In honor of the SISTER SPIT 2014 FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN, I present another offering from the 1997 Sister Spit Tour Diary! This entry was written from a CYBER CAFE by one of the Valencia directors Samuael Topiary!!!
DAY 4 or 5, from topiary
Hello and hope you are well. We are now on day 4 or is it 5? Driving all night through major heat and find ourselves in Tuscon.
After nice opening shows in Santa Cruz and LA, we really hit our stride in Las Vegas, out-performing ourselves to a rowdy and diverse Vegas crowd of locals, a mix of heckling straight men and appreciative dykes and many others in between. Our most excellent and talented host Dave had hooked us up w/ free rooms at the illustrious Stardust Casino and even got us a grant from the Nevada State Council on the Arts. The free “ass juice” the bar kept doling out definitely heightened the energy. Heckling was raised to a new level. And believe it or not, we even did a second set!
I think it’s safe to report that we all had a blast in Vegas especially after Ali treated some of us to her expert slot machine techniques.
It’s fucking hot as hell here in Tucson and we’re all a bit punchy now after driving all night from Vegas to Tucson. Am writing you from the cyber cafe next to the Hotel Congress.
Hit a traffic jam in the middle of the desert on the road from Vegas to here at about 3 am. We wondered about the alien abduction possibilities, but it turns out there was a murder…. probably by human hands, though. The landscape is surreal here.
I lost $3 to the nickel slots. It’s very hot in the van. We have to drive at night and sleep by day. Wish we had more time in Tucson, it seem so interesting, picturesque.
The tour is really starting to get rolling now. I can feel us as a show gelling, getting the hang of it, getting funnier and easier and less precious with each other. The traveling is harsh, though.
In honor of the SISTER SPIT 2014 FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN we’ve dug deep into the Sister Spit archives for some must-see-gems from the vault. So today, for your #FBF viewing pleasure, I present DAY 33 of the Sister Spit Tour Diary 1997, written by Michelle Tea.
Below is it exactly as it appeared on the ’97 website:
DAY 33, michelle
Greetings from the illegal insides of the Budget Cargo Van!
I’m bouncing & rocking all over the place as the van zooms out of Cleveland and on towards Detroit. This whole part of the country – particularly the east coast (is this still the east coast?) – has been such a crazy whirlwind.
Philadelphia was a great all-ages show at the new gay center, we each got to do one piece written by someone else on the tour, something we’d been talking about doing for a while. It was pretty hysterical, the big highlights were Ali doing Sini, complete with the trademark yellow glasses; Sini doing Eileen’s ‘Merk’ in pure Sini fashion – very loud, with a couple “Fucking”s thrown in. And Eileen doing Tara aka ‘Pantena’ was completely insane, performed in some kind of weird snooty british accent, wearing a feather boa, doing Pantena’s strange yoga-ish moves on the floor. I was a little afraid our gigantic in-joke performance would bore & alienate the audience, but they really liked it.
After Phili was New York, where all the girls were split apart, staying at different houses and it felt more like a weird vacation than the tour. I saw Rod Stewert eating breakfast, he looked really bad but I still got excited seeing him. I went to see the Cindy Sherman show at MoMA, it was sponsored by Madonna, who Eileen believes should sponsor next year’s Roadshow. So if anyone knows how to get in touch with Maddy, please let me know. And did anyone read her goodbye to Versace in Time? What a fucking idiot! I’m so sorry she won’t get to stay in his villa & be pampered anymore, this must be a really hard time for her. But I still would like her to kick down some cash to our traveling all-girl literary revolution.
ANYWAY, NYC was rad, a little show at Rising Cafe in Brooklyn, and a sold-out house at P.S.122, a show Topiary & Eileen put together from the road, a very tricky thing. It was a great night. Next was Boston, another sold-out, people turned away at the door, standing-room-only show – can you deal with all these people coming out for poetry!!! It’s pretty fucking incredible.
Boston was wall-to-wall excellent girls, and there were a bunch of moms & assorted family members in attendance, including my own. It was the first time she ever heard me read, actually it was the first spoken word event, lesbian event, weirdo event, whatever event for my mom, and I think she held up pretty well & even enjoyed herself, though she was also slightly disturbed. It’s good to periodically disturb your mother, don’t you think? Ali’s mom stole the show, joining her daughter on stage to read her lines from Ali’s piece “The Story of Slutty.” She made all kinds of great exasperated mom faces while Ali read about being 15 years old smoking pot in a changing stall with a 27-year-old floosie.
Next was fantastic Provincetown, by far the hardest place for us to leave. Well, it was hard getting out of New York, but that was because Cherie took the wrong train and got lost in Queens for 2 hours. But Provincetown was fabulous! Another packed show, where we were joined by local poet Kathe Izzo, the lady responsible for the terrific event. Kim Silver & Annie Sprinkle opened their homes to us vagabonds, and Annie taught Ali a new boob trick – how to light matches off her nipples. She nearly got arrested on Commercial Street one night lighting up her tits for our entertainment. You’d think the cops in P-Town would have more of a sense of humor. A bunch of girls went whale-watching and had very spiritual experiences watching the humungous mammals flip around and wave their fins. Cherie, who used to live in P-Town, took us across the breakwater to her secret swimming hole, and we swam with the crabs & minnows, and I held a couple starfish and as you could guess that was pretty cool. We got some good illegal tattoos from Cherie’s friend Chris – tattoos are still illegal in Massachusets, and you still can’t buy booze on Sundays either. Coming into town right as we were leaving was Club Casanova – a very swanky & hilarious drag king show from New York City. We got to catch their act the night we left, Mo B. Dick, Dred, Will Doher and Labio, Fabio younger brother. Cherie & Sash hopped onstage and sang a country song as a pair of incestuous brothers recently kicked off the Garth Brooks tour for their forbidden love. Finally we tore ourselves away from Provincetown. It was very hard.
Back in the van for an overnight 15-hour drive to Buffalo, we haven’t had to haul ass like that since Texas! We were like a bunch of 7-11 hot dogs on one of those rotating hotdog warmers, all of us lined up & sleeping in the back of the Budget. In Buffalo we were welcomed into the House of Kate, who not only put most of us up in her huge & excellent house, but also kept us thoroughly entertained. Our show at Hallwalls was great and very, very bittersweet because it was the final show of the original Sister Spit line-up. Marci & Ali have since returned to their lives in San Francisco & New York, and Eileen is off writing in the woods at a writer’s colony in upstate New York. I don’t have to tell you that we miss them a lot. Marci was a really good, solid, sensitive & stable girl to have on the tour. Ali is not exactly stable, but her constant humor & sweetness even in the tensest of situations, is sorely missed. Plus, Sash has lost her drink…
(……oops!!!!…here’s where michelle ran out of batteries … we’ll get the rest of the story soon!)
ERIN: Who were some of your art/writing heros when you were in high school?
While being raised on the shrinking teat of Catholicism, I did get to experience transubstantiation in my mouth, but I never really got into how groovy this miracle can be till the other night.
The utter night, in the doorway of Florentino’s, an El Monte restaurant where you can order a pepperoni pizza with a side of Meso-american mini-pizzas (sopes), I communed with a British God by reaching for his proxy Latino. Through our touch, I learned that when Mexican Morrissey hugs you, real Morrissey is draping his ancestrally-Irish limbs around you, too.
This is Pedro Infante, the Mexican Frank Sinatra.
This is Frank Sinatra, the American Pedro Infante
My 75% Mexican/Mexican/ancestrally-Irish three-way was facilitated by the South El Monte Art Posse and Art Movement, two Moz Angeles area grassroots organizations that invited weirdoes to come experience why E, M, and O are critical to spelling El Monte: SEMAP and Art Posse put on a show to venerate Los Esmiths and Morrissí through music, art, and poetry flavored by emo bouillon.
Did you know that Morrissey ends in a backwards yes and a phonetically Hispanic affirmative! Guau!
I got to Florentino’s like fifteen minutes before the homage was supposed to start and admired how a candle vendor was forcing Candy Darling to mingle with Mexican ghosts.
To set a British mood, I set up camp in a corner booth, ordered a cup of tea, and willed my melanin to cool it.
A very tattooed Latina and her less tattooed friend took the pleather bench across from mine. I asked them, “Are you guys from El Monte?”
The very tattooed one nodded and answered, “I grew up here.”
“What’s El Monte like?” I asked. I explained, “I only know two things about El Monte: there’s a grip of Mexicans here and James Ellroy’s mom got strangled here.”
The very tattooed Latina agreed that there are grip of Mexicans in El Monte but hadn’t heard of James Ellroy or his strangled mother. She explained, “I live in West Covina now. A lot of athletes come out of there.”
I expressed my interest in her statement by blinking.
At the front of the dining area, near the john and a claw machine bedazzled by white Christmas lights, a dude of color spoke into the mic, welcoming us to an evening of stuff inspired by you already know what. The very tattooed girl whispered, “I thought it was Lakers night.”
Unfortunately, the emcee handed the mic over to a man who rambled in an affected Jamaican accent against American incursions into Syria. When he said terror, it came out Tehran.
Jah works in mysterious ways, I suppose.
After the Rastafarian event hijacker went away, a she-poet bearing the Aztec name for flower and then some, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, smiled at us. She gave a shout out to the 626 and confessed that while she’s not that into Morrissey, she’s brown, and therefore, somebody in her family loves him. She shared a piece inspired by this cousin: ” When I was thirteen, my bangs never fanned right…” Miller’s Outpost, wannabe Docs, and how to scrunch socks peppered her brief performance with flashbacks to the late 80s/early 90s and then claps and Caribbean Fragoza approached the claw machine.
I know Caribbean cause we’re in a literary salon, Las Guayabas, together and her stuff always guaus me with its lush repugnance. It’s lushly repugnant the way silken larvae hatching in your eye socket might be.
She shared a piece inspired by the song The More You Ignore Me the Closer I Get. That song reminds me of an orange and white cat that likes to sit on my fence and watch me go to the bathroom. Softly stalkerish.
The second piece Caribbean read mentioned nothing about The Smiths or Morrissey, but it totally extracted their bouillion; it possessed their mojo. The spooky little naca narrating this story was a crow of a girl I could totally imagine belly-flopped on a mattress on her bedroom floor, painting cool words on her walls with black fingernail polish, speaking these lines: buy viagra online without prescription
“Crows have imaginations.
Crows hold grudges.”
The spooky little naca story held us all together in a singular dark but ticklish vibe, the way Morrissey’s songs do.
Kenji Lu followed and gave a taste of Morrisssey a la Snookie.
Lu explained that he encountered Morrissey after cliquing up with the only Mexican in his New Jersey high school, and sharing a piece inspired by Everyday Is Like Sunday, Lu’s poetry made it even easier to visualize apocalypse godzillaing the garden state. Lu went on to share a poem inspired by Depeche Mode, the DJ played a snippet of Personal Jesus, and I wondered, “Are these poets using the posters from adolescent bedroom walls as their muses? Is Siouxsie next?”
She was not.
Modern English was.
Mike the Poet followed Lu and the Poet said his initial exposure to Los Esmiths happened in 1989, during his freshman year at Artesia High, and he spoken-worded a mashup of lyrics, an emo sound collage.
It was time to cede the stage to Mexican Morrissey.
The Mexican Morrissey’s real name is José Maldonado. By day he’s a LIFEGUARD, and I’ve seen him perform with his cover band, the Sweet and Tender Hooligans. The Hooligans’ performances combine agony with mextasy, especially when confused cholos weep and/or mosh.
Maldonado sat, perched his guitar on his knees, sang a couple of unplugged, bilingual covers, and thusly, made us acknowledge his gift: that his imitation of Morrissey is so uncanny it’s Catholic. Through the son (Maldonado), we experience the father (Morrissey), and through the father, we experience the holy ghost (Oscar Wildean/Aleister Crowleyian magic).
Anyways, Maldonado left us wanting more of what he clearly had plenty left to give and Vicky Vertíz jogged up to stand where he’d channeled our leader. She shouted, “Happy birthday to Gloria Anzaldúa!” and declared that Nepantla, the Nahuatl concept of kooky, spiritual betweeness, is thee gothest thing ever. Being in a partially Italian restaurant, Vertíz urged us to buy calzones. This evoked ja ja jas.
Mexican calzónes. The space between their calzonic worlds is Nopantsla.
Vertíz preached that Chicanos relate to The Smiths and Morrissey as alienated nerds of color and dove into a piece about camping at the Salton Sea. Like Caribbean, that piece, and her next one, which held the phrase “a 50s guitar in the key of sorrow,” extracted that emo bouillon we’d come to savor. Her work reminded us that it can be good to create a subculture that lusts after death by bus.
(Hell, if it was good enough for Frida…)
The hungry Mexican audience wanted more Maldonado and shouted, “Otra! Otra! Otra!…” and Maldonado obliged, scurrying back to the mic, perching the guitar back on his knees.
Before giving us more song, he treated us to a retelling of the time he met Morrissey sucking on a Corona in the corner of Pasadena bar. He asked him for his autograph, requesting that he, “make it out to José,” and Morrissey put him on the ethnic spot, asking Maldonado why so many Carloses, Marias, Josés, and JosBs want his autograph.
If Gloria Anzaldua had been there, she would’ve whispered: “Nepantla…”
If Gustavo Arellano had been there, he would’ve cracked open his book ASK A MEXICAN and begun reading the entry on page 126…
Maldonado mumbled something about how many of us there are and then told us, as he choked up for a sec, that he confessed to Morrissey, “Everyday of my life is that much better because of your songs.”
Morrissey responded to his flattery with equal cheese.
A few hip hoppers and false prophets hijacked the mic post-Mexican Morrissey, the plug got pulled around ten, and I noticed Mexican Morrissey was leaving. Since he’s probably the closest I’ll get to communing with Morrissey, I abandoned my tea, speed-walked to him, and directed my compliments at his pompadour: “I’ve seen you perform before, and I really admire what you do.
He smiled, said, “Give me a hug,” and the güero became my cleverly fay Englishman for a seven seconds.
I’ve had a lifelong thing for rabbits and an end-of-summer visit to Pasadena’s Bunny Museum showed me how, with enough eccentric grit, such a thing could be monetized.
Year three of the Great Depression and the address of the Bunny Museum!
Polyglot plaques hanging along the BM’s stuccoed porch announced to me and my person that we’d arrived at the appropriately deranged spot. I knocked, summoning the keeper of the madness to her front door. Dressed in violent reds, this blonde emerged and greeted, “Did you bring the bunny money?”
“I brought cash,” I said with uncertainty.
“That’s bunny money,” she lectured. “It’s for the bunnies. We have several live bunnies on the premises and they have to eat between three and five fresh fruits and vegetables a day. It adds up. Six dollars.”
She stuck out her pawlm.
Being a rabbit caretaker myself, I subscribe to guidelines that privilege timothy hay as a dietary anchor, but I wasn’t there to proselytize my gospel of fiber. I was there to be awed. Reaching into my tote, I groped for…bunny money.
“Do you have any rabbits on your person?” the lady asked as I handed over six dollars which I really wanted to garnish with sixty six cents.
“I had a figurine I was going to give you but-”
“No!” interrupted the melaninly-deprived bunny mistress. “On your person.” She gestured to show that she meant bunnies in my skin.
“Oh, yes,” I said. “I have this.” I rolled up my left sleeve and showed her.
“What is that?” she asked.
“It’s a rabbit pirate. Her cutlass crisscrosses this delicious carrot because vegetables are the booty she seeks.”
“I’m gonna have to get a picture of that. Place your hats and bags in the chest.” She pointed at a wooden chest stenciled with rabbitry. “And then hop on in.”
Dumping hats and my tote in the piratic thing, we ferried our wallets and phones into the BM’s foyer. There, the bunny mistress stuck a doctored sign in our hands. She styled us and became our Annie Leibovitz.
After taking shots of us with her camera and mine, she faced us down, treating us to an oral history of the BM. During our baby carrot of a lesson, we learned that the BM accidentally began when the bunny mistress and her husband exchanged rabbit-related gifts for their wedding anniversary. They continued exchanging rabbit-related gifts for the next three hundred and sixty-five days. As friends learned of this daily hoppening, they heaped rabbit-related gifts on the couple, and eventually, the two amassed an excess of thirty thousand rabbit-related collectibles, many of which are housed not there. The bunny mistress rabidly stressed that the BM is a living museum where she, her top rabbit (husband), their bunnies, and some cats (which bothered me: cats prowling a shrine dedicated to rabbits is like Amish wearing Velcro) perform their daily what-have-yous. So, at the Pasadena home we’d paid to enter, this family entrepreneurially receives gawkers while cooking pasta, watching DVDs (probably not Fatal Attraction), perusing cialis with atenolol the TV Guide, and, of course, experiencing the occasional BM. The bunny mistress explained that she and her husband have dreams of relocating the BM to a larger site with a bunny-shaped parking lot. She described the lot’s layout while I zoned out, imagining traffic flowing according to the rabbit’s digestive journey.
Fun Lagomorphic Facts: The rabbit’s digestive tract more closely resembles a pony’s than a rat’s but rabbit connoisseur Amy Sedaris stresses that whenever the rabbit asks the horse to borrow money, its phone calls are never returned. Rabbits also munch on a special blend of their own poo pooetically known as night feces.
There was no humble bragging at the BM. The bunny mistress pointed at the tribute wall behind her so that we could not overlook her awards from Guinness World Records, TV Guide, and LA Weekly, and then, she hopped away, allowing us to bask in the kind of extravagant hoarding that makes me proud to be an American.
Somebunny’s watching you.
Doesn’t the middlemost impostor look like it’s silently screaming for help?
Oh, the dust bunnies.
And so on
Our paths, or bunny trails, crossed with the bunny mistress’, again, in her dining room, where three of her freeze-dried former pets added morbid flair to her collection.
Craving a rabbite to eat, we roved into the kitchen.
In the cucina,
we spied this marshmallow enjoying the spoils of bunny money.
Even the fridge was a bunanza.
to the f(l)ur.
Stepping out of the kitchen and into the backyard spared us from nothing. In fact, the objet de rabbit Alice in Wonderlandishly swelled in size…
Rabbits attempting AWOL smashed against the glass.
I worried. My person was blending in with the cute coprophagists.
S/he and I strolled back inside, to check out the room with plushies flattened against its panes.
We wheeled through a doorway
and discovered the TV room, a place to watch porn while sneezing.
Reemerging into the dining area/gift shop/bookstore, I glanced at the scrim featuring local celebrity visitors. Meanwhile, the bunny mistress bragged about Elijah Wood’s Funny or Die commercial for the BM.
A hobbit in a BM commercial?
“Its so nice that you get to perform your obsession,” I told the bunny mistress as my person looked through her books for sale.
I asked to take the bunny mistress’ picture and before shooting it, she disappeared to an off-limits part of the BM to preen. Returning, she posed at a table with a Bunniculaish creature on it and my anemic flash did its best to illuminate her. I thought not quite aloud about how this was a very queer place and a very queer thing was hoppening, this straight couple selling access to their rabbitcentric lifestyle, but I refrained from vocalizing my assessment: the bunny mistress also happens to be thee self-proclaimed Christian Ann Landers and organizer behind Los Angeles’ annual Angel Festival and if there’s anything I’m not, it’s an angel.