A few weeks ago, I had the best time setting up the Feminasty Pop Up Shop at the launch party of LA Mother!
LA Mother is sorta the best idea ever. I love how they describe their business: “LA Mother is the first business of its type dedicated purely to the advancement of women in the creative and business sectors. We have created a safe space to provide a platform for women in our growing community.”
Basically, how could we NOT be part of that? LA Mother’s central hub is in Hollywood, surrounded as much by crazy traffic as by hills and houses balanced on stilts. It’s feminist message is magic.
My friend Celina and I had a blast, hanging out, sipping mimosas, and feeling the vibe of creativity. LA Mother created a social media campaign called “Not a Dirty Word”, which invites folks to reclaim the words hurled at them in order to make them feel bad. Mine was “Yoko”. Celina’s was “boyish”. All of the contributions were installed on a large part of one of the walls for the opening.
Maybe the best part? Meeting so many rad people and taking selfies with them! HELL-O!
Celina’s Girl Gang shirt was DIY-ed with tulle sleeves and a crop top chop. How epic is this photo of her on the bed at the party? PURE. FUCKING. JOY!
Big thanks from the bottom of my heart to everyone who came out that night and especially those that picked up a shirt! I’d love to see what you do with them– make sure to tag #Feminasty when you put your selfie up on Instagram!
Come hang out at LA MOTHER with me next Saturday! I’m hosting a Feminasty Pop Up Shop where you pick up your own tee– now’s the time to finally get that Burning Bra across your chest! I’ll also have a DIY station where you can get nuts on your new shirt!
LA Mother is my favorite new space in the city, and I’m stoked to be part of their Exhibition Preview that night. You’ll want to check out everything they have going on– it’s gnarly, for real! Bring your friends, your children, your charming stuffed pea. This is going to be a huge event– let’s party!
For more information, you can check out the event page on Facebook. I can’t wait to see you there!
Anyone remember Livejournal?
I sure do. It was social media before there was social media. When I moved to the “big city” from my tiny town for college, I knew that I needed to make some friends. I didn’t know how to really go about that in person, and so I turned to the internet. I ended up on Livejournal. My whole world changed.
Livejournal (or, as we called it, “Lj”) is what it’s name proclaims: a place to keep a record of what is going on in your life. Think of it as a diary you could choose to share with the public, selected friends, or nobody at all. The perk was that you could read other folks journals as well, and in turn you could form relationships. I formed a lot of relationships.
One of those was with Yvonne. I could tell right away that Yvonne was a cool girl, but not in a way that I could put my finger on. I hadn’t met anyone like her. She spoke her mind. She stuck up for herself and other women. I flipped out when I found out that she made zines and loved Morrissey. Yvonne was the badass with a heart of gold. And I think that’s still accurate. Even now, we’re texting, and I can tell you she’s working on a secret project that I sorta can’t wait to go public. It’s always this way. Yvonne has good ideas and the guts to make them real.
Livejournal was a little like dating. We’d read each other’s journals and once you’d gotten to know each other online, you’d move on to the obvious next step: meeting in person. Yvonne and I spent a few hours at Kinko’s making an atrocity of a zine (I won’t even admit to the content here!) and that was the beginning. I remember distinctly the moment in a bookstore that she pulled “Cunt” by Inga Muscio off the shelf and told me I should give it a shot.
In that second, Yvonne created a turning point for me.
(Hey! If you haven’t read that book, you totally should. It was game changer at the right point in my life. Maybe it will be for you too.)
I won’t say our friendship has been simple, but that’s the beauty of Yvonne. She is as empathic as she is strong, and someone I’ve learned from. In fact, when I was thinking creating the “Feminasty” t-shirt, I drew with her in mind. I look up to a lot of my friends, and Yvonne is one of them. Her strength of character is undeniable.
When I arrived at her pad for this shoot, she had already styled her hair and was applying the last of her makeup. Yvonne showed me her knife and how to pull the blade out. I nearly cut myself trying to imitate her movements.
I laugh now thinking about how lumbering I am in the shadow of her grace– like so many other things, Yvonne is the first to try something and then teach me about it. I am so glad to have a friend like her.
Yvonne is wearing the “Feminasty” t-shirt. Get yours here.
When I was creating the “Feminasty” line, I thought a lot about who I was when I started learning about feminism. I didn’t see it happening– I couldn’t pick out a distinct moment when the idea entered my life– but there was a definite shift in my thinking and awareness by the time I hit freshman year of high school. I like to credit Sassy magazine, but the truth is it was probably a convergence of forces stronger than myself that allowed my eyes and ears to be open to the message.
By the time I enrolled in college, I felt angry and sad and I showed it by being sullen and sarcastic. I was competitive about shit that didn’t matter (I was a total music/art snob and would cut people off when they didn’t share my views). I understood how the world wasn’t built for me but didn’t know what I was capable of, save for making myself feel better by making someone feel bad.
I don’t have a “transformation” story for you here. I know I’ve changed but it’s been close to 15 years since I started out at the Fresno State University campus. I will say that there was a group of girls I met on Livejournal during that time (you remember Lj? I’m sure you do if you’re near my age. We knew EVERYTHING about each other because there weren’t blog rules about oversharing and appropriateness yet. I really miss that). What I’m trying to say is that these girls were a lot smarter and mature than I was. Seeing how they interacted and cared about one another really did a number on me. I wanted that SO BAD. I think, maybe for a little bit, I was one of them. I’m not sure if it was the nature of our particular chemistry, if I said something upsetting (insecure narcissist much?), or something else, but I felt things unravel. At least on my end.
For a number of reasons, I didn’t make it happen again til years later with other women. This time, I aim to be acutely aware of myself and others. I’m glad it happened, but even now, I feel like I’m checking myself. Did I embarrass myself or someone else? Have I offended or upset anyone? Sometimes I feel like all I have to communicate are apologies. Or apologizing for apologies. Will I ever stop rolling my eyes at myself?
This is a big part of why the “Girl Gang” tee is important to me. It’s been a long time coming– this decisive design that calls to those either looking for a Girl Gang or cemented in one that already exists.
I’m here for you if you’ll have me. And really, if you’re wearing something I’ve made, you are already part of my Girl Gang. For real.
Brittany Deegan and Veronica Stumpf were my models for this shoot. They are so in sync with one another that I felt that energy radiating from the two of them during the time we spent together. They are smart, funny, and intensely kind with one another. We laughed so hard as I teased their hair as big as I could make it and smeared eyeshadow onto their faces. They live in Fresno, and so I traveled up there to shoot them. My heart felt a little lighter doing this project and seeing them interact so sweetly with one another in that town.
I felt like a better person having spent time with the two of them– no pressure, but those two are giving me hope for the future.
I am thrilled to share this set of photographs– the lookbook for the first four tee shirts, now available to order. I feel so much love coming from these captures and can’t take my eyes off from them.
I hope you’ll feel the same. There’s quite a few of them, but I think you’ll find that they’re utterly undeniable in spirit. This is Feminasty, loud and proud!
Aurora Lady – creator
Jennifer Emerling – photographer
Tanya Ramirez – hair
T. Justine Reilly – Make Up
Augusta Gail – Model
Donna Rose – Model
Taylor Fowler – Model
Romy Flores – Model
Luxury Jones Melrose: Cutest. Boutique. Evs.
Here’s the thing about LA: it’s so often so much more than what you expect it to be when you move here.
Yes, there’s that layer of artificiality that everyone OUTSIDE of LA mentions; looks are important, there are dudes that only care about what they want and women who couldn’t care less about what the aftermath is of going after something. But if that’s all you focus on, that’s all you’ll see– which really leaves a lot of the power of this glittering city of hustle in your own hands.
What you get is loads of exploratory opportunity. I’d been peeping this new boutique called Luxury Jones on Instagram for the past three months and finally checked it out on Sunday. My friend Augusta works there now so I thought it would be the perfect time to scope out the place in person.
I had my own apprehensions about the store before I even arrived. As a tall, bootylicious woman, I banked on my choices being limited to shoes and sunglasses. Que sera sera. You know how it goes.
It turns out that I wasted time even acknowledging this concern. Here’s the beautiful thing about Luxury Jones: lots of the designs fit lots of different people. I didn’t see much that was designated as small, medium, or large. Pieces were generally flow-y with attention given to necklines and drape. My size 14 body felt comfortable and sexy in the same dress that my size small friend loved as well.
It felt like I had been thinking about clothing all wrong, and here was a new, liberating way!
A one of a kind, handmade sleepmask by Luxury Jones. I would wear this out as a cute hat-like thing!
I fell in deep, opalescent love with Luxury Jones.
I think what seals the deal for me is how special the experience of the clothing made me feel. If I can harness that feeling, prolong it, then I am loyal to whatever generates it. The dress I tried on felt like that. I didn’t want to let it go.
It looked like a simple, oversized jersey shirt on the rack. When I tried it on though, it transformed. I transformed. The neck was adjustable; it looked just as adorable pushed down with my shoulders exposed as up over my bra straps. The sleeves tapered right above my elbows. The dress hit right above my knees; not too short that I didn’t feel like myself, and not too long that I couldn’t wear pants with it. It used three different prints that clashed in a jumbled, deliberate, perfect way. I think it was cut on the bias but I cannot remember because I was so surprised by how elated I felt wearing the damn thing. This dress made me feel like the most wonderful version of myself: light, happy, mysterious, and thrilled with my body as it was in that moment. I did eventually take it off, but I did so begrudgingly.
So much of the store’s offerings deliver that glorious, vibrant joy. Most of the pieces are either designed from scratch, restructured from vintage, or embellished by Nichole Dimitras, the owner/ designer mastermind behind the store and brand. You can see her sewing and creating behind the register in her studio. It feels like the store Weetzie Bat would have dreamed up, pom poms lining the shelves and glitter earrings dangling and catching light on the walls.
Stuffed animals and cotton candy turbans? Yes pls!
When you go to Luxury Jones, do:
- Check out the free size goodies made by Nichole. The Palazzo Jumpsuits are especially fun.
- Try on the embellished cowgirl boots. Dear Lord, there is very little that is more rock’n’roll than these boots.
- Take a picture with your friends on the “Girls Will Be Girls” couch.
- Comb through the clearance rack. You’ll find some original Luxury Jones designs and vintage. Even the clearance rack is fantastic!
I feel like in this age of money and blogging, I have to state that I wasn’t paid a lick to write this post. I just genuinely believe in what this store is about and it inspired the heck out of me. It feels like I’ve discovered treasure when I see a rad woman running things and creating her own vision. I really hope you’ll love Luxury Jones too.
Last week, my friend Chrissa Sparkles and I got together and she interviewed me for her Sparklecast. We talked it ALL out– crazy exercise contraptions, art, growing up in the late ’90’s, and evvvverything else! Listen to it here. Thanks, Chrissa! This was so much fun!
I’m so excited to be part of a performance created by one of my favorite artists, Kate Durbin! I hope to see you for this special event! <3
HELLO, SELFIE!, by Kate Durbin, presents a new form of passive aggressive performance art, reveling in teen narcissim and the girl gaze. Inspired by surveillance culture, Hello Kitty, Apple products, the teen girl tumblr aesthetic, Miley Cyrus, and Vanessa Beecroft, the 2 hour piece will exist both IRL and URL.
Photographed by Jessie Asikinazi.
Bring your iPhones and your gaze.
We will be near the kids rides and the iconic Hop Louie restaurant from 3-5 pm only.
This performance is a part of Perform Chinatown, curated by Doug Harvey.
Strangers will look. Babies will coo. Kids will ask if you hang out with My Little Ponies. You’ll regularly be asked, “How did you do that?” and “What did your husband/boss say when you came home like that?” (Answer to that last one: “I love it” and…nothing. Because I am lucky enough to work somewhere where my boss cares about my work, not my hair.)
So now I just tell them to see my genius stylist, Tanya Ramirez. I give them her contact info and tell them that she’s a total game changer. Which is no exaggeration.
The truth is, Tanya and I spend a lot of time on my hair. I was her hair model for a while, and I loved it. I really think she has the ability to assess not only the type of person you are, but the person you want to be, and meld the two together to give you the hair of your dreams. Most of the time when I see her, I casually tell say, “eh, I’m trying to grow it out, and I’m into blues and greens today”, and she goes from there. I’m ALWAYS in complete adoration of her and her work when I leave her hands.
I won’t sugar coat it. Having brightly colored hair takes time and energy. It means re-dying your hair every two weeks or so to keep it looking fresh (I regularly find myself hoping for a long lasting blue hair color to come out on the market). It means an aversion to heat styling. It means purchasing shampoo and conditioner without sulfates so your color doesn’t fade.
But it’s totally worth it when I see myself in the mirror, topped with sea-colored locks. As odd as it sounds, I feel at my most natural when my hair is bright and other-worldly.
Tanya is the most important part of achieving this feeling; she understands people, she understands color, and she creates a perfect melding of the two. I am hesitant to call her a “stylist” because she is so much more than that. Without her I’m certain that my hair would be straw-like, uneven, and a generally unpolished mess. This last Monday, she didn’t just dye my hair blue. She dyed it blue laced with turquoise and navy toward the roots. I am still peering into mirrors and windows, astounded at the dimension she created.
She has helped me grow from Punk Rock Girl Urchin to Punk Rock Love Machine.
If you are in the L.A. area, I cannot recommend Tanya enough. Go! Now!
Receive her brilliant gifts.
Two nights ago, I hopped on Skype with Debonee Morgan.
Debonee is kind of amazing. I met her a few years ago, but only recently have had the pleasure of getting to know her better. She’s smart and lovely, and I adore her brain.
Debonee is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and she also hosts her own podcast called “Innersexions”. Dynamo, much? My heart soared when she asked me to appear as one of her guests. This was an emotional podcast for me, as it centered around my newest zine, “Don’t Hide Behind Your Skirt”. Debonee knows how to ask the right questions– the ones that evoke honest answers.
We also talked a lot about feminism, being a teenager, and figuring out what art means and what my purpose is. It’s deep, but it’s not too heady, I promise!
This was easily one of my favorite interviews. I hope you’ll give it a listen here, and then tell me what you think.
Debonee and I in our natural state: ecstatic bliss!
I am about to tell you something, and I need you to do your best to do what I say.
Go right this minute to go see Kathleen Hanna’s biopic, “The Punk Singer”.
I’m glad to live in LA, where Cinefamily has a print and is playing (in LA? NO EXCUSES. GO. NOW! I’m making this post on a Saturday night, which I never ever do, because I want you to go and take advantage of the Sunday showings). I looked, and it’s playing in plenty of other metro areas. Roll out, my friends.
I’m not a movie reviewer, so that’s not what the rest of this post is gonna be about. I’m not a critic, really. All I know is that this documentary brought up so many things for me– basically I was five minutes in and choking back tears, and not because of some sob story in the storyline. Kathleen Hanna just gets it, and it just makes you wanna do better and work harder and love stronger.
I’ve been thinking about how I want to write this, since walking out of the theatre. I tried talking about it with Ben on the way home, and ended up crying as I tried to get out, “I just remember being young, and learning about Riot Grrrl, and not feeling alone anymore.”
And I think that’s the power of Kathleen Hanna. She let you know that you weren’t alone, and that you had a friend, and you didn’t have to take it anymore. She’s smart and articulate and funny. She’s empathetic and a doer. She’s a real fucking heroine.
There were two positive events that set me on the path that I am on now. The first was learning about Riot Grrrl with my best friend, Crystal. We were 12, the perfect age to realize that things sucked, and they’d been sucking for a long time. Things changed. The way we communicated changed. The way we wrote changed. The way we dressed changed. We dreamed of starting our own bands. We started making our own clothes. We started being ok with being the “weird girls” because we were filled with purpose and an understanding toward a greater good. You wanna make fun of us? You wanna kick us around? How about fuck you. We had plans.
The second was in college in Fresno. I was finally in a band and I really loved my bandmates. I did not love being in a band. And I wanted to make art. It was a shitty moment where I felt like I was abandoning my amazing friends– trust me, they got better once I wasn’t playing with them– and having to go out into the great unknown, all alone.
A few things followed me through these spaced out, definitive events.
1.)Feminism. I was lucky to learn about it in seventh grade! I was lucky that Riot Grrrl was a thing, and was tenticling all the way out to our little town. I learned to think critically. I learned that there were things that were expected of me. I learned that I had power and a voice and that I can use these to educate and change my world.
It still makes me really bummed when I hear people I love say they aren’t feminists, because really, they are, and they’re scared of the word.
2.) Kathleen Hanna. Kathleen Hanna. Kathleen Hanna. I know, it’s so obvious to anyone who was involved in 3rd wave feminism! But everything comes back to her, and it hit me last night while I was watching the movie. I feel so connected to other women, and really it’s because of Kathleen’s own work; her own ability to connect the dots and articulate them.
3.) Zines. True. Fucking. Freedom.
I am still very much that angry 12 year old, in some ways. As much as I try to infuse everything I do with love, sometimes the only thing I have left to give is frustration. I think sometimes I’m grateful for it. I think. It propels me just as much.
Please go see this movie. Take your friend who won’t admit she’s a feminist. Take your mom or your teenage sister. Take your best friend and hold hands and just feel so happy that you get to live in this world and make change happen. And then go home and make something.
That’s what I’m doing.
That’s all I can do.