Sweaty Scales

Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2019.

In a world akin to the surreal vignettes of Peewee’s Playhouse, Sweaty Scales takes us through a series of portals to tell the story of a pair of lovers. Asian American advertising art director Lisa meets Oliver at his 30th birthday party in which he seduces her with a drunken sexy chair dance. Oliver sweats profusely throughout their dates and Lisa can’t figure it out. Is he just a sweaty guy or does he have yellow fever? Peppered with sculptures, puppets and a narrator in a powder blue suit, this comedy unpacks Lisa’s struggle to find her own sexual identity as it relates to the depiction of the Asian women as either the deceitful and sexually aggressive “dragon lady” or the innocent “lotus blossom”. Where the hell does she fall between such images? Lisa daydreams of a dragon lady of her own creation; a dragon-like dominatrix character that has scales wrapped around her arms. Collaged and warped into the video are Hollywood representations of interracial romance taken from the film The World of Suzie Wong (1960). Seducing us with its pop palette, Sweaty Scales depicts the complex ways that racial fetish and desire enter our intimate relationships.

Sweaty Scales, 2019, installation view, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.

Sweaty Scales (2019), 25:40 mins, HD digital video.

Directed and Written by Liang Luscombe

Lisa: Harmony Zhang
Oliver: Alex Stein
Julie: Wen Liu
Narrator: Liang Luscombe
Puppeteer: Charlotte Long
Advertising Voiceover: Dominique James
Gloved Hand Performers: Willa Piro,Courtney Mackendanz, Elliot Reichert, Haerim Lee
Dancing Extras: Zachary Hutchinson, Shir Ende, Valentina Sarmiento Cruz, Devon Lowman, Elliot Reichert
Director of Photography: Kevin Veselka & Greg Stephen Reigh
Costume Designer: Willa Piro
Makeup: Natalie Ragasin & Ariella Granados
Music by Shelby Turner & Katy Albert
Assistant Director and Script Supervisor: Cody Wallace
2nd Camera: J. Michael Eugenio
Art Department: Liang Luscombe, Cody Wallace, Heidi Holmes, Greg Luscombe, Wah Tun Luscombe, J. Michael Eugenio
Gaffer: David Keyser
Sound Recorder: Zach Stinnett & Alejandro Reyes
Audio Engineer: Butch Jacoby