How many high school boyfriends did I force to watch Moulin Rouge? How many hours did I spend coiffing my hair into Satine’s signature styles so I could evoke the look of a Belle Epoch whore in Algebra I? Did I select a red satin prom dress as an homage to the Sparkling Diamond and sing Come What May at the high school talent show? Stop asking stupid questions. The answer is 2, also 2, yes, and obviously, you beautiful idiot. Insufferable theatre kids (hello) and horny teenagers of all stripes were blessed with a bonus collab by powerhouse vocalists in whalebone and rhinestones: Lady Marmalade, produced by Missy Elliott. Obviously, I am none of these women. They are untouchable angels with golden voices and charisma to spare. However, just as I am a Carrie, a Gryffindor, a Jo March, and a Stark, I am a Mya. Unlike her fellows, Mya spends the least amount of time in her boudoir, getting fed up with her dressers for taking too long. In this video, Mya is the theatre kid who showed up half an hour before call time to walk the set and practice choreo alone.
After the first chorus, Pink stomps downstage in platform boots/beckons us to her four-poster bed. Lil’ Kim lounges on a scarlet chaise longue, surrounded by flowers and diamonds. I guess in a word? LUSH! The upholstery, the frenzy of feathers, fabrics, spangles, jewels! It’s not Baz Luhrmann, but the video kind of emulates his vibe with loads of red, heightened theatricality, and quick cuts from shot to shot. It’s like being inside a jewelry box or a genie’s bottle. And speaking of genies in bottles…
If Mya is the punctual thespian, Christina is the girl one eyebrow into makeup when the stage manager gives a five minute call and is like, “Oops, from now?” She seems completely unbothered, throwing powders and pots off her vanity, much to the dismay of her attendants, who have dressed her as Carol Kane Spice. She finally joins the women onstage where they rejoice in their ability to riff together and inspire a thirteen-year-old me to attempt their moves at the next middle school dance, held in a memorial building in rural Iowa. I am wearing K-Swiss shoes and a shirt that says “Angel”. The lights are dim and the floor is sticky with Mountain Dew. It does not go well.
Emily Draffen is a Midwesterner living in the South. She has written three plays and loves gin martinis.