Food Justice in TO

In my last post I talked about the inherently classist structure of restaurants, gyms and stores that sell health food. My lovely roommate has now drawn my attention to this awesome video. Created by youth of Toronto from Lawrence Heights, one of TO’s large assisted housing projects, it draws attention to the lack of food in their community.

As one mother says, “you wanna eat healthy? Well, guess what, you have to pay a lot for it.” In response to the lack of affordable fresh food in their community, these awesome youth are creating their own projects.

But I can’t articulate any of this as well as they can, so take it away:

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Zinefest Berlin is this weekend! Plus, a little update

Hey kids, hows it hanging? Everyone in NYC all right? Hope so. So, as many of you Berliners know, this weekend is Zinefest Berlin 2012! Following the festival’s amazing debut last November, Zinefest continues, bringing self-published radical content to the world of Berlin’s underground. I was very lucky to be in attendance last year, along with my very popular vagina (or, more correctly, vulva) cupcakes and feminist zine. My awesome friend riotmade with love is selling my zine and all proceeds will go to a local queer project, because we are that nice. So go along and read!

The deets:

03-04 November 2012

SFE Gneisenaustrasse 2a

10961 Berlin

the prettiest printing of Dressed Like That, like, EVER

Before I go ahead and publish my post of the week tomorrow, I wanted to let you guys know that I will now be publishing new content every Thursday. This is a (potentially self-defeating) to be more organised and provide you, the reader, with a more consistent service (blah blah blah). I could make a graph to prove this theory to you, but I can’t quite be bothered. So yeah, Rock on. Thursdays are now your favourite day of the week!

Oops!

I know, whoops, I haven’t posted for a while, have I? I left Berlin and went to earn some money by brainwashing kids into learning English. And now I’m about to do it again, for 3 weeks. Oh, well, life’s an adventure. In case you are panicking, ‘Oh my God she’s never going to write anything ever again!’, don’t worry, I am. I have plenty of subjects I want to tackle, and feminist bitching I want to do, so no worries, I’ll be back mid-May.

In the meantime, here is some of the stuff I’ve been up to. The Berlin Femme Show raised €500 for Dressed LIke That zine. Amazing! You can therefore buy it for a below cost price (€3.50) at Silver Future bar, Weserstr 206, Berlin. If you don’t live in Berlin, no fears you can order it or read / download it online for free. Yes, I am that nice. I am also using some of the funds raised to make sure local queer charities and zine archives all over the world have the zine. I am still looking for archives to submit it to, or distros to sell it, so if you know one, contact me!

Ooh, and don’t forget to check out the beautiful pictures of The Berlin Femme Show on the Berlin Femme Mafia blog. Big thanks to photographers Simson Petrol and Sara Svärtan Persson.

OK that’s all for now lovelies. I’ll be back in 4 weeks with some of that writing you’ve been missing 🙂

Berlin Femme Show 2012: the Line-Up!

I’m back in town and overwhelmed to see how well party preparation has been going along without me! We now have OVER 15 amazing femme performers joining us to celebrate femmes in Berlin on Thursday 15th March. This is a fundraiser for my zine project about sexism within the queer community. Check out the deets below folks! And catch the updates via Facebook. Thanks so much to Trent for designing and Robekkah for contributing the artwork for the beautiful poster:

**ENGLISH VERSION BELOW**

Fem(me)inista productions präsentieren zusammen mit der Berlin Femme Mafia: The Berlin Femme Show 2012

Es dauerte zwar etwas, aber jetzt können wir zu unser großen Freude die zweite Berlin Femme Show präsentieren!
Wir laden dich_euch herzlich ins Lido ein, auf einen fabulösen Abend voll der Crème de la Crème der queeren femme Kreativtalente. Der Abend fängt entspannt und elegant an mit einem spoken word salon und deliziösen femme Catering von Ohlàlà Tartes-shop, dicht gefolgt von atemberaubendem und sexy Cabaret! Danach werden DJ_anes euch bis in die Nacht am tanzen halten.

Dieses Event ist auch eine Soli und launch Party für Dressed Like That zine: femme_inine Stimmen über Sexismus in der queeren Szene.
http://dressedlikethatzine.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/dressed.like.that.zine

performers: Alexander Alvina Chamberland, Annie Good, Margaret Steenblock, Lady Gaby, Marsmaedchen, Mimi Monstroe, Rosebutt, Sarah Martinus, Hedi Mohr, Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, Goldie Dartmouth, Laura Lipstick, Mademoiselle Kla, Yvette Bathory, Kay P. Rinha, Glittertrash, Lyndsey Cockwell, Femme Fraktionen und mehr!

dj_anes:
Marsmaedchen http://www.myspace.com/marsmddchen
Too Serious
Lisalotta P

Wo? Lido, Cuvrystraße 7, Ubahn: Schlesisches Tor
Spoken Word Show: 7pm
Cabaret Show: 10pm
DJ_anes: 00.30
Eintritt: 4€ bis 8€ nach eigenem ermessen, bitte gibt was ihr könnt!

http://sarahmartinus.com/
http://margretsteenblock.com/en/who.html
http://www.myspace.com/liadland
https://lipstickterrorist.wordpress.com/

**ENGLISH VERSION**

Fem(me)inista productions, in association with the Berlin Femme Mafia present: The Berlin Femme Show 2012

At long last, it is our great pleasure to present the second Berlin Femme Show!

You are invited to Lido for a fabulous evening showcasing the very best of queer femme creative talent! The evening begins in a relaxed and elegant way with a spoken word salon complete with delicious femme catering by Ohlàlà Tartes-shop, followed by a breathtaking & sexy cabaret! After the cabaret will be DJs and dancing late into the night.

This event is also a fundraiser & launch party for Dressed Like That zine: feminine voices on sexism in the queer community.
http://dressedlikethatzine.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/dressed.like.that.zine

Performances by: Alexander Alvina Chamberland, Annie Good, Margaret Steenblock, Lady Gaby, Marsmaedchen, Mimi Monstroe, Rosebutt, Hedi Mohr, Liad Hussein Kantorowicz, Sarah Martinus, Goldie Dartmouth, Ms Laura Lipstick, Mademoiselle Kla, Yvette Bathory, Kay P. Rinha, Glittertrash, Lyndsey Cockwell, Femme Fraktionen and more!

Plus djs:
Marsmaedchen http://www.myspace.com/marsmddchen
Too Serious
Lisalotta P

Where: Lido, Cuvrystraße 7, Ubahn: Schlesisches Tor
Spoken word show: 7pm
Cabaret Show: 10pm
DJs & Dancing: 00.30
Cost: Sliding scale €4-€8 (Please give what you can!)

http://sarahmartinus.com/
http://margretsteenblock.com/en/who.html
http://www.myspace.com/liadland
https://lipstickterrorist.wordpress.com/


Goldie Dartmouth, Lipstick Terrorist, Svetlana MC…and you?

Hold onto yer knickers (or boxers), the Berlin Femme Show 2012 is now confirmed! The amazing Emma Corbett-Ashby and I are organising this party in the spirit of the Berlin Femme Mafia Show in 2010. While we owe big big kudos and love to the femme mafia for all they have done over the past 2 years, this is an independent event. We prefer to think of ourselves as the Berlin Femme Mafia’s naughty little sister who has stolen big sis’ favourite Barbie and is currently giving her a ‘punk’ haircut in the bathroom with Mum’s nail scissors. All proceeds will go towards the second edition of Dressed Like That zine.

Clockwise from top left: Katinka Kraft, Paula Varjack, Goldie Dartmouth, Svetlana and Lipstick Terrorist

WHAT?

This year’s Berlin Femme Show is causing a commotion from the stage of Kreuzberg’s Lido on Thursday 15th March. The evening will debut with a spoken word section, followed by a late-night show; a collection of burlesque and fem(me)inist performances. The evening will finish with some dazzling DJs and the whole extravaganza will be hosted by the lovely Svetlana MC.

To give you a naughty taster, 2010’s performers included Paula Varjack, Katinka Kraft and Poe Liberado. We expect just as many wonderful acts this year!

WHY?

Emma and I want to showcase the amount of amazing Fem/me talent we know is hiding in the boudoirs of Berlin. The idea of combining another Berlin Femme Show with the chance to raise funds for our awesome queer feminist publication seemed just perfect.

Following the massive success of Dressed Like That zine, the editor (me again!) is keen to make the wise words of the writers available to everyone within the German queer scenes and internationally. For that reason, a team of wonderful translators are translating the whole thing into English and German. Cue the extra awesome bilingual edition of Dressed Like That! Given that this is going to be a 80-page publication, we understandably need to raise funds to print it. We are also currently looking for small donations from foundations. If any of you lovely readers know an organisation who can contribute to copying costs, please contact me at pinklab@hotmail.com

YOU?

We are looking for spoken word, burlesque, visual art performers, DJs and helpers. The Femme Show 2012 will showcase a variety of femme presentation and we particularly want to encourage new performers while celebrating our experienced fem/me performers. We particularly want non-cisgendered fem/mes, fem/mes of colour, fat fems and disabled femmes on stage. Non-fem/me identified people are also welcome to perform as part of collaborative pieces. We welcome performances in both German and English.

This year’s Mistress of Ceremonies is the lovely Svetlana, and confirmed performers are the alter ego of Emma Corbett-Ashby and Lipstick Terrorist (that’s me, dontcha know). With some other wonderful acts of the cusp of being confirmed, we fully expect this to be a decadent, entrancing and unique evening.

If you want to suggest a performance, DJ or help us with promotion we would love to hear from you! Email Laura at pinklab@hotmail.com

‘welcome to our world’

‘Every person who works in the sex industry has a different story, has come to this profession for different reasons and lives it in a different way. Owing to this, all generalisations made about prostitution are necessarily false and do not do justice to those who live this reality day to day.’

– ‘Le prix des toutes choses’ excerpt, Bains des Plaisirs, author unknown

As I walk back from the freezing pier, I notice a dark doorway framed by a string of bright yellow lights. Red velvet curtains hang around the square, as though this were the entrance to a circus show. I walk past, stop. Go back. I guess, from one point of view, my association wasn’t that far off the mark.

I go down some steps and through the doorway. In the dark hallway is a row of cabins, which I later realise are the old changing rooms for the public baths. On the left the same string lights vaguely illuminate bunches of flyers laid on a wood shelf. On the right, the cabin doors are open. A triad of fluorescent green strip lights shine at the  end of the hallway. They look very far away. I peek into the first cabin on my right. It is tiny; barely large enough to get changed. In it is a small gold mirror with a neon pink bra dangling from the shelf below. On the walls are framed pictures of women’s grooming products; a comb, more underwear. Each is hot pink. The plaque on the doorway starts ‘Chaque personne qui travaille dans l’industrie du sexe... [Every person who works in the sex industry…].’

A pleasant surprise. I have stumbled into an exhibition on sex work created by those who actually work in it.

Les Pâquis in Geneva is, historically, home to the city’s sex trade. At nighttime sex workers share the streets with the punters of gay night clubs. The area is called the bohemian quarter of Geneva. I wonder about this historical connection between sex workers and queers. Haven’t the two communities mixed, shared the same oppression? Isn’t this still the case? Walking from my hotel to the lake, I notice a couple of organisations for gay youth and smile at the street art that says ‘Respect means treating someone well, even when you don’t like them.’

This exhibition has been organised by artists, sex-workers and Les Bains des Pâquis, Geneva’s public baths, in collaboration with Aspasie, a Swiss organisation that works to promote the rights of and educate sex workers. It comprises the work of 25 different artists, some sex workers, some sex photographers, and seeks to represent the associations mainstream society has with sex work as well as to give some of the sex workers’ points of view. On each advent day in December, a cabin was unlocked and the work of one artist revealed to the general public. By the time I wandered in at the beginning of January, the exhibition was about to close. But that meant I got to see all 25 cabins.

“the exhibition suggests that the respectable and those who are disrespected are not as far apart as we like to think”

It was probably intentional to put the exhibition in a place frequented at daytime by ‘respectable’ families, but which is only 100 metres away from the boulevard where sex workers walk at night. It is, after all, the city’s tourists, diplomats and the well-to-do daytime visitors who form the sex workers’ clientele. I like the shock-factor of the exhibition, its blunt suggestion that these two worlds – the respectable and those who are disrespected– are not as far apart as we like to think. Like all other social categorisations which sustain the status quo and power of a few, these social classes are co-dependent.

Returning a few times over that day and the next, I see a few families, both Swiss and tourists, wandering through the exhibit. Children – ‘Dad, look! What is that?’ – pointing at the blown-up condoms which surround an open letter from sex workers to their clients (‘wear one and keep us all safer’) and their fathers’ nervous responses. Some viewers laughed openly, some took the photos of women in underwear for pure titillation, others wandered through slowly, like I. Despite the fact that not all the visitors I observed really seemed to appreciate the exhibition’s politics, the show was politically effective in itself. It would be hard to walk through that exhibition without gathering that it was about sex workers and without recognising that these workers have a voice. Even if you didn’t stop to listen for long.

While also erotic, the exhibition manages to suggest to the average punter (let’s face it, as a feminist activist, I’m not that average) that, perhaps, these women aren’t just for looking at. Not just for consumption. They, too, have something to say. I imagine that most visitors would have been challenged on some level by the artwork, and I appreciated this confrontation.

The cabins suggests circus cages and glory holes; the voyeurism of the freakshow and the collaboration involved in cottaging”

The exhibition was excellently curated. Walking down the steps into a dark hallway lit only by lamps, fairy lights and the strip lights at the end, gave the impression of entering a dark, seedy underworld. The dark corridor, the use of red lighting, water dripping onto our heads. Walking through the red curtains reminded me of what I had learnt about turn-of-the-century freakshows. People with physical ‘anomalies’ such as bearded women, intersex people, were exhibited alongside the strong man and sword swallower. The cabins on one side with their naughty invitation to peek in suggested circus cages and glory holes. Both the voyeurism of the freakshow and the collaboration involved in cottaging. Come, stranger, to our exhibition of worldy wonderments and natural curiosities. Whores and dwarves. Meet the underworld. In the late 1900s, New Yorkers used to call this slumming. Rich men and women would pay a guide to show them the working-class tenements of the slums. They would get the thrill of living a bohemian life while still having the comforts of a richer life to return to. Of course, this still exists today, in various forms. Tourism in third-world countries. The Berlin art scene, anyone?!

The halfway point of the exhibition’s unfolding was also marked by the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on 17th December. Perfect timing.

I wander further down the dripping hallway. Free cartons of condoms, their contents long gone. I am glad someone has used them. In one cabin is a lighthouse. The silhouette of a man goes round and round chasing a clockwork woman. He is crouching; the evil wolf; she runs away, arms thrown up mouth open. A cartoon scene of danger and a play on the idea of the sexual predator. I smile.

Another cabin is wholly covered by partially inflated condoms. Some of the condoms are filled with small plastic pipes. On the far wall is a pink poster, hard to read. It is an open letter from Geneva’s sex workers to their clients. Please, agree to wear condoms. In this time of HIV, we all need to be safe. The condom-balloons remind me of my own, more-light-hearted burlesque performance with its related safer sex message.

I walk past the strip lights and emerge into the light. I pass blue painted doors and stand at the end of the pier, looking at Geneva’s old town across the lake. Seagulls are in a feeding frenzy on the water. Cold, I go to the cafe, buy a tea and sit by the log fire. I am safe and warm, looking out at the water.