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

2010-02-03

Cupcake Cabaret III This Sunday!

I am immersed in a cloud of glitter putting the final touches on an evening of spectacular performance celebrating the radical act of self-love. I went to Collect Pond tonight for a dinner party and Julie Blair promises the same exact (free) spread as last time–gorgeous cupcakes, eclairs and mini cheesecakes. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” she said.


Slideshow from the last Cupcake Cabaret by the talented Syd London.

Sunday, February 7, 20FEMME
BEVIN BRANLANDINGHAM PRESENTS!
Cupcake Cabaret NYC: Celebrating the Radical Act of Self-Love
doors at 8p, show at 8:30p, $10-$15 sliding scale (proceeds go to performers)
Collect Pond: 45 Berry st (corner of N 11th) L to Bedford or G to Nassau
Bevin Branlandingham femmecees and performs funny spoken word don’t miss an evening of celebrating our esteem through our differences!

This edition:
Vagina Jenkins: Queer Fat Femme Southern Burlesque [http://www.vaginajenkins.com], from Atlanta, GA!
Glenn Marla: Fat Tranny Superstar [http://www.glennmarla.com]
Lorelei Lee: Queer Femme Porn Princess Storyteller
Sequinette: Queer Femme Drag Dolly Parton
Bevin Branlandingham: Queer Fat Femme Cupcake Femmecee [http://queerfatfemme.com]

Cupcake Cabaret is a performance celebrating the strength we get from what marks us different in this world. Size, gender, sexuality, class, race, dis/ability, age, religion and all numbers of identities bring the artists in the series a sense of power and esteem.

An ongoing series curated by Bevin Branlandingham, Cupcake Cabaret features comedy, drag, burlesque, spoken word, film, performance art and all manner of genres celebrating the radical act of self-love.

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Want to bring Cupcake Cabaret to your town? Email me! queerfatfemme at gmail dot com!

2009-11-08

The Lily’s Revenge

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

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

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

From NY Theatre.com*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2009-09-02

Videos from Summer Two Thousand and Fine!

First! I am super proud to announce Saturday, October 10, 2009 I am producing a Zombie Queer Cabaret & Spooky Dance Party in NYC! At the Stonewall Inn. All details at the calendar page. Right now I’m booking the show and I assure you it is killer! Costumes of any kind are encouraged but not required. Make travel plans now!!

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When I am facilitating a meeting, I’m a big fan of the “go around”. Tell us your name and stuff like pronoun, identities, and always a wacky question. It’s a good ice breaker, makes sure we’re all on the same page, helps get people closer, sparks convo outside of the meeting. At all Femme Family meetings (where all of us are self-identified Femmes) I ask what the Femmest thing* they’ve done today is as well as a highlight of what’s going on in their lives.

At least night’s Femme Book Club my question was “What was the highlight of your summer.” Mine was three fold. NYC Pride Weekend with the Femme Family. The Femmes of Power Book Launch with the Femme Mafia in Atlanta. And Michfest. Interestingly, in the past two days I have discovered videos published that feature my first two highlights!

I’m especially fond of this one by Maria Rivers of Labrys Magazine in Atlanta.

What I love most about it is that my outfit translates better in video than photo. That crinoline really floofs!

Today I was on the newly redesigned Velvet Park Media reading this blog post about the Butch Voices Conference.** It was with great delight I found Grace Moon’s video about the Dyke March. Best part is Rachel, our Femme Family Madam of Mystery*** talking about Femme Family and then in the next scene Grace is trying to do an interview and it is completely overwhelmed by the shouting of Femme Family and the Femme Sharks. Ferocious!

Scroll down in the side bar and clickie on NYC Dyke March. It’s a few videos down.IMG_2002
Our Femme Family theme dress was “feathers” because our logo has wings. Loved how everyone did something different! You can’t see it but Sophie’s got an old fashioned hat with feathers on it.

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Femme Sharks
Femme Sharks in NYC.

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I didn’t get a good picture, but there was a whole contingent of folks doing glitter & moustaches. This is my friend Blaney.

*Generally the Femmest thing falls into one of three categories: 1. Girly stuff (Today I painted my bedroom hot pink.) 2. Strength and Bravery (Today I quit my job to focus on community work. I’ll get the money somewhere.) 3. Dating (Today I successfully navigated overlapping scheduling of dates with two of my out of town lovers who wanted to visit the same week.)
**I feel pretty complicated about the blog post, and am working up a response.
***Here’s Rachel from the Dyke March. Can you believe the first thing I noticed about her was the eyelashes, and only 10 minutes later did I realize she was actually topless?

2009-06-10

Femme Pride Week Recap!!

Oh my lord! What a week! Together with the other Madams of the Femme Family, we pulled off New York’s first ever Femme Pride week!

I feel so honored to be in a place and time where Femme is an identity to be celebrated and honored, and the breadth of Femme presentation is acknowledged and illustrated. I hope more and more as we do NYC Femme events that self-identified Femmes of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, fashion inclinations, backgrounds, sizes, etc… feel welcomed and want to be part of seeing the power of autonomous Femmes coming together.

Speaking of Femme was so full of light, love, power and intensity! Femme identified readers from throughout New York City and our special guest, Mira Bellweather, from Michigan, threw down once again at NYC’s feminist bookstore, Bluestockings.

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Mira’s piece on superqueeroes and superhero identities was so great I am going to record it for FemmeCast, so stay tuned.

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Felicia Luna Lemus was incredible, and you can pick up her books (that are so great!) at her website.

I did a piece I wrote about my deadbeat dad and will probably release on the podcast. I got one of the best compliments, from an artist whose work I respect and draw inspiration from, who said it was simultaneously funny and poignant and worked on both personal and broader levels. As I write more for stage, I’m trying to develop a style. Sort of a sarcastic Carrie Bradshaw with teeth and politics. I think Speaking of Femme works so well because clearly there are people who are hungry for the words and performance of Femmes as they explore their own gender/sexuality identity politics and also because Femme artists need a place where we can workshop our materials in a safe environment with other queer artists.*

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My outfit for Speaking of Femme is my favorite summer halter dress (from Re/Dress) and a bouffant/ponytail inspired by Jacqueline from the Real Housewives of NJ. And Zoe, whose dress is from Re/Dress as well.

We had some in between events that celebrated Queer identity and Fat identity, to round out Femme Pride week, which I’ll separately blog.

The other Femme Family produced event was our coming out party. We were very intentional about the elements of the evening meeting with the mission of our organization. We wanted to have it facilitate conversation and community building, so we kept the dance music at house party level instead of “Omigod I can’t hear you” bar level. We wanted to preserve our current Femme history and show the breadth and depth of Femme presentation & Femme allies present, so we had a photobooth with a professional photographer and fabulous lighting. And we wanted to have a cabaret with Femme identified performers doing work that called into the room the incredible history and legacy of the transwarriors and Femmes that came before us.

We did the show at the Historic Stonewall Inn, where the Rebellion happened 40 years ago. If you see the neighborhood now, you know how much the West Village is losing the queer rebellious element. It was nice to bring in some of the queer flash that seems to have started segregating in Brooklyn.

I put together this slideshow that includes a lot of shots from the night and some video from the performance. Since Flickr is a bit picky about longer videos, there are two more videos of different performances from the Cabaret apart from the slideshow. I have to say, I was impressed at the big turnout** and the amazing hotness of the crowd. It illustrated that Femme comes in all kinds of packaging, and I look forward to proving that again and again and again.

Be sure to watch the videos… if only I had video editing software!

The photobooth was such a fun aspect of the night. I’m pasting a couple of my favorites here, but soon they’ll all be at our website.

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Almost all of the Madams.

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Almost all of the rest of the Madams. (And we want more! Wanna organize? Jump right in! Rachel did and she was our stage manager!)

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Me and Jesse, one of the most well-dressed men I know. I interviewed him for Episode 10 of FemmeCast on courtship and butch fashion.

So if you are near NYC there is a vibrant Femme community happening right here! Community is fostered on the internet but it exists in real life!! If there’s something you want to see happen in NYC, join the Madams! If you want to have Femme community, come out!

And you can always start your own Queer Femme organization in your hometown! The Atlanta Femme Mafia exists to be the big sister chapter to help smaller chapters start! New chapters were just approved in Melbourne, Austin and someplace in the midwest!

*I’d love to create a queer femme writer’s group to workshop groups with, but you know. I do a lot of organizing and not as much working on stuff.
**The proceeds go to help the Femme Family have a “Love Your Body” themed entry into the NYC Pride Parade–so gaystream and bodyhating, generally.

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