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

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!
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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.

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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.

Sequinette
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.

2013-04-08

Lean into the Discomfort and Breathe: 10 Strategies for Moving Through Grief and Loss in the Wake of a Break-Up

I love to match make for my friends, and occasionally this comes in the form of me logging into someone’s OK Cupid account while we’re hanging out and soliciting people for them. It’s often a lot easier to hit on someone if your friend is doing it for you.

One of my besties let me loose on her iPad and OKC profile last Fall and reported that she ended up getting a few dates from my efforts. Ironically, one of these dates ended up talking random shit about me to my friend. This date said she didn’t like “Bevin or Sarah Jenny,” another party promoter friend of mine, because we “seem happier than normal,” in a way that was about maybe we didn’t deserve to be happy all the time. (My friend, of course, stood up for me and isn’t going out with this girl again. When the date was informed that Bevin was the reason they were even on the date the girl about died.)

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Me and Sarah Jenny in November. I want to point out that SJ and I are both fat femmes who promote parties but we’re really different people and don’t look much alike. I want to believe this girl didn’t say we’re “happier than normal” because we’re both fat and maybe don’t deserve to be happy because of that. I think being happy in a society that tells you that you should hate yourself is a radical act.

I take this (and most) criticism from people who don’t know me with a giant grain of salt. This statement says more about the person than it does about me.

I’m sure a lot of people perceive me to be very happy, perhaps event “happier than normal.” Most people who are not my close friends or even my acquaintances only have a really limited view of my experience. On my blog and in public I tend to focus on the positive, joyful things about my life. That’s a choice I make to live in a positive framework. But, please do not mistake that I am living a happy 24/7 lifestyle because that is far from the case.

Right now, for example, I feel like dead flowers in a vase. My resting state is sort of wilted and sad. The person I had been keeping company* with for a few months in an intensely connected, spiritual, sexual, emotional, intellectual powerhouse kind of way broke up with me two weeks ago. I am heartbroken and focused on healing. My creativity has been sapped and I’m back in a familiar yet different place of heartbreak.** I contain a lot of conflicting emotions at once, which is a hard place to be in because it can feel like a war is going on. I love her and want her to be following her path which, right now, excludes a relationship. I also love us and want to fight for us.

In helping other heartbroken and healing folks out there, I made a list of strategies I am using right now to get through when the only way out is through. My friend Elisabeth told me last week, on a particularly bad day when I listened to too much Taylor Swift (she helps until she hurts), “Lean into the discomfort and breathe.” Much easier said than done, but I know it can be done because I am actually doing it right now.

I am also using things that have been helpful from the Heartbreak MFA post I wrote in 2010 and from Zoe’s Break-up Survival Guide that she wrote in 2007. At least all of this collective pain is turning into a break-up survival treasure trove.

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At Rebel Cupcake/Sweet Fox Mariah Carey tribute last week. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

1. Remind yourself that Feelings are temporary and Feelings aren’t facts.
I know feelings are temporary. I know this from a strong belief but also I know this because I am living Feelings on about a six hour cycle. If I feel really shitty right now probably in about six hours I’ll feel less shitty or differently shitty.

2. Be in the present moment.
When I can get into the present moment fully, I can sometimes distract myself. And sometimes I just really let loose and have a lot of fun, dance with my whole body or engage in a full gut laugh, or a full experience of art. But those in between times are a killer and the sadness seeps in.

I never knew how to “be in the present moment” (which sort of sounds like new age hooey, but it really works) until I practiced it. Here’s a beginner trick. Look around where you are and do an inventory of noticing things. Like when I’m walking/traveling my Feelings are the most dominant so I try to check in with my surroundings. “Look, there’s a cute bird,” “Look there’s a place where the wires look like they spell a lyric to a Bruce Springsteen song,” “OMG that sunset is painting the sky full pink and orange how beautiful.”

3. Stick to the plan even when you don’t feel like it.
Making sure I have plans outside the house with at least one other human and at least once a day has been crucial. I work for myself by myself, my beloved roommate has been on tour this whole time, so I can get really lonely, especially because of that void left by the person you used to talk to multiple times a day. Even though sometimes these plans outside the house involve a lot of internalized kicking and screaming, faking it till I make it often means I end up having a great time and usually/almost forget about my heartbreak for several minutes at a time.

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During the entire performance at Rebel Cupcake last week I felt elated. I realized during the second act, “Good lord I haven’t felt bummed out in over a half hour!”

4. Name your feelings.
I’ve learned that Feelings just need attention sometimes in order to move through them. Being okay if I can’t name them at the moment and maybe just getting into the quality of the feelings. “Sucky” and “bummed” totally suffice in this category.

5. Take excellent care of yourself.
Going to the gym, doing all of the regular self-care work I usually do but treating it like my job is crucial right now. I actually have a really hard time eating when I’m emotionally distraught and I’ve been scheduling meals out with friends a bunch so that I can distract myself enough to eat. And at home I make sure I have V8 and smoothies and vitamins so I can just get something in there even when I don’t feel like eating.

Have you ever written out a list of what it means to take excellent care of yourself? Maybe now is a good time to start.

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The genius of Shane Shane. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

6. Doing whatever spiritual work makes sense to you.
I’m a really spiritual person, so much of these things fall into my regular self care, but some are special things that might fall into “treat yo self.”

Here’s a list of spiritual activities that help me:

Prayer
Meditation
Tarot reading
Astrological reading
Past life reading
Yoga
Meeting with a spiritual group
Doing rituals by myself or with a group***
Attending or listening to services (I don’t belong to a religion but appreciate spiritual wisdom in many forms and listen to services via TV or podcast by folks who preach positivity)
Going out to sit in nature and watch birds, the ocean, the trees or whatever
Gratitude lists (there is so much to be grateful for)

Tarot reading with Jacqueline. #babestagram #lesbianteabasket
Jacqueline reached out to me upon hearing about my break-up to offer her tarot services. We met up at Teany and now are blossoming a new friendship! Also it really helped me sort through my stuff.

7. Feel your feelings right now. Be a liberated hot mess.
There’s a lot of empowerment from feeling your feelings as they come. I’ve been crying a lot, wherever whenever, just to let it out, and thus have added to my old lady chic by stuffing tissues in my bra, every pocket and keeping my fancy hankies in all my handbags. I already did that hanky thing, it’s just more diligent.)

I’ve been very honest about my feelings to everyone. Obviously I’m a social butterfly, but the thing about me is that I cannot stand small talk. I also know how empowering it is to be honest about how you are and so I just let people know. Sometimes I soften the blow by making a joke out of it. (“This is my lot in life as a lesbian.”) But even though I soften it being real about my experiences helps me get through it. Authenticity is a very important value to me.

I’ve learned stuffing my feelings as a coping mechanism, hiding from them or doing that classic escapism, rebounding, just makes me have to feel them worse later. Feeling shitty comes with a late penalty. I’d rather just get the grief over with.

Sometimes I feel a little bashful about how sad and needy I am right now, but I know I have people who are safe spaces for it. Spunky has done a lot of watching me cry on google video chat when there’s nothing more to say. (Also, though I am wary about being an energy suck, I actually got a great compliment from someone about how positive I am being in my grief.)

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I was sitting like this eating with my friend Bridget before the party started and Hana walked in and said, “All I can see is tits and barbeque.” Tits deep in BBQ is one of my favorite things to be.

Reaching out for help has been great for me, and letting people who have capacity to lend an ear, text, dinner out come to me has been really successful. Using facebook filters has been a great way to all-call for this. Also, it’s nice to get sympathy from people (and I got a lot of sweet, supportive comments on the “I’m going through a break-up I can’t stop crying” post). That first day when I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without crying, my eyes were so puffy I could barely see, I was supposed to go to a dinner party. I debated going (especially since my ex had been invited so there would be all those weird “She was supposed to be here” realizations) but then I realized that this group of people is part of a spiritual work group I’m in, they support me, and if I had to keep running to the bathroom during Seder to cry they would get it. It turned out that it was a perfect distraction, and I didn’t have to worry about “sparkling” with these women, I could just bring my sad self.

It’s incredibly amazing how, if you learn how to receive, times of heartbreak can really show you how loved you are.

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Moment of woo before Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

8. Doing new things with your appearance.
I rarely wear my hair “flat” to my head because I like big hair. But I’m just trying a new thing because new things while I’m feeling intense discomfort help me feel better. And also there’s a lot of empowerment in reclaiming your body after a break-up. I am vaguely considering going all the way blonde.

9. Proceeding with unconditional love.
I used to play the victim role big time in my break-ups. Learning to acknowledge my loss without vilifying a person in it is a new experience for me. I am hurting, that is my truth. She can’t be in a relationship, that is her truth. I learned a lot from this relationship, including what it is like to really experience unconditional love and conflict from a loving place. I want that to be our experience in a transition place from sweethearts to whatever we’re going to end up being, whether that’s friends or Boston Friends**** or just people who were very connected once but don’t really interact anymore.

This is very difficult work, unconditional love. Especially when that’s not always modeled well, in families, in past relationships, even in the media. How often do you see exes who remain friends in popular culture? How often is it complicated? (Also, as an aside, I think we can all agree that Rayna and Deacon on Nashville are totally Boston Friends.)

My friend Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha told me today, “I hope you are being sweet to yourself and opening your heart to transformation.” That’s what I’m intending to do with this break-up. Transforming myself through love. I think with love all things are possible, even hope from a really sad place.

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10. Throwing yourself into a big art project.
This was mentioned in a previous break-up post, but this time around I’m combining my love for traveling in the wake of a break-up (my last one had me heading out on a cross country road trip two weeks later) and my love for consumptive art projects to get through loss. My friends Sarah Jenny and Avory of Hey Queen asked me to produce the decor for the “Queens of the Road” themed party this weekend the day after my sweetheart broke up with me. I thought it was a very serendipitous call to action and I’m knee-deep in hot glue, maps and glitter getting ready for this upcoming weekend.

*Our actual relationship status. Our previous relationship status was “dating or whatever” after I said, less than a month into it, “If we’re still dating or whatever this summer I want to go…”

**It’s sort of crazy how much I can open myself up to loving even more after every heartbreak! And then I feel hurt again when it’s over in a new and different, yet somewhat familiar way. It is a comfort to remember I got over this before, in bigger and worse break-ups, therefore I know there will be gifts waiting for me on the other end.

***A ritual I did recently, after I pulled a tarot card that told me I needed to exfoliate, was to rub my skin with oil, soak during a long, meditative bath, then took great fist fulls of epsom salt and scrubbed my skin invoking newness into my life. I rinsed off and smoothed it all out with lotion.

****My new friend Jacqueline gave me that expression for “More than Friends.”

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This is my “Know Your Own Strength” tattoo. Photo by Kelsey Dickey. Tattoo by Jason June. New year’s intention by me.

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