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

2014-04-03

Untapped Cruising Territory: NPR Singles’ Mixers

Awhile ago I started a blog adventure to go to regions of NYC looking for queer cruising opportunities I hadn’t explored. I believe life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I really think that’s true for dating in this wild city. In a time when I was totally not cruising I ended up finding a gem I wanted to report back to my readers! Even in times of temporal monogamy* I’m looking out to try to get my readers laid!

The event: I’ve been working with a business coach on my attorney business to try to develop a sustainable, more reliable income for myself. My artwork suffers when I am having to spend too much time hustling for cash, and the whole point of having my law practice is so that I can support the body liberation social justice work I love to do. Part of the business coaching is developing business contacts as steady streams of client referrals as well as learning how to do more networking for clients.

IMG_8139_120710The event space. Photo from WNYC.org.

Under her guidance, I was in the process of developing an email to friends to ask for networking events they knew of. All of a sudden, as though a message from the Goddess, I heard an advertisement on NPR for a lesbian mixer. It was so perfect! The event promo on the radio made it sound like a networking event and the event page on the WNYC website made it sound like a singles’ mixer. I was already sold either way.

Coupled with all of this, my girlfriend is a great networker at networking events and volunteered to go with me and coach me on networking. So I was all set to plunk down $40 per ticket (the price was definitely helped because it is a benefit for public radio) to try out some professional networking with other lesbian NPR listeners. A better group of potential clients I could not have asked for.

Why this is untapped for me: Well, the price tag for one. I’m not one to spend $40 for a concert ticket, let alone a happy hour networking thing. Also, I’m totally going to admit loving and listening to NPR but I’ve never given to a pledge drive. (There are so many things I wish I could go back in time and do when I was working at a law firm making real money–donating to public radio is totally one of them.) I’m a total fair weather listener to public radio and I admit that.

Also, I don’t go to a ton of events marketed to lesbians since I actually identify as queer, though I do enjoy “lesbian” as a cultural identity. I was curious what kind of crowd this would create, though, so I was interested.

The Outfit: I went into the event thinking this was to get clients and not as a singles’ mixer (or as an event to write-up for my blog, otherwise I would have tried to get press tickets) so I didn’t take photos. However, I wore one of my super favorite lady lawyer dresses with some vintage cat pins on them. Hey, I was playing to my audience and lesbians love cats.

5752937889_3210240f0f_bI wore this outfit, though this picture is from a couple of years ago, I think I did similar hair and had a different pair of cat’s eye glasses. In my dream job world I wear vintage style dresses for all lawyer outings, which is only true about 50% of the time.

The Wing Femme: In this instance I wasn’t technically cruising so I didn’t have Wing Femmes, I actually had one dedicated Wing Butch (my girlfriend) and an intermittent Wing Butch (Leo). My girlfriend was actually great at this, she showed me how she introduces herself to folks at things like this, starting out doing most of the talking for me, a few of the folks in between she helped me tag team and then the last couple of introductions I did on my own. She was quite great at teaching me professional networking. I don’t love professional networking because I don’t love small talk. This is what makes me a great talk show host but not necessarily great at mixers.

The Scene: The scene was actually pretty fun! I saw a few familiar faces from the queer Brooklyn nightlife scene and some folks from some magazines I know. My astrologer Katie was there (who is single and was looking to meet folks**) and so were a few other folks I have met in my time as a queer New Yorker for over a decade. But what was more refreshing was how many folks I didn’t know!
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The age range was wild–a few folks in their 20s, pretty heavy on 30s and 40s and then a good amount of lesbians over 50. But what was even better was that everyone seemed to be having a great time and really interested in meeting people.

I was definitely in the minority of being there for professional networking. At least 70% of the folks I met were definitely trying to meet people to date. I still made some good connections, though, and learned a lot about how to navigate professional networking events should my friends help me identify some of the good ones in NYC.

There was also a really great lesbian trivia game emceed by Caitlin Thompson. It was really, really funny. I was actually shocked when our team didn’t win the trivia game because we got almost all of the questions correct.

700_3034 (1) Photo courtesy WNYC.

The winning team got every question correct. I am in awe of that teams lesbianitude and knowledge of current lesbian events.

Folks were talking all night, and my single butch friend Leo said she got hit on a lot. I felt like the energy in the place was really good and a lot of people there got what they were looking for.

The verdict: I might have gotten a client (I at least got a good lead for a client, we’ll see if she retains me). But more importantly, for you, dear readers, I think the WNYC singles’ mixers are a winner! You can check out the scene for yourself in this slideshow at WNYC.com!

I heard (on NPR this weekend) that there is an OKCupid algorithm that says that if you agree with your partner about the answers to three questions it is a predictor about whether or not you will be a compatible couple. The questions are:

Do you like horror movies?
Have you ever traveled around another country alone?
Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?

(It’s totally worth reading the OkCupid blog entry about why those questions work to predict compatibility. Data! It’s sexy!)

However, I think that whether or not you both like NPR is a good predictor of being compatible because the idea of spending Sunday mornings (my very favorite time spent as a couple) are totally awesome spent brunching while listening to Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.

I really should donate to NPR.

WNYC is producing singles’ mixers for people of all orientations all the time (and lots for over 40s)! Check out their listings and maybe also donate to public radio before it’s too late and you pursue a career as a social justice artist.

*My then not-girlfriend and I had a temporary agreement during January about not exercising our non-monogamy, which some might call monogamy but I vehemently called “Non-practicing open relationship” so as not to compromise identity. At the present moment we’ve rearranged to a free ass pass arrangement during chemotherapy, but, lez be honest, getting laid is a lot of work and so is caretaking and self care.

**Katie generally likes femme of center folks, but people of all gender presentations who are stylish and fun get her attention.

2013-06-14

Untapped Cruising Territory: The Park Slope Food Coop

As a person who believes strongly in abundance, I know that out of 8 million New Yorkers there are plenty of pockets of queers I don’t know. They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I am on a journey to explore queers in the city from places outside of my comfort zone. Untapped cruising territory.

I’ve long postulated that the Park Slope Food Coop, a fairly legendary place in Brooklyn, is teeming with queers I don’t know. I mean, it’s teeming with people I do know since I can count thirty members who are friends of mine without really trying. But since most of those folks I know from social situations and everyone has to grocery shop, there’s probably a ton of members that are hot queers I wouldn’t otherwise run into.

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The event: My friend Victoria needed to get some grocery shopping done for a big party she was throwing and she knew I wanted to come check out the Food Coop. I already know about the strict membership work requirements (if you can’t get someone to cover your shift your penalty is two workshifts and it goes up exponentially from there), the abundance of cheaper organic groceries and how you can’t shop without being a member. But you can visit.

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Why this is untapped for me: I’ve been hearing about this place the entire decade I’ve lived in New York City but never stepped foot inside.

The outfit: Given that Victoria texted me as I was walking home from the gym I had about five minutes to get ready. One of my exes was a member of the Coop so I figured I’d play to my audience and wear something really “girl next door” since that’s what she liked. This is really how I think sometimes, playing to my audience in these sort of leaps of consciousness, My ex who shops there liked this kind of aesthetic so probably someone else will. No make-up, casual clothes, not typical cruising gear, but we work in the situations we have.

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The Wing Femme: Victoria is a perfect Wing Femme. She’s very friendly, outgoing, positive about the possibilities of me getting laid and knows the Coop well.

Before we went in she looked at me and said, “Bevin, remember, it’s not all twenty- and thirty-something queers in there.” I think she had low expectations for my cruising at the Coop theories.

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The scene: I had to bring a state-issued ID with me in order to be signed in as Victoria’s visitor. She also had to sign a form that I would not shop while I was there, and I got a neon yellow date-stamped visitor badge. We started our adventure upstairs, where Victoria returned a soda stream canister to receive a deposit. (Deep discounts on soda stream canisters is a big plus for the Coop.) She then checked for open workshifts as she is a free wheeling FTOP member and doesn’t have an assigned shift.

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I ran into many folks I knew while I was there, including upstairs. But we had a lot of grocery shopping to get done so Victoria and I hit the floor and got serious about some produce. Almost immediately a dude started a conversation with us while we were discussing tofu and tempeh. He piped up, “You know they also have a different kind of tempeh in the freezer section that doesn’t have preservatives. And these tamales!” He held up a frozen tempeh tamale triumphantly.

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I couldn’t believe the true Portlandia hilarity of having someone talk about tempeh so fervently at a food coop.

At first I was disappointed that the only cute people I saw were people I already knew, but then this hot forty something silver haired masculine of center person with good glasses arrived in the produce section while Victoria and I were discussing brussels sprouts quantities and I nudged Victoria. She raised her eyebrows at me.

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Victoria has told me about the recent Coop controversies, including whether or not they should discontinue providing plastic bags in the produce section. I guess your options are bring your own bag or free ball it. I noticed that the hot butch was bagging her produce in reusable organic cotton bags made for this purpose. Without thinking, I just asked her about the produce bag controversy. And then I was engaged in conversation with this hot person and I didn’t know where to go with it after we talked about produce storage in the refrigerator.

It was like going fishing and catching something by accident and fumbling to grab the net and dropping it in the lake.

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But the incident did tell me that shopping for groceries with people you work in cooperation with makes for easy and accessible conversation. No need for a pick-up line when you can just talk about reusable organic cotton produce bags, you know? It was like the twenty teens version of the beginning of the Tales of the City book where everyone goes to cruise in the grocery store in late 70s San Francisco.

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While we were there I spotted four more hot queers I would want to pick-up. It was great! I think that totally qualifies as “teeming” with hot queers. Also you learn a lot about someone by what they buy at the Coop.

I was also totally into the products sold at the Coop. I embarked on a new whole foods lifestyle with a cleanse eliminating seven of the most inflammatory foods a little over a month ago and there are tons of products I can eat. (Corn, sugar and soy are in, like, everything. But not so much at the Coop!) Also there’s a pretty baller bulk foods aisle with a ton of bulk loose teas and about one trillion tiny bags of nuts.

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It was crowded in my estimation, though people kept telling me it was a pretty light day crowd-wise. I couldn’t really imagine how it could be more crowded. There were so many people crawling all over the place, because member workers were doing shifts restocking things and being in the way, there were people shopping and big palettes of restocking stuff on the floor. As our time at the Coop continued I couldn’t really figure out where to be. If you lingered in front of a product someone would invariably ask you to move. There was nowhere to be that wasn’t in the way. I think this could have been easier if there weren’t so many people on the floor working at the same time. I don’t think this is a size thing, because even the smallest small child would be in the way, but situations like that are super obnoxious when you live in a society that’s always giving you shit for being too big. I was trying to wait in line with Victoria and her huge cart and I got asked to move so many times I thought I was doing a folk dance. This might be the single reason I wouldn’t join the Food Coop.

Most people were all business about shopping, but since I was there to cruise I was all smiles and most of my smiles were returned by people. I even caught some Femme visibility from this cutie twenty something queer wearing a pink shirt when I had to do a little awkward dance with them while trying to get to the bulk foods aisle to assess the tea varieties available (if I’m going to become a member this is an important thing for me to know). And then when I was done doing our awkward dance I winked at them.

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Checking out gave us the opportunity to chat up yet another worker member of the Coop, and I got to scramble to find enough boxes to put all of Victoria’s spoils of victory in. We had to go through the check-out line, stop in a different cashier line to pay and then stop by this other hot queer checking the number of parcels we had against our receipt. It was complicated, but I guess that’s cooperative grocery shopping.

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The verdict: Sold. There are so many cruising opportunities at the Food Coop. There should totally be mixers at the Coop for folks to meet each other. Also, working on your work shift totally gives folks the opportunity to chat with each other. I mean, there’s also a lot of potential awkwardness (shopping for groceries during a break-up sometimes means crying in public, what if your ex shows up, etc…) but I guess you could just go to the place down the street from you.

I don’t know if I’ll join the Coop myself. It costs $100 to buy in and it’s two busses away from my house which is not even a little convenient, but I like knowing I was right about the potential cruising hotbed sitting right there in the middle of Park Slope.

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FYI they sell the Diva Cup for basically half-off retail.

2013-04-26

Untapped Cruising Territory: OK Cupid Mixers

Almost exactly three years ago I started this blog project where I was going to explore places to meet potential dates in New York City that were outside of my comfort zone. I wrote one post (and the adventure did get me a date and a hot make-out, after the fact). Almost exactly two years and fifty weeks ago I rekindled a romance with an ex in LA and stopped needing to cruise because I was back in a long distance thing. Secret monogamous* style.

But, it’s Springtime again! I am looking forward to expanding my horizon! And when a pal of mine who works for OkCupid** offered me a comp ticket to a Queer Women’s Mixer at the Dalloway bar (the newest lez bar in Manhattan) that was exactly one month to the day from my break-up, I thought it was a sign I should try something new. So welcome to post number two in my Untapped Cruising Territory series! Three years later.

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The Dalloway Bar is next door to a doggie day care that has a window for Peeping Lesbians.

Part of moving on is about dipping your toes in the water, finding that fine line between pushing yourself too fast and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so you can grow.

The event: OKC has started to create a little Web 3.0*** action by facilitating events! They have beer tastings and book swaps and lots of other hipster nerd activities to partake in. This one was just a happy hour for folks. You had to preregister on the site and you could even preview people’s tiny photo icons on the website. Pre-cruising at events, like on Fet Life! This event was just a happy hour, with the intent to meet folks. Very low-key.

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Why this is untapped for me: The Dalloway is a bar I’ve only been to once for a friend’s fundraiser. It’s a sort of gaystream place and I hang out in queer gender weirdo crowds. In a big city like NYC we can self-segregate a bit and I am totally guilty of this. (Hence a blog project to not do that so much!) Also, though I am a total extrovert, I hate small talk! I like authentic, deep conversation with people and the whole “being socially lightweight with the questions I ask because you’re a stranger” thing is not my favorite. This is why I want to be a talk show host! I want to get the meat of the question. So happy hour/networking things are hard for me because it’s pretty surface and shallow.

The Outfit:

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You can’t really tell I’m wearing black leggings and hot black motorcycle style boots with studs on the straps.

I went with something casual but signature. I’m a big believer in wearing colors, especially amongst New Yorkers who tend towards greys, browns and blacks. Next time you’re out in Manhattan after work hours see what I’m talking about. I think when you’re doing a thing about meeting potential dates it’s important to look as true to yourself as possible. I mean, you want to be impressive but without compromising authenticity. I didn’t wear red lipstick until after the sun went down. This is not a hard and fast rule for me, this was just because I knew I wanted to sample the Dalloway’s happy hour truffle fries and didn’t want to worry about having to reapply.

The Wing Femme:

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Bridget. Who could basically teach a class on how to be a great Wing Femme. She knows exactly when to draw someone in and when to back quietly out of a conversation. She knows when to remind you the day of the event that you look like a babe, and when to follow-up the next day to remind you that you’re a babe and a great catch. (Hella important traits when making first forays into dating after a break-up.) Bridget’s pretty incredible.

The Scene:

Approximately fifty queers in a swanky basement happy hour space. Before we even got into the bar I ran into another friend whose break-up is about three weeks younger than mine and I commented, “Didn’t you just get your heart broken yesterday?” But sometimes your friends drag you out as soon as you become single to remind you of the vast pussy possibilities out there.

The Dalloway has their own singles night at 8PM every Tuesday, so they were creating this a combo event. You had to be on the pre-paid ticket list for OkCupid in order to get in, and the swanky door folks offered the glow stick tagging bracelets for anyone who wanted them. Options were Single, Taken or D.T.F.**** I selected D.T.F. Why not? It’s pretty representative of how casual I’m interested in being right now. Getting what you want is all about being clear with your desire.

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The thing to do with singles mixers, according to my bestie Victoria, is to make it your goals to meet as many people as possible and not expect to meet the love of your life. I mean, sure, I believe in love at first sight, but that’s for times like at a friend of a friend’s birthday party or over produce at the food co-op and not at a singles mixer. This is just about a numbers game.

What I liked about the happy hour was that everyone was there explicitly to meet people so folks were a lot bolder than they normally would be because there was a group understanding about interacting. So people seemed to free to just float up to a group of folks and start chatting.

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I stayed close to Bridget and let her do the fishing for us. It seemed that between me, Bridget, her friend Blakely and this other girl Jenny she knew, that we kind of group dated other new folks. “Oh, hey, tell us about yourself,” until somehow they hit it off with one or none of us.

I enjoyed some diet coke (I’m not drinking alcohol anymore as a lifestyle choice), truffle fries and a slider. It felt a little weird to be eating at a happy hour where not a lot of people got food, but I was really hungry and honestly if someone is going to be weird about me eating some truffle fries I just don’t think they’re a good match for me, friend or date.

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The slider was really good and so were the fries. But they totally were expensive even for happy hour pricing, at $5 for a mini burger and $7 for fries. Pricey place, that Dalloway.

The verdict: I spent two hours at the mixer and by the end was pretty done talking to new people. I enjoyed my time but small talk is, again, a lot of specific energy and I was excited to go back to talking to my bestie/wing femme. Also I saw a girl out of the corner of my eye that I swore was my ex’s ex (but maybe she just looked like her) and I freaked out a little.

However, I totally met two people I would absolutely go on a date with, so I think in a crowd of fifty that is a total win. I didn’t ask either of them out (or even flirt that much, I’m not that great at subtlety) because I know at this delicate stage I can’t handle even a little bit of rejection. But it is really reassuring and awesome to know that there are babely babes I want to chat up date-style and have hot make-outs with out there and it’s a small queer world, our paths will cross again.

As I left with my friend who is way more freshly broken-up with than I am, I lamented that no one else was flagging D.T.F. and she proudly lifted up her shirt cuff to reveal her yellow wristband. We had a great laugh.

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My friend Regan.

After the event I noticed that we can now see the actual profile listings of the other folks at the mixer, I guess to help facilitate follow-up!

Bridget says, “They call it ‘Okay’ Cupid not ‘Exceptional’ Cupid or ‘Extremely Effective’ Cupid.”

And my friend who works for OkCupid says this:

With OkC, your experience depends a TON on your priorities & expectations. It is great if: you want to meet a lot of people fast, if you’re pragmatic about casting a wide net and proactive about making the first move, if it’s important to you that the person you are meeting for drinks shares some values or interests with you, if your dating prefs are very specific or unusual in some notable but maybe not immediately apparent way (poly, kinky, looking for sex only, etc.) or if you feel like you are otherwise “not for everybody” and would prefer to get hit on by people who are ready for this jelly (see also Bevin’s note about fat strippers doing really well on OkC.) OkCupid is a BAD idea if: you’re sensitive to rejection or deeply bummed out by strangers ignoring you, if tend to assume it’s “me not them” when people aren’t into you, if you’re skeeved by people you don’t consider suitable checking out your profile or contacting you, if a ‘we met cute’ story is important to you, or if you have high expectations around the level of connection you’ll have with the people you meet.

I think that’s a pretty great nutshell for online dating in general, but especially the OkC situation.

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What’s next on the Untapped Cruising Territory for Bevin? I’m going to try my old ideas from 2010, lesbian softball game, the Park Slope Food Co-op, and A Brooklyn Meat-Up (though I don’t remember what this was). And my friends keep telling me about this Lesbian Herstory Archives speed dating thing for 30+, but I’m not so sure about that.

*Secret monogamous is where neither party has agreed to monogamy but both end up just defaulting to monogamy because they don’t want to do it to/date anyone else.

**For those of you who don’t know, OkCupid is a dating website. It’s good for urban queers and our pals. I know many people who have met their partners from it, especially fat burlesque performers who like cisgendered nerdy dudes. It’s a thing.

***Web 3.0 is where you use social media to meet people in real life! Damien Luxe brought this term unto me.

****D.T.F. I learned from watching Jersey Shore, means Down To Fuck. It’s a hilarious conversation starter.

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These people made out at the mixer, I believe they might call this a success.

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