Behold the goddess known as Cherie Lily. I have been an admirer of hers since I first met her, briefly, in the ladies room of some bar in Austin during South by Southwest, 2010. (Which, technically should make her ineligible for this project since it’s about folks I’ve never met but nobody cares so there). She was wearing a spandex get-up not unlike the one you see pictured below, and washing her hands. I walked in with my friend and exclaimed, “Great outfit! You look awesome!”, to which she replied, “Hey thanks, I’m performing upstairs if you’re interested!”, and I was too embarrassed to tell her I had no money to see any ticketed shows; I was only there to catch the free performances on the outskirts of the SXSW event…so I just peed and left it at that.
Cut to two days later when my friends and I went to see the free GWAR show, and among the day long line-up of performers, there she was! Cherie Lily, onstage with Andrew WK, aerobic dancing and looking like a neon spandex glamour queen. In between songs, the audience was treated to multiple aural doses of positivity, feeling good, loving yourself, and being beautiful no matter what anyone says.
Does that sound hokey?
Well then go fuck yourself.
Sorry, harsh. What I mean is, if that sounds hokey it’s probably because self-acception/celebration is an unfamilliar concept to you. And that is sad. Forget what your family/acquaintances tell you and embrace your body, your dreams, all of it.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
This attitude in mind, I started with a felt hat from a vintage collection I received as a gift from a friend (more about that in the future), a bright kelly green one because of the strength represented in that hue. It had some wear and tear; I re-pressed it ad gave it a new shape, but some of the small pock marks couldn’t be erased. That’s ok, I thought, they’re the small imperfections which document a full life lived.
I placed the taxidermy accent pieces under a studded flap on the side of the hat; chicken feathers, red squirrel tail, dyed deer tail, and some blue dyed feathers which I acquired with another vintage hat. When worn, this would be the straight-on view:
It’s on the small side, meaning that it’s more like a fascinator since it won’t fit snugly on the head; it will need to be set in place with combs or a hair pin. I sewed two combs on the inside, envisioning her pulling it back over her thick hair and it resting in place. But, this is an unsolicited gift for a woman I can’t even say I know, so all I can do is touch wood and hope it works out on her head. I did get a thank you email from her this morning, all full of kind and gracious words, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe it didn’t fit well enough. Alas, she said she can’t wait to wear it so I’ll eagerly await any possible sighting of her in this little ditty.
Finally, as a detail, I incorporated an old wrestling pin I rescued from the trash heap in my brother’s room. The ten year old in me can’t help but chuckle at the homoerotic-ness of these two spandex clad men in such an embrace, and I thought, as a gay icon, she would appreciate it.
As a gay man with lady parts, I know I can.
Let me know if you see her wearing it, New Yorkers!
And thanks Cherie Lily, for inspiring self-confidence in little freaks like me who never felt they could possibly fit into any of the factory modeled forms provided.