Thursday, June 28, 2007

"...all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again..."

As I may have mentioned hither and yon, before coming into the wacky world of online feminism, I was a member of an organization that I will here refer to as Dyke Drama Collective, a Downtown theatre that is/was started in the early 80's and is for the women, by the women, very on-a-string, very DIY let's-put-on-a-show. It's had its high points--alumnae include Holly Hughes and Sarah Schulman; and I should say I had a show of my own (directed, wrote, co-produced) at one point. Had some good times with some of the regulars, onstage and off. I don't mean to say this without any affection whatsoever. Just, I was indirectly reminded, elsewhere, just now, from an allusion to the endless Online Dwamas with the Usual Suspects, of this:

Right about when I knew it was time to leave the DDC (which was, I reiterate, not -nearly- as obnoxious as erm some people in terms of the Usual Dread Subjects, on the whole; the younger set far less so than the older ones, whom i didn't know as well, true, still)

...anyway, shortly after 9/11, one of the (older, whom I didn't know very well) women used Vulva puppets, Mr. Rogers-like, (complete with squeaky voice and syrupy intonation) to enact her sentiment that dark as the times were, maybe the crumbling of the phallic structures symbolized a better time to come for Pussies. (or however she put it. there was nauseating cutesiness, was the bottom line, besides the, well, that).

a few years later, i ran into her at the friendly local wimmins' book co-op (which later got bought out by an individualist if still leftie entrepreneur, on account of the wimbon who was "collectively" running it by basically letting crunchy wide-eyed twenty year olds staff the place on a "volunteer" basis basically ran it into the ground, business-wise).

She was all, oh, hi! I can't remember your name. (obligatory exchange) Hi! Good to see you! Say, I'm house managing tonight, why don't you come and staff for me?

Now, the way Dyke Drama Collective works is, everyone pitches in and works volunteer on a system of what's called "sweat equity." You help your sisters with their shows, and the space as a whole, goes the idea, and when it comes time to do your show, you'll get help with yours. In practice it didn't always work out quite so neatly, but anyway. "Staffing" means you help clean up before and after the show (usually not much to do), sit and take tickets at the door or wait downstairs to meet and greet, maybe run some light errands. In return you get basic "sweat equity" and of course to see the show for free. Not a bad system, and a perfectly reasonable suggestion. Except, I hadn't been to the place for several years. But, okay. I tell the woman, politely, sorry, no can do, but good luck!

She goes, in so many words,

"Why not?"

I bit back the first four or thirteen responses ("um, hello, I -might- actually have something else to do, did it occur to you, person-I-haven't-seen-in-several-years, and you don't even remember my damn name?") and said, rather less pleasantly,

"I'm busy."

She did drop it then, at least. The temperature perked back up a few notches, we made with the conversational noises, she bought her copy of -off our backs- or -Tidewombon Periodical- or -Craft Your Way To The Revolution- and maybe a vegan cookie/paperweight or so. Goes off. And that was that.

The brief reunion did leave me with a warm glowy feeling of sisterhood, though. Unless it was acid reflux from the herbal tea.


Daisy said...

Hey, kinda off topic, but you mentioned Schulman. What did you think of her book STAGE STRUCK?

I once had an idea of mine stolen by Important White Guys, and I know how she feels. The book was very intense to me.

belledame222 said...

I thought it was a fascinating and depressing and infuriating story. And yeah, I read "People in Trouble," and it's interesting, yeah, besides the whole, say, I could've been comfortably well off had you actually paid me for what you stole from me, creep! and the credit, and all: that he changed it so that it became -all about the straight dude.- Yeah, there's lots to talk about.

Have you talked about your own experience of stolen work? I'd like to hear it.

Daisy said...

It was a (verbal) story of mine, based on my family. Some lefties performed it as an improvisational play outside at a demonstration. I never copyrighted it.

I discovered it a few years later as the plot of a TV show, and I recognized one of the names of the "authors" as one of the participating demonstrators.

Live and learn. At least when I read Schulman's book, I realized this kind of thing didn't only happen to hapless, unpublished folk like me!

At least I don't think they made LOTS of money off me, as that guy did off of Schulman.

antiprincess said...

daisy, that's horrible. I'm so sorry.

belledame222 said...


that does suck royally, daisy.

Kim said...

Vulva puppets?

Wait ... vulva PUPPETS?!

Anonymous said...

couldn;t work out how to email you - so here is a really funny link -

pinkie sex yes?

belledame222 said...

o yah, i saw the pinkie sex. it doth amuse.

Kim: yeah. Actually they use it for sex ed usually.

Trinity said...

Vulva puppets are awesome.

Using them to explain why 9/11 ushered in the era of the Puss, not so much.