“Why, Ru?”


There’s a chapter in my book, Gentlemen Prefer Asians, about my fascination with Annie Lennox’s “Why” and my relationship with make-up and my mother. The song came out in 1992. It was her first song after leaving Eurythmics. She wrote it and performed it and its music video is both camp and heartbreaking. In it, she’s a showgirl putting on make-up and posing for pictures. I suppose they also did the photoshoot for the album cover of Diva during the video shoot. Makes sense. More cost-effective.

I remember staring at the Diva poster at a record store in Jakarta. I was just so transfixed by this gender-defying performer. I didn’t know the word “fabulous” back then, but I knew this person embodied that word and more.

Lennox’s other songs and music videos are truly iconic (“No More I Love You’s” and “Little Bird” are my favorites, and who can ever forget the Bob Marley cover “Waiting in Vain?”). But “Why” remains nostalgically important. It was one of the earliest arts that awakened my sexuality. So, I wanted to do an homage to Lennox through this photoshoot.

The most difficult part was actually making the chaise and I wish I’d ironed the fabric. I made the headdress as best as I could (tiny sequins in fuchsia and orange are hard to come by). I found the jewelry, stocking, gloves, dress, and shoes on eBay.

Date: January 29, 2015
Set design, headdress, chaise by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta