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!)
Oakland academic Essence Harden interviews RADAR SPECTACLE performer BRONTEZ PURNELL.
Tell us about you’re recent work “New Diaspora” and “Other Dancers” at the L@te series at the Berkeley Art Museum (BAM). How does blackness, queerness, and collaboration inform your work?
New Diaspora was a means to celebrate the different Black talent going on in the Bay right now. It was inherently a very queer night also. I grew up in Alabama and have always been challenged/ curious about the lives of Black people in terms of place/environment/time period. Other Dancers was a means to celebrate the different experimental choreographers I know. there were some people involved in Other Dancers whose work i had never even seen before. i just got drunk at a bar with them and it was like “oh! you do performance? KOOL! would you be a part of this?” Blackness, Queerness, and Collaboration inform my work INFINITELY.
Speaking of “New Diaspora” I really loved how you ended the night with a decompression of energy by leading a group-follow dance onto pillows. How is community reconciliation significant to your art?
I went to speak to my friends class at Berkeley about community healing thorough art and i think its as simple as getting a group of people (no matter the number) in a space together moving towards a common goal or feeling however fleeting it may be. Its essentially about togetherness and intention.
Tell us about the making of “Free Jazz” your inaugural dance film from the Brontez Purnell Dance Company? Particularly the “cut n’ mix” of aesthetic choices involving punk, cosmology, the African Diaspora, and temporality. How has studying theatre and dance informed your current project?
I was obsessed with doing a dance movie cause like who does that? Particularity in Black and White Super 8 cause im a slave to aesthetic. I was doing work and making pieces at Cal State East Bay and was really excited about it so i wanted to put the work i did in a form that could live forever and encapsulate a certain period in my career. All my work is informed by whats closest to me. I think about things like sex, religion, community 24/7 and the film is a subdued response to my raging obsessions. Maybe it gives them more of a context for myself.
I loveeee novella’s, tell us about your upcoming work?
It’s called “Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger” its not a novella as much as it is an exorcism of the ghosts of my reckless first 30 years on the planet. I found a publisher but editing is kicking my ass. I decided not to change to tittle ever cause i fell like trying to pander commercial appeal for a book thats about a black punk rockers romp through life is somewhat delusional. Plus i see it living on in that N.W.A meets feminism category of literature.
I think what’s really incredible about your art and you as a person is the inescapable visibility you give to the complexity of being Black, queer, male, and a politically radical punk. Can you talk about being a radical Black queer punk and how these and other positionalities continue to inform your art?
Its hard cause at 30 im finally starting to feel semi-comfortable in my skin and what i will allow and not allow. Even though im rightfully a cross section of all these varied identities i dont trust MOST Black people, MOST punks, MOST queers and don’t get me started on men. Its been an interesting journey finding out who my people are. One example was i took a dance class at Berkeley and this other queer black male student found out i was from Alabama and had all these romantic notions of Blackness and the Deep South (he had grown up in California) and he said something about wanting to move to Atlanta- now growing up down South i have my own prejudices. In inadvertently blurted out “dude, first of all if you HAVE to party down South go to New Orleans NOT Atlanta. I CANT with Atlanta. I know all the shows on TV make it look fun but its the WORST mix of East Coast attitude and Southern boredom. If i wanted a bunch of stuck-up Black people telling me to go to church all the time i’d watch BET…..BARF”- and i look up and im like “holy shit- i just scared this kid”- this is one example of how my radical, black, punk rockness gets me in trouble and i wouldn’t trade it for the WORLD…….
Essence Harden is a current graduate student in the department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. When she is not researching articulations of Black masculinity through 1980/90′s hair and styling practices you can find her reading sci-fi and eating bagels in her back lot/garden.
Can you tell us about Texta and your amazing superhero aesthetic?
‘Texta’ means felt-tip marker in Australia and it’s been my pseudonym for nearly 15 years. I sometimes dress in a superhero costume, the first version, in 1997, got created when I was doing kids’ drawing and workshops and then I carried it over into my art world persona. Markers are an accessible medium, and the superhero adds to my accessibility in the often cold, alienating, elitist gallery. And personally being a texta superhero is a way for me to feel a bit empowered in spaces that I’m marginalised, as brown, queer and seen as female. I mostly wear my marker themed superhero outfit only for kids’ activities these days, though I have other spandex outfits too.
Tell us about your most recent solo project “Unknown Artist” and the shift from earlier works, particularly the nude form and critical engagement with white bodies to the self portraiture.
‘Unknown Artist’ is a series of self-portraits, where I drew myself as different characters exploring aspects of my identities, especially race, sexuality and gender. Many of them are about me trying to connect with cultural heritage and cultural identity. They include one where I’m Gandhi the literally imperfect leader as a zombie, one reclaiming Indian mythology around the hyena, a self-love self-portrait of a superhero me rescuing a nude me, and one about internalizied patriarchy and white supremacy of me with blonde hair, blue contacts, holding a Ken doll being puppetted by Animal from the Muppets. It is a pretty big concept shift from my previous work; nudes of mostly white queers posed in scenarios of their choosing. I guess I’ve changed a lot as a person in the last few years, engaged more in what it means to be a racialised person in mostly white environments, acknowledging the ways I’ve adapted to and prioritised white people, and trying to change that conditioning. The last few years i’ve been trying to focus on finding and creating queer people of colour ‘community’’, so my creative and friendship circles have shifted a lot, and my art has too. Before the Unknown Artist series I did a series called We Dont Need Another Hero, where Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous people of colour living in Australia posed as protagonists of post-apocalyptic movies, with colonialism obviously being our apocalypse. My earlier work celebrated queerness, and what some might see as radical queerness, but I now acknowledge that it was very white-centric ideas of queerness, bodies, and beauty I was honouring. Shifting to a queer POC focus in my art and drawing the self-portraits has been indescribably healing and empowering, especially when I’ve had relatively few images of brownness, especially queer brownness, around me for my entire life.
Can you talk some about your writing project “Harshbrowns” and my favorite piece “The Kreayshawn complex: cultural appropriation as counter-cultural expression”?
I started writing my harshbrowns blog kind of anonymously, when I had just begun to race rage, catalysed by a few specific events mostly around cultural appropriation and racial fetishism in the white-centric queer ‘radical’ Melbourne scene. The race rage had been bubbling under the surface for a long time but the reaction of most of my white close friends to my explanations of how these events had impacted on me, quite suddenly alienated me from most of the people who had been really close in my life as I realised their racisms. Writing the blog, I processed these experiences, and even though the posts or poems are often addressed to white people, they were as much a way for me to connect with others with similar experiences, to try to build new connections in the face of an intense disillusionment in the idea of community I had known.
The responses to the blog have been really overwhelming, not just the high visitor stats, but the touching personal messages from people positively connecting with it as well as the intense reactions to people who have been confronted by the content. I think that the Kreayshawn complex post, on how cultural appropriation often seems an expression of people’s counter-cultural identity, using hip-hop as it’s main reference, spoke to a lot of people beyond the specific Melbourne-based events the post referenced. My words as a non-black person writing about appropriation, using mostly the example of appropriated black culture in the predominately non-black context of Australia could never articulate the complexity of the issues, but hopefully through my own lens as a racialised person I wrote something relatable, putting into a broader white-appropriation-of-other-cultures’ context.
What is your writing process like and how does it lie in conjecture with your illustrative art? Are there any writing projects in the works?
I hadn’t officially been a writer before starting play the pokies online the blog, other than song lyrics, casual travel blogging, journalling and brief writing about the people in my drawings. I’ve come to realise that I really enjoy the writing process and am a pretty articulate yet accessible writer. I have long periods where I only write for myself, if at all, keeping a very personal and ranty journal, but this processing usually bubbles into a form that I share. Writing often helps me conceptualise my visual art, and my visual art is usually emotional tangent to my writing. However, my writing has been more outwardly critical while my art is more focused on construction of identity. I was race raging hard at the world when I was drawing the We Don’t Need Another Hero post-apocalypse movie poster series at the same time as I was writing uncomfortable-for-white-people-poetry, whereas I did a lot of self-reflective, private writing while making my Unknown Artist self-portrait series. The Unknown Artist series reflects a lot on what ‘cultural heritage’ means and on completing that series I wrote a new piece about cultural identity and the personal effects of cultural appropriation on my connection to cultural heritage. This will soon be published in Peril magazine online, on the harshbrowns blog and sometimes read on tour with Sister Spit while showing the self-portraits as projections.
I’m really interested in your oppositional gaze onto structures and populaces of power within your work particularly, your critiques of whiteness, normativity, patriarchy, and coloniality. How is this politics of critical dissent informed within your art and writing?
I hope that especially my visual art is about constructing queer, POC, feminist, decolonized identity and that the representation and centering of these identities is the focus. My art values empowerment (though also vulnerability) over directly de-constructing the structures of power that affect these identities, which I feel is an effective way of resisting those structures. My writing has more directly critiqued, especially whiteness, though I’ve been trying lately to focus my energies in constructing identity, so that the ‘you’ pictured in my writing are those I identity with rather than addressing those who don’t share my experiences.
You work a lot with youth- we met at Girls Rock Camp, Oakland in Summer of 2012- and do a great number of workshops in Australia. Can you tell us about the import of young people for your work and your involvement with volunteer spaces?
I teach youth (and adult) drawing workshops, superhero identity workshops, contour line drawing and other stuff, but most of my ‘work’ with youth at the moment is hanging out with my friends’ kids. I do like working with young people and my artwork is generally accessible to many of them, not just in the felt-tip marker medium, but the playfulness is a friendly vehicle to deliver the complex content.
I’ve worked creatively, made and put my artwork in DIY, punk, and volunteer spaces as much as I have in white-walled commercial art spaces. I wouldn’t be making a living from my art without the commercial contexts I show in, I’m really pleased that my last show sold out in Melbourne, but I don’t often feel comfortable in those spaces. I am happy that my work is in major public institutions because many people will see it that aren’t going to access it at commercial galleries or punk environments. There’s definitely much to negotiate in less commercial environments, but I have more hope to make connections with and be inspired by folks, and contribute something real to people through my art and inter-personally, when I’m with people and in spaces that share aspects of my own identity. I’ve put a bit of energy into figuring out what QPOC community means in Melbourne, helping organise some social and performance events, but lately I’ve mostly been reclusively working on my visual art.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a series of ‘Poem Portraits’, seeking out queer, trans and two-spirit people of colour writers and poets to pose in a scenario with their words. I’ve made a few in this theme, and it’s been a great challenge to bring together these two creative practices that I enjoy. I’m hoping to show the series in Australia in February at a great Indigenous run gallery called Blak Dot in Melbourne, and I’d love to show them somewhere in the US or Canada too, if anyone has any leads. Other than that, I hope to write more that I share, keep making art I’m proud of, look after myself and look out for my friends.
Essence Harden is a current graduate student in the department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. When she is not researching articulations of Black masculinity through 1980/90’s hair and styling practices you can find her reading sci-fi and eating bagels in her back lot/garden.
There are so many fun things happening this weekend! Follow my lead:
On FRIDAY I’m going to see Sister Spit alum Brontez Purnell’s new performance THE EPISODES with Anthony R. Lucas and Sophia Wang at The Garage. I LOVE Brontez The Writer (pick up a copy of his zine Fag School at your local DOWN AT LULUS retailer), and Brontez The Musician, so I’m really excited to experience Brontez The Choreographer.
On SATURDAY I’m going to the GRASP Showcase. As the invitation describes: “Girls Rock After School Program (GRASP) is a 10-week program for girls 8-18 years old. Students attend instrument lessons, form a band, collaboratively write an original song, participate in workshops, and perform with their band at a live showcase.” Girls Rock Camp is an AMAZING organization- give’em your support.
SATURDAY is all about the tweens because in the evening I’m going to Micaela, Brittany Billmeyer-Finn, Cheena Marie Lo, Kate Robinson and a musical performance by Maddy MADLINES Clifford.
And before I head home I’m going to go see Brilliant Colors at Hemlock!
On Sunday I’m spending the morning at my home away from home, DOWN AT LULUS. DOWN AT LULUS is a salon and vintage collective started by Tina Lucchesi and Seth Bogart. I’m a buyer for the store and each season we host a HUGE dollar sale.
THEEENNNN I’m going to the first show of the Black Salt Collective!
Black Salt Collective is the work of Fanciulla Gentile, Grace Rosario Perkins, and Adee Roberson.
These TALENTED LADIES will be selling their wares, exhibiting their works and unveiling their window display installation at ATA. I’ve got to be there by 5pm so I don’t miss the performance by LA-based musician Jeepneys!
So, please excuse me if I sound a little like THIS today- but there is just so much you CAN’T MISS!! See you this weekend.
Hello! And welcome to my Better-Late-Than-Never ART Monday. This week I’m so excited to recommend Spit and Passion by Cristy C. Road.
Spit and Passion is a graphic coming out memoir focusing on the often-overlooked moment of secret childhood queer-revelation, rather than the more common narrative of adolescent queer-declaration. This isn’t a story about coming out to others- it’s about coming out to oneself. And for some of us, coming out to oneself looks a lot like this:
You could say the book takes place in early 90s Miami- but the setting would be more aptly described as in the mind of preteen Cristy as she navigates, and second-guesses, the realization that she’s probably a dyke.
The story tracks Cristy as she reconciles her Cuban-American Catholic upbringing with her new queer punk leanings.
She seeks solace in Ren & Stimpy, Freddy Mercury, Broadway musicals, Rosanne Barr, and most fanatically, Green Day. Her story is filled with references, as varied as they seem, that all outsider-gays will identify with. Ren & Stimpy is the millennial Burt & Ernie, no?
I’m a HUGE fan of Cristy C. Road’s illustrations and this book does not disappoint with incredibly beautiful artwork. Each panel is a stand-alone piece.
Buy a copy of Spit and Passion RIGHT NOW and come see Cristy C. Road when she’s on tour with Sister Spit 2013! (For those in the Bay Area- come to the Sister Spit Kick Off at The San Francisco Public Library on March 31)
AND ANOTHER THING: Cristy C. Road is also working on a tarot deck with our own Michelle Tea! Check out some of the drawings in the works- THEY ARE AMAZING.
You should know before I even began that Towson, Maryland is where John Waters set his film Serial Mom, about a suburban mother who cracks and starts slaying everyone in her Real Housewifes-esque environment. Sister Spit says, Well done! What a creepy enclave! Though our show at Towson University was awesome, should one find oneself in Towson, one should not step foot off the campus. First, one of our male tour members using the restroom in PF Chang’s wound up with a hand full of ejaculate when he went to grab some toilet paper! Yes, dear readers, ejaculate! A huge gob was on the toilet as well – I know, because another tour member bravely went into the bathroom and photographed it. We spent much of our dinner speculating on which employee did it. As a group of people who have masturbated on the clock, we felt certain it was an employee! However, our solidarity with a wage slave taking a little ‘me’ time was eroded by their disgusting sloppiness and disregard for others. What a jerk off!
We all wolfed down our desserts in order to make it into the Towson Town Center (a mall that is putting on airs) to buy toiletries at Sephora and get haircuts. We all met up in the mall’s center, in front of this, um, beautiful display of some classical signifiers of wealth and abundance. ‘Marble’! Sweeping staircases! Cheeubs! We were snapping some pictures of Erin posing with the little angels while waiting for Jerry Lee, when suddenly . . .
We were set upon by Mall Cops! They were quite hostile and acted as if we were skateboarding off the faux-marble or sliding down the bannisters. We were told that we could not take any photos and that we had to leave the mall immediately. The mall was closing, and we were on our way out anyway, but they were being super intense and unfriendly about it, especially when there were still people walking all around us, sitting at the food court and exiting stores. We turned and walked toward the exit, steaming at this rude treatment!
Rather than just send us on our way – we were being very obedient, this isn’t a 90s Sister Spit tour, after all – they escorted us out like a pack of criminals! As you can see there on the left, other shoppers were allowed to walk to their vehicles in a dignified manner, with no interference from the mall cops.
I took a few photos of these power-mad mall cops with my phone as some sort of evidence of whatever was happening – it felt really crazy! They then threatened to take my phone and arrest me! One demanded to see my phone and I told him that cops need warrants for such things. I listen to enough Jay-Z to know my rights! The man cryptically replied, “We’re not cops.” What sort of rogue code were these rent-a-cops operating under?!
They trailed us menacingly all the way into the garage, where they ran our plates and called us – I shit you not – retarded. One of the very sweet queers from Towson University was super outraged, an we wanted to get their badge numbers or something but they were such wild, threatening d-bags we thought it best to just climb into the van and let them escort us off the property with their lights flashing, as if we were criminals and not simply people who spent too much money at Sephora.
I wrote a passionate plea for justice to the powers that be at the Towson Town Center, but I have yet to hear back! Thankfully, we have all recovered from the incident, and I do believe that my love of shopping and of malls has not been too damaged. Still, I think Sister Spit deserves an apology, and some gift certificates to Sephora! Yeah.
Here’s our trusty Merch girl, Cassie J Sneider, proudly hawking our wares in Toronto! Look at all that great stuff! Our Merch Table on this tour has been referred to as the Sister Spit Skymall; also the Sister Spit Yard Sale (after some garbagey bullshit of questionable origin – plastic sunglasses?) showed up for sale. For tonight’s totally awesome show in Durham, North Carolina we were the Sister Spit Candy Store because of the case of candy cigarettes Cassie found at some god-forsaken roadside America hole-in-the-wall and is now selling for a dollar, or free with a purchase of her book Fine, Fine Music.
Smoking does make you look cool. Cassie read her whole story tonight with a candy cigarette clutched in her knuckles. Badass.
This was Jerry Lee and Brontez’s room at the amazing Gladstone Hotel in Toronto! The rooms are all designed by a different artist and so they’re all one-of–kind! It was very a-pro-po that the boys got what was essentially the bedroom of a hormonal thirteen year old in 1981, the walls covered with pics of Matt Dillon, Kristy McNicholl (hey, my busted computer is so busted it won’t let me open a new tab so I can spell check Kristy’s name, sorry! OH, and Kristy just came out! As a lesbian! Which we all already knew forever and ever but it is always cool to be able to say, See World, some celebrities really are gay and we gay people can often spot them, okay????? Now, if fucking Peppermint Patti would just cop to it we’d all be thrilled) – oh, and unicorns! And Ralph Macchio. It was a great room. Me and Erin got one that was very woodland, with a stack of chopped firewood (really) and giant branches wedged into the corners. Justin’s was a very glamorous, silvery room with multiple vanities, and Cassie and Kit’s was like a boy’s room, with puzzles glued to the wall. It was as if the very hotel had read our personalities and gave us rooms that matched our souls. Though my inner tween would have preferred Jerry Lee and Brontez’s crib, for this reason:
Bitches got crunk in Toronto. There was theft and belligerence, and sly attempts by inebriated tour members to have sex with strangers in their hotel rooms! Bringing a trick home to the room you are sharing with a fellow tour member is even more illegal than food hoarding! Cite the precedent-setting 2007 case Georges vs. Argo if you’d like more information. Anyway, here is everyone hungover and shame spiraling the next morning. It took us about 45 minutes to get out of these poses and hit the road. And for the record, Cassie J is not hungover – everyone else’s debauchery had given her a migraine.
Look you guys, it’s Niagara Falls! God made this! Look at the majesty! We idiotically stopped here on our way to Pittsburgh, getting us into Pittsburgh too late to stop at the hotel, so we all had to take whores’ baths in the restrooms at The Warhol Museum. But it was worth it, because we all had to pee and why not pee in nature?
For all the excellent places we get to go on tour, we never really get to see anything. We pull right into our hotel, head to the venue and then leave the next morning. So it actually was fun to have a family vay-cay moment at the Falls.
I took this awesome picture of Jerry Lee’s butt totally by accident!
Brontez thought the falls would be a lot bigger – he told his mom on the phone that they were only about two stories and he totally understood how someone could go over them in a barrel and live. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m still impressed,” He clarified. I’m actually obsessed with the bird next to Brontez and was making him get as close to it as he could without freaking it out. It’s a red-winged blackbird – when it flies it’s wings are so cool!
Girls gone wild.
Being in the van in the rain is sort of cozy and sweet. Not that I’ve been getting a lot of sleep, but even when I am well-rested it’s hard to stay awake. The motion of the van and the stillness of your own self sort of lulls you. Today we listened to a lot of Modern Lovers, my favorite road trip album ever. We stopped at a Panera near Qunatico for smoothies. We tried to eat at a Waffle House but church had just gotten out and it was mobbed. I tried to read Vanity Fair but then started falling asleep so I laid with a sweater as a pillow and tried to nap, but then I was writing a story in my head and thought, Well, what if this is some sort of great book and I don’t write it down and I lose it forever?! So I plugged my dying computer in and wrote like five pages of a new novel. Cool. So now I have three novels in progress. In case you think this makes a person feel like a Real Writer, let me assure you it does not. It makes you feel like a Real Fake Writer who can’t finish a freaking book so you keep starting new ones. Anyways…
Truck Stop Bathroom Art
Secret Puddles Markey in his dressing room.
I was too busy running around at our show at the amazing Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to see much of the galleries, but I loved this weird shot of Andy with Albert Schwartzenegger and Grace Jones all hanging out together.
The women who did ASL interpretation for our show at the Warhol were so awesome, and total champs about interpreting Brontez’s nasty-ass stories!
Jerry dressed dandy for Andy! Respect.
Our Tour manager, Beth Pickens, swears by outing the whole van as gay as the best way to get through customs easily. When the eventual ‘How do you all know each other?’ question came from Border Patrol, I piped up, ‘Artistic collaborators – and we’re all gay.’ The guy waved us right into America! Maybe it works in the same way it worked for Justin Bond to tell V’s boss that V had to miss work to take V’s sister for an abortion, when in fact V had to go to the clinic to get some medication for The Clap. People just don’t want to know. All our Passport photos are pretty embarrassing, save for Cassie J Sneider who just got hers last week and is looking great with perfect cat-eye eyeliner, per usual.
Sister Spit would like to welcome Anne Heche to the Van Library, where she will be among such company as the Silence Of the Lambs audiobook, Tracy Morgan’s I Am the New Black audiobook and Jon Benet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation by Detective Steve Thomas, read aloud. All 400+ pages of it.
Beauty daredevil Cassie J Sneider plucks her brows in a moving van!
At some bar down the street from our Oberlin, Ohio show, I sent Jerry Lee upstairs with my camera to come back with a photo and show us what we were missing as we sat downstairs eating tater tots and salad. There you go.
Erin Markey swears by the maternal, new age victim-blaming soothsaying of prophetess Louise Hay! Though I resent her claim that I brought my yeast infection on myself with bad feelings about my vagina, I really dug listening to her audio meditations, where she likened our negativity-prone psyches to frying pans that have so much gunk on them they need to soak in the sink for a while, but the sink is positive thinking, and when you soak your brain in it all the negativity soaks off! #METAPHOR
Found in a CVS in Pittsburgh. One of many items not for sale in San Francisco. You have to come to AMERICA for these!
NEXT TIME: Sister Spit gets kicked out of a mall in Towson, Maryland!
Hey you guys! Doesn’t Jerry Lee look scary rest stop hot in the new America glasses he picked up in Iowa City this morning? We were told to get coffee at the little coffee bar inside White Rabbit, a boutique I was about to write off as a DIY shop with, you know, electrical tape wallets and apple cozies but NO, this place was seriously good shopping! I got a pair of dead stock asymmetrical $5 sunglasses that I think are too something for me – hip hop, electro, new wave, young? – but at that price and this level of shopping deprivation I couldn’t say no! I also bought excellent some stone jewelry by Raw Earth, and Jerry Lee bought these here incredible aviators. Now he fits right in with the USA!
Look at Cassie J Sneider hiding behind an oppressive wall of other people’s vices. After our pretty great show at Butler University in Indianapolis tonight even I was hungry, which meant that everyone else on tour were starving because unlike these sad, weak people I tour with I don’t have to slow my roll with food. I was pretty excited to eat spinach etouffe at Yat’s but the place was closed so we picked a place that sounded exciting – a gay 24-hour diner called Ollie’s Downtown. Ollie’s is basically like the most uninspiring dive gay bar you can imagine, filled with the cigarette smoke and they serve food. It was like eating in a big, gay ashtray. Jerry Lee kindly offered not to smoke at the table, but Justin Bond took a stand – after all these nights having to take V’s cigarettes outside, the tables had turned! If we wanted fresh air, we would have to go outside, she said, and lit up a Marlboro Light right there at the table! The only thing that soothes the grotesque pain of sitting in a room of second-hand smoke is smoking, so I adopted a When-In-Indianapolis attitude and smoked one of Mx’s cigarettes. It was pretty disgusting but worth it to see the looks of shock and horror when my non-smoking tourmates came in to the bar/diner/hell and saw me smoking and sipping a Sprite (I had asked for a Ginger Ale!)
Cassie looked pretty depressed by the atmosphere and I asked her if she was having body memories of being locked in sealed environments with chain-smoking parents, and she lit up with the glow of being seen and said yes. I was, too.
My true love came to visit me on tour. Perhaps she just wanted an excuse to go shopping for faux coonskin hats at truck stops, but I don’t care. Steve Perry said it, the road ain’t no place to start a family. Having a conjugal visit with my true love is of the utmost importance. That dude who plays Don Draper on Mad Men won’t allow his Hollywood lifestyle to separate him from his woman, that annoying actress from that Friends with Kids movie, for more than two weeks at a time and I am swearing by this as well.
In Portland we went to The Alibi, an epic tiki bar, for karaoke. It was our first and only karaoke on tour so far, and it was a really good one! Our guest that night at Lewis and Clark College was Cooper Lee Bombardier, who came on the very first Sister Spit tour ever in 1997! He also came on a later tiny tour up the west coast, and when me and Sini Anderson took the van to get cleaned we took Cooper’s duffel bag out of the back and then left it on the street by accident! At the shady car wash on Portrero in San Francisco! A lifetime of leather pants, perfectly worn western shirts and classic rock Ts, gone in an instant. I can’t believe Cooper even talks to me after that. That’s forgiveness.
This was Dorothy Allison’s first trip inside a karaoke bar! She didn’t sing, but, you know, baby steps! It was brave enough for her to endure Cassie’s ferocious Iron Maiden, my trembling Stevie Nicks, and Chelsea Starr’s Courtney Love. If she was going to sing, I think she would have done Janis Joplin. There’s always tomorrow.
Speaking of Sister Spit Alumni Chelsea, check out her fancy phone! Way to dodge a brain tumor and look cute! I also enjoy the rhinestone cellie on the table, the wad of cash and the bottle of digestive enzymes.
Plaid Attack, Chicago
That’s a Char’d Polish on the left and your classic Cheese Dog on the right. Chicago, duh.
We all miss Dorothy Allison so much! Having her in the van was sweet and magical, and hearing her every night was a devastating rapture. For reals. We love you, Dorothy!
In Minneapolis we really needed a mic cord that was locked inside this cabinet. I had a feeling Cassie J could pick a lock, and when I asked her she said, “What kind of lock?” Then she pulled a bobby pin from her hair and got to work. It’s so great traveling with criminals.
Watching Season 2 of Dynasty in the Redwoods, California
Erin Markey is just WILD about Dill Pickle Potato Chips!
Okay, more soon, I got to go to bed! We’re getting up early to do a Sephora run before our Whole Foods run before heading to Oberlin College. Excellent!
Hey! Our Road Manager Jerry Lee ran out to get some dollars in Tucson and wound up falling into Toxic Ranch Records and finding a Seven Year Bitch 45! Look at all that punk happiness on his face. I understand – as awesome as our Tucson show was, and it was AWESOME, very, very, very AWESOME, I couldn’t wait til it was over so I could dash over to the Goodwill and buy two winter coats, a skirt, three blouses (One is Norma Kamali! Score!) and a necklace. Let’s be real: Tour is about hitting thrift shops across the USA and maximum karaoke.
At one gas station, Dorothy was told by the man behind the counter that they no longer had a microwave because druggies from the halfway house down the block would come in to microwave their pee before they had to go for a pee test. We don’t know if this actually works or if it is the sort of idea that comes from a person who also thinks there are bugs crawling out of their pores.
I like to lay down in the van and sort of sleep but also just listen to everyone talking. It gives me this cozy, safe feeling I used to get when I was a kid and half fell-asleep under the kitchen table when we had company over. Company was generally my grandmother and an aunt and a few cousins chain smoking and gossiping with my mother, and I would pray they’d just leave me there half-snoozing and totally eavesdropping on the floor, and they usually did. Today in the van Dorothy was playing her iPod and we listened to James McMurty and the Heartless Bastards, which sounds like a contemporary country music Violent Femmes, and then the theme to All That Jazz, plus some poems. It all prompted Erin to sing Jesus puts his money in the National Bank, the national bank, the National Bank / Jesus puts his money in the National Bank/ And that’s how Jesus saves! And share how she sang this song her dad taught her at her Youth Group ski trip and everyone just stared at her.
Today on the drive from Oakland to Arcata we passed the Army recruiting office where Dorothy’s son almost registered, and the Pier 1 Imports parking lot where Dorothy waited for him. The Army recruiter came out and said, ‘Mother Allison, you’ve got a fine boy,’ and what Dorothy was all, ‘Get the fuck away from my vehicle, I am here under protest.” Wow, did you really say that?! We all gasped. “I wanted to,” She sighed, “But you don’t want to embarrass your boy.”
Dorothy Allison told us a story about Janis Joplin’s old girlfriend Linda, who’d lived in Northern California. Linda told Dorothy that when people OD’d they’d bury them in hollow of a Redwood grove and cover them with dirt and flowers and wine, and say about them ‘They went to the trees.’ “She’s the one who was selling Janis’ underwear on Craig’s List. Not that they were actually Janis’ underwear. You know Janis wasn’t wearing Calvin Klein underwear so you knew she was just fucking with them. You got to make a living somehow.”
“Did you all know that Thomas Kincaid died this weekend?” Jerry Lee asks.
“He was lying in a bathtub with a bowl of gravy next to him, like Whitney Houston,” Erin said.
“Can you imagine if your last meal was a bowl of gravy fries?” Jerry Lee asked.
“I’m going to make it my artistic mission,” Said Erin.
“I hate that we live in a world where you can’t just have a movie about Julia Child, you have to splice in a blogger.”Â – Brontez Purnell
Erin Markey missed out on My So-Called Life because she wasn’t allowed to watch MTV because of the kids who set their house on fire after watching Beevus and Butthead.
In the front of the van Cassie and Dorothy negotiate Dorothy’s iPod for maximum Springsteen. “We’ll start with Badlands,” Dorothy says. “This is one of my favorite songs to sing at karaoke,” Cassie says. “I bet you’re good,” Dorothy says.
Sippin Syrup is the opposite of an energy drink – it is chock full of every herbal downer you can think of: Kava Kava, Hops, Valerian, Poppy, Melatonin and more. Jerry Lee drank some during the day and was then too wasted to drive the van. Cassie drank some after dark and Kit made the mistake of spiking his with Vodka. Says Jerry, “The ‘sippin’ is for real! You do not want to drink that, you want to sip it! I was seriously snoozed out. It’s carbonated. You can’t taste any of it, it just tastes like grape soda. All three of us who took it had a real doped-up experience on it.” Note the use of the word ‘took’ instead of ‘drank’.
Even better than the free tampons at the UC Santa Barbara Women’s Center are the buttons that say Don’t grab my ASS! It’s sexual assault!
Brontez’s reading materials. He says that he’s the kind of woman that The Feminine Mystique says you’re not supposed to be. Also, Cassie brought a copy of The Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years for us to watch on the DVD player in the van, after we watch the 2nd season of Dynasty, which Jerry Lee brought.
Jerry Lee’s latest Doritos adventure: Doritos Dinamita. “Look, they’re rolled Doritos! Let’s smoke them! ‘It was all fun and games until Jerry Lee got hospitalized for smoking Doritos.'” He eats them. “Oh my god oh that’s goooooood. It’s limey! The red ones are making me feel crazy, though.”
Stopping at the drive through tree is becoming a Sister Spit tradition – though the audience at our Arcata show said that Trees of Mystery is the area’s best tourist trap. Brontez did not get out of the van at this stop. “I’m gonna stay and sleep,” He said. “I seen a tree.”
At Tomo, the delicious sushi restaurant inside the Arcata Hotel, they’ll hold onto your chopsticks for you. Isn’t that cool?
I tried to upload a video of Jerry Lee losing it while holding a animatronic animal called Justin Beaver that sings Justin Bieber songs, but it didn’t work so you will have to visualize.
We’re off to Portland! Come see us at Holocene!