A Queen and Her Asshole

spa castle3

(Via Google Images)

A lot of you (and when I say I lot I mean, literally, tens of people) have been outraged by how busy I’ve been lately. Well, sorry readers. Sorry that my schedule is jam packed with glamorous daily activities like going to work, learning improv, shopping for pillows online, waiting for my cats to use their new litter box, and various luxuries of the sort. I haven’t been neglecting my fans, I’ve just been caught up in that infamous New York hustle! Distracted by the grandeur of scraping by! Basking in the opulence of barely achieving homeostasis! “The internet misses you!” they all say. “Write a new post!” Well, assholes, the hate mail has grown tiresome. So tonight, I’ve decided to take a break from these instant grits I’m eating for dinner to give you an inside look at some of the perks of my VIP lifestyle. Then maybe you all will shut up.

I guess the best week of my life all started when I got drunk after work on a Friday night, causing me to oversleep for a very coveted and very necessary gynecologist appointment the next morning. I gasped out of a deep slumber at 10:53 AM, mere minutes from the time I was expected to check in, and immediately called Bushwick car service for one of their signature wild goose chases into Manhattan. By the time we arrived in the financial district about 80 wrong turns later, I had paid 30 dollars for a cab just to avoid a 50 dollar cancellation fee, and was frazzled to boot. Luckily, the doctor was still able to inspect my lady parts, by “squeezing me in,” so to speak. I left without a prescription or a solution to my problem, but I did have a list of directions on how to create my own boric acid capsules with supplies I could buy on Amazon. Oh, and I had a purple vagina. Don’t ask. I mean, whatever, I guess you can ask….She dyed it.

Massively hungover and overcome with irritation, I wandered up Wall Street drinking coffee and glaring at tourists. How could I be depressed on a Saturday?  “Such a waste,” I thought. I pooped in a Korean restaurant.

After giving myself cornrows in the window of the Fulton Street subway station, I decided to go to brunch alone. I had a few hours to kill before improv, so I took the A up to Canal Street and got a table for one at Lupe’s. I ordered a taco salad. I watched my phone die, then left for class. I got caught in the rain. I bought a $5 umbrella identical to a $5 umbrella I had left at home that day. It immediately stopped raining. In class, my emotional slump, coupled with the digestive turmoil from the shrimp taco salad, left me powerless against my performance anxiety. That day at the UCB training center, I felt my soul leaving my body, I felt it watching my scenes, and I felt it heckling me. “Shut up!” my soul yelled at me during a game of Park Bench. “Sure, you’re being honest, ‘truth in comedy’ or whatever…but you might /honestly/ just be an asshole!” My soul is longwinded, and kind of a jerk.

I was in desperate need of some R&R, one of the R’s being Reid who, conveniently, was celebrating his birthday that very night. I walked home from the train with my new shitty umbrella and changed into a Very High Fashion halter top I’d bought the previous weekend at Forever 21. When we all convened at the Taco Factory, I poured my $12 champagne into little plastic cups, made a toast to my longtime friend, and finally unveiled the plans I’d been sitting on for a few weeks: For Reid’s birthday, that next day, I would take the two of us to Spa Castle, a 4 story spa in College Point, Queens with pools and saunas and hella other amenities, so I’d heard. We’d been talking it up for weeks as everyone around us raved about this mysterious palace. Coworkers’ relatives, friends of friends of friends who I’d heard had gone, they all said it was fantastic. I thought it the perfect gift for my friend and for myself, especially since the weather that day was going to be so nice. Sometimes being fabulous with a full-time job can feel like a square peg in a round hole, and I felt we were both due for some good old fashioned pampering.

The next morning, totally disregarding that it was Mother’s Day, I summoned Reid out of his hangover crypt (now available at Ikea!) to meet me at the intersection between our houses and call a cab to College Point. We met at Myrtle Wyckoff circa noon, when the sun was at its peak. I was wearing an American Apparel bargain bin skirt and my mother’s vintage Ralph Lauren one-piece bathing suit, because I’d never been to a spa before, and I felt like I should probably wear something Ralph Lauren. I also wasn’t feeling quite bikini-ready, physically or emotionally. (In fact, I’m still not. I’ve eaten so much junk since the last warm season that if you took a bite out of me I’m pretty sure I’d be filled with Boston Cream.) So there I was, in my Ralph Lauren, eating my usual cajun turkey, beef bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and colby jack cheese sandwich on a roll from the deli. The sun was singing my shoulders as I watched Reid “I Just Puked” Kutrow frown in a patch of shade, waiting for our cab to arrive. It had been 20 minutes since we called Bushwick Car Service. And then 10 more. And then 10 more since I’d called them again and they’d said “two minutes!” And then fifteen more since I’d called them and been like “UMM, hello??” and then ten more since I’d been on hold. There were people everywhere, scooting along with bouquets of carnations to take to their mother’s kitchens, and there we were, two sunburning dopes pacing and moaning in front of Duane Read for an hour now. I think I yelled “FUUUUCK” in front of at least 30 babies. I hate when I do that.

Eventually we ended up just hopping in an empty car that said Fenix on it. We were greeted with a laugh from the driver. “Ooh,” he chuckled, “you guys are lucky to find a cab today.” I love my mom, I mean really, really love her to the point that I wanna be her, and yet had no idea Mother’s Day was such a big deal.

Driving to College Point from Ridgewood was a much needed scenic adventure. The weather was perfect, and the prevalence of trees in Northern Queens made it easier and more enjoyable to breathe. I saw Citi Field. I saw the place where they print and ship out the New York Times (until then I had been operating under the assumption that the paper just somehow manifested out of the ether). The highways and gorgeous tree tops felt like I was fully leaving New York, and it only cost a $30 cab ride. Maybe it’s cliche, or maybe it isn’t, but my favorite thing about living in New York is leaving New York. And then, of course, coming back. Because nothing else is ever all that.

Pulling into College Point was a sight for the sorest of eyes. There were audible ooh’s and ah’s coming from the windows of our vehicle as we drove past a tricked out strip mall. They had a Target, a TJ Maxx, and an Offbrand Outback steakhouse in the parking lot called the something-something “Saloon.” If there’s one thing you know about me, readers, it’s that I am powerless to only two things: discount goods and bloomin’ onions. But those would have to wait.

We turned past my Middle American Mecca and ended up in College Point’s Korea Town. We pulled into a dead end driveway behind a large brick building, seemingly under some sort of construction. It didn’t look much like a castle, more of a Spa Best Western. But the sign hanging above us said we were in the right place, so we threw some money at the cab and walked around to the “front entrance.” The front entrance to spa castle is not unlike the bus loop at your local suburban high school, ie, it’s a driveway lined with townhouses and unfinished landscaping. Older overweight women exploded out of the entrance, many of them wearing identical yellow shirts, presumably signifying they were in some sort of church group. This was already looking amazingly unglamorous, but we didn’t really care. We were just happy to be out of Bushwick. To us, it looked like Versailles, if Versailles had signage written in Korean and a mandatory barefoot policy. After paying the $50 Weekend and Holiday entrance fee we were given wristbands that looked like watches in unimaginative colors indicating our gender (Reid’s was blue and mine was magenta) but instead of faces they had circular magnetic (or computery) sensors with 4 digit numbers on them. These were our locker numbers. The magnetic sensors would be used to open the lockers, and could also be scanned at service desks throughout the Castle in lieu of a credit card and our tabs would be settled at check out (purses, wallets and other such folly we’re not allowed past the locker rooms).

We passed through the rickety turnstile to the threshold of our respective locker rooms. “Bye!” We yelled to one another, not unafraid of what was to come. As soon as I entered I was hit in the face–BLAM–with the same old lady bodies as before, but this time completely nude. Naked women were everywhere, zipping in and out of rows of lockers like they owned the place. I just stood there, bamboozled and partly ashamed of my bashfulness and the naive concept of the female form I had once held in my mind. As per instruction of a sign in both English and Korean, and to my complete and utter chagrin, I took off my sandals immediately upon entering. I was barefoot on the same tile floor as hundreds of other ladies, who, pardon the assumption, did not seem to be hailing from the hygienic upper crust of society. Not that I’m a classist, I just think my mind would have been a little more at ease had I been in the presence of more pedicured toes and fewer ingrown toenails. I tried not to look at the feet. Or the fupas. And in the process didn’t figure out how to open my locker for about 15 minutes.

I kept my swimsuit on and left my iphone in the locker. All the women who weren’t stark raving naked were adorned in pink scrubs, the spa castle “uniform.” I tried to enter the bath section to sample the heated indoor pools and showers, but I was abruptly stopped. Apparently the low cut Ralph Lauren one-piece was far too much clothing for the bath area, as was any clothing at all. I was expected to share a jacuzzi tub with 5 other naked women, and not to shame any body of any form, but I just couldn’t stomach inhabiting the same body of water with a variety of strangers’ flappy unkempt pubic areas sans some physical barrier. I returned to my locker and put on my Uniform.

I walked up the stairs, barefoot and wide eyed, ready to see what the rest of the Castle had in store. I met Reid on the second level. His uniform, naturally, was baby blue. 

The second level of Spa Castle is mostly chairs and tables, small dining tables and large coffee tables surrounded by benches, and a huge buffet piled with food I wouldn’t dare touch with a ten-foot pole. Heaps of cold noodles, iodine soaked shrimp from god knows where, and mounds of vegetables gleamed under the neon heat lamp. We vowed not to partake…despite the uniformed castle-goers circling the buffet in a hungry mob, we were pretty sure it was a 12-dollar trap. The second floor also had massage chairs, which we attempted to use but learned we had to purchase a ticket in the Spa Castle Starbucks first. We decided to get some water. What could be weird or confusing about that?

The water coolers in the Spa Castle “food court,” for lack of a better term, are just like your water coolers at work. Except instead of cups, the Castle provides paper envelopes for your drinking pleasure. Yes, envelopes. Like the paper bags your happy meal french fries come in, but only about half as wide. They had Korean writing on them, so the only way we were able to discern at first if we were actually expected to drink out of these was by watching the other patrons. Ok…wait for it…yep these are to be used as cups. They are rendered ineffective after about one use, so we just stood there refilling tiny paper bag after paper bag, taking shots of water. Custodians swept dirt and discarded vegetables into piles and took their time dust-panning them up. After about the forth envelope and narrowly missing a green bean and dust pile with our feet, we decided to check out the saunas.

The saunas were by far my favorite part of the experience. I’m not usually a fan of hot things, but we were extremely hungover so I thought this the perfect detox. Each sauna had it’s own little theme. There was the Infrared Sauna, the Salt Sauna, the Jade Sauna, Some Other Type of Sauna, and even a cold sauna for when you get sick of choking to death on your own perspiration. 

After sufficiently sweating our asses off we were ready to move on to the pools. The rooftop pool situation was really what had attracted us to spa castle to begin with.

 

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Of course, it was completely crowded to the brim. The main hot tub couldn’t handle a single additional person, and the pools were just like every other pool in the summer–overrun with children. The best part was the array of different water massage sitting areas dotted around the edge of the pool. There was one area in particular where two extremely powerful jets would crisscross behind you and hit each of your shoulder blades, nearly knocking you the fuck out. It was the least relaxing sensation on the planet, and hilarious to observe, as each person winced while having their back muscles torn to shreds and over-chlorinated water shot into their nasal passage ways. So far, Spa Castle was hilarious, disgusting, and …kind of great?

In accordance with this theme, the indoor pool and jacuzzi area boasted a swim-up bar and tables where you could enjoy your beverages while sitting in waist-deep water. Of course, this too had its downside. We waited at the waterbar for 20 minutes for virgin piña coladas while aggressive, drunk women berated the bartenders with an assortment of inane comments. The rest of the waterbar customers, groups of ladies who at first glance might be mistaken (or correctly identified) as the cast of Bad Girl’s Club, guzzled their daiquiris and littered the pool with corn syrup drizzle and empty cups. It was around this point I began to refer to our surroundings as Spa Toilet. After finishing our mocktails, fitting in an ample amount of girl talk, and catching a glimpse of the mop water they were using to clean the tile around us, it was time to get the hell out.

But not, of course, before taking a shower. I decided to brave the “bare butts only” section, based on the theory that a little shame was worth returning without a fungus. I shared a shower stall with a Korean woman who was hunched over a bucket and elbow deep scrubbing up her own ass with borax from a gallon jug. I stood there, completely visible to the naked bachelorette parties and clap-exchanges in the Naked Lady Jacuzzis. I left Spa Castle feeling dirtier and less refreshed than when I came in. But at least I’d had some LOLs.

And I had something else to feel good about as well. Spa weirdness or not, I had a steak dinner from the Something Something Saloon and a trip to TJ Maxx with my name on it. We ordered a bloomin onion to share and a Saloon Special for each of us. In a Saloon Special you get two meat choices plus a side for 17 bucks. So naturally, we got a rib eye and a rack of ribs each, with sides of mashed potatoes, and thoroughly cleaned our plates. We sampled the wears at TJ Maxx and called our mothers while browsing bargain cutlery. I bought a massively discounted Ralph Lauren down feather pillow and peeped the inexplicable abundance of Carolina Panthers memorabilia in the College Point Target. For a minute we were sure we’d entered a wormhole and had actually been transported to NC, but I also don’t really know what a wormhole does and we were clearly just delirious from our active day. At 8PM a taxi picked us up from the Starbucks next door.

I spent the following day battling a stubborn gas bubble, that towards the end of the night got so painful I was hunched over in the fetal position trying to get myself to poop. If this were Sex and the City, we’d transition scenes here with a V.O.: and from fetal position, to fecal position…. Cut to: me buckled over on a toilet with a thermometer in my mouth. I called out of work and guzzled ginger ale and club soda until I passed out. The next day, while burning through old episodes of Mad Men on Netflix, it happened. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I, Kat St. Kat, pooped the hell out of my pants. Laugh it up. I certainly did.

After 24 hours of hell had passed, I forced myself to suck it up (literally) and brave a day at work. That night, in my sleep, it happened again. If you’re wondering what it’s like to shit yourself twice in one week, just know the second time is not nearly as amusing.

This all happened a month ago, and I’m still not sure whether to blame the bloomin’ onion or my dip in the probably virus-ridden Spa Toilet. Since then I’ve really been working to get my dignity back. I hit the club a couple times to show off my post-stomach flu body (pretty sure I lost 3 pounds and gained back 10), and I had my first improv show this past Saturday. It wasn’t the best show ever, but it wasn’t the worst. And if I’ve learned anything from improv, it’s that worrying about your dignity is a waste of time. Even if everything goes to shit, it can still be pretty fuckin’ funny.

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Fab With A Conscience


When I was in college at UNC Chapel Hill I was lucky enough to make friends with some of the most intelligent and fabulous people that walk this earth. We called ourselves Team Big Things, among other monikers that were bestowed upon us (Fruity Rebels, Benetton Club, etc). These names derived from a few simple facts; that we are all highly ambitious, flamboyant individuals of varying races and backgrounds. Many of us identify as queer,  and all of us make up an educated, socially-minded group looking to better the world through art and/or service, and to look & feel good while doing it.

Even though we’ve experienced a diaspora since graduating–we’ve got members in NYC, LA, NC, DC, and one member is even in China right now–I still keep in close contact with these guys through a private facebook group called TBT. We share funny gifs, stories about almost pooping in our pants at Trader Joe’s, and links to articles. Sometimes it’s “Best Golden Girls Quotes” on Buzzfeed. Other times they surround more socially charged topics which we then debate and discuss with each other. This week we talked about Britney, Miley, and the relationship between fashion, music, gender, queerness and race. I felt the conversations that followed were beyond relevant.

It began with this image, Mykki Blanco’s Twitter response to the new Britney single, “Work Bitch,” which aside from being another god awful piece of EDM garbage, borrows from the lexicon of ballroom culture (and thus from queer people of color) in a way that has upset some people.

Moe: Thank you

Kat: I’m curious though, haven’t female pop singers always had a large gay fan base? Cher, Whitney, Madonna, Katy Perry, Gaga, Britney. I can separate an artist’s sincere relationship with their queer fan base from the more contrived relationships just by the way it feels. “Work Bitch” is clearly a tactic. But what is the dividing line? What actually separates something like Gaga’s songs, often hailed as gay anthems, from being under this same scrutiny? Is it the artist’s actual involvement with the LGBTQ community? Personally I was irritated with Katy Perry when she came out with “I Kissed a Girl” because I thought it fetishized bisexuality but I’ve since changed my perspective on it and thought of it as like, pro bi-curious. Basically I’m just on the train and rambling and would love to hear more of what y’all think of straight females as queer icons in the media.

Hannah: I agree with you. But I do also think that since the LGBTQ community has become more openly accepted into mainstream culture, pop stars take it as an opportunity to “reach out to/support” them and therefore get a wider spread fan base. Clearly there are some icons (such as Cher) who I think more properly helps represent the gay community because she supported them before it was fetishized like it is today.

Kat: Not to mention the whole “playing bi” tactic that young straight pop stars (Christina, Britney, Miley, Katy) use to break out of their pristine Disney/Christian image. And don’t even get me started on Macklemore.

Hannah: IDK if Macklemore can fall under the female pop star category… but he might as well considering what a little bitch he is.

Kat: I think about this a lot as a white woman who wants to have a strong voice in the media as a writer. Although I identify as queer and a feminist I still heavily scrutinize the validity of my voice in relationship to many of my characters who are queer people of color (aka: y’all). This is sort of off the subject of pop music but not really at all. The reason Orange is the New Black was given so much praise for it’s portrayal of QPOC is because it gave agency to those characters outside of the white narrative. It is unethical to use the experiences and cultures of another to further your career. It does nothing but reinforce the status quo to try sum up the lived experience of an other in your own voice, to tell someone else’s story in order to spice up your own. Ultimately we need more queer voices telling their own stories, taking center stage for their own lived experience and being their own icons. Not treated by the industry as a market for culture consumption. And as a white, straight artist, if you can’t get down with that, then you are not an “ally”. Thus Mykki’s outrage.

Austin: Everything Kat said p much.

Jamila: Kat, yes. All of it. That being said, I’m also thankful for these white women who advocate for “the others” because when others do it, nobody gives a goddamn

Austin: Yeah ^ there is a way to use one’s privilege in a good way and that is it.

The next topic was one that has been beaten to death over the past few weeks, Miley’s appropriation of black “ratchet” fashion to enhance her fun new image. If you’ve been on the Internet (and not been completely clueless) any time in the last two months you’ve heard more Miley arguments than you can mentally process; those condemning her and those in her defense. This time we wanted to talk about the stylist behind Miley’s fashion choices at the VMAs and in her controversial video for “We Can’t Stop.”

Ratchet is Dead: Inside the Mind of a Miley Cyrus Stylist

The article introduces Lisa Katnic, Miley’s stylist and a host of the Vfiles webshow LisaTV, which is basically a docu-series about different fashion communities. In the article Katnic is quoted as follows:

“Somebody said that it was racist for a white girl to have three black girls as props onstage to benefit herself. It’s misinformed because [those dancers, the] L.A. Bakers are in the [“We Can’t Stop”] video. At this point, Miley and the L.A. Bakers are friends, and Amazon Ashley? They’re friends in real life. They go out to lunch. That’s so demeaning to [the dancers] for somebody to say that. Here they are doing something that’s awesome and fun, and [people] shit on it.”

Since we’re all major Vfiles fans, and many of us have adorned ourselves with the gold chains, mesh and Air Forces of the “ratchet” look for long before Miley jumped on the bandwagon, I thought this woman’s work was worth discussing.

Kat: Some people are saying that this person is responsible for the whole Miley Debacle and I can see why they are offended by her quotes dismissing the issue….is it wrong that i think she’s fucking fab, style wise? Her Vfiles show is funnnnn.

Brad: IDK IDK IDK IDK how to feel. I do like her style tho lol

Bill: I think it’s great she has a voice in all of this. To each her own.

Brad: I meannnnn IDK if “to each her own” is the right approach to this. I still think this chick is blinded by her privilege.

Kat: I don’t think she’s as blinded as Miley is tho, and I think her relationship to the trends and lifestyles she uses to express herself is more authentic and more informed. I’m kinda here for her.

Bill: It’s interesting because she comes form the world of style which has ALWAYS appropriated looks from culture and society.

Kat: Yeah, not that that’s necessarily okay, but if we call that into question I think we have to maybe put ourselves on the cross a lil bit too lol

Bill: Exactly.

Brad: I agree that she’s def not as blind as Miley but in the end she’s still perpetuating this appropriation for a paycheck.

Kat: I feel like if Miley came up to me on a night when I was wearing my weave and my jersey and a ton of gold chains and said “I want you to style my video” I’d be like “sweet.” The term “weave” used loosely, as always. God I can’t help it I’m just culturally appropriatin’ all the time. But I still think Miley’s weak, prolly cause it’s obvious to everyone that she’s full o shit.

Brad: lmao. No I mean I feel u cuz same prolly. Ugh this is why /we/ should be famous cuz we’d do this shit da right way.

Bill: It seems hard for me to believe that anything in our culture isn’t appropriated. We live in the country that has appropriated pretty much everything but American Apparel from other places and peoples around the world.

Brad: IS THERE EVEN A RIGHT WAY THO IDK *SIGH.*

Austin: Not here for her and I think a lot of her explanations whitesplain away the problematic nature of wearing blackness as a costume. Also I think conversations about appropriation (and race in general) center white people’s feelings and ideas too much. I honestly don’t care if Miley shares a few laughs with these poor black women on set. WOOHOO RACISM SOLVED. How do black women feel about it? What happens to actual “ratchet” people when the term/trend are done? It’s all so absurd and we can localize this to Miley if we want, but there’s a looooong history of white folks putting on black “cool”/folk culture to advance their own careers, while white culture at large systemically shits on black folks/culture. IDK y’all. I think Bill is missing the distinction between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation. It’s a thin line but there is one.

Bill: Austin, does that apply to fashion and style- is that exchange or appropriation? Is there a way to share these things at all? The nose ring was originally a Sikh tradition… it has now been removed from that cultural identity to be a part of style. Help me flesh this out.

Austin: Bill, I think conversations about cultural appropriation are hard because they center a PoC narrative instead of a white one. Sometimes it’s not /about/ individual white persons relating to something but how WHITENESS relates to something, ie: how are Desi women treated/seen for wearing bindi? How are black folks seen/treated for speaking vernacular English? How are artists of color viewed in the canon of art history? How many people of color get to use their cultural output in the mainstream? It’s a hard conversation because it doesn’t necessarily center whiteness or white feelings, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how often we do center whiteness in our convos about race. How many people of color get to control the use of their culture in the mainstream? Like, we can’t blame Justin Timberlake for being inspired by black music, for instance. But we can talk about how society/media values his work over the myriad black artists who have done the same thing.

Bill: The White Systemic Oppression of All That Isn’t White. It makes sense- but you and I aren’t Desi women so does that mean we cannot talk about it at all? Yes these issues are ‘hard’ to discuss but CAN we discuss them outside of that paradigm of whiteness?

Austin: We can’t speak directly from a position that isn’t ours, but we can speak about oppression/privilege sure. We’re all oppressed and privileged to varying degrees. INTERSECTIONALITY. Try to think how your oppressed parts feel in relation to the mainstream and be EMPATHETIC to the experiences of others. Bill, as a white man, you certainly have something to add to race conversations, but you have to decentralize whiteness before you can get to the empathy/understanding part.

Kat: It would also be a different thing if Miley was using her status as a wealthy white girl to give more of a voice to the the women of color she’s borrowing from. I don’t see that. I always draw up a comparison between Brooke Candy and Miley in my head when I think about this. If you’re a white woman entrenched in and promoting the culture you are inspired by I don’t think it’s criminal to borrow from it….but maybe I’m just defending myself here.

Austin: I think that’s interesting Kat. Like I think about Terry [our good friend from home, a white man], and he’s IN poor communities of color. Like, I don’t think he’s appropriating simply because it’s not a costume for him. He’s not approaching it ironically or thinking that he has a “proper” culture to return to.

Kat: What about using it as a way to reject the so-called “proper” culture you are from? I would argue that’s what Miley’s doing, and while it’s fucked that she’s able to do that in a way that people of color will never be able to (and then returning at the end of the day to the california king sized bed in her mansion), it makes sense that she’d use it to reject a lot of the bullshit ways the patriarchy says she SHOULD exist as a young white woman (pure/responsible/desexualized). I actually kind of identify with that. The problem arises when we define the antithesis of “pure” with black female bodies…….ruh roh.

Bill: I mean we’ve had this conversation fueled by a seemingly never-ending cocaine high several times over. I just like coming from an anthropological standpoint- I am just thinking that we need to get out of the whole oppressor-oppressed dualism in order to do anything about it… like stop giving it power somehow. I have been learning how to decentralize whiteness without dismissing my own inheritance of the concept. Where do I reconcile the attitudes of white men who shaped the conversations that we are having right now?

Kat: I don’t know that anyone can take an objective standpoint on any issue. No one can shed their privilege or the perspective that it gives them. The important thing is to call attention to it and accept responsibility for it. The opposite of whitesplaining is not objectivity but awareness.

Austin: Yes, Kit! I hope no one feels attacked. One can’t convey tone via Facebook. But I also hate the fact that I feel the need to say that (centering white feelings).

Kat: I don’t think anyone feels attacked. I think we’re all here to learn and understand how the work we produce as artists affects the world, and what responsibility we have as people of our respective privileges.

Austin: Back to the original question, you shouldn’t feel bad for liking her style. She’s fly. Anyone who consumes media consume problematic media. The key is recognizing that, and hopefully making something better.

Kat: Exactly! If any of these artists had a response other than “no, no way I disagree” to any of the accusations and maybe listened and contributed to a productive dialogue… think of how things would be different. At that point I think it becomes messy because of how much money is involved.

Austin: I should find that article about like 90+% of media being produced by white folks. I think we all “know” what systemic means, but don’t really /know/ what systemic means.
Bill: That’s why I love folklore- the stories coming from the people the stories are actually about. I really want to say “FUBU” right now.

Austin: Lmaooooooo ^^^ I mean sometimes that’s necessary. That brand was actually a response to designers who made a shit ton of money off of black folks saying that their clothes weren’t really “for” black people so…..

Kat: Wow

Danielle: I’ve had a similar conversation with my close friend Aila when we talk about what it’s like to be a PoC in the theatre community. Which of us is at an advantage when it comes to getting consistent work and which of us is at an advantage in life. As a multiracial actress (white dad, Indian/Desi mom) she’s able to shift between different “shades” of brown people with ease- at this point she’s played Iranian, Puerto Rican and now a French Joan of Arc. Yet she’s begun to envy my privilege as a black/Jamaican/”thick” woman since there seems to more work for actors who fit that description. She explained that regardless of how many roles she’s offered she is still not seen as Indian because of her hazel eyes, light skin and European features. I wanted to be upset with her since her dad’s an oil man and her mother’s parents are a bureaucrat and a choreographer… she’s had a trust fund since the day she was born… she’s lived all over the world… and society calls her exotic and beautiful and dudes buy her mad drinks when she goes out to bars. So why would she want to look like me? The answer was crazy: her lack of community. She always feels alone because she’s seen as too exotic to be considered white, and too white to be considered truly Indian. She’s just labeled as pretty. Another part to her argument was the people who are closest to her also happen to be black so why couldn’t she be a part of the group? As much as I want to punch her lights out for wearing oversized hoop earrings and answering my phone calls with “where you at, grr,” I can’t come up with a reason why she shouldn’t be able to. After all, she’ll shut down folks who try to randomly touch my hair. Do I want to be the one that denies the basic human need for belongingness? Doesn’t that make me into another kind of oppressor?

Kat: This also brings up the concept of appearance versus race and how each affects lived experience. I’m a white girl with white parents of European descent (people are often surprised when they find out my mom is blonde for some reason?) but I have dark hair and tan skin which sometimes leads people to label me “ethnically ambiguous.” I think I kind of get to experience the benefits of exoticism without any of the negative treatment of being racially othered. On the one hand, the unfairness of that makes me uncomfortable. On the other hand, I like to be as tan and curvaceous as possible and play up that ambiguity to benefit from some of the hypersexualized stigmas people have of brown women.

Bill: I’ve recently been brought to the light by dear Austin that I was possibly commenting in a way that was defending my own privilege, earlier. I haven’t caught up on the comments since I went to class earlier but I apologize if I offended anyone. I see this space as a comfortable place to discuss these kinds of things. Earlier I was playing more of a devil’s advocate role because I wanted to mirror the perspective that this white society that we live in has… And I know it is implicit in me because I am white- but if you were personally offended know that I don’t believe all the things I wrote. My intention was to provoke conversation and further the dialogue. Apologies… I am not trying to feign my responsibility and I was not annoyed by anyone in this group calling out white privilege. I love y’all. I was never trying to defend whiteness. I agree with the black feminists’ opinions about this subject. It probably wasn’t my place to do this at all, but I think that having a conversation where everyone agrees and is reinforcing their own opinions is just a rant (definitely has power to it though) and I was trying to provoke the conversation for my own desire to hear a great academic study/conversation about race.

Kat: I think sometimes it’s important to ask questions that you feel like you already know the answer to so that you can know /why/ you feel that way. I take a lot of stances on issues I feel strongly about, but I don’t always know exactly why that is. Sometimes asking a “devil’s advocate” question can help you better understand a topic.

Austin: I get that. I also, first of all Bill, I appreciate you being receptive to hearing that you might have approached a race conversation wrong. As a white person (or really any person in a privileged position) it’s SUPER important to listen to folks who don’t share your privilege. Kudos on that. Anyway, I get the idea of offering a different perspective. It’s like a mini checks and balances system I guess. But I also think that everyone who contributed /did/ offer a different perspective. We can build consciousness and raise awareness towards a similar end, while filling in blanks for each other and fleshing out ideas. I love that this group of friends can joke and party and ~look rly cute~ but also talk about and do Things That Matter.

Bill: I see how it is confusing for a white person to play devil’s advocate about whiteness in a race conversation.

Kat: Totally. But yes, I think a checks and balances system is really important, especially in liberal communities where sometimes we take for granted certain truths. It’s important to rediscuss and redefine what we know to be true sometimes. For some people, simply saying America Appropriates Everything is a great way to blow off this entire argument. Being given the opportunity to say “yes, BUT” is really helpful in convincing others who are perhaps further to the right than we are.

Bill: I was merely looking for a way OUT of whiteness and the systemic oppression of a white world.

Kat: I often feel like I want to find a way out of the white world also. I’m deeply ashamed of white culture because I don’t feel it represents ME and what I believe. But I /am/ white, so I am allotted certain privileges that even I believe are unfair simply due to that fact. And as much as we’d love to completely restructure society, it won’t happen in our lifetime. So we just have to make sure to remain aware of its problematic nature and use dialogues like these to take realistic baby steps to improving the world. You guys rule.

Austin: Whiteness and white people are two different concepts. Don’t confuse the two. No need for white guilt or shame, but you can try to side step whiteness. READ THE WHITE PRIVILEGE KNAPSACK. It’s one internet page long and an easy google away. It’s a great refresher/starting point, and written by a white woman.

Kim: I’ve been thinking a lot about race issues here too [as an Asian-American in Shanghai]. It’s such a difficult thing sometimes I don’t know how to feel. The foreigners here in Shanghai disgust me sometimes at how imperialistic their attitude is. There is this feeling of camaraderie over their ‘superiority’ that they feel entitled to as (mainly) white people among Asians. Instead of feeling a sense of inferiority as a minority the way many Asians in America do, it somehow has turned out the opposite. And what’s most confusing is how I identify with them often! I feel so ashamed when I have this attitude, but I can’t help it. Like many of you have pointed out, I can’t escape my background and how it’s shaped me. Lately I’ve been trying to take race out of the picture and just look at them as human. Because it gets so fucking annoying when all you are is where you’re from.

Austin: Yeah that makes so much sense. I was talking to Bill last night about ways to stay racially aware/conscious without letting all the negative aspects of racism bog you down emotionally and spiritually. It can be really hard to navigate.

I know I usually regale my readers with stories of hilarious missteps on the road to Glam Life, but I’m thinking about including more posts like these. I hope you gained something from it and if you’d like to join the conversation I encourage you to comment or email me using the contact form in my About section. I’ll be back with a Disaster Story next week.

independents

july 4, indepence day, alienbrigade, kat st. kat, the fab disaster It’s 6 o clock on Wednesday afternoon and the only things I’ve done this week are bedazzle a styrofoam penis with Swarovski crystals for my boyfriend, a very successful mentally unchallenged rap person, and watch Undeclared while eating peanut butter out of the thing. I’ve worked just enough in the past week to maintain a bank balance slightly greater than the amount I have already written in checks. Most importantly, I have regained the use of my brain and certain body parts temporarily rendered out of commission by the events of last week.
After I was abruptly swept into a derecho of PMS and Mercury Retrograde, all I wanted to do was treat myself with things I couldn’t technically afford. I began last week by trudging through the rain to get a bang trim, brazilian wax and Ameri-garb in preparation of the upcoming 4th of July soiree in Bushwick. I am a sucker for a theme and I really REALLY wanted an American Flag bikini. Failing to find one anywhere (not even on Knickerbocker, which I checked up and down about 6 times) I ended up after hours on Wednesday at the American Apparel in Soho, whimpering under fluorescent lights and trying to squeeze tiny red minidresses over my hips. I eventually settled on a blue thongatard which I figured I could find plenty of uses for even after the holiday, and went home to change into my Beetlejuice dress for Ghe20 Goth1k with the team.
That night we met at Moe’s apartment, where we listened to The Pointer Sisters on the roof, took selfies, and watched Bradford vogue with an actual taser.


We had an amazingly drama-free night, even if I did spend most of it sweating through my clothes and fanning myself with a piece of cardstock that said “$25 MINIMUM PER PERSON PLEASE SEE HOST TO BE SEAT.”  Later we went to McDonald’s where I accepted that I am not in fact a pescetarian anymore and ate a McChicken in 13 seconds flat.
kat st. kat, the fab disaster, m4rf4, GHE20G0TH1Kkat st. kat, the fab disaster, GHE20G0TH1K, patrickokay, moedabbagh, brxdford
The plan for the 4th was to attend the “Roof Is On Fire 4th of July Soiree” being held by a group of Bushwick hotties, and to potentially take some acid along the way. Patrick met me at my apartment Thursday with two green business cards he’d been given by a stranger with the instruction to lick them. The word on the street was that somewhere on those little green pieces of cardboard was the equivalent of one tab of acid. How, though, were we expected to ingest the acid without say, eating an entire business card? We tore the first one up, it suddenly seeming not so little after all, and put it in a glass of water.
acid, kat st. kat, independence day, the fab disaster, july 4This was so it would get soggy, making it easier to suck on and then eventually swallow. Which I did, and which I immediately realized was not a great idea as I then had a very large wad of wet cardboard sliding past my windpipe and into my perpetually sensitive stomach. I drank the rest of the water in the glass. Patrick ended up chewing his for a while and spitting it out. Turns out I probably could have done that and gotten the exact same results.
After EATING A FUCKING BUSINESS CARD, smoking a decent amount of weed and transforming into the look of a superstar I was finally ready to leave my apartment and head to this party. Walking through my neighborhood dressed like a slutty drum major I felt my worldview start to melt like a sno cone. The business card was proving to be the real deal, which I hadn’t fully prepared myself for despite the great lengths I went to test it out.
When we finally arrived the color had left my face, with the exception of my expertly applied makeup, and I was covered in sweat. I was beginning to think too much. I needed an alcoholic beverage immediately, or else. But when we approached the doorway we realized it was being guarded by the landlord. We were being barred from entry, despite looking adorable and B-ing our own B and now fully experiencing the effects of major hallucinogens, by the Hasid Who Stole 4th of July.
The sun was beginning to set and it was still 90 degrees. With a bottle of Bacardi and a 2 liter of Diet Cherry Pepsi we were sitting half-defeated on the bench in front of the corner barbershop, listening to our party happen above our heads. How was this happening? And to us for that matter?
Just then, a very pregnant blonde woman with a red camisole and solo cup emerged from a nearby gate attached to the adjacent building. If anyone was going to be our ticket into this party it’d be her.
“Which party are you here for?”
“Um, the weird one?”
“Yeah you can get there from here, you just have to climb.”
We ascended a fourth floor walkup and I straddled two canoodling youngsters to climb the fire escape onto their roof. We were suddenly at a party, but not our party. This party had food and puppies. Our party had drugs and starving fashion people and was on a much taller rooftop connected by a metal staircase hanging about a foot above our heads. We tossed our bags over the railing and pulled ourselves over, just in time to enjoy an explosion of fireworks on every borough of the city. We left shortly after midnight, but not before I crawled down to the other party and stole a burger and a bag of Snyder’s of Hanover, climbing back up, mouth full, like some kind of rabid chola Spiderman.
kat st. kat, the fab disaster, july 4, alienbrigade, l1lposh, patrickokay
I spent the next few days feeling a little off. I had one very swollen lymph node on the left side of my neck and I couldn’t speak at all. I was running out of breath trying to make sounds. Patrick was having similar symptoms and for a second I got a little freaked out. There is a meningitis outbreak in NYC right now so maybe sharing that cherry ring pop with 16 people at the roof party wasn’t such a great idea. Damn, we thought during a massive brunch at Pies and Thighs. What if we’re terminally ill now?

We shrugged, finished our fried chicken, and went to see The Bling Ring.