City of Lost Souls and Transgender Alliance: Juliet Jacques at UnionDocs

Friday 20 November, 2015
7:30pm, $0

Union Docs
322 Union Avenue, Brooklyn

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Juliet Jacques, author of Trans: A Memoir presents and discusses Rosa von Praunheim's STADT DER VERLORENEN SEELEN (City of Lost Souls).

Lagging behind gay and lesbian history, a transgender cultural cannon is still being defined, and Rosa von Praunheim’s 1983 trans musical spectacular, City of Lost Souls, captures a unique position within the development of transgender theory.

At the time it was released, City of Lost Souls was criticized for its messy storyline. Trans: A Memoirauthor Juliet Jacques argues that the film has aged remarkably well; in fact it’s flawed or Warholian insistence on character and improvisation forever preserved a nuanced exploration of the alienation that comes with being a gender or sexual minority. “It’s fascinating to see the debates in which they worked out their gender identities staged before online communities, transgender-specific fanzines or Queer/Transgender Studies courses — all crucial to the development of organized transgender politics,” Jacques wrote in her review of the film.

By 1982, “transgender” had been used in several contexts, but it does not appear in City of Lost Souls. The relationship between the two main characters, Angie Stardust, a transexual, and Tara O’Hara, the transvestite “ideal,” whose breasts Angie envies and derides — anticipate the passionate debates about the tranvestite / transsexual dichotomy and transgender alliance. As Jacques writes in her memoir, the transgender alliance that emerged did not end debates between transsexual people who moved across the gender binary and transgender and genderqueer individuals who aimed to find space beyond male and female.

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