THE WARDROBE’S BEST DRESSED: “THE ROMANCE OF SIAM” BY JAI ARUN RAVINE

Jai Arun Ravine

Backup, Backdrop, Background (excerpt from “Christy Gibson”)

Christy Gibson is shooting a karaoke music video at Temple of the Emerald Buddha with eight backup dancers backing up until we hit the screen, fading into Christy’s background in Holland and the day, when she was six years old and she tripped, and hurt her pinky toe, but didn’t tell anyone, before her family moved to Korat and how she lost her shoes between Amsterdam and BKK International because her little suitcase never made it to baggage claim.

Christy is shooting a karaoke music video at BKK baggage claim where her backup dancers come through the rubber curtain, through the carousel and around on the silver conveyor belt studded with lights.

We are each a little part of that lost suitcase, and Christy’s name handwritten on the tag that failed to make it to her, and how all of her childhood in Holland was lost in that suitcase, and how in Korat she accumulated new things but did not have a container for them.

We spin around to replicate Christy’s feeling of loss, stick out our right hips, turn and smile into her back.

We rise out of our own suitcases, throw them onto Christy’s jet, close the hatch and walk back, replaying the video Christy’s father shot of the crevice in which the Emerald Buddha actually sits, in the dark, where women selling lotus flower told Christy how cute she was

and Christy tells us how the word for cute
has the word for face
and the word for love.

Or the word for next.
Or the word for rice field.
Or the word for [something without a translation]
depending on the tone.

We dance depending on middle, high or low consonant class, long or short vowel with no final, non-stop final or stop final and tone mark: middle, low, high, rising, falling.

Christy says we need to be more precise or else no one will know what we’re saying.

We imagine the golden spires of the temple obscured by Christy’s sunburnt blonde head, push record, and then push it again.

We mimic Christy’s shadows interrupting a projection of a photograph of the King set inside the crinkle of a white hand touching and asking how much? drug into the vendor’s mouth framed by a hundred Beer Chang tee shirts cross-fading into the fog machine synchronizing the movements of our sequins neon accent the Pantene PRO-V starshow ad pasted into the temple’s floating yard line dissected by the crisscross of flash cannon lenses and ESPN painting the dpi between strands of Christy’s hair against chedi ruins as a backdrop at the dentist

and then Christy says, “Good.”

Christy says, “I’m speaking your language.”


Jai Arun Ravine is a writer, dancer and graphic designer. As a mixed race, mixed gender and mixed genre artist, their work arises from the simultaneity of text and body and takes the form of video, performance, comics and handmade books. Jai’s first full-length book, แล้ว AND THEN ENTWINE: LESSON PLANS, POEMS, KNOTS, re-imagines immigration history and attempts to transform cultural inheritances of silence. Their short film TOM/TRANS/THAI approaches the silence around female-to-male (FTM) transgender identity in the Thai context and has screened internationally. THE ROMANCE OF SIAM is their second book.

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One thought on “THE WARDROBE’S BEST DRESSED: “THE ROMANCE OF SIAM” BY JAI ARUN RAVINE

  1. […] “Backup, Backdrop, Background (excerpt from ‘Christy Gibson’)” […]

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