There are plenty of fellow lookie-loos at the Folsom Street Fair, which is the last place one would expect to find a living statue, much less a pristine beauty queen. That party is drrrrty, y’all, teeming with the kinkiest underbelly creeps that SF has to offer. This year, though, half a block from the onstage orgy of licky licky, whippy whippy, and sucky sucky, stands a stunning blonde glamour goddess, her slinky black dress accessorized with glittering rhinestones and bright blue harvest-moon eyes.
It’s Barbie, bitch. A living statue of Barbie, to be exact — “played” by Suzanne Ramsey, aka cabaret singer/songwriter Kitten on the Keys —planted smack-dab in the middle of Folsom and Ninth Street.
This Barbie is an artistic statement, meant to juxtapose conventional beauty ideals and raw, unbridled sexuality, explains Gregangelo Herrera, one of the artists behind the living statue.
Gregangelo is also the founder and director of circus company Velocity Arts and Entertainment. A few years ago, he worked with makeup artists, costumers, and wigmakers to create a life-sized version of toyland’s sweetheart, which he calls “American Icon.” In 2007, “American Icon” took first place at the World Statues Festival in Arnhem, Netherlands, and she remains an important element of Velocity’s arsenal. She is being reprised today at the Folsom Street Fair, an experiment in clashing contexts.
Earlier this morning, Barbie was “dressed” by makeup artist Joanne “Gigi” Evangelista, who created the original makeup concept, and hairstylist/wigmaker Emmanuel Noel, who owns the Atelier Emmanuel salon. A few hours before the fair officially began, they gathered in Gregangelo’s kitchen to transform Suzanne, a pretty brunette, into the world’s most potent and popular blonde.
When the American Icon arrives at Folsom Street Fair, she attracts the attention of the leather-harnessed, nipple-clamped onlookers. Never mind the full-on three-way action that’s happening 50 yards away, it’s Barbie who’s drawing a crowd. People are shockingly reverent and hands-off, not what you’d expect at a bacchanalia of kink.
Some purple latex pony girls trot up to Suzanne, remove the bits from their mouths, and ask for a hug and a photo. Meanwhile a few kitties with leather tails giggle, awed, then purr, “We love you, Barbie!”
Barbie loves them back. “Just think how many years I’ve been restrained in a box on a shelf!” she cries. “Folsom Street is where I can be free!”
It’s a sentiment embraced by most Folsom Street attendees, who are expressing themselves freely here as well.
“I’m a dragon!” a woman calls out. Okay.
Throughout the fair, Suzanne is poised and calm, shifting positions occasionally, but for the most part frozen in timeless grace.
“I feel completely aware,” Suzanne tells me. “It’s a rush. I feel like the cougar Barbie.”