Friday, April 14, 2017

I Do Strange Things

One thing you're going to find out if you stick around long is that I do strange things with interesting people. It's kind of my life goals.

The current strange thing project is a benefit for Choices, a reproductive health center in my home town. It's called Condomonium and it involves designing wearable art made from condoms which are then presented in a big party/fashion show event to raise money to help pay for reproductive health care for those who can't afford it. HIV and other STD testing and treatment, birth control of all types from condoms to pills to implants to IUDs, hormone therapy for those who need it whether post menopausal or transgender, fertility treatments, cancer screenings, basically all types of health care pertaining to the human reproductive system. And yes that also includes abortion care.

Let's just get it out of the way right now. I'm a bleeding heart liberal and I am proud of that fact. I am active in liberal causes. I will be doing a lot of writing about those causes in this space. If that is a problem for you...sorry not sorry. Reproductive health care is important to me as a woman and as a mother. Access to safe and legal abortion care is important. Regardless of what you believe about the ethics of abortion, when human life begins, at what point does the bodily autonomy of the woman take second place to the right to life of the fetus and on and on and on I'd like to think we can at least agree that as long as abortion exists (hint: it has throughout human history and it will continue to throughout the rest of human history) that it should be as safe as possible...and if we can't agree on that then it's probably just as well you know now where I stand before you get attached to me and this blog and then decide I'm too liberal for your tastes and get all upset about it.

So back to Condomonium...I'm in the process of finalizing my design for the event tomorrow evening. It's Steampunk themed. I'm converting a 70's suit jacket to a tail coat and creating all kinds of fun strapping for a harness/holster/skirtlifter for an overskirt and some other fun stuff. It's stretched my abilities because condoms are not exactly a common material to work with. I mean most of the time the last thing you want to do is poke needles into your condoms. Also, sewing machines generally do not like rubber. I've learned an absurd amount through the process. New ways to use things like press and seal and parchment paper for things they were NEVER intended to be used for. How to finally use my rolled hemmer foot. Sewing stretchy weird materials. I'll make another post about the entire process after the event tomorrow night. I'm pleased with the final design and my model is happy as well so no matter how I do in the competition side of this event, I've won.

My model, Slade Kyle is one of my favorite "interesting people" Let's be honest. Anyone whose resume includes Professional Wrestler, Founding Company Member of a Shakespeare Company and being the incredible Drag Performer Bella DuBalle along with Massage Therapist and Toy Store Manager qualifies as a seriously interesting person in my book! Which in turn makes my life and therefore me, more interesting as well. It's a win - win.

Over the last 5 years we have done any number of strange things together. We've created and successfully run a summer theater camp with 16 teenagers. Bella is a forever Miss Gay Tennessee America (her reign was in 2015) and reached the top 10 in Miss Gay America in both 2015 and 2016.  I was made her Maleficent cloak and the dress for her Aurora for her talent number and I was also her dresser for her first year at MGA. (That one might even top the "strange things" list...what happens in the drag dressing room stays in the drag dressing room) We've performed together in a Friend's Of George's production "The Drag Boat" where I played "Criso county's premiere lesbian impersonator", Bella played the "villain", and my daughter, Jessica, was one of her "henchwomen". We're currently working a crazy show by Tracy Letts, "Killer Joe" where he is doing the fight choreography and I am in charge of props and whatever else they may need. Perhaps my favorite though has been performing Slade's wedding to his husband Austin in my backyard labryinth on a sunny February afternoon in 2016 using the vows from the "Corpse Bride" (Look them up, they're beautiful.) He is the Vida Boheme to my Carol Ann and I thank Shakespeare, the Universe and Julie Newmar for bring him into my life. Tomorrow night should be a blast! I for one, can't wait.




Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hashtag Cospositivity

#Cospositivity it's a hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, pretty much all over the web. It first came to my attention three years ago when I came across this blog post on EPBOT's Facebook page. I had been cosplaying for three or four years by that time but since I usually was cosplaying an original character I had not yet run into the phenomenon that Paige Hall describes so eloquently through her art. I had, however, spent my entire life as a fat person and had been fat shamed and bullied about it since early childhood. Boy did I ever relate to Paige's story and her pain.

Fast forward a few months. I'm working as a photographer at a local drag show. It's superhero night. I happen to stumble upon a Wonder Woman costume in my size at Goodwill while looking for something to wear to the show. Weirdly, the belt doesn't fit. Perhaps that is why it ended up at Goodwill.

I started to put it back but then I remembered Paige. Squaring my shoulders and determining that EVERYONE deserves to be Wonder Woman I bought it. I wore it that night, without the belt, but with a pair of bracers that I created from craft foam and gold foil fabric and a length of gold cord awkwardly safety pinned at my hip. Why? Because Wonder Woman must always have her Bracelets of Submission and her Lasso of Truth handy! Those two items were the things I desired most as a child growing up watching Lynda Carter portray Princess Diana of Themyscira. Some girls wanted the invisible jet. I wanted to be able to deflect bullets and to be able to force everyone to tell me the truth.

There is one photo of me in that version of the outfit:

Photo By Jeff Lappin - JLappin Photography

While I felt powerful, I was still hung up on a handful of details that frustrated me (The too small belt is an obvious one but also the boots, created by hot gluing the included boot covers onto an existing pair of boots, were AWFUL) and kept me from adding to the cosplay or ever taking it into the convention context. Until yesterday.

Last year MidSouthCon made some changes to its costuming track. It added a panel titled #cospositivity and they asked my wonderful Bella DuBalle to be on it. The conversation that was started was so powerful that they brought that panel back for this year...and they asked me to be on the panel this time. There was no question that for this panel, I was bringing out Wonder Woman.

The costume has evolved. Sadly I have lost the bracers and didn't have time to remake them and I refuse to safety pin the lasso again so I will eventually have to make a belt. The head band was too big and got stuck somewhere to be altered and was MIA. But the Goodwill gods smiled upon me and the first of the week a perfect pair of red boots arrived in my size. I had also acquired a red crinoline petticoat at a costume sale last winter and from those three main elements Pinup Wonder Woman was born.
Photo by Kisha Windless
I wore this costume despite the fact that I made not ONE single piece of it myself for one reason and one reason only. Wonder Woman has become one of the emblems of #Cospositivity.

I swished around the con in my red boots and fluffy petticoat and not only did I feel POWERFUL I felt BEAUTIFUL! I got stopped several times for photos, including the lovely one above, and I am hoping as more are posted online someone will have gotten the full outfit. If not, I will certainly be posting more as the costume continues its evolution.

 At various times my facebook cover photo is this wonderful Sarah and Catherine Satrun illustration:

 or occasionally this one that appeared around the Women's March. I wish I knew the artist on this one:
 
To me these two illustrations embody the idea of #cospositivity There is NO ONE RIGHT WAY to be Wonder Woman. Or any other cosplay for that matter. I still tend to prefer my original characters. Largely because as a costumer those have the most of "me" invested in them. Nowadays though, if I want to be


Agatha Hetreodyne from Girl Genius


 Or the "DoctorDonna" on her "Final Journey" aboard the TARDIS

Ain't NOBODY gonna tell me I can't! 




Welcome To The Den

I have been on blogger for well over a decade. I think I currently have SIX blogger blogs. The problem is that each of them was created for a very specialized niche reason and so I have content spread everywhere that I have decided I want to consolidate into a more cohesive whole. The answer?

CREATE YET ANOTHER BLOG!

Teribear is my nickname. It's my username all over the web. It's my twitter handle, my facebook ID, my instagram and snapchat tags...It's who I am. Teribear's Den is my Etsy store but for the purpose of this blog we're going to be using "den" in the more traditional sense. In a home, the den is the room where people can gather, relax and be themselves. For an actual bear their "den" IS their home. My intention is for this blog to become my home blog. To be the place where the diverse faces and voices that make me, me, come together and engage the wider world. Welcome to the Den. It's going to be a bit of a mess for awhile but hopefully it will all come together and be a place folks want to be.

Let's get started!