I Learned Self-Love From Drag Performers: A Feminist Response to Feminist Critiques of Drag

There has been not a lot, but enough conversation about drag–particularly about drag queens–and their brand of femininity and feminine caricature being misogynistic. The argument is that drag queens are essentially men telling us how we should and shouldn’t look, and mocking those who don’t fit into these norms. I could not disagree more. I will not deny that there are misogynistic queens who police women’s bodies publicly and loudly, but my personal experience being totally obsessed and eventually finding my way into the hearts and friendships of many a king and queen has been that these misogyny queens are those of a dying minority.

I first want to address that the conversation about misogyny in drag completely negates the fact that there are female-identified performers who dress as hyper-masculine characters and perform as kings, and while usually I don’t buy the “men are being made fun of too!” argument, in this case by calling drag misogynistic based on your opinion of drag queens, YOU are being misogynistic for denying the existence, passion, and skills of the women that are in this community making a living on their drag. Erasure of women = always misogyny. Period.

I digress now though–I just wanted to establish that even though most drag criticism criticizes only male-identified performers, my response features both–because they are both important, vibrant, and relevant to how I feel about drag as a whole. I am the first to criticize something–anything, for misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, fatphobia, ableism, etc. etc. but critiques of drag really rub me the wrong way. It seems as if a few bad performers who make racist or biphobic jokes and tell women how to dress are being considered the whole of drag, and I can not stress enough that the lived experience of queer people in queer communities should be enough to disprove that notion. I read tons of comic books in spite of the fact that it is a blatantly misogynistic culture, because not all comic book stories and writers are giving in to that culture. Drag as a culture, in my opinion, is not “blatantly misogynistic”, and yet people aren’t willing to give the art form that same credit we often do to others.

Furthermore, to address the criticism that drag is “mocking” or “criticizing” female beauty. Drag is now and has always been about gender-bending and questioning gender norms, which is why the feminist critiques of it coming out of nowhere have honestly totally baffled me. I think some (not all) critics are missing the point–it’s not “this is how women should look.” The point is “this is how men are told they shouldn’t look, and fuck you, I look awesome.” Again, drag kings are a thing too, and it’s that same idea of “I can wear these combat boots and sing about stealing your woman too, because your gender roles can shove it.” As we as a society progress, I have also seen the drag community progress in the most delightful ways. I frequently attend “flip nights” where the queens go as kings and vice-versa, but even beyond that, in most thriving drag communities there has come to be a delicious blend of burlesque, boylesque, and drag performances that totally call into question what a drag queen or king even IS, the inclusion of trans or genderqueer persons, and this amazing thing where performers get in and out of face on the stage to further make you question your view on gender. I could write an entire essay on how vital drag is to calling gender norms into questions, but that’s not what I wanted to do today. I could throw out tons of facts and figures or throw tons of other art forms under the bus. I could remind you that Stonewall, the “gay rights” riot that is credited with starting the “gay rights” movement was led largely by drag queens. I could passively-aggressively insinuate that you are just trying to find a reason to dismiss queer-centric entertainment. All of these would be valid arguments, and all of them are arguments I have made in real life, and to be frank, all of these are arguments I should need to keep reiterating.

So instead, I have this to offer you, because I think it’s more relatable. I’m a big girl. It’s not a huge function of who I am, but I also make no secret of the fact or feel no shame that I shop in the plus-sized section. I’m not “strangers harass me about what’s in my shopping cart” big, but I’m honestly not very far from it. The first times I ever remember seeing big women that people thought were beautiful and that were publicly raved about both in person and in media were both drag queens. My personal story was when I was 21 years old at a gay club in Asheville, NC of all places. There was a plus-sized queen who totally owned the room, and everyone loved her. I would have been surprised if not for my high school fascination with Divine–a loud and crass but certainly large and in charge queen who I couldn’t believe was so comfortable being herself. It would be easy to take away from this that men aren’t policed as much for their bodies, but in gay culture this is admittedly and ashamedly not true. Instead these queens were showing us the confidence and the swagger that sit behind all true beauty, and in that club in Asheville is when I learned that fat didn’t equal ugly. A very hot button feminist issue right now, given to me by drag queens way before it was in the feminist mainstream.

Another facet of self-love comes from my ability to survive anything that happens to me, and while I can not credit drag performers specifically for this, I would be blatantly ignoring their influence on me if they didn’t receive partial credit. Most drag performers of all genders are very public with the fact that they’ve been to hell and back, and they are up there lip-syncing songs about surviving, overcoming, and learning to love again. Very recently I have made some hard decisions about my personal life, and I went to a drag show as a pick-me-up, because as I suspected, it took no time at all for messages of “What Doesn’t Kill Me Makes Me Stronger” to start pumping through the sound system. Drag performers are trying to teach us about reincarnation and finding our voice, and for some reason we are overlooking this for things that can be misinterpreted as misogyny.

Then there’s drag in the media. I have mostly focused on local club scenes, because I care more about local art on any level, but I am a queer media aficionado of all ilk. So what did I take away from The Rocky Horror Picture show as a child? “Don’t dream it, be it.” What do I weekly take away from RuPaul’s Drag Race? “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”–and to always bring your best foot forward–whatever that foot looks like to YOU personally. In the past, the most successful winners were the ones who stuck to their guns, and if that isn’t inspiring for when you shut off your computer (or TV for you fancy people with cable) and go out into the world, I don’t know what is.

It is in “gay” clubs that I found myself, but it was at drag shows that I learned to love myself. Beyond what the queens and kings are teaching us about love, life, and ourselves through their performances, it is my drag friends who are the first to stop any negative self-talk they hear me spewing. They are the first to affirm their friends that they are on the right track, to encourage people to ignore harmful criticism, and even when someone you love doesn’t love you back, any friends you have the drag community will be the first to assure you it is that idiot’s loss, not yours. 

I love myself, but it is a daily struggle. I have been through almost everything terrible a person can go through, and I am still standing strong. I primarily credit my own strength for this, and of course I credit the strong women who paved the way for me to be able to overcome those things and have the resources to do so almost as quickly as I credit myself. Drag culture though, has also played a huge part in putting that “bass in my walk” as RuPaul would say, and I am critical of criticisms that seem to be based on opinions from the outside looking in. I am not a drag performer, but thanks to actual drag performers in my life, I am just as daring and eager to be myself as they are–so maybe we should let them.

Until next time, Peace, Passion, and Love.

 

3 Tips To Learn Tarot Quickly!

I have had a lot of questions lately from people who love tarot, and want to learn to not rely on their book to at least read for themselves. While I think reading on the level I and most other professionals do takes innate intuition as well as some learned pop psychology, I think anyone can memorize a deck and possesses enough intuition to learn for themselves if they want to. There are a million tips and tricks I could give you, I think these three about sum it up, and are stuff everyone can do. As always, I like to keep these methods simple and affordable. In fact, these shouldn’t cost you an extra money at all beyond your deck itself.

  1. Do a reading every day. Even if you’re super tired and busy, pull at least one card every day, and record it. If you don’t keep a regular journal, just find a small notebook to put it in. Look through it once a week to see what connections you see–this will help you make connections in your own life, but also between the cards. Pay attention to how your day actually goes too, based on those readings. I recommend recording it, but that can be time consuming.
  2. Learn the basic facts first. Every card in a suit has some basic things in common, the number three deals with balance, and tens represent the end of a journey. These are just a few examples–each card does have it’s own prophecy, but it’s a lot easier to suss out out the meaning in a Four of Wands if you know what all fours and all wands have in common.
  3. Read. Lots. Lots of books–you don’t have to spend money, you can get them from the library. Lots of tarot blogs are really amazing too and help me grow to this day. On my link round-ups I frequently post great sites to read, but just ask for specific recommendations.

If you start with these, everything else is downhill! Let me know how it’s going, and if you’d like more in the future.

Peace, Passion, and Love Y’all!

Image A bad iPhone picture of a great “Daily” reading!

Today’s April Showers Are Bringing You…One Hell of a Link Round-Up!

Good Afternoon, darlings.

My “bookmarks bar is overflowing, and it seems like as good a time as any to share them with you as Minneapolis deals with some chilly but necessary (and lovely) rainy weather today. Enjoy!

For Theatre Makers and Lovers
A wonderful piece on radical compassion and what that should look like theatrically when you’re talking about cultural representation.

This show sounds absolutely amazing.

Some theatre humor. This one made the web rounds pretty hard, but I thought I’d share just in case.

I highly recommend checking out the Ted X Broadway videos themselves, but this is a nice little collection of things to be gleaned from them.

For Tarot Fans
A great article on timing and how the cards show you it’s importance. Overall, Tarot Trends is one of my new favorite websites. I’ve been scouring for days.

Is your inspiration suffering? As always, the Tarot Lady has some GREAT ideas for you.

For Art Fans
Love these flower installations.

Also loving these mandalas by Amy Cheng.

I just think this lady’s work is phenomenal. All of it.

Feminist Russian Contemporary Art. Yes, please.

For Feminist & Queer Activists
Not a feminist? Fine. But you’re not going to change our minds.

An interesting look at how the world’s changed between the coming out of two very different Ellens.

Whoa. Poor Joan Vollmer. This made me so angry. I get really frustrated when even my most activist-y friends still idolize the likes of crazy-pants level misogynists.

I’m a HUGE Kate Bornstein fan, and lucky enough to at least claim her as an internet friend, so I was beside myself reading this.

10 LGBT Women in Worldwide Politics.

The Identity Project is stunning. I can’t wait for a Minneapolis run when/if it happens.

For Feeling Empowered
A friend sent me these power poses to practice for use when you’re entering a place you’re about to feel insecure.

This article on why gratitude is not a panacea was one of those I read at exactly the right time on the right day, and it’s haunted me ever since.

I’m really excited for this documentary about the fat positivity movement.

For Running ANY Business
Don’t eat sushi at the airport.

Permission from one of my favorite internet writers to stalk her? Deal.

Getting focused for the day requires only one trick…but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Another from The Tarot Lady, but this one is good for ANY freelancer who might have some freeloaders in their circle.

What we can learn from Girl Scouts.

For Fun:
This “Lesbian First Date” video cracked me up. I have only “U-Hauled” it once but I can definitely relate to being any of these girls in the video.

Erotic places to touch people other than underneath the clothes.

“Oh Joy Sex Toy” is another of my new favorite sites. This is the one I decided to share with you all. Okay, this one too.

This airport-come-park was added to my “wanderlist” immediately.

My life is all about Friends nostalgia.

Free or cheap ways to maximize travel? I am ALL ABOUT IT.

Best cities to be a writer? MINE! Muahaha.

My life’s biggest unachievable fantasy. I can do a lot of things, but I can’t time travel to the ’60′s.

Feel free to share your own links, friends. J’adore!

Twin Cities Spotlight On…

Three great, socially conscious, completely entertaining events going on this weekend!

The first two are drag shows featuring some of the best performance art in the Twin Cities, Dragged Out which is mostly kings, but tonight is flip night where queens perform as kings and vice versa. I LOVE this theme in drag performance, and hope to see you there! It’s tonight at the Townhouse. Across the river in my own neighborhood of Minneapolis, my beloved “Dykes Do Drag” are performing at the Bryant Lake Bowl tonight and tomorrow. Tickets are $18 at the door, but you can you still purchase more cheaply in advance for tomorrow’s show.

AND for something totally different, I have two very talented friend in a show at Nimbus Theatre (who is hosting Gadfly’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy Festival in the fall) called Nacirema: Stories of Color that I was totally riveted by. I try to stay as up on issues of racial equality as I do gender and queer equality, and this workshop show was just what I needed to be lit on fire again. They actually run through the 28th, so no excuses!

I can’t promise to do this column every week, but I do want to be more conscious about promoting arts (and other) events that I really believe in–feel free to hawk your own event that’s in the next few weeks below. I just got really excited about these three.

Peace, passion, and love.

How to “Carpe Diem” When You Feel Like “Curling Up and Dying”

Part of the reason I haven’t written in awhile is because I was having some chronic health issues flare up for the past couple of weeks. I’m working really hard to make my theatre company and freelance businesses rocking, and I like to have a social and romantic life too–keeping up with the “extras” and whatever seemed overwhelming, but that’s okay. I actually learned a lot this go round about living with chronic issues, and below I’ve assembled just a few tips that I thought of when I was super ill last week that I hope can help others maximize their life in the face of illness. These tips also take little or no money, which is always my goal in helping people.

  • Let yourself be sick when you’re sick. I eat generally pretty healthy. I yoga, I walk, I hike, I try to lift weights and swim when those options are available, and so I used to get really mad at myself when chronic health conditions flared up. I was weak. I fell of  a diet wagon, or wasn’t exercising enough, or brought in too much negative energy, and you know what? Sometimes those things are true and they are why I get sick, but sometimes I just get sick because I get sick. The worst thing you can do when a chronic condition flares up is beat yourself up for not being “stronger”, and the second worst thing you can do is pretend you’re feeling great and carry on with your normal life totally as is. Maybe you can’t take time from your day job, but you can sleep a little later and skip styling your hair. Maybe you can’t miss your best friend’s birthday party, but you can skip drinking, and try to have quiet conversations all night–
  • and sometimes you can, should, and need to take time off so your body can heal, because you are sick.
  • Living your life to it’s fullest doesn’t have to mean climbing a mountain on a day you are so exhausted it feels like you already have. It can mean making progress in that New York Times’ Best Seller your friends have been raving about, or watching a foreign film or new t.v. show. Use the free time you’ve probably been aching for to r-e-l-a-x.
  • At the risk of sounding like your mother, hot tea, cold water, and real food are your new best friend. Duh. It’s so tempting when we feel crappy to say “screw it” and live on soda and (often unhealthy) comfort food, but you will feel worse–if not physically, then mentally. Just Google “simple gourmet” or hell, “healthy take out” to keep your rest game going.
  • If you are able to take time off from life, and are living on your couch like I was last week, use advice that is seemingly counter-intuitive: try to go out once or twice, or at least move around some. The worst of my chronic issues is reproductive system related, and I know for those suffering with similar conditions, yoga or walking can actually help a lot if you don’t overdo it. At least take a lap or two around your house–or try to see a movie or something else quiet with a friend. (I know this isn’t possible for everyone in these times, so please trust your body before my word.)
  • Call your mom. Or your sister. Or your high school best friend. Catching up with someone so dear to you is better for your soul and body than you know, and you know you haven’t been making time. Hang up before you’re too worn out, but you will be glad you called.
  • Get Comfortable. For me this means tons of pillows, blankets, and my cat. For others that means snuggling, silk sheets, and extra hydration. Whatever makes YOU feel comfy, you need lots of it. Bring a cushion or pillow to work to support your back, stick some pillow-y insoles into your shoe, or wear layers so you can keep control of your personal temperature throughout the day. There are always ways to spoil yourself with comfort.
  • Ask your best friend to hang out with you anyway. I don’t think I would’ve gotten through this spell if mine wasn’t here to regale me with customer horror stories and keep me in the gossip loop. Again, know when enough is enough, but being sick doesn’t mean isolating yourself if you feel up to chatting but not partying. Your not a burden. Your friend will be happy to see you.

There you have it–not surprisingly, I’m hawking listening to your body, not beating yourself up, relaxing, reading, eating yummy but healthy food, and keeping your loved ones close as “advice”–but I’m only doing so because it is advice we so often ignore when sick, especially in the face of chronic conditions. I wrote this blog because I know sitting around and staring at your computer screen blindly can feel like you are missing out on so much-but it doesn’t have too. I write my blog for people like me who are introverted and have limitations, but also really love carpe-ing the hell out of every diem, so if you have some advice or tips along that vein, feel free to chime in.

Until next time, Peace, Passion, Love, and HEALTH.

A Salon? How Divine! (Plus Show Info)

Gadfly Logo

Hello Darlings!

One reason I have been so crazy-pants busy is because I’ve been working very hard behind the scenes to ensure Gadfly Theatre Production’s Precious Little by Madeleine George has everything it needs to succeed. I am so charmed by this show. One of my favorite actresses to work with, Sondra Glynn plays a lesbian whoa at 42 decides to go ahead and have a baby on her own. Her character plays a linguist who is very passionate about her work, so she finds herself in a tough spot when she learns that the baby may never be able to communicate via language. Sondra is doing an amazing job, and she is joined by two actresses that are new to our company but I hope never leave. Their names are Alana LaBissoniere who has four monster roles, including a gorilla and Cleva, the last known speaker of a dying language, and Joann Oudekerk, who plays Brodie’s young lover as well as several other parts–including a one-woman ensemble of zoo-goers. The show goes up on March 21st at the People’s Center in Minneapolis, MN. Tickets are available here–hope you’ll snag yourself some, because it’s going to be a lovely show.

To get our audience and artists excited for the show, we have a lovely FREE event at Boneshaker Books THIS WEDNESDAY at 6:00 P.M. where we’ll preview a couple of scenes and talk with the cast about the show. We’re looking forward to it, and hope we’ll see you there. Our cast is so sweet and fun to hear talk so passionately about the show, and I’m really looking forward for you guys to see it.

Until then,

Peace, Passion, and Love!

Precious Little Web Image

The Best of #ReadWomen2014 So Far

Hey All,I know I haven’t been posting a lot, but I really don’t want to post just to post–this blog is often all over the place–some tarot, some theatre, some queer feminism, some random–and I’m okay with that, but I don’t want to post ANY of it if it’s not going to be quality, and between my schedule and my health there’s not been a way to produce quality content more than a couple of times a week at best. I hope you understand.

A few updates, for those who want to know what I’ve been up to: Gadfly has two great events coming very soon, one free, and one accessible one, AND we are auditioning for a really wonderful June event, so hop over to gadflytheatre.org to learn all about, and grab tickets to “Precious Little”.

I’ve been focusing on tarot, but am still totally available for photography and odd administrative jobs, however, with the moon waxing in my own sign this is a perfect chance to give me a ring as a tarot reader–either a literal ring on the phone, an in-house visit, or an e-mail reading. Check my Etsy shop for e-mail readings, otherwise all the info you need is here.

Now, as promised, I have stuck to only reading female writers in 2014, and two more books I’ve read have really blown me away, and I wanted you to know about them.

reading_lolita_in_tehran

First up, if you’ve ever wanted to hear a Tuesdays with Morrie from the other side, AND you prefer reading books by and about women, people of color, and/or other cultures, you HAVE to read Reading Lolita in Tehran. It’s been sitting on my queue forever, and for the first time in a long time I was sad when a book was over simply because it was over. I had such an emotionally rich but still fun time with this book. I’m dying for a movie, but know they’ll probably ruin it.

bastard-out-of-carolina

The other one is Bastard Out of Carolina. Both books I’m showcasing today are heavy and hard to get through in some cases, but worth it if you’re able too. This one I hesitate to say too much about, because so much of the journey is in the discoveries along the way, but this one features abuse, family tensions, and both the positive and negative powers of love.

Hope you feel free to share your own. Would love to hear some recommendations, as well as start conversations about these two life-changers.

Until then, Peace, Passion, and Love.

New Moon in Pisces Coming!

Tomorrow starts my favorite moon–the New Moon, in my personal Moon AND Sun sign–Pisces. I’m really excited because that means my third eye as well as my power of attraction will be in peak form for a crazy-busy weekend I have planned. What does this mean for YOU–as a Pisces or not? To answer that, let’s look at two things: the universal powers inherent during a new moon, and the universal lessons of a Pisces moon.

New Moon:
This is one of the two times the moon is at it’s most powerful. This is a GREAT time to think about bringing new energy, people, events, etc. INTO your life–and meditating/praying/casting spells between now and Sunday has the potential to see infinite results. I’m using this one to bring in new clients for tarot and thinking about marketing the latest Gadfly show.

Pisces:
Anything having to do with Pisces indicates Psychic power, the pull and power of emotions, and the more romantic side of life–art, love, beauty, and connection with others are all indicated.

So What to Make of a New Moon IN Pisces?
With the moon coming into Pisces on a New Moon, that means it’s a great time to pull those things mentioned above into your life, or to reassess where yours are, and set goals for the next two weeks (until the Full Moon) to actively and spiritually work towards. If you’re at a complete loss for how to use this energy, I would suggest:

  • Making new friends or FINALLY going out with that person you’ve been trying to date forever…
  • …or saying “yes” to a completely new friend/date/business partner regardless of whether you “normally” would or not.
  • If you have a career in the arts, focus on the art of it right now.
  • Listen to your gut instinct even more than usual since psychic prowess is at an all-time high.
  • If you’re not an interest, try being a patron–go to a museum, concert, or play that you’ve been putting off.
  • Listen to your heart. Your heart and gut instinct will be really closely tied for the next couple of weeks. If you really want something, especially something out of the ordinary, it’s probably because you’re supposed to have it.
  • Get spiritually centered–for some that means church. For some that means a coven. For some it means waking up 30 minutes early to meditate. For me, I want it to mean spending lots of time near lakes and rivers, so I’m trying to figure out what that means in a record-breaking Minnesota winter. I’ll let you know if I figure it out.
  • Get a psychic reading! If you’re afraid to see someone in person, there are tons of great Etsy readers and some of the Psychic hotlines are actually fairly credible. People who have “the sight” are even more lucid right now.

And as always, let me know if YOU have any tips or questions for me (or each other).

Until Then, Peace, Passion, and Love.

 

#ReadWomen2014

Hello Darlings! I am so excited to hear about the Twitter-based initiative #ReadWomen2014 designed to support female-identified writers and protagonists. It’s pretty simple–it basically asserts that those taking part will only read and certainly only buy books written by female-identified authors for the whole year! Since last year I did a huge embargo on buying clothes, this year I thought it would be lovely to take part in this. I will admit I will be cheating for ongoing comic book/graphic novel series, but I won’t be starting any new unless they are penned by ladies. I also MAY cheat if Neil Gaiman or books pertaining to my business endeavors fall into my hands, but am trying desperately to avoid that.

Here is what I read in January, and what I thought:

*The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink which had lots of great pieces from all kinds of wonderful women, including Beyonce, and discussed the economic inequality of women in the U.S. it was a HUGE one to start off with, material wise, but I’m so glad I did. I learned a lot–including the types of bills and movements we need to be pushing for.
*Harry: A History by Mellissa Annelli. You may know Miss Annelli as the woman who ran the Harry Potter fansite, The Leaky Cauldron, and this book recounts her time right inside the heart of HP fever. It’s obviously only appealing to HP fans, but it’s a must read if you haven’t and ARE a fan.
*The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters…I actually had some trouble/issues with this book. This is Waters’ first book not starring lesbians, and the longer I read it, the more I didn’t understand why. Sure, it’s a period piece, and the protagonist is a doctor, but I can still think of a million different ways and reasons this didn’t have to have a male protagonist, who by all accounts, is not even very likeable. That being said, it’s mostly a psychological “is this a ghost story or not” story, and once I got over the initial shock of the voice of the book, it is gripping and exciting, and everything you want a ghost-ish story to be.*I Killed Scheherezade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman by Joumana Haddad was a great exploration of what it means to be Arab, a woman, and an Arab woman in today’s world. Definitely recommend. 

AND if none of this floats your boat, here are some other great books by women you should check out.

revolution 200px-Henryandjune_cover The_Bell_Jar_Harper_71Gender Outlaw9780812980028_custom-287c0d1ef61cc0f7a336824aa808ec9094c96ffb-s6-c30 zami

sbb ash_malindalo_500 huntress_arc_cover_web spindles_endwhen-she-woke

jane eyredykesemily house on mango The year of our revolutionatwood1 Bossypants-Tina-Fey ellenbeingemily danielle

These are ALL books that I have read and can vouch for, and can assure you there’s something for you on the list! I could’ve gone on and one, but hopefully this gets you started.

Recommend away to me, btw! Peace, passion, and love.

 

Happiness

butterfly

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 465 other followers