The Twelve White Shirts of Christmas (7)

[Renate Müller (Viktoria) and uncredited extras in Reinhold Schünzel’s “Viktor und Viktoria”, 1933]

On the seventh Day of Christmas, the White Shirt sent to me:

One Vintage Fangirl

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Take a hold of your glasses, and prepare for a toast, it’s New Year’s Eve!

This entry comes with a bit of a backstory. A while ago, for a class, I had to gather some screenshots from “Viktor und Viktoria”, which is the 1933 version of the story later at the core of “Victor/Victoria”: unsuccessful female singer suddenly hits it big when she covers for a friend who is a drag artist.

When the singer first has to cover as “Victoria”, it happens in a second-rate vaudeville place with rowdy patrons. She’s stumbling through the number, forgetting lines, toppling over things and, at one point, accidentally leaving the stage to dance on someone’s table (you can check out the full number here).

When I looked for photos, I wanted a picture of that moment where “Viktoria” dances on the table. And only later, I realized who else is in the shot, and on whose table she is dancing: look at that long sleeve and the glass to the left: a woman out on the town. And with whom? – Look at the figure to the right: blink during the song and you’ll miss her, and I never noticed her before taking this screenshot. But to me, since, she has become the Vintage Queer Fangirl: the woman with the white shirt and the cufflinks in the audience, with the vest and the earrings and the carefully done hair, and the smoke dangling carelessly from her fingers, visibly queer-coded (and in style!) while she sips her martini, in a spot she has carved out for herself, looking up at the singer on her table with unrestrained joy and enthusiasm. (She is the only person depicted as queer in the entire movie.)

This movie came out in Germany in 1933. It was, in a way, a last testimony to possibility and visibility before horror took over. But right then, it was still there, and it is still there for us to see today, more than eighty years later.
And today, faced again with protofascist tides rising: we are visible. We are that vintage fangirl, and we’re not leaving our seat at the table.

Also, we’ve got…

…one Cup of Chocolate:

Sophie Koch (Octavian) and Renée Fleming (Marschallin) in Strauss' Rosenkavalier, Baden-Baden 2009
Sophie Koch (Octavian) and Renée Fleming (Marschallin) in Strauss’ Rosenkavalier, Baden-Baden 2009

one Scowling Warlord:

12ws_ofxmas Teresa Iervolino (Holofernes) in Vivaldi's
Teresa Iervolino (Holofernes) in Vivaldi’s “Juditha Triumphans”, Venice/La Fenice 2015

one Baroque Slowdance:

12ws_ofxmas_4  Vesselina Kasarova (Ruggiero) and Anja Harteros (Alcina) in Handel's
Vesselina Kasarova (Ruggiero) and Anja Harteros (Alcina) in Handel’s “Alcina”, Vienna/Staatsoper 2010

one Elektric Candle:

12ws_christmas-lightceps - Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra) in Strauss'
Evelyn Herlitzius (Elektra) in Strauss’ “Elektra”, Barcelona/Liceu 2016. – Photo Credit: Antoni Bofill for the Liceu

two Sottish Lovebirds:

12ws-ofxmas_2 - Joyce DiDonato (Elena) and Daniela Barcellona (Malcolm) in Rossini's
Joyce DiDonato (Elena) and Daniela Barcellona (Malcolm) in Rossini’s “La donna del lago”, London/ROH 2013

…and one pining Prince of Ponto:

12ws_ofxmas-1 Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare) in Mozart's
Myrtò Papatanasiu (Sifare) in Mozart’s “Mitridate”, Paris/TCE 2016

2 thoughts on “The Twelve White Shirts of Christmas (7)”

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