WesCeleb: Claire Dougherty ’13
Within the walls of 20C Fountain are 39 jars of human hair, eight pairs of Dr. Martens, and two snakeskins. There is a copy of “The Satanic Bible,” 30 vintage Playboy photos, and four deer legs in the freezer. There are 16 dead insects and three bottles of orange juice. But there is only one WesCeleb.
Perhaps you recognize senior Claire Dougherty’s blond undercut from the opening shot of MOLODIESEL’S smash hit “Ain’t Tryna Say Goodnight,” in which she leans casually against the wall, buzzer in hand. Maybe you have seen her read at Russell House as a Wesleyan Student Poet or caught a glimpse of her repairing old tomes in the Book Conservation Lab. You might have even spotted Dougherty digging through trash bags on the streets of New York City as part of her senior thesis research.
A scholar, an athlete, a (budding) satanic worshipper, a barber, and a butcher, Claire Dougherty does it all. In an exclusive interview, the WesCeleb of 20C sits down with The Argus to discuss extraterrestrial life, frat formals, and the urban humanimal.
The Argus: So what makes you a WesCeleb?
Claire Dougherty: I have absolutely no idea.
A: Got anything interesting in the mail today?
CD: I picked up Anton LaVey’s “Satanic Bible.” I ordered it from Amazon Prime. I’m getting really into devil worship because I’m going into advertising and I want to be a Satanist.
A: Do you want to talk a little bit about what satanism is?
CD: I don’t know. I just got the bible today.
A: OK. Let’s talk about aliens. Is there extraterrestrial life out there, and if so, what is it like?
CD: I think there’s the whole gamut of extraterrestrial life out there. I think there’s life that’s identical to life on earth. Nothing exists in the multiverse singularly. I think there are things beyond our wildest imaginations and beyond what we could even conceive of in our limited human sensory perceptions.
A: What do you think about depictions of extraterrestrial life among humans?
CD: I have a lot of problems with the antagonistic portrayal of extraterrestrial life in media. Other than “E.T.,” most films or literature that feature extraterrestrial presence are not favorable to the extraterrestrial. I know how slim the odds are that they’ll make contact with Earth, but I’ll be so sad if I get very old and they still haven’t.
A: In your living room there are a lot of jars filled with hair and labeled with different people’s names. What’s the story behind that?
CD: I told people I could cut hair and they believed me. I’ve been cutting hair for a few years now and starting last semester we began keeping it in little bags taped to our wall. We had a hair wall. From there it just sort of spiraled, but they’ve all been transferred to jars and we have a shelf of hair jars.
A: What’s your most interesting Claire-cut you’ve done?
CD: Probably Jason Kilbourne’s [’14] cut. They’ve asked me for a lot of different things, but at some point I took up their hairline a bunch. At another point they rocked a cheetah print on the side. This weekend we also cut Kevin Brisco’s [’13] hair and I tried to shave a Louis Vuitton logo in the back. It worked less well.
A: Changing the subject slightly, this summer Wesleyan paid you to Dumpster dive. What did you find?
CD: What did I find in the dumpsters?
A: In the Dumpsters or just in life.
CD: What did I find in life? (Laughs.) Well, I was mostly going through curbside grocery bags and eating out of the garbage. Food was the bulk of my finds. I also got this nifty little beaded purse over there with the American flag on it. I got this little chair, which is now my bedside table.
A: Do you mind talking a bit about how Dumpster diving relates to your anthropology thesis?
CD: Oh, boy. So my ethnographic base is scavenging food both in terms of urban foraging and (I recently helped butcher and skin a deer that had died on Long Lane) I’m looking into both the linguistic and bodily management of upgrading discard into food and how a lot of foraging rhetoric revolves around this nostalgic conception of pre-history that enables perhaps a dialectical transgression to create the urban humanimal.
A: Going back to the deer you butchered, could you expand on that?
CD: A few Thursdays ago, some friends, Charlotte, Andrew, and Katie, who are involved with Long Lane called me up and they said, “Claire, a deer got caught in the fence.” A couple had tried to herd the deer out with their dog and it ended up running into the fence repeatedly, it was really spooked. Eventually, it died of a heart attack. So they called me up and they said, “we’re harvesting the deer and we think it would be really interesting for your thesis. Do you want to come do that with us?” When I got there they had already field dressed the deer. They had made the first incision and taken out the main internal organs and strung it up by the hind legs. I got to help them cut off the legs. And we skinned the deer and kept the skin, cut the deer in half, then took each half down and cut off the meat. Then we buried the parts that we weren’t going to keep, which was a really strange divestment and commemoration. You’re divesting from the individual of the deer, then putting that deer inside of you. I had meat for the first time in over four years.
A: How many people do you think ate the deer?
CD: A lot of people! It was a lot of meat! We cooked up the ribs at the [“Birds Blur Together”] poetry reading the next day—then there was a big barbeque last weekend.
A: Speaking of poetry, you’re an official Wesleyan Student Poet. Any upcoming projects?
CD: Yeah, actually. Zach Fischman ’13 and I are working on a chapbook of his photography and my writing that should come out sometime this year with Samizdat [Press].
A: You’re also working on a senior film thesis called “You Deserve Better.” What has that experience been like?
CD: It’s really fun. I’m the Art Director so I get to design what everything is going to look like and set up all the props and costumes. The director has a very clear vision.
A: What’s the movie about?
CD: It’s a high school film (which is great) about a guy who has a crush on the new girl at the school, but there’s a twist to it. Jason Katzenstein [’13] is playing the lead, and Frank Fineis [’13] plays a goofy jock named Justice. It’s really fun.
A: Anything else you’d like to add?
CD: You know, I used to work on old Argi in the book lab. I know everything about your organization.
A: Really? What are the secrets?
CD: Oh, goodness. There are so many good ones. DKE used to have a pony that they kept at the President’s house. There’s all these funny articles like “Eclectic and Psi U Played the Sports Today.” There’s a funny article about a campus tailor coming in. They talk about how conservative Wesleyan students’ style is because nobody wears patterned socks.
A: So, do you have any other big plans for the year?
CD: Yeah. I want to go to all the frat formals. Because I’m an athlete. And I want to socialize with other athletes.