Just that Type

My plane to California somehow arrived an hour earlier than it was supposed to on Saturday night. A nice surprise, but I was kind of frustrated to learn about it, because why now? Why not always? I've been having the most wonderful trip home. I guess I can call it a vacation, I've been doing nothing but eating and sleeping, it's great. I spent the last week, maybe the last month in New York, in a pretty bad way. Eating nothing but junk food (even that, not enough). Drinking a lot of booze. Feeling just really shitty. I feel better for being able to sleep. And it's gorgeous here in sleepy Alameda.

I hung out with Cotton and Sam and James Brooks the other day. Cotton and his beau have skipped town for the holiday, so we only had one precious day together to catch up. It was so sweet. He's living in Berkeley now, and we hung out there, walked around Telegraph, then met up with miss Sam and headed into the city to visit James, where he's house sitting a very lovely bad in the upper Castro. Quite fancy. I begged off early as I always do, being super duper tired. I've been seeing my little brother and my aunt and my parents. I've still yet to catch up with Grey, which I'm supposed to do tomorrow, and today I'm going to meet up with Miss Jiddy No-No. I'm having a fantastic but not the most exciting time. I wonder, maybe this is exciting. Let me back up.

My good friend Cotton has the best taste in music and always knows the best and coolest stuff before anyone else. He's definitely been the biggest influence on my taste in my whole life. My friendship with him. There are, I'm sure, a few things I discovered before he did (or, like, got into) but I can't think of any. He taught my everything. I feel like Kathleen Hanna in that recent interview with Rolling Stone where she says about Tobi Vail where she says: "She taught me everything I know about music. She put me on the road of what records to get." It's kind of hard or counter intuitive (for me) to give the credit to other people, since I so often feel ripped off myself. So, I'm just saying: I feel like I totally rip off Cotton so hard. He seems pretty gracious about it, more gracious than I would be. I could write a whole book on how much he's influenced me. Hanging out in Berkeley, he showed me some music videos I hadn't seen, which are now obviously my new obsessions:

Madame X's "Just That Type of Girl":

Which, I feel like, is a sort of premonition of the Spice Girls' "Say You'll Be There" video. right?

Also this gem:

Gorgeous, right? We had gone record shopping in Berkeley. I'm looking for Taja Sevelle's first two albums, and 12"s (I guess Cotton didn't know who Taja was, so that was something). I didn't find anything. I guess we were talking about Prince protégés, which lead us to Madame X. Cotton found some stuff though, a copy of Evelyn "Champagne" King's 9th album, Flirt, and showed us this video from it:

I mean. So wonderful to have a friend who knows this stuff. I was going to write a best of 2013 list, but I think it's mostly an exercise in not wanting to die. Like a private thing. I had thought: "OK my life sucks, nothing happened this year, nothing good. Just me wasting more time, getting older and stupider. Feeling bad." But then I made a list of things that happened or that I did that were good, and there were a lot! I had some really great moments in 2013, so that's a nice thought. i still might do it, but it just takes so long to type everything out.

That's the thing about writing. It's like cooking. It's not hard, it just takes a lot of time (as much time as it takes). And that is the part that's hard.

So a Best of 2013 might come out. But no one reads this thing (and why should they). I sort of hate and sort of love being outside of New York, reading about all the fun things happening online. All these exciting things that make me ache to be there. But you know, the things I'm thinking of, aren't even about me. Brian finally released some music; he has a great voice, obviously hugely destined for star material. A cute boy posted naked pictures of himself posing with a laser disc(?), people all had fun at Christmas. Someone's new single is out. Another web series is wrapping and needs your support. You know. These things-- even when I'm in New York, they still make me feel left out. They're not about something happening or being left out. I'm just noticing.

Oh, god! I went to go see Brontez' band The Younger Lovers the other night, at this club called Eli's Mile High Club in West Oakland. It was so weird. Beyond a dive bar. It looked like maybe it used to be a garage. I ran into Brontez in the back patio. A youngish girl who worked as a nurse was bumming cigarettes to a drunk crust punk behind me, talking about how much she hated her job but loved her patients. Someone was smoking weed, and she asked if it was legal, to just do that, smoke weed outdoors like that. It's California. I don't know what's legal. They have these weird laws here in California which we do not have in New York.


- They charge $0.10 for a shopping bag when you're at a store. They finish your transaction at the cashier with "And would you like a bag for ten cents?" I think the idea is you're supposed to say "No!" but for me, being offered at the last second like that, I totally end up buying a bag.

- Spare the Air Days! What the fuck. I guess this is a smog warning? But nobody calls it smog up here, they call it "Haze". It's smog. It reminds me of Los Angeles in the early 90s, when I grew up knowing that you couldn't play outdoors all day. Or, you could, but your chest would hurt at the end of the day. And you could see a yellow-brown cloud hanging over the city, like a bruise. I saw one over Oakland when I woke up on Sunday. It's great. To be honest, I like smog. Or "haze". That's so Bay Area! So on Spare the Air days, you're supposed to limit your outdoor activity, and you can't barbecue or burn any fires, even in your fireplace, even on Christmas Eve. Walking around Alameda, I sniffed many a violator, in flagrant disregard for the law, seemingly unafraid of the threat of a citation.

So the place where the show was, Eli's Mile High Club. The bartender put five or six colored straws in each cocktail. Which I thought was dumb but then I understood the logic after I accidentally drank three. Also everybody there had a dog, it seemed. One crust punk brought his big ugly wolf-thing. A rockabilly guy with a potbelly and bald head had two little tiny dogs on leashes. Assorted other punk and rock and roll dogs running around unmuzzled. It was weird. The space was filled with balloons. The power kept going out, and people kept looking out the windows to make sure it was just the building, and that the streetlights were still on (this would never have occurred to me).  The bartender kept flipping the circuit breakers to turn the lights back on. It was cute.

Brontez' performance was PERFECT. And so exciting. I want to hear their new record when it comes out. he didn't have any copies at the show but said he did at his house. But I haven't been to his house yet. He said he might be moving soon?

Apparently, Eli's Mile High Club used to be a blues club. Brontez said his grandmother's relative used to play here in the 1960s. A photo of their display at the club:

I got some great presents for Christmas. I got new running shoes, a MIDI keyboard, the new Aimee Bender book, the Anjelica Huston memoir. And also! some holiday money. I might buy some cologne. Is that dumb?

When we got to the Castro to meet up with James, we all talked about how we're all going through our Saturn Returns. How it's also Venus Retrograde. I said: "That's my thing, this is my advice to younger people: DON'T GET TOO EXCITED. Get ready for everything to be horrible." They laughed. I guess I was half joking. My thing is about embracing the inner chaos. Or, embracing the chaos around us.

Because I think you can make friends with the chaos. Seduce it.
I've been trying to tell y'all. I guess it's a thing of, like, in that Marina Abramovic piece, waiting for someone to come drag you out of the fire. Not even really. Nonono, not a daredevil thing. Just a thing of being vulnerable. Being culpable. Being wrong. I think you can seduce the chaos, but maybe that's wrong. And I'm trying to make being wrong about that (maybe) okay with myself. But I guess you still have to choose.

So whatever-- my friends who are also going through it are experiencing it differently. But I feel like we're all talking about the same thing, just using different references? Is that fair. Sam was talking about more structure, more security. And I'm like: "I want it too because it is a lie!"

It occurs to me that Christmas is celebrating the miracle of hope. Of optimism. What a nice thought. Was texting with an ex I don't particularly get along with. Just to say how much we like each other. Just to remember things a little bit differently.

I guess it's just a thing of going through it, through everything.


POMBOY Wonderful

I've been a bit surprised this year at the surfeit of holiday parties. I thought I didn't really know poeple who were god-worshippers, holiday-celebrators. I guess everyone loves to party, though (myself included). I've been quite fortunate to have a lot of things to go to this week and last. To see old friends and new ones, to get to wear red and green and sweaters-- it's great. Even in the midst of so many yuletide invitations, I was totally bowled over and super psyched to get an announcement a few weeks ago about a new BABYSKINGLOVE performance: Pieces of Me Based on Pieces of You, which I saw last night. And which I totally adored.

I've long been a fan of the BSG girls, as you probably know, and was really excited to get to see a whole evening of them. It's been a while since I caught one of their shows, and as you can see from their website, they've been tremendously busy making lots of art and going all over the place, as well they should. I have so many really fond and exciting memories of seeing BSG perform at galleries, in rock clubs, anywhere, really, but always with a kind of wild-eyed excitement; they remind me of the fact that anything is possible. That everything is possible.

Their newest show, P.O.M.B.O.Y., is obviously based on Jewel's landmark debut album. All the BSG girls played Jewel, in 90s denim and tie-dyed tank-tops, with honey and amber and champagne blonde wigs. It was a feast for the eyes, seeing the crew fussing about the space before the show. Also a feast for the mouth, as the BSG members passed out popcorn and bubblegum for a pre-show treat.

I wonder how old BabySkinGlove's members are. I'd like to think they're not so much younger than I am. Certainly, I think, if you are very young, it would be easy to overlook the fact that when Jewel's first album came out, she was a very big deal. I was never a huge fan, but I guess I really do like basically all of the singles off that album, and I suppose I do actually love some things about Jewel the icon that I forgot I loved. Living in a car, having bad teeth-- it's weird to remember these things about a pop star. This could never be part of a pop star's story, now. I mean, right?

It was kind of a cabaret, kind of a musical performance. Kind of a talent show. It began with Jewels reading poems from her book, A Night Without Armor. For the first time, I find myself wondering if Jewel made the pun in the title on purpose or not. The poems are famously both expressive and opaque, full of the kind of pop-rock malapropisms that make 1990s nostalgia so dangerous. BabySkinGlove understands the stakes here. Jewel, at the microphone between songs, is gracious and yet terribly impatient. She's good-natured but she's a diva. She's sensitive (and she wants to stay that way) but she's strong. She's aggressive. She's mad, but she's not letting on. She can show you pieces of herself, give herself away, and not lose anything. It's a funny kind of vulnerability, the kind you beat the world over the head with. It's a funny kind of sensitivity, the kind that turns you into a pop star.

The BSG girls alternately played up or interrupted or undermined or sang along to the songs, creating entirely different styles, forms of performance. For one song, they sharpened knives, used them to eat ice cream, one of the Jewels slowly cut her arm onstage (for real) and dripped blood. For another song, lead Jewel sang beautifully while the other Jewels ran through the crowd, arguing hysterically with each other, breaking up in public. At one point they all swarmed an audience member and sat on his lap and sang just to him. It was heartbreaking and it was really scary.

So much of performance art in New York right now seems to either be capitulating to the oppressive demands of Theater or Gallery Work. It's like your parents got a divorce and you alternate weekends with different parents. BabySkinGlove, then, are something else. They don't live at one parent's house or another-- they live at the school, in the girls' bathroom, where they're smoking cigarettes. They live under the bleachers at the football field at midnight. These are bad girls, smart girls. Who can fault them for being so tough and brave and gorgeous? Even if they're a little scary.

I've been thinking a lot recently about CoLab in the 1980s in NYC, and specifically Cave Girls, the feminist art project organized by Kiki Smith and Ellen Cooper.

You can see a great article about them by Kara Carmack here.

This is the Cave Girls in the back of ABC No Rio, which, hi Kiki Smith cofounded. Also makes me think of the cover of the Slits' legendary 1978 Cut:

I'm not just trying to compare punk rock ladies in mud here-- I'm interested in the ways in which the kind of proto-primal imagery is used. CoLab and Cave Girls were literally occupying squats, terraforming a bombed our Lower East Side into a kind of punk rock Utopia (it seems like to me). The Slits were using this imagery as a way of deliberately commenting on their major-label status. Viv Albertine said, of the iconic cover image: "Nobody could see the strength, the joke, the little twist that we were all a bit fat. They were thinking we were trying a come on and sell our image. What would they prefer - us all dolled up in something fashionable? We wanted to write songs that wouldn't go out of fashion and we felt that about the cover, too. We didn't expect to have to explain it! But in the end, everything we did solidified our image; you get a lot of shit for not fitting into a box. And gradually we had to accept that we weren't going to shake off the Slits' Wild Women of Wongo image."

OK so what is my point: I've sometimes noticed BabySkinGlove touching on similar trajectories of feminist art discourse. They're not going back to nature, but they are, often, dolled up in the most glamorous detritus to be found in Bushwick. Check out the "Couture" section of their website, I mean god. It reminds me of what Wynne Greenwood said the original concept for Tracy and the Plastics would be: that they were these sort of human characters who remade themselves out of neon plastic things they found at the dump. The idea of recycling; I think is inspiring. Not the trash stuff, but the intrepid-ness. The Slits and Cave Girls seem to interact with a different kind of nature: BabySkinGlove, instead of pulling Jungle Exoticism "nature" or rediscovering a post-urban PreHistory, they dig into their own nature scene, their own history, to look for something to wear. What do they find to adorn themselves? Jewel's first album. Clad in the sort of topical, sort of dated, uncomfortably apt words of a semi-forgotten pop poetess, BSG finds beauty, strength, and danger.

I wish it was playing for longer! I wish there were more BSG shows to go to, you guys. You all need to be following them nonstop.

There's also a brand new fashion spread they just made. How gorgeous!

"Reptilian Intimates", shot by Dixie Parden. Extreme modeling by Wesley Flash, Marta Borozanian, Viva Soudan, & Bailey Nolan.

I'm in love with it.
Ok I'm gonna go to at least one and maybe two Holiday parties. But I'll be listening to Pieces of You on my way.


Inspire Days

What an inspiring week last week.Trying to hang onto my fledgling optimism. The weather's not so bad right now. Things are okay. On Monday I went to a reading with Tommy of writers talking about moving to, staying in, leaving, coming back to New York City. It was pretty fantastic, highlights being Emily Gould and Alexander Chee and the wonderful Mike Albo. I pretty much never feel at all ambivalent about living here (I love it here) but only in the last month or so did I start to have my doubts. I guess not even about living in NYC, just about living, being alive. The reading was funny and made me feel pretty resolute in staying. In whatever that means, I guess.

On Tuesday I met up with my friend Daniel to talk about this new MAPPLETHORPE project I'm working on. I like trying to have a conversation about an idea, or a theory, with someone who hasn't been briefed beforehand. I'm sometimes really shy to talk about m,y hunches or my ideas before they're fully-baked, but the more I do it, the more rewarded and challenged and engaged I feel. Maybe it's just that I'm asking better or different people? I was into the conversation. Nourishing, I think.

Speaking of nourishing, on Wednesday sweet lil baby darling star Colin Self came over and we had tea. I was also doing laundry, I felt so domestic. We talked about seltzer and how busy we were and how great everything is. Some secret and hilarious projects Miss Ting is cooking up. I got hungry so then we made pasta salad. My idea was to try to make super cheap pasta salad that in some way approximated tuna salad except I'm vegetarian and don't like mayo (at all). So here's what goes in the pasta salad we tried out:

- Whole wheat rotini pasta
- Shitake mushrooms
- Hijiki (go easy on this-- I overdid it)
- Chopped celery
- Raisins
- Goddess dressing
- Parmesean cheese

It was so good. I had some leftovers for work the next day. I was really into it except A) I would maybe use grapes instead of raisins next time, and B)) I used way too much Hijiki. Would maybe try with a milder seaweed in the future?

Thursday morning I got up extra early to have coffee with Jarrett. We talked about art and intimacy and the world. It was cool. Then after work and a quick trip to the gym, I went to see Nadia Tykusker's dance project Spark Edit do a showing of a new piece they're working on. I don't often see a ton of dance, especially in the pre-performance stage, so this was a real treat. I met Nadia through BAX and saw a tiny bit of her work then, and really loved it. I'm so excited that I got to see this new project! It will have another pre-performance showing in Brooklyn in the next few months, which i'll let you know about, and then a full run in the Spring. SO, so cool and inspiring. My vocabulary for dance work is really limited, but the piece made me think a lot about training, physical structures, exercise, the military, for some reason? Uniforms? Self-defense classes? Gangs? Bondage? Or maybe, really, anatomy. I was really struck. It gave me a lot to think about. I don't want to impose too too much of my own drama onto the project, but would only say that there's something really cool happening that she and her dance collaborators are making! I want you to come with me to the next showing.

Friday I went to my office staff party and had maybe a little bit too much to drink, but a lot of fun. Saturday I went to the gym for a long time and I cleaned the hell out of my bathroom, and then, I went to a surprise pre-birthday party for dear heart Tommy. It was all planned out by Lauren Wilkes and Maud. I think Tommy was really surprised. His actual birthday is this weekend and he's having an official real party, but it was nice for a room of his closest folks to come freak him out. Keeping a secret from him was totally excruciating. We had tacos and karaoke and so much fucking good times. I was worn out. Sunday I went to an awesome meeting of some fellow writer-performer folks. It was a very special and inspiring conversation-- I'm sometimes so freaked out by my feelings of insecurity or frustration or just questioning, curiosity. I'm not saying that we had a pity party by ANY stretch of the imagination. I'm just saying that it's so really, deeply helpful and encouraging to talk with someone who shares your questions. To realize that feeling insecure doesn't mean I'm actually failing, it's actually a logical and crucial part of the art-making process. At least for me and everyone I know. Such a fun day. I meant to go to a Wayne Koestenbaum reading last night, but it started snowing so I ordered Thai food and watched cartoons.

I meant to get up at 5am to go to the gym this morning, but I fucked up my alarm clock and ended up waking up at 8am instead of snoozing till 5:15 (don't ask how). Not the worst decision I've ever made. Tonight I'm going to a special meet-up of the Next Time organizers, then the Dirty Looks benefit/holiday party. Tomorrow night, I'm very excited to go to my hero Jill Pangallo's new show HOPE IS EXPENSIVE at the Wild Project. And then go immediately afterward to the official Afterparty at the PArkside lounge, where I'll be doing a little performing myself: HOMO FOR THE HOLIDAZE.

Another exciting inspiring week ahead. I'm starving.



Here is what I want for Christmas and Hanukkah and Holiday Time. Just putting that out there. If you want to send me something lovely, I'll get you my address. ;-)

Carte D'Armenia burning papers

Djuna Barnes' Nightwood

CdG jumpsuit

Odeur 71

Ann Demeulemeester suit

Undercover skull stuff

VFiles UES shirt

CdG Homme Plus shirt

CdG jumpsuit (I feel like I would look really cute in this)

Safe House USA Comp duvet set

Ecart International lamp

House of Ladosha shirt

Prada oil slick levitate shoes

BCalla mesh one-shoulder top

CdG SHIRT paisley pants

Telfar hooded t-shirt

Chanel nail polish in Magic

Ann Demeulemeester backpack

CdG Homme Plus jacket

Yohji Yamamoto animal shorts (we can count this as an engagement ring)

Yohji Yamamoto pants

Feeling sort of bored and antsy. Last night my room mate did a big purge where he got rid of a bunch of clothes that had ripped or he no longer wore or were ruined. I was so jealous! I never get rid of anything. And if I want to make room for my Christmas presents then I guess I'd better get started right?

Last night I got a haircut and then I dyed my hair.


Delete Yrself

Facebook e-mailed me about building interest in my page Max Steele. I haven't put much effort into it, so I feel like the alternative is to just delete it, since I post most of my stuff on my own page anyway. It does sort of feel like Facebook is telling me to go kill myself?  Or like, giving me that option. That "out". Just delete. Either commit to build interest in your page or just give up. Once upon a time, I promoted all of my stuff there. Or, I tried to. And then it became just a place to post extra stuff that wasn't new. But now I mostly just invite people to things socially. I think in part because I'm not doing stuff apart from living my life, and also I'm doing less, it feels like (it feels like?) and also because now everyone does both. Does everything. And there's more to do but it's also more seamlessly tied into the other stuff you do like buy stuff and talk to your friends about buying stuff or talk about what you want or don't want and aren't getting.  Maybe I should change my real name. Or a copyright lawyer. Isn't funny I think I used to work at an entertainment industry law firm, and I learned very little about the entertainment industry. But I had some great times. I still do, man.


Dallas Watcher's Club

I forgot to link to it here, BUT I wrote an article on Erica Jong and Fear of Flying (which is celebrating it's 40th anniversary) for Lambda Literary's site. Check it out HERE. I'm pretty proud of it, and so glad for the opportunity to write about one of my favorite books.

At the house we rented, we didn't have internet or cell phone reception, but there was a fireplace and a DVD set of the first two seasons of "Dallas". I had never seen it before. I was entranced. I don't think I would have ever watched it were it not for those circumstances, but there was something really dreamy about it.

Apparently, I'm really good at building wood fires. I was so good at building fires at the house. It did seem as though I could make the wood burst into flame by touching it. I have some kind of theory about how to turn and arrange the logs and kindling in order to make them burn. Probably it's not a secret. My friends are fantastic cooks; we ate very well and drank a lot. We visited distillery and took a tour, I understood nothing about the process. The barrel room was warm and dark and smelled fantastic, of ripe whiskey. The barrels were stacked to the ceiling and I found myself hugging one of the barrels. It felt great. In the morning, we'd listen to music and cook epick breakfasts. At night we'd build a fire and eat a huge meal and watch "Dallas" and I'd pass out on the floor, without meaning to, and miss a bunch of episodes.

It was just so fantastic. I'm glad to be back in New York, though. This month is a little less hectic, performance wise. It's more hectic socially, which is good. I'm determined! To get my shit together.

I'm on the host committee for this party to benefit Bradford Nordeen's film screening and performance / happening series Dirty Looks. it's going to be on Monday 12/9 and so much fun.

In January 2014, DL will relaunch our website as a national publishing platform for writing around queer experimental media. Dance through this winter night in support of our new project with some of the most exciting performers and luminaries our queer city has to offer.

8PM: M Lamar (performance), VIP Toast | open bar
9PM: Bottoms (performance), DJ Sets by Colin Self, Amber Valentine & D'hana Perry, Visuals by Josef Kraska.

Host Committee: Chris Bogia, Shannon Michael Cane, Brian Droitcour, Patrick Duffy, Glen Fogel, Greg Garry, Gordon Hall, Barbara Hammer, Pati Hertling, Juliana Huxtable, Jamillah James, Rich Juzwiak, Ted Kerr, Matthew Lyons, Sam McKinniss, Carlos Motta, Hunter O’Hanion. MM Serra, Max Steele, Matt Wolf.

8PM M Lamar + VIP Toast $50
9PM Bottoms + Dancing $10-20 sliding scale

All proceeds support the design of our online publishing platform and the performers.

The fb event, with different levels of tickets, is HERE.

Last week my favorite popstar Alexander Geist released his new single, "A Woman's Right to Choose". The gorgeous video is below:

Alexander's newest single "A Woman's Right to Choose" is available NOW with a special ltd edition poster by Sophie Iremonger from New Pangea.

ALSO, Ultimate Fantasy Boyfriend Brontez aka Younger Lovers has a new record coming out, and has a video for that gem as well:

The Younger Lovers' new album "Sugar In My Pocket" is available for pre-order from Southpaw Here.

In other news, I've been so obsessed with Scott Weiland right now. His solo album, god. I want to do a performance that's just reviews of that record. Spoiled Alert. And early Stone Temple Pilots. It's just so noodly. So deeply self-indulgent. On every level: musically, logically, aesthetically, contextually. Everything about it is kind of awful. There's something really bad about it. Part of me wonders at this fascination. Why do I sometimes want to eat only junk food? Why do I love smoking cigarettes? What is this death drive, this insatiable hunger for abjection? Why do I love awful things? I sometimes think maybe it's because on some level I think I don't deserve better. That's a very scary thought, so I want to go with it. I like to imagine that Scott's noodly junkie half-efforts are really meant for me. Are meant to really blow my mind. Like, this is what is for me. This is my claim. Okay then, let's take stock of it. Let's listen totally seriously to this music and pretend it's for us. For me. Like, the thing of looking for something-- looking at something awful and kind of hoping to find something transcendent in it. But not expecting to. But understanding that it's awful and will probably not be transcendent. Poor Scotty Weiland is of a dying breed. Like a dinosaur, the indulgent noodle rock god. I love noodles. Probably Courtney Love is the last of the great rock star noodles. I am, I gotta say, obsessed with Pasta sometimes.

It's like with other dinosaurs; we think we have a favorite, but we actually don't understand them very well. Brontosauruses didn't actually exist. Same with rock stars. But we can still put them in museums, listen to their records, worship them like gods. Hey there, mockingbird girl.