Gina de Vries

When did sweet and dirty become opposites?

Filed By Gina de Vries | January 23, 2008 7:39 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living, Media
Tags: innocence, Kate Bush, mirah, queer music, robert, sophistication, sweetness

I went to see uber-adorable indie queer recording artist Mirah in concert last night. I have an even softer soft spot for her music after seeing her live. She's indie rock without being tragically, oh-so-cool-hipster. She talked about feeling awkward onstage, and sang songs from, I'm not kidding, a concept album about bugs. And she absolutely won my heart by covering Kate Bush's "Cloudbusting." "This is a song about not letting the government control you," she said, and I nodded, and sang every word right along with her.

I like Mirah so much because, some nights, I feel that odd and awkward and earnest and sweet onstage, too. I like that she's dirty -- so many of her songs are full of sex -- but that she has this disarming sweetness about her. I don't understand why, in this society, "dirty" and "sweet" are so distanced from each other. If I can't be sweet, I don't want to be dirty, and vice-versa. But I do notice that, even in the queer world, you're not supposed to be both at once. Somehow, sweetness -- being compassionate, being nice, even just smiling a lot -- doesn't generally translate to cool or sexy. Cool is aloof. Sexy is distant. Smiling means you're a dork. Dorks aren't hot.

My friend Robert has always told me that an asset of how I look -- young, short, chubby, bespectacled, curly-haired, quick to giggle -- is that I can get away with shocking people more. That people think they're dealing with a fluffy young thing and then get disarmed when I start talking about sex or politics and they realize they're dealing with someone, for lack of a better word, "sophisticated" -- sexually experienced, book smart and street smart. I've always been a little dubious about that description of myself -- Wait, don't I look disarming right away? My hair is usually purple and I wear fishnets and really short skirts -- but when I see those qualities reflected in other people, I get it more.

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I always wondered why someone who was kinky was labeled "dirty." That value-laden word seems to get tossed out quite easily.