Legacy Russell, First Kiss / Last Dance, 2011

Legacy Russell
Oct 30, 2012 12:26PM

First Kiss/Last Dance is, first and foremost, an exploration of body politic. It takes a look at a 1980s clip of the TV show and host Geraldo interviewing the (in)famous "Club Kids" of New York (most notably, Michael Alig, who went to prison for murdering another Club Kid during the 80s; and Ru Paul, who got his start within the context of the "Club Kid" era) and intersperses parts of that very public interview with more private and reflective moments of visual narration. The short starts off with a shot FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), whose role on the 1990s-era David Lynch-directed TV show Twin Peaks was to investigate the murders and strange happenings taking place within a town called Twin Peaks; however, his job becomes complicated when the lines between dream and reality and fantasy and fiction become increasingly blurred and intertwined with the lives of those he encounters throughout his journey. 

The dream-space within Twin Peaks is an important place of revelation for many of the characters. Here, Special Agent Dale Cooper's dreams are occupied by a conversation about the rites and rituals of gender and sex, the preparation and presentation of the physical form, and public versus private action, the stage for which is first set by Geraldo's talk show.  

The other narrative that twines itself throughout this piece is an internal monologue from Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 film 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle (2 or 3 Things I Know About Her). The film is an exploration of the lives of women whose husbands/colleagues and counterparts encourage them to sell their bodies in order to maintain a high standard of living. These soliloquies, or internal monologues, voiced by Godard himself, express in whispers the internal warring of human nature as caused often by the external pressures that press upon the characters within the film—politics, culture, capitalism, consumerism, gender, sex, society, propaganda, advertisement. The film itself is an acting metaphor about what, at the time, was a growing presence of advertisement and its impact on and manipulation of female desire. What these clips say quietly, the audience members and Geraldo voice aloud, mirroring one another as the frame shifts back and forth between the two. Through Special Agent Dale Cooper's dream-space, we find ourselves audience within a commercial world, during a period of time where the tropes and laws of reality television had not fully taken form (and during which the talk show, as a format, played an integral role in informing daytime viewers—often women—across the nation about those outside of their immediate frame(s) of reference), engaging via the questions from Geraldo's audience in a coded conversation about othering and about the choices one makes when entering a world wherein there are no limits to what people will consume. 

 The music is a song from Twin Peaks, by a singer named Little Jimmy Scott, who made an appearance on the show. This song is called "Sycamore Trees". Little Jimmy Scott was an interesting case when it came to gender, as due to a rare genetic condition (Kallmann's Syndrome) he had his reaching puberty was delayed, which resulted in him having what many called a "high-pitched" or "feminine" voice on recorded vocals.

Legacy Russell