Is it possible to perform the reversal of a reverse striptease? Not when you are Narcissister. In her piece, Everywoman, she did not merely don clothing; rather, before covering her body in them, she extracted stockings and a dress from her sexual orifices. Narcissister subverts our expectations of stripping, blurring the lines between flesh and surface, internal and external, highlighting the impossibility of nakedness. In the video, Vaseline, Narcissister inverts Everywoman, confronting us with a rockabilly character in pumps and a leather jacket, coiffed in a shiny headpiece reminiscent of Elvis Presley’s famous ‘do. You’ve rubbed it on your lips in winter; it has offered you reliable lubrication during memorable romps. Smeared on the hair and shoved in the ass, Vaseline creates for Narcisssister both surface shine and sexual lubricant, acting as both repellant and invitation. Vaseline presents slippery transitions of costume, gender, and species, such that Narcissister consumes her own dick and balls, only to be replaced by merkin and a canine threat, ready to pounce. In this violent transgendering, unafraid of penetration by dildo or knife, Narcissister offers us a staccato glimpse into what it could mean to tame one’s own beast. By calling upon the mixed mid-century sound and image of the rockabilly type, adorned—and subsequently stripped of—clearly delineated black and white checkered clothing, Narcissister’s exploration of transgender and trans-genre is haunted by America’s ghosts, the brutality of racialized laws of segregation and miscegenation. Ever behind a mask, you will never see Narcissister’s face. You will, however, be invited to wonder what kinds of fires are being put out in her ass.
-Ariel Osterweis, 2013
Courtesy of the artist, 2010