Edie B. Fine ’25 remembers being very feminine in “an extremely performative, silly, ridiculous way” at five years old — when they vowed to “only wear pink dresses for the rest of (their) life.”
When Fine began to come to terms with their queerness and the expansiveness of their gender identity, they struggled to reconcile how this femininity fit into the picture. Reflecting upon their “childhood obsession with pink” over a decade later, Fine said they realize that they “clearly loved the performance of it all.”
Fine said that their love for performance comes from witnessing drag throughout their childhood. Driven by an “excitement to explore,” Fine began to experiment with drag in their high school bedroom: “I (wanted) to dance in my house with this crazy transformation.”
Drag “was a way to combine my love of visual art and also performance and dance embodiment and glitter and queerness and genderf*cking,” they said.
While at Brown, Fine has only expanded their excitement for drag, finding and creating queer collectives that enable their love for performance art, subverting the gender binary and “destabilizing an essentialized idea of the body.” They co-direct the Brown Poler Bears, Brown’s pole dancing troupe, lead Burlesque at Brown Et Cetera and create their own art.
Fine discovered their passion for dance during an elementary school movement class, where they loved “being in touch with (their) body.” At Brown, they concentrate in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies on the dance track, as well as American studies.
As a classically trained dancer, Fine was eager to explore pole dancing as a new medium of expression in college. After learning about the Poler Bears, Fine said they grew obsessed with the group before even setting foot on campus.
Once at Brown, “it took a lot of training for my body to be more vulnerable in a different way,” Fine explained. “It’s embracing sexuality — which is a tough thing for a lot of people. It’s shaking off shame.”
Fine said that the Poler Bears is as much a “community space” as it is a dance troupe, which makes the experience even more rewarding. They added that everyone on the team “earnestly cares about the art and history of the work that we do.”
The team welcomes all community members regardless of skill level and strives to find people who are on board with the “sex positivity,” “experimentation,” “silliness” and “sex work advocacy” of it all, Fine said.
Emma Coleman ’25, who joined the Poler Bears last year, said that the group “wouldn’t be who we are” without Fine. Though Coleman had a long history of pole dancing before coming to Brown, she said it was the queer representation within the team’s leadership — which includes Fine — that inspired her to try out for the Poler Bears.
Fine makes “time for everybody individually,” Coleman said. “Their main priority is to make sure that people feel safe, secure and heard.”
Coleman added that Fine brings an “experimental, fluid and exciting” energy to the team through their experience with drag and visual and audio art. “It’s such a fierce, ferocious vibrancy that they have.”
Fine has found many other ways to express themself through movement and performance on College Hill. They helped revitalize the drag performance infrastructure on College Hill last year by founding BABE.
Alongside roommate and co-organizer Lola Aguiar ’25, Fine coordinated “Semiotic Erotica” — a burlesque, drag and performance art event to celebrate both of their birthdays. The pair gathered various friends and artists in the Upspace on April 8 for an evening of “genderf*ckery.”
“We just really wanted to perform together and provide the gayest, queerest (and) trans-est space for the community at Brown,” Aguiar said. “The entire audience just went crazy with Edie’s number. … You could see that they knew what they were doing and were rocking it.”
“It was one of the most freeing and liberating experiences of my life,” Fine said. “I was basically naked on stage, and I felt so comfortable.”
Fine said that, at times, they feel like “everything” has led them towards producing “genderf*cking” art.
“Edie is this creative force, more than anything,” Aguiar said. “Edie drinks from creativity. Everything they do is related to art, and their mode of living is through art."
Dana Richie is a senior staff writer for Arts and Culture and the photo chief. She enjoys using multiple forms of media to capture peoples’ stories and quirks. In her free time, she loves knitting, learning about local history and playing ultimate frisbee.