5 may 2001
Tristan T Turns ThirtyTristan Taormino is the most turned on woman in the capital of the world. Tristan writes sex books, edits lesbian erotica collections, generates a weekly column about sex in the Village Voice, and she just started working on a sex TV series for MTV. A woman on top of her media, she lives with her partner Red in Brooklyn. This was her thirtieth birthday party. I was there because my brother Colin knows her through his friend Audrey.
The house was a delicious combination of decadence and decrepitude. Everywhere was red candles, flickering light on old walls. Chunks of plaster were missing from the ceiling, above a wraught iron candlabra with a long tall thick candle dripping wax.
Head for the bathroom, go too far, and you're standing in front of a vanity mirror lined with bulbs next to a rack of leather, vinyl, whips and trouble. Then when you finally find what you're looking for, your urination has all the trappings of high ritual. Be sure to put the seat back down!
Tristan's collaborator Rachel was sporting a bold handbag - leopard print and red velvet. I praised it and she revealed it to be an authentic Monica Lewinsky handbag.
"like a female Tom of Finland with dialog"
I hadn't been at a party with so many fluid women since my last Mills art opening. Different gals sported corsets, lace, leather, mohawks, dog collars, tattoos, ties, vinyl - good sex fashion. Most all the folks there responded well to small comments about their activities. "Looking for a beer?" "Why are you standing there?" "Did you try the salmon cakes and lentil rice?" began conversation with many ladies geared up to look tough. Each person I talked to was friendly, and as it turns out, each person I talked to was some kind of independent media purveyor:
She manages Angela Motter.com - a site for a funk jazz soul performer gal who won the 1999 GLAMA Award for Best Out Recording for her song "My Mama Told Me". (GLAMA - Gay and Lesbian Music Awards).
Cartoonist, seeking publication. What's your work like? "Like a female Tom of Finland, with dialog." Whoo ee! I suggested she get herself a web site.
The food was fantastic - most sophisticated party chow I've seen in a while. Seared tuna bruschetta, salmon cakes, mac and cheese, lentils and rice, stuffed mushrooms. Okay, so I only ate the seared tuna; it was memorably good. The spread was put together by Mary Ellen, a graphic designer and occasional caterer.
I discovered later that they were putting out oysters! Holy smokes. The first batch of oysters were quickly consumed, and the assistant chef Cam's wrists were tired from cracking them open. I volunteered some of my oyster shucking skills I picked up at Tomales Bay with Chandra back in 1995.
Besides the cake, there was a chocolate fondue set up with fruit and pretzels. There were a few oysters left; I was curious-
Two Great Tastes?
I spread a load of chocolate over the top of an oyster and slurped it into my mouth. Chewing it up, the dank chocolate flavor was a nice accompaniment to the usual slippery oyster mass. There was still one oyster left, I spread much less chocolate on this time, and I found it to be a beautiful choral crescendo of flavours.
She runs a fashion and art store - "Salvator Almani's;" hence the attitude and attire.
Ladies in the Hood
The house was in Bedford-Styvesant, a predominantly black neighborhood. It reminded me of West Oakland - sad light industrial burnout between beautiful old homes.
Standing out on the stoop, it seemed much like what I'd seen of this neighborhood in Spike Lee's movies - people stacked up in front of a house, socializing in public. Of course it was 2.30am; there weren't too many other folks out that late.
A mid-1990s Acura sedan pulls up with two black gents in the front seat, they call out to the ladies waiting for livery cars. I joined them at their open window - they ask, "What's going on here?" A thirtieth birthday party. "We see a lot of ladies, what's going on with them?"
On the Air
Up on stage, after the cake, Tristan thanked the guests and her partner, and mentioned her upcoming MTV sex show development deal. She's got a winning personality and a very lively sex community behind her - a great load of momentum, though she acknowledged the reality of television, "I may never end up on the air." Soon afterwards, Red grabbed her and offered a single spanking to each of the guests.