My mission in life is to make the world safe for people to love themselves. One of the ongoing projects I keep is very dear to my heart, which is a performance art series celebrating the radical act of self love. It is definitely very radical to love yourself in a society that tells you that you aren’t worthy of any love or appreciation, or conditional love and appreciation (like, if you lose 20 pounds, etc…). One of the things I love most is to hear how artists have used their differences to become empowered. That’s what I curate in this series.
Photo by Laura Sawchuck.
I’m super excited to have Ivan Coyote, the dreamy professional storyteller, author and multi-award winning bad ass, in NYC from Canada and featured performer at the upcoming Cupcake Cabaret.
First, here’s all the information on the show:
Thursday, April 18th, 2013 * New York, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents Cupcake Cabaret Featuring Ivan E. Coyote
Doors 7:15p, Show 7:45 * $7-$15 sliding scale
53 Christopher St, NY, NY
W 4th St. / Christopher St. Stations
Cupcake Cabaret is a performance celebrating the strength we get from what marks us different in this world. Size, gender, sexuality, class, race, dis/ability, age, religion and all numbers of identities bring the artists in the series a sense of power and esteem.
Featuring Ivan E. Coyote, storyteller, author of many incredible books, and heartstring puller all the way from Vancouver, Canada!
Ivan is an incredible storyteller. If you aren’t familiar with their work, you need to dip into the treasure trove of youtube.
From Dear Younger Self (the video above):
“Do not cave into the pressure from mainstream society to fit in. You do not and will not ever fit in. And one day you will realize you don’t even want to anymore. And that your difference is inherently tied to your beauty and your bravery. And your giant, mystical, invisible brass balls. You will grow to love these balls, younger self, and they will swing majestically between your ears inside the head you will hold up proudly.”
I basically can’t hear anything Ivan reads without crying a little (or, sometimes, a lot).
Photo by Jah Grey.
Another out of town miracle visiting NYC and performing Thursday night is my friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha! A queer, Sri Lankan, disabled writer, performer and cultural creator, Leah inspires me to no end. Her poetry is incredible.
Felice Shays, living in Brooklyn, NY, is a Femme feminist performance artist and author of Brutal Affection, her forthcoming book about the magic of rough sex (among other things). She radiates strength, sweetness and glamour and not just in a rhinestone cowboy boot kind of way but in an I want to do whatever she wants me to do kind of way. Her performance work is personal, empowering and delightful. She once fisted a watermelon at Rebel Cupcake wearing a bridal gown.
Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.
Photo credit Stacie Joy.
LeRoi Prince is one of my favorite gender performers in NYC right now. Their butchlesque acts are charming, their Prince numbers are dead-on (read: sexy, sultry, entertaining), and political work is heartfelt and incisive. They read a piece at the Forest of the Future calling forth the importance of our queer ancestors and what they fought in order for us to be who we are as a community today that made me weep. Everyone was weeping, though, it wasn’t just me.
LeRoi Prince is obviously my favorite Prince impersonator. Photo credit Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.
Bevin Branlandingham is also performing, which is me! I’m reading from my memoir! I’m almost done with the first draft. Whatever section it ends up being the themes are empowerment, rebirth, dishy dyke drama, spiritual awakening, sex, and dirty Brooklyn dance floors.
Photo by Kelsey Dickey. (With my friend Sam, singing a little R. Kelly.)
And if you haven’t seen Ivan’s piece “To All the Kick Ass Beautiful Fierce Femmes” and you are a Femme or you are in relationship to Femmes, I highly recommend it. A friend of mine is newishly out of the closet and newishly dating Femmes and I’m putting together a curriculum for her to learn about Femme and this is required watching.
I really love sad songs. It's fun and indulgent to listen to a tragic torch song. I'm a super glass half-full Pollyanna optimist, but I do acknowledge that sometimes queers get so caught up in the "We have to show how happy we are all the time" act and sometimes it's just plain hard to live a marginalized identity. It's really lonely sometimes. Especially for those of us who maybe don't have families around the holidays or who date emotionally absent folks.
With this in mind I curated a sad songs Rebel Cupcake. I'm not afraid to go there at a dance party cabaret. I tapped my pal Kit Yan, amazing slam poet, who is about to give up his crown to the successor Mr. Transman on August 28th at Murray Hill's pageant. Kit knows how to write a heartbreaker of a poem. He's also doing a kickstarter pre-sale of his new album, check him out and support queer art!
The infamous Taylor Black is a really talented singer and guitar player and knows the plight of the tragic homosexual.
And to top it all off, Miss Mary Wanna returns with a sad burlesque number. I just told her "Work it out onstage, girl." I can't wait to see what she comes up with!
After the show we'll dance to songs about heartbreak!
A commenter on my last post gently reminded me that I hadn't posted about the Yes Ma'am Happy New Queer party! I am excited to announce we have mad plans to make this swanky and unpretentious party a night to remember.
Thinking about my desires and what I dreamed about when I was in high school... a lot of it was pretty simple stuff. I wanted love. I hated myself so much I couldn't even recognize how much I hated myself. I wanted so desperately to fit in and feel comfortable with my body. I wanted access to all of the cheesy girl stuff like the cheerleading squad, dance team and running for homecoming queen. (Being perky, loud and wearing matching outfits? That is still my thing.)
I didn't feel like I was allowed access to even try out for any of those things, since I believed what everyone told me about my size--that I wasn't beautiful and had to rely on my personality and smarts.
I also really loved beauty pageants. I have always had a thing for them. I like watching people perform, I like sparkly outfits, I like good hair and ritual.