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

2012-05-07

Thursday Night! Brooklyn Queer Party Featuring Kate Bornstein and Barbara Carrellas!

OMG, Kate Bornstein is on the cover of the Village Voice this week!

She is also reading from her new memoir at Rebel Cupcake on Thursday, May 10th!

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I’m super excited. I love Kate, I can’t wait to read the new memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today.

And also Barbara!! You recall her from the book review I did of Ecstacy is Necessary. She’s doing a demo on stage! And hopefully Bluestockings will be able to come to sell books so you can get them signed by Kate and Barbara!!

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Kate at Rebel Cupcake in September, 2010.

It is also our second anniversary! Two years ago on International No Diet Day I started a queer party to celebrate all sizes and flamboyance and it is still going strong! We’ve had tons of performers from all walks of the LGBTQ and ally lifestyles, traveled to Oakland, CA, and won awards! Come celebrate!!

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All that, plus the same dancing/antics/joy/flamboyant good times you can always expect from Rebel Cupcake!! See you there!

Thursday, May 10th, 2012 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake 25: Night of 1,000 Cupcakes (Second Anniversary)
10PM-2AM Dancing; show 11ish * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
Late night dancing til 4a
Sugarland: 221 N 9th St @ Roebling, Brooklyn, NY
(3 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)

Rebel Cupcake: a flamboyant dance party for all shapes & flavors!

Performers:
*Kate Bornstein
Gender theorist, Performer, Playwright and Author of the new memoir A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today.
[http://katebornstein.typepad.com/]

*Barbara Carrellas
Sex Educator, Sex/Life Coach and Author of the new book Ecstasy is Necessary.

[http://www.urbantantra.com]

*& More!

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

*Nogga Schwartz ready to decorate your facebook page with antics from our wild photo booth!

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

Suggested dress: Wear that outfit you don’t have the occasion to wear otherwise. Old bridesmaid dress? Someone else’s old bridesmaid dress? A prom dress? A tux? Some combination of both? The very sluttiest thing you can imagine? Leather and Lace?

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

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

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

2011-09-28

Book Recommendation: Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

“I think the reason I trusted her was simply because I thought she was beautiful. I was too young and stupid to realize that being pretty did not make you anything more than pretty.”–Justin Vivian Bond, Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

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I have an addition to the Femme Book Club List! The ultra Femme-friendly title
Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels
by Femme icon Justin Vivian Bond.

I love a book that easily fits into my purse. I often find Femme-friendly titles in form and content from the Feminist Press. V’s autobiography is short–136 pages. I read it in little spurts during 10 minute subway rides hither an yon and found it delightful, but fast readers could easily devour it in one sitting.*

V wrote the book with the intention of keeping it short. “I made the book brief and the language simple so that harried mothers and nervous children could read it in a hurry and pass it on.”

The story is great, highlights of a transgender childhood full of gender policing and sex shaming by adults really concerned about their children fitting in, homophobic lovers, finding outlets in music and close friendships with girls.

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Photo by Amos Mac. I found myself hearing V’s glamorous throaty voice cooing the words while I read them. I actually sometimes unconsciously use that voice when I’m trying to make a very dramatic and important point.

V also addresses mental illness in friends, which is something I think most teenagers experience but rarely talk about. It is really weird and scary when your friends disappear from school or are institutionalized for their mental illnesses, and there is such stigma and so many false stereotypes attached to it. As their friend all you want to do is love them and help them feel okay, and at that point adults seem fairly useless.

We see some awesome Femme moments and quotes. “[T]here is a big difference between acting like a woman and feeling like one.” [p. 125] (My shaky hand put a big star next to this on the subway when I read it.)

I think most folks who grew up as misfits will relate to Vivian’s developing a quick wit and ability to make people laugh in order for them not to target V.

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Snapshot of mine from the Feminist Press party in May. Nath-Ann, Justin Vivian Bond and I forget the name of the other cute companion in the DJ booth.

Vivian doesn’t scrimp on sexuality, we are privy to a lot of physical exploration, which I think is really important reading for folks planning to or hoping to parent teenagers. I think anyone who had the experience of growing up an outsider will enjoy this book and any and all parents should have this as required reading whether they are ready to admit their kid is a weirdo or not.**

So, buy this book from the Feminist Press website for only $10.17! Or from your local bookseller! Make them order lots of copies!

Also, while you’re reading the book listen to Justin Vivian Bond’s new release “Dendrophile.” It’s only $9.99 for an MP3 download. Two great tastes that taste great together!

*Slow readers represent!
**Sometimes I wonder if/when I become a parent what will happen if my kid is a normal.

2011-05-12

Queer Book Worm Parties

So it’s 7PM on the second Thursday of the month, which means I’m at Re/Dress and since all the go-backs and tagging are done and all the custies are happy* I am sitting here daydreaming about my make-up and hair for Rebel Cupcake tonight. Every second Thursday I leave the store at 8 and have exactly an hour and fifteen minutes to get home, walk Macy, do my hair and make-up and do any last-minute Rebel Cupcake thingies.

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Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein.

This ritual has lasted for a year now, I am so happy and thankful to get to keep producing this party, that this party is so genuine/fun/not sceney/feel-good/flamboyant/queer/body-positive, to have work that is flexible enough that accommodates me doing all the different gigs I do.

I don’t usually perform in addition to Femmeceeing and producing the event but since it’s the anniversary party I’m doing my Lesbolesque act. Which means I’m also mentally rehearsing my act, a ritual that is as old as my drag king days. Did you know I used to perform as a drag king? That was really where I found myself a decade or so ago, on the drag king stage.

Also coming up within the week are two parties I’m excited to have a hand in. Total queer book worm parties.

Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, the anthology just released from Arsenal Pulp Press, is doing it’s NYC launch and it’s not just a reading! There will be music performed by the amazing Rae Spoon. Rae is Canadian. Rae was featured on FemmeCast. Rae is my friend-in-law and beloved by many of my favorite people.

Also, Ivan E. Coyote! Such a heart-string pulling story-teller! Author extraordinaire! Canadian! Have you watched the video To All The Kick-Ass Beautiful Fierce Femmes Out There? Watch it and cry a little.

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Ivan!

Also, Zena Sharman! So smart, sassy and funny. And a (you guessed it) Canadian!! There is so much maple at this event I just cannot wait.

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A few of my favorite things, Canadians, BBQ and making foolish faces. Zena on the left, hotties Ashley Aron and Smith on the right.

And also me! Reading a story that is a cousin to what I have in the book because I want to give people an incentive to buy the book to read more about debunking the femmephobic notion that Femmes are high maintenance. My friend who is a women and gender studies professor told me it’s a “highly quotable piece” and will be required reading for future classes he teaches so I feel super excited about making contributions to academia (even though in my opinion the book is so much more colloquial than academic).

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To cap off the readings/music/book launch a queer book worm DANCE PARTY!

When I was a little kid I was so shy and awkward and hardcore bullied for being fat so I just stuck to myself during recess, standing alone reading books. Literally standing in the playground, Baby Sitters Club or Nancy Drew or Christopher Pike in hand. So now all of this queer book worm dance party action, marrying my love of books and dancing is really like this amazing full-circle situation.**

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DJ Polar Sounds, hot butch magic times on the decks until 2 AM!

Not to be outdone, next Friday, May 20th is the Feminist Press (swoon, right?) dance party fundraiser FASTER PUSSYCAT!***

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The raffle is a fat girl’s dream–a gift certificate to Domino Dollhouse and a Re/Dress gift certificate are both up for grabs!

The party is at that 116 space I talked about in my last entry!

It’s queer summer, the book worms are using party fliers as bookmarks, and hitting the dance floor!

*Hey Deb!
**What would I put on a bookmark if I were able to slip it into ten-year-old tiny fat Bevin’s beloved books? “It’s all going to be okay.” A photo of a cute faggy gender queer with an age-appropriate explanation of queer sexuality. (I didn’t even know that people could be lesbians until I was 14, how’s that for in the closet?) Or maybe not because maybe it was easier just being fat, and better to be ignorant of being queer for awhile? Maybe just a photo of me at 32 having so much fun and loving life?
***We watched that movie in my feminist filmmaking class in undergrad. Love it!

2010-12-16

Why You Should Buy Elisha Lim’s Calendar Right Now

Let’s start with the facts.

Elisha Lim is handsome.
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Elisha Lim is well-dressed.
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Elisha Lim is a talented artist.
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Elisha Lim has used this triple threat for good by converting it into a 2011 calendar.

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A 12 month calendar of handsome dandy queers from January to December. Full colour images and comics feature sartorial queer style, shopping anecdotes and strategies, and a celebration of walking proud in what you wear.

The comics feature excerpts from “The Illustrated Gentleman” and “100 Butches” and contain a hand-drawn monthly schedule for each month.

I like that it’s small. It’s the kind of thing I could tuck easily into a small corner of my kitchen or by my bed or anywhere on the walls of weird narrow New York City realness apartments. However, you want to make sure it is someplace where you can read each month. Each illustration includes an essay.

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Elisha further offers purchasers of the calendar a bonus.

If you want to send this calendar to flirt with somebody, or just to say happy birthday, I can add a dedication into the package.

I appreciated so much that my version of the calendar was sent to me in brown paper packaging with my name in a fancy script. I loved it. I am going to save it. Perhaps it will become my return address label.

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Support a hardworking queer artist!! Clickie here to go to the calendar shop!

2010-10-06

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation Book Review

Oh friends, I’ve been gone so long and yet not gone anywhere but inside my big, sweet heart and head. I’m doing The Artist’s Way and life coaching and as Lynnee Breedlove, my coach, says “Filling the well. Putting gas in the tank.” I’m still brewing some interesting mind blowing blog topics, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I have a book to recommend to keep you company! It’s Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. Just released on Seal Press it is extremely accessible and interesting.

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The term “anthology” makes me think of things that are stuffy or academic. However, this reads more like an extremely well-edited and organized zine, which I believe is to its credit. Transgressing the anthology format, as the editors and authors transgress gender and sexuality. Some of the contributions are only a couple of pages and pack just as much punch as their lengthier counterparts. I love having something to read that can fit well between subway stops, which is where most of my reading takes place.

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Kate, reading at Rebel Cupcake: Sci Fi Cupcakes.

The editors use an AOL Instant Messenger format (old school!) for the introduction, intermission and conclusion of the book. They also discuss the topic of the next genderation, usage of the controversial terms “tranny” and “cisgender” and the reactions to both Kate and Bear when they came out as transgender during different genderations. I love that they’re not afraid to say what they think in this conversation and they really go there.

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Me, giving Kate an umbrella sheathed like sword with a sword handle from SITE Design at Rebel Cupcake.

I also loved the organization of the anthology. I love systems of creative organization and this just tickled me.
Part One: Do I look like an outlaw to you?
Part Two: Being reconfigured is not the same as being reimagined.
Part Three: …which is why I’m as cute as I happen to be.
Part Four: It might not be a picnic but there’s a great buffet.
Part Five: And still we rise.

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S. Bear Bergman hasn’t performed at Rebel Cupcake (yet!).

Several of the contributions resonated with me, including a touching account of “The Manly Art of Pregnancy” by J Wallace, which did a lot to counter the version of the “Pregnant Man” propagated in the media a couple of years ago.

I really loved the comic Transcension by Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes. I love words and their application of language theory to finding a place within and without identity labels was extremely well-illustrated, both in text and pictures.

Scott Turner Schofield’s intense and powerful “The Wrong Body” has been swimming around in my head for weeks. It’s such a stunning and succinct narrative of why, as a fetus, he chose to be born a baby girl. “I saw that I would have time to appreciate my journey, with the head to understand it as a gift and the heart to achieve my whole self through all the trials it takes.”

And there are contributions to this anthology by trans allies as well. The piece that had me crying on the subway was Fran Varian’s “Daddy Gets the Big Piece of Chicken.” She weaves a gorgeous comparison to preparations for a date with her gender-variant lover and her working class family’s gender roles.

She shows the beautiful nuance of the unspoken dance between gendered energy and the ways in which we care for each other in our gender queer (and queer in other ways) relationships. “You walk on the outside, closest to the street. You do this because we are moving targets, even in San Francisco. You do this because you have been attacked for the masculinity you have constructed and because I am precious to you.” How lucky to have someone tell you how precious you are to them; luckier still to have someone show you how precious you are.

While I always want you, precious reader, to shop at a local feminist bookstore, if you buy Gender Outlaws: TNG on the internet and clickie through my link I get a tiny referral fee and it goes to buy me books and other delights.

NYC Readers! There is a reading at Bluestockings by some of the authors of Gender Outlaws: TNG (including Kate!) on October 8!

Rebel Cupcake photos by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

2010-07-08

A Self-Love Moment

At the Femme Family meeting on Tuesday, in the middle of a terrible heat wave hitting NYC, our go-around topic was “Describe your inner body temperature.” Mine was the rage of a Disney villain. A fat one. (In the words of Dave End*, “Never fuck with a witch who puts on lipstick with a shrimp.”) I get heat sick pretty easily and almost fainted during yoga on Monday, so by day 3 of the heat storm I was so grumpy. So grumpy that I barely put on clothes. I picked out the thing that felt the least like wearing clothes that I could.

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This is an old photo from an old queeraoke night, but this is what I wore. It’s a stretchy H&M large cotton tank dress (I want more but never seem to find them), which is slutty fat girl size. I was singing “Everything She Wants” by Wham!

How can a meeting with such empowering Femmes not raise my spirits? On my way home I realized how grateful I was to have done so much work over the last 11 years to unlearn the body shame that would have, otherwise, kept me hot and miserable and covered up in layers upon layers of clothes trying to hide my body. Feeling good about my body and sexuality is so much more comfortable, both literally and figuratively.

So this goes out to all of the amazing people in my life, who taught me early on the joy and value of loving yourself and moving in your body in ways that make you feel good.

Further, I’m still getting comments and emails about my post In Solidarity With Those Who Have Been Called Too Much. “Too much” to one person is another person’s “SO much”. Remember that and keep the faith.

To that end, happy birthday to Rachel Schiff, a protege of mine. She is a beautiful ray of light in this world and I am so happy she is in my life! At 22 years old she’s already a kick starter and a rabble-rouser for social justice and good times. San Francisco is lucky to have her.

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I lifted this quote from her Facebook page from one of my favorite books by Dorothy Allison. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure. Perfect quote in the vein of “too much” and self love.

She kissed me gentle, kissed me slow, kissed me like Grace Kelly, a porcelain princess, a lace curtain lesbian. I told her, Don’t touch me that way. Don’t come at me with that sour-cream smile. Come at me as if I were worth your life—the life we make together. Take me like a turtle whose shell must be cracked, whose heart is ice, who needs your heat. Love me like a warrior, sweat up to your earlobes and all your hope between your teeth. Love me so I know I am at least as important as anything you have ever wanted.

I am the woman who… has to love herself or die. if you are not as strong as I am, what will we make together? I am all muscle and wounded desire, and I need to know how strong we both can be.

Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is how long it takes to learn to love yourself, how long it took me, how much love I need now.

— Dorothy Allison

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Remember that time Dorothy Allison complimented my cleavage on my podcast?

*The long-anticipated debut of FABULOUS ARTISTIC GUYS GET OVERTLY TRAUMATIZED SOMETIMES: THE MUSICAL (FAGGOTS: The Musical) is July 16 in NYC.

2010-06-11

Delivering Happiness Book Review and Giveaway!

One of the things that held me back from the pursuit of my joy and my true purpose in life is that the things I wanted didn’t come with a defined path. I spent so much of my teens and twenties looking for things with an “If you do x, y, z then you will achieve your desired result.” This made the decision to get my JD at 20 years old really seductive. I was licensed to practice in two states by 24 years old and stayed in my 9-6 (or 8 or 9 somedays) job for five years because I liked the security and couldn’t figure out how to achieve my other dreams.

That security was a myth. Just like being engaged to someone I thought was my forever didn’t actually mean forever, staying with a job for five years didn’t protect me from the first round of layoffs when the real estate market crashed. Turns out, both of those were the best things to happen to me in years.

My career goal is to have a talk show. Of course, there’s more than that, I would love to create a Femmepire: have a magazine, an animated series and books and all manner of media related to the topic of learning to love yourself and living your joy. It is incredibly frustrating at times because it’s not like there is a curriculum in higher ed to become the Queer Oprah.

Damien Luxe spent two years working on an MFA in DIY. At first I thought she was actually in a program that let her use DIY as a specialty, but in fact she just created a curriculum for an MFA and self-studied. Sure she doesn’t have a “degree” per se but she finished her one-woman show, almost a whole book and learned a lot! She presented the curriculum at Heather’s Artist’s Salon and it was incredibly well-rounded.

Nearly two years on this path of diversifying my income and careers to enable me to get to my talk show and live the mission of my life, I started thinking that an MBA would be far more useful to me than my JD. What would it look like to create my own MBA curriculum? How would it benefit the work and art that I am creating to know how to market, strategize and create success?

The thought of reading business books makes me yawn, but it just so happens that I have been presented with an advanced reading copy of one of the most lively and interesting books about an entrepreneur that I have ever read.

Delivering Happiness

Written by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.Com, Delivering Happiness is part memoir part retrospective road map to creating the kind of corporate culture and success that encourages staff to create coffee machine robots for the lobby. He specifically establishes the purpose of the book to be how he found happiness in business and in life.

I am a slow reader* but finished the book in the time of a cross-country flight. In the introduction Tony sets the tone for the book and lays out the expectation that he’s not a writer and purposefully wrote the book in his own voice and without always the best uses of grammar. As a grammar appreciator, I cringed when I read that but actually it was a fantastically chatty read, like a blog but with better editing. I found the whole book incredibly inspirational and practical. Sometimes what you need is someone you can relate to telling you how they got to where they are.

I related to Tony quite a bit–a smart kid who didn’t like to do any extra work when he didn’t have to, he got into a lot of mischief and schemes (to no externally hurtful end) growing up. He also explained how he walked away from 20 million dollars during his dot com “vest in peace” period because he realized he wasn’t happy. That is the kind of chutzpah I know, love and admire.

Making decisions about your own pleasure or happiness over security is something that is shamed in our culture and, if you can master being in touch with yourself enough to know what will make you happy I think you owe it to yourself to risk the happiness. For me, learning to love the uncertainty (and brokeness) that comes with being in the relentless pursuit of my joy and my mission in life has been infinitely spiritually rewarding.

Tony’s discussion of the Zappos Core Values is also relevant not just in business, but in real life. I have highlighted a lot of lines in that section to go back and reflect on, but this was my favorite:

Under the core value “Embrace and Drive Change” Tony says “Ask yourself: How do you plan and prepare for change? Do you view new challenges optimistically? Do you encourage and drive change? How do you encourage more change to be driven from the bottom up? Are you empowering your direct reports to drive change?”

And this, too, from the core value Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded:

“We want everyone to not be afraid to take risks and to not be afraid to make mistakes, because if people aren’t making mistakes then that means they’re not taking enough risks.”

As a bonus to all of the good life and business coaching in the book, I also got to learn about one of the sexiest corporations I can think of. An entire website full of shoe porn, including amazingly multi-faceted shots of Fluevogs. I mean, really.

After reading this book I am definitely ready to continue my MBA in DIY curriculum and keep developing my Femmepire creation strategy.

If you want to get a copy of Delivering Happiness, using this link gives my site a tiny referral credit and with my referral fees I’m going to slowly amass my business book entourage. Next up is Suze Orman’s Young Broke and Fabulous (I’m reading Women and Money right now).

Further, I have a giveaway! Tony sent me an extra copy of the book as a giveaway on my blog. If you comment by midnight Eastern time on June 15 about your dream job (whether it is in a corporation or your own enterprise), you will be entered to win. I’ll pick the winner at random. Good luck!

*Slow readers represent!

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…

2010-03-10

The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Beginning a Yoga Practice

About six months ago I began a regular yoga practice. I had done yoga only a handful of times before but was always very discouraged by the activity. I’m fat, but as you know, fat people have incredibly different bodies. Mine happens to carry a lot of weight in my torso—primarily my ample rack and belly. This makes it terribly difficult, if not impossible, to do things like bend over or stretch in the ways required by a lot of yoga poses.

When I was working a 9 to 5, I did a lot of research into fat positive, fat centered, or fat inclusive yoga classes, and unfortunately was discouraged by the timing difficulties between my busy schedule and the very specific times these classes were offered. I bought a yoga dvd but found it didn’t give me the calm, meditative exercise I was looking for, it just felt too Jane Fonda-y.

After Michfest last year I was feeling the kind of spiritual connection and limber body one gets from two weeks in the woods with a bunch of woo woo women and other gender-oriented folks, and I solicited my friend Dana, a yoga regular, to take me with her to one of her yoga classes. It felt safe to tag along to a class with another fatty.

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We cycled through a couple of different instructors and thankfully landed on Jyll. Jyll is a miracle, plain and simple. She teaches yoga in exactly the kind of way I want to be a mom. Firm and instructive but also kind and nurturing; you really want to please Jyll. She knows when to push, when to prod, when to chide and when to back off. She also knows the difference between you not doing something because you’re at your limit physically or because you’re at your limit mentally and pushes you past your mental hurdle.

She is also good at teaching you alternative poses, showing how to use the tools of yoga (especially straps, blocks and bolsters) to modify poses for different bodies. I also feel liberated that she encourages modifications!

Even though I am consistently the fattest person in the class, I never feel “other”. She says reminders like “Yoga is not a team sport.” “Yoga is not a competition. Everyone needs to work at their limit.” She also reminds the class that everyone has different flexibility and that they shouldn’t let their ego get in the way lest they get an injury. (It’s how she pulled a muscle she’s still dealing with.)

I love Jyll and I always leave her classes empowered and with my ass resoundingly kicked.

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Taueret at Yoga.

What I like most about yoga is that I have to be really “in” my body. I need to pay attention to my limits, what it is like to push into the limit and really trust my body’s capabilities. As a life-long fatty I have gotten used to giving up really easily and not learning how to push myself. I remember what it was like to be a brave kid and climb waterfalls hiking with my Girl Scout troupe and I don’t know where I got into being a fraidy cat about stuff with my body.

I do notice that usually in every class I suck the worst. It feels a lot like my Hydrologic Science class from undergrad, when they put the high and low scores of the midterm on the white board and I realized my score was the low score. (I then took it Pass/No Pass–thanks UC Davis!)

But at the same time, I feel like it is really good for me to suck at something for an hour and a half every week. It’s humbling, it gives me something to work on and I still feel amazing afterward because I did something hard that was really good for me.

My friend Chris La Femme told me once:

“Truly though, there is no such thing as sucking at yoga.  Yoga is just about twisting your body in certain ways, to squish different organs and push blood around, and you don’t actually have to do the ideal poses for that.”

It’s really true.

Once I got into going to Jyll’s class, and then the wonderful erstwhile Yoga for Every Body classes at Re/Dress NYC (sadly our instructor moved to Ithaca) I was doing yoga twice a week and felt really amazing.

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Dara is going to raise goats and keep bees. She was a great instructor!

When the Re/Dress instructor moved away, I wanted to figure out a way to get into yoga at home that wasn’t with a dvd so that I could maintain my twice weekly pace. I flipped through this book at Re/Dress that Deb brought in and I fell in love. I bought it immediately. Here was a list of all of the yoga poses I had been learning over time, with explanations of what they did for your body and modifications for how to do them in a larger body written by a fat yoga instructor!

Mega Yoga by Megan Garcia in book form.

Mega Yoga in DVD form!

A sweet reminder that if you buy anything from Amazon using my links, the small referral fee gets kicked back to me in the form of gift certificates that help me buy books to read. *

I love using it at home so much! I can put on the cd of my choice** and go through the poses at my own pace. The slow flow of it really helps me. I can sit in a pose a little bit longer if I’m really feeling something. I also like the supplement to the classes I’m taking, because I learn the poses and get adjusted in class but learn more about them at home.

And another great “asking for help” moment, I asked my Butch Ironworker Roommate if it was okay to use her room because she’s got the only carpeted room in the house and free wall space for wall poses and she is totally fine with it.

They call it practice for a reason—it’s not ever going to be perfect. But so far I feel really enthusiastic about what yoga has helped me do with my body. I feel more limber, I feel more secure, I have more balance. It also very much enhanced a recent laycation, so if nothing else, being able to fuck in more interesting ways is a win-win.

So, if you’re at all curious about yoga, I have some suggestions:

1. Find a friend to take a class with you.

Sometimes it really helps to have the buddy aspect, not only for accountability*** but knowing someone else might be physically hindered by belly or boobs or is gender non-normative or uses a cane or something as well. It’s a million times easier to ask for help in a mainstream sort of class when you’re with another person in the same boat. Dana and I cap off our weekly yoga date with coffee next door and have gotten very close over the past six months because of it.

I would suggest finding a beginner or a I/II class. It seems intimidating to go to a class that has a specific kind of yoga, but I really think that novice yogis aren’t going to see a big difference. I go to a Vinyasa class, but the Monday morning with Jyll is “restorative” so it’s not as fast of a flow as Vinyasa usually is. You can look up the other types of yoga, but I think as long as the class is labeled beginner friendly you should be okay.

Also, don’t be afraid to yoga “shop”. If an instructor does not seem responsive to your needs or the class or studio doesn’t feel comfortable to you, try another one!

2. Find or create a class tailored to your body.

This is not always possible but it’s really incredible when you can. There’s also a really great class for folks with dis/abilities and genderqueer/trans friendly yoga here in Brooklyn. And GO to these classes, support that they happen! I was shocked at how small the turn out for yoga for all bodies at Re/Dress ended up being.

If you can get a critical mass of folks to commit to it, sometimes you can even organize classes of your own! If you live in one of those cities with porches and big open living rooms (my friend Lissa in Minneapolis has an upstairs yoga studio size living room with gorgeous sky lights) get an instructor to come in and teach you! There are a lot of instructors out there who are willing or open to creating a body-positive curriculum. And if six of you get together and pool $10 each—well, that can entice a teacher.

3. Don’t sweat the details or the small stuff.

I spent forever obsessing about what kind of yoga I was going to take, whether or not I needed equipment, what I was going to wear… My perfectionism took years off of my yoga practice! I wanted to take yoga so badly and I just never did it because I never felt good enough or prepared enough to do it.

I am telling you right now, it’s not that deep!

I wear velour sweatpants, the same two pair, and a tee shirt (cut out the shoulders, flashdance style because that’s how I do) and a sports bra. And like regular underwear not the fancy frilly kind. The idea is that you want to wear clothes that you can move in and that don’t hinder your body. Yoga is so not a fashion show and I never notice what other people are wearing except when Dana wears her “Live and Let Lez” tank top because, hi.

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Glenn Marla wears palazzo pants.

And if you’re really nervous to start, read Mega Yoga! She gives a really great primer on yoga and breathing!

4. Go go go go go.

I get so disappointed when I’m missing Monday morning yoga. It really does set you back a bunch when you miss a week. Prioritize your yoga practice. Self-care is really important and having time set aside for mind/body/spiritual connection is really important. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha absolutely won’t schedule anything on the nights she has her yoga class because it is so essential to her physical well-being and the management of her dis/ability.

5.Never be afraid to articulate your needs.

At the beginning of a class, usually the instructor will ask about any physical limitations, injuries or needs people have. It’s terrifying to speak up sometimes, but it is really crucial that you tell the instructor what your needs are. Use this as practice for self-advocacy in all other areas of your life.

* I’m hoping to get Urban Tantra next.
** I like Ani DiFranco’s “Knuckle Down” because it can fade into the background really easily but at the same time when I need to focus on something she is singing about topics on that cd which are things I need to be meditating on, like aging estranged father stuff, setting boundaries, old break-up stuff, etc… Ani isn’t for everyone, and thus may I suggest a cd of slow jams? Mint Condition anyone?
***I hate ditching class but I hate ditching Dana more!
****I am not a doctor, and of course before beginning any exercise or body work you should consult your hopefully body positive and supportive doctor.

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

2009-10-15

Additions to the Queer Lexicography: Doing it and Doing it Well

Damien Luxe brought me the following two terms after her trip touring the Femmes Fight Back Installation* 10,000 miles in August and September.

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Laycation: A Laycation is a vacation or staycation (where you don’t leave your town or home) with a lover where the intent or the result is that you do it the whole time. A vacation to get laid. Or a “we’re so broke we can’t do anything and we’re long distance so we’re just going to lay around and do it when she comes to town” sort of adventure. I love the idea of a Laycation, especially considering how in the queer community often our lovers need to be imported from other places to keep things fresh and ethical.

“Sorry to miss your party, my long distance romance Shawna is only in town for three days–we’re going to be on laycation the whole time.”

Web 3.0: Damien used this term to describe being in person with people–making actual community connections instead of remaining plugged into the social networking media websites (also known as Web 2.0). I have been using the term Web 3.0 to talk about the ways in which Web 2.0 actually enhances real life experience. Like a queer dance party that is announced and networked entirely on Facebook but brings people together. Or those twittering experiences where you’re able to increase your understanding of an event as it is happening.

At the Gossip concert the other night I was getting tweets on my smart phone from the people in my entourage around me (since I couldn’t hear their reactions because we were in a crush of hipster bearded boys), communicating en masse to our friends who were trying to find us in the sea of aforementioned hipster boys, as well as seeing the tweets of JD Samson of MEN (one of the opening acts) from backstage. I think there’s something to that information that adds nuance to an in person situation just so long as you’re not glued to your iphone during the entire experience.

The following term was brought to me by Ally Picard of Bloodhound Photography, who held a copy of the Lesbian Lexicon in her hot little hands.

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According to the Lesbian Lexicon, (and I summarize because it is sadly sold out so I don’t have a copy of my own) the term Bangover describes the sore muscles one has after a night of banging. Seriously, there are certain ass muscles one only feels the day after sex. Or a sore arm. Or a sore whatever kind of body part because of the position/place you all were doing it.

I love it! Allow your Web 3.0 experience to coordinate a laycation, but be sure to nurse that bangover with some advil and gatorade!

These photos were part of the animal print photo shoot conceived of by Damien and photographed by Ally. It was so much fun!

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That’s my dog, Macy, wearing zebra print and doing her best stuffed animal impression.

*It’s really cathartic and powerful–she’s trying to tour it around the East Coast in late Fall, bring her to your town!

2009-08-24

Femme Book Club!!

As I announced in Episode 9 of FemmeCast, I’m starting an online Femme Book Club (FBC). I started FBC because I am a distracted reader with a to-read list a mile long–especially books by and/or about Femmes. One of the best things about having Femme community is conversations with those Femmes. We are a smart bunch. So what better motivator–finish a book and get to discuss it with other Femmes?

It’s no secret that my friends call me the Queer Oprah (and my career goal is to have a talk show). In that vein I thought about the ways I could have a Femme Book Club and use my media outlets to bring it worldwide and get other Femmes & allies reading and talking!

Here’s how it will work–FBC has its nexus in Femme Family NYC. We’re an open and inclusive Femme organization based in New York. We’re reading one book a month, selected by a member who wants to lead a discussion. If you’re in NYC you should join us. If you’re far away or can’t, I’ll post the discussion questions here at QueerFatFemme.com. If you have a blog, write them up on your blog and I’ll post a link on the entry. If you don’t, just respond in the comments section.*

I will try to give as much lead time as possible for people to procure and read the books. Again, slow/distracted readers represent!

AUGUST FEMME BOOK CLUB SELECTION:
Dorothy Allison’s Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (get your blog posts ready around Sept 1, and ongoing). Discussion leader: Sophie, Madam of Strategy.

SEPTEMBER FEMME BOOK CLUB SELECTION:
Amber Hollibaugh’s My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home (blog posts ready around Sept 29, and ongoing). Discussion leader: Damien D’Luxe, Co-Head Madam.

Our first meeting is Tuesday, September 1 at 7:15 PM at Madam X, 94 West Houston Street. Probably in the backyard if we can swing it.

The second meeting is Tuesday, September 29 at 7:15 PM. Location TBA.

One of the things I hate most about finishing a book is that it has to end! When I’ve been carrying a book around for weeks (it takes me a long time to finish a book, again, distracted reader) I get attached–but when you have a book club or people to discuss it with, you really get to relive the book. I love the ways in which discussion can also help you see other aspects about a book you didn’t see on your own.

I will get the discussion questions likely from our group leader at the FBC in-person meeting and I will add some of my own. And what I will do with FemmeCast is still being worked out. I might include some snippits from the in-person meeting (if participants are cool with it) or perhaps have some correspondents talk about their reactions to the books. I like to keep things interesting.

I sincerely hope you’ll get the books from your local feminist or LGBT or indie bookstore. If you don’t have one of those or want to/need to buy online, if you use my links in this post I get a few pennies towards production costs.

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Atlanta’s own Ms. Stewart, performing at the East Coast launch party for the book Femmes of Power. She’s also featured in the book!

*Participation in Femme Book Club is open to everyone, Femme identified and not. However, our discussion is specifically geared towards being inclusive of all races, ethnicities, class backgrounds, ages, abilities, sizes, etc… Entries should adhere to this spirit of inclusion and respect. If you have questions about this let’s talk!

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