(Ryder) Carolyn Cooley,
The Delta and Electronic Ballet (also The Delta on Silver Chainletter, Electronic Ballet on Silver Chainletter, Her Perversions on The Underwater Chainletter and Bird Cage Wedding Cake on The Velvet Chainletter)
March 14, 2016
How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I saw Miranda perform at Epicenter on Valencia Street in San Francisco, maybe it was a QTIP event (Queers Together in Punkness). I think that’s where we first met. Anyhow, I liked Miranda’s performance, she had two microphones and two chairs that she stood on, as i recall. We swapped zines afterward and voila. My collaboration with Zoey as Daughters of Houdini revolved around concocting lots of gatherings, adventures, projects and performances, so we all started hanging out, Miranda, Zoey and I. My friendship with Miranda deepened through letters and visits between San Francisco and Portland. One time she sent me a tutu in the mail which I wore in the Electronic Ballet. I was in my mid twenties.
What interested you about the project?
oh, well, J4J was an extension of the zine/riot grrrl movement. For me, the project was about zines coming to life through video. It was a chain letter, which was this dorky thing that we all did as kids, so there was a playful and nerdy aspect to it, but it was also creative and artistic, very clever. I mean, zines were already part of the underground music movement, but Moviola introduced a new layer – media. So many women were making videos in the 90’s, the medium was becoming more accessible and it felt radical for us to be taking the lens by storm and working with “technology”. It felt empowering for us to turn the lens on ourselves and be on both sides of the camera, to have that control. A lot of the video work being made by women at the time, especially for the chain-letters, was intimate and diaristic, a departure from the more conventional and masculine stuff that was out there. At the time it felt cool and punk-rock and feminist to be working in video. It was also good to feel connected with the other filmmakers and to feel like we were part of a movement.
At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
I never really identified as a filmmaker. I studied filmmaking while I was in art school, but after making a few films and sending them off to festivals, I realized that I liked live events and exchanges more than static screenings, or sitting at home watching videos. I still work with video and incorporate it into performances and installations though.
Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
The Delta was a Daughters of Houdini adventure into the Sacramento Valley with our friend and collaborator, Lissa Ivy. We hit the road with costumes and a super 8 camera, and my accordion which I took everywhere, but we didn’t know there had been severe flooding. Some of the roads were washed out and it looked quite dramatic. When we got back to San Francisco we all got on an electric horse that was parked outside a five and dime shop near my apartment, so that was the grand finale of our filmic adventure.
The electronic ballet was shot at a hot springs north of San Francisco, and Her Perversions was shot at the same hot springs, but it was two separate trips. Daughters of Houdini were interested in women, hysteria, and the Water Cure movement, so that gave us an excuse to go to as many hot springs as possible!
What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
J4J seemed like a fun and clever idea. The project seemed especially profound for people who were isolated geographically, as artist makers and as queers. J4J provided a community, an audience, a platform and a connection point.
If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
I think there was a screening at ATA in San Francisco. Then, years later, Vanessa Haroutunian found me in Hudson NY. She was a Bard student working on the J4J archives and finishing a documentary about the project, so there was a second wind with some screenings that Vanessa organized in the Hudson area.
What institutions, groups, people, publications and movements were inspiring you at the time of your participation in J4J?
Epicenter and QTIP in San Francisco, ATA (Artists TV Access), Jon Sims Center for the Performing Arts (a queer non-profit performance and rehearsal space/center), the SF Public Library where I worked, Southern Exposure Gallery, The Lab Gallery and just about every thrift store between San Francisco and Seattle…plus the zine movement and Riot Girrl
What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I’m an inter-disciplinary artist, musician and performer (rydercooley.com). I still make videos and incorporate moving imagery into a lot of my work. I play in an ethereal gothic-folk band called Dust Bowl Faeries (dustbowlfaeries.com). I also work with animals, both living and dead.
Anything you would like to see on the J4J site?
Photos of then and now would be fun, and links to current projects by J4J filmmakers.