Whitetrashcoon is a NYC performance artist that I recently discovered via my Instagram feed, a place I frequent too obsessively for my own comfort. Our psychic existence has truly been challenged by technology. Our ability to outmaneuver, moderate, parse, or cut through the outpourings of offerings and confirm our own identity is increasingly in question. My admiration for Whitetrashcoon is that she navigates this realm through direct action. My first viewing of Whitetrashcoon performing was online, writhing inside a trash can among an audience at a performance gig. My consequent lurking revealed her inside the home-made skins of Santa and Trump, the top of the food chain’s whiteness. Santa and Trump, my personal favorites, clinched her feed as the number one choice for Instagram’s algorithmic dispensary aimed at me. We both are attracted to the visage of Santa and that other guy, yet we approach them from disparate vantage points: me from within, looking out, her from outside looking in. I render, she acts. Our intersection is the point of my fascination with her aesthetic, and I’m still trying to understand and absorb its nuances. Without a doubt her work is boldly political and sociologically engaging. She performs on the streets, in the NYC subway system and at various art venues. Her passion for change runs deep and her commitment to the artistic process is true.
Whitetrashcoon’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whitetrashcoon/
Kenny Cole’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrkennycole/
Whitetrashcoon’s videos: https://www.champpic.com/whitetrashcoon/
K.C. Your Instagram/stage name Whitetrashcoon is an amalgam of a denigrated underclass type, which, of course, can nonetheless identify with a racial power structure, and a racial slur. Who are you and from what experiences or strategies has your performance work emerged, if any?
Wtc. Whitetrashcoon is a noun, verb and adjective. It is a name in which you don’t know, which no race type power can own or deny its description. Who owns Whitetrashcoon? The white power structure who in itself is explanatory. The dismemberment of my prior Instagram account entitled, crackheadbarney… White trash coon came as a protest from the dismemberment of crackheadbarney. Whitetrashcoon is a rallying point that is tired of the fuckin’ status quo and a real punk; it’s more of a movement than an individual. It’s an icon like the Virgin Mary, something that will endure forever. The separation between races is irrelevant in this society. It is all just fighting more against this ideal of individualism and consumerism that the world is not a part of the world that we are interacting together in. To think that you can go outside, stay in your fuckin bubble with your air pods or iPhone, just stay in your fuckin bubble, which needs to be destroyed by Whitetrashcoon. This society is made out of glass. Whitetrashcoon is the first rock that is being hurled at the glass house. Whitetrashcoon is the guillotine in the French Revolution.
Whitetrashcoon is the shot that is being heard around the world.
K.C. You engage, you satirize, and with your costumes that incorporate Trump, Santa, and female genitalia, act as a griffin-like cultural canary. Do you work from a political, moral or spiritual base? To what extent would any of these concerns act as your artistic muse?
Wtc. Miners bring the canary to the coal mine to see if the gases they are working with are poisonous. The miners will bring the canary into the coal mines, at times, the mineshaft will fill with poisonous gases, and the bird will react; if the bird dies, that means they need to get the fuck out. So you could say Whitetrashcoon is a cultural canary, it acts as the poisonous gas; and society, and public, and onlookers are the canary, too. The canary dying is symbolic to the cultural norms that need to be executed and pulverized. Whitetrashcoon brings to the forefront what is wrong with society. The cage that the canary sits in needs to be shattered, the same as society’s white icons, such as SANTA, TRUMP, ELVIS, GEORGE WASHINGTON, ANDREW JACKSON, etc. These white male cultural icons are symbolic to the White penis that sits upon DC’s crux that needs to be crucified and castrated. White male symbols of power need to succumb to the ever vicious forces of Whitetrashcoon.
Trump Santa and female genitalia are merely a distraction as to what is wrong. They are symptoms to the disease of lattices of control. This is the cage. Female genitalia is oftentimes taken for pleasure, jest, and beauty and vulgarity, however when I juxtapose that with TRUMP SANTA Crackhead boon, the vagina becomes ugly, dangerous, repugnant, and smelly.
When female genitalia is incorporated it takes on a completely different image; it’s breaking free of the religious, cultural appeal of mass pop culture, all these beauty and femininity ideals of keeping up with the Kardashians, you don’t have to be pretty and cute, demure or sexy. A female can be stinky, sweaty, dress weird, act wildly, be loud, be belligerent, and gregarious. We need those females! The greatest change agents of our centuries did not mince their words to attain conventional achievements; rather they have charged full steam to pursue originality, which is an act of creative destruction.
Real fuckin’ freedom. When I incorporate SANTA it is anti-consumerism, Santa is a part of the most consumer focused holiday, which is CHRISTMAS, more money on this major holiday for capitalism is flowing green in the streets. When I transform into my form of Santa CLAUS which is NIGGA CLAUS, I engage in the antithesis of SANTA CLAUS; I am destroying the ideal of white Santa. NIGGA CLAUS usually accompanies a chant, “WHITE SANTA is DEAD, NIGGA CLAUS has been born, NIGGA CLAUS has killed white Santa, he is dead, YOU will now worship me.” This is what they did with black Jesus now I am coming to take white people’s Santa. Call it cultural re-APPROPRIATION.
I know the obsession that white America has with Santa Claus, especially in a white male SANTA. That is why I am acting like the Grinch that stole Christmas. Now I am Santa and now like a black criminal thief, I have once again stolen valuables from White America. Clearly, America is obsessed by black MALE dominance and Black Male criminality. Rather than dispelling the stereotypes that plague black male criminality and criminality, I will yet again partake in this ugly and false stereotype. Taking ownership of this racist narrative only emboldens black activists and racist whites, “why is she doing this?” an older black man said, “rip that sign up before I give you money”; a middle-aged white man said, “good job, look how you’re making yourself look!”…both groups can risk asking this question; one will feel that I am eviscerating a racist past and humorizing it, the latter group will feel offended that I have stolen their prized possession.
The black thief is inconspicuous and NIGGA CLAUS is not; he is crass, he’s loud, nasty. While it embodies negative black stereotypes this is with reason, because it’s reinforcing everything that is wrong with society, but it’s also puncturing that element of white fragility because Santa represents safe and white. However, it is a cultural re-appropriation, like so many times with white artists, such as Elvis, Vanilla Ice, Eminem, come to claim black art, I have also come to claim white Santa!!
K.C. Do you see your work as a form of activism, intended to effect change? What kind of experiences do you hope to engender with your performances/presence at political rallies?
Wtc. My work is, first and before all, a public admission that all pre-existing modes of thought and analysis, no matter how noble their cause or elegant their argument, have led the world to an intractable impasse that threatens life itself. To continue with more of the same, it is a slow motion suicide that I refuse to participate in. Any effort to convince anyone of anything in the old ways will only lead us back to the same disastrous, racist, sexist, emotionally brutal world we find ourselves inexcusably stuck in today.
Instead of persuasion and good behavior tied to believability, my work aims to destroy the emotional-intellectual foundation upon which this inhuman system of thought and social order rests. I am the holy healing chaos of nature, brought to life in an uncanny combination of white racial politics, Nigerian traditions of witchcraft, and the vibrant proving ground of the New York City subway system.
My work tears the festering scab from the wounds of racism, sexism, classism, and every other worthless -ism that lays claim to the right to command and control ‘ya for its twisted self-righteous cause. No tradition is safe as we chase the hope of survival in the face of the catastrophe of civilization and nature that looms down on our every breath. Nobody deserves their hollow tranquility or empty certainty in this world, and I will ensure that we are all united in panic so that there isn’t any hope of making it beyond today into tomorrow. Yes, I intend to effect change.
K.C. Is art’s role to stand outside the political world offering a vision of something clearer and pure, intensely observant, or is its role to get down and dirty and engage in the political process? Can one artist do both?
Wtc. Art’s role is to give outlet to the inexpressible emotional life that society has not otherwise made space for. Purity is not observational, that is white fantasy. Down and dirty not, not impure, that is white supremacy. Art contains all of these expressions, and at its most powerful it transcends all these descriptions and makes the filthy pure, lets the subject observe, makes exquisite beauty into a failure of imagination, and erases our ability to be so sure we know what is what.
Doing both will only result in failure, as you must become a sellout to the political ideals and ideologies and forsake creative integrity to feed a hungry soulless political scheme. Politics is devoid of creativity and passion. Politics is devoid of truth and honesty it is full of narcissism and greed. Art is not. Art embodies a rhythm that allows all beings to exist within and without. I have yet to find the artist that can engage in political processes and artistic endeavors.
K.C. What is your practice or studio work like outside of your performance work? Do you draw or paint? How are your costumes developed and created or fabricated and assembled?
Wtc. I make my costumes out of shit I find and the beautiful, very expensive wigs I buy made only of the asshairs of world leaders. They are developed to fuck you up as efficiently as possible.
It’s interesting because when I was in my twenties and performing, life was made up of infinite possibilities. I did not record or archive my performances like I do now. I keep a record. In my earlier performing days, I felt that if one wasn’t present for the performance then you didn’t need to be a part of the experience, because I was selling the experience of my performance and your experience in my performance. I believed in creating and immediate destruction of ideas because ideas are like farts; it only lasts but a couple of seconds, the intensity of the smell stings your eyes, ears, nose and mouth, you hate it, try to get away from it, and with diffusion the experience disappears. My performances were all about creating this space and environment of chaotic immediacy.
Interestingly the older I get I notice my finite-ness therefore I have begun creating paintings with mantras such as, “FUCK YOU,” “TRUMP TOOK MY EBT CARD!,” “I HAVE STD!,” “GO FUCK YOURSELF!”. Many people witness these paintings and say, “What the hell I need these for?” I say, “These are terms of endearment! Something to say to a loved one, bring to a baby shower, a wedding, or a graduation!” Dismayed they walk away and either curse me out or laugh, or wish me death. I mean again, the Fart of the experience.
K.C. You recently made a road trip through the South. Was that the first time? Was there a purpose or goal for this trip or if not were there unexpected discoveries or experiences that occurred, particularly relating to your performance work or political engagement?
Wtc. My trip to the South was meant to wreak complete havoc on the exquisitely fine balance of gentility and oppression that exists all across America, but just has a special twang to it south of Mason-Dixon. The carefully crafted racial-harmony cosplay of America is a lie, and by exaggerating all of its symbols, I make that Truth known.
Wow, the amount of black people that wanted to kill me was astonishing, despite being the loud and belligerent lady that I am. They thought the name “Whitetrashcoon” was highly inappropriate and wanted to beat me up for it. Well that was one of many reasons, as well as bringing a white male partner to a reenactment of a slave rebellion and calling him my “MY MASSA!” I mean they shouldn’t get mad at me, they should get mad at the state of America in which I would feel to call myself White trash, coon, or see a white man as my MASSA (colloquial, really means MASTER as in SLAVE MASTER, just shortening it; as you are an old white man, I want to make sure you understand this).
I mean really what’s worse: that a black woman dons a KKK MASK in the middle of Tennessee or black people getting shot and killed by police for not showing their ID in time? Or mistaking a young black kid for having a gun, when he really has a candy bar? When black people get mad at other blacks for being called, “sellout”, “coon” “UncleTom” or “buckdancer”, these are terms that were given to blacks who obliged white society, despite being called, “nigger” “boy” or “mammie”. We must look at the conditions of America and ask ourselves, why are they acting in such a manner to be called Uncle Tom, buckdancer or sellout? It’s because their environment deems these characteristics necessary for survival. Either white people are monsters to black people in America and this makes Black people react to the contrary by either acting violently towards them or they become mentally enslaved to their Monster and become just like him or wanting to be like him. How does a Black person become White? Well by foregoing instances of White racism with masked viewpoints of, “why is everything about race?” “Maybe it wasn’t racial profiling when you were driving, maybe you were just speeding?” or “Your hair is ugly; make it straight so you can make White people feel less threatened?” White people have created monsters. America continues to create monsters. Do not get mad at the Monster; get mad at its WHITE PROCREATOR; it’s always in the root. The leaves are not the problem; it is the GODDAMN ROOTS OF THE FUCKING TREE!
I went for Dread Scott’s Slave Reenactments! What a treat it was? The cast was filled with “woke blacks” that got on my nerves. I was sent by GOD to further awaken these “woke blacks” by splashing the cool water of WHITETRASHCOON onto their minds and faces. Many of them did not quite like my method of race-baiting, but whatever… We butt heads on many occasions; I had fights with grown women even calling some “house slaves and pickaninnies” and while slave reenactments are good for contemporary history, to remind us of the horror and bloodshed that Blacks HAVE FACED, we need to also reinvent culture and reinvent history.
At one point I had to be held back by several men as I yelled across to another slave “YOU FUCKIN HOUSE SLAVE! YOU LIGHT-SKINNED WHORE!”
At another point I was pulled away by angry slaves because I had squared up to this house slave, because prior to this, she was telling on me, to production, that I was cursing and using profanity. Production actually came up to me and said, “we know you are from NYC but easy on the profanity!”
In a slave reenactment, there are angry slaves and I was one of them, if you ask me, I was just playing the part of an angry slave!
Black history didn’t start with us as SLAVES but it started with the great empires of MANSA MUSA, MALI and the gold trades of GHANA , and salt trades etc. etc. Rewrite history with the great African empires rather than the glorification of black pain and suffering. I guess SLAVERY SELLS!
K.C. Your performances in clubs and on the street can be sexually explicit. What are your feelings about how these gestures are received by unsuspecting participants and observers? For example, doing an air groin grind to police officers on duty comes to mind, to me as something both hilarious and bold. For the purposes of this interview how effective might this element in your performance art be, in terms of any political aspect of your aesthetic or larger efforts around women’s empowerment?
Wtc. I do not care too much about my aesthetic or women’s empowerment. Women are assholes too. I want power for myself. I refuse to play the damsel in distress; I want my money and I want my power and I will crush everyone who gets in my way with my pussy. This is what it looks like when I do that. This is what white men asked for, an embrace of the destructive energy of competition. Alright, have it then. I will culturally burn the entire well-behaved professional good way of life to the ground because it profits me slightly. That is just how the world works, I’m told, tough breaks, competition wins out again.
When I am being explicit, it is effective because everyone feels like saying something to me about it.
I’m such a fuckin’ DORK!
Using my groin to confront police is more about what has been passed down as what is acceptable to do with a vagina. Nice girls close their legs and mind their manners. Vaginas are supposed to be closed not opened. As a little girl, you are always told to close your legs, but let us say if I do not feel like it, or I do not want to! Then what?
Social conditioning tells women to close their legs because that is how we are supposed to fade in the background, be nimble and quiet, while men are congratulated on sitting like a man with their legs wide open and to spread out and assert power and space. Women are told to denounce their power and space; I refuse to do that!
The reason I choose to do a 180-degree splay of my legs is because proper women are supposed to wear skirts to their ankles and sit with multiple layers of clothing, and if you can see under a woman’s skirt, she is considered to be exposing her private parts, which is socially undesirable. Women are taught to be reserved, self-effacing, and above all, non-sexual. Therefore the usage of my groin is to dispel this stereotype. Why must I put my private parts away? Where will they go? I’ve always wanted to stand and pee in public like a MAN, and now I can!