My friend Annie wants to throw a Marie Antoinette party in the spirit of the historical figure and the Sophia Coppola film; she asks me to help. It is supposed to be a girly and decadent affair, something light and fun for October. Think tarts, cakes, bubbly pink champagne, dresses, and makeup or hair galore.
I agree to get involved. The idea is just too fantastic to pass up. For research, I flip through the Internet and search for images of Marie Antoinette. I see purity like white. Tiny. Paleness. Accents of yellow. Tea cups. Pinky fingers flexed. Regal is a word that comes to mind. Rich and ladylike are a few others.
I am none of these things.
There is a brief worry about not being girly enough.
What is girly enough?
I don’t know. As a kid, when my sister and I played dress up, I always took on the challenging role of the lady trapped in the closet or the lady who could fit into a suitcase or the lady who has to dance wildly in her footy pajamas for money.
They were always carnival roles, sideshow roles, slapstick roles– all of which never demanded I play “sexy” or “demurely” or “coyly.” In other words, I never played the part of the girly admired lady– I was never in the vein of Marie Antoinette. I was always the lunatic with a paper bag over her head groveling and giggling for her life.
Despite my fear of inadequacy, I continue with planning the party– not only because Annie’s work always inspires me, but also because she is moving soon and there won’t be that many other opportunities left for us to collaborate face-to-face.
I am nervous and happy to soldier on.
Annie makes a gorgeous cake toppling with luscious flowers and colorful fruit. It’s incredible. My main contribution quickly becomes building the Marie Antoinette wig. As an artist, I love building things with my hands– even if it ends up in disaster, which it often does. Time disappears as soon as my fingertips get a bit of glue on them. Also, I think in a past life I lived as a wig master. I just love wigs.
Annie hands me this vintage wooden head form, and I tape bubble wrap around it. I paint the bubble wrap white. Then, I paint six toilet paper rolls white and attach three to each lower side of the bubble wrap. Finally, I attach a yellow piece of ribbon to the top and WHALLAH!
I love the weird crudeness in the marred form.
I love the humor of it falling short of being anything beautiful at all.
I think, oh, this is my own translation of what it means to try and be Marie Antoinette, or be the girly admired lady with status or money. Great, it is a fucked up wig. But, you know what? I don’t care.
I love it because humor is girly.
Art is girly.
And, because these two things are girly, indirectly, I must be girly.
So, now, I can throw out my misconceptions and stop worrying about it.
**If you want to see some beautiful photos Annie took and learn more about the party process, click over to Annie’s lovely blog — Sun & Glory!