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.

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’13 til infinity

deal wit it

“I wanna blog outside today!” I thought, after waking up at the crack of 12:30 to the smell of hot piss pouring through my window. One entire tube of SPF 100+ sunscreen in my eye, one makeshift lawnchair desk and one Carrera Bakery iced coffee later, here I am frying away tearfully in an outdoor sauna of cat urine and Colt 45. In other words, I reaaally needed a thigh tan.
Now that summer is in full swing and the first hydrants have been opened on the streets of Bushwick, all bets are officially off. Of course, it’s had a bit of a rough start.  Despite the fact that it’s been raining almost every day for a fucking month and the fact that I have no real job security (I’m referring to it as “freelancing”), these past few weeks I’ve been out of control and chilling like a trust fund baby.
Towards the end of last month, when I wasn’t sitting alone in my apartment watching old Parks and Rec episodes and sucking cat hair out of the air with my dustbuster, I spent most of my time doing #dabs with my new BF, finding creative new ways to entertain ourselves sexually (being spanked with a rubber chicken and singing Unchained Melody with a penis in my mouth both come to mind). As the season was coming to a close at my job, I was also trying to balance my heavy work load with a LOT of heavy drinking. I began one particularly eventful evening by transforming my cable-friendly maxi skirt into a club-friendly mini dress after work, using a few accessories from the prop closet…including a large coffee cup of alcohol.
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As the cab approached our destination I guzzled my cup’s contents, forgetting it was mostly if not completely full of gin. I was reaching for my ID when it became clear I was about to lose my lunch, dinner and dessert, so I motioned for Talia to follow me around the corner. The next thing I knew she was watching me puke on the sidewalk as I held my own hair back and gave the thumbs up to passing cars. Afterwards I winked and strutted into the bar where I would spend the rest of my night buying beers and shots for myself, giving them away to strangers, and attempting to twerk* in Talia’s face to Lil Kim’s “Magic Stick.” I was in true form.
*note: I can’t twerk. But let’s be real. Neither can Miley.

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Finally the time had come: My Big Things were stepping off their respective megabuses to finally join me in the city. Some for the summer, some forever. Their company is invaluable to me, even though the photos from our first night together seem to indicate that I was alone, having a somewhat awful time at a Hot 97 party and what appears to be a quite excellent time at the Mcdonald’s on Delancey street.
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I had 10 days off between seasons at work and I was spending them the only way I knew how. Alcoholic smoothies in the middle of the day, shopping for accessories on Knickerbocker avenue, tanning in Central Park, sweating my ass off at Bossa Nova Club and eating 1500 calories of shitty food for every meal.

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I keep telling myself I’m going to work out this summer and lose that bit of cellulite right below my asscheeks I affectionately refer to as my Second Butt, but I can’t seem to make time for it what with all the drinking and sleeping and laying in the sun. I did, however, attempt to mix exercise with productivity by weeding my entire backyard to make it Barbecue Ready. This included a hefty amount of manual labor. I even scooped the animal carcasses off my patio once and for all, and even managed to bleach away the dark spots their bodies left on the concrete…sort of. This allowed for Patrick and I to attempt to relax in the grass on multiple occasions, only to drown ourselves in sweat. Tanning is miserable most of the time, unless of course you have Bacardi lemonade and a pizza from Tony’s.
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Before the string of nightlife bummers that was to come shortly, we managed to have one amazing night that began with, like, an artisan margarita and taco party in a gorgeous Williamsburg loft (complete in typical fashion with discussions about the state of Azealia Banks’ career and the end of last season’s GIRLS), followed by a trek to an unknown salsa bar with espresso tequila shots. This led to a bizarre stairwell discovery and ended with a refreshing banana bowl at the Marcy stop while wearing a pair of jeans as a jacket.
fab exorcistIMG_9152The risk you take when you follow the scene is that the hype and expectations for the event will outweigh any amount of fun you could possibly have. The crowd will probably be full of try-hards and there will be too many people and too long of a line and the drinks will be too expensive, and the headlining act won’t come on until four hours after you arrive. You will end up leaving early, having gotten dressed to the nines for absolutely nothing except a great selfie you took on your way to the club. The highlight of your night will be eating a Filet o’ Fish cross-legged in a gutter in the no man’s land between the West Village and Tribeca. You could end up like me the night I tried to see Lil Kim at Westgay. But, the selfie was great.
IMG_9193Our sad state of affairs continued in the form of relentless torrential downpours for the rest of the week. The only saving grace was in the form of my beloved friend Bill who had come to the city to crash for his birthday week. Patrick and I reluctantly followed him to meet some friends at a bar in the aptly named HELL’S KITCHEN. The best part of the evening was the drag show at Industry (which isn’t saying much). The second best was the sushi, I guess?
IMG_9249So as not to disrupt the theme of the week (shoddy dining and gay bars and never ending rain) the next day we went to Bay Leaf in Williamsburg. The service was terrible. The food took forever. They charged us $22 for what turned out to be a bottle of Barefoot. Then just as we were about to storm out I accidentally set a plastic bag on fire and it melted all over the table.

IMG_9262The next part of the evening was our private party in the back room of Fada complete with $5 cocktails and Winston’s beach disco set. Afterwards we braved the weather and spent the remainder of the evening drinking cheap beers at the Metropolitan, but not before I got splashed in the face by a speeding 4Runner.
IMG_9269If they were hiding it at all before, this much rain really brings out the absurdity in New Yorkers. The other day I saw homeless man washing his feet in a street puddle, which is my second most favorite homeless man moment to the time I saw a guy drop a slice of pizza on the ground and then drunkenly lie down on the sidewalk to continue eating it. Whether or not to be amused by these things is a constant moral dilemma of mine. Meanwhile, any time I see a stray cat, raining or not, I spend 45 minutes crying in an alleyway. But OH IT’S GOOD TO LAUGH AGAIN.
IMG_9282But perhaps no shitty night compares to what I dealt with last week, when I took my pink boobs and YOLO belt out to Bossa Nova for Physical Therapy and Slava. Standing under the AC unit on the crowded dance floor, my friends and I took a tiny amount of what we thought was molly.
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Turns out it was speed! I didn’t sleep for three days! It was by far one of the most nerve racking, frustrating, miserable experiences I have ever had to date, next to that time I drank two bottles of robitussin freshman year of college and I held on to the edges of my bed for 36 hours waiting for the spins to stop before Greg came and dumped me in a bathtub of ice water.
I did, however, have a beautiful morning before slipping into my amphetamine freak out.
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The following week I went back to work, 10-7 office days to prepare for next season. I dumped about 5 iced coffees per day onto my shriveling insides just to get through it, but when the week came to an end and nearly all of Team Big Things (minus a few essential members I DID NOT FORGET YOU) got together for SHADE #2 and took this beautiful family photo that will likely be my Christmas card come fall.
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This is how we chill.

Sext Me Like You Mean It

Confession time. When I was little I was really into AOL chat rooms. Every few nights after Lizzie Mcguire went off and my parents went to sleep, I’d spend a good 2 or 3 hours having conversations with the alter egos of sex offenders on multiple continents, lying about my own A/S/L in what I thought was a clever ruse for manipulating teenage boys. I never really considered that this might be a fairly unsafe way for an 11 year old girl to spend her time, and despite my shock and disgust at the picture of that (I kid you not) three foot long black dong that someone sent me one evening, I didn’t possess the common sense to look away. Luckily, albeit mortifying, my parents eventually hinted that they “knew what was going on,” and this whole charade was put to end before I ended up on To Catch a Predator or in a real life version of Hard Candy (you decide if being pursued by crazed child molester is worse than being compared to Ellen Page).

Fast forward about five years, when I was the last non-deaf/mute person on planet earth without a cell phone. This unfortunate circumstance, combined with my inability to have  vigorous sex with my boyfriend on all surfaces at all times, led to some seriously risky landline phone sex that I wish I could say was never overheard by someone blood related to me. I must have really liked this guy, because actual voice-on-voice phone sex is a serious commitment in the 10th grade. I wasn’t just telling some boy on AIM that I wanted to see his peen; I was exposing myself to the very awkward, very uncomfortable “oohs” and “ahs” of inexperienced 16-year-old fantasy. This was some next-level shit.

But I am an adult now, and my relationships have gotten a lot more sophisticated. Like, I have real-life sex sometimes with people my own age. I’ve been in one or two semi-healthy serious commitment thingamajigs and managed to make it out alive. And for the times when real human contact fails to deliver, I have a cell phone that sends both text messages and one-ish megapixel photographs at the speed of light to people who have remote sexual interest in me. Recently I realized that this, beyond all other forms of communication, might be my favorite way to interact with other humans.

Sexting is the low maintenance younger sister of the Actual Relationship. All of the basic elements of desire and intent are in place, and your knowledge of the person on the other end is usually at least one step above anonymity. Whether the two of you would actually “do it” if given the opportunity depends on your respective commitments and how attractive the two of you actually find each other. There could be some major tectonic something-or-other keeping the two of you from what you are certain would be a physically and spiritually enlightening experience for all. Or perhaps one, maybe neither, of you would ever actually go through with it and the other is drunk and in need of attention. I have probably been on every side of each of these scenarios, and this is the first of many reasons why sexting is such a beautiful concept: It is truly of no consequence how the two of you actually feel about each other, as sexual partners or as individuals. All that is necessary for a decent sext exchange is faint interest in having someone describe the current state of their anatomy to you in explicit detail, your willingness to reciprocate, and the basic understanding that neither of you is going to find and rape the other.

The second thing that sets sexting apart from real courtship thus making it infinitely better is the ability to participate while looking like shit. One of my favorite pastimes is sitting around in sweatpants and a layer of mild body odor with my stupid hair in an amorphous bun on top of my head and talking to an old flame (or random hookup) about the sex dreams we had about each other the previous night. It would be hard for you to convince me that there is anything better than watching Workaholics and eating Cheetos in a state that would usually make you hate yourself, but every few minutes having your ego stroked by someone sending you emoticons about your clitoris. In fact, you can pretty much sext during anything, no matter the importance. I, like many, have been known to get quite verbose when drunk at parties. But I can also say I’ve sent a few delicious tidbits on a break at work or under the table during dinner with my parents. I mean this shit can last all day.

It gets a little more complicated once naked pictures come into play. Maybe some of you aren’t really “into” naked pics because you always worry deep down about what people will see on your Behind the Music one day, which I would understand if it were still 1995. But it’s 2012, and if you don’t have at least one naked picture floating around you must be doing something very wrong. I encourage you to unleash a couple nudes into the universe, at least before you become someone’s mother. If you ever become famous enough that anyone but the recipient in question ever gives a shit, it will only help your career. The only reason anyone ever defends Chris Brown is because of how big his dick is. Just think, if you look good naked, you can get away with disfiguring someone’s face. I’m pretty sure it won’t matter that you showed someone.

I usually like to start with something tasteful yet tantalizing, maybe a shot from the shoulders-up with my mouth open a little bit or a bra strap hanging off. Those are usually pretty easy and inconspicuous to take yourself if you’re in a public bathroom. If you’re feeling in the mood, a good nip-slip or two never hurt anybody. Then, as things progress and you guys get drunker, depending on how much you trust this creep, you might want to send a full body shot. Who am I to judge? But I will say, they are very hard to take yourself. You may need five tequila shots and a very good friend to help you out with this one. Who knows what you might get sent in return. I once dated a guy who sent me pictures of things he’d drawn on his boner with sharpie. The possibilities are endless.

People often ask me, Kat, what happens when you have more than one sexting partner? Are you expected to be monogamous? Is it tacky to reuse the same naked pictures with multiple people? The answer, of course, is I don’t know. I have never been very good at “not being controversial when it comes to doing what I want sexually and otherwise.” The line between flirting and being a tramp is always a blurry one, both sides of which I’ve been told I belong. But I say use your discretion. I probably wouldn’t give the impression that you actually like someone if you’re sending jpegs of your cooch to all his friends. But if two poor schmucks hit you up on the same night and you’ve got last week’s fabulous titty pic waiting in the wings, it’s not illegal to re-send it once or twice. Those things don’t grow on trees. You can always save the really special photos for that really special person.

Or better still, you could actually have sex with them.