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Today is the 20th anniversary of the release of Mylène Farmer‘s greatest hit, her anthemic single “Désenchantée.” I’m guessing that a lot of my readers won’t know her music, especially in more Anglophone areas, but she’s sort of the Francophone Madonna: one of the hugest gay icons around the time I was coming out, both in France and Quebec (she is French but was born while her parents were living in Montreal), and like Madonna with much of her fame spurred by her iconic and envelope-pushing videos. (Interestingly, like my other musical idols the Pet Shop Boys, despite not being especially popular in North America her career has endured and she is still a huge hit in Europe.)
I associate her music and this song in particular with 1998 and 1999 and 2000, at the height of her fame (her 1999 Mylenium tour was one of the highest grossing for any non-Anglophone artist) the time I first started meeting other queer kids and going to clubs, when playing “Désenchantée” meant madness on the floor, especially at Ciel! Mon Mardi at Sky which was one of the best nights of clubbing ever (it was before they renovated and while Mado Lamotte was still emceeing). I felt such joy at connecting, finding a place in this great motion; anything was possible.
And it didn’t hurt either that to me the song was an awesome anthem for the age I was and the activism I was getting involved in, or that she bends gender like all-get-out in the videos.
[Trigger warning: scenes of violence, including some apparently directed at a character due to gender presentation.]
And even more so than that were the lyrics to “Sans contrefaçon”:
Tout seul dans mon placard, les yeux cernés de noir
À l’abri des regards je defie le hasard
Dans ce monde qui n’a ni queue ni tête, je ne fais qu’à ma tête
Un mouchoir au creux du pantalon, je suis Chevalier d’Éon
Puisqu’il faut choisir, à mots doux je peux le dire
Sans contrefaçon je suis un garçon
Et pour un empire, je ne veux me dévêtir
Puisque sans contrefaçon je suis un garçon
Anyway, any of her music always brings me right back to that time, the wonder and tremulousness and intensity of my late adolescence and the beginning of my adult life, and especially “Désenchantée.”
This evening I had the opportunity to go see, for the third time, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. If you’ve never heard of this troupe, they perform all-male drag ballet, pointe shoes, tutus, temperament, and all — for more than 30 years now. And they do it wonderfully.
In one of the purest examples of camp I’m aware of, they combine very strong technical virtuosity, erudition, and obvious love of the art to produce a plainly affectionate but screamingly funny send-up of the conceits of classical ballet. It’s highly accessible to non-ballet fans, and amid the parody, the dancing itself is extremely good, sometimes resurrecting nearly forgotten works, and many of the numbers show the dancers’ skills off impressively. Do go and see them next time they’re in town.
On a more serious note, it’s a little fortuitous that I actually had the time to go and see them, since as previously mentioned I’ve been working my gay ass off on Canada’s Bill C-389 on trans and gender-variant people’s rights, which faces its greatest test tomorrow afternoon in Parliament: its final vote in the House of Commons at third reading.
Time is very short, and the last vote in December was quite close. If you haven’t already, contact your MP, or several MPs, and urge them strongly to be both present and voting in favour of the legislation. The vote is expected to take place around 5:30 p.m. Eastern, and you can watch it on CPAC.
Once that’s done, I hope to release my next article within a short time. Sorry for the wait, but things have been pretty hairy around here.