DeAnne Smith and the Backscatter Booty Shake

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately. Does anyone know why airports always have suitcase stores? Call me over prepared, but if there’s one thing I usually bring to the airport, it’s a suitcase. I have yet to walk into the airport clutching a cumbersome pile of belongings in my hands, check-in, get past security, see the suitcase store and think, “Hey! One of those would really come in handy about now!”

I don’t understand them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t thoroughly enjoy them. For me, the suitcase store is the best part of being at the airport. I can easily whittle away 45 minutes checking out various bags’ compartments, imagining what I would put in those compartments, and singing Phil Collins lyrics in my head. I guess that last one isn’t strictly related to being in a suitcase store, but it’s still true.

Surely I’m not alone in this. You fetishize bags, right? And ones that are practical and sturdy and have lots of little hiding places make you feel, like, um, excited? And you get tiny involuntary spasms when you see concealable zipper pulls? And you agree that Phil Collins rocks? I feel so good if I just say the word. Su-su-sudio! Oh-oo-oo!

When I can justify buying a third black bag that’s remarkably similar to the two I already own, this is the one I’ll get.

It’s even better in 3-D, where you can drool over the high-tensile stainless steel wire and internal slip pockets. Mmm, and what’s that, a pen holder? Yeah, yeah, that’s how I like it. Mmm, and a key clip? Yeah, you know me, you know I got keys that need some clippin’. Oh, and what’s that? Is that what they call a “snatchproof shoulder strap?” Shh, baby, shh. We don’t need words now. Shh.

The only thing that puts a damper on my airport experience is getting through security. Every time, it’s the same tedious routine: take out my computer, take off my belt, take off my shoes, have a brief panic attack over whether or not there are any drugs in my pockets, remember that I don’t do drugs. Security simultaneously bores me and puts me on edge, like an episode of Hoarders.

Recently, when I went through LAX, I was confronted with the backscatter body scan machine for the first time. What they want you to do is stand between two huge blue boxes so something known as “ionizing radiation” can take this sort of picture:

While I do appreciate the booty-shaking dance position they ask one to adopt (Do the Backscatter, girl!), something about it just doesn’t feel quite right to me. Sure, various government agencies say there’s no known health risk to exposure to ionizing radiation, but we’ve been lied to for years about stuff that wasn’t supposed to be harmful, whether it’s cigarette smoke or lead paint or Katy Perry. I’m trusting my gut on this one. While I’m not totally sure what “ionizing radiation” means, it definitely has the rhythm and syllable count of something carcinogenic, just like Katy Perry’s lyric, “Once you party with uh-us, you’ll be falling in luh-ove.” I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure every time I’m exposed to “California Gurls,” a full minute is shaved off my life span.

The whole backscatter body scan is also pretty invasive. I mean, for other people. I actually wouldn’t mind some stranger at airport security peeping my goods. I’m not extroverted enough to whip off my shirt in public, but I do secretly wish I had more occasions to do so. The fact of the matter is, I have amazing breasts. I do. And they don’t often get the appreciation, recognition or gentle fondling they deserve. Usually, I regard them with indifference at best, because they can make it difficult for me to fit properly into the button-up, man-style shirts I so enjoy. And a lot of times, I would prefer my tie to hang totally and completely straight down, and not do that weird little bump thing that happens when girls with breasts wear ties. Much like a tender baby lamb, I have been both blessed and cursed with a great rack. And also like a tender baby lamb, my rack is delicious when slathered in some barbeque sauce.

(Yes, I realize this is the second time here at Autostraddle that I’ve alluded to myself without a shirt on. No, I don’t know what this means about the inner workings of my sexual psyche. And no, I am not completely certain that the phrase “sexual psyche” even means anything. And yes, I was serious about loving Phil Collins. And no, I don’t care if that makes me uncool. And yes, I am lying about not caring if it makes me uncool. And no, I don’t think this rhetorical device has run its course. And yes, I am doing one last one. There.)

Basically, for various reasons, I don’t think TSA is ready for this jelly. So, I opted for the pat-down, which is the only way out of the body scan. And you know what a little Google research taught me? Apparently only 21% of Americans opt for the pat-down. Twenty-one percent. That puts me in the same percentage of Americans who believe in witches or who don’t use the internet. You know what there’s more of than me, in my measly 21%? Americans who believe God created humans less than 10,000 years ago! There’s 40% of those. Yup, America is chock-full of people who believe Jesus rode a T-Rex and who want to put on strip shows for government machines. Oh, America. You so crazy!

More folks should go for the pat-down, in my opinion. It’s a girl, in uniform, who wants to put her hands on you. (I rest my case.) Actually, she’s getting paid to put her hands on you. And before she does, she says things like, “Now I’m going to run my hands along the outside of your body,” or “Now I’m just going to swipe this area.” It’s like she’s asking permission, which is hot in a communication and consent kinda way, but it’s also like she doesn’t care if she has your permission, which is hot in a sexual-fantasies-of-the-dominant-TSA-chick kinda way. I like to think of it as less of a “pat-down” and more of a “free mini-massage.” Thank you, T&A! I mean, TSA.

This is what it’s like, but sexier (at least in my head).

And you know what was going through my head the whole time the uniformed girl was oh-so-professionally patting me down? This little lyric, a la Phil Collins: “Now she don’t even know my name, but I think she likes me just the same…Su-su-sudio! Oh-oo-oo!” The TSA can force me to get a pat-down, but it’s my choice whether or not to enjoy it. In fact, the only way my time at the airport could have been sexier would be if I had a bag with concealable zipper pulls and a snatchproof shoulder strap. Aww yeah.

DeAnne Smith is a hilarious and famous lesbian with a website and a twitter account.

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I care a lot about my hair. Unrelatedly, I say short, funny things at

DeAnne has written 22 articles for us.


  1. “Every time, it’s the same tedious routine: take out my computer, take off my belt, take off my shoes, have a brief panic attack over whether or not there are any drugs in my pockets, remember that I don’t do drugs.”

    This happens to me EVERY TIME. Momentary panic over drugs that I haven’t done in a decade. It’s weird.

    Also, I’m totally getting the pat-down next time!

  2. “Much like a tender baby lamb, I have been both blessed and cursed with a great rack. And also like a tender baby lamb, my rack is delicious when slathered in some barbeque sauce.”

    This woman knows her audience well. I am over the moon.

  3. firstly, HA! all around.

    “I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure every time I’m exposed to ‘California Gurls,’ a full minute is shaved off my life span.”

    me too. someone get a scientist stat… we need evidence.

  4. It only just occurred to me that maybe it should be called a “luggage store” instead of a “suitcase store.” That sounds more professional, right?

    Also, I would like to see more Phil Collins love in these comments kthxbye

    • my cousin told me phil collins was bad luck (whatever that means) when i was like 7… and i can never get it out of my head – help!

      • The phrase “Phil Collins is bad luck” kills me. I can’t articulate why, but I find it HILARIOUS.

        I think someone needs to write a novel with that title. The challenge is on.

        • yay ~ so glad there’s joy to be had with it cuz it has haunted me for so long! it could have had some serious OCD potential had i not been so, um, sane?


          and agreed – whoever can get the novel “Phil Collins is Bad Luck” published first wins the Internet…. aaaand GO.

    • Phil Collins is my almost past platonic love. I have a few too many of those, but he’s a special one.


    “There’s so much I need to say to you, so many reasons why, you’re the only one who really knew me at all…”

    If that doesn’t sum up ever lesbian break-up ever…well, then I guess I am very alone in my opinions about lesbians and break-ups.

    Plus, it’s raining gay rainbow THE ENTIRE VIDEO.

  6. This DeAnne Smith posting on Autostraddle better be a regular thing now. I loved the other posts but this one made me laugh out loud multiple times, especially at “And no, I don’t think this rhetorical device has run its course. And yes, I am doing one last one. There.”

  7. OMG, reading this is seriously the best thing that happened to me today.

    I like the bit about having a panic attack about drugs you don’t even have. Sort of the same thing happens when I walk out of any store, like maybe I accidently, inadvertantly stole a flat-screen tv or something.

  8. Funny yet again. And for some reason the incongruity of luggage stores at airports had never occurred to me. Funny shit!

  9. You had me at zipper pull.

    I was confronted with the scanner-box-issue over the holidays and it was a conundrum. I joked with my friends about how if I got pulled aside for a pat down, I’d make sure I got a phone number, but…not overshare, I’ve had a disturbing experience in the last year and this type of pat down would be too much like “bad touching.”

    Knowing that I was traveling through an airport with scanners/body search option, I’d researched a little bit and found some information about the Pandora’s Project info cards you could print to help explain to TSA that being frisked might freak-you-the-hell-out, for a variety of reasons, not that it gets you out of the physical screening…

    I couldn’t really talk to anyone about how badly this new search shook me up. I’d been patted down before (by a very cute woman who was extremely professional) but that was before. Anyway, it was sound and fury, I just kinda blurred out and ended up going through the scan in a daze.

    Some might say, ‘well then, always get the scan…’ but you can still be pulled out for random pat downs/be rubbed down by a stranger in a strange place. wtf.

    Maybe its just me fussing. Let’s go back to talking about luggage.

    btw, favorite Phil Collins song: Another Day in Paradise

    • I’m going to, because I’m part of generation ME, focus on the one part of your comment that relates to me: Another Day in Paradise was the number one song on the day I was born.
      Phil Collins is like my zodiac.

      • S’alright. It’s a good song. …and better Phil than Ornithopther or whatever that new one is.

          • My Odyssey of the Mind team used that music as a soundtrack to one of our presentations. We had a skit and everything.

            It was formative for me, as a preteen, and really had a way of making you think of other people and what they’re going through (empathy).

            “What It’s Like” by Everlast is another song that hit this chord, in my opinion.

          • Yes! I remember hearing it on the car radio and like looking out the window narrowing my seven-year-old eyes and sort of nodding and thinking, “Yeah. That’s deep.”

            I find Phil Collins pretty unbearable now however. To me he is the soundtrack to loneliness, like you’re hanging out alone in your mom’s basement and the sun is setting through small high windows.

  10. Luggage stores are for people who buy a shit-ton of alcohol in airports. I know this only because my aunt has actually had to buy a suitcase in an airport because of all the wine and tequila she bought while hanging out in the airport.

    Also, I kept reading “tender baby lamb” as “tender baby lamp” and babies are tender so it still kinda made sense.

  11. I just traveled by plane recently.

    they told me to do the bodyscan because i was wearing too many layers on my hips.

    they couldn’t tell what gender i was by the bodyscan, so i got stuck at the gate briefly.

    i lost weight too fast and now i’m cold all the time. call me bitter, but i don’t want to be penalized for being too sick to get thru security.

    i got a bad case of motionsickness somehow.

      • brb walking from the east coast to San Francisco to visit the gay museum

        (seriously though, all these stories make me not want to get on a plane ever.)

          • I walked almost 20 miles one time. It is not that hard, and very fun. Once I said I was walking across my town, and a friend said he wanted to come, so we did. Next time I walked across my town and the one beside it. I love to walk.

          • This reminds me that I still need to read “A Walk Across America.” Personally, I can’t walk in a straight line down the street without getting lost.

          • Read “The Longest Walk” by George Meegan. He began walking at the bottom tip of South America and walked for seven years until he reached the northern coast of Alaska.

          • Indeed, it is the longest known, unbroken walk in human history, though there are a number of people who have walked around the world, flying over the oceans.

  12. You’re fabulous. Please keep writing for this already awesome site.

    Now, we need to address your secret wish to have more shirt off opportunities. I feel that we, the readers of Autostraddle, can help you. You’ve come to a safe place. We’re here for you. We will create a nurturing environment in which you can show your breasts, slather them in BBQ sauce, or whatever other condiments or sauces you may have secret wishes about. .

    Go ahead. We are ready. We are here to support you.

  13. There should be some letters which DeAnne Smith can put after her name, to indicate to everyone that she’s fully qualified at the comedic arts and is therefore freakin’ hilarious.
    Great post.

  14. laughed a lot on the inside. this wuz great
    true story though i was coming home from vienna and the lady was like, ‘girrl your luggage too heavy. you can go sort that out or pay 100 euros’
    so i went to the magical suitcase store and bought an adorable lil’ purple ‘case for 100 euros and felt better about my life.

  15. I’ve had my luggage randomly searched before and felt totally violated from that alone, so now I kind of just always associate travel with potentially violating experiences… But personally, I’d rather be felt up than have someone go through every single thing in my luggage – for some reason that just feels more invasive to me.

    Also, I want that bag.

  16. having just spent 12+ hours in airports in the last few weeks i agree with all this.


  17. I once had to buy a suitcase in an airport because mine came out all broken when I picked it up at baggage claim. What do they do, smash them around a lot before they deliver them? But I got a nice purple 4 wheel Samsonite out of the experience.

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