Tape #50 1977: Trailer Life

1977, 21:46 min, b&w, sound

In this tape, Maughan enacts a series of skits taken from and inspired by Trailer Life, a periodical for recreational vehicle enthusiasts. The collection of letters, columns, and stories that Maughan assembled from the magazine reflects a range of class, gender, and racial stereotypes—a dark side to the giddy post-war passion for convenient travel in America that Trailer Life espoused. In The Last Night, a precisely arranged mis-en-scene includes a drooping potted plant, a metal lawn chair, and a sheet of white paper—the word "bitch" written on it in bold letters—tacked to the wall. Maughan enters the frame in a feminine dress and elaborate makeup, and reads a story published in Trailer Life that she has augmented to emphasize the bleak story of a young man's shame over his family's lower-class status, which in Maughan's version has a gruesome consequence. This skit is contrasted sharply by the following piece, entitled Huge Trailer for Arabian Prince, staged only with a large palm frond and Maughan, in a hijab, reading a sensational account of an Arabian Prince's luxuriously appointed trailer. With incisive humor, Maughan brings a 1970s' perspective to outmoded 50s-era representations.

Cynthia Maughan

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