Erin Davies said she hopes someday to meet the person who scrawled “fag” on her car three years ago, permanently altering the course of her life. “At the core, I’m hoping that will happen,” said Davies, 32, of Syracuse. “I’m not expecting it. But by keeping at this, by continuing to do what I’m doing — you know what? Anything is a possibility.”
If such optimism sounds like something from a movie, perhaps Davies can be forgiven. She went and made one.
Davies’ 2009 documentary, Fagbug, chronicles her reaction to the vandalism, which took place in Albany, where she was studying art. Somebody spray-painted “fag” and “u r gay” on her Volkswagen Beetle, an act that Davies — who is gay — viewed as an attempt to taunt and intimidate.
Instead of scrubbing it clean, she let the paint dry and drove the country for 58 days, talking to people and filming their reactions to the car and its message. The resulting 83-minute movie has aired at 35 film festivals and appeared on about 70 college campuses and forums. It won sponsorships from Volkswagen Group of America and the Sundance Film Festival, and was dubbed “best gay car movie of the year” by Vanity Fair magazine. Its DVD release, scheduled for July 13, will be commemorated in a Syracuse public showing a few nights later.
“Once the whole idea started taking off — well, ever since, it’s been unique,” said Davies, a 1996 Westhill graduate, whose odyssey has led to a two-story, brick husk on Syracuse’s Near West Side. There, the sequel is planned.
Today, when thousands gather for Syracuse’s annual CNY Pride Parade and Festival, the Fagbug will be part of the attraction. It has become a gay marketing icon for posters, stickers and toys. Davies said there is talk of a line of Volkswagens painted in rainbow stripes.
But the Fagbug line also includes T-shirts that feature the original artwork donated long ago by an unknown spray-painter — the one who launched the ride.
“What motivated me was the idea that — whoever did this to my car — that I would do the complete opposite of what they wanted me to do, and feel the complete opposite of what they wanted me to feel,” Davies said. “Every single choice I’ve made since, it has been to go against what they were thinking …
“Who knows?” she said later. “Maybe 10 years from now, the beer line is out there, the museum has succeeded, and I’d like to think that person also will have changed. Maybe our paths will cross after all.”
|fagbug (the video)|