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

2013-03-04

Big Changes for Rebel Cupcake / March 7 Move to Lower East Side / March 16th Yes Ma’am at the Mansion

First of all, both of the Rebel Cupcakes I produced in February got some great press. Check out the Time Out New York gallery from the NO PANTS NO PROBLEM Rebel Cupcake collaboration on February 14.

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Courtney Trouble was a dream to work with and is such a dedicated and talented artist. I’m so impressed by her Femmepire! Go buy all her porn!

Check out the QueerPorn.TV write-up and gallery of photos (NSFW link) from our special Courtney Trouble / QPTV collaboration on February 28th!

I spend a fair amount of my time working on creating body positive queer nightlife. I have been doing queer production work in cities since 2001 and had sort of given up on it when I moved to NYC in 2004 because it was so rough getting venues. Getting venues is still one of the hardest things about throwing events, but, like all things, experience and connections have really helped to move it forward. So is knowing how to embrace change and knowing when to catalyze it.

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Though I may appear to be just a Plus Size Party Girl, for readers of my blog you know I put a lot more thought and intention into everything I create. I’ve been producing Rebel Cupcake for almost three years (she turns 3 on May 6th, International No Diet Day) and I really love Sugarland in Williamsburg. It’s somehow both a nightclub and a dive bar, but better than that it’s wheelchair accessible and has a lot of nooks and crannies.

I’ve been hearing for years that Thursdays are hard for people and Williamsburg is hard to get to since the only train it’s on is the L train. This is why, when I was thinking about adding a second dance party, I insisted it be on a Saturday and somewhere in Central Brooklyn. (It was for these reasons that I started my new party baby, Yes Ma’am, in Prospect Heights, though now we’re moving to a bigger venue in a mansion on the Crown Heights/Bed Stuy border–more info below.)

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From the third Rebel Cupcake, July 2010! (We’re now on the thirty seventh!)

As with a lot of monthly parties, Rebel Cupcake has been flagging in the last few months. Not so much that a lot of people noticed, and there have been some special events that have off-set the flagging, but I could definitely see a downturn in the attendance. These two fancy residential buildings went up on either side of Sugarland, closing off the amazing outdoor smoking deck. The management changed at the bar, which was fine but then all the personnel changed, too. Then our resident DJ Bryan Black, who was such a great fit for the party, moved on, and nothing gelled yet for a replacement. I knew something needed to happen to shake up the energy for Rebel Cupcake to have her sparkle shine the brightest.

I did a lot of soul searching about it. Rebel Cupcake is like church to me. Queer performance and creating body positive/flamboyant space are both very important to me. We do a lot of woo, though mostly we just have a roaring, magical time together. One of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten was that someone felt like Rebel Cupcake was the one dance party that they felt like they could be their most authentic self. That is exactly what I work to create.

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This was our first anniversary party in May, 2011. Photo by Amos Mac.

I’ve been spending some time getting to know the producer behind another queer party promoting machine, Boy Wonder Events, and we really have complimentary energy and skill sets. Emily is a genius at DJ curation and pulls a really eclectic queer crowd that is yet not that overlapping with my crowds. (I went to Hot Rabbit a couple of weeks ago and did three laps around the very packed club and found no one I recognized from my parties.) Maybe it’s because Boy Wonder is mostly in Manhattan, but it did make me think that if I got to keep the cabaret aspect of Rebel Cupcake that was so important to me and collaborate on all the other details with someone else it would breathe new life into the party.

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Me and Emily, photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

So, Rebel Cupcake is shacking up with Sweet Fox, the Boy Wonder Events’ Thursday party. First Thursdays of the month at Lit Lounge, a performance space in a sultry basement on the Lower East Side. Accessible by three different train lines (the 6, F, and L) and it all starts on this Thursday, March 7th.

Like all great domestic merges, we bring different things to the table. Sweet Fox brings some awesome drink specials ($5 Bud/BL, $5 Foxhounds, $10 Beer + Whiskey Shot, Late Night Happy Hour 130-230am), great DJs, and Rebel Cupcake brings the flamboyant performance and cupcakes. We’re compromising on the go-gos and alternating our house photographers (from the talented Gizelle Peters to the equally talented Kelsey Dickey).

This month’s theme is UHaul (appropriate and very gay, no?) and I really hope the Rebel Cupcake regulars will welcome these changes and bring the magical energy from our island in Williamsburg out to the East Village!

REBEL CUPCAKE / SWEET FOX: UHAUL

Thursday March 7th

10PM-4AM

$5 / $7 after midnight

At the legendary LIT LOUNGE: 93 2ND AVE @ 6th Street, Manhattan, NY
(F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Astor Place, N or R to 8th St, L to 1st or 3rd Ave)

REBEL CUPCAKE: a flamboyant dance party for all shapes & flavors! WINNER of Go Magazine Awards for Best Emcee (Bevin) and Most Eclectic Crowd!

And SWEET FOX, the Lower East Side queer dance party with flamboyant go-gos and a dreamy basement performance space. We’re celebrating all things UHAUL !!

Performers:
Molly Equality Dykeman
The dykiest performer I could think of for the UHaul show! She’s so hilarious. Photo by Anya Garrett.
*Molly Equality Dykeman
Security Guard at a public school by day, Poet and Comedienne by night

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Photo by Courtney Trouble.
*Fancy Feast
Our in-house Stage Kitten brings Burlesque!

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*DJ LADYLYKE (Stiletto) & DJ MITCH FERRINO (Monster/Hot Rabbit) spin dance beats all night to keep you moving!!

Find the rest of the info on the Rebel Cupcake page. Pre-cruising on the Facebook event.

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As if one big change wasn’t enough, Yes Ma’am is moving to a bigger location! We love our art gallery in Prospect Heights and will be doing some special events in the Summer at that space, but we’re stoked to get into this historic mansion on the Bed Stuy/Crown Heights border!

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Me and Nicky (co-producer) and Hana (in the corset) who runs our door for Yes Ma’am. Photo by Courtney Trouble.

DJ Average Jo will be spinning at the landing of this amazing staircase! We’ll have a dedicated dancing room, a dedicated room for chatting and drinking and who knows what will happen with the middle room.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Yes Ma’am.

Come on out Saturday, March 16th!

10PM-3AM Dancing * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
CASH BAR
375 Stuyvesant Ave @ Decatur, Brooklyn, NY
Bed Stuy/Crown Heights border (2 blocks from Utica Ave A/C train)

More info on the Yes Ma’am page and on our Facebook event!

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Yes Ma’am.

2013-02-25

QueerPorn.TV Takeover of Rebel Cupcake Thursday, Feb 28th

My life has a really remarkable way of falling into place. Recall my review of Lesbian Curves that kicked off FAT SEX WEEK… Well, Courtney Trouble, the head Femme in charge of Lesbian Curves and the Femmepire of TROUBLEfilms, is coming to NYC! And we were all, “Let’s throw a party together!” Making a party baby is always a fun and amazing thing to do with out of town collaborators (the NO PANTS NO PROBLEM Rebel Cupcake on V-Day was epic).

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That’s Courtney on top there.

Courtney has a porn site called QueerPorn.TV with some great ethics & intentions (see their manifesta!), so we’re doing a whole QPTV takeover of Rebel Cupcake. Her co-producer (and one of the QueerPorn.TV stars) Tina Horn will be in the VIP lounge, along with Billy Castro, another NYC-based star of QPTV.

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 * New York, NY
Bevin Branlandingham, Courtney Trouble & QueerPorn.TV present…
QueerPorn.TV Rebel Cupcake Takeover!
10PM-2AM Dancing * $5
Late night dancing til 4a
Sugarland: 221 N. 9th Street, L to Bedford

Prizes from QueerPorn.TV and infamous Queer Porn Powerhouse, TROUBLEfilms! And copies of the Feminist Porn Book from the Feminist Press!

NSFW Photo booth Photos by Courtney Trouble!

Sexy go-gos of all shapes and sizes!

Meet your favorite QPTV stars and enjoy drink specials from Sugarland!

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Tina Horn

In our VIP Lounge: Billy Castro & Tina Horn from QPTV!

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Billy Castro

Suggested dress: Slutty and/or shiny!

Projected QPTV films!

DJ Scott Goodz! Spinning Divas, Top 40, 90s, R&B make out jams, Riot Grrrl and more.

Stage kittens/gogos/raffle mamas: Holly Amory & Fancy Feast

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

2013-02-22

FAT SEX WEEK: Sex Playlists and Fat Appreciation

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work but there is sexual language on one of them.)

Hey friends! First of all, check out this AMAZING revisioning of the famous “Your heart is a muscle” woodcut my roommate, the talented and amazing Damien Luxe made!

Valentine by Damien Luxe

Click this link to learn about the image, the history and intention behind the piece (and to share on Tumblr if that’s your venue!!)

She showed this to me in the middle of the night the other day when I was having insomnia. It’s really gratifying to live with such a genius. Love you Damien! Thank you for all you do to make the world a more wonderful place for femmes and freaks!

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Damien! Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

I love listening to music, especially in the bedroom, and I don’t think any FAT SEX WEEK would be complete without some mood music!

Once upon a time I posted about my 90s R&B Automatic Make-Out playlist. I know for a fact several folks have enjoyed getting make outs from the mood it provides.

All of my playlists are made for moods and specific timing (because I tend to lose track of time easily in the bedroom). Till My Fake Eyelashes Fall Off is the most classic sex mix I have. The origin of the name is Kyla The Great saying “Can I just get a Femme to fuck me till my fake eyelashes fall off?”

For a fun quickie I use I Stand With Antoine. I also use my 90s R&B Automatic Make-Out Mix for times when a cheesy make-out is in order (and it lasts a long time and the rhythm is good, it’s also great for a party). Take Your Boots Off and Humble Me With a Fierce Heart ended up being one of the most heart-opening connected slow down sexy time mixes I’ve used.

I’m also really into cruising Spotify to find my friends’ sex mixes even if they don’t label them as such. My pal Danny posted this one under the unassuming name of a date in April and it is a great sex mix.

I have a couple of playlists on my itunes for use in certain circumstances that have classic rock on them. Classic rock is great for BDSM. (Good rhythm, sexy songs.)

Speaking of classic rock, have you ever made a whole fat positive playlist? There’s a CD for that. Here’s a link to Whole Lotta Love: An All-Star Salute To Fat Chicks.

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Abby Fantastic at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Shifting gears to talking about folks who like fat chicks…

A friend of mine asked me the other day what identity she could use to describe that she likes fat girls almost exclusively. It’s really an interesting question because sometimes having a name to identify something is really helpful. I know finding queer, fat and femme as identity labels that didn’t box me in but gave me tethers to other people like me was crucial to me developing a sense of self appreciation and love in a homophobic, fatphobic, misogynist world. What about folks who are attracted to people that our society deems unattractive?

[I think it’s also important for me to mention here that my primary sexual attraction is to fat folks, and specifically includes fat femmes.]

There’s a lot of self-loathing that can come out of people who internalize fat oppression who are attracted to fat people and date fat folks anyway. The self-loathing from being attracted to fat folks results in fucked up and controlling behaviors, and I know I can get an amen from other fatties who have gotten out of those relationships.

It is empowering to have an identity. It’s empowering to read about other folks who date fat people in spite of what society tells them is sexy or attractive. It is empowering to recognize that society tells you to be attracted to one thing and to swing your authentic preferences another way and work towards body empowerment.

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Me and my darling, amazing, friend Victoria. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

What I find hard about it is that “chubby chaser” and “fat admirer” are current labels that, to me, seem to be fetishes and not appreciation. I don’t want someone to find me attractive because I’m fat or in spite of being fat. I want someone who is attracted to me because of how being fat is part of who I am and also because I’m a babe. Not because it’s a deviant sexuality to like fat girls.

I love fetishes and open sexuality but since most American women are above a size 14 doesn’t that make us not that unusual?

I’ll be real, I do the recon work before I will pursue someone to find out if they specifically like fat femmes, whatever I can find out about their relationship status and/or polyamory situation. Because, in queer masculine-privileging community lots of folks don’t date femmes OR fats and I like to do some research. This is why it is always good to keep your pals updated as to what’s going on with you romantically. And having a term for being attracted to fat folks is helpful in these terms.

What about Fat Appreciator as a term? I’ve heard other friends of mine say, “I like big girls” or “I like fat femmes” as a way of just putting it out there without an identity, but both express an appreciation for fat people (well, certain gender expressions of fat people). I actually really appreciate when whole social groups are very vocal of appreciation for fat bodies.

It’s also important that labels for fat appreciation are also sensitive to the fact that all people have bodies and it’s not about privileging one type of body over another, but it is a way of giving some love and attention to a type of body that is not privileged in our fatphobic society.

So, now that FAT SEX WEEK is winding down, dear readers, I’d love to find out what you think. Should we stick to just euphamizing adoration of the rubenesque form or should there be a word that reclaims the adoration of fat bodies from a fetish context? Add a comment below and let me know what you think!

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Me and Fancy Feast being fat witches at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

2013-02-20

FAT SEX WEEK: Three Books To Help You Have Better Sex While Fat (Regardless of Whether Or Not You’re Single)

After the success of GAY SEX WEEK on my blog in October 2011, I decided to produce FAT SEX WEEK to celebrate sex for all bodies. This is especially inspired to counteract all of the media about sex around Valentine’s Day that’s all heteronormative/couplehood-oriented/body hegemonic. It’s a week of body liberation and sex and it’s going to be really fun! Check out all of the FAT SEX WEEK magic!

(All the photos in this post are Safe For Work, as long as fat girls in lingerie are safe for your work.)

On Friday I discussed seven ways to be a good ally to your fat lover. Now I want to give some tools for folks to become better lovers to themselves–as in, learning to get in touch with your body so you can have better sex.

Growing up fat (or having a body that is in any way non-normative) in a fatphobic society is very damaging. It was very traumatic for me to feel like my body was always “wrong” and I definitely did not feel like I had access to owning my sexuality. In some ways I completely dissociated from my body and interacted with it as little as possible. (I write more about my experience of disembodiment in this post.)

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Look it’s me and my new pal Devin who was kind enough to loan me her ass for this photo when I saw how hot it was. Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

I used to feel afraid to leave relationships because I was afraid the sex would never be as good as it was with the person I was with–a deep scarcity mentality. “So and so knows my body so well, so and so does this trick how can anyone replicate that?” Those kinds of thoughts. It was as though all those years I wasn’t getting laid because I was checked out from my body I needed to make-up for by staying with the wrong kinds of partners. Like I might never get banged properly again.

I’m here to let you know, dear reader, that these fears were false. If anything, sex has gotten better and better as I’ve gotten older and I know the reason is that I am the common denominator in the good sex I have.

I think each break-up from a relationship with good sex is like getting a gift bag! You learned how to have new and improved sex with that lover. You learned how your body responds to different stimuli, you got to experience someone’s body in new ways and come up with more party tricks to bring to other lovers. Hopefully you explored more your capacity to flourish under someone’s touch. This partying gift is amazing!

You can keep the learning going, single or while in relationships, with a cadre of lovers or while between regular bouts of getting banged. Doing the work of getting to know your body and getting to know yourself sexually is a gift you give yourself for the rest of your life. There are lots of different ways to learn about sex–there is so much knowledge available to willing explorers. Below are three body positive resources that will help you get in touch with your sexuality from a body positive perspective!

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Holly Amory at Rebel Cupcake in February, NO PANTS NO PROBLEM. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Mind Blowing Sex: A Woman’s Guide by Diana Cage

For people who have bodies that are female in origin, or who have sex with people’s whose mechanics are female in origin, this book is an amazing resource. I’ve read a lot about sex and sexuality but I still learned so much from it.

“Desire, sexual satisfaction, and orgasm truly are fraught more often for us than for men… [T]he ways in which we have been taught to fuck don’t always serve our needs and desires.” Diana talks about the female body from a place of empowerment and learning about the mechanics of your body physically, mentally and emotionally.

It is written from an incredibly feminist perspective. It is woman-empowering and body positive. I didn’t realize how much of our eroticism and what we learn about sex is based on male-centered desire. Ugh, patriarchy is such a boner-killer!

The book includes lots of work book sections where you get to explore your desire and what turns you on. And physical exercises! I felt more in tune with my body and my desires after I read it. (I also got some funny looks on the train while reading it…)

You can get it through my amazon link here, but request it from your local feminist sex toy shop! I’m always surprised when I go into Babeland and I don’t see it on their shelves, mention it to the people who work there but they don’t stock the shelves.

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Me and author Diana Cage.

Fucking Transwomen Zine by Miranda Bellwether

For folks who have transwomen bodies or who partner with transwomen, this zine is incredible! So many great tips for sex and the ways to have fulfilling interactions in a body that is not taught in sex ed and is ignored in the vast majority of mainstream sex how-to literature.

I also think it’s great for anyone who has sex that involves a penis whether or not they identify with it presently. Miranda spends several pages of the zine talking about the soft penis, which is basically ignored in sexual literature but “You can actually do more with a soft penis than a hard penis–if you are creative.”

The zine is full of sex how-tos, body knowledge and autobiography.

Buy it here for only $5! All of the money goes to Miranda!

Ecstacy is Necessary by Barbara Carrellas

I did a book review of this book last year, but I wanted to give it special mention here. This is basically a body love “you are worthy of erotic pleasure exactly how you are” goldmine. It’s a workbook, so you’ll need a notebook to go along with you on your sexual exploration, but the work it gives you is worth it.

People of all body types and levels of sexual exploration, especially if they feel cut off from their own sexuality, will totally benefit from a trip into this book. I did most of the work in this book while not getting laid regularly and it really helped me feel more in touch with what I wanted from sex when I was having it again rather than be caught up in the ideas of what I wanted from sex. Really cutting through your own bullshit (and the bullshit we are fed from society about what we should want) and identifying what our desires are is incredibly liberating. It also makes it much easier to find the right partners to explore with!

Read more at my book review and interview with Barbara Carrellas.

Buy the book!

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Me, Barbara and her partner Kate Bornstein at Rebel Cupcake in May, 2012.

Stay tuned! FAT SEX WEEK wraps up tomorrow!!

2013-02-04

Just Text Them: Four Text Message Ideas to Ask Your Friend to Go to the Next Level

I received the following comment to my popular blog post, Nobody Ever Died of Awkward: The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Battling Insecurity and Asking People Out:

So….you think texting is an ok way to ask a friend out or tell her you’re kinda into her? I’m a baby les and I’m terrrrrified of rejection or making a move. I’ve never done it before. I’m getting positive and negative signs from the girl I like. (she is gay and single). I just don’t want to look like a chicken s*it, but my friends are saying if she likes me it won’t matter so….. I don’t know

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A little glitter spanking between friends. Me and Fancy Feast at Rebel Cupcake. All photos by Kelsey Dickey.

Dear Queer:

The answer to your question is absolutely yes. In this day and age, just about everyone texts. Texting (and other text-based communications like email, gchat and Facebook message) is a very common way to communicate and can be a great way to do something you’re nervous about without having to look someone in the eye or feel foolish right in front of them if the answer isn’t yes. I’m actually wracking my brain to think of the last few people I’ve asked out or been asked out by and I think 90% of those were proposed via text or Facebook message. One person just told me, “I’m taking you out to dinner,” which was a bold move but luckily I wanted to go to dinner with her so I thought it was hot.

Often when asking someone out I get freaked out. A good strategy to try is to text her when you’re with a friend who can provide support, either in person or on a google video chat or whatever. As soon as you send the text get involved in a game or a TV show or something to keep your mind off whether she has texted you back yet.

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It is also helpful to remember that not everyone is ready to text you back right away. Maybe they are in class or are busy or something. And not everyone is an immediate texter. That can be really hard if you (like me) are basically plugged into your social media and texts all the time. Everyone has different relationships to these things. And, you also want to give her some space to have feelings or think about what you just asked her. Sometimes people need to adjust to a new, possibly different way of looking at an existing relationship.

Many times when asking someone out I have relied on a friend to basically write the script for me. Here is some sample language you can use to ask this lucky girl if she wants to go out with you:

SAMPLE ONE:

“Hey [Person’s Name]: I was wondering if you wanted to go on a date with me this weekend or next weekend?”

Very straightforward and unambiguous. Your intentions are clear. Incites a yes or no answer and allows details to be worked out later. If she isn’t free one weekend the option is available for the following weekend. If she doesn’t want to go out with you you’ll get a yes, no, or yes but not right now answer.

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SAMPLE TWO:

“I think you’re a great friend and all but I also think it would be fun if we kissed. Do you want to go on a date to check out our chemistry?”

More playful and open-ended. Less straightforward but still gets the point across. I love asking people out in creative ways. I think asking someone on a date makes them feel special. Like, “Hey I know we just ‘hang out’ all the time but I want to show you you’re special by sharing specific time together in a date way and wear my nice underwear.” Being asked on dates makes me feel special and will probably make her feel special, too.

SAMPLE THREE:

“I really appreciate our friendship but sometimes I wonder what would happen if we kissed. Do you want to find out?”

This one takes the “date” pressure out of it and just sort of puts your feelings out there without an actual end result. Sometimes asking someone out on a date is too much too soon and they just want to get used to the new style of spending time together.

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SAMPLE FOUR:

“If you asked me on a date I would say yes.”

I’ve used this clever line before* in a couple of contexts. It’s helpful because if the person you’re asking out is the type who likes to do the asking, you can let them know you’re ready when they’re ready. It’s also playful and gets the point across. Someone with whom I had already shared mutual non-platonic interest told me she wanted to see me so I tossed this gem at her in response. Because I wanted to go on dates with her and not just make out at dance parties.

Also, be prepared to have No be an okay answer. Nobody ever died of awkward and your friendship will totally bounce back from this. I have never once asked someone out who was an existing friend (or been asked out by an existing friend) and had our friendship suffer from a no answer. After a few days or a couple of weeks of letting my feelings of foolishness or embarrassment simmer down, I had so much free time available to develop crushes on new and different people. I appreciate the efficiency of just diffusing a pointless crush by asking someone out. I also appreciate my friends asking me out when they feel it come up because then I can give them an honest answer. Once I told my friend, “I’m not feeling this now because of the long distance aspect but let’s leave it open ended. We’re going to be gay for a real long time.”

Good luck with your text ask, I hope she says yet and you get properly banged if that is your desire!

*All credit for that line goes to Rachael who also was the originator of the term “Nobody Ever Died of Awkward.”

2013-01-31

Upcoming Events in February, Yes Ma’am Dance Party Feb 2nd and Rebel Cupcake Underwear Dance Party Feb 14th

There are two really exciting dance parties this month that I’m really excited about.

First is Yes Ma’am, our triumphant return after New Year’s Eve. This month’s raffle is totally boss.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey

As with every month, we have a houseboy raffle where you could win 2 hours of service from the volunteer houseboy for the evening. ALL of the raffle proceeds go to a hurricane Sandy relief effort. The last couple months (and this month) we’ve been donating it to Home/Made, a lesbian-owned restaurant in Red Hook that was devastated by Sandy.

Picking up the gift certificate from the pleasure chest for the Yes Ma'am raffle! Win $100 towards your sex life on Saturday! Featuring @laura_the_babe behind the counter

In addition to the houseboy, we also have $100 gift certificate to the Pleasure Chest!

And a $20 gift certificate to use at the LunchBox! The queer freelancer working event that I mentioned in this blog post.

DJ AverageJo just promised to play me some Digital Underground on Saturday, I hope you’re able to make it!

Saturday, February 2, 2013 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham, Nicky Cutler and DJ Average Jo Present
Yes Ma’am
10PM-2AM Dancing * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
CASH BAR
886 Pacific Street @ Washington, Brooklyn, NY (Enter through Gureje store, the party is speakeasy style in the back)
Prospect Heights (2 blocks from Clinton/Washington C train, 5 blocks from 2/3 to Bergen)

More info here.

Rebel Cupcake No Pants No Problem

On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, I’m throwing a very special Rebel Cupcake with the folks from Canada’s NO PANTS NO PROBLEM party–yes it’s an underwear dance party!!

It’s going to be dope. Kissing booth, spin the bottle, amazing music, great performances and sexy queers dancing in lingerie, underwear, goofy outfits.

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What sold me on combining forces with NPNP was this quote about the party they did in DC.

“Beyond this NPNP is a place where people get together and build/bridge communities, to challenge binary sexual and gender norms as well as constrictive inner dialogues about body image and self esteem.” It’s also part of the event’s peculiar charm that it was started by Jessica Whitbread, a queer HIV positive woman, in a community largely represented by gay men, she points out.

Rebel Cupcake will still be in full-effect, with party favorites Miss Poison Ivory and Drae Campbell, and yours truly Femmeceeing.

Also the pants-check is not mandatory but you get in for $5 cheaper if you take ’em off and RC regulars know it’s a safe space to be as flamboyantly yourself as you want. And, of course, I’m encouraging folks to wear lingerie if that’s your gender. It’s February, after all!

Here’s the info… more info at the Rebel Cupcake page

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham & NO PANTS NO PROBLEM Present
Rebel Cupcake 34: NO PANTS NO PROBLEM
10PM-2AM Dancing; show 11ish * NO PANTS: $5-$15 sliding scale WEARING PANTS: $10-20 sliding scale
Proceeds benefit AIDS ACTION NOW! and VOCAL NY
Late night dancing til 4a
Sugarland: 221 N 9th St @ Roebling, Brooklyn, NY
(3 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)!

2012-12-27

Bringing Woo to Nightlife: Group Solstice Ritual

My friend Mackenzi told me once “You really bring the woo to nightlife.” She is totally right. I think if you have humor and sincere intention you can easily create something very meaningful in nightlife. It may seem counterintuitive, nightlife is often perceived as very shallow, looks-oriented and perception of people without depth. (And, honestly, how deep can you go when you can’t really talk to people over the deep thumpathumpa of the music?) I pride myself on creating events that help people connect, together with my spirituality and deep lez inclinations, every so often woo finds its way into my productions.

I like queer dance parties because it’s a place where the community comes together to celebrate life. I think dancing is a really spiritual act, especially to pop icons like Nicky Minaj (“Moment for Life” anyone?). There’s also a lot of Goddess iconography in pop, as pointed out by my bestie Rachael.

There was a great article about the Mayan calendar ending on Solstice 2012 from the perspective of actual Mayan elders and I really appreciated the following quote.

Go to the sacred places of the Earth to pray for peace , and have respect for the Earth which gives us our food, clothing and shelter. We need to reactivate the energy of the sacred places. This is our work.

Rebel Cupcake is certainly one of my sacred places. One of the best compliments I’ve gotten about it is that the person felt like this was the place they felt they could most be themselves in queer nightlife. The December 20, 2012 show being the night before the Winter Solstice I wanted to make it extra special. I put together six acts–four more than I usually book–at the intersections of the theme of Muppets, the end of the world (as we know it) and the darkness transforming to light that the solstice represents. I also adapted a group solstice ritual for use on the stage. The following is what happened.

All photos by resident Rebel Cupcake photographer, Kelsey Dickey.

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The cupcakes were Mexican Hot Chocolate flavored (with dark chocolate and tequila) by Cupcake Princess Morgan, who said if it was the end of the world that’s what she’d want to drink.

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Our first act was Miss Poison Ivory, with a fallen angel burlesque act to Alanis Morrissette’s “Uninvited.” It was really moving and beautiful. (It also made me recall Alanis Morrissette’s role as God in Kevin Smith’s Dogma.)

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Our second act was the first public musical instrument act by spoken word phenom, Kit Yan. It was so tender! He began with a poem about Kermit and Miss Piggy that involved a lot of Muppet voices and then a really sweet, soft and tender version of Rainbow Connection that invited audience participation. It was so heartfelt!

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Next up was a burlesque act by Rebel Cupcake virgin Abby Fantastic, who was top of her class in burlesque school. It was to Rihanna’s “S&M” with an underlying Mad Max and the Thunderdome theme. The crowd went wild!

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Damien Luxe brought the next act. A performance art piece as an argonaut who had just landed in her pink spaceship with a message from the future. Her message was about the qualities we will need during the apocalypse. It was hilarious. I need to learn how to build a log cabin.

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I did an interlude with a Solstice ritual I had prepared to be shared by the entire audience. Fancy Feast, our wonderful Stage Kitten, was my Spirituality Bottom. I had her walk through the audience in a circle with burning sage to cleanse the energy, because the first part of the ritual was a cleansing. Part of the power of Solstice is the letting go of the darkness and moving toward light, which is also what the prediction for the Mayan Calendar ending, a changing of the world towards a more humane civilization.

I based the ritual on a group releasing ceremony on this website that I had done with some friends around a bonfire last Solstice.

Ritualizing release is a way to “bind the medicine” of moving beyond the past, the pain, the obstacles, the resistance, the old traps, the excuses.

The premise is that we release those things that no longer serve us by writing them on a piece of paper, binding the list with string, and burning it to transform them into light and then ash.

I knew that as a group we could do something together with our energy. So I had everyone focus their energy with the things they wanted to “write” to leave behind in the darkness of 2012 onto a piece of cupcake stationary. I took the paper and rolled it up, gave it to Fancy to hold, and tied string around it.

I set it aflame from my candle and burned it in a bowl. Fancy then took a dream weed and burned it in a circle around the room to encourage us to have clarifying dreams about our future and what we want to manifest for the new, humane world order.

I really like this ritual for groups as well as individuals. It also doesn’t only have to be during Solstice, I think anytime you have something you want to let go of, writing and burning is really good for an energy cleanse.

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Bikini Thrill brought a burlesque act to “Revelations” by Yoko Ono and Cat Power. She stripped out of a cloak and handed out stars to the audience. It was so touching and felt as though Bikini Thrill was performing more with her energy than with dance or stripping. It was incredible.

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Now, our last act was the third annual holiday act by Ariel Speedwagon. She asked me if she could bring a band of unicorns to do a dance and present a Solstice ritual to the Rebel Cupcake crowd. There were flashlights, silver capes, horns, and passing out candles and lighting them throughout the audience.

It was a really wonderful way to end a very moving show. I am so grateful to all of the artists for bringing their acts and energy, the crowd for being such a great audience–they were rapt! Fancy Feast for always being willing to be an all-purpose bottom for whatever performance creativity need I have. For DJ Bryan Black who was on fire all night and celebrated his last Rebel Cupcake after two years of being our resident DJ. For Morgan and the insanely delicious cupcakes that happen every night. For Kelsey Dickey and all the amazing photographs she takes. Hana for running the door, Nicky for holding down the coats, Laura Delarato, our incredible videographer who also celebrated her last Rebel Cupcake.

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I hope everyone is having a great Solstice/Christmas/Gaywitchmas/New Year and you are able to release those things that no longer serve you and welcome in new and exciting ideas.

2012-12-05

Brooklyn! Two Great Parties This Month AND An Incredible New Year’s Eve Bash!

Dear Readers, I’m back from California and have THREE really fun events in the month of December!

Yes Ma’am, Saturday, December 8th

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Me, DJ Average Jo, and Vicky Sin, our go go for the first Yes Ma’am.

The first Yes Ma’am was a wild success! It was so fun. The chatio was filled with folks meeting and mingling, the dance floor was popping.

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Our bar staff setting up.

At the end of the night everyone started chanting “One more song! One more song!” DJ Average Jo was on FIRE. The bar sold a steady stream of the Yes Ma’am punch and I am experimenting with some new concoctions for next month to try to ease the hangover. I’m 33, these things matter to me.

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The chatio. Full of queers! My heart burst.

We had the New York Toy Collective tabling and this woman who was cleaning up from the event before Yes Ma’am said to me, “So, really, what kind of party is this exactly?” I assured her it was a dance party and for queers sex toy tables are really no big deal and not neccessarily indicative of some kind of orgy happening at any second. I mean, sure, sometimes but not always.

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The New York Toy Collective pack n plays are so soft, and each is handmade by queers in NYC! Way softer than Vixskin.

Here are the details for this weekend! I hope to see you!

Saturday, December 8th, 2012 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham, Nicky Cutler and DJ Average Jo Present
Yes Ma’am
10PM-2AM Dancing * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
CASH BAR
886 Pacific Street @ Washington, Brooklyn, NY
Prospect Heights (2 blocks from Clinton/Washington C train, 5 blocks from 2/3 to Bergen)

More info and accessibility notes on Facebook.

Also, we’re doing a Yes Ma’am New Year’s Eve party on 12/31/12 (obvs) and the tickets will be $15, with a champagne toast and lots of swanky additions to the Yes Ma’am roster. Stay tuned here for information, but it promises to be swanky, unpretentious, fun and just licentious enough to be epic.

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Rebel Cupcake, Thursday, December 20th

This month’s installment, being so close to my birthday, is encouraging folks to bring their Muppet flamboyance hard. It’s also on the last day of the Mayan calendar, when it is predicted that we will shift to a more humane civilization. I think Rebel Cupcake is the best way to celebrate that!

On the (expanded because I’m feeling indulgent) performance roster this month:

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Kit Yan, playing Rainbow Connection on the ukelele.

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Ariel Speedwagon, in her third holiday season Rebel Cupcake, with a tribe of holiday unicorns. (Ariel is pictured in the center of the photo next to me, with the Menorah bling.) Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

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Damien Luxe, performing the end of the world alphabet. Photo by Nogga Schwartz.

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Abby Fantastic, fresh burlesque bottom to the Rebel Cupcake stage. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

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Miss Poison Ivory, back to the stage, bringing a fallen angel act. Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

All this and gourmet cupcakes!! All the info is as follows (and on Facebook for pre-cruising):

Thursday, December 20th, 2012 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake 32: Muppets @ The End of the World
10PM-2AM Dancing; show 11ish * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
Late night dancing til 4a
Sugarland: 221 N 9th St @ Roebling, Brooklyn, NY
(3 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)

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

*Kelsey Dickey is our photographer and excited to decorate your facebook page with antics from our wild photo booth! The photos are up on our group page–join!
http://www.facebook.com/groups/110847398949000/

*Check out Rebel Cupcake TV by Arsenal E., the Rebel Cupcake Videographer! http://www.youtube.com/user/rebelcupcakevideos

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

*Stage Kittening this month: Fancy Feast.

Suggested dress: Muppet chic, Miss Piggy, Fozzie the Bear, Beaker, Kermit. Remember, Rebel Cupcake is the place to wear that outfit you have no other occasion to wear. Bring it. It’s the end of the world as we know it (as predicted by the Mayan Calendar).

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

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

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

2012-10-05

Brooklyn Queer Dance Party Rebel Cupcake Halloween Extravaganza!

I really enjoy getting to celebrate Halloween every day. I’m never shy to wear a costume. But, in New York City Halloween gets a little overwhelming for me. Often I don’t go out at all on Halloween. Each year since 2009 I’ve produced an early Halloween party–a chance for folks to trot out their costumes in a cheerful environment and not get crushed by drunk people on the subway.

This year I wanted to do a 50s diner halloween party theme Rebel Cupcake and I was inspired to incorporate my favorite fictional 50s diner–the Peach Pit, the 90210 gang’s favorite hang out. Thursday, October 18th it all goes down at Sugarland!

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I figure folks can dress up like waitresses, food, 90210 characters or just wear their Halloween costumes early. And the rest of the folks not in costume can wear whatever they want as diner patrons!

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Brandon, serving diner realness. And fries. To Steve Sanders.

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Kelly Taylor as a witch, some dude as a cowboy.

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If Donna had tried out her mermaid costume at Rebel Cupcake she would have realized what a disaster it was going to be before Halloween.

Kelsey Dickey, our amazing new photographer, will be on hand to take photos! Her shots have been blowing my mind the last couple months.

Kelsey took this photo of Fancy Feast last month.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

Fancy is performing this month! Her burlesque is hilarious.

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Also performing is this babe, Miss Poison Ivory! She calls herself the Black Beauty of Burlesque. Part goddess, part vampire, part hedonist, part femme fatale… Miss Poison Ivory is an up an coming Burlesque performer ready to make her mark.

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Cindy Walsh, our awkward Lesbian prototype/Midwest Mom of the year.

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Come on, Dylan. Just come on.

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 * Brooklyn, NY
Bevin Branlandingham Presents
Rebel Cupcake 30: Peach Pit Halloween Party
10PM-2AM Dancing; show 11ish * $7
($2 off admission if you are on our texty texty list)
Late night dancing til 4a
Sugarland: 221 N 9th St @ Roebling, Brooklyn, NY
(3 blocks from the Bedford L subway stop)

(The rest of the info is at the Rebel Cupcake page!)

2012-09-18

Q & A with Gaga Feminism Author J. Jack Halberstam and Book Giveaway

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When I was asked to be part of the Gaga Feminism blog tour, I engaged my collaborator and dear friend Taylor Black to help me write some questions for QueerFatFemme.com. We’ve had bourbon/coke zero/cherry juice discussions about Jack Halberstam’s work before. Gaga Feminism, out this week from Beacon Press, is the latest in the academic arsenal of the USC professor, blogger, and ubiquitous Queer Studies scholar.

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Me and Taylor performing Bob Dylan at Rebel Cupcake. Photo by Ms. Liederman.

Check out what Jack has to say about desire, feminism, Lady Gaga and failure below. Beacon Press is giving away a copy of the book at the bottom of this post!

QFF: In Gaga Feminism you acknowledge Lady Gaga as a post-Warholian pop hybrid. Today it seems it’s not enough for our pop singers to just be good showmen, like Prince or Dolly Parton, but they have to do it all: Catchy recycled pop tunes/performance art/pushing sexual boundaries/becoming a new feminist icon enough to have a branch of feminism named after them. Is there a place in mainstream culture for just a showman? Someone who gets famous just being talented and doing what they do instead of being a Gagaesque “Fame Monster?”

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Jack Halberstam, photo by Assaf Evron.

Jack: In truth, no one ever just gets famous for being talented – there are hundred, no thousands, no millions of talented and smart and original people in the world but only a few become famous and only a very few become mega global brand names like Lady Gaga. I happen to think Lady Gaga is extraordinarily talented and smart but not just because of what she says but on account of the way she markets her image, captures an ever expanding media market and makes body art out of her live and video performances. Lady Gaga calls herself a “student of fame” and like Andy Warhol she thought very carefully about how to make an impact, how to use the market and how to manipulate the technologies available to her. In my book, though, Gaga is not just Lady Gaga, it is a practice, a way of being and a style of revolt. Lady Gaga is only one incarnation of that.

QFF: In the introduction to your book The Queer Art of Failure, you cite one of Quentin Crisp’s most famous phrases: “If you try once and don’t succeed, failure may be your style.” In fact, Crisp’s aphorism about failure being a style for queers is given alongside Foucault’s idea that it can also be a way of life. What differences you see between these two statements—between a queer style and a queer way of life? Or is this coupling only to suggest that Crisp and Foucault were saying the same sort of thing in different ways and from different places?

Jack: Right! They were kind of saying the same thing about queer life – Quentin Crisp was articulating a new logic for failure – if at first you don’t succeed, he was basically saying, why on earth would you just keep trying. Maybe our notions of success are not engineered for everyone. For some of us, failure is literally something we aspire to. We strenuously object to the models of success that exist all around us – wealth, conquest, normativity—and we prefer failure as a mode of critique. Foucault’s point about a “queer way of life” is made in the middle of an interview about homophobia and he commented there that what fuels homophobia is rarely the idea of homo-sex simply. What fuels homophobia is a sense that gays and lesbians and trans people actually want to change the way we live; that their queerness stands as a rebuke to the forms of life that heterosexuals have fashioned, consolidated and defended.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey for Rebel Cupcake.

QFF: It’s pretty clear that Gaga’s “style” isn’t a personal sense of style, it’s more performative outrageousness–part of that “fame monster” situation. As Crisp says, “Style is being yourself on purpose.” How much do you think Gaga’s meteoric popularity has to do with folks believing her style is personal or do you think the “little monsters” know she’s a product of her industry and love her in spite of it?

Jack: Fans always know better than anyone what constitutes their idols’ appeal. Lady Gaga’s little monsters get that Lady Gaga is a performance, one that renounces the personal in favor of the public, one that sacrifices the private for the popular, and a performance that takes in the subcultural worlds that worship Gaga from afar and in turn are worshipped by her.

QFF: I’m wondering if you are familiar with (New York-based academic and PrettyQueer.com and Junebug vs. Hurricane writer) Taylor Black’s work on Quentin Crisp and style and if you could elaborate on your ideas of what style is and how it may be a significant term in contemporary queer studies? Also, while queer style seems to appear in your text as a counterintuitive effort against the logics of heterosexual success, my understanding of style in Taylor’s work is just the opposite: that it is an intuitive force and a form of becoming rather than simply a way of life or a manner of being.

Jack: No, I was not aware of this website or of Taylor Black’s work. It sounds amazing though and I will check it out. Based on your description, I don’t see the discrepancy between my definition of failure and Black’s – my account makes failure into a counter-intuitive site of self-invention. But what makes it counter-intutive is that it turns away from the common sensical embrace of the logics of success. You are saying that failure in Black’s work is also about committing to another way of being or becoming that has its own internal and intuitive logics. Well….exactly! I don’t necessarily make the distinctions between being and becoming, being and performing that you seem to here.

QFF: How has failure influenced your life path?

Jack: Failure has been my life path. I failed to be a girl, to be a woman, to be heterosexual, to be a good student, to pass exams. I fail well every day and I hope to continue to fail. That does not mean that I have not advanced in my career or grown as a person in all kinds of ways but its does mean that I have recrafted the values that are meaningful to me in my career and my personal life.

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey.

QFF: A lot of my work right now explores desire in the queer community. Would you be more or less likely to ask Lady GaGa out on a date if she were not famous? Do you think outrageousness in attire in a queer feminine context makes one more or less desirable for dates in the queer community? Do you think it is anti-feminist to make a blanket statement about desire, for example “I don’t date Femmes/I don’t date Butches/I only date transmen not men?”

Jack: Wow, great questions. Hmm, would I ask Lady Gaga out if she were not famous. Tough question – that is like saying would you ask Lady Gaga out if she were not Lady Gaga? If she were not famous? Who exactly would she be then? As for outrageous attire – depends on the occasion. And as for anti-feminism coming in the form of blanket statements…I probably disagree with that. Feminism is as much about naming one’s desires with precision and care as it is about expressing desire in more amorphous ways. Everyone, even the most polymorphously perverse among us, has likes and dislikes in the realm of desire: I can say with complete confidence that “I don’t date butches or men” but that does not make me anti-feminist, just clear. All sexual orientation and all sexual identities are defined as much by what people will not do as what they desire to do and with whom. Precision is always helpful when it comes to connecting sexually with others…check out personal ads and online dating sites, people who are specific about their desires have a better chance of meeting someone. Now, what is anti-feminist is a kind of phobic rejection of people who fit a stereotype – like lesbians who may well date boyish and androgynous women but say in their personal ads “no butches.” Or gay men who may well like a range of male bodies but say “no fats, no femmes” in their personal ads. These are not boundaries on desires so much as prejudices.

Thanks for your questions!

To win a copy of Gaga Feminism, like the Queer Fat Femme Facebook Fan Page and leave a comment here (see form below) with your favorite Jack Halberstam article or Lady Gaga song. Winner will be selected at random on September 28, 2012.

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Other stops on the Gaga Feminism Blog Tour:

Monday, September 17
My Husband Betty

Tuesday, September 18
Queer Fat Femme (That’s Me!)

Wednesday, September 19
Sugarbutch Chronicles

Thursday, September 20
The Qu

2012-09-11

Glitter Spank! Brooklyn Dance Party Rebel Cupcake Thursday September 20th

Y’all, I found a gif on Tumblr awhile ago and was inspired to try it out. It involves two really fun things–glitter and spanking!

A friend of mine in Texas said it’s harder than it looks but I’m all about trying! And lots of glitter.

Anyway, creating a party from a spanking gif is a lot easier than this Blanche side eye.

I booked a couple of notoriously good spankers for the party’s entertainment.

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Felice Shays is a Femme feminist performance artist and recently returned to New York City. The number she’s performing is her most ubiquitous.

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The last time I performed with Kelli Dunham she referred to Rebel Cupcake as being “in the middle of the night” whereas I still maintain that starting the show at 11 means it’s actually early for a nightlife show. We might actually have entirely opposite circadian rhythms. But even if she might show up in pajamas and a snuggie, Kelli will still be hilarious. And I’m sure a glitter spank is exactly up her alley.

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Fancy Feast, our stage kitten, is forever ready, willing and able to do the odd things required for the Rebel Cupcake stage. In the last few months she’s held an umbrella for Kate Bornstein (pictured), acted as back-up go go dancer while I told a story from middle school, was substitute door person while Hana was on vacation, and is this month acting as demo bottom to make all my glitter spank dreams come true. Laura Delarato, our incredible videographer, will be taping it so hopefully the demo will make it into an webisode of Live from Rebel Cupcake!

This month the cupcakes are vegan! Lizxann Disaster is stepping in as a sub!

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Photo by Kelsey Dickey. (These bacon cupcakes were amazing, by Morgan Hart.)

Rebel Cupcake: Glitter Spank all goes down September 20th at Sugarland, 221 N. 9th Street in Brooklyn. All info, accessibility notes and transit directions on the Rebel Cupcake page!

2012-09-05

This is What Happened for Bevin at the Femme Conference 2012

My story about the Femme Conference 2012 is completely informed by what it took to get there and my frame of mind. Thus, it begins with the epic journey.

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The Goddess was really on my side getting me to the Femme Conference this year. I knew it was going to be sort of bananas, having been on a road trip and off the grid camping for the 17 days prior to Femme Conference, stopping home for one night only to throw Rebel Cupcake: Lonely Girls (the periodic slow songs were a big hit). This is really a cornerstone characteristic about me, seeing possibility where other folks would see “too much” or “too hard.” Because the option existed to roll all of these travels together I decided to do it.

I had set-up travel arrangements, accommodations and timing before I left, but then one of my pals had to bail the weekend before we were to leave. I was trying to get in touch with our other travel buddy but couldn’t really do anything about it until I was on the road. While on the road Wednesday, barely back on the grid, I touched base with my other travel buddy and she was able to easily solve her conundrums without me, which seemed right. Cut her loose and maybe not go. It seemed like doing the whole Michfest/Rebel Cupcake/Femme Con plan could work if I didn’t have to stop to strategize but problem-solving made it feel too overwhelming and stressful.

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One sort of pleading/processing post on Facebook yielded a room to stay in and a ride (the ride part was hard because most folks I knew were leaving on Thursday). Then, at Rebel Cupcake, 1:45AM, just hours before we were supposed to leave I got a text saying my ride had a family emergency so I was again at square one in NYC. I decided to leave it up to the Goddess about whether and how I would get down there. (Here’s the other thing about this multi-leg travel lifestyle–I didn’t have a ton of money to throw at solving these problems.)

I woke up Friday and booked the only available mega bus to Baltimore ($25, leaving at 1:30) knowing I might not make it to the stop on time. I re-packed in light of taking the bus instead of a car, making some intense clothing and beauty product compromises for the sake of space. I headed out and had big re-thinking thoughts on my way to the subway station knowing I probably was going to miss this bus. I decided nothing worth doing isn’t worth fighting for, so I would head out in search of Femmes ’til I got a real “No” from the universe and not just me second-guessing myself.

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Spoiler alert–I made it to the conference. Here’s Emma.

I took a cab from the subway to the weird, block-long MegaBus situation on 42nd Street and was told that the bus I was looking for was already gone but to “stand at the back of the line.” I was actually pretty surprised when, an hour later, I was herded onto a half-empty bus headed for Baltimore.

The bus stop is not anywhere near Baltimore itself, it is somewhere in the suburbs. Given my waning cell phone battery life and the 90 minutes of public transit I would have to contend with, I took a $50 cab ride to the hotel. It was sort of ironic that the Amtrak ticket probably would have cost me about $75 if I had jumped on it during their fare sale. That was no matter! My pal Hadley was waiting for me at the hotel to grab my bag from the trunk and whisk me away to our hotel suite and offered me booze.

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Bridget and her alternative housing arrangement.

I saw from the car a few Femmes parading in party dresses and got a little nervous. In that about to jump into a new culture way. I’ve been in this culture before but it always makes me a little jittery. I like to think it’s nervous like stage fright–because your audience matters to you. It’s really special to peacock for other Femmes. Put on what makes you feel the best and admire others. For me it is not at all about Femme competition, it’s about how one piece of glitter sparkles on its own but how hundreds of pieces of glitter shine infinitely more brilliantly. But here at Femme Conference we’re shining for each other and it’s ablaze and beautiful.

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Miss Mary Wanna.

So, back at the hotel I put on the opposite of a party dress. My Aerosmith groupie realness outfit packed really small and didn’t require ironing, so it made the cut. I had my share of whiskey to take the edge off the travel and get a little silly. I was still a little nervous. I also needed to eat dinner and know that self-care is essential in the life of a conference-goer. It is so easy to get caught up in trying to get to everything that you forget to eat, sleep and take care of your basic needs.

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We picked up Emma, Jenna and Nomy Lamm from the hotel (ours was about a 5 minute walk away). Nomy’s keynote was on Friday so I missed it but I have heard the themes self-comforting and resilience come out of my chats with friends. We got sandwiches and had a sandwich caucus.

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Nomy and a wrap.

Another session I missed was “In Fierceness and Vulnerability: Deconstructing and Resisting Femmephobia.” Kim Crosby, the presenter, has made the powerpoint available online and it is incredible.

The evening event at Ottobar was the FemmeSPEAK spoken word night. It is such a blessing to have so many incredible performers at one weekend, which means the evening events are epically long. I missed the first few performers but I did get to catch the tail end of my roommate Damien Luxe‘s Exorcism piece, a shortened version of Heather Acs “This is What We Have,” and a featured set of Fran Varian, whose piece in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation is my favorite.

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Heather, performing. I was toting merch from her piece, a lavender tote that says “This is what we have.”

I felt so grateful to be on the floor and present for an actual anthem from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha called “Femme is For Free.” She is going to post it on her blog really soon, but the power in her voice and the cadence and the words. It was why I was there. In that. Sometimes poetry just breaks you open and Leah’s done that for me before and she did it this time.

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I also enjoyed Dacia Holliday‘s featured performance. There’s a great quote from one of her poems.

“…fem(me) identity means: I love as hard as I fuck, and I fuck as hard as I fight.”

(Thanks to Jessie Dress for catching that.)

Settling into the event I was so caught up in the sparkle that before I got to the front to really immerse in the words I was in the back just seeing people, trying not to talk when folks came up to greet me so as not to distract from the performances. It was awkward, since I was so excited to see folks and triumphant that I arrived but so hearing the siren song of the words that are spoken. I remember turning around and seeing this total BABE behind me and doing a slow creep looking up and down her outfit when I noticed her seeing me and I was like dang, I’m caught being a creepster!* There were BABES GALORE at the Femme Conference.

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I mean like, daaaaang. It was also the hair, Elisabeth has this amazing queer pompadour!

After the show was over we stayed and danced a bit. With no prepared DJ we were enjoying the grace of sound guy at the booth plugging in for us but at the mercy of folks’ iPhone playlists for tunes and a lot of La Roux happened. But it didn’t matter! We were in a frenzy of Femme on Femme adoration and swirling around each other was exactly what we wanted. (Of course, as soon as the Gossip came on Bridget nearly died of excitement, fans of the Lesbian Tea Basket know her feelings.)

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Jenna and Hadley.

After the dancing we retired to our hotel suite, me, Hadley and Emma, with a guest Nomy. We had some great conversations in the suite and even though I missed out on some intriguing invites.

“SLUT PARTY AT THE SKANK PALACE ROOM 256! Bring yr slutty self and somebody else’s slutty self too. Lingerie and lace encouraged but not required. Xo.”–Actual text from my phone.

But a ten minute walk is a long walk after a long day of travel at 1AM and with a full day of conferencing to begin at 9AM the following morning. So I just settled into bed with Emma (totally platonically unless you want to imagine something else but your imagination is without consent from me or Emma) and cruised Facebook on my phone until I fell asleep.

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Sleeping soundly.

The next morning we naturally overslept for the first workshop session, though Haddles was up and at em and out the door before me or Emma got to getting. We scrambled to make it to “Mean Girls” in the 10:30 slot, a workshop given by my friend Amanda Arkansassy (aka Lola Dean) who moved to San Francisco two years ago and her hair is long and ombre now, like happens to Femmes in San Francisco. Their hair gets long and ombre! It’s a thing! Not for everyone, but lots of them go long and ombre!**

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The workshop was great, but full of process because it had like 75 people in it and it’s hard to put all of what you need to talk about when debunking Femme competition and mean girl behavior into 90 minutes, and how to maneuver that with the people and space allotted. Also I had given up coffee not long before and was still trying to get conscious so I spent most of the workshop actively absorbing not participating. First we broke down the whys and then the hows and then we talked about how to heal it. By consensus we actually spent an additional fifteen minutes into the lunch hour finishing the workshop. Amanda’s blog has a really great write-up from the workshop, I encourage you all to go read it. I’ll be here when you get back.

Porch talk, isn’t that an adorable blog name? I love it.

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Afterwards we were going to get lunch. I sort of tagged along into two groups that became one giant group, all of us chanting about getting cheeseburgers. We went for a ten minute walk and then we found a restaurant and by group consensus missed the next keynote in favor of having a sit-down and not rushed lunch. Sometimes I find these informal get togethers, the social aspect of conference-going, to be the most valuable. We did a go around*** at the table and talked about what we wanted to get out of the conference. We made tender connections, Rachel offered to do a rap duet with me as I am dipping my toes into song-writing to create a theme song for Rebel Cupcake.

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On the way back to the hotel we were in a clump of ten and seeing the reactions of the Baltimorians on the street was amusing. At some point a young man asked me (towards the back of the group) “What is going on? Y’all are looking fine!” I just smiled and kept going on our mysterious, babely way. It’s really powerful to roll ten deep.

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We got back to the conference for Caucus time, since Jessie Dress was slated to chair the Fat Caucus. We began with 25 folks that then bloomed to easily 45 while we were doing the initial go around. I was getting a little bit diet-talk-squigged-out because the go-around involved where people were with fat activism. This incites some folks to talk about diet history but when I’m facing a room of so many people talking about diet history I feel overwhelmed and like I’m in a Weight Watchers meeting. I like talking about diet history in context of healing and solutions and strategies, and is ultimately what I prefer to get out of these gatherings (along with community and naming struggle). Luckily, our moderator noticed when the go around had taken fifteen minutes and not even gotten a quarter of the way through the participants and we moved on.

By group consensus we agreed to address fat and health first as a large group and several folks talked about struggles with being fat activists who were addressing health issues and learning how to approach exercise from a Health at Every Size perspective and how that is either effective for them or not. There were a lot of things said but I didn’t take any notes.

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Deeply babely. I didn’t take photos at the Fat Caucus, either.

We decided to break into mini-groups for the last fifteen minutes and I took the role of facilitator for the small group on desire. Having to come up with questions on the fly I just asked the eight or so participants in our group how they have been hurt or healed dating while Fat and/or Femme. We also expanded the topic to discuss what it is like to be Fat dating a not-Fat person. Fifteen minutes felt very short but was also really nice to get the tender tiny discussion to round-out (ha) the Fat Caucus.

Other small group topics were health/disability, race/class, inbetweenies, your size is not my size.

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After the caucus I was heading to another workshop when I was enticed to stop by and visit with Diana Cage and Jessica Halem, two brilliant comic babes and we sort of folded into the Cocktail Caucus. We discussed many important things, including bad dating behavior and our lives.

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I made the wise decision to head to my hotel room around 5:30 knowing I was performing that night and was leaving for the venue at 6:45. I had the room to myself for a brief rehearsal and got as dolled-up as I could before going backstage. I knew sharing the stage that night with forty people (for real) was going to mean cramped dressing room space.

FemmesWerq, the burlesque show, was four hours long. The upstairs of Ottobar is a little bizarre. It’s a rock venue, so there are the typical graffitied walls and a million penises.

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The author may have borrowed a sharpie and left her mark.

It’s like two floors and there isn’t a real bathroom, there is a toilet on a raised stage inside one of the dressing rooms. Peeing in a public space not in a stall is a recurring nightmare of mine and so I feel, having done it backstage at the Femme Conference, it’s one of those things that I will now have exorcised from my psyche or something. Hopefully. With 28 acts to wait through, we definitely were going to need to pee a couple of times.

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Watching Femmes rehearse waiting for my tech needs to be met.

My act was squarely in the middle of the show, right after the intermission we never had. Watching all of that incredible burlesque got me uncharacteristically nervous before performing. My Lesbolesque is highly earnest and hilarious, not the studied art of seduction so many other burlesque performers were putting up. Notable performers were Vagina Jenkins, Dr. Ginger Snaps and a third performer doing an homage to Femmes of Color burlesque. Each performer took a Black burlesque performer and performed an act in homage to her, and then after the three performed there was a slideshow. It was stunning, I am a longtime fan of both Vag and Dr. Snaps with renewed vigor.

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Backstage with Vag, addressing the performers.

My friends the Miracle Whips, a feminist performance group from LA did an incredible piece in homage to vaginas and the various wobegone fates we can have in them. UTIs, yeast infections/bacterial infections and period cramps. It was magical performance art and hilarious and I loved it and want to see it again.

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Me and The Miracle Whips.

Two words: SNAIL BURLESQUE. To Rihanna’s “We Found Love.”

Snail Burlesque
Photo by Nicole Myles.

Backstage before my act my friend Miasia and I had a moment. When I get stressed I like to pray and I find it is really helpful for me to pray before shows as I find creating and performing an act of spiritual connectedness. So we had a wonderful moment, the two of us, asking for guidance and letting the love in and having authentic and beautiful performances. Miasia, of course, killed it. She’s such a fox and an incredible belly dance performer.

My act was the Lesbolesque act I created for Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession,” track one from Fumbling Towards Ecstacy. It is about coming out, finding myself, and finding my place in the Lesbian Community through Femme and Queer. The Miracle Whips were my surprise lesbian back-up dancers and I have no photographs.

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More backstage ambiance with Cameron.

Afterward I played matchmaker with a friend of mine, made out with a date, potentially hit on a Femme from far away who understood I was hitting on her but I was leaving for my date so I wasn’t sure if she really understood, and reveled in the incredible Femme on Femme babely energy of the place. Everyone was a Femme that probably liked other Femmes and everyone was visible. After the final act the place erupted. Folks were leaving for the conference play party, hotel room numbers were being texted around, my very drunk friend tried to tell me how to get to their house for the after after party. But I had booked some alone time in my hotel room and my thoughtful roomies had left safer sex supplies on the pillow.

Emma

Things at the Femme Conference got wild on Saturday night and there aren’t a lot of folks I know who didn’t get action if they wanted it on that balmy Baltimore evening.

The next morning was rough getting to the hotel in time, especially because we had to check out of our hotel and pack our garments. Hadley, Emma and I had a really fun time and decided to get brunch to go so we could at least eat and watch the Femmes promenade. French toast is better with Femmes.

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I had a fifteen-minute power catch-up with Leah while she prepared for her workshop, “Femme of Colour Survivors: Badass Resilience.” I genuinely appreciate that our friendship is often made up of soulful connecting, 90 minutes at a time.

I headed to the “Beyond Classy: Working Class Femme Power” workshop facilitated by Blyth (who you may recall from her guest post on this blog). I think Blyth is just amazing and I also know that class identity is something I struggle with talking about, even though I am so open about the other intersections of my identity. The structure was very thoughtful. Channelle was the moderator, Blyth, Kirya Traber (an amazing spoken word performer), and Arti were the panelists. Each panelist took about fifteen minutes to tell their story about growing up poor or working class and how that intersected with their Femme identity. Then there was a Q & A for the panelists, and the last twenty minutes or so was open to the voices of working class or poor Femmes in the room to talk about how Femme had intersected with their class identity (I hope I am remembering that prompt correctly) and then finally, one word or phrase that was a takeaway of strength from their upbringing. (For me it was “Living on the edge.” Other folks said “Independence,” “Looking fabulous on a dime,” “Beauty pageants,” “Resilience.”)

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The crowd for the workshop swelled from the initial twenty to at least seventy folks, crammed in. Blyth was so overwhelmed she threw herself on the floor.

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Blyth passed around banana bread made by her grandmother and I called it “Working Class Femme Communion.”

Let me tell you, it was an emotional hour and a half. I learned new things about other peoples’ experiences but the stuff that was hardest was the naming of experience that was so much of my own. Like moving thirteen times before I turned thirteen. I had never thought about how that was about being poor or working class. And Chanelle called out experiences of internalized classism in a way that blew my mind.

I was really grateful I made it to the workshop and I have so much to unpack from it in my creative work, in my personal life. I am so grateful to Blyth for creating that space and so grateful to Arti and Kirya for being on the panel.

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Before the workshop got full.

Afterward was the second caucus time but I needed to get caucused with some Feelings cake and ended up spending some good time at the cafe next door to the hotel with some Femmes processing the workshop. The closing plenary was next where we talked about the Femme Collective and how the conference went. Did you know you can get involved on the Steering Committee for the 2014 conference? It is a bunch of work to make it happen and the conference is entirely volunteer-run.

The ride home was great. I was with Hadley and Emma and we got sandwiches from Charmington’s, which is now my favorite Baltimore haunt. It was a good debrief and I was so grateful I got to go to the Femme Conference and participate in this soul-opening, glitter encrusted experience.

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*The hilarious-we-became-friends-later-that-weekend post script to that is she didn’t notice me being a creepster, she recognized me from my blog so she was having an “OMG it’s Bevin!” moment while I was full-on checking her out. Hi Elisabeth!

**Side note, should I have ombre hair? Should my hair be tri-colored? Maybe I should do that instead of cutting it shoulder-length again? I know I’m a Brooklyn Femme but what if I go SF Ombre??

***Go Around is conference-speak for doing a round table of everyone’s name and some other information about them. Often/always at Femme Conference they involved Preferred Gender Pronoun, where you were from and something else related to the topic at hand.

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