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|Monday, August 15th, 2016|
|Starting a Patreon
I’ve been wanting to start a patreon
for a long time.
At the end of last year, I promised myself that this would be the year I did it. It’s been more than half a year and I still couldn’t get up the nerve to do it.
Asking people for help is hard. The more you need it, the harder it is. Asking people for money is harder, especially when that money is for art. I grew up in the arts but still find myself inundated with America’s puritanical bias against it. “Art is frivolous” “art is useless” “artists are stupid and lazy and entitled” never mind the fact that most of our social lives and identities revolve around the art we consume.
When we try to get to know someone we don’t ask who their accountant is. We don’t ask who built their house. We ask what music they listen to, what movies and tv shows they like, what books they read.
Every piece of american media that you like was created by someone that was called flighty, useless, entitled, lazy. Every piece of art that you like exists because someone, or a number of people, supported that artist before they got big (sometimes even after.)
Saying your art deserves money is hard. It’s hard enough to believe it, but to say it out loud? To risk other people disagreeing with you? It’s fucking terrifying. Artists are supposed to work for free because we don’t have the signifiers to prove we’re “real artists.” We’re supposed to work for nothing or next to nothing “because we love it.” But we don’t pay lawyers less when they enjoy their job. We don’t ask for a discount on our medical bills because our doctor seemed particularly fulfilled with their choice in life.
I could tell myself all these things. I could even believe them strongly, but the thought of asking people to give me money and support my art made me so scared that I felt nauseous and dizzy.
But one day, I asked myself “what if, instead of saying ‘I love my art so much, I’ll do it for free,’ I started telling myself ‘I love my art too much to devalue it,’ or ‘I love my art so much, it deserves my full time and attention.’” What if I said that? What if I championed my art and worked just as hard for it as I do for my friends and lovers? What if I loved it enough to face this fear and believe in my art like it was my friend?
So, hey everybody, I’d like you to meet my Art. It’s weird and funny and creepy and sexy. It’s femme and romantic and messy and bloody. It wants to love you and it hopes you love it, too. It has some projects in mind, and it would love your help.Burlesque Beatdown:
Two burlesque performers wage war against each other using their acts as ammunition, with WWF style monologues between sets. The final showdown will take whatever form the performers agree on; dueling striptease, choreographed fight scene, performing each other’s acts, anything goes. It’ll be like Celebrity Deathmatch but naked.Selfie Theater:
The Me1/Me2 comic you’ve all been begging me for. Plus illustrated versions of some of my best FB posts.The Panic Room:
Part naked literary salon, part devised theatre, The Panic Room combines burlesque, story telling and theatre to create a new experience for both performers and audiences. Performers of all stripes will come together for six weeks to critique and collaborate, creating a feature length performance based around a central theme. Performers will draw on their own experiences and obsessions to create stories, scenes, burlesque acts and audience interactions, which will then be critiqued, revised and woven together to create a stunning new theatrical performance.Carried Away:
a tumblr of humorous recaps of Sex and the City accompanied by hilarious gifs and interspersed with blog posts about the show. I have a surprising amount of thoughts about Sex and the City and my love/hate relationship with it.The House of Usher:
An immersive, sight specific, performance in a historic manor house which uses The Fall of the House of Usher to explore the running themes and deep seated fears of Edgar Allan Poe’s work.The Orgy Show:
A series of large paintings based on photographs taken at an orgy. I want to finish the 12 paintings and display them along with a dance/burlesque/performance art show based on the paintings. I want to convey that the experience of this orgy, something usually thought to be lurid or shocking, was actually one of the most beautiful, compassionate, loving experiences of my life.
And there’s more. There’s always more.
Could I do these things without financial support? Yeah, maybe. If I don’t get backers, I’ll probably still do some of them. But not all of them. Not fast enough to keep up with all the ideas my brain churns out. Some of these ideas have been sitting around for years, waiting till I have the time and money to do them. And, unless something changes, I don’t see myself having any more time or money than I already have. I’m still going to make art, it’s just a question of which projects I can do, how well they can be executed, and how much I can share with you all. I want to give you all the art. I want it to be the best art I can do. I just need a little help along the way.
Maybe none of this is your thing. That’s fine! I still like you (assuming I did in the first place) but you probably don’t need to keep reading.
Maybe you’ve already met my art. Maybe (hopefully) you already love it. Maybe you really like the sound of these projects and are falling in love right now. Maybe you are saying “Yes! I want this! Give it to me now!”
I want to give it to you, my friend. The only thing stopping me is time and money, and that’s where Patreon comes in. Patreon is a crowd funding system where, instead of funding a specific project, you fund the artist on a continuous basis. You can give just one dollar a month, you can give five dollars, you can give whatever amount you want per month. In return you get continuous art, continuous rewards, and a deeper connection to an artist you already love, and a connection to their other fans.
If you can’t, that’s totally fine. I’ll love you anyway. If you want to contribute sometimes but not every month, I have a blog post coming up for you. But if you can contribute every month, and you want to take this journey with me, I cannot wait to bring you along for the ride.Click here to begin!
|Thursday, March 3rd, 2016|
|Be Ready To Believe Us
I have loved Ghostbusters for literally as long as I can remember. I watched it at the end of every birthday party I had for the majority of my childhood and countless times in between. The only part of my tour NYU’s campus that I actually remember was when the guide pointed to a building off of Washington Square and said “That’s the apartment building from Ghostbusters.” It was obscured by trees and wasn’t the right building anyway, but just the suggestion that I would be THAT CLOSE to anything from the Ghostbusters was enough to sign me up for moving across the country and putting myself and my parents into more or less endless student loan debt.
I did not have the most realistic grasp of the future.
But I did fucking love the Ghostbusters and if that story doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.
I also spent a lot of my childhood pretending to be “James Bond, but a girl” and “Indiana Jones, but a girl” and “One of The Monkees, but a girl.” I don’t remember doing this with Ghostbusters because I think, even then, it seemed too perfect to mess with by inserting my own Mary Sue. Even that young, I knew the Indiana Jones and James Bond were more genres that I could insert myself into than well fleshed out characters (I’d never actually seen a bond movie) But the Ghostbusters were actual, individual, people and none of them were really at al like me. I definitely fantasized about hanging out with these people, but I don’t remember trying to be one of them. That said, if they had done a movie or cartoon with even one female Ghostbuster I probably would have exploded with joy. Representation matters, yall.
So that’s why, when I watched the trailer for the new one and it wasn’t very good, I cried a little. That is a very embarrassing reason to cry. But little six year old me wanted SO BADLY for it to be GREAT, that mediocrity actually hurt.
I'm probably still going to see it. Grown up me knows that it might still be good. It might even be as good as the second movie, which I maintain is a actually a good movie. But the odds of it being as good as the first one are low. Because the best thing about the first Ghostbusters was how unique it was. That’s just not a thing you can repeat. Like, by definition.
The truth is, an all female Ghostbusters is a child’s solution to the problem of representation. It’s too small and simple to really fix the problem. Grown up me, doesn’t want Ghostbusters, but with girls. Grown up me wants a new movie, an original movie, created by women as talented as Harold Ramis and as weird as Dan Akroyd, and as charming as Bill Murray. I want a movie that is that fresh and weird and surprising and well crafted written and directed and performed by women with their own unique humor and point of view.
But that would take risk. Studios would have to hire someone new. They’d have to convince people to see a movie that isn’t based on something they already like, which no one seems to have any interest in. And they’d have to give money to women, which seems to still be a terrifying prospect to a lot of people.
So instead we get lady ghostbusters, which will hopefully be good. And we hope that the amazing female comedians out there keep working, and keep pushing, and we hope that some day that alchemy of talent, and weirdness, and charm, forms together again and actually gets some funding. We hope that something else comes out that’s smart and inspiring enough to make some other little girl move across the country, just so she can be closer to it.
|Friday, February 26th, 2016|
|Kilgrave isn't the Only Abuser on Jessica Jones
It’s been months since Jessica Jones came out so why am I posting about it now? Because, honestly, it’s taken me this long to untangle my feelings about it. I’m not even done untangling, really. I still want to write about Kilgrave, but I’m just not there yet. But I think it’s a very complex and well thought out show, worth more than one viewing, as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t seen a single thing based on what I’m writing about today. Just so you know, there are spoilers in this. Lots of em. You've had months to watch the show.
Kilgrave is the obvious abuser in the show. He’s the clear villain. He’s got his own evil design theme. But he’s not the only one. Jessica Jones is practically a Love, Actually of abuse. Abuse is everywhere in the world of Jessica Jones. It’s in Jeri Hogarth sending not one, but TWO super humans to bully her all too mortal ex-wife into signing a divorce settlement, by any means necessary. It’s Hogarth’s ex-wife saying "You were a bastard to everyone else but you were kind to me. I was special." Which is pretty much How to know you are probably dating an abuser 101. It’s there in pretty much everything Trish’s mom does.
Trish's mom seems to engage in a constellation of abuse, physical, emotional, verbal. She exploits Trish (and anyone she can get her hands on) financially. And she uses that exploitation as an excuse to call Trish fat, force her to vomit, strong-arm her to into adopting a classmate and physically abuse her. The only way she gets away with it is that Trish doesn’t want to be seen as a victim, she doesn’t want to be seen as a cliché. She’s embarrassed by the abuse she experiences, which is pretty common for survivors. But it’s that shame that lets Dorothy Walker keep exploiting, and presumably abusing, children. This is yet another reality of abuse that is slipped into the show. Abuse is always messy. No one gets away unscathed. A clean break is simply not possible.
But the abuser that gets the most screen time, aside from Kilgrave, is Simpson. I haven’t seen anyone write about it but Simpson represents a better-known form of abusive relationship. And maybe that’s why it hasn’t gotten much ink (or any as far as I know.) Kilgrave is an exquisitely rendered portrait of a verbal abuser, a kind of abuse we rarely talk about and almost never see on screen. But Simpson, even though he’s never really called on it, is a more run of the mill physical abuser. I like to call it the Stanley Kowalski model of abuse. He's sexy, he's aggressively masculine, he's an animal in the sack. He's just so damn manly that he can't help but fly off the handle and beat up the lady he's dating. But he's sorry. He's oh so sorry. He just took too many drugs. That wasn't *him.* DOES THAT SOUND FAMILIAR?
Simpson is not just butch. He is, in fact, toxically masculine. He's filled with rage issues. He's made intolerably insecure by Jessica Jones being stronger than him. He’s spent his whole life wanting to be the Masculine Savior. His male toys saved his female toys. He joined the army and later the police force so he could be a big damn hero. But somehow, when he gets super human strength, his first big act is not to jump between a child and an oncoming car, or pull someone out of a burning building, or even get a kitten out of a tree, it’s to attack his girlfriend and an old man. Oops.
But it's no accident at all. Simpson exhibits classic red flags from the moment he and Trish begin to hook up. His first choice of girlfriend is someone with a history of abuse, and someone who is willing to talk to him after he's already tried to kill her. Doesn’t it seem weird to anyone else that his way of apologizing for attempted murder isn’t, like, chocolate, or a bath bomb, or (preferably) a sincere apology followed by the offer to leave Trish alone and never ever bother her again? Instead he apologizes by giving her a gun and the gift of head. Which Trish seems to enjoy, but it has the all too convenient side effect of binding her to him. (and also connecting sex with violence. That might be a different article.)
The moment he starts hooking up with Trish, he starts driving a wedge between her and her best friend. He gets her to ignore Jessica’s calls, despite the fact that Jessica’s crazy stalker has recently come out of the woodworks. And once he's done giving head, he starts being unpleasant to Jessica, almost before he can get his pants back on. The actual first line Simpson has after we see him going down on Trish is one where he contradicts Jessica. In fact, most of his lines in that scene are him contradicting Jessica. He immediately assumes that the fight against Kilgrave is HIS fight, and he should be the one to lead it. NOT BECAUSE HE'S A BAD GUY OR ANYTHING, JUST THINGS WOULD BE BETTER IF HE WAS IN CHARGE BECAUSE...UM....WOULD YOU LIKE SOME MORE HEAD? He brushes off Jessica's intimate knowledge of Kilgrave's motive and methods. He brushes off her incredible strength. Because what's all that when you've got a shady military background and a penis?
The next scene he has alone with Trish, he starts by condescending to her, and then interrogating her about her best friend. He whines that Jessica doesn’t like him very much, that she scares men off, and where did she get those superpowers anyway? The tension between him and Jessica, never goes away. He bristles whenever she calls the shots or implies that maybe all her problems can’t be solves by shooting them. He never gives up on trying to get Trish on his side.
He even gaslights Trish briefly when he disappears and she is, understandably concerned. He’s been looking for a super human serial killer. One that made him try to kill Trish. He suddenly stopped responding to her calls and texts. But when she tracks him down and asks where the hell he’s been, he acts like nothing happened. Like she’s crazy for worrying about him. Why would she worry? He’s just hanging with his boys. He doesn’t quite say “What’s all the drama babe?” but he may as well have.
Simpson is also a poster child for the masculinity so fragile hashtag. Throughout the show his insecurity is palpable. It’s covered up by manly bluster, but it’s there all the same. He’s rankled by the fact that Kilgrave had power over him, by the fact that Jessica is stronger and faster than him, by the fact that Trish is all too happy to say “last night was fun but that doesn’t mean I want your opinion.” The final straw for his fragile ego is when some pretty boy (Kilgrave) tricks him into getting blown up by his own damn bomb.
What is the solution to this insecurity? MORE MANLYNESS! Man pills! To make him super strong! No need for those other pills that give him balance or the ability to relax, all he needs is strength and rage and a little more strength and rage. And then, OOPS he just happens to use all this strength to attack his girlfriend. And then he shows up at her job when she won’t talk to him so he can make her forgive him. And then he attacks her again. Whoops! What a weird coincidence that he just can’t stop going crazy and trying to beat up his girlfriend. It’s almost like he’s been planning it the whole time.
In a way, it’s almost a relief when Simpson turns into Nuke and attacks Trish. Because he’s finally coming out as the villain he’s always been. He’s spent most of the series posing as a hero, but a REALLY ANNOYING hero. He is basically a better-written version of Riley from Buffy. He’s an old school hero trying to play out his narrative in a show that doesn’t have a place for him. Jessica is the hero. She’s flawed and she’s female but she’s the only one that can save the day in this story. And the only way for Simpson to be a hero in this show is for him to shut up and help Jessica (take note, male allies.) But Simpson would rather be a villain than play lieutenant to a girl. So he becomes Nuke, a character so toxically masculine that even Frank Miller thought he was evil.
(If you're not much of a comics person, that's like Ayn Rand writing an example of capitalism gone too far.)
In checking to see if anyone had already written about it, I stumbled across a rumor that Nuke will be the Big Bad for the next season of Jessica Jones and I was SO HAPPY. After she offed Kilgrave, I really wasn’t sure where the show could go. It had done such a great job of exploring this woman recovering from an abusive relationship, I wasn’t sure what a satisfying next step would be. But if Jessica Jones, patron saint of survivors, is going to go from fighting her own abuser to taking on the abuser of her best friend, that sounds very satisfying indeed.
|Wednesday, January 27th, 2016|
|Advenutres in Rich Dudes part 1
This is sort of a continuation of yesterday's post
but I thought it was long enough an distinct enough that it merited its own post. I should say there's a possible trigger warning for mild sexual assault. It wasn't traumatic for me, and I think that comes through in the writing, but the warning is there, just in case.
That rich guy from the fundraiser, Greg, did call me. A few weeks later, out of the blue, he asked if I wanted to go to a party that Neve Campbell was throwing in the flat iron district that night. I had no life at the time so my immediate answer was yes. Luckily, if there was one thing I had, it was a lot of fabulous outfits, so I went home from my crappy job and gussied myself up into a 50’s cocktail number and took the subway to the address I’d written on my hand.
Greg was not there but the booze was free and I got a swag bag of Iman products. It turned out that Greg had mistaken Iman for Naomi Campbell (the other black supermodel) and, in turn, mistaken Naomi Campbell for Neve Campbell, which is how I ended up at a supermodel party.
There are people who have said I should be a fashion model. I see how they could make that mistake. When they’re all together on a page or a runway, they just look like very thin and attractive ladies. I am thin and attractive by normal human standards. But in real life, models look like very thin and attractive ladies who have somehow been stretched in a taffy pull. I am 5’7” and I wear a size six. But by model standards I am a petite plus size. I was like a husky among greyhounds.
Still, more hors d'oeuvres for me.
I was there by myself for at least an hour. It was a little awkward but I was effectively invisible. Who wants to talk to me when Kate Moss is at the other end of the bar? Mostly I was just happy to be in the same room as David Bowie.
The party was slowing down when Greg showed up. Not that it had ever really been swinging. He quickly asked if I wanted to go elsewhere. Then he whisked me off in a cab to some members only lounge in the meatpacking district where the cocktail waitresses all wore leather corsets and jeans and the drinks were made with liquor infused with hibiscus or gardenia, maybe honeysuckle.
The lounge filled fast and we were soon crushed together like any other bar. I wondered what the point of the exclusivity was, flower booze not withstanding. Some blond girl in richly boring club clothes stepped over me to sit down, then stepped over me again to greet a friend, then again just for good measure. Each time I moved to avoid being stepped on and she ignored me completely.
Greg came back from wherever he’d gone and introduced me to a man he had in tow.
“He owns the place,” Greg shouted over the music.
“Oh, nice!” I shouted politely and shook the man’s hand. We talked a while and they flitted away again. The blond girl immediately sat next to me.
“I wanted to say I’m sorry,” she shouted at me.
“Oh, um, it’s ok,” I replied, puzzled. It had been at least fifteen minutes, why was she apologizing now?
“No, really, it was rude.”
“It’s fine,” I assured her. Wait, this wasn’t because I was talking to the owner was it?
“I just didn’t know who you were,” she explained. It WAS because I had been talking to the owner! And she was making no bones about it. Like I would somehow be more forgiving now that I knew she was rude AND shallow.
I turned back to my flower drink.
I didn’t realized that this was supposed to impress me; the party, the lounge, the owner. If I’d known how much the drinks cost, or the membership, I’m sure I would have been impressed (disgusted might be a better word.) But I guess even Greg knew it was gauche to wave a bill in front of my face.
Instead he told me his stories of wall street excess. Nothing too surprising; strippers, blow, champagne. The usual. In turn I told him stories from Paddles and kink fests, relatively inexpensive ventures that made his debaucheries seem laughably dull. He laughed as I spoke, keeping his eyes on mine, smiling and interjecting “Oh my god” at particularly ribald parts of my story. Then without breaking stride, no other change in his behavior, he took hold of my hand and waved it across the head of his dick.
I had not noticed it before, but somehow there it was, fully erect, out of his pants, and under the palm of my hand. His hand moved as if completely divorced from the rest of his body and guided mine in a quick, jerky, circle, as if he was showing me how to shift gears while driving stick. Then he released my hand as though nothing had happened.
I was too shocked to do anything. Even now, I don’t feel disgusted or angry or even violated, though those would be totally reasonable reactions. I am still simply gobsmacked. I’ve had ten years to think about it and I still cannot fathom the thought process behind “Let me just sneak my dick out and put a stranger’s hand on it.”
You can get away with a lot if you just pretend it’s normal. This actually might be the entire foundation that the stock market is built on. To this day I suspect that all of wall street is kept running by the kind of men who would put a stranger’s hand on their dick and act like it was no big deal.
I don’t have the best concept of what is and is not normal so I could not help but wonder if this was normal somehow. Like random junk touching was a new trend in conversation that I just hadn’t heard of before. He did such a good job of pretending that this thing was normal, I actually wondered if I hadn’t just hallucinated it somehow.
But then he did it AGAIN. And I STILL didn’t know how to react. A lot of weird things have happened to me, and they often went to some cool places, so my default reaction is just to go with it. And that’s what I did.
I just kept listening as he talked about knowing the girl that inspired Kanye’s song Golddigger. Once again, this was supposed to impress me. But I’d never heard the song so I could only feel sorry for this girl who’d had so many children so young. Rich babydaddys and child support hardly seemed worth it. It was also hard to be impressed by anything when there was a very loud and confused voice in the back of my head just shouting “PENIS?!?!?!”
This was all so weird that it short-circuited my brain somehow. I mean, I got into a cab with this psycho.
I don’t know how or why, but it was decided that the cab would drop me off at Port Authority where I could catch the 7 home. I don’t know if this was him trying to get me to go home with him or what but halfway through the cab ride, his dick turns up again like a bad penny. And he sticks my hand on it again and leaves it there this time, moving my hand to jerk it.
What’s weird (or sad or funny or gross) about this story, or rather ONE of the things that’s weirdsadfunnygross about this story, is that I would have fucked him if he actually tried. If he had kissed me, or asked me to go home with him, or flirted in a way that actual humans do, I would have had sex with him. I was 23 and thought it was my calling to have sex with pretty much anyone that asked me nicely. But this dude didn’t so much as waggle a suggestive eyebrow in my direction. And now I was trapped in a cab half heartedly jacking his scummy little pants goblin, so there was NO POSSIBLE WAY that I was doing anything other than getting out of this mess at the earliest possible opportunity.
“Oh man, you’re really leaving?” he asked as I opened the door.
“Other side!” the cabbie yelled as I opened my door into traffic “You must go out other side!”
So I threw myself at the opposite door.
“Oh man, you’re killing me,” Greg wailed as I clambered over him, his noodly appendage smearing precum on my leg and his suit jacket. Even his dick seemed to flop after me like a puppy. It seemed to follow me, as if to say “Oh wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?”
Or it would have seemed to say that if it didn’t look so fucking stupid.
Unmoved by the protestations of either him or his penis, I all but somersaulted out of the cab, closing the door behind me forever.
Unsurprisingly, he did not call me again.
|Tuesday, January 26th, 2016|
|All I Got Was Laid
Getting anywhere in theatre is all about who you know so I envisioned success as something like being Cinderella. I would go to a fancy party in my greatest finery (a vintage gown and jewelry from Claire’s) and meet just the right person to make my dreams come true.
I had no idea how to network. I still don't know, really. It has always seemed kind of nebulous. You take on this persona that's somewhere between High School Queen Bee and Sideshow Carnival Barker, then you introduce yourself to someone, make conversation that somehow establishes you as a valuable resource, then graciously leave and do it again with as many people as you can. To this day, step three eludes me. Step one and two are hard enough, and often impossible for me. When I was 23, I knew even less. My plan was something like this:
1: Wear fabulous outfit.
2: Show up.
Even the specifics of Success! eluded me. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, other than make a living doing creative stuff. I wasn't totally sure what creative stuff I hoped to do. I was good at a lot of things. I knew this because I'd earned a very expensive degree in doing those things. Performance art, acting, directing, writing, design, a whole rainbow of things that very few people ever made any money at. And most of the ones who did had trust funds or rich spouses. So the path to success was unclear at best. But networking had something to do with it and I wasn't good at anything else, so network I would. I was going to a fancy party, a fundraiser for the arts that I could sneak into because I worked for the company that was selling the tickets. Everyone there would either be a great artist or a wealthy patron of the arts... or they would be me. I was going to this fancy party and I would meet people. I would meet the *right* people! And I would get.... I don't know. A job, or a patron, maybe a mentor or an artistic collaborator and friend for life.
All I got was laid.
I put on my ball gown and I strapped on my shoes. I got my best (one might say, only) friend to drive me. It was a big old cathedral on varick street, lit up in purples and gold.
When I'd asked my boss if there was a way I could be comped into the party he said
"The people at the door will know you."
When I got to the door they asked what I was doing there.
"Um, Mike said I could help you out tonight," I improvised.
"Doing what?" They asked.
"Um?" I bit my lip.
"Just go in." They rolled their eyes. We were all artists and actors at that company. They probably thought I was just there for the free wine. But not this time. I was here to *work.* Somehow.
I looked out at the crowd, a glittering army of New York's elite (I assumed.) The formal wear was out in full force with fancy people laughing, talking, clinking glasses. I stood on the sidelines and drank.
"Hey, that's some dress," said a tall man in a banker's suit. It was working! I would talk to this guy, something would happen, and success would be mine!
We talked only briefly.
I was still very awkward. And he didn't seem to even know what this fundraiser was for. Anyway he had three other fundraisers to go to that night. So I gave him my number and off he went, leaving me alone again. Success was not a hair nearer, but I was slightly drunk and *someone* had talked to me. So that was something. More fancy people talked. John Patrick Shanley (writer of nearly every play my acting teacher assigned in second year) gave a speech. I looked at the art on the walls.
"I have a game I like to play," said a voice like the smooth pour of champagne. "How many penises can you spot in this painting?"
I laughed and turned to face him. He was very cute; square jaw, dark hair, eyes like clear cut aquamarine. I played along with him as we flirted over our wine glasses. We were really clicking. He was so softly self-assured, so effortlessly charming. Maybe success tonight would mean a rich boyfriend? My parents had always told me to marry rich. Or at least get a sugar daddy. They'd been joking but they knew from experience that my talents were unlikely to make money. My only other asset seemed to be my looks. I'd always been able to turn heads. Maybe success was just a matter of turning the right one?
"So what do you do?" The question came up organically, I don't remember who asked it first.
"I'm an actor," he said and I silently cursed myself. A room full of deep pockets and I was drawn straight to the empty ones. It opened up an insecurity that haunts me still; was I trapped here? Was I flowing, like water, back to my own level? Would I always want the poor guy, or were they the only ones that wanted me?
I had more faith in my looks than myself back then. Most of the money I'd made in my life was from low-end modeling or bosses that wanted to sleep with me. But that never paid much. Not that my grand plan was to just fuck rich guys. But at the age of twenty-three, I really didn’t know what I had going for me, aside from being hot. Being good at art seemed utterly useless at the time. And I knew that even if I managed to get some level of success, I would always be at the mercy of people with more money than me. It wasn’t really rich guys I worried about. It was casting directors, gallery owners, patrons.
Would anyone with money only see my old dress, my crooked teeth, my cheap jewelry and pass me by? I worried that no one would ever spend money on me because it was clear that no one ever had. I worried that would perpetuate the cycle of my own poverty simply by being myself.
Still.... the sex was good.
|Tuesday, January 19th, 2016|
I've been getting rid of stuff lately. Getting rid of a LOT of it. It's hard to do, and I already wrote about why it's hard
. I put off going through my dresses for a long time because I knew it would be the hardest. I have an insane amount of them, if I get rid of any I know I can't replace them, and I have the most emotional attachment to them, despite the fact that I wear them the least. When I finally did it, I did a pretty good job, until I came across this dress.
It's a cute dress and all, but why this? To explain why I couldn't let this go, I have to explain how I got it.
My mom loves Christmas. Mostly she loves giving gifts. When I was a kid she would give me gifts at every available opportunity, not just Christmas but Easter, valentines day, and plenty of random times when she was at the thrift store and saw something I just *had* to have (she actually still does that, she just leaves it in my room at my parent's house until I visit.) Every Christmas was an orgy of presents, most of which were from my mom, a fact that she cleverly disguised by putting different names on the tags. Every year I would get presents from Santa, the elves from Elf Quest, the squirrels that lived on our block, the family cat, Mulder and Scully, you get the picture. I believed in Santa much longer than I should have. When I was 10 I got into a fight with a kid at school because I insisted that Santa was real. He had to exist. There was no way my parents could afford to buy me that much stuff every year.
I now know that my parents could afford that many gifts because my mom got most of them at thrift stores, or cheap stores like target, or she made them. Her job as a costumer meant that she spent a lot of time shopping, and she could sew like nobody's business. My Dad's video store meant that she could get me videos at wholesale prices. And I was the kind of kid who wanted videos and books and clothes and toys from Target. I didn't play videogames and I usually didn't care about the Hot Toy of The Year. So I was pretty easy to shop for. Especially if you were my mom and you LOVED buying and making things for other people.
I don't remember how old I was when I stopped believing in Santa but I do remember the year when I knew that Santa was my mom. I was 14 and my family had had a rough couple of years. My dad had sold both her businesses (out of necessity) and was unemployed for a while. I had been failing at the public school and my parents had put me into a private school, which I'm pretty sure saved my life, but it wasn't great for our finances. We'd moved out of an ungodly money pit of a house, on which I think we still owed back rent. My parents had racked up a good amount of debit and someone (I can't remember who) had started garnishing her wages.
I was an oblivious teen, so I knew this was happing but I didn't really *get* it. I'd heard my mom talking about someone garnishing her salary but didn't quite know what it meant. I knew that our house had stuff wrong with it all the time and that we had moved very quickly and suddenly to a much smaller house. I knew I had to get a certain level of grades or my scholarship wouldn't continue. I knew I had to write thank you notes to my grandparents when they started to help with my tuition. I knew my dad didn't have a job, and I knew that was bad. But somehow, for the most part, that didn't *land* with me. I had teenage stuff to think about. It was more immediate and it loomed large in my mind. Like most teens, school and friends and boys were the foreground in my life, everything else was background.
And I think my parents worked very hard to keep it that way. They wanted me to be happy. It's just hard not to feel like my happiness came at the expense of theirs. Not that their lives would have been so much better if they'd had a daughter racked with worry and guilt on top of all the other crap they were dealing with. But I feel terrible that I spent so much time thinking about myself when everything else was falling down around our ears.
But then Christmas morning came and there were definitely fewer presents under the tree. I was aware enough to expect as much, and my mom did her best, but the difference was noticeable. That didn't really bother me. It was a sparser Christmas than normal, so what? We had good food, we enjoyed opening the gifts that we did have, we had a great time being together. What stuck in my head was when my opened gifts were all laid out together. I'd gotten mostly clothes, which I was thrilled about. But as I looked at them all, I recognized the fabrics they were made from. They'd each been in a show she worked on this year; this gold satin was from Cherry Orchard, this green silk and blue chiffon were from The Tempest. She'd made them from scraps.
I thought about the work my mom had put into making them; choosing dresses that were small enough to make out of leftover fabric, staying late at work, carefully laying out pattern pieces, eking out the last little bits she could from the fabric she had. That was when I realized how bad things were. And that was when I realized how much my mother loved me, and how hard she worked just to keep me happy. I was oblivious because she let me be, because she wanted me to be.
I never thought of myself as sheltered. From the time I was in second or third grade, she let me walk home from school. I learned some cooking lessons the hard way while trying to make after school snacks. My mom never grilled me about what I was doing or where I was going with my friends. She let me choose the books I read and the movies I watched. When I was 17 and started to date someone older, she rather stridently disagreed with that decision, but she never forbade me from making it.
But when she saw that the school I was in was crushing my spirit, she did everything she could to protect me. She talked to teachers (who didn't care) she talked to a psychiatrist (who diagnosed me with ADD and recommended a different school) and she talked to my grandparents (who didn't really understand the problem or why private school would take priority over the other stuff going on with us.) And when all the world seemed to be crashing in on our family, she shielded me from the worst of it. She paid my tuition, no matter what. She worked her fingers to the bone to make sure our Christmas still happened. She made herself drive a minimum of three hours a day, just to go to work.
One of the dresses she made me that year is still at my parent's house. The Tempest dress was ruined in a tragic laundry accident in 2003. This gold dress was the only one I had left. But I never wear it anymore. When I was in high school, it was short enough to get me sent home from school and I've grown since then. I haven't worn it in years, it was just sitting in my closet, it was time to let it go and let someone smaller than me enjoy it. I went through all of those rationalizations, but Christmas kept running through my head. I thought I'd just take a picture of it, maybe post about it, it didn't matter that I wasn't a very good photographer, it was more about the thought than the photo. So I took this crappy photo and I went to pick it up and I. Just. Lost it.
I didn't just cry. I broke. In one week, I'd lost David Bowie and Allan Rickman, my grandmother was probably going to die any minute, I was letting go of garments that reminded me of high school, stupid mistakes, accidents that I still blamed myself for, lost jobs, lost boyfriends, lost friendships, and I just couldn't lose this too. I hated myself for crying about *this*. I'd cried about all the other stuff, too, but not this big, stupid, embarrassing flood of wailing, broken, sobs. That should have been reserved for the grandmother I was never close enough to, or the rock icon I'd actually come to think of as some kind of immortal demi-god. I shouldn't be crying over some dress, even if it was a dress that had become a symbol how much my mother loved me. But I was. I couldn't stop it. And after at least 20 minutes of ugly crying in my hallway and thanking god that my poor boyfriend wasn't there to witness it, I decided that I had to keep going. My bed was still covered in dresses, and I had to get through them before I could sleep. Preferably before my boyfriend got home to witness dressmageddon first hand.
So I picked up the dress, and I hung it on a wall, neither in the keep pile or the throw away pile, just sitting there, waiting for me to make a decision. And then I did. As I worked, I got an idea. An image of the dress, with a pattern of gold studs around the hem, an immaculate heart in the center of the chest. I don't know what the act will be, but I'm looking forward to making it. My ex used to call burlesque costuming the foreign legion of clothing. The statement sounded so good I never asked him to explain it. But in this case it feels more like a reliquary, making sacred art from something you should bury, because it's too precious to let go.
|Monday, January 11th, 2016|
|We Could Be Heroes
I started reading Molly Crabapple's autobiography last night. It's fabulous and she's had an amazing life. But it's hard to read without comparing myself unfavorably to her. She's a year younger than me, grew up in a somewhat similar environment/social class, we moved to New York around the same time, we know a lot of the same people. But she's a pretty famous artist, she started an even that has been franchised all over the world, she's published books and articles and I'm just me. I know all the things you're supposed to know about comparing yourself to other people. It's unhealthy, it's unproductive, it's unfair. But there's a difference between knowing something intellectually and knowing something viscerally, and I haven't made it there yet.
And then David Bowie died.
When anyone I care about dies, I always feel frustrated because there's nothing I can *do.* I can't properly tribute them, I feel like I'm not mourning them correctly, and nothing I can do will actually help anybody else. And this is no different. How do you properly tribute someone that you've never known but always admired, someone you've been taught to revere for literally your whole life?
I've spent most of the day questioning myself, my life, my work. I should be doing *more.* I should be making more art. It should be bigger, brighter, weirder, more fearless, more creative (whatever THAT means.) I should be more like Molly Crabapple, I should be more like David Bowie, I should be, I should be, I should be...
But David Bowie wasn't about shoulds. And imitating anyone is the least Bowie thing you can do. The best Bowie tribute you can do is to just be yourself as hard as you can. That is what he always did. You don't make a 1984 rock musical because it's trendy. And when he did sound like other people *cough cough trent reznor cough* it was because he was actually working with those people. And even then, it was still always pretty damn Bowie. Looking at the posts people have made about him today, the most touching aren't about his work, exactly. They're about how he made people feel. That his personas and his art and his weirdness reached out to people who felt lonely in their weirdness. It let them know that they weren't alone. That their weirdness could be beautiful. That's something we can all do, my beautiful weirdos, show the people around us that weirdness is wonderful.
What I do want to imitate is his work ethic. 26 albums, 20 something film appearances, touring, performing on broadway, god knows how many personas. Dude was prolific as fuck. (So is Molly, to bring it full circle.) I don't do work that can really be quantified in the same ways, though trust me, I'm trying to figure out a way to collect it into something *like* an album. The best thing I can do is keep pushing forward and making work that's the most *me* I can make it.
So it's time to put on my bowie playlist and get back to work.
|Sunday, January 10th, 2016|
I just broke up with a bunch of my sweaters.
I have a hard time letting go of things. Intellectually, I know that they're just things. But I can't help but feel like they have emotions.
As long as I can remember I've thought that inanimate objects had thoughts and feelings. When I was little I thought the car's' door open' alarm was it trying to talk to me, so my mom would leave the car door open to pick up our mail and come back to find me "singing along" with the car. I was trying to learn its language, talk back to it. Whenever my mom would make me choose which toy I wanted more, I would feel bad for whichever toy got left behind. I imagined its feelings of loss and rejection. I would want to cry because I felt cruel leaving it behind. The last time I went to an animal shelter was heart shredding. I could feel the loneliness radiating off those dogs and there was nothing I could do to help them.
My empathy for objects has diminished, but it's still there. And now it always comes with a dash of self hate because I'm an adult and I should know better. But I don't. Not really. I'm trying to be kinder to myself about it. Animism is a valid belief in a lot of other cultures, and feeling shame about emotions you automatically feel has never helped anyone.
Clothes are usually the hardest because they're so close to us. They're right up against our skin. They serve us, they protect us, they keep us warm. They help us show the world who we are and who we want to be. One of my teachers defined performance as someone standing in front of a group of people and saying "This is something I want you to know about me, this is something I don't want you to know about me." Clothing is our daily performance. They tell the world who we want to be. But they also give away the things we want to hide. What size and shape our bodies are. How much money we have. How clumsy we are. How well we take care of our possessions. Clothing holds so much.
When we buy something, we have expectations about that thing. The small way it will change our lives. "I will wear this and look like someone who is....." fill in any applicable word. When people give us clothes, they have the same expectation, and they carry our feelings about that person. I have clothes that were handed down from a frienemy and every time she said they looked good on me, I would feel protective, like she was about to rip them off me like the sisters in Cinderella. Most of my clothes are given to me by my mother, so there's a lot of baggage there. It's not all bad, but if my mom bought me something, or made me something, it's MUCH harder to let it go, no matter how little it suits me.
I'm getting rid of things based on the Konmari method, now. It helps a lot. She talks about objects having feelings and helped me reframe my thoughts about getting rid of things. She says it's just releasing those things so they can go be useful for someone else and that helps a lot. She also tells you to keep or throw out things based solely on your intuition. It doesn't matter how long you've had it, or how often you use it. The only thing that matters is how you feel about it, the first moment you pick it up. It's helped to eliminate the pro/con thought process, and I don't have to try anything on.
But it also means that some of the things I threw out, were things I'd used a lot or had for a long time. And I felt bad letting them go. They'd worked so hard for me, and served me so well, how could I let them go? It's embarrassing to admit, but it felt a bit like ending a relationship that wasn't working. So I held them. And I thanked them. I told them what a great job they had done and how they'd go on to help someone else right now. But it was still hard.
And I still have so much more clothing to go.
|Thursday, January 7th, 2016|
|Gilda's Girls 1
A couple years ago a friend of mine wanted to create a tumblr called Gilda's Girls, where women posted self portraits about sexual encounters created within 24 hours of that encounter. I thought this was a great idea and made some contributions, even though I'm a terrible photographer. I've enjoyed post secret for a long time and figured I could steal that style of image paired with confession to help me break down the perfectionist tendencies I have when it comes to any kind of art.
The tumblr never happened so I figured I'd just share them here. Here's the first one.
|Monday, January 4th, 2016|
|Advice is a Form of Nostalgia
I paint nails at Beauty Bar sometimes. Not a lot. The money isn't great but it can be fun so I'll pick up a shift whenever they really need someone. Despite the fact that I haven't spent much time in the bar, the place drips with nostalgia for me. I work there because Lefty used to work there. My first dorm room was a few blocks away and I wish I'd known about the job back then. In college this would have been great money and I would have had a blast doing it. I walk along 14th street and I wish that I could whisper to my 19 year old self
"Take that job dancing at Webster Hall. You'll love it. Paint nails at Beauty bar. Ignore all the things your know-it-all boyfriend tells you. All he knows is how to have rich parents. It's not actually a skill."
I wish so hard it hurts sometimes.
The other day I was working there and fate gave me a huge gift; someone looking for advice, on a problem I'd actually had. She sat down for a manicure and we started to talk. She was young, confused, living with her parents. She was just out of college and overwhelmed by the lack of jobs and the burning desire to create....something. All potential and no direction. A pendulum pulled to its zenith and not a single sense of gravity. I lost a year of my life to that fear, that weightlessness. It will always be one of my biggest regrets. I don't know if she somehow sensed this in me, or I had already told her that I lived off a number of creative jobs, or she just told this problem to everyone.
She said, with a small sigh,
"I just....I don't really know what to do with my life. I have this creative writing degree but that won't make me money. I know I should get a job but... I don't want to get stuck forever in some job I don't like."
Forever is a stupid concept. Nothing in this world is actually forever. Everything grows or erodes or meanders or dies. Nothing stays the same. But the idea that it does, the fear that a choice could trap us or that our circumstances will never or could never change, is paralyzing. It causes so much suffering.
So I said to her what I wish I'd heard when I was in her place. (Not that no one said this to me, I just didn't hear it.)
"Just get a job," I told her. "Get any old stupid job. You can leave it whenever you need to. Once you get started doing *something* it'll give you the momentum to do *more* things.
She looked thoughtful for a minute and said
"Yeah. That makes sense."
I can't be sure, but I *think* she heard me. I hope she did.
I only wish I'd found a way to add
"And if you have a know-it-all boyfriend, odds are good you know just as much as he does."
|Sunday, January 3rd, 2016|
|Johnnny Moves In
Helping someone move is always a labor of love (unless one is hired to do it) and helping someone move in with you is a special challenge. Moving lays bare aspects of ourselves that we would like to hide; the things we should throw out but hold on to anyway, the things we forgot we had, the things we hide under our bed, the collections we downplay, the things we never clean. That's why people who are moving almost always underestimate the amount of stuff they're moving. It's hard for the person moving and it's hard for the person being moved in with. You have to see all their stuff, make room for their stuff, help them deal with their stuff, metaphors abound.
The first boyfriend I lived with, we lived together for a year before he moved all of his stuff in. When he did, it felt like an invasion. I'd painted the apartment, I'd decorated, I'd planned around what we already had. Suddenly we had all his furniture, his ugly couch he'd had since he was 19, his gigantic desk that didn't fit in the apartment. He wanted me to throw out the bed my dad had made me, and I couldn't say "but if we break up, I won't have a bed."
We did break up. I bought the bed from him.
The second boyfriend who moved in didn't have a lot of stuff. We shared a two bedroom and my stuff took over the apartment. When we broke up and I finally moved out of the apartment, the things I had were overwhelming. I worked tirelessly to get rid of stuff and was still only half packed when the moving van came. My life had filled up with half finished projects, paperwork I couldn't deal with, and things I'd held on to because I might one day need them.
So yesterday Johnny moved in and, wow, he had a lot of stuff. It took us seven hours and three trips to get everything moved. It was long and hard and a lot more stuff than either of us expected it to be. I definitely had to take some deep breaths when I saw ALL of his comic book boxes. But it only lasted a second. It didn't feel like an invasion, it felt like the apartment was becoming ours. And he started culling his comic book collection this morning. I started culling my clothes. We've both got a lot of stuff to deal with, but we're happy to do it together.
I know this post is pretty sappy, but I can't really help it. I'm really happy to be making a home with this man.
|Saturday, December 26th, 2015|
|Year in Reveiw
I started the year in california, dancing for The Weed King at a hippie pot-grower party. I did some audiobook recording with a former acting teacher, and briefly considered moving back to marin when I tasted the most amazing ham and cheese croissant in the world. I would have to live in the woods just to afford living in marin but it's california so you can do that sort of thing. But god help you if you want to get around without a car.
So I went back to NYC to the bitter cold and my slow months, where I art modeled, performed a little, did a bit of GTAing and SP work. I blocked off a day with Lefty or organize my life and ended up just organizing my ribbons (still no small feat.) My family and I were interviewed for a documentary on trans catholics (and the families of same.)
I spent a week in New Orleans teaching stage combat to pre-teens, which is somehow even more difficult than it sounds! I also went to three or four Mardi Gras parades, which were fun but....two was about all I needed to see. I caught a Muse shoe (which is a big deal for New Orleanians) and a metric ton of mardi gras beads. I didn't show my boobs even once, which seems out of character until you realize that it was *very* cold. I spent Fat Tuesday in the quarter, which was utterly lovely. Imagine Halloween, but with outdoor day drinking. Fantastic.
I saw Hedwig on Broadway three times. I'm pretty sure the first time was last year but whatever. I got to see Neil Patrick Harris, Michael C Hall, and Taye Diggs. All were amazing. I think NPH was my favorite, but it was great to see them each put their own spin on the character. And it was so wonderful to see a show that meant so much to me as a teen, a solo show that was created in village bars, actually make it to broadway and *work.* It's still one of the greatest pieces of theatre I've ever seen.
My performances picked up around March and I traveled to DC to perform 7 times (not counting the big ass halloween event I did.) We did a Tennessee Williams show! People liked it! We did a Sondheim show! People liked it so much that we're doing it in New York! I did a few Forbidden Kiss shows as a send off for Stage Left Studio. As much as I had kind of grown apart from Stage Left, I was very sad to see it go. It was a great resource for the New York theatre community and a wonderful incubator for me personally. I wish there were more places like it and I wish NYC (or the world) had a stronger structure in place to help artists create without worrying about money. It's hard to create things that are new when you feel like you *have* to make money, it's hard to take risks.
That's why every big movie now is a remake or or a reboot or a sequel or an adaptation. Even someone as low on the arts spectrum as I am feels the pressure to choose projects based on something people have seen before, because it's so much harder to get people to see anything else. There are acts in my head that I'm dying to get out in the world but without a specific show (and deadline) to tie them to they get put off in favor of things that will actually make me money.
My other work picked up in march, too. I really like GTAing and I go back and forth on how I feel about the commute. With very few exceptions, the minimum commute is 1.5 hours one way and it's usually longer. I haven't been doing as many jobs with the 10 hour round trip commutes, but it's still rough. I've been getting better about writing while I'm on the train but sometimes, when I have to get up at 5am, I just don't have the brain power. I'm still pretty sure that I wrote an entire blog post in a notebook, but cannot find it for the life of me. And, talking to the more seasoned GTAs, it's become apparent that there will be a time when my body just can't handle the job anymore. I think I've got a few years before that happens but I'm going to start thinking of other ways I can A: Make money and B: Help people. One of the best things about this job is that I know I'm doing good for people that need it and I think I need to keep that element of my life going. I'm not sure what that looks like, maybe some other form of sexual education, maybe some other non-profit, maybe more work as a standardized patient, giving doctors feedback on how they interact with their patients. Or maybe I'll find enough outside income that I can GTA less and avoid burnout longer.
Owen and I broke up but it was pretty amicable. The relationship just kind of ran out of gas. We stayed friendly and it turned out to be for the best since he got a job in Minneapolis.
I worked on costumes for Broadway Bares and saw what burlesque could look like with broadway talent and broadway sense of scale. It was glorious and so inspiring! I don't know if I'll ever get to create anything on that scale but, god, I would love to.
It seemed like my prayers were answered on that count when, just a week later, Hilary asked me if I'd like to work on a six figure Halloween party. Well, that turned out to be something of a monkey's paw wish, but I learned a lot. I don't think I'm done with events forever but it definitely made me step back from them pretty fast. I hope that Hilary asks me to put together more pitches, because I think I'm really good at that. And I hope I can, eventually, get back into event planning on a slightly smaller scale, with the support I actually need. And I hope that no mormons are involved.
I lucked into a poledancing patron, who got me a pretty massive gift certificate for pole lessons, so I started training. It was tough but I managed to average a class a week (though that's nothing to most of the people who go to this studio) and I'm learning slowly. I'm pretty sure I can get my pole up in the apartment now that I'm sharing it with The Teddybear and I'm hoping that will let me supplement my classes by learning at home and taking practice breaks while I work from home. I really want to be good enough that I can start performing pole stuff. I love doing it and it would be great to have more marketable performance skills.
I finally went to sex camp! It was even better than I'd imagined.
I applied to Bindercon (a conference for women and nonbianary writers) for a scholarship. I didn't really expect to get it but I gave it my best shot and I got it! I had an amazing time, learned a ton, and pitched my cinderella book to two writing agents and both of them said I should send it to them when it was ready! That has made a huge difference in my writing, knowing that there's an actual possible future for this book. I actually thought about not going to the conference because I was worried that I was kidding myself thinking I could have a writing career. Bindercon was an amazing, possibly life changing experience, for me.
Five people in my life died; My maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother's long term partner who was like a grandfather to me, my first year dance teacher at NYU, a former teacher from NYU who still hired me to model for her drawing classes, and DJ Jess, someone I'd flirted with at NYU who also ended up in the burlesque/nightlife scene. Losing all of them was sad, but two of them were suicides and those really hit me the hardest. They were both really sweet and upbeat people, I never saw the slightest hint that either of them were depressed. It really hammered home the fact that you never know who's suffering. I wasn't able to go to any funerals and I still feel terrible about that.
Overall, though, it was a pretty great year. I didn't have to move! I continued to be in love with Johnny Caligula (nee The Teddy Bear.) I really enjoyed living with Lefty! And now that she's moving on, I'm really excited about The Johnny moving in. We've got a two year lease and then we're looking for a place we can buy together (ok, he would buy it and I'd help him pay the mortgage. There's no way I could afford to buy even half an apartment.) It's a pretty big deal but I'm not nervous about it. It feels right.
I don't know if this post really captures how busy I was but by my count I had 48 performing gigs, 45 GTA gigs, recorded several audiobooks and hypnosis tapes, created at least 10 new acts, worked on two books, traveled to the bay area, New Orleans, and DC (about 9 times) and spent (conservative estimate) 270 hours traveling to and from GTA gigs. I spent a LOT of time feeling tired, sick, depressed, anxious, burned out, or some awful combination of the same. I I would like less of that next year, though I'm not entirely sure how to accomplish that. Still, this was a much better year than the past few.
|Thursday, November 26th, 2015|
I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a home that I can count on for at least another year. I've had a year with a great roommate, and now that she's moving on to an awesome new city, I have a wonderful boyfriend that's moving in with me. I have a bunch of jobs and they're all weird and challenging and exciting in some way and they're keeping me more or less afloat. I'm not on easy street or anything but overall I'm having a good time. I can wear whatever clothes I want, I can be honest about who I am, I can pay my bills. I'm in a much better space than I have been in several years.
I am thankful for my wonderful friends, my fabulous parents, my loving, sensitive, and hilarious boyfriend, and my jobs that let me work in my jammies and give me time to make my art.
I hope you all have a day of warmth, food, and love.
|Tuesday, October 20th, 2015|
|Baby's First Corporate Event
So the world of events has swallowed me up and sipt me back out and now I'm trying to make sense of it all and figure out how it went, how I feel, and if I ever want to do it again.
The backstory is that Hilary's company got the chance to pitch a company that wanted a 100,000 Halloween party. Hilary was too busy to do it but knew that it was exactly my jam and paired me up with one of her employees to put together the pitch. I put together a really good pitch and got the job. I asked for a raise and I got it. I got a large budget that let me hire some really talented performers (most of whom I'm friends with) and put together an awesome set. I was really proud of myself and sure that I'd finally found a career that would work for me.
But, in the end, I had a really awful time. It was a huge thing that I'd never done before and I didn't have the support I needed to do it well. The employee I was paired with was helpful in some ways but really frustrating in others. To put it in theater terms; I was directing, designing, performing, and stage manageing. I am good at three of those things. I needed a stage manager. I needed a stage manager in the way that I need two hands. Can you get by without two hands? Yes. But it's really fucking hard. Instead of a stage manager I got a TD who was also kind of also the designer and kind of also the directer and...not what I needed.
I was also working with people that I didn't know on something creative that I really cared about, which I hadn't done for a very long time, with good reason. It's a hard thing to do. It's scarey and vulnerable and I've had so many bad experinces with doing that, I spent the last week afraid to talk to anyone because I was terrified of coming off like I was crazy or a bitch or a crazy bitch. That's my own mental problems at work, but I'd kind of forgotten that I had those problems until they reared thier ugly heads. And that was a terrible time to find out that those problems existed.
The thing is, I think I did a good job. Every problem that came up (and there were SO MANY) I took in stride and problem solved well. I never cried or yelled or was even the slightest bit bitchy to anyone. I kept a very light grasp of MY VISION and accepted when things had to be good enough. But I hated it. I was miserable the whole time. My teeth still hurt from being tense all week. There are knots in the muscles in my face. I was on stie for elleven hours and was so tense and busy that I didn't use the bathroom the entire time I was there.
And there was never a time when I could sit back, look around and go "This turned out pretty great. I made it. I did a good job." It was all the worst parts of techweek and strike and one single unrehersed performance where you get upstaged by a coverband and lobster mac and cheese and someone in the audience yells at you for daring to show a lady in her underwear. AND I COULDN'T FUCKING DRINK.
After it was all over (or, after it was mostly over and I had to strike the props) I was really fucking depressed. I wanted to drink forever and cry in a shower and then never plan an event ever again. And I can't lie, part of me still feels that way. But I drove home with Sarah Tops, who is an event stage manager for a living and who I really REALLY needed to make all this work and she made me reconsider. She pointed out how different things would have been if I'd had her or someone like her. And I thought about how much better it all would have been if I'd had ONE job. If I'd ONLY been the person who put together the sales pitch. If I'd ONLY been a set dresser or a performer or a performance wrangler. And that is something I could have handled. That's something I probably would have enjoyed. I think I was just trying to do too much. Hilary is used to doing everything herself. She has also been doing events for more than a decade. I think she just overestimated my abilites. And that might not even be the acurate thing to say because, by all accounts, I did a good job. Everyone I've talked to or read tweets from, thought it was a great party. But I don't think I did a good job. Or, more accurately, I don't *feel* like I did a good job. And I don't know how to reconcile those two things in my head.
So I guess I'm not done with the world of event planning but I'll have to be much more specific about what I need in order to do a job and have it be worth it for me. Because money isn't the only thing that makes a job worth doing. Not for me.
My shrink was right! God DOES hate me!--- Jay, The Critic
At the end of it all, you’ve got to have some spectacular cock-ups, because THEN, you’ll have stories…and you’ll have had a life. We've had a life.” – Cyril, Slings and Arrows
|Tuesday, September 8th, 2015|
|Back from Summercamp
Hey everybody, I just got back from Summerfest!
Summerfest is an event where perverts take over a summer camp and create an environment where everything is allowed, as long as it's safe, sane, and consensual. I've been hearing about this event (in its various forms) for over a decade. The first person to tell me about it called it the best thing in the world, and I can't really say they oversold it.
This was a truly amazing event, one that renewed my love of kink and faith in people's goodness and creativity. There's a pervasive idea that kink is dark and scary, shrouded in shame and mystery and people with fucked up pasts. Summerfest is the opposite of that. It brings kink out into the light. Literally. It's in the sun, it's outside, it's everywhere. It's out there, all around you, and even when it's not something you're into, it doesn't seem creepy or gross because the people involved are just so damn happy about it. I didn't see people being fucked up, I saw people enjoying themselves. It was delightful and beautiful and I had a fantastic fucking time.
I got to have a fourway with a couple I've been crushing on for years, I got to play with my long distance Steak Daddy, and the Teddybear and I got to do a really hot tease and denial/take down switch scene. I feel so incredibly lucky that I got to go and that I got to experience it with such wonderful people.
I know a lot of people come back from events feeling like their lives changed in some way, and I can't really say I feel that way. More, I feel like my life is on the right track, that I'm friends with the right people, that I have the right partner. I'm so glad I went. I think I needed that reassurance.
There was a little bit of drama <lj-cut>
The Werewolf was there. I saw him at dinner the first night I was at camp. And I actually had to check, like, multiple times that it was actually him and I wasn't hallucinating him or having a nightmare or something. We made eye contact once but he didn't approach me or anything. But his presence still sort of gnawed at me.
Saturday night I went to the Primal Arts section of camp where they had different rituals every night. I was there to hang out with the lovely couple we'd hooked up with earlier that day. Someone asked what that night's ritual was for.
"It's for those who 'have been wounded by love'" Dorkulese says and I stop. I'm not a woo woo person. I live in New York. I know that the universe doesn't send messages to clueless white girls. That's not its function. But I'm also from California and if the universe somehow wanted to impart messages to white girls, it would be telling me to do this ritual.
Because I was not just wounded by love. I was broken by it. Two years of therapy kind of broken. Tell my new lovers about it kind of broken. "Just so you know, bad things happened to me and I may suddenly need to stop, or cry, or punch something" kind of broken.
And the person who broke me is here.
He's in this kinky paradise, this weekend long pervert retreat. And even though he hasn't spoken to me, or even really looked at me, his presence has loomed large in my mind.
The first time I saw him I needed to make sure he was real. Because I've hallucinated him before. But he's really there.
The nature of our relationship means that he became the critical voice in my head. So when I wear something, I wonder what he'll say about it. When I do something, I hear how he would make fun of me. I hear how he would mock the scenes I do or the classes I take or the way I kiss my boyfriend.
So I go to the ritual. Because I have been wounded by love. And I continue to be.
The person at the circle's entrance explains the ritual. She marks my face with ashes saying "You have been wounded by love." She tells me to meditate in the space however I want to and to think about forgiveness, not forgiveness of a particular person, just myself. She tells me to let go of anger, and when I'm ready, find an attendant with a basin and cloth to wash off my wound and then to burn the cloth.
I'm really self conscious. Because I live in new york. And the people I'm with are not woo enough for this. And I'm ashamed of my wooness. But I do it anyway. Because I obviously need it. I do a lap of the space, see people dancing, drumming, a little sex against a gong. I take off my top and my glasses and I start to dance. This is how I pray, this is how I meditate; I dance. I could dance myself to ecstasy, I could dance myself to tears. But there's all these people in my way. And The Werewolf's voice in my head. How he'd make fun of me for being here. The dismissive way he'd say "wounded by love," the hungry way he'd watch me dance, because he'd always loved it.
But that's stupid, I tell myself. The Werewolf wouldn't come to this ritual because if he thinks those dismissive, judgmental, things about me for being there, he wouldn't be there himself.
The music ends and I don't really feel better. I never feel quite comfortable, I never reach catharsis or release. I find someone with a basin and wash the "wound" off. I don't feel better. Of course I don't. It's never that easy.
But I turn away to burn the cloth, complete the ritual, and I see him. I don't have my glasses on. I can't see more than the color of a shirt and the way it moves. There's no reason for me to recognize him at all but somehow I know that it's him.
That's crazy. I tell myself. You're crazy. You've hallucinated him before, you're doing it now. But I burn the cloth and I put on my glasses and there he fucking is, like the ghost of rapists past. Because of course he is. Because I was stupid to think a silly little ritual would make him go away. Because it's never that fucking easy.
To his credit, he never approached me. And if he said anything mean about me, I'll never know. We haven't spoken in years so maybe, hopefully, he's a different person. But it's not my job to find out or care. But I'm a little less afraid of him now, and I managed to ignore that voice in my head more and more.
So I guess I was changed by camp, if only a little.</lj-cut>
|Sunday, June 28th, 2015|
Ah live journal, how I miss you and the days when I somehow had the time to update multiple times a day (I mean, sorta.)
I've been GTAing a lot and people say I should write about it, because it's a weird job that I do and most people have never heard of it. For the record, a GTA (gynecological teaching associate) is a female bodies lay person who teaches medical and nursing students how to give breast and pelvic exams. They act as the patient, but also the teacher, so they can give immediate feedback to a student so they can actually do what they're doing correctly. Imagine if you were a patient at the GYN's office and had the knowledge and empowerment to say to your doctor
"That feels uncomfortable, do it this way instead." That would be amazing, wouldn't it? That's my job.
Along with teaching the most comfortable way to conduct an exam, we talk about how to educate the patient about their body, how to talk to someone who may be experiencing abuse, what words and phrases to avoid during an exam ("everything looks good" sounds *very* different when you're staring at someone's genitals than when you're, say, testing their reflexes.)
This is an important job. This is a *highly useful* job. I can't tell you how many students have thanked me at the end of a class. For many of them, it's the first time they've interacted with a patient and it's definitely the first time they've gotten real time feedback. Most importantly, this job is *way* better than the alternatives.
What are the alternatives? Learning on a corpse (not much feedback) learning on a latex model (we'll discuss that later) or learning on an unconscious patient before or after surgery (wait, WHAT?!)
That last one is usually what gets the most reaction when I tell people about it. It sounds wrong, doesn't it? It sounds illegal. It sounds creepy. It sounds made up, right? One of my fellow GTAs didn't believe that it happened until we heard it from an actual doctor. He brought it up like it was no big deal.
"Do they get consent from the patient?" My colleague asked, clearly alarmed.
"I'm sure it's in the paperwork somewhere," He shrugged. Never before has fine print been a more complelling read.
You can see why I think this job is so important. It is absolutely vital that students not only learn proper, pain-free, techniques but that they learn that the people they work with are people; people who feel pain, people who have different bodies, people who should be allowed to consent to an exam.
I'm happy to say that my program works for a number of different universities. The list of places we go keeps expanding, and I keep hearing about more and more programs throughout the nation. Which is why I was really sad to hear that a certain university is trying to phase us out. Sad might not be the right word.
The university in question hires us a lot. Not long ago we taught the 2nd year and 3rd year medical students and roleplayed as patients during their final exams. This year, during the 2nd year finals, something really weird happened. All of them did a really bad job. They did exams wrong, they said inappropriate things, one of them didn't even wash his hands.
What happened? We didn't teach them this year.
Why? A higher up member of the faculty doesn't like our program. From what I hear, she doesn't have a problem with what we teach, she has a problem with the fact that we use our own bodies to teach it. To her mind, we are being paid to have someone touch our naughty bits and are therefore dirty dirty whores. (Not an exact quote)
Now, I have no problem with sex work or being called a sex worker. Sometimes I am a sex worker. But not when I'm GTAing. There's nothing sexy about GTA work. I wear no make up, I'm in a hospital gown under fluorescent lights, I usually don't even brush my hair. If someone is getting turned on, it's through no fault of mine. Sex work can mean a lot of things but I'm pretty sure the bare bones definition of sex work is making money by actively working to get someone off. GTAs don't do that. GTAs put a very special emphasis on the non-sexual aspects of their sex organs. It's part of their job.
But people touch our vaginas so we're sex workers. Fine. Whatever. Call a trumpet an oboe, I don't care. What I *do* care about is this faculty member deciding that we shouldn't be teaching 2nd year students. Instead, she bought latex models for them to learn on "because it's cheaper." But it's not really cheaper because the models keep breaking. Why? Because they're not very good models.
A human vulva comes in many shapes and sizes, but pretty much all of them have two sets of labia (minora and majora.) Part of the exam requires separating the majora from the minora to examine the crease between the two. Guess how many sets of labia this model has? One. Kinda. It's much closer to Barbie than an actual human. It doesn't have a urethra, it doesn't really have a clitoris, which might explain why our students didn't really know how to point those things out when they were faced with an actual human.
Most importantly, vaginas are pretty elastic. If you insert a speculum *the right way,* it's easy and painless. This model's vagina is not. If you insert a speculum *the right way for a human* the model will break. So our second year students were taught to insert a speculum that wrong way because they didn't want to break the model and the model never said "ouch."
You know who *did* say "ouch?" The GTAs those students encountered in their finals. You know who *will* say "ouch?" All of those students’ future GYN patients.
So sex negativity hurts all of us, or at least all of us with vaginas. The good news is, we have all those low rated test scores (and, I imagine a number of broken latex vaginas) to prove that this new plan is not a good one. And that if you're going to learn about the human body, it's best to learn on an actual human body. Preferably one that's alive. And conscious. And consenting.
|Tuesday, January 13th, 2015|
I wrote this the other day and I'm not sure where else to put it. Maybe my fairytale novel. Maybe it's just its own thing.
Glissando is a woman with wistful eyes the color of lilacs. Her soft pink hair is thickly plaited to her knees. Her eyes are the kind that never focus close by. They stare a thousand miles in any direction she's looking and when she looks at you, she sees straight through to the end of you. Her clothes are confectionery, skirt puffed out like a cupcake. She leaves a trail of lovehearts wherever she walks. She eats one absentmindedly, tongue tasting past the sugar to the subtle salt of the baker's tears.
There is a broken hearted baker making hearts for all the lost girls: The girls who gave their hearts away to whoever would have them. The girls who had no hearts to give. The girls who gave themselves to a dream or a time or the future. The girls who just want to get laid right now.
"They just need the love of a good man," he tells himself. "They'll come around soon." He falls in love with all of them. He gives them all his hearts. Glissando eats them all. She knows it won't work out.
"He makes his hearts from a mold," she shrugs. "It takes stronger stuff to hold a wild thing. Stronger and bloodier. Something filled with freedom."
|Friday, November 28th, 2014|
Better late than never and better to spend thanksgiving talking to my parents rather than writing a blog post. So here it is!
This has been a rough year but one that has held many points of shining love and beauty and I am increadibly greatful for that. I'm greatful for the friends who helped me, worked with me, and made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe. I'm thankful for the lovers who supported me, cared for me, and banged me senseless. I'm thankful for the fact that my jobs are all ones that I enjoy doing, even if they don't quite pay enough. I'm greatful that one of those jobs took me to New Orleans and let me see my godmother. I'm thankful to be finally settled into a place where I can stay for a while, with a roommate that I love living with. I'm thankful for my wonderful parents who came to every DC show and always encourage my creativity, always helping me in any way they can.
|Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014|
|#yesallwomen at Bare
I just got home and my neighbor asked if I was hungover.
"No?" I replied. "I mean, I have an emotional hangover."
She'd seen the show last night and she nodded her head.
"Yeah." She said. "That's totally a thing."
Last night, Bare did a #yesallwomen themed show and I told a story about The Werewolf. At this point, only the deep cut sadisticeraph nerds know who The Werewolf is, but even they don't really know the full story I told last night. I wrote about him a lot when the relationship was new and the sex was BONKERS but as the relationship got more abusive I wrote about it less and less. It kind of dwindled down to "I broke up with The Werewolf again but this time I MEAN it." I'm not eve sure I posted about the last time it happened because who believed it was the last time? Not me. Not really.
The whole show was amazing. The bravery and artistry on display was truly breathtaking. And a personal highlight was Nasty Canasta (who has been my personal hero since the first burlesque show I ever saw) introducing me as someone near and dear to her and then doing a beautifully simple and personal act in response to my story.
I never really realized just how lonely it felt to carry those stories around, how isolating. I felt like I couldn't tell them, certainly not all together, because people would be horrified, they would distance themselves, they wouldn't understand. But, telling my story, I felt people connect to it. And people I admired identified with it on some level and thanked me for telling it. And I felt less alone. I felt less ashamed.
I have always been ashamed of myself for staying with The Werewolf as long as I did. I made shitty choices and I made them over and over again. But making bad choices is a thing that humans do. It's one of their defining characteristics. And now I know that other people have made similar choices and felt similar feelings, including people I really admire.
A few weeks ago, I honestly didn't think I could do this show. But I was inspired by the bravery of my fellow storytellers and the support of the other performers and the faith that Peter had in me. I could not have done it without them. And I couldn't have done it without (my new boyfriend) The Teddy Bear, who listened to my story and cried every time, and jumped over a row of seats to hold me after I told my story.
I'm so glad I told this story. It was time for it to be shared.
|Thursday, April 24th, 2014|
|That Was Easy
I ask him if he's into comics and he looks at me, with shoulders like granite and black framed glasses. He says
"When I was a kid, I was really into Superman."
I swear, it's like they name themselves.