You may have seen Qween Amor around town. S/he appears regularly at LGBT-rights rallies, Slut Walks, and Occupy events. S/he's also a street performer. I saw her for the first time on New Year's Eve, dancing in the subway station at Union Square under a banner with the name Mary Magdalene.
I don't usually stop to watch the subway performers who gather crowds, but I could not take my eyes off Qween.
Dressed in a tiny g-string (later, a pink tutu), mesh sleeves, and glittering American-flag stilettos, s/he was kinetic, ebullient, and absolutely hypnotic, doing nothing more than freestyle dancing while lipsyncing to music. Yet coming upon Qween felt like stepping back in time, to an older, wilder New York, where categories blur, boundaries melt, and anything can happen. I felt myself shift inside, the tension and hurry fade away, making space for a sensation that felt a lot like joy. I let three trains go by while I watched for as long as I could, eventually arriving late at my ultimate destination.
Thanks to some Facebook friends who linked me to Qween, I was able to get in touch and ask some questions.
Where do you come from originally, and what inspired you to dance in the subway?
I'm from Florida, and about a year ago I had a few experiences that led to an awakening. I felt the suffering of the world, I experienced the feminine divine (Christianity's "devil"), and I came to know who I am after breaking through that little ego of mine, that still kinda creeps up. I noticed a lot of things that are happening in the world and I also noticed a generation of apathy. So I decided that maybe there is not much I could do to change everything wrong with the world (poverty, homelessness, intolerance, etc.), but I could use music as a voice. Most of the experiences I had were directly related to the music. The music is a form of communication. So when I perform I attempt to let that be recognized--that I'm not just dancing, but also speaking. When I left Florida I knew that I wanted to spread love, and I wanted to preach using the music, because the music will allow me to speak to the hearts of people rather than just their minds.
How do you identify in terms of gender identity? What pronoun do you prefer?
Really I prefer S/he. I like to identify with both genders. This pseudo war between masculinity and femininity is a bit overrated and I like to embrace both aspects of sexuality within myself.
How have people responded to your dancing? When I saw you, a lot of people were having a great time, smiling, and feeling joyful. Have you ever gotten a negative response?
Most people respond in a positive way, but I do come across some people who are just highly ignorant like this guy: "Qween Amor Assaulted." But for the most part, people who don't like it just shake their heads and walk away. Some guys do this really strange thing where they turn their fingers into the shape of a gun and point it at me...and I don't quite understand why they do it, it's really weird.
That's awful. Does this happen in New York City or other places?
In DC, when I first started dancing in Columbia Heights, little kids about 11-12 years old would throw eggs and pennies at me, LOL. I think New Yorkers are more open to freedom of expression than most people. You have ignorance everywhere, but I get a lot of support here in New York and that makes me happy. Most people I meet here are super friendly.
Has the NYPD ever given you trouble for dancing in a g-string?
Oddly enough, the g-string isn't indecent exposure. I don't get in trouble for that. I get in trouble for playing music. I've been arrested several times and have had my amp taken. It's crazy.
What music inspires you the most?
Well Madonna first and foremost. It's like she sings to me. When I first started waking up, Music became a revelation. It was as if angels were calling my name, so I answered. Maybe it's not real, but to me, it feels real. Florence and the Machine, Lady Gaga, Alanis Morrisette, Queen (most definitely Queen, Queen, Queen all the way). I love Queen. Freddie Mercury is a true fucking hero. I like a lot of classic rock. Things like "Carry on My Wayward Son," "Knocking on Heaven's Door," "Dream On." I love Devil Music. It's as if music was specifically created for the Devil to tell the world who s/he is.
Music isn't just entertainment anymore. It's a way of life, it's a form of communication, it's a language. It's a vibration, an energy. I'm able to embody that music and portray those emotions, to the point where I am the Music. When I dance there is no separation between me and the music. We are one.
What's next for the Qween?
Well, I'm going to have to rough it out here in New York until I can get the money I need to buy a van. My ultimate goal right now is just to travel around the country and dance practically everywhere. I want to spread as much Love as I possibly can. I recently just got a room in the Bronx, but I can't stay there, it's not a good environment for me, so it's back to the subway for me, LOL. I really want to make it out to California and dance up the west coast. Starting from San Diego all the way to Seattle. I can't do that without a van. I hear that sleeping in parks in California will get you arrested and I don't have time for that. I have a lot of performances that I want to do, and statements I want to make, but I can't do any of it right now. So right now I'm just kind of surviving until I can start making things happen.
QUEEN AMORE from The Rogue Cap on Vimeo.
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