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Slanty Eyed Mama at the Freer

Monday May 7, 2007

Slanty Eyed Mama's Kate Rigg
(from The Washington Post 5/7/07)

The smart, edgy trip-hop duo Slanty Eyed Mama hit town on Saturday night, showing up in -- of all places -- the Freer Gallery's buttoned-down Meyer Auditorium, where you're usually more likely to hear a string quartet or traditional Afghan rubab music.

But it was an inspired choice. The X-rated Slantys (who describe themselves as "two good Asian girls gone bad-assed") dig fearlessly into the identity issues facing Amerasians, smashing stereotypes and spotlighting the subtle and not-so-subtle prejudices they face. As part of its celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, the Freer could not have picked a more relevant performance.

Vocalist Kate Rigg, backed up by the superb electric violinist Lyris Hung, brought her machine-gun delivery and perfect comic timing to pieces that all revolved around the basic question she's always being asked: "So -- what are you?"

And the answer is never simple. Whether looking at the fantasies of Western men toward Asian women ("Me Love You Long Time"), the distorted self-image of adolescent girls ("I'm a Naughty Schoolgirl") or the prejudices of one minority toward another ("My Boyfriend's Black and There's Gonna Be Trouble"), Rigg used stereotypes against themselves to nuanced but devastating effect.

The songs were powerful, but some of the most telling moments came when Rigg read stories she'd collected from Amerasians, such as the poignant story of the Filipina in Massachusetts who insisted she was Puerto Rican so that she'd have a community to belong to -- even after a trip to Manila in search of her own elusive identity.

Posted on Monday, May 7, 2007 at 10:32AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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