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

2021-11-16

Loving Her Was Like Driving a New Maserati Down a Dead End Street

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Bevin @ 11:04 am

Taylor Swift re-recording her legendary Red album has me all in the nostalgia of nearly ten years ago. 

The song Red sends me right back to a 2012 romance that is every bit driving a brand new Maserati down a dead end street.

I produced a monthly body positive queer dance party called Rebel Cupcake on second Thursdays for several years. For some reason August was a big month and the party was popping when I laid eyes on Dylan* for the first time.

My jaw might have dropped. I remember seeing her because she was very tall and easy to spot over the cluster of friends she was chatting with. I didn’t even consider my shyness (y’all I’m an ambivert, strangers can be hard for me) and walked to the group of friends and introduced myself. 

That was a fun night! Dylan is not in this photo. Photo by Kelsey Dickey. Hiring a photographer was always my best investment in those parties!

The first few things I learned about Dylan were kind of unbelievable. Not that I thought she was lying but that the Goddess brought her to my party.

Let’s start with aesthetic! Preppy, tall, fat butch with glasses. A fav of mine and fully my “type” at the time. 

She was super smart, had recently relocated from my hometown of choice (Atlanta) and she produced a talk show as a career job. My career goal at the time was to become a talk show host; meanwhile I was a lawyer with a nightlife side hustle. 

When telling my friends about her I called her “The future Mrs. Branlandingham” since I was still using a last name back then and also she was a great candidate for a future with me.

I couldn’t believe she even existed and immediately texted Rachael asking for her info. (Queers in Atlanta know each other like that.)

Cute shot of me and Rachael in 2018! I think this blog is really the love story between me and Rach. I love you to the moon and back beloved!!!

Nothing happened that night but I did get Dylan’s Facebook and sent her a message inviting her to hang out with me at a party I was hosting in a couple of days.

It didn’t occur to me that she thought I was just inviting her as a party promoter and not trying to spend intentional time with her in an alcohol experience while I looked cute. 

She showed up with another girl (a chubby red head—I was still mostly a redhead at the time) and made out with her in front of me. 

Not quite devastating, more disappointing. It inspired me to take a month off of dating because as I told my friend Leo about this experience I could hear it echoing the previous two girls I heavy flirtation with who chose to date someone else instead. Three times in a month is a pattern and the best way to break a pattern is to change your behavior.

Me and beloved Femme Bryn at Buffet! the party Dylan attended with that other chubby redhead. I had a great time anyway.

My month off dating was great, actually. I released all desire to date anyone and focused on self care and spending intentional time with friends. No regrets. I still made out with someone visiting from San Francisco at a party—I had declared to the Goddess if it was her will for me to connect with someone she should drop it in my lap. She did.

2012 was quite a banner year especially compared with my quiet pandemic forest life today.

I watched Dylan’s Facebook and saw her go upstate with that chubby redhead and break up shortly thereafter. 

A couple weeks later she texted to ask if I was going to Hey Queen, my friends’ party and a place I frequented. I said I would see her there. I remember nothing else about that night except all of our chemistry.

One of the promoters said watching us was like watching time stand still. We danced with friends til we were just dancing alone. I was counting the heartbeats til we might kiss.

My friend DJ Meduusa was playing the late night shift. We had recently lost our friend DJ Sirlinda, and he used to play Automatic by the Pointer Sisters for me frequently. Meduusa didn’t know that we had that connection but played it plus a Stand Back by Stevie Nicks. Perfect playlist for a perfect first kiss.

I remember leaving that night setting a first date for the following Friday. Just six days! And the night before was Rebel Cupcake and she was going to try to make it!

It was October, I had been planning my outfit and the theme for months. 90210 Peach Pit After Dark theme! Kind of a diner aesthetic meets all your fav 90210 characters.

My friend Nicky did perfect Brandon hair for working the coat check. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

My beloved first sweetheart who is still in my life and cheering me on is a giant 90210 fan and wrote me a trivia game for the party. Learn how to receive the love people are able to give you and your relationships can evolve really beautifully.

I took a train to Philadelphia that week to pick up my costume—a giant cheeseburger! My drag dad Johnny KingPin had made it for our cheeseburger obsessed friend Jess and I was borrowing it. It was cumbersome, heavy and ridiculous. I could not believe I was going through with this outrageous costume knowing my massive crush Dylan** might be there!

I’m a pretty committed person by nature and if a suitor cannot handle my flamboyance early on there’s not a lot of hope. The show must always go on even if I look goofy when I just wanna be sexy.

Dylan and I texted during that whole train ride to Philadelphia and all week long.

So she totally showed up! And I was dressed like a giant cheeseburger and I didn’t die! (I took it off after the show and just wore my cute red dress.)

Doing 90210 trivia right! With Sabina on stage. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Dylan wanted to take pictures in the photo booth together with our faces touching! And when my party host responsibilities were complete we made out in the grotto at Sugarland for forever! 

We parted ways with promises to see one another the very next night for our date!

I met her at a fancy farm to table restaurant in Williamsburg. Candle light! She ordered oysters as an appetizer and I don’t eat fish but I’ll try a fancy shellfish. 

We were there for a long time. Talking like catching up on a lifetime. SO much in common. I found her fascinating! We made plans for the very next day to have brunch. A second date within 12 hours of the original is very lesbian timing.

She walked me to the bus stop and we made out across the street from Peter Luger’s for a long time! I still haven’t eaten there in this lifetime but that make out under the yellow streetlights is what I think about whenever I consider Peter Luger’s. You can see it from the L train when you go over the Williamsburg bridge.

Beloved Femme Morgan made amazing cupcakes for Rebel Cupcake Peach Pit 90210. Photo by Kelsey Dickey and omg her fried egg hair accessory!

The next morning I was prepping my home for brunch and she texted because she forgot that she made plans with a friend, could we reschedule. 

I was gracious (ALWAYS STAY GRACIOUS) and figured we’d get something else on the books before she left for DC for work. 

She got sick. We didn’t see each other. We kept texting. But then there was Hurricane Sandy and everything was topsy turvy. She didn’t text as much. 

She posted those pictures of us touching faces from Rebel Cupcake on her timeline! Caption was something simple like “Bevin!”

My heart was so confused! I know now that mixed signals are a NO. Don’t try to read into anything to find a yes. The right people are a YES!

It was Autumn and I remember walking all over Brooklyn listening to Red on repeat. Dylan was my Maserati! Why can’t we just get out on the highway? I still think of her when I hear that whole album. Our slope was treacherous and I was walking around in Park Slope thinking of her.

This was the same time I was meeting Dara. Dara was not my type in any way and I didn’t even realize our first date was a date. I genuinely thought she was just “picking my brain” in exchange for taking me out for drinks. 

We ended up making out but I didn’t let her go home with me. Partly because I wasn’t prepared for a visitor, I was trying not to be so much of a first date girl and I was confused and heartsick about Dylan. I remember thinking about Dylan during that make out and feeling bad that I was wasting a present moment joy by indulging my heartbreak. I still had so much to learn about grieving.

Finding Dara a cab home was nearly impossible but we did it (post Sandy Brooklyn was no gas for about three weeks and closed subway stations; chaos).

I was starting a new party the Saturday after Dylan got back from her DC business trip. I thought she’d show up to support and to see me. She texted that she might. 

But she didn’t. Instead Dara showed up. This was information.

Yes, I threw a party at an art gallery with a go-go dancer on a ledge!
The photos that night are not the best but this one of DJ Meduusa getting it and our go-go dancer Gretchen (whose web series These/Thems is fantastic) encapsulates the spirit of Yes Ma’am!

Dylan stopped texting me entirely after she didn’t show up to the party.

I got a psychic reading that week (one of my first). She told me that Dylan and I had many lifetimes together including the lost city of Atlantis. She was resistant to doing the work with me in this lifetime. 

She said my next relationship would be a “dress rehearsal” for the real thing. She didn’t give me clear advice about Dylan vs Dara.

I decided to follow Rachael’s advice to “focus on the person who is focused on you” and gave Dara a shot. Our second date was really nice and she prayed before she ate which was something I wanted to start doing and she’s so smart that again the talking thing. 

I think if I were to describe my sexuality queer works but truly I’m Sapiosexual–it has nothing to do with body parts and everything to do with brain.

A couple days after that date with Dara I ended up going to a show at Sara Lawrence college with a friend who texted right before “Oh yeah Dylan is coming!”

It’s a good thing nobody ever died of awkward because sitting in a backseat with the person you thought you might marry and still have so much sexual tension with…

It was clear she wasn’t trying to flirt with me anymore and I did my best to bravely be the cool girl in the friend zone. Still so confused.

Our connection was so good! Like a hot fast car you can’t take anywhere. I read recently that we become whole and complete ourselves but there’s work we can only do on ourselves in relation to someone else. I think I felt a lot of grief about the work we were going to do together? 

I had dreams about her for months. Even as I started getting hot and heavy (but not exclusive) with Dara. In one of those dreams one of my other soulmates showed up as a Spirit Guide and there was some kind of closure in it. I knew at that point Dylan was gone forever.

I kept her in my observation for awhile. She dated a bunch of different people who I noticed frequently ended after the first getaway together. I wish her the best. I never felt anything bad towards her. Mostly, just confusion.

The kind of ironic thing that happened was that LONG after we didn’t date I found out she had slept with Ria, my forever crush. So two hot butches I didn’t get a chance to sleep with had sex with each other. 

First of all, hot. Second of all, this was my favorite lesbian love octagon I’ve ever been part of. Third of all, I did hit on Dylan at Ria’s funeral because Ria definitely wanted people to have sex because of her. Dylan turned me down so I went home with my bestie Rachael and ate delicious food. A win.

I was an emotional mess but I was still cute at Ria’s funeral. One must shoot their shot.

That first round dating Dara also ended poetically, with her saying I love you for the first time as she broke up with me. (I hear that lyric in the ten minute version of All Too Well.) 

After we got back together I thought the psychic had been predicting Dara round one was dress rehearsal for Dara round two. But now that Dara and I have been broken up from round two: engaygement for two and a half years and I’ve done so much studying on what makes a good marriage and strong communication I think that whole six years was a dress rehearsal for whoever is my real future Mr/Mx/Mrs Bevin. 

*This is a pseudonym

**Dylan didn’t really look like Dylan McKay more like a kind football player on 90210 but it was a good gender neutral pseudonym. 

Also in looking back through Fall 2012 pictures I was in a performance art tribute to Taylor Swift in October 2012 at an art gallery. I did a piece about my first engagement to the song Speak Now. Since at the time Taylor was using a sharpie on her body to write lyrics before each of her shows we all wrote lines from the Riot Grrrl manifesto by Bikini Kill on our arms. That was an amazing show!

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2017-03-30

FAT SEX WEEK XXL: Meet Fancy Feast Who Made Fat Sex Into a Career

Welcome one and all (who are knowingly entering into this adult-themed conversation)! This is Fat Sex Week XXL, the second edition of QueerFatFemme.com Fat Sex Week where I explore many facets of fat sex. Named for Magic Mike XXL, which was even better than the first Magic Mike, I’m hoping this edition is louder and fatter than ever before! Check this tag for all of the posts!

Rebel Cupcake was a monthly body positive queer dance party and cabaret in Brooklyn I produced. It was at a divey club/bar called Sugarland with the triple threat of sound system, lights and a stage and it was all mine one night a month. I think that a performance sets an energetic stage for a specific experience; I wanted to produce empowering acts that made people feel good about being weirdos. I began every night with an hour or so of 90s R&B and Riot Grrrl music for mingling, then had a brief stage show, then cleared the chairs for a dance party. The shows were about 15 minutes but some nights were longer, like the staged reading of the beauty shop scene from Steel Magnolias. I booked burlesque, Bearlesque, butchlesque, drag queens/kings/gender performers, live music, belly dance, poetry (only knock your socks off great poetry, it was a nightclub), fire performance, readings and whatever else I found in the realm of body positive/weirdo positive/queer and fat performance realm.

Fancy Feast fit right in with the unicorns.

I used to have to hustle every single month to book a stage kitten. I was always relying on the kindness of last minute serendipity. Somehow I would find someone who willing to wear a cute outfit and be on stage picking up clothes from the previous performers in exchange for drink tickets. Fancy Feast walked into Re/Dress, the vintage plus size and resale clothing boutique I worked at, she said she had taken a burlesque class at the New York School of Burlesque (it’s a real thing) and she volunteered to stage kitten if I ever needed one. It was as though the Goddess heard my plea to get someone consistently available to fill this role and here she was.

“We fear not being beautiful.”

After a couple of months and a theme that would work for her (I curated the show themes very thoughtfully) I gave her a slot. She was great, but what was even better was watching her develop as a performer over time. Fancy Feast works really hard and she’s very smart, she thinks things through. She’s always improving. She also has a lot of fun on stage and she owns her body. That, to me, is ultimate sexy right there. It literally doesn’t matter what your body looks like, to me it is how you embody yourself fully that makes you hot on stage.

On being fat on stage: “I walk in the fat one and I get to choose how I walk out.” Photo by David Byrd.

Fancy has flown to the top since her glitter beginnings at Rebel Cupcake. She’s been Miss Coney Island (which is a big deal in New York City and a perfect title for her) and is well-recognized. And now there’s a documentary about her!!!

If you are interested in hearing a smart woman talk about owning her body, performing erotic dance, selling sex toys, living a very realistic NYC performance artist life, subverting beauty standards, and finding a place to express yourself while being weird or exaggerated, you should watch this documentary.

On performing to a not body positive crowd: “I don’t want to walk into a room and know everyone is going to agree with me.” Photo by Ellen Stagg.

Or if you want to be inspired as an artist by another artist’s practice, watch this documentary.

Or if you just want to watch a hot fat woman take her clothes off a lot, watch this documentary.

Glitter spank at Rebel Cupcake, photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Maybe a little bit of all of those things? Leon Chase made this amazing one hour film about what it’s like to be a fat burlesque artist and sex educator, but from the very one of a kind perspective of Fancy Feast.

Fancy Feast also often said yes to other random gigs I had. Go-go dancing at my off-shoot dance party (no performance) Yes Ma’am. Here I am with co-founders and co-producers DJ Average Jo and Nicky Cutler and Fancy Feast is working it even though we were in an art gallery and didn’t know what exactly to use as a go-go box.

I make a brief appearance as Bevin Branlandingham of Rebel Cupcake (major points for spelling my name correctly, Leon). He chose the exact right photos and video clip for Rebel Cupcake. Me in a “Yes Fats Yes Femmes” glitter tank top of my own creation in a still shot with Fancy Feast, and a video of me recreating a gif of a Glitter Spank I saw on Tumblr. Using Fancy Feast’s ass.

Kate Bornstein & her amazing partner Barbara Carellas performed at my Rebel Cupcake second anniversary party. Fancy Feast, as Stage Kitten, was called upon to hold Auntie Kate’s umbrella. Sometimes volunteering has its own glamour! (I’m similarly briefly in a documentary about Kate Bornstein, while introducing her and Barbara at Rebel Cupcake. That documentary is also quite incredible.) Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

People who feel weird among other folks will identify strongly with Fancy Feast. For her and me being weird is a really beautiful thing. You know, being the swan among the ducks, looking for other swans. It just feels so good to me to watch someone on TV (well, chromecasted from youtube) who is reflecting what I believe about all bodies being valuable. About sex being a normal part of human communication that should not be shamed. That glitter is a really important part of self expression.

“Ugly is not the worst thing you can be. Being boring is. Be ugly, not boring.”

Fancy Feast is more than 100% of the time working to advance fat sex, at least by being a fat presence in multiple facets of the sex industry. I felt like it was remarkably appropriate to kick off Fat Sex Week XXL celebrating this incredible documentary. Grab some popcorn and watch it!

Follow Fancy on Twitter @fancyburlyq on Instagram @fancyfeastburlesque and find her on Facebook as Fancy Feast!

2015-05-24

Rebel Cupcake Dance Party and Cabaret Returns One Night Only June 19th

Hello beloved readers from all over and NYC friends! After a lengthy hiatus, Rebel Cupcake returns one night only for a special engagement at a huge venue with a lot of intention! This is a great event to come to town for in June! The night before the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island!

4777784616_d9d471f45b_zMe, Femmeceeing at Rebel Cupcake 3: Rebel Cupcakes at the Beach. Photo by Nogga Schwartz. You can tell it’s NYC summer in the photos for that show because everyone is glistening from the humidity!

Rebel Cupcake is not just a queer dance party, it is an intentionally body positive space where all bodies are good bodies and everyone’s flamboyance is encouraged and supported. It’s incredible dance jams with lots of room to move. It’s in an accessible space with gender neutral restrooms, a rarity in NYC nightlife venues. It has a 30 minute cabaret with three show stopping acts by diverse artists.

I Femmecee Rebel Cupcake and it is always my favorite thing to present the art I’ve curated with the crowd. When I started doing body positive nightlife I knew a show was important in setting a tone for the evening. It also really helps ease social anxiety and encourages people to mingle–I even give a moment for everyone who is looking to meet folks for make-outs or flirts to raise their hand. People have met their long term partners and besties at Rebel Cupcake! (And if you’re not looking to meet anyone and just dance, there’s space for that too of course!)

16774059314_72a62c4155_bMe and Fancy Feast, our long time resident Stage Kitten who got her start as a stage kitten for the Rebel Cupcake stage and is now a big-time burlesque artist in the NYC scene! Photo by Kelsey Dickey from the June 2012 Rebel Cupcake: Let’s Get Physical.

The theme this time around is Time of Our Lives, which is a riff on the newish dance jam by Pitbull and Ne-Yo about going out and partying even though shit in life is rough, and also a nod to Dirty Dancing because it’s a classic movie that was one of my favorites growing up. I always felt like Baby did going into that dirty dancing party back in the worker area of that resort when I started going out to bars and parties. Even now my social anxiety flares up in a new queer dance space. It’s always my hope to dispel that for folks as quickly as possible at my events!

For our June 19th show, I’ve engaged the services of the AMAZING DJ Precolumbian from Philadelphia. Here’s her bio, she’s extremely talented. Listen to her soundcloud!!

ChaskaWeb

Precolumbian is a Philadelphia-based genderqueer dj, musician, and media activist. Weaving together her Latina/Andina and Queer/Trans ancestries, her work operates as a medium for empowerment, decolonization, and community building. She has been transforming dance floors from Brooklyn to Mexico City, sharing the stage with Big Freedia, Kid Sister, Niña Dioz, A Tribe Called Red, Le1f, Cakes Da Killa and more. Precolumbian was honored with the 2013 Leeway Transformation Award for her innovative work in the club and she was a 2015 Official SXSW Showcasing Artist. Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/precolumbian, MTV Iggy: http://ow.ly/M6G71, Electric-LLama: http://ow.ly/M6GcN, The Media: http://ow.ly/MEXGi

Since this dance party is a celebration of life of sorts, I asked the artists to bring numbers along the theme of “What gives you life.” These are all folks who have done show stoppers before and I’m so excited to have them.

1492213_10201133982331866_567117264_oPhoto of Mizz June by Kelsey Dickey from Rebel Cupcake: BDSM Holiday Party.
Mizz June is one of my favorite people and her music and performance is so captivating. She’s the kind of person you see on stage and never forget.

merry-cherrie
Merrie Cherry is on fire with charisma. She’s a drag queen based in the Bushwick drag scene. She commands a room (I’ve seen folks in bars stop their side conversations transfixed by Merrie Cherry onstage) and I know in the next couple of years she’ll be a household name. (Read this article about why she’s everything)

1266088_10200733798247514_697370623_oPhoto by Kelsey Dickey from Rebel Cupcake: The Craft. There’s been a lot of mash-ups of BDSM and witchy spirituality at Rebel Cupcake!
Miss Mary Wanna has the most unique shimmy of anyone I know in burlesque and she’s bringing ROLLER SKATING BURLESQUE to the Rebel Cupcake stage. It’s an honor to have the facilities to host that kind of epic act.

1272782_10200733802567622_84972401_oPhoto by Kelsey Dickey.

Special Guest Party Host and one of my favorite fat queers Devon Devine of the legendary Hard French party in San Francisco will be joining us!
10296841_10152489691409495_4197076762051586311_n

Party Host: DJ David John Sokolowski of Hot Fruit / Psychic Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter

When I first started flyering for Rebel Cupcake in 2010 folks asked if there would be cupcakes and I said “Of course!” Which meant before every party I was making several dozen mini cupcakes. Until I prayed to the Goddess for someone to relieve me of the job and she blessed me with Morgan. She has been the Cupcake Princess for Rebel Cupcake for a long time. She’s a gourmet chef and baker, though it is not her all the time gig. (I can imagine if she ever decided to open a bakery or cafe she would be wildly successful, but I kind of love that it’s special just for Rebel Cupcake and folks lucky enough to know her to eat her delicious one of a kind cupcakes.) We’ll have gluten-free/vegan and a boozy gluteny version, free!

131170_4067480605562_1576758754_oHaving Morgan talk about the cupcakes on stage at the Rebel Cupcake: Toddlers and Tiaras show. She’s sooo good with a theme! Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

One of my favorite memories of Rebel Cupcake are her International No Diet Day cupcakes in 2013–she riffed off of grapefruit, reclaiming it from previous bad diets!

135211_4067475925445_1999806388_oIn hindsight I should have been archiving the photos of Morgan’s cupcakes with the description of the ingredients! Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Photos by Kelsey Dickey, our longtime Rebel Cupcake photographer.

1269191_10200733807367742_1043340212_oPhoto by Kelsey Dickey.

I was especially inspired to bring back Rebel Cupcake as a way to channel grief from losing two friends this March. Both were under 40 and one (Taueret) was a close friend of mine when I started Rebel Cupcake. She’s in so many of the photos from Rebel Cupcake when it was a monthly party, performed a couple of times and helped inspire several of the themes.

4777152381_bfe59cf329_zTaueret at the third Rebel Cupcake, adding some sizzle to Bambi Galore’s burlesque act. It was a really hot moment! Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

1417776_10201133974091660_1964427268_oTaueret at the most recent Rebel Cupcake (December 2013, BDSM Holiday Party Rebel Cupcake) with Fureigh, Vic and Dusty playing Leather Daddy Santa. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

4356548063_a3bfb905ec_zPhoto of DJ Sirlinda by DJ Lil Ray.

My friend DJ Sirlinda, who passed in 2012, was part of the very first few Rebel Cupcakes as the DJ. I wanted to honor folks who we danced with by an altar at the side of the stage. Please feel free to bring something (a photo, keepsake, token) that symbolizes a friend you’ve lose who you used to dance with to add to the altar.

Here are all the details. In case you hate waiting in line at party o’clock, advanced tickets get a priority entry line and are a bit cheaper than the door price!

Friday, June 19th, 2015 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake: Time of Our Lives
Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., between 3rd & 4th Aves, Gowanus, BK
Trains: 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, or Q to the Atlantic Terminal, F or G to Carroll
$10 pre sale tickets–priority entry line / $13 at the door
11PM Doors and mingling / 12AM Show

Rebel Cupcake is a body positive queer dance party for all shapes and flavors! Time of Our Lives is about dancing even though things are rough. It’s about the human desire to have a great time. Dance because it feels good. Dance because the music is amazing. Dance in honor of someone you lost you used to dance with. Or just come party with your friends.

Wear: Whatever makes you feel your 100% most authentic and fabulous self. Wear that outfit you can’t wear anywhere else. Wear short shorts for the first time. Wear what gives you life.

Rebel Cupcake began on International No Diet Day in 2010 and has received the following accolades:
*One of the 50 Reasons NYC is the Greatest City in the World, Time Out New York
*Most Eclectic Party, Go Magazine Nightlife Awards
*Best Emcee: Bevin Branlandingham, Go Magazine Nightlife Awards
*But best of all, the repeat compliment, “This is the party I’m most comfortable being my authentic self.”

Accessibility notes: The venue is wheelchair accessible. There are gender neutral single occupancy restrooms. Street parking near the venue. There’s a lounge area in the front of the venue with real chairs. The stage area is standing room, the show will be less than 30 minutes and if you need a chair for show accessibility I can reserve one for you, email queerfatfemme at gmail.com

830264_4533038204211_445095766_oTwerking at Rebel Cupcake: No Pants No Problem February 2013 party. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

2014-10-10

Nine Steps to Be Ready to Wear Sleeveless Shirts or Shorts Next Summer

If you spent this summer consistently covering up your arms because you were ashamed to show that part of your body, now is a great time to start working on being ready for next year. You can unlearn the lies that people tell you about how you have to cover up in order to be socially acceptable.

I remember very distinctly an episode of the Oprah show I watched when I was a teenager where she waved her upper arm in the air and spoke derisively about the skin and fat “waddle” dangling there. I turned crimson with the recognition that I already had that “waddle” and that because Oprah was opposed to it then I should be ashamed of it.
2957045493_cb41415748_zI thought I’d do a little flashback Friday with photos of me sleeveless through the last decade. Here is a photo of me showing my arm waddle during a performance at the International Drag King Extravaganza in Columbus circa 2010. This is the dapper and amazing Heywood Wakefield.

Oprah is in a unique position—she’s so influential in US culture that many people listen to what she says with the same kind of attention that we might give to a parent or relative. My parents and relatives were also fatphobic and ashamed of their bodies and it was easy to internalize that the fat body I had all my life was wrong, with a hearty reiteration from Oprah.

We’re all human, though, and I recognize everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. My mom is now super supportive of my work with body liberation and Oprah is definitely much more body accepting in the twenty teens than she was in the nineties.

I don’t understand why our culture is so opposed to fat people’s arms. What is it about the arms specifically that makes us need to cover them up most of all? No fat person’s arm has caused more harm than a thin person’s.

I was on the phone with a body liberation coaching client and told her the story of how I got through my own shame about sleeveless shirts, and I wanted to share that with my readers. This is the same time of year I began that journey, so I thought it would be great to encourage others who are ready to take these steps to begin now for next summer.

I’m outlining here a process of self-acceptance and learning to be comfortable in the body you have right now. All bodies are worthy of love exactly as they are AND they deserve to be comfortable.

14558700107_5d7497a1ae_oThese are my stickers! Aren’t they cute? If anyone wants some, make a donation via paypal of any amount to queerfatfemme at gmail and include your address.

1. Get ready to do things differently

I was 19 when I embarked on the journey to start wearing sleeveless shirts. I was at an interesting turning point in my life. After a many years long, often suicidal depression, I had decided to stop hating myself. I didn’t know what that meant and I had no identifiable role models for fat people who didn’t hate themselves, but I knew I needed to do something different. That summer, I met someone who basically made me promise to stop putting myself down and work on loving myself. Grant was a lifeguard at the Girl Scout camp I worked at and he wrote me the sweetest note in my camp yearbook. It meant so much to me. It was the first time I was ever able to hear that I was worthy of not hating myself.

I knew instinctively that I was wrong for hiding my arms. It was uncomfortable and annoying and I wanted to feel the freedom of my skinny counterparts. I had a couple of tank tops as layering pieces and I started to open myself up to the idea of wearing them, and set a goal to be wearing them outside by the next year. I wasn’t sure exactly how, but I was going to do it.

If you want to do things differently, you need only set your mind to it. If you’ve been spending your summers all bottled up under hoodies or wearing pants even though you would be way more comfortable in shorts, you can move past your fear and shame and start being more confident.

You just need to want it. It’s also okay to not want it and spend the next year or however long getting to a point to want to go sleeveless or wear shorts. That’s okay, too!

2. Go shopping

If you already have tank tops or shorts you want to wear, great, skip this step. If you’ve avoided them forever, this is a great time of year to get low stakes clothing that you’re not that attached to.

Now that I’m comfortable with my body I don’t have a problem investing in pieces that are armless and short legged (herstorically I’ve spent a pretty penny on vintage lingerie pieces). But if I wasn’t comfortable in a short sleeved shirt, I wouldn’t want to spend a bunch of cash on them just to see if I could learn to love myself in spite of all the lies people tell me about my body.

Right now Target has summer clearance hanging around—I got two really great sleeveless dresses for $12 recently. And a quick search online yields promising results (like this long tank top, I love a long tank top). I also totally adore Target’s Liz Lange maternity clothes–this sleeveless V neck cami marketed for “sleep” but totally not just for sleep is a great plus size sleeveless first step shirt.

Layering pieces are super helpful for this process, too, if you need some guidance for what to buy. The tank tops I started trying out when I was 19 were meant to go under overshirts. One of my favorite looks when I was in college in the late nineties were men’s dress shirts worn open over a frilly tank top. When I was ready to wear tank tops out of the house it helped to have the layers ready to go whenever I felt shy.

If you’re wanting to try shorts out, there’s a little less layering wiggle room, but it’s a great time of year to get clearance shorts, too.

15498653845_ffa838faff_zThis is a layering look I adored in 2011, a sleeveless dress with a cardigan on top.

3. Identify confidence anchors on your body

I didn’t do this when I transitioned to tank tops, but when I came out as Femme I used this a whole bunch. I found the part of my body I felt the most confident about (my cleavage) and I dressed around it. I could try pretty much anything if my cleavage was bangin’. The Lane Bryant Plunge bra was great for this. If your anchor is your cleavage, make sure you have a great bra for stepping your way into wearing tank tops next summer.

For some tips on bra shopping check out this article I wrote about getting a custom bra fitting.

So maybe your favorite part of your body is your calves or your forearms or something. Find a way to highlight it and use it as an anchor.

647924376_8cb8653c4f_o2002, at the IDKE showcase. Corsets were really good to me in the focus on the cleavage not the arms department.

4. Practice at home

Once you have the will to try something new and the new garments you want to try, start practicing at home. At 19 I was a Resident Advisor in the dorms, so this was an experiment just in my room at Thoreau Hall at UC Davis. I would just use tank tops as my around the house wear. Previous to this I was so ashamed of my arms that I wasn’t even wearing tank tops in the privacy of my own home, not even as loungewear.

What made the tank tops different than loungewear was that I would be all dressed for outside, but in a tank top. This is where layering pieces helped—I was able to just throw on an overshirt and go about my day. But in the house, I was wearing the tank top that I wished I had the confidence to wear outside.

If you’re trying on shorts, wear them around the house and get used to what your body looks like in shorts. I know a lot of folks who are super insecure about hairy legs, cellulite, weird skin stuff and leg size or shape.

5. Identify your body positive allies

This is a really great exercise whether or not you are already a sleeveless shirt and shorts wearer. Who in your life is a body positive ally? Your best friend? A certain group of friends? I sure hope you have some folks in your life who affirm the body that you’re in right now and don’t think you need to change.

If not, start making a list of the attributes of friends who will be body positive allies to you, and open yourself up to finding those friends.

9304102569_cdb266b898_oThis was the first time I ever wore a bikini, with my friend Jacqueline.

6. Identifiy your “safer” spaces

Once you’ve identified body positive allies, come up with a list of safe(r) spaces to try out wearing new clothes. This is a great technique for any kind of fashion risk. Places I like to try things out:

*Casual hang out with your allies.
*A body positive ally comes over and you just don’t cover up your arms.
*Brunch—this is my favorite petri dish for new fashion. Low stakes and early in the day.
*Going out in public with a body positive ally who can compliment you when you’re feeling nervous.
*Going out in public with a layering piece so you can quickly cover up if you need to. Challenge yourself to go without the layer longer and longer each time.

2504463608_9827babbb3_zA little chicken satay and body positivity with Rachael, one of my oldest friends, in 2008.

7. Fake it till you make it and act “as if” you’re already comfortable in sleeveless shirts

When I was trying out tank tops I remember the first time someone came over by surprise and I just didn’t cover up my arms. It was my not-yet first girlfriend and I remember feeling embarrassed about my arms showing but also really wanted to try to be okay with it. I was so crushed out on her that it was easy to forget to be insecure because my mind was absolutely full, and that’s exactly why I forgot to put on an overshirt in the first place!

What I did was I just faked it. I pretended to be okay with my arms showing. The more it happened with folks coming over the more I realized it wasn’t a big deal. No one was going to think differently of me with my arms showing.

3683063609_4ce737edc2_zPride parade 2009 with the Femme Family NYC.

8. Instagram or tumblr body positive images

I really like to reinforce positive body image for all bodies. I love Instagram and Tumblr for this. To consistently surround myself with people who believe all bodies are good bodies and who exude self-confidence is a really great antidote for our fat shaming society. Get used to seeing bodies like yours in sleeveless tops or shorts!

By the way—never read the comments. People are gross on the internet.

Remember throughout this process—so many of us have been there. The people you see in Instagram and Tumblr feeds are people who have survived the same body policing and fat hating society. Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides. Just because someone seems confident doesn’t mean they are not vulnerable, human and insecure just like you.

9. Do what you need to do about beauty rituals to feel comfortable in sleeveless shirts

Again, this is a process of self-acceptance and learning to be comfortable in the body you have right now. However, if you need to do things to feel good in them that are achievable, maybe you try that. Maybe it’s a spray tan. Maybe it’s an arm tattoo. Maybe it’s shaving your legs every single day to wear shorts until you can get comfortable enough to go hairy legged one summer. Maybe it’s addressing a skin thing keeping you from showing your arms. I’m not saying modification of your body is necessary to body acceptance, but sometimes it’s helpful to baby step your way.

1393354441_e2bef3304b_zFound this photo of my friend Zoe’s leg tattoo–a great reason to wear shorts!

Dolly Parton’s character Truvy in Steel Magnolias says there’s no such thing as natural beauty, and I do believe that everyone should get to do exactly as much “work” as they want to on their appearance. For me, when I’m feeling nervous about something, I throw on a full face of make-up including fake eyelashes and big hair and it definitely ups my confidence.

When I was about 9 years old I started developing bumps on my arms. It looked kind of like chicken skin after feathers were plucked from them. I was super insecure about it, and my paternal Grammy told me it was genetic. Eventually I learned that this is a really typical skin condition and I could just exfoliate three times a week and it would go away. I don’t know if I would have felt comfortable trying tank tops if I hadn’t already addressed this skin issue I was having, but I’d like to think I would have still tried. (Right now I use Lush’s sandstone soap to exfoliate, and also a scrubby washcloth.)

Oh, and once I started exposing my skin to the sun more often, the bumps were way less prevalent.

Being self confident is a baby stepping process. I was 19 when I started trying to wear tank tops and it took me until I was 22 to start to embrace my fat body and fat as an identity. You can get there. Every single day is a great day to start.

7310063030_3093c1724a_zRebel Cupcake second anniversary party, 2012.

2014-07-22

Announcing Dollypalooza September 5th in Brooklyn, NY!

About three months ago I was in Pigeon Forge, TN on a trip to Dollywood with my friend Jess. We are both super fans of Dolly Parton but didn’t think that our adventure to Dollywood was going to be anything more than just a fun trip to check something off my bucket list. We stumbled onto Dolly’s homecoming weekend at the park and a convening of more Dolly fans than I’d ever been around at one time. The energy was intoxicating!

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One highlight from the weekend was going to Night of 1,000 Dollys at a gay bar in Knoxville. There were actually only about 8 Dollys I think, but I couldn’t tell for sure. We couldn’t make it into the bar because it was so packed, but we had a great time in line meeting local folks and taking photos with all the amazing Dolly styled queens who walked by!

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I was super inspired by the event. I’ve produced several Rebel Cupcakes around Dolly Parton themes, including a staged reading of Steel Magnolias with me performing as Dolly’s character Truvy. But I wanted to do it bigger than I have ever done before.

When I got home I booked a great venue, with a huge stage and a backstage area worthy of a LOT of queens ready to honor the glitteriest star in modern times. I love Dolly Parton and I am so thrilled to bring this vision to life!

IMG_6618I kept taking pictures of Jess with the queens and she would be like, “Are you sure you don’t want one.” And I told her, “When the right Dolly comes out, I’ll know it’s time.” This was my Dolly choice.

The event takes place on 9/5–fantastic homage to the song 9 to 5!

Friday, September 5th, 2014 * New York, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
DOLLYPALOOZA: An Epic Fan Tribute to Dolly Parton
Doors 11p, Show 11:45 * $12 early advance, $15 advance, $20 at the door
http://dollypalooza.brownpapertickets.com
LITTLEFIELD, 622 DeGraw Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn, NY
Atlantic Terminal (2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q trains) /Carroll St. (F & G trains)

Dolly Parton has inspired generations of performers and we gather to salute her positivity, flamboyance and high glitz glamour!

Come one, come all, as we use drag, burlesque, live music, performance art and glitter to celebrate all there is to love about Dolly Parton!

Featuring:
World Famous *BOB* performed Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” while distributing candy canes from her bra at a Rebel Cupcake show in 2011.

Nath Ann Carrera performs a show entitled “I Don’t Want To Throw Rice, I Want To Throw Rocks: The Early Southern Gothicism Of Dolly Parton!”

Merrie Cherrie is a glittery leader in performance communities, much like Dolly herself.

Chris (of Hur) was deemed the most avid Dolly Parton fan of the New York drag scene.

Sequinette created an act about Dolly’s secret Butch lesbian lifestyle.

West Vargina joins Sequinette in recreating Dolly’s vision of the Stairway to Heaven.

Miss Mary Wanna once performed a risquee butter double team number to Dolly’s “Potential New Boyfriend.”

Femmecee Bevin Branlandingham named her law firm after her favorite Dolly Parton movie and considers Dolly a spiritual guru.

and MANY more performers!

Interested in performing at Dollypalooza? Apply here by August 10th.

IMG_6566Examples of great Dolly fan outfits.

FAN CONTEST: Cash prize for the best fan outfit of the evening!
Nath Ann Carrera also DJs before and after the show, there will be epic Dolly dancing!

RAFFLE: A raffle to benefit Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (a literacy program that provides one book per month directly to children who need it) will feature amazing prizes!!

RSVP on Facebook!

Accessibility notes: There is plenty of street parking available. There are gender neutral single occupancy bathrooms. Littlefield is wheelchair accessible. Some seating available for folks who need it. Email queerfatfemme at gmail.com

2013-12-03

Queer Family Holiday Rebel Cupcake Saturday December 7th

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It’s here! My annual queer family holiday party! All the pertinent details are here and at the bottom of the post.

This is the fifth annual party I’ve thrown in NYC to celebrate queer families around the holiday season. In 2009 I did a Queer Family Holiday Party (part of the series of shows I produced in advance of getting my first monthly party, Rebel Cupcake). In 2010-2012 I did the monthly Rebel Cupcake in December. Now that Rebel Cupcake is no longer monthly I still wanted to have that holiday coming together spirit. This is an intentional event I do every year to cultivate and celebrate queer families of choice.

I’m very stoked to do things a little different this year–instead of a show I’m having INSTALLATIONS! Each installation artist is curating a specific holiday hybrid with BDSM. I was inspired by a leather family event I went to this summer that had a family photo booth. Why not do it in the holiday way?

LEATHER DADDY SANTA PHOTO BOOTH
Featuring Dusty Shoulders. She promises some amazing beard action, Santa suit and accessories. I’m working with our photographer Kelsey Dickey to have a super cute photo booth so you have something you might want to print out and send as cards to maybe your kinky friends but maybe not your mom (depending on your mom, I guess).

ERIN HOUDINI’S CHRISTMAS TREES
I took a rope class with Erin Houdini a couple of months ago through the Lesbian Sex Mafia and it was awesome! I learned so much. And Erin’s ropes are fucking sumptuous! The colors are also incredible and she’s selling them at Rebel Cupcake for $10 off their online price so bring cash for stocking stuffers. And stick around and watch her decorate people like Christmas trees! I am bringing ornaments.

JACQUELINE MARY’S JEWISH MOMMY HANNUKAH CELEBRATION
Mommy/boy play is awesome and so is Jacqueline and there’s something delightfully maternal about serving latkes and dreidel action. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

DAMIEN LUXE SERVES SOLSTICE
Damien is a genius performance artist and notoriously adept at BDSM so I asked her to serve something for Soltice.

MIZZ JUNE SERVES SHOTS
Whatever she wears will be its own installation, and the incredible Mizz June is always a delight. Buy shots from her, or send a shot to someone else at the party.

DAVID JOHN SOKOLOWSKI SERVES BEATS, BUT LOW ENOUGH SO YOU CAN TALK
One of the secret reasons I love throwing parties is because I have enough influence to set the volume of music. I never understand why music needs to be so loud in a club. And I know this isn’t just because I’m 34, I’ve felt this way since I was 20. Like, at a house party music is loud enough to dance and experience but still soft enough to be able to have a conversation. But at a night club or bar it’s gotta be at top decibal I still don’t understand. So I am the kind of person who is all, play good music but let’s keep it able to have a conversation.

People have met their partners, one night stands, new besties (it’s where I met Jacqueline and many of my dates) and artistic collaborators at past Rebel Cupcakes. I want y’all to mingle and meet folks!

Also David is a great DJ.

FREE TREATS!
My Cupcake Princess is out of town (*sob*) and I haven’t found a back-up yet so if I don’t find someone who wants to make cupcakes for Rebel Cupcakes (you get supplies covered/free admission/GLORY) I will be doing it myself like in the old days. But trust, RC is a place for decadent treats and I try my best to honor our gluten and vegan cupcake challenged siblings.

Here’s all the details. Hope to see you there!!

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake 41: Leather Family Holiday
8PM-10PM; NO SHOW–Come early to experience all the installations * $10
Stick around after to dance at TNT til 4a
**NEW LOCATION—THIS N THAT BAR: 108 N. 6th St. @ Berry, Brooklyn, NY
(2 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)

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From the Queer Holiday Extravaganza in 2009! Me, Deb, Glenn Marla and Taueret from our Re/Dress Brooklyn days! Photo by Ally Picard.

2013-09-20

The Return of Rebel Cupcake on Friday September 27th and Upcoming Queer Dance Parties

Rebel Cupcake has been on hiatus since May. I decided to put it on the shelf for a bit because I needed a venue/night change. I was hearing a lot that the Thursday night aspect was hard for folks. I got the opportunity to use our original venue, Sugarland, again at an earlier time on a Friday night and I’m thrilled to bring it back periodically for new adventures!

The event is from 8-10, with a little bit longer show at 8:30. Still free gourmet cupcakes, a great DJ and a photo booth by Kelsey Dickey!

This month we’re celebrating The Craft! The 90s teen witch dramedy about peer pressure, fitting in and wiccan mischief.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Here’s the info:

Check out these incredible performers!

From Washington, DC, my old friend MIASIA is performing! She’s basically an international belly dance legend and truly the most unforgettable belly dancer I’ve ever seen.

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On a break from international touring is Kit Yan, who always brings the most tender and magical, powerful and uplifting spoken word to the Rebel Cupcake stage. I can’t wait to have him back!

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Photo by Nogga Schwartz for Rebel Cupcake.

Fancy Feast began her burlesque career as the resident stage kitten for Rebel Cupcake and is now making huge strides in the NYC burlesque scene and beyond.

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Photo by Courtney Trouble.

Chris Tyler is a Brooklyn-based pop satirist performance artist who does brilliant work that always surprises me. Here’s a photo of Chris performing as Taylor Swift performing as Dolly Parton serving the Paula Deen donut burger at Rebel Cupcake.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Miss Mary Wanna is one of the witchiest burlesque performers I know and she calls Rebel Cupcake a home stage even though she lives in Philly. I am really stoked for what she has planned!!!

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At Rebel Cupcake in January, Miss Mary Wanna felatted two sticks of butter while dressed like Paula Deen. What will she prepare next? Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Our DJ is NEON MUSIC, from the amazing band Youthquake! Playing Riot Grrrl, 90s R&B and lots of 90s dramatic witchy tracks like Kate Bush and Tori Amos on the dancey side of them.

NEON

Cupcakes by guest cupcake baker, Winter Laike at Mixtape Cupcakes!

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Drae Campbell is running the door!

The event is over at 10pm but SWOON takes over until 4am, David John Sokolowski’s monthly blacklight party that is a wild magic pile of homosexual magic. You’ll love it if you want to stay on and keep dancing.

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Photo by Think Theater Queer Photography at Swoon last month.

This show is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to have you all back at Rebel Cupcake. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I began plotting this one!

Full moon tarot reading, witchy stuff. Listening to mellow, nostalgic music, thinking of loves come and gone, moving life forward, curiosity.
Witch witch you’re a witch!

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Other events on the horizon: Wham Bam, our afternoon hang out party, is September 29th at Huckleberry Bar. More info here!

The long awaited return of Yes Ma’am, the queer body positive party I throw with DJ Average Jo and Nicky Cutler. October 5th at the mansion! Mark your calendar!

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I’m fundraising to sustain QueerFatFemme.com and my art projects! Please consider supporting with a gift subscription (and getting some great prizes) if you have been touched by this site!

2013-06-28

Eight Things to Keep in Mind For Your First Sex Party

There are a couple of not safe for work photos in this post…

It’s Pride Week and the close to Gay Stamina Month and what better thing to talk about that makes us really gay than… sex. My friend Elisabeth even addressed it in her wedding column!

A few friends of mine are preparing for their first ever play party, so I’ve been doling out advice right and left. It’s called “play” but sometimes folks interchange the word “sex” or the acronym “BDSM.” Whatever you call it, it is a social occasion in which folks are free, perhaps even encouraged, to engage in public sexual or kink behaviors. It’s a good place for people who are exhibitionists and voyeurs, as well as people who want a dose of sexual energy in their lives. There are a bunch of different reasons folks might want to go to a sexy party, a few of which I’ve addressed below. I believe being good in bed is one third chemistry, one third listening to your partner and one third skill. Sex parties are great places to learn new skills and better sexual communication.

I only attend sex parties sporadically and rarely play with strangers–and I don’t play unless I really feel like I want to. When I want to feel agency over myself as a sexual being I like sex parties a lot for that. The energy is usually really good and liberating and it often feels like a way to reclaim my body after a break-up, even if I don’t play at all. And I’m always looking for ways to do that.

My first play party was about a decade ago. I was still living in Philadelphia when I made the trek to Throb on the Lower East Side. It was a queer women & trans play party, the likes of which I had heard about in dyke literature–Michelle Tea books, On Our Backs magazine–and the fringes of my sex positive friend groups. I was in a monogamous relationship (with some make-out freedom) and I’m not sure entirely why Seth was okay with me going without her but I think it was an adventure I felt in every part of my twenty-four year old heart that I needed to have.

I think it was a release party for Sugar High Glitter City and I was too shy to ask Shar and Jackie to sign my copy. I found that first party intimidating but liberating, and not as scary as I thought but still scary in a this is a really new thing I don’t know how to be sort of way. Over the years I’ve become really fond of parties that hire a good DJ (nothing kills my boner like bad music) and have at least one room that feels like a regular party and isn’t very serious. I like to chat with folks and sometimes people are very serious about kink. I’m not. I remember having folks tell me “I heard you were flogging so and so at Switch and making her recite Britney Spears lyrics.”

Like I said, I don’t go to play parties often but I enjoy them. There are some folks who make this a huge part of their life–taking weekend trips all across the country to go to parties. So this list is just some suggestions from my perspective and I encourage you to ask other folks for their ideas as well.

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I consulted my friend Felice Shays about her tips as a long time player, author of Brutal Affection, and the person who flogged me for the first time during a demo carnival at Throb the second or third time I went. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

1. Brush up on consent practices.

Just because someone is at a party doesn’t mean they want to engage in play or sex, or engage in it with you. They might just be there testing the waters or just not that into you or what you want to do. Remember, without no there is no yes. But also, they might just be shy and want to, so it is worth asking and being prepared to hear “No” or “Yes” and remember that asking is the victory, not the outcome.

Some parties have explicit consent policies and practices–you should read all of those before you get there so you have an idea of what to expect. I suggest reading the Learning Good Consent Zine to any person who wants to engage in sexual activity with another person ever (i.e. everyone), but it’s especially good to do this before you go to an explicit play space. Also my tips on How to be an Ally to Your Fat Lover are relevant here, too. Be body positive!

The Myth Party is one of my favorite play parties ever and I suggest cruising their “rules and security” section. They are very thoughtful and awesome. I appreciate that everyone there adheres to these consent policies because it makes me feel comfortable as a queer woman who has sex with folks of non-normative bodies and genders to know that the multi-gendered partiers are all on the same page as I am with consent.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

2. Brush up on your talking to strangers.

I’ve written extensively here about how to get over shyness and ask people out on dates. The same principle applies at a play party–nobody ever died of awkward.

Felice suggested making it a goal to talk to at least one person you don’t know. I had the goal to talk to five people I didn’t know at the single’s mixer I went to a couple of months ago. It’s hard to talk to strangers (even for some extroverts) especially in a sexually charged/awkwardish environment. But probably everyone else is feeling a little nervous, too. Even experienced players get nervous, awkward and consider leaving. Best just to dive in and get through it so you can get to the good stuff!

Felice also said, “If you see something or someone interesting talk to them. Wait until they’re done w whatever or whomever they’re doing.” It’s normal to feel like a weirdo in unfamiliar social settings but remember a play party is just like a regular party. Use a little grace and finesse about when and how you talk to people. Be appreciative not creepy.

Take advantage of cruising wristbands and use that as your opening with people. “I notice you’re looking to engage in S/M play as a top…” Submit party here in Brooklyn has a whole cruising wristband system.

The one-liner that works best in my experience at play parties is, “Would you like to negotiate something?” An ex of mine said going up to people at parties is like shooting fish in a barrel because most folks at women/trans events are too shy to make the first move. Be bold, the rewards are plentiful!

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Felice is a mega-tron babe. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

3. Go with a specific desire in mind but no expectations.

This was from my roommate, Damien Luxe. I think it’s a great idea to have a desire so that way when you do talk to someone or they talk to you and the question comes up whether or not you want to negotiate something, you have things in mind. Examples might be, bondage, flogging, spanking, sex, making out, cuddling, watching porn together, watching scenes together, doing each other’s make-up, learning how to do something.

But going with no expectations is really important. If your getting laid is the only way you’ll feel successful at the party, you probably won’t be successful. Going with the flow and being open to genuine connections is probably better. I learned how to just let expectations go and be appreciative of the experiences I’ve had and wound up much happier (be this at conferences I thought would be total boink fests, and dates I’ve thought were sure things but then there was no chemistry).

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Felice giving a glitter spank demo at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

4. Interact with the host!

Felice suggests “Find the host and ask for a tour and or offer some help.” Getting the lay of the land is really helpful right away. Often volunteering at events is a really great way to meet people you may want to negotiate play with. It’s a good ice breaker, too, and can help you feel more brave, as these parties are all about stepping outside your comfort zone.

I was the Mistress of the Parlor for a play party my friend Trent threw a few Pride weekends ago called “Transaction.” I got to greet people and play matchmaker and ice break. I loved that job! It didn’t get me laid but I think I was secret monogamous at the time so I wasn’t really looking for action.

If you think the host is hot (and probably they are, and very good at what they do), Felice has some specific advice. “Don’t wait til an hour before closing time to ask the party host to flog you or fuck you – they’re possibly cleaning up condoms or wiping down equipment or fucked or flogged out already.”

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I was searching desperately for a photo of LeRoi Prince in Captain Kirk drag to illustrate a point later on in this blog entry but I had to settle for this insanely hot photo of them in a vest and shirt. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

5. Dress in a way that makes you feel confident and sexy.

I’m not so into the leather scene aesthetic of black tank top/tee shirt and black jeans and black boots. Or camouflage anything. Sure, I like 90s style on the right person, but I just think that’s a “safe” look and good style really makes you stand out. How about gray skinny jeans? Your boots should be fabulous. If they were two-toned cowboy boots that would really turn my head.

When I was still pretty new to kink stuff and going out a lot after the end of my engagement, my bestie Rachael came to town to teach me to flog. When deciding what to wear to the party we went to (I think it was Switch at Paddles, may it rest in peace) she highly endorsed me wearing a gold dress. “It’s important to stand out,” she said.

Lots of folks default to the standard slip dress or lingerie, which is fine if that is your aesthetic. But I don’t shy away from a costume and was pretty proud of what I wore to do that hostessing gig at Transaction, which is the same outfit I wore to Femmecee Rebel Cupcake a couple of months later.

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From Rebel Cupcake, August 2010. The fact that I was 31 at the time is sort of startling because it doesn’t feel that long ago and I still have all of the elements of that outfit in my wardrobe. Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

Corsets are good, wear great underwear and “consider shaving your personal bits or whatever else you consider primping before you get there,” says Felice.

Most play parties have a place to change, and people often make use of this. No one expects you to arrive “ready.” This is one of those great examples of a place where you can bring multiple outfit changes. At a party I went to with a sweetheart in service to me (and I was performing) I had three pairs of shoes and took advantage of having someone to lean on while I changed heels several times.

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Finding that photo of me meant finding a photo of my darling Miss Mary Wanna from 2010, too. What about wearing a hot apron and fishnets to a play party? Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

6. Mindfully imbibe.

Lots of parties are BYOB. Some are sober (keep your eyes out for that). But be mindful of using alcohol and other drugs when you’re playing. It really messes with consent and boundaries and you don’t want to do something you wouldn’t soberly decide to do with your body or to someone else’s body. There are many other chances in life to get fucked up and a play party doesn’t need to be that place.

But, you know, if you need a beer or a makers on the rocks to ease into things, go ahead. Just be forewarned that there are people who won’t play with you if you have been drinking or using other drugs.

Also, drink lots of water. Felice: “Drink water. Use lube. Drink water.”

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I’ve worn this outfit to play parties, too. This is my dear friend Anne!

7. Pack your toys!

Lots of parties have the big equipment, like beds, crosses to lay someone on, cages, etc… But you have to supply the flogger, canes, dildos, vibes, whatever. What you might want used on you is a great thing to bring because not all tops come carrying all that they have in their repertoire of skills. And if you have something you want to use that’s a good thing to maybe flag with casually in a back pocket. Just a thought for cruising purposes.

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Drae Campbell at Rebel Cupcake NO PANTS NO PROBLEM. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

8. Kiss somebody.

Felice says simply, “Kiss somebody!” Making out is fun and no big deal. I used to throw make-out parties all the time and they were really fun. I had all these games and got people in huge groups (50 or so) to play where it forced them to interact with people and either kiss, make out or friendly handshake and it was a way to negotiate play and also meet new folks.

In summary, sex parties are totally a fun way to play with energy and get really into your body and your desire. I highly endorse a couple of them before you decide they aren’t right for you. And if they are, you might find yourself on Fet Life getting all up in it every weekend like the sex hobbyists I know.

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The time we had a makeout contest at Rebel Cupcake NO PANTS NO PROBLEM. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Folks in New York who want to give play parties a try I suggest:

July 11th–the hardly ever happens so catch it while you can Myth Party. It’s like the nightclub of the future, where folks are dancing and mingling but also fucking and playing and wearing Star Trek costumes.

It’s a great answer to the problematic nature of “who exactly is women and trans” because it’s not. It’s a fluid gender party where the needs and comfort of queers of all bodies, genders and ethnicities is privileged. You have to apply to get an invite and it’s definitely, definitely worth it. Especially if you just go to be at a party with sexual energy and aren’t sure whether you want to play. I went as a performer last time and was super impressed with it and felt no impetus to get down with my sweetheart, but felt welcome to. She and I had fun playing with a new dynamic, and briefly playing fetch with one of my roommate’s houseboys who was playing the part of Rover that evening. Pet play may not be my thing but it’s all play, and sometimes fetch is fun no matter who is doing the fetching. These parties are about experimenting and being free.

July 13thUnchained. It’s new, I’ve never been, but a trusted friend of mine went and gave it their stamp of approval so I am passing it on.

Every last SaturdaySubmit. It’s a Women and Trans party I’ve been to many times. They have a great in-house DJ (Angel Boi). The space is a basement, which sometimes smells like basement and is not my favorite olfactory experience but it’s a fun group of folks that seem to change every year or so I make the trek to the basement.

2013-06-03

June Events! June 7th big ol’ Brooklyn Pride Kick Off Party & June 30th Afternoon Tea Dance!

Welcome to Gay Stamina Month. The month in June where every weekend has a pride event in some borough (including Mermaid Pride, I mean, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade). I cut off my schedule early in May. Seeing it swell with events I just decided not to plan anything else. For my sanity!

FYI Rebel Cupcake is on hiatus until September, when it will return as a quarterly extravaganza!

The BIG THINGS I’m excited to share with you are as follows:

JUNE 7th!! This FRIDAY! The Yes Ma’am crew is kicking off the weekend of Brooklyn Pride (which is June 8th) and coincidentally the Big Fat Flea (June 9th) with an amazing off the chain body positive dance party.

We are adding DJ D’hana Perry to our line-up! Their company is Chub Rub Productions. Totally perfect for a body positive queer dance party!

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

We have special guest celebrity Kelli Jean Drinkwater from Sydney, Australia in the house roaming around, looking fabulous and hostessing during the evening! I’m so excited to have Kelli Jean at Yes Ma’am!!

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We are actually building a TWERK WALL. It’s going to have decoupage. Inspired by this situation, basically we are hiring a carpenter to build us a TWERK WALL to have at our dance party. If you build it, they will twerk.

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All the info on the party is here, RSVP on the Facebook event, and if you purchase tickets pre-sale you get a free drink! Save two bucks on admission by joining our email list!


I have taken over one third of the hostessing duties of the Lunchbox Queer Co-Working at Beast every Friday! If you’re a freelancer/student/flexible Friday schedule person, bring your books or your laptop to this great restaurant in Brooklyn to get some work done in good company! It’s phenomenal networking, really fun, very well air conditioned and the food is delicious.

11-4pm, Fridays, Beast Restaurant, Corner of Vanderbilt & Bergen in Brooklyn!

The Facebook event page is updated with the new date every week, so “join” if you want to get updates!

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Later this month, you should mark your calendar for the second installment of our afternoon party, WHAM BAM! The first one was last week and it was so much fun! I have always wanted to create a mellow, afternoon/early evening soiree and WHAM BAM is exactly it. We’re at this amazing swanky bar called Huckleberry in South Williamsburg, that has a reputation for incredible cocktails and great food. Lounging with queers in a gorgeous backyard is one of my favorite things to do!

Sunday, June 30th (after the pride parade in Manhattan) from 4pm-10pm swing by and hang out!

All the info is here as well as our Facebook event!

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Yes Ma'am $5 mint julep! Enjoyed on the patio!
The Mint Julep drink special was a hit last time! This time we’re doing a $5 Cranberry Violet cocktail special!


See you out and about! I also decided that instead of the Mermaid Parade on June 22nd this year I’m going to Punk Island (same day/time as Mermaid Parade) dressed as a mermaid! Stage 4 is hosted by my pals at Brooklyn Transcore! Queer bands all on one stage! Bad ass way to have it all.

If you want to get my Facebook round-ups of events, friend me on my Rebel Gateau page! I actually try to keep my personal page curated to folks I know in real life, but I want to be able to connect to folks who want to get invited to events on the blue grid.

2013-05-06

Three Ways to Reclaim Food Awesomeness on International No Diet Day

Today, May 6th, is International No Diet Day. I used to throw parties every year for it, but now I throw body positive parties all the time so I just have a quiet observation. I thought this was a great occasion to go through three ways that I like to reclaim my consciousness, self-esteem and eating habits from the scars of an early lifetime of dieting.

1. Participate in an act of food celebration.

There are lots of ways to celebrate food! You could have a treat! You could make a meal for friends. You could see one way in which you are not gentle with yourself about food in your brain and try to turn that off for a meal. You could stick a cupcake in your cleavage and get someone to eat it! Eat something awesome and take 5 times as long to eat it so you really taste and savor it. There are so many creative ways to eat in new and celebratory ways that reclaim food from the shame circle of dieting!

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey, cupcakes by Morgan.

2. Make peace with “diet” foods you have abused or hated in the past.

I was very inspired by Morgan, the Cupcake Princess for Rebel Cupcake (I pay for her supplies and transport and she brings 100 gourmet mini cupcakes). The cupcake is generally related to the theme and sometimes how it gets there is very complex and always artistic. She got up on stage on Thursday for our “Riots Not Diets” theme to explain her cupcakes. She had been on seventeen diets in her life, including the grapefruit and coffee diet. She tricked herself into believing lemon made things taste better (like helping you forget diet coke is diet). She called oranges “dessert” food. But grapefruits can be great! Candied! Grilled with fennel! A million things! Meyer lemons are truly a fruit from the goddess!

So in order to reclaim her relationship with citrus, the cupcakes were blood orange with a meyer lemon grapefruit butter cream and some kind of citrus sugar drizzle. They were delicious.

Are there foods you only associate with dieting that you could find ways to rearrange your feelings towards in a fun and different ways?

3. Take concrete steps towards re-wiring your brain about food.

I notice that sometimes I feel really cloudy about certain food. Like, there’s so much you hear in the media about how certain foods are bad, but sometimes these foods aren’t always bad all the time. (Saturated fat, for example, I’ve heard isn’t all bad from all sources.) There’s just so much conflicting and complicated information about food. When you’ve had a lifetime of dieting, avoiding certain foods, being vigilant about packaging, etc, it can sometimes end up a jumble in your brain and make it really hard to make a basic decision like “what’s for lunch?”

Part of Health at Every Size is intuitive eating–becoming the expert about your own body and what foods work for you. Reclaiming “balanced” eating to actually just mean eating foods that, together, help you feel awesome in your body at its present shape and size.

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An act of food celebration. Photo by Nicole Myles.

For example, I can’t eat kale, it just tears up my digestion. But kale is great for many other people. There are a lot of resources out there and nutritionists who can help you learn what works for your body. I’m starting to work with a holistic health and wellness coach (who is an explicitly body positive, fat positive nurse practitioner and a trusted friend) to learn what works for my body. I’m excited to see what develops and how it can help me feel less foggy about food and make choices that are more in line with my personal health at every size goals.

A No Diet Day exercise for you could be to think about what you want to learn about your body. Do some journaling about whether and how you want to learn about how eating greens makes you feel, what “balanced” eating looks like for you and how you can reclaim it from your diet shadow.

Happy International No Diet Day!

P.S. I wrote an article about the advice I give my friends when they set out to buy a new home on my other blog if you care to read. The One Thing You Can Do to Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Home Purchase

2013-04-29

Fat Babes Pole Dancing Class

My new friend Jacqueline proposed two things after I told her about my recent break-up: a tarot reading (which I took her up on) and finding a pole dancing class. She wanted to go with a fat and/or crip person (two things she identifies as) who was not already a stripper because what’s the fun in being a beginner with someone who can already flip around a pole like it’s no big deal. I love trying new things with other fat babes, so I was all in.

Doing activities in the erotic genre are a great way to reclaim your body in the wake of a break-up and feel empowering especially when you might not be getting laid as much as you’d like to, regardless of your DTF* status. It’s also a great way to expand your repertoire and enhance your fat sex!

The class Jacqueline found for us was at Sacred Brooklyn, a yoga studio and pole dance palace three blocks from my old apartment in Bed Stuy on the border of Clinton Hill. I tried the studio once, for hot yoga, which was the one and only time I have done hot yoga and I got injured. So I haven’t been back.

The classes are a little pricey–twenty bucks for 75 minutes. (The going rate for yoga and exercise if not included in your gym membership is $15 in that neighborhood.) In spite of the price I thought it was cool to try something new and I also was certain I would have fun doing this with Jacqueline.

She did some recon ahead of time emailing the instructor to ask about fat babes in class and the instructor, Roz, was very body positive in her reply so I was stoked. It’s a great idea to reach out to the instructor ahead of time if you have any concerns about the class. Most yoga and exercise proprietors I know want their customers to feel engaged!

Post pole dancing kitchen talk. On a stoop. #babestagram
Jacqueline’s outfit for pole dancing. She took off the scarf and leggings.

The studio emailed us instructions to wear no lotions or oils the day of class and to come in a tank top or sports bra and shorts. Neither Jacqueline nor myself are shorts identified, so I went with a sweat skort (a skirt made of sweats material that has shorts sewn in underneath–I have two of these and swear by them for summertime gym-going) and my Yes Fats Yes Femmes tank top and Jacqueline wore a black and white stretch pinstriped pencil skirt and tank top. She’s just a babe like that. (Also red panties underneath that were plain to see when we did certain moves. Oops and sorry not sorry.)

Roz came into class like a house on fire! She was so full of energy and enthusiasm. I loved it! I used to be extremely loud and enthusiastic when I was in my early twenties and I’ve never met anyone louder than me until Roz. It was refreshing and beautiful. She had on a new push-up sports bra she got two for one at Lane Bryant and I appreciated the shopping tip!

#Babestagram

The class had twelve people in it (which is the max I think), an instructor and an assistant instructor. The demographic was all over the place, tons of gender presentations, body sizes, races and at least a twenty-year age span. There were at least two folks I would have pegged as “masculine of center” on the street.

Roz admonished us to “stay in your lane,” meaning we’re all at our own level of skill and we should try to do what we can do and not focus on what other folks are doing. This is a good reminder for most physical activity! Also good because even though this was a beginner class there were lots of “regulars” who had been coming for quite some time.

We did a long set of good stretches to hip-hop and R&B slow jams, a genre I love. It was sort of like yoga with a groove. The introductory activity was a mirroring exercise, where they paired us off with the “divas” (more experienced students) and the newbies maintained deep eye contact and mirrored the dancing from one side of the room to the other. These dances involved sexy crawling, erotic arm movements, basically hot stripper moves. Because it’s more than just on the pole!

You shouldn't come around here singing up to people like that.
I tried out being a blonde last weekend, too.

Then we did some pole exercises. The first was a “crunch” where we used our upper back, core and arms to lift us up off the ground. It was a little intimidating, but Roz showed us a few different variations for success. There are four poles in the room so three of us at a time rotated. The “divas” did a much more complicated version and I watched them out of the corner of my eye. We were all so co-cheerleading! It was such a positive room, a win for one was a win for all (and when you’re watching other babes doing pole dancing, probably that’s a win anyway).

There is some pole maintenance, like putting on this hand drying stuff and wiping sweat off the pole. It’s really hard to lift yourself off the ground if your hands are sweaty!

Then we did a spin exercise. I liked it, it reminded me of spinning on a playground. Roz gave us an ass dancing tutorial (which was a version of a “twerktorial” I saw the week before at Rebel Cupcake) and then wanted us to practice it.

In the “circle of love,” Roz had us all sit in a circle and each of us took a turn practicing a dance for the group. It could be something we saw in class, something we saw on youtube and wanted to try, we could practice the ass dance, or anything. It was fun and goofy and hot and liberating. Everyone was still so supportive!

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The twerktorial at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey!

The last move was a reverse spin, that the assistant instructor Rebecca said was easiest if you exhaled as you began the spin, which I found really crucial to loosening up enough to let myself spin to the ground around a pole. Not an easy thing to do for me, falling on purpose and doing it with grace.

We exited the class (which Roz warned at the beginning would run late and it was almost two hours total) doing another mirroring exercise. I thought it was an incredible experience! I felt so positive, challenged and embodied. I could be silly and try new things and use my body in different ways.

I was sore the next few days like I had athletic sex. My knees hurt from all of that crawling, my inner thighs and arms and back were definitely feeling it. Jacqueline and I are definitely going to go back (and try to bring more fat babe friends).

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Dancing at Rebel Cupcake/Sweet Fox with Zachary. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

*Down To Fuck. See this post.

2013-04-25

May NYC Queer Nightlife Events: Rebel Cupcake May 2nd Anniversary and May 10th Yes Ma’am Takes on a Friday Night

May is coming next week and I can hardly believe it. I’m really excited about what I have planned and I wanted to give people a head’s up if they wanted to plan to travel into NYC for any or all of these events. (Hint: the answer is yes, you want to plan travel.)

Rebel Cupcake is turning three!! I started the party on International No Diet Day three years ago in 2010! My mind is blown at how much has happened in that time and I’m also really grateful Rebel Cupcake is still going on. This month’s theme is Riots Not Diets, which is appropriately celebratory of International No Diet Day and the strong Riot Grrrl roots of the party. (I named it after Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl,” but imagining that the Rebel Girl was a Queer Fat Femme.)

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Even better, we’re bringing in DJ Shomi Noise, who was the original DJ (along with DJ Sirlinda, who held down the second shift) for the party! She did the first six or so Rebel Cupcakes! I’m excited to have some strong Riot Grrrl in the house for the anniversary. DJ Shomi Noise also spins regularly at Hot Rabbit, the other party baby of the promoter behind Sweet Fox, our co-conspirator in this current incarnation of Rebel Cupcake. (It’s so complicated! But not, actually, just come and dance. And pepper your workday with hot jams by listening to Shomi’s Sound Cloud, which is what I did yesterday.)

Shomi Noise at Sweet Fox
Photo by Gizelle Peters for Sweet Fox.

I’m also deeply grateful to have Miss Mary Wanna up from Philly. She is one of the hardcore regular performers at Rebel Cupcake and represented us in the Miss Lez pageant last year. Her shimmy is one of a kind and her burlesque is more storytelling than just strip tease (though there’s plenty of that, too). The last time she performed at RC in January she deep throated two sticks of butter in an homage to Dolly Parton and Paula Deen.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Sequinette is a NYC Femme Drag Persona who has never actually performed at Rebel Cupcake. I’m really glad to rectify that next Thursday and pop another RC cherry.

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Photo by Gabi Porter.

Here’s all the info on the party!

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 * New York, NY
Bevin Branlandingham & Boy Wonder Events Present
Rebel Cupcake & Sweet Fox: Mariah Carey Tribute
10PM-4AM Dancing; show 11ish * $5, $7 after midnight
Late night dancing til 4a
Lit Lounge: 93 2nd Ave @ 6th Street, Manhattan, NY
(F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Astor Place, L to 3rd Ave)


Okay, so Yes Ma’am is all full of big plans for the summertime. Starting on May 10th (which is a Friday, we’re mixing it up) we are OPENING THE BACKYARD OF THE MANSION. The chatio feel that I wanted so much for this party begins again! I love an outdoor space where you get to walk away from the loud loud music and just chill out, talk to some folks, get the gossip, maybe chat up that hottie you were grinding with.

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Photo by Kelsy Chauvin of the foyer of the mansion (where Jo spins). We’re giving the raffle money from the first few months of the party to the owner of a business that got shut down by Hurricane Sandy.

AND GET THIS!! Not only do we have a chatio right in back of our mansion, but it’s got a cafe! And the cafe owner, Lloyd, is setting up a BBQ!! When we met with Lloyd I was like, “Will you make sure there’s a vegetarian option on the grill? Please don’t take this to mean I’m not meat positive because I am totally meat positive. I just know there will be some hungry vegans, too.”

Lloyd and his wife Hillary had the BBQ booth at Bed Stuy Pride last summer, if you made it to that. I was there but was just coming from brunch so I didn’t partake but everyone was talking about how awesome the BBQ was.

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Mizz June, selling June-O shots! Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

And if that wasn’t good enough, our bartender Jacqueline, is plotting a new summertime mojito punch! Four bucks! And three new shots, including one using a basil-infused vodka. And Miz June is back selling June-O shots. They are seriously delicious. And June is also a babe! WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN.

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Our bartenders Jacqueline and Khara. Photo by Kelsy Chauvin.

Babes, BBQ, Basil Vodka. Seriously, May 10th. This party is going to be incredible.

Friday, May 10, 2013 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham, Nicky Cutler and DJ Average Jo Present
Yes Ma’am
10PM-3AM Dancing * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our email list)
CASH BAR
375 Stuyvesant Ave @ Decatur, Brooklyn, NY
Bed Stuy/Crown Heights border (2 blocks from Utica Ave A/C train)

Save these dates for Yes Ma’aming!

May 22nd: Trans Womyn Belong Here Benefit at Stonewall! 10p-2am, stop by, dance to amazing DJ Average Jo and get in on some deeply amazing raffle prizes.

May 26th: Memorial Day Weekend we have a Sunday afternoon party in the works. More info to come, but start looking for your best Kentucky Derby wear now. Big hats, suspenders, etc.

June 7th: Brooklyn Pride Weekend will be a big destination! Yes Ma’am is getting the second floor of the mansion, we’re having the backyard (BABES BBQ BASIL VODKA) again and we’re adding DJ D’Hana Perry into the mix. Friday–Yes Ma’am, Saturday–Brooklyn Pride Festival, Sunday–Big Fat Flea in Manhattan. Big ol’ weekend of body positive queer fun.

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