Bringing their fibres and performance art practices together, Marisa Hoicka and Johnny Forever work with themes of love and labour through drag aesthetics in a durational performative installation.

Through their performantive bond, they make intimate relationships public and test the limits of trust and dependence. Working with both campy and surreal aesthetics, Hoicka and Forever find humour in these tender and confidential moments.

The constructed division between public and private has been blurred and reconfigured endlessly throughout the history of theatrical entertainment. The advent of television turned private living rooms into arenas of the viewing “public.” Today, internet video hosting platforms, such as YouTube further conflate the roles of perfomer and spectator. We are witnessing the creation of a new kind of theatre, one in which both house and stage take twin forms. Webcams record living room and bedroom dramas to be projected into other living rooms and bedrooms, the process replicated millions of times a day. Hoicka and Forever dramatize this phenomenon in Trust My Gut: A Drag Opera Surgery.

The piece is an eight hour durational installation referencing Orlan’s televised performance art plastic surgeries of the early nineties, relating high art shock and cabaret camp to the goings on in the private lives-made-public of everyday people. It is a living sculpture performed by characters selected from the drag oeuvre of Marisa Hoicka and Johnny Forever.

In the centre of the performance space hangs a nine by eleven foot crocheted replica of a YouTube window. Inside this frame Marisa Hoicka and Johnny Forever enact a mock soap operatic surgical drama in drag. Uncle Wink, Hoicka’s campy and endearing male fantasy persona lies on a surgical table. Mini Maul, Forever’s surrealist punk-rock-queen meets Christian-country-star alter ego tinkers above him with an array of “surgical” tools. Wearing black latex gloves she demonstrates excellent hygienic practices as she cuts into her patient’s campy spandex suit of “skin” and “muscle.” Her instruments are a pair of tailor scissors and a collection of sewing needles and crochet hooks shining like scalpels on a surgeon’s dolly. Uncle Wink remains fully conscious while gloriously splayed open. His innards are revealed to be a colourful mass of yarn and fabric, which Mini Maul crafts into outrageous sculptural forms that rise from his belly and spill onto the floor.

From time to time, doctor and patient break into lip-synced duets chosen by audience members from an easily accessible playlist.  In order to hear their chosen song, the audience member must put on an available pair of headphones to enjoy a private “YouTube” listening experience.

Trust My Gut symbolically connects the inner world of the performer to the viewing experience of the audience, exploring the limits of personal privacy, love and labour on display.

Many YouTube users become performers, posting countless videos of their private lives. Echoing early video/performance work, the solo bedroom performer is among the most common YouTube phenomena. Our era is witness to the fulfilment of Warhol’s prophecy. Everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame. Our domestic lives and idiosyncratic behaviours become part of entertainment production. We upload our most personal moments, relationships and work are woven together and pushed out into the world through the digital interfaces of various internet social networks. We produce and perform our daily lives for one another- for millions of strangers.


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