In case you missed the first part of this article, which was printed a couple of weeks ago, it can be found here. For the rest of you that have been waiting anxiously, here you go…
Where do you find your inspiration for your characters, routines and columns?
The News! No matter how bleak it may be it is important to pay attention to the world you live in. I write, create art, and perform about stuff that is affecting us right now. I mean I also do a lot of stuff about love and emotion too, which is funny because all of my relationships have failed thus far, my imperfect track record and body type make people relate to me. I take inspiration from every aspect of my life. Weird everyday occurrences create beautiful backdrops for expression. My sexuality and fluidity are also important to my creative endeavors. I am in a constant exploration of myself and I make sure to document the journey in detail.
In addition to your Blog, Forget the Box, you also write for The Public, bartend at Hot Mama’s and you volunteer for Food Not Bombs. How do you find the time to do it all? Why is it important for you to be so invested in your community?
You can sleep when you are dead. I need to get my ideas out there as much as possible and help people. It is important for me to remain as involved as I possibly can. I love what I do and I try and crossover with my work as much as possible. I write an article about a show I am doing, do a show to benefit where I volunteer, ect… Everything has to happen simultaneously. I am amazed at how much fun writing is. I love being able to speak my mind and have a place where people want to read about it. I started writing for the Montreal Blog, Forget the Box over a year ago after visiting for their Infringement Festival. Now, I can write about sex and politics all I want, its so freeing.
The Public is an incredible paper, it is made for art sake, there is no bullshit, I am proud to be a contributor with my new months column “Girl in the Buff” where I will talk about my passion for Buffalo and being naked. Bartending at Hot Mama’s Canteen changed my life it opened me up to a whole world. I was used to being on top of the bar and not behind it. Val Meli is a very strong and inspiring woman, she talked about her dream joint and worked hard to make it a beautiful reality. I am blessed that she allowed me to hang my art on all of the walls and even design the menus. It is easy to work for someone who respects and loves you back.
We have an incredible art gallery called, The Box, that now has a show called Chromatics featuring art from the Starlight artists, and I am going to begin work on a new mural based on Food Not Bombs.
I also work at The Hostel Buffalo Niagara; it is the best. I meet people from all over the world and have the opportunity to hear their story and also be a Buffalo ambassador letting them in on the cool stuff this city has to offer. We have an incredible art gallery called, The Box, that now has a show called Chromatics featuring art from the Starlight artists, and I am going to begin work on a new mural based on Food Not Bombs.
The first time I ever went into the hostel was because of FNB, we cook there every Saturday at the Hostel. It truly is a beautiful and inspiring place, my awesome manager Jon Piret is part of Go Bike and is also a photographer and writer, his passion for making this place work inspires me to do the same. It is important to reach out to international travelers and give them a positive view of our lovely city. I love that all I do is interconnected, I can make art and volunteer in the same place I work. Food Not Bombs has opened my eyes to so many things. Megan Piret (fellow Stripteaser) inspired me to start going and now I have helped to keep her legacy and the Monday squad going at the Unitarian Universalist Church. So much food is wasted and thrown out it’s disgusting. Through FNB I have learned a lot about Vegan cooking, how easy and beautiful it is.
Keep your eyes open for a Pay What You Can pop up café with the Waste Not Want Not philosophy.
I have also gone dumpster diving a couple times now. It really opens your eyes to see perfectly good food sitting packaged in a dumpster while children are starving in plain sight. There is nothing more gratifying than eating a meal made from reclaimed food. It is possible to eat for free without food stamps. Keep your eyes open for a Pay What You Can pop up café with the Waste Not Want Not philosophy.
Being invested in the community is the most important thing in life. I am there to march for Bernie Sanders; I am in all of the Pride Parades and Dyke Marches; I have danced in front of Woman’s Services to counter the pro life protesters and make women feel welcome; I was at the first Buffalo Naked Bike Ride. I volunteer as much as possible. I contribute to more political papers like The Bridge, I supported the Occupy Buffalo movement (I regret not camping out), fight for clean energy and environmental issues, Infringement festival is my passion, and I go to as many art openings, plays, and events as I can. It is important to support other artists.
Life is about living in the now. You must do what you can to make the best out of every situation and champion the voiceless, live with truth and always spread love and beauty. We only have once chance. I want to be the change even if I never reproduce I want this world to be around future children.
You have a colorful character you’re outgoing, and not ashamed of your body. Have you ever been discriminated against (had hateful words said to you in passing, etc) or witnessed this in Buffalo? What was that experience like, and how did you handle it?
I am so proud of my body, the fact that I go on stage and bare all inspires people, they are like wow she isn’t perfect, she is obese and has crusty psoriasis skin, but she owns it, and because of that I can own and celebrate the things that make me, well, me. I take my imperfections and put a spotlight on them so others can feel more comfortable. I am in your face, try and look away. I have been picked on for being big or dressing like a crazy woman, but never let judgment bring me down, they are just jealous.
My whole life people have yelled shit at me from the safety of their cars. The newest one is when I am riding on my tricycle and they yell (sorry for the hateful offensive word here) “Retard!” I know its crazy for someone to actually enjoy them selves and ride around in a sundress on a three-wheeled bicycle on a sunny summer day. I guess it means that I am handicapped alright. I have also been called “Mimi” from Drew Carey, but stepped back and looked at myself: full drag queen makeup, hair up with flowers, and a crazy printed moo moo, touchè. I can see where you are coming with that hate monger, so I responded with THANK YOU.
My whole life people have yelled shit at me from the safety of their cars.
I even had someone talk about my weight, while I was on stage. I noticed a commotion during my number and found out after it was people in the audience standing up for me and calling out the ignorant fat shamer for their demeaning and loud heckling comments. I also have one strange incident where a woman came up to me in the mall. I was about 15 years old, I had pink hair and punk attire, but nothing overtly offensive, and she stopped, put her hand on my shoulder, and said while looking me straight in the eyes “You should be ashamed of yourself.” WHAT BITCH?! I don’t think so! She disappeared before I could respond. I often wonder if she was even real at all, just a poltergeist sent from my self conscious to remind me not to care what people think of me. I know my worth and am proud of all aspects of me. Nobody’s opinion will ever change that.
Since you’ve lived in Buffalo your whole life, what is your perspective about this Renaissance that the city is currently experiencing? Is there something that you would like to see change here that hasn’t already? What do you think Buffalo will look like in 5-10 years?
Of course I would like to see more artistic jobs. The fact that this place is so great for starving artists is that it’s cheap. People can afford to own homes here etc. I don’t say that we are having a renaissance because of Solar City, Canalside, The Pegulas, or gentrification. It makes me sick to think that Allen St. is now going to be the home of bourgeois loft apartments and not independent used book stores and art galleries. The fact that Elmwood Ave. is going to have chain restaurants and hotels instead of local cafés, DIY art spaces, and vintage shops. The places that are supposed to be cool are losing their coolness.
Thankfully, there are still places in Buffalo that have an air of mystery and bohemia, like Grant St. and Black Rock. I say we are having a renaissance because artists are not afraid to speak their mind. Places like Dreamland, Sugar City, 464 Gallery, Glow Gallery, and now the new Main St. Studios are incredible and safe creative community spaces. There are also community gardens and social outreach programs, but not enough. We need even more. We have lost a lot of spaces, but like anything, you must not focus on what we have lost, but what we can do with the rubble. I want to see even more art spaces pop up. We need more places for kids to learn about art and celebrate their culture.
I would love to own the house that I grew up in, my great grandfather’s house, and have a sustainable urban farm, it is now surrounded by only empty lots.
I am lucky enough to love my jobs, but I know a lot of people who work in shitty retail, fast food, or other slightly demeaning thankless jobs because they must. We deserve to be happy and provide for our families. I am from the East Side of Buffalo, and I would like to see it get a little more love. People who live there need to be inspired to get their hands dirty and raise the bar for their community. I would love to own the house that I grew up in, my great grandfather’s house, and have a sustainable urban farm, it is now surrounded by only empty lots. I am so sad to see my neighborhood taken over by broken down decay. There is beauty beneath the decay we just have to work together to make it sparkle.
I would love to see even more money given to the arts. Community murals can visually transform an area and bring people together during the process of creation. I hope that in 10 years there is way less of a divide between ghetto and luxury. I also want to see Main St. thrive again. There are spurts of hope, like that most of it is open to traffic again. Mostly I want Buffalo to remain underground. I don’t want the things I love about it to change. I don’t want it to be gentrified. I want us to remain a place for artists to flourish, a place to live cheap, a place that is understated and has a bad rap, a place that is home and happiness.
If you were to put together a care package for a new neighbor (someone that had moved here from somewhere else) that represents the city, what items would you include in the basket?
A signed glamour shot of our Mayor Byron Brown (lol), a Buffalo flag cuz its ridiculous with those thunderbolts, a bunch of cds from local musicians and my friends, like Folkfaces, Erica Wolfling, Utah Jazz, Hooked on Casiophonics, and The Albrights, a zine from local artists about why this city rocks, a 2 liter bottle of loganberry, sponge candy, a pizza, a pair of Bills Zubaz, a bicycle and a map of local bike trails and routes, a map of the Buffalo architectural walking tour, some chicken wings from Gabrielle’s Gate, a Bif sandwich and a Veggie Wet Shoes from Amy’s Place, a Buffalo Infringement Festival t-shirt and program, a FNB flyer, a calendar of events for Nietzsches, a patch from Dreamland, a button from Sugar City, a card from Burning Books and Rustbelt Books, a cup of coffee from Café Taza, some Pierogis from the Broadway Market, a sample of local art prints from some of my favs, and one of those “You are Beautiful” stickers.
Any last thoughts to our readers?
Always love yourself and remember where your roots are. It is important to expand your horizons and maintain a sense of truth. We have a responsibility to make this world a better place. We all must use our collaborative talents to ensure that social justice and basic human needs are met. Do your best to give of yourself while maintaining your own life. Never take more than you need. Practice kindness, volunteer, work where you love, don’t take shit from anyone, create art constantly, smile brightly, compliment strangers, tell people that you love them, and dance as much as possible.