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Vaginal Davis – new paintings and videos from the 80s and 90s

The work of drag superstar Vaginal Creme Davis, or, as she sometimes prefers to be called, Dr. Davis, spans several cultural production genres. It also appropriates, terroristically, both dominant culture and different subcultural movements. Davis first rose to prominence in the L.A. punk scene through her infamous zine ‘Fertile Latoya Jackson’ and through her performances at punk shows with her Supremes-like backup singers, the Afro Sisters. ‘Fertile Latoya Jackson’s first incarnation was as a print zine that presented scandalous celebrity gossip. The zine was reminiscent of ‘Hollywood Babylon’, Kenneth Anger’s two-volume tell-all history of the movie industry and the star system’s degeneracy. The hand-stapled zine eventually evolved into a video magazine. At the same time as the zine became a global subcultural happening, Davis’s performances in and around the L.A. punk scene, both with the Afro Sisters and solo, became semilegendary. She went on to translate her performance madness to video, starring in various productions that include ‘Dot’ (1994), her tribute to Dorothy Parker’s acerbic wit and alcoholism; ‘VooDoo Williamson: The Dona of Dance’ (1995), her celebration of modern dance and its doyennes; and ‘Designy Living’ (1995), a tribute to Noel Coward’s ‘Design for Living’ and Godard’s ‘Masculine et Feminine’.

According to Davis’s own self-generated legend, her existence is the result of an illicit encounter between her then fortyfive- year-old African American mother and her then twenty-one-year-old Mexican American father. Davis has often reported that her parents only met once, when she was conceived under a table during a Ray Charles concert at the Hollywood Palladium in the early 1960s.

Taken from ‘The White to Be Angry’: Vaginal Davis’s Terrorist Drag’, Jose Esteban Munoz ‘Social Text’, No. 52 / 53, Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender. (Autumn–Winter, 1997), pp. 80–103.

Dan Gunn

United Kingdom

+49 174 246 7251

Shown at LISTE:

Vaginal Davis, 1969, US