Riot Grrl Nostalgia show

There was a good crowd at the Center for Sex & Culture last night last week for the riot grrl SFinX reading. Here’s my notes!

Carol Queen read an intro for Gina de Vries.

Gina wrote Curve mag’s “Hey Baby” column. In 97 she was called “jarringly precocious” by Time Magazine.
Carol (interrupting herself): I did not know that. That is AWESOME! When I was jarringly precocious Time magazine never noticed! There was a photo… gina what were you wearing in it?
Gina: Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society
Carol: How old were you?
Gina: 14
*everyone cracks up*
*more intro*

Gina: There will be cupcakes at intermission. chocolate bergamot… Homemade! I made them! *audience cheers*

Gina read a memoir piece in 2 parts. The first part was about when she was 14 and bought her leopard print mini skirt. “It was the sluttiest thing i’d ever bought.”

Her deep friendship with a very serious queer femme riot grrl, Lila. We talked about veganism, bands, racism, and pornography. (They had class differences. Lila and a lot of the other girls were richer.) Making mix tapes and trading them. Gina read “The Persistent Desire”. Traded zines with every girl I met and hundreds of others through the mail. Starstruck at meeting Kate Bornstein. The overwhelming joy of finally being taken seriously as a queer girl.

“Dykes and fags! Working together! Biphobia sucks! Transgender revolution! Fuck shit UP!” *cheers*
We were so earnest…

Melissa Gira reading from draft of Girl Out of Order … i liked best the bit about how she would work until she passed out, and the process of taking photos of cartoons on tv with a disposable camera, getting them developed at the drugstore, carefully scanning them with a sort of squeegee scanner into the huge, beige, computer at her friend’s parents’ house, then printing it out, cutting it up into bits, writing on it, and pasting it with rubber cement into a zine.

The dangers of the postal service. Sending naked photos of herself. “Parents, lock up your stamps!”

A bunch about sex. Playing out age play with her boyfriend. Pretending to be a virgin (in one of the best asides of the night Melissa added, “Of course it had only been having sex for 4 months”)

Celeste Chan – Riot Grrl was before my time but i was inspired by it, read Sassy, checked Bikini Kill albums out from the library, watched the Yo Yo gang, moved to Olympia in 2000, I imagined it all fantastic and full of fierce eyed women, like it was dyke march every day….*cheers from audience* Instead, it was like getting too close to a dream best friend. You see their flaws. Huggy Bear, Bratmobile, Bikini Kill, thrifting… loved the ethos of diy and you can do anything. It was one of the very few subcultures dealing with violence against women, homophobia, fatphobia and the masculinist nature of punk culture. Addressing competition and jealousy that women are socialized into. It was great. Bring back riot grrrl!!!!!

Zuleikha Mahmoud. Femme shark. ***FEMME SHARKS!!!!!**** yell from audience. Omar and the lesbians band. Going on tour with Mangos with Chili. *cheers*

I, like Celeste, was a little too young. Was in hard core rural Pennsylvania. It didn’t quite make it there. That was the only thing that helped me imagine another life. When I was a little kid I was a strong feminist and I didn’t have a word for it. Then I started going to the library and the librarians had a really intense stockpile of feminist books.

So now I’m writing a book about slutty muslim girls. To reflect myself and the girls I love. A novel. I could read that or, *cries of “BOTH!!!” from audience* AND, I was going to read a piece about the first pride i went to, 2005 in new york.

“Jess is on her way over… she was going to bring her bass to teach me how to play. “I’ll teach you some fingering” and then we laughed but she said she really earnestly wanted to start a band with me. I hope to god she also wants to fuck me. I ran around my apartment hiding all the mainstream shit. The beauty mags and nikes. (phone call with friend) What’s up bachaim. (Farsi for “baby, dear friend”) (explanation of girl coming over) “Text me if you lose your lesbian virginity.” “Inshallah”. God, I wanted her, as much as I wanted shoes or drugs, as much as I wanted to move out when I lived with my parents. (she comes over) “Take your shoes off this is an asian house.” Jess eats a banana. DO THEY KISS OR WHAT OMG I CAN’T WAIT you will have to read the book when Zuleikha finishes it. (Note my subtle implication that she WILL FINISH IT DAMMIT… because it rocks)
2nd story from Zuleikha. First pride march. The night before. Homophobe violence. racism. a fight. I knew the parade was corporate but wasn’t prepared to have Macy’s celebrating my gayness or whatever!
Emotional moment of a parent filming their kid in the parade proudly…

(break) (cupcakes!) A bunch of us stand around and bond on how back then we learned how to do menstrual extraction and were all ready to start smuggling RU-486.

Then me

I talked about my zines and how I started identifying with riot grrl stuff, and showed a folder of a jillion letters, April – June 94, from all over the country. Then read some bits of the Slut Manifesto, which got a lot of laughs. (omg, i must find a better home for that manifesto.) I edited out a lot of the long ranty bits, warning everyone that during edits I’d say “Rant rant rant”. I had not timed it and have no idea how long I read, am hoping not too long. I enjoyed reading it so much. It was tempting to edit the hell out of it and also go back in time and argue with myself. Still I felt a sudden wave of affection for my fierce little self of years ago. Carol asked me if I had written in in irony or not. In retrospect, sure, there was plenty of irony in there but I also meant everything.

This was the first reading I’ve done since disabled again where I felt like I had a reasonable amount of energy and verve. Now, I can pull it off even when I feel like shit and have to fake it, but it feels so great to get a little of my mojo back. whew! and to feel connected with people. I don’t think I’ve ever read to, how should i put this, such the right target audience for anything i’ve read out loud. (though the capitol punishment story at years-ago-SFinX was similar!) how nice was that!!! and my riot grrl stuff does not really get integrated with the other bits of my life, very often. (though i do feel like blogging and even working with blogher are my continuation of all that.)

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha – growing up in (amherst?) – ad in the back of MRR – “I love janes addiction, i cut myself, write me” and getting a ton of letters. riot grrl wrote to her and had gone through MRR to write to every girl who had an ad. Leah was touched… parents didn’t let her out of the house… (next town over might as well have been on the moon.) Moved to NY – then was like “oh, crap, i’m really poor” also tough being mixed race punk in ny… met unsuitable guy way older – blew him off – “some guy who looked like freddy kruger at the bookstore wanted to fuck me” crazy guys breathing on you and trying line after line… 13th street squat getting busted. mystical hippie earth firsters trying to hold down a chapter in midtown manhattan where there pretty much wasn’t an ecosystem left anywhere… She was 19… admired an older 24 yr old woman who was so tough and had been living in squats for 10 years but who would not talk with her… Cops, a tank, assault rifles, it felt like us or them, 500 bodies, no matter how much we blieved in non-violent resistence… dragged off one by one… The guy was a brilliant storyteller… the way people are who have been on the street or in prison since they were kids… he was bi and assumed she was… (I forget what funny queer punk tshirt he had on but it made me laugh) took off their shirts on wall street… fucking in another squat with the guy… not really quite feeling it as sexual … though enjoyable… “like the promise of some day having a body” (I loved that description of sex)

I forget who it was (Leah?) saying something hilarious about west coast queer punk girls being all tra la about it but NYC punk girls being all like FUCK YOU I HATE WOMEN.

Nomy Lamm – old spoken word stuff from 93 – but here instead is stuff that i didn’t read in public at the time. “the ain’t” was my band and this was our song. sing with me… (we sing the bass line) … easy target… piece about living with her best friend who she was in love with. Their messy house and the junk food and fruit flies! Stuff about jealousy, about punk scene hierarchies and how could we have this movement and still have that and so many things being about conforming or conventional attractiveness. (She and another woman whose name I did not catch but who played bass did a song – Nomy played the accordion)

A whole lot of us went to Chow afterwards. I was not sure if I was at the grownup table or the butch table. we talked about Steven’s anarchist anthropologist book and i forget what all else, some about the readings, i went over and talked a bit with everybody else… I think they were going to Rebel Girl at the Rickshaw Stop.

tonight hazelbroom and I were gossipping on IM about all this and we were just listing off 90s dykey zine people and telling funny stories. I told her how I wished I had met Stephanie Kulick who I traded zines with and then later saw Mark’s page about her and realized she was likely a major kindred spirit right down to her woman symbol necklace matching my woman symbol earring which I lost in the ballerina pie fight.

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