Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Reading Jayne County

I was trying to find a 70s German movie set in the US desert. Juggling search terms, I ran across a film starring Jane County (the chaotic beauty City of Lost Souls (1983)). This took me back. I read Man Enough to be a Woman when I was 19 or 20 after finding it in the back of the Friends of the Free Library bookstore where I worked. It had come in as a donation, as most of the books did, and was priced under two dollars. With this cover, I had to have it.

Man Enough to be a Woman came to me before my first great lesson in mortality but after suffering from depression for many years. I was generally joyless and too young to know how to change that. Though my memory is fuzzy on the text, I now realize that this memoir was part of my lifelong search for examples of happy lives from people who do not follow the rules.

The book's title comes from an album title from County's band Jayne County and the Electric Chairs. She is a US born, Berlin based musician actress and artist. She was a huge part of the 70s Berlin music scene and seems to have met or worked with everyone, while also simply surviving in a cruel & boring world. This book made me want a time machine. Failing that, it further bolstered my belief that one can create spaces to be and just sort of living the idea that life is very short.

Reading queer and trans history helps remove the confines of the banal evil of heteronormativity and white supremacy and makes suspect the myth of queerness being a uniformly miserable time until recently.

Man Enough... got rereleased in the UK in 2021 by Serpent's Tail. I was too busy attending to my living death this year to hear about it, but now I’m keen to find this book again. I especially want to read the new afterword by County herself.

Here's a review of City of Lost Souls (1983) by Caroline Golum. Link to youtube rip above.