A Place Both Wonderful and Strange… and a Little Bit Queer.

22 10 2014

“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.”

Aficionados of the groundbreaking and short-lived television series, Twin Peaks, have undoubtedly found resonance in that indelible quote from the charismatic Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). However, in this instance, the month of October saw series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost bestow said presents onto their loyal fan base. Not only was a third season set to debut in 2016, but an accompanying novel (penned by Mr. Frost) would reveal the fates of the town’s memorable denizens since we last saw them… twenty-five years ago.

To say that the characters and situations introduced in the brief, original run of Twin Peaks were peculiar would be an understatement. Referring to them as “queer” might be a bit more on point. This is not to say that the mysterious little haven in the Pacific Northwest was teeming with homosexual activity. It merely suggests that the basic definition of “queer” ( adj: differing in some odd way from what is deemed usual or normal) is arguably more appropriate.

However, amid the murders, dancing dwarves, and cryptic giants, the series still managed to serve up some LGBT-centric queer moments… and some damned good cherry pie.

Catherine Martell: From head-bitch-in-charge to scheming Asian businessman.

Catherine Martell: From head-bitch-in-charge to scheming Asian businessman.

The character of Catherine Martell (flawlessly portrayed by Piper Laurie) is remembered for many things… blackmail, attempted arson, accounting fraud, enslaving her sister-in-law, faking her own death, dressing up in full Asian businessman drag in order to swindle a plot of land out from under her ex-lover’s feet. Yes, Catherine “Tojamura” Martell… crossplaying before it was cool. So dedicated was she to her cause that Catherine altered not only her gender, she managed to tweak her stature, mannerisms, and voice. Her transformation so well-done that most newbie viewers were completely unaware of Tojamura’s true identity until the big reveal.

During the second season, the cast of Twin Peaks added to its ranks an actor who would eventually go on to portray one of the most famous FBI agents in sci-fi television… David Duchovny. It is perhaps this reason that he is best known for the role of Fox Mulder on The X-Files instead of a DEA agent on Twin Peaks.

What was so special about David Duchovny portraying a DEA agent on a television series that regularly featured characters from federal law enforcement agencies? His character was one of few (only?) openly trans characters on television at the time.

Denise Bryson arrives in Twin Peaks.

Denise Bryson arrives in Twin Peaks.

It is never made explicitly clear as to whether or not Denise Bryson self-identifies as transgender. However, it should be noted, that the character presents herself as a woman in both her professional and personal life. In fact, the only time that viewers see Denise revert back to Dennis is during a sting operation when the agent had to disguise herself.

The casting of a transgender character on a network television series during the 90s was pretty groundbreaking and it was both surprising and refreshing to see the character used in a way that was not just a punchline for a joke. In fact, she had some pretty heroic moments. Dale Cooper’s future could have turned out quite bleak without his old friend’s intervention.

Sexual activity was pretty fluid in the tiny hamlet of Twin Peaks. Physical affairs were sparked left, right, and sideways. None of this is more evident than with the character of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)… the emotionally tortured homecoming queen whose death in the pilot episode ignited one of the most memorable murder mysteries in television history.

Laura Palmer with Ronette Pulaski and Teresa Banks at the Blue Diamond Motel.

Laura Palmer with Ronette Pulaski and Teresa Banks at the Blue Diamond Motel.

It is probably unfair to label Laura Palmer as bisexual. However, it was strongly implied during the events of Fire Walk With Me that she had a physical relationship with both Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine) and Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley). Jennifer Lynch’s companion piece, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, also alluded to the fact that she was carrying on a tryst with Josie Packard (Joan Chen) during their English tutoring sessions.

Flash-forward to twenty-five years later. Fans are on the cusp of revisiting the town of Twin Peaks. Much has changed in the country with regards to LGBT rights and representation. It is pretty safe to assume that these advancements, in some way, will be reflected in the third season of Twin Peaks as David Lynch has never been one to shy away from LGBT themes in his work (Mulholland Drive).

 





Strong Female Character: Lila @#$%ing Cheney!

2 10 2014
A preview of David Lopez's art for "Captain Marvel" #9 (feat. Lila Cheney).

Preview of David Lopez’s art for “Captain Marvel” #9 (feat. Lila Cheney).

In a recent interview with CBR, “80s fairy tale rock opera” were the exact words that Captain Marvel scribe, Kelly Sue DeConnick, used in reference to the title’s upcoming 9th issue.

If you are fortunate enough to remember the magical decade known as the 80s, images of punk rockers, studded belts, glitter, neon-colored jelly bracelets, leather motorcycle jackets, teased hair, ripped fishnet stockings, and smudged eyeliner should be swirling through your mind.

What Marvel character epitomizes everything that was glamorously trashy and decadent about the 80s? There is only one. She’s British… she’s an intergalactic teleporter… she’s a mutant rockstar… she’s Lila Cheney. Yes, as confirmed by Marvel’s November solicits, Sam Guthrie’s former flame is set to cross paths with the (now) spacefaring Carol Danvers.

Newer comic book readers (and others that have been living under a wet stone) may be asking “Who is Lila @#$%ing Cheney?” In preparation for November’s issue of Captain Marvel, five of Lila’s “better than everyone else in the Marvel Universe” moments have been gathered below:

Lila Cheney's first appearance ("New Mutants" Annual #1).

Lila Cheney’s first appearance (“New Mutants” Annual #1).

1) The Bill Sienkiewicz cover of New Mutants Annual #1: The world’s first glimpse of Lila was courtesy of Bill Sienkiewicz’s stunning cover artwork for New Mutants Annual #1. The cover, featuring a Siouxsie Sioux-looking Lila with Sam Guthrie (a.k.a. Cannonball) at her side, is an obvious homage to other cinematic artwork (Conan the BarbarianStar Wars). However, instead of the female appearing in the submissive role, Lila is the alpha dog and Sam has become the “damsel in distress”.

2) Meeting Mrs. Guthrie for the first time: It should be common knowledge to X-Men fans that Sam Guthrie hails from America’s heartland… the ultra-Conservative and redder- than-a-candy-apple state of Kentucky. You can imagine Sam’s mortification when Lila showed up to meet the matriarch of the Guthrie family looking like a Jem and the Holograms groupie doing the walk of shame.

Lila meets Mrs. Guthrie in "New Mutants" #42.

Meeting Mrs. Guthrie in “New Mutants” #42.

In the end, her appearance was revealed to be a ruse after she teleported away to change into a more demure ensemble. Her goal was to determine whether or not Sam would ever be ashamed of her, their relationship, or their obvious differences. The family introductions went off without a hitch and Lila would remain friendly with Mrs. Guthrie for many years to come.

(side note: Parallels to LGBT relationships can easily be made throughout this memorable scene.)

3) Dazzler tried to upstage Lila so Ms. Cheney threatened to fire her ass: Despite growing anti-mutant sentiment, the events of Dazzler: The Movie saw the disco queen “come out” as a mutant to the public. Needless to say, it ruined Alison’s career and she was forced into hiding… as a backup singer for Lila Cheney’s band. Following a concert in San Francisco, the disembodied psionic mutant, Malice, took possession of Dazzler and began to influence her behavior.

Dazzler takes over lead vocals in "Uncanny X-Men" #214.

Dazzler takes over lead vocals in “Uncanny X-Men” #214.

Some time later, as Lila’s tour was in full swing, Dazzler (Malzzler/Dazzlice) attempted to usurp the role of lead vocalist from Lila. Claiming to only be concerned for Dazzler’s safety, Lila threatened to sack the singer should she ever try shenanigans like that again. Truthfully, we all knew that Lila rightfully didn’t like sharing the spotlight.

Lila Cheney and Deathbird... badass babes with big guns ("Uncanny X-Men #276).

Lila Cheney and Deathbird… bad, beautiful babes with really big guns (“Uncanny X-Men #276).

4) That time she was recruited by Deathbird and had a really big gun: At one point, occasional Shi’ar Empress, Deathbird, elicited the help of Lila Cheney after the former witnessed Charles Xavier laying waste to planets within the Empire.

Being an intergalactic teleporter proved most useful as Lila used her powers to collect the X-Men at Deathbird’s behest. In the end, it was revealed that Xavier and his lover, Lilandra, had been replaced by Warskrulls who had seized the opportunity to attack Shi’ar alien races. The invaders were defeated and the real heroes rescued from their confinement.

It was never revealed whether or not Lila and Deathbird had raided Cable’s weapon stockpile to obtain the insane hardware that they so proudly wielded.

5) She played a flying monkey in Mojo’s production of The Wizard of Oz: Hoping for some r&r at her Malibu beach house, Lila was surprised to see that her bodyguard, Guido, had invited an amnesiac Dazzler to stay with them.

Lila Cheney... the true star of Mojo's "The Wizard of X" ("X-Men" #7).

Lila Cheney… the true star of Mojo’s “The Wizard of X” (“X-Men” #10).

The rag tag group of mutants  soon had a few more uninvited guests… first in the form of Longshot, who came seeking Dazzler’s help back in his home world, the Mojoverse. Next, came the sorceress, Spiral, in an attempt to convince Lila to teleport them all to safety. Unbeknownst to Lila, her powers had been altered, resulting in her, Longshot, and Dazzler all being sent to the Mojoverse.

The X-Men were summoned to help their teammates but soon ended up as prisoners of Mojo, themselves. With his love of televised entertainment unquenchable, Mojo produced The Wizard of X… starring the X-Men. Lila’s big, onscreen moment came when she was coerced into attacking the show’s Dorothy (Longshot).

Mojo was eventually defeated and his grip over the Mojoverse transferred to Mojo II: The Sequel.

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Carol Stardust and the Flerkins from Mars (David Lopez’s cover artwork for “Captain Marvel” #9).

Most recently, Lila had been seen in the company of David Haller, the mutant known as Legion. She assisted him in his mission to wipe mutantphobia from Great Britain (Si Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy #13-14) and has since been off-the-grid.

Details have been quite scarce as to the story behind Lila’s upcoming appearance in Captain Marvel. Judging by what Kelly Sue has done with the title, thus far, readers can be sure to expect quite a stellar ride! Afterall, it’s not every day that Carol Danvers gets done up in full Ziggy Stardust makeup!