Bits of information that are absolutely necessary to the well-being of your life

a.  May Oui and I have been asked to perform in the St. Louis Show-Me Burlesque Festival

b.  Go to Wiggle Room.  It’s pretty great.

c.  My cat has lupus. (Not Oatmeal.  Another one.)  Lupus.  Like she’s the reincarnation of Flannery O’ Connor or something.  Her hair is falling out all over my apartment and she looks like something from The Dark Crystal.

d.  The wonderful, fantastic Frenchie Kiss and the ridiculously hot Jett Adore are competing at The Burlesque Hall of Fame with their show-stopping duet.  For which I designed Ms. Kiss’s costume.  And I’m getting to work on a gown for her to wear when they win.  Fantastic.

e. Happy Birthday, Ashleigh.

f.  Check out this guy.  My husband is doing his new record cover.  He’s the fucking best and is now living large in LA.  If you’re in the greater Los Angeles area, look him up.  Go get a coffee with him.  Maybe go for a jog around the Silverlake reservoir.

My husband also did this rad poster. He's the best, too.

g.  It’s time for a snack.

Rainbows and Sunshine

Maybe it’s nauseating, but I woke up this morning with the notion to write a post entirely about shit that makes me happy.  It’s a beautiful day in Chicago, I just got paid, I slept until 10, and I haven’t read or listened to the news all day.  I’m practical farting rainbows and sunshine.  And to keep this merriment motorcade movin’ on down the highway, I’m doubling down with a list of things that push my happy button.  Hopefully some of them will push yours, too.

1.  This face.

It's worth it to leave the house just to be able to come home to this happy dog face.

2.  Biscuits and gravy.

3.  Mike 4.0.  He’s been going to the gym and eating right, and it’s really given him a boost in the hard drive.  He’s been seriously double-clicking my mouse.  Downloading my zip files.  #gettingpoundeduntillossofmotorskillsoccurs.  The husband makes me happy anyway, but he’s been a real magic maker, lately.  Yeah, Stairmaster!

4.  Wearing shorts and drinking beer in my backyard, Homer Simpson style.

5.  This scene in my favorite movie:  Puttin’ on the Ritz from Young Frankenstein.  The “Cooper Duper” line gets me every time.  Every time.

6.  Big hair and flashy painted nails.  I’m from the Deep South, y’all.  Trashy is in my DNA.

7.  Rereading a book that you liked and discovering that you actually love it.  Currently, it’s Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

8.  This website.  There’s nothing that can deflate my stress balloon like a baby pig in rain boots.

9.  Getting dirty in the kitchen

10.  Swearing.  Fucking cunty biscuits, I love to swear.

11.  This act with this girl.  I love it and her.

12.  Sweet tea.  Fried things from the sea.  Raw oysters.  Barbecued ribs.  Fried green tomatoes.  My mom’s gumbo.

13.  Speaking of my mom.  She’s the best.  Especially when she laughs.

14.  This song.  And Soul Train.

15.  Ass-friendly jeans and a t-shirt.  Add a pair of sunglasses and sandals, and I couldn’t feel sexier.

16.  Sharing a completely vulgar and offensive joke with the only other person in the world who would think it was funny — my husband.

17.  Dick jokes.  Also, fart jokes.  But not pussy jokes.  I have some class.

18.  This.

19. And this.

20.  Shaking my ass with complete unabashedness.

There’s more and more and more, if I think about it.  But I’ll leave it at the first twenty that popped into my head.  Happy Fucking Friday, y’all!!

Okay, one more of the dog face:

As the (Jim) Crow Flies

It seems like my home state keeps popping up these days.  In the news, facebook, party conversation.  Every time I hear the word “Alabama” on TV, I cringe a little and think “Uh-oh.  What sort of backwoods yokelism is on display this time?”  The other night I was watching The Colbert Report and the guest was Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Birmingham Ministries, on to discuss House Bill 56.  (You can watch that clip here.)  If you don’t know anything about HB56, in brief it is an extremely hardlined immingration reform that exceeds even Arizona in drawing the line against immigrants.  Most of the bill was upheld in court while more stringent elements are currently being blocked.  (You can read more about it from the horse’s mouth here.  Or from concerned educators here.  Or hear about it here.)   You may or may not agree with it and I’m not here to persuade you either way.  For the record, I don’t.  I think it dehumanizes the people it targets.  I think the parallels between that and the prologue to the Civil Rights movement are startling.  Alabama seems to have a history of bringing these sorts of issues to a head and, if history is any indicator, something horrific will happen as a result.  I think that immigration is a complex and delicate issue with no easy answer, but laws that promote fear and racial profiling, and that require police, educators, landlords, and employers to act as immigration law enforcement are certainly not helping.

I wish that I could say that I’m proud of where I come from.  But it wouldn’t be totally true.  I’m proud of parts of it.  I’m proud of my upbringing, the strong sense of family, the work ethic, the love of cooking and home that was hammered into me from a very young age.  I love the coast I grew up on, the magnolia tree I would play under, the azaleas that wash the city in a coat of hot pink for a month of the year.  I love thinking about my grandmother’s kitchen table on Sunday afternoon after the dinner plates had been cleared when all of the women would gather round for coffee, cake, and gossip.  I have daydreams about fresh gulf shrimp and crabs caught that morning and delivered to my plate that night.  I sorely miss my family, my mom, and not being a part of their daily lives.

But here’s what I don’t miss:

I don’t miss thinly veiled bigotry.  I don’t miss the undercurrent of misogny.  I don’t look back in fondness to the time that my grandmother told me that she would never forgive me if I dated outside my race.  I don’t miss the disgust and hatred of other human beings that is adopted without question because it’s the norm.  I don’t miss having to fight an uphill battle to get an education.  I don’t miss the confused looks on people’s faces when I tell them that no, I don’t have nor really want to have children.  I don’t miss hearing the n-word over lunch.  I don’t miss the limited perspective and the suspicious view of the world outside of the state. And I definitely don’t miss feeling like an outsider because of it.  I don’t miss being called a misguided, bleeding-heart liberal because I voted for Obama.

I don’t want to be totally unfair here.  I’ve known some pretty cool, progressive people in that state.  I spent my formative teen years in Birmingham, where there was this completely surprising and very forward music scene happening in the 90’s.  It was there that I discovered punk, drugs, and art at a tender age.  In college I worked for a jazz musician who owned an organic burrito lounge and I hung out with literature nerds.  Not everyone is a camouflage sweatpant wearing racist.  But, well, these sterotypes exist for a reason.

The idea of Southern Hospitality is not a myth, but the fact is that my home state is not exactly a warm and welcoming one if you don’t fit into the decades-old mold of the decent, hard-working, conservative good old boy.  (Or girl. They’ve progressed that much.)  I speak from experience, y’all.  There is a very good and valid reason that I live in Chicago, no matter how much I love and miss my family.  But I should give credit where credit is due.  Though they may not understand my liberal, naked ways, the family members who matter don’t give me any guff about it (anymore), and my mother especially has surprised me in her openness to what I think, and do, and enjoy, and fight for.  And, no matter how much I loathe it’s politics, Alabama is my home.  I do like being a Southern Girl.  But I enjoy that title on my own terms.  I am proud to be an open-minded, education-loving, bigger-picture-seeing, curious-about-the-world-around-me, high-heeled-wearing, downward-facing-dogging, happy-and-childless, sympathetic, humanity-loving, tassel-twirling, Daily-show-watching, intellectual Southern Girl.  And that wasn’t an easy thing to become.  It’s not like they breed them like that down there.

Yee fucking haw, y’all.

My first batch of brownies

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about cooking.  Every New Year’s Day, I cook this specific meal — pork roast, collard greens, black-eyed peas, corn bread.  It’s a Southern thing.  And I have friends over to enjoy it.  I love it.  Few things make me happier than cooking for people.  I come from a long line of women in the kitchen, and it’s how I was taught to show love.

So, anyway.  It’s been on my mind.  And it got me thinking of the first time I baked for someone.  Here’s the story.  Enjoy.

My first boyfriend was ridiculous, but I adored him.  Let’s call him Trevor.  Trevor had long, dyed black hair and a long goatee like that guy from Alice in Chains.  He painted his nails and played the bass.  Not for a band or anything.  He just played it.  Oh, I just liked him so much.  Trevor’s birthday came around and I decided to bake him something.  Even at 16 I knew that two sure-fire ways to make a guy happy were baking and tiny panties.  I’m still not proven wrong.  My mom had these turtle brownies she would make for parties that people would shit their pants over.  It’s one of those shortcut, Betty Crocker, 50’s drunk housewife kind of recipes.  This was what I would make, he would love them, and I would thus be worshipped as a nourishment giving sex goddess.  So I talked my mom out of the recipe and I baked away.  To my surprise, they turned out pretty perfect and I bounced along to Trevor’s house (his dad was out of town, yippee!) to present the brownies and receive my due praise.  Poorly executed head.  We were teenagers, remember? These things take time and practice.

I revealed the brownies, yanking the aluminum foil away with a flourish.  He was impressed, let me tell you.  Caramel and little brownie crumbs got stuck in his goatee.  Soon, my Bikini Kill t-shirt and Doc Martins were in a bundle on the floor and we were getting down to some business.

Trevor looked at a lot of porn.  And he had some ideas.  So it didn’t surprise me when, as we’re making out and dry humping on his dad’s water bed (which had a mirror on the ceiling above it– ew,) he told me that he wanted to play around with some chocolate and he had gotten something special for us.  Alright, I thought, envisioning some sort of swirly Hershey’s syrup licking thing happening.  This is hot, right?  Sexy people do this.  Eat food off of each other’s bodies.  “Ok, sure, I guess.  Giggle. Giggle,” I say as we rip the sheets off the water bed.  Off he went to the kitchen, while I attempted to arrange my body in an attractive Victoria’s Secret catalog kind of way.  I saw him silhouetted in the doorway, something in his hand.  “Close your eyes,” he said.  I did, and a few moments later I felt something hard, long, and really fucking freezing enter my pussy.

“Yahhh!  What the fuck is that?”

“What?  It’s a Snickers bar.  I froze it so it would be hard.  Maybe I should microwave it a little,”

“Yeah, ok.  Maybe that would be better.”

No one can accuse me of not being accommodating.

“Don’t microwave it too long,” I called as he took the Snickers bar back to the kitchen.  I heard the hum and ding! of the microwave and he returned with the Snickers on a plate.  He knelt over me, sexy intense look on his face, and proceeded to smear hot chocolate on my labia.  Really hot chocolate.  I yelled at him to fuck off with that Snickers bar, and flew off the bed to run to the bathroom and pour cold water over my snatch.

It was not sexy and the next day I had developed a pretty intense yeast infection.  I swore revenge. The next time I went over to his house, I purred in his ear that I’d like to try the body dessert thing again, but this time I would do the drizzling and licking.  He hopped right to the bed, pants around his ankles, eager as all 17-year-old boys are for any reason to get a mouth around his penis.  “Close your eyes,” I cooed as I pulled out of my purse some little packets of honey.  I had asked for extra with my Chicken McNuggets earlier that day.  I popped them open and emptied them all over his chest, cock, and balls.  And Trevor had a lot of body hair.  It was awesome.  He was in the shower for an hour while I smoked his pot and watched My So Called Life.

So that was my first baking experience.  Want to reenact it?  Here’s the brownie recipe to get you started.  Just remember to put the Snickers in for no more that 15 seconds.

PECAN TURTLE BROWNIES

1 14 oz bag of  caramels, unwrapped

1 5 oz can of evaporated milk, divided

1 stick of unsalted butter, very softened

1 cup of chopped raw pecans

1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips

1 box of Devil’s Food cake mix

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt caramels with half of the evaporated milk in a double boiler over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth (slutty version: use the microwave. Put the caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl and zap for two minutes at a time, stirring between zaps.) Meanwhile, dump the cake mix into a large bowl.  Mix in the rest of the milk and the softened butter, and stir until the cake mix is all moist.  Mix in the pecans and chocolate chips.  Spread the mixture into the bottom of a buttered 9.5 x 11 inch cake pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Pull it out of the oven and immediately pour over the caramel sauce.  Blob the remaining cake mix over the caramel.  Put it back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake part comes clean.

Cool and cut into squares.  Use them to entice your friends into some food play.  They work every time.

The feeling that I needed to show people what was under my clothes has always been there.  A natural-born exhibitionist, I was frequently toddling out in my birthday suit to greet my parents’ guests and lifting my skirt on the playground for whoever cared to look (parent/ teacher conferences were had.) Was it a case of nature or nurture? The final grandchild in a generation of boys, for my Grandmother, Great-Aunts, Aunts, and Mother, I was the little girl at last and being a tomboy was no option.  From infancy I was decked out in all manner of frou frou.  Bows, bonnets, frilly dresses, and shiny black mary janes.  My grandmother, a red-headed bombshell in her heyday and all around force of nature, insisted that I be frilly to the skin and put me in the cutest of cute underthings.  Lacy socks, tiny little eyelet-trimmed camisoles, crinolines, and my favorite — the ruffle-butt panty. (This continued for as long as she lived.  When I got older, she would laugh and clap her hands to see me blush as I opened Christmas boxes containing stacks of wildly colored slips, panties, and tights.) I was a baby doll and I preened and pirouetted under their doting attentions.

Missy Prissy Pants

As I grew up, my fascination with all things tiny and showy grew with me.  I was eager to join the grown-up club and the day my mother and grandmother took me shopping for my first bra was a thrilling one.  And even though there was teasing the next day at school (I was one of the first girls in fifth grade to get my boobs; surely they were making mountains out of mole hills,) I was walking a little taller knowing that underneath my Esprit top was a darling little cotton number with a pink bow in the center.  And then one day, as snoopy adolescents do, I was invading the privacy of my parent’s closet when I came across my father’s stash of Playboys.  I had heard rumors about them from my brother and cousins and there they were, under my own little hands.  Exhilarated with the forbidden, I slowly turned the pages and became forever changed by the images of those big-haired, stockinged and gartered beauties in all their 80’s glory.  I wanted to be them.  Naked and beautiful, ornamented with delicate, silky things and high, high, high-heeled shoes.  They seemed miles higher than even my mother’s highest evening shoes.  For better or worse, an obsession was born that day.  But even the strongest obsession can become buried.  As I grew into an adult, I discovered that it can be difficult to connect who you are with how people see you.  It was easier to be quiet, cute.  To not draw attention.  People seemed to be good with that.  Sexy was somehow threatening.

Fast forward to a year ago.  Recently returned to Chicago from two years of fashion schooling and work in L.A., I was weary and disheartened.  Work had been difficult to find and keep for both me and my husband, and in a tough economy I was finding it woefully difficult to bring any of my dreams to financially viable fruition.  Hoping to make any kind of money on the side, my husband and I decided to join artistic forces and create an illustration business.  We worked mostly doing poster art for musicians, who were mostly our friends, who were mostly unable to pay us.  In an attempt to drum up any kind of paying business, I looked for other kinds of performers in need of promotional art and my research brought the local burlesque community to my attention  (“Look at those costumes,” I thought.  “Surely they have money.”  Now I know better!) I fired off a slew of introductory emails to every Chicago performer I could find.  No one replied — except for one.  A then unknown to me Franky Vivid, production partner of burlesque powerhouse, Michelle L’amour. Though he didn’t have work for us, he wrote, he was always interested in meeting local artists and invited us to their drawing series, Bordello, and to an upcoming show.

I knew what burlesque was, historically speaking, but had no idea what to expect from a modern interpretation of it.  From the moment the lights went up on the first performer, I was a goner.  It was like the mother ship calling me home.  The lights reflecting from the rhinestoned pasties were like beacons.  The crowd hollered and cheered; the energy and excitement soaked me to the bone.  It was dirty and ridiculous and elevated all at once, and it was exactly what I had been needing.  I went home and signed up for a class that night.

It sounds silly and trite to say that burlesque changed my life.  I mean, it’s just women getting up on a stage and shaking their shit for all to see.  It’s just fringe, stockings, rhinestones.  Flashy lingerie.  High heels.

It’s just stripping.

And it’s just wonderful.  And I’m completely in love with it.