While soaps inhabit weekday afternoons, Saturday and Sunday belong to soaps’ masculine equivalent: professional sports.
Two sides of the same coin, or same card. Writer Elinor Lipman’s father referred to her favorite soap as “As the World Squirms.” Why this pejorative disdain? Why do men dismiss soaps as too emotional, when they have their own, equally weird, emotional outlet?
When the team is down by one, stakes seem high. But aren’t the stakes, when measured against the lifetime of the sports fan, thousands and thousands of games, relatively low? Could we call men crying or rejoicing over a single loss or win the epitome of melodrama?
When I ask my grandmother about soaps, she denies loving them, often responding with the Zen koan-like “I just watch them because they’re on.”
Yet my grandfather would never deny his teams, even when they lose. He is so guiltlessly emotionally invested that he cannot watch a Notre Dame football game live because it causes him such deep sadness, anger, anxiety, that he now only watches recorded versions, as to know the end before it begins...
while, in the next room, my grandmother withstands bottomless traumas, bazillions of lives imploding day after day all with, seemingly, a poker face.
Theorist Tonya Modleski says, “The truth for women lies not ‘at the end of expectation,’ but IN expectation, not in the ‘return to order,’ but in disorder.”
When I played Jesus
In 7th grade
I was too embarrassed to take off my shirt
Because of my developing body hair
So I was crucified
In a plain white T
Years later I resurrected
Wrapped in silk
And this cute jacket
I feel the new actor
As I donate men’s button-ups
And replace them with polyester
That buttons on the left
The most hilarious distinction between genders
On the opposite side
When I get old
So I may live serially
Love in the afternoon
You can’t erase
A world without end
Painted Dreams is a darkly comic and empathetic queering of soap opera history that explores the cliches and contradictions of gender. Disney figurines and Proctor&Gamble products commingle, altering each other’s meanings, while the series' voiceover imagines what would happen if, instead of traveling the world, the narrator of Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil stayed home and watched All My Children. Lush in domestic ooze, Painted Dreams shuffles ‘masculine,’ ‘feminine,’ ‘real,’ ‘fake’ until they become indistinguishable and androgynous.
Full Cast: Stella Corso, Emily Hunerwadel, Ish Klein, Sarah Lanzillotta, Andrew McAlpine, Sarah Beth McAlpine, Vick Quezada, Caroline Raynor, Caroline Belle Stewart, Jonathan Volk
Music by Jon Ruseski
Written & Directed by Patrick Bella Gone
Produced with support from Northampton Media
Patrick Bella Gone is an artist raised in central Pennsylvania. Their work investigates the soft language of cultural objects, often staging the confrontations of chosen and inherited identities. Gone's recent performance & video work has appeared at the Queens Museum, Bronx Academy of Art & Dance, AS220, & Dixon Place. They are a 2017 MassMOCA Assets for Artists Fellow & the author of The Impersonators (Factory Hollow Press, 2017).