Image from: One Zero One: The Story of Cybersissy & BayBjane (2013)

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Reviewed by benjaminbrown GB / Joined benjaminbrown 2021
One Zero One: The Story of Cybersissy & BayBjane
One Zero One: The Story of Cybersissy & BayBjane
One Zero One: The Story of Cybersissy & BayBjane
Germany, 2013, 90 minutes, HD LGBT, Documentary, Biopic
“To me, beauty is looks you can never forget. A face should jolt, not soothe.”- John Waters\\
One Zero One is a highly stylised and theatrically baroque hybrid of documentary and fiction or 'docu-fiction' that focuses on the fascinating relationship between the irreverent drag double act, Cyber Sissy and BayB Jane. With more than a hint of John Waters' wonderfully depraved, kitsch creation Divine, Cyber Sissy is similarly a fun house mirror of exaggerated pantomime proportions. Strip away the larger than life persona though and underneath we find a vulnerable, somewhat unhinged middle aged man, this being the 48 year old Dutch artist and academic, Antoine. Brilliantly free thinking and free spirited he is without doubt the visionary innovator of the two, and was the one who recognised the potential that the Moroccan born Mourad had for performance, transforming him into his burlesque alter ego. \\
Heralded as 'the world's smallest drag-queen' at just 149 cm tall, Mourad is also multi-disabled; he struggles walking, has stumped fingers and toes and a glass eye. Far from hiding in the shadows and cowering in the wake of social stigma though he instead remains boldly defiant, remarking that ”I see my body as art, it is beautiful”. Indeed this comment rather encapsulates the films perspective overall which, paralleling the spiky spunky attitude of the performing pair brashly challenges and throws into question certain societal norms around the nature of beauty. The pair could actually perhaps even be seen as living performance art, which would therefore then rather fittingly chime with Mourad's own comments about his body, and also his remark that they 'are a living painting'. \\
As an artist it is clear that Antoine too sees them both as being like living artworks, and commenting on the differences between the real and performed selves remarks: 'very often people will identify me with the whole outfit, or person, then I say this is something that is created, it isn't necessarily me'. As if to reflect the notion of such delineations of the real and the performed, there is a continual shifting present between more standard documentary conventions like talking head interviews and highly unconventional, staged sequences. Drifting from the real into the fantastical and the chimerical, some scenes are so surreal that they are almost like strange fever dreams. Such scenes in fact bear visual relations to Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing (2012), and also like this documentary there are numerous allusions made to fictional Hollywood cinema.\\
Mourad's stage name of BayB Jane comes from the eponymous character played by Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), whilst their full-figured trans-gender friend Amanda Lapore clearly models herself on the sexy screen siren Marilyn Monroe. To further the comparison with Act of Killing, Antoine's Cybersissy creation is even visually comparable to those moments where Herman Koto wears drag, and as with this film there features a number of strange and lavishly staged oneiric sequences that are highly baroque in their grandeur and exaggerated style. These scenes are so fantastical and dreamlike that they wouldn't be out of place in a work by Fellini, and there are even echoes of the great Italian director's playful, self-reflexive fiction and documentary mash-up that is I clowns (1972). \\
As with this film, One Zero One is also an arty and distinctly bizarre coming together of varying forms, and this multivalent quality seems fitting to the kitsch post-modern bricolage of disparate elements that makes up the overall aesthetic of the performers. In the spirit of Fellini's work, One Zero One is also a gleeful celebration of misfits that rather aptly parallels the drag duo themselves in its obstinate refusal to be put into any one category, and instead it remains refreshingly unclassifiable.\\
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