It’s a week with some good news! I’m pleased to say that I’ve just signed with Stars Agency, NoCal’s top acting agency for on camera work. In case you’re curious here’s my reel.
I’ll also be hosting a panel at the 16th BlogHer conference this week in LA. A lot has changed since I performed at the very first BlogHer. Women like Kim Kardashian and Mayim Bialik will be keynoting and thousands of bloggers will be there. I’ll be hosting a timely conversation called Keeping Friends During a Heated Political Season with Tracy Viselli, Sugar Jones and Xenia Galaviz. It’s August 5th at 10:15am. If you’ll be there come say hi.
Saturday, I’ll also be hosting an Amazon Studios screening of Tig Notaro’s new series One Mississippi and interviewing Tig afterwards. The series is also produced by Diablo Cody (United States of Tara) and Louis CK (Louis).
I recently guested on She Knows, the podcast of the group that puts on BlogHer in an episode titled How Humor Can Hack Social Change along with humorists Jenny Yang and Luvvie Ajayi. Elisa Camahort Page did an excellent job ofhosting.
I’ve not been at a blogging conference in some time. I’m hoping it
‘s still full of meeting people whom you only know by odd Internet handles (the first Net person I really noticed back in 1996 was an Enhanced CD developer named steakface), having great conversations in halls, and constantly charging our devices.
There’s been plenty of racism and homophobia and sexism as a basis for the Republican party for some time.
Most of the GOP candidates this year met with and supported a pastor who believed gays should be killed. Reagan’s history on HIV/AIDS was deplorable and the party then happily talked about tatttooing queer folks and putting them in concentration camps. There have been all manner of dog whistle and direct racist campaigns: “welfare queens driving Cadillacs;” Ws phone campaign against McCain in South Carolina about his Black child, Will Horton ads run against Dukakis,Pat Buchanan’s racist/anti-immigrant platform, Ron Pauls writing in white supremacist publications, Ws entire get out the vote strategy based on a morality tale and anti-gay propositions across the country (including one that amended the California Constitution so I and others couldn’t be married or equal).
This is not a few people poking their nose out. It’s an ongoing strategy because these are ongoing “permitted” ways that people defuse and redirect their rage at those with less power. It’s the oldest divide and conquer plan in the book only in the United States its internal. It builds on histories of oppression so it’s been safe and easy. The GOP and a media system it’s built makes money from stoking rage and has run against the illusory “establishment” and the concept of government for a long time, while being the actual government now for decades. When all the magic they promised by being the “not government” wasn’t delivered to their constituents while stoking bias and oppression as a convenient political glue and walking closer and closer to the fire.
When you follow the path of national GOP candidates (Reagan->Quayle->George W Bush->Palin): Trump was inevitable. Without a massive consciousness shift more will follow. The establishment lost control. News as an entertainment was built on stoking this. Undermining civility was a disruptive financial and power opportunity. The market force and shift of Internet media increased the reactivity .
Only a real change in culture and consciousness/ emotional maturity that makes a difference over time and it takes huge amounts of work. #BlackLivesMatter is doing it. It’s how we got marriage equality which is still facing backlash opposition laws in 34 states. Trump is way ahead in every Super Tuesday poll. Nate Silver is calling it for him.
The narcissism machine will keep reproducing itself only interrupted by generosity and kindness which you can’t arbitrage or game. The tragedy is when we repeat it by repeating the narcissism. Blaming the “permitted other” is learned to avoid the pain of what goes on in the family. The sad and tragic thing is what enables everything with the media and the politics of bias.
It’s why people are looking for Daddy in these campaigns and often have. It has always sold. It’s a promise that isn’t delivered and it’s weirdly anti-Democratic. As long as people’s emotional goal is someone to take care of them it’s going to be this co-dependent political thing.
1. Everyone is the expert on their own experience.
2. If you want ongoing connection that has to be what you focus on as much as what you want to say.
3. Maximizing entry points hastens connection.
4. Diversity of every kind creates entry points (among other things). 4. Shifting between voices as disparate as possible builds connection.
5. If someone can’t tell you you’re wrong, you’re not having a conversation. 6. What you say to one person you say to everyone.
7. How you talk to one person is how you’re talking to everyone.
8. The quietest people “speak” the loudest. 9. Everyone wants to feel heard and acknowledged.
10. If you’re interested, people are interesting.
More notes, video and workshop information.
Look Out Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho: I bring twenty college students out of the closet in a single show
Equal parts raunchy, serious, awkward, and inspirational, her routine opened doors for the LGBTQQ community here on campus and opened the eyes of everyone less aware…it was an introduction to the life of Heather Gold, an extraordinary person.
[for the] people who stayed… to talk to Heather Gold—not even listen to or laugh at, but engage in authentic conversation with—her direct approach, her humor, and her interest in every individual was a welcome reprieve from an otherwise generally repressive atmosphere….Heather Gold is someone who deserves the chance to speak to more than just an audience of people seeking acceptance: she needs to speak to those who deny it, because if anyone can raise awareness and support for the LGBTQQ (which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning, in case you didn’t know) among us, she can.
– See more at: http://subvert.com/2011/02/14/look-out-kathy-griffin-and-margaret-cho-i-bring-twenty-college-students-out-of-the-closet-in-a-single-show-2/#sthash.QzqlVjXC.dpuf
I perform and speak at college campus’ regularly, usually about LGBT and diversity issues. For me this comes from the same heart as all my speaking in the Net and business world as well: creating spaces in which pretense can subside and people can be connected as their more authentic selves. Jokes help.
But I am feeling really proud, and not just because I’m now entitled to a whole lot of toasters. I got serious about this goal of connecting the “audience” in my shows over a decade ago because of my San Francisco peers, mostly early web creators who all often asked “how can I add value.” Many performers give people a public example of something, or publicly advocate for rights as comics Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho do for LGBT rights. I do that too, but since I began doing solo shows (for me these are monologues with lots of audience dialogue in them), I began asking “what if the show were not about something over there but were focussed on making something really happen right here, right now.”
What kind of difference can you really make in an hour or so? You can change how someone feels about themselves in public.You can change an environment.
To be fair this Gettysburg show did go over the hour I’d prepared to do because I was obsessed with bringing the room together and tipping the public balance in the room there so that people could come out. The students were individually telling me about their frustrations. And who were all these people showing up to have abstract discussions about civil rights, yet had real concrete social and personal difficulties? They didn’t feel safe. They felt isolated even in a room together. And sadly, many of these students were in their young twenties and had already made it through adolesence without getting to openly feel ok about the feelings and actions straight kids take when they are 8 or 9 “I have a crush on him. Which boy do you like best?” and so on. They were in a small isolated college. Were they going to have to go through 4 more years not honestly connected to themselves or dating or sexuality?
I deal in the unspoken. Now the only student I physically brought onstage is definitely straight. But she has a version of the same stuff to deal with as everyone. Could she say no to me? Could she tell her truth? Not being able to talk about what you’re really feeling or what’s really going on isn’t an issue limited to queer kids coming out. It’s at the heart of the breeding ground for everything from unsafe sex to bad corporate meetings to dictatorships. It’s one of the main obstacles to our being able to be #WITH each other, which I believe is our main collective need right now.
So I stayed on stage until it became easier to be out than in. Till these students had someone else they could talk to in the open, or maybe even ask out. I did my best to use what was about me in the show was used to make things helpful for everyone there.
The awkwardness, the seriousness, the conversations, the discomfort, the comic relief was all done consiously in order to achieve something socially. As I teach in workshops and my keynotes, there’s an informational flow (or a narrative or theatrical flow and there’s a social flow. I wanted both.
It was a funny show. In comedy terms I killed.
But in life terms, I did something much more important. I connnected.
We all want to meet more people and feel more ourselves and more connected. This experience inspired me to want to accomplish more every time I perform. I’m a performing aiming for, as Umair Haque would say, thick value. Artists: ask yourself, how can I help? Directly.
To bring me to your campus or event, contact my lovely agents at Speak Out.
“I still can’t thank you enough for what you have done for this college. It was a much-needed wake-up call. Thank you! I have also forwarded this article to my club as a whole. Hopefully, we can have you back in the future!”
Why the reaction to Lena Dunham’s humour piece is more about sexism than anything else.
Even though we were angry and most of California had just passed Prop 8, it was an exciting moment. It was the moment that tipped the movement for marriage equality. We were angry but the energy was huge nationwide.
Being a married lesbian in the US was very unusual at that moment and performing to that crowd was a great experience.
Life being what it is, I’m now working on Everything Is Subject to Change, post-divorce. But I stand by everything I said here.
I found this piece by Kalia Douglas-Micallef in Toronto pretty interesting.
Even though she lives in a place with complete legal equality for lesbians and gay men (I’m not sure what the story is legally for trans* people) and even though she had activist parents and a supportive community she faced a lot of difficulties.
Canada can seem like an imagined utopia to Americans on social issues. It’s not. It’s a place full of people, like anywhere. I grew up there and I was given my own hard time as a kid, in part of being Jewish. In the 70s.
I don’t think you can stop everyone from being mean or hurtful. But you can set priorities as a community and consequences for behaviour and you can educate people. A kid is better off with a supportive family and a school where being gay is though, than being in school where being gay is ok but their family is not. 40% of homeless youth in the US are queer. Legal changes won’t be the thing that stops that or the kind of thing Kalia writes about.