On Thursday, June 30, performance artist Jibz Cameron — aka Dynasty Handbag — brings her performance event Weirdo Night from Los Angeles to New York City in the latest iteration of the Jewish Museum’s late night program The Wind Up. Also open for viewing on Thursday evening will be the exhibition Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History, which delves deep into the American fashion designer’s unconventional design choices, irreverent sense of humor, and collaborations with performance artists such as Mark Morris and Sandra Bernhard. Ahead of her performance at the Jewish Museum, we interviewed Dynasty Handbag on the role of fashion in her performances, the joy that is Weirdo Night, and what Wind Up attendees can look forward to on Thursday night.
The Jewish Museum: Who is Dynasty Handbag and what inspired you to create this alter ego?
Dynasty Handbag: She’s/it’s/them’s a pretty much insides on the outside. I consider her more of a vessel for my failures, fears, traumas, sex weirdness, and fashion goals.
The Jewish Museum: At what point in your career did you decide performance is the best mode of expression?
Dynasty Handbag: I slid out of the womb and onto the boards, there was never a choice.
The Jewish Museum: Weirdo Night is a party you’ve regularly hosted in Los Angeles. What can people coming to Weirdo Night at the Jewish Museum in New York expect to see?
Dynasty Handbag: I have been doing Weirdo Night in LA for about 4-5 months now, and it has been horrible. I need to find a way to make it a little less fun, because people explode from joy when they see the show. It’s dangerous. If I were more humble, I would use the word “variety show” but I will NOT do that. Dynasty Handbag hosts and make jokes, and there are a couple of guests who come out and do their brilliant comedic performance work, or whatever, and then I do an amazing set of my own garbage at the end. Then the audience is invited to dance to projected music videos (Dance-Y-Oke). Then I gather the applause into my soul, feel validated, happy, and like an vital member of society (until the morning when I am like why am I not a dental hygienist because I only made 100 dollars last night).
The Jewish Museum: Tell us more about Dance-Y-Oke. What music videos are you planning to play?
Dynasty Handbag: OOOH Mary! I have some gems. You can look forward to some classics: MJ, Janet, Paula Abz, Missy, Madonnz – and of course Bey-watch. I have a few curveballs I throw in to make it real tho. Like “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” from Dirty Dancing, we all get to do the lift!!!
The Jewish Museum: Your upcoming performance will feature special guests Jaimie Warren and Morgan Bassichis. Have you collaborated with them before?
Dynasty Handbag: Morgan and I collaborate regularly on the phone. He makes me laugh harder than anyone in my life right now. Jaimie is on her own. I don’t know what she is doing, how she lives with so many ideas and celebrities in her brain. She is the kind of artist I want to be. She came out to LA and did Weirdo Night and blew everyone’s sun hat and desert shoes off. She goes all out with costumes, sets, props, people, and homages to the great celebrities of our time. I am fan 4 LYf. We went on a weird tour together in the Netherlands a few years ago and she did this fantastic performance where she was Little Richard on a table full of snacks that turned into a piano all made out of cardboard, who then morphed into GG Allin with a naked suit that had all of his tattoos in sharpie perfectly placed on it. And a bag full of pudding that kept malfunctioning. I was like, Jaimie, could you have made this performance more difficult to travel with and messy to clean up? But the results are what matters and Jaimie knows that better than anyone. She’s a star.
The Jewish Museum: What role does fashion play in your performances, and how do you put together your costumes?
Dynasty Handbag: Fashion is to Dynasty Handbag as location is to a Emmy-winning HBO mini-series about an alcoholic detective or a witty unmarried English maiden from the 1800’s or a vampire/ghost/sexwitch.
The Jewish Museum: We hear you’re working on a television series about a performance artist that moves from New York to Los Angeles. What’s your take on the LA vs. NY debate?
Dynasty Handbag: If you want to die of encouragement move to LA. If you thrive on deprivation stay in NY.
Weirdo Night with Dynasty Handbag and special guests Jaimie Warren and Morgan Bassichis takes place this Thursday, June 30, 8 – 11 pm at the Jewish Museum. Tickets are $13 in advance, $18 at the door.