With its title alone Bixa Travesty (translated as “Tranny Fag”) announces itself as a radical statement. The combination of two near-taboo words that continue to be contested within and leveraged against the LGBTQ community already alerts you that Brazilian directors Claudia Priscilla and Kiko Goifman are out to push boundaries. Their vehicle: the charismatic self-described “gender terrorist”/singer/artist Linn da Quebrada. This documentary is uninterested in making you feel comfortable with the images and ideas they’re presenting, and confronts you head on about current issues.
“My black skin is my cloak of courage,” Linn sings at one point, “it boosts my moves, it praises my queerness.” Part concert film, part character portrait, and part “tranny fag” manifesto, Bixa Travesty asks us to re-evaluate how we approach gender, race, sexuality, and everything in between. Linn usually performs in little else than a thong (adorned at times with chains and mesh stockings) and her signature claw-like glove. These concerts, in dimly-lit venues with bare-bones stages, usually involve twerking dancers, an expletive or two, and a throng of adoring fans.
Her songs speak to the need to break free of traditional gender, racial, classist, sexual norms. “She has a woman’s body,” goes one of her other songs, “a woman’s face, and a woman’s cock.” Such lyrics put forth a different vision of gendered identities, the kind Linn wants to deconstruct. For example, she prefers female pronouns despite the fact that – as seen in several NSFW clips – Linn still has male genitalia. “You can be a woman and have a dick,” she explains.
If all gender is a construct, if there’s nothing that keeps men from growing out their curly hair, or wearing makeup, or sleeping with whatever gender they so wish, then all kinds of labels and identity markers become useless. These are the lessons Linn wants us to learn.
Whether addressing the audience in song or staring straight into the camera while recording a radio program, she stresses that we should feel free to break apart a system made by and for a straight male majority. She wants men to be afraid of her and her ideas. Having survived a cancer scare as well as daily prejudice because of her faggotry (and even respectable notions of what trans women should look and act like), Linn paints herself as an artist whose work will open minds.
With this exuberant documentary, which finds her at home cooking with her mom, in hospital rooms dancing naked for her friend, and on stages slaying it with abandon, Linn may finally find the greater platform her ideas deserve.
Bixa Travesty screened as part of the Third Horizon Film Festival. You can now stream it on Vimeo on Demand.