Trans(per)Forming Nina Arsenault (Book)

An unreasonable body of work

Edited by Judith Rudakoff

Transgendered playwright, performer, columnist and sex worker Nina Arsenault has had sixty plastic surgeries in pursuit of a feminine beauty ideal. In this book, a diverse group of contributors (including Arsenault) offers an exploration of beauty, image and the notion of queerness through the lens of Arsenault's personal brand of performance art.


After sixty surgeries at a cost of almost $200,000 to feminize and beautify her originally male body, transgendered Canadian artist Nina Arsenault has created a body of work emanating from her experiences that includes photographs, videos disseminated online, a website, a blog, several social networking presentation sites, stage plays, print media writing and performance of the body in both celebrity appearances and daily public life. Arsenault was born in rural Ontario in 1974 and until the age of six lived as Rodney in a trailer park with her working-class family. Her father delivered bread.

Judith Rudakoff is professor of theatre at York University in Toronto, Ontario. She is an award-winning dramaturge and coauthor of Between the Lines: The Process of Dramaturgy.

Introduction – Judith Rudakoff

Part I: The Texts 

Chapter 1: Affirming Identity with Your Friendly Neighbourhood Cyborg – Sky Gilbert

Chapter 2: Unreal Beauty: Identification and Embodiment in Nina Arsenault’s “Self-Portraits” – J. Paul Halferty

Chapter 3: Daughter of the Air: Three Acting Sessions and Nina Arsenault’s Imaginary Body – Cynthia Ashperger

Chapter 4: Nina, Amber and the Evolution of a Commodified Sexual Being – Todd Klinck

Chapter 5: Sexed Life is a Cabaret: The Body Politics of Nina Arsenault’s The Silicone Diaries – Frances J. Latchford

Chapter 6: Chopping at the Sexy Bits: [Trans]cending the Body with Surgical Conundrums – J Mase III

Chapter 7: Nina Arsenault: Fast Feminist Objet a – Shannon Bell

Chapter 8: T he Artist as Complication: Nina Arsenault and the Morality of Beauty – Alistair Newton

Chapter 9: Landscape with Yukon and Unnatural Beauty – Nina Arsenault

Chapter 10: Performing the Prosthetics of Femininity: Nina Arsenault’s Transsexual Body as a Living Art Object – Benjamin Gillespie

Chapter 11: Compelling Honesty: Searching for Authenticity in the Voice of Nina Arsenault – Eric Armstrong

Chapter 12: Live in Your Blood: A Fragmentary Response to Nina Arsenault’s Holy Theatre and Spiritual Gift – Shimon Levy

Chapter 13: St. Nina and the Abstract Machine: Aesthetics, Ontology, Immanence – David Fancy


Director’s Note – Brendan Healy

The Silicone Diaries – Nina Arsenault

Part III: The Photographs

Related Titles