Bentfest talks

Next week, Bentfest will host a series of talks on their Instagram Live if you want to tune in. The queer punk London festival will host a few of us at 6pm BST:

Images: Bentfest.

Monday, 18th May, Kirsty Fife zine reading and discussion of class, DIY politics, academia and more.

Tuesday, 19th May, Sop will talk about embodiment, chronic illness, sound experiments and more art.

Thursday, 21st May, I’ll be reading a few poems from my upcoming collection Meanwhile, and discuss writing from the in-between.

So yeah, all these days, 6pm BST, go to Bentfest’s Instagram account, look at their live stream on stories, and join the conversation. 👁‍🗨

Book Review: Dean Atta – The Black Flamingo

Featured picture: Kings Place.

The first Young Adult verse novel in Dean Atta’s catalogue, feels like a warm hug to my inner child, inner teenager, inner baby queer.

We grow through over 300 pages (over three hours as an audiobook — you must listen to the poets read their work whenever you can) along Michael’s journey of self-discovery within his family, his school(s) and university, and the world we share together. Through friendships, heartbreak and ignorance from the people surrounding him, and our own ignorance, as he is the sole holder of his ever-shifting truth. A fabulously proud miracle of melanin in a sea of pink.

Between the narrative verses of his story, there are poems within poems, textual conversations where the unspoken speaks volumes, user manuals for drag, performance, gender, race, origins, destinations.

Michael (and Atta) never forgets who he is and where he comes from, regardless of occassional turbulence in his flight, and always takes the opportunity to give a shout out to other black queer pioneers and trailblazers, from Beyonce and Audre Lorde to Jacob V Joyce and Chardine Taylor Stone. The last two, people I am blessed to know in person as influential figures, colleagues and friends. I have also been honoured to have taken workshops under Atta’s guidance in the dearly departed Mouthy Poets collective, the Pangea Poets project, and the MAC in Birmingham. It is amazing to see him thrive and reach audiences of all ages across the world, hopefully inspiring them all to write their stories, their guides, their truth.

Waiting for the sequel, to see Michael grow through the rest of his university years, drag and poetry career, and life. What happens to his friends, to that one cutie from the London hip hop gay club, and that no-so-cute person at the end. Not going to give out any spoilers, but Michael is fierce, beautiful, handsome and brave. Leventis, as those girls at the beach say. Leventis indeed.

MLE: I Spy for Realzies

mylittleeye-poster

Sometimes, when a door closes shut, a window opens wide. But what if it’s a secret window into a world of lies, mystery, heartbreak… and puppets? That’s more or less the premise of MLE, a feature film written, directed and starred by Sarah Warren. Believe it or not, based on a true story.

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Actress Julie Robert (stop it, guys) comes to London all the way from Canada with her so-called best friend Camila (Julie Sype), guided by the promise of acting in a movie about vampire mermaids. When the project is canned due to lack of funding, a series of unfortunate events culminate in Julie nearly running over Bella, a beautiful businesswoman who instead of unleashing her rage — for now — offers her a job as a spy. Her mission: to find out what Bella’s stepdaughter really does with her father’s allowance money.

mylittleeye-parents

Julie is an actress, so she treats this as an acting job. She needs the money. Her family back home still believes she’s meant to be a star and she lets them think she’s still working on the movie. Through a conversation with her mum, she comes up with the perfect pseudonym, and the perfect title for this film.

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Thus, Emily (MLE, My Little Eye, you get it) meets Joy (real-life BFF and production powerhouse Deidre Garcia) and finds out they are pretty much soulmates. They bond over their love for cake and their passion for making puppets; and their connection is very real. So what starts like a fast way to make ends meet and replenish that money jar in her landlord’s fridge turns into an ethical conundrum and, as things get darker and darker, a mission to save her new friend and her family.

mylittleeye-deidregarcia

MLE is a story of downfall and growth, where the initial goal of fame and fortune eventually switches to something else. Something our star not only wants, but needs. No, it’s not a job in a decadent environment that treats her like rubbish. It’s not a bearded knight on a bicycle, although he’s cool and he’s a gamer like her. Julie’s idea of becoming “somebody” gradually waltzes away from the lights and the microphones, and now rests on a balcony along with her toys. Her aim is now to be herself and be accepted as she is, in a world where uniqueness and friendship are harder to find than fame and fortune. Of course everything else is still more than welcome, but it’s no longer a priority.

MLE-Masks

The images are cute, and the film looks like it was filtered on Instagram. Like a Sweet Sixteen party curated by Wes Anderson. However, it couldn’t be further away from all those twee little movies. It does not intend to look cute, and the plot and characters do not intend to be quirky. They just are. Just like those basketcases (like yours truly) who feel awkward at parties surrounded by mansplaining feminists or who play grown up at job interviews or who didn’t learn how to ride a bicycle until well into their 20s-30s. It’s not “look at me being an adult baby”, but more like “look at me trying to navigate the world and become a functioning adult without losing myself completely”.

mylittleeye-skyscrapers

Another thing that made me click with MLE was the connection between Julie/Sarah and her two homes: keeping composure when Skyping with her parents and finding them weirder and weirder each day, while taking notice on the smallest things that keep Britain weird and citizens take for granted. Panoramic shots of Julie gazing from her terrace into the City, skyscrapers grazing perpetually grey clouds. Slang words like “quid”. Driving from the right seat. Rude gestures. Bunting. Even the ugly London stuff like people shouting random insults at you. Everything is so peculiar, and nothing is more peculiar than living in what seems to be a permanent state of liminality. You just enjoy the ride and eat your cake after your 1, 2, 3, 4 veggies — as long as the cake ain’t a lie.

mylittleeye-puppetdouchebag

The film was backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign, where nearly 200 people donated over £20,000 to the cause. Of course no one would say “no” to this adorable douchebag puppet. I promise you he gets better in the film. Now I want to give him all my money. Also, his sister puppet is even lovelier.

MLE‘s première in Leicester was last week at the Phoenix, but if you find it at your nearest cinema, go watch it. I swear it’s less sickly than the trailer, and it has quality songs by Bristol’s own Clayton Blizzard. Stay for the credits to hear/listen/pay attention to “Julie’s Theme” and for the full version of the “Canadian” Cake Song. 🍰🍰🍰

Transindia: A Documentary

Transindia, by Meera Darji

Meera Darji wants to make a documentary about the hijras, the term used in South Asia for people who don’t consider themselves men nor women but contain features of both genders. Usually assigned male at birth, hijras have effeminate traits and present themselves in femme outfits. In Indian culture, they are/were seen as holy human representations of Ardhanari, the composite of Lord Siva and his partner Parvati. Blessed by Rama in the Ramayana, they to go to weddings, childbirth and celebrations to dance and bring fortune and fertility. They were featured in the Kama Sutra, although a vast percentage of them renounce to sexuality and channel their sexual energy into other sacred activities.

Along came the British Empire and its puritan notions of gender. The hijras were seen as “a breach of public decency” and were included on the Criminal Tribes Act along with thieves and murderers. They had to be registered, monitored and systematically disenfranchised by society. Not even the fight for independence and the formation of the Indian Republic destroyed the stigma. Police neglection and brutality against them has increased as part of the aftermath of the recriminalisation of homosexuality and bisexuality in December 2013; and although they were just considered a “third-sex” in April 2014 granted educational and professional rights, they are still considered a “backward” class in society and economy. Now they live in segregated communities, taking underpaid jobs to make ends meet.

Transindia-acceptance

We have information about them thanks to research, film and audio; but it’s not as inclusive as it should. Many documentaries are made from the point of view of an spectator, someone looking from afar and not entirely willing to comprehend what they witness. It’s appreciated that film makers are interested in the first place, but it’s also primordial to give space to people to speak for themselves. To learn about them while giving them a venue for self-expression. Not pestering them nor treating them with tweezers on a Petri dish, but fully immersing ourselves in the environment and letting it take control.

Meera Darji

To make this happen, Meera is flying to India in February for production. She wants to be part of events, attend blessings and social gatherings, interview hijras and their families. Not as a perpetual Jacques Cousteau voice-over, but as a mere vessel of communication. As a platform to expand their message.

Struggle With Life & Race Against Time

Meera has done short films about life in and out of India. In 2013, she directed Struggle With Life & Race Against Time, an emotive documentary in which her grandfather Surendrakumar Bhagat shared his lifestory and wisdom. He talked about how he went from being a typist and living in poverty, to becoming a bank manager and being able to visit his family abroad. The film was screened at film festivals in Leicester, Stockport and Peckham; nominated for the International Student Creative Award by We are One Japan; and was the Overall Winner at Brighton Youth Film Festival.

In the life of Manilal Kataria

Later, on a visit to Ahmedabad, she filmed In the life of Manilal Kataria, on a worker we could call a jack-of-all-trades: he cleans houses, washes cars, attends a small shop on various errands, and cleans cooking utensils on a shower floor. He believes in hard work and human labour; and while machines could accomplish most of his duties, he does everything with precision, dedication, and above all, soul. It was selected for Leicester’s Short Cinema Film Festival, London’s Thurrock International Short Film Festival, RATMA Film Festival, Croatia’s Tabor International Short Film Festival, and several events in the USA, taking home the Best Documentary award at Idaho’s BoVi Film Festival.

Transindia would be her first feature film. And yes, it’s her final project at Coventry University; just like her previous documentaries were also evaluated in an academic manner. Nevertheless, she makes these movies for more than an undergraduate degree or to merely thicken her portfolio: she makes these movies because they are stories that need to be told.

Transindia A Film by Meera Darji

It’s because of this that she’s looking for funding to make this happen. On Transindia‘s Indiegogo page, you can donate as little as £5 and still get mentioned in the credits. The more you give, the more perks you get — a digital copy of the film, a DVD copy of the film, postcards, posters, t-shirts, a personal video of the community, and the possibility of being included as an Associate Producer or Executive Producer. But the best reward will be the existence of the film itself. 2014 was a big year for the trans* community in Western civilisation, and Darji wants to do her part to make something like this happen to Indian society in 2015. To ignite the conversation and spread it across the community.

It would be amazing if you could help.

Un viaje impredecible de Londres a Monterrey

¿Qué tal? Ahora escribo esto en el sillón del recibidor, con mi perra descansando a mi lado, desde la casa donde nací y crecí. Es oficial: ¡comienza Monterrey February!

MonterreyFebruary

Como cualquier otra aventura, no comenzó sin grandes tropiezos. La noche del 31 de enero estaba haciendo un bomberazo editando un perfil de LinkedIn cuando recibí un correo electrónico por parte de la aerolínea. El vuelo en el que supuestamente saldría de Londres rumbo a Houston TX había sido cancelado apenas 12 horas antes del despegue. Mi itinerario regularmente consiste en volar de Londres a Houston y de Houston a Monterrey. Trato de evitar hacer muchas escalas porque es un desbarajuste y siempre está el riesgo de que se retrase un vuelo y se pierda el otro. En este caso, todas las opciones que ofrecía la aerolínea involucraban tres paradas en lugar de dos, así que no pude escapar.

Everyone in Leicester, have fun at Dave for me!
Exposición en la explanada de la estación de trenes con fotografías de comediantes que han estado en el festival de comedia de Leicester.

La estación de trenes en Leicester estaba casi muerta, pero la cafetería estaba abierta y aproveché para cambiar mi tarjeta de cliente frecuente y conseguir un chocolate caliente enorme y gratis. Mi marido compró un montón de snacks y un rol de salchicha. La fila se hacía más y más grande detrás de nosotros, y me dio pena pedir que calentaran mi pain au chocolat como habían calentado el rol de salchicha. Mejor esperé a que se despejara un poco y no tuviera señores pijos refunfuñando a mis espaldas. Llegó el tren, y salimos a las 6:30 de la mañana rumbo a la estación de St Pancras.

pumpkin-coffee

Una vez en St Pancras. tomamos el metro subterráneo hasta el aeropuerto de Heathrow. Si va un grupo pequeño y no son horas pico, sale mejor ir en metro al aeropuerto que gastarse una fortuna en taxis. Después de registrarme y pasar la maleta en la Terminal 1, quisimos almorzar en Café Rouge.

caferouge-heathrowt1

El techo del restaurante es impresionante, pero no fue impresionante que sólo sirvieran desayuno y que fuera un intento frustrado de servir desayuno a la inglesa. Así que mejor fuimos al Wetherspoon de al lado por un buen y genuino desayuno a la inglesa.

englishbreakfast

Ya que me despedí de mi marido, pasé los chequeos de seguridad y fue momento de abordar. En años anteriores, los aviones transatlánticos de Continental Airlines eran enormes y contaban con sistemas de entretenimiento decente. Películas, series, radio, juegos en pantallas de buen tamaño que también podían mostrarte dónde iba tu vuelo. No sé si es porque se los comió United, o sí siempre ha sido así el vuelo de Londres a Chicago, pero la pantalla era muy pequeña y la oferta era pobrísima.

airplane-screen

Entonces, lo que hice en el vuelo fue dormir, despertar y leer la autobiografía de Morrissey.

Instalación en el aeropuerto de Chicago.
Instalación en el aeropuerto de Chicago.

Dinosaurio en el aeropuerto de Chicago.
Dinosaurio en el aeropuerto de Chicago.

Digamos lo que digamos de los gringos, no hay que negar que son agradecidos y cordiales – aunque a veces lo finjan. Te saludan, te dicen que tengas un buen día, y te agradecen por el simple hecho de haberlos elegido. Cuando estoy de cajera en la tienda de segunda mano en Inglaterra, le digo a los clientes que tengan un buen día y es como si les mentara la madre.

Hasta las bandejas te agradecen.
Hasta las bandejas te dan buenos deseos. Si tan sólo fueran lo suficientemente lindos para relajarse con las medidas de seguridad…

La nieve es bonita. La falta de eficacia de la gente y sus objetos no.
La nieve es bonita. La falta de eficacia de la gente y sus objetos no.

Desafortunadamente, no todos son tan buena onda como pretenden serlo. El vuelo de Chicago a Houston se demoró una hora en lo que conseguían el avión y lo preparaban para resistir a la nieve. Para cuando llegamos a Houston, mi vuelo a Monterrey ya se había ido. Poco más de un tercio de los pasajeros íbamos en tránsito y perdimos nuestra conexión. Dos empleadas en un escritorio de servicio a clientes de United atendieron de mala gana a cuatro o cinco pasajeros y nos dijeron que fuéramos hasta otro escritorio. Que ya estaba cerrado. En el segundo escritorio, la empleadas también estaban un humor nefasto y trabajaron con poquísimos clientes. Pudieron atenderme, pero a varios los andaban mandando hasta otra terminal. ¿Les habrán hecho lo mismo?

El próximo vuelo a Monterrey era a las 8:50 de la mañana del día siguiente. La aerolínea nos ofreció un cuarto de hotel a cada familia y dos cupones para comer de siete dólares cada uno. Jamás dijeron “perdón”. Ni “gracias”. El shuttle tardó media hora en llegar y llevarnos al hotel. Al menos el hotel era bonito, y el cuarto era gigante y acogedor. Y para mí solita.

Al menos el hotel era bonito. Hyatt North Houston.
Hyatt North Houston.

Ya descansada, tomé el shuttle de las seis de la mañana para volver al aeropuerto y, una vez más, pasar por los ridículos obstáculos de seguridad. Al menos no había tanta gente en la fila y tuve bastante tiempo para desayunar y merodear por las tiendas.

Encontré el labial perfecto en The Body Shop: 105, Coral Cutie.
Encontré el labial perfecto en The Body Shop: 105, Coral Cutie.

Llegamos a Monterrey a tiempo – sólo en este vuelo, más de doce horas después de mi itinerario original.

vivian-dog

Ya extrañaba a mis padres, a mi perra, a mi ciudad y a mi familia. Fue toda una epopeya, pero ahora estoy aquí.What’s up? Now I’m writing this on the couch in the lounge, with my dog sleeping on my side, from the house where I was born and bred. It’s official: Monterrey February is on!

MonterreyFebruary

Just like any other adventure, it didn’t start without grand stumbling. On the night of the 31st of January, I was doing an emergency job editing a LinkedIn profile when I got an email on behalf of the airline. The flight in which I would have supposedly departed from London to Houston TX was cancelled barely 12 hours before departure. My schedule regularly consists of flying from London to Houston and from Houston to Monterrey. I try to avoid taking many stops because it’s all a mess and there’s always the risk of one flight delaying thus another one being missed. In this case, every replacement option offered by the airline involved three stops instead of two, so I couldn’t escape.

Everyone in Leicester, have fun at Dave for me!
Exhibition at the railway station featuring pictures of comedians who have performed in Leicester’s Comedy Festival.

Leicester railway station was almost dead, but the cafe was open and I took the advantage of my frequent customer card and got a big hot chocolate for free. My husband bought a bunch of snacks and a sausage roll. The queue behind us was getting larger and larger, so I was too shy to ask them to heat up my pain au chocolat just like they did with the sausage roll. It was better to wait until the place got clear and there weren’t any posh gits grumbling down our necks. The train arrived, and we left at 6:30 in the morning towards St Pancras station.

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Once in St Pancras. we took the underground to Heathrow airport. If a small group is going during off-peak time, I recommend you use the Tube to go to the airport instead of spending a fortune on cabs. After checking in at Terminal 1, we wanted to have a meal at Café Rouge.

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The restaurant’s ceiling is impressive, but what was not impressive was that they only served breakfast and that it was a failed attempt to serve “English” breakfast. So we went to Wetherspoon’s next door for a good, genuine English breakfast.

englishbreakfast

After saying goodbye to my husband, I went through security checks and it was time to board. In previous years, transatlantic planes from Continental Airlines were huge and included decent entertainment systems. Movies, TV shows, radio, games on nicely-sized screens that could also show your live flight map. I don’t know if it’s because they were eaten by United, or if the flight from London to Chicago has always been like that, but the screens were too small and the entertainment offer was pauper.

airplane-screen

Then, all I did during the flight was sleeping, waking up and reading Morrissey’s autobiography.

Instalación en el aeropuerto de Chicago.
Instalation in Chicago airport.

Dinosaurio en el aeropuerto de Chicago.
Dinosaur at Chicago airport.

Regardless of what we say about the gringos, there’s no way we can deny they’re thankful and warm-hearted – even if they fake it sometimes. They greet you, they wish you a nice day, and they thank you simply for choosing them. When I’m attending the till at the charity shop in England, if I tell customers to “Have a Nice Day”, they act like I said “See You Next Tuesday”.

Hasta las bandejas te agradecen.
Even trays wish you well. If only they were nice enough to chill out with all these security measures…

La nieve es bonita. La falta de eficacia de la gente y sus objetos no.
Snow is pretty. The lack of effectiveness in people and their objects isn’t.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as nice as they pretend to be. The flight from Chicago to Houston got delayed one hour while they got the plane and prepared it to resist snow. By the time we got to Houston, my flight to Monterrey had already gone. A little bit more than a third of the passengers were in transit and missed our connection. Two attendants at a United service desk fretfully attended four or five passengers and told the rest of us to go to another desk. That theirs was closed now. At the second desk, attendants were in a terrible mood and helped very few customers too. They could attend me, but they sent several people all the way to another terminal. I wonder if the attendants at the other terminal did the same thing to them.

The next flight to Monterrey would be at 8:50 the next morning. The airline offered an hotel room to each family and two meal vouchers worth seven dollars each. They never said “sorry”. Nor “thank you”. The shuttle took half an hour to arrive and take us to the hotel. At least it was pretty, and the room was gigantic and comfy. And all for myself.

Al menos el hotel era bonito. Hyatt North Houston.
Hyatt North Houston.

Now well rested, I took the 6AM shuttle to go back to the airport and, once more, go through the ridiculous security obstacles. At least there weren’t many people in the queue and I had enough time to have breakfast and wander around the stores.

Encontré el labial perfecto en The Body Shop: 105, Coral Cutie.
Found the perfect lipstick at The Body Shop: 105, Coral Cutie.

We arrived in Monterrey on time – just on this flight, more than twelve hours after my original schedule.

vivian-dog

I really missed my parents, my dog, my city and my family. It was quite a saga, but I’m here now.

Plus London Three: Community Day

Durante los últimos dos días, les he contado acerca del primer día de Plus London Three: marcas y chiqueo de día, baile y jugueteo de noche. El domingo fue más corto, pero NO menos disfrutable. De hecho, mientras Brand Day nos acercó a todas, Community Day nos juntó más cerca.

Mel y yo nos perdimos después de que se nos salió el ombligo en The Diner. Si están en SoHo, tienen que arrastrarse hasta allá, tragarse una malteada y devorarse un buen desayuno americano. Háganlo por su madre, por su abuela, por su perro, por su país, pero háganlo.

American Brekkie at The Diner

Aún con el paseo inesperado, tuvimos suerte de agarrar el panel por la cola. Era sobre Sexualidad y Autoestima Gorda, un tema que pudo haber sido bastante nuevo – incluso escalofriante – para nuevas bloggers fatshionistas o talla extra. No todas están bendecidas con una pareja que las acepte ni con un glorioso dominio de su propia sexualidad, así que pudo haberse sentido como meter los dedos de los pies en una bañera llena de agua hirviendo. Pavoroso, doloroso, inesperado. Así que comprendo por qué muchas de las chicas que fueron en sábado no pudieron venir. Fue por eso o por la cruda. Mientras lo último puede solucionarse con una barra de chocolate frita o con unos Doritos Cool Ranch y un smoothie de vainilla, el miedo al sexo siendo gordos sólo puede solucionarse con tiempo, paciencia e inmersión. Paso a paso, dejarán de temerlo y comenzarán a ser amigos. Incluso – valga el doble sentido – amantes. Dr Charlotte Cooper, Dr Caroline Walters y Gina Warren fueron maduras y relejadas mientras respondían todo tipo de dudas. Recomiendo con todo el corazón que vayan a ver a las doctoras Charlotte y Caroline hablar sobre el tema una vez más, ahora con Bethany Rutter e Ingo Cando, el 19 de noviembre, como parte de las Charlas de Género y Sexualidad en Londres.

Charlotte Cooper signed my copy of Hot and Heavy
Charlotte Cooper firmó mi copia Hot & Heavy

Luego, pasamos de usar nuestras mentes a usar nuestra manos. ¡No de esa manera, cochinotes! Fue hora de hacer manualidades y apropiarnos verdaderamente de la moda gorda. Erin de Miss Lacy Ltd y la co-organizadora Michelle tuvieron la compostura de los santos para enseñarnos cómo personalizar nuestras prendas. Erin fue la Jefa de Estado Mayor de la máquina de coser, agregando bastillas y modificando detalles. Michelle nos dejó tomar ventaja de una canasta repleta de sobras de tela y de un mar de aplicaciones para sacar lo mejor entre la aguja y el hilo. Lo que quisieran hacer o aprender en cuanto confecciones hechas por una misma, lo conseguirían.

Photo: Isha Reid
Foto: Isha Reid

Sin embargo, mi momento favorito de la tarde fue la charla informal de Lauren sobre sus experiencias como blogger fatshionista. Tenemos pasados y experiencias similares, nos hemos conectado en política y estilo de vida, y juntas podremos ir adelante en el mismo camino hacia la mejoría, la acción y la solidaridad. Quizás nos dio pena cuando Claire nos preguntó si teníamos preguntas; pero una vez que la gente se fue al otro cuarto a hacer yoga, ventilamos nuestros sentimientos y posturas una detrás de la otra. Fue fabuloso tener infiltradas como Anita Bellamy y Rikke Klint compartiendo algunos secretos de la industria de la moda. Chicas que antes parecían tímidas ahora expresaban puntos válidos y fuertes. Llegamos a la conclusión de que la industria de la moda – talla extra o de cualquier otro tipo – necesitaba realmente conectarse con la audiencia y darle exactamente lo que quiere. Darle modas, clásicos, alta costura, hasta las tallas más grandes y pensando en formas corporales más allá de la de “reloj de arena”. Al mismo tiempo, necesitan dejar de intentar dividirnos en formas y de forzarnos a comprar artículos que “encajen” exclusivamente con ellas. Es maravilloso cómo las marcas y los bloggers están más y más conectados, pero sería divino si cada compañía nos escuchara y bailara al ritmo de nuestros tiempos. A diferencia de lo que algunos usuarios enojones y analfabetas en las redes sociales gritan en puras mayúsculas y sin comas,  no todas las gordas quieren esconderse en caftanes “favorecedores”. No todas quieren seguir “las reglas”.

Photo: Isha Reid
Foto: Isha Reid

La conversación fue solamente interrumpida por los fleteros que tenían que llevarse nuestros asientos. Pudimos haber continuado de pie o sentadas en el suelo, pero Hoxton Arches también tenía que regresar con sus dueños. Así que nos abrazamos, intercambiamos tarjetas de presentación, nos acosamos en medios sociales y prometimos volver y vernos otra vez. Honestamente, espero que así sea. Plus London Three fue un modelo a escala del mundo en el que sueño vivir, y mientras más nos juntemos y compartamos la pasión y el mensaje – aún practicando sin que necesariamente andemos predicando-, este mundo de ensueño podría convertirse en realidad.For the past two days, I’ve told you about the first day of Plus London Three: brands and pampering by day, dance and play by night. Sunday was shorter, but it was NOT less enjoyable. In fact, as Brand Day got us close, Community Day brought us even closer.

Mel and I got lost after popping our navels out at The Diner. If you’re in SoHo, you need to drag yourselves there, chug down a milkshake and devour some good ol’ American breakfast. Do it for your mum, for your grandma, for your dog, for your country, but do it.

American Brekkie at The Diner

Even with unexpected sightseeing, we were lucky enough to grab the panel by its tail. It was about Fat Confidence and Sexuality, a topic that might be quite novel – even scary – to new fatshion bloggers or plus sized bloggers. Not everyone is blessed with an accepting partner and a glorious domain of their own sexuality, so it might feel like dipping your toes into a bathtub full of scorching hot water. Scary, painful, unexpected. So I understand why many of the darlings who went on Saturday couldn’t come. Either that or they were hungover. While the latter can be solved with a fried Mars bar or Doritos Cool Ranch and a vanilla smoothie, the fear of fat sex can only be solved with time, patience and immersion. Step by step, you will stop fearing it and you’ll start becoming friends. Even – pun intended – lovers. Dr Charlotte Cooper, Dr Caroline Walters and Gina Warren were mature and relaxed answering all kinds of queries. I wholeheartedly recommend you go and see Dr Charlotte and Dr Caroline talk on the subject once again, now with Bethany Rutter and Ingo Cando, on 19th November as part of Gender & Sexuality talks – London.

Charlotte Cooper signed my copy of Hot and Heavy
Charlotte Cooper signed my copy of Hot & Heavy

Then, we went from using our minds to using our hands. Not in that way, mind you! It was time to make some crafts and make fatshion truly ours. Erin from Miss Lacy Ltd and co-host Michelle had the composure of saints to teach us how to customise our clothes. Erin was commander-in-chief of the sewing machine, adding hemlines and modifying details. Michelle let us take advantage of a basket brimming with fabric leftovers and a sea of appliqués to bring out the best between needle and thread. Whatever you wanted to do or learn on DIY confections, you would get it.

Photo: Isha Reid
Photo: Isha Reid

However, my favourite moment of the afternoon was Lauren’s informal talk on her fatshion blogging experiences. We come from similar backgrounds and experiences, we’ve now clicked on politics and lifestyle, and together we might go towards the same road to improvement, action and solidarity. We might have been shy when Claire asked if we had any questions; but once people went to the other room for yoga, we vented our feeling and arguments one after the other. It was fabulous to have insiders like Anita Bellamy and Rikke Klint sharing some fashion industry secrets. Girls who seemed shy before were now making sharp valid points. We came to the conclusion that the fashion industry – plus size or otherwise – really needed to connect with the audience and give them exactly what they want. Give them trends, classics, haute couture, up to deathfat sizes and thinking about body shapes beyond hourglass. At the same time, they need to stop trying to divide us into shapes and forcing us to buy items that exclusively “match” with our shapes. It’s wondrous how brands and bloggers are more and more connected, but it would be blissful if every single company listened to us and flew with the wind of times. Contrary to what grumpy misspelling social media users might shout in all capitals and no commas, not every fat girl wants to hide away in “flattering” kaftans. Not everyone wants to follow “the rules”.

Photo: Isha Reid
Photo: Isha Reid

The conversation was solely interrupted by the chair people who had to take back our seats. We could have continued standing up or sitting on the floor, but Hoxton Arches had to return to its owners too. So we all hugged, swapped business cards, stalked each other on social media and promised we would come back and see each other again. I honestly hope we will. Plus London Three was a scale model of the world I would dream to inhabit, and the more we get together and spread the passion and message – even practising without necessarily preaching -, this dream world might become a reality.

Plus London Three: At Night

Ayer les conté sobre el Brand Day en Plus London Three. La tarde del sábado vio una variedad de marcas de ropa y joyería exhibiendo su coleción ante multitudes de damas progresistas e indispuestas a contentarse con algo menos que perfecto para nuestros cuerpos mayores que el “promedio”. Eso sólo fue el comienzo de un fin de semana inolvidable.

MEAT Mission. Photo: Sian Kisses
MEAT Mission. Foto: Sian Kisses

Después de saquear MEAT Mission con Bethany, Sian, Charlotte y su marido, nos cargamos de latas y botellas de bebidas alcohólicas y movimos nuestros gordos traseros (en el caso del viejo de Charlotte, flaco) de regreso a Hoxton Arches. Estábamos más que listos para una noche de baile, unidad y libertad.

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Para calentar, el equipo de Plus London – Lauren, Claire, Isha, Michelle y el alma de Kirsty – nos deleitaron con temas de calidad de artistas incluyendo a Goldfrapp y Roísín Murphy. Electro elegante y sofisticado y punk supersexy. Mi mero mole. O, para ser más correctos, mi mero shot de vodka con gomitas de fruta – mejor conocido como “chub rub”. El ardor de tus muslos gordos al caminar, ¡ahora en tu garganta! Conste que también tenían una versión sin alcohol. Igual de coqueta.

Photo: Isha Reid
Foto: Isha Reid

Una vez que estuvimos lo suficientemente cálidos, fue el turno de Bethany para quemar la casa y darnos una muestra de sus noches legendarias de DJ como la mitad de la pareja poderosa bajo el nombre de Dancing On My Own. Aquiellos que han ido a DOMO podrán recordar el libertinaje, los placeres no culpables, el calor y la felicidad pura y cristalina. Desafortunadamente, no hubo desnudos; pero como quiera la pasamos maravilloso. Nos meneábamos como la fregada. Michelle y su pareja se jactaban de sus locuaces pasos de baile. Toodaloo Katie y yo bailamos casi sin parar como las norteamericanas chifladas que somos – ella es canadiense, yo soy mexicana, como quiera de la maldita Norteamérica le guste a los gringos o no. Mel canalizaba a su Beyoncé interna al igual que Sam y Vicky, chicas encantandoras del sudoeste británico. Además de masacrar la pista de baile, Kelly y Anne eran intelectualmente poderosas; y terminé entablando conversación con ellas y con Big Fat Betty, quien tiene ambiciones que de veras, de veras desearía que pronto vean la luz del día. Alquimia pura fue esa noche del sábado, brillando bajo los rieles del Overground!

Sam sporting the Beth Ditto dreamdress over there.
Sam presumiento el vestido de domino de Beth Ditto por ahí.

La sesión nocturna de fotos con Blast! fue más pícara y “experimental” que la primera. Jugamos con utilería y nos partimos de risa frente a la cámara de Dannie y las instrucciones juguetonas de Char.

Mi Tributo a Lou Reed. Foto: Dannie Price
Mi Tributo a Lou Reed. Foto: Dannie Price

¡Sonríe! Foto: Dannie Price
¡Sonríe! Foto: Dannie Price

Pasa la voz. Con Katrin. Foto: Dannie Price
Pasa la voz. Con Katrin. Foto: Dannie Price

Después de sufrir combustión espontánea con “Go Your Own Way” de Fleetwood Mac (un himno de DOMO), tuvios que volver a nuestras camas y recuperarnos a tiempo para el día dos: Community Day, misa de gordos radicales.

All together now! Photo: Sam Rowswell
¡Todas juntas! Foto: Sam Rowswell

Por concluir…Yesterday I told you about Brand Day at Plus London Three. Saturday afternoon saw a variety of clothing and jewellery brands showcasing their collection to hordes of forward-thinking ladies not willing to settle for anything less than perfect for our larger-than-“average” bodies. That was just the beginning of an unforgettable weekend.

MEAT Mission. Photo: Sian Kisses
MEAT Mission. Photo: Sian Kisses

After raiding MEAT Mission with Bethany, Sian, Charlotte and her husband, we loaded ourselves with cans and bottles of alcoholic beverages and moved our fat arses (skinny, in Charlotte’s hub’s case) back to Hoxton Arches. We were more than ready for an evening of dance, unity and freedom.

imaruin

To warm up, the Plus London team – Lauren, Claire, Isha, Michelle and the soul of Kirsty – delighted us with some quality tracks by artists including Goldfrapp and Roísín Murphy. Fancy sophisticated electro and supersexy punk. My cup of tea. Or, to be more accurate, my shot of vodka with gummy fruits – also known as “chub rub”. Feel the burn, now on your throat! They had a non-alchy version too, mind you. Still dandy stuff.

Photo: Isha Reid
Photo: Isha Reid

Once we were warm enough, it was Bethany’s turn to burn down the house and give us a sample of her legendary DJ nights as one half of the power couple known as Dancing On My Own. Those who have attended DOMO can remember the debauchery, the non-guilty pleasures, the heat and the crystal-pure joy. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any nudity; but we still had a wonderful time. We were shaking like mofos. Michelle and her partner showed off their wicked dance moves. Toodaloo Katie and I danced almost non-stop like the whimsical North Americans we are – she’s Canadian, I’m Mexican, still from bloody North America whether you like it or not, gringos. Mel was channelling her inner Beyoncé and so were Sam and Vicky, charming chicks from the South West of Britain. Besides being complete dance-floor murderers, Kelly and Anne were intellectually powerful; and I ended up engaging in conversation with them and Big Fat Betty, who has ambitions I really, really wish will soon see the light of day. Sheer alchemy was that Saturday night, shining under the rails of the Overground!

Sam sporting the Beth Ditto dreamdress over there.
Sam sporting the Beth Ditto domino dress over there.

The night shooting session with Blast! was a lot kinkier and “experimental” than the first one. We played with props and splat our sides in front of Dannie’s camera and Char’s playful commands.

Mi Tributo a Lou Reed. Foto: Dannie Price
My Lou Reed Memorial. Photo: Dannie Price

 

¡Sonríe! Foto: Dannie Price
Smile! Photo: Dannie Price

 

Pasa la voz. Con Katrin. Foto: Dannie Price
Spread the word. Ft Katrin. Photo: Dannie Price

After bursting into flames with Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” (a DOMO anthem), we had to go back to our beds and recover on time for day two: Community Day, a rad fat’s Sunday Service.

All together now! Photo: Sam Rowswell
All together now! Photo: Sam Rowswell

To be concluded…

Plus London Three: Brand Day

¿A veces sienten que están pasándola tan bien que se recargan sus baterías, se fortalece su núcleo y quedan con una sonrisa casi perpetua en sus rostros? Bueno, eso me pasó este fin de semana en la tercera edición de Plus London.

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A diferencia de años anteriores, cuando era un proyecto de una sola chica y de un solo día (liderado por las grandiosas Lauren Ding y Claire Chattermonkey respectivamente), esta vez fue un festival de dos días organizado por un ejército de iconos calientes, poderosos y magníficos: Lauren, Claire, Isha Reid, Michelle Rochester y la trístemente ausente Kirsty Fife; quienes se aseguraron de que el evento fuera impecable y satisfactorio desde su concepción hasta su conclusión, brincando incontables obstáculos en el camino.

Photo: Carmakoma
Foto: Carmakoma

El sábado fue Brand Day, Día de Marcas, más enfocado en el lado “fatshion” de la Aceptación de Gordos, el sueño de un centro comercial hecho realidad: puesto tras puesto tras puesto de prendas preciosas en nuestras tallas y accesorios brillantes en todos los colores del arcoiris. En otro cuarto del espacioso Hoxton Arches, las mismas marcas hablaban ante la audiencia acerca de sus historias y sus enfoques, hasta compartiendo unos cuantos avances exclusivos para el invierno y la primavera.

Charlotte and Laura from Simply Be. Photo: Betty Pamper.
Charlotte y Laura de Simply Be. Foto: Betty Pamper

La confiable y encantadora Charlotte de Simply Be estaba ahí como siempre, ahora acompañada de Laura, el talento más reciente en unirse a la compañía. Ha estado ahí por menos de un mes y ya tiene varios eventos en el horizonte. ¡Nada mal! Además de barras llenas de ropa y lencería y filas y filas de zapatos, trajeron al superdotado Clym Evernden, quien hizo retratos de visitantes que llegaban al puesto. Aquí está el mío, donde parece presentarme como una Grace Kelly pobretona; en gran parte, gracias a mi estilo y peinado. Más sobre esto, luego.

Portrait by Clym Evernden
Retrato por Clym Evernden

Sarah de Carmakoma voló desde Dinamarca para traer sus lujosas prendas para que pudiéramos verlas, tocarlas, sentirlas y vestirlas. Carmakoma no es sólo pionera de tallas extras en Escandinavia, sino una de las marcas más vanguardistas en Europa. Los estilos y telas están a la par de (o incluso son superiores a) aquellos que ves en cualquier Fashion Week. Mi vestido de noche era de ellos, y es como un tesoro en mi guardarropa.

¡Representando a las nenas danesas! Rikke y Sarah. Foto: Rikke Klint
¡Representando a las nenas danesas! Rikke y Sarah. Foto: Rikke Klint

Por supuesto, Michelle trajo su boutique pop-up y vendió bastantes productos verdaderamente vintage a una fracción del precio original. Fue de ella quien compré el vestido que usé al día siguiente.

Photo: Isha Reid
Foto: Isha Reid

Otras marcas como Apples and Pears y Curvissa estaban por ahí, con lindas ofertas para el día y para la noche. Sin embargo, la revelación del año fue Erin Lacy de Miss Lacy Ltd, compartiendo sus afectuosas creaciones a mano. Para ser sincera, no me pagó un centavo para decir esto, pero usaría sus vestidos en el trabajo, en la casa y en la fiesta. Su mamá estaba ahí también, y trajo su vibrante joyería consigo. Cuentas en varias tonalidades de azul, rojo, naranja ensambladas por sus amorosas manos.

Erin's mum jewellery. Photo: Betty Pamper
Joyería de la mamá de Erin. Foto: Betty Pamper

Otras estrellas de los accesorios fueron Alyssa de Twisted Siren y Charlotte de Black Heart Creatives. Twisted Siren es relumbrante y juguetona, con gigantes anillos cocteleros en forma de estrellas de mar y corazones, perfectos para satisfacer tanto a nuestro niño interno como a nuestro adulto (¿?) externo. Black Heart Creatives, orgullo del sudoeste, es una chulada en marcha. ¿Conocen esos modernos collares de acrílico con frases y figuras funky cortadas en láser? Charlotte las hace asequibles e indescriptiblemente chingonas. Su collar de “fat bitch” (“gorda cabrona”) es el más popular, así como sus groseras arracadas en forma de corazón, productos usados con frecuencia por Bethany Rutter y Sian Kisses. Si quieren imagenes y palabras a su gusto, pueden obtenerlas exactamente por el mismo precio. ¡Justo lo que estaba esperando!

Black Heart Creations
Black Heart Creations

Curvy Kate fue bastante popular por dos razones: la despampanante Dominique Wells modelando varios sets de lencería (valerosamente, considerando el clima) y sus servicios de asesoramiento para determinar la talla correcta del bra. Gracias a los jugosas habilidades de medición de Himaré, me di cuenta que era una talla menos y una copa más que de costumbre. Al menos en esta marca. Cuando tenga dinero, ellos lo tendrán todo.

Dominique Wells. Photo: Carmakoma
Dominique Wells. Foto: Carmakoma

Curvissa tuvo la delicadeza de patrocinar a Betty & Lilly’s Vintage Pamper Box. Después de que habíamos reservado con unos cuantos días de anticipación, Betty Pamper hizo nuestro peinado, maquillaje o una pícara mezcla de ambos. Ella y su compañera Lilly von Pink fueron excepcionalmente veloces y con un gusto espléndido. En menos de diez minutos, Betty hizo unos Roles de la Victoria en mi cabello recién cortado y, aunque no fuera incluído en mi reservación original, retocó mis labios con algo de brillo rosa y coral. Por eso parecía una intergrante perdida de la Realeza. De buen gusto, por supuesto.

Photos: Betty Pamper
Fotos: Betty Pamper

Blast! arregló sesiones fotográficas todo el día y toda la noche. Dannie y Charlotte son profesionales Y graciosas. Como atestiguamos en la noche, completamente deschavetadas. ¿Conocen la frase “hazle el amor a la cámara”? En este caso, la cámara le hace el dulce, dulce amor a ustedes.

The Almighty Plus London Crew. Photo: Blast! Photo of Photo: Isha Reid
El Todopoderoso Equipo de Plus London. Foto: Dannie Price. Foto de la Foto: Isha Reid

Sobria y elegante. Foto: Dannie Price
Sobria y elegante. Foto: Dannie Price

El día terminó con Diablo Daniels, burlesque extraordinaire, arrojando un libro de Caitlin Moran al suelo (yuss!), echándose unas cuantas rimas feministas (yuss!) y quitándose la mayoría de la ropa (superyuss!), todo con una sonrisa inmaculada en su rostro y manteniendo su cabellera intacta.

Dreamgirl Diablo Daniels. Photo: Isha Reid
Diablo Daniels, de ensueño. Foto: Isha Reid

Fue tremendo ponerme al corriente con tantas nenas y conocer muchas nuevas también. Me dio gusto haber conocido tales modelos de incios de mis veintitantos como la canadiense Sarah Anne de Big Hips Red Lips (aunque sólo de vista) y la finlandesa Mimmi de More To Love. Personas que ayudaron a remodelar mis opiniones sobre mí misma, mi cuerpo y el modo en que lo trato. Además, adoré ver a Mel Chillag y Carla Benstead otra vez y, gracias a la magia de la amistad, invadir su cuarto por una noche. No sin antes bailar hasta la muerte.

Continuará…Do you ever feel like you’re having such a wonderful time it recharges your batteries, strengthens your core and leaves an almost perpetual smile on your face? Well, that happened to me this weekend at the third edition of Plus London.

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Contrary to previous years, when it was a one-girl one-day project (led by the great Lauren Ding and Claire Chattermonkey respectively), this time it was a two-day festival organised by an army of hot, powerful, magnificent icons: Lauren, Claire, Isha Reid, Michelle Rochester and the sadly absent Kirsty Fife; who made sure the event was spotless and satisfying from its conception to its conclusion, jumping countless obstacles in the way.

Photo: Carmakoma
Photo: Carmakoma

Saturday was Brand Day, more focused on the fatshion side of Fat Acceptance, a shopping centre’s dream come true: stall after stall after stall of precious clothes in our sizes and sparkly accessories in all the colours of the rainbow. On another room of the spacey Hoxton Arches, the same brands spoke to the audience about their story and their approach, even sharing a few exclusive sneaky peaks for winter and spring.

Charlotte and Laura from Simply Be. Photo: Betty Pamper.
Charlotte and Laura from Simply Be. Photo: Betty Pamper

The reliable and charming Charlotte from Simply Be was there as usual, now followed by Laura, the latest talent to join the company. She’s been there for less than a month and she’s already got several gigs on the horizon. Not bad! As well as a rack full of clothes and lingerie and rows and rows of shoes, they brought the gifted Clym Evernden, who made portraits of guests who visited the stall. Here’s mine, where he seems to depict me as a skint Grace Kelly; in great part, thanks to my style and hairdo. More on this, later.

Portrait by Clym Evernden
Portrait by Clym Evernden

Sarah from Carmakoma flew all the way from Denmark to bring her luscious clothes so we could see them, touch them, feel them and wear them. Carmakoma is not only a plus size pioneer in Scandinavia, but one of the edgiest brands in Europe. The styles and textiles are on a par with (or even superior to) those you see on Fashion Week. My night dress was actually theirs, and it’s like a treasure in my wardrobe.

Dane babes represent! Rikke and Sarah. Photo: Rikke Klint
Dane babes represent! Rikke and Sarah. Photo: Rikke Klint

Of course, Michelle brought her pop-up boutique and sold so many truly vintage items for a fraction of the original price. From her, I got the dress I wore the next day.

Photo: Isha Reid
Photo: Isha Reid

Other brands like Apples and Pears and Curvissa were around, with nice offers for night and day. However, the revelation of the year was Erin Lacy from Miss Lacy Ltd, sharing her affectionate handmade creations. To be honest, I wasn’t paid a pence to say this,  but I would wear her frocks at work, at home and at play. Her mum was there too, and she brought her vibrant jewellery along. So many shades of blue, red, orange beads joined together by her loving hands.

Erin's mum jewellery. Photo: Betty Pamper
Erin’s mum jewellery. Photo: Betty Pamper

Other accessory stars where Alyssa from Twisted Siren and Charlotte from Black Heart Creatives. Twisted Siren is scintillating and playful, with gigantic cocktail rings shaped like sea stars and hearts, perfect to satisfy both our inner child and our outer grown-up (?). Black Heart Creatives, pride of the West Country, is one babe of a start-up. You know those trendy laser-cut acrylic necklaces with funky words and shapes? Charlotte makes them affordable and indescribably badass. Her “fat bitch” necklace is the most popular, just like her sweary heart-shaped earrings, as frequently worn by Bethany Rutter and Sian Kisses. If you want customised images and words, you can get them for exactly the same price. This is just what I was waiting for!

Black Heart Creations
Black Heart Creations

Curvy Kate were quite popular for two reasons: the stunning Dominique Wells modelling various lingerie sets (bravely, considering the weather) and a bra fitting service. Thanks to Himaré’s hot measuring skills, I realised I was one size less and one cup more than usual. At least for the brand. When I have money, they will get it all.

Dominique Wells. Photo: Carmakoma
Dominique Wells. Photo: Carmakoma

Curvissa kindly sponsored Betty & Lilly’s Vintage Pamper Box. After previously booking a few days in advance, Betty Pamper did our hair, make up or a cheeky mix of both. She and her sidekick Lilly von Pink were exceptionally swift and had an splendid taste. In less than ten minutes, Betty did some Victory rolls on my recently cut hair and, although it wasn’t included on the initial reservation, retouched my lippy with some coral pink gloss. That’s why I looked like a lost member of the Royal Family. A tasteful one, by the way.

Photos: Betty Pamper
Photos: Betty Pamper

Blast! arranged photo shoots all day and night. Dannie and Charlotte are professional AND funny. As we witnessed late at night, complete basketcases. You know that phrase “make love to the camera”? Actually, their camera makes sweet, sweet love to you.

The Almighty Plus London Crew. Photo: Blast! Photo of Photo: Isha Reid
The Almighty Plus London Crew. Photo: Blast! Photo of Photo: Isha Reid

 

Sobria y elegante. Foto: Dannie Price
Elegant and sober. Photo: Dannie Price

The day ended with Diablo Daniels, burlesque extraordinaire, throwing a Caitlin Moran book to the floor (yuss!), busting some feminist rhymes (yuss!) and taking most of her clothes off (superyuss!), all with a spotless grin on her face and keeping her fiery coiffure intact.

Dreamgirl Diablo Daniels. Photo: Isha Reid
Dreamgirl Diablo Daniels. Photo: Isha Reid

It was tremendous to catch up with so many babes and to meet so many new ones too. I’m glad to have met such paragons of my early 20s like Sarah Anne the Canadian from Big Hips Red Lips (just looked at her tho) and Mimmi the Finn from More To Love. People who helped reshaping my views about myself, my body and the way I treat it. Also, I adored seeing Mel Chillag and Carla Benstead again and, thanks to the magic of friendship, invading their room for a night. Not before dancing ourselves to death.

To be continued…