Friday, August 13, 2010
Who Is Labertha Jenkins?
Who is this bitch!?
Labertha Purell (yes, like the hand sanitizer) Jenkins is...well...many things. She is, contrary to popular belief, NOT a drag persona, but a female persona. I portray her as a real woman, and not so much like a guy dressed as a woman. She is a hard-rapping, burger-slamming, plate crushing chick from the hood. She is first and foremost a musical performer and food enthusiast.
Labertha sort of manifested herself first when I was in high school. Back then, she represented the large vocal black women in my life. She was older, religious, and fatter. She was a choir singer (who wore her robe relentlessly), and she would pretty much take any song and make it 10 minutes longer with her "musical stylings." I mostly represented her in drawings.
Around my freshman year of college, Labertha had transformed into a slightly younger and tackier version of her former self. She was more of a standup act at this point. Through theatre, which was my major at the time, I brought her to the stage a couple of times in really bad/funny performances of comedy and music. I had written a song or two so far, but didn't really know where it was going to go. By this time I had grown a beard which, for personal and dermatological reasons, I hated shaving off. So Labertha PERFORMING was becoming a nuisance. She quietly slid away into the shadows for a few years.
Labertha was brought back after a break for a pageant that I and my fraternity brothers participated in. She won! She was still a bit more conservative at the time, but definitely younger. The following year, Labertha was asked to host the pageant. The year after that, Labertha co-hosted the pageant once again with the pageants previous winner.
By this time, I had been writing songs for her left and right. I still didn't have much time to fit her into my life, but people were expecting her--all the time. Somehow, she had been given her own identity and had garnered her own reputation. It was just so funny, because I had no desire to dress like a woman, or be a drag queen--but Labertha was just TOO much fun to write for. It was all about this angry black woman who had a love affair with food. It was during my writing that I discovered she was a culmination of my mother, various women from my neighborhood, Wanda Wayne (as portrayed by Jaime Fox on In Living Color), and many many more women and people in my life. I began work on an official album.
After about 2 years of writing, creating, working, and procrastinating, I finally am finished with a 13-track music album. I think that all the waiting will be worth it. Labertha is a part of me that I cannot refuse anymore. She is there when I need a laugh desperately. She is there when I need to feel stronger, or more aggressive. I never really thought of her as more than a persona, but truly, she has been there all along inside me. That doesn't mean I'm going to start dressing like her, or acting like her! But...it is just nice to know that she has my back.
I plan to release the album on iTunes within the next month, so stay tuned!