Sister Spit’s New Generation of Queer Poets & Rebels: The Autostraddle Interview

sister spit oct flyerSister Spit:
The Experience

It all began on Saturday when I was reading The Phoenix New Times and saw that Sister Spit was performing at The Trunk Space on Monday. I knew I had two options: don’t go, or go alone. Why? Because I have two kids and although most parents have actual babysitters who watch children in exchange for money and food, I’m not one of those parents. I’m usually unable to attend events that happen in places other than my own backyard.

I immediately chose to go alone because:
1) I am constantly over-estimating my ability to seem normal.
2) I am constantly under-estimating my abilities, period.

Make sense? I want to be the kind of person who could/would show up to a Sister Spit show, totally alone, and interview the performers. And I feel like I’m at a point now where I need to force myself to be who I want to be. So, after spazzing out on Twitter about my skirt, that’s exactly what I did.
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The Trunk Space is a triangular-shaped room with a small stage and what we’ll call a beverage nook… There’s some social/experimental art hanging from the walls and a bunch of records that I didn’t look through, but appreciated. The Sister Spit Van had driven all day from Las Vegas, so everyone was eating their dinner behind the merch table before the show, which I found really endearing and inexplicably dangerous. I asked Sara Seinberg if it was weird to eat while people waited for her to perform and she said no. I don’t know what I expected her to say.

Ariel Schrag Sister Spit PhoenixI’d read Ariel Schrag’s Awkward and Definition while sitting at the Thomas the Tank Engine table at Barnes & Noble a couple of years ago, so I was familiar with her work, but really nothing could’ve prepared me for actually buying a book from her. (It was a choose-your-own-adventure book about a horny young woman titled Sinful Cynthia. Highly recommended.) I don’t like to think of myself as a starfucker, yet there’s really no other way to describe the stupidity that washed over me the instant I made eye contact with Ariel Fucking Schrag. I won’t bore you with excruciating details. Just know that later that night, I dreamed I was back at that merch table, with Ariel Fucking Schrag, buying every book she had for sale. Dream Ariel took my money and advised, “You know, you can’t buy friendship“, which instantly jolted me awake.

Similarly, I had an idea about Michelle Tea — she has written things and I have read them, simple. No big deal. Did you know that Michelle Tea sometimes stands like a cape-less superhero? It’s true. She’s this burst of excitement and honesty, and you get the sense that she gives really great advice. I just wanted to be her best friend, you know? And I wasn’t going to try and buy her friendship, in case you were worried about that. I don’t even have any money.

The evening started with a slideshow of Sara Seinberg‘s tour photos, which was accompanied by “Larger Than Life”, by The Backstreet Boys. I think they do this to let you know, right from the beginning, that they’re having way more fun than you and that they want to inspire you to become more awesome.

Beth Lisick read a hilarious excerpt from her book, Helping Me Help Myself.

Ariel Schrag narrated the comic, Plan on the Number 7 Bus from Stuck in the Middle. Ariel also does a genius ‘homeless man on a bench’ voice.

Kirya Traber read from her chapbook, Black Chick, and I wrote one word on my notepad: MESMERIZING.

Sara Seinberg read from her upcoming book, The Madness of a Simple Red Stone, which is a modern re-telling of the Pandora myth set in modern-day New York.

Tania Katan, a Phoenix local, read a piece about her wife, which began like this: “Instead of driving by the Mormon Temple and giving them the finger, I married a Mormon woman.”

Michelle Tea read an excerpt about a queer author trying to write a crossover novel and Rhiannon Argo read from her new book, The Creamsickle, which you should totally order right this very minute.

Ben McCoy did a really powerful performance piece highlighting transphobia and translife, noting it’s “always a recession for a drag queen.”

I had an opportunity to talk to a few of the ladies after the show. This basically means that I fell all over myself trying to talk to Ariel Schrag, barely kept quiet long enough to let Kirya Traber and Rhiannon Argo answer my questions, and sat entranced as Michelle Tea spoke directly to me. Wanna read it? Sure you do!

— Next Page —
Sister Spit: The Interviews
“I think what’s important for a young person to know
is that there are modern, young people who write.”

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Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and she thinks you're fucking rad. She's 36, has two kids, two dogs, one Megan, some personal essays and a lot of emails in her inbox. More at LaneiaJones.com.

Laneia has written 649 articles for us.

26 Comments

    • 0

      thank you! i should send this to all future interview candidates so they know what’s up. so they’ll know that they shouldn’t expect to actually have time to answer the questions, you know? wheeee! um, but srsly, thank goodness we have interns b/c otherwise, OMG.

  1. 0

    Yay, Green! You’re so adorable. I would give my left *anything* to talk to Michelle Tea. They are coming to Chicago on Saturday to a small/independent bookstore right by my house. I was going to go to roller derby, but I think I may have to change my plans.
    ———————
    Since Michelle Tea mentioned poetry slams- the man credited with starting the poetry slam movement, Marc Smith (http://marckellysmith.com/ ), still actually runs open mics/poetry slams on Sunday nights at the Green Mill in Chicago. For anyone in the area who is interested, I highly recommend it. It’s a good mix of newbies, regulars and professionals.

    • 0

      i’m so glad you got tickets to the show! can’t wait to hear about it. they do different stuff in each city!

      i think there are poetry slams here, too, but of course i’ve never ever been. omg what would i wear to a poetry slam?? jeans, probs. yeah? jeans.

      • 0

        AMAZING. It was amazing. My only regret is not being able to go to the after party or sticking around long enough to catch Ariel Schrag not being busy so I could gush and get her to sign something like I did with Michelle Tea and Rhiannon Argo. Michelle said *this* article is amazing (of course I had to mention it!) and was hysterical adorable amazing. So was everyone. Ben was talking to me while we were hanging outside before the show (she had a cigarette, I had a decaf pumpkin spice latte) and I feel like a tool because in the dark/out of context I didn’t realize who she was until we went inside. To start her performance she threw off her coat to reveal a mesh dress over a bikini and started dancing to Lady Gaga. Then she yelled, ‘Is this all you think trannies can do? Cut your hair, sell MAC at the makeup counter and *this*?!’ We had a local Chicago poet, Carina Gia Farrero, in place of your AZ person, and the tour manager, Sarah Adams, showed one of her hysterical short films (‘Butthole Licking’), otherwise we had all the same people (reading slightly different things.) Oh, and special guest DJ SpinNikki played music before/after the show. I bought Kirya’s chap book, Black Chick, and Ariel Schrag’s choose-your-own-adventure. I’ve already got/am reading Rhiannon Argo’s book, and I own all of Michelle Tea’s stuff, obvs.

        • 0

          i read that entire comment w/out taking a pause/breath because that’s how i imagined you saying it. I’M SO GLAD YOU WENT ALL CAPS! <333 [and i'm glad/squealing that you talked to M.T. abt this articleeeeeeee!]

  2. 0

    “And I feel like I’m at a point now where I need to force myself to be who I want to be.” –I’m at the exact same point right now! I just need to jump in & allow things to be scary & exciting & beautiful & awkward. Autostraddle helps.

    This is really well done & I’ll definitely be looking to order some of their stuff!

  3. 0

    I got the opportunity to see Sister Spit in Orlando of all places in like 2002 or 2003? Michelle Tea read my favorite passage from my favorite chapter of my favorite book (at the time), “Valencia,” and then she signed a copy for me. Best night evar.

    Their tour comes to Brooklyn next Wednesday, for those in the NYC area who are intersted.

  4. 0

    This was magical Laneia! You were awesome… I am bummed and slightly embarrassed I’d never heard of Sister Spit until now being that I am a writer living in San Francisco! ugh totally sad. I have been lucky enough to see Beth Lisick and Rhiannon Argo read before buuuut still what an opportunity to have all of these wonderfully talented writers and women on stage at once! April Sister Spit shows here I come. Thank you for sharing this! made my day seriously

    • 0

      thank you!! i hope the tour comes back to phx in april because i’m already there. i bet SF is so full of queer poets and authors – you’re so lucky! i read a lot of interviews with SF-based authors leading up to this piece, and practically everyone talked about the need to get out of the SF “bubble”. and then these women said the same thing! do you ever feel that way? where do you go to escape the queerness?

  5. 0

    This is so good! I will comment intelligently again tomorrow but felt I could not go to sleep without saying how interesting and fun this whole piece was. next you will be interviewing Van Halen.

  6. 0

    Firstly when you texted me and said you were gonna go to this I was really surprised and excited. There’s so many things in life that scare me that I have just chosen not to deal with, but the fear of interviewing people was one I knew I had to tackle head-on b/c the experience and the material can be so rewarding!

    This part reminded me of Why I Trust San Francisco: “I actually really do like the fog in San Francisco. It’s just moody, and foggy weather can be an excuse to stay in and write: Well, it’s not sunny out, I better stay in and write a novel!”

    The fact that this is even happening, touring, right now (as opposed to the 90’s when things were more economically prosporous) I think really means kickass things for ladies; that there’s a hunger to hear our voices, and to see people who are young and passionate who write, and want to share stories with each other an an audience.

    YAY LANEIA is all.

  7. 0

    How about eating a delicious dinner with them at a big table in your college dining hall while being the only seeming “hetero” when only one person, the girl sitting next to you, was lucky enough to know that you were a hopeless bisexual only out to two people?

    I raise my hand.

  8. 0

    In my city we have a fantastic and standing-room-only supported spoken word night, open to anyone. There is usually at least a couple of lesbians who perform during the open mic portion.

    I wonder if I started a an otherwise-inclined lady chapbook exchange on the internet, Autostraddle would want to hear about it?

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