The identity I forced was rooted in femme fatales of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Garbo, Dietrich, and Bacall fascinated me. Each of them exemplified a chilly aloof, embodying characters who lived as if any compliment was no surprise. Their no non-sense control was what I needed to conceal the embarrassed boy.
In the three actresses, I found icons I could take who I was and reshape myself. Growing up excluded from school parties and youth groups, I learned a preference for being alone or with the few close friends I had. Like MGM did with Garbo, I molded an air of mystery around myself, utilizing silence and deflecting questions to gloss over my lack of life experience. I became the master of the eye roll. I learned to manipulate people’s gaze through the way I dressed and colored my hair, fetishizing myself, just as Dietrich had. Combining the two I designed a Bacall inspired display of command over movement and gesture, never crawling to be noticed.
I consulted them frequently for advice on how to play it cool. The best masks sit directly upon the face – smoothing over to present a picturesque self. A generalized individuality to be seen and easily blend into a crowd.