Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2013-04-08

Lean into the Discomfort and Breathe: 10 Strategies for Moving Through Grief and Loss in the Wake of a Break-Up

I love to match make for my friends, and occasionally this comes in the form of me logging into someone’s OK Cupid account while we’re hanging out and soliciting people for them. It’s often a lot easier to hit on someone if your friend is doing it for you.

One of my besties let me loose on her iPad and OKC profile last Fall and reported that she ended up getting a few dates from my efforts. Ironically, one of these dates ended up talking random shit about me to my friend. This date said she didn’t like “Bevin or Sarah Jenny,” another party promoter friend of mine, because we “seem happier than normal,” in a way that was about maybe we didn’t deserve to be happy all the time. (My friend, of course, stood up for me and isn’t going out with this girl again. When the date was informed that Bevin was the reason they were even on the date the girl about died.)

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Me and Sarah Jenny in November. I want to point out that SJ and I are both fat femmes who promote parties but we’re really different people and don’t look much alike. I want to believe this girl didn’t say we’re “happier than normal” because we’re both fat and maybe don’t deserve to be happy because of that. I think being happy in a society that tells you that you should hate yourself is a radical act.

I take this (and most) criticism from people who don’t know me with a giant grain of salt. This statement says more about the person than it does about me.

I’m sure a lot of people perceive me to be very happy, perhaps event “happier than normal.” Most people who are not my close friends or even my acquaintances only have a really limited view of my experience. On my blog and in public I tend to focus on the positive, joyful things about my life. That’s a choice I make to live in a positive framework. But, please do not mistake that I am living a happy 24/7 lifestyle because that is far from the case.

Right now, for example, I feel like dead flowers in a vase. My resting state is sort of wilted and sad. The person I had been keeping company* with for a few months in an intensely connected, spiritual, sexual, emotional, intellectual powerhouse kind of way broke up with me two weeks ago. I am heartbroken and focused on healing. My creativity has been sapped and I’m back in a familiar yet different place of heartbreak.** I contain a lot of conflicting emotions at once, which is a hard place to be in because it can feel like a war is going on. I love her and want her to be following her path which, right now, excludes a relationship. I also love us and want to fight for us.

In helping other heartbroken and healing folks out there, I made a list of strategies I am using right now to get through when the only way out is through. My friend Elisabeth told me last week, on a particularly bad day when I listened to too much Taylor Swift (she helps until she hurts), “Lean into the discomfort and breathe.” Much easier said than done, but I know it can be done because I am actually doing it right now.

I am also using things that have been helpful from the Heartbreak MFA post I wrote in 2010 and from Zoe’s Break-up Survival Guide that she wrote in 2007. At least all of this collective pain is turning into a break-up survival treasure trove.

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At Rebel Cupcake/Sweet Fox Mariah Carey tribute last week. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

1. Remind yourself that Feelings are temporary and Feelings aren’t facts.
I know feelings are temporary. I know this from a strong belief but also I know this because I am living Feelings on about a six hour cycle. If I feel really shitty right now probably in about six hours I’ll feel less shitty or differently shitty.

2. Be in the present moment.
When I can get into the present moment fully, I can sometimes distract myself. And sometimes I just really let loose and have a lot of fun, dance with my whole body or engage in a full gut laugh, or a full experience of art. But those in between times are a killer and the sadness seeps in.

I never knew how to “be in the present moment” (which sort of sounds like new age hooey, but it really works) until I practiced it. Here’s a beginner trick. Look around where you are and do an inventory of noticing things. Like when I’m walking/traveling my Feelings are the most dominant so I try to check in with my surroundings. “Look, there’s a cute bird,” “Look there’s a place where the wires look like they spell a lyric to a Bruce Springsteen song,” “OMG that sunset is painting the sky full pink and orange how beautiful.”

3. Stick to the plan even when you don’t feel like it.
Making sure I have plans outside the house with at least one other human and at least once a day has been crucial. I work for myself by myself, my beloved roommate has been on tour this whole time, so I can get really lonely, especially because of that void left by the person you used to talk to multiple times a day. Even though sometimes these plans outside the house involve a lot of internalized kicking and screaming, faking it till I make it often means I end up having a great time and usually/almost forget about my heartbreak for several minutes at a time.

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During the entire performance at Rebel Cupcake last week I felt elated. I realized during the second act, “Good lord I haven’t felt bummed out in over a half hour!”

4. Name your feelings.
I’ve learned that Feelings just need attention sometimes in order to move through them. Being okay if I can’t name them at the moment and maybe just getting into the quality of the feelings. “Sucky” and “bummed” totally suffice in this category.

5. Take excellent care of yourself.
Going to the gym, doing all of the regular self-care work I usually do but treating it like my job is crucial right now. I actually have a really hard time eating when I’m emotionally distraught and I’ve been scheduling meals out with friends a bunch so that I can distract myself enough to eat. And at home I make sure I have V8 and smoothies and vitamins so I can just get something in there even when I don’t feel like eating.

Have you ever written out a list of what it means to take excellent care of yourself? Maybe now is a good time to start.

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The genius of Shane Shane. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

6. Doing whatever spiritual work makes sense to you.
I’m a really spiritual person, so much of these things fall into my regular self care, but some are special things that might fall into “treat yo self.”

Here’s a list of spiritual activities that help me:

Prayer
Meditation
Tarot reading
Astrological reading
Past life reading
Yoga
Meeting with a spiritual group
Doing rituals by myself or with a group***
Attending or listening to services (I don’t belong to a religion but appreciate spiritual wisdom in many forms and listen to services via TV or podcast by folks who preach positivity)
Going out to sit in nature and watch birds, the ocean, the trees or whatever
Gratitude lists (there is so much to be grateful for)

Tarot reading with Jacqueline. #babestagram #lesbianteabasket
Jacqueline reached out to me upon hearing about my break-up to offer her tarot services. We met up at Teany and now are blossoming a new friendship! Also it really helped me sort through my stuff.

7. Feel your feelings right now. Be a liberated hot mess.
There’s a lot of empowerment from feeling your feelings as they come. I’ve been crying a lot, wherever whenever, just to let it out, and thus have added to my old lady chic by stuffing tissues in my bra, every pocket and keeping my fancy hankies in all my handbags. I already did that hanky thing, it’s just more diligent.)

I’ve been very honest about my feelings to everyone. Obviously I’m a social butterfly, but the thing about me is that I cannot stand small talk. I also know how empowering it is to be honest about how you are and so I just let people know. Sometimes I soften the blow by making a joke out of it. (“This is my lot in life as a lesbian.”) But even though I soften it being real about my experiences helps me get through it. Authenticity is a very important value to me.

I’ve learned stuffing my feelings as a coping mechanism, hiding from them or doing that classic escapism, rebounding, just makes me have to feel them worse later. Feeling shitty comes with a late penalty. I’d rather just get the grief over with.

Sometimes I feel a little bashful about how sad and needy I am right now, but I know I have people who are safe spaces for it. Spunky has done a lot of watching me cry on google video chat when there’s nothing more to say. (Also, though I am wary about being an energy suck, I actually got a great compliment from someone about how positive I am being in my grief.)

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I was sitting like this eating with my friend Bridget before the party started and Hana walked in and said, “All I can see is tits and barbeque.” Tits deep in BBQ is one of my favorite things to be.

Reaching out for help has been great for me, and letting people who have capacity to lend an ear, text, dinner out come to me has been really successful. Using facebook filters has been a great way to all-call for this. Also, it’s nice to get sympathy from people (and I got a lot of sweet, supportive comments on the “I’m going through a break-up I can’t stop crying” post). That first day when I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without crying, my eyes were so puffy I could barely see, I was supposed to go to a dinner party. I debated going (especially since my ex had been invited so there would be all those weird “She was supposed to be here” realizations) but then I realized that this group of people is part of a spiritual work group I’m in, they support me, and if I had to keep running to the bathroom during Seder to cry they would get it. It turned out that it was a perfect distraction, and I didn’t have to worry about “sparkling” with these women, I could just bring my sad self.

It’s incredibly amazing how, if you learn how to receive, times of heartbreak can really show you how loved you are.

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Moment of woo before Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

8. Doing new things with your appearance.
I rarely wear my hair “flat” to my head because I like big hair. But I’m just trying a new thing because new things while I’m feeling intense discomfort help me feel better. And also there’s a lot of empowerment in reclaiming your body after a break-up. I am vaguely considering going all the way blonde.

9. Proceeding with unconditional love.
I used to play the victim role big time in my break-ups. Learning to acknowledge my loss without vilifying a person in it is a new experience for me. I am hurting, that is my truth. She can’t be in a relationship, that is her truth. I learned a lot from this relationship, including what it is like to really experience unconditional love and conflict from a loving place. I want that to be our experience in a transition place from sweethearts to whatever we’re going to end up being, whether that’s friends or Boston Friends**** or just people who were very connected once but don’t really interact anymore.

This is very difficult work, unconditional love. Especially when that’s not always modeled well, in families, in past relationships, even in the media. How often do you see exes who remain friends in popular culture? How often is it complicated? (Also, as an aside, I think we can all agree that Rayna and Deacon on Nashville are totally Boston Friends.)

My friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me today, “I hope you are being sweet to yourself and opening your heart to transformation.” That’s what I’m intending to do with this break-up. Transforming myself through love. I think with love all things are possible, even hope from a really sad place.

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10. Throwing yourself into a big art project.
This was mentioned in a previous break-up post, but this time around I’m combining my love for traveling in the wake of a break-up (my last one had me heading out on a cross country road trip two weeks later) and my love for consumptive art projects to get through loss. My friends Sarah Jenny and Avory of Hey Queen asked me to produce the decor for the “Queens of the Road” themed party this weekend the day after my sweetheart broke up with me. I thought it was a very serendipitous call to action and I’m knee-deep in hot glue, maps and glitter getting ready for this upcoming weekend.

*Our actual relationship status. Our previous relationship status was “dating or whatever” after I said, less than a month into it, “If we’re still dating or whatever this summer I want to go…”

**It’s sort of crazy how much I can open myself up to loving even more after every heartbreak! And then I feel hurt again when it’s over in a new and different, yet somewhat familiar way. It is a comfort to remember I got over this before, in bigger and worse break-ups, therefore I know there will be gifts waiting for me on the other end.

***A ritual I did recently, after I pulled a tarot card that told me I needed to exfoliate, was to rub my skin with oil, soak during a long, meditative bath, then took great fist fulls of epsom salt and scrubbed my skin invoking newness into my life. I rinsed off and smoothed it all out with lotion.

****My new friend Jacqueline gave me that expression for “More than Friends.”

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This is my “Know Your Own Strength” tattoo. Photo by Kelsey Dickey. Tattoo by Jason June. New year’s intention by me.

***
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2013-03-04

Big Changes for Rebel Cupcake / March 7 Move to Lower East Side / March 16th Yes Ma’am at the Mansion

First of all, both of the Rebel Cupcakes I produced in February got some great press. Check out the Time Out New York gallery from the NO PANTS NO PROBLEM Rebel Cupcake collaboration on February 14.

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Courtney Trouble was a dream to work with and is such a dedicated and talented artist. I’m so impressed by her Femmepire! Go buy all her porn!

Check out the QueerPorn.TV write-up and gallery of photos (NSFW link) from our special Courtney Trouble / QPTV collaboration on February 28th!

I spend a fair amount of my time working on creating body positive queer nightlife. I have been doing queer production work in cities since 2001 and had sort of given up on it when I moved to NYC in 2004 because it was so rough getting venues. Getting venues is still one of the hardest things about throwing events, but, like all things, experience and connections have really helped to move it forward. So is knowing how to embrace change and knowing when to catalyze it.

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Though I may appear to be just a Plus Size Party Girl, for readers of my blog you know I put a lot more thought and intention into everything I create. I’ve been producing Rebel Cupcake for almost three years (she turns 3 on May 6th, International No Diet Day) and I really love Sugarland in Williamsburg. It’s somehow both a nightclub and a dive bar, but better than that it’s wheelchair accessible and has a lot of nooks and crannies.

I’ve been hearing for years that Thursdays are hard for people and Williamsburg is hard to get to since the only train it’s on is the L train. This is why, when I was thinking about adding a second dance party, I insisted it be on a Saturday and somewhere in Central Brooklyn. (It was for these reasons that I started my new party baby, Yes Ma’am, in Prospect Heights, though now we’re moving to a bigger venue in a mansion on the Crown Heights/Bed Stuy border–more info below.)

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From the third Rebel Cupcake, July 2010! (We’re now on the thirty seventh!)

As with a lot of monthly parties, Rebel Cupcake has been flagging in the last few months. Not so much that a lot of people noticed, and there have been some special events that have off-set the flagging, but I could definitely see a downturn in the attendance. These two fancy residential buildings went up on either side of Sugarland, closing off the amazing outdoor smoking deck. The management changed at the bar, which was fine but then all the personnel changed, too. Then our resident DJ Bryan Black, who was such a great fit for the party, moved on, and nothing gelled yet for a replacement. I knew something needed to happen to shake up the energy for Rebel Cupcake to have her sparkle shine the brightest.

I did a lot of soul searching about it. Rebel Cupcake is like church to me. Queer performance and creating body positive/flamboyant space are both very important to me. We do a lot of woo, though mostly we just have a roaring, magical time together. One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten was that someone felt like Rebel Cupcake was the one dance party that they felt like they could be their most authentic self. That is exactly what I work to create.

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This was our first anniversary party in May, 2011. Photo by Amos Mac.

I’ve been spending some time getting to know the producer behind another queer party promoting machine, Boy Wonder Events, and we really have complimentary energy and skill sets. Emily is a genius at DJ curation and pulls a really eclectic queer crowd that is yet not that overlapping with my crowds. (I went to Hot Rabbit a couple of weeks ago and did three laps around the very packed club and found no one I recognized from my parties.) Maybe it’s because Boy Wonder is mostly in Manhattan, but it did make me think that if I got to keep the cabaret aspect of Rebel Cupcake that was so important to me and collaborate on all the other details with someone else it would breathe new life into the party.

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Me and Emily, photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

So, Rebel Cupcake is shacking up with Sweet Fox, the Boy Wonder Events’ Thursday party. First Thursdays of the month at Lit Lounge, a performance space in a sultry basement on the Lower East Side. Accessible by three different train lines (the 6, F, and L) and it all starts on this Thursday, March 7th.

Like all great domestic merges, we bring different things to the table. Sweet Fox brings some awesome drink specials ($5 Bud/BL, $5 Foxhounds, $10 Beer + Whiskey Shot, Late Night Happy Hour 130-230am), great DJs, and Rebel Cupcake brings the flamboyant performance and cupcakes. We’re compromising on the go-gos and alternating our house photographers (from the talented Gizelle Peters to the equally talented Kelsey Dickey).

This month’s theme is UHaul (appropriate and very gay, no?) and I really hope the Rebel Cupcake regulars will welcome these changes and bring the magical energy from our island in Williamsburg out to the East Village!

REBEL CUPCAKE / SWEET FOX: UHAUL

Thursday March 7th

10PM-4AM

$5 / $7 after midnight

At the legendary LIT LOUNGE: 93 2ND AVE @ 6th Street, Manhattan, NY
(F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Astor Place, N or R to 8th St, L to 1st or 3rd Ave)

REBEL CUPCAKE: a flamboyant dance party for all shapes & flavors! WINNER of Go Magazine Awards for Best Emcee (Bevin) and Most Eclectic Crowd!

And SWEET FOX, the Lower East Side queer dance party with flamboyant go-gos and a dreamy basement performance space. We’re celebrating all things UHAUL !!

Performers:
Molly Equality Dykeman
The dykiest performer I could think of for the UHaul show! She’s so hilarious. Photo by Anya Garrett.
*Molly Equality Dykeman
Security Guard at a public school by day, Poet and Comedienne by night

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Photo by Courtney Trouble.
*Fancy Feast
Our in-house Stage Kitten brings Burlesque!

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*DJ LADYLYKE (Stiletto) & DJ MITCH FERRINO (Monster/Hot Rabbit) spin dance beats all night to keep you moving!!

Find the rest of the info on the Rebel Cupcake page. Pre-cruising on the Facebook event.

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As if one big change wasn’t enough, Yes Ma’am is moving to a bigger location! We love our art gallery in Prospect Heights and will be doing some special events in the Summer at that space, but we’re stoked to get into this historic mansion on the Bed Stuy/Crown Heights border!

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Me and Nicky (co-producer) and Hana (in the corset) who runs our door for Yes Ma’am. Photo by Courtney Trouble.

DJ Average Jo will be spinning at the landing of this amazing staircase! We’ll have a dedicated dancing room, a dedicated room for chatting and drinking and who knows what will happen with the middle room.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Yes Ma’am.

Come on out Saturday, March 16th!

10PM-3AM Dancing * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
CASH BAR
375 Stuyvesant Ave @ Decatur, Brooklyn, NY
Bed Stuy/Crown Heights border (2 blocks from Utica Ave A/C train)

More info on the Yes Ma’am page and on our Facebook event!

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Yes Ma’am.

2013-02-15

FAT SEX WEEK: Seven Ways To Be a Good Ally to Your Fat Lover

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work.)

I’ve been asked by people on different ends of the fat lover spectrum about advice being a good ally. From the “My lover doesn’t see how beautiful she is and won’t have sex with the lights on,” to the “My lover uses the term fat to describe themself but I’ve always thought of that as a derogatory word… isn’t it?” For FAT SEX WEEK I’ve highlighted some of the best ways to be a good ally to your fat lover.

This is all from my limited perspective, you should obviously be in good communication with your lover to find out what works for them and how they operate in the world. Communication is an essential sex toy!

This advice applies to folks of all sizes, not just thinner folks partnered (in all the myriad ways one can partner) with fat folks. And a lot of it is good advice for sex in general, regardless of whether or not your partner is fat.

1. Adopt the mindset that nothing about your partner has to change for them to be worthy of sexual pleasure.

Repeat after me: All humans are worthy of sexual adoration exactly as they are.

Not after they lose X amount of pounds. Not if they wear specifically enhancing or minimizing lingerie. Not if they develop a sexual prowess beyond their years. Not if they downplay the amount of people they have slept with.

I know a lot of people who have confronted sizism their entire life hold off on moving forward with the things they want to do because they are waiting for some “perfect” moment when they’ve “lost enough weight.” You won’t enjoy sex more as a thinner person if you haven’t learned how to enjoy sex at every size you are.

As a lover/partner of a fat person, adopting this mentality regardless of whether your partner has is good modeling for fulfilling sex. Adopting this mantra will help you be a supportive and caring person to every lover you have regardless of size, ability, age, etc…

2. Clean fatphobic rhetoric from your vocabulary.

No body shaming (of yourself or other people). Don’t talk about other people’s bodies in terms of good or bad body parts. “This model’s body is so awesome because she has a flat stomach.” Try being value-neutral or positive about bodies and food. No obsessive diet talk. Don’t say “Good” food or “bad” food. Learn what it means to not use fatphobic rhetoric and then put it into practice!

Taking a selfie at a dive bar. #rebelcupcake
Be food positive!

3. Learn all you can about body liberation activism and the fat activist movement.

There are so many great resources out there about the fat experience and body liberation practices. You can get started with Charlotte Cooper’s Obesity Time Bomb blog, the incredibly It Gets Fatter project for fat folks of color, Marilyn Wann’s Fat?So! book and Leslie Kinzel’s Two Whole Cakes. Also my blog is a great place, too. The tag body liberation is a good one, as is fat activism!

You learning about body liberation activism and not having to be taught by your partner is awesome. And even if your partner isn’t into body liberation, you getting into it will still help you become a better ally to your person!

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Hana, happy fat person! Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

4. and 5. Treat your relationship like a golden corral and your lover like a wild pony.

My friend Heather uses this metaphor for relationships and I like it on a lot of different levels.

If you treat your relationship like a golden corral, you’re making it like a safe and wonderful haven from the world outside. The media and people are constantly punishing us for being body non-normative, gender non-normative, queer, broke, poor, whatever. Your relationship should be a haven for that as much as possible! Think about ways in which it can be a safer space. Maybe watch TV with intention (or don’t watch it and have sex instead), or mute diet ads, or whatever you can. Mindful practices go a long way.

And treating your partner like a wild pony is about letting them be themselves and exactly where they are at in their personal journies with their body. It’s hard to have a body. It’s hard to learn how to be a self-loving person. I’ve been doing work on loving myself and my body since 2001 and I’m still working on it. No one is perfect. Maybe you’re even further down the body liberation activist path than your partner. Accept where they are at and let them be a wild pony roaming around, keep the corral golden, and every now and again pet them gently with some body liberation love.

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Fancy Feast, happy fat person, serving that Paula Deen burger thing. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

6. Use affirming language for all body parts and especially body parts that are under attack.

I learned this body affirming practice where anytime you say something critical about a body part you immediately respond with an apology and a gratitude. “I’m sorry tummy for talking shit about you. I am so grateful to you for being so soft and comfortable.” Something like that.

I was thinking that if I was having a hard time with a part of my body it would be awesome for my partner to give it some extra TLC. Kisses, sweet talk, a massage, etc…

7. Be open to and positive about sexual accommodations for size.

One time I was in bed with a lover who used a strap-on harness with the base of the dildo on her belly. This is not the standard harness position, most folks have it on the genitals. But it made so much more sense for her body and my body, gave her a lot more leverage and control and was wildly successful.

I’m not sure if she came up with that accommodation herself or if she was taught that by another lover who had some fat sex tips up their sleeve, but I bet it was a revolution in her sex life and I was grateful for it. Being the kind of lover who can gently say, “Hey can we try it like this?” is going to set you up for success overall.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

Kitty Stryker (the swoon-worthy Femme I blogged about in the review for Lesbian Curves earlier this week) has some great Pleasurable Positioning suggestions in her Guide to Fat Sex. I especially love this methodology for making missionary style work:

Missionary position can be a bit difficult, especially if you both have bellies, as the partner on the bottom may feel smothered and the partner on the top might tire out quickly. There’s a few ways around this- one is to have the partner on the bottom wrap her legs around the top partner’s shins, meaning her legs are spread enough to make penetration easier and also encouraging the top lover’s body to press against her clit. Another way is have the penetrating partner sit back on their haunches during intercourse instead of leaning forward, therefore allowing some breathing room. If you’re the penetrating partner, support yourself with your hands rather than your elbows and lower yourself onto your lover’s body slowly. Finally the penetrated partner can put their legs over their lover’s shoulders for easier access and allows the bottom partner to push back against the top.

Ultimately, being a compassionate, caring, body affirming person will go a long way to being a good ally and lover to your fat partner(s)!

Stay tuned for more FAT SEX WEEK. Coming up this weekend and early next week, an interview with queer fat femme porn star Sophia St. James, a book review, and more!

The Miss Mary Wanna method dictates "take as many selfies as you want." #rebelcupcake
Fat selfies at Rebel Cupcake. Miss Mary Wanna says you can never take too many selfies and publish them all on the internets.

2013-01-25

How I Decided to Join a Gym

Up until October of 2011, I had never once joined a gym.* I debated for a long time joining the Bed Stuy YMCA before I took the plunge and I had a pretty detailed thought process that might help folks out there deciding whether to join a gym.

COST
There are a million gyms in New York City and they all vary wildly in how much they cost. In 2006 I was thinking about joining a gym because I wanted the benefits of an elliptical machine but I decided that buying an elliptical would cost me less than three months of a gym membership so I did that instead. I got a machine that was pretty good and $100 used on Craigs List. But when I moved to Brooklyn I no longer had space for it and had to let it go (and was able to sell it on CL for what I bought it for, thanks used marketplace!). I’ve also used the same logic before to buy home video workouts that I do enjoy but there’s something about the seriousness of going someplace to workout and using the nice machines and classes.

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Me and Hana at Brooklyn Pride.

What really pushed the decision forward for me was that the YMCA offers yoga classes and water aerobics. I love to swim and I love low-impact workouts and hadn’t done water aerobics for years. I figured at $45 a month** it was worth the membership if I attended three classes a month, since the NYC street value of a yoga class is about $15 now and water aerobics is impossible to find outside of a gym. Also the Y offers financial aid for folks who qualify.

It was helpful to me to determine the value in a realistic timeframe. Before I joined the gym I was going to yoga 2-3 times a month (with desire to do more but not the cash). It was not realistic to say I was going to go to the gym three times a week when doing the cost analysis because that’s not where I was in my fitness lifestyle at the time. I wasn’t trying to get “wishful thinking” value out of the gym, I was trying to see how it fit in financially with my lifestyle at the time. (Now that I am a member I often do go three times a week.)

FACILITIES
With the value factor figured out just from the classes available at the YMCA, I was leaning towards it. They had a member drive in September 2011 (with no joiner fee) and I went on a Saturday and took a tour of the facility. I really recommend letting people “sell” it to you, even if you’re already pretty sold because you’ll find out even more about the place than you would on your own.

The Bed Stuy Y is dope! Lots of new equipment, a ton of rooms, childcare, an indoor pool, giant locker room and showers, the aerobics/dance/yoga studio is really nice. It’s also a community place with a lot of activities and seemed really unpretentious.

For me the facilities that were most important were a pool, plentiful ellipticals so I wouldn’t have to wait, and a rowing machine because I am rowing machine curious. Also, those recumbent bikes, I saw a fat person using one on a reality show once and I thought it seemed like a good bike alternative. It helped to have a list of what I was looking for and ask the tour guide to show me.

I discovered they had Bravo on the machines so it was a great way to get some Real Housewife action and I’ll be honest, sometimes I time my workouts with Shahs of Sunset.

There is also a “family” locker room for folks to use that might not feel comfortable in either gendered locker room. Most of my pals on the trans spectrum who work out there feel okay in one or other of the locker rooms but one time Glenn Marla and I had a really frank discussion about being fat and gender variant folks who work out at the Bed Stuy Y with the Membership Director. I had a really positive experience from that conversation and I think if folks have questions about multi-gendered folks using the Y’s gendered facilities they would feel comfortable talking to her.

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Singing Father Figure at a Fuck You Dad Father’s Day Event last summer.

GYM CULTURE
I think the culture of the people is so important to whether you and your gym will be compatible. I researched the culture of the Bed Stuy Y very diligently. The biggest thing that influenced my opinion was how many great Yelp reviews it had. Yelp, and other consumer review websites, can really give you insight into the culture of the place.

There were a lot of things that made me hate the idea of going to the gym. Not the least of which is being a fat person exercising. I don’t love to exercise but I do love how it makes my body feel and it is essential to my mental and emotional health. I need my exercise to happen in a fat positive or at the very least, fat neutral, environment. I combed the Yelp reviews and interviewed my friends who went there about how many fat bodies were working out and what it was like. Other than a slew of diabetes prevention program vis a vis weight loss flyers (which thankfully does not have a targeted fat body on it, the person’s face is thin-appearing), the focus of the gym environment there seems to be on fitness rather than weight loss.

On the other hand I would never consider the NY Sports Clubs because they specifically use fat hate speech in their advertising, which is gross and tells me everything I need to know about their culture!

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Damien goes to my gym.

I have heard about “cruisey” gyms and I also can’t stand the idea of someone hitting on me while I’m working out or anywhere close to about to work out. I’m not wearing make-up, my hair is sloppy and I’m in a comfy gym outfit. My mind is anywhere but on getting dates. I like that my gym is not cruisey at all and every now and again I get compliments on my leg tattoo when I wear a sweatskirt and my hair even when it’s all riled up and ridiculous from the pool. But they are nice compliments and not sleezy.

I’ll be honest, one time I saw a really hot queer working out on one of the weight machines and I briefly considered introducing myself and then I remembered by staunch opposition to gym cruising and decided to “let it begin with me” and trust the Goddess that if I was meant to meet this person they would end up crossing my path at one of my parties or something.

PALS THAT GO TO THE GYM
One of the biggest factors that went into it was whether or not there were folks I knew at the gym. I thought I would really need a buddy for those first few workouts to help me get over my intimidation at being a gym newbie.

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Glenn Marla is my favorite gym buddy. We aqua jog!!

It turned out it was really hard to schedule so I just started going on my own, but it was an incentive. It also gets me to go to some of the classes more when I meet up with a friend for a “good decisions date” where we attend a class and then gossip in the steam room afterward. But you can’t gossip too hard because basically all the queers in a 2 mile radius go to this gym. At any given time I’ll see a famous self-identified trans queer rap artist working out or a queer performance artist pal in the locker room.

The last 15 months at the Bed Stuy YMCA have been pretty boss and I am looking forward to getting pals to come with me to check out the other YMCAs in town. I hear the Vanderbilt YMCA is “so nice you never want to leave.”

*For awhile in the mid-aughts I worked out at Curves but I don’t think that counts as a gym.
**The Bed Stuy Y went up to $47 last Fall but still remains worth it.

2012-12-06

Queer Fashion Guide to Buying A Stylish Hat, A Guest Post by Nicky Cutler of Goorin Bros.

One of the most popular blog posts in 2010 was my Queer Fat Femme Guide to Butch Fashion where I just listed all the things I like to see on a masculine-of-center human being and I think it worked well in terms of inspiring more queersexuals to try out a two-toned cowboy boots.

I’ve been noticing how I respond to hat-wearing queers and it is usually pretty positive, so long as the hat fits well and works well on the head of the person wearing it. Often I notice that if the hat is a bad fit or shape for the person it kills the whole look. So I decided to ask my pal Nicky Cutler (co-producer of Yes Ma’am) who works for Goorin Bros. what to keep in mind when purchasing a hat.

This advice goes for folks of all genders, though I am presenting it with a special dedication to those dapper gents who wish to take their outfits to the next level. Omigoddess, a good hat. Swoon.

I love Goorin Bros. for their multi-gender styles and versatility. Their hats go up to XXL and fit big heads with big, thick hair like mine!

Thanks to Nicky for their exhaustive, empowering advice!

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Nicky Cutler, guest blogger and Goorin Bros. merchant, wearing a fedora.

Here are a few things I always ask my customers to keep in mind when shopping for a hat:

1. Have in mind what is most important to you, fashion or function?

2. What purpose is your new hat going to serve? Formal evenings, casual outings, date nights, apple picking or versatility?

3. Have an idea of shape (i.e. fedora vs cadet vs flatcap) that you envision yourself in, but then keep an open mind to try different styles.

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Yaz in a flatcap selling Victoria on some wine and a fancy floppy for Winter at the Goorin Bros. sample sale in Brooklyn.

4. For Fall and Winter, I always ask my clients about their wardrobe, but also other accessories they wear. Sometimes the hat is the last of their purchases so it is important to match the hat to their accessories (and not necessarily to their coat). No one likes to look like a crayon. Matching color of hat to the coat can be overkill. Make choices that show contrast. For example: a black peacoat looks professional and clean with a grey scarf, black leather gloves, and grey low profile. Or sometimes matching the hat to their shoes work too! Whiskey color shoes, black trench, and whiskey colored fedora.

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I totally went for this floppy for the Winter. I love that it looks like a fancy sun hat but is really warm, the brim can be popped up and it is tall enough that doesn’t violate my pompabang.

5. Dont ever model a hat to something you’ve seen in a magazine. Hats are like any other type of clothing, not all shapes will look great with all faces. Have an idea of style, but try different cuts and fabrics that might suit your shape and coloring better. For instance, the pinch on a hat should echo your jawline. More of a pinch and less of a brim, would be more suitable for a person of a narrow defined face. Less of a pinch or a wider brim hat would work well with a rounder face. There are always exceptions, of course, depending on attitude and what you feel you want to pull off.

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Tuck Mayo models a fedora.

6. If you cut and grow your hair out often, your hat will fit differently. If you’re planning to have a major hair cut, wait until after to purchase your hat to make sure it fits you nicely for right now. A haircut can sometimes mean the difference of a half- full size. With hats, as in many things in the queer world, size definitely matters!!

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Hana Malia effortlessly modeling a cloche.

7. Location where you will be wearing the hat the most. If you’re traveling from out of town, perhaps you live in Florida but are shopping in Boston in December. Chances are most of our choices will be heavy wools and fabrics that may not be comfortable to wear in hot humid weather. Make sure you choose fabrics that are suitable for your climate.

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Victoria modeling a straw cloche. Foxy, right? Great for warmer climate Winter styles.

8. Is your hat a fashion statement? Need to pair it with a specific dress or suit? Bring in, take a picture of, or wear your attire to the shop and try different looks. Different hats can change the entire look of just one outfit. For example: Jeans and a t-shirt paired with a fedora is fun and playful… maybe for going to a casual get together. But the same jeans and tshirt paired with a cadet = everyday casual dress for getting from point a to b in the big city.

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Glenn Marla in a cute cadet!

9. Make the hat your own! Personalize it – Add feathers or hat pins… Wear the hat – Don’t have the hat wear you!

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10. Set aside time to dedicate to picking out your perfect hat. Put trust in your merchant’s suggestions. Have fun and experiment! Play around. Examine the possibilities of the particular hat choice with fit and placement (i.e. tilt on the head, brim down or up, etc.)

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11. Don’t be a afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

I especially echo #11, stepping out of your comfort zone is really key style advice. Goorin Bros. hats are made in the USA and Goorin generously sponsored the 90210 trivia contest at Rebel Cupcake in October! Thanks Nicky, thanks Goorin!

For blog sponsorship opportunities, email queerfatfemme at gmail!

2012-12-05

Brooklyn! Two Great Parties This Month AND An Incredible New Year’s Eve Bash!

Dear Readers, I’m back from California and have THREE really fun events in the month of December!

Yes Ma’am, Saturday, December 8th

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Me, DJ Average Jo, and Vicky Sin, our go go for the first Yes Ma’am.

The first Yes Ma’am was a wild success! It was so fun. The chatio was filled with folks meeting and mingling, the dance floor was popping.

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Our bar staff setting up.

At the end of the night everyone started chanting “One more song! One more song!” DJ Average Jo was on FIRE. The bar sold a steady stream of the Yes Ma’am punch and I am experimenting with some new concoctions for next month to try to ease the hangover. I’m 33, these things matter to me.

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The chatio. Full of queers! My heart burst.

We had the New York Toy Collective tabling and this woman who was cleaning up from the event before Yes Ma’am said to me, “So, really, what kind of party is this exactly?” I assured her it was a dance party and for queers sex toy tables are really no big deal and not neccessarily indicative of some kind of orgy happening at any second. I mean, sure, sometimes but not always.

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The New York Toy Collective pack n plays are so soft, and each is handmade by queers in NYC! Way softer than Vixskin.

Here are the details for this weekend! I hope to see you!

Saturday, December 8th, 2012 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham, Nicky Cutler and DJ Average Jo Present
Yes Ma’am
10PM-2AM Dancing * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
CASH BAR
886 Pacific Street @ Washington, Brooklyn, NY
Prospect Heights (2 blocks from Clinton/Washington C train, 5 blocks from 2/3 to Bergen)

More info and accessibility notes on Facebook.

Also, we’re doing a Yes Ma’am New Year’s Eve party on 12/31/12 (obvs) and the tickets will be $15, with a champagne toast and lots of swanky additions to the Yes Ma’am roster. Stay tuned here for information, but it promises to be swanky, unpretentious, fun and just licentious enough to be epic.

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Rebel Cupcake, Thursday, December 20th

This month’s installment, being so close to my birthday, is encouraging folks to bring their Muppet flamboyance hard. It’s also on the last day of the Mayan calendar, when it is predicted that we will shift to a more humane civilization. I think Rebel Cupcake is the best way to celebrate that!

On the (expanded because I’m feeling indulgent) performance roster this month:

Kit Yan
Kit Yan, playing Rainbow Connection on the ukelele.

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Ariel Speedwagon, in her third holiday season Rebel Cupcake, with a tribe of holiday unicorns. (Ariel is pictured in the center of the photo next to me, with the Menorah bling.) Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

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Damien Luxe, performing the end of the world alphabet. Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

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Abby Fantastic, fresh burlesque bottom to the Rebel Cupcake stage. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

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Miss Poison Ivory, back to the stage, bringing a fallen angel act. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

All this and gourmet cupcakes!! All the info is as follows (and on Facebook for pre-cruising):

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake 32: Muppets @ The End of the World
10PM-2AM Dancing; show 11ish * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
Late night dancing til 4a
Sugarland: 221 N 9th St @ Roebling, Brooklyn, NY
(3 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)

*Sugarland DJ Bryan Black spins slow jams & riot grrrl favs to get you going, dance beats all night to keep you moving at a house party level–perfect for dancing and mingling!

*Kelsey Dickey is our photographer and excited to decorate your facebook page with antics from our wild photo booth! The photos are up on our group page–join!
http://www.facebook.com/groups/110847398949000/

*Check out Rebel Cupcake TV by Arsenal E., the Rebel Cupcake Videographer! http://www.youtube.com/user/rebelcupcakevideos

*Hella foxy Hana Malia, our stylish and charming door captain.

*Stage Kittening this month: Fancy Feast.

Suggested dress: Muppet chic, Miss Piggy, Fozzie the Bear, Beaker, Kermit. Remember, Rebel Cupcake is the place to wear that outfit you have no other occasion to wear. Bring it. It’s the end of the world as we know it (as predicted by the Mayan Calendar).

We’ll have chairs out during the performances and there is a lot of seating available in grottos and at the bar. This is a great party to be loungey and social or dancey. The show will be over by midnight so earlybirds can make it home–the show is about 30 minutes long.

As always, free gourmet cupcakes while they last! Morgan Hart is our Cupcake Princess.

Accessibility notes: The stage area and bar are wheelchair accessible. Coming into the venue is a little narrow but there are no stairs to enter or to get to the main seating area for the show. Lots of street parking available. (Please let me know if you need any accommodations!)

2012-07-31

Rebel Cupcake TV!

I know most of my readers aren’t in Brooklyn. I also know if they are, many of them are like comedian Kelli Dunham and refer to 11 PM as “The middle of the night.” I’ve excitedly had the last few installments of Rebel Cupcake videotaped and edited by the talented Laura Delarato and I thought in my absence I would leave you with a few episodes to watch!

CLASSIC ROCK CUPCAKE!

The witchy lesbionic magic of Nath Ann Carrera. This performance gave me chills–the second song, especially, a gender variant black mass.

I saw the full-length version of My Wife’s Ass last week and it was extremely raw and beautiful. An exploration of fat sex, love, embodiment and life in a fat-hating society. Here is a tiny touch. Also you get to watch Hana Malia boss the audience and Glenn Marla be fetching.

For some reason the Classic Rock Cupcake Miss Mary Wanna performance is being blocked by you tube. While that’s getting cleared up, enjoy her majesty from April’s Fire Sign show!

2012-07-17

Rebel Cupcake on Thursday! Sarah McLachlan Tribute Show Next Week! Queer Memoir Decades, too!

July is a fun month to be a queer New Yorker! I’m doing some really cool shows and I’m excited to tell you about them.

First, as usual, is Rebel Cupcake! A couple of RC regulars asked me to do a Classic Rock Cupcake, so here it is! Thursday, July 19th at Sugarland, 221 N. 9th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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Nath Ann Carerra is doing Fleetwood Mac’s “Sisters Of The Moon” and the psychedelic gender variant black mass chanting number “Coven In Charing Cross” by Coven. “It’ll be a thematic 60’s psychedelic lesbianic occult whirlwind,” says Nath Ann. I’m so thrilled!

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Glenn Marla and Hana Malia have been preparing for their upcoming theatrical piece “My Wife’s Ass” and will present a dance excerpt from it. “In a tale of the bravery and imagination required to fall into fat love, My Wife’s Ass explores agency over and fear of the fat queer body, the ‘headless fatty,’ unabashed consumption, ‘fat panic,’ the backlash against gender non-conformity, and how the ‘war on obesity’ is experienced at street level.”

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Photo by Patience Owens

And Miss Mary Wanna, the reigning Miss Rebel Cupcake, and just general sex-pot shimmy queen is turning up to strut her stuff to classic rock.

More info at the Rebel Cupcake page. Pre-cruise on Facebook!


On July 23, a Monday night, I am performing a lesbolesque interpretation of Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession.” My act is based on a tie die bandanna I bought at Michfest in 2001 and about Femme identity.

The entire show is a queer performance art tribute to the album Fumbling Toward Ecstacy, with each track on the album represented. It is truly a one of a kind show that should not be missed.

Check out all of the info at the Facebook invite (along with clever performer bios).


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July 29th, dangerously close to when I leave town for three weeks, I am reading a chapter from my memoir at Queer Memoir: Decades. The show is part of the Fresh Fruit Festival and is going to be really fun and awesome. I hope you laugh at the memoir chapter because it is meant to be a funny tale of sex between queer generations.

https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/9693308
use code “MEMOIRIST” to get ten dollar tickets if you buy at least two.

2011-10-16

Solicited Advice: Fat Girls In Your Bed/Fat Girls on Your Arm

I love giving solicited advice. I borrowed an advice request from Taueret (AfroTitty over on the Tumblrzzzz) and gave the following advice.

Dear AfroTitty:

hi you ARE sexy but i also have a real question for your queer bodypositive self. i’m talking to this girl who is cute and awesome and also fat, which i think is hot. what do i say when she says she says she’s fat in a sad way? like we just met so i think it’d be creepy to be like hell yeah girl and it’s awesome but also it feels wrong to say no you’re not when i LIKE that about her and there’s nothing wrong with it! help me be sensitive i have no people skills

sundubu

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AfroTitty at Hey Queen.

*Note from Afrotitty: I got this question a couple days ago and my brain has been a little occupied with navigating the new addition to my personal pronoun roster, so I decided to pass it on my fat comrade, Bevin [QueerFatFemme.com] who is also an expert on getting fat girls into your bed/arms*

Dear sundubu:

Thank you so much for your compliment about Afrotitty. She IS sexy.

I am Afrotitty’s friend and co-worker at Re/Dress NYC and I am also a queer body positive identified person. Congratulations on talking to an awesome cute fat girl! The thrill of someone new and rad is really among one of life’s best feelings.

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Door queens at Hey Queen! Hana on the right looking ferocious!

Also, go you for coming from a body positive and fat positive space! Fat is awesome! Fat is also a loaded word with a lot of stigma around it that many people do not find empowering. When I say “Hi Fat friend!” to my pals they know I am saying Fat in a way that celebrates and takes back that word. Body empowerment is special and bonding and I find this like the verbal equivalent to a loving belly bump greeting.

I had a really interesting wake-up call recently when my new girlfriend said “You’re not Fat!” to me when I was talking about my fat. I was like “Uh, yes I am. This is my identity and a big part of my politics.” She has dated lots of Fat Femmes but not a Fat Femme who loved her body and had body politics. I had to remind myself to have compassion for her in the journey to understanding the body politics I have been working on for over a decade. She loves my body and is very vocal about it, but sometimes it’s odd to see someone have that visceral bad reaction to the words I throw around because I am used to being in my radical fat queer communities.

That said, remember when you thought Fat was a disempowering word and maybe you weren’t okay with it? If you can put yourself in that position it will enable you to have some compassion for the long journey your cute awesome fat crush is only just beginning. That is IF she chooses to begin it. Lots and lots of folks on the fat spectrum learn about body positivity and don’t choose to love themselves. This is really difficult work, loving yourself and your body in a world that is hostile to all bodies. Stay open and compassionate to the fact that she might need to come around and might never come around.

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Nogga and Topher at Hey Queen!

In the meantime, you can gently tell her when she uses the term Fat in a derogatory way or is engaging in body shame (or looks at you in shock when you use the word Fat in a positive way) that you think that ALL bodies are valuable and that Fat is an empowering word that describes your body (or if you are not Fat, describes bodies you find attractive and worthy). Also, it is really helpful for people of all bodies to get compliments.

Also, I want to give you some extra support around learning how to be sensitive in interpersonal relations. It is hard! I am a loud, bold, high intensity person and often I have really flunked at sensitivity. But just *wanting* to be sensitive is a good first step. It’s a lot of work to learn and I am still doing it.

So, anyway, sundubu, I wish you the best of luck with this cute awesome fat girl and I hope you get really well laid.

xoxo,

Bevin

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Me and Princess Tiny and the Meats at Hey Queen.

2011-10-05

Mailbag: Can I Meet Single Hotties at Rebel Cupcake?

Hi Bevin,

I happened to come across your blog and find it fun. I’m average weight but queer. I am interested in attending one of your Rebel Cupcake parties. Do you have a mailing list that you can add me to?

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[All photos by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake. These are from the John Waters Rebel Cupcake on September 9.]

I have another question and am a little embarrassed to ask it but here goes… Do you get at least a few unattached butch women showing up to your parties (and I mean very butch)? I don’t know how to meet these kind of women and they’re my favorite.

Thanks,

[Name Withheld]

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Diana, AfroTitty and Bev.

Hi [Name Withheld]!

Thanks for your compliment about my blog! Rebel cupcake has two ways to stay in touch–there is a Facebook group (if this link doesn’t work search for the group named, aptly, “Rebel Cupcake”) where you’ll be automatically invited to each event and a text list where I text you once a month and remind you about the party. The text list gets in for $2 off the cover price to all of my events.

As for your question about unattached butches, the thing to know is lots of the folks in the queer community, while they may present masculine of center, don’t always identify as butch. You might find some of them attractive if you like butches but it is always best to let other folks tell you their identity preferences instead of assuming. I met my GF at Rebel Cupcake and she is not butch identified. But she looks and acts like a fag, which is how I like my women.

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This is the John Waters quote I wished I had used in the pool in Atlantic City.

Folks all along the gender spectrum and body spectrum find a home at Rebel Cupcake.

Also lots of other folks met their sweethearts at Rebel Cupcake (butch or otherwise). So yes, lots of unattached folks but it is a really low-pressure easy environment and not explicitly creepy or cruisey in a non-consensual way. Sometimes I poll the audience during the show to ask who is actively looking for action. I once got scolded by a regular because I forgot. Anytime I am nearing the end of the show and it looks like I’m forgetting, please remind me! I love a gentle heckle.

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Rebel Cupcake is up for some awesome GO Magazine Nightlife awards. One is for Sexiest Vibe (what happens on the smoking deck stays on the smoking deck), Most Eclectic Crowd, Best Queer Party and I am nominated for Best Emcee. Anyone on the internet can vote, and voting is open until November 5th! Please vote for Rebel Cupcake!

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Look! It’s Rebel Cupcake favorite Bambi Galore! Rebel Cupcake is also home to lots of Femmes. And we encourage the wearing of sexy clothing and burlesque.

I think Rebel Cupcake is a great place to meet people regardless of whether you are looking for a sweetheart, a meaningful overnight relationship or just friends or meet no one and just dance (though usually I try to introduce myself to everyone who is there between 10 and 11 before the show starts, thus if you are there early I might meet you). The smoking deck is not very loud, it is easy to strike up a conversation, there are grottos to chill out in and the performance at 11pm is meant as a way for me to break the ice for you. PLUS the photo booth is a great way to stay in facebook touch with the folks you meet.

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Also Rebel Cupcake is really fun and it’s an explicitly body positive dance party which is not really common. Support the queer nightlife that supports you!

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(Sometimes there is a discount for wearing costumes but there is always discount for being on the texty list.)

And if you are really interested in explicitly Butch-identified extremely Butch and you mean VERY Butch women, I suggest the NYC Butch-Femme socials. Story dropping time–I know someone who went to those socials explicitly hunting for her future Lesband* and she totally found her dream Butch. I am not saying anything about how Butch anyone who goes to those events are because I haven’t been in a long time, but I bet if there is a VERY Butch woman really looking for the Femme of her dreams she would probably go to those. But I hope she’d also show up to Rebel Cupcake.

Hope to see you there!!

xoxox,

Bevin

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I look a little crazy in this photo but I feel it was in the theme.

*Lesband: Addition to the queer lexicography. Lesbian spouse who is maybe not all the way husband identified. My friend Lauren and I came up with this when we were in college and I was exploring my new lesbian identity and wondering “HOW DOES IT ALL WORK???”

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