Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sunday Spotlight: Interview with AJ Mattioli

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.

  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. 

   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"

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 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

Mushroom Dick

After today's headline, I couldn't help myself. How could I not blog/meme about this? 

On Anita Hill

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:
Anita Hill
Anita Hill
Anita Hill

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bad Advice

Last week, I saw an old friend who had just divorced her husband. To put it bluntly, he was a dick. I never met someone who was more inconsiderate in my life. He was disrespectful to his wife, his kids. His family bullied her. I wanted to know why the hell she was so sad that he left her for another woman. Now he was making someone else miserable and screwing up their life.

Breakups are never easy. I know leaving a person who isn't good for us still hurts. But sometimes you are truly better off.

I was trying to explain this to my friend when a woman, who must be from a different dimension entitled Dumb Ass, interrupted me to say, "What you need to do is grieve the end of this relationship. You had a long history. 16 years. 2 kids."

I wanted to give this idiot a gun to blow her damn brains out. Not only was this the most useless advice I have ever heard, but it was from a moron who should have DOOR MAT tattooed on her forehead.

That is the situation that inspired this here meme.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Towel Juggling

DING DONG!” You're just getting out of the shower and you have unexpected company. Is it the pizza that you ordered more than an hour ago, which you know darn well is now free? Maybe it’s the acceptance letter from the school of your dreams. Or perhaps it’s Publisher’s Clearinghouse with that big check. As you sprint to the door, there’s only one problem: Your towel. As you Kramer-slide to the door, you fear the worst as the towel starts to slide towards the floor. Reaching for the door knob, nightmares flash through your mind. You're about to bare your soul and so much more to the ex-con pizza delivery guy. The mailman might want to deliver more than just a letter. And Publisher’s Clearinghouse will have a camera crew; good luck explaining that to mom. Fear not! Actress and comedienne April Brucker has the perfect solution that will save your brass, butt and bosom all at the same time: The Art of Towel Juggling! Give it a try and post your towel juggling video (Tag: Towel Juggling). Who knows? Towel juggling contests just might replace Spring break wet t-shirt contests! For more on April Brucker, visit her official website: http://AprilBrucker.TV.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Shadows of the Night (Pat Benatar)

Whenever I see a picture of Rosie the Riveter I think of my Mema Ralph. During World War II when the men were away the women worked in the factories. Mema Ralph worked in the mill. It wasn't a matter of gender or the patriarchy. It was Amazon feminism. The men were away at war and the job needed to be done. It was just that simple.

Years later, she found herself a widow with seven kids. Life hands you shit, and it's your job to just deal with it. Maybe that's why she was so cantankerous and ornery at times. She had handled it all and more, what else could you throw her way. Mema Ralph was a fighter. I always gave her that.

I am hardly Rosie the Riveter. Ask me to build something it will fall down. Duct tape is my solution to fixing most things. I am surprised I am still alive most days because my decisions have not killed me. I have tried to open the subway gate with my hands full of luggage and in my weakness a male cop has helped me and gotten a good laugh. I am a total feminist until I have to kill a spider. Yet somehow, I have always managed to do things on my own.

What has been different about this new decade of my life is I don't feel the need to rely on people. While help is at my disposal because my friends are manna from heaven, I know that if I forge ahead I will be alright.

I was always told God never gives you more than you can handle. God must think I am Rosie the Riveter.

My plate has been full these past few months. I am in a master's program for writing, and am in my second project period. Once a week for the past several weeks I have translated several pieces in several different languages. Currently I am in rehearsal for a 9/11 based movement piece, and am also rehearsing my one woman show. I just wrapped an acting class. I am also working on some new videos, new routines, and getting my work published. And I still have a few day jobs on  top of all of this.

And I have a family member having a baby and I am a huge part of planning the shower and events for this little one coming.

To say I have felt overwhelmed is an understatement. Yet people have been looking at me as a leader as of late. I don't get it.

Sunday saw me basically crumble. I don't want to go into it but I have felt like I was walking through darkness. Some of it is I have some intense haters in my life unfortunately. Other darkness is my choice to live as I do and the people who disregard me or treat me as invisible. And third are those who seem never to be pleased. Fourth was fucking broken technology and stubbing my toe.

Sunday saw me crying on the sidewalk of New York. A practice paper redraft hanging over my head. My brain mush from my reading. My muscles weak from constantly being in rehearsal. My arms tired from carrying my heavy luggage of puppets. My head pounding from the goddamn New York subway and the noise. And a green screen that was taunting me because the fucking poles like the goddamn Walls of Jericho came a tumblin down!

Did I mention it's an inferno in NYC and I have no air conditioning?

I googled Rosie the Riveter for inspiration. A related entry was Amelia Earhart. Smiling she was ready for flight. I know under those goggles and behind those takeoffs she loved the sky because it helped her escape a world that was so frustrating, so asinine, and so limiting. Her bullshit was ten fold compared to mine.

I also remembered she crashed her plane in the Pacific. These days there are women pilots. Amelia Earhart didn't fly and crash so they could give up, and she didn't die so women could give up on themselves either.

Rosie the Riveter and Amelia Earhart reminded me I was going to be alright. Sometimes I am stressed and the darkness seems never to end. Just like Amelia Earhart and Rosie the Riveter, I look to my strength. If I give up, I will be giving a lot of people what they want.

And just like my Mema Ralph, life seems daunting. But I am putting one foot in front of the other and just doing it.

There's no other way, right?

Send me a line