Of powdering and fisting 
Six white toilet bowls on tiled pedestals. In the background a video, drawing us from Ringstrasse, where the annual Rainbow Parade is taking place, into the underground, to the toilets of the tube passage “Opernring”. In the opening production of the festival Rakete, Luca Bonamore flushes us out of the TQW Studios to a place where latex gloves meet horse hooves, cruising meets ballroom dance, queer club culture encounters baroque. With a long, dark brown mane and patent leather boots ending in horse hooves, Bonamore pulls himself over the floor, passing the bulgy ceramic objects, towards the middle of the stage. The light is dim. Fog spreads throughout the room. The performance Lamentations inverts the “Out of the toilets, into the streets!” from the cult movie It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives by Rosa von Praunheim and seeks the remnants of emancipatory potential still to be found in today’s smallest rooms. There doesn’t seem to be much initially: Bonamore mounts the pedestal of loneliness and sings about an absent “Raver Boy”. He yearns for dances together, flying and riding into the sunrise. It is an invitation, an unfulfilled desire to disengage together from shame and social conventions through intimacy. To overcome separation. The lament is cracked open by strobe lights and club music. Doing the splits, Bonamore jumps from the pedestal and presses his body onto the floor in endless waves. He dances as if on a packed dancefloor, but he stays alone, turning around himself. Here, queerness appears as something unfulfilled. As something that in the sense of José Esteban Muñoz is not yet, but becomes manifest in the future.
However, when the beat fades and the light dies down, and Bonamore is prone over the toilet bowl, a second performer enters the stage. The two embrace each other, begin to dance along with distorted Strauss sounds. They lift their arms over their heads like in the fifth position of port de bras in classical ballet. Move towards each other and away again. Almost like at a ball, only in jockstraps. Before one gets the impression that the performance is about to tip over into the romantic kitsch of a homonormative ballroom dance, Bonamore puts on a black glove and inserts his fist into the other performer’s anus. Not in a spectacular sense, but as a natural continuation of the couple dance, as a choreographic act of approaching one another. For a scene’s length, Viennese ball culture and cruising touch each other in an ambivalent way. Whether the aim is to ridicule the alleged romanticism of a ball in heteronormative dress, or to lend a different depth to fisting, remains open. What stays is the desire and the promise to get together for a moment. Not in the seclusion of a public toilet, but before the eyes of the audience.
In the opening night’s second performance, too, two people encounter each other: between an abstract house with door, window and a dim lantern and a small ridge, a robot cat is purring. Next to it. Shade Théret and Magdalena Mitterhofer are separated by a cool distance. The house and the pedestal. Two places, two spheres – invisible “care work” and exhibited corporality as well as entertainment: attributions historically connected with people conceived to be female. The performer’s dialogues are about anger, desire “hellcat” – the peculiar, miaowing-bawling construct of femininity. Usually so heteronomous, the performance explores how stereotyped presentations of femininity can be appropriated in a refractory manner. Théret, the piece’s choreographer and at the same time one of its performers, appears in a red, jersey-like velvet dress with glittering star applications and light-blue pantyhose in a light cone on the pedestal – a stage on the stage. The little ridge turns into a place somewhere between circus arena, gymnastics, and competition ballroom dance. Théret breathes deeply and heavily, moves, whirling and quick, on and next to the pedestal. She accompanies her movements with never-ending texts, without any signs of exhaustion. Her heavy breathing sets the pace – becomes melody. She twists and turns in all possible directions. Something like a tight-rope act. The performer’s virtuosity shows what kind of strain between the self and the continuously observing outside is normal for people and bodies read to be female.
Mitterhofer is dressed in grey-brown trousers and shirt. She turns Théret’s monologue-like solo into a relaxed dialogue during which the two hardly ever look at each other. They dance the waltz, taking up the entire stage, yelling and powdering. In Hellcat, powdering becomes burnishing the face’s appearance; from light dabbing to unbridled play where the white powder goes up in the air and spreads in blotches on faces and clothing. The performers amplify this small movement of the hand until their whole body begins to tremble. The overstatement lends them a power that means feminist emancipation in the best sense. Through excited emotions, almost hastily strung together, they recite text fragments peppered with excerpts from the works of two poets: on the one hand, Anne Sexton’s poems from Live or Die, which deals with mental health and complicated mother-daughter relationships. On the other hand, Pasolini’s Comizi d’amore, in English: Love Meetings – a documentary film from 1964, in which the gay film director travels through Italy and asks people about love and sexuality and confronts his interview partners with questions relating to queerness. While reciting and moving, the performers become ever more exuberant, until a shrieking duet takes place – a fragile and empowering moment that hurls questions at the audience: “How seriously is ‘hellcat’ taken, who hears our outcry, and why do we have to yell like that at all?” After the shrieking abates, Magdalena Mitterhofer performs a touching song with the lines: “Let’s make arrangements – beautiful arrangements.” Is it possible that we share a room in spite of unrequited love? “You lie here, I’ll just lie at the other side of the room.”
Both performances take up socially marginalised phenomena: female anger und gay fisting. They approach these physical practices, investigate them and shift their meaning. In Hellcat, representations of femininity become complex, ambivalent, partially ununderstandable. The performers show anger that liberates, sometimes appears threatening, but also leave space for sadness and fragility. Lamentations is dedicated to cruising, fisting and queer desire, and develops its emancipatory potential in tenderness. Fisting as a choreography of touch. Less as penetration than as a waltz.
 In Austrian colloquial language, the German term “pudern” (to powder) can also mean to have sex. (translator’s note)
 José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (Sexual Cultures), New York 2009.
The texts for the Rakete Festival 2023 were written by students of MA Critical Studies in cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (Moira Hille).
Tubi Malcharzik (no pronouns, they/them) lives and works as performer, dramatic adviser, and DJ in Hannover and Vienna. Based on autobiographical experiences, Tubi is engaged in queerer memory, abstract drag, German-Polish migration history, and seemingly impossible duets – in solo performances (COMEBACK, PASKUDNIK) as well as in the shape of collective works (Funken bis Uranus, Sprachnachrichten über Schlonsken). These works were invited and shown at Schwankhalle (Bremen), HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), brut (Wien), PACT Zollverein (Essen), the MULTITUDE Festival (Hannover), the Körber Studio Junge Regie (Hamburg), and others.
Isabelle Edi (she/her) born 1996 in Hamburg, is a costume designer, artist, and curator, and is engaged in the perspectives of black people in a white dominated cultural landscape, and the reception of black bodies in moving images. Among others, she worked with Schauspielhaus Hamburg, Thalia Theater, Kampnagel, BRUT Wien, David Uzochukwu, and the film collective Jünglinge. In 2017 she founded together with friends the collective POSSY, which speaks for the visibility of FLINTA* (female, lesbian, intersexual, non-binary, trans- and a-gender) people in the field of culture. At the moment she is completing her Critical Studies master programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.