Crazy Sexy Cool

Chris Azzopardi

with Gerry Visco
9 p.m. Sept. 3, Free
Five15 Media Mojo & More
515 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak

There's a way to emancipate yourself without popping happy pills – and Gerry Visco knows the secret, because, well, she invented it: Gerrification.
During Arts, Beats & Eats weekend, the New York City performer/writer/fabulousopher swooshes on over to Five15 in Royal Oak to continue her divine mission of turning the world into a shiny place, promoting harmony and her own far-out fashion. It's interactive, which means you might get to try on her platinum wig, and a group of Gerrys will help narrate the History of Gerry and the Gerry Platform.
Before she Gerrifies metro Detroit, we caught up with Visco, who talked about the method's origins, her own journey there and how you – yes, you! – can achieve ultimate fabulousness (even without that wig).

So, you're known for some killer outfits. Whatcha wearing right now?
I'm at my day job. My hair is fabulously teased in a platinum Jimi Hendrix 'fro. I have on bubblegum pink lipstick, with bright turquoise eye shadow. My nails are a chipped bright turquoise. And I'm wearing one of my insanely stylish, bright green, raw silk dresses I picked up for $9.99 at Goodwill Industries with a pair of pointy, red, French-imported, spiked pumps – also $9.99 from Goodwill. Girl's gotta look good on a budget!

How did Gerrification begin?
Gerrification was suggested to me by my friend, performance artist Joseph Keckler. He understood I was developing my own brand and personal style and philosophy. Coining the term Gerrification made it all come together and made sense to my followers, who worship me. I have stalkers galore and a few thousand Facebook friends who follow my every move and look. Gerrification is sweeping the nation and the planet. All of us in the Gerry party are doing our best to eradicate war, poverty, ugliness, impotence, boredom and other challenges, and it looks like this will all happen sooner rather than later.

How do you define fabulous?
I'm fabulous. You too can be as fabulous as me if you follow my advice and get Gerrified. Fabulous means being unafraid to be different and make a statement. You set trends, not follow them. You always make an effort to look good, even if you're just going to the grocery store. You must have a sense of humor about your appearance and be ready to be a cliche. Being fabulous is not about yuppie consumerist purchases of expensive clothes.
You can be even more fabulous by being able to concoct a look no matter where you are or where you buy the outfits. And you should be able to whip up something elegant even if you don't have a lot of money. Being fabulous from my point of view is Gerrification: having fun, wearing platinum hair, cat-eye glasses, lots of makeup and colorful, outrageous clothing.

On your own personal journey to fabulousness, what was the biggest challenge?
Growing up, I needed braces to correct my overbite, and because I was teased and unpopular in school during my early years, I had to learn to disregard criticism and jealousy. From the awkwardness of my teenage years, I became truly fabulous and developed my own style. No doubt my former tormentors need some emergency Gerrification.

How has being "Gerrified" helped you in other avenues of your own life, professionally or otherwise?
I look better, I feel better, and I am having fun. Why? Because people adore me the minute I enter the room, for one thing. Even if they start out jealous or snobby, I disarm them with fun, games and conversation. I am cutting through the bullshit and going to what we all need: glamour and parties!
I have a day job at Columbia University as an administrator. I'm not the traditional academic type – most people at the university have decided looking pained, busy and miserable makes them more serious, but I beg to differ.
Gerrification is part of my creative life in writing, photography and especially performing. But it also makes me have friends and influence people. Because Gerrification will someday eradicate the money system, I am a bit short on cash at the moment, and because I need to devote my time to my political platform of being fabulous, I'm not able to focus on one partner. I'm deliciously single. But I will say that I'm having the time of my life.

What makes you so qualified to offer advice on being fabulous?
I've been there, done that. I've worked in many professions, some of them a bit scandalous, some of them merely dull drudgery, anywhere from file clerk at a wig factory to a part in a Woody Allen flick. I moved to NYC at the age of 20 when people were afraid to walk the streets or take the subway for fear that a knife would be stuck in your back or you would be raped and robbed – and naturally, I was.
I'm afraid of nothing as a result. As a child and teenager growing up in the suburbs of Massachusetts, I was tortured for being "different" by some of the moronic conformist dopes I went to school with. Unfortunately, this was pre-Columbine. However, I learned that being gorgeous and well-dressed was the best defense, and being unique and unafraid to set the fashion trend was always the way to go.
When I moved to New York City in the 1970s, I earned a degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology. And of course, hanging out with the gay boys since the age of 16, I've learned how to do my makeup, my hair and boogie with the best of them.

Does everyone have what it takes to make this transition?
Everyone should and can be Gerrified no matter who they are. Even if they're evil or limited, like George Bush or Sarah Palin, Gerrification just might help these misguided souls see the light someday. Even dogs and cats can and should be Gerrified. Let's face it, we all need a makeover.

Will Gerrification turn the world gay?
The world is already gay, at least under the surface. Gerrification is designed to bring it all out into the open. Gerrification is not about gender, per se, but about being willing to go a little wild and transcend categorization.

And how can it improve sex lives?
Naturally, sex lives are improved by having fun, feeling better and looking better. And being unafraid to blend the confines of gender a bit. However, one of the slogans of Gerrification is, "Down with sex and up with dildos." This does not mean sex is discouraged, but more an encouragement for people to pleasure themselves when need be rather than struggle through toxic relationships. Sex toys and fantasy are great tools to use when you're not getting what you need.
Gerrification is all about being sexual and not being locked into a category or worrying about where your desires take you or what gender you've been assigned. Most people aren't really straight or even gay, they're just horny and they have a right to do what they want with willing partners, as long as it doesn't involve children, animals or leather couches. And also, the real problem in this world with sex is how can we combine a long-term love with eroticism? Is monogamy with exciting sex even possible? If you're Gerrified, it will at least keep things interesting.