All the cards are on the table, and the cats are outta the bag….

Any time I mention the fact that I’ve never told my parents that I’m a burlesque performer they are usually incredulous and say something along the lines of, “how is that possible? It’s such a big part of who you are!”

Well, yeah.

I was incredibly shy and introverted as a child, like enough to where having to talk to a stranger would bring on complete panic. I had issues telling my mom what kind of music I liked, let alone tell her the other things I enjoyed/thought were cool that I already knew she didn’t like or had negative associations with….like tattoos, horror movies, sex work…you get it, some regular parent stuff.

My parents are older than most of my friends parents, I’m about to be 29 and my parents are 67 and 71. They just don’t have context for a lot of these things, and I get that. My mother has literally told me that only trashy girls and gangsters have tattoos. She’s thinking in terms of 1955, but that point is beyond her.

We had lunch on Monday. Tuesday she sent me an email saying she’s worried about me and she’s sad that we only have a “surface” relationship and I don’t share with her. Then she sent an email an hour later saying to ignore her previous message and that she was just whining and feeling sorry for herself.

In my response…it just felt like time, so I told her. I came out of the glittery closet and told her that her daughter is a sparkly naked lady. I’m scared because I know this has the potential to change our relationship forever. I’m scared because I know she may not be able to accept this about me, let alone celebrate it. But, I guess I just had to, at least she would know if not understand. I mean, she’s a dance teacher and I feel like she could be hurt by realizing her shy daughter has become a performer and is dancing and singing….and didn’t include her. Below is the letter I sent to her. She still hasn’t responded.

What? Don’t be sorry, being real isn’t whining. I’m just seeing these now, covering 5 projects on top of my own stuff has kept me pretty busy today.

I feel like I’ve been so run down for so long that that’s just what I have to talk about. And that’s what’s real for me, I’m unhappy with this job that has taken over my life and trying really hard to keep it together, so I can’t help but share it. For a long time I wasn’t taking any action to fix this, kind of like I did in past bad relationships. In the last few weeks I’ve been trying to take the steps to get myself back on track and to be happy.

I’ve never thought we had just a “surface” relationship, I tell you ALL the emotional stuff. But part of me has always felt like there are things about me you might never like or accept. Like, I have tattoos and I know how you feel about that. I know you’ll always love me no matter what, but I wonder if you would always accept me and celebrate me.

And maybe that’s me projecting, maybe it’s not like that at all, but that’s how I’ve felt for a very very long time. I’m not saying this to hurt you of course, I just want you to understand me.

It’s not like I do drugs or steal or hurt people or anything like that.

Ok Momma, I’m going to come out of the closet. In case you don’t already know, which I kinda thought you might, I AM a burlesque performer. So that’s a thing. I have been for 6 years. I actually run a monthly show and have co-produced/created 2 theatrical Productions that fuse theater and burlesque. I’m working on one now actually.

Totally sobbing as I write this. As this has progressed I’ve felt more guilty for not tellin you about it, because I’m performing and dancing and you would probably want to know. I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t think you would understand. I thought you would be disappointed and judge me, and I couldn’t carry that on my shoulders because this is something I truly love.

I’m not sure if you can get this, but burlesque honestly gave me permission to like myself. To feel beautiful and talented and not feel shy and terrified of people. Can I feel that way with anything else? I dunno, maybe, but this is what opened the door for me. I have made more friends and had more fun because I joined this community. It has taught me so much.

Yes, it is sexual, just like many things in the world. But that is secondary to the humor, camp, politics….so many things. And it’s where I can own it. Where it’s mine. And not some guy harassing me on the sidewalk, it’s not being done TO me. And it’s body positive and female-centric, radical self acceptance. And glitter. So much sparkles. You know how I feel about sparkles.

I think I was pushing away because there was too much I was keeping from you. And keeping such a big piece of myself from you is hard. And not fair. I hope you can forgive me for not telling you sooner. I’m genuinely terrified that you will not accept this and you will judge me and not be proud of who I am. But I can’t live in terror of my parents, my biggest fear is living a life that I regret because I was scared of what others would think.

I’m sorry to do this over email, but not at the same time. I’m crap over the phone and it’s hard for me to gather my thoughts an speak clearly. I’ve always liked letters more, then I can really think about what I want to say. So if you call after reading this and I don’t pick up, don’t worry I’m just having a panic attack.

I’m the same person I always was, but now you know exactly who that is. I hope you can love her and feel proud of her and not just tolerate the parts you may not understand.

I love you so much Momma. And now you know everything, I don’t need to hold it back anymore

 

 

Photo by Martin Caplan, Corset by Dark Garden Corsetry

Photo by Martin Caplan, Corset by Dark Garden Corsetry. This was taken on NYE at the New Bohemia party at the Armory, trolling the basement with a bad-ass girl gang

Whendy Self-Defense 101

Another deep post from Whendy, this week is just bringing it out…..

Today, through Facebook, I learned that a friend of a friend was brutally raped at 19th and Capp here in San Francisco. They had to stitch her cervix back together. THEY HAD TO STITCH HER CERVIX BACK TOGETHER.

(Ladies and Gents of San Francisco, keep an eye out for two Hispanic men, aged 20-25, one lanky, one chunky. One has scratches on the side of his face from the attack. I wish I had more of a description, I know this isn’t that helpful)

As a victim of sexual abuse, (not that non-victims can’t feel this way), I am so enraged that I’m getting the tingly-temple feelings of an oncoming migraine. I’m not going to go on and on about how disgusting rape is, how totally damaging, and the ramifications of our slut-shaming rape culture. That’ll just make my head hurt more. So, what am I going to talk about?

HOW TO UPPER-CUT A PUNK-ASS.

As a woman in this city, I have been physically assaulted once, the recipient of unwanted touching a MILLION times, and verbally harassed more times than I can fathom. BUT, I have not feared for my safety in years. I have read acres on rape-prevention and taken Self-Defense classes and I recommend ya’ll take heed.

Alright, punks, it’s time for Whendy’s Self-Defense 101!

1.Keep your wits about you. If you’ve seen me walking around this city, especially at night, odds are those headphones I’m “listening” to aren’t pumping out any tunes. It’s my excuse to ignore you, but you can’t sneak up on me. I’ve deflected two “stalkers” by realizing they were behind me, turning on my heel and looking them dead in the eye. And then taking a picture with my phone. Then running like a psycho in the opposite direction. You want some of this? YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO CATCH ME FIRST, DUDE.

1a. Technology has brought us many a fucked up thing. Have you seen that “Girls Near Me” App? HOLY GOD. People, stop fucking checking-in places, seriously. BUT, technology has brought us some awesome shit too. The One-Touch SOS app sends your location to 3 contacts you choose and alerts emergency folks at the touch of one button. It’s available on Droid and I’m sure there’s an Apple equivalent.

A word on stalkers: Try to not always use the same route home, especially if you’re a walker like me. Make your route unpredictable, so some crazy fuck-wit can’t determine exactly where you’re likely to be at 5:15 on a weekday. This also enables you to learn the ‘hood for your enjoyment and know-how.

2. Most attackers DO NOT WANT TO BE CAUGHT, duh! If someone grabs you and tells you “not to scream”, your best chance is to scream like a fucking Banshee. But, always listen to your gut. If someone has a knife to your throat…..look for a different opening. And practice screaming, go ahead! It’s fun and therapeutic! Most of us don’t get the chance to really let loose with those vocal cords, and we’ve all had those dreams where a scream was in order, but you just couldn’t make it come out.

Let’s face it. Even if you scream, there’s a possibility that no one will come to your rescue. People in this day and age are more prone to chicken-shitedness instead of holding other humans accountable. BUT, if something terrible happens, and you screamed the hills down, people in the vicinity can say…”No officer, I didn’t see anything but I DID hear a gut-wrenching scream around 9:30pm.”

3. A Few Effective Ways to Take Down a Bastard

(I’m not saying engage in a fight with an attacker, these are all “Do this and then BOOK IT, baby!”

-Don’t go for the groin. Odds are you may miss and just piss him off more. And there are way better things to do.

-As Dwight Schrute once said, “The eyes are the groin of the face.” Yes, yes they are. I know it sounds intense and wicked gross…BUT GO FOR THE EYES. Poke a finger in, hook it, and yank. Horrifying yes, but I bet you waylaid that motherfucker long enough to bounce.

-A swift kick straight-on to the knee cap or just below the knee HURTS LIKE A BITCH. That, or crunch down on their instep (the top off the foot, above the arch.)

-A punch to the throat is always a good bet.

-If someone grabs you by the wrist, twist in the direction of their thumb. The thumb is the weak-link of the fist, that’s how you break out.

“Wait, you want my money, not my body?”…..

If someone wants your wallet, GIVE IT TO THEM. It ‘aint worth it, yo. You can cancel all your cards, and odds are you’re not rolling around with a bunch of cash. The creepiest part is that they might have your ID with your address on it. Don’t want to think about that? Hey! I have an idea: get a cheap wallet, fill it with random crap, business cards etc. That’s now your new Mugger Wallet! If someone demands your wallet, take it out and throw it down, DO NOT GET CLOSE ENOUGH TO HAND IT TO THEM. Throw it at a 45 degree angle away from you and fuckin’ run like Flo Jo!

A Note on Personal Weapons: Weapons have the capability to be taken away from you and then used on you. Proceed with caution. For home invasion, (or zombies), I have a hockey stick and Wasp Spray. Wasp Spray is stronger than most Pepper Spray AND can reach up to 17 feet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come in a handy purse size.

I cannot recommend taking Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai enough. My brother, Brian, is a Feather Weight Jiu Jitsu Champion in Puerto Rico and is always trying to do horrible moves on me. Don’t laugh at the “Feather Weight”! Jiu Jitsu, to me, is the most effective fighting style because it takes minimal strength and force to achieve maximum damage to your opponent. And, your prime position for taking someone out is basically Missionary Position, which makes this AWESOME for rape-prevention. Some guy wedged between your thighs? I can show you how to choke him out with his own shirt.

Watch “Ong Bak: The Tai Warrior” if you really want to get your juices flowing. He does Muay Thai, and all his stunts are real. Ever wanted to elbow someone in the face? Yeah, me too.

There is literally a BUTT-LOAD of all-female Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai classes in this city, look them up and start kicking ass. I don’t condone needless violence, but I fully support women and men learning to defend themselves the best they can. I haven’t had my safety compromised in YEARS. Why? Because I watch my back, and I have the confidence that I can handle myself in a bad situation. I no longer “look like” a victim.

And, I know the reality. If an attacker was strong enough, or if (god forbid) there was more than one….my chances of escape are slim to none. As women, we live with this reality. (And YES, men get raped as well, I just don’t think that they are trained from childhood that this is something for them to expect).

My darlings, arm yourselves the best that you can. And take care of each other. Keep your damn eyes open, and don’t be afraid to help others. Strangers have come to my rescue, and I have run to the aid of strangers. We NEED to perpetuate that. I don’t think we will ever see the end of rape, but we can make these Sub-Humans think twice before they hurt people.

There is definitely a guy in this city that will remember me as “The Girl that Smashed my Head into A Gate on Langton and Fulsom”. And I would do it again.