5 may 2001

Tristan T Turns Thirty      

index.html Tristan 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.

index.html 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!

This dancer would allow only her boot to be photographed. rowr.
Two GoGo dancers had a small stage in the living room; they undulated their purple sequined butts and pastied tits for bucks; adding a distracting layer of sexy stimulation to a dance party that was still shaking at 3.30am. Tristan was ecstatic about the quality of DJ Beth's seven hour jam - it was a good mix of happy 80s nostalgia and party raps.

index.html 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:


Left: Adrian
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).

index.html "all of a sudden I hear this rock-solid Travis picking coming through the PA. "Statesboro Blues" played as authentically as I've ever heard it by a woman with a gentle crooner's voice, a sweet Mississippi John Hurt style vocal approach, but no less "blues" than any of the gravel voiced blues singers I've heard. " - from Angela's account of the grrl x grrl fest at SXSW. I'd love a recording of that.
Center: Eli
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.

Right: Frankie
"Current graduate of college," and part-time stand up comedian. Her quote: "My subconscious is trying to kill me."

Party Chow

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.


Nice knife-weilding manual labor break in the midst of the socializing.

birthday montage

Red carried a large cake downstairs. index.html
Tristan sat up on stage index.html
Tristan took a breath index.html
Tristan blew out all the candles index.html
Tristan hugged Red index.html

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?

index.html 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.

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Left: Candy
She runs a fashion and art store - "Salvator Almani's;" hence the attitude and attire.

Right: Katia
She makes cartoons; hence the Batman t-shirt. She took the oyster photos.

Ladies in the Hood

index.html 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?"
It didn't seem like a good time to explain that they were mostly lesbian-identified bisexuals, and many were in committed relationships, so I said "These ladies are all leaving. There's a few gals left sittin' around inside opening presents and talking about stuff that girls talk about."
"Wherer you from?"
"I'm from California."
The passenger dude, wearing large silver headphones, asked, "You think we can come in?" I shrugged a little, "People would definitely want to know who you are. You gotta know someone who knows someone. Maybe if you were neighbors."
"Yeah, we are neighbors."
"Well if you knew this gal inside maybe already."
The driver, wearing a yellow athetic fabric over his head "What's her name?"
I thought he asked my name, I stuck out my hand; "I'm Justin."
He shook my hand and shook his head; What's her name?" "Tristan." I thought later maybe I should have reserved this information, but the conversation so far didn't suit being cagey or duplicitous.
They started to drive off. The driver leaned out the window, "Welcome to Brooklyn Justin."
Then they started to drive off again, I headed towards the house; he leaned out the window one more time - "Tell her happy birthday."

On the Air

index.html 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.

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