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80’s Flashback Arte Tuesday: Gonna Dress You Up in My Love!

November 23, 2010

When I was 10 I thought Madonna was the hottest woman on the planet!

She represented a lot of what I wanted to be, breaking rules, teasing boys and girls alike (as in sexy teasing), messy hair, loved to dance even by herself!

My blog entry about Madonna is gonna launch my new blog series, Flashback 80’s Arte!

This week, although I’m drowing in work around DREAM Act, I really wanted to launch my new mini project. I think about 50% of my art pieces have been named after my favorite 80’s songs, so I will disect each song and the piece is derived from it.

I’ll start with a confession.

I totally love all the played out, cheesiest, ultra-pop, whitest 80’s singers and bands you can imagine. I’m talking about the stuff most common folk like. Yes I like the indie, hard-to-find stuff, but nothing amuses me like Madonna, Cindy Lauper, Depeche Mode, Bruce Springsteen, Def Leppard, Journey! Yes, Journey!

I have three theories on why this type of music makes me feel really warm and comfortable. People make a lot of assumptions about me. Like – why would a girl from the Oakland hood, a first-generation, U.S.-born daughter of two Catholic, Latino immigrants, like this music SOOOO much?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves 80’s, but I think I’m definitely someone who goes out of my way to play every song at every party, and is permanently fixated on the genre.

So my first theory is that it’s in my Peruvian genes to be stuck in the 80’s. I’m not sure how many of you have traveled to Peru, but somehow, it’s like a time warp down there. You turn on the English radio station and they play LOTS and LOTS of Journey, The Police, etc. In fact, they still bump that at the cool young folks parties (Like under 40 parties) and folks LOVE it. Plus you hear it in virtually every other taxi. It’s not this bad in Mexico, I think because of the proximity to the US. But Peru? Well let’s just say they are stuck in 1985. And  that has rubbed off on my llama-loving, potato-eating, Inca genes.
My second theory is that 80’s songs are what my whole family was listening to when we were all collectively learning how to speak English. I was blessed to have a father who taught me how to read and speak in Spanish before anything else. And so as I was growing up, my parents were learning how to speak English, and so was I. You could say, we were all collectively assimilating into US-pop culture.
And my third theory is that I took a strong liking to “white music” because it was one of the ways I could differentiate myself from my peers when I was growing up. It was the way I could claim some independence and gain some “I’m different” credit. Youth around me were bumping rap and hip hop when I was growing up, and of course I liked it, but it also began to remind me about some crazy events in my life, like seeing people around me suffer from violence.
Its not that I think music caused violence, of course NOT, but rap somehow became the soundtrack of very hard moments in my life. You know how many of us have a soundtrack in our head? I did as well. And so one way I could get away from the ghetto reality was to submerge myself in other forms of counterculture – like Rock en Español, like “white” rock, and heck, even art became that for me.
So my new series starts with Dress You Up.
Screen shot 2010-11-22 at 6.59.49 PM
Madonna’s Like A Virgin album was one of those tapes my dad got for me that I would play over and over again and dance to in the mirror, with my beads and my neon biker shorts and bangs. (Funny that my dad got me all the cool music albums) “Dress You Up” was different from the other songs because it had some strong sexual undertones. I was always a curious girl and fantasized about naked people a lot, but there was one line that really stuck with me, “All your sheets are custom-made in..Looondoooon.”
“Where is this place called London?” I thought to myself? It sounded like some faraway magical place. I would have never in my wildest dreams thought that I would end up in London 20 years later, in fact I never thought I would leave California. Somehow when I heard that line, I imagined rolling around in some soft sheets. Hmmmm.
So then a few years passed, and in my teens I became an ultra sex-positive sex educator, giving workshops to other youth around condom use and safe sex. This print I did last year, is about the process of me learning about my body, and feeling empowered to love myself. I was not one to look at myself in the mirror and talk negatively about my body. I would observe other girls doing that, but I rarely would. But it was mostly because my parents would always tell me I was beautiful.  I also had strong Latino, gay, male role-models when I was working in the sex-education field, and they were always very loving to me and helped me gain self-confidence.

This print is available for sale here on Justseeds!. Click here.
And here’s the video. I freaking LOVE IT!


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