… I put on a dark green leather jacket and my favorite pair of trousers and, with a copy of The Sun Also Rises in my bookbag, I went to my friend Peter Dee’s apartment where he was hosting a monthly reading group I’d started with a friend a few years before.
Unbeknownst to me, Peter had invited this actor who’d been living upstate who’d recently moved to NY with the intention of working at a repertory theatre and exploring his gender stuff.
The rest, as they say, is history.
(Happy Anniversary, beautiful!)
Our friend Angela Madden is opening a play she wrote – and performs in – tonight at the Connelly Theatre. It’s called C.E.O. & Cinderella. We got to see it before I left for Wisconsin, and I’m glad I did. It’s interesting, it’s funny, and it’s moving.
It also only runs until February 19th, so do get tickets as soon as you can. It’s being presented by the theatre company Betty helped form a couple of years ago, and their website has all the info you need.
Angela, break a leg. We love you.
SOUTHERN COMFORT CONFERENCE 2007
KEYNOTE ADDRESS – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2007
One Community, One Family
by Jenn Burleton, TransActive Education & Advocacy, Portland, OR
Thank you to the organizers of this amazing conference and in particular, Cat Turner, Lola Fleck and Elaine Martin. And I must thank my longtime friend, Mariette Pathy Allen. My life has been truly blessed as a result of knowing her and sharing many adventures with her…some of which are suitable for sharing with the whole family.
When Cat Turner called back in January and invited me to come to Atlanta I was of course, very honored. I was also surprised. After all, we’d never met. I’d never attended a previous Southern Comfort Conference and I am not, in my opinion anyway, one of the gender community heavy hitters.
Continue reading “SoCo Keynote: Jenn Burleton”
I got this today from Ana in Brazil (the girl from Ipanema, you could say):
One last thing: regarding your mixed feelings about Betty’s transformation, one of the best metaphors for it was depicted in the “Beauty and the Beast” episode of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, directed by Roger Vadin. You know the plot: the beautiful Susan Sarandon is forced to live with the Beast, until the spell is broken, by the power or her sincere love, and — plim! — the beast becomes a Prince Charming (Klaus Kinski) so proud of his just-found looks. But she is unimpressed. “Why?” he aks “don’t you prefer me handsome?”
She replies: “I was in love with the Beast, I don’t know who you are.”
There’s an event happening in San Francisco (of course) called “Not Queer Enough” on June 27th. Among the speakers are people like Max Wolf Valerio & Julia Serano.
I wish I could be there.
My own feelings of being “not queer enough” I’ve mentioned at various times, usually when I’ve felt shunned at an event or gathering, or been made to feel otherwise square for being married or monogamous or heterosexual. Shoot, I’ve felt “not feminist enough” for being heterosexual & married, too.
& I’m very very certain that plenty of trans people feel “not trans enough.”
But not queer enough? What defines someone as queer? Their politics? Being visibly queer? Their worldview? Their haircut? Who they have sex with?
I don’t know. But I’d like to be in San Francisco that night to hear other people talk about their experiences.
Info about the event below the break.
Continue reading “Not Queer Enough”
Do you know when everything around you seems to be trying to tell you something? I caught Spiderman 2 on TV the other day, never having seen it in the theatres (because I don’t get around to seeing anything in the theatres), and I really really enjoyed it, except for that bit about him giving up being Spiderman & then deciding to be Spiderman again because it made me think about writing.
Then we went to see Ratatouille the other night – in the theatre, even! – and that was kind of about being what you really are, what you’re really good at. you know, “everyone can write.”
I mean cook.
I was talking with another writer the other day about an essay I was having a hard time getting at & explained that you know, when writing is going well it’s horrible, & when it’s not going well it’s torture.
But the thing about writing that’s the hardest on me is the uncertainty; this freelance life just isn’t good for my body. I want the stability back of having a regular job & a regular paycheck, except then I see movies like Ratatouille or Spiderman 2 and I think that I have to write. Not because I’m a genius, but because I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.
S. Bear Bergman is the author of Butch is a Noun, a writer, theatre artist, and educator who tours regularly. Zie’s book, Butch is a Noun, is one of my favorites of the past year because it’s funny, self-ironic, but full of a kind of combination of sadness and love that I found meditative and energizing.
1) I have to say that it was the title of your book, Butch is a Noun, that first caught my attention. Tell me how you came up with it, and why you chose it.
It’s both one of my talents and one of my, er, little problems that I’m a huge language geek. I love words, I love language, and I am always deeply satisfied when I can talk about something well, with good words. But I had a hard time, talking about butch. I would say I’m a butch, and people would hear I’m a butch woman or I’m a butch lesbian. Neither of which is comfortable, or accurate. I kept saying No, listen, I mean that I am a butch, as a noun, all by itself – not a modifier but a thing to them be further described.
For a while, I referred to it as The Butch Book, but I never really liked that as a title, it was just sort of a characterization – an internal shorthand. Then one day, I was applying for some time at a writers’ residency to finish it and when it asked for the project title I somehow just knew: Butch Is a Noun. Continue reading “Five Questions With… S. Bear Bergman”
Betty and I learned the sad news this week that the founder of the Jean Cocteau Repertory and one of the regular directors of the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, Eve Adamson, died suddenly this week. She was 69 years old.
She started the Cocteau in the 70s in the East Village; she was the first to stage the Ballet Trocadero in New York. When Betty went to her to explain her gender issues, she didn’t miss a beat, and reminded us that she knew Candy Darling.
She was that kind of artistic person, a New Yorker who was around when New York was reinventing the world, & art, & culture. It was people like her who created the New York I wanted to live in. It seems somehow fitting to me that she would make her exit the same month that CBGB will finally close its doors; they were both of an era that is over.
But more than that, she was a woman who formed a theatre company in the 70s, when the theatre world was still very much a man’s world (which, some say, it still is). But there is no doubt it was in the 70s, and she did the classics – but always insisted on them being relevant to today’s audience.
Seeing her direction of Oedipus in the days after 9/11 with the actors intoning, “My city, my city…” brought that out a little too clearly.
She directed the last play that Tennesee Williams would see premiered in New York in his lifetime.
Without women like her, I couldn’t be doing what I do now. It is reassuring in her death to know that she did what she wanted to do for most of her life; she kept doing her art, she kept telling her actors to find their light, she kept breathing new life into classic plays and bringing whole new audiences under their sway.
Eve, theatre will miss you, New York will miss you, & I will miss you.
Her friends and fans are free to leave their own messages here.
A great interview with Karen Allen, who played Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark:
But 25 years ago, there was a summer blockbuster whose female lead was anything but an afterthought. She was pretty, yes, and looked good in a slinky gown and could even run in heels when necessary. But she also knew how to hold a grudge. She had a mean right hook. And she could drink any man under the table — even the scarred brutes who frequented her gin joint in Nepal.
She sounds as cool in real life as the character she played in the movie, so our “summer movie” date night will be going to see Raiders on the big screen again, because a movie theatre in Manhattan is showing it on the big screen again. To hell with Hollywood if they can’t come up with good women characters.
Last night, after hearing from one of my preview readers that the first chapters of my new book come off as dispassionate, I sat around a little overwhelmed, a little frustrated, & a little sad. Not because she was wrong, but because she was right, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
I couldn’t work on the manuscript at that moment because I wanted to burn it, so I put on PBS just in time to catch a documentary* about Bill Irwin. For those of you who don’t know who he is, you might have seen him as “The Flying Man” who fell in love with Marilyn on Northern Exposure (oh, how I miss that show), or you might remember him from that “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” video that was played to death. It’s less likely that you saw The Regard of Flight (which was one of PBS’ Great Performances series), or his Broadway shows, Largely New York and Fool Moon. But you should have.
A Buster Keaton fan can’t help but love Bill Irwin, for the obvious reasons, but this Damfino just loves that there’s someone around to make me laugh. Being the somewhat hyper-verbal type that I am, I don’t find a lot of intellectual humor very funny. Mostly I think it’s mean-spirited, actually. But a pratfall or a spittake done well gets me every time. A pratfall with a good reason behind it is even better. Hat tricks rule, in general.
The documentary ended with them interviewing Irwin himself about becoming an older clown – pratfalls and physical humor aren’t easy – and he talked about what he might or might not do as a “retired clown.” But what he said that hit me between the eyes is that being an artist is largely about what’s inside you, & looking at that honestly, and then telling the story.
The timing was impeccable. I’m not really excited about the idea, because I’d much rather hide more and show less. It’s so much easier to be pedantic, but so much more boring, and so much less useful. So I’ll forge ahead, pull out my spleen, and see what comes of it.
But I’m blaming Bill Irwin for the whole terrific mess.
* And whatever you do, don’t read that awful essay on the PBS site about the documentary. It’s exactly not the introduction you want. Honestly, the Bobby McFerrin video would do you better. I’m particularly fond of the Northern Exposure episodes, but I loved that show too. What you really want is to see The Regard of Flight, which you can buy here.