There were show tunes rolling through the bright, loft-like spaces of Topple, Jill Soloway’s production company on the Paramount lot, just across the street from the Gene Roddenberry building.
The walls, some of them white clapboard, as in a beach house, were decorated with movie posters: there was one of a pulpy, porny 1977 docudrama called, “Born a Man, Let Me Die a Woman,” and of Mx. Soloway’s own work, including “Afternoon Delight,” their directorial feature debut about a bored Silver Lake wife who invites an exotic dancer into her home. (For the last few years, Mx. Soloway has identified as non-binary and prefers the third-person plural pronoun.)
A sign on the bathroom proclaimed, “Every Body,” three times. A glass cabinet was an armory for Mx. Soloway’s trophies, Emmys and Golden Globes for “Transparent,” their groundbreaking Amazon series about a family of three preening, questing and hapless adult siblings whose father has come out as a transgender woman, a plot sparked by the coming-out of their own parent, now known as Carrie (her daughters, Jill and Faith, call her Moppa). There were awards from GLAAD, the LGBT advocacy and media monitoring organization, and from the NAACP.
Soloway has a new memoir out, titled “She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy,” which might be something you can buy for Mrs. Victoria B. Brown to celebrate her release from the straitjacket. More:
“She Wants It” is a coming-of-age and coming out story that is gently comedic, like most of Mx. Soloway’s oeuvre, and interwoven, as its grandiose subtitle suggests, with some gender studies pontificating. (Talking with Mx. Soloway can feel like you’ve wandered into a class taught by Judith Butler, the gender theorist.) It is bogged down with much psychotherapeutic jargon — “Filmmaking was revealing itself to be a permission structure for me to recreate places and moments from my life,” for example — but raised up by Mx. Soloway’s sense of humor and of the absurd.
After the author falls in love with a lesbian while still married, the two enthusiastically make a short comedy about female ejaculation. The Topple crew pitched in, building a giant vagina and helping with costumes. Mx. Soloway calls the film, inevitably, “If You Build It, She Will Come.”
When Mx. Soloway imagined a scenario in which Ali, the youngest Pfefferman, would fall in love with a women’s studies professor, they had the fleeting notion to cast Eileen Myles, the queer essayist and poet (Cherry Jones ended up with the role; Ms. Myles was an extra). Nonetheless, Mx. Soloway found herself on a panel with the poet, and ended up falling in love with her. When Ms. Myles invited her back to her hotel room, Mx. Soloway demurred, worried that she is wearing the wrong bra. On a trip to Paris with Ms. Myles, the couple channeled Jacques Lacan. They watched heterosexual porn, marveled at the tired plots and were moved to write a manifesto declaring that men must be banned from the porn business for 100 years. Instructing an assistant to buy the domain name, topplethepatriarchy.com, and post the manifesto, Mx. Soloway and Ms. Myles were stunned when it didn’t explode on Twitter. Their breakup was presaged by an episode of “Transparent,” and then re-enacted in a “breakup processing session” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.
Read the whole thing, if you can stomach it.
Hey, y’all know that I’m totally Ignatius-at-the-Prytania about stuff like this Mxelangelo dame, but seriously. Seriously. Some of you left-liberal readers criticize me for allegedly picking out the farthest-out weirdos and holding them up as if they represented mainstream liberalism. But look, here is the Times holding up Soloway and her pomps and works as if they were a glorious thing. She — and they — are mainstreaming total madness, branding it as personal and cultural liberation.