Angela Serrano: We Should Show Appreciation

Image: Rebecca Dimovski

Angela Serrano is a millennial Filipino-Australian writer, model, yogi, soprano in training and 2017 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow. Currently writing a collection of short erotic fiction, her previous work has appeared in The Lifted Brow, Overland, Archer, Peril, Pencilled In, and beyond.  During EWF2017 she will be telling stories in Literary Live Art: Performing PlaceIn the lead up to the Festival, Angela talked to us about current projects and shared thoughts on performance, stereotypes, Twitter and more.

On the work keeping her up at night

“I’m working on two big projects at the moment.  One is Transcendental Ickiness, a collection of short erotic fiction I’m working on in my Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship.  Whenever people walk by my desk, I’m a little worried they’ll see I’m looking at BDSM photos or books like In Praise of the Whip: A Cultural History of Arousal.

“I’m also producing a show by Carlos Celdran, a Filipino political comedian who was here last month for the Castlemaine State Festival.  I’m bringing him back to Melbourne to do shows in Thornbury Theatre in August.  Producing the show has been unreal – this is the first time I’m doing production on such a grand scale for a Melbourne audience.  Melbourne audiences can be fickle, if you make one mistake you can lose a lot of love.”

On her favourite thing to write

“Emails! Or the epistolary form – I really love the letter.  When I was a teenager Live Journal was all the rage and I started blogging.  Back in the day blogs were like letters to audience members, friends writing to each other.  When I moved to Australia in 2010 I left my partner behind, and for a couple of years our main medium of communication was email – we wrote to each other almost every day.  I wrote a letter for The Lifted Brow #32 – a letter to my Mum.  I never sent it to her, but I suppose if she ever comes across a copy of the issue she’ll read about my life in Australia, all the crazy stuff I haven’t told her.”

On translating writing for performance

“Communicating emotion and meaning without written or verbal language, using gesture and expression, can be really important in performance.  As writers we’re very hooked to the written word, but there’s a lot to learn from art and performance like fashion, painting, sculpture, dance, circus, or even practices that seems mundane like flirting.

Something I’ve learned from performance is the importance of being a tweetable writer.  It helps get your work out there, get yourself introduced to people. I try to structure my sentences so they fit in a tweet with space for a tag and hashtag, and I spend so much time on my Twitter account I probably sound like Twitter when I talk to everyday people.  I just turned myself into a living, breathing Twitter account…and that would make a good tweet!”

On what she’s really reading

“There’s this stereotype of artists being inner-city living, latte sipping, cultural gatekeepers…it’s an unfair right-wing barb, but I occasionally wonder if there’s a point to it.  Sometimes I feel I have to keep up appearances – that I’m this serious person, I like the right kind of music, I read the right kind of books.  I’ve got my respectable reading list populated with Allen Ginsberg, Krissy Kneen, Maxine Beneba Clarke…but I have some trashy stuff next to my bed. Some of that includes dubcon, a subsection of erotica about relationships with very unequal power dynamics. Not 50 Shades, to be clear – if you want recommendations, ask me! My husband knows how passionately feminist I am, how committed I am to equal relationships in everyday life, so he laughs himself into hiccups whenever I tell him about a new dubcon scene I’m reading.  My other dirty secret is that I love pop music.  I like Bieber’s Cold Water. And Sorry.  I’ll sing along and dance when they play, without irony or apology.”

On remembering you’re not a solitary genius

“Be humble and grateful.  Think about the people who helped you get here.  If you’re working in a café, the person making coffee is enabling you, they’re putting something in your body that’s helping you create art, and it’s important to treat them well.  In her show Nannette Hannah Gadsby told us that the story of Van Gogh isn’t that his mental illness made him great, but that he had a brother who loved and supported him, who made sure his work was not forgotten.  Having people who see what we’re doing – even if we don’t or the world doesn’t – that’s what makes an artist.  It’s not just about someone’s private genius or exotic brand of madness, it’s about relationships and communities.  We should treat the people who support us better, we should show appreciation.”

See Angela Serrano in Literary Live Art: Performing Place on Thursday 22 June at VU at MetroWest.