Call Your Mom!

Boston

Boston (Photo credit: Bahman Farzad)

I found out about the bomb at the marathon because a friend posted a link about it on my Facebook page.  My parents are visiting the states from Barbados.  They’re in Boston right now where I was born and raised.  One of my best friends lives in Boston and does the kind of work that could bring him to the marathon. Another high-school friend from there is a photog and could be there covering the event.  I still have friends that could potentially be at work near Copley also.  Heck, I’d just been there for a gig on News Years Eve and walked around at a parade before heading to perform at the party (a now eerie memory).

An enlargeable relief map of Barbados

All of these people flashed into my head at once.  I called my parents first even though I was pretty sure they wouldn’t be anywhere near there. “Oh, we just got back from BJ’s,” my Mom’s voice assured me.  I sent a double text to two close friends, put a post on fb & then clicked around to check on some people.  Thanks to the power of social media, I knew all my people were alright in just a few short minutes.

It got me thinking though, were they not alright, I would have been a hot mess.  I don’t really like talking on the phone.  I’m a text-er. So, my Mom was recently giving me a hard time about calling so seldom.  I haven’t spoken to/visited one of those friends in a long time.  In New York, life is moving so fast.  I am moving so fast.  I am in love with almost everything I’m working on right now so I can get in the zone and stay there 12, 16 hours without pausing.

But yesterday served as a good reminder to me that I have to do better about connecting with my real life friends and family.  My heart goes out to everyone who was down there.  To even bear witness to something as awful as that has got to be painful.

Boston Skyline

Boston Skyline (Photo credit: brentdanley)

Why does it so often take some senseless tragedy for me to remember these things?

The moral of the blog (a note to self) is: Forget all the criticism about how the story is covered.  Who did what right and/or wrong, etc. etc. etc. and Call your Mom and everyone close to you as often as you can while you can!

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She’s been published in two anthologies: Pros(e) &  Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

April is National What Month?

Trigger Warning!  This is about sexual assault awareness month.  RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) is an amazing support resource.  Click here to link to their site and 24 hour hotlines.

English: A teal ribbon, which is an awareness ...

The month of April is national what month?  April is the awareness month of many things I wish we didn’t need to raise awareness about month.  This week is Street Harassment Awareness Week.  This month is National STI’s Education and Awareness Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month,  Mental Health Month, Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.  It is also the month that I was born in.  Last year I collaborated with Audacia Ray of Red Umbrella Project and co-curated a Red Umbrella Diary story telling night with the theme Survivors.  This was the first time I (and many of the speakers that night) spoke publicly about being a survivors of sexual abuse.  I gifted myself freedom from the silence for my birthday.  There were many reasons why I never wanted to talk about it out loud.  I least of all wanted to talk about it within the context of also having been a stripper.  It was a long journey for me to get to a place where I realized that there would be a whole lot more sex workers if sexual abuse was the cause.  Every TWO minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the US.

However, this year has shown us just how much awareness is still needed.  Watching the various news reports about the rape and sexual abuse cases (that actually made the news) hurt.  Seeing the reactions to the stories also hurt.  In one social media timeline discussion a female poster actually said “it was only fingers” (in reply to the guilty verdict found in the Steubenville Rape Case).  It’s as if having someone violate your body with “only fingers” makes sexual assault excusable.  Could she imagine this being done to her and shrugging it off?  What about to her daughter or son, niece or nephew?  Let us not forget males can also be victims of sexual abuse.  I tried without being able to adequately explain to a partner, once, why I didn’t tell.  Reactions like this are a part of it.  There is still very much a way in which the victims of sexual assault are blamed.  The victim is made to feel responsible in some way shape or form.  There was alcohol involved, she was dressed to skimpy, she willingly was alone with him/them, etc.

Among more than 1,400 adult females, childhood...

The rape culture we exist in insists on having victims of sexual abuse believe it is their fault.  In some way, shape or form, the victim is often shamed into silence.  This silence stunts the journey towards healing and surviving.  I wish I could scream it loud enough for even unborn children to hear:

IT COULD NEVER, EVER, EVER BE YOUR FAULT!!!

Would I could be in the mindset of my now, yet another year older self, comforting and supporting my then unknowing younger self.  Tell.  Report it.  Break the silence until you get support.  It’s not so easy to be that strong when you are sexually violated.  It’s even harder when you are young.  It remains a battle in our society to find the strength to do so.  I cannot say/write it better than Melissa Harris-Perry.  See/hear Melissa Harris-Perry’s words here.

April is also National Poetry Month so, I leave you with this message from an amazing poet, Staceyann Chin:

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ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque & been published in 3 anthologies:  Pros(e)Prose & Lore 2,  &  Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing. 

Female Empowerment

English: This barnstar is sugested for human s...

When I was an undergrad I became a Sexual Health Advocate.  Honestly, I think this is where my interest in helping people talk freely about sexual topics began.  We were put through training and sent off on campus to do various workshops with different groups of fellow students.  It’s there that I met Amy Jo Goddard.  I secretly had a crush on her and her girlfriend at the time.  I don’t know that I ever told her that.  Hey, Amy Jo, if you’re reading out there, yes, it’s true :-).  I got to lead workshops about safer sex, sex toys, contraceptive options and I even owned my own plastic speculum which I used in workshops about GYN exam related topics.  We gave people tools to use when communicating about sexual topics with new partners.  We taught  facts and stigmas around STI’s.  I even got to teach people how to put a condom on with no hands.  Yes, I’ve been talking about sex with strangers for a while now.

I wasn’t studying anything having to do with human sexuality.  I just was very interested in freeing myself from a very strict up bringing & healing as a sexual abuse survivor.  I was fascinated by the fact that so many people seemed uncomfortable talking about sexual topics.  Volunteering and community service was at the core of who I was.  This was a perfect fuse of all these things.  Amy Jo however was actually studying Human Sexuality.  “How cool was that!” I thought.

AJG-Banner001

I had the opportunity to work with her in a play she wrote, produced and directed called Vulvalution.  It is one of my favorite projects to date because I got to play a very butch character named Blue, *b-boy stance* ;-).  I think it was around that time that she  had a book called Lesbian Sex for Men coming out.  We lost touch soon after that I believe.  Then the Facebooks happened and re-connection happened and lo and behold she was a full-blown sex educating star-uh!  She’s even been endorsed by Justin  “Bringing Sexy Back” Timberlake.  Whaaaaat?!?!  Needless to say, this is a totally biased plug but a totally honest evaluation:  Amy Jo Goddard is doing the dern thang.

She has a free class coming up April 3rd at 8pm EST:

Coming Home to Your Sexual Self… When You Didn’t Know You Had Left

Free Call on Wednesday, April 3rd with Amy Jo Goddard, Sexual Empowerment Coach
Register here.

It can happen so easily — when sex falls to the bottom of the priority list, when the relationship plateaus, when you look in the mirror and can’t remember when the last time was you had amazing sex, powerful orgasms, deep intimacy, and truly satisfying pleasure.

Or when something happens with a partner and you feel knocked off your center, disconnected from your sexual confidence and power.

Could this be you right now? Is it possible that you’ve left yourself somewhere along the way… perhaps without realizing it?

My friend and colleague Amy Jo is a sexual empowerment coach who does amazing work with women and couples on their sexuality and relationships. And she’s offering a free 75-minute call, no strings attached, for people who feel like they’ve gotten off track sexually and want to find their way back home to a place of radical self-love, authenticity, and openness to all the pleasure, abundance and rockin’ great sex that life has to offer. It’s called “Coming Home to Your Sexual Self… When You Didn’t Know You Left.”

What a great topic!  To get on the list for this free call, go here. Come home, beautiful! It’s time!

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Vibrator Review 2 – Lelo INA 2

INA 2 Lelo

Guess what?  I got another sex toy to review from The Toy Closet.  I was excited to do my homework, but I had to get ready to go to a show.  One thing that was especially interesting about this toy is that it’s ReChArGeAbLe!  😀  I got home from the show.  I opened the package and looked at the box.  I thought it was so pretty, so, so pretty.  And it was my favorite color, purple.  Yep, I was biased from the start!  What I did not do was plug it in to charge before I left for the show.  Which was fine because I was tired and wanted to get to bed anyway *side eye*…  *Sigh*.  I plugged it in.

While it was charging, I checked out what was in the box.  A carrying case, lube (glycerine & paraben free), a warranty and an instruction manual were in the box.  A charger was, of course, in there as well.  I promise, I have never before thought about registering a toy.  Now I have.  There was a product registration card.  I also, don’t typically use toys with penetration.  I had to wait until the following night before I  had time to test it out.

IMG421

For the sake of research, I pushed through, so to speak.  I was curious about that shape.   There are 8 vibration settings as well as intensity control.  Is this the “luxury vehicle” of sex toys?  I can say that whether you do use penetration or not, it is a fun toy to have.  It’s like a sex toy, video game controller and you are in the command center.  You know, in a sexy time kind of way.  Yes, it is fully water proof as well.  Perhaps, one of you could test it out in water and let me know how it was?  In the bath, perhaps?  I always think that fully water proof  is a great option, especially if you take showers with your partner.  I don’t need details: a yay or nay will do!!!

The battery life seems to be excellent.  I haven’t charged it for days and have been able to use, I mean, test it out a time or two or three or…  Thumbs up to the Lelo.

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Guess what else?  The Toy Closet will be available at the Brown Girls Burlesque “She’s A-Shake-A-Ning” show in Phili, Washington DC & New York City this weekend Mar 21st – 23rd.  If we won’t be in your city Toy Closet can be reached 24/7 online.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Year in Review 2012

file9431235020845Welcome to Lucky 2013!

I don’t know about you but at the end of every year I think “Wow, that went fast!”  What did I do in 2012…  In the effort to do things differently and be kinder to myself, I decided to blog a personal year in review 2012 .  Then I thought well good.  That’s done.  But should it be shared in a blog?  I got all in my head about it:  who the heck besides you and your mom cares?

So, I decided that I would simply go ahead and do it and invite all of you to do the same for yourselves.  Forget about what didn’t happen in 2012.  Lucky 2013 is upon us.  What are we going to go after this year?  No resolutions for me to share.  I will not be making any resolutions this year like last year.  I do have goals that I have decided to share with only myself and my absolute 300% supporters.

Big THANKS to everyone who I worked with this year.  You all made it a very exciting ride!  I appreciate every interaction.  Because very little is accomplished as a lone island.

What I did do in 2012:

Performed in my first burlesque festival – The 10th Annual New York Burlesque Festival.

Voted Audience Favorite at the Bowery Burlesque Pageant.

Nominated for Best Burlesque Performer at the Glam Awards.

Will be heading off to perform in the first annual Minneapolis Burlesque Festival at the end of the month.

I went to my very first Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend to watch and be a volunteer escort to Legend Jean Idelle and have subsequently been involved in a Burlesque Legend’s Calendar and tribute show at the new Slipper Room.  The proceeds from this project will be used to help our burlesque legend’s get back to BHOF this year.

I was blessed with the opportunity to teach Sensual Dance & Booty”twerk”aerobics all over the country including a few universities.

Traveling to perform was one of my favorite blessings in 2012 which I did solo, with my Brown Girls Burlesque sisters, Sweet Spot (Sabrina Gilbert & Ainsely Burrows’ erotic poetry event) and Women, Sex & Desire (Gesel Mason’s modern dance conversation piece).

Not only did I reach my one year Blogaversary here on WordPress in 2012 but was humbled by the fact that 29,000 visitors came by to check it out.

My writing was published in Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com & 21stCenturyBurlesque.com.  Book wise, I was published in Audacia Ray’s  Red Umbrella Project’s 2nd publication Pros(e) which came out of an 8 week Becoming Writers workshop taught by Melissa Petro.  Contracts were mailed in to be included in David Henry Sterry’s upcoming anthology Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks which is the sequel to the New York Times best seller  Hos, Hookers, Call Girls & Rent Boys.

Directed by Mimi McGurl, the solo theater piece which jumped off this entire creative project called Essence Revealed was premiered at the DC Black Theater Festival.

Looking at what we did do often times puts what didn’t get done into a better perspective.  What did you get up to in 2012?  We have a brand new 2013 to complete more.  Happy Lucky 2013!

reveal

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

When The Right Words Cannot Be Found…

Source: oprah.com via Essence on Pinterest

ESSENCE REVEALED – Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

Intimacy in Relationships

Hug

This week the slowdown continues.  The dismay of those hit hard by Sandy continues.  There are no words.  Yet, there is an intimacy in relationships that has emerged in different ways.  Parts of New York  look untouched.  Others look like a literal 50 shades of grey.  It’s cold and snowing outside tonight.  Many are without heat or electricity.  Too many are without homes to return to.  Yet, people connected, often with strangers.  New Yorkers showed up in droves to volunteer.  So much so that at some sites, there were calls for more resources and less volunteers.  Shared info via the web which could then be shared word of mouth or via the phone to those without connection.

Red sofa

Other people opened their homes.  My apartment is below someone I’ve known since I was 18.  She is one of my longest friends, yet we can go weeks without seeing each other.  She opened her apartment and it became a safe haven.  I spent a great deal of the storm up there.  We spent time together.  We talked to each other.  We shared music, online videos and stories with each other.  We cooked for each other.  There were several moments of joking and making each other laugh.  Other people came by to warm up, get online or simply break up the cabin fever from being wherever Sandy had landed them.  It was really nice to have true human connection between the anxious checking of the news reports.

There were moments over the days when we all tuned in to doing our own thing. This one watching some streaming program or other.  That one listening to music and social media surfing.  Another one on the phone.  Someone drawing.  Me eating Almond Joys.  Yet, we were all together.  Because time had been spent fully engaging with one another, the moments of shift to individual activity didn’t feel like being ignored.  How much time do we take these days to fully engage each other? I can admit this was the first time in a long time I relaxed into not having a busy, tightly booked schedule.  I gave myself the permission to not do anything productive.  I even had some really fun e-mail exchanges with friends and had time to click on links before I reply (yes, it’s the little things sometimes that hold the most weight).  I gave myself permission to take care of myself.  I wasn’t feeling well but hadn’t really slowed down enough to do true self-care.  I gave myself permission to do nothing but care for myself and the people who were around me.  For example, I was bartender, chef, jester, listening ear, crafting buddy, rehearsal mate and allowed the same to be done for me.

Gnocchi Bowl

I’ve had constant questions swirling around in my head.  This Presidential campaign alone showed me in Technicolor how much time we spend telling other people that what THEY believe is wrong and what WE think is correct.  How often do we take the time to be present and really connect?  No cell phone, no laptop, no technology, just being a focused presence for one another.  How often do we really have conversations?  Are we able to be friends who listen and offer support as opposed to criticism?  Can we hear an opinion that is the polar opposite of ours and simply hear it without feeling the need to defend our own opinions?  Are there times where we exchange what we know to help someone else get where they want to go with no strings attached, expecting nothing in return?  Are we able to really hear when loved ones tell us what they need?  Do we even bother to ask, “How can I support you?”  How can we make our connections romantically, with friends, co-workers or otherwise more intimate?

questions to me

These past few weeks have me savoring the value of truly being present with each other.