Strip: An Outline  

Copyright Lee Ann Mortensen 2002






An Arizona woman, intersected by many cultures, searches for self-determination, revenge, and love in a postmodern world of body building, obsession, and violence.


How a middle class, formally religious woman who has always been afraid of almost everything tries to gain control of her life by controlling, and not controlling, her body. Eventually she tries to learn the language of sincerity.


How a post-modern woman learns to accept happiness.




Teresa Sangster is a middle class woman, banker, semi-latina, and now a body builder living in Phoenix Arizona. She has dreams of heat, food, of flexing in public, of a violent barrio boy who once attacked her, a boy who could have been her cousin with velvety skin. She has occasionally walked through South Phoenix as a means of embracing her fear of the latino, but so many men there look like the barrio boy, she can hardly stop from running. She also dreams of her almost latino parents being shot at by Maoists in Peru where they live to convert souls to Mormonism. Linda who once competed gives Teresa the ability to take control of her life through body building, but at a new age price. Teresa wants to embrace something that is not safe, and she knows Linda and body building are his, but she can’t see what else she needs.


The one's I love are many. Teresa reflects on how she came to be with Linda and why she loves, or obsesses over, her parents, food, and the barrio boy. Linda, works for the governor during the day, is from northern Arizona and has a mystical aunt. At night she and Teresa train. Linda begins to change from lover to someone more controlling. Teresa remembers how Linda once was when they drank tequila in an empty weight room and kissed. Teresa needed an escape from Darryl, who they both were with at some point. Teresa wanted her body to be big and protected. Linda builds a sweat lodge, and starts to feel telepathic. Teresa thinks of the barrio boy, what he did to her, and how she now is beginning to break things because of him. She also imagines Linda pregnant with her child.


Teresa thinks about her mother in Peru, her former dusty home, and about her father's ancestry and the violent great great grandmother he tells stories about. Linda get’s anxious about Teresa, and her need to finally perfect of Teresa’s body drives her to Darryl for a time. With him Teresa can eat things Linda would not approve of, and Darryl indulges her sexual needs as well. Violent gluttony reigns. Teresa almost flirts with another woman for the first time. She remembers how it used to be with Darryl and why she left him for Linda in the first place. Teresa flirts at work to save her job. She knows Darryl is gay but he does not admit it. Darryl has dreams about being killed.


Teresa knows people will believe anything. While she is with Darryl, Linda tells her she is going to Sedona Arizona, so Teresa follows her. They end up at Aunt Margarita’s house and drink peyote tea until they have visions. The next day they go to one of the healing vortexes and almost die of heat stroke until they are rescued by a man in a pink jeep. They both have fever dreams, though Terry only knows hers, that she has a calling. A beautiful terrorist, Imanuela, appears and so does her great grandmother, but they don’t go into specifics. Later at the hospital, Linda really seems to go off the deep end, but Terry seems less effected than normal.

5. ON STAGE 95

Teresa wins a number of small body building competitions. Her boss at the bank frames a picture of her in a white bikini because he likes women with muscles. Later, she decides to kiss him and others (like the Ranchero or the licking lip woman) because Linda has decided to become completely celibate, and because she thinks she is beginning to feel freer. Teresa's mother tells her stories about terrorists she tries to convert, about a bomb going off in her car when she wasn't in it. She buys a gun in order to feel stronger than she really is, and walks around south Phoenix. As Linda, her love, pulls further and further away, yet still entices, Teresa decides to shoot her, but doesn’t. She goes into the desert to feel her naked body in the hot air, and that is when she knows she can live without Linda.


Teresa has moved out of Linda’s place and is now living a “free” life on Van Buren Street, home of transients and prostitutes and adult arcades. She begins to buy sex toys, and even pays a skilled practitioner named Eve. Linda has begun a 4 x 4 driving school which Terry sometimes dreams about at night. She continues on with Frederick, though she is bored with him. She becomes more interested in his wife, Andrea, and eventually they have a heated encounter. Terry thinks she is happy, yet something is not quite right. She sees a man jump out of a window from her office, almost gets bitten by a rattle snake, her mother is close to an explosion in Peru, and she hits a pedestrian by the grapefruit orchards. Though she is cleared later, she feels heavy, Mormon guilt.


Terry begins to get closer to Andrea, feeling like this woman is the first real person she has ever been with, but this also scares her. She does not want to corrupt the nice Andrea. She does not want to be responsible for hurting her, so somehow, Terry manages to stay at a distance from the decent Andrea. Terry goes out in search of pain, and tries to find out where the man she ran into lived, but when she goes to his house, she can’t go in. As she runs away, she trips right in front of her barrio boy attacker, or at least he looks just like him. She almost let’s him hurt her, but then she fights back, and ties him to a telephone pole. Later she meets Sara, a little hitting woman who paints and likes S & M, but this does not make Terry happy either. Frederick gets involved in a bank scandal because he has been gambling, and Terry gets an ulcer, then decides that she really does want to be happy.

8. STRIP 173

Since Teresa quits her job, she decides to become a cage dancer because it allows her to still indulge the ego she has about her body, and yet she feels freer to be creative in such a job. Andrea has a hard time believing Teresa can learn the language of sincerity, but eventually she returns. Teresa’s parents come under fire, and are whisked away to the safer Argentina. Linda calls Teresa into her campaign office, and her frightening visions make Teresa know she must somehow stop her from winning the Governor’s seat. She decides to tell the world, or at least Arizona, about her relationship with Linda, and thus alters the course of her desert state. Teresa has her own kind of visions and allows herself to feel some measure of happiness.


Copyright Lee Ann Mortensen 2002