DRAGU, Margaret

Author Tags: Women

As one of Canada's foremost and senior performance artists, Margaret Dragu is the subject of La Dragu: The Living Art of Margaret Dragu (2003), edited by Paul Couillard and produced by Fado Performance Inc., a Toronto-based, artist-run centre founded in 1993. The book is the first in a series called Canadian Performance Art Legends to honour the likes of Dragu, a performance artist since the 1970s. "She has made at least one piece, either performance or video," writes Andy Fabo, "relating to every job or role that she has taken on for any period of time: house cleaning, working in a bakery, working as a fitness instructor, homemaking and mothering." She has hosted a Co-op Radio program called Momz' Radio, a literary forum for writers who double as mothers, and she has described her own mother as a famous cleaning lady, fisherman's wife and farmer's daughter. She arrived in Vancouver to perform at Expo 86. Some of her ancestry is Romanian. She established Same Day Edit Press in 1986.

In 1975, Dragu collaborated with novelist Susan Swan and performed The Queen of the Silver Blades, a 'rumination' on the achievements of Barbara Ann Scott, an Olympic skater and female icon. Dragu's experiences as stripper in Montreal led her to create Sunset Strippers in 1978, a theatrical recreation of the atmosphere of strip clubs such as Toronto's Zanzibar. In 1989 she co-authored a non-fiction book, Revelations: Essays on Striptease and Sexuality (Nightwood), with A.S.A. Harrison.

Margaret Dragu received the Ethel Tibbits Award in arts as Woman of the Year in Richmond, B.C. (2003).

CITY/TOWN: Richmond

DATE OF BIRTH: September 11, 1953

PLACE OF BIRTH: Regina, Saskatchewan


EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: performance artist, video & filmmaker, personal trainer and fitness leader

Mothers Talk Back with Sarah Sheard & Susan Swan (Coach House Press 1991)

Revelations Essays on Striptease and Sexuality with A.S.A. Harrison (Nightwood Editions 1988)

Anthologies contributor:

Live at the End of the Century edited by Brice Canyon (Visible Arts Society/grunt gallery 2000)

Bringing it Home edited by Brenda Lea Brown (Arsenal Pulp Press 1996)

That Passion, essays on dance edited by Carol Anderson (Dance Collection Danse 1998)

[BCBW 2003] "Dance" "Women"

Revelations: Essays on Striptease and Sexuality (Nightwood $16.95)

IT TOOK FORMER STRIPPER AND FEMINIST Margaret Dragu of Steveston ten years to shed her inhibitions and contradictory feelings to co-write Revelations: Essays on Striptease and Sexuality (Nightwood $16.95) with Susan Harrison of Ace Space Gallery in Toronto.

"It was a huge journey," she says, "I changed my mind several times about what I thought about stripping." The final result is a passionate insiders' defence of a maligned art form and its practitioners.

With interviews, research, essays and personal anecdotes, Revelations examines the social context of the stripper and the persistence of striptease in the face of sexual taboos, bad working conditions and oppression by employers, organized crime and the law. "In a way, my book could just as easily be about dentists," says Dragu, "Any time you get detailed information about any profession that gives you insight into the society."

And who is going to read Dragu's Revelations? "Artists and intellectuals and feminists and anybody interested in sexuality and the differences between art and entertainment," she says then laughs, "And hopefully not too many of my relatives."

[Winter / BCBW 1989]