My first meeting with Annie Lennox was when I was a child in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was at a music store in one of the smaller malls in my hometown.

As my dad was looking at cassette tapes, a big poster captured my attention. It was a person, with striking eyes and red lips. They had crystals in their head with fuchsia and satsuma feather boas. I didn’t know if they were a man or a woman. It didn’t matter. I wanted to be whoever that person was. Every time we visited the mall, I always went to the music store first to see the poster.

One day it was no longer there, replaced by a band (I think it was Duran Duran).

I remember feeling a sense of loss, but my child mind was addled with an attention span slightly longer than a goldfish’s. That short attention span eventually helped me cope with that loss as it’d help me with various other losses and grief in my childhood.

However, the memory of this meeting only resurfaced years later when I saw Ms. Lennox again. At first, I didn’t recognize her as she was bare-faced and defiant on the TV screen in my living room. She put on eyeshadow with her fingers, and applied vermillion to her lips. She played with feather boas. And poof, she became that person from the poster.

I’d wait for the music video to come on again, but it didn’t get significant airtime. That memory was eventually relegated to a closed drawer in the back of my brain, but it didn’t die.

In fact, it flourished. It blossomed into my fascination with make-up, drag, and strong women.

The meaning of the song hit me years later when I began to understand English. The anger, the defiance, the anguish, the memories. So many things are contained inside the song and yet nothing overflows.

Ms. Lennox wrote the melody and the lyrics to “Why,” her debut single of her first solo album “Diva.” But music is only one of her passions. For decades, she’s been an activist and humanitarian, fighting against HIV/AIDS in African nations.

I’m turning forty this year and my big dreams and aspirations seemed to have died when I was thirty-three. Being unremarkable doesn’t scare me anymore. But I still try my best to support the causes I believe in through whatever power I have.

“Why” was released on March 16, 1992, and I decided to hold a weeklong celebration and use it also to remember the death of Breonna Taylor (March 13, 2020) and International Day Against Police Brutality (March 15).

For International Day Against Police Brutality, I wanted to highlight the deaths of Black women and transwomen of color at the hands of police officers. It took me two hours to type the names of all those women who were murdered by cops. Yes, the list is that long.

The victims ranged from nine years old to 92 years old, and, unlike Black men, these women and transwomen received very little to no media coverage when they were murdered by cops. This results in the PDs sweeping the case under the rug while the officers continue working and being paid.

I’m not in the defund-the-police crowd, but Police and Sheriff Departments in the US are overdue for heavy audits, including installing mental health professionals capable of de-escalating the situations without resorting to guns.

These women (and little girls) lost their lives in the hands of those who were supposed to protect them. And we ask why, why, why.

And we say their names. We say their names. We say their names.

I’m sure Ms. Lennox wouldn’t mind this appropriation.



Watch the video


BTS Thoughts

I wanted to have as little animal cruelty as possible, that’s why I opted to make a boa out of organza as opposed to using feathers.

There’s a framed photo of the Breonna Taylor mural in Annapolis, Maryland and a framed illustration of a black cat and a tabby. I lost my black cat Taco on March 1, 2022. Months later, on October 8, my tabby Tuna passed away. They both died of old age.

I wish my childhood resilience and short attention span were still here because these two losses impacted me. I miss my cats so much but every passing day means I’m one day closer to seeing them again.

Creating Chrissy’s costume was challenging. The body jewelry came naturally as I wanted to have something that looks like a Vegas showgirl, but the skirt thing was an afterthought.

I’d already made a jockstrap but I couldn’t find it before the shoot. Luckily, I found fabric swatches that looked approximately like what Ms. Lennox wears in the “Why” video, only much skimpier. It turned out much better than the jockstrap.

Ms. Lennox doesn’t wear gold, studded booties in the video. These are inspired by the Christian Louboutins that Kylie Minogue wears in her “Get Outta My Way” clip.

Dollsexposed showcases queer erotica, kink, fetish, and activism through twelve-inch doll photography.

Their adventures in the doll world began in 2011 before establishing a home on dollsexposed.com eleven years later.

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