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

2012-09-05

This is What Happened for Bevin at the Femme Conference 2012

My story about the Femme Conference 2012 is completely informed by what it took to get there and my frame of mind. Thus, it begins with the epic journey.

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The Goddess was really on my side getting me to the Femme Conference this year. I knew it was going to be sort of bananas, having been on a road trip and off the grid camping for the 17 days prior to Femme Conference, stopping home for one night only to throw Rebel Cupcake: Lonely Girls (the periodic slow songs were a big hit). This is really a cornerstone characteristic about me, seeing possibility where other folks would see “too much” or “too hard.” Because the option existed to roll all of these travels together I decided to do it.

I had set-up travel arrangements, accommodations and timing before I left, but then one of my pals had to bail the weekend before we were to leave. I was trying to get in touch with our other travel buddy but couldn’t really do anything about it until I was on the road. While on the road Wednesday, barely back on the grid, I touched base with my other travel buddy and she was able to easily solve her conundrums without me, which seemed right. Cut her loose and maybe not go. It seemed like doing the whole Michfest/Rebel Cupcake/Femme Con plan could work if I didn’t have to stop to strategize but problem-solving made it feel too overwhelming and stressful.

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One sort of pleading/processing post on Facebook yielded a room to stay in and a ride (the ride part was hard because most folks I knew were leaving on Thursday). Then, at Rebel Cupcake, 1:45AM, just hours before we were supposed to leave I got a text saying my ride had a family emergency so I was again at square one in NYC. I decided to leave it up to the Goddess about whether and how I would get down there. (Here’s the other thing about this multi-leg travel lifestyle–I didn’t have a ton of money to throw at solving these problems.)

I woke up Friday and booked the only available mega bus to Baltimore ($25, leaving at 1:30) knowing I might not make it to the stop on time. I re-packed in light of taking the bus instead of a car, making some intense clothing and beauty product compromises for the sake of space. I headed out and had big re-thinking thoughts on my way to the subway station knowing I probably was going to miss this bus. I decided nothing worth doing isn’t worth fighting for, so I would head out in search of Femmes ’til I got a real “No” from the universe and not just me second-guessing myself.

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Spoiler alert–I made it to the conference. Here’s Emma.

I took a cab from the subway to the weird, block-long MegaBus situation on 42nd Street and was told that the bus I was looking for was already gone but to “stand at the back of the line.” I was actually pretty surprised when, an hour later, I was herded onto a half-empty bus headed for Baltimore.

The bus stop is not anywhere near Baltimore itself, it is somewhere in the suburbs. Given my waning cell phone battery life and the 90 minutes of public transit I would have to contend with, I took a $50 cab ride to the hotel. It was sort of ironic that the Amtrak ticket probably would have cost me about $75 if I had jumped on it during their fare sale. That was no matter! My pal Hadley was waiting for me at the hotel to grab my bag from the trunk and whisk me away to our hotel suite and offered me booze.

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Bridget and her alternative housing arrangement.

I saw from the car a few Femmes parading in party dresses and got a little nervous. In that about to jump into a new culture way. I’ve been in this culture before but it always makes me a little jittery. I like to think it’s nervous like stage fright–because your audience matters to you. It’s really special to peacock for other Femmes. Put on what makes you feel the best and admire others. For me it is not at all about Femme competition, it’s about how one piece of glitter sparkles on its own but how hundreds of pieces of glitter shine infinitely more brilliantly. But here at Femme Conference we’re shining for each other and it’s ablaze and beautiful.

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Miss Mary Wanna.

So, back at the hotel I put on the opposite of a party dress. My Aerosmith groupie realness outfit packed really small and didn’t require ironing, so it made the cut. I had my share of whiskey to take the edge off the travel and get a little silly. I was still a little nervous. I also needed to eat dinner and know that self-care is essential in the life of a conference-goer. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to get to everything that you forget to eat, sleep and take care of your basic needs.

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We picked up Emma, Jenna and Nomy Lamm from the hotel (ours was about a 5 minute walk away). Nomy’s keynote was on Friday so I missed it but I have heard the themes self-comforting and resilience come out of my chats with friends. We got sandwiches and had a sandwich caucus.

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Nomy and a wrap.

Another session I missed was “In Fierceness and Vulnerability: Deconstructing and Resisting Femmephobia.” Kim Crosby, the presenter, has made the powerpoint available online and it is incredible.

The evening event at Ottobar was the FemmeSPEAK spoken word night. It is such a blessing to have so many incredible performers at one weekend, which means the evening events are epically long. I missed the first few performers but I did get to catch the tail end of my roommate Damien Luxe‘s Exorcism piece, a shortened version of Heather Acs “This is What We Have,” and a featured set of Fran Varian, whose piece in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation is my favorite.

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Heather, performing. I was toting merch from her piece, a lavender tote that says “This is what we have.”

I felt so grateful to be on the floor and present for an actual anthem from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha called “Femme is For Free.” She is going to post it on her blog really soon, but the power in her voice and the cadence and the words. It was why I was there. In that. Sometimes poetry just breaks you open and Leah’s done that for me before and she did it this time.

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I also enjoyed Dacia Holliday‘s featured performance. There’s a great quote from one of her poems.

“…fem(me) identity means: I love as hard as I fuck, and I fuck as hard as I fight.”

(Thanks to Jessie Dress for catching that.)

Settling into the event I was so caught up in the sparkle that before I got to the front to really immerse in the words I was in the back just seeing people, trying not to talk when folks came up to greet me so as not to distract from the performances. It was awkward, since I was so excited to see folks and triumphant that I arrived but so hearing the siren song of the words that are spoken. I remember turning around and seeing this total BABE behind me and doing a slow creep looking up and down her outfit when I noticed her seeing me and I was like dang, I’m caught being a creepster!* There were BABES GALORE at the Femme Conference.

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I mean like, daaaaang. It was also the hair, Elisabeth has this amazing queer pompadour!

After the show was over we stayed and danced a bit. With no prepared DJ we were enjoying the grace of sound guy at the booth plugging in for us but at the mercy of folks’ iPhone playlists for tunes and a lot of La Roux happened. But it didn’t matter! We were in a frenzy of Femme on Femme adoration and swirling around each other was exactly what we wanted. (Of course, as soon as the Gossip came on Bridget nearly died of excitement, fans of the Lesbian Tea Basket know her feelings.)

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Jenna and Hadley.

After the dancing we retired to our hotel suite, me, Hadley and Emma, with a guest Nomy. We had some great conversations in the suite and even though I missed out on some intriguing invites.

“SLUT PARTY AT THE SKANK PALACE ROOM 256! Bring yr slutty self and somebody else’s slutty self too. Lingerie and lace encouraged but not required. Xo.”–Actual text from my phone.

But a ten minute walk is a long walk after a long day of travel at 1AM and with a full day of conferencing to begin at 9AM the following morning. So I just settled into bed with Emma (totally platonically unless you want to imagine something else but your imagination is without consent from me or Emma) and cruised Facebook on my phone until I fell asleep.

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Sleeping soundly.

The next morning we naturally overslept for the first workshop session, though Haddles was up and at em and out the door before me or Emma got to getting. We scrambled to make it to “Mean Girls” in the 10:30 slot, a workshop given by my friend Amanda Arkansassy (aka Lola Dean) who moved to San Francisco two years ago and her hair is long and ombre now, like happens to Femmes in San Francisco. Their hair gets long and ombre! It’s a thing! Not for everyone, but lots of them go long and ombre!**

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The workshop was great, but full of process because it had like 75 people in it and it’s hard to put all of what you need to talk about when debunking Femme competition and mean girl behavior into 90 minutes, and how to maneuver that with the people and space allotted. Also I had given up coffee not long before and was still trying to get conscious so I spent most of the workshop actively absorbing not participating. First we broke down the whys and then the hows and then we talked about how to heal it. By consensus we actually spent an additional fifteen minutes into the lunch hour finishing the workshop. Amanda’s blog has a really great write-up from the workshop, I encourage you all to go read it. I’ll be here when you get back.

Porch talk, isn’t that an adorable blog name? I love it.

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Afterwards we were going to get lunch. I sort of tagged along into two groups that became one giant group, all of us chanting about getting cheeseburgers. We went for a ten minute walk and then we found a restaurant and by group consensus missed the next keynote in favor of having a sit-down and not rushed lunch. Sometimes I find these informal get togethers, the social aspect of conference-going, to be the most valuable. We did a go around*** at the table and talked about what we wanted to get out of the conference. We made tender connections, Rachel offered to do a rap duet with me as I am dipping my toes into song-writing to create a theme song for Rebel Cupcake.

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On the way back to the hotel we were in a clump of ten and seeing the reactions of the Baltimorians on the street was amusing. At some point a young man asked me (towards the back of the group) “What is going on? Y’all are looking fine!” I just smiled and kept going on our mysterious, babely way. It’s really powerful to roll ten deep.

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We got back to the conference for Caucus time, since Jessie Dress was slated to chair the Fat Caucus. We began with 25 folks that then bloomed to easily 45 while we were doing the initial go around. I was getting a little bit diet-talk-squigged-out because the go-around involved where people were with fat activism. This incites some folks to talk about diet history but when I’m facing a room of so many people talking about diet history I feel overwhelmed and like I’m in a Weight Watchers meeting. I like talking about diet history in context of healing and solutions and strategies, and is ultimately what I prefer to get out of these gatherings (along with community and naming struggle). Luckily, our moderator noticed when the go around had taken fifteen minutes and not even gotten a quarter of the way through the participants and we moved on.

By group consensus we agreed to address fat and health first as a large group and several folks talked about struggles with being fat activists who were addressing health issues and learning how to approach exercise from a Health at Every Size perspective and how that is either effective for them or not. There were a lot of things said but I didn’t take any notes.

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Deeply babely. I didn’t take photos at the Fat Caucus, either.

We decided to break into mini-groups for the last fifteen minutes and I took the role of facilitator for the small group on desire. Having to come up with questions on the fly I just asked the eight or so participants in our group how they have been hurt or healed dating while Fat and/or Femme. We also expanded the topic to discuss what it is like to be Fat dating a not-Fat person. Fifteen minutes felt very short but was also really nice to get the tender tiny discussion to round-out (ha) the Fat Caucus.

Other small group topics were health/disability, race/class, inbetweenies, your size is not my size.

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After the caucus I was heading to another workshop when I was enticed to stop by and visit with Diana Cage and Jessica Halem, two brilliant comic babes and we sort of folded into the Cocktail Caucus. We discussed many important things, including bad dating behavior and our lives.

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I made the wise decision to head to my hotel room around 5:30 knowing I was performing that night and was leaving for the venue at 6:45. I had the room to myself for a brief rehearsal and got as dolled-up as I could before going backstage. I knew sharing the stage that night with forty people (for real) was going to mean cramped dressing room space.

FemmesWerq, the burlesque show, was four hours long. The upstairs of Ottobar is a little bizarre. It’s a rock venue, so there are the typical graffitied walls and a million penises.

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The author may have borrowed a sharpie and left her mark.

It’s like two floors and there isn’t a real bathroom, there is a toilet on a raised stage inside one of the dressing rooms. Peeing in a public space not in a stall is a recurring nightmare of mine and so I feel, having done it backstage at the Femme Conference, it’s one of those things that I will now have exorcised from my psyche or something. Hopefully. With 28 acts to wait through, we definitely were going to need to pee a couple of times.

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Watching Femmes rehearse waiting for my tech needs to be met.

My act was squarely in the middle of the show, right after the intermission we never had. Watching all of that incredible burlesque got me uncharacteristically nervous before performing. My Lesbolesque is highly earnest and hilarious, not the studied art of seduction so many other burlesque performers were putting up. Notable performers were Vagina Jenkins, Dr. Ginger Snaps and a third performer doing an homage to Femmes of Color burlesque. Each performer took a Black burlesque performer and performed an act in homage to her, and then after the three performed there was a slideshow. It was stunning, I am a longtime fan of both Vag and Dr. Snaps with renewed vigor.

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Backstage with Vag, addressing the performers.

My friends the Miracle Whips, a feminist performance group from LA did an incredible piece in homage to vaginas and the various wobegone fates we can have in them. UTIs, yeast infections/bacterial infections and period cramps. It was magical performance art and hilarious and I loved it and want to see it again.

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Me and The Miracle Whips.

Two words: SNAIL BURLESQUE. To Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”

Snail Burlesque
Photo by Nicole Myles.

Backstage before my act my friend Miasia and I had a moment. When I get stressed I like to pray and I find it is really helpful for me to pray before shows as I find creating and performing an act of spiritual connectedness. So we had a wonderful moment, the two of us, asking for guidance and letting the love in and having authentic and beautiful performances. Miasia, of course, killed it. She’s such a fox and an incredible belly dance performer.

My act was the Lesbolesque act I created for Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession,” track one from Fumbling Towards Ecstacy. It is about coming out, finding myself, and finding my place in the Lesbian Community through Femme and Queer. The Miracle Whips were my surprise lesbian back-up dancers and I have no photographs.

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More backstage ambiance with Cameron.

Afterward I played matchmaker with a friend of mine, made out with a date, potentially hit on a Femme from far away who understood I was hitting on her but I was leaving for my date so I wasn’t sure if she really understood, and reveled in the incredible Femme on Femme babely energy of the place. Everyone was a Femme that probably liked other Femmes and everyone was visible. After the final act the place erupted. Folks were leaving for the conference play party, hotel room numbers were being texted around, my very drunk friend tried to tell me how to get to their house for the after after party. But I had booked some alone time in my hotel room and my thoughtful roomies had left safer sex supplies on the pillow.

Emma

Things at the Femme Conference got wild on Saturday night and there aren’t a lot of folks I know who didn’t get action if they wanted it on that balmy Baltimore evening.

The next morning was rough getting to the hotel in time, especially because we had to check out of our hotel and pack our garments. Hadley, Emma and I had a really fun time and decided to get brunch to go so we could at least eat and watch the Femmes promenade. French toast is better with Femmes.

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I had a fifteen-minute power catch-up with Leah while she prepared for her workshop, “Femme of Colour Survivors: Badass Resilience.” I genuinely appreciate that our friendship is often made up of soulful connecting, 90 minutes at a time.

I headed to the “Beyond Classy: Working Class Femme Power” workshop facilitated by Blyth (who you may recall from her guest post on this blog). I think Blyth is just amazing and I also know that class identity is something I struggle with talking about, even though I am so open about the other intersections of my identity. The structure was very thoughtful. Channelle was the moderator, Blyth, Kirya Traber (an amazing spoken word performer), and Arti were the panelists. Each panelist took about fifteen minutes to tell their story about growing up poor or working class and how that intersected with their Femme identity. Then there was a Q & A for the panelists, and the last twenty minutes or so was open to the voices of working class or poor Femmes in the room to talk about how Femme had intersected with their class identity (I hope I am remembering that prompt correctly) and then finally, one word or phrase that was a takeaway of strength from their upbringing. (For me it was “Living on the edge.” Other folks said “Independence,” “Looking fabulous on a dime,” “Beauty pageants,” “Resilience.”)

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The crowd for the workshop swelled from the initial twenty to at least seventy folks, crammed in. Blyth was so overwhelmed she threw herself on the floor.

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Blyth passed around banana bread made by her grandmother and I called it “Working Class Femme Communion.”

Let me tell you, it was an emotional hour and a half. I learned new things about other peoples’ experiences but the stuff that was hardest was the naming of experience that was so much of my own. Like moving thirteen times before I turned thirteen. I had never thought about how that was about being poor or working class. And Chanelle called out experiences of internalized classism in a way that blew my mind.

I was really grateful I made it to the workshop and I have so much to unpack from it in my creative work, in my personal life. I am so grateful to Blyth for creating that space and so grateful to Arti and Kirya for being on the panel.

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Before the workshop got full.

Afterward was the second caucus time but I needed to get caucused with some Feelings cake and ended up spending some good time at the cafe next door to the hotel with some Femmes processing the workshop. The closing plenary was next where we talked about the Femme Collective and how the conference went. Did you know you can get involved on the Steering Committee for the 2014 conference? It is a bunch of work to make it happen and the conference is entirely volunteer-run.

The ride home was great. I was with Hadley and Emma and we got sandwiches from Charmington’s, which is now my favorite Baltimore haunt. It was a good debrief and I was so grateful I got to go to the Femme Conference and participate in this soul-opening, glitter encrusted experience.

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*The hilarious-we-became-friends-later-that-weekend post script to that is she didn’t notice me being a creepster, she recognized me from my blog so she was having an “OMG it’s Bevin!” moment while I was full-on checking her out. Hi Elisabeth!

**Side note, should I have ombre hair? Should my hair be tri-colored? Maybe I should do that instead of cutting it shoulder-length again? I know I’m a Brooklyn Femme but what if I go SF Ombre??

***Go Around is conference-speak for doing a round table of everyone’s name and some other information about them. Often/always at Femme Conference they involved Preferred Gender Pronoun, where you were from and something else related to the topic at hand.

2011-02-22

Get into it: Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February

My friend Jessie Dress is a miracle. Not only did she design that awesome redo of the fatphobic PETA ad, she starts some amazing projects to gather people around things she’s passionate about. Example 2: Co-founder of Austin’s Femme Mafia Chapter.

I present for your joy and eye candy her latest idea, Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February. It’s basically a community outfit blogging project, mostly by queer fat femmes and their friends and allies from different body types and sexualities. Jessie said, when launching it, “I want to see your hot ass! I want to see people wearing work clothes, or house clothes, or going out to dance clothes. I want to know where you got what you’re wearing, and what you did to make it fit your body and your life.”

I have been an almost daily contributor to the blog. I put all of my entries on my own tumblr, peppered throughout the month.

I participated for a few reasons. One, I am friends with Jessie and I like making her happy. Another was because my bestie Mackenzi pointed out to me when I was trying to do the math to afford* a Sweettooth by Cupcake and Cuddlebunny dress that I have more clothes than anyone she knows and many of those outfits she’s never seen. So it was an impetus to pay attention to what I’m wearing, take stock and purge some of my wardrobe.

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Shark dress. My first contribution.

I learned a lot from outfit blogging almost every day. It is really hard to get a full outfit picture taken unless you have friends who are willing to be patient with you. It also helps that I work part-time at a store, so on those days I got a fellow Shop Girl to help me out.

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The first time I repeated an outfit, but I remixed it with a different cardigan/tights combo.

I also learned not to put so much pressure on myself. One day I took a picture of what I was wearing and I suddenly understood why some celebrities only leave the house after taking a photo of their outfit. I thought my business casual outfit was flattering, but not so much in a photo. I didn’t love the outfit and I decided not to blog it.

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I think a creepy angel head belt is totally to opposite of business casual.

I watched my bouffant get bigger as time wore on for the busiest party/gig weekend of this month, from Rebel Cupcake on Thursday through Nerd Love on Monday. There was a lot of hair action.

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Right in the middle of that period of time, wearing my Femme Flannel outfit.

I contemplated posting my loungewear, but when I’m wearing loungewear I’m typically working or lounging, not messing around with a camera.

Catifabulous did a write-up of the project in the blog Sociological Images. Fatshion February definitely had some limitations in terms of the participants (namely, very few people of color and above size 24 folks), but I still think it was fun and gave me a fresh perspective on my wardrobe.

I liked looking at all of the different ways people wear their clothes and the stories they tell about them. I also like to know where people get their clothes and how much they spend on them. I included that info on my outfit blogs when I knew what I spent on something.

I never realized this, but I typically compose outfits consisting of one item that is pricier and many other, under $10 pieces. I also never noticed that I privilege jewelry that’s at the top of my heap, so I’ll wear the same four or five necklaces in rotation until I go hunting through the box/shelf/many jewelry organizer bags I have. Accessorizing is often something that is an after thought for me.

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My favorite outfit of the month is almost always for Rebel Cupcake. This was my ‘fit (except my sparkly pink heels) for RC: Erotic City. Also pictured, Mackenzi.

And it’s not too late to get into it! The Femmes and Friends Fa(t)shion February tumblr page explains how to submit!

*See, I work at a resale store and sometimes I make some store credit, so I rarely pay cash for my clothes. This makes a big difference in the life of the broke artist.

2010-02-11

Winter is Style Phobic

Yesterday my Femme friend Rachel posted to FaceBook that she doesn’t understand how to dress for snow and solicited tips. Femme Family Madam of Beauty, Bryn, responded “Snow = Femmephobic”. An FF Butch ally complained about snow being butchphobic because of the giant duck-like snow boots she is forced to wear.

Let’s be real–winter is just plain stylephobic. It’s a lot harder to be cute in the cold, what with all of the layering and the arduous task of putting on coats, gloves, hats, and special shoes just to leave your house. I grew up in California and didn’t experience my first real winter until I was 21. A decade later I’m still not over the novelty and annoyance.

I have come up with some ideas as to how to inject style and sass into your winter blah blah blahs for not a lot of money.

1. Get an accessory that can transition the everyday into glamour.

Your coat and accouterments are the first thing everyone sees on you. It’s also the one outfit you’ll wear every single day. Making it a good one is important.

This year I found a great way to transition 3 late fall weight coats (or California winter coats) to be really stellar and glamorous outerwear: a $10 Old Navy khaki trench, a getting sort of crappy houndstooth coat I was thinking of giving away and a mid-range mod print black and white coat. I bought a vintage fur stole* for $20. It wasn’t in fabulous condition, so I felt totally fine stitching it up, closing it with a pin and throwing it over any one of those coats. Instaglamour!

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I wish I had a better shot of the coat but I think the Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha cameo totally makes up for it.

I also bought a really gorgeous pair of teal leather gloves for $10. They were GAP in origin (but I got them from Re/Dress). They really pop against any kind of neutral coat, they’re water proof, and they actually work to open Macy’s poop bags, which is not true of most gloves. I believe in good leather or leather-like gloves only if they are cheap because expensive gloves get lost.

I feel complicated about hats so I try to have a coat with a hood in late winter. I’ve been seeing girls wear really floppy beret style hats this winter, with their bangs able to show and still function as a hat. I like having big hair so it makes it hard to deal. I have earmuffs that wrap around the back of my bouffant.

I shop like a magpie so pretty much anything sparkly gets my attention. A sparkly scarf is my day to day in the deep winter. Glenn Marla here models a glittery ascot. I’ve seen many of my hippest queer friends layering their scarves this year–so even if it is a thin glittery overlay you can put more layers under them. One girl showed up to a gallery opening with I think at least 5 scarves around her neck.
Glenn & Me at Heavy

Nothing says “I’m bringing a little winter cheer to this bitch” like wearing bright accessories in the depths of February.

2. Become a Maple Chaser.

When you’re confused about what to wear in the winter, look to our Canadian cousins. If anyone knows how to dress for insanely cold weather, it’s people who live it 5 months of the year. I like to cruise my Facebook friends to see what the Canadian fatties are wearing and then pester them with questions about where stuff comes from.

A visiting Canadian walked into Re/Dress this winter wearing the most gorgeous full-length fuchsia down coat. She also had fuchsia hair. I see a lot of well-dressed folks at the store and it takes an especially foxy outfit to stick in my memory like that.

It was likely this coat from Lands’ End. It’s still not on sale, but it might be by the end of winter.

3. Get some bangin’ outerwear.

I scour all year long for good outerwear (this is how you can get stuff for cheap). I found my calf-length down coat at a Marshall’s last January on sale for $40 when I was in there looking for some impulsive-make-me-feel-better-cheap-lingerie to buy. A plus size new with tags calf-length down coat is hard enough to find, let alone for $40. It is always worth it to rifle through the coat section of those places.

Sometimes it is a good idea to splurge when the time is right. My friend Miasia bought this coat from an online Parisian retailer. It’s INSANELY gorgeous, warm, and she got it on sale. I forget where it’s from or how much she spent but I say worth it. It’s form fitting, flattering, unusual and wool.

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Even Macy gets some amazing outerwear for the coldest months. This waterproof for the snow pink lame’ and silver coat was $2, new with tags at the goodwill (originally from Target).
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4. These boots were made for walkin’ not fallin’.

I am a faller. I hate falling. I don’t understand people who don’t wear snow boots. They have treads and are waterproof and keep your feet warm. I think snow boots get a bad rap as being big crazy duck shoes. They don’t have to be sporty like that! Online footwear shopping is your friend for snow boots.

My first winter as a working girl, I had to travel to do closings, so I needed a pair of boots I could tromp around Manhattan in that went seamlessly with my work wardrobe. I found a pair of Lands’ End fleece boots that are completely black, inconspicuous and have lasted for 7 years. The lovely part I’ve found is that, since they are black, they work equally well with tights, leggings or work pants.

Right now I am in love with these stylish Fitzwell Lesley’s. They’re spendy, though.

On the other end of the spectrum, Deb, the owner of Re/Dress, introduced me to these totally cute boots.

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I believe these are Tretorn Women’s Glad Rubber Boots. They’re about $48 and Deb reports very warm and keep her feet very dry!

Your boots do not have to sacrifice fashion for function!

5. Make the big reveal a good one!

As for the stuff underneath all of those layers, I like to wear polyester vintage dresses in the winter. They are extremely warm (nothing like a fabric that doesn’t breathe). I also tend to layer tights under leggings and wear wool socks. Because when wool gets wet, wool stays warm. (I learned the tights instead of long johns trick and wool socks bit from my winter camping training in Girl Scouts.) When you wear tights under your clothes it also doesn’t matter as much if they have runs or holes in them because they’re hidden.

When you dig your car out from 4 feet of snowdrift wearing tights and you fall in a snowbank, you dry off really quickly, where jeans will retain the freeze far longer. I’ve found this year’s crop of tights from Target and Avenue to have a good longevity.

I also like to put my scarf on right after I put on my perfume (just one neck spritz)** because when it comes off it retains a subtle whif of fragrance which is a really good olfactory seduction.

And no time is more of a special time for cleavage as the winter. Frankly, there’s just not as much and I like to do my best to defeat that.

I end this post with one of my favorite songs of the now (even though it’s a little old). It IS hard to be a girl in all seasons!!

*It was sold to Re/Dress by World Famous *BOB*, I bought it with store credit I got for trading in my white fur collar/muff/hat set that I never wore because it was too pristine. In turn, Australian burlesque performer Lillian Starr bought my set from Re/Dress. The beauty of resale!

**Always being mindful of people with scent sensitivities–that’s no joke! If you know someone who has one NEVER wear perfume around them. My mom is scent sensitive and perfume is like migraine-inducing kryptonite.

2009-12-19

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Queer Holiday Gifting

Hey, how did it get to be 6 shopping days left until Christmas?

Last night on a phone call with Damien Luxe, we talked about one of the biggest skills we gained in higher education–the ability to execute big results despite procrastination flawlessly. This is how I approach holiday shopping, too. Honestly, I always have good intentions but I just don’t usually get around to having everything together for big things under the tree on time.

So, what I like to do is print a picture of what the thing is I bought or ordered or have in the pipeline and putting it in a thoughtful card. (I’ve actually done this a lot with crafts I haven’t finished.)

It is in the spirit of celebrating and supporting my procrastinating blog readers that I present unto you this nice list of some possible last minute shopping ideas. These will work for your sweetie (Femme or otherwise), your BFF, your ultra liberal mom, your boss, whatever, from some of my favorite shops and queer artists out there. Way more interesting, thoughtful and pro-small business/artist/supporting the community gifts than something you grabbed at Target at the last minute. And they can usually be shipped right to your intended recipient!

PRETTY THINGS

Buy your dapper dandy or pretty princess or sparkly queen something shiny from Looks Good From The Front! Her hair pieces are elaborate and gorgeous and her price points went down after my last blog post about her!
sarahhair

On looks alone The Inverted Eye is my favorite online retailer. Such a gorgeous online shop. But there’s so much more to it than “subtly kinky items and discreet fetish antiques”–there are amazing costume pieces and decorative items that need to be in a burlesque performer or retro lover’s home.
SouthernButchHairDressingHolderwithFrame
Perfect gift for the Butch or Southern Rose in your life! This charming barber’s hair dressing display would look great hung on the wall.

Art By Mags has some amazing stencil work. If I were still the employee of a republican with a sense of humor, I would totally get him a Rachel Maddow Truth-Teller wall-hanging. I would also get any roller derby girl the really hot roller skate clock.
truthteller

Fat Men’s Vintage Clothing! At last there is a store just for butch vintage style! Online even! So amazing. Old Man Pants vintage is run by a really hot queer. The stuff is amazing! My dream retro king boyfriend or girlfriend would shop at this store. I have no further words, just go check it out.

CUSTOM ART!

Nothing says “Honey I know you love glitter” like buying a customized glitter painting! Glitterbombe Portraits by Cherry Poppins. Custom artwork for you or someone you adore. You can get a portrait of yourself or a favorite idol! Email ms.bombe [at] gmail [dot] com to start discussing your custom piece. Coming soon: www.glitterbombe.com.
Glitterbombe

V Kingsley makes custom quilts that are so gorgeous I can’t even really talk about it. I’ve seen her work in person and it is absolutely stunning. It’s also made by one of my Femme heroes, someone who walks the walk of living a life of service, being whole, loving and gorgeous. Her free spirit fashion helped me to break out of my shell when I was a baby Femme and saw her for the first time. So anyway, look at her quilt gallery and decide to get a keepsake made with love and magic!

CALENDARS!

I love a good calendar. This year I am most excited about the Adipositivity Calendar. I’m not in it but a lot of the hot naked fat bodies in it are friends of mine. Part of what helped me come into acceptance and love of my fat body (how it is versus how society tells me it should look) was seeing the actual diversity in women’s bodies, fat or otherwise. You can get it through Cafe Press, the proceeds go to the artist so she can keep making really important fat art!

(If you’re in NYC you can come into Re/Dress NYC where we have them on consignment.)

REGIONAL GIFTS–PHOTOGRAPHY

I think one of the best things I ever did for my self-esteem was to get comfortable in front of a camera. Working with the right photographer can do wonders to make you feel like a sex pot, pin-up or just more at home in your skin. So is creating keepsakes for you, a loved one, history.

A great Seattle gift is a full or partial gift certificate for a session with Fat Bottom Boudoir. I was shot by Molly recently and she is really easy to be with, understands the special needs of people who don’t meet the mainstream societal standards of beauty and can make people really comfortable. Her portrait eye is really amazing–I have never seen someone in one of her pictures that doesn’t seem more like themselves and also really good looking. Molly sometimes travels to do marathon sessions.

My friend Kelly at Closed Circle Photography specializes in weddings (her shoots are amazing!) but also does some really lively portrait work in Boston or thereabouts. She’s also a big traveler. A great gift for a mom-to-be, recent parents or anyone who wants to document growth and development is a package that includes a few sessions–I’ve seen some of the year-to-year work Kelly has done and it is really endearing.

In NYC my friend Sophie started a pin-up photography business called Shameless Photography. She does full pin-up vintage makeovers and glamour shots at really reasonable prices or for barter/trade.

REGIONAL GIFTS–PERFORMANCE

Ms. Cherry Gallette has offered the following: bay area patrons can purchase the gift of cherry for their friends and/or themselves. this means that on an agreed upon date, i’ll come perform for their event or party and/or get down and dirty in the kitchen and make them a sugary treat in full costume. how sweet does that sound? Email chachacherry [at] gmail.com for more info!

You can also give tickets to a big upcoming queer performance, design a fancy night out and detail it in a card, and get creative.

I will also give a plug to my employer, you can call Re/Dress NYC and order a gift certificate on the phone and we’ll send you a cutesy email to print out and give to your intended. We have some amazing clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes, purses, neon leg warmers… Love knows no size limit. (P.S. All of our vintage coats just got reduced to $99 or less.)

There are a lot more ideas I was given than I have time or space to blog about, but these were some of the most sparkly and unusual. I encourage everyone to not let your procrastination hinder your thoughtfulness and resourcefulness–last minute gifts can be both and support your community!

2009-08-18

Girl You Look Expensive: Alysia Angel

This is a continuation of my series Girl You Look Expensive! (Read the whole back story and intention behind the post here.) I was super excited to see the ever sweet & swoonworthy Scream Club (beware the flashy flashy gifs at the link) perform a hyped up remix of this song last week.

Meet my charming and gorgeous friend, Alysia Angel:

alysiafullbody1

The details on my outfit in the photo are:
dress xxl target $12
shoes vintage sling back 70’s “mushrooms” .99 value village
polka dot scarf .99 value village
white tiled reversible bag (gold on the other side) $2 goodwill
teal bracelet 0.00 found in a free box

And a brief and wonderful sample of her writing, on Femmes and Class:

    Dimes to diamonds

I have a closet of carefully selected vintage dresses, the waistbands torn out and
re-sewn to add inches to accommodate the roundness of my body, the
hemlines raised to accommodate the shortness of my stature, the plunging
necklines that free up the girls, putting them on a very huge display. I love
thinking about those sweet little fancy soldiers, lined up in a walk in closet,
in RGB color scheme. My head swims, dazzled by the teals, pinks,
reds, the wrong way for fat people but oh so right for me stripes,
eensy weensy polka dots, mandarin collars, tiny little white buttons,
cap sleeves, op art prints and the joy of putting these dresses on my
body. I love the shimmery feeling of a $5 vintage dress. Femme to me is
sexuality, vulnerability, strength, deliberate bold fashion and power.

Femme and fashion feels like a released Papilionoidea,
glittery and sharp, flowing from my clothes like honey.

In 20 years I haven’t changed a thing about my approach to buying
nearly everything second hand, making it my own, reinventing what
personal style means. I have dedicated myself to fashion without ever
looking to magazines or books for help. I have dedicated my body to be
a canvass, a color palette, a target for material. I am a slave to a
“perfect” dress, a perfect pink shell top, a kitschy vintage pin, a
large and gorgeous clutch, a hot pair of heels, an accordion skirt in
an interesting color. My eyes are on alert, always scanning, trained
on certain fabrics, prints, colors, and size. My fashion is a divining
rod for beauty, personal and to be shared. My sexuality and my fashion
are forever entangled like eyelashes on the first girl I loved in high
school. The one I fucked in her water bed, silent, sleek, and secret,
still the sweetest kisses of my entire life.

Her words are syrupy remnants at the bottom of delicious desserts you’ve long ago finished and can’t wait to enjoy again morphed into a gorgeous string of song.

If you want more (and I’ve been reading her Live Journal for awhile–you definitely want more) she’s selling this really stunning chapbook for only $15. Hand made from cover to cover. Even if you’re not a big reader, this stunning piece of art will look amazing on your coffee table or as a gift to a close friend. But chances are you’ll pick it up and never be able to put it down. She’s that good.

bookscan

$1.50 for shipping in the US, $3 outside the US. This book is a first of a series of 5 books. You can make payments via paypal to alysia.angel at gmail dot com.

2009-07-27

Girl You Look Expensive: Taueret

In the last few months, I have read and heard a lot of musings about Femme that begin with sentences like “There’s an unspoken expectation that Femme means consumerism” and “Femme is more than how many labelwhore handbags you own” and on and on about how Femme is so much more than spending money.

I find statements like this troubling. Partially because I think when people make arguments against “unspoken” anything, they’re making assumptions, usually out of insecurity. Assumptions and insecurity are the kryptonite of community building and connections. I also find it annoying because I think it’s falling into the WASPy* notion that we can’t or shouldn’t talk about money.**

The part of being Femme that I’ve found to be the most rewarding are the DIY*** aspects of putting yourself together. I haven’t known any other way to be Femme.

When I came into Femme, I came into it knowing lots of people who shared their resources. When I compliment someone on their make-up, for example, usually I get a response like “Thanks! It’s MAC blah blah blah” or “It’s wet n wild blah blah blah can you believe it?” Or if they didn’t offer where they bought something, and I wanted to know, I’d just ask. I’ve never had anyone bristle at the question and it’s been a great way to piece together my sense of style.

As fat girls, especially, since plus size clothes are so much harder to find than clothes under size 14, it’s always been my fat femme sisters who told me where to find things, how to modify things to fit, how to wear things to make them flattering, and most importantly, how much stuff costs!

Femme cannot be bought. Period. But the process of putting together a style that makes you feel comfortable in your skin does sometimes take some scrapiness and bargain shopping. I love bargain shopping–I call it Femme Hunting. Half the time the process of getting together an outfit is fun in and of itself.

So it is in this spirit of opening dialogue about Femme Hunting that I present my new blog series: Girl You Look Expensive****. I’ll find a fierce fat femme, interview her about her outfit and post it here. The idea is how you can look fierce and fashionable without spending a lot of money.

IMG_1043

My top was free. Like, really, really free. It’s a t-shirt that I got at a Divabetics event at ReDress and then altered. My skirt is from Torrid via ReDress and was, like, $9. My shoes are glitter peeptoe flats and were a whopping $5 on sale at Payless. My bangle and ring are cheapie H&M. My earrings were $12 and are the most expensive piece in this ensemble. I bought them from a fierce young Black womyn artist on 125th Street in Harlem.

IMG_1045

There are folk who are constantly talking about how femmes are totally materialistic and into consumerism and how it’s rare and special for a femme to have a budget, be eco-friendly, diy-fierce, or even poor. That idea is really classist, all on its own. It makes the assumption that all femmes have the resources and income and desire to spend small fortunes on their wardrobes. It makes the assumption that femmes who have fierce things spend a bunch to become that fierce. Untrue.

I am lucky that I live in New York City and have cheap and fashionable clothing resources available to me. As a femme of Color, I also have a shit ton of pressure imposed upon me to dress and carry myself in a certain way (clean and poised). I have the privilege to dress as funky as I want, have natural hair, and still be seen as human in the POC and queer communities. Julia Starkey’s essay “Fatness and Uplift” is a great resource about the cultural standards imposed on Black womy/en, especially when we are fat. Read it.

I also refuse to judge other femme’s priorities. Most of the Femmes With Money that I know are super humble and generous. And crafty and aware of their privilege.

I have a great balance of cheap and pricier items in my wardrobe. My friends and I don’t brag about how much our fierce crap costs or about silly brands, that just isn’t how our community works.

Places I love to shop because I’m young, fierce, fat, and poor:

ReDress NYC (Duh! Fierce fierce FIERCE)
AJ Wright (Great deals on handbags, shoes, and dresses!)
GirlProps (Cheap and cute accesories)
Etsy.com (Handmade goodies, totally worth $1 or $100)
H&M (I’m fat, but I swear by their jewelery and I know lots of plus size folk who can fit into their stuff)
Payless (But only during BOGO)
DSW (I love the purple sale tags….)

Taureret is starting a Radical Fatshion Zine. There’s a group on FaceBook if you are interested in joining and donating your skills!

*Defined by urban dictionary here. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=waspy
**In this society, as women, as queers, as folks who don’t have access to making a lot of money, it is really important that we get rid of the tendency not to talk about how we manage our money or how we make our money. A lot of us just don’t have skills or weren’t raised in households where we were taught how to do that, or know any other way but living paycheck to paycheck. Let’s be real, a lot of us don’t have the option of doing anything but living paycheck to paycheck, but even some of us who do have an abundance don’t know how to manage it. When you have to get creative with money, that’s when having an open dialogue with community members is really helpful–about bargains, work arounds, making do and mending.
***Do it Yourself.
****Named for Jenna Riot’s song of the same name. http://www.myspace.com/jennariotmusic

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