|This set was taken in Kitti Wytchwood's house, perhaps appropriately without her knowledge.|
I've hijacked herhis blog and got kavatah to come pose for this post, because I wanted to talk about some stuff, and it's better if sian doesn't know about it right away. Three years of writing blog posts, and never once have I done it in the first person. Yeah, shehe'll be pissed off with me, probably royally pissed off, for going behind herhis virtual back like this, but I know shehe'll - I hope - eventually understand and forgive me.
I mean, part of it is to do with the mask here. I made it - I mean, I give the credit to sian for this stuff, and that's OK, because the stuff I make in my own name is very different but really it's me that makes it - in a hurry, because the deadline for the April rotation of The Gallery Gift Shop snuck up on me and it was all I could think of. From start to finish it took me two hours, almost exactly. I called it Candida.
I was thinking of Candida de Torquemada, a supporting character from the old 2000AD strip Nemesis the Warlock (she's the main villain's wife). The bolted-on, cruel, industrial look of the thing suited the character's steampunk bondage aesthetic, and the double-arrow symbol reminded me of a similar symbol tattooed on the character's forehead (for Mrs Torquemada, the tattoo was there to indicate the bomb implanted in her brain that would explode if she ever kissed anyone). But see, the name "Candida" has an etymology, Latin via Italian. It means "white", "pale", "pretty" and "honest" (it's also the name of a fungal infection but that's somewhat less relevant here).
A mask called honest. Candid, if you like.
I started with a post promoting my mask (buy my mask! There's a link at the bottom) but I've been thinking about identity a lot recently and it seemed appropriate to talk about who I am and who my avatar in Second Life is. In the first person.
|Note the shadow of two hands falling across the dress, the fake one and the hidden one.|
When I was a teenager - this is about 1991, 1992, so I must have been 15 or 16 maybe - I had this pair of cheap white hi-top trainers. They were horrible. I couldn't afford a decent pair of shoes and one day out of frustration I boosted two cans of car-grade spray paint from my dad's shed, a burgundy one and a bright mustard yellow, and I graffitied the fuck out of them. And then I wore them until they fell apart. Most people were sort of in contempt of them (save one friend's dad who praised me for being an "individual") but they were mine. I made them.
Aged 17, I tried to self-tattoo an elaborate star design on my right hand with a pin and biro ink. Needless to say, it went wrong and septic and scabbed and fell off and now, over twenty years later, I have these isolated dots tattooed on my hand, the only ink I've ever dared to get.
I see these pictures on Tumblr (sian's got a Tumblr, did you know that?) of men, women and persons of ambivalent gender of all shapes and sizes who wear wonderful, creative often home-made clothing and adorn themselves with piercings and tattoos and makeup and who look wonderful, all of them. I am so jealous of these people. The failed tattoo and the graffiti trainers are the furthest I got. I was poor, yeah, but mostly I was afraid, because I knew I would look ridiculous.
Starting at University, I spent some, probably wasted, years running with conservative evangelical Christians (mostly pretending to be like them because I was afraid of being cast out) where creativity was given lipservice and at the same time hated and feared. I moved on from that, but since then, I've dressed square. I've never even have my ear pierced. I don't know how to be flamboyant. I'm not hideous or anything, but it's no lie to say that I am neither handsome nor am I pretty. I can confidently say that no one has ever or will ever look at me on the street in passing and go, "whoa, I'd hit that."
I have nice hands and a voice that falls so squarely between alto and tenor that people who hear my voice without seeing my face often need to be told my gender because an even fifty percent of the time they guess wrong. I used to hate my voice, but recently a lot of people have said they like it with no agenda, so I'm coming to terms with it.
But I'm a parent. I have three beautiful children. I am (I was surprised to discover a year or two ago) very happily married. Yes, I'm bang-in-the-middle bisexual, and so many people seem to think that means I can't actually be happy with someone of the opposite sex, it's not even funny (why is it seen as some sort of betrayal of my sexuality to end up with the part of the bi- that isn't homo-? You only get to be faithful to one person at a time, after all, no matter what sex they are. Biphobia is a strange, slippery thing).
If I am afraid to reveal myself to you, you must understand why.
(Look, I know that there are maybe twelve people who read this blog. Most of you are, if not my friends, sian's friends, so I'm reaching towards something here.)
I was in Second Life for two and a half years before I revealed my true identity to anyone. That was Kitti Wytchwood, who I hope wouldn't mind me saying is now one of my best and closest friends in this life or the second one. Since then I've exposed my true name and face to very few people.
(Part of my reticence is because before sian I had another avatar. With her I did some stupid, ugly things I deeply regret, over and over and over, and in the end I killed her dead. But not before that got her a stalker who soon made the link - wholly due to my fault- to sian. The last time I heard from him was via one of his army of alts, when he offered sian a salary to be his friend. You can't be afraid of something as pathetic as that. You just can't.)
I recall one time, not that long ago, I exposed some facts about who was playing sian to someone, and this person, whom I liked and respected a lot, expressed disappointment. Not anger, not betrayal, disappointment.
And that was harder to handle than straight hostility. I can't help having this fear that my real person - my race, my gender and sex, my face - will disappoint. I mean, I made this avatar, this flamboyant transexual celibate cyborg, antiprivilege personified as a mask because I'd look ridiculous dressing like sian. I have neither the body nor the demeanour to dress like an original, to wear makeup the way sian does or shave my head like sian does (I shaved my head once, about thirteen years ago, and I looked like a potato).
Don't get me wrong, I'm under no illusions about sian being any better than anyone else's avatar (and some of the flat hostility sian's look inspires in people leads me to be anything other than conceited). But sometimes I feel that sian - like a bolted-on metal mask so very hard to take off - has in some ways become a liability to me. Because behind that (to me) glorious figure that gets easily as much abuse as it gets praise is someone who is not beautiful, who feels only marginally talented, and who is afraid of exposure as a fraud.
When sian reads this, shehe's going to kill me.
|You can buy this mask half-price at The Gallery Gift Shop.|
[MetaTheodora] CANDIDA Mask (Gallery Gift Shop, started yesterday); AMBITION Gacha Dress - Deep Red - common (The Secret Affair, still running)
[Pink Fuel] Sora Alabaster skin
[Slink] mesh hands
[Kosh] metallic nails (appliers only)
[Deetalez] Shaved Dragon hairbase