Conversations in Astor Place

In my new purple dress with toenails to match, the humidity and heat getting to everyone before the series of thunderstorms would lessen the heat, I walked along 8th St. en route to the subway. The first man, no more than 5’1″ approached me as I was trying to balance a yogurt parfait, two bags, and a spoon while pouring granola into my yogurt cup. I was in no position to run away.

5’1″ Man: I think you have the nicest toes in the world and I bet no man has ever told you that.
Me: No, this would be the very first time.
5’1″ Man: Men don’t understand the beauty of your species and how wonderful your toes are. Your feet are just pure beauty.
Me: Thanks.
5’1″ Man: Do you drink?
Me: Like a fish.
5’1″ Man: Then you have a disease. It’s called alcoholism and you need to get help right away. Are you a vegetarian?
Me: Nope.

At last I’ve poured the final bit of granola into the cup and swerve away from him to throw out the trash. I get the feeling he was an alcoholic but not a vegetarian. I didn’t ask. After the parfait I moved onto balancing McDonald’s apple dippers, managing to dip each piece into the container of caramel. A large black man approached me.

Large Black Man: Let me have one dip, please. Just one little piece of that. Mmmm, you are fine. Just give me a little.

I chose to continue walking until the next block when a homeless man, leaning against the wall of a bank with all his clutter, continued to shake his plastic cup of change.

Homeless Man: Baby, I want that dress. Can you let me wear it? Later? Tonight? Let me try it on.
Me: How about tomorrow?
Homeless Man: (chuckling in conjunction with his rhythmic shaking of change in a cup) You have a nice day now. You keep wearin’ that dress.

There’s something so funny and entertaining once the humidity hits the city and the amorous attempts from random men begin. It’s quite impossible to walk more than a block without some comment, whistle, or obvious gesture. I know some women are deeply offended, but I find it to be funny and… nice. Maybe I wish I had the same audacity to just cat call random men and women myself. However brief and unusual it can be, the interactions make walking through New York more colourful… not that New York in it’s essence even needs more colour.

Unnecessary Drama

There is very little that sickens me more than people who deal with patronizing and condescending treatment from other people because they’re scared of losing their job, their relationship with a company, or being punished for sticking up for themselves. I can sympathize with those trying to survive, but on my random gigs they are temporary and not going to make or break anybody. It’s part of being a freelancer.

I can handle working for former criminals, occasional drug users, and even idiots. But the past week I’ve been on a gig where it’s convenient for the manager to curse girls out, snap unnecessarily, arrive over and hour and a half late and tell off the girls for calling to see where he is. Is it worth the money? Absolutely not. We’re dressed in the equivalent of Catholic school girls, garnering more salacious come-ons than the most salacious costumes. My friend asked for some self-defense, after being targeted by this dude all week. I said something subtle, just talking back momentarily and it created a rant of vitriolic nonsense. I don’t deal well with bullies and when the agency called to ask about future dates, I told him the situation. When I said I wouldn’t work two days, giving him over a week’s notice to find replacements, all the unprofessional behaviour meant nothing to him. Drugs, insults, near-accidents- none of it matter to this dude, who felt the girls were getting a break. The team shows up late, we get paid for a two-hour shift for working thirty minutes. Spare me. Thirty-minutes of scrutiny and caustic remarks is not what I’m being paid for.

I know this is entirely a gender issue. The manager has serious hatred for women, asking us to just be idiots because it’s the best way to do the job. The agency is just as ridiculous, saying how lucky we are to do little work and get paid. I’d video blog it, and follow my day with a camera, but it’d be more attention than any of them deserves. This blog is more than enough.

The bottom line is… speak up people. There’s strength in numbers and the more you let people get away with disrespecting you, the more they will. I see this so often with grown women and it’s alarming, although I’ve had some guy friends deal with sexual harassment and not doing a thing either. Anything involving the entertainment industry, advertising, and marketing has that aura that women are less-than and should shut up and smile. But why women play along to these rules all the time is beyond me.

“I’m Making Positive Changes”

I’ve been known to have random, often sarcastic outgoing messages on my voice mail which address my callers with a hint of truth. Currently, it welcomes them to “1976” (my chosen year) as I declare, “I’m making positive changes in my life and if you don’t hear back from me… you’re one of them.”

When I left this message, I never knew it would actually be of use. Then months later, after two years of dealing with a flaky former, I realized how useful it was. This guy would make plans and cancel on me last minute or string me along throughout the day with potential plans in text messaging to then disappear. Since I wasn’t emotionally invested, I’d put up with it. But something about getting older makes me not even want to waste a moment of my time being strung along.

This past weekend, I received a call from a former. Napping on a Sunday in the middle of my otherwise non-stop weekend, my phone rang through to voice mail. Then it began to ring again and I thought of the possible people who would keep calling… my mom, my sister, my best friend, and a handful of other close friends. When I awoke an hour later I saw it was my former, who mentioned twice on my voicemail how unfortunate it would be if he was a positive change and I didn’t call back. Maybe he hesitated the first time because he didn’t want to be part of the positive changes. I’ve been considering a new policy in this matter; that I should take just as long to return a call as people calling me would. So sometime, in a year or so, should I remember, I can return his call.

As far as I’m concerned, if people only want me when I’m not available, then they never really wanted me at all. It’s just a bruise to their egos or their gonads that I’m no longer on-the-ready to jump when they come around.

The same goes with texting, which I can be equally guilty of… but when did it become a replacement for voice to voice? We’re being broken down into communicating via bad emoticons, broken sentences, and bad grammar. Somehow with more than a few formers, I was expected to maintain a relationship via texts. The whole reason that text messaging was utilized by cell phone companies was to address conflicts in communicating with phones and the network. Now it’s our most powerful social medium when dating? What kind of transition is that?

The worst of it is the number of times I’ve had to listen to my formers whine about how women have played games with them and they are so nice and consistent in the dating game but get treated badly in return. And somehow it was the women’s fault for not loving and welcoming their attempts? Me, being the consistent presence in their lives would have to listen to this garbage. Only someone looking for an unhealthy relationship would put up with this crap. And I must’ve been guilty of it as well, thinking all those years things would eventually change. For men who are unclear on how to communicate with women, I’ve got some advice. Treat me like you would treat your clients or your boss. Notice how promptly you communicate with these people? Well take that practice and add to it some sexual banter and tenderness and you know what- you have yourself a solution.

Seeing how the texts and calls still come in, the pattern could potentially continue for years to come. That’s why I’m glad to be making positive changes. I’m tired of being taken for granted and dealing with other people’s confusion or dishonesty when I’m generally quite clear on what I want.

And lastly, to my brother, who doesn’t call nearly as often as he should. Somehow his voice, teasing me in his message yesterday brought a smile to my face. There’s something so funny about people saying, “I hope I’m not a positive change” when taken out of context. He can be sure he will not be a positive change.

Apple Love and Sex Parties

The apple- the forbidden fruit. Forbidden or not, I’ve had a predilection for apples since childhood and I’d say they are worth whatever banishment came from consuming them back in the day. A few weeks ago I had a rather interesting dream involving apple crisp a la mode and oral sex. Since then, apple crisp has become a euphemism and even a group devoted to Apple Crisp love on Facebook (you should become a member if you’re not already).

This week I attended a Sexerati party, for the launch of a new book about tantric sex. It was held at a Chinatown club called Happy Endings. Formerly a massage parlor, this club maintains the white-tiled shower stalls that are eerily suggestive of a gas chamber in a red light district. Oddly, one would think a sex party would be considered sexy but it was more like a sci-fi show where groups of open couples and other older horny men attended and felt it appropriate to stare at each other to size up sexual potential. In fact, Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof” (not pictured below) was in attendance as well.

                                                   Me and my friend with a new Sexerati Friend

Other than the gratis saccharine, tropical liqueur drinks, the only reason to attend was to collect the gift bag, with enough lube to last the next five years. And did I mention- it’s apple flavoured?


Apple Tart Lube? Geniuses behind that.

After the rather lame party, my friends and I hit the streets of Chinatown to raise hell and collect the stares of hardworking Chinese shop owners.

Bowls of bad apples on Grand Street.

     

And of course- our classic acrobatic attempt that was not detailed in the sex book at the Sexarati Party:

From the City to the Plains

There are days like today that I wish to capture every moment in a tiny capsule in my mind, easily retrievable whenever I need to conjure feelings of fulfillment. It seems I’ve been blessed with more and more days like these, with the only downside of equally challenging and upsetting days interspersed between. I’d imagine they all balance out. It’s funny how living authentically and openly can overwhelm someone with good people calling to check in when just the slightest thing is amiss. A friend calling to accompany me safely on my late-night romp through some shady blocks in Harlem on my return from White Plains late this evening and emails from friends checking in from some esoteric comment I wrote on one of the many status updates on these networking sites. I realize how much people do listen, some as much as I do.

Like tonight, waiting for the 2-train in Harlem. “I’m not dumb, I’m just as smart as this white bitch next to me. And I work just as hard and they don’t need to take me to jail for that, mama,” shouted the voice of a rather hostile and erratic black woman on the bench next to me. Her insults were quickly retracted with apologies. “I’m sorry, I hate the Puerto Ricans and the blacks and the whites today. It’s not just the white bitches. I’ve just had enough shit.” She was addressing someone with her venom, but the person was only seen by her. Her harshness completed the circle of the negative angst that accompanied my arrival in White Plains early this morning, as a cluster of black dudes got into a screaming match that led to a brawl in the station’s parking lot. Their violent tempers were a drastic contrast to sunny skies and summery temperatures that should’ve kept everyone in a cheery mood. I’m glad my anger manifests itself in blogs and songs, but maybe they had a level of agitation that I’ve yet to experience in spite of my motto that “anger grows.”

Yet if I were filling my time capsule of today with memories, I’d keep the outbursts and angst that added colour to my otherwise perfect day. I was hired for a top-secret event and hired to be an “activist” for the mission of promoting men’s hair and saving them from their own ignorance in styling. Funny enough, I found it relatable when I thought back on all the men I’ve known who have no idea what to do with their hair. It’s the first time in awhile I was under the gun to memorize a lengthy speech and give it my all with few rehearsals. Somehow all these music bookings have taken away my fear of public speaking and performance. And the constant spontaneity of my gigs has created this safety in handling the unexpected and blending into an environment that is completely unlike my own. To be acting and well paid on one of the prettiest days this month was a blessing. And to have not let my own fears or mind interfere with my performance… it was a relief, and reminder on this sometimes insecure path that I have what it takes. It’s just a matter of belief and follow-through.

During my extended break on this beautiful private campus, lined with blossoming trees and emerald freshly cut-grass, I approached a stone castle that connected to a church. I was on a mission to find a piano, and while I had seen three in different buildings, I uncovered a gleaming black upright piano, positioned beneath the cascading blue lights from the stained glass windows. It was tucked away and offered some privacy. I was certain I’d be caught for unwrapping the piano without permission but somehow the risk made it even more enticing. I felt a rush of bliss and flashes of memories of me sneaking into my high school auditorium or staying hours after a church service to play the piano and escape into my own world. I was on a tour of colleges around the country and would often sneak into theatres and rehearsal halls and tinker at the pianos until found out and politely asked to leave, sometimes asked to stay.

 

I played for over an hour when I realized a man was three pews away, kneeling in prayer. He began to applaud after I finished a song and resumed praying as I continued to play. It was a peace I haven’t felt in a long time, the two of us in a tangibly spiritual moment. I remained for another half-hour, running through new songs and old, all the while realizing I was getting paid as the time ticked away.

 

Though a sixteen-hour day, the fun continued as I delivered my closing comments and headed to the after-party. I spoke with a rather interesting crowd of people, reminding me how important being social is. There’s something so insightful about interactions with random strangers in random settings. In one conversation, one of the dudes in attendance said he could sum up my personality in just a few minutes of speaking… that I’m someone who makes giant leaps and makes big decisions on instinct and whims. He was absolutely right. As if the pear martinis, entertaining company, and great music weren’t enough, the hair-themed event offered me a free trim from one of the stylists. The owner of the salon where the party was held came out and personally arranged to play with my hair and recommended I donate to locks of love. I insisted this was game plan already.

I’ve seen a lot today, from the early morning ride through Harlem, through the winding roads of Manhattanville, to behind a podium addressing a room full of strangers, to finding my solitude with a piano and stained glass windows, to an upscale salon serving upscale martinis, to a polluted subway station next to an angst-riddled “lady of the night.” It’s not hard to live a thousand lifetimes in such a short time with days like today. I’m grateful.

 

Night of A Thousand Stevies

Something’s happened with Night of A Thousand Stevie’s. I almost fear that it’s gotten too classy and too mainstream, which you can note from the following images. There were men dressed in collared shirts and pressed slacks, and though mainly gay and familiar with the most obscure Stevie lyrics, they brought down the sexiness of Night of a Thousand Stevies. Granted, the venue has gotten more posh as the event’s upgraded from the Knitting Factory to the Hiro Ballroom and to this year at the Highline Ballroom. It’s just that I feel the chiffon-wearing, tambourine-sporting trannies and tragic divas in platform boots should outnumber those dressed by Banana Republic. For fuck’s sake, it’s night of a thousand Stevies not a thousand Abercrombies. I may have sacrificed the platforms for my flat moccasin boots, but I had laces up and down my person, sequins on my bag, and smudged eyeliner.

                                                   Dancing in pure bliss

To counterbalance the super-polished crowd of Stevie fans, the performances have gotten risker, raunchier, and more intoxicating. The talent is diverse and incredible- a puppeteer did Stevie justice to “If Anyone Falls,” a performance artist busted bottles of wine and destroyed oranges to the likes of everyone’s least favourite song, “Desert Angel,” and you could be sure to see some tits, ass, and hairy snatch exposed in one of of every three songs. However, after seeing “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and it’s wonderful amount of penis shots, I can only wonder why there weren’t as many doinks on display judging the key demographic at last night’s event.

 

Scott thinks we should submit and perform next year but I cannot possibly imagine a tougher crowd to perform for. We’ll see how that goes. The thought of tossing glitter while performing is quite an alluring invitation, however, I just miss the trashy, seedy decadence that once filled the audience and I long for it’s return. I think the founding members need to instate a mandatory dress code, that requires sequined scarves and hats with peacock feathers at the very least. And for those who come out of character, well then all the Stevie drag divas in their glory can ambush makeover the hipsters until they are properly fitted.