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On Wednesday at Bartuschka and the Stage divas in the ufa factory

by Beate Moeller

BERLIN - Bartuschka presents a very special guest at the Stage divas, the mixed show, in which only women take part, next Wednesday: Narcissister. It causes a sensation in the New York scene. With her crazy NeoBurlesque show she performs all over the world. She rarely comes to Europe. Nobody knows her face. Now she has interrupted her guest appearance in London, only to be one of the Stage divas to be in the ufa factory. - Liveundlustig met Narcissister for an interview.

What does the name Narcissister mean?
NARCISSISTER: When I started the 'Narcissister' project, it was clear to me that I needed a name for it. And I wanted to take into account that I am a colored person. I looked for ideas and just leafed through the dictionary. That's when I noticed the word “narcissist” and that all I have to do is add the letters “he” and it becomes “sister”. My project is not just about narcissism, but also about sisterhood, community and inclusion.

You always appear with a mask. Nobody knows your face. Do you want to hide your identity or is there other reasons?
NARCISSISTER: I want the project to be more than it would be without the mask. I want to say something more comprehensive. With the mask on, I'm someone else. The mask allows me a kind of universal exaggeration. Without them it would not be possible.

It's probably a special mask. Tell me your story.
NARCISSISTER: A repurposed wig head! It was designed in Los Angeles in the 1960s by a woman named Verna Dorian. It was her invention. I found your patent on the internet. At that time, wig heads were still made of heavy plaster, she made them from this new type of plastic.
When I was working as a window dresser, I discovered something like that in the warehouse and realized that you can detach the face from the back of the head and that I only have to cut out holes for the eyes and mouth and nostrils and use it as a mask.

Don't you take away an essential component of the acting by masking yourself - the facial expressions?
NARCISSISTER: I'm originally a dancer. The body is so expressive. First of all, the hands can express a lot, but so can the body. I found that the mask is very expressive, even if the expression on the face doesn't change.

What options do you have with the mask that you would not have without the mask?
NARCISSISTER: Before that, I did a lot of other things. But they didn't go down so well. Now, with the mask, I have so many options. I perform all over the world. That's how I earn my money. I'm very satisfied.

With your stage character you stereotype the woman. What is it that all women have in common that affects every woman?
NARCISSISTER: I have more of a universal approach. This affects all people, men and women alike. It's more about community. It's hard to say what all women have in common. All women have vagines and breasts. And then it gets complicated. We are all born and we must all die. We all have that in common.

Do you want to shock Do you want to provoke?
NARCISSISTER: No, that's not my intention. But often that's the reaction to my work.

Your message?
NARCISSISTER: It's complex. It has something to do with liberation, and then I would like to say something about race, gender roles and aging, criticism of fashion. There should always be humor. But my main message is: liberation.

On Twitter I have read statements like "That’s disgusting" (That’s disgusting.) Or “That’s insane” (that’s sick.) How does that affect you?
NARCISSISTER: What do people say about my work? Maybe it was in connection with the “bare breasted project” when we walked through New York with bare breasts. I dont know. People say all kinds of things on the internet. I don't care.

The Huffington Post has named Narcissister "the topless feminist Superhero New York needs". Can you identify with that?
NARCISSISTER: I was very flattered. The bare breasted project in New York City was probably my most direct and feminist project. That's probably why I received this rating. That is exciting! I love the idea that Narcissister is a feminist superhero. I didn't mean to do that, but when people see you that way, it sounds wonderful!

© 2017 BonMoT-Berlin
Photos: Jon Kwasnyczka

Stage Diven - "Show under the sign of the X chromosome"
Wednesday, April 12th to Saturday, April 15th, 2017, 8 p.m.
ufaFabrik, theater hall, Viktoriastr. 10-18, 12105 Berlin, Tempelhof
Ullsteinstraße underground station, line 6
Telephone 030 - 75 50 30

Homepage ufaFabrik - Narcissister - Stage Diven - World of Friends

UPSIDEDOWN from NARCISSISTER on Vimeo.

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