February 01, 2011

My One Woman Circus Act: Introducing Ruby, Pride of the Ring

One of the biggest influences on my style is...
The Circus, 1870-1950 by TASCHEN
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...imagery from old-skool circuses. Today's pictures of me were taken and edited by  awesome local photographer Melissa Mankins.    
HTYH
The moment I put on this tutu, I become Ruby, Pride of the Ring. 
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The name is taken from the title of a book Molly Bloom is reading in James Joyce's Ulysses when her husband Leopold brings her tea:

"He turned over the smudged pages. Ruby: the Pride of the Ring. Hello. Illustration. Fierce Italian with carriagewhip. Must be Ruby pride of the on the floor naked. Sheet kindly lent. The monsieur Maffei desisted and flung his victim from him with an oath. Cruelty behind it all. Doped animals. Trapeze at Hengler's. Had to look the other way. Mob gaping. Break your neck and we'll break our sides. Families of them. Bone them young so they metempsychosis. That we live after death. Our souls. That a man's soul after he dies. Dignam's soul...
--Did you finish it? he asked
--Yes, she said. There's nothing smutty in it. Is she in love with the first fellow all the time?
--Never read it. Do you want another? "
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James Joyce based this title on a real book originally called Ruby: A Novel. Founded on the Life of a Circus Girl by Amye Reade. It was essentially a novel in the Victorian moral crusade tradition which described "the cruelty rather than the glamour of circus life" (Mary Power, "The Discovery of Ruby" in James Joyce Quarterly Vol. 18, No. 2 Winter, 1981 pp. 115). 
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But despite its dark side, much of the imagery and symbolism of the circus is still beautiful, fascinating and enchanting to me. 
The Circus, 1870-1950 by TASCHEN
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And hello! the costumes?!
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Getting ready to go on stage. 
DD
The Circus, 1870-1950 by TASCHEN
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Not to be compared with:


The Circus, 1870-1950 by TASCHEN
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World's scariest makeshift tight-rope. 

The Circus, 1870-1950 by TASCHEN
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"You know, the people in these towns, they're asleep. All day, at work, at home. They're sleepwalkers. We wake them up." --Sofie, Carnivale.
The Circus, 1870-1950 by TASCHEN
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Hrm... strongman or bearded lady... career choices are hard. 
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Another reason I like the circus is because I'm a big fan of spectacle and illusion. 
The Circus, 1870-1950 by TASCHEN
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"The truth is always an insult or a joke, lies are generally tastier. We love them. The nature of lies is to please. Truth has no concern for anyone's comfort." From Katherine Dunn's book  Geek Love which chronicles a family circus. 
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(*vintage tutu: gift * shoes: Schuler and Sons Philadelphia * vintage monkeys: thrift)

I hope you've all enjoyed hanging out with my alter ego, Ruby. If you liked these photos, check out Melissa's clown shoot
heart,
--m

4 comments:

  1. It's official! You're great! What an original post!!!!!
    I'm in awe...I have to look at your pics again.

    BRAVO!!!!!

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  2. Lol. Awesome retrospective.. I mean like comparing your pictures with vintage circus pics is such a cool idea. And really successful in bringing the circus to life before my eyes! And the way you quote James Joyce- adds depth and breadth to it!!!!

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  3. What a great post. I love the photos. It's a quite unusual inspiration but I love it!

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  4. fantastic post - i too am captivated by illusion. i loved norma klein's book 'from the vatican to vegas: a history of special effects' and ingmar bergman's movie 'sawdust and tinsel'.

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looking forward to hearing from you!

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