Girls Affairs
Daily Tales of Living
Saturday, February 18, 2006

Katherine Moenning Interview - Download
Leisha Hailey Interview - Download

Mia Kirshner Interview - Download

Rose Troche Interview - Download

Rachel Shelley Interview - Download

* podcast: Sho.com


# GIRLS: Beth Hart

Beth Hart on stage
... she could be the love child of Janis Joplin and Robert Plant!

I'm listen to:
world whithout you
other songs:
leave the light on
bottle of jesus
sky full of clover
bottle of jesus
watch the video:
monkey is back
world without you


Thursday, February 16, 2006
# TEST: «What do you think of Moira?»

My Answer: "Fancy taking her home with me"


# NEWS: «L Word generates high net traffic»
Word is officially out on Showtime's "L Word"

Sometime around the middle of last month, "The L Word" became a digital media success story for Showtime. With the start of its third season in January, the ensemble drama series following a group of lesbian friends in Los Angeles began generating more than a third of all the traffic on the Showtime Web site.
Clips from "L Word" episodes make up the top 10 video clips streamed on the site. Downloads of the show's podcasts have increased by triple digits, Showtime says.

Yahoo! noted a 26 percent spike in online traffic related to the show in its "Buzz Log" last week. (Funnily enough, Showtime joined Apple's iPod revolution last week in unveiling a licensing pact with iTunes for three shows, but "L Word" wasn't one of them.) The show also is upticking by double digits in the old-fashioned measure of Nielsen Media Research ratings.

This hive of activity coupled with the creative development of the show persuaded Showtime Networks entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt to give the network's sprawling Sappho soap, whose cast includes Mia Kirshner, Jennifer Beals and Laurel Holloman, an early pickup for next year.

"When we have this much equity in a show, and the audience responds as rabidly as they did this year, it's a big success for us," Greenblatt says. "This is and will remain one of our signature shows. A pickup was a no-brainer."

In the eyes of series creator/executive producer Ilene Chaiken, the increased attention to "L Word" should be credited to the universal appeal and freshness of its storytelling. The show offers a look at the lives of 21st century American women that is different from other shows on TV -- and not just because these characters wind up in bed with other women, Chaiken says.

"Putting aside that it's the lesbian show," says Chaiken, a former executive at Spelling Television and Quincy Jones Entertainment, "I always believed that when a good show finally came around that told stories about people who were lesbian, it would reach a wide audience because people are interested in our stories. They haven't been told as often in movies and TV. People are yearning for that."

Indeed, Greenblatt notes the disconnect between the nation's political climate and pop-culture landscape at a time when anti-gay marriage and other restrictive legislative initiatives are popping up around the country, and yet moviegoers and TV viewers are by and large accepting of homosexual and transgender characters in films and series too numerous to name.

"These characters are becoming more accepted once audiences see that they live, love, yearn, get hurt, struggle with family and love and their work in the same ways as everyone else," Greenblatt says.

Chaiken says she has heard anecdotally that men start out watching the show with their wives or girlfriends for the titillation factor but stick with it because of the melodrama (and the sexy cast). Yahoo! noted in its report that women generated about 85 percent of the online traffic on "L Word."

Chaiken, a former TV executive turned screenwriter, recalls pitching Showtime on a lesbian ensemble drama series more than five years ago, long before "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" became a mainstream hit and before CBS Corp.-owned pay TV network took the leap with "Queer as Folk."

"Representation (on television) is so important to people," Chaiken says. "Lesbians have never had a show of our own before, so I understand all of the (fan) ranting and raving out there about it. Even more so than with other shows, the fans own this show. It's not my show; it's theirs."



QUEER CULTURE - «New language»
Nuances of gay identities reflected in new language 'Homosexual'

First, there was the term "homosexual," then "gay" and "lesbian," then the once taboo "dyke" and "queer."

Now, all bets are off.

With the universe of gender and sexual identities expanding, a gay youth culture emerging, acceptance of gays rising and label loyalty falling, the gay lexicon has exploded with scores of new words and blended phrases that delineate every conceivable stop on the identity spectrum -- at least for this week.

Someone who is "genderqueer," for example, views the gender options as more than just male and female or doesn't fit into the binary male-female system. A "trannydyke" is a transgender person (whose gender is different than the one assigned at birth) attracted to people with a more feminine gender, while a "pansexual" is attracted to people of multiple genders. A "boi" describes a boyish gay guy or a biological female with a male presentation; and "heteroflexible" refers to a straight person with a queer mind-set.

The list of terms -- which have hotly contested definitions -- goes on: "FTM" for female to male, "MTF" for male to female, "boydyke," "trannyboy," "trannyfag," "multigendered," "polygendered," "queerboi," "transboi," "transguy," "transman," "half-dyke," "bi-dyke," "stud," "stem," "trisexual," "omnisexual," and "multisexual."

"The language thing is tricky," said Thom Lynch, the director of the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center. "I feel sorry for straight people."

Click [continue] to read more.

Tricky, maybe, but also healthy and empowering, said Carolyn Laub, the director of the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, which links gay and lesbian student clubs in the state.

"We in society and in our generation are developing new understandings of sexual orientation and gender identities and what that means to us," she said. "We don't really have enough language to describe that; therefore, we have to create new words."

For those back in the linguistic dark ages still wondering what's wrong with "homosexual," the evolution of queer identity language has progressed something like this: "Homosexual" sounded pathological and clinical, so activists went about creating their own words, starting with "gay" and "lesbian." That was well and good, but terms like "dyke" and "queer" had an appealing spikiness and served double-duty by stripping the sting from words that had heretofore been considered unspeakably nasty.

The adjustment took time for some: As recently as 2002, visitors at the San Francisco community center routinely complained about a sign proudly pronouncing it "the queerest place on earth," Lynch said. But in the Bay Area, in the age of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," that sort of sensitivity is beginning to seem almost quaint. Even some straight people have adopted the word because they have gay parents or an affinity for gay culture.

These days, "queer" is especially handy because it's vague enough to encompass just about everyone. The word and its newfangled linguistic cousins have become indispensable as the transgender population in the Bay Area has grown exponentially -- into the tens of thousands, advocates say -- and sexual identities have become increasingly complicated.

"If you're not a man or woman, words like 'gay' or 'lesbian' don't fit you anymore," said Sam Davis, founder of United Genders of The Universe, a support group and speakers bureau. "The words from just a few years ago aren't adequate to talk about who we are, where we're coming from and who we like."

Dee Braur, a 17-year-old with a tuft of greenish hair, calls herself "half-dyke." "I'm bisexual but I lean more toward women than men," she said. Men, she added, annoy her.

"Trisexual" also works, she said with a snicker: "I'll try anything once and if I like it, I'll try it again and again and again."

Andy Duran, 19, said: "People are feeling like, what's the point of labeling? If I must label, let me create my own."

That said, Duran uses "queer" -- among others -- because "it's the one that leaves the most for discovery. ... It's not really limiting. I can date a woman or a man. I can date someone who's transgender or genderqueer."

Tiffany Solomon, who is 19 and technically a lesbian, is put off by the word "lesbian."

"I think of a shorthaired woman who wears flannel. It's bad to a degree, but it's something that becomes embedded when you're young and queer and look on TV and you only have stereotypes to go on," she said. She calls herself a "metrosexual" -- the word used to describe straight men who have a gay sensibility when it comes to fashion and grooming -- because she also identifies with gay male culture.

Justin, who is 19 and didn't want to use his last name because he's not out to his family as transgender, calls himself a "boi" -- with an "i" -- because he feels like a boy -- with a "y" -- but "I don't have the boy parts, as much I wish I did."

"I'm still learning the ropes of just being me," he added.

Lynn Breedlove, a musician and author, spent years as a "butch dyke," but nowadays, he prefers to interchange pronouns and, depending on his mood, goes back and forth between the old label and "trannyboy." "Because I'm like Peter Pan -- eternally youthful but I'm always played by a girl," Breedlove said. "It's more a faggy aesthetic thing. I don't want hair on my face and chest. Ooh, I don't want to be transman -- that sounds really furry."

While Breedlove is old enough to have an age complex -- he explained his refusal to divulge his age as a "rock star thing" -- a lot of the identity fluidity, name mania and word invention is bubbling up from the next generation of queer youth.

"Now that community resources are in place and public acceptance has increased, it's more feasible for adolescents to come out during adolescence," said Caitlin Ryan, a researcher at San Francisco State University who has studied lesbian, gay and bisexual youth. "What we're getting in the LGBT community is the power of youth. It's their expression and exuberance and energy and also their contribution to the culture."

It makes sense that youth, in particular, are coming up with new words and trying them on, considering that "identity development is one of the most important developmental tasks of adolescence," she said.

Growing acceptance of gays and lesbians has also encouraged idiosyncrasy, Ryan said. "Identities are very personal. That was much less true 20 years ago, when identity was more around community. Now that there's a community, a vibrant one with resources, there's more room for personal identity. Before, the tribe was so much more important," she said.

To further complicate matters, race and ethnicity affect who is using which words. Some people of color prefer the word "stud" to "butch," meaning a masculine-identified lesbian. Which makes someone who falls between a stud and a femme -- a more "feminine" lesbian -- a "stem."

And genderbending and genderqueerness aren't as prevalent among people of color, said Mateo Cruz, who's Latino and a staff member at the Pacific Center, Berkeley's LGBT center.

In these communities, "queer" and the terms it spawned have a reputation of being "white," so some shy away from them in favor of "same-gender-loving people" or "men who sleep with men," or -- among Spanish-speakers -- "homosexual," which is also a Spanish word.

"A lot of the stereotypes of what a 'queer' person is supposed to be, especially in mainstream media, is always a white person," said Solomon, who is African American. "A lot of issues people of color have with their families is their parents are saying, 'If you're gay, then you want to be white.' Because that's all they see. So yeah, 'queer' is not a word that a lot of people of color use."

No wonder Cruz sometimes grows frustrated when he leads discussions about appropriate language in anti-homophobia workshops. It can take an hour for his savviest students to list the "hundreds" of words they know for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Then the discussion about what the words mean, who can use them and whether they're polite, often drags on ad nauseam.

When Cruz's coding system -- circles, big X's and dotted lines to connote cool, uncool, and sometimes-cool terms -- inevitably breaks down, he throws up his hands.

"However people self-identify," he tells students, "we have to respect."

* Rona Marech, Chronicle Staff Writer (Sunday, February 8, 2004)


# Books: «What's The L?» - Kate Clinton
Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
As in "Liberal" "Left" and "Lesbian." A columnist for the Progressive and the Advocate, Clinton offers deft takes on politics and culture, believing in laughter's ability to "subvert authority and promote democracy." If not laugh-out-loud funny, Clinton lands lots of one-liners. Our attorney general was "J. Edgar Ashcroft"; our author is no "America Frister." Noting that only Dick Cheney had acknowledged that his daughter, Mary, is gay, Clinton observes, "His lovely wife, Lon Cheney, demurs on the dyke thing." She's savage toward those would retool gays into straights, and passionate about the gay Catholics in the group Dignity willing to take on the church. The book mixes new material with previously published columns, and a few pieces are explicitly personal, such as one on Clinton's 11 years of coming out, and one in which she stands amazed that a movie like Boys Don't Cry got made. Clinton, who also works as a comedian, has formed the Permanent Standing Committee to Impeach Bush, but her calling is clear from the mail-order minister's license she got to perform gay weddings: "Call me the Irreverend Kate Clinton." Done. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description
What the L? is a new collection of published and unpublished writings that showcases Kate Clinton’s gifts as one of the all-time favorite lesbian comics. Like Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell, Clinton is a nationally acclaimed quick-witted, laugh-out-loud funny comic whose hilarious takes on everything from gay marriage ("mad vow disease") and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, to gay Republicans and the War on Terrorism have earned her a devoted following. She has appeared on many television programs, including Good Morning America, Nightline, Entertainment Tonight, and writes monthly columns for Progressive and the Advocate.

Book: «What's The L?» - Kate Clinton


# Article: The L Word's Vanishing Bisexual
The L Word's Vanishing Bisexual

When Leisha Hailey, The L Word’s only openly lesbian actress, originally took on the role of bisexual journalist Alice Pieszecki, she expressed her commitment to portraying bisexuality with as much authenticity as she could. “I've learned a lot about [being bisexual],” she told PlanetOut.com before the series premiered in 2004. “It’s not something that happens to you on the way from being straight to gay, or anything you dabble in. There are very real bisexuals in the world, and that’s fun to explore and portray. I hope I’m doing it correctly.”

While Hailey may have developed a better understanding of bisexuality, the same cannot be said for L Word viewers. Alice has indeed had both male and female lovers, but there has been little attempt to situate her as bisexual beyond a few comments scattered throughout the series, and the only male lover Alice has had on the series was a "lesbian-identified man" named Lisa--who was clearly played more for laughs than anything else.

The show's other primary bisexual character, Jenny Schecter (Mia Kirshner), isn't giving bisexuals a good name, either. Between her betrayal of fiance Tim, increasing self-mutilation, and newly acquired habit of stripping at nasty straight bars, she isn't exactly a model bisexual--but she gets less and less bisexual as the series progresses anyway.

Viewers also casually learned in an flashback episode ("Looking Back") at the end of the first season that Tina (Laurel Holloman) is (probably) bisexual, when she mentioned that long-term partner Bette (Jennifer Beals) was the first and only woman she had been involved with. But this has yet to be explored any further.

The L Word’s representation of bisexuality reflects popular and sometimes opposing ideas about bisexuality. One belief--represented best on the series by Jenny--is that those who identify as bisexual are merely experimenting with their sexuality before they choose to identify as strictly heterosexual or homosexual, thus suggesting that a “bisexual” identity is at best a transitional identity, and at worst a false one.

The second is the belief that everyone has the potential to be attracted to people of either sex; in other words, everyone is at some level bisexual. This has been most clearly expressed by the character of Shane (Katherine Moennig), who stated in the second episode, “Sexuality is fluid, whether you’re gay or you’re straight or you’re bisexual, you just go with the flow.”

Third is the stereotype that bisexuals are sexually promiscuous or indecisive, with the added threat that a bisexual woman could, at any moment, leave her female lover for a man. While Alice is not promiscuous, she is framed by the other characters--particularly friend-turned-lover Dana (Erin Daniels)--as indecisive. In the pilot episode, Dana demands, “When are you gonna make up your mind between dick and pussy?” Alice responds, “Well, for your information, Dana, I am looking for the same qualities in a man as I am in a woman.”

In the second season episode “Labyrinth”, Alice, Dana, and Dana’s then-girlfriend, Tonya, are shopping at a sex-toy store when Alice is once again asked when she is going to decide whether she’s gay or straight. Tonya declares, "I don't understand you bisexuals! I mean, really, make up your minds already.” And Dana adds, “Make up your minds already.”

Though Dana’s uncertainty about Alice’s sexuality is in part explained by her character’s own uncertainties, as well as her developing sexual relationship with Alice, and Dana's aggressive attempts to make Alice "choose" are reflective of how many lesbians see bisexuality, the fact that Alice’s main opportunities to discuss bisexuality occur in defensive situations mean that bisexuality is almost always cast in a negative light.

In addition, as the series has developed, Alice’s interest in dating men has declined while her interest in women—particularly Dana—has taken center stage, underscoring the first assumption that bisexuality is simply a transitional phase. Of course, many bisexual women enter into serious relationships with other women as Alice has with Dana, and there's nothing unrealistic about this.

The problem is that none of the show's bisexual characters enter into serious relationships with men.

The "just a phase" belief is also supported by Jenny’s storylines. Soon after her affair with Marina, Jenny tells her visiting friend Annette, “I think I'm bisexual,” but her identity as a bisexual is short-lived. In the first episode of Season 2, her male lover, Gene, tells her in exasperation, “I'm sorry to break it to you, but you are a girl-loving, full-on lesbian!” Jenny doesn't refute this statement, just admonishes him, "I don't think that's for you to say."

Though Jenny and Alice both make subtle references to their bisexuality in the season 2 finale (“Lacuna”)—Alice says, “I follow the heart, not the anatomy”—there has been little action to support their talk.

Instead, as the series has developed, it appears that both Alice and Jenny are moving further and further away from bisexuality and toward an exclusively lesbian sexual orientation. Again, while this is representative of the experiences of many bisexual women, having all of the show's bisexual characters only date women offers a skewed picture of bisexuality--that it's just another word for "lesbian".

It’s clear that The L Word’s heart is in its lesbian storylines, and there’s nothing wrong with that--it’s even to be applauded, given the dearth of good lesbian characters on TV. But the show also promised to include bisexual women, and has so far failed to do more than pay them cursory attention.

With the January 8, 2006 debut of the third season of The L Word only weeks away, is the series poised to finally deliver on its promise to accurately and sensitively portray bisexuality?

Probably not. One of the most obvious ways The L Word could be more fully representative of bisexual experience would be to include a male lover for either Alice or Jenny--one who is not an object of ridicule. But writing in an opposite-sex relationship for either of these two characters is not likely to generate a lot of enthusiasm among the show’s lesbian fans, which suggests that bisexuals aren’t likely to get much screen time on The L Word in the future.

This points to the difficult situation the L Word writers find themselves in with regard to pleasing viewers: if they do give Alice or Jenny a serious boyfriend, many (lesbian) viewers will be unhappy; if they don't, many bisexual women will continue to feel poorly represented. It's a no-win situation.

There is rumor (potential spoiler warning) of Tina leaving Bette for a man she met at work in the third season, but even if this turns out be true, it will do little to counter any of the aforementioned stereotypes about bisexual women, and will in fact just anger viewers already starved for media images of lesbians in committed relationships.

Which means for now, television viewers are better off turning to America's Next Top Model or South of Nowhere to find realistic bisexual characters than The L Word.

* by Malinda Lo, December 19, 2005


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