Dark Continent Dubfeed: On Vidhu Aggarwal’s The Trouble with Humpadori

Vidhu Aggarwal The Trouble with Humpadori

The smashing spectacle of Bollywood, the feminine grotesque of Gurlesque mashed with the colors and sounds of sci-fi and fantasy comics—all these obsessions assemble in Vidhu Aggarwal’s electric debut poetry collection, The Trouble with Humpadori (The Great Indian Poetry Collective Press, 2016). Aggarwal’s poetic range includes text art, sound, video and live performance.  Aggarwal, both an artist and Professor of Postcolonial/Transnational Studies, surely embodies a new kind of artist-scholar. In her book, Aggarwal creates the interstellar character Humapadori (“Hump” for short) who acts as a messenger for extraterrestrial beings, a medium sent down from the cosmos. Move over Ziggy Stardust. It’s time for Humpadori’s time to occupy the international stage.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books + Literature, Reviews

Using Your Feminist Superpower: An Interview with the Pussyhat Project

pussyhat project weird sister, feminist activism, craft, knitting

Pussyhat Project organizers drawing by Aurora Lady

I handed my two skeins of bright pink yarn over the counter at the demure yarn store outside of Freeport, Maine, “And I’d like a pair of size eight needles please,” I said. The woman working there looked at me as she rang me up, “I think I know what these are for,” she said, quietly, nodding with approval.

I smiled, “Yes.”

“Are you going to the… ?”

I nodded back, “Yes.”

“Are you scared?”

“No way.”

“Good for you, I’m so glad you are doing that. You are doing that for all of us.”

I felt I had been inducted into a not-so-secret underground society of knitters who were uniting to change the world, and in a way, we were because that’s exactly what the Pussyhat Project is. Specifically, it’s a Los Angeles-based project co-founded by two friends, screenwriter Krista Suh and architect Jayna Zwieman, who are joined by artist Aurora Lady. Simply put, the project encourages people of all genders to knit, crochet or sew pink cat (pussy) hats and share them with marchers headed to Washington D.C. on January 21st for the massive Women’s March that will highlight the importance of a diverse, vibrant feminist movement.

But the Pussyhat Project is so much more than knitting hats to make a bold visual statement: it’s an accessible and inviting way to build community, to open a dialogue about women’s rights, and to come together to share and heal post-election. In bringing people together to make and connect, it draws on a history of radical crafting and activist art. It also demonstrates to participants that they can engage in activism starting from where they are, and contributing skills they already have. In advance of the historic march in Washington (and the many sister marches around the country), I caught up with the Pussyhat Project organizers over email (they are busy ladies these days!) about the ideas, experiences, and philosophies guiding the project, and the power of feminist doing and making post-election.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Clothes + Fashion, Interviews

Power Suited: Feminist Fashion Nostalgia on Election Day

pantsuits as feminist fashion history
My mom told me a story recently about when she was a senior in high school in the Bronx, and there was a snowstorm during a transit strike the week she had her English Regents exam. She walked five miles to school in the snow and when she got there, a male teacher made a comment about her not being allowed to take her test because she was wearing pants instead of a skirt. My mom wasn’t permitted to wear pants to school until she was in college, and even then she usually didn’t because she went straight to work from school and was required to wear a skirt at her job. When she told me this, I’m embarrassed to say I was kind of shocked. I’m 34 years old, and my mother’s story reminds me that my own relationship to pants as a women’s clothing item is a privilege.

What did it mean for women to wear pantsuits on Election Day? “Pantsuit feminism” is a powerful concept in certain ways that my age may allow me to not think about—pantsuits, as an extension of pants worn by women in nonprofessional settings, are emblematic of women entering traditionally male professional spheres as men’s equals. Pantsuits were surely symbols of feminist progress for certain women. Women were, for example, barred from wearing pants on the Senate floor until 1993. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to wear trousers in an official First Lady portrait. The image of the pantsuit recalls for me the 80s “working women” of movies and TV shows like Working Girl and Designing Women—those satirized more recently in Amy Schumer’s hilarious comedy sketch “80s Ladies.” A woman poet friend of mine recently joked on Facebook that jeans are “modern-day corsets,” and that she prefers the comfort of leggings. We’ve come so far as women, in little ways like these that we don’t even realize. With a new year upon us, I’m afraid of where 2017 and beyond will bring us, or leave us behind.

“Pantsuit feminism,” empowering as it may be for some, of course prioritizes the concerns and experiences of certain privileged groups—white, cisgender, upper-class women like Hillary Clinton herself “leaning in” to climb to ranks of high-power jobs—and leaves behind many women of color, working class women, and other less privileged groups. Did wearing a pantsuit on Election Day mean pledging allegiance to this problematic strain of feminism?

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Clothes + Fashion, Everything Else

A New Year’s Comic for Loving and Fighting

Leave a Comment

Filed under Art + Comics

Love Doesn’t Save Anyone from Themselves: An Interview with Angeli Cabal

Angeli Cabal

I first encountered Angeli Cabal’s work as the co-editor-in-chief of {m}aganda Magazine. My staff and I were blown away by the pieces she submitted–poems critiquing colonialism, Western beauty standards, and the figure of the Filipino woman. I was stunned to see that in addition to being a poet, Cabal is also a visual artist and multi-genre writer who creates sleek, intricate, highly clever illustrations and incredibly heart-wrenching creative essays. In addition, Cabal has been a devoted fanfiction author since age 12 and has garnered an impressive online readership on Tumblr. In 2013, Cabal self-published her first chapbook, True Love and Other Myths, which sold out after the first printing. She went on to publish a second chapbook, The Anatomy of Closed Doors, joining the ranks of  poets and writers who use social media as their vehicle. Cabal’s work is raw, evocative, hands-on, and accessible. She joined me for a conversation where we discussed fanfiction, our immigrant parents, and which three fictional characters she would invite for a session of afternoon tea.

MV: I’m not sure if you’ve read this recent Buzzfeed article about women and fanfiction, but they argue that fanfiction is a central genre for women writers because it allows us to create narratives that are not available in everyday life. Why fanfiction? Why should we keep writing and reading fanfiction? What power does this form of creation give us?

AC: It’s been 14 years since I started writing fanfiction and I’ve never grown out of it. Fanfiction is so much more accessible for me because of world building. In fanfiction, you already have this world created for you so there’s less pressure and you can focus on the narratives you want to tell, particularly characters you want to transform and flesh out. When you have these characters presented to you and you see all the paths and avenues the author could have taken to make them more human, these are awesome opportunities to take. It is also such a supportive community, I can’t even read some of the stuff I wrote back then because it was so horrible but I get reviews that say, “Hey, this is really good, keep it up.” That was so important for me as a young writer because no one else knew I was writing fanfiction. It really encouraged me and is one of the reasons why I still write fanfiction today. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Art + Comics, Books + Literature, Interviews

We’re Obsessed With: Astro Poets

Started by “actual living poets” Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov, the new Twitter account Astro Poets is everything anyone could ever want from the internet all in one 140-character space: astrology by poets for everyone.

For those who don’t know, I’m obsessed with both astrology and good writing which is why I can’t get enough of this account. Lasky and Dimitrov are funny, charming and masters of their form. The Twitterverse is so lucky to have these two and I am so lucky to have had a chance to ask them a few questions about their absolutely magical collaboration known as Astro Poets.

Astro Poets cross

Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov

 

Cathy de la Cruz: What made you start the Astro Poets Twitter account?

Dorothea Lasky: The account was started on a whim one night. Alex had put a poll on his Twitter asking his followers whether he should date a Taurus or a Virgo that night. I voted for Taurus and that prompted Alex to ask me if we should start an astrology Twitter account. I said yes and he put a poll up asking people if we should start one and lots of people voted that we should. So we did. We both agreed going into it that the largest goal was to bring people some laughs during what has been a bad year.

Alex Dimitrov: I think we’re both pretty funny people and also we both really get… how do I say this… human nature. We finally decided to share that in a more public way. I mean we both have so much going on in our lives, this is kind of a side project that speaks to the entertainers and prophets in us… but it might turn into other things!

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Everything Else, Interviews

WE WERE THERE: Weird Sister at Art After Trump

Art After Trump Weird Sister

Last Thursday night, December 15th, Weird Sister joined Hyperallergic, Well-Read Black Girl, The Creative Independent, Lenny, VIDA, and many other arts organizations for ART AFTER TRUMP at Housing Works Bookstore. The night featured over 150 artists of all disciplines responding to the questions posed by the event organizers: “As an artist, how are you reacting to this uncertain future? What do you want to say or do?” Performances ranged from poems and essay excerpts to letters, speeches, and songs—you can listen to full audio from the event over on The Creative Independent. Below are the pieces that Weird Sister’s five performers—Merve Kayan, Christopher Soto/Loma, Naomi Extra, Cathy de la Cruz, and myself—shared that night:

***

“In 1961, Fannie Lou Hamer went to the hospital to have a cyst removed and left with a hysterectomy. Forced hysterectomies on black and brown women were a common practice in Mississippi. One of many victims of gendered racial violence, Hamer’s body, as both woman and black was under siege by the state. Still, she fought. In 1963, Hamer and a fierce set of lesser known black women—June Johnson, Anelle Ponder, Dorothy Height—used their voices to fight against voter suppression and more broadly, the Trumps  of their time.

I refuse to think of Trump as a threat located in a single body. I resist this as a mode of organizing and as a political stance. As a black woman in America, I reject anti Trumpness as a galvanizing energy in fighting oppression. It is contrary to my lived experience. It is contrary to the political work of black women radicals like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, and Ella Baker who fought against multiple forms of oppression. Who fought for women’s rights, labor rights, and civil rights. As a black feminist, I locate myself as part of a long history of fighting against the Trump-like terrors that have plagued poor people, women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color for centuries. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Events, We Were There

Rah! Rah! Roundup

rahrahroundupAll Oklahoma facilities licensed by state health officials that have public restrooms will be “required to post signs directing pregnant women to seek services other than abortions…It is unclear whether the signs are required to be posted in both male and female restrooms.”

There are so many reasons why we smuggle our desire, why we keep it hidden in secret compartments and rarely offer others a look, but primarily it comes down to fear. Fear of what someone else will think, fear that you won’t get what you are asking for, fear of humiliation, fear of giving someone leverage to hang over you, fear of actually getting what you desire.”

Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception.”

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Rah! Rah! Roundup

Weird Sister NYC Holiday Happy Hour

NYC Weird Sisters! Join us at our holiday happy hour next week.wshappyhourholly-1

Come say hi, have a drink, and kiss 2016 goodbye.

When: Monday, December 19th. 6PM – 10PM

Where: Night of Joy, Brooklyn

More info is on the event page here.

❤️ 🍻❄️🎊✨

Leave a Comment

Filed under Events

Gusbands, Gusbandry and Gunnymoons: An Interview with Alicia J. Rose


The Benefits of Gusbandry

Last month, Alicia J. Rose’s comedy series The Benefits of Gusbandry went live on the web in conjunction with a crowdfunding campaign for new episodes. We had a chance to talk to her about her anything-but-vanilla gay comedy.

Sarah McCarron: Where to start. There’s so much to chat about.

Alicia J. Rose: I’m plucking my eyebrows while talking to you.

SM: I love it. So, “Gusbandry.” Why don’t we just start with the term actually. Is that a term you made up or is that a term that existed before?

AJR: Well, the term “gusband” has been around for a while. I think that it has always been a term of endearment, but “gusbandry” is a term that I did make up. I don’t know of another word to describe the relationships I have with the gay men in my life. I mean, they’re not just friendships. They are comprised of emotionally enriched in-depth relationships that for me have lasted a lot longer than my romantic relationships because, I just blow those up really bad.

SM: Aw.

AJR: Not on purpose, but I feel like I was just born with a shitty picker. The show was born out of my relationship with my most recent gusband, Lake, but I’ve been having these relationships my whole life with gay male friends. Once I put that together, that’s when I realized that I had to make a show.

SM: Are your relationships with gusbands exclusive?

AJR: Well, I like to call myself “polygusbandrous” because I can’t have just one, you know. If I attracted straight men like I attract gay men, life would have been a very different journey for me. The relationships with my gusbands are the most powerful and have been more consistent in a way. I had to make a tribute to them somehow.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Everything Else, Movies + TV