Monthly Archives: October 2010

Rally for Sanity

I realize I’m hardly a paragon of sanity. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to make the trek to DC for Jon Stewart‘s big rally. And while I realize that by being a part of the crowd I was showing my support for a more moderate, measured approach to politics (and everything else, quite frankly), the trip was hardly what I’d hoped for.

To start, I purchased a ticket on a bus a friend had chartered. I anticipated traveling with like-minded folks and meeting some new people. I wasn’t expecting a busload of partying burners but I wasn’t expecting 50-odd 50-somethings, mostly Jersey women in comfortable walking shoes. Nope, not one person on board who I had any interest in meeting! But let me start at the beginning.

My trip truly began at 3:30 on Friday, in a panic about leaving the newly-fostered neurotic puppy home alone. I’d enlisted the assistance of a friend who agreed to be there at 3:00. She said she was “stopping for food,” which I thought meant to pick up food. She’d just sat down to order food. At a restaurant. I shoved the puppy into his crate, locked the door listening to his shrieking and ran my keys to my friend at Kate’s.

After an invigorating dash to the Path, I rode to Jersey City to meet friends for the hour-plus drive down to Jackson, NJ. There was a diner dinner and poster-making and a quick stop at Target, where I picked up an awesome pair of penguin feetie pajamas. I know, I’m straying off topic… Knowing we were going to have an extremely early morning, most of us bedded down sometime after midnight. But a few others thought it was the perfect time to chat into the wee hours. Which meant we woke up at 5:30am after less than five hours of sleep. Ugh.

In the chilly, still-dark morning we drove to a random park-and-ride to meet our chartered chariot and the aforementioned 50-odd 50-somethings. Bagels and coffee were included in our ticket price but the bus driver wouldn’t allow any liquids on the bus besides water, so I chugged down my Dunkin Donuts caffeine and carried my bagel on board. It was a long drive down to RFK Stadium parking lot. But I was excited about being an activist!

Coming up out of the subway to thousands of people filling the Mall was quite a sight. We walked toward the front but didn’t make it very far; the. We made several attempts to penetrate the wall of humanity, cutting across the Mall, getting stepped on and shoved. I felt like a turnstile! People were trying to walk — well, squeeze between — in every direction. Except for myself and our 6’4″ friend, everyone was having anxiety attacks. The ambulance that wound up idling a few feet from us before it turned on its siren and inched right into the thick of things almost sent us over the edge. The fact that we couldn’t see a thing, not even the monitors, or hear a word made the discomfort totally pointless. We decided to bail.

At least we got to see dozens and dozens of ridiculous protest signs: Wraps are NOT sandwiches! Bacon is good for me! Free the kittens! There were costumes and hilarious t-shirts, all decidedly high-brow and primarily intellectual. I was semi-disguised as a zombie, prepared to say, “I’m here for the brains!” if anyone inquired. I would’ve followed that with, “I went to that Glenn Beck thing. Not a brain in the bunch!” But alas, no one asked. My friends were in costume as well. Alex was a pregnant prom queen with an “Abstinence Only Education” sash. Jonathan was a bear carrying a “Bears are not godless killing machines!” sign. We had an Uncle Sam, a cheerleader and a smarmy politician. Er, at least I think he was being a smarmy politician. He may have just been dressing as himself!

Walking away from the masses we came upon Abraxas, the glittering dragon that had been out at Burning Man, and its crew of burners. Of course we ran into familiar faces and it was nice to see the burners represent! We strolled along, people watching and protest sign reading, to Chinatown and finally found a restaurant without a two-hour wait: Mongolian barbecue, yum!

The return trip was almost as grueling as the trip down: a liquid-less bus ride, drive into Brooklyn and the fucked up F train to the East Village. I finally made it home at midnight, exhausted, cranky and pretty damn disappointed. Yes, it was a good thing to show my support. But I sure wish it had been a busload of burners, that I’d met some great new people and that I’d actually seen and/or heard the damn rally!

Thursday Night in Rockstar Style

Since Thursdays are the new Fridays and the new Saturdays, it’s no surprise that I had three separate soirees I wanted to hit on Oct. 28th. My first stop was Obliterati, Nick McGlynn‘s monthly literary  fete. The event was sponsored by NearSay and when Trevor — NearSay’s Head of Products and Marketing —  told me to give them feedback about how to make their site better, I quipped, “Well, you could publish some of my writing!” Ever the consummate salesman, he responded with something cheerfully noncommittally as I moved into the bar. But I did receive a follow-up email acknowledging my inquiry, so stay tuned!

After picking up a beer, I wove my way through the crowd to the back garden in search of our host. I met Nick when we were both in Vegas for the Adult Entertainment Expo, at a party in a high roller suite. A suds fight in an enormous bathroom with Jonno, Jamye Waxman and a dozen other  members of the sexerati culminated with us sharing the jacuzzi bathtub.  He recently moved out to LA, “just for something different,” he explained, and, as one might expect, he is missing New York City. Well New York misses him too! We burbled about our Halloween itineraries, promising to sync up somehow via our assorted gizmos and social networking platforms.

Photo by Nick McGlynn

From there I strolled over to The Delancey for The Mudd Club – Club 57 – New Wave Vaudeville Reunion. To be honest, I’ve only been to The Mudd Club once. My cousin Inger Lorre and I drove in from suburban New Jersey to see Fear on a snowy night seemingly a lifetime ago. Or maybe a few lifetimes. So I wasn’t expecting to recognize anyone. As we approached the club, the swarm of reunitees on the sidewalk threatened an extended wait. “I’m on the list,” I told the door guy, giving him an imploring look. He shook his head, indicating the impatient masses behind the velvet ropes. And as though on cue, my friend Georgie (Delancey’s events manager) appeared, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me inside. “Quick, man, it’s crazy out there,” he said as we hustled down the hallway. “Give her a stamp,” he instructed the clipboard holder. I thanked him profusely as he disappeared into the club.

After a second beer and a few songs from three women of a certain age, I decided it was time to head out to Le Poisson Rouge. “Don’t leave yet,” Georgie flailed, finishing up a phone call. “I’m on my way to BadAss,” I explained. “It’s their last monthly and the lineup is incredible. There were air kisses and goodnights on the sidewalk before I jumped into a cab. My gizmo chimed. “You want I should hold spots for you up front?” texted Alex. “Yes, in a cab, almost there,” I chimed back. Ah, nothing like having someone scouting the territory for you!

Getting out of the cab on the corner of Bleecker and LaGuardia, the sidewalk was jammed with eager audience members. “Oh, I simply cannot wait in that line!” I grumbled. The man at the rope explained that everyone was waiting; the doors weren’t open yet. With impeccable timing, Alex Colby appeared in the doorway. “I think I’m on the list,” I ventured, hoping for the best. He ducked inside and returned seconds later, instructing the rope man to let me in. I laughed as Alex ushered me to the clipboard guy. “Are you Abby?” the handsome young man inquired. I laughed out loud. “Yes, indeed I am!” I replied. It sounded like he was asking if I was Madonna, but I’m sure what he meant was, “Are you the person this friend of yours just asked about?” I was, indeed, on the list and seconds later I was seated, front and center, at the foot of the stage.

Vulgaras opened the show with a a deafening set and the live show was followed by the debut of their latest video, “Bruja Rising.” Then Mistress Formika took the stage in her inimitable aggressive fashion. “Hello, putahs!” she welcomed us. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you all,” she continued, “especially this putah right here,” she said, looking down at me. Formika and I go way back, to the messy days at Kitsch Inn, and we didn’t part on the best of terms. But it’s nice to know that after enough years, that crap can be forgotten.

Now I am the first to admit I’m a jaded cunt. Nothing impresses me and I’ve seen it all. Well, at least I think I have. But I do love to be surprised. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a burlesque show. I have seen, literally, hundreds of acts: bump, grind, pasties twirling, blahblahblah. I KNOW! I told you I was jaded! But BadAss always amazes me. Something about the name of the night, perhaps, or the vibe of an event that begins so late in the evening — not to mention the mere presence of the show’s bad ass producer, Velocity Chyaldd — conspires to create an atmosphere where performers feel comfortable baring more than their breasts. They consistently amaze me. But I was, seriously, stupefied. Seriously!

Sorry, folks, but I’m exhausted and I’m in New Jersey with a house full of people prepping for the big Stewart/Colbert rally in DC! So I’ll finish this up with additional details (performers and, ideally, pix!), um, probably sometime after Halloween blows over!

Photo of Velocity by Alex Colby

BadAss Dia de los Muertos Gala

On October 28, my final destination of the night was BadAss Burlesque‘s Dia de los Muertos Gala. It was the sixth anniversary of the exotic event and marked its last as a monthly. Boo, indeed!

Back in the beginning, when BadAss was at Bowery Poetry, I was one of three guest emcees. It’s been a few years since I last graced the BadAss stage and the night has moved from Bowery Poetry to Knitting Factory and Arlene’s Grocery, landing, finally, at Le Poisson Rouge. I hadn’t expected dinner theater seating and it was a very pleasant surprise.

Vulgaras opened the show with a a deafening live set; it was surreal watching Velocity singing with the video backdrop of old horror films. Eerily elegant!  Then Mistress Formika took the stage. “Hello, putahs!” she welcomed us in her inimitable aggressive fashion. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you all,” she continued, “especially this putah right here,” she said, looking down at me. Formika introduced the debut of  “Bruja Rising,” Vulgaras’s new video, before the evening’s festivities turned to the tassel twirling. And I was, as I stated earlier, stupified!

Magdalena Fox was the first dancer onstage, with fancy legwork, whiteface and a fan dance. Deity looked serene as Frida Kahlo, in a glittering interpretation of traditional Mexican garb. As she stripped down to her sparkling pasties, the crowd was whipped into a frenzy. The Flying Fox followed, in a stunning red tulle wedding-like gown that had me gasping. She strutted the stage behind a ghoulish mask and her piece crescendoed with dark goo oozing from her mouth. (Meaning she’d gone through her entire routine with that mouthful! Impressive!)

Fem Appeal removed her red veil and crimson cocktail dress to reveal a skull mask and skeleton body suit, but even her bones were shed before she showered herself in glitter from a pocket flask. Albert Cadabra was the night’s only male performer and he did not disappoint. His routine was a mix of masculinity and magic; he stripped out of a straightjacket all the way down to…nothin’. Anna Evans failed to move me; her routine seemed nothing more than a lapdance at Scores. Zzzzzz.

But Madame Rosebud and her mohawk made me verrrry happy! I can’t even remember the details, only that she had me grinning with glee! There was black lace and a proud fierceness that made me believe, once again, in burlesque as performance art. Producer extraordinaire Velocity performed next and was, as always, astounding. Juliet Jeske performed a Jean d’Arc-inspired piece, stripping down to a body-painted cross and not much more.

Intermission and a Day of the Dead Costume Contest  split the festivities in two and gave me time to catch my breath! Act two began with Legs Malone, who did little more than remove her cape. Yes, long legs are lovely; however, nothing but left me wanting a bit more. Ruby Valentine was true to her color by donning a red tulle veil that matched her red hose, red panties and red heels. Delicious! And then…Nasty Canasta, consistently one of my personal favorites! This woman looks completely different every time I see her! She performed her routine blindfolded, then ended with a backbend and spilled hot wax. Huzzah! She’s a genius!

Calamity Chang‘s performance was the closest to classic burlesque, all rhinestones, feathers and flirtatious dance moves, culminating in a crystal skull that spilled glitter. Gah! Ms. Tickle managed the most imaginative tease, with a papier maché set of breasts that opened up like curio cupboards and faux genitalia that secreted a rosary. Whew! The whipping about of Stormy Leather and her co-star reminded me of pieces I’d seen a decade ago, so I was nonplussed. My friend Alex, however, was floored by her performance…to each his own, eh?

When the evening was over, I walked home, wrung out and glad that I’d had my faith restored…in New York, in nightlife and in near-nudity!

Bowery Birthday & The Box

Tuesday night I accompanied my friend Nick to rock photographer Bob Gruen‘s birthday party. The event was held at R Bar on the Lower East Side — the Bowery, to be exact. My last trip to R Bar was as part of SantaCon and, blinded by all the red and white, I hadn’t noticed then how swanky the joint is! Also, their back room was closed off, which was a real shame, since it has a few stripper poles. And Santa loves stripper poles! But I digress.

Bob decorates his birthday bashes with prints of his photography and this year’s collection was completely comprised of work shot in 2010. There were multiple photos featuring Yoko Ono, Debbie Harry and Billie Joe Armstrong, as well as many of Bob himself with friends and acquaintances. After perusing the prints, I immediately texted my ex: “Bob Gruen’s bday? There’s a shot of Debbie free for the taking!” He’s a big Blondie fan, or, more specifically, a Debbie fan. Nick and I parked ourselves in the back room, behind a stripper pole and in front of the best Debbie pic, and my ex joined us a half-hour later. We hung out and bought each other beers. It’s so grown-up to be on civil terms with one’s ex, no?

The club became progressively crowded with the famous and semi-famous, including Ms. Harry. People kept mistaking me for Gruen’s wife, shaking my hand in congratulations or randomly chatting me up. The only resemblance I can discern is that we both have long blondish hair…and I think she may be almost as tall as I am. I wonder if she’s ever mistaken for me! I said hello to Clem Burke, who Nick had introduced me to during Blondie’s Parallel Lines tour. Other luminaries included Bebe Buell, Leee Black Childers, Victor Bockris, Richard Lloyd, Anthony Haden-Guest, Alison Gordy, Tommy Gunn and BP Fallon.

The Pretty Babies, a Blondie cover band with Tammie Faye Starlite on lead vocals, rocked the house in black blazers and skinny ties. Well, except for Tammie Faye. She was in something suitably skimpy! There were downtown types of every age, size and stripe (literally, stripes!) and a festive birthday cake. One particularly saucy young woman in a fab ’70s-ish maxi dress (when was the last time you even heard the term “maxi dress?”), hell bent on snagging a shot of Iggy Pop, introduced herself. The buxom blonde with her  asked if I was interested in any particular photo. I nodded at the Debbie print behind me. “I’ve been at the last four birthdays and I’ve never gotten the picture I wanted! Take it now!” she ordered with a slur. I demurred, saying I didn’t mind waiting. Whereupon she snatched it off the wall and rolled it up, shoving it at me with an exaggerated sense of urgency. Mr. Gruen was a mere arm’s reach away, shmoozing with one of the women who’d mistaken me for his wife. I tried not to look too embarrassed. But I surreptitiously squirreled the print away in the sleeve of my metallic red motorcycle jacket. And my ex happily toted it home.

I didn’t last too late at the fete; I’d had 11:0pm plans with The Baroness. She met me at R Bar, where we were fabulous for a while, posing for Tina Paul and letting people conjecture about whether we “were somebody” or not. (We are!) Somewhat reluctantly, we strolled a block over to Chrystie, Baroness in her latex and I in my leopard print sweater, headed for The Box. I’d been hearing about the club for years from many of my performer friends who’d been booked there. For some reason, I assumed it was a tacky bottle bar (perhaps because of their big budgets!) packed with pretentious bridge-and-tunnelers, so I’d avoided it. Quel dommage! The place is positively stunning! Intimate and delightfully appointed, including some serious heavy metal accoutrements dans les toilettes, courtesy of The Baroness herself! I could live there! (In the club, not the toilets…) The adorable bartender was wearing a flowing tulle skirt, a strappy leather top and roller blades. Behind the bar! Gorgeous! We only indulged in one beverage, as we decided not to make a late night of it. The evening ended on an amusing note: as we exited the club and were waiting for a gentleman to vacate a taxi, he took a look at us and exclaimed, “You two look exciting!” “We are!” I laughed. “Well, more exciting than me,” he sheepishly admitted. “Without a doubt!” I snapped in retort. It’s always nice to have one’s fabulousness acknowledged.

Shaving vs. Insecurities: Posing Nude

Besides trolling Craigslist for interesting gigs, I’m always on the lookout for other avant projects. I recently responded to two posts on list-serves seeking nude models. Here is the correspondence between me and the first photographer:

A friend posted to the list that you were looking for nude models. Totally interested. Have posed for many including Beth B (up close vaginas for a gallery show and book). I’m 51, so hopefully I’m alone in the “older” category! You can see pix of me on Facebook under EditrixAbby or on my web site editrixabby.com.
Let me know!
Abby

“Hi Abby…I took a look at your site and I think you would be a great model for me…I am looking to do full body/face nudes, the whole being body and soul….the thing is…I need you to grow out your pubic hair long…and then shave the inside while leaving an outer rim…for the shoot, I am looking to bring out emotion, so it would be important that you can convey your emotions, get in touch with them, for the camera, without shyness or hesitation…does this interest you? I am looking to capture something different than the typical, yet I am still looking to capture sexuality, just from a new perspective…if you are interested, will do the hair cut, and feel happy to have the pictures go out into the world…I think meeting in person to discuss the project would be the next step…I am going away for the weekend, but next week would be great if you have the time. I live in Astoria but easily can meet in Manhattan or Brooklyn…I want to see if we vibe, I think that it the main thing for me, is synergy, because it is this synergy which makes good photographs for me, I want to steer clear of using a model/body as object, I am looking for subjects….just let me know if you want to meet up….thanks!
M”

Um, I’m not quite clear exactly what sort of pubic haircut you’re looking for. I’ve never shaved and can’t imagine shaving “the inside” for anything. Soooo, if that’s a requisite, I’ll have to bow out. Not sure how the pubic coif relates to my being, body or soul. But you’re the artist!
Abby

“I understand, it’s a difficult request. It’s just an all shaved look, but with an outer rim of hair, hard to explain in words…it’s a vision I had, and I am looking to make happen for this project, not much logic to it. No worries though, and thanks for responding in the first place, much appreciated.
M”

I would be interested in seeing her work. Perhaps she should have requested “shaved vulvas” rather than nude models! I completely respect an artist’s vision but can’t quite grasp why she wanted whole bodies, with such an emphasis on emotions, yet she was so intent on, well, shaved vulvas. And I’m not a shy one. As I told her in my original email to her, I have posed nude, including for Beth B, who shot my twat from, like, inches away. Beth’s project was focused, literally, on nothing but snatch. The resulting prints were created using dodge-and-burn (old school!) to really isolate the genitals — not even including any thigh — and they were displayed in a gallery show with an accompanying book. It was kinda fun for my friends and I to try and guess whose pussy was whose. (Looks like Beth is still adding to this “body” of work. Watch this YouTube video of a similar show in January 2010.)

The second photographer I responded to had a much clearer vision of what she was looking for, having already begun her project. She gave a concise “pitch” and provided links to her work. Here was her original post:

“What is your Insecurity? Be Raw… imagine your biggest insecurity written to contour your naked body…

Calling all people interested in posing for photographer NINA MENDEZ MARTI (www.ninamendezmarti.com) and her personal project RAW.

For the lovers of artistic photography, The RAW Exhibition is in February 2011. Presenting the complete collection of 50 photographs in Galeria Yemaya San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The project is in its last months of production and we are asking you help complete the work.
We are looking for specific people such as: people older than 60 years of age, adolesecentes with permission from their parents, people with tattoos or scars, different races and even families, brothers/sisters, couples, and friends that are willing to pose together.”

Our correspondence was also much clearer, mostly a yes, a yay, and then scheduling. Though our days got hectic and things were pushed back a bit, she arrived, quickly ascertained where to pose me, shot the pictures and was outta there!

Mind you, the concept was very appealing to me. I’ve been feeling insecure about aging, hence the perhaps desperate desire to be photographed…nude. Why not capture my fading glory? Or at least my fading tan… Heh. Anyway, the shoot was not only quick but comfortable. I felt totally confident that this woman, as an artist, was interested in truly capturing peoples’ souls, as well as their insecurities. I wanted “getting old” on one arm and “alone” on the other because those are really three fears: that of getting old, that of being alone and lastly of getting old alone. So not only was she a self-assured artist, hers was the perfect project for me.

I can’t say I love the resulting photo; I think I look, well, kinda old and tired. I always prefer myself smiling in photos. But the shot does capture my sense of insecurity.

Photo by Nina Mendez Marti

Paid Study – $75

I’m looking for work so I spend a lot of time cruising Craigslist. And while I start with the Writing/Editing jobs, it doesn’t take me long to eliminate the interns and executive editors wanted posts. Then I go straight to Etc., where all manner of weird ways of making quick cash can be found. Seeing as I don’t have any eggs to donate, I usually wind up applying for the random paid research study or focus group. But I’ve never actually been chosen for one! Until today.

After responding to a few general questions — standard operating procedure for being considered — about whether anyone in my household is employed in advertising or research (easy answer, as no one in my household is employed, period) or if I’ve participated in any market research within the last six months (see above), I received a tantalizing email telling me I was a “qualifier.” Huzzah! The email asked a few more specific questions, specifically about whether I owned a printer, who makes the purchasing decisions in my home (that’d be me, as soon as I am employed and can afford to actually purchase something!), was I planning on buying a printer within the next six months, etc. I dutifully responded.

Within 24 hours I received a phone call scheduling my appointment and seconds after the phone call I had a confirmation email in my mailbox. It contained detailed instructions: DO NOT wear eye makeup, DO NOT drink more than two cups of caffeine an hour before the study, DO NOT consume any alcohol 24 hours before the study. I was curious about how caffeine might affect my ability to choose the right printer. But the company name made me think this wasn’t going to be a mere conversation about Canon vs. Epson. And the paragraph describing the EEG cap I’d be wearing during the study really drove that point home. Now I was really curious!

So I arrived spot on time to their anonymously professional-looking offices and munched a few Hershey’s Miniatures while I waited. The woman who fitted me with my EEG cap, squeezing hair conditioner into the little holes , was soothingly pleasant. I  was run through a few eye tracking exercises, followed by three commercials and three sets of what felt like a game: I was asked to press a button every time I saw a specific visual cue. Lastly, a series of pictures of frogs flashed on the screen. The frogs were the most painful part, not because they were frogs but because they were the same frogs, over and over and over.Except when the green frog was blue. I had been told to push the button when the frog was blue. That fucker wasn’t blue nearly enough to keep me from feeling as though I was being hypnotized. The soothingly pleasant woman told me that the flashing frogs were the closest thing to torture they’d ever subjected people to. I’d been through worse.

After my electrodes were unplugged I was told that I could use the restroom to “rub the conditioner into my hair,” something which didn’t necessarily require a restroom, and handed a check for $75. I’m still rubbing the damn conditioner into my hair. But hey, it was an easy 75 bucks!

Feedback? Should I include what the woman told me the study was about? Anything else?

Fostering a Dog!

I am working with Waggytail Rescue. On Friday I picked up Casanova. By 10pm he was sitting on my lap and all my friend’s laps! He’s already sleeping beside me and right now he’s hangin’ out with me on the couch watching football. He is super affectionate! I left him alone for a while his first night to let him get situated and he used the wee-wee pad right away! So far he’s used it to pee on every time except for when I’ve taken him out for walks! I must say I was pretty impressed!

He is still a little shy and gets nervous being left alone but that should definitely change over time once he realizes he has a home, either mine or yours! But today I took him out for almost the whole day. He was friendly to all the dogs we saw in the park and on the street and was also good with all the humans who reached to pet him. I can’t believe how quickly he’s acting like a “normal” dog! (This is the first time I’ve ever fostered a dog and I guess I was expecting him to be really crazy.) Everyone on the street was admiring him!

The pound said he weighs 12 pounds and that he’s a Chihuahua mix; I would
guess that mix was with a Whippet, making him a Chiwhippet! He is sleek and kinda bony, but only in his hind quarters, where Whippets are so slim. He has long legs that he’s not quite comfortable in yet, kind of like a gangly teenager!

He likes his chew toys, hasn’t attacked any of my belongings and likes his little bed I made of an old rug and an old towel. Though as I said, he prefers my bed when I’m in it!

I haven’t let him get too close to any little kids yet because he’s so new and I don’t want to take any changes right away but he didn’t bark at any kids — even the ones on skateboards! — or act weird around
them on the sidewalk. Also not sure how he would be with cats. The only possible drawback I can see is that he’s sort of shedding a lot but that could be due to stress. I’m sure it will get better as he becomes more comfortable. And he already enjoys being brushed.

If you think you might be interested in Casanova, email me or contact WaggytailRescue!