Diane Torr is an artist, director, writer and educator working in performance, film and installation. She has been making performances in New York for over 25 years. In 2003, Diane re-situated her art practice in Glasgow, where she has a studio at WASPS (Workshop and Studio Provision Scotland) Studios and is a Visiting Lecturer at Glasgow School of Art. Her performance work explores notions of gender and the erotic, and focuses on strategies to reinvent the narratives of sex and gender. Her solo drag performances have been seen around New York since 1982. Diane’s art performances and installations are presented in galleries, performance venues and festivals throughout N. America, Europe, and Eurasia. She has taught Man for a Day Workshops in over 20 cities, including London, Istanbul, Helsinki, Berlin, Lisbon, Zurich, New York and Chicago. In Feb/March 2006, Diane brought her unique workshop to India for the first time in a residency at Khoj Arts Workshop in New Delhi. In February 2011, Diane taught her first Man for a Day workshop in Brasilia at the Novadanca Festival. Her work has been the subject of profiles on BBC2 Q.E.D., HBO’s Reel Sex, in the Washington Post, Village Voice, London Independent, El Pais, German Vogue, etc. She was also one of the protagonists in Gabriel Baur’s feature film, Venus Boyz (2002). Diane’s book, Sex, Drag and Male Roles; Investigating Gender as Performanceand co-authored by Stephen Bottoms has been released by University of Michigan Press. A feature film on her work, Man for a Day, by Berlin filmmaker, Katarina Peters, premiered at the Berlinale Film Festival on February 10, 2012.
In the 1970s Diane Torr studied and explored new dance and the work of Susan Sontag, Yvonne Rainer, and John Cage, among others. Political analysis and action entwined with her artmaking — working for feminist newspaper Majority Report, she met leading feminist/activists such as Kate Millet, Shere Hite, Susan Brownmiller and Valerie Solanas – and she developed her performance work at the same time. Torr joined all-girl art band, DISBAND, which had a core group of members, Martha Wilson (Director of Franklin Furnace Art Archives), Ingrid Sischy (editor of Interview Magazine), Donna Henes (self-proclaimed urban shaman), Ilona Granet (painter), and others who visited and contributed songs, such as visual artist, Barbara Kruger.
While working as a go-go dancer from 1979-81 Torr created a performance with other go-go dancers called WOW-a-Go-Go, for the WOW (Women of the World) Theatre Festival in New York in 1981, the first time that “exotic dancers” had been seen at a Women’s Festival — this caused a certain amount of outrage, especially from Women Against Pornography.
Torr began performance in drag in the early 1980s with a dance commission from Dansspace, New York, working together with visual artist Bradley Wester on a piece called Arousing Reconstructions (1982), in which each cross-dressed. Within the performance, they showed the results of research in developing an androgynous movement vocabulary in the form of a dance tableau which contained the archetypal male and female gestures, such as Rodin’s “The Thinker” image, Marilyn Monroe’s hand-over-mouth sexy gasp, and so on, aided conceptually by the writings of Deleuze, Guattari and Michel Foucault.
Torr began teaching Drag King Workshops in New York in 1990 with make-up artist and FTM transsexual, Johnny Science. These workshops became very popular and were documented by BBC TV, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, London Independent, der Spiegel, and other publications. Her performance, Drag Kings and Subjects, became her signature piece, shown in venues and festivals throughout the US, Europe, and Brazil. Another popular work dealing with cross-dressing is an installation, Ideal Homo (1999), which is a series of photographs of Torr and Diva editor, Jane Czyzselska, dressed as a gay male couple, accompanied by a text and soundscore. Ideal Homo has been shown in galleries all over the world. In October 2010, her book, Sex, Drag and Male Roles; Investigating Gender as Performance, co-authored by Stephen Bottoms and published by University of Michigan Press, was released. A feature film, Man for a Day, based on Torr’s workshop and performance work, premiered at the 62nd Berlinale Film Festival in February 10 this year.
The Center for Sex and Culture is proud to host—
Sunday, May 13, 5pm
At the Center for Sex & Culture – 1349 Mission btw 9th & 10th
$5-25 sliding scale, NOTAFLOF
Annie Sprinkle hosts her old friend Diane Torr, whose history as a performance artist, workshop leader and activist stretches back to the 1970s and through many contexts, from performative to activist, academic to street.
Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, 10am-6pm
$300 – RSVP to email@example.com
(We will be able to take credit cards for this one!)
About DIANE TORR’S MAN FOR A DAY WORKSHOP
The Man for a Day Workshop is a unique experience. Diane has been teaching it since 1990 in a variety of venues throughout N. America, Europe and Asia. Since its inception, the workshop gathered much media attention, and brought Diane’s work into the public eye. The workshop also pioneered a drag king performance culture in theaters and clubs in several of the cities in which it was taught. Women have taken it for many reasons, according to their situation.
Maybe during a lifetime of observing men in your neighborhood, on the subway, in the office, in cars, in your home, etc., you have a curiosity about how men “get away” with certain behaviors that would be considered undesirable or socially unacceptable in women. You might want to experience the transformation from female to male as a way to intercept your so-called “normal” behavior as a woman, and discover new responses. Other women have attended the workshop and then met with a lover (male or female) for a night of role-play thrills. Some participants are actresses and opera singers who had “trouser” roles and wanted to make their characters more authentic. Occasionally, a woman has attended the workshop who wanted to explore a desire to become a man permanently, and then the workshop was a catalyst for making that decision.
For most participants, the reason to commit to being a man for a day was to have fun, to be outrageous. By exploring familiar situations, like going to a bar or restaurant and interacting with others in a new identity, there’s a chance to play with ideas that are taken seriously on a daily basis. Of course, women have cross-dressed throughout history and used the guise to their advantage. An important distinction to the workshop is that the intention is not to “pass”, but rather to question what is considered a given. In the course of constructing another identity, one instantly sees other possibilities of being. In becoming a man you learn how to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” without having to wear a testosterone patch! This is a chance to escape for one day from the social construction of the identity of “woman” and to literally discover a new YOU!!
During the workshop, either Diane or a make-up artist will give each person an individual makeover and will provide facial hair, 5 o’clock shadow, etc. Each person is responsible for the male clothes they will need for their male identity. Please also bring: a wide elasticised bandage (6inches minimum) to bind breasts, and a fake penis (condom stuffed with cotton wool, for example). We will learn how to take up space, walk, eat, drink, pick up objects, smile, etc. as men. We will interact with each other, in scene studies and in character development exercises, and create our new identities. Then we will make a visit to a public place such as café, restaurant, bar, strip club, pool hall, dance club, where we will test out our new identities.
The beginning of the following day is spent in a feedback session and then each participant learns to do their make-up by themselves. We continue to develop our characters and we have the opportunity to go out to a new location. We each take from the workshop what is useful to us, but we all leave with the shared experience (and the kick) of going beyond our “regular” selves and expanding our gender repertoire. The workshop culminates in a feedback session.