Avant-Ice at Minor Literature[s]


If I had a superpower, I would be an ice skater. I would be a genderqueer figure skater, skating eights, loops, and axels, the whole s/hebang.

An axel is a figure skating jump with a forward take off. An Ina Bauer is an element in which the skater glides on two parallel blades. Moves in the field (MIF) is the name given to elements that emphasise basic skating skills and edge control. As an EU migrant and working class queer, I am better rehearsed at controlling my edge than your average figure skater. Having controlled my edge for so long, I am MIFfed at my recent failure to purchase a competition dress through the obvious channels.

Floaty competition dresses sell on ebay from £45 (Buy-It-Now), I checked yesterday. A custom-made ice skating leotard sells for £12.99. Sellers like twirlandskate (197⋆) from Sutton are eager to sell ice skating kit, offering free Postage & Packaging. Despite their affordability, the competition dresses on ebay are not for me. They do not have my name on it (Dean). They are for persons aged 5 to 14. I’m 42. You might call it an equal ops issue.

I came late to the sports. I did not come to figure skating until I was in my thirties. As a child, I did not know the first thing about figure skating. I had not heard of Torvill and Dean, nor their gold medal performance at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics. I was a butch child. I was such a butch child that figure skating did not appeal. Age 10, I adopted the butchest name I could think of (Torvill). Heh Torvill, my friends would say. Do you want to celebrate your Geburtstag (birthday) at the Eistreff Waldbronn (Ice Rink Waldbronn)? Skates for hire, a zloty per hour? No, thank you, I replied. I was such a polite young butch. I will not hire women’s or girls’ ice skates for a zloty per hour. Nor will I be held in contempt by the skate hire attendant for hiring boys’ ice skates as a girl. I will not be referred to as Schwuchtel (faggot), λεσβία (dyke), or andersrum (queer), by amateur ice skaters and their humourless parents. Not in this European backwater, not in 1984. Despite the contemporary popularity of androgynous cultures and figures across the UK (New Romanticism, New Wave, The Associates, Bow Wow Wow, and Culture Club), androgyny never hit rural Waldbronn. Androgyny did not affect rural Waldbronn in quite the same way, rendering the hiring of ice skating boots a catch-22 situation for a 10-year-old butch. You go, I said to my friends. Have fun. Ok, bye. Age 10, I rejected ice skating for life. The rhinestoned femininity of the female ice skater and her gendered skates ran counter to my budding butch industry.

I have come to figure skating only recently, in connection with my ongoing transition. Having changed my name from (butch) Torvill to (masculine) Dean, I have turned increasingly girly and figure skatey. As a middle-aged andro-fag, I have taken to ice like a duck to water. One life event in particular worked as a catalyst for my identity U-turn, my half-pirouette in regards to figure skating. [read more]

Avant-Ice at Minor Literature[s]

Fantômas Takes Sutton at 3:AM Magazine


To write through a character called Fantômas would be laughable. Coming from a 42-year-old novelist, and a lesbian at that. Infantile, also ill-advised. The self-infantilisation of the butch lesbian is proverbial as it is. (Picture a bale of butches watching a rerun of Back to the Future (1985), the science-fiction adventure comedy film.) I might boycott boy fictions like Fantômas. Already I have the appearance of a boy cusping the age of consent (from afar). I pass as a boy or a young man in Sutton. Only yesterday I accessorised my rolled up carrot leg type of trousers with orange socks. I came in for suburban abuse (verbal, poof). Despite a recent resurgence or renaissance of all things butch, I am transgendered. I descend from a pretty genealogy. Between 1911 and 1913, 32 Fantômas classic volumes were published in France. I have not read them. Not one. They are available on Project Gutenberg and, elsewhere on the net, as audio files. Amazon UK lists 24 available copies of The Daughter of Fantômas/La Fille de Fantômas (1911) alone. Condition: Used – very good. Allain & Souvestre, the original authors, wrote: “‘Fantômas.’ ‘What did you say?’ ‘I said: Fantômas.’ ‘And what does that mean?'” (1911, p. 1) I don’t know. I don’t know what that means. Of 32 classic volumes I have yet to read one.

Reading or not reading Fantômas is not a question of age, nor gender. If reading Fantômas were a question of gender (which it is not), I would be your man. I have previously owned and listened to the self-titled debut LP of the experimental metal supergroup, Fantômas. Fantômas are vocalist Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle), drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer), guitarist Buzz Osborne (Melvins) and bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk). Fantômas are American and testosterone-fuelled. I had the T-shirt. Having listened to Fantômas’s LP in the past, repeatedly, I no longer invest in it. At 42, I have learnt not to invest in misogynist forms of masculinity as reproduced in the avant-metal genre and the avant-metal subculture. Quentin Crisp, Patricia ‘Bunny’ O’Rooley, Peggy Shaw, Moj of the Antarctic, Campbell X, The Divine David, Bird la Bird and Lisa Blackman, as gender nonconforming role models, outperform Fantômas’s band members hands down. In many respects, Sutton outperforms America hands down. Quentin Crisp (1908-1999) grew up in Sutton, for example. I wrote my novel Gaudy Bauble in Sutton (as well as in Cambridge, Clerkenwell and Crystal Palace). Like most Londoners, I am no longer in a position to live in London. I live in Sutton now. [read more]