The Miss Take Chronicles
The Smallbany Experience, October 1994
By your pal, Miss Take
Hello, and welcome, all you denizens of the underworld we call Small-bany. It's time for another journey past the light and into the heart of decay and we're not simply talking about going to the porn bookstore in Troy with Babs! Let's whip around the Capital District and see what the bad news is.
According to the Capital District Lesbian & Gay Community Center, the (Sm)Albany area has the second highest population of gay people in NYS, right after NYC and Rochester. At least that's what they said promoting the Pride Picnic. If you missed it, the Empire State Pride Agenda is having a big blowout at Heberts catering on September 19. Go and support them, and ask the totally hot Sherri Salvione why they don't follow ICTLEP's suggestion and add gender to the anti-discrimination bill they can't get through the Senate.
Third biggest. Great, but then why can we only support three gay nightspots?
There is the classic Waterworks, the local male cruise bar. Seven nights a week for the downstairs neighborhood bar, while the upstairs disco goes from Thursday thru Sunday. Second Saturday's are a hoot, with Stars Motorcycle Club sponsoring a leather nite. You can wear that cute little bustier and pouch you bought at Savage Gifts, right next door.
Big fun at the Waterworks comes when they book a traveling drag performer in. Jimmy James has been in attendance, as well as the wonderful Roxy, who brought a whole cast of characters in her suitcase, on her way out to a big P-Town engagement.
The lovely TS Christine (who sold her house and is planning on SRS soon) was a star of the show sitting on the railing. What a glamourpuss! Roxy played it for big, big laughs.
Look out for the Doctor, Mr. Tommy Scharf, his Karaoke machine and his wheel of specials on Thursday nights. Get a few belts, then belt one out yourself!
Power Company is the new player, a NYC dance bar with a great DJ that can pump on weekends. They had a big Madonna Mania event, with the Beyond Blonde Ambition show, featuring Raphel as Madonna and some dancing that would stir up anyone's juices
The big winner in the Madonna look alike contest? TS Christine in a bare midriff and slit bell bottoms. Hot Hot Hot!
T dance, 6-12 on Sunday for $7 with all you care to drink and plenty of dance music. Weeknights, Power Company keeps the lights on with a poundin' piano bar after 9PM, with plenty of entertainment. Free parking on the lot on the corner in the evenings.
And Club Ozz is out of the closet, our old Deceptions in fierce new drag. Upstairs is more clearly a dance club, with fewer seats and tables, along with new lights and an enhanced sound system. Its all painted & pretty now, in burgundy with sponge marks and the nouveau hip alka-seltzer towers everybody is talking about. Opening night was a hoot, with even the legendary Barbara making a (always) stunning appearance. She refused to comment on the rumors that she is not working in To Wang Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Neumar, the movie being shot in NYC with Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as three drag queens because she was just too sexy. "My lips are sealed," she is quoted as saying. Oh, those casting couches. BTW, look for RuPaul's cameo in Woo Fong.
Rumor in the little girls room is that downstairs will be opening soon, with pool tables and games, a cozy retreat, designed with the womyn in mind. Dave DeSisto's hot oldies nights are back, with the next one on September 10 from 6-10, with the promise of fun music, reduced drink prices and lots of gals. You should have seen TS Christine in her turquoise mini and bra top under matching jacket! Girl, ain't nobody got legs that long!
T dance is Sunday from 7-10, where $7 to smiling Evelyn at the door will get you open bar on well drinks and domestic beer. Wednesday isl country line dancing. Thursdays from 8-11 is Bev & Trish's Karaoke Sweats, with 2-4-1 drinks all night. Come watch Billie do Purple Rain, outsinging [The Artist Formerly Known As Prince], or, as Madonna called him, the dwarf dipped in pubic hair.
Of course, there are a couple of old standbys in Schenectady. Clinton Street Pub and Blythewood are still keeping the Electric City crowd lit up. We'll stop by and tell some stories from there in a future Götterdammerung.
There are a couple of hot flicks on the must see list.
Just Like A Woman stars Julie Walters and is the story of an older woman who has an affair with a man and finds out he's a TV, so she helps him come out. Hollywood theatrics, but some poiginant moments according to our spies in L.A. who have seen the picture which is now in limited release.
The big hooting noise comes from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, an Aussie flick about three drag queens on a cross country tour, that "will change you, the way you look at life, and most importantly, the way that you dress." It has opened to great reviews and a lot of laughs.
Terence Stamp plays Bernadette, a TS who shepherds her charges through the outback, including performances to wild disco by campfire for a group of aborigines. Stamp researched the character well, and brings depth to the movie.
When will these films hit Smallbany? Your guess is as good as mine!
Our own Julie McFarlane, a pre-op TS, who was denied custody of her daughter purely because of her gender dysphoria, is scheduled to appear on Sally. Even though Julie's ex was seen to need help, and not to be a good choice for guardian, the psychologists report said that gender dysphoria alone was enough reason to deny custody. In fact, Julie was ordered only to visit wearing boy clothes.
This is all based on the discounted theory that the only mark of a gender shift is a three hour surgical procedure on the genitals. We know, however that sex is between your legs, and gender is between your ears, and Julie used to be gender dysphoric. Now, living as a woman, she's fine. Her gender is correct, even though her "cultural genitals" (Kessler/McKenna Gender, An Endomerialogical Approach) don't match what's in her panties, but as reporters found out the public says "Who cares?"
Julie is fighting hard, but this takes money and time. She has her book in the computer, and is getting lots of understanding around her work, especially after people understand her journey by reading her story.
If you want to support Julie, either with a letter or some cash, drop it of to Winnie at TGIC. We have to take care of each other, else who will, eh honey?
The August 23 Advocate magazine is chocablock with articles about the transgendered. Ru Paul is interviewed, and there is an story about Leslie Perez, one of the TG activists in Houston. Those Texans know how to change!
The most interesting article is titled For the Transgendered, 1994 is 1969, a reference to the Stonewall riots that gave birth to the modern gay liberation movement, and that were remembered in July. (The Capital District celebrations, 25 days, were great!)
From Denice Norris to Dallas Denny, Phyllis Randolph Frye to Rikki Ann Wilchkins things are happening.
Reports back from Camp Trans at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival are that eight TS were welcomed onto the grounds, after years of a womyn born womyn exclusionary policy. One observer said it was like watching Rosa Parks board the bus in Birmingham Alabama.
The concept that transgender is an inclusive term for all of those who transgress gender roles, from wearing panties under their suit to having surgery is coming to be very clear. The differences between us are not differences of type, but rather just of degree and environment. When we look inside, we are more alike than we are different, and if we do not all hang together, we will surely all hang separately.
From the media to the academics (Check out Third Sex, Third Gender, edited by Gilbert Herdt for breakthrough essays on transgender by people like Anne Bolin) it is clear that the time for freedom of gender expression is now. We are here, we are good, let us be out.
You'll see more and more on this topic, so check it out! It's a closet popper fer sure!
Travel & Conventions
As Winnie likes to say, there's nothing like a good convention to air out the old closet! Put you back in fine fettle, relaxed, refreshed and maybe even reeducated!
The final planning for Southern Comfort 94 is in place, and pre-registrations are up 25% from last year. It's going to be a big, wild meeting, with more learning, more fun and more breakthroughs than ever before.
From a secret late night soiree at an Atlanta area S&M club to powerful presentations from the leading thinkers in transgender, SC94 will be a blast. I even hear those old geezers The DramaQueens are going to haul themselves out of retirement for this one. This must be the longest comeback tour in genderoid history, if you don't count The Prince (the one not dipped in pubic hair.) SC94 is in Atlanta from September 29 to October 3. For more details, see the ad in this issue.
IFGE has completely revamped their convention to focus on the goals of their Vision 2000 mission statement. They plan to bring everyone who is advocating for freedom of gender expression to IFGE Atlanta Action!, March 12-19, 1995.
"IFGE Atlanta Action! is unlike any other transgender convention," says Merissa Sherill Lynn, acting executive director of IFGE. The convention will not have any newcomer or grooming tracks, focusing only on gathering leaders to share ideas, techniques and energy. The convention is designed to directly help the grassroots community leaders that IFGE depends on to do the work of education and development throughout the country.
Wanta take your place among the leaders? Plan for a trip to Atlanta this March. (Yvonne guarantees it will be warmer than IFGE Minneapolis Action 96!)
Word is our own (where have you gone?) Jessica had a nice time at her Glamour by Olan Mills shoot, right in the torn up Crossgates. As the makeup artist stripped off the beard cover, she noted "Something's going on here," but both she and the female photographer were great.
Tawny's in Amsterdam is gone. Too many closet cases came in, soiled the mechandise and didn't pay, while too few grown ups came out to support Kelly. And to the fool who went into another boutique and blabbed about how much you knew and how close you were, one message. You aren't close to anyone, and you don't know anything. You hurt someone we like, and that ain't right.
Let's face it gals, we must respect each other's lifestyles, whatever they are at the moment. The golden rule is simple, and it is respect them and they will respect you. You go around shooting your mouth off, somebody is going to shoot your dignity off, and we'll see how you like it.
Ed's Forms continue to set the pace for value. Order your glow-in-the-dark forms now for Halloween! Just a pair of floating boobs in the darkness.. sounds like fun! Great with that new peek-a-boo bustier you ordered.
And that reminds us all that Halloween is right around the corner! Shop early for costumes, get something outrageous, and for one glorious weekend, you, whoever you are, can throw open your closet and party down!
Stay tuned to Götterdammerung for our big Sniff The Drag Queen contest, where your nose can win you respect, affirmation and maybe even a prize, (or a Prozac, whichever you need.) And if anyone has seen Kenny's homones, drop them in the mail, c/o Miss Ursula, will 'ya?
This is Miss Take, saying "Until next time, take it or leave it!"
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The Smallbany Experience, November 1994
By your pal, Miss Take
Is there life out there, as Reba sings? Who knows? We do know that the Smallbany bar scene seems to be lagging a bit, and that we havent broken any Thursday night attendance records in a while.
On the other hand, queer activities, like Leslie Fineberg's visit to the film festival, workhops and othe events are happening quite consistently.
I am a druid. In case of emergency, call a tree! Well, why not? Lots of spiritual beliefs
If you are home on Sundays, try tuning your radio to 91.5, WRPI, at noon. That's the time for Homo Radio, a program that covers the interest of the gay, lesbian & transgendered community. It all starts with a half-hour national newscast, and continues with another hour and a half of chat and music about what's going on in the area. From discussions to upcoming events, you will be in touch. They are nice people. Give 'em a listen.
To really have fun though, you have to join them. The Homo Radio folks are looking for volunteers to come in and be a radio engineer. You get to hang with some charming dykes and some sweet gay gays, dressed in anything you want, and run an entire radio station! Sounds like a Sandy Thomas novel, Engineer in Crinolines! But its real! Just call Allyson Beletti at 463-3531.
If you are looking for some spiritual connections that are respectful of your gender issues, try the Metropolitan Community Church. MCC is spread around the country, and they are a Christian community that is affirming of the diversity of humans. Locally, they meet at Emmanuael Baptist, 275 State Street in Albany, every Sunday at 1PM. They promise affirmation & encouragement, which we can all use!
If you are wondering why these events don't include transgender, remember that it is a chicken & egg situation. If they have TG people involved, they will remember about us in names. So get out there and pitch in. Gender issues are out of the closet. Isn't it time for you to be?
Remember that when going to open gay events, no matter what your personal orientation, all that's required is a smile & an open mind. Gay people know how hard it is to be yourself in a culture that would rather have you be a clone, and they know how to smile back. Let them, you will enjoy it.
That said, note that some places are private spaces for people with specific issues. If you don't have exactly these issues, or aren't sure, ask if you can enter first. Respect begets respect.
Loved the Waterworks ad in Metroland. Are we out or what?. Ozz got best dance club, and WaterWorks best gay bar in the Best Of Issue of Metroland. Our community is our community. Support it.
Club Ozz is still trying hard with a full schedule of Saturday Night specials, from 6-10. October 1,22 and November 5 are Dave DeSisto's Oldies night and October 15 is Country. These are nice, like a dance rather than a pickup joint, and with a very mixed crowd, ages & genders. It is a fun night out, maybe even for you and your partner.
Sunday night T dance battles continue between Power Company and Ozz. The battery boys appear have the early lead with $7 for 6-12, while the wizards come up from behind with $7 from 7-1. Dance mix? Each has their favorite, but most agree that both do a good job, although Jennifer claims to be able to outspin either one of them. Will she get the chance? Stay tuned.
What is Queer Space? It is simply space for people to be out of the norms, a third space that fits between our rigidly drawn roles. Who is welcome in queer space? Anyone who is willing to call themselves queer, or out of the ordinary. This includes artists, gays, lesbian, the transgendered, thinkers or anyone else who is willing to admit that they are unique and are that they have a lot in common with other unique people have a lot in common. It is a space of mutual respect of both our differences and how much we have in common.
We don't have much queer space in Smallbany, except for the bars, but The Third Annual Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, on October 21-23 will be one of those spaces, letting us share in queer moving pictures from all over.. You buffs won't want to miss these great queer films.
Its at Page Hall with over 30 films & videos, and even a special brunch at Belmonts. And at only $7 per session, and discounts for packages, its not only safe and enlightening, its a deal!. Call 463-1051 for more info.
And for you fetishists, this is a great time to feel yourself up in the balcony. I hope that sticky stuff is just a spilled Coke! Siskel & Ebert, move over!
Ed Wood, please call home! Actually Ed Wood is the name, and the subject, of Tim Burton's (Batman, Edward Scissor hands) new film on the director of such bad, bad, classics as Glen or Glenda? a made for TV film. (Ed's the TV.)
Johhny Depp plays the transgendered one, and it will be a hooter, or maybe two. Opens October 7. Reviews to come.
Priscilla, Queen of The Desert played the Spectrum! Keep a weather eye! Hope you got a chance to see it. I was the one in the front row adding my own Unforgettable scent (by Revlon). DragaVision & Smellavision too! Maybe Smallbany is getting something together. Support it, baby-baby!
Our own Julie McFarlane, a pre-op TS, who was denied custody of her daughter purely because of her gender dysphoria, is will not appear on Sally. The other people on the show skipped and went to Donahue. More as we know it.
Julie still needs your support in her battle. Do what you can.
Drag is hot, hot, hot! in NYC, and you can be sure that you will read about it in the Village Voice.
David Finkle, on August 30, did a great essay The Uses Of Drag, which he starts with a quote: Drag is in everything.
Its not just buffoon drag but drag as revelation, as a part of showing a true side of yourself. Its drag as outcast, drag as the pain of maintaining appearances, drag as a battle between inner and outer forces, drag as denial, drag as isolation, drag repudiation, drag as illusion, drag as honesty
"The irony here is that the person in drag, the person supposedly hell-bent on creating illusions, is the one person in a position to comprehend that absolute honesty precludes illusions."
Well said, Mr. Finkle. How are you doing on that scale, honesty/illusion? Can you do both? At the same time?
In the second part, he goes on discuss the range of drag being used, and how it has come a long way, and has a long way to go.
"In societies where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of cross dressing show our continuous, common, humanity," said Anne Bolin at Southern Comfort 93. That's all you do, showing that while sex is between the legs, gender is in the mind, and we all are mostly the same.
Drags, TG, TS, CD fetishists, whatever. We are all fluid in some way in our gender expression, transgressing (at least for a moment) conventional sex/gender roles. We are family, and like any family, while we fight inside, we have much in common. Sisters, Brothers, we are us!
Travel & Conventions
Holiday En Femme, the yearly Tri-Ess event, hosted by the sorority for heterosexual crossdressers, will be taking place in New York City, November 20-22.
It's close enough for a day trip to see the vendors and have a nice dinner dance. Would you really rather go down to the city for the boat show or for a gala evening?
Prices go up 10/25, so get your money down now to Lynda Frank. See the ad in this issue, or the flyer in the club room.
Dressing for Pleasure (a pause now, as you savor that name) has announced that it's gala will take place over a November weekend in the Poconos, which will calm the legendary Barbara, who had her head spinning last year as she had to decide what to do when they held it on Halloween.
DFP, as affectionados call it, is both a store in New Jersey and an incredible ball where you must wear leather or rubber to attend. If you were wondering where Babs got the rubber corset she wore last BooNight, wonder no more.
If you have the yen, do it then! And please let Miss Take see the snapshots!
It's Halloween, and that means a month of open season on shopping when simply preceded by the words, "I'm looking for a costume...."
One poor gal at the club asked if we could really go in and buy anything we want. The answer, dear friends, is a ringing Yes! Yes, Yes, Yes! This is a free country, and if you can pay for it, you can buy it.
There is no need to buy staples from an outrageously priced mail order store. Just head to the mall, and smile!
And if you are still uncomfortable, there are malls in Utica (great $30 wigs at Big Daddy's Beauty), Holyoke and Poughkeepsie. They don't know you there.
It's Halloween, and you can go nuts and hide yours. Do it well enough, and you might even hear "It takes balls to dress like you don't have any!"
That said, there are a couple of specialty boutiques that are worth the trip. No staples here, though if you want to be pierced, just ask!
Vernon's Specialities in Waltham MA, just a mile or two from the intersection of the Pike and 128, has an incredible range of lingerie, fetish gear, wigs, makeup and other essentials, like Ed's Boobs. Their magazine rack is over flowing, and there are always a bunch of cute gals who will smile at you and help. Parking is in the back, and you can come dressed as you are.
At the top of a tiny elevator is Lee Brewster's Mardi Gras in NYC Lee has been selling all the requirements for about 20 years, and they have an enormous range of stuff. I was there with the legendary Barbara when she bought a pair of silicone nipples. They don't carry much fetish gear, but there are plenty of places in the Big Apple for that stuff.
It's worth the trip to either of these places anytime you have some cash, but for Halloween, the crossdressers high holy day, it's almost a pilgrimage. Ah, but the Canterbury Tales in these days include garters & seamed stockings!
Between Wigstock, the festival of Hairpieces and love, held by The Lady Bunny over Labor day, with over 20,000 attendees and Southern Comfort 94, September has been a drainer. I hope you had as much fun!
I'm going to take my nap now. I have to rest up for Halloween.
This is Miss Take, saying "Until next time, Take me, I'm Yours!"
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The Smallbany Experience, November 1994
By your pal, Miss Take
Oh Honey! Halloween recovery in progress! Soak those tender feet and loofah any newly shaved areas! Ingrowns are a bitch, and so am I!
Now that November is here, we are wondering Is there life out there, as Reba sang so pretty at the Knick? Who knows? The Smallbany bar scene seems to be lagging, and we haven't broken any Thursday night attendance records in a while.
Albany is such a political town that we tend to get our lives confused with politics. Keep the drag down, doesn't look good to the voters. Do what you have to, but don't take any risks. Better safe than sorry. Lois Commondenominator! (I love Dragazine!)
On the other hand, queer activities, like Leslie Fineberg's visit to our film festival, workshops and other events are happening!. We hear great things about the Romanovsky & Phillips concert held to benefit the Juniper Fund, supporting People With AIDS (PWA's)
The answer? Everything is out there, if you look. The more energy you put in, the more there will be! Let loose a bit, and let your light shine, reflecting back on you!
Arlene Istar, a lesbian-feminist therapist and community activist who works with genderoids, is running some great Sunday workshops. These are times to get a view of some of the issues facing us as individuals.
Her next one is on Bisexuality (or Ooh! This fence feels so good!). Many people have noted the connection between bi-sexuality and bi-gender(as the prince suggested we call it.) In NightMoves, TG columnist Steffanie Kristel talks about how, when she expresses as a woman, she enjoys the company of men. Not unusual! If you have similar feelings you might get a clue on November 20, 1PM. at the Women's Building. Bring $3.
More are coming, including a winter series on taking our own power in this heterosexist culture, and a spring series on Butch/Femme/TG (with some help from Hawk) Very supportive & well worth the cheap price Go girl!
I am a druid. In case of emergency, call a tree! Well, why not? Go ahead, be a pagan!
Pagans gave us great holidays like Halloween, masks and magic and an acknowledgment that there are powers outside of the current realm of known science has a point. There are lots of people agree, and there is an active Pagan community in the area.
No bizarre human sacrifices or Satanism, just a respect for the cycles of the earth and the people who live on it. In many corners, pagans hold a respect for those people who spiritually bridge between worlds, say the world of the masculine and the feminine.
Want to check it out? Call Richard at 274-5403 for details on the Hudson Valley Pagan Project!
Yawn. It looks like people aren't going out. George has closed upstairs at the WaterWorks on Wednesdays (still dancing Thurs-Sunday) and other places are kinda quite. Our barkeeps aren't sure what to make of this phenomenon. Maybe its just the political side of Smallbany, people involved in this election.
Whatever, it means good deals. Club Ozz has all you care to drink on Friday from 10 and on Sunday from 7PM to 4AM. Everybody is trying for your business, so why not go to a local establishment and get pampered?
The Written Word
The Prince of TVs has laid down a challenge in the latest CrossTalk, Kym Richard's digest of whatever she can find. (Oh, Kym sorry about the flame you took on ALT.TRANSGENDER! You're a non-op and you're OK!)
Virginia has realized that most TV fiction is about being forced to be a TV, having someone else take the responsibility for the transgression of gender. Punish me, petticoat me!
The challenge is for authors to write stories where the protagonist (big word!) takes the lead in gender transgression. Lets grow up and take responsibility for our lives! What a concept!
Good thought! Wonder if any of this was triggered by those old crones, The TramaQueens, who did a big parody of those "forced to be a TV" books at The Prince's Awards at IFGE Portland.
At any rate, if you want to look for deconstruction's of TV fiction, there is a survey in the Bulloch book, and one by somebody named Paul K. in CrossTalk.
Taking responsibility for our own action. To paraphrase Neil Sedaka, Growing Up is Hard To Do!
Our little newsletter has been getting some good notices lately. A blurb in Community, the excellent publication of our Gay & Lesbian Community Center, noted that TGIC was available and has a "great newsletter."
Nightmoves, the local adult entertainment monthly, devoted a special box to congratulating an article by some dog named Kal-Kan and to this very column, calling it "hilarious" and me a "genial gem"!
Such nice words! It almost makes me want to have Ed, one of the publishers, bend over while I whip his bum raw, then let him kiss my shapely feet in shiny black patent spike heels that attach to my garters. I know he'd like that.
I also hear that a local therapist wrote in asking for more info about something she read in this column! She didn't even send cash! Give it up girl! There is no more!
This is Miss Take, saying "If its good... its a Miss Take!"
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The Smallbany Experience, December 1994
By your pal, Miss Take
Why is it that November always seems like a hangover? From waking up and seeing Regis looking like a refugee from Tri-Ess Holiday En Femme, as he switched with the demonically perky Kathie Lee for Halloween, to the gubernatorial victory of candidate even the Republicans (at least the gay ones in NYC's Log Cabin Club) couldn't endorse, this has been a tough month.
That bleak valley between Halloween and Christmas, punctuated only by a triptophane loaded dinner with a dysfunctional family where all the boys watch football and snooze. Out of the closets and into the kitchen with the rest of the gals! It's Donna Reed time, pearls and candied yams! Just stay out of the sherry so you can remember which you wear and which you eat! (Although, with a nice polyurethane finish, yams make great earrings! Use a festive holiday marshmallow design, with lots of glitter!)
But life, such as it is goes on, even though, after the first of the year, for many state employees, it won't. Maybe all the queer ones will go first - after all, they won't have any legal protections. More reason to support Pride Agenda, to mark the words of the grocer's son about how separation between groups is destructive & divisive. Remember - if they're after queers, they're after you, you crossdressing pervert, you gender outlaw!
But you can't stop the future, no matter how much you Rush. So let's chat about what we may see there.
Only 34 registered attendees at Tri-Ess Holiday En Femme in NYC. The day of the free spending TV hobbyist seems to have died with Regan-Bush! Maybe its just the closed views of Tri-Ess, or part of a trend that made IFGE almost miss their room-night obligation in Portland, but things change.
All I want to know is what Sharon Ann means when she says she outed herself in November! Sounds like a great story from the ICTLEP queen!
We need lots of choices in queer entertainment and nightlife to make Smallbany a place that people want to go. At least that's the opinion of the owners of Power Company and Oh Bar!, who want to see a good thriving market of fun. It's the Crossgates Mall phenomenon, where having lots of good competition makes for lots of good choices that bring the customers out in droves.
That sweetie Patrick is managing both places, and invites everyone in for T and happy hour, or any other time you want some fun. A friendly place, with a bit of sizzle, that Power Company.
The Written Word
Whoever this Callan Williams is, lets face it. She is just taking up altogether too much of this newsletter. Winnie, If we just need to fill it up, you can print my column bigger. I think I'd look sweet in 24 point!
Luckily, things are changing. Jen has delivered her Random Thoughts column (random: indiscriminate aimless, haphazard.) I suggested she call it 'Fer Balls! Jacqui wants to make her own opinions heard.
Jeepers, I don't know why more people don't write for this rag. If you disagree with anything those other writers say, then write it down. Start a dialogue.
As transgendered people, we are the natural radicals, always seeing both sides of an issue. We are the perennial outsiders, knowing that all people deserve respect and dignity. We know what it means to be oppressed. Some of us like to identify with the oppressor classes, to try to make our life easier, but there is always part of us who knows we are each unique.
If you honestly have something to say, there is someone who honestly needs to hear it. So say it here.
The nice thing about all of this is that nobody will argue with me, Miss Take. Who can quibble with perfection?.
OK, I know the number one question in your mind. What, oh what, can I get Miss take for a Christmas gift?
Well, something thin & green with numbers printed on it (like $50 or $100) is great for any occasion. Fashion Tip: Cash accessorizes well with any outfit. (Except maybe Birkies, socks & a hippie skirt! Not my style tho!)
But if a big bundle of greenbacks isn't
quite in your budget, the other thing this ol' queen likes is
(I can hear Jen snicker now:"She means an audience!")
So to give me a big present, why don't you come out and keep me company her in Smallbany. Make some queer space, come out and play. If I have only one life, let me live it as a blonde - and a busty one at that!
There are lots of excuses to stay in. Remember that in the long run, living a life of love is much more fulfilling than living a life of fear. We all know that you are afraid. Remember, the people we all respect are the ones who feel the fear - and do it anyway, as Susan Jeffers writes.
You will open your own gifts in your own time, in your own way. Even those gifts, like transgender, that you have been told are not "nice." The root of the word nice is to not know. To be nice is to be blind. Your eyes, our eyes, will open. This is the constant quest of humans, to know more, to open more.
What is my gift to you at Christmas? It is merely wrapping up one you have had all your life. Surprise! You are transgendered!
The question is: Now what are you going to do with it? Remember: Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present!
Have a happy holiday. As the director said to the actor, "What a Take!"
Miss Take's Trivia
In 1958, Christine Jorgensen made a record called Christine Reveals. Who else was on the record? Answers to TGIC, Box 13604, Albany 12212-3604!
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The Smallbany Experience, January 1995
By your pal, Miss Take
Help! I'm trapped in a Lesbian's clothes! January, cold and after the holidays. We just want to hibernate in short hair & sensible shoes. Rent a Jodie Foster movie, or even go out to see Nell.
But cabin fever will set in and you may need to get out. Lez comedian Reno will be in for a concert a CDPC. If you missed Lea DeLaria at Page Hall, one of Michelle Crone's ElWord Productions, then you missed a great gathering of queer energy. A priestess in a coconut bra, Lea's energy electrified her audience, a glorious celebration of being queer in the 90's. From 15 year olds who know they are lesbian to gay men's (and Lea's) love of showtunes, when we feel safe enough to laugh at ourselves, we know we are strong and whole.
TGIC and Tri-Ess/Lambda Chi got together for a sweet little holiday dinner at the Northway in. With over 15 attendees, including a number of SO's a good time was had by all.
The holiday party at Clinton Street Pub in Schenectady was also sweet, with the local girls that Champagne invited synching on the pool table. Mrs. Slocum (or her doppleganger) had the hearts of the crowd, but sweet Anastasia (who does makeovers for Owen Mills Glamour in Crossgates) stopped hearts from the audience.
So many nice gals out there, so few opportunities for us all to get together and share between communities. We share so much, and together we make magic happen!
With all this dull winter around, it's time to think about adding a great new color or two to your collection. On the internet, the talk about lipsticks focused on two great colors that look good on everyone: Clinque Plum Brandy and MAC Cherish. Both are great plummy neutrals that look good on almost anyone.
You have heard of Clinique and keep an eye out for their gift with purchase promotions (try the Post Shave Healer under foundation!). MAC stands for Makeup Artists of Canada, (say M-A-C.)and their MAC Spice lip liner has been on Allure's must have list for years.
If you are going to the city, try MAC's store at 14 Christopher Street in the West Village [(212) 243-4150]. If you tell them you are a drag queen you can even get their industrial strength foundations that aren't carried at departments stores.
Wigs in the city? Try Wigs & Plus, 10-7PM, 7 days, 49 W. 14th, between 5th & 6th [(212) 675 4129,} or Ms Wigs. 60 W. 14th. Both have good selections and fair prices. Of course locally, you can always just call Barbie.
What else is hot on the net? Donna Karan Matte Jersey Tights. These are not the DKNY numbers, but heavy enough to wear as leggings. Leggings are in again this winter, but heavy and matte, with maybe a hint of waffle texture.
"Albany is a tough bar town. The patrons are fickle, they want the usual, time after time. We started Oh Bar! as an alternative to State Street, and Power Company as an alternative to Deceptions. But we know that people will get bored again, and we'll just start something else," said one of the Power Owners.
"Living in Smallbany is fine, as long as you can get out of here when you want. Albany just doesn't support creativity in any way. We thought about doing a venue spot, different themes on different nights, but it would be too much work for too little return. Not enough bang for the buck."
But they keep trying at the PowerCompany. While Saturday is still the big night, they are adding a 2-4-1 Wednesday, with an open dance floor to keep things going.
And Ozz? Well, the liquor license runs out in May.
At The Flicks
Some of you may have seen Mixed Nuts, a watered down remake of a French farce by Nora Ephron. One of the eight primary characters is a transgendered person, and while there is no development of the character (not expected in a farce) it is a kind and gentle depiction. Chris is lonely, alone and put down, but continues to search for love and affirmation, and is accepted as just another one of the crowd.
The dance between Chris & Steve Martin's character is a highlight of the movie, both hilarious and touching at the same time.
Just another out TG person in a movie that isn't well reviewed. One step at a time until we become accepted as just part of life.
Miss Take's Trivia
In 1958, Christine Jorgensen made a record called Christine Reveals. Who else was on the record? Nipsey Russell!
Maybe someday, before it's too late, we can have Nipsey come and host the IFGE Prince's Awards! Who could be a better choice?
Our thoughts go out to Jennifer, who reports suffering a minor stroke the weekend of the 18th. She has gone through all the scans, and it seems that while there is a bit of impairment in the memory & language center, things will be fine.
In other news, TV Christine keeps flying and Gina keeps finding ways to show off her legs - in other words, life goes on.
When you make your New Years resolutions this year, think about how you can become more honest, more open and more happy.
This is Miss Take saying: " In 1995, Take no prisoners!"
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The Smallbany Experience, February 1995
By your pal, Miss Take
Has anyone else noticed that the Snackwell cookie gals look an awful lot like the Bud Light Ladies? Or maybe I'm just watching too much TV this winter!
It has been an odd January, warm enough to pull out the mini-skirt a few times, if there was anyplace to go. With the New Year's Day death of Clubb Ozz, Smallbany continues to have a dearth of queer culture.
Dave DeSisto, our own answer to Boom Boom Brannigan (What was the question?), the King of Old People's Night, chatted about the Albany scene. "People want to be out and queer and happy. But local businessmen seem focused on making a quick buck rather building a base of satisfied customers." You can expect to see Dave and his Midnight Madness resurface in the future when he can find a pleasant, caring venue.
The (drag) Queen Of All Media
Rumor is that Howard Stern loved getting his hair cut by a bunch of drag queens so much, he is planning to have a day when all of the guys on his show come in drag.
Howard, who says he has been out as Helen Stern, will let us see the results on E!, on the video version of his show.
It's nice to know that drag is now up there with the pantheon of lesbians and farting that Howard swears is the center of his appeal. This will be a breakthrough for obnoxious guys who want to wear dresses all over the country, like...
I'm Neil Cargile In A Dress!
So he does to this big charity historical costume ball in Nashville in a blue dress and long blonde wig. They ask him what historical figure he is supposed to be. He answers "I'm Neil Cargile in a dress!"
"High Heel Neil," a 60 something investor who likes to wear his crocodile shirt & blazer with a miniskirt so short "it shows the crotch of his pantyhose" was the subject of a profile in the January 16 The New Yorker magazine.
This guy is out and outrageous. The story of him being kicked out of Lee's is hilarious! The ultimate in macho male privilege usurping skirts 'cause it's fun! Cleopatra herself! The Prince would be proud!
You will laugh, you will cry, you will be violently sick to your stomach! Find this and read it!
In one trip to the bookstore, I found two great ones! Oh, and some nice books too!
Do It! by Peter McWilliams ($5.95, Prelude Press) is a great, fun kick in the pants for those of us who are not yet following our dreams. In short vignettes, seasoned with humor and larded with great quotes, McWilliams reminds us that the only way to enjoy life is to live it boldly, whatever that means to us. Follow your dreams!
This is a book you will enjoy: invigorating, energizing. And it's totally transgender free, so you can read it in bed (unlike Sandy Thomas novels you read in the bathroom.) Cheap, fun & inspiring. Perfect winter reading!
The grrls (yup, grrls) have been kicking up their heels at Longhorns, a lil' ol' country bar tucked up under the awning at 90 Central, just up from WaterWorks. With some sweet and welcoming bar staff, along with fine country on the juke box (Tiffane! Not another Randy Travis song!), it's a nice place to hang out
Sunday nights they have a Beer Blast, followed by two steppin' for everyone. It's a nice hang. Try it sometime.
We stopped in at Clinton Street one Thursday for their karaoke festival. It's just like Cheers, assuming Norm actually got drunk on all that beer. Just a neighborhood bar with a helping of queers and dykes who know each other's names and enjoy their DPs (DrinkyPoos!)
A quick belt from the bar, and another on the karaoke! This is not your formal karaoke, to put it nicely. But a fine time was had by all (who remember it.)
TG will be in the forefront at Clinton Street on February 19 @ 11 PM when Champagne hosts a drag show, starring lovely Anastasia! Come out and have a time!
Les Grand Ballets De Trocadero
The Trocs, an all male ballet company started by Schenectady boy, Peter Ansatos, are coming home on Feb. 4 with a great funny evening full of prima ballerinas with hairy chests. Put on your fur wrap, sip some wine and see gender transgression at some of it's most divine!
Valentines Day= Queer Fun?
Fun for the whole queer family is how L-Word productions is billing the Maggie Maggie show, an evening of lusty lyrics & lightening speed comedy at Page Hall on February 11 for only $12! Hot and VaVaVoom!
Ms Crone books funny and energetic. Much more fun than Webop's Jan 21 Reno show, a sad mix of Bette without music & Woody without intellect. Win some...
Mardi Gras is February 28. Costume time, feathers and fun! Are you ready to lassiez le bon temps rôllez?
Maybe you can try the Women's Leather Contest at Clubb Ozz on Saturday Feb 25. Hot!
PS to Melodie: The St. Sophia Greek Church is having their Mardi Gras Dance (costumes encouraged) on Saturday March 4. $12 Call Rita @438-1620. Win again girl!
Mr B: Got your message. No talking horse! (wink, wink!)
And I don't care how pissed she is. There is no way I am going to mention that <@#$%^&*> Jennifer Wells in this collumn again this month! So there!
This is Miss Take saying: "Take Off!"
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The Smallbany Experience, March 1995
By your pal, Miss Take
Drag & The President! Helen Hunt reports (on Letterman) that she got a tour of the White House & a visit with the president after taping the Christmas In Washington special. The best part? Her makeup artist was with her, and the week before he had been in drag filming the new Gloria Estephan video! What a country!
Even Cowboys LaCage, the new drag attraction in Nashville got a visit from the real Reba. ET showed Reba being blown away by the way one of the Reba's got her inflections and all! My prediction? Watch for a Reba double in her stage concerts, used like Cher did to give time to change clothes.
Yup, it's out there. Gender Bending as an accepted norm. It takes balls to wear a dress! Go out there and take a chance -- you may get to meet the President too!
Action In Congress
I recently received a big ol' snotty letter from that queen of bloat, Callan Williams. I was going to use it as a coaster, like I do most of my correspondence, but then I realized if I print it, I could fill up this column with her big words and save myself lots of work! So here goes:
Dear "Miss Take", (whoever you are)
You have been putting out your column for six months now, and I, for one, am sick of your self righteous tone and side attacks on me and on all of the institutions that make Albany and the gender community so good. You seem to think that all you have to do is be a gadfly, making smart comments, like some pontificating drag queen. I will have you know that there is more to humor than lame puns and cruel witticisms.
Why don't you report on some of the most important things in the gender community? For example, the International Congress On Sex, Crossdressing & Gender that took place this month in LA? You could talk about the 300 people, mostly researchers, therapists and professionals who delivered over 100 papers on all aspects of gender, from anthropology to linguistics. This was a powerful group gathered for what Vern Bullogh wanted to be "a quiet Stonewall for the TG community." Maybe it wasn't quite that, but it was a breakthrough event, gathering most of the noted lights of gender, from Dr. Docter to the Chinese surgeon who has already done organ transplants between a male and female patient.
Of course, you, with your little mindset would probably stick to reporting things like how Winnie Brant oversaw a B&D session! That wasn't her fault! Chelsea Elizabeth Goodwin was doing an important paper on Transgender Art, Identity & Subversion, and the performance art piece where Bunny, naked from the waist up came while being whipped was an important part of it! Winnie was just the moderator, giving her paper on The Gender Heresy Of Akhenaton at another session.
Or maybe you'd report on gynandromorphiles, based on the studies of Blanchard & Collins. Of course, you'd just refer to them as transy chasers, and end up talking about how the Queen Mary in Studio City is a hot spot for them, with over 175 girls on Saturday night. Sure, some are repressed homosexuals, and some repressed TVs, but others just get turned on by perfume & beard stubble, and that's OK.
And the workshop on The Use Of Dance/Movement in Adjustment of Gender Conflicted to a Preferred Role, lead by Jayne Thomas and Annette Cardonna-Romeo, was a real breakthrough in kinesthetics, where people learned that releasing their bodies could make them more centered and happier. This is a lesson that we all could learn and follow up on, something to bring comfort and release. It has nothing to do with the horrible performance of Moving On, where we watched heterosexual crossdressers pretend to be 16 or throw their breast forms at the audience. Sure, the rubber chicken dinner was like a breast form, but to mention that would be demeaning and offensive.
Walter Williams, author of The Spirit & The Flesh, was quite upfront about his concerns during his Two Spirit People presentation. "Too many of the sessions have the words disorder, dysphoria or other negative words. The only disorder here is in the people who think that you have to be one gender or the other," he told the audience, noting his commitment to transgender pride and action.
His words were supplemented by William Dragoin's work on gynemimetic shamans, where he took psychology, anthropology, sociobiology and anatomy to make a compelling case that some are born special, with unique imagination, role playing talents and other skills, and these people have always been a social benefit as Shamans. "It's like a baseball team," Dragoin went on to say. "We need all the skills of humans, especially the ones that have survival value for the community, like transgender. Today, transgendered people are so caught up dealing with stigma that they cannot contribute effectively to society. This is a loss for all of us." Dragoin's work echoes the knowledge of many of us that we are special, and the fact that we can easily see the drama and insight of transgender in the presentation of many evangelists. Maybe humans are just programmed to understand and respect that drama.
These are the important things, not drink prices at The Waterworks! Transgender isn't a game! You embarrass us and our community by your frivolous attitudes!
Krystine notes her name is spelled with a K. Quick story: K, dressed in boy clothes, goes into a Marshalls type store in San Fran. She hands the shirt back after trying it on. The Clerk says: "Doesn't fit? I would have figured a 14 would be fine... Oh! The shoulders!" So many accepting people in the world, but you never know till you try - with a big smile, just like our Krys has.
This is Miss Take saying: "Take a Hike!"
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The Smallbany Experience, April 1995
By your pal, Miss Take
"The true history of conservatism in America, and of the Republican party is very simple. We believe in the principles of the Constitution and the Declaration Of Independence. We believe in keeping government out of peoples lives, and of insuring liberty and freedom of expression for all Americans. That is why it is natural for Republicans to fully support any movement based on liberties and discrimination, including movements we don't all approve of, like the Gay and Gender rights movements.
To talk about moving government out of people's lives and claiming the conservative high ground while enforcing the moral agenda of the Right and the economic agenda of helping to subsidize private business is outright hypocrisy. You can be sure that no matter how many talk show hosts try to sell that agenda, the American public will see through this ruse, and we will lose ground in our battle for freedom and liberty. If we do not practice what we pretend to preach, supporting true personal freedom and conservative attitudes towards the responsibility of the private sector, we stand the real possibility of a serious backlash."
Wow! Aren't Republican position papers fun to read!
I Love The Nightlife!
A legendary local queen and her friends are finally sick of it. Rumor is that a new disco & bar, Lipsticks will be opening up in the old Reflections East space on the Hudson in Watervilet. Three floors of dancing and fun, all with a very cosmetic (if not cosmopolitan) theme. Lots of giant cosmetics decorate the place, with a lips theme.
Think of Priscilla, open to all, with drag shows on the weekends, go-go dancers, classic disco mix, and a week full of activities like performer training classes. With a transformation salon and boutique on premises, Lipsticks should be able to be both a hot, fun place for the general public who want a little fantasy and escapism on the weekend, and for our queer brothers and sisters.
It's about time we got someplace fun to go in this town! Kudos!
The Gender Unified Marketing Program (GUMP), should be an incredible step forward in gender support. An umbrella organization with roots in King Of Prussia PA, it combines established conferences, magazines, support groups, bookstores, and gender research & education groups under one roof, to allow true one stop shopping and achieve economies of scale otherwise unavailable.
This "food court" approach, with distinctly different groups available through one focal point, should quickly make GUMP the dominant organization in Gender.
On a related note, rumor is that JoAnn Roberts has got her tickets for Trinidad! Another Biber baby, like our lovely Lisa Cullipher? (Her girl birthday: 3/22/95.)
Transgender Mud Wrestling
The "grudge match to end all grudge matches" was promised in the annual Transgender Mud Wrestling Competition at the International Foundation For Gender Education (IFGE) Atlanta Action 1995 conference. Merissa Sherrill Lynn's oft stated claim that "I am the most reviled and misunderstood person in the gender community," was put to the test as a wide range of transgendered people climb into the ring to see who can throw mud farther and better, demolishing their opponents (and themselves) in the process. This year, new mudders like Riki Anne Wilchins promised to give old contenders like Jheri Lee Summers and Laura Caldwell a real challenge for their titles.
As the phrase "being dragged through the mud" implies, transgendered mud wrestling is a classic tradition in the gender community, dating back to the early days of Virginia Prince in the 1960's. "There has always been a problem of 'all dressed up and no place to go' in the gender community, and throwing mud has been a great way to release the pent up rage that comes from shame without actually coming out of the closet," says Yvonne Cook-Riley, who has officiated at many of the most famous mud slinging contests. "Contestants take a position, usually indefensible, and begin to throw mud at all who comment on it. This can whip the other participants into a fury, resulting in a massive display of flying invective and rage. While all the participants are rendered ineffective by their actions, strangely enough they seem to actually enjoy the abuse, taking it as further affirmation of their shame."
"A great mud wrestling event is a glorious thing to watch," says Linda Buten, chair of IFGE. "It can totally take your mind of both your problems and the business at hand, especially if there are a few hunky guys around! I know why those Romans loved their bread and circuses!" continues Buten. Most observers agree. "I love to see a good match, especially if they are wearing lycra and sequins," said one observer who asked to not be identified. "I can go up to my room afterwards, spank the monkey, go to sleep and wake up refreshed, ready to go right back in the closet."
This may be Merissa Sherill Lynn's last year as IFGE title holder, although the premise of mud wrestling is to claim your own title and try to defend it against the onslaught. The competition was expected to be fierce, with lots of new tiffs and unscheduled bouts. New venues like the Town Meeting and the Political Caucus offered more opportunities for massive mud wrestling events. "This year was great!" says Sabrina Marcus, one of The DramaQueens who depend on messy situations as the basis of their humor.
This is Miss Take saying: " Take it all with a grain of salt!"
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The Smallbany Experience, May 1995
By your pal, Miss Take
OK. I really balled up last month. There hasn't been a debacle like that since my infamous "Sniff The Drag Queen" contest, which no one will talk about. Phew!
The only true fact in my April column was an item about a "lantern-jawed peroxide blonde, under investigation, who finally has her money and the schedule for SRS," and Winnie even cut that "for space reasons."
It turns out that JoAnn Roberts got a bunch of nasty phone calls, asking "How could you do that to your wife?" (really!) when all she did planning was a vacation trip to Trinidad & Tobago. Wife was even going with. Sorry.
Apparently, there was never any plan for Lipsticks either. Smalbany is just too boring for a real dance club.
That wasn't a real Republican position paper, and the whole thing about transgender mud wrestling was wrong. Big changes coming at IFGE, the grapevine says.
Look, we all have bad months, and for me, April 1 was my day of reckoning. Dorothy says it's OK, that she never trusts anything she reads in gender newsletters anyway, after spending $75 to do a computer search on a false lead from an IXE newsletter.
We have been going over all of this with the lawyers, and they say that if I issue a disclaimer, we should be OK. So here goes:
This column is for entertainment purposes only. Discretionary reader participation is required.
It's the same disclaimer they use for the WWF (wanna wear the belt?), although I'm not sure how many of their viewers actually use discretion. I certainly am not known for being discreet, and I have been reminded of that this month.
My apologies for the April column. Apparently it was all just another big ol' mistake!
The death of T.
The T Dance era is over. This Sunday night, all the well and beer you acre to drink for one price tradition, which survived The Rage and Deceptions, has been killed by Power Company, which has replaced it with a no cover 2-4-1 night that drew about 12 people at 10 PM on April 22. The T stories are legion, with many of us finding a convivial crowd rather than another cruise night. While T has been ailing recently, the concept will be missed.
So where do you go? You might try Waterworks, where George runs a fair and honest bar. The problem is that WW is a bit butch for all but the most macho of us.
I don't know what to tell you. Kelly likes to hang out at the Clinton Street in Schenectady, where Jay and Shampoo are talking about another drag show on May 20 for Armed Forces Day. Like Melodie, you can even go to the strip club, and there's the Oh Bar! if you can find parking, and the coffee house at the center, and some meetings.
Face it. You're on your own.
LGBT, GLBT and/or Les-bi-gay-(te?)
Well kiddoes, it has happened. The official new PC acronym is LGBT, for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender, and you can see evidence of our inclusion around the country, even here in Smallbany. The Gaylaxians, our local SF group, now includes "transgender" in their notices. Linda Newton includes us in a notice of a major new matching grant that the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Council has received: "I am proud to be part of this major effort to improve the quality of life for those of us in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities."
The word transgendered is out in the vernacular. We have achieved acknowledgment in the queer community.
So what do we do next? The answer is simple. We pitch in and participate. Make it a real lesbigate!
If you want to take a shot at this, note that the CDG&LCC is having a big party to celebrate diversity on May 12. If you are diverse, (and most of my readers are,) you should plan to attend. Call the events line at 462-6138, extension 10 for voice mail details.
If you're waiting for a written invitation for T* people to join in, then stop waiting! Now is the time!
Big Apple Barbie
Barbara is bored. "People in Albany like their limits. They don't want to be challenged, find something new. NYC on the other hand is quite different. People want to talk to the new people. In Albany everyone has one favorite restaurant, but in New York there's a great new restaurant around every corner, and there are lots of interesting new corners to turn. Albany is boring, full of bored people."
That's why Babs has been traveling to the city, down to Webster Hall, Paddles and other wild and wacky venues. "As a newcomer you don't see much, but show up a few times and pretty soon people come over to chat, and to invite you to other fun events happening all the time."
Barb has opened up her horizons. Shouldn't you?
The Big Finale.
Needed: Obnoxious, mouthy queen who enjoys offending everyone. Low pay, long hours, but you get the joy of your own column in The Transgenderist!
Yes, after the long winter of my discontent, it's time for Miss Take to stop her monthlies & pass the rut to another cranky misanthrope, some new painted bitch to chronicle the daily life of the dammed here in Smallbany, U.S.A.
This column started as an attempt to be very local, talking about the local scene and people, not a national fashion and culture thing like the queen bitch goddess divas from Renaissance. I dove into the shallow end.
You may have more insights and trivia that you can share with all of us. Go for it girl!
This is Miss Take saying: "Time for me to Take Off!"
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Humor or Control:
The Dina Amberle Controversy
In the May 1995 Renaissance News & Views, Vis-ŕ-Vis columnist Dina Amberle takes Callan Williams to task for a letter Williams wrote to Miss Take, printed in the March 1995 TGIC Transgenderist. In that letter, Williams reports on the proceedings of the International Congress Of Sex & Gender, and makes some strong comments about Miss Take's "frivolous" view of transgender. Ms. Amberle takes umbrage at her perception of Williams' desire to control transgendered expression, linking the letter to dress codes and sexual orientation tests, among other control behaviors. Ms. Amberle goes on to chastise Williams for the lack of a sense of humor, and concludes by announcing that "we don't need to run anyone through Callan William's -- or anyone else's -- cookie cutter." With this controversy brewing, we decided to ask both parties in this dispute for their comments on Miss Amberle's remarks.
Take: Take Off Dina!
My, my little Miss Dina! You are quite the little scavenger for carrion -- or column filler, my meat. You chose to pick on my little column, Götterdammerung, a chronicle of the daily life of the dammed here in Smallbany. (Yes hon: the title means The Dammed, like in the Wagner opera, not "Ve Are Der Master Race" as you crudely suggest. Me -- a Nazi! Hah! (although I do look very well in black leather like in The Producers!) What does Vis ŕ Vis mean anyway -- Jumping To Conclusions?
If you'd ever been a drag queen,
you'd know that snaps (that's put-down humor for
you white folks) have always been a part of the life. Can
you say Camp? I knew you could. Ol' Callan (and
she is mighty old!) and I have had a running feud in our
newsletter for some time. She makes a big, bloated,
beautiful target, and if I must say so myself, she can
give as good as she takes. One of those TraumaQueens, you
know. Insert tongue in cheek -- rim
But you read one letter, and decide that Callan is some smarmy generalissamo trying to order everyone around. You pull out your big makeup brush (though it looks like you use a roller,) and smear Callan with the blood of a thousand Tri-Ess leaders! Maybe you actually oughta read her "multisyllabic diatribes" and find out what she thinks before you jump right in!
Whatever else that big bitch is (and she is mighty big!) Callan is no control freak. She continually drones on (zzzz) about the importance of diversity and works hard to encourage it in this community. Nobody can call Callan a prig (though there are a wide number of other things you can call her.)
Apparently, I have to remind you of the Miss Take disclaimer: This column is for entertainment purposes only. Reader discretion is required! Get in the middle of a family fight and you can get your tit in a wringer! (I keep learning that one the hard way.) Jumping to conclusions can be very dangerous, dear Dina, especially in high heels!
Freedom Of Discourse
Dina Amberle's Vis-ŕ-Vis column has always been one of the many interesting parts of the excellent Renaissance News. Ms Amberle has always been on the forefront of transgender issues, creating a précis of the broad spectrum of gender journals that blanket both this country and the world, bringing us the newest in trends and notions.
While I may not agree with her assessment of my intentions, I firmly will agree that she has the right to make up her own mind and comment on all that she sees. The key to growth in the gender community is the process of coming out, of becoming whole and integrated. We must encourage all to find, as Joseph Campbell says, "the privilege of a lifetime: being who they truly are."
The only way that we can mature is to be open and forthright in our discourse. Anyone who pushes to keep secrets, to hide their activities, may be coming from a place of shame. I have seen many examples of this inside the community, people trying to grow in the darkness of the closet, becoming twisted and ill from the lack of pure sunlight.
Ms. Amberle's attempt to bring sunlight into the community, and her impassioned plea for both a broad sense of humor and the embracing of diversity are clarion calls that we must all heed. While I regret that she mistook my clumsy attempts at humor, I am pleased that she continues as a voice in the wilderness for the rainbow that can only flourish in the sun, and healthy, broad, loving growth in transgender.
Editor's Note: In the same May 1995
issue of Renaissance News & Views,
JoAnn Roberts reveals that Miss Take is a pen name of Callan Williams.
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Miss Take & I
Callan Williams Copyright © 1995
I've been outed, officially. Though everyone in Albany knew that I wrote the Götterdamerung column as Miss Take, some e-mail chatter with JoAnn Roberts gave her the information to share with the world in her Renaissance News column. Interestingly enough, this came at the same time that Dina Amberle was beating me up for a letter I wrote to Miss Take, one she saw as humorless and controlling. Dina later announced that she was taken in by my two different writing styles and that she "loved it."
There has been some chat about the schizoid nature of Miss Take. Whenever people asked if it was me, I replied "Winnie won't tell anyone who writes the column," which is not an answer, but was true until she confirmed Kym Richard's suspicions. Some people told me that they knew it was me because the writing style was the same -- a response that contradicts Dina's observation. I think that they knew it was me for other reasons, as simple as knowing that I was there at events Miss Take reported on, or even that there were few active writers in the group.
The truth is that I liked having an alter-ego. People often form an impression of us, and we get to like that impression, think it's fair -- but know that it is limiting. We get painted into a corner, and start to feel restricted:
No sooner do we think that
we have assembled a comfortable life
than we find a piece of ourselves
has no place to fit in.
As transgendered people, we are well aware of that piece of ourselves that doesn't fit, into any given life. We watch Bernadette in Priscilla, trying to find a quiet, settled life -- but still having quite a streak of drama in her. Marianne Williamson has noted that this is a culture that has fewer problems with pain than with ecstasy -- ecstatic women, ecstatic people are out from the bounds of control, speaking the truth, and coming from joy. Ecstasy takes us beyond the bound of humiliation, and humiliation is the key to cultural control.
Many of us have to swallow our ecstasy, our drama, our queerness. We try to numb it with pills and liquor, keep it hidden away.
Miss Take is an out, loud queer bitch. No intimidation will work on her, no boundaries. I recently saw the legendary Kandi Kane on Jenny Jones, and felt a wild spike of energy to see her energy, truth and joy. Wild clothes, wild thoughts, wild woman. Many of us feel our own wild woman stir when we see one of them up on stage, want to hoot and holler and smile.
In my everyday life, I don't get to be that out. I have obligations and limits, neighbors & parents, friends and partners. They think that they know who I am, and one piece of that is being stable, solid -- not some ecstatic queer priestess.
The truth is that I am all of these things --- and many more. If you think you know all about me, you're wrong. I keep getting surprised by the richness and the possibilities of my own humanity. I had a friend tell me that she often thought about how awesome she could be if she dropped all her barriers -- but that she knew she would not fit in.
This challenge of wild/tame is one that many of us identify with. We love our wild sides, but have been taught that we must be tame enough to fit into society. People depend on us, keep us propped up in position -- and keep us limited in moving forward. One friend is moving, talking about dropping her freelance work and getting a job, writing at night. Her pals, who think she has it great because they have to work while she "doesn't," think this is crazy. They want to keep her in position -- and she wants to try something new to move ahead.
Miss Take was one way for me to explore other sides of myself, in a safe way. We all need those safe ways to explore the parts of us that don't fit nicely in our comfortable life. We need the opportunity to dive into our ecstasy, without others trying to keep us tame.
The flap Miss Take created about JoAnn's planned trip to Trindad was one example. Denise Mason writes of her two minds -- why should JoAnn give up an enviable life -- or why should JoAnn limit herself to keep a life? Life is, when it works, a continuous process of growth, with each of us playing different roles at different times. To not be tame, to be in conjunction with others is a tragedy.
The worst thing in life is never to be used by anyone for anything.
Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night
But never getting to explore your own wildness is also a tragedy. We need to be supported in our own exploration of the range of who we are -- and of who we can be.
And for me, I know that I can speak with many voices. I enjoy being Callan, safe, sane and slightly pedantic. But I also enjoy being Miss Take, out, queer and slightly crazy. The Prince once told me that I wasn't accepting "both sides" of me. I told her that I thought there were many more than two sides, and I was exploring them -- or maybe, more accurately, we are exploring ourself.
Right, Miss Take?
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