Sister Spit at CIMMfest
Traveling group of queer writers bring magical night to Chicago.
By Joey Grant
Every last pew at the Wicker Park Art Center was buzzing with Chicago queers anticipating the traveling showcase of writers, Sister Spit. The crowd had good reason, considering the stellar lineup of Dorothy Allison, Mx Justin Vivian Bond, Edie Fake, Brontez Purnell, Erin Markey, Cassie J. Sneider, and founder/host Michelle Tea. One after another, each reading and performance was an incredible display of talent: readings, slideshows, and singing all made it to the stage. Each performer was dripping with emotion and talent, and as an audience member, it was very special to witness such a vast array of queer artists. Michelle Tea, bursting with energy, shined as bright and proud while she guided us on a tour of Sister Spit’s inspiring authors.
Erin Markey a Brooklyn-based writer and performer graced the stage twice, delivering two stellar performances. Markey has garnered attention for her feminist take on the musical and is best known for her solo piece, Puppy Love: A Stripper’s Tail and her play, The Dardy Family Homes Movies by Stephen Soundheim by Erin Markey. On Saturday, her two performances showed Chicago she is truly a multifaceted and talented artist.
Mx Justin Vivian Bond, a true force and living legend, brought comedy, insight and music to the stage. Bond’s mere presence in the room filled it with energy and a feeling of personal intimacy. V read an excerpt from Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels which was funny and brutally honest. Midway through v’s reading, paused and brought up the power of language and how it must evolve to be inclusive and modern. After noticing a piano near the stage, the audience was graced with a song from v’s most recent album, Dendrophile.
Dorothy Allison read an emotional story, “River of Names” from Trash, a collection of short stories released in 1988. “River of Names” was about communication between lovers of vastly different backgrounds. The story described the struggle in silencing your past while simultaneously coping with years of horrific abuse. Switching between the present and past, Allison revealed the true injustices bestowed upon her childhood, while leaving her partner partially in the dark. She read the story with passion and left the audience in tearful awe.
Edie Fake, a Chicago-based performer and illustrator, showed a series of illustrations while narrating each slide. Fake’s work includes Gaylord Phoenix, the food fetish zine Foie Gras, comic Rico McTaco and the recently completed zine Unisex. More information on Edie can be found here
Brontez Purnll, creator of the zine Fag School, read an expert from “Johnny, Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger? (Diary of An American Waiter Bored At Work).” The story was funny and painted an honest picture of a waiter living in San Francisco who is dealing with self-image and sexual expectations.
Cassie J. Sneider read a story about working for a brief time as a waitress working in a Men’s Club. You can find more of her readings and videos at her blog here.
Slam poet Kit Yan delivered a passionate poem about a sexual encounter. Kit is well know for his appearance in HBO’s Asians Aloud, and has toured with “Good Asian Drivers” across Universities throughout the world.