30 October 2011

Scripts for calling your Congressional Representatives about SNDA and SSIA

Thank you for taking the time to call your representatives in Congress to help pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA). Below are the scripts for calling your representatives. Since the bills have different numbers in each house of Congress, you will see that there is one script to use for you two Senators, and a second script to use for your Representative in the House.

Senate Script (You will call both Senators from your state.)


My name is __________________________ and I'm calling from _______City, State_______  to express my support for Senate Bill 555, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and Senate Bill 506, the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Can you tell me where Senator _____________ stands on these bills?"

* If the Senator's staff tells you that the Senator is a co-sponsor of either or both bills:  "Thank you and thank Senator _____________ for his/her support.

* If the Senator supports both bills but isn't a co-sponsor of one or either: "Thank you and thank Senator _____________ for his/her support. I also ask that Senator _____________ consider co-sponsoring these bills in order to build momentum and help them pass."

* If the Senator doesn't support the bills: "I'm disappointed to hear that. Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Senator ____________ to reconsider supporting these bills. I will be watching his/her vote."

* If the office staff isn’t sure: “Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Senator  ____________ to support these bills, and to consider co-sponsoring both.”

House of Representatives Script (You only have one Representative to call.)


My name is __________________________ and I'm calling from _______City, State_______  to express my support for House Bill 998, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, and House Bill 1648, the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Can you tell me where Representative _____________ stands on these bills?"

* If the Representative's staff tells you that the Representative is a co-sponsor of either or both bills:  "Thank you and thank Representative _____________ for his/her support.

* If the Representative supports both bills but isn't a co-sponsor of one or either: "Thank you and thank Representative _____________ for his/her support. I also ask that Representative _____________ consider co-sponsoring these bills in order to build momentum and help them pass."

* If the Representative doesn't support the bills: "I'm disappointed to hear that. Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Representative ____________ to reconsider supporting these bills. I will be watching his/her vote."

* If the office staff isn’t sure: “Having a safe school environment for every child should be a basic American right. Please ask Representative ____________ to support these bills, and to consider co-sponsoring both.”

20 July 2011

Zanna Don't Comes to the William Way Community Center.

As many of you know, I am a huge fan and supporter of the William Way Community Center, having helped design their Homecoming event in June, including co-producing the entertainment portion of the evening.  Now, separately, another fine group of folks is putting on a series of shows at William Way which will simultaneously pay local artists, as well as raise funds for the Center. Talk about a win/win!  Currently, they are still casting their first show, Zanna Don't.  Check out the info below and please, share this with anyone you think may be interested.


Welcome to Heartsville High, set in a world where everyone is gay--well, almost everyone! The big-man-on-campus is the chess champion, and the captain of the football team is made cool by being cast as the lead in the school musical. The students write a controversial show called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" about straight people in the military, which becomes the catalyst for a young man and woman to fall in love. Enter Zanna, a magical, musical fairy who, with a wave of his wand, brings true love to one and all!
Choreography by Cliff Roberts of "Two Step Friday's" at Woody's and "Brokeback Saturday's" at ICandy with costuming provided by Philly AIDS Thrift.  Zanna Don't will support the programming for William Way GLBT Community Center and feature the community.  Please friend "Zannadont Williamway" on Facebook orwillyphillydares@gmail.com for audition times and information."
Break Downs:
NOTE: all are seniors in high school, and should be cast as multi-culturally as possible.

ZANNA (tenor/baritone to high G): the heart and soul of Heartsville; a hip, fun-loving matchmaker, driven to make the world better, even if he doesn't always fully think through his choices

STEVE (baritone to E-flat above middle C): the new guy in town; All-American high school football hunk, but self-effacing and shy; hoping desperately to fit in, his dreams will be alternately fulfilled and shattered.

KATE (belt to C, plus a few other higher notes mixed in): sweet, innocent over-achiever who, like Steve, is not quite prepared to have her world thrown upside-down.

MIKE (tenor/baritone to high G): all-around cool guy; captain of the chess team, which makes him king of the school, but with a humble appreciation of the simple joys in life, like finding that one special guy to settle down with.

ROBERTA (belt to high F): tough as nails on the outside, a hopeless romantic on the inside; perennial unlucky in relationships, she heroically, and comically, never gives up her pursuit of true love.

TANK (tenor/baritone to high G): Zanna's sidekick, and the school DJ; somewhere between nerdy and ultra-cool, he's also hopelessly in love with Zanna; doubles as a DINER CUSTOMER and also TEX.

CANDI (belt to C, plus a few other higher notes mixed in): the school's narrow-minded busy-body, the one you love to hate; doubles as a DINER CUSTOMER and LORETTA.

ARVIN (baritone to E-flat; should have a few low notes as well): Candi's browbeaten sidekick; a nice guy who just sort of goes with the flow; doubles as DINER CUSTOMER and also BRONCO.

20 April 2011

The HIV Vaccine Trial and Me

A few friends have asked about (and had concerns about) my Facebook posts about the HIV vaccine trial that I'm participating in, so I thought I'd create a post about it to let everyone know what's up.  The primary reason that I post about it quite candidly is because there is still far too much stigma around HIV, and also because I hope that some of my friends will consider enrolling.

Philadelphia is one of a number of cities currently participating in a vaccine trial that is studying the effects of an experimental vaccine on gay and bisexual men, and transgender women.  I had two screening visits and today I received my first of four injections.  The first three are plasmid DNA that have a fragment of genetic code of the HIV virus; the fourth is RNA introduced by a deactivated adenovirus, AKA the common cold.  The study is open only to HIV negative participants, and the vaccinations cannot cause HIV/AIDS.

I chose to participate for two reasons: 1) to benefit medical science in advancing the search for effective HIV prevention and 2) for the possibility of reducing my risk of contracting HIV if exposed to it.  Granted, the plan is still to use safer sex practices to reduce that likelihood, but if the condom breaks and I can have an immune system that has possibly already been trained to recognize and react to HIV, why not? Of course, it's entirely possible that I'm getting either a placebo or a totally ineffective vaccine.

Additionally, the first time this study was done it was stopped because uncircumcised men and men who had been exposed to the adenovirus used in the fourth shot and who received the vaccine actually ended up at a higher risk of contracting HIV.  I do not fall into either of these categories, but whether there are other risk factors not yet known remains to be seen.  Other than a little tenderness at the injection site, I feel fine after my first shot today, and also having had 23 vials of blood taken today.  That's about a half pint, so never having been seriously ill, it's by far the most I've ever had drawn.  Next injection is May 23rd and the staff is so awesome that I'm oddly looking forward to going back for it.

16 February 2011

The Notorious OMG Performs

Here's the latest on my upcoming performances in March and April in Philly.


Photo Credit: Tara Lessard of Freedom G Photography

Sister's Burlesque Showcase
Friday, March 25
Doors at 9 PM, show at 11
1320 Chancellor Street

Bravissimo Burlesque
Saturday, March 26
Doors at 9:30, show at 10:30
447 Poplar Street

Gay it Forward Philadelphia!
A Bachelor/ette Auction to benefit the William Way Community Center

RSVP on Facebook
Saturday, April 2nd 
Doors at 9PM, auction begins promptly at 10
447 Poplar Street

Finally, I'm excited to say that it looks like I will be performing on April 6th at Philly's inaugural edition of PUSSY FAGGOT, the fabulous and (in)famous Lower East Side queer art and performance party that is curated by Earl Dax, and that has gotten raves from the New York Times as "The Party That Dare Not Speak Its Name."

01 February 2011

Exclusive Interview with Buck Angel

Buck Angel is trans man and an award winning, pioneering producer and performer in the adult entertainment industry.  I recently saw on his Twitter feed that he was heading to the UK, and was tweeting BBC (@bbcentertain) saying that he'd love to be the host on Graham Norton's show.  While I do work for Buck's talent agency and know so pretty fabulous people, I'm not *quite* at that level where I can just drop names and manage a transatlantic TV booking. Yet. ;D  However, I thought it'd be a great chance to chat with Buck about his media experiences, and why he might like to go on the air across the pond.  He graciously granted me this interview.

Pistol: You've made the rounds of national TV and radio shows.  One of your most noted appearances was on The Tyra Show. Was this your first national appearance? How was the experience?

From Buck's FB Fan Page.
Buck Angel: Oh yes the Tyra Show! No, it was not my first. I have been on The Maury Show, as well as Howard Stern. The US media is not so into having me on their shows because of my work in the adult industry. I have been on more mainstream shows in the UK and Europe. The Tyra Show was actually something that I kind of got roped into. They had been wanting me on for many years but I did not want to do a show that did not discuss my adult work. They refused to do that so I said no. Then they called me up and said they wanted to do a whole show on my career and life. Well, to make a long story short, after flying there on the red eye they prepare me for the show. And as I am walking on my wife Elayne says "Look at the title of the show" and it was something like "Sex freaks" or something like that. I was so mad but I was getting pushed out on stage and right into the waiting arms of Tyra. Needless to say I was very upset during that whole interview. People tell me they could not tell and that I was great, but if you notice she never says my last name nor does she ever say anything about my adult work. But it worked out and I became Tyra's most memorable guest of season 5!!

P: The main focus of that interview seemed to just be reconciling the idea of an FTM man who is masculine and loves his vagina. Is that what a lot of your interviews are like? If you get on the Graham Norton show, do you think him being queer will mean you'll spend less time explaining your trans identity and talk about other things as well?

BA: Well Tyra is a show about sensationalism not about education. The more they can shock the better! I seem to be able to always turn that around and make it more educational. Of course people want to talk about me being a man with a vagina as they can't believe that I am so comfortable with it. Wow, many women aren't even comfortable with their vagina! Did you see how Tyra was all freaked out when I asked her "Don't you love your vagina?"

I think Graham will discuss my sex change but I also think he will want to talk more about my education and advocacy. Though or course his show is very funny so he might want to do some kind of funny thing with me and of course I am all for that!

P: It's not always easy in our society being "out" as sex positive, a sex worker rights advocate, or what have you. You're an adult film star and get daytime media appearances. Did you ever expect this? Are people generally respectful of your line of work?

BA: You are very right on about that. People look so down on you when you say you work in adult films. It's so ridiculous how I am treated sometimes. It has not been easy for me to make a transition to anything mainstream. It still is not easy. I will always have this stigma of being a "porn star" as if that is a bad thing. I am really trying to change the way society looks at sex and people who choose to work in that industry. Not many people in the sex industry have really ever been able to make that transition but I am determined.

P: If you had been ten years old and seen someone like you on TV, do you think it would've made your path to transition quicker or more sure? What role models did you have, or what books did you read/shows did you watch that you saw yourself in?

From Buck's FB Fan Page
BA: Of course. I think it would have changed my whole life. When I was kid I would fantasize about being John Wayne. I always wanted to be a cowboy. It was tough when I finally realized that I was really a girl; my whole life fell apart. Martina Navatrola was a big influence for me early on as I was a athlete in my younger days and I excelledin that. She is such a strong woman and I really saw lots of masculinity in her that I wanted. I think she is a great role model for many people, not just girls.

P: I'm a Philly boy and a lot of the queer and sex positive communities are buzzing over you coming here soon with your wife Elayne Angel, who is a world-renowned body piercer.  Are you often able to travel together? And can you tell us a little about what you'll be doing on your visit here?

That's super nice to hear. It will be my first time in Philly. I usually just head to NYC. My wife Elayne gets to travel to many cities to guest pierce and so we are lucky in that I can try to find something to do in that city if I am not already booked. So as of late we have been doing lots of traveling together which is great.

I will be doing two workshops with Passional at Sexploratorium and you can see them on my touring calendar.  The first one on Friday, February 18th, is "Sexing The Trans Man - Buck shares his experiences in creating a whole new genre of mainstream erotica and how to be comfortable sexually."  Then on the 19th I'm doing "The Buck Angel Effect: Buck shares his life journey"

P: You did a great "It Gets Better" video. Is working with youth something your have particular interest in?

BA:  Thank you. It was not an easy video for me to make. I have never really thought that I wanted to work with youth and that is not really what my work is about. I am not trying to just advocate for one community. My message is bigger than that. I feel the need to advocate for people who do not fit in the box, people who have never felt comfortable in their own skin. That is more than being transsexual or gay. My goal is to change the way the world views people like us. To understand that we are all here and that we can all be happy.

Thanks so much for the interview and see you in Philly!

P: You're welcome, and thank you!

I've embedded Buck's It Gets Better video below.  Please check it out, and find him on Twitter, on Facebook, and on his YouTube channel.  Finally, if you would like to bring Buck to your town, check out his profile with PhinLi and email bookings[at]phinli[dot]com

24 January 2011

For the first time in my adult life: a job I LOVE

I am very, very, extremely excited to say that starting today, I have a job that I love. In my final semester at TCNJ I interned with PhinLi Bookings, LLC, a talent agency which represents LGBTQ and Sex Positive artists, performers, and authors, and now I am working for them.  Since I am both writing a book and pursuing acting, with a full run of a play happening in May, I have been seeking a job that would provide some stability, but is flexible and part time.  I didn't dream that I'd not only get it, but that it'd be a place that I have already enjoyed working! Additionally, how I came to find PhinLi is one of those "isn't if funny how life works out?" stories.

Giovanni's Room photographed by uwishunu
It must've been about two years ago that Giovanni's Room was first having their fundraisers to rebuild a structural wall that cost over $50,000 to repair.  I happened to tweet a musing that it would be awesome if Kate Bornstein did a reading as a fundraiser for them.  Little did I expect that a few minutes later I'd get a reply from Kate saying that that sounded like something she'd be very excited to do, indeed!  I went and saw her perform at Hot Fest that summer.  She did a special piece that was coupled with  Sean Dorsey's stunning "Uncovered: The Diary Project," as a one-time pairing for the festival only.  There we met for the first time, and I also met Serpahin, one of the two women behind PhinLi.  Both Seraphin and Lisa came down to Kate's reading at Giovanni's Room that fall, and though I didn't know how at the time, I knew it'd be a lasting relationship.

If someone had told me then that I'd be working for them, but that it would take a few years to work out the details, I wouldn't have had the patience for that, though I might now.  However, I didn't know, and the details were all interwoven with everything else going on in my life.  I made the decision to go back to school in November of 2009, lost my job a few days later, and both got accepted to school and started interning with First Person Arts a few weeks later.  I don't know exactly how things came together in the summer of 2010 but I knew I needed an internship in the fall, PhinLi needed an intern, we got in touch, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Gender Queeries Logo by JAC Stringer
Since then I've met more of our talent than I had expected, including Johnny Blazes at the International Drag King Extravaganza (IDKE); Ivan Coyote, S. Bear Bergman, Jessica Halem, Sassafras Lowrey and Sinclair Sexsmith at Sideshow in NYC; and Kelli Dunham at an event co-hosted by Queer Memoir and First Person Arts.  In addition, I've been hankering to perform with a few (OK as many as possible) of the folks on our talent roster, and in fact, that's happening! On March 5th the Liberty City Kings are having our Vixens & Vagabonds Queer & Kinky Cabaret and The Gender Queeries are our guests!  They are a traveling troupe that include the aforementioned and immeasurably fabulous Johnny Blazes, Ignacio Rivera (also repped by PhinLi), and Midwest GenderQueer, who is not repped by us, but who've I've recommended to be at our next expansion, and whom I also met at IDKE.  I am so super stoked to perform with these amazing artists and be the MC for the show.

19 January 2011

Method Cleaning Products for the Genderqueer Win!

I don't have only one gender, use one dominant hand for doing everything, think that "top or bottom?" does the miraculous possibilities of sexuality any justice whatsoever, or generally fit into any binary, so this just made my whole day. This marks the first time I've ever seen a web form that requires an answer for gender, and yet lets you choose an answer other than "male" or "female," with the exception of a form for an LGBTQ organization. Dear Method: it'd be cheaper for me to buy Whole Foods brand plant based cleansers, but I will buy a product of yours just for being this nifty.


13 January 2011

Genderfabulous in Sci-Fi & Fantasy - Share your geekery with me!

If you follow my Twitter and/or Facebook, you have likely heard that I am writing a book, specifically a collection of essays, and it's on gender and some of the messy places that it touches upon in our lives.  As my friend Scout put it "My gosh, that could be an encyclopedia. Good luck whittling that down to fit into a single volume."  Indeed, Scout, indeed.

I am whittling down and speaking mostly from personal experience and observation, which is generally a good way to say out of trouble.  Yesterday I got to thinking, inspired by Lordissa knows what, about how explorations of non-binary gender in fiction tend to come up, in my experience, only in science fiction and, as some thoughtful, geeky friends pointed out, in fantasy as well.  The two examples that I thought of were: 1) In Slaughterhouse Five, it is pointed out to Billy that human sexual reproduction requires not two, but five human sexes, including gay men, women over 65, and the children who died before the age of one.  (Most were present in the fourth dimension only which would mean they were stationary in space and moving through time at light speed, but I'll let it slide.)  2)  In A Wrinkle in Time Meg is cared for by an alien that gets the name "Aunt Beast."  The creature gives no indication of having a sex or gender, but chooses those two words based on reconciling Meg's language with how she was relating to Meg.

The Slaughterhouse Five example is significant especially for it's inclusion of gay men as intrinsically necessary to the continuation of the human race as they/we are often portrayed as ill and detrimental to society.  (I usually choose queer on both sexuality and gender fronts, but "gay man" describes a significant portion of my experience and culture.)  It also breaks down the idea that men and women are sexually complimentary, and that it turn questions a great deal of assumptions about compulsory heterosexuality and sex and gender binarism.  In A Wrinkle in Time the author instead uses an entirely different species that exhibits no sex/gender (at least insofar as they're described in the book), yet Meg's language necessarily imposes gender upon them.

The idea that in order to explore non-binary sex and gender it must be written in a fantasy or sci-fi genre is at turns amusing, frustrating, and horrifying.  Living outside of one or both of those binaries is a reality for lots of us.  Maybe if it was in the non-fiction section instead, a beautiful, healthy baby born neither male, nor female, would simply be celebrated instead of labeled as diseased and likely submitted to surgery that is non-consensual and not medically necessary.  But I digress (for now).

I put it out to my Twitter crowd, and I am now putting it out here:  I would love to hear what you've read that explored humans, aliens, hobbits, or  whomever outside of sex/gender binaries, and how you felt about it.  Specifically, I want to publish these in the book as part of the essay.  Basically a sort of "you're totally not alone, go see these fiction books as affirming models of non-binary sex gender and make it your own reality."  So here's the deal:  if you consent to me using your words in my book, won't sue me, and aren't looking for compensation, please post below.  I'm looking for 1) The name of the book or show 2) how it broke sex/gender binary 3) 1-2 sentences about what you liked best about it (or write more and I'll edit down) and 4) How you'd like to be credited.  It can either be completely anonymous or I'll include one or all of your name, Twitter handle, and blog or website.

I got some great responses on Twitter that I'm posting screenshots of below.  (Anybody with a private account, I have respected that and not reposted here.)

So, PLEASE, share away, and then in a year or so you can tell all your friends you're published in a brilliant and geeky essay about gender on Mars. Or something.  And retweet, post on FB, and send this out to your listserve for scifi meetups. Don't lie, I know you have one.  I saw that picture of you at a Trekkie convention on Facebook. ;D

08 January 2011

Writing Prompt: Fear & anger is ruining your country. Write for love..

I suppose this blog will need a prequel at some point to explain how exactly it is that, after an exhaustive year of reading and writing (and writing, and writing) for school, I've decided write a collection of essays to be published as a book.  Directly, it's about gender, which is to say indirectly it's about loving oneself, loving others, and celebrating diversity.   And when I say celebrate diversity, I don't mean like one of those awkward HR meetings with a brown bag lunch where they remind you to please follow the company policy of not being awful to brown people and maybe women, and maybe even queer people.  I mean celebrate diversity like throw a big party because I'm queer and monogamous and not religious and you're poly and straight and a Unitarian Universalist and neither of us need to save or convert or convince the other.  We don't have to sing Kumbaya, but we can at least have a block party together.  I won't even complain about the nitrates in your hot dog while I eat my organic quinoa salad, unless you happen to ask me why I have the food preferences I do.  Promise.

I've had little fits and starts of writing here and there, outlining essay names and some ideas, and feeling very foolishly proud and ahead of the game for having one essay already complete.  (What game I don't know since I'm unemployed and maybe four people even know I'm writing the damn thing.)   This is ridiculous because the completed essay is actually what inspired the book idea and until today I hadn't completed another essay, but I digress.  The devastating news of an assassination attempt on US Representative Gabrielle Giffords prompted me to write what will likely be the penultimate essay on the book, which is directly about loving oneself, and one's neighbor as well.  I see that as an antidote to fearing both one's internal reality and/or one's neighbor, which is the root of much oppression & violence.

I have lots of thoughts on that, but for now, I'd rather concentrate on writing, and the process thereof.  I remember learning to write here and there.  Persuasive writing was in the fifth grade.  At some point I got instructions on using more description in my (apparently sparse, utilitarian) writing, and later instruction to be less flowery and get to the point.  Only one college professor ever devoted a class period to writing, despite having to write multiple papers in nearly every course in my major and having  to write a thesis to graduate.  Additionally, I was generally considered one of the strongest writers among my peers, even in honors classes, and my experience of education is that the weakest students in a give subject received the most attention.

I am also a fierce critic and editor of my own work because I have complex ideas which I desire to explore fully, first broadly and then in minute detail, parsing arguments and laying things out in a spectacularly clear way, while still making attempts to remain as concise as possible.  Add to that a poet's soul, a penchant for snarky humor, and a bit of a perfectionist streak and I often find myself crippled by the second paragraph.  A blog wants to become an essay, an essay wants to become a book, and a book wants to become a multi-edition history of the world that brings together politics, particle physics, post-modern theory, and various other things beginning with the letter "p."  I then try to step back, reel in, use highly specific language to reduce overall verbiage, and focus my writing as narrowly as possible.

Today, I felt like I was writing one of the most emotionally raw, honest, and important pieces of my life and I had to let ALL of that bullshit go.  I don't know many writers or follow a great deal of them on Twitter but it seems that once again Kate Bornstein has been my mentor, even from afar.  I remember her tweeting about "crap drafting," and though I have no idea whether she originated the term, it has stuck with me.  It reminds me almost of the way on writes morning pages as prescribed by The Artist's Way, which is to say without any regard or attachment to what ends up on the page.  Of course morning pages are specifically NOT supposed to be writing as in an essay or novel, but more like a purge of the mind.

However, the tactic, I believe, works just as well for "real" writing, fiction or non.  It took writing this huge momentous thing to give myself over to it because nothing I've ever written before was so important to get out of me and on to the page.  I was writing about experiences so deeply personal and intense that I knew any editing by the second paragraph in would absolutely kill it.  I know that barely any of what I wrote will make it into the final copy.  I know that I was unfocused, and made poor connections between the story I was telling, and the (for lack of a better word) moral of that story. The thing is, I've rarely been prouder of anything I've written, not because this was written well, but because it was written honestly and I now have the raw materials that can be crafted into something beautiful.  I am trusting in my ability to crap draft now and revisit later.  I think this has opened up a path for the book to actually get written, instead of being an interesting conversation piece of something I'm "working on."