With mysterious pink stickers popping up on bus shelters and parking meters around the gay village and a campy Youtube video set to “Bette Davis Eyes,” an underground art project is piquing the gay community’s curiosity.
Project Joan wants to make Joan-E’s face as iconic as the Starbucks siren and the rainbow banner.
“It’s a community-building project,” says Karl, who would only answer Xtra’s questions if we promised to protect his anonymity for the sake of the project’s mystique.
“We want it to be funny and we want it to be accessible,” he says, promising to reveal all after Pride in August.
A non-profit multimedia collaboration between local artists, Project Joan aims to use street art and social media to support Joan E’s charitable efforts and to celebrate her long-standing commitment to the gay community.
“We wanted to draw attention to Joan-E because of her good nature and caring heart,” says Karl, who describes the venerable drag queen as a “Momma Bear” to so many.
While the pink stickers can be spotted around Vancouver, Karl says most of the images are concentrated within the gay village.
“We needed to put the focus on the gay community because this is a gay project,” he explains.
These are “positive symbols in a community in a time when there is a lot of gaybashing and negativity,” adds Karl’s co-conspirator, Ray.
“I am very flattered,” says Joan-E.
“I’m not the brand new drag queen in Vancouver. I’m very, very flattered that they think that I’m interesting enough and current enough to create the project,” she continues.
“It’s very funny. I had seen the image for several weeks and had no idea who it was. I just thought it was a cool chick,” she laughs.
“I found out it was me when I saw the sticker in the Celebrities washroom.”
Joan-E says she had some initial misgivings about her face being spray painted on private property. “I don’t approve of destroying private property,” she says, adding she was afraid of “having my mug permanently plastered on things.”
But Karl says the spray paint was a mistake and the person involved in that vandalism is no longer with Project Joan.
Joan-E says she is fine with the project as long as no more vandalism occurs, any money raised from her image goes entirely to charity – and she gets a Project Joan t-shirt.
Karl says all proceeds raised, minus some small overhead costs, will go to Friends for Life.