In this video exclusive, we’ve gotten the dapperQ back story for a new music video just released by the unparalleled Margaret Cho called “Young James Dean.” The song, written by Girlyman’s Ty Greenstein, is both performed by Girlyman, and lip-synched by a wide range of gender queers, transmen and allies who bring even greater poignancy and power to its words. We’ve titled the piece, “Margaret Cho and a Young James Dean” to imply both parallels between Ty’s presence and Margaret’s production which has served up a veritable cornucopia of young James Dean options. In a blog post about the video, which also describes more about why and how she made it as well as who is featured, Margaret calls the song “a meditation on butch identity.”
When producing this dapperQ piece, and trying to figure out how to bring Margaret into it without having the great fortune of interviewing her myself, I came across the trailer she produced for her “Beautiful” tour. In it, she says, “I always thought that if people were beautiful, people would tell you that you are beautiful, that it’s like a gift that you were given somehow. You couldn’t be beautiful unless someone called you beautiful. Then I came upon the realization that you can call yourself beautiful and then if you say it enough, other people will start saying it. Starting rumors about yourself, and they get passed around, and people start believing them. So it’s this idea of beauty as being kinda like a rumor that becomes true in the retelling.”
I can relate because I’ve spent a lifetime thinking I am ugly. My mom says she never told me I was beautiful because she didn’t want me to get a big head. Three nights after I met Shannon — at a Saturday night concert at the Mich Fest — she told me I was beautiful and my head almost burst. Because she was so stunning, and what was I? Fact is, most dapperQ’s have no idea how gorgeous they are. Ty, for instance, is one of the sexiest women you will ever see on stage (I heard of her appeal from gorgeous femmes like Shannon and our beloved Kate, long before I saw her perform). Ty and I were hiking in New Hampshire one day when she described for me her realization, after years of being a relative social outcast in the Jersey suburb in which she grew up, the astounding realization that “…there were actually girls who like girls like me.”
I can pretty confidently assert that there would be no dapperQ if it weren’t for Ty, her Girlyman bandmates Doris and Nate, and Ty’s amazing partner Genevieve and Shana Agid who is also featured in our video. A shout out also goes to the newest Girlyman, JJ Jones, who blew me away in these interviews. When I met the members of Girlyman a few years ago, I had a real phobia about being with butch women because I hated the parts of me I saw in them. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that on interactive pizza nights with Girlyman and friends, I felt happier than I ever had before. Here were undeniably cool people who loved each other and loved me. And many of them were what the world outside our door would see as freaks…or, dare I say it, girlymen! dapperQ is about fashion, but what it is also about can be found in this brief video. We need each other, and the little cowgirls whose boots are following in our footsteps need us too.