Where is She Now?


Charlotte Cooper, Participant, "Nobody Ever Told Me..."
January 17, 2017

How did you find out about J4J? How old were you?
I wrote a book and spent the advance on a plane ticket to San Francisco with the intention of meeting the people who produced FaT GiRL zine and attending a queer punk gathering called Dirty Bird. I went to a workshop/screening at Artists Television Access and that’s how I found out about the things Miranda was up to. I was 27.

Were you involved in J4J? What exactly did you do?
I made a very short clip as part of a workshop. We were invited to go into a little room, either by ourselves or with someone else. There was a video camera in there set up. We were instructed to switch it on and respond to the prompt: “Nobody ever told me…” I did this. Spontaneously I decided to take off my top and talk about how nobody ever told me it was ok to feel ok about my body, and that I had to tell myself.

Did you attend any screenings? If so, where and when was the screening you attended?
The video was screened during the event. Right there, so instant.

What do you remember about it?
It was a time in my life when I felt very uncool. I was with the people who didn’t hesitate to think of themselves as cool and I was doing cool things though with great imposter syndrome. I was really scared but felt compelled to participate. I felt as though I was burning up with things I wanted to say and do.

When I reflect on that moment at ATA I can see it was significant in my life’s work of making sense of mine and other’s fat queer bodies. That whole trip was extremely intense, the first time I’d had sex with another woman as well as many other emotional/sensory/political/ art shifts. That moment in that little room is, I think, me trying to synthesize something it has since taken me years to articulate. It was exhilarating!

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I felt quite alienated. Apart from getting a book advance I was living in poverty and had no access to the technology or event mindset that would have enabled me to participate in Big Miss Moviola or Joanie4Jackie stuff. I also felt hesitant about making things for someone else’s project, and still do.

What did you do then – academically, professionally and otherwise? Were you a filmmaker? And now?
I was on the dole. I was recovering from trauma. I had done an MA part time, which I had funded by asking people to sponsor me small amounts of money, like a proto crowdfunder. I published my dissertation with a feminist publishing house who demanded I remove all references to queer, FaT GiRL and trans people. I was not a film-maker but I had made a video as part of my MA.

Now I am a psychotherapist and cultural worker and a lot of other things too. The same as I was in 1996 and also pretty different, less raw.

What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at this time in your life?
I liked all the things that dykes of my generation liked then. In the UK I was into surviving, getting through the day by watching TV aimed at housewives. Occasionally I would go to a club called Kinky Gerlinky. I was moved by the books that were being published under the High Risk imprint at Serpents’ Tail, and the Semiotext(e) Native Agents series. I was getting involved with zines, Erica Smith’s GirlFrenzy was the first place that ever published something I’d written. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre was significant to me. The Politics of Disablement by Mike Oliver and, this is going to sound so pretentious, but I’d just read Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and that blew my mind. FaT GiRL, as I mentioned, was foundational at the time. It’s weird answering this question because it took me a long time, probably later than 27, to understand that I was allowed to choose and like things in my own right.

Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
I’ll take what I’m given but I’d prefer not to see my email address on it.