Commonwealth & Council presents BILLY + JEAN by Margaret Haines and Orlando Tirado.
Margaret Haines and Orlando Tirado investigate the prescribed duality outlined for the characters Jean Harlow and Billy The Kid within Michael McClure’s controversial 1968 play, The Beard. In BILLY + JEAN, role-play takes a serious turn where character studies collapse into artist personas. The artists deliberate their works through the lens prescribed to the original platinum blonde and the original cowboy hustler.
In The Beard, Jean Harlow and Billy The Kid exchange vows, cum, threaten murder, and ‘act’ in a “velvet eternity.” By substituting infinitude for eternity, the set design for BILLY + JEAN uses architect Frederick Kiesler’s 1920s utopian model of architectural Endlessness. In this way, the gallery is extended into a Mobius-like strip where the characters Margaret/Jean/Orlando/Billy blend and never end –thus attempting an unflinching coalescence between two personas to form one “continuous whole.”
It was in 1924-25, in the Vienna of Strauss waltzes, and in the Paris of the Beaux-Arts, that I eliminated the separation between floor, walls, and ceiling, and created floor, walls, and ceiling, as a continuous whole.
- Frederick Kiesler
JEAN HARLOW: In the Endless House, an elevator would make floors 2 and 4 the same floor.
BILLY THE KID: Jean lives above my apartment. I live in apartment 29, and she lives in apartment 43.
JEAN HARLOW: In the 1930s, black and white films are made with sets everything white. In Dinner at 8, my bedroom has the shades:
LACQUER WHITE ORNAMENTED IN DEAD CHALK WHITE
IVORY-WHITE IN THE TAFFETA
BILLY THE KID: NEVER DIE ROME. Jean hired a thousand Spartans, thick men with muscles to the tips of their ears. In an hour they would have it all done. West Rome, East Rome, North Rome, South Rome. All gray. Caesar’s orders. A naked madwoman wouldn’t move from the pavement: and so they painted her gray too.
Sidewalks: Gray. Temples: Gray.
What are you dooooing?
It’s supposed to be gray, out of the way, faggot.
Gold. To Gray.