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Our Daily Breather: Fayette Hauser Recommends Online Craft Parties

Fayette Hauser
Fayette Hauser

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Fayette Hauser

Where: Los Angeles, Calif.

Recommendation: Making art with friends online

When the first news of the coronavirus surfaced, I wanted to close the door and never come out; I was that panicked. I had terrible bronchitis last year and I thought this bugger would kill me for sure. I found my stash of latex gloves for when I henna my hair and my acupuncturist gave me two surgical masks, so I thought I was all together, ready for battle.

Then came the lockdown. I'm not one to feel lonely, but I was immediately put in touch with a feeling of utter aloneness here in my apartment. No going out! But what happened was this great outpouring of online community from all my artist friends who are wildly performing on platforms that I hadn't even heard of. It was like a series of exclusive parties were going on, and of course, I wanted in.

My introduction into Zoom came from my dear friend Janis Siegel who was hosting Zoom cocktail parties with people from all over the place, including Brazil. She initiated me into my virgin Zoom experience. I could barely hear what she was saying as she was flipping the backgrounds so much it made me dizzy.

Then my friend Shannon said, "We're doing a crafts night on Zoom, I'm fixing all my costumes that are missing pieces. Join us." Like an old-fashioned Sewing Bee or a night on speed just before a Cockette show when we had to ram-jet our outfits, but we just weren't all in the same room, so to speak. But in rooms on Zoom. I feel so avant-garde.

Fayette Hauser in her mask
/ Courtesy of the artist
Fayette Hauser in her mask

Joining us was Alina who works with her beloved snakes and performs with the Vau de Vire Society. The project of the day was to embellish our protective masks to present a very festive public face. Why be boring when you can decorate? But when I caught a glimpse of Aline's large darning needle held aloft, I said, "Stop! You can't penetrate the mask with a needle. These little buggers are microscopic, the mask won't protect you then."

Out came the tacky glue. The masks that emerged are hilarious. Aline had some googlie eyes to go with a mustache and a bit of hair at the top and a sequin third eye in the center. Shannon's mask was becoming cubist, with bits that seemed to move. And I used my black sequin zig-zag trim to create an Art Deco gentleman, also with mustache. I think we preferred presenting a crazed gentlemanly air to the public.

Fayette Hauser's friend, the performer Shannon Gaines, in her mask.
/ Courtesy of the artist
Fayette Hauser's friend, the performer Shannon Gaines, in her mask.

Most of my friends are performers and, not taking a breath other than to get the tech together, they have taken their art online. Shannon and Mike Gaines head Vau de Vire Society, a premier performance group in the Cirque tradition, with a Cockette twist as they're in San Francisco, home of the Freaks. Last Saturday, they presented an online show on Twitch (whaaat?) and Zoom where you could enter over 20 rooms to see performers doing aerial, contortion, dance, a game show and bingo! It was so freaky, funny and beautiful, especially since they were all in their apartments. So, I implore you to mark down the date, May 30th (the day before my birthday), for Vau de Vire's "Voila!" Then, the day after, I may have my own Zoom birthday party, cocktails and all.

In the meantime, I'll be looking over my drag to see what I'll be wearing when I do my next big Zoom event. Drag is everything you know, wherever you may present yourself. We may have to have another Zoom Sewing Bee.

Fayette Hauser is an artist and co-founder of the avant-garde experimental theater troupe The Cockettes. She recently published a book about the group called The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, 1969-1972.

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