Paige Schilt

Queer Time

Filed By Paige Schilt | July 24, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History, The Movement
Tags: Gretchen Phillips, Judith Halberstam, Kay Turner, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

Last week I attended a 60th birthday celebration for my friend Joanna Labow, percussionist and one of several singer/songwriters for the groundbreaking lesbian rock band Girls in the Nose, which reunited for the occasion. Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for nose.jpgNose co-founder Kay Turner will also turn 60 this year. But--as Joanna noted in a song that she wrote for her party--this is not a version of old ladydom that you hear about in mainstream culture. These sexagenarians are still making music with their buddies, still eviscerating sexism and heterosexism with their lyrics, and still getting down (and taking it off) with the notorious Girls in the Nose dancers.

In her thought-provoking book In a Queer Time and Place, Judith Halberstam theorizes queerness as an alternative way of using time--one that departs from bourgeois heterosexual itineraries of reproduction and inheritance. One of the great attractions of queerness, Halberstam argues, is that it opens up "imaginative life schedules," which do not dictate that we abandon our youthful subcultures, take our place in the generational transmission of goods and morals, or devote ourselves to practices of longevity.

To ruminate on the concept of queer time, check out the video for the Noses' song "Come and Die" after the jump.

Check out this video: Come and Die

Girls in the Nose was founded in 1987 by Turner (featured in the video above) and Gretchen Phillips (of that other germinal lesbian rock band, 2 Nice Girls). The band describes their sound as "the B-52s meet Iggy Pop and sing about lesbian feminism," but this ain't the Iggy of "Lust for Life"--more like Funhouse, if you know what I mean: sexier, edgier. At their height they rocked Michigyn, Lesbapalooza, and the 1993 March on Washington, to name just a few venues.

To speak in terms of autobiographical time, Girls in the Nose's heyday was a little before my own (delayed) queer coming of age. The reunion show was the first chance I'd ever had to see them play live, and I felt so grateful for the creativity and indomitable spirit of dyke culture. Knowing these women has opened a treasure chest of "imaginative life schedules" that my bio family could never have bequeathed to me.

There was talk of a Girls in the Nose reunion tour at Joanna's party. In the expansive logic of queer time, there's no mandatory retirement age for lesbian rockers. Check them out on MySpace and let them know how much the world needs this version of what 60 looks and sounds like.

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Thanks Paige for writing this piece and keeping LGBT culture a breast (pun intended) on what Queerdom looks like from different perspectives at different ages and from one of the coolest cities in the world AUSTIN TEXAS!

Great post, Paige! I'm on Myspace right now gushing about them! :)

Time is so queer. I totally agree with that analysis, since me and my straight brother just have completely different ways of organizing our lives. He got a stable job straight out of college and started to look for a woman to marry, and I've been floating around. I know that it doesn't all have to do with sexuality, but it has a lot to do with it.

I so thought this post was going to be about a watch that ran about an hour late consistently.

Paige, Your take on the party is so sharp and so on target. Yes, it was pure lezzie fun, but there was a deeper context and you dove right into it. Believe it or not, you are the first one to reference the age rap. Love you, Jo