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

2013-04-15

Cupcake Cabaret, a Performance Celebrating Self Love at Stonewall, 7PM on Thursday, April 18th

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.

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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!
[http://www.ivanecoyote.com/]

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

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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.

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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.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey. (With my friend Sam, singing a little R. Kelly.)

You shouldn’t wait to RSVP on Facebook, you should do it now.

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.

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:

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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!)

2011-05-30

Video Post: Lesbolesque!

Filed under: Events and Announcements,Video — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bevin @ 9:21 pm

Darlings, if one were to name this period in my artist’s incubation (and I do feel as though this gorgeous queer Brooklyn artist community I live in is an incubator of sorts), I think this is the “Throw some glitter, make it rain” period. Thanks Ke$ha for that choice lyric. Also why are Ke$ha’s songs so embarrassing? I feel a secret shame for enjoying them.

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Throw some glitter, make it rain. Photo by Amos Mac for Rebel Cupcake.

A couple of weeks ago, in the span of two days, I performed two acts that incorporated glitter rain. They were quite spectacular, actually. Glitter rain really does add that certain something that just reading a piece to an audience or just taking off your clothes to classic lesbian hits misses.*

Anyway, I’ve been talking about my Lesbolesque act here on the blog for the last year or so, I thought I would get up a video of it. This is from the anniversary Rebel Cupcake party.

At the beginning of the video I talk about the June 1st Trans Women Belong Here benefit I’m throwing. All the info is on the calendar page. There are actually two of them, a Wednesday night dance party a cocktail party (with mocktails for those that aren’t drinking) at that really gorgeous
space I blogged about in this entry. If you’re in town come support!

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Throw some glitter, make it rain. Photo by Amos Mac for Rebel Cupcake.

*I’ve offered to go-go dance for my pals who run the Hey Queen dance party. I proposed me, glitter cannons and “whatever happens naturally.”

2009-12-07

No Bacon Left Behind

On October 11, 2009, I competed for the title of Miss Lez 2009. The pageant, founded by the legendary Murray Hill, is “a wildly provocative, insane, jaw-dropping alternative beauty pageant for queer womyn that blows the lid off of ‘gender representation’ and shines the spotlight on New York’s underground queer scene.” It was an honor to represent my favorite clothing store as Miss Re/Dress NYC. It was also really fun to use my art and my extensive wardrobe (I didn’t buy a single new outfit for the pageant) to express myself in this unusual performance art format.

Since the contest I have received numerous accolades for my performance and requests for the written version of my pageant platform. I don’t like to disappoint, and thus I present unto you, gentle readers, my pageant entry.

PLATFORM:

Each contestant was asked to come out on stage and deliver a short platform after showing off their outfit to the audience. My platform was well-rehearsed and proceeded as follows:

“My name is Bevin Branlandingham. My platform is No Bacon Left Behind. Bacon, like queers, comes in a myriad of forms. You have your standard pork bacon, middle of the road turkey bacon, and bacon from that magical Vegan paradise known as Morningstar Farms. Bacon is the symbol of our national queer meal, which is brunch, where we come together to nurse our hangovers as a community. If selected as Miss Lez 2009, I will ensure that No Bacon is Left Behind.”

It was my intention to be campy and to express my value for creating inclusive community.

I wore a satin Marilyn Monroe Dress with a bacon applique and a small bacon hair bling.

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(Last photo by Syd London)

SWIMSUIT

Swimsuit was the most nerve wracking part of the competition for me and Contestant #2 (we discussed this backstage), Becca Blackwell. I was coached by World Famous *BOB*, who gave me her official endorsement for Miss Lez. Having a schtick made it much easier to be on stage in a bathing suit.

I came out in a red cover up with sparkly eyelash fur that looks great under stage lights. During the first pass I took it off to reveal my swimsuit, a black with white polka dots one piece halter with red piping.
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First photo by Syd London

*BOB* said I should make sure I have matching cunty heels and purse. I chose a black patent leather clutch with black and white polka dot lip detailing from the Beth Ditto collection. I rolled deep in the Queer Fat Femme culture for my entry as Miss Re/Dress.

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As a seasoned burlesque performer, *BOB* told me that she believes that every woman on stage in a swimsuit should eat something. To tie everything into my platform, I reached into my clutch and pulled out a piece of very crispy (and very tasty) bacon, and ate it on stage. The crowd went wild.

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INTERVIEW

Backstage before the pageant I was practicing questions with my team of pageant moms, the Baconettes. I began every answer with “I’m glad you asked me that question, [insert name here]”. I learned a lot of good pageant tricks from watching Toddlers & Tiaras and Drop Dead Gorgeous. I changed again, this time into a red cotton wrap dress. I figured if I flubbed my question at least my cleavage would be a distraction.

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Photo by Syd London

Linda Simpson was the judge who gave me my question. She asked me if selected Miss Lez, if I would pose nude. I was genuinely glad she asked me that question!

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I answered that I was already planning to pose nude for Fat Bottom Boudoir and that I was using those images for my forthcoming Fat and Queer Erotica Anthology. The working title is “Better than Cupcakes: Queer Fat Femmes Kiss and Tell” and that the idea was born because I was tired of not seeing any genuine body or gender diversity on the covers of all of the standard Lesbian erotica anthologies.

I’ll also have you know that I have completed my promise and posed nude for the very first time in front of Molly’s camera. Whether I’ll publish the finished work will be determined when I see the proofs.

TALENT

I had an interesting time determining what my talent should be. I do a lot of performance, comedy, humorious essays, burlesque, drag kinging… However, I am most excited about Femmeceeing. So I did a short game show on stage. I narrated it by telling the audience that I was multi-talented, and my first talent was Femmeceeing. I then introduced my Baconettes.

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Photo by Syd London

My outfit was a red wiggle dress and my very favorite boots in the whole world, red patent leather with white leather gussets. (I had them custom made from a pair of boots I got on ebay, total cost was about $60 for the shoemaker and the boots together.)

I then told the audience that a talent of mine was being surrounded by hot femmes, which is true.

The Baconettes were Black Amethyst, Lola Dean and AfroTitty. All fresh bottoms on the burlesque scene. I really couldn’t have held it together as well as I did backstage without their femmetourage support!

Each held a box with a number on it. I had a bacon spinner in my hands made by my drag dad Johnny Kingpin, who also made the bacon pieces worn in my hair, on my clothes and on each of the Baconettes.

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I invited up an audience member to spin the wheel to tell their fortune.

It landed on Box 2 and the corresponding Baconette (Lola Dean) approached with the box. She opened it to reveal to the audience a box full of red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing. I made those from scratch (another talent).

I then took one of the cupcakes and put it in my cleavage for Anne (I mean, my totally random audience member) to eat. The crowd went wild!

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Photo by Syd London

I sent Anne back into the audience with a box of cupcakes for her to share with her section of the crowd.

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Photo by Syd London

Murray Hill had told us before the pageant that there were no rules and we were allowed to bribe the judges. I sent the remaining two Baconettes over to give them some cupcakes and cleavage.

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I also bribed Murray with a polyester tie (one of his passions) from Re/Dress.
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EVENING WEAR

The last section was evening wear. I went with another red dress, this one a floor length lingerie dress with a sheer back for the reveal aspect. I also upgraded my bacon hair bling to a bigger hairpiece.

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Photo by Syd London

The majority of my evening was spent backstage. It is a really fast paced show and we had 5 outfit changes. Since I was contestant #1, I never got to go outside the stage door to see what the other contestants did, but I hear everyone was absolutely fabulous. It was really fun to get to know the other performers and hang out backstage.
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Fw:The lineup
L-R: Miss Butch Mamas: KS Stevens, Miss This is Burlesque: Helen Pontani, Miss Choice Cunts: Sarah Jenny, Mx. That’s My Jam: Becca Blackwell, and me, Miss Re/Dress: Bevin Branlandingham.

After a long intermission, the judges’ results were announced.
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I was second runner up. That means if Miss Lez (Miss Butch Mamas) or the first runner up are unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties as Miss Lez, I will totally step in. My goal for competing was not to win, though, it was to be unforgettable. Considering all of the press for the show mentioned my platform, I think I did just that.

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Photo by Syd London

I was consoled by the fact that everyone performed really well, and apparently all of the contestants’ scores were apart by just one point.

Brian, my interview coach and Gay Boy BFF has charged me with becoming the Clay Aiken of Miss Lez.

My whole No Bacon Left Behind platform is really all about inclusivity and creating space in the queer community for the myriad of forms that queer comes in–just like bacon manifests in all different forms on our brunch tables. Undeterred by my loss, I will carry on my mission as Miss Re/Dress NYC. I styled a photo booth at a Brooklyn queer dance party (That’s My Jam), encouraging people to get flamboyant and do a little hipster cross-dressing. And this week I am producing Maxi Craft, a free community craft fair, giving many queer vendors the opportunity to sell their stuff. I’ll continue to do more community building using the title of Miss Re/Dress, and expressing my love for bacon every chance I get.

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In the That’s My Jam Photobooth by Bloodhound Photography

2009-11-08

The Lily’s Revenge

Friday morning I awoke from a really intense nightmare. An ex lover of mine had revealed herself to be a serial killer and was in the process of herding together me and a group of girls to slaughter, aided by a celebrity I follow on Twitter. I don’t have creepy violent dreams very often, but mornings like those I am totally grateful to wake into the groggy paws of Macy.

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In sharp and magical contrast, I spent the latter portion of my day watching Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge. If I could choose a perpetual dreamscape to have every night, it would be this play.

The Lily’s Revenge is part Noh play, part verse play, part vaudevillian theatric, part installation, part puppet theatre, and part dance, in a site-specific extravaganza. Using flowers as a metaphor for queer (meaning different, not specifically gay) communities, Taylor Mac, with six collaborating directors and an ensemble of more than 40 performers and musicians, tells the tale of a flower’s quest to become a manin order to wed its beloved bride. As the flower’s journey unfolds, it finds itself at the center of a revolution of flowers intent on destroying their oppressor, The God of Nostalgia. A radical experiment in “genre-squishing,” The Lily’s Revenge is a multidisciplinary pastiche exploring themes of homogenization of city, culture, and community, marriage and gay marriage agendas, and the role of theatre as a catalyst for action.

From NY Theatre.com*

I had been hearing about it for months since my friend Glenn Marla plays a Poppy flower. I was hesitant to go because, you know, 5 hour theater commitment, $35 price tag. But that’s only $7 an hour and I knew it would be an experience if nothing else.

And it was! About 20 minutes into the first act I decided even if the play began to drag I would be entertained by the costumes alone. Designed by Machine Dazzle, almost every character was coated in glitter, shiny fabric and tulle, the stuff of my wildest drag costume imagination. The make-up, too, was mesmerizing and glitterific. I told World Famous *BOB* that I wanted to live inside her wig (a giant pink orb full of pink lilies and butterflies), she said there was a guest apartment in there just for me.

The point of this blog piece is to get you to go see the show if you are in New York City in the next two weeks, (and therefore the costumes and make-up should be left a delightful surprise) but in case you aren’t, check out this amazing gallery. Everything on that stage is stunning.

While the show is technically 5 hours, there are three recesses, where they encourage you not to use your cell phones and be present. There is so much to do and so much interaction! I loved this video monologue (performed by many actors dressed like Radical Faeries crossed with Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and sea creatures) that told Taylor’s story and gave a good background for the inception of the epic show.

There was a Discussion Disco in one of the cast’s dressing rooms where you could dance it out, chat with fellow audience members, get your make-up done, write your hopes and dreams on cocktail napkins. You could go into this place called Context Corner that had all of the source materials for the show, as well as a computer hooked up with the wiki for Lily’s Revenge**. That was my favorite, as I fell more and more in love with the show with each act, I wanted to find out how Taylor came up with it.

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Photos from the real time slide show in one of the interactive intermission experiences. The bottom one is Glenn and Heather.

The story is endearing and romantic. It’s the kind of thing that has gelled for me all of the notions of romance and dating that have been floating through my consciousness for the last couple of years, how important it is to love the self first, how necessary it is to not allow yourself to be boxed into the standard narrative–in the play, bride and groom. It hasn’t undone for me what the last 20 years of romantic comedies have created in my tender psyche, but it arms me with ideas of how to combat those notions of success being finding a mate.

It is also a powerful reminder about the joy and truth in staying present. Probably one of the things that is important in living a full life is creating a fulfilling “here and now”. Getting to know yourself well enough that you can figure out what makes you happy and having the guts to do it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

I cried real tears several times, especially during the opening of the second act, when Taylor Mac sings a beautiful song on a ukulele. I hope one day there is a soundtrack.

Taylor Mac is beyond charismatic. I want to see everything he does on stage. There is an incredible boylesque number by James Tigger! Ferguson. And I had an immediate and enduring admiration and lust for Miss Bianca Leigh.

It gave me so much to think about as an event producer, performer and community organizer. I walked away with so much inspiration about what my shows can be and how I can interact with my audience and make my messages tangible. I am not a “theater” person by any means, but the friend who accompanied me is a playwright and said Taylor Mac broke every convention in the New York theater world. I was molested by a Sunflower.

You can buy tickets here. Experiencing this show is something I won’t soon forget.

*The entire review is worth reading, it tells the story of the experience of The Lily’s Revenge much better than I can.
**Also, if you are unable to go to this show, read through the wiki.

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