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

2013-01-31

Casserole Party

My BFF Brian told me about an annual party thrown during the summer by his friends in New Jersey. A casserole party with prizes! Encouraging folks to bring casseroles to compete in competitions for expensive cooking gear. It’s a huge gay hurrah with over forty people and a theme. Brian noted that this year’s winner (chicken kiev or something) did not adhere to the theme (carnival).

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Me and Damien. Vintage Aprons, Damien Luxe Private Collection, my navy blue dress courtesy Brooklyn Boobala.

I had this nugget in the back of my mind for months when I asked my roommate if she wanted to throw a mid-Winter get together for our friends. I thought it was a great Winter theme because casseroles are typically served warm and are great comfort food. Our apartment is especially good for parties in the Winter because it gets pretty warm from the living room’s abundant heat and we can easily seat 20 folks on our glamorous couches.

As we prepared our own casserole offerings for the evening, Damien and I discussed what we would have done if we were Baller Lesbians. (Which I like to relanguage, Law of Attraction style, as “When we are Baller Lesbians.”) Like bought some party favors of cute pot holders for everyone. Had a Le Cruset casserole dish as the big prize and a few other kitschy kitchen items for the runner-up prize categories. Like best name, most compelling casserole transport saga, best vegetarian dish, etc…

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We made numbered index cards for fauxnonymous voting. There was a big discussion about whether people should know who made what because popularity might be a factor.

What we did, instead of a Baller Lesbian Prize, was a $1 buy-in, winner take all. I think the total was $13. We also told everyone who came to either bring a casserole or a beverage. Everyone who tasted the casseroles could vote.

It was sort of necessary to define casserole for some of our attendees. Since our friends consist of folks from all over the country and the world, not everyone is familiar with the concept of casserole (or “hot dish” as my friend Victoria, a Minnesota native, calls it). This is what Damien came up with and I really loved it:

Not just a combination of sticky and cooked foodstuffs, the casserole is a wintery dish that sticks to the ribs AND the heart, just like your favorite femmes who would love you to attend!

I was once engaged to marry an Iowa native and have dated my fair share of Midwesterners, so I know folks have really strong opinions about what makes a casserole legitimate (often “cream of whatever” soup is that legitimizing ingredient) and whether or not Jello can be considered salad.

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Cole and Amanda, clean plate club.

I once made up my own casserole recipe in honor of my favorite dyke stand-up comic, Kelli Dunham. She had a birthday and I encouraged folks to bring food inspired by her comedy and she tells a joke about being asked not to bring her Spotted Owl Casserole to the dyke potlucks anymore. I made up Spotted Owl Casserole based on a tater tot casserole recipe I read on a blog in 2002 but it’s actually vegetarian so there you go.

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This is Kelli Dunham, unveiling her casseroles.

Early on in the evening our friends wondered if the vegetarian dishes would have an advantage over the meat dishes, since everyone attending would be able to eat the veg dishes and not everyone would be able to try the dishes.

In that realm, I thought that perhaps Jess bringing a lamb and beef shephard’s pie might be a risky entry at a queer potluck, as both of those are controversial meats.

I made Oklahoma Baked Cheese Grits, adding a bit more Worcestershire sauce to them, using half parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese, and forgetting to put in the eggs. Thankfully, it did not suffer for the omission. I also made Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, but I used a Paula Deen chicken stock recipe and free range chicken legs for the meat instead of just commercial chicken stock and chicken cubes called for in the recipe. I think it was a wise choice, and the extra chicken stock I made has helped the leftovers. I think it made the recipe extremely flavorful.

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Damien made her famous Food Bank Casserole in three versions: vegan, gluten-free vegan, and full-meat. She describes food bank casserole as the use of typical food bank treasures. Usually you get a can of mixed vegetables, a can of “cream of whatever” soup, a can of tuna or fish, a container of biscuit mix. My understand of how the casserole comes together is to mix all canned ingredients, prepare the biscuit mix and layer it on top. Bake it at the typical casserole degrees (350) and voila! Deliciousness!

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Other casseroles brought to our home were: Asses of Fire, Kelli named this hot as hell vegetarian dish. The secret ingredient was some kind of chili. She also made Midwesterner’s Socially Awkward Meaty Surprise which was careful layers of cheese, sliced potatoes, chicken and bacon. A vegetarian casserole of black bean tostada variety. Carnivore’s Vegan Disaster which was sort of like a vegan pate’ and something was definitely off in the texture. Emily, who brought the dish, had two major items that were missing in the preparation and I can’t remember what they were.

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This one was Carnivore’s Vegan Disaster.

We had everyone vote at a certain point and then we had another round of guests arrive before we tallied. Jessica Halem even brought a salad which was certainly welcome after all of those carbs. Also, we had a latecomer casserole that was a braised beef shephards pie that was incredible but hardly anyone had room to eat it. Sam left me the leftovers so I felt like I really won a grand prize.

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This is Emily, showcasing a very Virgo-style tasting method. She ate this plate clockwise.

All of our guests sat around digesting casseroles and chatted about many things, including a long story about San Francisco performance art, food bank policy, a redux of the epic Myth party the weekend before and social justice strategies.

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When it came time to announce the winner of Best Casserole we did a couple of side categories, Toddlers and Tiaras style. We had “Best Casserole Transportation Saga” because it was snowing that night and transporting casseroles on public transit in New York is hella harder than you think. Kelli had this epic thing where everything was wrapped in towels, ace bandages and packing tape. Jess won, though, because she lives near where that dolphin was stuck in the Gowanus Canal, she found out the dolphin died, the casserole was leaking on the subway and then when it got to our place it almost set our oven on fire and set off the fire alarm in the hallway of our building.

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Creative transport via cardboard. Sam and Jessica Halem.

We also gave an award for best name and Kelli won that for Asses of Fire, though I believe Carnivore’s Vegan Disaster was a close second.

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The overall winner of the potluck was… the Lamb and Beef Shepherds Pie! Jess really took home a lot of glory on that fine Winter’s evening!

I hope some of you out there are inspired to have a warm and inviting party for your friends this Winter!

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2012-07-23

Summer Update and Magic Mike

When I embarked on the journey to write a memoir this summer, stepping out in faith with no book deal lined up or anything, I swore I wouldn’t end up like so many of my favorite bloggers who sort of disappear when they are writing a book. And then I did it! I disappeared. When you pour yourself into something 1,000 words at a time and it’s a lot of hard stuff you don’t necessarily want to look at or think about it gets really difficult. So it’s all, write, self-care, write, live a new adventure over here.

Me, serving Aerosmith groupie @ Rebel Cupcake 27: Classic Rock Cupcake. Photo by @morganirene our Cupcake Princess.
Me, serving Aerosmith groupie @ Rebel Cupcake 27: Classic Rock Cupcake. Photo by Morgan our Cupcake Princess.

It was also a bunch of preparation for all the events I’m doing this July. The Sarah McLachlan Fumbling Towards Ecstasy tribute show was incredible–the acts were so vulnerable, tender, funny and profound. We believe we called forth the spirit of Sarah Mc’s stalker as the microphone spontaneously started moving around after the band Hellmouth sprinked a circle of salt around the lead singer during a Buffy fanfiction reading/performance over “Circle.”

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Backstage with Jessica Halem.

Rebel Cupcake was also electric. Truly a gift to hear the haunting black mass of Coven by Nath Ann Carerra with Elizabeth Koke. And I met a bunch of blog readers! One from Portland! Next month is August 16th, if you find yourself in town.

During my writing days I’ve been doing what I can to take good care of the well from which I draw my creativity. This means morning pages and artist dates, tools I picked up doing The Artist’s Way (I highly recommend doing the book with a group or a life coach, as I did with rockstar and writer Lynnee Breedlove from Tribe8.)

One of my favorite artist’s dates to go on is going to the movies by myself. And the other day I found myself during matinee times passing a theater where Magic Mike happened to be playing.

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Masculinity!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m a Kinsey 5.5 and I live a life that puts Femmes at the forefront. I don’t have a lot of masculinity in my life and I feel pretty great about it. I love the masculine of center folks that are in my community and in my life, but considering I live in the Haus of Femmespiration, work for myself and collaborate with Femmes and limp wristed fellas, I just don’t really do a lot of masculine studying. I don’t think about it that much, so it takes a special moment for me to focus my attention on that kind of spectacle.

And Magic Mike is nothing if not a celebration of masculinity.

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I will be honest, I really love Matthew Mcconaughey. He is one of my favorite fictional lawyers and I enjoy his soft Texas accent. He’s why I went to go see the movie. I also really loved Channing Tatum in The Vow, so he was a win. And I didn’t realize Alseed from True Blood was in Magic Mike and was pleasantly surprised.

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The movie is essentially conceived of an all male revue of super buff dudes gyrating on stage for throngs of excited women. The dance acts are great, pretty well-choreographed and conceived. In fact, as a former drag king performer who studied the way men walk and talk and wear facial hair, etc… I think this movie is a great study tool. Each performance was basically the same as an apolitical drag act I’d seen once or twice before. Or, in the case of “Pony” by Ginuwine, three times before. It is always hot when performed well. (Channing Tatum can dance. Who knew?)

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The plot is loosely structured around a new kid in town and the more successful thirty-year-old stripper showing him the ropes. Maybe a little bit Coyote Ugly mixed with Showgirls. The plot is barely there, clearly not well-developed and hard to follow. The main love interest is boring and has one expression on her face the whole time. But it doesn’t matter how terrible the plot is, the male revue is so fun to watch! Let’s go back to the club while there are dollar bills being thrown around!

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If I had a Women and Gender Studies paper to write for undergrad I could really rip this movie up and sideways. I had an emphasis on cultural representations of gender while in undergrad and I was great at movie deconstruction. But I have a memoir to write! So if you’re taking a WGS class this Fall, go see this movie and take lots of notes.

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Anyway, I highly recommend it as complete eye candy. Especially if you enjoy or are attracted to masculinity or are or were a drag king performer. Just watch some of the gifs on tumblr. You’ll know what I’m talking about.


Patriotism would be a whole section of my paper. I could get 10 pages easily.

I’m 25,000 words deep into my memoir (my goal is 50,000 by the end of the summer, when I will start taking the taffy draft I have and choreographing the sentences better) and have lots more to blog about as things keep surfacing. Why is it that I hear more often than not that folks “just aren’t interested in Femmes” and how can I learn to let the love in? So much to think about.

2011-07-05

Hey Brooklyn! Dirty Dancing at Rebel Cupcake on Thursday, July 14th!

Remember that scene in Dirty Dancing where Baby carries a watermelon and ends up in this magical, steamy, sweaty dance party?

And then Johnny Castle teaches her how to dirty dance?

I have always wanted to throw that party, and now, in the heat of July in an air-conditioned gay bar I am recreating it!

All the info is below, I am super excited about the show and especially the sweaty dance party to follow!

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Thursday, July 14th, 2011 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake 15: Dirty Dancing
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 queer dance party for all shapes & flavors!

*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! The dance party is soul music, the songs that inspired the iconic movie Dirty Dancing, are steeped in history and make sweater summer nights unforgettable.

*Performances by:

*Jessica Halem as Frances “Baby” Houseman
Comedian and hot Femme in the role she was born to play, she’ll also be doing a comedy set!
[http://www.jessicahalem.com]

*Heather Acs as Penny
Magical Femme performance art wildflower, she’s directing the Dirty Dancing vignettes and performing her new work about star dust.

*??? as Johnny Castle

*Amelia as Dirty Dancer
Our flamboyant go-go will get you in the mood for dirty dancing!!

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

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

As always, free cupcakes while they last! Vegan & gluten free sometimes available. This month we’ve carried a watermelon instead of cupcakes!!

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!)

Check out the photos from past Rebel Cupcakes at the facebook group! The most stunt-ridden and flamboyant photo booth in queer New York City.

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