Actor Slash ModelJanuary 25, 2008
ACTOR SLASH MODEL plays at Reggies Music Joint (it’s new and has great food!), 2105 S. State St.
one block east of the Chinatown Red Line stop this Sunday, January 27, 7 pm with Johnny Rumble and The Polymer Twins!
Actors Slash Model was awarded a Fire This Time grant in Dec 2007 to make a documentary film about trans-identified musicians. Read about their project in the San Fransicso Bay Times!
(Full article after the jump)
Accompanied by filmmaker Malic Amalya, the Chicago-based band Actor Slash Model toured the West this summer playing queer-and trans-friendly venues and creating a space for other trans musicians to share in a combined music and filmmaking experience. The film project, scheduled for completion in 2009, will weave live performances with interviews of transgendered musicians like San Francisco’s Lipstick Conspiracy, Anderson Toone and Katastrophe.
The trans guys behind Actor Slash Model, Simon Strikeback and Madsen Minax, (actorslashmodel.com) describe their band as “mega-queer, trans-centric and kink-aware.” Their 2007 album Cheap Date includes witty songs like, “TN Tranny Two-Step,” and “SM Cowboy.”
“We’re queer and kinky and funny,” says Strikeback. “Queers of all kinds can identify with us because our use of humor resonates deeply. There’s something precious about seeing performers that are emphatically out and loud about it.”
Minax, who sings and plays upright bass for the band identifies as “just a guy, with an exceptionally high voice,” while singer and ukulele player Strikeback says, “I’m trans and queer – and a pervert.”
They see the documentary as an antidote to representation of trans people that focuses on struggle and victimization. “Part of our work with this film,” Strikeback notes, “is to recognize that trans identity is not tragedy. Trans people live meaningful, successful lives.”
Still, they contend there’s nothing that inherently distinguishes trans artists. “All creative people, not just trans identified, have encountered experiences throughout their lifetimes that have given them something to drive on. A transgendered identity is simply one more experience.”
In addition to performing and filming, Minax and Strikeback distribute educational information compiled by Chicago’s Broadway Youth Center, aimed at young people considering transition, and their friends, families and allies. “We also travel with mountains of safer sex packets including condoms and lube,” Minax admits. “A lot of our music is very pro-sex and embraces sexual kinks. We feel a certain responsibility to offer the necessary precautions.”
Minax has collaborated with numerous artists and been a member of the bands Val Paraiso, Teenwolf and the Archivists. He dabbles in video, illustration and graphic design. In the guise of TheAwkwardKid.com he’ll do all that, and more, including: “get you a hella fat refund on your taxes – score your film – give you a punk tattoo – [or] pierce your left nipple.” Minax also collaborated with Chicago based comic artist Becca Taylor on a film he describes as “an overt mockery of contemporary masculinity through animated line drawings and a comedic soundscape.”
A classically trained pianist and bass clarinet player, 27-year-old Strikeback began playing tenor sax in ska bands while still in high school, and continued doing so through his 2001 band, Alpha Skool. Then he spent three years in a Tennessee queer arts community, where he taught himself to play the ukulele and began singing, which prepared him for his role in Actor Slash Model.
As an activist, Strikeback has been involved with social justice organizating around workers’ rights and LGBT visibility. Now he’s involved with Chicago’s Critical Resistance (criticalresistance.org), a prison abolitionist group. From 1999-2005, he was a lead organizer with Camp Trans, the organization fighting for openly transgendered women to gain entrance to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
“The work that I do,” Strikeback explains, “particularly around issues of trans women’s inclusion in feminist spaces, is specifically about narrowing a chasm that pits non-trans lesbian feminists and trans lesbians and/or feminists against the other. The pushing of trans women out of spaces dedicated to feminist empowerment runs against the basic tenants of feminism. I like to say, “When Andrea Dworkin said biology does not equal destiny, I assume she meant it.”
Strikeback traces the rift between some feminist and trans women to a belief in the scarcity of rights: “The root of chasms between those in the center of any given progressive ideological practice, and those in the margins, is the fear that those things fought for and won will be lost. I’ve heard lesbian feminists in my community lament about the disappearance of women’s bookstores and then blame it on trans women.”
Actor Slash Model will be performing, filming and conducting interviews in Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ind. Nov. 9-12. Next April they’ll begin another leg of their documentary tour, and they encourage trans-identified musicians living and working on the East Coast to contact them.
Trans writer, Jacob Anderson-Minshall, co-authored Blind Leap, the second book in the Blind Eye Mystery series, is available now. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Anderson-minshall.com for more information.