Here Lies Ambivalence

Music, Personal, Theater Add comments

I never thought a photo of Imelda Marcos would ever grace (sully?)  the pages of this blog.  I grew up in Manila during the height of the Marcos authoritarian rule in the late 1970s and 1980s, so, like many Filipinos who were subjected to their unique brand of dictatorial, mercurial, and outrageously self-indulgent rule, I’m not a fan, to say the least.  But I have always had, again like many Filipinos of my generation, a slight tinge of ambivalence towards Imelda Marcos.  With the infamous pairs of shoes, the co-ruler and co-indictee status, the foolishness and delusion, she was infuriating.  But one also had to admire her chutzpah and her fervor in flirtatiously but decisively arm-wrestling the world to take the Philippines, a small archipelago in Southeast Asia, seriously, on a level footing, on it’s own terms, and for the most part, to be successful in doing so during her heyday.  She was, and continues to be, while now living in Manila, seemingly forgiven by a country that threw her out into exile, larger-than-describable-life, and that’s alluring and fascinating.  And for some reason, maybe because of this larger-than-lifeness, not to mention the campiness and the unrepentant divaness, she has definitive gay icon status.  So when I heard that David Byrne (he of Talking Heads fame) and Fatboy Slim were releasing a “concept album” of a possible theatrical piece called “Here Lies Love:  A song cycle about Imelda Marcos & Estrella Cumpas” containing twenty-two songs devoted to the life of Madame and her erstwhile housekeeper/governess, Estrella, I was so curious I had to run out to my favorite Boystown music store stat! (of course, I knew those gays would have a stash of this CD!).  I’m still listening to the music, but  I’m already blown away by the caliber of the mostly female artists Byrne has asked to be on the album, such as Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Cyndi Lauper, Martha Wainwright (Rufus’s sister).  I’ll be writing a more detailed blog post, containing not only my impressions of the album, but also my point of view on Imeldific as a theater subject, in the next week or so.  In the meantime, why don’t you guys take a look at this extremely well-written piece on the creation and evolution (five years in the making!) of “Here Lies Love” from the Times of London, which also contains some interesting points about Imelda’s current “weirdly iconic” status in the arts world. Oh, and I guess New York’s Public Theater is supposedly playing a part in developing this theatrical piece.  Can someone help me get some jaw reconstruction surgery, please?

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