Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

2010-12-24

Hard Candy Christmas

This Fall I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself and my art and doing a lot of growing. I have also been spending a lot of time video chatting with one of my BFFs, Spunky, who lives in California. I took time off from my retail job (Re/Dress, one of the three prongs of my current career spiral path) thinking I would somehow by the grace of the universe be able to afford to go out there for Christmas. See my mom, see my friends and heart family and mellow out in some warmer weather.

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World Famous *BOB*, me, Glenn Marla at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

Things have been tight financially for the last couple of months. My main source of my three-pronged career path income has been really slow for lots of reasons, mostly the market and climate. Thus, around Thanksgiving I realized it was going to be toast to any plans to vacation for the holidays. Self-employment/entrepreneurial realness.

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I got written up as one of the 45 Hot Entrepreneurs in Go Magazine in November, though. I think it’s an awesome stamp in my celesbian passport. I have yet to get laid from it. I like to call this photo a Clark Kent/Superman juxtaposition. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

But then I realized that I was having trouble digging into my memoir, my friend Damien has been having great luck working during DIY artist retreats. I could afford to drive to Philly, I have heart family that lives there and needed a cat sitter. It worked out very serendipitously. So, I’ll be going away, doing no work other than art and self-care for several days.

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Damien, watching art. She’s doing so well on her push-up-a-thon! Photo by Quito Ziegler.

And, yeah, it’s sort of sad and isolating sometimes to be single at the holidays and not with your family or whatever. But then I remember my very saddest Christmas ever, when my ex-fiance and I had just broken up the month before, I was going to California to see my family without him on a trip we had booked together. I remember waking up on Christmas day with this ache in my chest, knowing he was with his new girlfriend and her family I couldn’t even begin to think about what to think about through all of that sad. It was so crushing.

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World Famous *BOB* has a tissue for you and for me. November Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Lauren Golfer.

What really got me through that time was Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas.” I had just bought her autobiography on cassette tape and was really digging into my passion for her. It’s such a good song from one of my favorite movies (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas).

This year I’ve been hearing about everyone’s hard candy. Having a family or not having a family is hard. Both are hard. There’s either the pain and isolation/liberation and joy of not having obligations on the holidays. Or there’s the expectations upon expectations upon performance upon pleasing everyone upon love upon celebration of being with family. I think hard candy is part of life and it can bring you sweetness or toothaches. It’s just how you saddle up for the ride.

I have had a lot of blessings and amazing things going on in my life this year. I’m so grateful for this magical unicorn life I get to lead, the costumes I get to wear without even thinking about it, the lives I get to change just by making the art I feel compelled to make. Just this year I can count on both hands all of the new incredible artists and friends who have come into my life and are changing it. I have so much. And even as my birthday and Christmas plans have fallen through because I got the flu for Christmas I feel really lucky I didn’t make elaborate travel plans so it was easy to just sit here under the covers and rest. And now I have some presents to open up while I try not to move too far from the couch.

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Also grateful to have reached a doctor so soon before Christmas. She said “Have you been taking it easy?” I said I’ve been “taking it normal.” Photo by Quito Ziegler from a lesbolesque performance I did before I got the flu.

I got woken up from a nap today by the UPS man delivering a package for my birthday from my far away BFF in California, who I’ll luckily get to see at the end of January. I’ve been able to book a trip to get Rebel Cupcake on the road to Oakland (more info on that soon). So it all works out!!

As a Happy Holidays from me to you, I present this touching video from Rebel Cupcake 7: We <3 Dolly, burlesque legend of our time World Famous *BOB* performing Hard Candy Christmas.

I hope wherever you are you are safe, happy and full of love.

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Me and Sophie at Rebel Cupcake 8: Holidays on Fire. Sophie stopped by my sick bed today to bring me a care package of birthday candles, mac n cheese and feminist literature. Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

2010-09-20

Heartbreak MFA: Additions to the Break Up Survival Guide

One of the most amazing things about being an artist is that people tell me all the time how art I’ve created or produced has been really important to them in times of trouble and strife. Many times I hear “I have been going through a really terrible break-up and Episode 2 of your podcast really helped me out.” I’ve also heard more than a few times about how Zoe’s Break-Up Survival Guide has been passed around like a water cooler article to friends in need.

I’m so glad these resources exist, especially in light of the huge break-up they came out of for me.

Having (yet another) friend need this list this weekend prompted me to add a few updates. I share them with you below.

1. You already have all the tools you need to get through this.

It’s true, Dorothy.

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Remind yourself of this every moment you feel desperate. Nowadays I can use the benchmark of “my fiance cheated on me for 8 months” or “I got laid off after 5 years with the same firm” as a way in which to gain the perspective I need to keep moving. I survived those things, I know I can survive whatever else comes my way.

As queers, fat people, people of color, women, gender non-conforming folks, etc… we have been put through the paces so much by society, our familes and ourselves, we are already survivors. Hell, the fact that I made it through my teens without succeeding at suicide is a testament to an inherent survival instinct that I attribute to being very blessed and watched over.

I will say that knowing that I have the tools to deal with heartbreak is sometimes cold comfort. At this point, almost three years since my ended engagement and having dated some women who have fucked with my heart big time, I feel like I have a Master’s Degree in Heartbreak. I’ve been through this, I know I’ll get through this again and live to love again. My heart doesn’t always know that, though. Having the gentle reminder from my brain is helpful.

2. Get co-defriendant with someone.

In the first few weeks of my big break-up I really needed help knowing what to do because the terrible echo of pain so consumed me. It was nice having a friend I could call on a moment’s notice and bring my shih tzu and an overnight bag and have somewhere to be that wasn’t my empty house, or have plans to go out or whatever I felt up to at the moment. When you designate a Captain Distraction, it’s especially nice because you will likely feel so different from moment to moment it’s hard to keep yourself abreast with your feelings, let alone your myriad friends. So if you have someone who has a lot of emotional and time availability see if they’re up to be your life raft for a little while.

3. Create community around your break-up.

When I was going through my big break-up I made a special filter on the blog community I was in of other people who were dealing with big break-ups around the same time. It was really comforting to know I wasn’t alone in the pain, to hear their process and to exchange mix cds. It was also interesting to notice our different benchmarks, how rebounding affected people and how their recovery was so varied. Maybe now you might do a twitter feed or facebook filter or just have a group email list.

I also threw a big New Year’s Eve party/ritual that year for me and 10 friends where we burned letters to our exes. It was nice to get to do that as a community.

4. Take lots of hot pictures of yourself.

If you have the cash, I suggest seeking out a queer photographer home girl like Molly at Fat Bottom Boudoir or Sophie of Shameless Photography. They know how to shoot you looking your best (in any body) and will help you reclaim your body and sexuality.

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If you don’t have the cash, get a bestie, go to the MAC counter, get a free makeover. Then go to the Torrid dressing rooms or some other place full of hot fat girl clothes and try things on that are impossibly sexy with shoes that are ridiculously tall and take photos of each other.*

Use these hot pictures as new profile photos on Facebook. Looking hot is great revenge. It’s like a photo affirmation.

Advice Column

5. Throw yourself into a big art project.

My mom gave me this advice when I was crying on the phone to her during Thanksgiving. Thus, FemmeCast was born. It was a huge project (and continues to be, anyone know a good audio editor?) but being able to do something productive with my pain was totally helpful. It gave me something else to talk about and something else to think about during my worst moments.

Do you have something percolating you’ve always wanted to do? Just start.

6. Rebounding is a terrible idea.

Zoe told me when I was having my rebound that you end up having to “deal with that shit PLUS interest.” She’s totally right, too. Rebounding feels great. Why feel the heartbreak when you can focus on the joy of new love and not see any of the other red flags about how bad of an idea it is to date that person? I used to be queen rebound and I can attest it just makes things harder in the long run. Your gunk gets all jammed up and it takes a lot longer to sort through it. It also puts a lot more pressure on the new relationship to be the big savior for the heartbreak that came before.

There is no ibuprophin for heartache. It’s just through it. Rebounding is like creating a migraine out of a bad headache.

7. QVC.

I used to turn on QVC in the background whenever I was home alone to make me feel less lonely. A few months later I got a roommate, which definitely helped more. But if you’re walking around a newly empty house, QVC is nonstop enthusiastic chatter and it helps to drown out the terribles.

8. Heartbreak is an opportunity to learn about yourself.

I got a great email from my friend Genne after the disastrous rebound from my big break-up ended that began with the sentence “I don’t want to say that your picker is broken but…” and included some really great thoughtful questions to ask myself and work through in my recovery. Now, at the time I was a little taken aback at the idea that I was responsible for bringing in the inappropriate people in my life but I did see what she was saying.

My artist’s life coach Lynnee Breedlove said something similar to me during our last session. There is a reason you bring the people into your life when you do. If you can work through the reasons they’re in your life and what you can learn from the experience, it only makes you a more attuned to how to pick the next time around. And just like taking a hot photo for your facebook or creating some amazing art, it’s all about taking the time you need to create something beautiful out of your pain.

***

I hope these nuggets are helpful to some of y’all out there. Comment with your favorite heartbreak tip below and one random commenter will get a copy of a break-up cd mixed by me. I’ll pick at midnight EST on September 27, 2010.

And while we’re on theme, the next Rebel Cupcake is heartbreak themed. Lots of danceable heartbreak songs and halloween costumes!

*Always be kind to your shop girls and if they ask you to stop taking pictures be nice about it. For $10 an hour no one wants to have to tell you about store policies, so they’re doing it because they have to. Also always hang up your clothes neatly and right side out on the hangers.

2010-06-29

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Love The One You’re With Edition

I was recently profiled by the fun gang over at Autostraddle in their feature “I’ll Have What She’s Wearing”. It was a really fun interview and it talks about my views on self-love, fashion, and Femme identity. It’s also a direct transcription of how I talk so in case you’ve never heard my podcast you can experience it.

I’ll Have What She’s Wearing: Bevin is a Fancy Muppet on a Mission

Leave them a comment and tell them they should pick me to be in their Lesbian Maxim because I’m sad I didn’t come up with that and I so should be a Maxim centerfold.

It’s time for some Additions to the Queer Lexicography!!

Purse Anchor: I recently went out with three very foxy masculine-of-center gentlemen to a small town gay bar.* It had been awhile since I’d been out in a crew that wasn’t made up of many Femmes and in a venue with a delineated dance floor (let alone room to move around easily). Noticing how they moved around the dance floor versus how I moved around the dance floor was really interesting. I was anchored to the ground with my purse and everyone else had way more locomotion. It’s a matter of street smarts, I don’t leave my purse anywhere out of arm’s reach and when I’m on the dance floor I dance next to it. Generally I carry a clutch so that I can dance with it, but when there is a drink in hand I find that just spoils my groove. So the clutch has to get set down.

With well over a decade of nightlife behind me, I’ve tried many purse permutations for going out. Here’s the thing–I don’t have pockets nor do I trust pockets with the things I need. And some of those things I need are my camera because I obsessively document my queer fat femme life, my wallet, keys and many different kinds of lipsticks. I used to try the bra pocket with just an id and cash and my housekey but I have bigger needs these days.

Regardless, part of being Femme is not having to make excuses for the girl shit I do. Mama needs a purse anchor.

“Ladies, let’s dance over here. This speaker will make a nice spot for our purse anchor.” or “Hey, let’s go dance over by Heather. She has a purse anchor and we’ll be good Femme Allies if we dance closer to her.”

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Purse anchor. As pictured late night at Hey Queen, my favorite Brooklyn dance party (except Rebel Cupcake, of course).

Love Jail: I’m not entirely sure who gave me this term, it was either Glenn Marla or Deb from Re/Dress. We were at the store one day and they told me about the concept. Love Jail is where you get with someone and you drop of the social face of the earth. Obviously sometimes when you start dating you want to get shipped off to love island for awhile** and recalibrate how you spend your time accordingly, but you should never sacrifice your besties for your relationship. It puts too much pressure on the relationship and at the same time is bad friendship form. I talked about this in a previous post, but it is fun to have a term for what happens when you dump your besties.

“I haven’t seen Jane since she started dating Jen. They’re totally in love jail.”

ETA: Love Jail is a concept coined by and told to me by Alysia Angel, meaning essentially the same thing and was the name of her country dj night in Olympia, WA. I had completely forgotten about her telling me about this before I heard it again from Glenn and Deb and wrote this post. Sorry Alysia!

Lesbian Cylon: I recently started watching Battlestar Gallactica. I am not a big Sci Fi person but my BFF Brian gave me the dvds to watch and insisted I would love it… and I did! It’s really character and plot driven and easy to forget they’re in an alternate universe floating around in space. In BSG they actually have robots that look like people, only they’re manufactured thousands of times. So there are many copies of each of however many models there are.

Mackenzi went to a party and described it to me like this. “Everyone there looked like hipster dykes. Studded belt, asymmetrical hair, black tshirt. Repeat.” My response, “Like Lesbian Cylons.”

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Mac is not a Lesbian Cylon.

This has been true for years. There will be a sort of generic dyke look and everyone adopts it. (Remember visors, spiky hair, white a-shirts and cargo shorts?) I think it is true in a lot of subcultures, but it’s just very funny when you look at a sea of people and they all look alike and imagine them to be robots. I value style difference and people who can set themselves apart from the crowd. Or people who can adopt the on-trend look and make it look totally different.

So Lesbian Cylon is a way to describe the generic dyke look of the moment. “I predict the Lesbian Cylons of 2015 will be wearing Beatles haircuts and bolo ties. Just wait.”

****

You can vote for my self-love talk show on OWN until Saturday every day! Please vote early and often! Tell your friends!

*I love small town gay bars, I especially love it with an insider who can tell me all of the local dramz. Not that Brooklyn doesn’t have local dramz (ooh, honey) but it’s interesting how when there is only one bar it all gets localized more painfully.
**Love island is that lovely place you go when you’re on laycation and you shack up with some take out and can’t get out of bed for a couple of days because you’re so enamored with your date. Texts to and from friends sometimes include the line “I’m on love island I can’t go out.” Thanks to Damien Luxe for that one.

2010-06-28

Help Me Get a Talk Show! Also, Rebel Cupcake!

I am involved in a really exciting contest! Sometimes my friends call me the Queer Oprah, because within five minutes of meeting someone I’ll get their life story. And my career goal to have a talk show. Well, Oprah herself is having a contest to pick the next talk show star for her new network, OWN.

It took a lot of work, but I submitted my entry and am on a mission to get 100,000 votes by Saturday, when the voting ends.

VOTE HERE! CLICKIE!

Here’s the description of my talk show. There’s also a video of me (bonus to you if you can figure out what my hair bling is) on the voting page.

Bevin Branlandingham is a warrior for self-acceptance and wants to create a show built around the lifelong journey to self love. Her show includes four major components: Health at Every Size (physical and emotional/mental health), Style at Every Size, Sharing Stories, and a Variety Show Aspect including the network of artists Bevin works with that celebrate the radical act of self love. Bevin has an open-minded and soothing spirit that will inspire viewers of all backgrounds to get to loving themselves.

Thanks in advance for your voting (I have no idea if there’s a limit on how many times you can vote), telling your friends and whoever else you think would be into supporting my dream to have a talk show about self love!

****

Life never ceases to be anything but a roller coaster. I had some incredibly great news and some incredibly sad news, within hours of one another. My California tour was really fun and amazing, I met some inspirational people, filmed a section for the Fierce Fat Femmes documentary with the insanely gorgeous Kelli Jean Drinkwater, performed, produced and then took some time off in Southern California. I came back to Brooklyn in the heat of Femme Pride Week, followed immediately by LGBTQ Pride Week. Now things are set to wind down for a moment.

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Happy Pride! Photo by Nogga Schwartz from the last Rebel Cupcake: Queer Root. More photos here.

I’m super excited for the next Rebel Cupcake, July 8th. One of my besties, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is in town from Oakland. Along with her is Kit Yan (reigning Mr. Transman and brilliant slam poet), BUTCHLESQUE by Grrls Who Run with Foxes (who promise no sawdust and glitter in the audience) and Burlesque by Bambi Galore.

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If you’re a plan in advance person, the August Rebel Cupcake is on August 26. The theme is Steel Magnolias!

And remember to vote for my talk show! Voting ends Saturday!

2010-05-20

Love Snippets

I have been thinking and talking about love a lot lately. I’ve gotten some amazing anecdotes from people. I’ve been writing them down in my tiny notebook.

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I wish I always looked so put together when I am writing something down. Also, I wish I always had my BFF Rachael looking over my shoulder, but it is sort of like that considering I consult her at least once a day.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in love.”

Me: “Really?? How is that possible, you’ve had so many boyfriends.”

“I always like to keep one foot out the door so that I can leave at any moment. Besides, the way you all talk about it [referring to my friends] why in the world would I want that? I never see you experiencing the upside!”

***

“Do you have confidence that you will fall in love again?”

Me: “I am skilled in dozens, or even a hundred things… Falling in love is something I am adept at, and comes easy. I fell in love by accident most recently. I know I’ll fall in love again. Whether or not I fall in love & it is reciprocated is an entirely other thing that I have no control over. That’s where faith comes in. Do you?”

“It is all I believe in.”

***

“I’m going to see [her girlfriend] this weekend. I think she’s going to break-up with me.”

Me: “Oh no! I am so sorry!”

“It’s okay. The way things were going she was just being shitty to me. At least now she’s being honest about her emotions. I’d rather know that it’s going to be over with. And I have a laycation coming up with someone in a couple of weeks so that softens the blow.”

Me: “Imagine being excited about a break-up.”

***

From a private comment to my last entry about someone being broken up with for being glitter and with someone operating in an emotional beige zone, I read this part of it and had to snap because I was reading it and agreeing so heartily.

At this point in my life — where I’m learning how to allow myself to have desires and feelings (about things like kids or family or love relationships) and not censor them before they’re even allowed to emerge — being with someone who’s interested in imposing emotional limits from the start is a bad idea.

Wow. Yes. And having the wherewithal to actually articulate that is so leaps and bounds into being in touch with your desires and feelings. Sometimes I feel that there is this pressure in the dating community to be so cool with just being casual and having “no labels” and not processing. Not that I love processing, but I feel some elements of social pressure exist to just kowtow to the people who are commitment skittish. Likewise, there is a lot of pressure in other circles to BE MARRIED and HAVE KIDS and assimilate to heteronormativity. There has to be some delicate balance between u-haul lesbianism and enjoying things casually.

I have a friend who uses the term “intimate casual”. It leaves the door open for intimacy in whatever form that will take but also not putting big expectations on things. I think it is possible, but not when you’re so concerned with policing your emotions lest you scare someone away.

I think people who are checked into their emotions are less likely to be scoundrels. I realized that in the long aftermath of my broken engagement that he was never really checked in with himself emotionally and never told me when the landscape changed. Instead he cheated.

This is why I have made it my business to start loving conflict. Having conflict with someone at least means I know where they’re at emotionally, without having to worry if someone is hiding stuff from me. (This is a process. I still hate conflict. But I am trying!)

***

A note on my last post about glitter and beige. I’m not trying to say glitter means extrovert, beige is introvert. I know plenty of glitter introverts. I also know plenty of stage personalities who are also introverts. And being a stage personality is only one example of a glitter personality. I am just trying to call out a beige privilege in dating–a lot of people leave glitter in the dust for someone less intense/less complicated, etc… No shade to beige identified folks.

However, I will say if you find it hard to wear your glitter on the outside, I encourage you to try. It takes a lot of chutzpah to be in touch with what you are passionate about and share it with people, in ways that make you comfortable but also get you out of your comfort zone.

Rebel Cupcakes gotta work hard to stay fabulous–sometimes it feels like a never ending battle to express yourself and feel good about yourself in a world that is telling you that you are always too much for it. I am confident it is going to pay off. Being true to yourself is ultimately a winning battle.

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3/4 of the Baconettes at the last Rebel Cupcake. The next one is June 17th!

***

I leave you, my romantic, ever hopeful sweethearts, with a poem by one of my favorite new-to-me poets. Regie Cabico:

2010-05-12

In Solidarity With Those Who Have Been Called “Too Much”

I have a bestie who lives far away. When we used to visit only once a year and not keep up with each other regularly, as soon as she would pick me up from the airport I would ask for the current love life run-down. She is polyamorous and it was (and still is) always an interesting mix of folks.

One time, the list included a girl she was particularly fond of and things were going quite well, except that the girl’s other love interest was quite the opposite of my bestie. “I don’t know how to describe her except that she’s just… very beige.”

What made the situation, and Beige herself, so vexing was that the love interest was starting to spurn my bestie for Beige. “I just don’t know what she sees in Beige. She’s the exact opposite of me.”

This love push and pull between my bestie, that girl, and Beige would go on for years, with the girl bouncing back from monogamy with Beige to my bestie and back again.

I have incorporated the descriptor “Beige” in my love vocabulary now. It’s hard to describe what Beige even means, as a personal trait. Maybe it’s just the absence of bold color? I just know it’s pretty much the opposite of glitter. I identify as glitter, which to me is a color.

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Vagina Jenkins has been told that she is “too much”. Also check out her kickstarter so she can bring her too much to your town!

Glenn Marla has a performance piece in Tragic Magic where he talks about people who have been called “too much”. I’ve been called too much my entire life–too fat, too loud, too feminine, too “lipstick” when I first came out, too expressive, too blah blah blah blah blah.

I hate it. I love big and I always express myself. When I am excited about something I get louder, and I really like to be excited. I am effusive in my praise of people, and when I’m with someone in a romantic context I can make them feel like the only person in the room. I’ve been told this by multiple partners, which is why I tend to date Leos. I have also been told that I am a lot different than people expect by a lot of lovers.

I LOVE romance. I really enjoy giving and receiving special attention and courtship. I am so not the kind of girl who can play aloof–I just don’t have time or inclination to pretend to be something I am not. If I can “take it or leave it” I’ll just leave it.

I was told by someone I went on a couple of dates with that I was “a lot to get used to.” It brought up a lot for me–I had so much rage around being told that and it took me a few weeks to unpack. It felt like being told I was too much, even though I know that wasn’t the intention. I guess this post is my way of turning that unexpected rage into productivity.

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Heather has been told she is “too much”. Me, too. That’s why I got big hair, to go along with my big personality.

Heather and I were talking about being too much and how people get so scared and run to the easy, non-threatening beige. “It’s so unfortunate because they could have something so good and so easy, but instead they run away like a coward and don’t want to deal. If I wanted to date people who didn’t want to communicate and were douchebags I’d just go back to straight dudes.”*

We’ve both been left for people who didn’t hold a candle to us. It sucks! I don’t even know how to tell you how to deal with that except just to let it show you who that person really is. If someone prefers beige to glitter than it tells you that they don’t have it in them to date you and they don’t deserve you.

I go out with people and I see they have all of this potential and then all of a sudden they’re dumping you in a picture text message from the Gossip Girl set.** It can take a minute to realize that they really just showed you all you needed to know about them from their bad behavior.

I don’t know what it is like to be left for someone who is fabulous. I’ll let you know if it happens. I don’t usually get left for someone else, though, I get left because people aren’t emotionally ready to deal with anything, not even the conversation where we come to some agreement about what our casual romance, Romance, or ROMANCE could look like.*** I mean, everything is negotiable. And if it isn’t then at least you know it isn’t and that in and of itself is some sort of answer. I just think it’s worse being left in the dust holding nothing and wondering what the hell happened.

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My BFF Rachael, the Donna of Femme Mafia International, has been told that she is “too much”. Hey Atlanta, check out her new monthly Friday Femme Centered party starting THIS Friday, Friends With Benefits. Info here.

My friend Taueret has a tattoo that says “I love harder than expected.” I think that’s true for a lot of Ferocious Femmes and other flamboyant queers. I think it scares people. I mean, it’s true, some of the most scoundrely scoundrels I have dealt with let loose the “I love yous” within a week of starting to date me, which I ate up. I like to think that I am learning how to temper it a bit and be a little bit more skeptical about professions of forever(!!), and of course not profess love too early. But I do believe in showing people affection. And when you’re enthusiastic about people, actually saying “You’re awesome!” instead of hiding who you are and how you feel.

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Taueret. Frankly I just don’t understand how there can be too much of her love.

My bestie Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me once on the heels of another fizzled romance that she feels like this agent who incites change–that she tends to somehow be that catalyst for the people she dates to suddenly start working on their issues, and then they are sadly no longer emotionally available to date. It feels very frustrating when this happens over and over again.

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I feel like if Leah is an agent who incites change, it is somehow made less threatening and more appealing by her propensity for wearing hot miniskirts. I’m just saying.

There’s no great answer to this. I want to tell you all there is absolutely someone out there for you and that suddenly your Prince(ss) charming will show up and tell you that you are SO much instead of TOO much. I do firmly believe that there is someone out there for everyone. I just also know from personal, current experience that it takes empyreal patience to find someone who is in it for the full flamboyance, nurturing, love, whatever you have to give.

It took so much work to become the confident, courageous, colorful and caring person that I am. I won’t quiet it and I won’t be shushed just to make someone like me back. The right romantic interest, friends and community would want me to be my most vibrant self.

Being a risk-taker in love is going to pay off. I will always have experiences worth writing about, good and bad, I will always have things to learn from. I will always keep changing and keep growing. I am the kind of person who needs an adventurous risk-taker to come along for the ride. I encourage everyone to take risks, big and small, in love and in life as much as you can. It is what makes life so much more interesting than beige.

I had a great date with a really hot, fat, tattooed older butch who said they didn’t like make-out parties because “I’m a specialty food. The people who are attracted to me are really into me. But there are lots of people who aren’t.”

I have found a lot of empowerment from this statement. Being a specialty food is something special. It makes me a lot more interesting–going through the work I have had to go through to unlearn self-hatred and myriad of other things has made me a really fun and fascinating person. It makes the days I feel good really fucking shine, for no reason in particular. It means the work I do as a Queer Fat Femme performer, writer and activist is to create visibility. I hope my visibility helps all of the young Queer Fat Femmes out there have an easier time with dating when they’re 31. Maybe in 10 years Queer Fat Femmes won’t be such a speciality food (but will still be special!).

There’s no magic formula to making someone not intimidated by you. There’s no magic formula to helping people get over a lifetime of hatred to love themselves enough to want to date someone who is nice to them. It’s true for any marginalized identity, fat folks, dis/abled folks, people of color, trans folks, survivors, queers, etc…

I can give you this answer: There is only patience and confidence that as a community, if we love each other enough and work to help one another heal, we’ll create queers who are confident enough to love out loud and give glitter (and orange, purple, and paisley) a chance.

*I want to say there are plenty of straight dudes who are not douchebags.
**True story. “Thought of you. Also let’s not see each other anymore.”
***This is why Unicorn Dick is described as that fantastic head, heart, lust, timing combination–timing is often a bitch. Um, also, I hate this trend amongst queers where it feels like we can’t talk about “WHAT IT IS THAT WE’RE DOING” because it’s so threatening to have words for it. Come up with something creative but don’t avoid talking about it because it’ll scare someone away. It just leaves you left with no ending because there was no real beginning. Dangling participles are sucky in grammar and suckier still when they hurt your heart!

2010-05-07

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Identifying Your Emotions Edition

A couple of months ago I had a little miscommunication with someone around me stating that I was feeling jealous about something. She saw it as a red flag whereas I meant it as information, and actually, ultimately a compliment.

Jealousy is such a loaded word and it really doesn’t need to be. I’m an only child, I get jealous about lots of ridiculous things–friends, success, clothes, lovers, access to cable television. I have learned how to manage my jealousy internally and rarely feel it more than fleetingly. I have also learned that jealousy is a great information gathering tool for myself in terms of checking in with my emotions.

When it comes down to it, if I don’t care about someone enough to feel some jealousy, I probably don’t want to be friends or lovers with them. But me being jealous is not that deep.

Enter Glenn Marla, with a new term for the queer lexicography.

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JELLO. JELLO is a shorthanded way of saying jealous. “I am feeling a little JELLO about that” sounds much less threatening to yourself and the person you are expressing it to than jealous. Jealousy has such a bad rap, but if you can use the shorthand of “Having some JELLO” it feels easier to deal with. No weight watchers points, single serving. Try it, it’s fun.

“Hey baby, I just needed to tell you I am feeling JELLO about your date on Monday, so if you could make some time for me on Sunday to hold hands and watch a re-run of Glee, it would take the edge of my JELLO.”

This is a derivative of the term “J.Lo” which was brought to us via Damien Luxe via some generous queers in Philly.

Battleshipping. You know when you meet up with a friend, bring your laptops and do work together but separately, which somehow keeps you more accountable to the work product and slightly encourages you not to look up Jersey Shore news on Gawker? If you ever think about what it looks like with two people and their laptops back to back, it’s just like the rad board game Battleship. Heather came up with the term and was throwing it around about Silas and Damien and for awhile I really thought she meant they were playing board games.*

“Hey Zoe, want to meet up for Battleship next week? I really need to haul ass on the production of my book. Kate Bornstein wants to see one out of me soon.”**

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Me, Kate and Carmelita Tropicana at the reading for King Kong Theory, published by the Feminist Press.

Maple Chaser. I have thrown this term around on this blog before, but basically it is someone who has an affinity for Canadians. Like a chubby chaser or other such semi-creepster terms. I heard about it for the first time on FetLife. I like it for the double entendre of Canadian people and also maple as a food/concept. I think Canadians are hot and really love to visit Canada.*** And I love maple syrup, maple flavored anything, and especially maple donuts. They are very uncommon in New York, but very common in my home state of California. I have them at least twice a visit when I go to Canada.

“I find that tattooed butch from Toronto a triple threat in the lust department–I am a Maple Chaser.”

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Me. In Toronto. I am due for a trip. Book me for a gig!

The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs. I use this term to describe that beginning courtship phase when people do sweet things to woo you. It is in reference to an actual girl who wooed me by making me amazing meals involving both of those things. Several weeks later, she stopped the wooing without explanation. I kept hanging on, waiting for The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs to resume. What I didn’t realize was that she was showing me another aspect of her personality, though I was having a hard time adjusting to this new version of her when I liked the TDOFC&DE version so much more than the one that was ignoring me.

It is my belief that the Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs should never cease–a relationship needs to involve a certain amount of continuous courtship. Courtship does not require a great deal of energy, just a little thoughtfulness. (Check out the FemmeCast episode on courtship for some great ideas and guidance.)

“It is really difficult to do, but I need to move on. Now that The Days of Fried Chicken and Deviled Eggs have ended I am not being treated very well, and I deserve to be cherished. My feelings for her are strong, but my feelings for me are stronger.”

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Enjoying Fried Chicken with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Our friend courtship continues, as we approach our 2 year friendaversary at the 2010 Femme Conference.

*Both highly productive people in my life, I wondered why they were having game night and not inviting me. I felt a little Jello about it until I realized it was a work/production date. Ha ha!
**Real quote! Nothing kicks you in the ass like meeting and performing with one of your heroes and having them tweet that at you!
***Seriously, Toronto has these incredible hot dog carts with all different kinds of hot dogs, tofu, turkey, regular, sausage and then tons of great toppings to put on them! And lots of hot queers, fun things to do, good beer, cheap ferry rides, amazing restaurants…

2010-02-14

Validation Day Thoughts

I was pondering the last couple of single Valentine’s Days I’ve spent. Both were pretty miserable, but I realize in hindsight it was because I had some sweetheart that was dicking me around.* It’s amazing how much peace you can get in your life when you recognize bullshit when it comes your way and give it a sweet, polite “No thank you.”

That attitude certainly doesn’t eradicate bullshit or drama but it helps give you permission to trust your instincts around it and walk away when you notice it.

This year is different. Sure, I’m noticing how couple-oriented the mainstream is (Thanks you tube! Thanks significant other week on FaceBooK!) but at the same time, I don’t really care. I’m also noticing a lot of magical self-love celebratory moments.

The Adipositivity Project capped off their couple stream with a photo celebrating self-love. My friend Lissa (a pastor) is preaching today about self-love. I’m seeing a lot of love in the world.

I feel really happy about the life I’m leading. I get the sweetest notes from people who have significant to my writing, performance, podcast, videocast and blog posts. Taking some really fun and gorgeous photos. Having a lot of fun with my friends. Making time to make a lot more art. Carving out a business that will make it possible to see my goal of having an art career and talk show. Working at a store that is aligned with my core values and lets me play as much Dolly Parton and Pointer Sisters as I can stand. And the stuff I don’t like about my life I am working hard to change.

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This is how the shop girls (Taueret, Erin and myself) and Jesse celebrated Validation Day this morning.

It is a radical act to love yourself in a society that says you shouldn’t because of any number of your inalienable characteristics. It is a radical act to create a career that is different than the typical 9 to 5. It is a radical act to send your friends cards with compliments on them (which is what I did for Validation Day, but now I think the blizzard from last week delayed their arrival).

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So if you’re having trouble escaping the cult of couplehood this Validation Day, stop and figure out how you can put a little more love in the world. Instead of dwelling on your couch, take a cruise through your phone and send people compliments via text message. As FemmeCast Sexpert and my BFF Rachael says about flirting, it is never a bad time to make someone feel good.**

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Photo by Shameless Photography–I did a pin-up photo shoot and had so much fun composing this photo with Sophie for my Validation cards.

Happy Validation Day everyone!!

*Jay-Z said it best when he said “I got 99 problems…”
**Whitney Houston said it best when she said “Ain’t it shocking what love can do?”

2009-12-11

Femme Family Zine #1: Femme Coming Out NOW AVAILABLE

I’ll have some of the excerpts from the zine that I recorded at the launch party on later episodes of FemmeCast. Until then you should get a hard copy of this GORGEOUS piece of work.

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Me & Damien, Kinky at Kinkos.

Femme Family NYC is ever so proud to announce our Femme Coming Out zine. It includes work from 20 femme contributors ranging from poets, activists, illustrators, photographers, performance artists, musicians, students and more! We’re also sending all proceeds from the sale of this zine to The Femme Collective, to help fundraise towards the next Femme Conference!

Contents include prose, personal narrative, poetry, illustrations, love letters to lost Femme friends, photography and more!

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It’s gorgeous. Ally & Sophie at Kinkos. We were on a deadline.

To order a copy online, email paypal [at] femmefamily.com, or just go to PayPal.com and donate $8 or more for hardcopy, or $6 or more for a digital copy, to paypal [at] femmefamily.com. Be sure to include your address if you want your copy mailed.

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Chicago, reading his piece from the zine. All contributors are Femme identified and give you just some of the amazing breadth of Femme talent out there.

We hope you enjoy reading this zine as much as we enjoyed making it! We’re really proud of all the contributors. Our next zine is on the theme of Art – Femmes who make art, critique art, and/or live art. Deadline is March 1, 2010. Send questions or submissions to info [at] femmefamily.com

Thanks and femme ferocity,
NYC Femme Family | femmefamily.com

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Taueret leads us in a moment of rage after the moment of silence for Trans Day of Remembrance.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Femmevolution | Corrine A. Schneider | p 3
Welcome Home: Femme Wading in the Queer Sublime | Lainie Dalby | p 4
When I Was a Wee Little Thing | Alysia Angel | p 6
From Fox to Femme | Jordan Fox | p 8
Revolutionary Steps | Rachel Schiff | p 9
I Think I Came Out the First Time I Didn’t Fuck Someone Back | Hana Malia | p 10
Gender Wishes | Sparkle | p 12
Crunchy Granola Femme | Stacey Langley
Albright | p 13
Words for Femme | Hadassah Damien | p 14
Art | Beth Slutzky | p 16
Poems | Taueret Manu | p 18
Something in My Closet | Sophie Rogers-Gessert | p 20
She Doesn’t Believe in Labor Unions | Lola Dean | p 22
One Day in My Early Thirties | Rexy Radical | p 22
An Omen of Good Faith | Chicago | p 24
Queer Femme Pop Diva | Nicky Click | p 25
Low Femme Low Life | Gaby Cryan | p 26
Prototype | Sarah Pinder | p 27
Shameless Portraits | Sophie Rogers-Gessert | p 28
A Different Kind of Herstory: Longing for Femme Mentors | Amanda Harris | p 30
The Missing | Bevin Branlandingham | p 32

2009-09-15

The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Surviving Getting Stood Up

I got stood up on Sunday night. Since one of my Queer Fat Femme values is to turn rage into productivity, I decided to share with you my Stand Up Survival Guide.

First, we need to define what Standing Someone Up really means. I feel like a date canceled on the same day, either by previous communication or a no show is a stand up. Of course, if a date is canceled with proper notice AND explanation (they have a health issue, unanticipated legitimate conflict) AND apology AND offer to reschedule, that’s not being stood up. Disappointing for sure, but life sometimes happens. I also want to point out that communication issues run rampant in dating and sometimes scheduling snafus come up. This is why I like to text a few hours before a date to make sure we’re still on*.

Mercury is in retrograde right now, which puts an additional cramp on communication, so I like to indulge that with extra benefit of the doubt.** However, even when loosely planned, if a time and day are blocked off to see one another in a romantic context, I consider it a date. When rejection is coupled with the additional disrespect of my time and energy, the offense is quadrupled.

So what do you do when you realize your date isn’t showing up? First, I always text and then call.*** This is where the pre-emptive text is helpful, because when you’re not hearing from them it gives you more time to create a back-up plan.

The best back-up plan is to corral a big group of people to go out and have a really killer night, whatever that means to you. My favorite night of being stood up was when I was 23 and in grad school and dating this girl who lived about 45 minutes away. We had a scheduled date planned for weeks and she called three hours ahead of time to cancel because she had to “study”. She didn’t need to study, but it was a flimsy excuse and I saw right through it. So I made some calls and had the kind of night out she would kill for and took lots of pictures. This was before myspace, but I’m sure if we had been socially networked I would have posted them. The best revenge is living fabulously.

I also like to take steps to move forward in my dating life. Often being spurned by one person helps me get past my completely irrational fears of rejection and is an impetus for bravery. So whether it’s asking someone for a date (on that fateful day in 2002 I totally asked out this 19 year old fledgling drag king at a workshop I was doing and she said yes) or just sending a flirtatious Facebook message to a friend of a friend, it’s important to take steps to keep your dating life moving past the disrespectful douche who stood you up.

Occasionally, you can’t come up with a killer night out back-up plan, or maybe you’re not up for it, so thus I propose a Personal Pity Party. This is especially good for those of us who identify as Pollyanna Optimists. We have to occasionally indulge in self-care and boo hoos and maybe that’s soaking in a bath, reading a sad book, watching a ridiculous movie that will absolutely make you cry*****, talking on the phone to a long distance bestie and whining about the “why me” of it all and dating disappointment in general. It’s really important if you have a Personal Pity Party that you commit to snapping out of it the next morning.

Since my weekend had already been quite whirlwind and fabulous and I was a bit under the weather with an irritating cough, I came home from an incredibly productive Femme Family meeting, ordered soup, talked to my BFF Spunky (who sadly predicted the truth of “She’s just not that into you”) and watched the Patrick Dempsey hit “Made of Honor”. Since I had already asked someone out (who said yes, btw) this weekend, I figured that was enough moving forward and I committed myself to doing things to enhance my wallowing for Sunday night only.

I woke up Monday feeling much better emotionally, though with a lingering cough, and still went to yoga to make sure my body was going to be feeling good this week, too.

I have a lot to say about rejection, which I will save for another post. However I am a big believer in “the sooner the better” in terms of ending something you know isn’t working and not wasting time. Time is a precious resource–my dates should show me respect first and foremost and always respect my time. Salvaging the time wasted by an irresponsible date is definitely turning rage into productivity.

*In fact, my Wednesday date texted me tonight to ask if we were still on, as she had written down the wrong day.
**Mercury’s Retrograde is like the Michelle Trachtenburg character Georgina Sparks on the hit show Gossip Girl. Comes to town and leaves everything all effed up for her own amusement.
***Sunday’s standing up was so out of left field I actually believed the girl might be in the hospital. That’s how benefit of the doubt/Mercury retrogade I was going with.
*****A few titles come up with at the Re/Dress counter last week were Steel Magnolias, It’s My Party, Hope Floats, Beaches.

2009-07-17

On Femme Dates, Femme on Femme Action and Cultivating Both

In reference to my previous post Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Dry Spell Edition, I received a comment that stated they thought calling a date between two Femmes was exclusionary of Femme on Femme Action (FOFA). In fact, Mae says my term Femme Date is heterosexualism and “it seems to imply that anything between two Femmes is platonic and just friends”.

Mae! I have to respectfully and indignantly disagree with you! If you read my definition of Femme Date, I say “In this context I mean it as a platonic event that is ultimately constructed as a romantic date is, but without the bumbling, attraction questions or all of the other baggage of a regular date. It’s specifically designed for Femme bonding time.” Femme Dates are all about not being romantic dates. NOT TO THE EXCLUSION OF FEMMES DATING.

Here’s the thing–if two Femmes go on a romantic date, it’s called a DATE. Just like if a Butch and a Butch go on a romantic date, or a Genderqueer and a Femme or whatever. Two Femmes going on a date is a date that, of course, increases the FOFA (god that’s such a great acronym) in the world, and, according to Cherry Poppins, when two Femmes do it they produce glitter that comes out of nowhere. It happened to her and her ladyfriend and they were very thrilled.

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Cherry Poppins commented on this photo, “Bevin, what I really ♥ about this picture: it’s like Southern high femme realness (fancy frocks + Lone Stars + cute shoes + camp chairs).”

I think titles give something an air of importance. What I mean by giving Femme Date a special term, is because making time where we treat our friends with the same special devotion and attention we lavish on our romantic dates, it honors our commitments to them and honors our common identities (here, Femme, but you could easily do it with fat friends, trans friends, Femme friends over forty, etc…) and how special it is to have a friend who you see across from the table who embodies what makes up you. Who can really SEE you. I want to give at least the same amount of attention to a Femme Date that I do on a date with someone I might want to do it to.

Recently I’ve had my nose buried in Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities*, and I’m being all meta, quoting Ulrika quoting Clover Cuthroat, who is talking about her BFF Vagina Jenkins.

“About [Vagina Jenkins], you in return wrote: ‘Even thought there is an age gap between [Vagina Jenkins] and me, we’ve such similar lived experience, it’s like I’ve known her all my life. Because we both grew up black, poor, fat and awkward, we know what it’s like to be invisible aside from our sexual orientation. She encourages me to take up more space and exaggerate my beauty. We understand each other’s past and present and love each other for it.'”

Vagina says about Clover:

“‘I love her like the sibling I never had and always wanted. My childhood girlfriends understood my socio-economic background, my college girlfriend from the Black Student Union understood my racial politics and my queer girlfriends understood my sexuality stuff. I love those friends for the gifts they’ve given over the years. But Clover is the one person who gets it all without explaining any of it.'”

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Clover to the left and Vagina to the right. You should book Vagina Jenkins at your venue, she’s phenomenal, sexy, sparkly and really down to earth.

I will admit to tearing up a little bit when I read that essay. There’s something so special about creating friendships with people who really see you, understand you and bring out the best in you that just gets me to that spot in my heart where Beaches and other BFF movies from the 80s settled in. Plus, I have that in my life, with quite a few people. And I do sacred rituals like Femme Dates with Zoe, Femme bonding trash tv time with Chris, and long weekends with Rachael in order to make sure that my Femme relationships are cultivated with the same intentionality as my romantic relationships.

I want to also make it clear that just because I make a lot of noise about dating Butches or folks on the transmasculine spectrum, it doesn’t mean I exclusively date them. Quite the contrary, before I dated my ex of 3 years Seth (Genderqueer), I exclusively dated femmes. They weren’t femme identified necessarily, but definitely gendernormative and very feminine presenting. A couple of them would go on to become quite butch** but most of them are still just as girly.

What I struggle with now, as a Femme community leader, is the fact that so often I’ll make a new friend and default to Femme friendship because it’s really complicated. Femme bonding is so special and distinct, and as a leader I don’t want to screw things up for people, you know? Also, I am very wary of power dynamics and the complications of queer ethics. I had a crush on a Femme recently and it really spun out my tires because I was weighing all the measures of whether it would disturb community building or power dynamics too much to try to date her instead of just being friends and working together. Some of the ways in which I’ve figured out how to determine whether to default to Femme friendship is to find out right off the bat if they do date Femmes, have considered it or are open to it. I also try to make sure people know that about me. I’ll tell you my Femme type (which is oddly specific, as are my types of the transmasculine variety) if you ask nicely.

So, anyway, Mae, I’m interested to know your tips and tricks for a Femme dating Femmes. How do you meet girls and not default to friendship? How do you ask them out and make sure they’re clear it’s a date-date and not a lesbian not-date? Do you date Femmes who perform Femme in the same way you do, or do you go for a different kind of Femme?

*A book by Ulrika Dahl & Del Lagrace Volcano that just came out in the US. We celebrated the East Coast launch in Atlanta last weekend. Holy crap was that fun! I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s so lovely and wonderful to read and see images of all of this Femme lusciousness. If you can’t buy it from your local feminist bookstore, if you click on the link to Amazon right here I will make some pennies towards the costs of producing FemmeCast, which is totally unfunded and a lot more than you’d think.

**Hot damn is my first girlfriend a really good looking genderqueer now, but she was also hot when she had long blonde hair. At the time I was embarassingly clueless.

2009-06-29

New Minisode of FemmeCast Now Available!!

After a brief hiatus, FemmeCast returns with a minisode all about the sweet stuff (or the not so sweet stuff we turn into a good story)!!

Host Bevin Branlandingham is joined by Femme Shark Correspondent Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, hosting live from a road trip journey earlier this Spring.

Miasia tells her favorite story of street harassment, you can find her website and book her bellydancing at Miasia.org
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Bevin relives a drunken adventure in search of an ice cream treat with FemmeCast Sexpert, Rachael, Femme Family NYC Madam of Hospitality Chris and The Gay Dr. Phil.
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Bevin and Leah discuss “cotton candy pink sugar pussy brain” and how you can make it so finding love and good sex doesn’t mean losing yourself, your friendships and values to a content and cow-like existence.

What we’re listening to:

Gravy Train!!!, “All the Sweet Stuff”

Jill Sobule, “San Francisco”

Stay tuned for our next episode, Thinking Big! or A FemmeCast Guide to Courtship, coming soon!

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Stream it live in this magic pink widget doohickey or if you have to download it and take it home, right click here and select “save link as”.

Stream it live right here, scroll down in the widget to find Episode 8.5!!

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