Last year during the heatwaves I was in Devon, I had performed as La Veneno with my tit’s out, at a Buddhist festival, singing about queerness and permaculture, for mostly heterosexual people. I come home to see plants few recognise as medicine, such as elderberries and blackberries wilted, leaves on trees that should be verdant green scorched by the sun’s heat, and while fires burnt people’s homes in other places, I see that the crisis is real and it was on my doorstep, in an admittedly subtle way compared to videos and stories I have seen, especially from the global south.
I had felt so proud of myself performing like that in a place like that, and it all came crashing down, to feeling like a total hypocrite singing about permaculture in a silicone breast plate, because it is made from the same fossil fuels that collectively we are over using and causing so much damage with, and because I ordered it on Amazon prime knowing the working conditions and pressure to pack things so I can get them within 24 hours can be a nightmare.
I felt like I had been mad to forget the severity of the situation, I felt like I was mad feeling grief that the medicine hardly anyone values anymore was dying, like I was mad for thinking there was a huge problem because people mostly seem to be carrying on as normal, and even people who care thought things would be ok when I didn’t, and I started thinking they would be again too, I read humanity is good at deluding itself. I found myself wanting to go out in the street and set fire to myself, to make a point and also so I wouldn’t have to live through the predicted food shortages,famines,floods, fires… that are happening for some people already and were here in less severe ways. Even having to work to get money eat seems wrong.
I read someone did actually set themselves on fire to try and do something about the crisis we are in, and also about a man who has been an activist for years trying to get on the list for assisted dying in Canada, should the situation worsen in the ways its predicted to. But also because the anxiety that is often pathologised, of being aware that we are on course for disaster and not changing enough, was becoming harder and harder to live with.I also read the UN last year even said the situation is like half of humanity being in a “collective suicide”.
I was also devastated by being alone again after being with an amazing team of people, some I met the year before & one was a close faerie friend, and I got on so well with the new people too, most of them were like faeries even though they were mostly hetero. We made art in nature and lived mostly outdoors for 2 weeks. Although most of the festival site was just a big grass monoculture field, the places I was in most of the time were covered by tree’s, were kind of marshy & wet and abundant with different green plants. I see nothing of the heat damage there which made it so much more shocking when I come home
I love the attention, and part of my intention with dressing as Veneno was fulfilling a desire, to temporarily become “a sculpted creature, a human Venus” and be worshiped like she was shown in the fictionalised tv show but also in clips of the real Veneno. There is a darker scene of this, where after not being allowed to continue being on tv and still being a sex worker in the park (which she also had to do to be able to transition and still work to live and pay for hormones, surgery etc.) where she is telling a man to worship her as he masturbates, calling her La Veneno and eventually cumming on her face. It is clear it doesn’t really fulfil her. It is strange because I am not sure my desire for attention as La Veneno is entirely healthy either, but it gives me and others so much joy too, and although I have thought about enacting a scene where I force people to worship me. It seems like there is a much more subtle recognition that I am channelling some kind of feminine goddess energy and there is some kind of reverence for that taking place at times
Most of what I buy I try to buy second hand, partly because of money, mostly because of all the guilt and angst and confusion that goes into trying to consume ethically, if there is such a thing at this point. My first Veneno outfit was nearly all new stuff, and I resisted getting the breast plate for 6 months. Someone said it was like I was expressing a part of my soul when they see me in it, and that wasn’t even in person. My most recent Veneno outfit where I look probably ten times more like her in outfit and hair and body, was mostly second hand, or stuff I bought for the first look, mostly made from a £2 dress I battled for weeks to relearn to sew myself, thinking of Cristina (La Veneno’s real name) sewing her own outfits to go and work in the park and fund her own transformation
I don’t watch a lot of tv anymore, I never talk much about tv or films I watch either, but Veneno was different, I’ve been on a mission for people to watch it with much heart-warming success, people being touched by seeing people like themselves shown which is rare, her story of being so traumatised by her upbringing, with a village amd especially mother who hated her and see her as a Maricon or faggot boy, to becoming “la bomba de españa” La Veneno, the powerful. Seductive Spanish bombshell, an overnight sensation for her beauty and outrageous demeanor, sharp tongue and frankness about being transgender…. discovered working in the very park, the transformation ground, where she had been able to rebirth herself in her own fantastical self image.
An embodiment of Lilith, Cristina was ultimately cast out just as cruelly, as many women are, put on a pedestal and then torn down for entertainment, an abusive boyfriend and a belief as a trans person she deserved no better didn’t help. Instead of being exiled to the desert and making demon babies, this Lilith was sent to a men’s prison. Where sex work seemed to have been mainly on her terms, surrounded by a fierce army of other trans women in the park, here she was completely used by men, emerging broken into the arms of her friend Paca La Pirana, who even played herself in the tv show.
After prison ,gaining weight and aging, she became a subject not of fascination but of ridicule, humiliated and branded a liar for mixing facts like having to do sex work to be able to transition with probable fantasies like there being a thousand whores in the park and biting off of her arch nemesis’s nipple. Called a broken toy and toxic to the lgbt community, a bad role model who never called herself one, she always said she never went looking for fame either, it came looking for her. After prison Cristina met the boy who would become Valeria Vegas & a great advocate for her, and meeting Cristina was also a catalyst for Valeria to start her own transition, seen for what she was by the “forbidden woman” who had been on the tv late at night.
Cristina understandably after going through so much had trauma, a self destructive streak, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, a toxic relationship with fame/tv shows, suicide attempts, but also a strong trans/queer chosen family, in spite of seemingly being totally estranged from her birth family after transitioning. It is shown that she never deserved the treatment she had, you see her as a beautiful innocent child, a brave human being just trying to be true to themselves, described as being full of light, and unloved by a mother who had a brother like her, who was probably treated even worse by his family decades before. Her story was written by Valeria in a book. Cristina made her comeback as “La Veneno” people in the lgbt community realised by being so visible she had taken bullets for them, like a shield, paved the way for them, whether she had intended to or not, she had certainly never claimed to be a role model but she did make it better for others and the tv show made about her life has that power too, especially where Valeria’s translation is portrayed, with the acceptance of her mother, she leads a more normal life where she has to remember her trans/queer family rather than depend on them for survival
Sadly she died from a head injury not long after the book was launched, but that led to people massively re-evaluating her and her becoming a legend, just typically not one that lived to see it. her family suddenly had an interest in her again, and they called him and brother and son, and her birth name, and only half her ashes were scattered in the Park where she wanted them, where she had once been a happy whore, with her trans family, her birth family tried to take them all back to Adra, at least that is how it went in the show.
Clearly this all means a lot to me and it’s really helped me accept myself and others more, and I love performing as Veneno, I am like her in many ways and proud to be so, but it also feels wrong buying the the things I have, and part of me just wants to go completely off grid, offline, just be in nature like indigenous people used to be and still are in some places.. Be like the two spirits from the past in native American cultures I have read about who were able to be a part of society in their trans and queerness. there is no time machine though, but maybe we can relearn old ways and new ways and combine them. I don’t believe we can have a big capitalist machine capable of getting breastplates to castles in 24 hours and a good, biodiverse, simple, humble, connected, sustainable, regenerative life on earth though, and carrying on like this is probably hastening our potential demise, which is also where I am happiest, outside, in the elements, actively being outside, sleeping outside, shitting outside, planting and cutting things, gardening, being part of it in a real physical way, rather than solely some more abstract sitting by a tree meditating spiritual way… but singing about stuff like this, reinterpreting the old ways, calling for a permaculture paradise, in plastic armour, in a silicone breast plate, is like being battle ready in a War, which maybe we are in