Sometimes, ya just gotta do what ya gotta do to get someone's attention.
This is the reality in which Occupy activist Marni Halasa lives, and thrives. And, when her publicist snagged a possible photo spread with the NY Times, she was more than ready to appear in full costume. She showed up, and they did, too. The resulting interview appeared as "Props and Agit-Prop" in the 10/10/14 issue.
Reporter Corey Kilgannon gets kudos for the largely complimentary article covering Marni's appearance at a protest against the World Business Forum, remarking on her ability to provide "the visuals," and "cheerfully posing for a seemingly endless string of photographs, often taken by police officers and businessmen."
The reporter could not help but notice that passers-by "ignored the signs and speeches of the larger protest" to flock to the "sexy cop" she was portraying.
He also kindly included a few words about the company she hopes to build to hire "protest performers" inspired by her work and inspiration.
Aye, but here's the rub. Even given the fact that was an article, not a treatise, where were the paragraphs extolling the really interesting and compelling things about this self-identified activist? You know, things like her writing pedigree and the media outlets she writes for, including the New York Law Journal, The Bond Buyer, The Examiner, The Advocate, Litigation Management, Huffington Post and Occupy News Network.
More could have been included about her JD law degree from the University of Pittsburgh, her BS in Applied History/Political Science From Carnegie Mellon, or her MS in Legal and Business Journalism at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. "The rest of the story..." just isn't included.
Marni, still fully appreciative of the article and its placement in the NYTimes, confided to her friends:
"I have protested quite a bit in the past three years, in elaborate costume...I just wished (that the article) would have juxtaposed all the cute fluffy stuff with the substantive issues that I concern myself with: the historic marginalization of the poor, the regulatory capture of the Fed, collective organization of workers, and the lack of (Wall Street) criminal prosecutions."
"These issues are the real motivations for the dress up, and without those issues the dress up means nothing. And, (once I get someone's attention by the glitter) I spend a good portion of my time speaking out about issues."
All that glitters...isn't safe
That glitter, or more likely her flamboyant "free speech" efforts, got her early and unwelcome notice by New York's finest. They worked up their courage and showed their displeasure by citing Marni for "Impeding Pedestrian Traffic" - not at an Occupy Event, but one just as close to her heart - celebrating International Women's Day as a "Freedom Fairy."
She said at that time, when the judge threw out the summons as being unwarranted:
"I plan on pursuing my activist performance art full throttle," she said. "The message of systemic economic inequality is an important one in this decade, and if I can help spread that message in a unique, compelling way and get people to think or even engage in a conversation, I feel like I have done some good in the world."
A year later, and still skating, Marni is proud of her early and ongoing work with Occupy.
"So why do I risk arrest, brave the sometimes hostile elements and lose sleep over hours of preparation? An obsessive desire for creative self-expression is the obvious reason. The other is that it is my chance to belong to an amazingly purposeful politicized community."
And, she represents that faction well.
When she got pictorial top placement above NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio at the recent Columbus Day Parade, she responded to one of the mayor's critic by saying, "He needs REVOLUTION IS SEXY consulting services, how to be politically sexy and not look bad, I can also do crisis management, press releases, talk with reporters, pick out a nice outfit and even style hair...!"
There is much to admire about this lady, full time activist and entrepreneur. Unless, of course, you don't find brains to be sexy, or bodies to be revolutionary.