While the blogosphere is still wrapping their head around the epic Telephone video, Out Magazine got a hold of Heather Cassils, whose prison-yard smooch with Gaga is one of the most talked about portions of the video. A long-time performance artist, Cassils went to the "Telephone" audition on a whim, and the kiss she and Gaga shared was completely unscripted. While her interactions with Gaga are worth a read, Cassils also speaks about her art ("I use the fact that the image is live to try to capture and transfix people, because people can walk away from a painting.") representation ("binaries are dangerous across the board"), about the co-option of queer identity for pop stars. ("That's been going on since the dawn of time.")
In times of war (check), political and economic upheaval(check), and social tension (check), artists are in a unique position to stoke democracy and to put pressure on the state, or, as the case may be, the banks, the corporations, "the man", etc. "In my experience, when things are upside down," actress and writer Anna Deavere Smith said in a PBS interview in 2006, "there's an opening for a person like me. I think when things fall apart, [as an artist] you can see more and you can even be part of indicating new ways that things can be put together."