Tuesday, August 14, 2007

From the vault: Theresa Duncan on Salon.com

A 1998 interview of Theresa Duncan in Salon takes us back to the future. She manages to simultaneously annoy and attract writer Matthew Debord as she discusses The History of Glamour, here first and last film. Some highlights:

"Duncan, at 29, is engaged in a sort of preemptive maturation driven at least partially by market forces.... Duncan is making it up as she goes along, counterbalancing her Liz Phairish tomkitten chic with fabulous press and a slightly ballsy manner that at times can be patronizing."

Actually Duncan was 31 at the time. Perhaps then her maturation wasn't that "preemptive."

"I cringe a little, for instance, when an e-mail response from her describes Manhattan's mopey gallery circuit as "the rarefied world of the New York art scene," from which was drawn a "Glamour" collaborator, artist Karen Kilimnik. Duncan says that if she used live actors in her work, rather than just voices, she'd want to follow the ensemble model of Woody Allen, Hal Hartley and ... Werner Herzog! She is not a woman who levels her cross hairs on the middlebrow, but the naked aspiration strikes me as more than a little overwrought.

Nothing to get all that ruffled over, of course, since her bootstrapping enthusiasm and indefatigable confidence in her ability to get noticed have resulted in a crucial whammy to the core assumptions of the interactive gaming cabal. "I've been thinking of us in terms of something like the Warhol factory," she says when asked about the composition of her creative team, which includes illustrator/boyfriend/partner Jeremy Blake and Washington, D.C., punk stalwart Brendan Canty of Fugazi, plus former Bikini Kill bassist Karhi Wilcox and a pair of Mac-jockey animators. It's a telling comparison: Like Warhol, Duncan's business is her art, and even if she hasn't completely abandoned her childish ways, she knows exactly what she wants."

And there's more good stuff:

"With the new project, I was interested in examining glamour as a semiotic system," she [Duncan] claims, revealing her slightly wonkish academic background (her senior thesis at the University of Michigan was on technology and narrative). "In the film, the main character is looking for an identity, and glamour becomes for her a potent form of self-expression. She finds it very liberating, because she's from a small town. But by the end of the story, glamour becomes limiting, then imprisoning, so she becomes a writer, chooses grammar over glamour."

Duncan could be summarizing her own biography with these comments. There's more than a vague resemblance between her and her antiheroine, Charles Valentine -- who hails from the fictional backwater of Antler, Ohio, and who storms Manhattan with no coherent ambition beyond plying scams to get noticed ..."

No such thing as an original idea?

"There's a book that influenced 'The History of Glamour' called 'Love, Loss, and What I Wore,'" she says. "It's a series of strange little watercolor paintings of the author, Ilene Beckerman's, outfits from childhood to the present. She describes all the things that happened to her in the outfits -- being dumped, feeling beautiful, going to the prom, her mother dying, her marriage and divorce, her pregnancies. It's a very spare but moving book. I, like Beckerman, remember incidents according to what I was wearing."

Final line of the piece (cue the Twilight Zone theme):

"A hard-working minor celebrity with an evidently carefree but actually quite deliberate business strategy, Duncan is exactly the sort of solo artist/entrepreneur one imagines surviving every market vicissitude -- confirming that there's no such thing as fleeting fame if it's got talent backing it up."


fox said...

The same mentality that comes down on TD about 'plagairism' is then going to attack TD for not having any original ideas because she here cites a source that influenced her? that's weak.

what have you done that's so original?
this blog, perhaps?

I'm not sure if you live on planet earth, but here in this place where mere imperfect humans live, tons of people are uptight about thier age. It's not pathological or indicative of mental disturbance to shave a few years off your age. Especially when you admit to and apologize for it later.

Perhaps when you're dead someone applies the same kind of fine tooth comb to every morsel about your life they can dig up. Hopefully amidst all of your flaws (surely even you have some!) they'll find 1/100th of anything as interesting as what TD did, wrote, or said...
although if this blog is any indication, that doesn't look very likely.


fox said...

oops meant to write 'someone will apply the same kind of fine tooth comb..." just in case Poulet wants to start another blog based on exposing all of the grammatical errors that commenters have made!

poussin said...

Oy vey, Poulet, you now have a fox in your coop. However, I for one am glad that he remarked on the appalling grammar of others, since his own is so impeccable and his self-editing wrought with such precision. I have now learned that a "mentality" can perform an attack, which isn't something I imagined was possible.

Of course Poulet isn't of this planet. He's from Planet Araucana and he will not be laying any oeufs.

et in Arcadia ego Eve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Poulet said...

Thanks Poussin, you actually gave me the first smile of the day.

Duncan apologists also provide amusement, natch, so thanks too, fox! You might try open mike night at the Comedy Store, cause your stuff really kills.

et in Arcadia ego Eve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
fox said...

I wasn't really talking about Duncan, I was talking about you.
I am not a Duncan apologist. I just point out rotten chicken eggs when I smell them.

you just keep youreself busy, pecking away at the ground and coming up with nothing...at least it takes up some of your time that would otherwise go into laying your stinky eggs in other places.

I'm glad I amuse you- I'll dedicate my next standup show to you- you'll love my rubber chicken routine.

C. A. Dupin said...

No worries, Fox.
These sites serve to discredit Duncan. Nothing More. They'll have to do better than plagiarism. And with fear of any mention of "The Church", they're out of options. They aren't getting very many hits anymore. It would be best to ignore them.

Anonymous said...

Did Duncan rip off What I Wore for Closet Cases, the Oxygen cartoon show?
Duncan ws good at spottng talent, that's sure.

poussin said...

Poulet, we need your help and academic expertise. Ms. Duncan considered herself and was considered a punk historian of sorts, and yet...

" If you doubt the Chelsea's status as the Haunted Indian Burial Ground of Baby Boomer hipster culture, consider that no significant counterculture has been produced by Western white middle class youth since Sid Vicious murdered his girlfriend on this very spot and died of a heroin overdose in Rikers prison in the middle of the East River shortly afterward. "

Poor fact-checking there. Of course she was only 12 or 9 when Sid overdosed while out on bail, but still.

Then there was the matter of Keith Moon's "letter to his wife Kim" that was in actuality a letter from Moon to a friend, stating that Kim Moon was broke and in need of some cash. Did Duncan not read this quaint correspondence that was given as a gift to the Lunar Society?

Poulet, you have work to do.

Anonymous said...

Theresa Duncan loses track of her age.
I think it is hilarious that she was 27 for so long and 35+ in an interview.
It was a joke to her,it was like what's the big deal,take a look at her.
Anyone have a photo of Katie Coe

Unknown said...

My close personal gang stalkers with the Children of God have plenty of photos of me, my license plates, my kid's school and my dog. Why don't you contact them and see if they'll share?