"The future of politics is now": Angelyne For Governor
The Angelyne Party, a short-cut to initiation?
I had a wonderful Internet brush with fame the other day by tagging Angelyne in my Instagram story to lament the fact that California has better candidates for governor in the midst of civic meltdowns than New York State. Angelyne responded by putting my story in her story:
This was the most powerful I’ve felt in proximity to a politician, and I’ve been on Zoom before with Nancy Pelosi.
I thought it would be right to mark the occasion with a piece on the importance of Angelyne’s run for governor in the current recall election. But I’m not here to talk about how the California recall could result in a disaster for the Democratic Party — and as a New Yorker I find California state politics sordid in a very different way than the embarrassments of New York State. You can read more about the basic details of Angelyne’s run in Los Angeles Magazine, The New Yorker, or on her campaign website, and I’m sure there’s an interesting subcultural history to be written on celebrities and performance artists running for American office (or maybe that’s just plain standard history now, considering our last president and the track record of the governorship of California).
No, I’m especially interested in one part of Angelyne’s run, which is that she is running as part of (or all of) what she calls “The Angelyne Party.” Its slogan: “We Must Party!” Its mission statement:
The future of politics is now. The Angelyne Party establishes a new format of existence. The imagination of the citizen is what is at the forefront. Rise to the occasion of
The Angelyne Party
There’s something fascinating about her not being a celebrity who’s attempting to run on a major party ticket, like Schwarzenegger, Trump, or even Caitlyn Jenner in the very same race (Jenner’s website, compared to Angelyne’s, is super boring, which has got to count for something in the race for celebrity governor).
Angelyne running as the candidate for The Angelyne Party reminds me of another favorite celebrity political campaign, journalist, essayist, and individualist anarchist Benjamin DeCasseres’ announcement that he was running for mayor of New York as the “Cubist candidate” in 1913.
The Angelyne Party’s mission, meanwhile, with its promise of a “new format of existence” and emphasis on the “imagination of the citizen,” reminds me a bit of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s hallucinatory Italian Regency of Carnaro, whose poetic charter, among other things, declared music “a religious and social institution.”
Angelyne’s platform is quite diverse, too — among things like creating a “Department of Homelessness Prevention,” abolishing private prisons, and police reform (which includes a “policeman’s ball,” but only for “wonderful peace officers”; cops will now be subject to a three strikes law), she is also for the repopulation of otters, an annual UFO convention, Bubble Bath Day, and abolishing daylight savings time. And then there’s the proliferation of Bakhtinian carnivalesque touches like an annual masquerade ball “for people to dress up like a governor,” which, really, is just one step removed from the medieval Feast of Fools.1
Angelyne’s section in her platform advocating for the decriminalization of sex work also reminds me of Georges Bataille’s somewhat ambivalent politics of transgression, in which taboos remain necessary in order for us to violate them. As Benjamin Noys writes, Bataille is “sensitive to the necessary coexistence and mutual dependency of transgression and taboo”2; so is Angelyne:
XVIII. DECRIMINALIZE SEX WORK
A. Angelyne is all for the decriminalization of sex work.
B. Her only apprehension is that it shall not be as exciting.
C. Something that’s forbidden has a temptation with it.
Finally, there’s the fact that by “sheer virtue of Angelyne being governor, all citizens will rise to their higher self.” American occult and New Age culture is obviously filled with get-enlightened-quick schemes; from my own tradition of Thelema, I’m reminded of C.F. Russell’s Choronzon Club, which promised a “short-cut to initiation” in its advertisements in the pages of the Occult Digest. But it’s an even shorter cut to initiation to achieve the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel by “sheer virtue” of having Angelyne as your governor.
Maybe we should be saying, Angelyne for Outer Head of the Order!
Summarizing the literary theory of Mikhail Bakhtin, Simon Dentith describes the carnivalesque as “a gay, affirmative, and militantly antiauthoritarian attitude to life, founded upon a joyful acceptance of the materiality of the body”; it is “a central attitude in popular culture, expressed most evidently in the life of carnival with its feasting, Feast of Fools, games-playing and symbolic inversions” (Simon Dentith, Bakhtinian Thought: An Introductory Reader, 66-67).
Benjamin Noys, Georges Bataille: A Critical Introduction, 84.