A-Camp May 2013 Recamp #2: Nothing Compares 2 U At Camp

Friday Night Lights

Fister Spit 

In which Riese, Laneia, Rachel, Gabby, Kate, Hansen, Cara, Ali, Vanessa, Whitney, Lizz and Carmen read things from their hearts

audience at the reading (photo by bree)

audience at the reading (photo by bree)

Rachel: I always have like eighteen different emotions about the Staff Reading, ranging from I’m Pretty Sure The Thing I Picked To Read Is Boring and Dumb to I’m So Excited to Hear Everyone Else to Oh God I’m Going to Cry I Hate Crying in Public back to I’m So Excited to Hear Everyone Else, which is the most important part. This time was no different. I’m so in awe of the writers that we have on our team, and it’s worth crying in public to hear them. On the internet, we usually get to see a very specific side of someone, or maybe two or three specific sides, and I feel so lucky to get to see tiny pieces of tender vulnerability when people read their personal work. All of these humans are so incredible.

Ali: You guys. Whitney. WHITNEY. Whitney. The Whitney Effect: when Whitney speaks, the entire room bursts into tears. I mean, I admit, Whitney is my lesbro. She is the shirt to my pants. But even if I weren’t so fond of Whitney as a human, I still would have melted into the ground at her spectacular reading. A beautiful, moving, sad and wonderful piece about her family and her wedding.

rapt (photo by taylor)

supportive fellow readers (photo by taylor)

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Ali: And OMG, Vanessa! “I wanted to lick her hip bones.” Ugh, and Cara’s piece made my brain happy. And also everyone’s piece. Everyone’s piece! Everyone’s. Piece. You guys.

Vanessa: I’ve never read my work in public before. I write a lot and I talk a lot but I’ve never spoken my written words out loud in front of a (terrifyingly huge!) group of humans before. But you guys let me. And you supported me. And some of you told me I made you cry! And some of you said you understood me, and you knew my story, and you felt like my story was your story too. I felt really safe reading to the A-Camp audience, and I am forever grateful for that feeling.

Riese: True story – once upon a time it was A-Camp April 2012 and I thought I’d be capable of conducting mini one-on-one writing tutorials with campers which I quickly realized was literally impossible with my schedule and I only managed to actually meet with one of the people who’d paid $10 for this honor (and I was only able to even do that ’cause I bowed out of a panel I was supposed to be on) and her name was Vanessa Friedman and she wrote a story about the first girl she fell in love with and we talked about it forever and how to revise it and then it was May and Vanessa read that revised piece of loveliness for all of you, and the whole entire world came full circle!!

carly adjusts vanessa's microphone (photo by taylor)

carly adjusts vanessa’s microphone (photo by taylor)

Mey: The Staff Reading reminded me why I feel so honored to be a part of the Autostraddle team. Every single person who read at this is so talented and has such an amazing voice and I’m so happy I got to hear from them. I had to constantly be wiping my eye makeup from my cheeks, whether it was from laughing at Lizz’s and Ali’s stories, or crying at Whitney’s, or being able to relate to so many of the others. This gave me such a deeper appreciation and love for everyone on the Staff. I can’t believe I get to hang out with these people and call them friends. Usually, I don’t get to hear stories like this, and when I do, it’s only one or two at a time. But here we got to listen to more than a dozen of them, all of them amazing, all of them refreshing and all of them powerful.

Ali: The whole team is so ridiculously talented, I can’t even. This was one of those times where I wondered what I was doing here, among all these amazing humans reading their work. And I had such tremendous fun reading “So I Was Fisting My Girlfriend.” You guys, disclosure time, I fucking love readings, both those I participate in and those I listen to. Readings are my jam.

Riese: Me too! Last camp I found out that the fact that I’ve been doing readings semi-regularly since I was 16 years old was not actually a common experience amongst other faux-writers my age? I almost wanna say that Gabby was the only one besides me in September who’d ever done a reading before but I’m not sure. Anyhow they’re all naturals and I really loved Laneia’s piece.

Julia: Being there and listening to everyone pour out their funny, heartfelt, revealing stories made me remember why I started reading Autostraddle and what it means to me. It is a place that is driven and consumed by people with giant brains that are fueled by massive complicated hearts. The stories that people read were so beautifully written and filled with so many feelings that were familiar, insightful, hilarious and tragic. I may have cried a little.

AS Stock Photography

Stef: During the Staff Reading, I sat directly outside Eagle on a bench, peering through the window with Megan and camper Leslie from Tiger Beat. I beamed at everybody like a proud stage mom and thought magical thoughts about how amazing all of our writers are. I started crying during Vanessa’s beautiful piece and throughout the rest of the reading, I only got worse. Riese’s piece in particular hit me at a very sensitive time and absolutely floored me, and I want to thank Leslie for taking such good care of me while I was hysterically sobbing like a weirdo.

Riese: I read a draft of a blog post from my old personal blog, Autowin, and before starting I was like, “this a thing I wrote about leaving New York. Some of the people in this room are in this story! Surprise!” and I found out after the reading that that particular announcement struck fear in the hearts of all the stars of my 2005-2008 stories (Haviland, Alex, Carly, Stef) and even some of their girlfriends! But I only said nice things.

Stef: I’m also super glad Riese told a room full of readers that I offer hummus to my friends when they’re sad, because hummus is delicious and it’s totally true. When her piece was over, I had to play music immediately afterwards and I was drunk, hyper emotional and had mascara running down my face like a crazy person! ALRIGHT.


 

Lilith Flair

10-Midnight: Lilith Flair (hosted by DeAnne Smith) – Somer Bingham, Haviland Stillwell, Marni, Julia, Stef, Alex, Ashley, Whitney, Cara

(photo by ariel)

(photo by ariel)

Riese: Okay you guys LILITH FLAIR. Lilith Flair was basically like, What Dreams of Riese May Come. Plus I got to sit on the floor with so many Runaway-hearts and Blackhearts. The only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been if we were all sitting on the grass eating hummus at Pine Knob.

Marni: Driving back to San Francisco after last camp, Riese told me that her vision for the next camp was to have “an evening of lesbian folk rock music,” featuring all of A-Camp’s musically-inclined staff and guests, of which there are many. Needless to say, the title needed work (certain A-Camp staff – ahem, Robin Roemer – were not huge fans of the genre, to say the least), but the idea seemed solid.

Riese: I decided to take an Evening of Lesbian Folk-Rock music to the next level by making it Lilith Fair. Because LITTLE KNOWN FACT Lilith Fair, which took place in ’98, ’99, and 2010, was not just white girls with guitars and feelings! By opening it up to include covers by anybody who’d ever performed at Lilith Fair, we were able to diversify the setlist and showcase everybody’s special talents.

Marni: Fast forward eight months and it was all my dreams come true – there’s nothing better than jamming onstage with friends, especially when those friends have mad chops. In true A-Camp fashion, we had about 0.5 rehearsals before the show, and it all came together magically.

DeAnne Smith in Awe of Lilith

DeAnne Smith in Awe of Lilith (photo by katie)

Rachel: The concept behind Lilith Flair is something that I’ve had actual dreams about, so obviously I was super fangirled out, maybe even more than I was at actual Lilith Fair (which I went to when I was 11 with my mom and got a tote bag from). I genuinely want all of these performances on an album.

Mey: When I was growing up, I remember having a lot (and I mean A LOT) of feelings regarding The Indigo Girls, Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan, and especially Melissa Etheridge. This was long before I had come out as trans or queer, and my male friends didn’t really share my interest in these ladies with their choppy haircuts and denim and acoustic guitars and pianos. So even though my musical tastes have evolved quite a bit, it was amazing seeing a room full of people clapping and cheering and singing along to music that I thought I was alone in caring about.

rapt audience

rapt audience (photo by bree)

Katrina: I was honestly worried about Lilith Flair being too campy for camp (sorry I doubted you, Riese), especially since I, like many of you, was born in the 90’s and had no actual firsthand experience of the Lilith Fair, but the second Hav and her band launched into (Jill Sobule’s) “I Kissed A Girl,” it was over. Lilith Flair was the shit.

Riese: “I Kissed a Girl” brought me back to 2006 when Hav sang it with Jill Sobule on the Rosie cruise I was on as Hav’s guest. Other highlights included, most notably, Marni covering “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor which sounded even better on stage than it did on our couch!

Taylor: Lilith Fair was the most delicate dance of irony and unfettered joy that I’ve ever experienced. We laughed, we cried, we all had unfamiliar feelings for Marni in our pants.

Photo by Taylor

Photo by Taylor

Katrina: Shoutout to Cara (aka Hat Benatar) – I knew we had to be friends the second I found myself screaming along to the chorus of “We Belong” like a tearful, crazed fangirl. I didn’t know I had these feelings before. Now I’ll never forget.

Stef: I was most excited to play drums on a sped-up punk cover of Sarah McLachlan’s “Adia” with Somer, since it seemed like a hilarious way to pull off a Lilith Fair classic.

Taylor: If you’ve never heard a rock-n-roll rendition of Sarah Mclachlan’s “Adia” then you haven’t lived. I mean it.

somer doing metric

intern somer with instrument

Mey: All the songs from Whitney’s amazingly emotional version of “Nineteen” to Cara (as Hat Benatar) and her sing-along choruses on “We Belong” to all the swagger of “Get Ur Freak On” and “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” to my personal favorite, Haviland Stillwell belting out “I Want to Come Over,” brought me into a place of total community and made me feel so much more comfortable for the rest of camp. I knew that I could make references and jokes here that I couldn’t make in my straight- and male-dominated circles back home. It made me feel like these were people I could relate to more than anyone in any other community I had been a part of.

Stef: Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” translated hilariously to acoustic guitar and box drum, and Katrina, Ashley and I had a lot of fun with it.

Katrina: Shoutout to Stef for being so multi-talented and for being the lady version of that super-hot bourgon swilling bassist that everyone always wants to bang. Also thanks for playing that Tegan and Sara song with me even though you hate them.

stef on guitar

stef on bass

Carly: Lilith Flair, specifically the “Doo Wop” performance, will forever be etched in my brain as one of the happiest moments on my life. One of my favorite songs, performed by some of my favorite people, in a hilarious hot mess of a performance that still contained the talent, skill and joy that was pervasive throughout all of the performances. Totally amazing.

Marni: A favourite moment of mine was doing Lauryn Hill with Brittani and having Gabby add her scratchy, voiceless flow to the verses.

Rachel: It was fucking incredible, even though Gabby had bronchitis and her throat was literally falling out, and the song even had a surprise special appearance by Katrina via the actual literal grace of God.

Katrina: Shoutout to Gabby and Brittani – I don’t know all the words to “Doo Wop (That Thing)” either. Shout out to Lauryn Hill – YO FREE LAURYN HILL!

IMG_0645

Rachel: If you have ever had even the mildest of crushes on an Autostraddle staff member, you are going to be fucking floored. I have seen the light, and it is Lilith Flair.

Riese: Also also! Julia did “Paper Bag” and Stef did “Not An Addict,” two songs which reminded me of my early-to-mid-20s when I was a self-destructive hot mess, and by that I mean reminded me of when I was really cool and felt alive/was too shaky to hold.

DeAnne: Holy shit. How incredible were all the “Lilith Flair” performances? I can’t stop thinking about that show. (They were actually really good, right? I don’t just think this because of all the bourbon Stef was giving me, do I?) The whole night felt magical, from everyone singing along with Cara’s “We Belong Together” to Haviland flat-out transforming into Melissa Etheridge on “I Want To Come Over” to Marni slaying us all with “Nothing Compares 2 U.” NOTHING COMPARES 2 THAT NIGHT. Except maybe the other nights, but still.

marni doing sinead o'connor

marni doing sinead o’connor

Stef: If you told me a few months ago that I would have one of the greatest times of my life playing bass on a Melissa Etheridge song for Haviland, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. My non-camp friends have chuckled at me a little bit when I showed them the video, but guys, that song’s a rocker.

Hansen: The Fister Spit/Lilith Flair night was so much fun. It’s one thing to connect with Autostraddle readers through articles, but it’s another to be like “Hey, look what else I do besides tell you about which state won marriage equality this week.” Reading my own personal work was terrifying, but it made me so proud to be counted among the staff members at that reading and then later at Lilith Flair. Everyone was incredible.

lilith-the-end-by-ariel

stef, julia, haviland, marni (photo by ariel)

Cara: I will admit that I’m generally skeptical about the lesbian musical canon, but I’m beginning to see the light. I still won’t say I’m a Melissa Ethridge fan. But am I a Haviland Stillwell As Melissa Ethridge fan? Yup. Baby steps. I WANNA COME OVER.

Robin: This night was so much fun. Not only was I grateful to have a minute to sit back and listen to some very talented musicians, but it really brought me back to high school which was both nostalgic and a little terrifying (in a good way).

Riese: The show ended as all Lilith Fairs end, with a group performance of “The Water is Wide.” It was a magical night. I will now treat you to the playlist of all the songs performed that fine evening:

I Kissed a Girl – Jill Sobule (Haviland Stillwell)
Adia – Sarah McLachlan (Somer Bingham)
We Belong – Pat Benatar (Cara)
Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill (Brittani, Marni, Gabby, Katrina, Stef, Alex)
Nineteen – Tegan & Sara (Whitney)
Not an Addict – K’s Choice (Stef)
Superstar / Get Ur Freak On *- Tegan & Sara / Missy Elliot (Katrina & Stef)
I Want to Come Over – Melissa Etheridge (Haviland Stillwell)
Paper Bag – Fiona Apple (Julia Osen-Averill)
Police and the Private – Metric (Somer Bingham)
Nothing Compares to You – Sinead O’Connor (Marni)
Closer to Fine  – Indigo Girls (Marni & Haviland)
Water Is Wide – Jewel, Indigo Girls, Sarah McLachlan (Everybody)

*for everybody’s sake, the playlist includes just “Get Ur Freak On” because you know.

Lilith Flair from Autostraddle on 8tracks Radio.


After that the humans scattered into the night, over to Klub Deer, to their cabins to have feelings, or into the woods to bang their ankles on rocks. Or whatever it is you people do after dark. We’ll talk more about Klub Deer in the next recamp, but let’s end this recamp with a little bit of charm from Somer Bingham.

Overheard at A-Camp

By: Intern Somer Bingham

somer (photo by vanessa)

somer (photo by vanessa)

There were so many stray lines overheard as I was late & running to a panel or hanging up my campaign posters — I had to start writing them down. And if you’re just dying to know the context for what was said, see below.

Lines: 

1. It’s kinda competitive. Because…you know. DYKES.
2. It’s like being flogged with a mop.
3. I’m gonna support the SHIT outta you.
4. That accent… it’s a panty-dropper, essentially.
5. I don’t wanna think about how many fingers have been in there, though…
6. A little more fisting. A little less love.
7. Is this box taken by anyone?

Context:

1. Jill Houk’s response when I asked about playing basketball at recess and was concerned about getting crushed.
2. Um, I have no idea what the context was. But it is an awesome statement.
3. Whitney said this during the Queer Families panel when talking about wanting to support her future son or daughter.
4. This was overheard while I was traipsing around on the outskirts of camp – Daniela’s name came up in conversation.
5. Someone offered me an opened and partially used container of Nutella. I politely declined.
6. I don’t remember the context of this either, but…make your own.
7. We were packing. Someone wanted a box.


A-Camp October 2013 will take place October 9th-13th and registration will open soon!

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77 Comments

  1. I cried so hard during Whitney’s reading that my cabinmate had to give me her (polyester!) bandana. It was mostly ineffective but very much welcomed. I love you weirdoes and all your weird feelings.

    • i seriously stopped at a drugstore on the way back from airport duty to buy some men’s underwear to have campers throw at marni during her solo song but THEY FUCKED IT UP and threw all the underwear during the opening number so… i have big dreams for october. i can’t say anything more.

  2. OMG bloody hell! I absolutely loved that panel. It led me to finally choose to get an IUD with all the stupid hormonal problems I get, my appointment to get it put in is really soon. There was also some really great medical info there so help explain why shit goes down during the menses.
    Also, here’s Rachel “shutting it down” in bloody hell:
    http://dreaminsanity.tumblr.com/post/52916800257/rachel-shutting-it-down-in-bloody-hell-also-half

  3. Somer, you overheard the flogging with a mop bit when Kristen was drawing pictures for the sex Q and A outside of wolf lodge.

    I wrote down one quote from the entire trip. It was this:

    “Once you make out with a girl the road is wide open. Once you make out with a girl you could be an astronaut!”
    – Laneia, Family Panel

  4. My favorite part of day one was at Jill’s Car Thing when Anna asked Jill how to tell whether it was diesel or unleaded you needed to put in the car, and then Jill looked at Anna for a good 5 seconds, trying to figure out whether or not Anna was fucking with her, and then when it became evident that Anna was SO FUCKING SERIOUS, she very kindly explained it ever so patiently.

    Also, she taught me that I’ve been trying to explode my car while jumping it for YEARS.

    And then my amazing plant that made me feel SO ACCOMPLISHED

    Day 2 was the day I started to feel like I actually belonged there, admittedly, and it was so amazing. I love y’all. *WARM FEELINGS*

      • HUGE difference. Unleaded is the cheapest, here, at least, and it’s what the vast majority of cars use. The only cars what use diesel are mostly dualie trucks and some fancy cars do too now I guess? But the only ones I know of around here are trucks.

      • Diesel should only be used with diesel engines. The main difference is when fuel is injected into the engine. Diesel is injected into already compressed air, while regular gas is injected in to the air and the whole mixture is compressed.
        The main structural difference is that diesel engines don’t have spark plugs because the fuel air mixture ignites because of compression.

    • Haha funny, I don’t remember what scientific words I used to describe the difference to Anna, I just remember doing an improv impression of what a gas engine vs a Diesel engine sounds and feels like. It was probably a delightful sensory experience for all campers.

  5. I was feeling kind of homesick and overwhelmed on the first full day but I went to bed happy that night because of Lilith Flair. DeAnne’s riff on how it was in the ’90s was spot on and the music was Totally. Fucking. Amazing. and exactly what I needed after a day of so many intense feelings. I actually went to Lilith Fair in 1998 and 99 and holy shit you guys! Well done.

    Also, We Belong might have come up on my iPod in the car a couple of days ago, and I might have sung it at the top of my lungs all the way down the interstate. Like 5 times in a row. I’m just sayin’.

  6. i loved all the panels, hearing everyone’s experiences and stories is super interesting and important and affirming (also pretty intense). god there were so many great activities that day, it was hard to choose, i’m still sad i missed bloody hell and nerdcraft – so these just will have to happen again next camp!

    also, this was maybe my favourite evening program! the staff reading is like the website come alive, and more. everyone is so talented, and it was a good mix of funny and personal, really touching pieces. and then the staff music performance, that was amazing, too. especially stef’s “not an addict” (guys, stef is really talented!), and marni’s “nothing compares”, and somer and ok did i mention how much i loved this evening?!

    <3

  7. You guys, I’m going to say it…

    The staff reading ALONE is worth the price of camp.

    That shit is a game changer.

    I really didn’t expect it to be my thing, but it was the most beautiful, eye-opening, heart-warming mixture of love and joy and pain and triumph that I have possibly ever experienced.

    So, to everyone who bravely got up and read your stories so that we may laugh and cry and feel… thank you! <3

  8. I cannot wait until the day I can finally make it to camp. It’s like everything I could ever dream of. Also, does anyone else think these recamps make it like impossible to not have a crush on at least one AS staff member or all of them?

  9. i was doing so well not crying as i read this recap and then i got to the part where riese talked about workshopping my essay with me back in april 2012 when i was a teeny tiny baby camper and not even writing for autostraddle yet and i just started feeling all these feelings and GREAT NOW I’M WEEPING IN MY BEDROOM ALONE AT 2:40AM IT’S FINE NO REALLY I AM FINE.

    sigh. i just love you all SO much. do i say it enough? i love you all so much.

    …is it october yet??

  10. i wrote down exactly one overheard at camp, which i think might have been pj and mareika but i’m not sure:

    “we’ll just have a pack of ten dogs and live in the woods.”
    “and one cow.”
    “why a cow? i don’t eat dairy.”
    “TO PET IT.”

  11. * Just learned what the fuck a perler bead is and am assuming they stick together by the power of lesbian magic

    *I love QWOC as an acronym, partially because QWOCs are awesome, and partially because I say it in my head like “guac” (as in “-amole”) and it sounds cool.

    *I propose the following activities for next camp:

    — Belted High A’s Make My Panties Drop: Lesbians with Musical Theatre Feelings panel
    — I Can’t Believe I Left My Cat at Home kitty cuddle session
    — Let’s All Check Our Tumblrs in the Same Room
    — Artisan Sandwich Making
    — What the Fuck is a Perler Bead?: Absolutely Necessary Queer Crafting Vocabulary
    — Trim That Shit: The Care and Keeping of Your Bangs
    — Who Killed Jenny? Mock Trial
    — Sneakers: A Retrospective

  12. 1) the staff reading makes me fall in love with everyone over and over. it’s one of my favorite parts of camp
    2) i had been to every single actual lillith fair, so i was really excited about the performances. guys, they were better than actual lillith fair. also, the fact that i had been to every lilith fair is one of those big “HEY YOU GAY” red flags of my past.
    3) i’m pretty sure that i was the one that said the “overheard at camp” comment about daniela. heeeyyy girl.

  13. Friday night basically turned me into a big gooey mess of love, admiration, and fan kid, for the AS Staff and Co. I mean, seriously. If you could see the rubble of my heart after falling in love with everyone….

  14. When do we start talking about the real magic of A-camp: Kadeanne?

    But really, the fister spit was better than I could have ever imagined. SO MANY FEELINGS. And Lilith Flair was way better than I expected and I am so happy I went and got to sit right in front with the rest of the Blackhearts and Runaways and sing along to every song.

  15. I am legitimately planning on coming to A Camp to celebrate passing my comp exams next spring with a friend who is also taking her comps and has never been to the West Coast (she’s originally from China). Which is to say: please tell me there will be a camp next late spring/early summer?

  16. These posts just make me so excited for next year when I’m finally old enough to attend (and hopefully not completely broke). There’s just something about seeing such a happy welcoming environment that can warm any baby lesbian’s heart.

  17. Fister Spit remains one of my favorite aspects of camp because it was the moment when I stopped being an occasional Autostraddle lurker and became a full-fledged community member. I’ve been checking in on Autostraddle for the last couple years, but never followed it that closely because I always felt really out of the loop and like maybe everyone already knew each other and there were always references to other posts I hadn’t read and I just wasn’t part of the club and didn’t even know whether I wanted to be or not because maybe I wasn’t cool enough.

    But the staff readings totally changed that and now I can put faces and voices to authors of posts/columns and I feel like I can actually be part of the club and even though the reading in general caused so many feelings I had to leave and sit on the other side of Eagle because I don’t cry in public and Riese’s piece really, really got me, I’m really glad I went.

    And then I’m really glad Lilith Flair was afterward and it was wayyyyyy better than the Lilith Fair I attended in 2010, and also the night could not have wrapped up in a better way. Indigo Girls 5ever.

    p.s. that was totally my jar of nutella.

  18. I knew Lilith Flair would be good in the same way you know a chocolate chip cookie will be good — like how could this possibly go wrong — but then Lilith Flair was motherfucking amazing? In the same way that a chocolate chip cookie wrapped in a pot brownie that’s being hand-delivered by Bjork while she’s singing “Hyperballad” from the inside of a technicolor bubble just before she sucks you into that bubble and you both float into outerspace on your way to a planet where raindrops are glittery and unicorns tell you the secrets of the universe is amazing? Like that? Just like that.

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