Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (May 1, 1986)
Rita Mae -
comes to Portland
by Pat Scott
From reading the body of work she's pro
duced, knowing her life story, from photo
graphs on book jackets, from magazines and
newspaper articles, one forms a certain blur
red vision. Even in her personal look and
carriage, however, Rita Mae busts stereotypes
— one of her main avocations of life, one
Rita Mae Brown came into the KBOO radio
station for an on-the-air interview, arriving
early. One expects to see “handsome,” but
beautiful is more to the point. One expects to
see “ amazon,” but dimunitive, perhaps 5’4”,
is the reality. One expects “ strong,” and dur
ing the interview the voice is strong, the ideas
as well, but Rita Mae’s small feet are decorated
by fragile-strapped high heels, her lips col
ored with red lipstick. Surprising, too, that,
although very much a Southern writer and
advocate for her South, her accent is slight
(not a “ South Carolina drawl,” I’m told).
Less surprising, I suppose, was the citizen
response, at least among the women of
KBOO, and myself. “ Fawning” is not entirely
appropriate an image, but it’s not far off the
mark, either. Luckily, Rita Mae is a gracious
queen for she could easily take too much
advantage of her court
It’s obvious Rita Mae Brown enjoys herself.
Working turns her on. Ideas and plans for
future work spill out so fast for those of us
hanging on her every word, it’s hard to com
prehend one before she’s on to another. And
after over ten years at this (her first book
published in 1973), she is a pro — polished,
yet warm. She seems the only one unruffled
by the squeeze of her schedule in Portland.
Rita Mae touts the South as well as her
by Sandra de Helen
The Do Jum p Dance Company is unique
in its use of trapeze, dance, movement and
martial arts to create an experience to
remember. In their current run, called
“ Echoes” at the Echo Theatre, Do Jump
remembers and recreates portions of their
first two shows, “ In Case of the Future” and
Choreographer/director Robin Lane has
pulled out her best pieces from both shows
and combined them so the concepts from
the first half create a base for the second half.
The selections from "Creatures" epitomize
the beauty, the wildness, the simplicity and
the fun of the other inhabitants of our world.
The costumes, lighting and music enhance
the dancers’ movements throughout the eve
ning, never more (nor less!) than the opening
number where the dancers hang from the
ceiling so batlike that they’re mesmerizing.
In "Dawn, the Monkeys," the first dancer
visible is Robin herself, lowering herself a
m illim eter per second with such physical
control it’s nearly impossible to be certain
whether she's moving or whether somehow
it's the rest of the world that's moving. This
piece has been completely re-choreographed
for this performance, and it is beautiful. By
the end of the number, members of the audi
ence are bouncing in their seats, aching to
join in the fun with the rest of the monkeys.
I’m convinced “Cat of Prey' is in the show
because Janesa Kruse does it so well. I've
watched dozens of National Geographic spe
cials and they always show cats in the wild
Just O u t. M ay 1986
oevi v iri luv.*
books. She is no longer a feminist writer, or a
lesbian writer, she is a Southern writer. In a
1982 People magazine article, she claimed,
“ Most of the writers come from south of the
Mason-Dixon line. We throw them like litters
down there. You Yankees are too busy mak
ing money.” She is fiercely loyal, and not
much enamoured of the North.
It’s been said that Rita Mae Brown is an
elitist I can’t tell you. She seemed to say all
the right things here, even to making an im
passioned plea on the air for support for “ our
brothers,” men with AIDS.
Because she has been since the beginning
an openly lesbian writer, yet has achieved
celebrity status in this repressive society of
ours, Rita Mae said of herself, “ I am a
miracle!” The sentence hung in the air, a little
tarnished with egocentricity perhaps, and
disturbing, but the truth of it was undeniable.
That Rita Mae Brown has made it and made it
big; that she has not been gunned down by
some fanatic; that, given her background,
she made anything of herself at all — these
are all miracles. And to those of us ushering
her in, that Rita Mae Brown was actually in our
midst was also a miracle.
(Watch the pages of Just Out in the com
ing months for an interview with Rita Mae
sleeping (most of the time), stalking and eat
ing about once every 3 or 4 days, and groom
ing each other upon occasion. Janesa is the
only cat of prey I’ve ever seen act so angry for
no apparent reason. But, she does do it well.
“The Herd" and "The Bug" round out the
first half. Both numbers are audience favo
rites, perhaps because they make people
“ In Case of the Future" is a nightmarish
vision of a world in which we re threatened by
the crowds, the isolation within those crowds,
the punks, the crazies and the very air we
breathe. Five years have passed since its first
performance and somehow the punks and
crazies don't seem as threatening. That’s
balanced by the miracle that we re still
breathing at all what with Union Carbide et al.
So the piece lives.
"The Robots" are more robotic than the
originals and therefore more chilling.
Robin’s “Solo" is more powerful this time
because Robin is more controlled, more
centered. She exudes calm, serenity and
hope. Her costume for this show is very
different from all the other costumes which is
symbolic of a new and different life arising
from the aches of the old.
This year's ending is new and different, too,
but I'm not sure I like it as well. In 1981 the
show ended with a duet by Robin and Janesa.
It ended with hope and love, as expressed by
two women.The current ending has a young,
androgynous child walking through the
futuristic terrain. To me this says, "Our
children are our future." Well, yes. But every
body says that. I'm accustomed to Robin
Lane saying something unique.
In any case, it's a fabulous show. The
dancers (all women) are excellent, the music,
all original compositions by Obo Addy,
Barbara Bernstein. Kiera O'Hara, Bev
Standish and Billy Wyatt. The musicians are
live, and all technical aspects look and sound
Lady" Lisa Lyon
A collection of 125 photographs of the 1979 Los Angeles
Body Building Champion by famed photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe.
"Lisa posed as bride, broad, doll, moll, playgirl, beach-girl,
bike-girl, gym-girl and boy-girl." . . . Bruce Chatwin.
Photographic Image Gallery
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