- Courtesy of Paula Court / PICA
- Dynasty Handbag is here to entertain.
Dynasty Handbag makes a one-woman show look good—in the tackiest way possible. Her performance, Good Morning Evening Feelings, was delivered to a sold-out house at Disjecta on Thursday. In case you’re wondering, “Dynasty Handbag” is the alter ego of Los Angeles-based artist Jibz Cameron, who has been performing as Dynasty Handbag for more than a decade. The easiest comparison for the Dynasty Handbag character would be with Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) from Strangers with Candy: She's over-the-top, campy, whacky, a little deluded, and crude.
“I’m disgusting. So, just know that’s what the show is gonna be like,” she warned as she opened up her set. The show is full of hilarious and notable quotes, and Cameron is a deft improviser. “I hope you didn’t think you were gonna see some ART, 'cause I don’t do that anymore,” she said, adding that it’s all about “entertainment” these days. She went on to make some off-the-cuff jokes about Portland and LA. Talking about LA, she said, “I chose a place (to live) which shouldn’t be a place to live at all. It should be a place to die—a place to go on a quest and die,” and made some jabs at Portland’s beloved local grocery store New Seasons, rolling her eyes at the name, saying, “Ohh, it’s a ‘new season.’ What’s in season? (mumbles) Overpricedness. Ever heard of ‘white nonsense’?”
Dynasty Handbag dresses up as three different guests: a lesbian chef who makes a smoothie out of childhood trauma, a young girl in dance class who grows up to be a Broadway star (who then ages out of show biz, and gets picked up to be on a reality TV show as a B-list celebrity), and also Madonna. All of the costume changes happen onstage, right in front of you, most of them over the top of her nude-colored leotard.
I'll admit, I was predisposed to love this show: I love campy stuff, and I grew up obsessed with both late night talk shows and daytime shows. (I could easily tell when the Sally Jesse Raphael Show was a rerun. My sister and I used to write television variety show programs when we were kids and stage them in a giant cardboard box for our parents.) But ANYWAY, aside from all of the obvious fun, this show also has an agenda. In a piece published on ARTFORUM, Cameron talks about the impetus for the show. “I was thinking about talk shows and how the morning ones are designed to help you have a good day, give you some of what’s going on in current events, maybe show you some helpful hints about how to live better," she said. "But that’s not the kind of morning show I need. I need one that will help me combat the terror of being alive more than giving me a new recipe for a buttermilk pancake. I was also thinking a lot about why women get to do the morning and men get to do the evening shows. There are a lot of reasons for this, I’m sure, and none of them really that good.” There have been a lot of conversations and frustrations about women's lacking presence in late night television over the last several years, and finally it seems we’ll get our female hosts in 2016 (via both Samantha Bee on TBS and Chelsea Handler on Netflix).
Dynasty Handbag was brought to TBA by PMoMA (the Portland Museum of Modern Art), where she also has a current exhibit, which consists of clothes and explanatory drawings. If you didn’t get a chance to see her performance earlier in the week, I’d really recommend checking this out (the show is up through October). With that, I'll leave you with Dynasty Handbag herself, covering Kate Bush.