Selfies with a TV star

Love, Mr. President

Before his current gig, Donald Trump worked as a TV actor. He starred on The Apprentice from 2004 to 2016. In January 2007 he received a star on Hollywood Blvd. for his work on the show. In late 2016 he was elected president of the United States. Since then, Hollywood visitors have used the star as a touchstone for their love and/or hate of the 45th president.

As luck has it, the Trump star is directly in front of Ovation Hollywood. Ovation, formerly known as Hollywood & Highland, is home to the Academy Awards’ Dolby Theater, and the historic TCL Chinese Theater. Shoppers and movie-goers don’t all know that the Trump star is there, but they discover it soon enough.

Not our president.

Many Trump lovers are thrilled to see the star and quickly take “V for victory” or thumbs-up selfies with the star. About an equal number of Trump haters are disgusted to see the star and take middle-finger or thumbs-down selfies with it. Occasionally a couple has split feelings toward 45. Love or hate the man, people love taking pictures with the star. A star that has been physically destroyed at least three times since 2016.

A house divided.

While most visitors are content to take their victory or middle-finger selfies, a few take their love, hate, or complex cultural considerations further.

Rebecca Jones speaks with mascara

This woman, let’s call her Rebecca Jones, saw the Trump star and felt compelled to express her animosity. She didn’t have a marker, or spray paint, or even a pencil. So she fished through her makeup and pulled out a tube of mascara. She used the mascara wand as her marker and expressed her feelings about the 45th president.
Jones’ addition to the star, “Donald Trump… is a racist fuck.”
Jones did her calligraphy at 9:55 p.m. This image is a half hour later at 10:25 p.m. The LAPD drove up to the star in a squad car with Jones in the back seat. They let her out and sent her to clean the star.

Hennessey Smith does women’s work

This woman, let’s call her Hennessey Smith, perhaps on her way to see a movie, saw the Trump star and took a selfie with it. As she posed for her photo she noticed that the star was dirty. Perhaps someone had poured Coca-Cola on it. People deposit a lot of things on the Trump star. Smith gave a big smile, posed with two thumbs up, and took her picture. Then she appeared to leave.
Smith returned moments later with a package of baby wipes. Apparently, she’d gone to a nearby drug store, bought the wipes, and come back to do what women have always done, clean up someone else’s mess. With effortless humility and grace, Smith got down on her hands and knees to make her president’s star shine once more.

Darcey Leonard + Erin Leigh perform a ritual

Darcey Leonard, founder of The Tarot Society of Los Angeles, performs “The Invocations of The Rites of Babalon, an Ophidian Thelemic Ritual” at Donald Trump’s star on Hollywood Blvd.
Erin Leigh performs “The Invocations of The Rites of Babalon, an Ophidian Thelemic Ritual” at Donald Trump’s star on Hollywood Blvd.
Flowers, candles, a sage smudge stick, and sparkly bits adorn The Trump star during “The Invocations of The Rites of Babalon, an Ophidian Thelemic Ritual.”

“Women’s Work”

Over these years the Trump star has often been dirty or had detritus tossed on it. At times a Trump-supporting man will see this, and, from a standing position, use his shoe to kick the junk aside. Hennessey Smith, a woman, got down on her hands and knees to clean the star. To do “women’s work.”

In doing this work that women so often do, Smith follows in a long line. In the year 33 Mary of Bethany wept. Her tears fell on Christ’s feet. And she washed his feet with perfume and dried them with her hair.

Mary of Bethany drying Christ’s feet with her hair.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, 1973. Image: The Cut

1,940 years later, Mierle Laderman Ukeles washed the steps of the Wadsworth Atheneum, an art museum in Hartford, Connecticut. And another forty-four years after that, Hennessey Smith, on her hands and knees, cleaned the sidewalk on Hollywood Blvd. Washing the 45th president-of-the-United-States’ Star.

Rebecca Jones does not respect Trump the way Smith does. Their feelings are 180 degrees apart. And yet, like Smith doing “women’s work” to clean the star, without a marker or spray paint, Jones took something from female identity, a tube of mascara and its wand, to express her feelings toward the star and the celebrity it signifies. Like Smith, she does something gendered female by our culture to express her resonance with the star.

Darcey Leonard and Erin Leigh perform in a space less left or right and more transcendental. Their ophidian thelemic ritual celebrates the great goddesses of earth, sky, and underworld.

Love, hate, transcendence.

Smith, Jones, Leonard, and Leigh relate to the Trump star in different ways. Yet each in her way relates to it in a form we typically gender as female. Their worldviews are divergent. Yet their humanity is isomorphic. Could they sit down for a cup of coffee, talk past their ideological differences, and share their common humanity? Could they be friends?

Darcey Leonard and Erin Leigh performing a ritual as they sit across from each other at Donald Trump’s star on Hollywood Blvd. Almost a coffee ritual. Of all the things we thought our 45th president might be, was a coffee table one of them? Will Hennessey Smith and Rebecca Jones join them?

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