Jan Hellriegel “Melusine”

“Melusine” is a lush ’60s-influenced pop song about merman love. (The Melusine is a freshwater mermaid, also the star of the Starbucks logo). The video goes in a slightly different direction, exploring Jan’s relationship with gender identity (and that makes it seem pretty serious, but it’s really quite fun).

The video starts with a waiting room filling up with handsome fellows but we soon realise that the guy in the middle is Jan in drag. She makes a pretty decent bloke, but as soon as she starts singing, we’re instantly reminded that she’s a lady.

Man Jan enters a room labelled “nga wahine anake” (women only) and begins to strip off, revealing the female form. There’s a lot of nudity in this part, but it’s shot very tastefully and cleverly. It’s not done to titillate, and director Tracey Tawhiao hasn’t needed to use any comedy prop placements to hide rude bits.

From the naked state, Jan transforms into a glamourpuss, with bold make-up and a fabulous gold lurex gown. It actually reminds me of the videos Madonna makes that mess around with gender – the feminine is a bit masculine, the masculine is a bit feminine.

NB: Jan Hellriegel has written a really good piece called the Emancipation of Melusine, where she writes about the making of the song and the ideas behind the video.

Best bit: the te reo sign, a welcome piece of New Zealand.

Director: Tracey Tawhiao
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a tropical break.

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