This is Franca from Oranges and Apples. For today’s Feminist Fashion Bloggers’ event, we are doing guest posts. Jacky, Aly and I were matched up and decided on the theme of musical heroines. I’d actually suggested this topic because I’d wanted to write about the Riot Grrrls, and use it as a way of making myself find out more about them. Then of course I completely ran out of time so I decided to talk about a musical artist I really loved when I was younger: Amanda Palmer.
I bloody loved the Dresden Dolls in my early twenties. Boyfriend Dave randomly found their debut CD on a listening post in a record shop, we didn’t initially know anything about them, but were both big into the music and the imagery on the CD. We’ve seen them quite a few times live, and they’ve always been great, and we’ve also seen her solo three times – they/she always come to Edinburgh in the summer for the festival.
There are many reasons why I like Amanda Palmer, and many of which are feminist, if not in name:
- She’s a fighter. For some strange reason when she went solo, she was signed by Roadrunner Records, a label otherwise representing a load of metal bands. I’m not really quite sure what anyone was thinking when this contract was signed, but unsurprisingly they didn’t really know what to do with her and as I understand it didn’t do much to promote her. They then wanted to edit the music video for the song Leeds United to make her belly look smaller, which she told everyone about via her blog and there was a massive outcry from fans and big body positive campaign for everyone to show their bellies. Eventually it ended up with a massive bustup with the label and a two year campaign to get her to be released from her contract (including this video of her singing ‘Please drop me’ to the tune of Moon River). They did in the end drop her.
- She communicative and incredibly open. The only reason the Roadrunner thing was successful because she’s got the most loyal fans and that’s because she’s incredibly active on the internet, communicating and interacting directly with the fans. There’s tons of fan art on her flickr and it seems like she properly responds to messages. She’s a madly prolific blogger and tweeter and emailer and she will literally talk about anything. She’s talked lots about her dispute with Roadrunner, about having an abortion at 17, date rape, sex and love and her husband Neil Gaiman. It’s such a fearless openness where really nothing is private or staged or edited. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to live one’s life like that, but it does mean that fans can really know her. And that’s where all the massive amount of support she has comes from. Personally I can’t keep up with the constant stream of stuff and still have a life so I have unsubscribed from the emails and I never read the blog, but I can imagine my teenage self would have got well into it if my obsessive following of 1990s indie bands is anything to go by.
- She properly promotes her collaborators. I never get the sense that she’s doing what she’s doing by herself. She’ll always give full credit to the musicians, photographers, designers and artists she works with in a way that I don’t think many people do.
- The music is just really really good. Even with the 7000+ songs on my ipod and a contant stream of new discoveries, I go back to it all the time.
So think she’s pretty cool. I haven’t really paid much attention for a couple of years, because she hasn’t released any new material for ages, and because the last time we went to see her it felt a bit repetitive. But that’s fine, I appreciate that things change and a large part of my being not so interested is that I am no longer an exitable 21 year old with time to spend on being a fangirl. Such is life and it made me think no less of her.
And really I could have left this post at that but I decided out of interest to google ‘Amanda Palmer feminist’. And what I discovered then was not so fun. I had been vaguely aware that her newest project was that she had signed some twins. I had had investigated no further. But as part of my googling I discovered that said twins were in actual fact Amanda and musician Jason Webley, and an elaborate backstory had been made up in which the twins were cojoined, abused as children, been in child porn and circus performers who had run away at 19 and had been plucked from obscurity by Amanda and Jason. That’s them in the picture below.