Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Power in the Paint Box.

Went shopping with my tomboy-ish friend yesterday. She has a mohawk and perfect skin and huge blue eyes and the college degree I never earned. She's a beautiful, spirited, sexy woman, and she wants to learn more about the makeup.

I love makeup. You can't take it too seriously, it's just paint. But it's so much fun to paint on a personality and act like a hottie.

I want to get one thing straight right off the bat - You can't actually paint on a personality. No amount of makeup is going to compensate for a genuine smile and a big honkin' donkey laugh. Take Julia Roberts - Great actor, I'm sure she's a nice person, but let's objectify her for a second: she's not pretty in the traditional sense (whatever that means!), and she kind of walks like a dude. What makes her charming? Her smile. Her laugh. She's radiant. She's powerful. That's beauty.

So let's assume you've got a personality already.

The Power in the Paint Box is like using psychedelic drugs: it really just magnifies what's already there. Makeup is like the paint that you use to augment the aspects of your personality that you're playing with in that moment.

I wear makeup because I think it looks great. I want to look on the outside the way I feel on the inside. And sometimes I feel like a tranny. What?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Randy Jones, Village Person.

Last night I was playing on The Queen of Hearts harbor cruise for our friend Daniel Nardiccio. Daniel is a wonderful guy and he's got a lot of interesting friends. One of whom is Randy Jones, the original cowboy from The Village People. He's got a lot of other talents and credits, but seriously... The. Village. People. I had an amazing walk through the Lower East Side with Randy last night and I want to share it with you...

Have you ever done something amusing, like, at a party or a show? Have you ever had a bunch of people who want you to do that thing again and again? Have you ever felt depressed or worn down by that, thinking "not this again"? I would imagine that Randy Jones might be tired of the Y.M.C.A.

But you know what? If he ever was, he's made his peace with it. Randy Jones seems like one happy dude. The man is a shining example of what I'd like to be as an entertainer. He's happy he gets to do what he does for a living. He's gracious and welcoming of all the attention. He's grateful for the good vibes that come his way. He gives this big, shiny smile and a "Hi!" to everyone on the street who makes eye contact. He knows Dolly Parton and Freddie Mercury and he showed me pictures of his garden.

What a genuine character. What a joy. I am blessed.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Diva plus Jackasses = awesome.

Love this video of Gladys Night with Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. as the Pips.

Two of my big giant crushes! I'll give you a hint: It's not Gladys Knight or Ben Stiller.

I love Jack Black. I love him so much. Check him out in this video: He's totally committed to being a jackass. He doesn't waver for a second. Stiller is doing his patented "insecure cute guy" schtick and Downey is just... being a fuckin' hottie. (Love his timing on the last chorus exit) And Jack. Jack is being a wiener.

I would jump all over Jack Black in a hot second. It's the eyes. (picture unicorns and rainbows in a teenager's diary here) ... He has magic in his eyes. . . He sometimes has the appearance of someone who is totally committed, totally enthusiastic, totally involved, like he's enjoying what he's doing and he's not too cool to show it. And he can sing. He chews the scenery when he acts, he's sometimes way too over-the-top, he sings like a demon, and he's got economy-sized charisma. And that makes Jack Black my first honoree in the Uncommon Diva hall of fame.
More to follow.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Opinions: When you're Strong but Wrong.

The other day I commented on a video by the gals at Jezebel. I called the advice that the woman gave "shady". And it was.* And I've been reading their blog ever since. And it's awesome. It's all "Celebrity, Sex, Fashion without airbrushing". It's also well written, empowered, and funny.

So in my opining on her comment I disparaged a writer that is everything that I admire in women: opinionated, smart, empowered but not too serious, funny, fashionable, and outspoken.

And that's just the thing: I like people with opinions. I like having opinions. I like sharing my opinions. And sometimes I am wrong. If you're going to have strong opinions it's good to be ok with being wrong once in a while :)

*She said it was easier to take the pain of high heels if you were a little bit drunk, just like anal sex. I couldn't resist the opportunity to note that that's a BAD attitude. If you have to get drunk to get over the pain of taking it in the ass, you're doing it wrong. If you have to get drunk to admit to wanting it in the ass, well, that's more like it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Roll Yer own Pasties

Reprinted from my sex column, Organ Grinder. More oldies here.

Has anyone noticed there's been an explosion of Burlesque dancers in Vancouver? Is anyone else sitting in the audience saying, "Man; I could do that way better than her. Eh, honey?" (Whereupon your honey is obliged to say "What? Oh, yeah, you'd be really good." but you notice she never peels her eyes away from the stage.) Well, I have news for you, people: you probably can't strip any better than the pros. Stripping (and especially burlesque) is a high art, possibly the highest of the "low" arts, and it takes real practice and discipline. You have to engage the audience with a saucy combination of virtue, modesty, and slow-burning lust. You need the dexterity to undo vintage garters with one hand while holding your boobs modestly and trying not to topple out of the oversized champagne glass. You have no idea how much those feather fans weigh. I am utterly serious.

Pasties, pasties, pasties …..You know what you find if you look up "pasties" on the internet? A whole bunch of recipes for meat pies. That's right. "A flaky crust holds chunks of fresh beef, pork, potatoes, carrots, onions, and spices" Good luck sticking a pair of those to your tits.
Now, because I believe in the ritual power of burlesque, I offer you the best encouragement I can: Cass King's Top Secret Pasty Recipe. You need a base, some hot glue, and some strip sequins (the kind that come on a string). Tassels are optional.

Note: the term is "sequins", not "sequences" for fuck sake. It's best to get that straight if you want any kind of service from the button fairies.

Cut a circle out of cardboard or a sturdy fabric like canvas or better yet, heavy buckram (a hat-making fabric) Split the circle half way and overlap the edges to make a small cone. Don't be afraid to experiment with the size, shape, and the angle of the cone. You could make the edges square or star shaped. (My advice is to look up Fredericks of Hollywood, and just STAY AWAY from any of the design ideas you find there.) So you have glued the cut edge of your cone down in a satisfactory manner. Now start at the tip and glue down your sequins a half inch at a time… run a strip of glue along the base, press the sequin string side down. Unless you have extraordinarily large nipples, this should not take you more than fifteen minutes a piece. You can stitch the tassels on when you're done. Voila! You are a burlesque queen. Have a little pasty party. Invite the boys to make some for themselves, if you like. Pasty appreciation should never be limited by predetermined gender identity.

One last suggestion: use eyelash glue (which is liquid latex) to attach them. But don't just fill the thing with glue and slap it on. You will wind up flaunting your naked areolas and that, my friends, would make you indecently attired. At the risk of being trite: who thought up that stupid distinction? "Young lady, that little pink nipple of yours is obscene, you can't go out flaunting that in public (even though it looks pretty much like mine.) Here, slap some bright pink sequins it. That's so much more decent." Jeez.

Anyway, the secret to attaching your pasties is this: Spread a thin ring of glue around your nipple. Allow it to dry. Spread a slightly heavier ring of glue around the inside of the pasty. Allow it to dry just enough to be tacky. (Whether tasseled pasties are tacky to begin with is a subject I'll leave up to you to discuss with your loved ones.) Now, press the pasty firmly to the already dried ring of glue on your boob. Hold for several minutes. Release. There, now, do you feel good? Excellent. Now make sure your pasties are firmly attached by jumping up and down with your arms over your head. See if you can get that propeller thing going. Very good. Now run out and show your roommates. Shake your tits around and dance the Charleston. It's not indecent! You're wearing homemade pasties!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hard Earned Wisdom #2 - Don't fall in love with yr gay friend

This one's for the gals.

I know - you get along so well. You go shopping for shoes and he tells you which ones to buy. He's up on all the latest gossip and he knows whoever the fuck Cisco Adler is. You get drunk on tequila and he cuts your hair and you laugh about your bangs in the morning.

But don't fall in love with your gay friend. Your gay friend is gay. If you fall in love with your gay friend, you are really just avoiding falling in love at all.

You can like your gay friend a lot. You can even love your gay friend. A lot!

But don't fall in love with your gay friend. He will never love you in that way.

Even if he does get drunk and play with your tits.

Monday, August 4, 2008

How to deal with a D.O.U.C.H.E.

OK, it's time to wrap my head around the thing that just chaps my ass about being around a certain kind of diva: Entitlement. Rather, my perception of his or her outrageous sense of entitlement.

The reason that this irritates me so much is simple: I recognize that a false sense of entitlement is a trait that I dislike in myself, and I can't believe it when someone acts like *that* kind of diva and just gets away with it. I think it's rude. And to a Canadian, that's really, really bad.

Entitlement. That's not necessarily a bad word. That's a neutral word, right? When I work I expect to be paid the amount that's on my contract. I have a right to be paid. That's a kind of entitlement that stems from a mutual agreement: I work, you pay. You work, I pay. We have an agreement! You're entitled!

Some agreements are unstated, but defined by a job position: a doorman holding a door on my behalf, for example. (Not that that happens too bloody often.)

And some of the things that we think of as mutual agreements are not really agreements at all. They are at best assumptions. Manipulations of circumstance. At worst, they manifest as Parasitic, Unsustainable Succubus relationships. At very worst, they manifest as a series of P.U.S. relationships as each host is steadily worn out and the parasite moves on to the next juicy prospect.

is the territory of the Bad Diva. Only, let's not put that value judgment on them. Let's say he or she is a Diva Of Unconsciousness Calling His-herself Entitled. Let's call them a D.O.U.C.H.E.

The thing about a D.O.U.C.H.E. is that he or she has to have some kind of power - a power to do something or be something or represent something or give something. You can't be a D.O.U.C.H.E. if nobody wants anything from you. So they use that power to manipulate people into doing things. And when they get what they want, they are "happy". And when they don't get what they want, they are one unhappy D.O.U.C.H.E. Because in the D.O.U.C.H.E. 's mind, the or she is entitled to your time and attention. And never mind something so concrete as a mutual agreement, no, because a D.O.U.C.H.E. is entitled to your energy whether they have explicitly asked you for it or not. In this arrangement, you are worse off than a slave. At least a slave gets an order directly.

The sad thing is this: If you expect people to give you everything and do everything for you, you no longer experience the joyous, surprising power of gratitude. And let's talk about the "happy" D.O.U.C.H.E. He or she feels a kind of temporary happiness, a stopgap emotion, until his or her next whim is fulfilled... or not.

Here's the thing: A D.O.U.C.H.E. is actually a sad kind of creature. His or her happiness depends entirely on external circumstances. Having substituted a kind of social puppeteering for any kind of real effort on his or her own part, (especially the effort required to build and maintain relationships with mutually beneficial integrity) a D.O.U.C.H.E. is a person with little sense of his or her own character. Believe it or not, a D.O.U.C.H.E. will often have very low self-esteem. They just don't act like it.

So what can you do if you have a D.O.U.C.H.E. in your life? I find the best thing to snap me out of D.O.U.C.H.E.-like behavior is to ask me if I'm asking you for XYZ (whatever it is to which I'm falsely entitled) and if I say yes, then negotiate for what you want in return. Sometimes that's all it takes. For example:

Me: "It's cold in here. Are you cold?"

John: "No."

Me: "I'm freezing."

John: (reading at the computer) "Hmmp"

Me: (singing a song in a childish voice) "freezing, freezing, freezing, Johnny's wife is freezing"

John: (problem solving) "You could turn off the air conditioner"

Me: (escalating, because I don't want to get up and do it myself, still singing) "if you let your wife freeze you can't get no blowjobs! No no no no... no blowjobs from a frozen popsicle wife!"

Wisely, after five years of marriage to me, John has caught on to this behavior.

John: "Are you asking me to turn off the air conditioner?"

Me: "Yes."

John: "If I do, will you give me a blowjob?"

Me: "No."

John: "Well turn it off yourself, then."

Me: "OK"

John has had the patience to learn to cut through my bullshit with a few well placed questions. And I have learned from John and some of my other dear friends that bullshit is not the most efficient path to getting what I want. Consider this, alternate exchange:

John: "Can I have a blowjob?"

Me: "Yes, if you turn off the air conditioner first"

John: "OK."

It's so simple, really. Clear communication begets the joy of gratitude. And blowjobs.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bad Diva! Sit! Entitlement.

So in reading my post from yesterday I was thinking about the difference between I'm worth it and You Owe Me.

The difference is one word and a whole lot of drama. The word is entitlement. And entitlement is the root of so much misery. The belief that the world exists to serve my needs actually does nothing for me except make me pissed off when it turns out to be untrue.

So the key to happiness seems to be negotiating a fine balance between pursuing my goals and being grateful for what I have.

I'm in Philly in the middle of a sound check. I'd like to have the time and space to expound on my theory that the Bad Diva needs to shake the entitlement and regain a sense of gratitude and wonder.

I'd love to have the space to do that. Will I pout about that today? No, I don't think so. I'm going to get my big girl panties on and do the show. Because that's what the Good Diva does.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Diva rule numero uno: I'm worth it.

One must not make oneself cheap here - that is a cardinal point - or else one is done. Whoever is most impertinent has the best chance. --- Mozart

I read this quote the other day on a great blog called The Positivity blog and, you know, Mozart has a point.

I heard Chris Rock say something similar on Inside the Actor's Studio. He was talking about how he had achieved a certain degree of success and job offers were rolling in and he turned to his agent and said "You're my agent. Get me something I don't deserve."

When I think about it, this is probably cardinal rule number one of the diva. I can't think of a bigger defining characteristic. The diva knows his or her worth. And is continually willing to push the upper limits of same.

How does that make you feel? It makes me feel nervous, quite frankly. I get this distinctly Canadian voice in my head that goes "Well, you don't want to take that too far, I mean, jeez! What if people think you have a big ego? What if people don't like you? What if you don't get the job because you're asking for too much? What if? What if?"

Well, what if? Does asking for more money automatically make you egotistic? Not if the service you're providing is worth it. What is the value that you are creating? Are you earning reward comparable to that value? You're worth it.

Does insisting on certain standards make you a diva? Are they reasonable standards? Do you have agreements in place around those standards? You're worth it.

Does pursuing higher standards and higher pay make you a bitch? Not if you're not bitchy about it. Mozart's use of the word impertinent is lovely. Because sometimes when one is not willing to "make ones self cheap" one's best tactic is just that: Impertinence. Impertinent is such a great word. It's a cheeky kind of word. It's pert. It's spunky. It's friendly. It implies speaking out in an unsubmissive manner, even in a situation where a certain amount of submission is expected. Impertinence is a great tool when used judiciously, and with a smile.

So how about it? Are you worth it? I'm worth it. And more.

** Oh, one other thing about Mozart? According to his Wikipedia entry:

Particularly in his youth, Mozart had a striking fondness for scatological and sexual humor, which is preserved in his many surviving letters... Mozart even wrote scatological music, the canonLeck mich im Arsch" (literally "Lick me in the arse", sometimes idiomatically translated "Kiss my arse" or "Get stuffed")

This fills me with great joy.