Adele Todd at Trinidad and Tobago’s J’ouvert in 2009

Since the year 1999, I have been observing ways to make ‘Art’ at carnival time that breaks the boundaries of ‘mas.’ To me, carnival is a gigantic, uncharted territory of creative possibilities. In 2008, I decided that the ‘old mas’ character of Dame Lorraine should be revised. The Dame Lorraine was played by men in our carnival history. Men literally made fun of female frailties. Yet, today, women play the character. This was both puzzling and challenging to me.

Why would women parody themselves? Men are not doing this?  This led to the concept of looking in on the male from a female perspective.  I had always enjoyed the works of Aubrey Beardsley, and instantly the idea to ‘Perform’ one of his sexually charged works lept up at me.

No woman in our carnival history had attempted to ‘wear’ a phallic piece, in all this time. Surely, we enjoy making light of our politics with the satire of the ‘Bomb competition’ during the wee hours of Lunde Gras.  We wear the prosthetic breasts and bottoms, and men have extended the penis in play. But in all of the good fun, feminine imagery is blown up to an extreme of bikini mas. When women ‘play themselves’ they too seem to miss the irony of it all.

So, amidst the good fun, I chose to cut a path with my attire, and the response was beyond my wildest expectations. Men were stunned and women giggled. No one passed me by without comment, and more often than not, the comments were close to me, for my ears alone. Pictures abounded, flashbulbs went off in abundance and people wanted to pose with me at every step.

The approach from men was extremely revealing. Men commented from the funny to the delicately explicit. But always with a curiosity and respect.  “May I, can I…” The brave asked to touch, and it came from both sexes.

The combination of the obviously feminine wearer, nicely draped, and then the Bourroquite-like protrusion of the penis, gave rise (pun intended) to a bobbing and weaving of my presentation. However it was not mistaken for anything but what it was.

Examination of the Herald by Aubrey Beardsley

A Performance using embroidered fabric, sculpted foam form, upturned (hat)basket and feather. Duration of Performance – about five hours. From The Foreshore Freeway to Downtown Port-of-Spain