Sunday, November 4, 2018
Thursday, October 25, 2018
The other day I was re-watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I forgot what a wonderful imagination he had. Not only did he have the ability to scare, but he was so creative with how he did it. Hitchcock respected the mind of his viewers and their intellect. While I love Hammer Films, Hitchcock is refreshing because there is no needless nudity, excess gore, or schlock shock.
When I was in middle school I really fell in love with him. My dad was a fan of old movies. I had known about Hitchcock's color films but not the black and white films he did in England. The Lady Vanishes became my favorite of all time. Most do not know it because he did it prior to coming to Hollywood, but it is a classic and while he was not yet a big name, you can see evidence of what was to come.
Around that time, my dad was taking my brother Wendell to see colleges. My mom, my sister Skipper and I decided to watch scary movies. We decided to rent Psycho. It was right after Janet Lee was murdered in the shower when the phone rang. The caller ID came up blocked and we figured my dad was calling from the road, as his car phone sometimes came up unlisted. So Skipper runs to get the phone and it was a hang up. She runs down the stairs screaming because she was always easily juked.
It was a crank caller who did the scare but Hitchcock who made it classic.
When I was in college, my friend was dating a real mama's boy. She later dumped him, and one of us jokingly quoted Norman Bates, "A boy's best friend is his mother."
Whenever we see pigeons in NYC, someone always references The Birds.
Even now, it's incredible how his talent has never been duplicated. Yes he was a narcissist and egomanic and was shitty to women, but damnit they all made some good cinema. Sometimes you got to watch the classics to remember they aren't just classic because they are old, but classic because they are good.
Hitchcock, we love you!
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
This past week I left an employment situation where I was being bullied by someone who is just plain abusive. He yelled at his girlfriend on site. He yelled at performers. He even yelled at his costuming people. There is no better weakling than an employer who controls his employees with his temper, and there's no better way to show those around you that you are barely in charge.
I had never seen this side of him the previous season as I was always keeping to myself and never had a grievance. However, I stood up to him because we weren't being paid and the show was being run badly. His leadership style saw several of my puppeteers getting hurt, and when things were done his way the performers in my tent were bullied by patrons. It was a situation where performers were not allowed to take breaks, and if they were they were subject to his tirades and rage. And if they alerted a staffer that they needed one, throngs of people were coming in as crowd control was not well managed and the performer couldn't slip out. This was hazardous for the puppeteers as we had one of the most physical jobs in the place, and several even said so.
When I stood up for myself I was accused of being "a stupid bitch" and the words that got me to throw in the towel were, "You are nothing but a drama starting cunt. I pay you good money for a seasonal job. You are lucky I am sympathetic to retards."
So I told him that I quit. Needless to say he promised me to ruin me in the town he worked in, and akin to a Harry Potter villain said, "Good luck with your puppet career!"
That wasn't the end. He sent a costume woman to walk me out of my resignation, and then a makeup artist to bully me claiming I made things up about him. The costume woman is a nice lady, but he has her in his pocket. The makeup artist is possibly a girl he is sleeping with on the side as he has a record of sleeping around the staff, and several performers have confirmed this. Either way, both instances made me happy I left.
I am grateful for my fellow performers who not only were there for me when shit hit the fan, but assured me I was correct in sticking up for myself. Some left when I did and others are still there, but their friendship and support meant the world to me when I was low. They also let me know what I was doing was working and they echoed support for my abilities, and let me know it was him, not me who was the idiot.
I am grateful for my mom who tried to talk me out of going back for a second season. She pointed out it wouldn't be worth it, and when I reminded her how much fun I had the year before she said things change. I told her they lured me back with more money but she had her doubts. She told me to back out at any time and I took her advice.
I am grateful to my mentor who, while not as demonstrative as my mom, tried to talk me out of a second season as well. Like an archer who guides an arrow, he tried to guide me elsewhere and told me if something better came up to "leave immediately." And when shit hit the fan he told me, "it's just a small town haunted house. And it won't be the first time you meet an idiot like this and it won't be the last." And he called me several times the day I quit as I was quite upset.
I am grateful for a past mentor who's involved with Actor's Equity who informed me that as a SAG member I could join,and while I was not an Equity member I am looking into it. My days of working without a union card are over.
I am grateful to my mentor at school who encouraged me to write about being mistreated and how standing up for myself made me a pariah. This essay will be in my next packet.
I am grateful for the corporate office who heard me out in regards to this man's abuse. While nothing might happen, he will strike again with someone else. And I have heard since me leaving he is harder than ever on the vulnerable. I want to go on record showing that the next person who comes forward is not only justified, but not alone.
I am also grateful to the friends who alerted me to other opportunities, show business and otherwise, to fill in the money gaps that this job inhabited. They really had my back. And my other friends who alerted local officials in the town the project was in because they were sickened by this man's behavior.
In the end I know I am good at what I do. The audiences each night said so as well as my fellow performers and supporting staff. But I was forced out because I stood up to a bully, and he was intimidated by me because I was smarter than he was. This is not my first rodeo. I was hit by a partner when I was 21, had a mentally ill partner at 30, and met other assholes in between. If anything this asshole was just a spoiled little rich boy getting palimony from his first wife and living off of it. But still, the sexism and the fact I have to take it gets a little old. And even with #metoo, this prick still has his defenders.
The worst part is, in a situation like this I am obedient if I stay down like a slave and treated well, but I am a "shit stirring cunt" if I speak up. And unless you are a woman, you have never been there. It doesn't just get old, it gets fucking tired ass tired.
This prick said, "Good luck with your puppet career."
To which I should have said, "Yeah, I have had plenty of luck. I have been on network TV in and out of the United States. Good luck being a nobody, because you have been one for a very long time and most likely will be one for the rest of your life."
Saturday, October 20, 2018
I have to share something that has been going on with me. Today I departed from a truly abusive working situation in Sleepy Hollow, NY. It was one with a director who yelled at his performers, refused to let us take breaks, and paid us late if we were paid at all.
Last week I stuck up for myself. Not only was I not paid on time, but when I voiced my complaint they demanded more of me and the people I was working for got more abusive. I was accused of starting drama I didn't start simply because I was sticking up for myself. And even when I apologized to keep the peace, it wasn't enough for these people who wanted slaves to work for free.
I came back to this place because it had been a joy last season. I loved scaring people, the performers were wonderful, and so was the staff. However, because some people in charge don't like competence and opposition, some wonderful people were fired and it has devolved into a shit show.
The director, Lance Hollowell,called me earlier this week to threaten me when I stood up for myself in regards to not being paid. He called me again today to accuse me of hitting a patron with a puppet, an incident that didn't happen in my tent and wouldn't happen as I make sure I am very careful as well as the rest of my puppeteers. He claimed I got into a verbal altercation with a patron, an incident that didn't happen in my tent either. As a matter of fact the opposite happened, I was told by multiple patrons they loved my character, my tent, and that I was a good puppeteer. We also had some repeat visitors to our tent as they loved the energy my characters brought to the place and they were even quoting my lines.
When I stood up for myself once more, Lance proceeded to verbally abuse me telling me I had a bad attitude because he could not control me through threats or bullying. After his insults became too much to bear I quit.
I will miss my fellow actors and the patrons who came through my tent. I will miss many staffers who I loved. I will not miss a work environment that was abusive, props that kept breaking, and an incompetent boss with a big ego who was a nightmare. I rarely name names, but I want my fellow performers to know do not work for House of Mirth, Horseman's Hollow, or Lance Hollowell.
In closing, as Lance was verbally abusing me for sticking up for myself he said, "You get paid good money for a seasonal job."
You're so cute, you pretend you pay your people. Maybe you should do standup where producers don't pay at all, fool!
Sunday, September 30, 2018
AJ Mattioli is an up and coming queer filmmaker. This cutting edge trans filmmaker is not only one of the freshest voices in LGBTQ cinema, but his films are getting mainstream attention as well. Words, which has some big names attached, is now available on Amazon. This past week, AJ was nice enough to give me an interview.
1 What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
When I was younger I would watch movies with my parents and family often. If I had the chance, I was at the video store. I was even lucky enough to have worked at Blockbuster for a few years, and to this day this is my favorite job! However, it wasn't until I went to college that I found out that you can major in many of the entertainment fields. I was never a great student and didn't really want to go to college due to a slight learning disability and feeling like I would struggle. After coming out in at an all girl Catholic High School, I was done with the pressures of being LGBTQ and a student and wanted to find myself. However, being that I am very close to my parents, they begged me to put in at least two years and then I could quit. My second semester in Freshman year I had had it with the stress and was about to quite, when Debbie, a good friend of mine said "You watch a lot of movies, why don't you taking a film making class?". So sophomore year I loaded up film courses and made my first short film. I loved everything about it and although some of it was difficult do to my learning curve but, for the first time, I actually wanted to learn. There was no turning back!
Before words was the film Gay Positive, a documentary about the fact gay men are banned from giving blood. Was there any event in particular that inspired this?
Gay Positive came about after a fellow producer tried to donate blood for the first time in years and saw that the application still stated a "man who has had sex with another man can not give blood. I was over his house and he was irate about the situation. We talked over it a bit and decided we could make a really great documentary for a pretty low budget. I am very proud to have worked on that film and am happy to have made the smallest of change in this fight. Sadly, these men are still banned from giving blood. It was heart breaking to hear how many people refused to answer us on camera as they would rather not receive blood then to given blood from those matching this criteria. All blood is tested thoroughly and this law is literally allowing people to die who are in need of blood . this is antiquated and needs to change.
3 What gave you the idea for the documentary Words?
Words came about when I was discovering myself again. A relationship of 12 years ended, I needed a new place to live after 10 with her, and overall felt out of place. I needed a sense of control and also a way to find me. What better way then to use art as an outlet for this journey. I started things of people I admire, people who are socially progressive, and people who could validate my feelings of who I was going to become and metamorphous into. So, Words was born. A documentary about identity while I figured mine out.
4 I understand you have some big names attached to Words. Who are they?
We were very lucky to have such an amazing cast. We have Drag Queens such as Bob the Drag Queen and Miss Fame from Rupauls Drag Race, Social Activists Rain Dove and Cory Wade, Comedian Adam Sank, Trans actress and Activist Shakina Nayfack from Difficult people on Hulu, Trans actress and model Carmen Carrera! we also have tons of NYC staples such as Tym Moss, Keith Collins, Joanne Filan , and many more who you certainly want to hear from. These people will make you tear up and laugh all in one interview. We even got an interview with the founder of the Ali Forney Center, Carl Siciliano, who is inspiring. we donate a portion of profits to the center to help house LGBTQ youth.
5 Killer Unicorn is one of your most recent films. Of all the animals why a unicorn, they are so cuddly?
Killer Unicorn was a Jose Alvare (writer) and Drew Boltons' (Director) crazy creation! I met Jose through a friend and we immediately clicked. We actually became very close throughout that film making experience. When told he wanted to make a camp horror film starring Drag Queens I was 100% on board to help him produce this film! I was right to jump on board as it is showing at "Newfest: The NYC LGBT Film Festival" on Oct 29th in NYC and already has amazing distribution so it will be on your screens soon! It is funny you see Unicorns as cuddly. I have always liked them for their magical powers, lol. They are also just a powerful and sexy creature. This Unicorn is the sexy actor Dennis Budesheim. His costume simply consisted of sparkle booty shorts, boots, and of course a scary yet beautiful Unicorn mask. Check out behind the scenes pics on insta @KillerUnicornFilm
6 What is your astrological sign?
I was born on Feb. 19th so land on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. I really don't know much more then that, other then when I tell people, I usually get an "oooh, that make sense". I choose to take this as a compliment.
7 What do you eat for breakfast?
Part of my work consists of filming LGBTQ events. Most of these amazing gigs are held very late at night at amazing venues, so my eating schedule can be extremely odd. I can often be seen making pasta at 4am or eating eggs at 5pm. Breakfast is still the first meal if it is eaten a 2pm after a gig that ended at 4am, right? I guess the easiest answer to any question about food is, "I want pasta"
8 Where can people find out more about you and your work?
Mattioli Productions has a ton of new work coming out by end of year and into next year! We will be raising money for several LGBTQ+ films so we have more films about this community made by the community. Telling our own stories from our perspective is important for a truly authentic view but with that comes a ton of community funding. So the best way to keep that going is to check out and keep up with www.mattioliproductions.com and Insta @mattiolipro The film "Words" an exploration of identity can be found on all social media @wordsthefilm and on Amazon in the U.K. and all of North America. It is also included with Prime! Also, keep an eye out for the docuseries "My First Time" and our next thriller "Guys at Parties Like it" ( @Guysatpartieslikeit) which are both going to make a bang!
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Anita Hill has been resurrected and thank goodness. In a time of #MeToo, it seems the original crusader who called out the sexist brute that is Clarence Thomas had been buried in the sands of time. This is appropriate too, as the very white, straight, cisgendered polemic of #metoo has obscured the voices of transpeople, people of color, and queer folk.
As Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Al Franken have been forced to resign, Thomas still sits on the bench. A bigoted homophobe who voted against gay marriage, Justice Thomas forgets his marriage to a white woman would have at one time been illegal. Before many actresses and other personalities came forward, there was Anita Hill. She raised her voice. She called an abuser out. She lost in her day in court, but it wasn't because Ms. Hill was lying. It was because in a patriarchal system, she was a female victim and such is slanted against female victims. And she was a female victim of color.
When Anita Hill hit the news, I was still young. I remember cracks were made about how Clarence Thomas was "the man." There were others saying his behavior was "typical black shit." The truth is, abusers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, gender identities, and orientations. My abuser was a white male in case you are wondering. Then there were others calling her "a trashy black woman." She is a victim. Her color should not matter. Ms. Anita Hill was a hard working lawyer who was preyed upon by a man in power who would not stop bullying her until she had a nervous breakdown.
Clarence Thomas took the bench, Anita Hill was forgotten. Around the same time, wife beater and abuser OJ Simpson killed two people. It wasn't about the fact the LAPD defended a celebrity who nearly killed his wife and stalked her after the divorce. Rather, it became a matter of white versus black. Anita Hill became obscured and Nicole Brown Simpson blasted all over the media. Maybe it was because her husband was famous. Maybe it was because she was dead. Maybe it was because she was white.
But both women mattered, and both belong in the larger, much needed dialogue about abuse.
However, the problem in feminism has been going on since the beginning. Feminism has always had issues with the matter of race and queer identity. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was passionate about the women's right to vote, but lukewarm about abolition, and was called out by Sojourner Truth for her problematic politics on several occasions. Truth accused Cady Stanton of being self-interested, because the right to vote was only for (white) women at the time.
Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were not welcoming to female activists of color. So much so Alice Walker constructed womanism, a more inclusive feminism. Friedan was also a notorious homophobe, and referred to queer women as "the lavender menace."
The First and Second Waves died because of women could not work together. And now I see the same divide in the Third Wave. I am a trans inclusive feminist, and the dialogue of the TERFs make me ill. I not only think it is vile, but harmful as well.
Transfolk are more likely not to be tested to STDs because they don't want to be humiliated by ignorant medical professionals. They are more likely to be sexually assaulted and not report it because of ignorant, transphobic, sexist cops. Transfolk are more likely to have abusive partners and also less likely to report that because of the notion that only straight cis women are abused. Transfolk are more likely to be murdered by an abusive partner. Hundreds of trans women are murdered in the United States each year and no one is making any move to solve their murders.
But because they don't fit the white, cis narrative paralyzing any feminist movement they do not matter I suppose.
The other thing that turns my stomach is when I hear white, cis women insinuate that women cannot be abusers. I had a female friend who had a partner, a woman who I will call Jane, that was abusive. Jane would call her incessantly to keep tabs on her. When she didn't turn up, Jane would show up at her job. My friend confided in me that Jane even drugged her and raped her. I was frightened of Jane and I didn't even have to deal with her.
My friend went to the cops at my urging about Jane. The cops responded that it was "dyke drama" and that Jane should just break up with her. Jane began showing up at her apartment and even physically assaulted my friend. The cops termed it a "cat fight" or "gay stuff." My friend went to a domestic violence shelter. They were nice until they found out her partner was a woman. I think my friend would have had more advocacy if her partner were a straight man, and if she was a straight woman.
She eventually got a restraining order against Jane, and Jane managed to violate it twice. Finally Jane found a new girlfriend, I mean victim. But Jane was viewed as less dangerous because she was a woman and that's a problem.
I have met gay men who were date raped. One tragic story is of a fellow I know who drugged and date raped by a man who was living a double life being married to a woman. He found this out after seeing his rapist out with his wife and children. To add insult to injury, this particular man tested as HIV positive soon after the date rape. He kept it as a secret for years until confessing it in a closed web group.
While he got a ton of support for his confession, an ignorant soul, a straight white woman, posted that it was impossible for him to get raped. I thought my stomach was going to turn.
As for women of color, I have heard of them confessing to being abused or assaulted. I have heard white people say, "It happens more in their world," as if it is simply expected that these women just be victims of abuse and nothing more. Or the classic, "She's just another black woman who got with a guy that got out of jail."
Suddenly she isn't as "good" as a white victim and she doesn't count as much.
I am a white woman writing this, and a cis one at that. I look like I should be solving hot coca. But I also know how it feels not to be believed even by those close to you. I know how it feels to be reminded of his rights at all times, and how "he deserves a fair shake." I know how it feels to be blamed for what I wear, how I talk, and how I present myself. I know how it feels to be told it's all my fault that I am fleeing from a dangerous partner. I know how it feels to awaken to the truth that the judicial system cares more for the rights of the abuser than for the safety of those fearing for their lives.
I know how it feels to find out he's been released from jail. I know how it feels to find out he's asking your friends about you. I know how it feels when he refuses medication and ignores boundaries,even those that are legal. I know how it feels to have his friends and family members harass you and tell you that it's your fault their loved one is dangerous and out of control. I know how it feels to have your personal life called "unstable" and for people to act like your character defeat caused the mental disease in your partner. I know how it feels to be jumpy, uneasy, and ill as a result of the unsafe behavior of another individual.
I know I am a white cis woman and that has given me privilege. Yet I know how it feels to discover it's his world, I just live in it. This is why I am more than willing to hear everyone who has ever been assaulted, and this is why I will always believe anyone who is brave enough to step forward. And this is why we need to work together. Because if we do not, it will fall apart. It will be about his rights. It will be about his due process. It will be about him getting released early from prison and his victim being afraid. It will be about some lawyer dragging someone who comes forward through the mud and the culture getting an okay.
So to every #MeToo activist and ally regardless of your race, gender identity, orientation or otherwise, you have some responsibility. These are as follows:
a. To talk about the hundreds of native women murdered in Canada, and their murders remain unsolved.
b. To talk about the hundreds of transwomen murdered in the US each year, and how those murders remain unsolved
c. To include all everyone in the #MeToo Conversation regardless of race, class, gender, gender identity, and orientation
d. To believe all victims who come forward
e. To support all victims to come forward.
f. To know that in rare cases, people do lie. But even when we want to believe the best, a person might still be an abuser (Bill Cosby)
g. To include queer women and women of color in the conversation about feminism, and this includes transwomen.
h. To shut down TERF inspired hate speech.
i. To know that to say we are all women is incomplete. A woman of color faces oppression a white woman doesn't.
j. To remind people that transwomen are women
k. To educate others about sexual assault and boundaries.
l. To educate others about victim shaming
In closing, this is why it is important to say the name Anita Hill, because if we don't, we exclude very important people from this dialogue that should benefit us all. Not only will we meet the same fate the First and Second Wave did, but women will continue to suffer.
So I will say her name: