Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 by Vanity Kills
Story by: Dan Barrett
As the calendar date shifts towards the 24th of November, people across the United States are make their pilgrimages back home to reunite with their families in order to celebrate the great turkey holiday. Their thought dials are set to tune in only to feelings of intimacy, festivity, and gluttony; and they no doubt eagerly await the anticipated merriment promised with the holidays. They are completely unaware that a mutant strain of influenza type A virus subtype H3N2 has re-emerged a hemisphere away in the Australian coastal city Brisbane, similar to the incident in 2008. Unfortunately, a cargo ship loaded illegally with infected turkeys was launched for the USA three weeks prior to the holiday…
The freight ship docks in southern California on November 8th. The workers unload the turkeys as planned and transfer them rapidly to slaughter houses. The day following the allocation, the dockhands experience headaches and sore throats. The abnormally cold weather is blamed. The turkeys are redistributed into packaged goods and sent to stores and markets a few days later. Some farmhands begin to notice dark spots on their body, but no apparent pain or discomfort. Business continues as usual. The turkeys make their way to myriad sectors of the country, and on their journey the meat comes into contact with uncountable additional shipments of good. The first full blown cases of the H3N2 outbreak happen in rural, sparsely populated areas and go generally unnoticed by the populous. Several families in North Dakota are admitting to the hospital coughing up blood and bile, typically with black spots littering their skin. A man in Wyoming with similar black spots is brought to a clinic with bleeding from the eyes, mouth and anus. By the time thanksgiving arrives, it is too late to contain the tempest of disease. Families across the country lay out their meal platters and begin to feel their flesh crawl with plague. Mothers begin to rend and tear at their skin to alleviate the hellish itch. Children cough and spew blood all over the table, filling rooms with the heinous contagion. The plague’s advanced form rapidly shows the signs of a viral hemorrhagic fever and leprosy. A child’s skin hardens and he peels away at the scabs; a man drinking wine collapses into his mashed potatoes as his lungs fail. Twins are driven into a berserk state and attempt to use a carving knife to remove the other’s face. A woman feels her entrails slide out of her body in a slimy stew of bile and acrid stench. There is no escaping the pandemic, it is carried by the birds and they are flying overhead now…
She’s draped in lace and bones and something else you can’t put your finger on. Is it the distinct scent of death? This highly fatalistic look, styled to remind us of our own mortality in these uncertain times, borrows liberally from authentic plague doctor beak-shaped protective masks while adding some fresh ingredients to the mix such as feathered posture collars. The latter serves as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to our avian friends, which might or might not eventually be responsible for our extinction. Meanwhile pink ruffles trimming the Nocturnal Rendezvous Shrug which faithfully mirror the distinct fanlike folds of intestines provide a literal take on organic fashion. Go on. Catch the twenty-first century plague with Vanity Kills.
- Historically, plague physicians were suited in head-to-toe waxed leather cloak or gown-like garments designed to protect the wearer from exposure to life-threatening germs. Completely enshrouding the body was standard practice, and in the spirit of concealment I’ve taken great care to ensure that no bare skin was left exposed by attiring myself in a posture collar (to cover my neck), black gloves (to keep my hands from coming into contact with who knows what) and a floor length skirt. Since the amorphous, tent-like silhouettes of genuine plague doctor wear are not what I consider to be very conducive to femininity, I focused on adapting other attributes of the aforementioned medieval ensembles – namely the waxen texture of the over-garments. And so I fended off contamination (while bringing it to YOU) by choosing shiny, black pieces such as the Nocturnal Rendezvous Ruffle Shrug #38-116 and an equally slick underbust corset.
- Behold the blood glistening against a medley of caged guts and snow white feathers. You don’t personify a disease without toting around an accessory that boldly proclaims “Hi there, I’m not sidestepping subtlety; I’m running it over with a bus”.
- I opted out of the traditional wide-brimmed hat in favor of “bird’s nest”-like hair, complete with a small raven surveying the terrain from amidst the chaos on my head. The partially disguised presence of an ebony plumed pestilence carrier provided the finishing touch this “pretty in plague” outfit needed.
- Dem Bones cami top #56-296 and a floral lace button down blouse boost those style antibodies.
- I have a confession to make. I wasn’t always a fan of those “super creepy plague doctor bird masks”, as previously noted in Plague Widow. Something about that long-snout, just didn’t sit right with me. Inexplicably, that same eerie sensibility that initially turned me off drew me right back in, because it’s hard to resist adornments fashioned with a poxy lady in mind.
In conclusion, let us give thanks for making it another year without being wiped out by a global pandemic.
Obligatory Disclaimer: No live poultry was “fowled”, harmed or otherwise made uncomfortable for the sake of capturing these images. Not unless you count a tacky feather boa sacrificed to the photo Gods. The swine guts were purchased at a supermarket and if I didn’t use utilize them for artsy purposes, in all likelihood they would’ve wound up as someone’s dinner. I have no qualms about “bimboing around with pig parts” (Thank you Bud Bundy for that great quote), but I’ll never go as far as retrieving them from a live pig. Even if it’s a member of the Kardashian family.
Be sure to check out 2010’s take on Thanksgiving terror here.
Photographer: Stevie Oh! Photography
Model: Vanity Kills
Location: Letchworth Village, NY