Read an Excerpt
RuPaul and The Mannequin
April 13, 2005
"You sure you wouldn't like some wine, Derek?"
My client is enjoying herself. She's invited three of her friends for an afternoon of psychic readings at her clothing boutique in Honolulu. Dresses, purses, jewelry, and shoes are all tastefully displayed. A little cheese tray has been laid out, along with some nuts and olives. It's a quiet Saturday and, though the store is open, no customers have come in. I have the sense she owns the business to outfit her friends more than anyone else.
For the last two hours, the women have listened in on each other's readings. I've kept the psychic insights light and fun. These women keep no secrets from one another; they've had fun watching me pick up on each other's personality traits and little secrets.
After the last reading, one of the women asked, "Derek, how do you get your information?"
"I interpret information from my imagination. I let myself play, and go wherever my intuition guides me. Sometimes answers come from the walls or the things in the room. I'll allow the 'real' physical world around me to morph into an imaginary dreamscape. A kind of waking dream emerges, an alternate reality that I give the same credence as the conscious reality you and I know.
"For example, you see that gecko brooch there?" All eyes move to a colorful brooch made with rubies and other gemstones. "Gecko's have a definitive stare. When they look at you, they draw you into trance with one eye. Have you noticed how they do that? The next time a gecko stares at you, try mentally entering the eye to see what it is saying. This one says to me, 'I have a dream for you! I will share some of my talent with you!' I'm not quite sure what this means. Well, actually, maybe I do know. Lizards are the keepers of dreams. I think he's saying I will have a psychic dream. Maybe that he will come to me in a dream. Or that a dream of mine will have some correspondence in reality."
The ladies all stare at me blankly. Derek, your example is too abstract. Not everyone understands your psychic language.
"You have to think like a child to capture psychic insight.When you were all kids, you no doubt played with dolls. You briefly lived in an alternate reality. It was real to you. Well, if you were to ask a doll for psychic information, then carry on a conversation with that doll in your imagination, the doll would probably give you psychic information."
The ladies still gaze at me blankly.
I continue, "See this white mannequin over here with the oriental dress? In my imagination, she's raising her finger to me. She says, 'I have something to say!' Her voice is quite firm in my mind. She reminds me of that drag performing artist, Rupaul. Do you know her?" They all burst out laughing. They do know her. Rupaul is an actor, model, and songwriter, an iconic gender-bender, and race-bender. He's black, but performs as more of a blond white woman.
"It's funny," I say. "I know it makes no sense, and is strange, but you have to accept it regardless, and assume there's something psychic about it. She wants to say something to you, Arlette."
"I'll interpret what I see her saying and doing. She's flashing wide, white eyes. She is presenting herself to me as a black woman, but made up blonde, like she's trying to be white. She's standing on the coffee table, really confidently. She's wagging her finger at you, saying, "Girlfriend! Why are you letting your so calledboyfriend run the show? If he's so bad, as you like to say, why don't you leave him?'"
The women all laugh. One says, "She has you pegged, Arlette."
"The psychic dreamscape is fun to explore. The characters we meet there are clever. Let's break the symbols down a bit. This model, or mannequin, appears African American to me. Why? To me, a black woman, as an archetype, represents strength and the quest for equality. That's why she's speaking to you about owning your power. Drag queens are another archetype. They live their lives on their own terms, nobody else's. They don't care what people think and often make decisions that defy social norms or conventions." I say this to Arlette as if it might apply to her.
She smiles knowingly back at me and says, "It's so amazing, how that message applies to me." The two other women exchange looks of disbelief. "I'll say," the owner of the store says, but apparently for a different reason. "This is so freaky, Derek."
"Why?" I ask.
"The other day, we painted that mannequin white. I didn't think that outfit looked right on her with her natural dark coloring. Underneath, she's really a black mannequin."