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July 20, 2023
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Traving the Night Craving the Day : La Zizanyx Spilling the Confe·Tea

During the FDS festival we met the ogre, the witch bitch, la ZIZANYX, to talk about justice and reparation, resisTRANS and care, joy and rage, celebration and revolution. Focus on a Swiss queer icon, their impact on the community, and their struggles.

Dany: Your impact on the queer community is significant. Could you discuss it?

LA ZIZANYX: Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Genevegas and my 12th year of performing .  The lockdown was tough because just before I was banned from teaching in Geneva. Social isolation  was challenging, so I interned with the Sida Geneva group and collectively with the local trans and enby communities we created  spaces for meeting and socializing outside the nightlife scene. During the lockdown, we formed a beautiful trans-community solidarity. I realized I  was missing a part of the community. Not everyone can come to clubs; it's never totally safe or inclusive.  “Safe” is not a sticker, it’s never something granted or guaranteed, it's something we have to build collectivity and consistently. I really think we also have to stop being obsessed with safety and also think about and accept the risk in our life. Think about it, capitalism is built on risk management. PersonalIty, I  developed a more caring, trans-community practice, exisTRANSialist practices it’s about justice and réparation, resisTRANS and care, joy and rage, celebration and revolution. What I do is transmission, whether  through Genevegas, DJing, activism, or teaching. It's different every time. I found other  areas to explore, and it's even more enriching. I moved to Lausanne to be able to teach again and continued working with and for trans communities . I still follow with the curation and programmation with my dear friendzZZ of Genevegas but we are currently on a strike, i only do collaboration this year with Montreux Jazz Festival, Gevenegas SWISSMESS XTRAVAGANZA  and Le Fesses-tival TBA 23th september in Théâtre de l’Usine.

D: I knew about your work but never attended a Genevegas. I'm not into clubs, but I'm  aware of what you do for the community..

LZ: We have an amazing project called Transfreeshop. It's a mobile structure designed by  my friend LassaL. We have a huge stock of clothes and make up. I noticed trans friends asking me to buy  their bras because fitting rooms at stores police gender so we organized outings to buy clothes together and take up space in fitting rooms. Then we decided to create these pop-up events. It's beautiful to do it togayther because you're with siblings,  and you learn to assert collectively your a-gender and/or your femininity, even though in non-binary,  we don't really have role models, we have to invent it all and create our TRANSpassing. The TRANSmission of gender knowledge and experiences is very empowering: One person's dysphoria can  become another person's euphoria. Personally, I explored high-femme for years with my alter ego NINA NANA. Now it's not me anymore, but I can share my gender experience to my siblingz, like a alchemy what would  make me dysphoric can be transformed into pure EUPHORIA again. As people donate their clothes, it creates  social connections. You go to spaces and people recognize each other with clothes  from ten years ago. Even outside of the space, it continues to create social bonds. So it's  really lovely; transmasculine individuals bring their feminine clothes and make  transfeminine individuals happy. I really like this interplay of euphoria/dysphoria, the  concept of communication between vessels. It's a project that is dear to my heart. Now,  thanks to the J'Innove fund, we even have upcycling workshops. We received a Disney  embroidery machine (laughs). We can embroider pronouns, names, we do flamboyance  workshops, frills. We can mend your socks; it's really fun and creative.

D: What does your vision of a queer-feminist utopia look like?

LZ: I'm idealistic but dislike utopias because they imply it's not possible now. I want the  queer feminist community in Switzerland to be free. I don't have specific demands other  than freedom. (and love isn’it what we are all looking for ? Gala said XD) More seriously I want i wish i embody i manifest through my ogre lawyer drag in CONFETTI performance: JUSTICE AND REPARATION for me and for everyone, it’s not an utopia, it’s REAL and it’s NOW.

D: Do you feel like you're in a perpetual struggle?

LZ: Absolutely! My performance revolved around the overwhelming fatigue that comes with constant struggle. There are various forms of exhaustion: artistic, activist, professional, mental, personal, spiritual and financial. I've been fighting tirelessly to teach and work with youth and even having to change locations from Geneva to Lausanne to continue my mission. All I desire is the freedom to express myself, politically, artistically and vocally, but right now  I don't feel that freedom is fully present. It's essential that we stop confining the queer community to only the nightlife, fashion and cultural scenes, as if our lives revolve solely around those domains. That's why I chose to perform offstage, because my life encompasses more than just the stage. If our existence is limited to magazines or stages, it severely restricts us. I want to claim space and visibility during the day as well. During my youth, I lacked transgender or non-binary role models. It's not just me, but our entire society that needs more figures who can inspire and guide. I can't spend my entire life confined to a chosen mixity! I simply want the freedom to pursue my passion and continue teaching anywhere in Switzerland and in Geneva too. It's disheartening that they don't view me as an exemplary figure simply because I perform shirtless at queer events and publish pictures of me and others ( cause apparently I am also responsible for my friendz and co nightworkers bodies). These pictures are already censored by myself or promoters with stickers on nipples cause let’s remember that Meta already has pretty puritan standards of body regulation. It implies that there's an implicit norm dictating what is considered valuable and worthy but worst what is undignified or dignified.  We touch human dignity here, my worth as a human being in the cistem gaze. Who are they to decide that I lack dignity, that I am not dignified enough ? The Department of Public Instruction in GENEVA are pure calvinists even more strict than facebook and instagram censors. Their implicit transphobic and sexist and binary standards are real. The scary thing If they even don’t take the time to write it somewhere excitedly on a law or an official regulation it’s because it’s an invisible, implicit and structural norm it’s the totally CIStemique, and it’s against that harmful and ideology we have to fight in (dis)order to aim our collective liberation.

In 2023, it's disheartening that I still have to fight for my dignity, and I'm utterly exhausted. I really do not understand their mindset. It’s still a witch hunt.  I can't comprehend why we can't have discussions about rape culture, police violence and murders, heteronationalism, ableism, white supremacy and the oppression faced by our communities in the context of nightlife, cultural life, education, politics, and essentially every aspect of life. They want us to be grateful to be alive. Ironically, grateful to them and to a society who did nothing for us, the rights we have today we fought for ourselves, trans and BIPOC people. They hope we will be content with crumbs and me I want all the cake, the bakery and the bakerman too. I want to eat them ALL. I am the OGRE, THE WITCH BITCH, LA ZIZANYX.

D: It's disheartening to see the lack of support despite you being at the forefront of the  battle for the community in Romandie.

LZ: Actually, I am grateful for the support of the people who have stood by me, especially NVST, as I am going through an expensive and unfair trial against a club with her but my life has been consumed by a legal battle over the past three years. They wrongly accused me of being a leader of the feminist strike, despite my complete lack of involvement or knowledge about it.  I've never attended any meetings, I  basically don't know them.  Strangely enough, they even asked me to DJ at their party, despite not providing any meaningful support during this trying period. It's disheartening to see them using symbols of trans-feminist struggles without actually supporting the real people who fight the cistem here. I hope they realize the mistakes they're making as activists and understand the harm it causes. Dealing with such a cruel system is incredibly painful, and the lack of solidarity from the queer feminist community makes it even more challenging. It's frustrating to encounter these so-called feminists and queer individuals when discussing a queer-feminist utopia. I no longer feel motivated to participate in Pride marches or Feminist strikes because I feel betrayed. Currently, I am on a real strike with Genevegas due to the exhaustion and dissatisfaction with the nightlife scene, the exploitation, tokenisation and depoliticization, the imposed cishetero sexualisation and washing of our bodies and cultures by the bookers and the vast majority of festivals even  LGBT or autoproclamated “queer” ones, the remuneration, conditions and safety in clubs, the complicated or impossible access to grants or private and public subvention for drag practises and the limited space for self-expression and production in Geneva. Perhaps they grew tired of hearing me speak out, which is why I chose to perform silently last night. The silence was intentional because discussing it drains me. I become overwhelmed, incoherent, and may even cry or say too much. Sometimes, I regret not speaking up more but I can’t anymore due to legal and professional reasons. Politics and alliances are complex matters. While I am highly critical of the feminist strike in Vaud, I don't want to shut the door completely. Deep down, I believe that we should ultimately fight together. I'm tired of it all, and that's why I decided to leave Geneva and stop organizing events in clubs for the moment. I want to practice only in spaces where I have total freedom and control of my performances and images and where I have the right to be critical and even revolutionary and why not totally crazy ahah, in fact just be myself without masking: a non binary psycho witch bitch. At least I need coolaborations where they give me opportunities to improve inclusivity, accessibility of the space/venue.

D: There is weariness indeed.

LZ: Yes, absolutely. When I was fired, I reached out to Pride, and nothing happened.  Because, you know, even within the queer and LGBT community, there is so much slut shaming and femmephobia. I felt like even within the community, people were judging me,  as if I would teach my classes in a thong. You see, I wear a suit, I don't engage in activism  when I go to teach my classes. The Public Instruction Department fired me because I violated the duty of exemplarity, the duty of reserve. So, we created a  workshop with Isabelle Chladek, a theater director, called Queer At School, and I reentered  the Public Instruction Department. They hired me again to give workshops on transphobia  for the Equality Week. This violence is institutionalizing our struggles, where they deem me  unworthy of being a teacher, but on the other hand, they hired me in a different capacity to  come during Equality Week or on IDAHOT Day to explain transphobia. WTF? I accepted  the project as a form of infiltration. I accepted it so that later I could prove their ethical and  cognitive dissonances. It's incredibly violent, it's mind-boggling.

D: Tell us about your performance "Confettis" at the FDS Festival.

LZ: My goal was to make noise, since I'm not free to do so, to express myself freely. There's  something cathartic about making noise and throwing confetti amidst lawsuits and firings.  It puts me in a trance. It's not a comfortable piece, and I think for people who aren't  necessarily accustomed to it, the noise can be unbearable at times. It's because of the  interferences, the glitches, using all the crackling sounds, which isn't music. The noise is  there to convey the mental experience, the space it occupies in your brain, how it  mindfucks you. That's what I wanted to express with this piece.

D: It was intense.

LZ: I was aware of that. But again, it's a performance, an installation. You can  come and go, that's why I wanted to create an in-between space for people. Once again, I  didn't want to lock them in for an hour (laughs). I wanted people to join me , and feel deeply, with their guts, with their heart with me so yes it’s intense but with consent. At the beginning of the process, I wondered if it would  be too intense for people. It’s fun, cause I just realized that it’s also my fear in real life when I socialize (laughs) But you know what, I entertain Switzerland for 12 years and precisely lost my job and have many trials for it. So now, I have reached a point in my life and process where I don’t feel any obligation to always express myself and my truth by  entertaining or pleasing people's expectations  all the time. It’s toxic and I am grateful to be freed of that. Of course I can be -and I still am- (wink, wink) a clown or a slut but only when I feel it. Or what I try to do with Confetti put my drag experience in order to reclaim justice and reparation in my real life.

Images courtesy of Margaux Corda


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