This past Monday I was invited to a benefit reading of Venus a new work by Suzan-Lori Parks (Top Dog Underdog; Getting Mother's Body). Having done a ton of research on Hottentot Venus, the artist formerly known as Saartjie Baartman, I knew the back story but even with that knowledge in my pocket I was still left mesmerized and deeply moved by Suzan's interpretation and intensity. Yeah I know she got a MacArthur Genius Grant but seriously she is so crazy fricking smart b/c she knows how to connect history and make it relevant to not only current events but to our human psyche and spirit and that's eternal and that why her writing always resonates so crunkly for me. For info on Hottentot Venus check this site out and of course Wikipedia and I really liked this online art project on her too! The woman who played Saartjie (Bridgit Antoinette Evans) was incredibly entrancing. I felt her pain, and sometimes even, figured her pain was somehow mixed-in with Saartjie's. Her tears were real. And her portrayal had to be honest and complex cause Parks's depiction of this Hottentot Venus was not simply as a victim, but as this sister who could flow in French, liked chocolates and so desperately just wanted to be more than the other woman-- she wanted to be truly loved by the doctor who had bought/ rescued her from the circus (literal and symbolic) of her life. So much so that according to Parks' dramatization, she was a bit complicit in her own exploitation. That part had me bugging because in all of my undergrad theorization of the Hottentot Venus phenom, I NEVER saw her as being a hustler, but in this presentation it worked and reminded me of how girls nowadays get caught up whether it be the video chick or the girl around the way who wants some man's attention. It was deep y'all.
Talking about Black women's bodies. It looks like the controversy over Idol pics and whose naked image gets her tossed and whose image gets her fan sympathy continues to boil. Go get em Frenchie!