Drape yourself in black. Stare in the mirror. Put on some fake eyelashes. Now put on your favorite song. Look side to side, up and down, blink to the beat and melody of the music. Dance only with your eyes. How long did it take you to smile?
The most poignant scene in Persepolis, Texas — performed over the weekend at CounterPULSE — is performance artist and local drag queen Maryam Farnaz Rostami doing just that (wearing the iconic drag queen eyelashes). Yet she is constricted physically by her full chador, and ideologically by so much more. She does not break into a grin. It is tragic, but she gives her audience permission to laugh.
It's one of numerous characters Rostami embodies in the performance, subtitled FOBspring to Drag Queen in One Generation. (FOBspring stands for “fresh-off-the-boat offspring.”) Rostami lures us into her world and lets us in on a secret: Identity is constructed, and the exploration of it is hilarious.