The nuns in virtually all the houses & missions in the USA, Germany and France use whiteface. In fact the Australian and British orders are the only ones that, to my knowledge, have a majority of non-painted nuns. According to Sister Vish (Grand Mother Vicious Power Hungry Bitch) writing for the Abbey of the Brew City Sisters white face was pretty much an accident of history, timing, and a desire to keep one’s Sisterly persona distinct from the mundane. Please visit that web-site for much more history on whiteface and OPI generally.

I don’t recall any major discussions about whiteface in the Toronto Order; my recollection is that we leaned towards the concept of ‘gender fuck’ and away from ‘drag queen’ as our mission was to raise questions about ‘normalcy’ and ‘gender roles’. In addition, some of the Toronto Sisters felt the whiteface was symbolic of the nature and personalities of the San Francisco Nuns; much more flashy and more apt to be in ‘the biz’ than we Canucks. In addition, we were ‘Guerrilla Nuns‘ prepared to don our gay appar- er- habits to join a protest with minimal notice.

The lack of whiteface is sometimes known as ‘the Australian tradition’ as Sydney was the second (third?) Order (Toronto manifest first, while one of Sydney’s co-founder did a novitiate in San Francisco). It is also known as ‘Mish Face’ as one of our founders, Sister Soami deLux (known affectionately as Mamma Mish as she was Sister Missionary Position in those early days) is well-known for baring her shining face.

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