Casting call for lesbian short film based on Michelle Tea’s ‘Valencia’

Michelle Tea in San Francisco's Mission district in the '90s

Local filmmaker Aubree Bernier-Clarke (who you might also know from Swan Island or a recent Portlandia cameo) has issued a casting call for a short film she’s producing from Chapter 3 of legendary 90s dyke author Michelle Tea‘s Valencia. Below is her description of the project. If you’re interested in getting involved email

This film will be part of a feature film based on the book, with different directors creating short films for each chapter. The novel dramatizes the hopes and hurts, apathies and ambitions of young lesbians looking for love in San Francisco’s Mission District in the early 1990s, focusing on Michelle, a poet navigating the druggy, boozy dyke scene while consorting with a series of lady loves.

I’m casting for the following roles:

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Beth Ditto talks about her upcoming memoir ‘Coal to Diamonds’

'Coal to Diamonds' book jacket

Dynamic and always on the move, southern chanteuse Beth Ditto has a lot more to her story than just music — as if that wasn’t enough. So the buzz has begun over her much-anticipated memoir, Coal to Diamonds, even though a release date has still not been set.

Hipster dyke novelist Michelle Tea, author of occasionally shocking but sincere stories such Rent Girl, or the seminal San Francisco dyke manifesto Valencia, is helping her craft the tome. This should be an interesting mix. Gregarious but very down to earth, Ditto is usually pretty straightforward in the way she communicates, using her southern drawl to tell it like it is. Tea, on the other hand, is free and frisky as any fiction writer with her adjectives, describing details in a way that the boisterous Ditto might merely proclaim.

It is also going to solidify its readers as queer bohemian feminists with just an edge of cool. Successful in targeting an audience, it remains to be seen if reviewers will take a sort of grown up riot grrl aesthetic seriously. My hope is that they will. The rambunctious ’90s teenagers have grown into sophisticated artists with a keen third wave feminist perspective that definitely could use a little more notice and critical acclaim.

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Homo-a-gogo or Homo-a-stay home

Once again it looks like I’m going to be missing the festival of homo music a mere 2 hours to the north of us. Homo-a-gogo only happens once every 2 years and yet somehow I am foiled every time. For those of who who can make it up there, peruse the full schedule of events and decide how much sleep you need, because everything is worth going to. However, I am especially disappointed to miss presenter Vaginal Cream Davis tomorrow, then later a show featuring The Gossip and Jenro. Saturday’s show, featuring Lesbians on X and Michelle Tea should also be fabu.

But if you are like me, indeed, there is hope for you yet. Several of the musicians are local and will play here soon, like The Gossip at the Wonder Ballroom Aug 31st, or Swan Island this Saturday at Mississippi Pizza. Artists from far away may take the opportunity to play Portland as long as their going to be in Olympia. So far I only know of two, Hey Willpower at Holocene Friday (I’ll get to that show in a minute) and the amazing one-woman show of Lenelle Moise, Saturday at the Blue Monk. But I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for more.

Besides, we’ve got some of our own fun stuff anyway (nyah nyah). Booty rocks Acme as usual Thursday. I hear last week was record numbers to it’s sure to keep the your Augusts nights hot. Also, Homo-happy Holocene will present a CD release party for DnD (Do’n’Dudes) this Friday. I wouldn’t want to miss a bad with a description like this:

[DnD] is all about crazy positive dance vibes, dudes ripping their sweaty shirts off, and freaking your neighbor down and dirty to the floor…

DnD will be joined by queer electro group Hey Willpower from SF and DJ Cloud aka songstress Tara Jane O’Neil.

So in or out, it’s up to you…

Top 10 queer novels for your summer reading pleasure

Ah, the season when we bring the most interesting, scandalous, and dare-I-say well-written books with us to the beach. Yes, it may take us all summer to finish them, but a gay books reading list would certainly help us in the search for the perfect summer novel. This recent British article lays out the 10 ten queerly written novels and that inspired me to compile my own list. So here’s a rundown of my personal favs and a little about each.

1) Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
Wandering through the DNA strand of an intersexed individual as he recalls his the sordid lives of his Greek immigrant family. This is one of the most lyrically beautiful books I have ever read and the story is complex enough to compliment the great care Eugenides took in the wordcraft.

2) Stone Butch Blues by Les Feinberg
Working class lesbian/trans man Jess struggles with his sexual and gender identities in a pre-Stonewall world. As it reflects many of Feinberg’s own inner turmoil it comes of as genuine and intense.

3) Zami: A new Spelling of my Name by Audre Lorde
Lorde is a master of both the narrative and the descriptions of intersecting oppressions and identities. The self-made description of biomythography is apt as Lorde explores her life and the intertwining of her blackness, queerness and cultural heritage. Idetities which were often at odds, making her feel outside herself in 1950s New York City.

4) Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Caf by Fannie Flagg
Now you know that, despite the hotness of Mary Stuart Masterson, that 90s movie version just did not do this novel justice. I’ve read it about 3 times now. While two of the main characters are unequivocally lesbians (certainly disavowed in the film) the focus is really on the people an entire 1930s Southern town. It addresses such pervasive subjects as racism, middle-age, self-esteem, and other well-covered topics. But it just does it so well. I cried to see life overtake each and every character in this book. The fact that two of the most admired characters are strong, openly gay women and yet not a spectacle is just part of Fannie Flagg’s charm and skill.

5) Sarah by JT Leroy
Yes, I was incredibly disappointed by the scandal a couple months ago concerning the existence of JT Leroy. But I echo now what I said then; the writing still stands. Leroy’s tales of being a 13 year cross-dressing “lot lizard” (prostitute) in West Virginia is frustrating, tear-filled, and wondrous. Leroy may not be the boy-genius-hooker-made-good we all wanted to believe in but his story is real somewhere out there…and it’s brilliant.

6) Baby Bebop by Franceska Lia Block
Block has a true connection to place. And that place is a more magical Los Angeles than I ever saw in my year living there. Following Weetzie Bat and her extended, strangely-named, self-created family through all their beauty and pain is a truly intense experience. This tome follows best friend Dirk Drake through his sexual awakening. Being gay in 1980s LA comes to life through the eyes of some truly extraordinary people. Best of all her nearly neo-fantastic fiction is juvenile literature which means young people can experience how being different can be as cool, or cooler, than being one of the crowd.

7) Valencia by Michelle Tea
Michelle Tea may be one of the annoying contemporary lesbian literati but I take a certain (possibly slightly jealousy tainted?) pleasure in reading their work nonetheless. And after having heard her read I was thoroughly engaged with her work. Besides, it’s tawdry, it’s San Francisco, it’s ladies you know you’ve met before…Her new comic book style illustrated account of being a prostitute in Boston was also an interesting enough venture to make her writing worth a read.

8) Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Who wouldn’t want to live in a big beautiful apartment complex in 1970s San Fran with, like, the coolest people ever? Well, at least you can pop a ‘lude and read about it. Secrets abound, the people are intriguing and there are 7 books in the series to last you all season. Man, why wasn’t I born until the 80s?

9) Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
Have you ever found those naughty French pictures from the turn of the century and gone: “Oh my, I didn’t know the ladies could were so scandalous back then!” Well turns out they were and this book paints a lurid picture of Victorian lesbian life. (Yes, the title means exactly what you think it means) But alas, the novel can be heart-wrenching as well as we follow the adventures of our little cross-dressing oyster girl. The BBC made a film that was a bit too flippant for some considering the often serious nature of the book but I enjoyed it.

10) Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
Ok, so it was written by a straight man, and you can see it in the story. But he’s so wacky and fascinating and from Seattle that you have to love this story of a woman with oversized thumbs, who hitchhikes across the country in the arms of men and women alike. Besides it was one of the first queer books I read in 8th grade and boy was it sexy…

Lastly just a few honorable mentions. Although I have not read them James Baldwin’s stories of being a black gay man in early century Harlem are supposed to be superb and Jeanette Winterson does amazing short stories. Her full length, Oranges are not the Only Fruit, made the Brits list, and probably would have made mine too, if I had read it.

I leave you with a few guilty pleasures in case you have no shame:

Nancy Clue and the Hardly Boys the spoof on the girl detective series nearly made me wet my pants at times.

Anne Bannon and other lesbi-pulp novels I could tell you that I had to read several 1950s lesbian pulp novels for a seminar term paper and that would be true. But secretly, I enjoyed them too. Someone always has to die or marry in the end of these dime store novels it seems but the women who wrote them 50 years ago did their best. And the image of the woman-loving-woman, even if she was scorned and unlucky, was at least getting in the public conscious.

Care for some (Michelle) Tea with your Gender Symposium?

How innocent and sweetly smiling she is in this picture. You would never think from it that little Miss Michelle Tea is a raucous raunchy writer with lengthy and lecherous literary history. And now she’s moved into the realm of (somehwat more) fiction. But if she is a bit of a scene queen, a little fireball that might make your head reel, her writing is intense and interesting, if not always finely crafted. But to see her read it is worth the trip. She certainly breathes life into the menagerie of characters she presents. And the comic like illustrations of Rent Girl also served her story well. I can’t wait to see what television will do with it.

All of this is why she is so worth seeing at an already fascinating Lewis & Clark College Gender Studies Symposium, March 8-10, called Body Language, Sexualities, Identities and Time. Michelle will be appearing Wednesday the 8th at 3:45 but several others have caught my eye as well. Glitter princess and gender outlaw Kate Bornstein will be following Tea at 7:30. There’s talks about East German lesbianism, transgendered sex work and The West Wing. You can even make your own tampons. How can a symposium be better?

All kinds of events, including legend RuPaul

Wednesday sees the last of Sissyboys summer trilogy. The fellas are finally under lock and key. Will the streets finally be safe for your sons? DJs Stormy and Jimme Jimma join in. Holocene (1001 SE Morrison) 11p, $5.

To pick up the ladies Wednesday go international with Aussie gals Fruit at Mississippi Studios (3939 N Mississippi) 8p, $15. Or, wait one more day and see a brasher literary madam the super-dyke author Michelle Tea, and raise money for the nations only non-profit feminist bookstore, In Other Words. Acme (1305 SE 8th) 7p $10-50 sliding scale. (And of course dont forget Booty, which features break-dancing this evening)

Friday brings a family flair with the Family CampOut (ooo, such clever puns, I cant wait for the campfire singing) through Aug 22nd at Camp Westwind near Lincoln City. More info 503.294.7400 or Or check out some fine batting with Portland Beavers first ever LGBT night at PGE Park (1844 SW Morrison). I have no idea what a queer baseball night entails, sneak peek into the locker room? Towel snapping on the field? But theres sure to be something fun about Beavers and baseballs. 6p, $5.50-9.50

But the upcoming biggie will be Saturdays superstar drag diva RuPauls appearance at the intimate space of C.C. Slaughters (219 NW Davis). Its a 4th annual block partyit benefits homeless publication Street Rootsand did I mention RuPaul?! Yeah, and its only $15. 7p-2:30a. Be there.