Sunday, October 13, 2013

Girls Only: The Queen Mary's Dark Harbor Is Not for Queens

Last night, Tenebrae and I went to Queen Mary Dark Harbor with two friends, to welcome the beginning of the Halloween season. I am here to warn you against making the same mistake. 

Because this isn't a Yelp review, I'm not going to waste your time and mine by detailing each little problem, starting with the parking attendants, to the lines before you even enter, to the extremely low maze quality, it just goes on and on and none of it is worth the effort to dwell upon. What I will dwell upon are the things that are somewhat relevant to this blog.

On their website, it says that they don't allow patrons to wear costumes (except on a couple of designated nights), which makes some sense, I guess. So when you're in the highly problematic line to get in, there's someone whose job it seems to be to make sure that no one is in costume. She stopped Tenebrae, asking, "Is that white makeup?" Knowing what she's getting at, he says, "I'm pale, it's regular makeup." When she starts to bring up the costume thing, I jump in with all my might: "We look like this everyday. We know your rules on costumes and these are not costumes. EVERY DAY. All the time. Okay?" She backed off and I was super proud for standing up for us.

Because the thing is, his makeup was not that different from mine. It was a little paler, and he had reddish eyeshadow that looked a bit ghoulish. But I am so goddamn sure that if a woman had that makeup on, the attendant wouldn't have said anything. The logic here is that if a man has makeup on, it must be a costume. That is why I took up verbal arms.

On a similar subject, there was a little dance area in the county-fair-esque carnival occupying the space in front of the Queen Mary. They were playing crappy dubstep so that people would dance on a little circular stage, which they did, but then there was a tiny pedestal stage off to the side with a cage covering. On the cage was a crappily scribbled sign that read "GIRLS ONLY" stuck on with electrical tape.

My first reaction, predictably, was anger. In the cage-stage at that moment was a ghoulishly dressed employee. Now, if the sign had said "EMPLOYEES ONLY" and they made the choice to put up only women, I'm sure I wouldn't have had the energy to care. But this particular sign, in all it's hand-written-possibly-by-a-four-year-old glory, opens up a bit of a mystery. The only reason that I suspect it was put up by an employee and not a patron was the electrical tape. Because who carries electrical tape? (Well, sometimes I do when I wear it as pasties, but I doubt there was a whole lot of that going on at Dark Harbor.) So, even if it was put up by an employee, I doubt it was officially sanctioned by the event just due to the nature of its extreme crappiness.

There is a time and a place for putting only women on stage and keeping men as spectators, and it's called a strip club. And I'm not putting down strip clubs by making that point, believe it or not. Strip clubs fulfill a (dominant) niche, and it shouldn't be taken for granted and pour over into all other walks of life (especially nightlife). The problem is not objectification (I've said it before and I'll say it over and over again), it's reinforcing this extreme heteronormativity by institutionally objectifying one and not the other.

So I tore the sign down. No one seemed to notice or care, and it was probably the highlight of my night.

[That finger, it's the middle one.]

As for the maze (singular because we only made it onto one due to gigantic lines), it was a complete waste of Queen Mary space. Trash bag decour, animatronic mannequins, no evidence of being on the Queen Mary. I was only there once before for a Rocky con about seven years ago, and it's a pretty amazing place. When we planned to go, I imagined that the mazes would use the creepy areas of the ship to their advantage. No such thing. Tom said it really well when the maze spat us back out in front of the ship: "That maze was actually really impressive...considering that it was for free and at my next door neighbor's house." Yep.

So if anyone reading this does not heed my advice and actually goes to this event later in the month, please report back and tell me if there's a new "GIRLS ONLY" sign. Let's hope not.