Friday, October 13, 2006

Three things that have made me happy this month:

1 The return of Gurlesque! I was at the October 1st Gurlesque Sleaze Recovery, and was very, very happy to attend the first show of the season. It occurred to me how healthy and thriving the dyke/ queer women's alternative sex culture in Sydney is right now, and how important Gurlesque is to cultural change - the huge variety of acts on the one stage - lots with political content, or just very queer, and celebrating of diversity makes me very warm and fuzzy.

A huge highlight for me was Wife's piece. Beautifully cut (and later cut through) black satin frock, images of queer, anti-racism, sex worker rights, women's and broad left activism flashing up on the screen, red beads, silver sparkly stilettos, gorgeous lingerie and "Love is a Battlefield". Wife is always so amazing - a lovely, articulate, passionate, present femme woman. An inspiring human being as well as a performer. I love her use of trad-femme props - the name Wife, fabrics, sewing, fashion, cooking in a way that makes them metaphors for dissent, protest and empowerment, rather than buying into seeing femme frippery as inherently mundane, silly or symbols of oppression.

I also spent some of my time at Gurlesque buying loads of pussy pounds and tipping the cage dancers. I'm not usually that comfortable in the buyer mode; however it feels important for women consumers of erotic entertainment (stripping, sex work and porn) to get out the money and adequately reward the workers. While the cage dancers at Gurlesque may not always be professionals, it's about shifting the cultural messages that say that women don't pay for it. I'm hoping to lead by example.

Another highlight for me was that Zoo was one of the cage dancers, wearing her new cock and not much else. I had lots of fun giving her Spanish and blow jobs while tipping. Also leading by example in this area, it seems, as people stated being much more interactive with the cage dancers after that.

2 In preparation for an intense phase of concept development for performance pieces for the afore mentioned December Debby Show, I've been spending some (at the moment quite rare) free time steeping myself in sex worker culture. I've particularly enjoyed revisiting my long-term goal of promoting adelie penguins, one of the few (recognised) non-human species that engage in sex for gain, as mascots for the sex worker rights movement. This article , this one and this one are the basis of my obsession. I have also found joy in the fact that I can get stuffed Adelie penguins on line.

3. I seem to be on top (which is always good for me) of my latest depression episode. About six to eight weeks ago I started noticing a return of early depression symptoms. Increased sleeping difficulties, decreased motivation and concentration span. I've been off meds since the new year, and 2006 has been about self-care and a focus on mental health as a way of life for me. Some of the strategies that I've found really helpful have been: working through it - just head down, push on through stuff - being stronger and more focused that the depression, long brisk walks for about 5 - 8 hours, really committeded socialising and building up networks in Sydney, and saying affirmations (sounding like a complete egotist as I'm doing so, but it actually works).

When I recognised this new episode for what it was, I was really frightened - I know that after a decade of chronic depression, I'm not going to snap out of it easily, but I was terrified of losing the gains I'd made so far and slipping back into despair. What I did was immediately made a counselling appointment, informed my boss of my concerns and the possible affects on my work, and increased my busyness levels. I've found I can out-walk depression, and generally keep my body in constant motion (something about keeping the metabolism sped up seems to do great things for the seretonin levels. Having a brain too full of work, socialising and short and medium-term plans is also helpful at keeping the cognitive distortion negative thinking stuff at bay.

So my life feels pretty fabby right now. I feel very much in control of my mental health, and although pretty over-loaded and sleep deprived, I have so many joyful moments all the time, and some special things on the horizon. The best part is that all of the things that are important to me - sex worker activism, my pride and outness, my sex radicalism, my queerness, my femme identity, are all intact and nurtured.

Anyone who tells you you have to conform more, get in the closet (any closet) or develop hobbies that involve more knitting and less saving the world in order to find peace, stability or good mental health are lying and deeply cynical. Sometimes I feel that being true to the complex creature I am is the real achievement of my life. To discover I can maintain my messy, careening, passionate self and find community and emerge from depression is awe-inspiring. Blessed Be.


Mr Bear said...

ok, it took me a while, but I looked for and found the penguins.

Oh my the cuteness, and the stuffed ones rock my world.

whoretic said...

Yes, adelies are adorable... Why is it that other whore activists are less keen to take them up as movement symbols, I have no idea.