Previously undocumented artwork by Danny Allen keeps surfacing. Much of it is very psychological in nature, more often than not, focusing on gender identity. This particular watercolor is of a hydrocephalic drag queen with one club foot. It’s a troubling image to say the least.
Back when I was living with Dan, there was a limited theatrical release of the 1932 horror film classic, Freaks. Dan was influenced by that film. Most of the characters in the movie were real-life individuals with birth defects and various abnormalities that made the more physically fortunate among us extremely uncomfortable–which to some degree was the point. For some reason that film resonated with Dan and his fascination with all that is outside of our collective comfort zone.
One “freak” image already in the book depicts a pregnant man with an erection, and a bearded man/woman in a bikini. They appear to be playing ‘doctor’ as the figure to the viewer’s right is handing two pomegranates to the pregnant male/female figure to the left. Strawberries are floating on the wallpaper above the wainscoting behind the couple. There was green wainscoting in our first apartment with strawberries on fabric covering the walls in our the bathroom. To call the pieces in this post “unusual” is to employ understatement to the extreme.
Another example of the “freak” series was located after the book went to press. This example shows a pair of Siamese twins in a polka dot bikini for two. The sisters are attached at the hip and the hairstyle.
I can only speculate about how the invention of these unusual figures resonated with Dan and his feelings of disenfranchisement. I believe Danny had very low self-esteem and identified with the outsiders he chose to conjure-up from his imagination. It’s only my opinion, as we’ll never know for sure, but I believe Dan felt profoundly out of place and misunderstood–bouncing back and forth from the bizarre to the beautiful and expressing it through his art.