Things I, as a white sex educator, do to foster inclusivity in this community

On Facebook recently, Mollena asked: “White ‪#‎SexualityEducators‬: what are you doing to actively foster inclusivity? Diversify your audience? Support your Peers of Color?” [link.] I’ve been writing and writing and thinking about all of the things I’ve been reading and digesting around #blacklivesmatter and race and inclusion, and this question got me thinking hard, and answering with some clarity, and identifying some places I need to keep working.

1. Read, read, read.

And listen. And pay attention. And shut up. And witness. And try to learn, and unlearn.

2. Pay attention to whose voices I amplify.

I have a small reach, a small field of folks who read what I share, and I pay attention to what I put into that sphere and recommend. When I don’t pay attention, I tend to stay within my white privilege bubble and retweet, link to, and recommend other white folks. This is not because people of color are not saying things that are relevant to me (and to you all) or that they are not brilliant—because duh, they are. Rather, I think I do this because of my personal (and often invisible to me) bias of whiteness. It takes conscious work for me to not default to whiteness, but I want to change that. So I pay attention to who I share and follow and who I surround myself with.

3. Decline to participate in (unconsciously) all-white spaces and events and publications and projects.

To be fair, I’ve only declined a few times, and this is something I’m working on improving. I don’t always think to ask who else is in the book or on the panel before I say yes, especially if it’s something I know of and admire. But recently, a sex education book came out with twenty photos of the white faces of contributors on the back, and Aida Mandulay called it out and WOC Sexual Health Network followed up, it is incredible to me that nobody noticed that before publication, or that if they did, nobody worked to change it. However, I am sure I have been in anthologies that were all-white, but since most of my publications are erotica, photos of the authors are included very rarely. And the sexuality education field is incredibly dominated by white folks (because most fields are, because racism). Personally, I have noticed often recently that many of my small group collaborations are all-white, and I need to think about that more (and to keep noticing that most of my communities are white, and work on the underlying issues of why that is).

4. I pay attention to the language I use.

As a genderqueer non-binary person and a feminist queer, I know how much language matters. I pay deep attention when someone talks about racist language—mine or others—and I do my best to pay attention to the words I use, their origins, and their uses.

a) I love reclaimed language, but when there are words that have been used against a minoritized group, I recognize that I don’t have a claim to use them. I can reclaim words that have been used against me. As such, there are certain words I just don’t use, whose histories are too controversial, and whose communities I respect.

b) There are a lot of words that have snuck into our language which have oppressive and racially-based origins, and often I’ve just never thought about it or made the connection. Recently, with the protests in Oakland and Berkeley, my neighbors and I have watched a lot of the live feeds, and have seen the police show up with “paddy wagons,” and then we all had a brief chat about how that is a derogatory slur referring to Irish folks, and tried to figure out what else to call them instead. And when I hear folks use the word “gypped” to refer to being ripped off (which happens more often than I’d expect) I remind them that comes from the oppression of Roma people. Often, people reply with things like, “Oh yeah, right, I never really thought of that …”

c) Know the words I use and where they come from. The queer reading series I co-hosted and -produced with the late Cheryl B from 2010-2011 was called “Sideshow,” and once, a colleague pointed out that the “sideshow” has a pretty terrible history of showing off the “freaks,” and that they wouldn’t be participating. I liked the feel of it at the time, but I wouldn’t use that word again on a project. Especially because I recognize that as an able-bodied and generally mentally well person, it is not my word to reclaim (see 4A), it is my word to respect and stop using (see 4B). See also: Strange Fruit PR Firm [Changes Their Name] After Getting a History Lesson From Twitter.

d) Very deeply engrained in the english language is the dark/light dualistic binary and the use of the concepts of “shadow” and “dark” for bad, unknown, dangerous, and uncharted territory, and of “light” as all things good and holy. I would guess these concepts have more to do with the human psyche than race—however, when used in a racist culture, they reinforce racism subtly and intrinsically. I want to know more about this and do a bit more research on language and archetypes. Meanwhile, though, I am doing my best to avoid the dark/light dualism to stand in for bad/good, particularly when there are thousands of other more thoughtful and interesting metaphors to use.

Language is always changing, and I try to stay flexible in my relationships with words, even if I happen to love them (or have used or over-used them in the past, see 4D). Recently I’ve been discussing the usage of “minoritized” instead of “minority,” for example (still working on that distinction and curious about the reasonings). I’m curious how language changes and moves, how it both reflects and changes culture. This is some of my favorite language-nerdy stuff.

5. I call myself on my privileges.

When I talk about identities as concepts, and my own concepts, I don’t just give my marginalized positions (like queer, kinky, genderqueer, working class, survivor) but I also share the areas where I have privilege and am working to have more awareness (like white, able bodied, american, college educated).

6. When I’m up in front of a group or workshop, I listen when someone challenges my positions, and I call participants out.

I particularly listen when someone challenges me in areas where I am less expertise or have privilege and am less aware of how those oppressive dynamics work. I don’t always know I try to notice it when someone says something that expresses a bias or privilege, and to say something, to call them on it. That’s pretty hard for me and I’m not perfect at it, and I often freeze up or get caught in holding the space of the workshop, and I can’t think of what to say. So I’ve taken to at least saying exactly that: “I heard you just say ___ and I can’t really think of what to say, but I think you have some bias there.” Then I try to move on.

7. I call out (or call in) when I see something.

I do call out when someone I know and feel some closeness with has done something I think has some overlooked bias in it, but I mostly do that privately and offline. I don’t spend much time calling out in the general conversations online, or chiming in when someone else has been called out. I sometimes fear that I should and have some guilt that I should participate in that more, but I also know how I am deeply introverted and more witness is better than more conversations for my energetic ability. I witness other’s calling out constantly and I read read read and listen and try to learn what went wrong, what was going on, and to apply that to my own work. With some folks I’m close to, we have spent a lot of time digesting and thinking about the project and how to do better in the future. See also: Calling In: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable.

8. When I fuck up, I apologize, listen, fix it (if I can), and do better next time.

There’s a fine balance: I am trying to recognize that we’re all human (including me) and I fuck up sometimes, but not to dwell in the fucking up so much that it makes me paralyzed to keep trying, and to still do the best I can to make up for, apologize for, and understand for my mistakes. I am a creator and I want to make art and writing that reflects culture and my inner world, and a huge piece of that is my desire to make it better through social activism. And because I am making things, not just witnessing and critiquing, I have messed up before and I will mess up again. I am doing my best to be okay with that inevitability, and to know that messing up is a necessary part of the process of trying and improving. I have strategies to both protect myself (and my highly sensitive person / high reactive / intuitive empathetic poet self) but also to listen, learn, back up, integrate changes, apologize, and move forward.

I’m sure there’s more I could do.

I am always pondering the ‘more’ of activism and the new, previously unknown parts of my own privilege to which I am still blind. But for now, this is what I’m doing, and I see a lot of room for growth in just what I’ve laid out here and what I’m already doing.

It’s been very interesting to reflect on what I am doing, actually. Reading the original thread on Mollena’s Facebook page gave me lots of ideas and more insight into how I engage the way I do, and what is good for my particular personality and skills. I’d love to hear what you all are doing, too, if you feel like sharing.

Photos from the Last Sideshow

After Cheryl died, the reading series she and I co-created took a hiatus. July 2011 was the last performance, and Syd London took amazing photographs.

Readers were Ellis Avery, Samantha Barrow, E Charles Crandall, Kestryl Cael Lowrey, Morgan W., Renair Amin, & Ashley Young.

I think it really captures the vibe of the series … diverse and wide-ranging, joyous and emotional, community building and hook-up space (did you see all those super hot people?!).

I miss doing that every month. I’m hoping to revive it in 2012, but I don’t have all the details worked out yet. Will of course let you all know and shout it from the rooftops when I do.

The Last Sideshow, July 12th

I’ve learned a lot over the last year and and a quarter of coproducing and cohosting Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival. I was seeking a place to regularly perform in New York City and combined with Cheryl’s reading series expertise, not to mention her own sparkling spoken word talents, Sideshow was born and bloomed.

It’s been an incredible experience. I loved each one.

The last few have been hard. When Cheryl was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November, we weren’t sure what would change. For a while, nothing did. Then she went into the hospital in April, and she spent three months there, missing the last three shows. They were hard—not just because it was a lot of work and effort, but also because she wasn’t there.

I can’t imagine doing Sideshow without her.

So July will be the last Sideshow. I’ve put the call out to all of those who were scheduled to read through the summer and fall, and if they can they are invited to read at the July event.

I don’t know if there will be more in the future. I do know I have edited an erotica anthology which comes out in the spring, so there will be events for that. I’ve learned a lot about event production, and I do want to continue doing readings, putting people together, bringing audiences to hear queers tell great stories. But I’m not sure I will be running another monthly reading series.

I loved doing Sideshow at the Phoenix. I love the seedy bar, I love that there are only bar stools and no actual folding chairs, I love that there are guys picking each other up in the background, I love the clink of glasses behind the bar, I love the seedyness. It’s different than reading in a bookstore or a queer arts performance space, and I like the differences. I will really miss having a place to read my work every month. I will really miss Cheryl, especially every time the second Tuesday rolls around.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Tuesday, July 12th
at The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A
Free sex toy giveaway, 8pm. Reading, 8:30pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook

Cheryl B.

photo by Syd London

Cheryl B. died yesterday, Saturday morning. I’m not sure what I can say yet. A couple other people are able to be more articulate than me: Sassafras Lowrey at Lambda Literary.org, Kathleen Warnock at Too Many Hats. Edit: Here’s a few more, Anne Elliott on Ass Backwords, Rachel Kramer Bussel on Lusty Lady.

We made a little video for Cheryl at April’s Sideshow.

Sideshow Loves Cheryl from Sinclair Sexsmith on Vimeo.

I’d like to post some videos of her poetry soon. I miss her.

Second Annual Butch/Femme Pride Sideshow! June 14th

Join us at Sideshow on June 14th for our second PRIDE month celebration of butch and femme. Readers include Rachel Kahn, Alicia Greene, & Maggie Cee from Boston’s Femme Show, Susan Herr from DapperQ.com, and Grace Moon from Velvet Park Media.

Sid

eshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, June 14th
at The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook

Rachel Kahn is a freelance writer, poet, and performer, but spends the vast majority of her time pretending to be a therapist. Her work has been heard at a variety of venues, including the Apocalypse Lounge, the Ear Inn Poetry Series, and The New York Writers’ Coalition ‘Writing Aloud’ series. She has performed at the HOT Festival at Dixon Place in New York City, and makes trouble on and off stage up and down the East Coast. Rachel is not ashamed to tell you that she wrote a young adult novel, but will never let you know what name she used.

Alicia Greene has been a performance-loving, femme dyke diva since she was 10 years old. Spoken word, dance, comedy are some of the stages you may have seen her on. She trained at Kansas State University, the Improv Asylum, Improv Olympic and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts-NYC to just to name a few. Some past performances include: The Chicago Improv Festival, Montreal Fringe Festival, Company One, Big Moves dance troupe, street corners, comedy clubs and open mikes near you. She has also been an announcer for the Boston Derby Dames Roller Derby League as “Lady Oshun-The Announcing Orisha” since 2007. www.bostonderbydames.com

Maggie Cee is an artist, activist, and teacher committed to community, social change, and wearing things in her hair. She is the founder and artistic director of The Femme Show, a ground-breaking touring variety show about queer femme identity. Publications include anthologies Girl Crazy and Second Person Queer and journals Gertrude and Common Ground Review. www.thefemmeshow.com

With dance, spoken word, burlesque and performance art from award winning artists, The Femme Show is the country’s only ongoing touring show exploring all aspects of femme identity. This is queer art for queer people, with a variety of diverse perspectives on femme identity that can be thoughtful, sad, funny, sexy, and fun. The Femme Show is available for performances and workshops at conferences, schools, and community events. www.thefemmeshow.com

Susan Herr is a 48-year-old butch dyke who founded dapperQ.com to build transgenderational bridges between her ilk and younger genderfabs. What will all the photos and videos and narratives contributed by pioneers transgressing men’s fashion — building on the work of folks like Mr. Sexsmith — it’s working! She used to be mad butchphobic and now she can’t get enough of the magic conveyed by simple swagger. Can you?

Grace Moon is the editor in chief of Velvetparkmedia.com an arts and culture social media site for queer women. Moon is also an exhibiting artist and professor of fine arts. She is currently working on a compilation of her columns to be published in an upcoming book.

Biggest Sideshow Yet! Genderqueer Tantra! So Much To Do

This month’s Sideshow: Queer Literary Carnival is the biggest yet! We have three poets, three comics, three guest judges, one musical guest, and one host who will be joining us on Tuesday—tomorrow night!—and telling dirty jokes and funny poems for your pleasure.

If you didn’t see Cheryl B.‘s previous reading series, Poetry vs Comedy Variety Hour, you’re in for a treat!

Join us at Sideshow on May 10th for a special revival of Cheryl B.’s previous reading series, Poetry vs Comedy Variety Hour! PVC is not a typical poetry slam nor a regular stand-up comedy show. PVC is a battle of wits and Rhymes where the stanzas and the stand-ups collide.

Performers include Kit Yan, Molly “Equality” Dykeman, Sinclair Sexsmith, Paul Case, Emma Willmann, and Jessica Halem. Celebrity guest judges include Shawn Hollenbach, Livia Scott, and Amanda Goad, Esquire. Hosted by Carolyn Castiglia, this special PvC features musical guest Leibya Rogers!

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: POETRY vs COMEDY
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, May 10th
at The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)

Now, that’s on Tuesday.

On Thursday, there is a very special Lesbian Sex Mafia monthly workshop, which features my tantra mentor.

Genderqueer Tantra with Alex Jade
Thursday, May 12 8:00pm
LGBT Community Center
208 W 13th St, New York, NY
RSVP on Facebook

Tantra is a school of thought and spiritual practice that allows us to explore the multi-dimensions of spiritual energy in our bodies. Though it often emphasizes the relationship between masculine and feminine, Genderqueer Tantra allows us to PLAY with masculine and feminine energies without getting caught up in rigid gender limitations. Join Tantra and SM practitioner Alex Jade for an interactive workshop that will introduce you to the basic Tantra concepts and invite you to deepen your sexual experiences, increase awareness of the body and mind using sensations from subtle to bold.

Alex Jade, MSW is an erotic educator, sacred intimate, psychotherapist, and student of Tantra. She is on the faculty of the Body Electric School and she has produced and taught independent workshops in Seattle for over 15 years. She has mastery in clothes-off hands-on experiential erotic education and the use of ritual as a healing tool. Alex’s specialties are gender exploration, classical Tantra, SM, and exploring with an open heart and mind.

This coming weekend, after these two (HUGE) events, I will be off in the mini-mountains of the Hudson Valley exploring some shadow through some bdsm and erotic energy play. I’m really thrilled to be doing another erotic energy retreat, and so glad it has come together. It is ever hard to get people to come out to events! Women especially, it seems.

I have more to say about that, and about a dozen other topics, but my brain is kind of fried with these events. They are so time consuming. More writing soon.

Poetry vs Comedy Variety Hour at Sideshow May 10th

Well folks, Sideshow time is rolling around again—the next of my monthly reading series that I co-host and co-produce with the lovely Cheryl B. happens one week from tomorrow, on May 10th.

This one is a special one. Cheryl is still in the hospital, where she’s been for almost a month now, and we’re not sure if she’ll be able to attend next week or not (I would guess it is unlikely, but I know how badly she wants to be there!). But this show is a special revival of Cheryl’s former reading series, the Poetry vs Comedy Variety Hour, which was a genius combining of both poets and comics in a hilarious “competition” where the top poet and the top comic go head-to-head in a bonus improv round. Of course, the winning is not the point (but it didn’t stop me from being extra-nervous when performing in this series—I guess it brings out my inner competition that I try to keep managed).

I competed in Cheryl’s series three times, and won twice! I was the first poet to ever win, too—usually the comics were much more of a shoe-in. (But not this time, right Kit? We’ll give ’em a run for their money!)

I dug this photo out from the shoot with Syd London when I was making the graphic for this event, not sure I ever shared it with y’all (unless you went through the Flickr set).

photo by Syd London

I miss Cheryl’s company. I visit her as often as possible, but it’s not the same as kicking around for a day at a coffee shop in Brooklyn and talking about our lives and writing and girlfriends and sex and jobs and goals and whatever. I don’t know if I would have undertaken this Sideshow project if she wasn’t at the helm with me, and I’ve been so grateful for her guidance and help with this show.

So while we’ve been planning this special Poetry vs Comedy Sideshow for a long time, I’m also glad it’s coming along now, and it’s become a bit of a tribute to Cheryl as a community organizer, reading series host, poet, writer, and performer. We’ll be donating what we collect to Cheryl, and hopefully we’ll have someone there videotaping the evening in case she can’t make it. She is doing MUCH better (which is such a relief), but she still has some rehabilitation to go through, and some care and healing for her poor lungs.

I’d really like to rally and send some good energies her way during this difficult healing time. I hope, if you are in New York City on May 10th, you’ll come.

Join us at Sideshow on May 10th for a special revival of Cheryl B.’s previous reading series, Poetry vs Comedy Variety Hour! PVC is not a typical poetry slam nor a regular stand-up comedy show. PVC is a battle of wits and Rhymes where the stanzas and the stand-ups collide.

Performers include Kit Yan, Molly “Equality” Dykeman, Sinclair Sexsmith, Paul Case, Emma Willmann, and Jessica Halem. Celebrity guest judges include Shawn Hollenbach, Livia Scott, and Amanda Goad, Esquire. Hosted by Carolyn Castiglia, this special PvC features musical guest Leibya Rogers!

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: POETRY vs COMEDY
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, May 10th
at The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street at Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)

POETS

Andrea Alton aka Molly “Equality” Dykeman has performed her poetry/burlesque and comedy all over New York with appearances at Comix, The PIT, Arlene’s Grocery, The LGBT Center, The Knitting Factory, Dixon Place, The Bowery Poetry Club and The Stonewall Inn. She’s also performed at The Chicago, DC, San Francisco and Toronto Sketch Comedy Festivals as well as at The Miss Fag Hag Pageant (a benefit for The Harvey Milk School) and Murray Hill’s Miss Lez Pageant. Molly’s play The F*cking World According To Molly was just accepted into the New York Fringe Festival and will be premiering in August. www.mollyequalitydykeman.com

Recently Featured in the HBO Documentary Asians Aloud, Kit Yan tell stories through slam poetry from the lens of a transgender Asian American from Hawaii now lost in the big city of New York. Through touching love poems, dirty sex accounts(optional), and comedic tales of his childhood –Kit takes you on a journey that is raw, real, heart-wrenching, and unforgettable. New York Magazine describes his art as “knockout spoken-word” while Curve magazine says “incredible slam poetry” and Bitch magazine states that: “The eloquence of Kit’s spoken-word delivery lies in the anti-racist, anti-homophobic, gender-inclusive, language that ties his lyrics together.” Kit’s work has been taught at universities coast to coast, from San Francisco State to Harvard. He spoke to over 200,000 from the stage of the 2009 National Equality March, performed on the San Francisco Pride main stage, and earned a spot in as a top three finalist at the National Queer Slam. Kit Yan is the reigning Mr. Transman 2010, the first person to ever hold this national title.

Sinclair Sexsmith really loves sandwiches, daisies, spiral notebooks, and bourbon. She has performed in dyke bars, libraries, community centers, college campuses, and once, topless in a burrito line. She co-hosts and co-produces Sideshow with Cheryl B., and writes at Sugarbutch.net.

COMICS

Called “bawdy and brave” by Time Out Chicago and “Righteous and Chipper” by the Times-Picayune, Jessica Halem was raised by hippie Jewish artists from the East Coast which was anything but normal – or easy – in small-town Ohio, but did help to foster this very funny “on-your-face” comic who puts her queer spin on everything from Sudafed to Feminism to Glory Holes. Jessica Halem was trained in femme queerness at Sarah Lawrence College; earned her chops as a social justice activist working for Bella Abzug; and as a LGBTQ health guru running the Lesbian Community Cancer Project. Jessica Halem performs at every college, Pride, and bathhouse where she can help find the funny in even the toughest of times.

Originally from rural Maine, Emma Willmann began performing comedy in late 2008. In 2009 she was a finalist in Catch a Rising Star, and in 2010 she won first place in The Boston Comedy Riots. In 2011, she was featured in The Women in Comedy Festival, a finalist in Mohegan Suns Funniest Comic in New England Competition, and became a regular at The Broadway and New York Comedy Clubs. When not doing comedy, Emma is getting a Masters in Media Studies and Entertainment Management at The New School, where she also co – host’s the radio program, “That’s My Theory,” on WNSR New School Radio. Tweet with her @EmmaWillmann.

& special guests TBA!

JUDGES

Actress, comedian & character powerhouse Livia Scott was recently named “One of our favorite 53 comedians” by The Huffington Post. Credits: Honesty on Comedy Central, 7 different characters in National Lampoon’s Dirty Movie, Law & Order and Conan. Currently you can see her on Atom.com playing Courtney Love in the web series Saving Love.

Shawn Hollenbach is a stand up comedian, actor and the gay next door. Shawn is the producer of Closet Cases, a Critics’ Pick from Time Out NY, a Homo Must in HX Magazine and can be heard on Broadcastr. You may have seen him on VH1 or on Gayest Week Ever on Logo’s NewNowNext.com. He’s also been featured on two episodes of Hot Gay Comicson the here! Networks and you may have seen him as the host of Busted, a celebrity gossip podcast. He’s also creator and co-producer of the Miss Fag Hag Pageant. featuring such talents as Caroline Rhea, Leslie Jordan, John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Musto and Hedda Lettuce. Shawn is also a contributing writer for 365gay.com

& special guest TBA!

MUSIC

Mindy Raf (BUST Magazine, Bridgetown Comedy Festival, Women in Comedy Festival) is a writer, comedienne, and musician out of Brooklyn, New York. She will be performing music as her popular alter-ego, chick rocker, Leibya Rogers. Mindy is currently finishing up her first novel which is set to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin. http://www.mindyraf.com

HOST

Carolyn Castiglia is a stand-up comedian, writer and hip-hop superstar. You may have seen her on Comedy Central’s Atom TV, NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Nick-at-Nite’s Funniest Mom in America 3, The Maury Show, ABC World News with Charles Gibson and heard her on Sirius/XM Radio. She is best known for her appearances on VH1/ego trip’s The White Rapper Show and Miss Rap Supreme as the lovable and hilarious Miss CKC. Her funny freestyle has won her numerous championship titles at The BEATdown, a monthly showcase at New York’s UCB Theatre.

What’s Happening In April

I started this over the last week of March, but this week has been so nuts that I couldn’t get it done.

In sum: April is busy! Lots of events! The most exciting of which is a week-long trip to Minneapolis, Madison, and Milwaukee toward the end of the month, as well as a return visit to Drew University, and the one year anniversary of Sideshow!

Events with Mr. Sexsmith

Thursday, April 7th, 8pmThe Gay Ol’ Opry: Queer Country Music Festival! I’ll be in the DapperQ Fashion ShowPublic Assembly, Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY

Tuesday, April 11th, 8pmSideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: Siblings with Anne-E. Wood, Katie Liederman, and Kay Ulanday Barrettat The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street at Avenue A in New York City

Tuesday, April 19th, 8pmCock Confidence at The Tool Shed2427 N. Murray Ave, Milwaukee, WI

Wed, April 20th, 7pmWorkshop at UW Madison (TBA)Madison, WI

Thursday, April 21st, 4pmRadical & Responsible Gender workshopHamline University, Minneapolis MN

Thursday, April 21st, 8pmSpoken word performance featuring some of my most requested pieces, including “Butch Poem,” “How to Survive Your First Year in New York City,” “Me in a Nutshell,” “For the Record,” and othersHamline University, Minneapolis MN

Friday, April 22nd, 8pmCock Confidence at Smitten Kitten3010 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN

Wed, April 27th, 8pmAdvanced Gender & Kink Through Feminism (a new workshop!)Drew University, Madison, NJ

I’ll update this if any other events get added.

I’m still booking some spring events! I am mostly planning to be writing in May and June, but I do have some travel days possible if you would like to bring me to your college or organization. And I’m already beginning to book some of my fall travel—I’ll be working at home and writing through May and June, and then doing more travel in July, August, and September, including some travels to Seattle in early July, the Butch Voices national conference in Oakland in August, and Dark Odyssey Summer Camp in September. My schedule is kept up on mrsexsmith.com/appearances if you want to see if I’m coming your way.

I’d love to post other community events happening this month, but I don’t even know what’s going on aside from my own events, since the month is so busy. I’m sure Queer Memoir and Red Umbrella Diaries are happening, and Ruckus is a new queer reading series and looks amazing too.

I do have tickets to go see Girlyman at City Winery along with Coyote Grace, I’m thrilled about that. It’ll be a great peaceful date event in the midst of a lot of travel and chaos. I’ve never seen Girlyman live but I adore their live CD and I’ve heard they are an amazing show. And have you seen their music video for Young James Dean, directed by Margaret Cho? The song is described as “a meditation on butch identity” and the video is full of queers, some you’ll probably even recognize like Amos Mac, Rocco Kayiatos, Ian Harvie, Madison Young, and Tomcat. I really love Doris’s voice though, here’s one of her songs:

Doris was recently diagnosed with leukemia, the same month that Cheryl was actually, and she’s been writing about it in a separate blog from the Girlyman site. Sending love her way, and I’m thrilled to be able to see them all in concert.

Last but not least, here’s my 2011 workshop offerings in a PDF so it is easy to download, you can also download my one sheet PDF or high res photos in my press kit). Get in touch if you’re interested in booking me, you can contact me directly—mrsexsmith(at)gmail—or my booking company, PhinLi, at bookings(at)phinli.com.

April 12 is Sideshow’s One Year Anniversary!

Can you believe it’s been a year since Sideshow started?

Cheryl & I have done quite a lot in that year, including having some incredibly well-known authors come through our little stage at the Phoenix, and Cheryl being diagnosed with hodgkin’s lymphoma and her first reading with a shaved head, and the announcement of my first anthology. We have video from one month, October, and we hope to do more of that in this next year. We’ve still got some fantastic line-ups coming your way this summer and fall!

Since it’s my birthday show, there will probably be some other goodies there also, some giveaways or some baked goods or both. Still cooking up those plans, you’ll have to wait and see.

Come on out for the anniversary show on April 12th where we’ll be exploring the theme of “siblings,” chosen or from your family of origin, featuring writers Anne-E. Wood, Katie Liederman, and Kay Ulanday Barrett.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: Siblings
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, April 12th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)

About the Readers:

A CAMPUS PRIDE 2009 Hot List artist, Kay Ulanday Barrett is a poet, performer, educator, and martial artist navigating life as a [email protected] trans/queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter.  Based in NY/NJ, with roots in Chicago, K’s work is the mix of gritty city flex and Midwest open sky grounded in homeland soil. In Mango Tribe and in solo work, K. has featured on stages nationally and internationally; from the NJ Performing Arts Center to the Chicago Historical Museum, Brooklyn Museum to Dublin’s Lesbian Arts Festival, K’s bold work continues to excite and challenge audiences. Honors include: LGBTQ 30 under 30 awards,  Finalist for The Gwendolyn Brooks Open-Mic Award, and Windy City Times Pride Literary Poetry Prize. K. turns art into action, as a dedicated activist who works with LGBTQ communities and was recently showcased at Res Artis as an international panelist/performer in Montreal, Quebec. kaybarrrett.net

Katie Liederman has written for Nerve, GO, Curve, Rap-Up, Velvetpark, Penthouse Forum, V, V Man, Lumina, Looserecord.com, The Archive, The New Gay, and was a resident blogger on Showtime’s Ourchart.com. She received a Bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

Anne-E. Wood’s stories have appeared in Tin House, Agni, New Letters, The Chicago Quarterly Review, Other Voices, and Gargoyle among others. She has an MFA in Fiction from San Francisco State and she teaches writing at Rutgers University and the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn and is at work on a novel.

What A Lovely Way to Burn: Spring Fever at Sideshow

It isn’t quite spring here yet, but it’s getting close. The light is changing. The snow has been mostly washed away by the recent rains. I’m hoping by next week the light will be even higher in the sky and full-on spring fever will have sprung, just in time for this month’s Sideshow theme.

The sad news is that Fran Varian can’t make it up from Durham this time, but rest assured! She will be here to perform her kickass work another time. Meanwhile, you can learn more about Lyme disease and help heal Fran over at her website, and you can buy some of her books if you were dying to hear her work (and I know you were).

While Fran is a fan of the Peggy Lee version, I am really into Elvis lately, so here’s a little something to get you in the mood …

Join us at Sideshow on March 8th with readers Arianne Benford, Beth Greenfield, Genne Murphy, and LOVE the Poet.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival – Spring Fever
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, March 8th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook
See the bios for the readers.

What’s Happening in February

Events! Here’s what’s going on in February, exciting New York City events that aren’t mine but that I highly recommend and my own events in both New York and elsewhere. Come on out and support queers and sex activists doing exciting, entertaining stuff.

Events with Mr. Sexsmith

Tuesday, February 8th, 8pmSideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: Achilles Heel featuring Melissa Gira Grant, Rohin Guha, Aimee Herman, and Christa Orthat The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street at Avenue A in New York City

Tuesday, February 22nd, 8pmCock Confidence: Strap-On 101 Workshop: Many of us have experience with strapping on, packing, and playing, but there are lots of new products out there on the market that might be exciting and that you haven’t encountered yet. Plus, she’ll delve into some cock confidence, getting into the psychology of penetration, and discussing what it’s like to shoot from the hip.Good Vibrations, 308A Harvard Street in Brookline, MA

Wednesday, February 23nd
8-10pm
Afternoon Delight: A workshop on sex toys and getting what you want in bed with Girlspot, the queer women’s group at Harvard. We’ll explore how to turn up the heat on our sex lives, what gender expression and performance has to do with sexuality, and all the fun tools we can use in the bedroom—from vibrators to strap ons to butt toys to light bondage and sensation. Includes a sex toy giveaway! Open to the public.Harvard, Boston, MA
Ticknor Lounge in Boylston Hall (right by Mass Ave) for 8-10PM

Saturday, February 26th
1-4pm
Radical & Responsible Gender Masculinity, Misogyny, and Feminisms: Academics break down and deconstruct gender. How do we build it back up radically and responsibly? How does one adapt masculinity or femininity “positively?” How do we become responsible about gender? How do we continue to break down the gender role restrictions that are hurtful and traumatizing? How can queer communities and spaces be improved by gender reflection? Open to the public; RSVP to Lauren Hannahs at [email protected]Syracuse University
Hall of Languages 102 Syracuse, NY

I’m still booking spring events! Would you like to bring me to your college or local queer center or somewhere else? Check out what kind of workshops I offer, and get in touch with me or my booking company, PhinLi.

This post will be updated with any new events added and further details, as I get ’em, and it’ll stay at the top of the blog until the March event schedule is posted. RSS readers probably won’t notice the difference, but if you’re reading here on the site, scroll down for the updates.

Achilles’ Heel at Sideshow, February 8th

Join us at Sideshow on February 8th with readers Melissa Gira Grant, Rohin Guha, Aimee Herman, and Christa Orth.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival – Achilles’ Heel
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, February 8th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
Find out more about the readers!

Events in January

Yes, I’m still on retreat. But there are a few important announcements that I have to tell you, events that are worth attending and projects worth helping.

1. Don’t forget about Sideshow! Next week, 1/11/11 in New York City. You know the drill.

Ring in the New Year with a blank slate as the performers, storytellers, and writers of Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival tell you all about Tabula Rasa.

Featured in January are Regie Cabico, Casey Plett, Shawn Stewart Ruff, and Najva Sol.

Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, January 11th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)

2. Butch It Up For QEJ! Party, Fundraiser, and Butch Clothing Drive for Queers for Economic Justice. January 16 at Ginger’s Bar in Brooklyn, from 4 pm onward, with performances starting at 6:30 pm

Dykes on Bike-Cycles (DOBC) is getting it in gear in the New Year, and our first event of 2011 is a party-fundraiser in support of Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ). Ginger’s Bar in Park Slope will host this very special fundraiser, featuring an amazing lineup of poets, comics, and musicians. We’ll have the BBQ going out back, with hamburgers, hot dogs, and veggie options, as well as other foods for sale, baked and cooked by Shane, Ginger’s bartender. So come out and help us support QEJ and the great work they are doing for the LGBTQ community in the shelters in our city.

As part of this event, DOBC will be sponsoring a Butch Clothing Drive, so start sorting through you closet for those old ties you never wear or that pair of trousers or collared shirt that don’t really fit you anymore, and donate them to a butch sister in need. Any clothing donations are welcome, but warm coats, sweaters, and anything fitting the “masculine of center” category are especially appreciated.

Performers include: Arianne Benford, Sassafras Lowrey, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Kelli Dunham and Cheryl B., Melissa Li and the Barely Theirs, Andrea Alton performing as Molly “Equality” Dykeman. The raffle will include prizes from Babeland, a $20 bar tab at Ginger’s, DOBC t-shirts, and much more! No cover charge, but donations are always welcome.

RSVP on Facebook.

3. Pariah (pariahthemovie.com) is a new film trying to make their way to Sundance. Described as “a Brooklyn teenager juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression,” here’s the full synopsis:

At the club, the music thumps, go-go dancers twirl, shorties gyrate on the dance floor while studs play it cool, and adorably naive 17-year-old Alike takes in the scene with her jaw dropped in amazement. Meanwhile, her buddy Laura, in between macking the ladies and flexing her butch bravado, is trying to help Alike get her cherry popped. This is Alike’s first world. Her second world is calling on her cell to remind her of her curfew. On the bus ride home to Brooklyn, Alike sheds her baseball cap and polo shirt, puts her earrings back in, and tries to look like the feminine, obedient girl her conservative family expects. With a spectacular sense of atmosphere and authenticity, Pariah takes us deep and strong into the world of an intelligent butch teenager trying to find her way into her own. Debut director Dee Rees leads a splendid cast and crafts a pitch-perfect portrait that stands unparalleled in American cinema.

I thought that’d get your attention. They still need some funding. Head over to Kickstarter to help out. (Thanks for the tip, Lesbian Dad.)

4. Juxtaposition is a new project by Jessica Halem & Kelli Dunham: a show that brings those communities together…laughing. Future shows will juxtapose… A gay nerd & a lesbian separatist; A vegan massage therapist & a pflag mom; A queer academic & a bisexual jock. Monday, January 10th at 6.30 PM at Stonewall Inn 53 Christopher Street, 5-10 BUCKS SLIDING SCALE. PLEASE BE ON TIME, THIS IS A TIGHT 90 MINUTE SHOW! More information on Juxtaposition.

The Last Sideshow of 2010: December 14th, Family Traditions

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival, the reading series that I host and produce with Cheryl B., has had an amazing year. December will make our 9th show, and each one has been more amazing than the last. Our audience continues to grow, and our readers continue to be amazing. I’m really excited about the line-up we have coming for 2011 (to be announced soon), and hope you’ll continue to join us in New York City for some fantastic literary queer stories!

Next up: Family Traditions on December 14th.

This month’s theme is FAMILY/TRADITIONS, starring:
Alysia Angel (what I do when you’re not looking)
Heather Gold (Tummelvision.tv)
Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook)
Whitney Porter (Ping Pong Literary Journal)
Lea Robinson (Butch Mamas) and Elizabeth Whitney (The Secretaries)

Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, December 14th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
www.queerliterarycarnival.com
@sideshowseries

About the Readers …

Don’t Forget! Big Sideshow Next Week in NYC


November’s Dangerous Mammals Tour
at Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
with S. Bear Bergman, Ivan E. Coyote, Jessica Halem, and Tania Katan
Find out more about the readers!
Tuesday, November 9th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook!

You Won’t Believe Who’s Performing At Sideshow in November …


November’s Dangerous Mammals Tour
at Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
with S. Bear Bergman, Ivan E. Coyote, Jessica Halem, and Tania Katan
Find out more about the readers!
Tuesday, November 9th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook!

Masks at October’s Sideshow

Hey guess what! Sideshow is just around the corner.

Next week, Tuesday October 12th, Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival will feature six readers on the subject of MASKS—what we wear, why, and how that changes throughout our lives or throughout our different identities.

We’ll be doing a special raffle for everyone and anyone who attends, with prizes like Rachel Kramer Bussel’s recent book Orgasmic, a cock from Vixen Creations, another cock from Tantus, and Ivan E. Coyote’s new book, Missed Her, and spoken word CD.

What’s that? Didn’t you hear that Ivan E. Coyote and S. Bear Bergman are reading at the November 9th Sideshow, along with Jessica Halem, on their 2010 Dangerous Mammals tour?

I’m practically beside myself! I’ve admired Ivan and Bear’s work for a long time, and though I’ve met Ivan, it was years ago, and I can’t wait to meet Bear. It’s going to be a great night.

There aren’t very many more Sideshow readings left in 2010, but we’ve had an incredible lineup so far and we’re gearing up to bring you all sorts of new and exciting folks in 2011. Mark the dates on your calendar—second Tuesday of every month!

See you in October?

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, October 12th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook!

This month’s theme is MASKS, starring:
Broch Bender (Seattle Spit)
Kelli Dunham (Queer Memoir)
Natalie Illum (Mothertongue)
Mardi Jaskot (Queer Conventions)
Maymay (KinkonTap)
Sarah Schulman (Ties That Bind)

Check out reader bios and photos.

What’s Going On at the Butch Voices NYC Conference?

Oh, I’m so glad you asked.

We have three major co-sponsored events outside of the Butch Voices day-long conference. You all know the conference details already, right?

Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Queers for Economic Justice Performance and Conference Space
147 West 24th Street, New York City, NY

The day-long conference will include workshops, panels, a butch hospitality lounge as well as a very special keynote celebration of our history and community of butches. Plan out your day by looking at the workshops offered and the schedule.

But what else is going on, outside of the day-long event?

First, Friday night kicks off the conference with a social event designed for us to all meet each other, make friends, or possibly hook up.

Speed Dating and Friending with Butch Voices
Friday, September 24th from 8-10pm
At Anti-Diva, Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, NYC

Join us for queer speed meet and greet socializing brought to you from Velvetpark, hosted by Diana Cage and Grace Moon at Anti-Diva! Also featuring an acoustic performance with musical guest Melissa Li whose music has been featured in Curve and Bitch magazines, and has been nominated for an OUTMusic Award. Check out her current band Melissa Li & The Barely Theirs at www.melissali.com.

Cost: $10-$15
FREE for folks who have pre-registered for the BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference
Fundraiser proceeds will go to BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference

And if you found a date or a new friend or a good buddy or just didn’t have enough time at Dixon Place to get your groove on, come on over to Brooklyn after that for a dance party:

Que(e)ry II Dance Party
9pm-4am
$5-10 sliding scale
2 for 1 admission for Butch Voices attendees with secret code (sent to those who have pre-registered)
Blackout Bar, 916 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint

A celebration of queer librarians and those who love them. You don’t have to be a queer librarian; you just have to dance with one! DJ CP * DJ EMOTICON * DJ ADAM E. MILKSOP * DJ SHOMI NOISE * Queer-Lit Drink Specials * Shushed Raffle * Hot GoGos * Real-Live Reference Librarians! Proceeds benefit: The Leather Archive & Museum (CHI) & The LGBT Community Center Library & Archives (NYC)

Then, Saturday after the conference, we’re going to hightail it down to Bluestockings Bookstore for a very special Queer Memoir/Sideshow: Queer Literary Carnival Mashup reading series:

BUTCH Voices NYC 2010 Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up
Saturday September 25th at 7pm
Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen St, New York, NY
$5 suggested donation

The first ever regional gathering of BUTCH Voices in NYC will bring together self identified Butches, Studs, Aggressives and other folks who identity as masculine as center as well as many allies for conversation, workshops, entertainment, and good ol’ fashioned butch bonding. The Butch Voices Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up will bring together writers and storytellers to share in this celebration.

QUEER MEMOIR is an NYC based storytelling series that works to give voice to our collective queer experiences, and preserve and document our complex queer history. Queer Memoir is curated and hosted by Genne Murphy and Kelli Dunham. SIDESHOW: The Queer Literary Carnival is a reading of serious literature for ridiculous times, curated and hosted by Cheryl B and Sinclair Sexsmith.

With Queer Memoir storytellers:

Ryann Makenzi Holmes, 26, Bed Stuy, Bk, NY — entrepreneur, student, biker, skater, DJ boi — was born in Washington, DC and raised primarily in Largo, Maryland. She currently attends Baruch College in New York, working tirelessly towards the “coveted” MBA. She resides in Brooklyn, where she attributes the inspiration for her first entrepreneurial endeavor, bklyn boihood, a community organization dedicated to the empowerment and visibility of masculine presenting queer and trans folks of color.

Morgan Mann Willis is an east-coast/uptown original; a homolicious, AGstudboi; a writer, teacher, student, woman-lover, cat-lover, bus-taker, part-time poet, full-time love machine who spends her days and nights spanking New York City’s sexy ass. Sometimes she teaches in prison, sometimes in jail, sometimes on street corners, but most of the time she’s being schooled by life or is busy dreaming up schemes to become several different varieties of amazing.

Emma Crandall recently moved to Brooklyn from Atlanta and teaches writing at Temple in Philadelphia. When not in transit, Emma writes about gay culture in her own precious scribblings, as contributing editor at Velvetpark, and, formerly, as co-creator of the blog Breeders Digest: Helping Straight People Help Themselves. She prefers life in melodrama, outfits on the complicated side, and Stevie Nicks on the rocks, with shawls.

And Sideshow performers:

Philadelphia, PA native Renair Amin is no stranger to the arts. As an author, she has written for various print and on-line publications. Her work also appears in the Nghosi Books anthology, Longing, Lust & Loving. As a spoken word artist, Renair has graced national stages, including New York City, where she hosts Speak Your Myne, a monthly open mic showcase of her creation. In 2006, Renair formed Pmyner, Ltd., a literary entertainment company for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender performance arts community. In 2010, Renair Amin was named one of the Top 5 Lesbian Entrepreneurs by LezNation Magazine.

Kestryl Cael is a dandy trans butch performance artist with too many stories to tell. Hir one-queer-show, XY(T), has toured across the country, delighting and discomfiting college students and soccer moms. Ze was a member of “The Language of Paradox,” a performance ensemble founded and directed by Kate Bornstein. Cael’s writing appears in anthologies such as Kicked Out, and ze is half of the performance duo, PoMo Freakshow. Ze is currently developing ‘348,’ a solo performance piece about the troubled teen industry, torture, and a hot pink sweatshirt.

But wait! That’s not all! If you’re still itching to go out after that, there will be a special Brooklyn-based sex and play party for women & trans folks late on Saturday night:

SUBMIT: A Special Collaboration with Butch Voices!

The city’s hottest sex and SM party for the women and trans community will feed your appetite, whether you’re a voyeur, experienced player, novice, or just curious, you’re sure to find something to satisfy! Come use our huge collection of equipment including slings, bondage equipment, spanking bench, plenty of private cubbies, shower, tub, live sex, and and hot porn! New boot black station! Wanna drink? We’ll keep yours cold! SPECIAL GUEST: DJ Mistress Roxxxy!! Wondering how to meet people? Wear an action wristband! ~ Lots of private spaces ~ women/trans only please be sure to check our gender policy.

Doors open at 10pm, bring your Butch Voices conference ticket for $5 off
Featuring a very special Deep Throat demonstration with Leah at 1AM

FOR MORE INFORMATION, questions, or the location call 718-789-4053 or email [email protected]

And if that isn’t enough, well, there will be another Butch Brunch following the conference in October, on Saturday the 16th. All of these events are open to the public, to masculine of center folks or our allies, and you don’t have to be attending the conference to come to these events (though you do get in free, if you have your conference registration proof). See you there!

And While I’m Mentioning Back To School … Sideshow!

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival, hosted by myself and Cheryl B., is coming up in just one short week. It’s Cheryl’s birthday this month, so we might be doing a little somethin’ somethin’ in celebration of her awesomeness.

Tuesday, September 14th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)

This month’s theme is BACK TO SCHOOL: SECOND ADOLESCENCE, starring:
Melissa Febos (Whip Smart), Theadora Fisher, Loren Krywanczyk, Tanya Paperny (LitDrift), and Rachel Simon (Theory of Orange) … Find out more about the readers, or RSVP on Facebook.

The Phoenix bar, who hosts Sideshow monthly, just got their own website and are now on Twitter @phoenixbarnyc.

Schoolgirl or schoolboy costumes or skirts or ties or vests are definitely encouraged!

Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mashup for Butch Voices NYC

Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference
in collaboration with
Queer Memoir
and
Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
present

Butch Voices Speak: A Queer Memoir/Sideshow Reading Series Mashup

7pm Saturday, September 25th
Bluestockings Bookstore, Lower East Side, New York City

Hosted by Kelli Dunham, Sinclair Sexsmith, Cheryl B., and Genne Murphy

www.queerliterarycarnival.com | www.queermemoir.com
www.butchvoices.com

Call for performers: Butch Voices Speak: A Queer Memoir/Sideshow Reading Series Mashup

Butch Voices New York City regional conference is happening on Sunday, September 25th, and Queer Memoir and Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival have teamed up to bring you an evening of stories, performance, and readings from queer butch voices.

Are you interested in participating? Butch Voices Speak is currently in search of people willing to stand up and tell your quick 6 minute story. You need not have performance or writing expertise, just an interest in telling your story.

QUEER MEMOIR IS an opportunity to give voice to our collective queer experiences, and preserve and document our complex queer history for writers, performers, and anyone with a queer story to tell.

SIDESHOW IS serious literature for ridiculous times, hosting established writers, performers, comics, and storytellers who have literary experience.

Q: Should I submit to Queer Memoir or Sideshow?
A: Is this a personal story written by you about something happened to you? Submit to Queer Memoir. Is it more literary, or are you a seasoned performer or writer? Send it to Sideshow.

To be considered, email [email protected] or [email protected] before September 1, 2010, with your name, website, brief bio, and a brief 1-3 sentence proposal of what you’d like to read.

I Have Things To Tell You!

… because I don’t have a better title for some randomness that I need for you to know.

First! Sideshow’s Erotica Night was epic!

Do I say that after every Sideshow? I might. But what can I say, the Queer Literary Carnival is beautifully coming together and I love it every month. This time was a fantastic lineup, and the audience was so into it, and all the pieces were great. I’ve got a big ol’ write-up of it over at queerliterarycarnival.com.

Second! Butch Brunch has a venue!

The first 2010 Butch Brunch in New York City has a venue! We’re going to try out Cafe Orlin at 41 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. It’s a pretty big place and they’ve got a $6 plate of eggs & potatoes & toast, and it doesn’t get cheaper than that in Manhattan. The only catch is that I can’t quite tell by their website if they serve alcohol, but I know I’ve had a glass of wine there at other times.

Please RSVP on Facebook or comment or email me to let me know you’re coming so we can get a head count. They don’t take reservations on the weekends, so I plan on being there early to try to get our name on the waiting list for a big table. I expect about ten people so far, and not everyone who has said they’re coming identifies as butch.

Third! I don’t remember what was third, but I swear there was a third thing. Oy. I’ve been running around all day and haven’t had time to sit down and WRITE in the last week or maybe two … I’ve been working on promotion and events, Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference and the tantra retreat I’m heading to in a little less than two weeks, and Sideshow, and columns for other sites … but I’ve got a big list of essays that I want to work on, lots of ideas brewing and bubbling in my head, lots of things going on as usual. It feels good to have this freelance patchwork career coming together.

The other bad news is that my beloved MacBook is kind of down for the count … it was my own damn fault, I spilled some, uh, hard cider onto the keyboard. Which is so not like me! I am so not careless around electronics, or things of major value! But I have not only cracked my iPhone screen while I was on vacation, I also seem to have fried the battery (or magstrip, or something) in my MacBook. Thankfully, I have superhero willing to help, @rexicon, and if you feel like following her on Twitter I promise she’s funny and way cute in real life. Wish her happy birthday in Florida … and I’ll be quietly being patient and hoping for her speedy return. After she’s all rested and played-out and in a computer-problem-solving mood. It feels so good to know I have somebody to turn to for help with this!

Let’s just hope it gets fixed soon, and I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled Sugarbutch Chronicles.

Want to Hear Some Erotica Tonight? Come to Sideshow!

TONIGHT, August 10th, over in the East Village of New York City, come see some very fine readers as we talk about the more fun version of a heat wave: erotica. Yum.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
August 10 @ The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm Reading, 8pm
Free! But we’ll pass the hat for the readers
@sideshowseries

August’s theme is HEAT WAVE EROTICA, starring:
Tamiko Beyer (Drunken Boat)
Rachel Kramer Bussel (In The Flesh)
Mildred Dred Gerestant (OUTMusic Spirit Award)
Kit Yan (Mr. Transman 2010)

RSVP on Facebook!

August is Heat Wave / Erotica at Sideshow

Don’t forget! Just one week from today, Sideshow in New York City will feature a lovely erotica night.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
August 10 @ The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm.
Free! But we’ll pass the hat for donations to the readers
@sideshowseries
RSVP on Facebook!

August’s theme is HEAT WAVE EROTICA, starring:
Tamiko Beyer (Drunken Boat)
Rachel Kramer Bussel (In The Flesh)
Mildred Dred Gerestant (OUTMusic Spirit Award)
Kit Yan (Mr. Transman 2010)
Read more about the readers.

Sideshow’s Erotica Show is August 10th

And it’s going to be delicious. I can tell already. Mark your calendars! And see the whole schedule over on queerliterarycarnival.com.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
August 10 @ The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm.
Free!
@sideshowseries

August’s theme is HEAT WAVE EROTICA, starring:
Tamiko Beyer (Drunken Boat)
Rachel Kramer Bussel (In The Flesh)
Mildred Dred Gerestant (OUTMusic Spirit Award)
Kit Yan (Mr. Transman 2010)

RSVP on Facebook!

About the performers …

Snapshot: Sideshow’s Freak Flag

This week’s Sideshow: Queer Literary Carnival was the theme of Freak Flag, and the show was fantastic.

I’m not much of an event photographer (certainly not compared to last month’s beautiful shots by Syd London), but I got a few of the readers this time, and Kristen took some video that I’ll work on uploading also.

The rest of the shots are up over on the Sideshow blog, at the new domain queerliterarycarnival.com.

Tonight! Freak Flag at Sideshow

Now I just have to decide what I’m going to read. Oh, and what I’m going to wear!

See you there!

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
July 13 @ the Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm.
Free

This month’s theme is FREAK FLAG, starring:
Sassafras Lowrey (Kicked Out)
Kate McCabe (Famous Lesbian Comedy Roadshow)
Vittoria repetto (Not Just a Personal Ad)
Thad Rutkowski (Tetched)
Charlie Vazquez (Contraband)

Sideshow’s Freak Flag is One Week Away

… and we’ve added another reader! Kate McCabe is touring with the Famous Lesbian Comedy Roadshow and squeezed us in. Really looking forward to her work.

Kate McCabe has been from all of the following places at one point or another: Erie, PA,—New York, NY—Los Angeles, CA—Baltimore, MD—Rochester, NY—Oban, Scotland—and most recently Manchester, England. A graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she studied at the Stella Adler Studio and suffered the indignity and emotional pain of being constantly belittled and berated by crotchety old acting teachers–mostly to legitimize a career in comedy. Turns out that being ashed on by Virginia Slims and wearing Capezio character heels is good for the soul. She has subsequently performed long-form improv with The Hester Prynns, written sketch for The Ralph Show and Free Range, and performed stand-up in The States and The UK. She loves comic books, travelling, snacking, karate-chopping things, and napping. Proudest moments include offering Gina Gershon a smoked-mozzarella pizza whilst working as a cater-waiter and the one time Kate Clinton gave her a hug.

Also, drumroll please: Sideshow now has its own domain! www.queerliterarycarnival.com is up and running. We don’t have an official Sideshow mailing list, join either Cheryl’s or mine to get monthly reminders, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

It’s going to be a fantastic lineup—See you there!

Sideshow Promo Images by Syd London

The inimitable Syd London took some photographs of Cheryl B. and me to use for Sideshow promotion. We shot in the East Village, right around the Phoenix bar where Sideshow is held, on 13th & Avenue A. Some of the shots near the end are actually right in front of the Phoenix, that dark red brick wall with the wrought iron bars on the windows, kind of gothic-looking. And Kristen makes an appearance at the end, as she is the semi-official Sideshow Hostess.

These shots were taken the same night as the last Sideshow, the butch/femme themed Pride show on June 9th, which Syd also photographed for Time Out New York, and which are now up on the TONY blog. They’re gorgeous, check ’em out!

Syd put a whole bunch of the best shots up on Flickr, shown here in a slideshow.

We haven’t finished choosing the images for our official promotional images yet. I’d love some help in picking out the best ones—Which are your favorites?

Wave Your Freak Flag at SIDESHOW! July 13th

Hey! Guess what! It’s that time again, folks: the July SIDESHOW is just around the corner.

This time, we’ve got an amazing selection of poets, performers, and writers, and we’re going to be flying our freak flags high in honor of the flag day that is the American independence day. This is our kind of national pride, I suppose: freaky and queer and feisty and loud-mouthed, and proud of it.

Come out for a great night of performers and readings in New York City!

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
July 13 @ the Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm.
Free

This month’s theme is FREAK FLAG, starring:
Sassafras Lowrey (Kicked Out)
Vittoria repetto (Not Just a Personal Ad)
Thad Rutkowski (Tetched)
Charlie Vazquez (Contraband)

Sassafras Lowrey is an international award winning author, artist and storyteller. Ze is a genderqueer identified high femme with a complicated gender history.  Sassafras is the editor of the ‘Kicked Out’ anthology which brought together the voices of current and former homeless LGBTQ youth, and hir stories have been published in numerous anthologies including: Visible: a Femmethology, Gendered Hearts, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generations.  Ze teaches storytelling workshops at colleges, conferences, and community centers across the country. You can learn more about Sassafras online at www.PoMoFreakshow.com

Vittoria repetto has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies such as Mudfish, Voices in Italian Americana, Rattle, Lips, The Paterson Literary Review, Italian Americana, Unsettling American: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, Identity Lessons: Learning American Style, The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food & Culture among others. In 1995, she published a chapbook entitled Head For the Van Wyck (Monkey Cat Press) and in 2006, Guernica Editions published her first full length poetry book, Not Just A Personal Ad; one of her reviewers noted “Poems of intense sensibility and gorgeous imagery are a rarity these days; but this book of verse by a distinctly working class, distinctly lesbian, and distinctly Italian American voice is a must for all readers of good poetry.” Vittoria repetto is the vice president of the Italian American Writers Association (IAWA) and the editor of the monthly newsletter. She has been hosting the Women’s & Trans’ Poetry Jam at Bluestockings Bookstore since its opening in 1999.

Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of two innovative novels and has read his work widely–recently in Hong Kong, Paris and Budapest. He is a one-time winner of the Nuyorican Friday slam, the Poetry vs. Comedy slam, and the Syracuse slam. He teaches fiction writing at the Writer’s Voice of the West Side YMCA and world literature at City University.

Charlie Vázquez is a radical writer of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. His fiction and essays have been published in anthologies such as Queer and Catholic (Taylor & Francis, 2007) and Best Gay Love Stories: NYC (Alyson, 2006). His writing has also appeared in print and online publications such as The Advocate, Chelsea Clinton News, New York Press, and Ganymede Journal. Charlie hosts a queer monthly reading series called PANIC! at Nowhere in the East Village, which focuses on original fiction and poetry. He’s a former contributor to the Village Voice’s Naked City blog and a retired experimental musician and photographer. His second novel Contraband was published by Rebel Satori Press in April 2010, and his third, Corazón, is wrapping up for future publication.

Come to Sideshow! The Queer Literary Carnival June 8th

It’s that time again … Sideshow! The Queer Literary Carnival, the reading series hosted by myself and the lovely Cheryl B., is upcoming next week on Tuesday, June 8th. Since June is Gay Pride Month, we wanted to do a queer theme, and decided on interesting perspectives on butch and femme. It’s going to be a great mix of readers!

If you’re in New York, or nearby, please come join us.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
June 8 @ Phoenix, 47 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
in the East Village of New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm.
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)

RSVP on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter: @sideshowseries

This month’s theme is BUTCH/FEMME, in honor of gay pride month, starring:
Syd Blakovich! Diana Cage! Miriam Z. Pérez! Jack Stratton! Teresa Theophano!

How fucking hot are they?? This is going to be good.

The Readers:

Working in the adult industry since 2005, Syd Blakovich dedicates most of her time training to fight and working for Pink and White Productions (pinkwhite.biz), internationally acclaimed pioneers of independent, adult, queer cinema and four time winners of Feminist Porn Awards. She is also one of the most notorious figures in the adult submission wrestling world. With a record of 10-2, Syd is currently the number 1 ranked wrestler of UltimateSurrender.com. Follow Syd on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sydblakovich.

Diana Cage is the author of several best selling, hilarious and informative books on sex and relationships, including Girl Meets Girl:A Dating Survival Guide and Box Lunch: The Laypersons Guide to Cunnilingus. She’s been called everything from an “unapologetic pioneer,” to “flirty, raunchy and in your face.” Diana’s obsessions include high heels, fashion week, gin martinis, Luce Irigaray and extreme lesbian processing. She’ll pretty much talk about sex with anyone who asks. Look for her most recent book, A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Ecstasy, coming out later this year.

Miriam Z. Pérez is a writer, blogger and reproductive justice activist. She is the founder of Radical Doula, a blog that lives at the intersections of birth activism and social justice. Pérez is an Editor at Feministing.com and works with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Her writing has appeared in various publications and two recent anthologies: Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists and Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape. Pérez lives in Washington DC.

Jack Stratton is an open minded, sex positive, mostly-straight, mostly-top, non-monogamous, writer, skeptic, foodie, graphic designer and aspiring dandy. He is a native New Yorker who is obsessed with kink, fan fiction, postmodernism, women and ties. He’s hardly been published anywhere, which is a damn shame. He thoughts and work can be found at writingdirty.com.

Teresa Theophano is a writer, social worker, and community organizer. She is the editor of Queer Quotes, published by Beacon Press in 2004, and of the forthcoming anthology Headcase: LGBTQ Writers and Artists on Mental Illness. She has also contributed to numerous anthologies and Web sites, including glbtq.com and Planned Parenthood. A former assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press, Teresa now does social work in Harlem with mentally ill homeless adults, and assists with projects at the National LGBT Cancer Network.

And as usual, Sideshow! The Queer Literary Carnival is hosted by me, Sinclair Sexsmith, and Cheryl B.

See you there!

Kristen’s Birthday Project: Aaaaand GO!

Kristen’s birthday is next week, but we’ll be in Seattle, in part to celebrate her birthday (I think we’ll be going out to a fancy vegetarian restaurant, and yes of course there will be cake, and maybe The Seal will balance something on her head in Kristen’s honor).

I didn’t do much last year on here, just a call for birthday wishes. This year, I have a little bit of a surprise project cooking. Want to take part in Kristen’s Birthday Project? Email me, , and I’ll give you further instructions. I’m especially looking for butches and tops and dominants, but everybody is invited. It doesn’t matter where you live, you can participate from anywhere in the world. I’ll start actually posting the birthday wishes around her birthday, next week.

Aside from that, tonight is the Navel-Gazing (aka National Masturbation Month) Sideshow, and she is inviting folks to offer Kristen a birthday kiss. It will be scripted: you say, “Happy birthday, Kristen! May I offer you a birthday kiss?” and she’ll say, “Thank you, not right now,” or “Yes please, how sweet!” and offer you something to kiss, like her hand or her cheek or her lips.

Sideshow! The Queer Literary Carnival May 11th

Well folks, it’s that time again …

Did you know May is National Masturbation Month? The Sex Blogger Calendar tells me it was because of US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders being fired in 1995 for saying masturbation was “something that should be taught.” According to the Good Vibes magazine, “In 1995, just months after US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders had been fired for mildly pro-masturbation remarks, Good Vibrations launched National Masturbation Month. Dedicated to increasing discussion and ending the stigma surrounding self-pleasure, GV added new elements to the monthly celebration each year, finally introducing the Masturbate-a-Thon, a fundraiser featuring pledge-getting, (private) masturbation and charity donations.”

The Masturbate-a-Thon website hasn’t been launched yet, but save the date—it happens this year on May 30th.

And in honor of National Masturbation Month, Sideshow’s May gathering of poets, writers, and rebel-rousers will be under the topic of navel-gazing (for which the fancy word is omphaloskepsis).

Please join us! It will be a fantastic gathering.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
“serious literature for ridiculous times”
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith

May 11 @ Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading promptly at 8.
Free
Sideshow website
RSVP on Facebook
@sideshowseries

This month’s theme is NAVEL-GAZING, starring:
Michael Broder
Audacia Ray
Ignacio Rivera
Jason Schneiderman

The Readers

Michael Broder’s poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, BLOOM, Columbia Poetry Review, Court Green, and other journals, as well as in the anthologies This New Breed: Gents, Bad Boys and Barbarians 2 and My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them. He is currently completing a doctoral dissertation on queer kinship and camp aesthetics in Roman satire at the City University of New York. Having grown up in Coney Island in the days when there was still an “under the boardwalk,” he claims to be the original SIDESHOW!

Audacia Ray is a media maker and activist who is passionate about sexual rights. Presently, Audacia is the Program Officer for Online Communications and Campaigns at the International Women’s Health Coalition, an adjunct professor of Human Sexuality at Rutgers University, the co-host of the monthly reading series Sex Worker Literati, and the author of Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads, and Cashing In on Internet Sexploration. Audacia is a former sex worker who was an executive editor at $pread magazine for three years and is a co-founder of advocacy organization Sex Work Awareness, where she provides media training workshops for sex workers. Dacia is also the award-winning director and producer of the porn feature The Bi Apple as well as the producer and star of the comedic film short Dacia’s Love Machine. She has blogged at WakingVixen.com since 2004.

Ignacio Rivera aka Papi Coxxx who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they” has spoken at home and abroad on various topics including but not limited to sexuality, racism, sexism, transgender issues, anti-oppression, anti-violence, sexual liberation and multi-issue organizing. Ignacio’s work has manifested itself through skits, one-person shows, poetry, lectures, workshops and experimental film. More at http://www.ignaciorivera.com.

Jason Schneiderman is the author of Sublimation Point, a Stahlecker Selection from Four Way Books, and Striking Surface, winner of the 2009 Richard Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press. His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, Poetry London, Grand Street, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Story Quarterly, and Tin House. He has received fellowships from Yaddo, The Fine Arts Work Center, and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He was the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America in 2004. A graduate of the MFA program at NYU, he is currently completing his doctorate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

The Curators

Cheryl B. (cherylb.com) is an award-winning writer, poet and performer. Her work appears in dozens of print and online publications, including; Ping Pong, Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution (Seal Press, 2007) and BLOOM, among many others. She has appeared at most major New York City literary evenings and toured throughout the U.S, Canada and the U.K. Cheryl lives in Brooklyn and teaches memoir writing at Gotham Writers’ Workshop.

Sinclair Sexsmith runs the award-winning personal online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Sex, Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at sugarbutch.net. With work published in various anthologies, including the Best Lesbian Erotica series, Sometimes She Lets Me: Butch/Femme Erotica, and Visible: A Femmethology volume 2, Mr. Sexsmith enjoys whiskey, topping, the serial comma, political activism, and has been known to get on her knees in order to fix the strappy sandals of a queer femme. Sugarbutch Star chapbooks are available, if you ask nicely (and have ten bucks).

Sideshow! Recap in Photos

I was incredibly moved by the turn-out and feeling of community that happened this past Tuesday night at the Phoenix Bar with the launch of my new reading series, co-produced and -hosted with Cheryl B., Sideshow. There were so many people there and such fantastic stories. I feel really grateful and lucky to be part of such a great literary community of readers and writers and community builders and friends. Thanks, everybody, for coming.

For some of you who weren’t able to make it, here’s a photo recap of the evening. Taken with Cheryl’s camera (though I think Whitney was the one actually pressing the button):


Cheryl B. opened the show with some spectacular poetry, and revealed a secret about the very bar where we’d all gathered.


Kathleen Warnock read an erotica piece about secrets we keep from ourselves. Beautiful. I’ve heard her do this one before and I hope to see it in print soon.


Seth Clark Silberman, aka PhDJ, read a vibrant sexy piece. The plan was for him to DJ, back when we had a different venue, but after the first venue fell through there was no DJ option. Would’ve been great to hear his music, but I’m glad we got to hear his story.


That’s me! I read a new piece detailing some of the reasons I’m a sadist. Which isn’t really a secret, I know, but it’s still not so widely known or articulated. The green tie matched my new hunter green handkerchief, which I also wore (flagging left of course), that Kristen gave me on my recent birthday.


The inimitable Kate Bornstein read about her twelve years as a scientologist, and how she left.


Sam J. Miller was perfect to close the show, everybody loved his eloquent turns of phrase.


The full cast of the kick-off of Sideshow! l-r: Kate, Kathleen, Cheryl, Sam, Seth, and me.


Bonus femme shot! Because, hello, there should always be a bonus femme shot. Here’s Cheryl with Kristen. Kristen made a few dozen special birthday cupcakes that we brought along and shared. They were car bomb cupcakes, in case you attended and were wondering what the amazing orgasmic thing in your mouth was.

Now don’t you really wish you’d been there?

There is video, too, that Cheryl is processing and I will most certainly let you know when it’s available (probably by posting it here and on the Sideshow blog and on my Twitter stream and on my Tumblr log you’re going to be sick of knowing that it’s available, believe me).

Big thank yous—thanks Whitney for taking photos, Kelli for filming, John for the use of the Phoenix bar, Kristen for making cupcakes and being such a fabulous hostess. Thanks, Cheryl, for plunging forward on this project with me! And thanks, all you folks who came and listened and ate cupcakes and tipped the bartender (well) and tossed a little something into the hat for the performers.

Save the date—the next SIDESHOW! Queer Literary Carnival will be May 11th, and the theme is naval gazing (aka omphaloskepsis) in honor of National Masturbation Month. Full line-up and details to come!

Come One, Come All, to SIDESHOW!

(More details & information at SideshowReadingSeries.wordpress.com.)

New York City: home to some of the best performance art, spoken word, poetry, and literary culture in the world. Also home of the freaks, the queers, the outlaws, the weirdos, who have all sought refuge from their narrow-minded little towns across America—across North America!—by congealing at the big cities on the fringes of the country.

It makes sense that thus, this little town of mine houses some amazing queer literary reading series, though few of them are explicitly queer—rather they are run by queers and promote queer voices and perspectives. Vittoria Repetto runs the Women/Trans Poetry Jam & Open Mic at Bluestockings, Rachel Kramer Bussel runs In The Flesh erotica reading series at Happy Ending, Audacia Ray co-hosts Sex Worker Literati at Happy Ending with David Henry Sterry, Kathleen Warnock runs Drunken! Careening! Writers! at KGB Bar, Charlie Vasquez runs Panic! at Nowhere bar, Shelly Mars runs the Bulldyke Chronicles at Dixon Place, Kelli Dunham and Gene Murphy run Queer Memoir at Collect Pond in Brooklyn. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Why does New York City need yet another literary and queer reading series? Despite the many other series, very few of them are explicitly places for queer’s marginalized voices to express ourselves. Perhaps these are actually a newer wave of reading series, born out of earlier waves of explicitly queer series, and these focus on a particular theme or style of work as opposed to the gender or sexuality of those reading it. But still, we have not conquered homophobia, heterosexism, or transphobia, and though many in the queer literary scene might think we can have queers and straight folks reading right next to each other in a line-up, we still face sometimes insurmountable issues because of our sexualities or gender identities.

I’m grateful New York City is different, encouraging art and expression of all flavors. Still, in comparison to some of the medium- and small-sized cities, New York City’s collectivity can be fragmented. The queer literary scene in Seattle, for example, is teeny tiny, and everybody knows everybody, and thus we have to rally around each other and go to each other’s shows and be kind and embracing, because there are only so many of us. Seattle has an extra fabulous queer monthly reading series and open mic, the Seattle Spit at the Wildrose, Seattle’s only dyke bar, and I cut my performing teeth there, attending every month and wishing I was brave enough to read my own things until finally I did.

When I moved to New York City I wondered why there wasn’t an equivalent. Perhaps the communities and scenes here are just too large to sustain any single reading series, we need multiple perspectives, we need lots of different styles, lots of different reading series coordinators who all have different circles within the queer and literary worlds.

Kathleen is a playwright, for example, and there’s such a large play and drama world here in New York City that is very queer and literary, but since I don’t tend to run in those circles myself, I often don’t know of the writers who are on the Drunken! Careening! Writers! roster. But they are always a best of the best, skimmed off the top, extremely talented bunch, and I certainly trust Kathleen’s own literary discernment.

Shelly Mars’s new series the Bulldyke Chronicles is quite the phenomenon, if you haven’t attended yet—comedians, performance artists, and storytellers are primarily in her circles, and she has pulled some amazing folks out of the woodwork to come share where they’ve been and how they see the world. Her performers by and large are not folks that I know, but they are amazing and I’m so glad they’ve been brought together in a forum where I get to see them perform.

It’s amazing how many subtly different queer literary scenes there can be in one place. It still amazes me that a city can hold so many different worlds, so many different circles which do overlap, though sometimes only touch. After four and a half years in New York City, I think I’ve finally made enough contacts in many of the different circles that I could help to pull together some amazing artists, to encourage the lifting of their voices high.

And so, the lovely and talented Cheryl B. and I have teamed up to start SIDESHOW!: The Queer Literary Carnival, which will be spoken word, poetry, storytelling, comedy, and performances of all kinds. It is “serious literature for ridiculous times by freaks, jokesters, and outlaws,” as our tagline boasts. We are booking seasoned performers whose work explores what it’s like to embody and move through the world with marginalized identities, be it sexual or gender or something else entirely. This one particular series is explicitly queer, specifically to encourage the expression of that weird, freaky, perverted, marginalized, queer point of view.

Cheryl has run series in the past, most recently she was the producer at the Poetry Vs Comedy Variety Hour, which started at Galapagos and moved to the Bowery Poetry Club. It was a blast—and I don’t just say that because I was the first poet ever to win the two rounds, or because I won twice. It was so much fun to attend, the judges were always just as fun as the poets and the comics, and of course all the participants went home with a prize, because winning was not the point, and we’re all losers anyway.

When we ran into each other at a holiday party last year, I mentioned that I’d been kicking around the idea of coordinating a reading series, and she said she would love to co-produce and co-host. Since Cheryl has much more expeirence than I do at hosting a reading series, and since she’s a damn fine poet, I immediately thought this was a wonderful idea, and we got into the nitty-gritty planning details in the new year. We secured a home at The Phoenix (thanks to Charlie Vasquez, who I previously mentioned as running the Panic series at one of my favorite queer watering holes, Nowhere Bar), and we booked an amazing first show.

To add some cohesion to the show, we’re going to have monthly themes, and the very first SIDESHOW kicks off in April on Tuesday the 13th. April’s theme is SECRETS, starring Kate Bornstein, Sam J. Miller, Seth Clark Silberman aka PhDJ, and Kathleen Warnock.

Did you see that part where I slipped in that Kate fraking Bornstein is going to be reading at the kickoff of the series? Like it is all casual and not a big deal? Except that I’ve been reading her books for the last ten years, and she’s such a major pioneer not only in gender work but in queer memoir, and the re-valuing of queer lives and experiences in general.

Kathleen Warnock, too, I’m thrilled to have in the line-up; I mentioned earlier that she runs the reading series at KGB Bar, but she is also the new series editor for Best Lesbian Erotica, put out annually by Cleis Press. I’ve admired her work since I first heard it when I moved to New York City and began attending her series, particularly for the extra-special holiday celebration in December that always includes Best Lesbian Erotica writers reading their own work.

Sam and I met because he’s in the brother series, Best Gay Erotica, and we read together at a joint reading a few years ago, and my best memory of PhDJ is his story about getting an apartment through the power of The Secret. Hey, when the shoe fits, you may as well wear it!

Since April is my birthday month, I’m telling friends there’s no need for gifts or a party, just come to Sideshow on April 13th at The Phoenix. I’ll be there from 7pm on, taking photos, kissing Kristen, and trying not to drink too many Jamesons on ice. Can’t wait to hear what everyone has to read, and how this gathering of queers might bring us together in an open, supportive environment.

See you there, New York.