2 min

Eastside attitude

Playing the agent provocateur-but one with a grin

Credit: David Ellingsen

Amorous Barbie dolls, murder, lesbian toilet cruising, menstrual blood: welcome to the irreverent video universe of lisa g.

Through the two handfuls of short videos that she can proudly call her own, this image maker reveals a fascination for an eclectic mix-up of styles, sounds and tones. And she displays certain comfort with kitschy and campy iconography, throwing together the margins and centres of culture. The result: stories simultaneously plastic and profound.

Tackling everything from romance (Unraveled) and porno (She Says) to revolution (She’s So Gay), her videos are also usually infused with humour. Case in point: her Straightening Out The Gay that’s showing at Out On Screen’s program highlighting West Coast talent, The Coast is Queer. It’s an adroit mockumentary and 11 minutes of unadulterated mirth that tracks the progress of an “Angry Lesbian” who organizes a protest (with a slow-witted and hilariously self-absorbed “Professional Activist”) against a band named The Gay. Feeling that the (all-straight) band has “appropriated her sexuality,” she vows to expose and discredit them.

Comprised of interviews with activists, band members, fans and stylists, the video plays with stereotypes while addressing factionalism and infighting (with tongue firmly in cheek). It leaves no target unscathed.

Born and raised in Vancouver (and a former drummer for Cub), lisa g says that she’s drawn to video making because it is accessible, economical and malleable. Moreover, the former student (and now employee) of the Vancouver Film School likes the mastery she can exert over it.

“I like the control. Unlike a live show (which never turned out as I’d dreamed), with video I become anonymous, behind the scenes, and it’s exactly as I like it to be. Video is cheap, too, and accessible. Like with TV, it’s a great way to talk with so many people.

“In a perfect world I would have a sitcom,” the Eastsider adds, since it’s a genre that draws people in and gets them talking even as it introduces edgy concepts. Meanwhile in the real world, shorts work for her. She wonders if something too commercial would dilute her enthusiasm. “I think that a big mainstream project might take the love out of it for me, love of the actual craft.”

For her, videos are places for exploration of ideas and imagery, telling new stories in fresh ways.

“I’m interested in all sorts of ideas-but I think it’s important to create more role models, other than the limited ones we see in the media. For instance, you see millions of butches in everyday life, and you never see them on TV ever. And I like the idea of rediscovering what is sexy. Really, I don’t even know sometimes. The world is always telling us what ‘sexy’ looks like-and we’ve all been looking at billboards of skinny women all our lives-but what else is there?”

As the programmer for What Do YOU Want? she discovered another desire: she now has an ardent wish for women to freely express themselves. “It was really hard to get stuff for the lesbian sex program. I’d love to see more girly movies, have more and more women speak their mind on that subject, open it up and make it belong to us.”


Thu Aug 12, 7 pm.

Pacific Cinematheque.

Out On Screen Festival.

Tickets: 604-257-0366.