All posts by amberson

Curatorial Statement – Silky Shoemaker

The Gay Wax Museum is an idea Ive been dreaming on for years. The concept is very simple: Let’s create a museum to honor queer history. In particular, lets see how queer artists will represent and creatively engage these subjects. I wanted to honor the moments of anecdote and legacy that have been systematically erased over so many years from the canon of history, both straight and gay. Pay tribute to the many profound and often ephemeral moments that shape and define us as a culture. A wax museum format compels me with its immediacy. The human scale and diorama setting places the viewer right there in the web of it. Non-linear history envelopes and implicates us! I love the camp possibilities afforded by such a theatrical medium, and I believe that queer artists might have a natural affinity for nostalgic craft—a blending of the dramatic with the anecdotal, memory dressed up in fabulous costumes. This exhibit is in no way exhaustive. As curator, my hope is to facilitate new authorship, inspire examination of our past and possible futures, and to unearth buried treasure. These installations offer glimpses into an elusive fabled archive, but could never attempt to completely represent it. History continues to show us that it is those marginalized by class, race, and gender whose stories are silenced most violently, insidiously. Without a doubt, this exhibit would benefit from more voices and perspectives, especially those of black, brown and trans artists. I hope…

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1 – Willi Ninja – Ben Aqua

  Ben Aqua Willi Ninja mixed media NFS “Ninjas hit hard. They hit fast. An invisible assassin. And that’s what we are. We come out to assassinate.” -Willi Ninja from Paris is Burning (1990) Before Madonna’s “Vogue”, there was Willi Ninja’s vogue. Born in 1961 in upstate New York, Willi was a legendary NYC-based dancer and choreographer who was better known as the godfather of voguing, a style of dance developed in the 1980s Harlem ball scene. Prominently featured in the 1990 ball/drag culture documentary Paris is Burning, Ninja was known for his impossibly elastic and elegant voguing poses, which glamorized and exaggerated the shapes, lines, curves, and contortions of high fashion models. Willi was the Mother of the House of Ninja, a highly influential House within the ball scene that still thrives today. Willi died of AIDS-related heart failure in 2006, but his vibrant cultural legacy and truly unique style live on, mystifying modern ball scenes and dance forms throughout the world.   Ben Aqua is a multidisciplinary artist based in Austin, Texas. Born in Brooklyn, New York, his visual work has been exhibited internationally and published in Rolling Stone, NPR, NYLON, SPIN, NME, Flaunt, Bloomberg Businessweek, OUT, ARKITIP, XLR8R, Beautiful/Decay, Rhizome, Hi-Fructose, JOGGING and Fecal Face. His music has been featured by Interview, The Creators Project, Mad Decent, DFA, VICE, Dummy Mag, FACT, Modular, URB, BUTT and Opening Ceremony. He also runs the experimental art & music label #FEELINGS. www.benaqua.org

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2 – Gestures of Augmentation – Kale Roberts and Diana Parker

Kale Roberts and Diana Parker Gestures of Augmentation sugar, hair, blood, royal icing, satin, translucent vinyl, glass vials, breathing light, mirrors, porcelain. Items available for purchase: Glass Hormone Vials, $20 each. Portrait Sugar Tiles, $25 each. Vinyl weights, $40 each. Kettle Bells, $500 each.   Satin encrusted walls contain 2 worlds simultaneously, sugar representing both in sweet domesticated portraitures and a sustaining force of movement. At the center of this universe are athletes that have been thrust into a binary. This diorama depicts their outed faces. It depicts the gestures of those who navigate the world of athletics in stealth. Trans and intersex bodies are a major continuum of the augmentation that athletes have always used.                                 Kale Roberts and Diana Parker are both residing in Tampa, Florida. Kale Roberts is happiest when he’s moving and sweating. He has a deep gendered history in athletics, having been a member of women’s collegiate soccer team. He now does many different types of athletics and body augmentation. He is a ceramic, sculpture and performance artist extraordinaire. He identifies as a queer, kinky, poly jock. He travels and gives lectures internationally. He is currently exploring athletics and identity potentials in his own work. Diana Parker enjoys making the world a more beautiful place by taking off her clothes. She works in porn, and as a nude art model. She has a passion for…

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3 – Charmion – The Dandy Vagabonds

The Dandy Vagabonds Charmion Sculptural Tapestry Vignette NFS Charmion 1875 –1949 hard & soft graceful, breath, extension, strong, bronze, brass, confident, proud, risqué A vaudevillian Strong Woman & trapeze artist, Charmion queered up Victorian era gender presentations in her abundant displays of muscle, skin & moxie. She scandalized the stage by performing a ‘Trapeze Disrobing Act’, in which, between incredible displays of strength, grace & endurance, she disrobed down to her corset & pantalettes. You can still witness this tantalizing performance as it was documented in one of Edison’s premier motion pictures: ‘Charmion 1901’ present here, an 1890’s era, Circus Arts advertisement- style poster explored within a life-size, sculptural tapestry vignette; Charmion poses graceful & defiant moments after her spectacle of opulently plumed, mesmerizing musculature. More information on Charmion & other late 1800‘s-early 1900‘s innovative, female performers is available on our website, ephemeralfossils.com.   the dandy vagabonds are a baltimore based pair of curious, playful, artists who thrive on telling stories of whimsy, adventure, insight, & balance thru performance art, circus arts, fiber arts, the tactile & the ephemeral. xander dumas, captivated by the elegant costumery of the regal avant guard & elliot mittens, a curious tinkerer, researcher & antiquated devices of wonderologist, make-up the collaborative duo.

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4 – Cynthia Slater Celebrity Fist – Paige Gratland

  Paige Gratland Cynthia Slater Celebrity Fist wax, plaster, leather Fist Pendant $5, Glow in the Dark Fist Candle $50, Celebrity Lezbian Fist series $250. Cynthia Slater Celebrity Fist My installation references a previous body of work called Celebrity Lezbian Fist in which I cast the hands of famed and favorite queer cultural icons. For The Gay Wax Museum I will ceremonially add Cynthia Slater’s fist to the collection with honorary stand-in, theorist, Gayle Rubin. Cynthia Slater 1945-1989: self-proclaimed gay man with a cunt. Slater was a leather pioneer, bisexual organizer, S/M educator, consent advocate, AIDS activist, co-founder of the Society of Janus and volunteer at San Francisco Sex Information (SFSI), a telephone hotline that provided reliable sex education to the public. She was the first woman to establish a permanent presence at the Catacombs, an all-male fisting club in San Francisco (her smaller fists sought out by new members). Her fearless pursuit of pleasure and transcendence changed the sexual culture around her, which influenced the late 80’s/early 90’s LA sex and art scene, typified by Ron Athey, Cathy Opie and Bob Flanagan. Slater is celebrated for creating the first mixed gender/mixed orientation S/M events in the Bay Area. Gayle Rubin, Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, has written that Slater’s events promoted an “attitude of respect for difference” and that her invitation of women to the Catacombs taught S/M lesbians “how to party.” Slater died of AIDS related complications…

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5 – Those We Know, and Those Who Lives We Glimpse Through the Cracks – Zeph Fish

  Zeph Fish Those We Know, and Those Whose Lives We Glimpse Through the Cracks Wood, photo, fabric, found objects, tea, cookies NFS In the early 70s, Rose Stone was an old lady who lived alone in a little house on the edge of my Grandmother’s land north of Montreal, Quebec. Recently I learned she was a respected furniture maker who at one point lived in her own house on her partner’s land. Her partner was “surely a lesbian, very masculine with a reputation of being difficult.” The story goes that they had a row, so my great-grandmother gave Rose a bit of land and they literally dragged her house up the hill to put it there. When my cousins and I were young, we stumbled upon her house and she fed us tea and biscuits. My young grandmother, photographed in male drag in 1928, gazes in through the window. My grandmother was married to a man I only met once, who spiraled into mental breakdown. She divorced him before I was born and never had another relationship that I know of. Granny was an intensely private British lady but was very close with her brother-in-law Ross Patton, a weirdly wonderful eccentric & alcoholic great uncle who sometimes lived with us during the summers. Long after he died, I finally learned he was queer. In the 70s my cousins and I stole his copy of the Pearl, an anthology of satirical Victorian-era pornography featuring incest,…

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6 – Miss Major Griffin-Gracy – Annie Danger

Annie Danger Miss Major Griffin-Gracy mixed media inquire about price Miss Major gave you what you’ve got today. She’s the auntie you never met but who changed your life forever. Born in Chicago in 1940, Major has been a freedom fighter since she came out as a teen in black Chicago in the 1950s. She was a leader of Stonewall, after which a correctional officer broke her jaw. She helped trans, street-based, sex workers of color organize to fight for their own lives in the 1970s, provided healthcare for sister trans women who could not find treatment in the AIDS crisis, and has been tirelessly fighting for the rights of trans women in prison since she was first radicalized participating in the Attica Prison Rebellion. Major has been showing us how to change the world for fifty years. Every principle that gay liberation claims to follow is at the heart of her living since before there was gay lib. She is a lifelong freedom fighter motivated by a true revolutionary core: love that drives her to protect, cherish, and empower her sisters by any means possible. She does not stop and neither should we. This piece was produced in collaboration with Miss Major. You can learn more about her at www.missmajorfilm.com and her work at www.TGIJP.org Annie Danger is an expert hole-filler. Her work is aimed at the cracks in our emotional armor and at the gaps in our consciousness. She is a trans woman…

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7 – Sylvia Rivera and Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson – Aaron Flynn

Aaron Flynn Sylvia Rivera and Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson mixed media Inquire about price Sylvia Rivera and Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson were trans women of color, fixtures of New York’s Christopher Street, instigators of the Stonewall Riots, fearless pioneers of gay and transgender rights movements, lifelong civil rights activists, and tireless revolutionaries for drag queens and transwomen of color, and homeless youth. They founded the group STAR (Street Transvestites/ Transgender Action Revolutionaries) as an activist group that demonstrated and advocated for POC homeless trans youth and was also, at times, a shelter operating out of their own home. They lived in a world where they faced the constant threat of violence from police, from the public, and from within a gay rights movement that ultimately tried to erase their presence. Still, they persisted. Their courage didn’t stop at the boundaries of their bodies, at the act of dressing and presenting themselves, at the riot of flowers in Marsha’s hair. What made them remarkable was that they had space for other lives, they had enough left over to fight for more. It’s that radiating audacity that is at the heart of progress, and it deserves to be honored.   Aaron Flynn is an artist and Aries currently living in Austin TX www.shapesofthings.com

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8 – Sappho’s Memory – Kannou Aiana

Kannou Aiana Sappho’s Memory photography and ocean $4,999 Sappho’s Memory: the gift of Freedom this piece to dedicated to the womyn who have loved womyn and through their love and heArt have created the space for them to exist as they wish and the pathways for them to be remembered Kannou Aiana A creatress of heart

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9 – Cunt Garden – Caitlin Rose Sweet

Caitlin Rose Sweet Cunt Garden mixed media Inquire about price “My heart, my trust, my life, my vision were shattered. I grieved. I turned to the earth for comfort. I lay on my belly in the garden, crying, and saw the earth transform my sadness into food and medicine. “It is only anger and resistance which make you miserable and powerless,” she told me, “ be open to change. Forgive. And ask for forgiveness.” Slowly I let go of my sense of loss and opened to the beauty and abundance of life. I forgave and asked for forgiveness. I experienced grace and renewal.” ~Susan Weed writing about Laughing Rock Land published in Lesbian Land edited by Joyce Cheney and published by Word Weavers in 1985 “Like many demanding lovers, queer critics promise to rescue the past when in fact they dream of being rescued themselves.” ~ Heather Love Feeling Backward Loss and the Politics of Queer History “I am bored of reductionist cisgenitalia driven art” ~Larissa Pham (via Twitter) “Cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty cunty…” ~Kevin Aviance Cunty When my hands parted the pages of the Lesbian Land book, the sienna pages and old photographs of lesbians laboring together to build brave new worlds outside of the sharp eye of patriarchy instantly soothed me. But nostalgia for something that no longer exists and was never yours creates a tricky space for projecting your own desires and needs on unresponsive…

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10 – Gertrude and Alice’s Tender Buttons – Sailor Holladay, Heather Hall, Kate Robinson

  Sailor Holladay, Heather Hall, and Kate Robinson Gertrude and Alice’s Tender Buttons mixed media NFS There are many people we admire in history who we wish were queer. We fold them into our queer family tree because of their bravery, their lawlessness, their embodied liberty. With Gertrude Stein, we’ve never had to do that. She’s ours. Existing outside of the boundaries of gender, sexuality, nationhood, and most of all, syntax, Gertrude’s work, supported, influenced, and inspired by her love, Alice B. Toklas, is a lighthouse for those of us stranded in the seas of normativity. Gertrude and Alice’s Tender Buttons reimagines the two lovers’ home life, with a life size representation of Gertrude’s poem about cunnilingus, Lifting Belly in the center. The walls are adorned with Tender Buttons objects, each assigned a number. Thirty artists on the queer female spectrum have each read and recorded a Tender Buttons object, which can be listened to by accessing the accompanying cell phone tour. There is also a booklet that accompanies the tour with the Lifting Belly and Tender Buttons text as well as portraits, bios, and thoughts from the artists involved. We hope to carry a conversation about desire and liberation across time, transcending era and identity. Need a little tenderness? Tender Buttons Hotline 512-717-4867 Press the number of the object you would like to hear! Gertrude Stein: (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) Alice B. Toklas: (April 30, 1877 – March 7, 1967)  …

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11 – Another Face of Marriage Equality – PJ Raval

  PJ Raval Another Face of Marriage Equality mixed media Inquire about price On November 8, 2008, California’s Proposition 8 passed by 52% changing the state constitution to add a new section reading, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” thereby eliminating same-sex couples’ right to marry. Soon after in 2009 the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) was formed with the mission of “…protecting and advancing equal rights for every American,” and “…leading the fight for marriage equality and equality under the law.” After recruiting bipartisan attorneys Theodore B. Olson and David Boise of Bush v. Gore fame, AFER initiated a search for two couples that would officially become the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against the state of California in what came to be known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, and later Hollingsworth v. Perry. In an interview, Boies commented that AFER needed these couples to be “people who were just like everybody else and who were obviously just like everybody else…” Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple and parents to four boys, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo, a gay male couple since 1998 living in Burbank, CA, became these two famous couples. On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court made a final ruling against Prop. 8 thereby allowing same sex marriages to occur once again in California. On that same day, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling…

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12 – Assotto Saint – Silky Shoemaker

  Silky Shoemaker Assotto Saint wood, fabric, paint, neon $1000   Assotto Saint was born Yves Lubin in Les Cayes Haiti. He changed his name when he moved to New York City in 1970— Assoto for a drum used voodou rituals and Saint after Toussaint Louverture (who led the Haitian Revolution.) Assotto was a poet, a performance artist, an essayist, a playwright, a dramaturg, a singer, a dancer, a publisher. He was a keystone in the literary culture of black queer men of his time through his own writing and also through the work of so many writers whose voices he helped elevate. He mentored many emerging artists and produced/ published/edited several anthologies of work by black queer men. He was an AIDS activist who insisted on the importance of being out about one’s status, who insisted on an open casket funeral so that the world could see the genocide that killed him, who insisted on smashing the silence surrounding AIDS in his art, his community, and in his daily life: “donald/the spectacle of your funeral/was a wake-up call from the dead/but history religiously repeats its travesty/in lunatic denial of an epidemic that decimates us/gay black men”… “anguish in the blood iarrive/skeptical after the obituary stated you died/of a heart attack which almost gave me one”…“isoar like an archangel summoning those wishing/to avenge your censored queer legacy” He was an immigrant who spoke from the diaspora as a gay Haitian living in New York. He…

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13 – Ganymede – Baris Ger

Baris Ger Ganymede feather, vinyl, fabric $7500 Ganymede (I’ll make you a star) Pretty boy pretty boy, fill my cup Fill my cup with the wine of love Let me drink till my heart overflows Pretty boy pretty boy, fill my cup I will take you to paradise I’ll take you to the stars above Death will never catch you, you’ll be a star Forever by my side boy, fill my cup Pretty boy pretty boy, fill my heart In Greek mythology, Ganymede, the most beautiful of mortals and a shepherd boy was abducted by Zeus in the form of an eagle. He was transported to Olympus by the god- eagle, where all the gods were filled with joy to see the youth, except Hera (Zeus’ wife) who was jealous of the love between them. In Olympus, he was granted eternal youth and made cupbearer to the gods. Zeus (god of lightning and thunder) later put Ganymede in the sky as the constellation Aquarius, which is associated with that of the Eagle (Aquila). This myth was a model for the ancient Greek social custom of paiderastía, the socially acceptable erotic relationship between a man and a youth. Thunderbird is a supernatural sacred bird of power and strength, among the peoples of the American Southwest, Great Lakes, and Great Plains, and in Pacific Northwest Coast cultures. When Thunderbird flies, the beating of its enormous wings causes thunder and the light flashing from its eyes is lightning.…

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14 – A Girl Called Dusty – Scott Andrew

Scott Andrew A Girl Called Dusty mixed media and video Inquire about price   Dusty Springfield 1939 – 1999 Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien, known professionally as Dusty Springfield, was an English-born pop singer who prolifically recorded soulful albums throughout the second half of the 20th century. In 1966, Springfield became the best-selling female singer in the world, by 1985 she was reduced to earning $500 a night miming to old hits in West Hollywood gay bars, and before her death in 1999, she suffered from breast cancer while eating nothing but cauliflower and ice cream in Buckinghamshire while watching Bonanza in German on repeat. Presented here, a rare concert of select hits and cover songs delivered after a tempestuous altercation with Springfield’s ex-wife Teda Bracci, that left both women hospitalized, and required Springfield to later have plastic surgery to repair the loss of her front teeth. “I’d love to retouch my whole life” – Dusty Springfield ~ Program ~ Cherished Losing You Mama Said The Look Of Love Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart You Don’t Own Me Never Love Again You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (They Long To Be) Close To You Anyone Who Had A Heart Will You Love Me Tomorrow Learn To Say Goodbye I Can’t Make It Alone Time After Time All Cried Out I Wish I’d Never Loved You Goodbye

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15 – Trying to Find the Words to Tell You: Three Femmes of Wisdom, Hearts of Gold – Niki Paul

Niki Paul Trying to Find the Words to Tell You: Three Femmes of Wisdom, Hearts of Gold Wood, Cloth, Acrylic Inquire; Proceeds to be donated to the Lesbian Herstory Archives This piece is my offering to three femme identified queer lesbians who have helped shape modern queer femme literature and have continued to live lives full of integrity. I did not have many words for naming my deep desires as a baby femme dyke in a small town. Amber Hollibaugh, Joan Nestle and Minnie Bruce Pratt gifted pages and pages of stories of steamy sex with hot butch lovers, the struggle towards liberation, the strength of queer family, epic love and devastating loss. I am forever grateful for their shared wisdom, stunning beauty and hearts of solid femme gold. Amber L. Hollibaugh is a “lesbian sex radical, ex-hooker, incest survivor, gypsy child, poor-white-trash, high femme dyke. She is also an award-winning filmmaker, feminist, Left political organizer, public speaker, and journalist”. She is the co-founder of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay History Project, served as interim Executive Director for Queers for Economic Justice and has published a memoir, My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home. Joan Nestle is a Lambda Award winning writer and editor and the co-founder of the Lesbian Herstory Archives. She is openly gay and sees her work of archiving history as critical to her identity as “a woman, as a lesbian, and as a Jew.” Joan has published…

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16 – I wish I could have; and maybe I will just yet. – kubby bear

kubby bear I wish I could have; and maybe I will just yet. mixed media Inquire About Price Have you ever had someone in your family or one of those friends that everyone spoke of so highly? This was Ria Pell. I cannot recall ever hearing a bad word uttered in regards to Ria. People would come up with excuses to pass through the Atlanta area with the real intent of a visit with her. Ria was known for her huge heart, charitable ways, but I think even more so, her love of a good time and having been a social king. She knew all sorts of folks and threw outrageously amazing parties. I heard if you were waywardly in her neck of the woods, Ria would take you in and of course you would not leave again hungry or dissatisfied. She was also a chef in Atlanta, GA, and proprietor of Ria’s Bluebird and also for a couple years for a second restaurant, Sauced. Ria was also one of the building blocks of the southeast queer festival, MondoHomo, also based in Atlanta. Everyone spoke so casually, in an assumptive familiarity, to me because she was family. I toyed with the idea of moving to Atlanta simply to work at her Bluebird, and that would have been my excuse to see Ria. Through the tales and mentions, I never did in actuality meet Ria; she unexpectedly passed in November of 2013. Because of this void,…

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17 – The Muppet Show – Nathan Rapport

Nathan Rapport The Muppet Show mixed media Inquire about price It was mid September in 2007, and I had been living in San Francisco less than two weeks. It was a Tuesday night, and I had a date with a boy with a Morrissey tattoo. He took me to the Stud for my very first Trannyshack, the theme of the evening: Fleetwood Mac “Rumours.” I remember walking into the show having no idea what to expect, and certainly having no concept of the impact this night would have on my entire creative experience in San Francisco following. I remember watching, wide and wet eyed, as each song on this deeply crucial record was presented as its own visual moment in time by a band of creative weirdos who I immediately wanted to know. I quickly realized that this was not your standard lip sync for tips drag show, there was major thought and brains and heart behind this operation. On that first night, I felt fresh creative expression, I felt queer visibility, I felt magic in the air, but mostly, I truly felt COMMUNITY. This was a group of artists who came together week after week to create, a family rooted by a love of collaboration and performing, but even more so for music, and the opportunity to re-imagine music in a visual medium. In my first few months frequenting Trannyshack on Tuesdays, I found The Stud so exciting. What seemed like every queer creative…

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18 – Leslie Feinberg – Elia Singer

Elia Singer Leslie Feinberg photocollage on paper Inquire about price Leslie Feinberg 1949-2014 It was 1994 and my posse of dykes was on fire because Leslie Feinberg was coming to town to speak. I had read Stone Butch Blues. Reading this book was like falling in somewhere – falling into myself – falling into the feel it in your teeth history of butch working class identity. I wept when I read it and was haunted – reliving scenes Feinberg told – dared to tell, for years to come. It was that day – the day like so many of us have had when we first saw Feinberg or first discovered the power of this telling. My posse and me were rolling up to the 519 Community Center in downtown Toronto. I remember the air – glittering and streaking with energy. We had heroes too. We had forefronters and forefathermothers and we had places to celebrate and fuck we were the tangles and pretty bows and fine lines of community come to worship. I had full stride hit the front of the community center, when what I remember to be a long black car slide up. It had the feel of arriving from some distant unknown place. I stopped and stood and waited and full on stared. The back door opened and Feinberg stepped out from the passenger side onto the street. I could see a suit shoulder unfolding over the car before I could see…

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19 – Silent Night – Mollie Fischer and Silky Shoemaker

Mollie Fischer and Silky Shoemaker Silent Night found objects Inquire about price Jennifer Gale was a well known character in Austin TX. For years she ran for multiple offices in her hometown including congress, governor, mayor, city council, and the school board. She was a familiar face at municipal hearings, forums, and meetings, where she was known for presenting arguments in song. She appeared before Austin City Council on the night before her death and sang “Silent Night”, then made a speech concerning the health of city residents, and in particular, the incidence of death for those living on the streets and without housing. Jennifer Gale died December 17th 2008 of exposure to cold on the steps of a church near UT campus. News sources reported that the only shelter in Austin that houses women overnight, operated by the Salvation Army, would’ve forced Gale to sleep and shower with men because she was a trans woman.   Mollie Fischer is a tinkerer, ponderer, believer of miracles, eater of strange foods, and beloved musician currently living in Wimberley. Silky Shoemaker is an artist and performer currently living in Austin.

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