Guest Post by LA Slugocki
I am the project editor/writer for Tales from the Velvet Chamber: An Anthology of Revisioned Fairy-tales and Myth, A Call for Writers. The inspiration for this book comes from many different places — I’ll start with The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. For those who haven’t read the book, Ms. Zimmer took a classic text, the story of King Arthur and the Holy Grail, and foregrounded the women, the witches and the queens. Suddenly, Morgaine, who heretofore, had been a very, very bad girl, became luscious and powerful, dark and sexy.
I decided I wanted to do the same for Mary Magdalene. Why not? If a text as stable and universal as King Arthur could be revisioned, why couldn’t I re-write the most infamous whore in the Bible? My Mary was wise, strong, a cohort of Jesus Christ, and his lover. This was the start of The Erotica Project, co-authored with Erin Cressida Wilson, which mapped the subterranean depths of female sexuality and produced on WBAI (Winner of the 1999 NFCB Award), and Off Broadway at The Public Theatre, as well as in San Francisco, Seattle and London. The full text is published by Cleis Press.
I also discovered The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels of Princeton University. Amazingly, the earliest story Mary Magdalene in Christianity is very similar to mine; she was the “one who knows the all.” Certainly not the penitent harlot in the Old Testament. Following this thread, as an MA student at New York University, I continued to investigate and interrogate feminine archetypes; the good, the bad and the ugly. I discovered that classical literature, myth and fairy-tale tell one monolithic story. The Velvet Chamber wants many different voices. The Velvet Chamber wants the old stories to come out of hiding; the folktales, the oral tradition. These fables are bloody, sexy, and transgressive. They’re far more complex, darker, and psychologically dense.
Finally, Quentin Tarantino is a personal hero. I love his mash-up of anime, mangaka and spaghetti westerns in Kill Bill. His Bride is a mythical protagonist who doesn’t give a shit about finding her man. This bitch is out for revenge. The Velvet Chamber welcomes mash-ups, flash fiction, mangaka, as well as speculative, post-apocalyptic, classical and mythical interpretations— whatever the style or genre, we begin to see female archetypes through another lens. With a different narrative. Medea is a priestess and a murderer, but we haven’t really heard that story. Ashputtel, the original version of Cinderella, is a filthy, bloody little girl, but on Broadway, she’s a princess.
Please visit, http://talesfromthevelvetchamber.blogspot.com for more information.