December 7, 2019 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

GAY LA: The Return of Killjoy’s Kastle

The WeHo lesbian haunted house is back, this time in book form. 

Back in the day, when LGBT+ folks had to contend with illegal identities, certain aspects of the community were a lot less complicated to hash out. Who could have predicted, back in the 1950s or even the 1970s, that a community that fought together to establish basic rights and freedoms would become so divided by the new Millenium? 

Today, with so many different identities living under the same LGBTQ+ umbrella, the question we find ourselves asking isn’t “how do we make change happen?” More often, it’s “how much do we all really have in common?”

The LGBTQ+ community is not, and has never been, a monolith. But even within the tiny enclave of L.A. gays, there are enough seeds of dissent sewn around to create more than our fair share of tempests in teapots. The simple labels of “butch” and “femme” have made way for more complicated associations (see: soft butch, futch, diesel dykes, bois, and sporty femmes) and as the generational gap grows, we’re seeing more and more dissidence within a community that used to find itself banning together against all odds. 

Enter “Killjoy’s Kastle,” a 2015 performance art piece that came to West Hollywood’s ONE Archives in 2015. The experience–half haunted house, half immersive art piece–was a response to all the different ways in which queer women have been turned against each other over the years. From TERFs to gender-critical feminists, every type of assumption about lesbian identity was taken on, skewered, and dissected for a willing audience. Now a book of essays related to the installation, “Killjoy Kastle” takes on an even bigger variety of whipping girls (and bois) through essays. Like the original KillJoy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House, the book “is designed to pervert, not convert.” 

Toronto based-artists Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell advised viewers to “follow your demented women’s studies tour guide through the glorious and grisly KillJoy’s Kastle.” In essay form, all the same stereotypes, old tropes, and misguided assumptions about lesbian life come back to wreak intellectual havoc once again on readers. The response, fittingly, hasn’t been unmixed.

“Killjoy’s Kastle was the subject of debate, derision, and disgust, both inside and outside of queer communities,” writes Alexis Clements for LARB. “Within queer communities, it was criticized by some for being too white, too cisgender, too demanding for those working on it, too scary, and too focused on genitalia and essentialist ideas about genitalia and gender.”

It makes sense that a potentially polarizing book based on a potentially polarizing art piece would still wield the power to polarize, especially in the current climate. Not everyone believes that staring down stereotypes and taking on harmful tropes is part of the work we need to be doing at this moment. As such, no one can quite agree on what’s “scary” about a lesbian feminist haunted house. Is it the fact that it seems like it’s making fun of past queer pain? The fact that it’s gleefully irreverent? Or perhaps the feeling that within this over-the-top world, someone might find the exact kind of twisted queer utopia we all see in our dreams: imperfect, yet beautiful. 

Related Posts

“The L Word: Gen. Q” Can’t Come Soon Enough!

December 6, 2019

December 6, 2019

We are ready for you, “The L Word: Generation Q!”  A decade after the original series ended, “The L Word”...

California One of Top States in Equality CA’s Legislative Scorecard

December 5, 2019

December 5, 2019

California earned top marks in Equality California’s recently released annual state legislative scorecard for 2019 Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide...

WeHo Art Exhibit: What is Queer Photography

December 4, 2019

December 4, 2019

Masculine, feminine, non-binary, gender-fluid – all perspectives tell our story. ROUND HOLE SQUARE PEG 4 is a juried photography exhibition...

HEALTH FEATURE: Holistic Rehabilitation with Gyrotonic at Body Rhythm

December 2, 2019

December 2, 2019

Master Trainer Shevi Baruch helping patients with range of injuries  With more fitness programs and classes available than ever, it’s...

‘Tis the “Season of Love” in Queer Holiday Rom-Com

November 30, 2019

November 30, 2019

Every holiday season traditional and streaming networks create a ton of holiday romantic comedies but they consistently fail to create...

Queer Mall is for All!

November 29, 2019

November 29, 2019

Black Friday is upon us, but it is doubtful that Sears is going to have the perfect gift for your...

WeHo Celebrates Shop Small Saturday

November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019

Portion of proceeds to be donated to Los Angeles LGBT Center Culinary Arts Program. As Thanksgiving slowly starts to recede...

WeHo Mayor D’Amico: ‘Create Your Own Traditions’

November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, time is going to fly by before we know it. But holidays are all...

DEAR AIDAN: Bro Wants to Downplay My Relationship with My Husband?

November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019

Dear Aidan! The Holiday season is coming up and I am going to be going back to my hometown for...

Surviving a Hostile Family Holiday Dinner When You Identify as LGBTQ+

November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019

The upcoming holiday season evokes a wide range of emotional friction for the LGBTQ+ community. The Human Rights Campaign frequently...

Q&A: Thanksgiving at Long Beach LGBTQ Center

November 26, 2019

November 26, 2019

For Long Beachers who celebrate Thanksgiving with their chosen family, the LGBTQ center of Long Beach is thankful for you. ...

TRAVEL COLUMN: LGBTQ+ Family Vacation Takes on Las Vegas

November 24, 2019

November 24, 2019

Along with the regular warm and fuzzy feelings of family and tradition, Thanksgiving evokes the best feeling of all: time...

Big Queer Convo Takes on Tobacco Smoking Plight LGBTQ+ Community Faces

November 22, 2019

November 22, 2019

New findings from #Out4Mental Health Statewide Community Survey and UCLA’s LGBTQ Tobacco Study interviews show how factors including homophobia and...

TRANS HOMELESSNESS in LA: Social injustice, or gender identity bias?

November 20, 2019

November 20, 2019

A personal overview from a trans activist and MSW candidate from USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. By Christina...

LGBTQ Center of Long Beach to Honor Trans Day of Remembrance

November 19, 2019

November 19, 2019

So far in the United States this year, at least 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been violently killed,...