Monthly Archives: September 2014

Queer Memoir: SECOND THOUGHTS (this time in PHILLY!)

FULL POSTCARD TRY 2

We’re really looking forward to our matinee showing of Queer Memoir: SECOND THOUGHTS in Philly!

Sunday September 28 at 3 pm

William Way Community Center

1315 Spruce Street

Philly, PA

(BTW, you can get last minute updates and RSVP on our facebook event)

Queer Memoir is a storytelling series for all of the LGBT community; giving voice to our collective queer experience and preserving and documenting our complex queer history. At every event, Queer Memoir hosts some of the queer world’s well known performers, and folks who have never been on a stage in their lives, bring them together to celebrate the ritual and community building value of storytelling.

This event’s storytellers:
Robin FM
Cassendre Xavier
Colleen O’Connell & Connie Youkon
R. Eric Thomas
Debra D’Alessandro
Susan DiPronio
Wesley Garis & Kelli Dunham

5-15 bucks sliding scale, no one turned away! If you don’t have the cash, please just show up, no worries, we want you there!

Queer Memoir was founded by comic storyteller Kelli Dunham and playwright Genne Murphy in January 2010. In four years they have created more than 85 Queer Memoir events, drawing in over 7200 audience members and 365 different storytellers. Queer Memoir has collaborated with 13 arts organizations in four states, conducted almost a dozen storytelling workshops and used nearly a hundred venues including the MTA, sharing stories on both the A and Q Trains.

More about our storytellers:
R ERIC THOMAS
R. Eric Thomas, a playwright and stand-up dramedian, has been hailed as “one of the best storytellers in Philly” by the Philadelphia Weekly. His plays include Will You Accept This Friend Request?, Always the Bridesmaid, and The Spectator. His play When You Put It Like That It Just Sounds Ridiculous was a finalist for the 2014 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting. Eric has performed throughout the country, can be heard on the wildly successful RISK! and Soundtrack Series podcasts, and gave a talk at the 2011 TEDxPhilly conference. He is currently the host of The Moth in Philadelphia. rericthomas.com

ROBIN FM
Robin is a teacher, writer, mother, wife, and great lover of the almighty Candy Crush. She drives a Prius, yet regularly wastes paper and sometimes forgets to recycle.

CASSENDRE XAVIER
Cassendre Xavier is a Leeway Transformation Award-winning multi-media artist based in Philadelphia. She coined the term “renaissance negresse” in 2002 to describe her work as a musician, writer, fine artist, and actress. As a member of Philly’s LGBTQI community she has worked at Giovanni’s Room bookstore, produced events and support groups at the William Way Community Center, participated in the Lesbian Visibility Project, performed at many wimmin’s venues including Miriam’s Tambourine and SisterSpace Weekend, and shared the stage with openly lesbian performers Pat Humphries (of emma’s revolution), Tret Fure, Toshi Reagon, Alix Dobkin, and Lucie Blue Tremblay, among others. She worked for Labyrinth: The Philadelphia Women’s Newspaper (Editor/Journalist/Poet circa 1990-1994), is the author of the former Black/Out column of Philadelphia Gay News, and her writing has also been published widely including Dykes with Baggage: A Lighter Side of Lesbians in Therapy (ed. Riggin Waugh/Alyson Publications), We’Moon: Gaia Rhythms for Womyn 1999 & 2001, respectively (Mother Tongue Ink), The Butch Cook Book (Ed. Lee Lynch, Nel Ward & Sue Hardesty, TRP Cookbooks, June 2008), and The SandMUtopian Guardian: A Journal of BDSM Realities. Cassendre is a proud longtime subscriber and contributor to the Lesbian Connection magazine as well as a winner of Go Magazine’s “100 Women We Love Class of 2010”. Visit Cassendre at http://cassendrexavier.com/

COLLEEN & CONNIE
Connie and Colleen will celebrate 31 years in August. Over that time they’ve: Held twelve jobs; owned eight cars; parented five cats; lived in four neighborhoods; owned three couches and two beds; started one business apiece; were civil-unioned (a/k/a a New Jersey marriage); and still express undying love and affection for one another.

DEBRA D’ALESSANDRO
Debra D’Alessandro is host and producer of Amazon Country (airing Sundays at 11pm on WXPN 88.5 FM and live streaming at http://www.xpn.org/xpn-programs/amazon-country . Founded in 1974 (and led by Debra since 1996), Amazon Country is the nation’s longest running lesbian/feminist radio program. For five seasons ending in 2005, she hosted weekly call-in TV talk shows, “Philly LIVE: Your Gay and Lesbian Community Connection” and “OutLoud” on WYBE public television. The two-time Emmy-nominated “Philly Live” was America’s first live gay-themed television talk show.Debra’s ‘day job’ is as a public health program manager at a local non-profit.

SUSAN DiPRONIO
Susan DiPronio lives in Philadelphia and founded Pink Hanger Presents a project dedicated to giving voice to the unique life experiences of women, transgender and genderqueer individuals.Susan’s poetry recently appeared in Sinister Wisdom, Corset Magazine, The Avocet, Defenestration and Spillway Literary Journal. Their memoir “Laurel” was included in the memoir chapbook from First Person Arts and their personal essay: “Damaged:A journey of healing from sexual assault” is included in the book “The Survivors Project: Telling the Truth About Life After Sexual Abuse.” Susan was a 2013 recipient of The Transformation Award from the Leeway Foundation.

WESLEY GARIS
Wesley lives in Philadelphia, where he’s currently studying to become a teacher. He’s an avid gamer, comic book reader, sci-fi enthusiast, and all-around super nerd. He writes for several online gaming publications, including the award-winning start-up Hardcore Games

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Survey Results PLUS Call for STORYTELLERS for our FALL SEASON!

Hey Queer Memoir fans..er people who are interested in Queer Memoir.

Thanks to everyone who filled out the Queer Memoir survey over the summer! Queer Memoir is coming up on its fifth year, and I’m really grateful for the continued success of this event and how it really seems to be speaking to folks in the LGBT community who want to make sure all our stories get told.

At the same time, I know there are folks and parts of the community we aren’t reaching…and so it was very helpful to hear about how QM can be more open, more welcoming and what kind of venues and themes are of most interest to folks.

The comprehensive results are below, and the themes for this fall and winter were chosen as a direct result of votes on the survey. A few things that were notable about the results:

  1. More people said they would go to a venue which was populated with aliens with barbed anal probes than said they would go to Queer Memoir held on Staten Island. I don’t know quite what to say about that, except maybe I shouldn’t have included sarcastic options in an survey. Or maybe people are really afraid of Staten Island. Live and learn.
  2. Queer Memoir is an exceptionally well attended event (we have never had a QM in which we had less than 45 people present; our average attendance is 85.7 since the beginning of the series). When I talk with folks at the event about why they attend, people usually say they heard about it word of mouth, so I assumed that meant people come because a friend is sharing a story. Surprisingly, that’s not what the survey said: 55 percent of people say they attend any given Queer Memoir event because the theme engages them versus 25 percent because a friend is performing. Although this makes sense, in retrospect, because many people didn’t like the idea of a LIE themed show, and it was our most poorly attended event in the last year.
  3. Back in the day, I was worried about us not having a set venue but over time I’ve become more relaxed about it. What makes Queer Memoir what it is has to do with the depth at which the storytellers share. People seem to get what we’re doing even if we are a roaming show. In addition, I’m enjoying the variety of venues we’ve used and I’d love to do even more nontraditional venues…like I’d love to have an event in a laundromat sometime soon. I think it keeps the show from feeling repetitive and that’s amazing. At the same time, something I realized from our roaming nature is that certain venues don’t feel welcoming to certain folks. For example, QM has always skewed younger than the population of LGBT people at large, but I noticed when we used a more mainstream, Manhattan-based venue (the Bowery Poetry Club) our average age went up. So it’s important to have some shows in those kind of spaces, even though those spaces are often much more expensive.
  4. Another surprising thing about venues: we’ve always been very specific about what we need 1. Reasonably priced so the event can be sliding scale/no one turned away 2. Wheelchair accessible 3. Non-bar atmosphere.  However, according to the survey only 14 percent of people would NOT attend the event if it was at a bar. That made me rethink the possibility of holding QM in a bar, at least once in a while. Obviously this is more about my preferences rather than the preferences of those who attend QM. However, I think there are some circumstances in which storytellers would be less likely to share at a bar, especially those who are unsure/taking a big risk and those are the folks I most want to reach. So QM won’t become a bar event, but maybe we could do a QM in a bar once or twice a year or so without the the world coming to an end.
  5. People were most interested in these themes: NYC loneliness, mistakes, chosen family, work and assimilation, so those will our next themes. This fall’s events are

Friday September 19 at 7 pm (LES) Queer Memoir: NYC LONELINESS

Friday October 3rd at 7 pm (LES) Queer Memoir: MISTAKES

Sunday November 23 (in conjunction with the Lesbian Herstory Archive’s 40th Anniversary) Queer Memoir: CHOSEN FAMILY

We are recruiting storytellers for all three shows as well as a “I HATE THE HOLIDAYS” event in December, time and location TBA.

  1. Are you interested in sharing at an upcoming Queer Memoir? Email kellidunham@gmail.com with 1. which show you are interested in 2. a one to three sentence summary of the story you would tell 3. a little about yourself (ie do you perform all the time, have you never done this, what makes you interested in doing this, anything else I should know) We aren’t just looking for performers, you don’t have to ANY experience in order to share on the Queer Memoir “stage.” We believe we are all storytellers, and we can work with your to craft the narrative and we will cheerlead you every step of the way…that’s a promise!
  1. If you want to support Queer Memoir, so we can run our free workshops and occasionally use a more expensive venue, I (Kelli) am offering my comedy CDs free for download, with the option of doing a donation of any size to support QM. You can also download them for free, or if you hate Kelli’s comedy, that’s cool, you can just contribute to support QM and know that your bucks or going to help other queers be able to share their most precious stories. You can do that on Kelli’s website here;  ignore the bit about Labor Day, we didn’t get this post up until now so we are extending this until mid-September.

Further results from the survey:

Have you been to QM ?

68% a few times

27% never

5% a bunch

Have you shared at QM

Never but would like to 52%

At least once 26%

Never, but it’s cool, I like being an audience member 22%

If you haven’t shared at QM, why not?

Never thought about it 44%

Couldn’t relate to themes 28%

Timing not convenient 17%

Venues don’t seem like my kind of place 11%

Feel afraid to talk in front of people 11%

Don’t know how to put together a story 11%

Other reasons (the rest)

What would keep you from coming to a QM event?

Venue on Staten Island 57%

Venue not close to a subway 57%

If venue was full of space alien with barbed anal probes 52%

Cover was 10 bucks instead of five 33%

Space not wheelchair accessible 33%

Held in a bar 14%

In Brooklyn 5%

In Manhattan 5%

When you go to QM, why do you go?

Interested in theme 55%

Someone I know is telling a story 25%

Like the event overall 10 %

Kelli keeps bugging me about it 5%

What else is going on in New York? 5%