Abstract

Abstract:

This essay is premised on the contention that neither "Hedwig" nor "The Angry Inch" would be possible without Asian labor. While Hedwig's queer labor makes possible the celebrity of Tommy Gnosis, her transformation depends on the disavowal of labor enacted by racial Others. Grappling with the constitutive role of Asian labor in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2014) shifts analyses about the relationship between sexuality and labor that the musical stages. Given its association of transness with suffering and Hedwig's quest for artistic recognition through her performance, the musical's symbolic deployments of castration risk embedding transness within a developmental narrative of injury that must be overcome. Rather than evaluate the production as being either complicit with or resistant to normative ideals, the essay posits that its disavowals productively rehearse and undermine the operations of sexual normativity. Hedwig uses camp humor to provide a glimpse into the potential complicities and co-optations of queerness/transness, while showing how such dynamics remain uninterrogated. Acknowledging precisely to deny Asian labor through a mode of indifference, Hedwig sublimates the materiality of their racial labor toward her fabulous style. By emphasizing contemporary transnational circuits of capital and war, the Broadway revival of Hedwig invites us to read indifference otherwise—as a refusal to dismiss the racialized conditions that are symptomatic and productive of queerness/transness. Reassessing the debates surrounding Hedwig through camp allows us to mine the political and critical possibilities for queer/trans of color critique, one that productively elucidates the ambivalences of gender and sexuality as their deployments varyingly problematize and fortify projects of violence.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 173-193
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-10
Open Access
No
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