I’m vegetarian but I hate fruits. Those I’ve lived with (my family, my housemates, my romantic partners) all love fruits. Not me. They’re either too sour (apples) or their juices are too sticky (also apples). But bananas? I love them.

They’re easy to eat, they’re sweet, they’re satisfying, and they’re shaped like dicks. I mean, what’s not to like? And my boyfriend can turn overripe bananas into a (suspiciously) delicious banana bread.

Also, what better way to celebrate National Banana Day than to also highlight one of Vaudeville’s trailblazers and originator of the Banana Dance: Josephine Baker?

Like many Black Americans who moved from the US to France in order to escape injustice and persecution, Baker soon called France her home in more ways than one.

Black Americans had long traveled to Paris for opportunities that America denied them, especially during the 20th century. “I got to Paris with forty dollars in my pocket, but I had to get out of New York,” the writer James Baldwin said about why he left the United States. “I didn’t know what was going to happen to me in France but I knew what was going to happen to me in New York.” Paris is the place where Baldwin and Richard Wright once feuded over Wright’s 1940 novel, Native Son. It’s also the place where Josephine Baker danced and ate lunch with her pet cheetah, Chiquita. The artists Loïs Mailou Jones and Beauford Delaney both painted here.

The Hidden Histories of Black Americans in Paris

During World War II, she turned Château des Milandes, her home in southern France, into a place to store weapons and help the French resistance.

As an entertainer, Baker was able to move more freely across borders than the average citizen. As a result, she delivered information to neutral countries like Portugal and arranged for them to be transmitted to England. She wrote messages regarding airfields, harbors, and German troop concentrations in France in invisible ink on her sheet music.

Josephine Baker: Her Banana Dance Shocked Paris and Made Her a Star

Ms. Baker’s queer legacy is very complicated. Although her performances and sex appeal captured the attention of all genders, she didn’t seem to want to go public about her queerness. Keep in mind that as sexually liberates as France was, homosexuality (and bisexuality) wasn’t as accepted as it is today.

Many of the discussions around Baker’s sexuality involves the fact that she was publicly anti-queer. Her fourth husband, Jo Bouillon, from 1947 until their divorce in 1961, was bisexual, too. According to Jean-Claude, the couple would fight in the streets of Castlenaud and call one another homophobic slurs. She would call Bouillon a “faggot” on several occasions, and he would call her a “dyke.” Nevertheless, they did not hide their queerness from one another. It wasn’t uncommon for him to bring a man to her house, and it wasn’t uncommon for her to have a woman over.

Harlem Renaissance at 100: Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Connections

Another facet of her life is her “Rainbow Tribe.” Baker was unable to conceive, so she adopted twelve children from all over the world. However, it became more of a social experiment to show that these children, who were assigned their own religion and backstory by Baker and thus raised differently from one another, were able to live harmoniously with one another.

However, when Baker discovered her teenage adopted son Jarry Baker in a tub with another boy, she sent her to live in Buenos Aires with her ex-husband so he wouldn’t “contaminate his brothers.”

Josephine Baker — the bisexual revue star, darling of gays and drag queens, civil rights activist — banished her son because he loved men.

When asked whether he has forgiven her, Jarry Baker waves his hand dismissively and says: “Yes, who cares. She didn’t want us to grow. Maybe she was afraid that we would out-grow her.” At times he seems almost thankful for having been rejected by his mother. “It was like being liberated.”

Josephine Baker’s Rainbow Tribe

And despite all of Baker’s wartime efforts to help the French government and the allies during WWII, her illustrious stage and singing careers, and the way her artistic vision elevated vaudeville aesthetics and inspired countless generations of queer and or Black artists, she remained a flawed human being. Just like we all are.

And now, on to the cats.

It doesn’t matter how many cats actually live in your household. If you love cats and support cat causes and charities, you’re a cat lady (or a cat gent).

There are currently three cats living in the Matt & Chrissy household: Galadriel/Gala (a black and white girl cat), Diana/Deedee (a white girl cat), and George Meowchel aka Georgie Porgie aka Miss Meow (a gray boy cat).

Georgie isn’t seen in this shoot, but you can find him trying to grab at ribbons when Chrissy was wrapping Matt’s presents.

It’s been pretty difficult to get sixth-scale animals that look just as realistic as Phicen/TBLeague. You could technically get away with more cartoonish pets for Barbies or Rainbow High, but not for Phicen/TBLeague, unless you’re creating a fantasy universe.

I got the cat figures on eBay a long time ago. If you search “black white 1:6 cat” on eBay, you may still be able to find Galadriel’s twins, but I can’t find Diana or George Meowchel anymore.

There are more realistic cat figures, including the ones by Mr.Z and the sitting cat figures included in Phicen/TBLeague’s Bastet, but these cats have been with me since the very beginning and it’s time I introduce them.

BTS Thoughts

I don’t think Ms. Baker ever danced in stilettoes. I was going to give Chrissy a pair of flat, gold sandals to pose in but I figured these studded gold heels would look better.

The reason why George Meowchel wasn’t present in the shoot was that I didn’t think his look would gel well with the other two kitties. However, I have paired him with Gala in previous shoots and I don’t have any intention of replacing him.

For this shoot, I’m making up an excuse for his absence. Let’s just say he’s out cruising in some litter box.

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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