June 26, 2004

Be mindful of your gender pronouns...

I have a friend, Beth, who is a woman-of-size/queer-performance-artist/transfag and she is always telling me to mind my gender pronouns. It's really difficult sometimes because this stuff is changing so rapidly that it's hard to stay current on the "label-du-jour". Just reading this article gave me a slight headache. It does make some excellent points though.

From the Village Voice's 25th Annual Queer Issue

Transmale Nation
Remaking manhood in the genderqueer generation

by Elizabeth Cline

A digital call to action spread on friendster.com last month, and a crowd of tranny boys descended on the East Village gay dive the Boiler Room. It was the very first Manhunt, a party for transmen and their admirers.

When several dozen genderqueers crashed the place, a few of the bar's gay patrons threw a tantrum. They tried desperately to sort out who was a dyke and who was a dude by rating the tranny boys—with their flat chests, short hair, and male posturing—according to who still "looked like girls." But eventually, these hecklers were outnumbered by some of New York's au courant gender outlaws, a mix of young masculine-identified dykes, bois, and trans guys clamoring for a space of their own. By the end of the night, the trans folks and the gay guys had made peace, and Riley MacLeod, a 22-year-old, gay-identified tranny boy, even stole a kiss from the bartender.

Just a few years ago, the transmale community was still underground, connecting with each other in group therapy and chat rooms. How things have changed. Some of the city's hottest queer parties are fundraisers for chest-reconstruction surgery, tagged with names like "Take My Breasts Away." Ethan Carter's Trans*Am party has gotten so popular it has outgrown its digs at the lesbian watering hole Meow Mix, and Manhunt plans to carry on through the summer.

By now, there are hundreds of personal Web pages, chat groups, and surgery-comparison sites by and for transmen. (Check out ftmi.org, transster.com, t-boyz.com, or the more than 200 Yahoo groups that pop up under a search for FTM, meaning female-to-male transgender.) Brown University, Sarah Lawrence, and Wesleyan have gender-neutral dorms, bathrooms, and sports teams. New York's LGBT Community Center has expanded its Gender Identity Project to include eight groups for the gender questioning.

Five years ago, if you were a transmale, you were FTM (or female-to-male) and you would probably change your name, go on testosterone, move to a new city, and perhaps consider sex reassignment surgery. Most of those FTMs wanted the world to know them and see them as real men. But there's a new trans generation. They're college-educated, raised on gender deconstruction, and not so interested in realness.

Today, most transmales don't plan to have "bottom surgery," which constructs male genitalia out of the labia and clitoris. For some, it's a matter of cost (ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, which still doesn't buy you a fully functioning, realistic penis). But a lot of trans guys say they're doing just fine without one.

"I do not want a cock," says K.J. Pallegedara, an 18-year-old tranny boy who hides his breasts by binding them with Ace bandages. "I know a couple of transmen who see their masculinity in their dick. But my masculinity is in my head." K.J. does plan to take testosterone, and he's saving up the outrageous $8,000 for "top surgery," which removes the breasts and constructs a male-appearing chest. Dr. James Reardon, one of the nation's best-known chest reconstruction surgeons, says he performs at least one such procedure a week—up from one a year in 1974, when Reardon saw his first patient.

As visibility grows, more transmales are changing their pronouns and hormones to fit their masculine gender identity, and many are starting the transition at a very early age. (A recent Oprah episode featured transmale guests as young as 11.) Along with this emergence has come an extensive lexicon. In addition to FTMs, there are female-bodied masculine-identified people who don't consider themselves men. They include tranny boys (who feel and look, well, boyish), transfags (who act effeminate), bois (dykes who "play" with masculinity), genderqueers (an umbrella term for folks who challenge their gender)—and the list is still growing.

In this brave new world, you can be a transmale who goes "no-ho" (meaning no hormones) or "low-ho," and "no-op" (no surgery)—or you can be a genderqueer who has top surgery, identifies as a woman, and goes by the pronoun he. The possibilities are endless.

America has always been the land of self-invention, but lately that concept has been applied to the body in unprecedented ways. Thanks to technology, transmales can now invent the body they feel comfortable with. In the new thinking, gender and orientation are a highly personal creation, and while some transmales still strive for "realness," the new generation is heading far beyond the appurtenances of masculinity. This isn't about having a beard or chest hair. These guys look boyish, yet butch.

But in the end, the transmale identity can't be described within the binaries of man/boy, butch/femme, or gay/straight. Says transman and performance artist Imani Henry, "It's all about self-identity."

As Manhunt and Trans*Am (meaning amorous) imply, transmales are on the prowl for folks who are willing to break the mold of gender and sexual orientation—or at least go out with someone who does. Along with this evolution has come a new breed of queer women who like dating trannies and who gag on the word lesbian. "I don't give a shit if people read me as lesbian or straight," says Alana Chazan, 24, a femme queer woman who has dated both dykes and transmen. "For me, it's about respecting my partner's gender identity."

It remains to be seen whether gay men can respect a tranny boy in the morning. But there are same-sex couples who weren't born that way. Some transmales call themselves transfags because they express femininity in a very gay-male way. And some of them are open to dating women. "I don't define fagginess by who I fuck, because I've dated all over the place," says Bran Fenner, 22. "I define it by how I demonstrate femininity."

Bran has a crew of transfags of color that he met through a Yahoo group he started with a friend. Most of its members, like Bran, would call themselves pansexual. Riley, on the other hand, wants to date biological men (called bioguys), a hopeless prospect, he says, because of "male ignorance" about transmen. But those walls are coming down. The Center has started a new group for LGB trans people, and there's now trannyfag porn featuring trans and bioguys, surprise, getting it on.

Whatever their sexual orientation, most transmales remain in queer women's spaces because they feel safe there. Acceptance is growing in this community, but there still are dykes who gripe that all butch women are turning into boys, and feminists who label transmen misogynists out to gain male privilege. It's true that some transmen ridicule women, but no more than "real" men do—and there are feminists and lesbians who ridicule femininity. So what's the difference?

We live in a time when the attributes of manhood reign supreme, and not just for men. Women are appropriating the power and aesthetic of masculinity to redefine themselves, to the point where even our heroines—Uma Thurman comes to mind—kick ass harder than your average dude. Masculinity is no longer an exclusively male endowment, but it's still a very desirable one. This explains why the stakes are higher for transwomen (MTFs) in the world at large than they are for transmen. It also explains why the new generation of genderqueers accords more status to the male-identified. And perhaps why there are so many queer women, as opposed to queer men, ridding themselves of their female identity.

Yes, the status of transmen is enjoying a boost thanks to our macho obsession. But the way this scene understands itself and the world challenges that hierarchy. Feminism and gay liberation made it OK to feel comfortable with yourself as the world labeled you. But the genderqueer generation proposes a new reality in which the world doesn't label our identities and our bodies; we do. If you spot these transmales at the Pride parade, or in your local bar, you have seen the future—and it's very queer indeed.

Posted by Clint at 08:41 AM

June 25, 2004

I'm going to sit back and wait for my royalty checks to roll in...

So, I interned briefly at the beginning of the year at a small production company, called Axial Entertainment, working under the casting director and the show we were working on has finally premiered. It's called "Into Character" and it's airing on AMC (American Movie Classics) on Wednesdays at 10pm. for those of you with cable, check it out.

It's a 30-minute, episodic, reality-based (Don't judge me!) series. The premise of the show is to take everyday people and make their movie dreams come true by making them over to become the lead character in their favorite movie. They spend two weeks learning whatever they need to and then they re-create a climactic scene from the movie as closely as possible and shoot it on 35mm.

This last Wednesday a guy was made over to become Richie Valens in La Bamba. He was engaged to a Mexican girl and didn't speak a lick of Spanish. He wanted to impress her family by performing "La Bamba for them as Richie Valens. He met with a music instructor and voice teacher to learn how to play guitar and sing the song and he also was sent to Mexico to absorb some Mexican culture. Then the last segment is the 35mm performance. The premise is kinda cheesy, but it's only 30-minutes. Check it out if you're bored. After every episode premieres, AMC plays the actual movie (i.e. last week they played La Bamba immediately after the show.)

Next week is Blues Brothers (look for me in the end credits. I should be listed as an intern, but I don't know if they got me in before the final cut had to go to the network to be signed off on.). I was also at a couple of the shoots so I'll probably be in some of the background shots since they always threw the interns in because we were always short extras. At any rate, it's cheesy fun.

Some of the upcoming episodes are:

Blues Brothers
Ice Castles
Karate Kid
Coal Miner's Daughter
Dirty Dancing
Blue Crush
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo
Winchester 73

Posted by Clint at 02:25 AM

June 23, 2004

Casting by...

I've develped this habit now, from interning and freelancing in casting offices for the past year or so, of watching movies and recasting them in my head with who I'd like to see in the roles. So, I've decided to periodically post my "movie re-makes" on CH and see what everyone thinks. So here goes.

Clint casts Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (I just watched it this morning for the first time in a long time.)

Originally played by:

Martha - Liz Taylor
George - Richard Burton
Nick - George Segal
Honey - Sandy Dennis

Remake ideas:

*Susan Sarandon (she's doing the revival on Broadway in the fall)
*Patricia Clarkson (she's not a big enough name, but I think she could pull it off)

*Denis O'Hare (not a big enough name either, but again, extremely talented)
*Kevin Spacey (Enough said)

*Ewan McGregor (Enough said)
* Wes Bently (He's a little young, but still possible)

*Charlize Theron
*Christina Ricci

Susan Sarandon would have to be opposite Kevin and Patricia opposite David O'Hare I don't see the other combinations as working too well.

Posted by Clint at 03:30 PM

June 20, 2004

Visions of Hugh Jackman in a G-String Dancing Through My Head...

Tonight I have the pleasure of going to Broadway Bares . It's a yearly benefit for Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS in which all the stars and ensemble members of Broadway shows get together and put on a strip show. Each number is costumed by a different Broadway designer or associate designer and at the end of the evening they have the Rotation where the audience gets to stuff dollar bills into whatever the performers are wearing or not wearing. All the performers and designers work for fee and every cent goes to charity. It should be a lot of fun.

Apparently, two years ago, when John Stamos was in Cabaret, the theme was superheroes and he came out wearing nothing but a comic book over his naughty bits. (Way to go Uncle Jessie!) Last years theme was "Burlesque is Back" and Jane Krakowski, who was in Nine, did a number wearing a white corset. Part of her number entailed her hanging upside down from a white sheet, gravity took over and her tits fell out. Oops!!!

Anyway, I can't wait to report back on all the naughtiness.

Posted by Clint at 08:52 AM

June 18, 2004

Invasion of the Bongo-Playing Bananas


"Some people are very excited about the Jamba-ization/Juicing of NYC, with the arrival of many Jamba Juice locations. Gothamist didn't believe Curbed's reports of "Live Bananas" on 42nd Street (everyone knows that bananas are inanimate, duh!), but now we are believers. Gothamist Weather's KP posted a photograph his friend, Fresh, (what a wonderful, collaborative world this is) took of, yes, live bananas on Broadway and 50th. They were even playing the bongos! All to celebrate Jamba Juice moving to Times Square; according to KP, Jamba Juice doesn't do traditional advertising, so it's mainly guerilla (ha!) tactics like dressing up as bananas, yelling, "Jamba! Jamba! Jamba! 42nd street!" Excellent. Gothamist will get our panda costumes ready"

Posted by Clint at 06:04 PM

June 14, 2004

Where have all the pretty boys gone???

So, I've been in Hawaii for the last week as a post-graduation vacation and I've realized just how aesthetically spoiled I am living in New York. With it being one of the model capitals of the world, you start to take for granted the fact that you pass jaw-droppingly gorgeous people on the street everyday.

I was expecting to land in Oahu and spend a week baking on the beach looking at tanned buff surfer guys and instead I was gazing upon families of spherical Hawaiians in way-too-skimpy bathing suits. It's been a culture shock of a different color.

On the plus side, it definitely helps with one's image problems when you're not immersed in a multitude of disgustingly skinny, atkins-addicted, coke-head models who are mentally vacant and emotionally bankrupt so I guess I shouldn't be complaining too much.

At any rate, it will be a relief to get back to my city that never sleeps - baked and fully rested - so that I can get back to my daily grind. I do miss it.

Posted by Clint at 11:20 PM