to do something new every time out, but primarily because her flights of  humor and creative face-making are some of the nuttiest stuff you'll ever see.  Her latest, Brothers and Sisters and Motherfuckers, is subtitled: A Dynasty Handbag Holiday Special.  I spoke with Jibz in November.

Hi Jibz.  So is this really a Christmas show?
Well, yeah.  I'm not that big at doing theme shows; that's not how I work best.  But I thought I might challenge myself and take it on.  And what comes natural for me is that family homecoming thing.  That's a sort of narrative that everybody knows, so it's easy to play with.  I had to do this show a little different because it has a lot of video in it.  I had to do the script completely, and then shoot all the video.  I'm in the editing process now.

I remember some of your short videos during earlier shows.  They were always original and well-done.  What's the setting here?
Four guests at the Christmas homecoming dinner; including myself, two sisters and a brother.  I perform as all of them; they're shot on video, and they're actually each a different projection. I'm all the people projected, and I'm Dynasty Handbag too, at the dinner.

 It's sort of a whodunit, because everybody brings something to dinner, and everyone gets sick, and they all point the finger at each other, "You brought the sickness."  And then we learn the dark family secret.

So are these your actual siblings?
The characters are supposed to be loosely based on my family members, but they turned into being exactly like them.  But they are exaggerated versions.  It was very interesting writing them.

So it's just your siblings at the Christmas dinner?
The parents are referred to, but they don't show up, which is kind of like it is with my family.  Mom phones (in the piece) and dad is giant eyebrows that grumble.

Give us an example of something that's going to happen at the dinner table.
When I started to write it, I thought it would be extra-super bizarre, but I realized the regular stuff is weird enough.  Everyone brings something to the dinner, and everything is not quite right; either it's a little inappropriate or a little lame. The family doesn't quite know how to do things right, but they try.  Everything is hanging on to some sort of normalcy, by a thread.  The holiday gathering is indicative of how a family behaves together, but everyone is some sort of a freak, so it's bound to be a disaster.

One sister is very materialistic, and she turns up with flatironed hair.  She looks a little like a "Housewife of New Jersey," and she has seven purses.  The brother is like a Boy Scout military type, who speaks with military jargon and slang, but nobody really understands what he's saying.  The other sister can't stop talking, and she looks like someone from Mama's Family.

How about you as Dynasty Handbag in all this?
That's going to be the hard part.  I almost wrote myself out of the script.  Dynasty Handbag has almost a superiority complex in relationship to her family, and she has to contend with that and the story.  I'm hoping the story will be forgiving  to everybody, including myself.  Dynasty Handbag just sits in judgment on everybody else and makes a lot of fart noises and tries to distract everybody with a lot of bad jokes.  She is trying to diffuse tension by doing some sort of song and dance now and then.

P.S. 122, 150 First Ave., (212) 352-3101. Dec. 15-19. Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Fri. & Sat.,10 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. $15, $20.

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