I hate when i get too busy to post. In the headquarters of the San Francisco sex worker fest. Pre show work mode madness. I have had to miss out 2 cool fun festival events so far. Last night was the opening party and St. James Infirmary benefit. Tonight was the roaming Hookerfest projecting movies in various locations in SF. I got to see old friend/activists who all congregate around Scarlot Harlot..
I feel like I am on some crazy scavenger hunt like reality show (Work for P Diddy?) where everything that can go wrong will go wrong and you are left to make the best of what you have to work with and very very little time to get it done. Somehow, the DVD I burned for the my theatre show, burned all alias files instead of original files so I had to get my neighbor to give my friend, who happened to be traveling to SF the morning after I arrived for a non sex worker festival reason. With my harddrives in her car, heading past Magic Mountain, one hour outside of LA…her 21 year old friend’s car…BREAKS DOWN! Because they were 21, they couldn’t rent a car so I had to scramble on craigslist to find a rideshare ride to pick up the hard drive. Someone who does regular trips up and down the coast agreed to do it for $75. This meant I would have my harddrive in my hands by evening time. It was probably going to be okay, but I still made the driver of my drives text me every 3 hours just to make sure they hadn’t crashed.
NO MORE BIG DISASTERS. I apparently survived judgment day. Too busy to put dry ice in my shoes but I thought it was a fun idea.
Overall, things during the week went smoothly. I came and did my first long theatre run of my solo show “Modern Day Asian Sex Slavery: the musical.” I felt like it was a big success. Well, let me qualify that, it was a big success to me. Not a white middle class privileged version of success. I didn’t have a line around the corner or 100s of people there. I didn’t sell out shows or make lots of money. I did work very little to bring in the 15-20 heads that showed up to pay $15-20 each night for the Sex Worker Film and Arts Festival and that was a success to me (more a success of the festival and Carol Leigh’s hard work). I saw LOTS of very important people in my life come out to support. I got a great editorial piece in the SF Weekly about it the night of the show. This was a huge success to me considering that even in sex worker savvy San Francisco, an Asian sex worker speaking directly about the perception of Asian sex work is still mostly absent in the media and mainstream communities. When Gavin Newsom orders raids on massage parlors, my Asian American SF State UC Berkeley City College sisters are actually nodding their heads in approval thinking that they are saving victims.
I had a political and artistic interpretation to communicate and I did that with a very targeted audience which was mostly empathetic to the cause. I’m positive that my show and working with me made an impact on two young interns at the CSC who happened to also be women of Asian descent, one just home from college to volunteer and learn! This definition of success is how I have always done my sex worker and artistic activism, because the mainstream definition has not always been an option for me and I have had to reshape it accordingly in order to keep having the motivation to believe that my work ALWAYS makes a difference in the lives of SOME people out there. It is how I motivate myself to continue to try. I don’t do it for the money or because it is a popular cause, that’s for sure.
This way of defining success comes from my time as a teacher with ‘at risk’ high school students. I had to find value in the short one on one, interpersonal relationships that I sometimes had with my students. There were many students that I would form a bond with and suddenly after 3 weeks or 2 months they would disappear. They may have dropped out, been shot, transferred to another school, kicked out, sent to juvenile detention, etc. Was your impact on this student successful? Yes. The social justice school of Education cohort that I was taught in would say yes. I still live in the neighborhood that I once taught in, and am now adult friends with several of my former students. To me, one of the marks of a good teacher is how much current and former students keep up with them outside of class. This is how I was mentored by the teachers models (professors) that I had. Social justice education/outreach is about interpersonal impact and often transient but significant teachable moments. White middle class education and success means getting a diploma and a “good” job.
I made this show a friendship test of sorts. This was a big artistic milestone in my life and my 35th birthday and you kind of needed to be there for this or say something about it, if we were really friends. I understand people are busy but it was a 4 day run and I at least expected a text message or Facebook message excuse. If I heard nothing, then I felt that the bond that I had with those that I had invited could not be that strong. I have been recently grappling with figuring out who my real friends and support network really were, since my asthma attack at Dinah Shore. I have been grappling with the meaning of Facebook friends and status updates, I have been arguing with the members of SWOP-LA. (which I recently cut all ties to).
I have begun taking St.Johns Wort (SJW) for “mood stabilizing” and it has really made extremely difficult and tense situations seem lucid and manageable. I am the newest victim to big Pharma because of the asthma medication that I need seems to think charging folks $180 for a months supply is fair. (considering millions of people need it in order to breathe, insurance does not cover it, and no generic version is available). I am resistant to being dependent on any prescription medications that are not herbal. My counselor suggested that I consider taking anti-depressant pharmaceuticals and I went as far as the intake appointment and paid $15 for it. It went nowhere because I was disqualified for being a counseling client elsewhere even though the place that I currently went had no psychiatric services available. Counselors and therapists are pseudo monogamous relationships. If you cheat on your mental health professional because you simply need more support, you need to keep it on the DL. The SJW caps I take most afternoons seem to be doing the trick. In the pits of my recent depression, I felt that not even cannabis was helping. I was willing to try new things, but hoped that I could try less harmful or expensive things first and they would work. SJW is supposed to inhibit the effectiveness of your other medications, particularly the ones that use your liver somehow. I noticed that my edibles did not fuck me up the way they used to! I noticed that my alcohol tolerance was MUCH higher. Mostly I noticed that the need to burst into tears or be apathetic or be overly self critical seemed to quiet down. The potency of the words of others and any criticism seemed to just glide past me, especially if I had already processed it to be false or unfounded.
Our minds and bodies are connected. My physical health is often determined by my mental health. My body cannot lie.
My kindergarten friend/prom date Jon did the spot light for me (he has stepped up to help with tech stuff at other musical productions of mine in high school too!) and my 9th grade boyfriend/FIRST sexual partner was there too! My sister and her partner came, my dad came out to TWO shows and lots other friends and fellow activists as well. A non English speaking Chinese man looking for a underground gambling hall also gave his $15 donation to see my show though he probably couldn’t understand it! The new Center for Sex and Culture space was a squatted in unleased building used for Chinese born Chinese gambling circuits complete w/ a piss trough and brothel rooms! He was like a relic from the Gold Rush days offering his support for my revitalized legacy!
Eventually the show is going to portray Madam Ah Toy, the legendary Gold Rush era madam, the first Chinese/American whore revolutionary. This guy kind of reminded me that San Francisco’s Chinese immigration history, including its history in “sex trafficking and slavery” includes the historical account of Madam Ah Toy, notorious and respected Chinese prostitute that somehow managed to have white privilege in ways that even other white women and even male Chinese (coolies) did not.