May 17th is when I last wrote a blog. November 18th was my birthday. I will now attempt to tell you about everything in between. Hold on tight. While I’d love to be neat and orderly by recalling events chronologically, I feel that breaking it down by topic is more appropriate. Life is messy, chaotic, and it often feels as though I’ve come unstuck in time.
In the last six months, the lust I felt for my play partner evolved into a deep, unrelenting love, and we’re now in a serious poly relationship. Michael and I are fortunate enough to work and play together on artistic endeavors. He is an author, musician, and performer with a joie de vivre unlike anyone I’ve ever met before. He’s opened my eyes to entirely new worlds, and I’m eternally grateful to him for each of the things he’s inadvertently taught me about myself.
You may remember, dear reader, I made mention of relocating within my city. All the anxiety I experienced prior to the move has faded away. There are still a few boxes which need to be unpacked, upgrades to the property are mostly complete, and I’ve overridden my auto pilot mode (when driving home late at night, especially) not to miss that turn for my new place. My first big purchase of furniture was a hutch to store my fine dishware, and a counter height dining room table which seats eight. Casual weekly dinner parties have never been easier or more comfortable. I have a dedicated work space, in the finished portion of the basement, in which to costume for burlesque and create for Suadela Intimates. As the winter is setting in, I’m getting accustomed to the radiant heating. It is so cozy, and so far has been much kinder to my sinuses than forced air heating. Home-ownership was daunting at the outset, but each day it wears a little easier.
I do spend glorious nights at my lover’s flat. This is Doctor Light, his roommate’s cat. I can think of few better ways to wake up than being the middle spoon between Michael and this fluffy little guy.
Although I was elated to secure my new home, I was devastated to lose one of my favorite performance spaces. The 1901 Gallery Theater was forced to close its doors this summer. The community that built this burlesque house is full of brilliant artists, and although it marked the end of an era, we threw one hell of a farewell party. I have a flame in my heart that keeps hope alive for it to be reborn; a phoenix will rise from the ashes.
Many of you may remember a tragedy I wrote about last spring. My friend, a shining star in the field of strangely – gorgeous – grotesque arts & craft, and consummate supporter of the burlesque scene, was brutally murdered. Foxy left her mark on me with her spirit, and I could only express my gratitude for her by LIVING OUT LOUD. The cameo frame and chain are modeled after her jewelry, and remind me to frame my experiences in a way that makes the most of every moment. The quote inside the frame, “I Aim To Misbehave” is appropriate not only for my Browncoat heart, but for the boldness that I cherish in Foxy, and strive to realize for myself.
My 25th Zivity set, the first featuring my tattoo, has been published. “Out of the Box” has been submitted to the Under My Tree prize contest. It just so happened that I had a ton of boxes left over from moving, and I wanted to unveil the newest version of myself in a distinctive, representative way. Syzygy is such fun to work with, and each time I’m surprised by what we’re able to achieve together. The bonus images for people who bestow love on the set, in the form of votes, are especially geared to the foot fetish folk and ass appreciators. Tell me; wouldn’t you love a box like that on your doorstep?
I had the distinct pleasure of working with Louis Fitch recently, as well. These two images are individuals in a series, which we took after two sittings for Zivity. Look out for more news on the full sets, but have this taste of his intensely romantic style in the meantime. I’m awaiting proofs from three other sets, from two other photographers, and I’m beyond excited to see the results of those. One was shot in the woods; a very natural, bohemian theme. The other two were shot on my trip to Oregon, at McMenamins Edgefield Resort, while attending Bizarro Con. Much more on that later…
In August, I had the good fortune of being invited to perform for the fine folks of the Belmont Burlesque Revue. Inara Serra hadn’t seen the stage for a while, so Serenity it was. Both my lovers came to see my performance, which made my heart just about burst with joy. I’ve perhaps never felt such support as after the show; the look of pride in their eyes took my breath away. It is certainly one of my favorites to perform, the subject speaking right to the core of my geekness. It was also the first I’d been able to dance the piece since completion of my tattoo, which was just icing on the damn cake!
September brought the opportunity to perform a fundraiser for Black Fox Theater. A two night event! The first was an improv contest, and the second a truly classy cabaret. Michael hosted the improve night, while I sat back and enjoyed myself. I danced a new act on the second night, while Michael cheered me on. The premiere of “Greater Than” went better than I’d hoped for. It is something of a love letter. For Fox’s Sake was a grand time, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with the many extraordinarily talented performers showcased there again.
As I’d mentioned, Michael is a musician, and his industrial band is Flood Damage. I’ve been groupie, roadie, and photographer for the shows. To my extreme delight, the band is getting an album together. You can be sure I’ll be screaming from the rooftops as soon as it drops. Occasionally, he joins up with members of the band W.O. R. M. (The World Organization of the Righteous Movement) to form Now I’m Nothing, a NIN cover band. I’ll have the immense pleasure of performing burlesque alongside the live band in early 2014, as part of Hot & Heavy Burlesque.
Not only am I going to more shows on the regular, I’m being exposed to new things, and really enjoying them. Michael took me out to Cobra Lounge in July to see Leæther Strip. It was monumental for him, and I was completely blown away - an instant fan.
I’m spoiled. My birthday was grand, although by the time I returned home I’d been up for 40 hours or so with only a nap on the plane. Still, Michael managed to surprise me with gifts. He presented me with this lovely necklace. It serendipitously matches my plug earrings. I’m really particular about jewelry, so I’m quite impressed by his taste. In addition, he was ballsy enough to buy me lingerie that was not off my wish list! I have a beautiful kimono robe and matching towel, which I’m keeping at his place. I’m so fond of it, I’m sure you’ll see it in a set sooner or later.
Those crazy kids at the World of the Weird Monster Show have connections at the WGN Morning News. Now, I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, but there are a few things I will gladly awake early and get made up for. One of those things is to play Spock on an intro segment with William Shatner. You heard me. Captain James T. Kirk himself. I didn’t make a half bad Spock, either. Here are some photos with our crew from the grounds afterwards.
Bet you didn’t think you’d ever see two Vulcans in a balloon car. Don’t worry about why.
Back before Michael and I were dating, I filmed a photoset called Bibliophile for Zivity. In the set, I’m reading Party Wolves in My Skull. It was my first taste of Bizarro fiction, and had no way of knowing at the time what an important fixture in my life it would become. Michael hosts Bizarro Readings at Knockbox Café from time to time. I’ve had the good fortune to attend a couple of them, and get to know a few other authors in the community. Their works are often just as captivating as I found Michael’s to be. Before I knew it, I was hooked. When Michael suggested I join him for Bizarro Con near Portland, Oregon the weekend of my birthday… it was a damn easy sell. We booked the airfare, and our first vacation together as a couple was set.
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Rehashing my Facebook posts on the matter will give you a glimpse into the trip, but I have to admit, there is no way to really explain the wonder of Bizarro Con to those who have not yet experienced it. Everyone says flattering things about their friends, and will tell you the very best bits about an event they want you to enjoy. You must understand, my cynicism was not only overcome, but thoroughly washed away in the spectacle of it all. Every aspect of the event, people, and environment was somehow even better than advertised. In the following, I will name drop like a mad person. The reasons are two-fold: one, I had originally tagged these people, and two, the vast majority are Bizarro authors. Google their names, and find their works. Treat your imagination to feast on their literary minds.
Thursday morning, I got up bright and early with Michael to catch the bus, to the train, to the plane, to PDX. We snagged a lift out to Bizarro Con, on the grounds of the Edgefield Manor, from the ever adorable Karl A. Fischer. Settled into our room, Michael then gave me a walking tour of the grounds. I am still in awe of the carefully crafted folk art found in every corridor and nook. I was so pleased to meet his Bizarro Family, of whom there are many. I am doing my best to match names with faces, to which I already carry a handicap, in the fog of sinfully delicious cocktails and brew. If I cannot be found, look for me soaking in the heated saltwater pool.
Friday began with work on some video editing for a fan. After, I witnessed some of the most amazing readings, sampled incredible beers and ciders, partied harder than I have in a long time at the Eraserhead Press party, and got high with these very generous creatives.
By mid-weekend, time slips became a common occurrence, and my reality was substituted with another. Days ran together, and the space of a moment fluctuated wildly.
Saturday, breakfast in the Barley Room was followed by winning fabulous prizes in the raffle. While boyfriend won a book on women's hygiene, I scored numbered and signed prints by Alan M. Clark. They're haunting and stunning; I'm anxious to find a spot on my wall to display each of them. Surrounded by the strong creative energy of these bizarros, I took a moment out of the festivities to model for Zivity with a local photographer.
Afterwards, I caught up with the boyfriend and pals to take in the Lazy Fascist reading hour (Alan Clark, Ross E. Lockhart, Kris Saknussemm, Brian Allen Carr), followed by the New Bizarro Author Series readings (Andy de Fonseca, Dustin Reade, Tiffany Scandal, Daniel Vlasaty, Bix Skahill, and Amanda Billings). Every author was so entertaining and engaging! I did not visit the book nook, and heard that many of the titles were sold out. Fortunately, boyfriend got a pretty nice haul, and I'll pick up my own copies of the NBAS books, likely a few others as well, in the coming months at full price. While I love a good deal, these artists are more than worth top dollar.
I slipped into my little black dress for the Wonderland Book Awards Dinner and the Ultimate x3 Bizarro Showdown. Congratulations to Kevin Donihe on Best Novel of 2013 for Space Walrus, and Cody Goodfellow on Best Collection of 2013 for All-Monster Action! As for the Showdown: I. Have. No. Words. Seriously, I could describe the pieces in crystal, intricate, and painful detail... and you would still not gain an understanding of the magnitude of talent on display. I'll suffice to say that the esteemed judges faced a very difficult decision, and in the end created additional prizes to recognize the best of the best. One such addition was the Best Use of Michael Allen RoseAward. Yes, boyfriend is now an award, and understandably so when you realize he was involved in one-third of the entries. Well done to Eric Hendrixson for making Michael improv a living slideshow. Congratulations to Garrett Cook on the top honor of First Place.
The Lazy Fascist party raged on into the night, and all I can really recall is spreading the gospel of Jeppson's Malört, to which I do not personally subscribe, but, you know, I'm an enabler. Kirsten Alene, rightfully dubbed the high priestess of Malört, more than earned her very own bottle next year. I lost count as to how many shots she imbibed of the grapefruity liquor, with the aftertaste of gasoline, Hitler, and bug spray. This is, honestly, the descriptors used by the marking team’s own admission. It is a two fisted liquor, and only one in forty-nine men will enjoy the punishing assault on their taste buds. I will forever savor the memory of Rose O’Keefe's Japan Conquers the Galaxy #1 Cucumber Pumpkin Apple Cider, myself. I could really mention this anywhere, but I'll take the opportunity here to note the awesomeness of Andy and Myles de Fonseca. Fortunate does not begin to describe how I feel about living in the same city as those two crazy kids. I can only regret it took a trip to Portland to discover the wonder in my own backyard.
Post-breakfast on Sunday meant culture and class with the Kevin L. Donihe Art Tour. Sipping on orange black tea, following Kevin, we learned about the many masterpieces covering the walls of the Edgefield. The group commentary was quick witted, and razor sharp irreverence had me doubling over laughing so hard it brought on cramps. We enjoyed the sunny mid-morning by the fire pit, and let the conversation spin on and on. Edmund Colell and I went on brief special ops, a totally covert mission - that is to say, hiding behind twigs - chasing Michael and Laura Lee Bahrthrough the trees. Espionage makes me hungry, so over to the Black Rabbit to lunch with a couple of Michael's less-bizarro west coast pals. It was such a pleasure to meet them, too!
Sunday afternoon. The Bizarro Film Screening. My mind melted. Each piece was INCREDIBLE. The Slow Poisoner music video was top notch. I loved the aesthetic; stop motion is criminally under appreciated. The short film, Thirsty, was everything I ever wanted. Grotesque and hilarious in a neat little package. Exactly the kind of thing I know my pals over at the World of the Weird Monster Show would go nuts for. A music video, The Diplomat, is the kind of thing we'd aspire to with a budget, and made with passion on a shoe string. M is for Matador, by Shane McKenzie, will haunt my dreams. This statement is the polar opposite of a complaint.
After a conversational group hug in the Barely Room for closing ceremonies, it was back into the heated saltwater soaking pool for "How to Succeed Half Naked" with New York Times Best Selling Authors, Brian Keene and John Skipp. In the paradise of the pool, I had powerful and revealing conversations. One in particular with Garrett Cookmoved me beyond measure, and marks the beginning of an enduring friendship. Vince Kramerinstigated a footsie fight with myself, G. Arthur Brown, and Brian Keene during Joseph Wargo's reading of Becoming.
Arriving promptly at 7:00, still clad only in bathing suits and robes, Michael and I were pumped for the Kevin L. Donihe Extreme Fighting Championship. Round one was an epic sixty second battle of KLD against aliens, giant spiders, and all manner of harrowing nightmares. Unfortunately, Michael and I were the only ones to witness it. Rounds two through what-the-fuck-ever took the form of 4th dimensional mind chess, butoh dancing, and staring + animal sound contest, among others. In the moment I realized whatever filter I generally employ was completely discarded; I myself challenged boyfriend's editor to battle. I instructed Kevin to choose his steed, as I motioned at the crowd. He chose one Christopher Reynaga. My robe cast aside, dressed only in my bikini, I mounted Michael to engage in a chicken style slap fight with Kevin. Handicapped by the torn allegiance between partner and colleague, my steed collapsed, and I was pinned in defeat. My engagement in the unbridled joy of play was the constant theme and pinnacle of my experience.
Several of us jumped on what would be my last chance to grab a slice of the illusive bacon pizza at Lucky Staehly's Pool Hall. Good times rolled on with new besties, Spike Marloweand Christopher Reynaga. The reminder of my time at Edgefield was spent in the Ad House cavorting with the likes of Jeff Burk, Kris Saknussemm, Kevin, Edmund, Garrett, Shane, Rose, Kirsten, and Skipp. If I didn't feel welcomed enough by the family at that point, Skipp even agreed to adopt me! I articulated this to a few people over the weekend, but I'll reiterate it here: I was under no illusion what my invitation to Bizarro Con really meant. It was a litmus test for my relationship with Michael. I feel blessed to have met his chosen family, to hold them in the highest regard just as he does, and cherish the blessings Bizarro Con encapsulates.
I find myself recharged as an artist, with restored faith in total acceptance, and I've come away with stronger bonds than I could have ever imagined possible. It seems that the first rule of Bizarro Con is go in without expectation, and allow the madness to wash over you. The second rule is seeking baptism by great beer, and ye it shall come unto you. Your liver will hate you, but fuck that guy. Details become soft focus with each passing day, combined with the sleep deprivation and hazy Lord Snow stout soaked memory. Each and every soul I had the honor of connecting with this weekend I now hold so very dear.
My desire to accompany boyfriend on this pilgrimage on a yearly basis is overwhelming. Is it too soon to begin counting down the days until November 2014?
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TLDNR Version: I moved, saw some really great shows, performed a bunch, modeled for photographers - both favorites and new, met inspiring and prolific people, got my tattoo finished, fell completely and totally in love, and had yet another game changing life experience while traveling.