So we were just in New York, and one of the awesome things we did was meet the cast and crew of Harvey Fierstein’s new play Casa Valentina.
We didn’t get to see the whole thing – just a few key scenes – but I am so looking forward to seeing the whole of it.
And it opens to audiences tonight. I have no doubt the reception will be great.
But here’s the thing: we were invited to come see a rehearsal to advise. One of the actors contacted me a few weeks back – when I was already scheduled to be in NYC – and asked that we come because a bunch of the cast were reading or had read my books.
& Mare Winningham – who plays the wife of one of the crossdressers – said really nice things about them. She was so welcoming and cool to us.
Anyway, it was an awesome experience all around, & I only wish I could have stayed in town a day longer to catch the first night of previews tonight, but alas, the class I’m teaching started today, too.
I’m hoping to get a group together to go see it when we’re next in town, because from what I can tell, this is a gorgeous play – honest (maybe in ways some people won’t like) but compassionate, by which I mean: the wife is a real person.
I have a friend who gives me awesome haircuts, like this one, when I’m in NYC, and I realized recently I’ve never mentioned his work here on my blog, and should. Why? He’s about as trans friendly as trans friendly gets, having done drag himself for a gazillion years. And he really really really loves making people look fantastic.
<< And this is his card, which really explains his whole thing on its own without me blathering on, but of course, do let him know I sent you: alexandercolby(at)gmail(dot)com.
(if you’re wondering about the post’s title, you really need to watch this.)
An old friend I went to high school with got married in NYC today, and he posted this awesome photo of him & his groom. It made me smile every time it came across my Facebook feed, so I thought I’d share it withall of you.
The famous (and also now gone) Lee’s Mardi Gras was nearby, too. But eventually, Sex & the City and new high rents
helped bring a flood of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes to the area, bobble-headed young women tottering over the cobblestones in their Manolos and Jimmy Choos, slipping in the blood and fat.
The neighborhood didn’t change very quickly in the 90s, since Florent and Monster and Hogs were all still there in the late 90s, but they’re all gone now, along with the women who worked those streets. I was impressed by the respect shown them in this piece, evident in that description of that ridiculous Sex & the City episode (which was, by the way, the first one I happened to see, and so was the last, too), but moreso in the last paragraph:
Where did they go, all those working girls? Some no doubt were murdered, as marginalized transwomen too often are. Others found other strolls, in more dangerous neighborhoods. And some, I’m sure, went “legit.” It’s impossible to say.
We happen to be fostering three kittens at the moment, all of them goofy, clumsy little ninjas, hungry and recently weaned. One orange, one grey, one tortico. And they have been amusing the hell out of me, like kittens always do.
But today? They are running all over the place & so I’m reminded of that day 12 years ago when I looked down at our hardwood living room floor in Brooklyn and noticed that our kitty boys – who were then about a year & a half – had left footprints while they played.
& That was when we noticed the light coating of ash on the floor.
& Then it all comes back: the smell, god the smell. But the phone calls, & my family gathering on Long Island that following weekend, to look at our wedding photos – we’d just gotten married in July. Walking down the street in Park Slope & a woman stopping to take a call on her cellphone & watching her go ashen & cry & fall to her knees right there on the sidewalk. Finding a day a few months later to shop up on 7th Avenue and running into a funeral for a Rescue One firefighter.
It was a lot of that. It wasn’t a day.
It was months, now years, more than a decade, & yet the shock of it, and the sadness, never goes away.
So today, tears, and kittens who leave no footprints.
When Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, declared that she wanted to live as a woman, the Army’s response was callous and out of step with medical protocol, stated policies for transgender people in civilian federal prisons and existing court rulings.
and then ends:
Private Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, said last week that he hoped military prison officials would voluntarily provide hormone treatment, without a lawsuit. It should not take a court order to get officials — including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — to do the right thing. They should give Private Manning appropriate medical care and safe but not unduly isolated housing, which should be available for all transgender prisoners.
What is most remarkable to me is that I read and edited a draft by trans activist Danielle Askini of Seattle’s Gender Justice League which will run in tomorrow’s Seattle Times – and its ask and major points are essentially the same as the Times’ letter.
As per usual, a good post at Abagond about American whiteness: this article details the way ‘my people’ became white in America. I’m both Southern European (Italian) & Eastern European (Polish) and also German & a tiny, tiny little bit Irish (who weren’t white either when they first came to the US, of course). Here are some highlights, but do go read the whole thing.
The Third Enlargement of American Whiteness (1930-1980) was when the Jews, Italians and others from southern and eastern Europe became White Americans, when they melted into the melting pot.
. . .
Late 1800s: Crossing the Atlantic becomes cheap. Suddenly anyone can come to America: unlettered peasants from Italy, penniless Jews and others from southern and eastern Europe. They fill the slums of New York and elsewhere. The government fears they will be stuck there forever – a permanent underclass.
1910s: They are called “alien races” … they bring crime and poverty. They have too many children. They do not understand freedom and democracy, voting for corrupt political machines. Skull measurements (and later IQ tests) prove they lack intelligence.
With many recent exhibitions, screenings and publications, the queer community, particularly in New York, seems to be on an archival bent, mapping a genealogy of various aspects of LGBTQ history. Not only is queer culture experiencing archive fever, but the era of the 1980s and 1990s has been given an inordinate amount of attention by curators, critics and writers. Adding to that dialogue, Simpson’s Drag Explosion presents an archive of the drag scene, which seems to often appear on the periphery of many exhibitions and publications on the 1980s art scene or LGBTQ history despite its influential humor, camp and fashion that still pervades culture today.
The photos themselves are a blast. I hope there are a lot more screenings, but if you can’t catch one, you can watch a slideshow of the photos online with Linda’s narration.
Qween Amor was assaulted in Union Square on May 7th, 2013. The suspect is now in custody. Immediately after this video was taken, her suitcase (pictured, red) was stolen. It contained her amplifier, laptop, and all other possessions.
S/he needs help to purchase a new amplifier/boombox, so that she can continue performing & sending her message of love. Contributions can be made via paypal to: QweenAmor@gmail.com.
It thrills me to no end that I am going to a retreat this weekend with a bunch of students from NYC. Why? Because I won’t have to talk so slow and constantly regulate my enthusiasm and keep myself from interrupting. I won’t have to count to three when someone is done speaking just to make sure I’m not interjecting too quickly. I’m not particularly good at doing those things, mind you: I’m still from New York and have all the speech patterns Deborah Tannen talks about in this article.
A Californian who visited New York once told me he’d found New Yorkers unfriendly when he’d tried to make casual conversation. I asked what he made conversation about. Well, for example, how nice the weather was. Of course! No New Yorker would start talking to a stranger about the weather—unless it was really bad. We find it most appropriate to make comments to strangers when there’s something to complain about—“Why don’t they do something about this garbage!” “Ever since they changed the schedules, you can’t get a bus!” Complaining gives us a sense of togetherness in adversity. The angry edge is aimed at the impersonal “they” who are always doing things wrong. The person is thus welcomed into a warm little group. Since Californians don’t pick up this distinction between “us” and “them,” they are put off by the hostility, which they feel could be turned on them at any moment.
But around other New Yorkers I can fucking relax and expect people to be a little louder, a little more dramatic, to clip my sentences and know, when I clip theirs, that I am only showing enthusiasm. More→
Sylvia Rivera Law Project is trying to make sure that trans inclusive care is part of NYS Medicaid, and are asking people to send a letter to the Health Department explaining your story and why this need is so great.