In 2007, one of the best lesbian music videos ever was made: Team Gina‘s “Butch/Femme.”
The song is a perfect example of the kind of music the electro hip-hop duo made, poppy tracks that infused historical political themes of queerness into its catchy hooks. One of the Ginas, Gina Young was also a singer/songwriter who was a fixture of the Seattle LGBT and music scenes, and now she’s putting her songs on a different kind of setting. Young is the co-creator (alongside Amanda-Faye Jimenez) and director of Tales of a Fourth Grade Lesbo, a play opening in Los Angeles this weekend. Young said that theater isn’t exactly a new realm for her, however, as even Team Gina was a little bit of play.
“I’ve actually done theater all my life,” she said. “This is the fifth play I’ve had produced; my first was called she cuts herself / she likes to write and dealt with four girls at a Catholic high school, coming out and breaking from self-injury. We produced it at an all-women’s theater collective in the East Village right after September 11, 2001. It was intense on many levels.”
Tales of a Fourth Grade Lesbo is a little bit lighter fare, with an all female cast and an optimistic outlook on growing up gay in the ’90s. Young said she drew from her own experiences to create the musical.
“The most hilarious part is how many of my elementary school classmates have found me on Facebook and been like, ‘What is this play?! Am I in it? You know I want to come see what you’re saying about our childhood days!’” Young said. “It has really reminded me that we all tortured each other for being different when we were young. I was bullied for being weird and different, but I certainly said and did mean things to other kids, too, and most of us turned out to be pretty good people, in the end. It’s been nice to know that most of us grew out of the learned prejudices and innate fear of difference that we had as kids.”
Young said she was often teased for being a tomboy and a lesbian before she even knew what it was. Her hope is that through the humor of Tales, which will be released on DVD, people of all kinds can find acceptance.
“We’re trying to make the world a safer place for queer kids. Actually, for all kids,” she said, “because the words ‘fag’ and ‘dyke’ are not only hurled at gay kids to make them ashamed; they’re also used to insult anyone who steps outside of gender norms — boys who are sensitive and creative; girls who are athletic or brave. I hope this play can make us all think about the ways that we prevent other people from expressing themselves.”
Young moved to Los Angeles from Seattle two years ago, where her ex-Team Gina partner still lives. She said she’d been loving the weather, of course, as well as the community.
“The Pacific Northwest has really beautiful summers and a ton of amazing queer dance parties where you can dress up however you want and really be ridiculous and be embraced for it. ..[L.A.] is in an extremely exciting moment for visual art and television, for LGBT people,” Young said. “I love living in a place where so much of culture is being defined and produced. Portland and Seattle still own the lesbian music scene, though.”
As for a future in the music scene, Young said Team Gina is not likely to make a comeback anytime soon.
“Gina Bling is a small business owner in Seattle now. She just posted something about Crocs on my Facebook wall,” Young said. “I love that people keep asking about Team Gina and that performance videos of ours keep popping up on YouTube. If someone wanted to make a documentary about our glory days in spandex and leg warmers, I’d be down to participate.”
After Tales wraps this month (“It has consumed my life,” she said) Young will work on projects, including taking the stage with Your Heart Breaks at The Smell on December 18.
“I’m also working on a new play about femmes, which will premiere in March 2013,” she said. The Team Gina spirit is still alive, it just moved to Southern California.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Lesbo is at the Pasadena Playhouse this Saturday, December 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday December 9 at 2 p.m and 8 p.m. Visit pasadenaplayhouse.org for tickets. To order a copy of the DVD, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.