Dynasty Handbag, George Michael, and more
SONIC REDUCER As a once-impressionable protein unit who wrapped my eyeballs around any and all TV comedy, I'm slightly abashed to say I haven't caught Saturday Night Live regularly in many a year. So I was surprised to hear rumors a while back that the series was allegedly biting off one of the Bay Area underground music scene's fave figures: Jibz Cameron — known and loved for her garage-rock spaz-outs with the Roofies and her pretension-leveling levity behind the counter at Lost Weekend Video. And then there's her super-girl-group of sorts, Dynasty, with Numbers drummer Indra Dunis and Neung Phak vocalist Diana Hayes, and her solo spin-off project, Dynasty Handbag.
"I don't watch it either," Cameron says from Brooklyn, as pet Chihuahuas struggle over a chew toy in the background. "But I get a phone call every other Saturday, 'Omigod, you won't fucking believe it...' and I say, 'I already know.'" She's talking about SNL's house DJ Dynasty Handbag, a character that first popped up on the show in 2005, hosting a faux-MTV talk show. The occasional Kenan Thompson character is a far cry from Cameron's Dynasty Handbag, a crazed kitsch-waver — a kind of schizo Bride of Peaches and Krystle Carrington — that Cameron developed on petite SF music stages before moving east four years ago. The project started life as the portable version of Dynasty and turned into a multi-referent alter ego.
The SNL character hasn't reappeared in the last year, but it still offends. "It's still on their DVDs, and I do performance that's comedy-related," she says. "People research me on the Internet, and my site comes up first, but they're there, though I'm the OG, the OD, the OGD." She says she sent SNL a cease-and-desist letter and when "that didn't go anywhere, I took it to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. I'm not in a full-blown lawsuit with them, but we're sort of in discussion with them." At press time, SNL representatives have not responded to requests for comment.
Cameron says she does have a new "plan of attack." Her friend Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio will be producing a podcast radio show called Radio Woo Woo, which she will cohost. "My plan is to just keep talking about it on the air," she says, adding that the podcast will premiere TV on the Radio's new album this fall.
The low-broiling brouhaha hasn't stopped Cameron from developing her Dynasty Handbag performances into narratives. This week she'll unveil three short pieces at CounterPULSE. One, Bags, revolves around Cameron's relationships with five empty shopping bags: "Each one sucks my soul in a different way, like bad relationships in my 20s. One is really needy; one's really demanding; and one just wants to get fisted." A work in progress, O Death, sees Cameron attempting to bury her own dead body.
Cameron has been far from dead and buried in New York: within months of moving to the Big Snapple she was crowned Miss Lower East Side in Murray Hill's annual pageant, and she has presented solo shows at PS 122 and Galapagos Art Space. "Everybody works so hard here — it's really influenced me to go ahead with my stuff. And there's just the intensity of seeing so many insane people every day," says Cameron, who was raised by hippie parents in Mendocino County ("My childhood was peppered by characters with beards and long, droopy fun bags"). "That's really helpful, too." *
DYNASTY HANDBAG: TALES FROM THE PURSE
Thurs/19 and Sat/21, 8 p.m., Fri/20 and Sun/22, 10 p.m., $20
1310 Mission, SF