JUST in case you and I aren't Facebook friends and/or you're not following me on Instagram (@virgietovar) then this blog may be of interest to you (and if we're social media friends then this will be the same ol' nothing new but newly collated which may be fun?). It's the end of week 2 with the Sister Spit tour and we've performed in Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Olympia, Long Beach, Riverside and Sacramento. Here are some of my favorite photos from the tour.
Some of California's finest dressed dapperdans and gentleboys were at Stone Pony (put this place on your must see list) for last week's Big Boy Vintage San Francisco release party, which was as cute and amazeballs as expected. I got a riDICK knit cat purse (see below, ghurl) and was just generally bedazzled.
Apologies for the late coverage but omg I've been prepping for the Sister Spit Tour like no other! I thought I'd share some photos I took from the evening. The players: moi, Rudy Bleu, Big Boy Vintage's Daddy, who came up from BBV's hometown of Los Angeles and Brontez Purnell, (who I officially officially met yesterday and am now obsessed with.. read this Colorlines piece about him), who was spinning. Oh, and my new BFF the cat purse.
The Sister Spit tour kicks off next week in San Francisco at the Elbo Room! A group of core performers - including me, Chinaka Hodge, Rhiannon Argo, Dia Felix, Lenelle Moise, Beth Lisick and Jerry Lee Abram - will travel all over to bring you some incredible writing and performance.
From March 19 through April 15 we'll be visiting:
New York City
Afterwards I'll be heading to Earlham University in Indiana to give a lecture and then the amazing folks at the Q Center at University of Washington in Seattle have invited me to give a talk on April 22. I hope to see you at one of these shows and/or lectures! For more details on the tour dates, locations and performer bios and to donate to Sister Spit visit:
So if you haven't heard of Big Boy Vintage (BBV) then I'm about to drop some hot knowledge I think you'll love. BBV is a Los Angeles based clothing and accessories company for big boys. They carry nothing under size large or 38
waist. And they're going to be in San Francisco for a pop-up this week! (click for the Facebook invite for the launch party + location deets)
In anticipation of their tres exciting arrival I asked Big Boy Vintage's Rudy Bleu some Qs:
Virgie: What is your fav outfit and why?
Rudy: I don't know if I have a favorite outfit but more like favorite pieces.
I love my Daddy hat (which I got made at Swap Meet), Siouxsie and the
Banshees sweater, new BBV sweater, Mickey and Minnie Por Vida sweater, Peach short shorts, Selena Shirt, Raiders Jacket, i could go on forever.
Virgie: How would you characterize your look?
Rudy: I would say my look is influenced by my Mexican and punk roots and also by all the cholos I grew up around in East LA and an obsession with short shorts
Virgie: Is fashion political?
Rudy: I believe so.
Virgie: Who needs to come to this pop up?
Rudy: All the chubby boys and girls in SF and all the fun punk and qpoc peeps.
Do you remember those black and white line drawings of naked people we used to look at so we could "learn about our genitals" - or just stare at boobies and yell "BOOBIES!" and giggle while we slurped pixie sticks?
About two years ago I wrote a blog for Good Vibrations on the implicit sizeism of almost all sex education material. Yes, including those line drawings. Though these images are meant to present a "neutral" - some might even say "sterile" - portrait of nude bodies, these images of primarily thin, white, able bodies in fact confirm what "normal" looks like. While we're learning about sex we are getting an additional - less obvious - set of lessons on what bodies are good, desirable and suitable for sexy times. Sex education materials should instead present a plethora of bodies that represent the range of hotness all around us.
Enter Wicked Productions' newest plus size sex education video featuring real couples, as well as co-director and well known BBW performer Kelly Shibari. I just heard about the film today (from a beloved friend at the Feminist Press <3!) and have yet to see it but I just had to tell you about it and share some images from behind the scenes!
From the examiner article on the film:
The film casts the following BBW adult film performers; Devlyn Red, Angel DeLuca, and Scarlet LaVey, as well as non-performer couples Scarlette Cyn and JC Lewis, and Sherri Shaulis and Michael Colbert.
The film will focus on communicating, exploring, accepting, and appreciating the body, and sharing that experience with one’s partner sexually.
“jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex: Plus Size takes viewers through a variety of topics, from relationship communication, discussion of trigger words and acceptable terminology between partners, size-friendly sex positions, and body confidence exercises. The addition of three full-length sex scenes, available with or without commentary, is also offered at the end of the film. Interviews with plus-size adult performers, as well as non-performers, are an integral part of the project. The provide a non-xxx look into the issues confronted by plus size women, men, and couples, and offer solutions to increase confidence and combat negative stereotypes.” (Wicked Pictures)
The film is due out later this year!
Updates Blog: Back from Belize & Sexland.. Onto So Cal, SF State and Sister Spit (p.s. #TJcoconutbonbons)!
Ok so Update #1: Trader Joe's was the lucky winner of a coconut lottery/ they bought like a million coconuts and now have many new coconutastic items including this item I just picked up which is a 10 on the amazeballs scale (ok honestly it's a 9.25.. it would be a 10 if y'all had added some coconut
butter cream, TJs)! Go get some now. Actually this tees up Update #2 nicely.. I spent a week with Dandelion Chocolate in the jungly southern part of Belize to learn all about how cacao is grown and turned into CHOCOLATE! Ethnobotany is one of my pseudo-secret nerd obsessions.
Update #3: upon returning, I headed to Humboldt State University for their annual sex education event Sexland. As the name would indicate, the event is amazing! I had the privilege of sticking my hand in a glory hole tree, had my first chocolate covered fruit kebob, got many shrinky dink pins, and even got to give the keynote and teach an erotica writing and burlesque workshop.
Update #4: I'm headed to Southern California in a couple days to give a lecture on body image and pleasure politics at CSU San Bernardino (Thursday March 6) and will be back in San Francisco to give the keynote for the Women's Conference at SF State on March 15.
Update #5: I will be touring the US (both coasts! and some inland spots too) and Canada with Sister Spit throughout March and April. See the tour dates and destinations here.
That's it for now! Hope to see you soon..
I was recently interviewed on the ways that fat shame impacts fat men and my views on the way that this interfaces with sexism for the Everyday Feminism podcast. This is an accompaniment piece to the article I wrote with the same title.
Last night I performed at the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco - alongside Greta Christina, David Fitzgerald, Juba Kalamka, Simon Sheppard, and Dana Fredsti - for Godless Perverts Story Hour, a quarterly showcase of sexuality-focused writing on destabilizing religion of all kinds. My piece (which begins at around 15:00) was inspired by my childhood spent in a Pentecostal church in El Sobrante, CA, and the imagined private lives of various church members I grew up around. Here's a preview (just in case you need some convincing to watch the video...):
I spent nearly 20 years in a Pentecostal church in El Sobrante California – a town 20 miles from right here whose name literally translates to “the leftovers.” By 12 I had excused myself from all youth related activities and was the head Sunday School teacher and volunteered every Sunday to run the projector that magnified all the hymns onto a big screen so everyone could sing before the sermon. This put me in close proximity to the pastor, the head deacon and the choir director, Brother David. The members of the church thought I was precocious and I convinced myself that I did these things because I was a good girl and a good Christian - but really I preferred the inappropriate intimacies that my young fat brown body inspired in the fathers over the disgust it inspired in their sons. So I dressed up for them and I went on diets for them and I wore perfume for them and I did my hair for them and I burned for them the way a fat brown girl learns to burn for white men and their churches and their secrets and they get hard from the knowledge that you have nowhere else to go. They keep you there with bones and somehow you lose your appetite for meat.
I learned a lot of things during my chat with Aimee and Rebekah of the "More Than A Mouthful" podcast - among them that Microsoft Surface doesn't support Google Hangouts (wtf, Microsoft? you don't get to opt out of Google stuff just cuz) but we made it work. In this episode I dish about fatness and sex and life and relationships and my idea of what it means to be an 'Mericun.
Take a listen right this second! I think you might just totally lurve it, ghurl!
Today I was reading the comments on a post that was up on my friend Kitty’s Facebook feed. The post was about a woman who had been fat and currently isn’t fat and how her transition in size helped her understand the intensity of weight discrimination. As a thin-bodied person she talked about receiving more eye contact, more enthusiasm when people meet her, etc. Someone had commented that she wondered how much of the change had to do with this woman’s level of self-esteem before the size transition. And I remembered a time when I would have wondered the same thing...
Because that’s the line I was fed. It goes something like this:
“Virgie, it’s not that there is a major culture-wide system of discrimination and bias, it’s that YOU have a bad outlook and aren’t working hard enough to create the life that you really want. Why do you choose not to create the life that you really want? In fact, your low self-esteem is getting everyone down. You should probably do something about that. Chop. Chop.”
Let me tell you what’s wrong with the self-esteem myth line by line.
1. “Virgie, it’s not that there is a major culture-wide system of discrimination and bias, it’s that YOU have a bad outlook and aren’t working hard enough to create the life that you really want.”
I am certainly not the first person to have made this observation, but I think it’s worth repeating: THIS IS VICTIM-BLAMING/BOOTSTRAPPING RHETORIC. Victim-blaming is about convincing someone that it is the victim’s fault - not the victimizer’s fault - for whatever negative outcomes have resulted from the experience of having been victimized. Boot-strapping is about convincing people that each and every one of is personally and solely responsible for our success or failure.
Both of these ideologies are sold especially hard to people who are (wait for it) marginalized (oppression can get so predictable sometimes, ghurl) because our psychology has already been primed through a lifetime of having been taught that we are inferior. The idea that each individual person regardless of what their experience with discrimination has been is personally responsible for having a sunshiney outlook on the world is weird, creepy, wrong, fallacious, and non-sensical. It just doesn’t make any damn sense at all. Oh, and it’s racist, sexist, and classist too.
2. “Why do you choose not to create the life that you really want?”
The language of “choosing” has made its way into more conversations I am a part of recently (I will admit that this could be a San Francisco thing). Don't get me wrong: I love choice! But sometimes the language of choice is used to obscure the very real ways in which oppression affects our ability to make choices.
Time for a dating anecdote! Once I was on a 3-day date with this New Zealand former-fat-now-skinny-yogi-master named Bruce. We were in Santa Cruz, which he’d driven me to in his bio-diesel fueled Hummer. Seriously. He asked if he could watch me take a bath, and while I was in the bathtub he proceeded to spend the entire time reminding me of how much weight he had lost and how I am at risk for a panoply of diseases blahblahblah. Seriously. Not only was this totally wrong for the obvious reasons - I’m naked and he’s not, I’m fat and he’s not anymore - I didn’t consent to having this kind of conversation with him while I was bathing and he was touching his dick. Seriously. Fat shaming me while he was touching his dick. If that isn’t the perfect metaphor for patriarchy I don’t know what is, ghurl. Anyway, I got upset and the yelling started and then he looked at me and asked: “Why are you choosing to ruin our weekend?” Oooh. I knew he was trying to mind fuck me, and I wasn’t having any of it. Moral of the story: don’t go on 3-day dates with a kiwi who has a hummer.
Back to the analysis. This language of choice keys into bootstrapping, but with an extra dose of mind fucking. Mind-fucking (aka gaslighting) is particularly sexist, in my opinion, because it pushes people to question their sanity and their ability to decipher what is “really happening.” This is a tactic that has been used on women for a very long time because we are taught that women are likelier to be unhinged, “hysterical,” or otherwise mentally unstable.
3. “In fact, your low self-esteem is getting everyone down. You should probably do something about that. Chop. Chop.”
Seriously? So let me get this straight: I was totally fine until the culture taught me that my fat body was wrong and worthless. Then I developed low self-esteem and the attendant body language of surrender so that people would understand that I knew my place (SO THAT I COULD SURVIVE). Now it’s MY responsibility to fix the problem that I didn’t create AND it turns out that somehow it’s actually all my fault? That just doesn’t make any sense, ghurl.
The Take Home Message
What I'm saying is that you don't have to buy into the self-esteem myth anymore if you don't want to, ghurl. The problem is REAL. It's not just in your brain and we can't solve a system of oppression by all making aggressive eye contact and having all of the oppressed people just pretending that the discrimination and injustice aren't really real.
My analyzing brain is tired and I need some eggs now. But you get why this shit is fucked up. So, I trust you to take it from here.
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