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History in short installments

The 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles insurrection is being observed this week in L.A., and to a lesser extent, elsewhere. I was living in another state when the insurrection occurred 20 years ago, but felt tied to the events through a relative living close to the action and through a sense of connection to my hometown. This week, I decided to relive the events by following @RealTimeLARiots on Twitter.

Tweets show the city in crisis

@RealTimeLARiots is published by the local NBC station in Los Angeles. According to the announcement on the NBC-LA page, "Each @RealTimeLARiots tweet corresponds to the actual date and time (sometimes down to the minute) of each major event as it unfolded back in 1992." This reminded me of a similar effort I noted a few weeks previous, the History channel's live-tweeting of the Titanic Voyage at @TitanicRealTime on the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking.

Both the History Channel and NBC-LA used the term "live-tweeting" to describe their efforts, but it's not really an accurate description of either account. What they're doing is more like a dramatic reconstruction in real-time. The spontaneity of a live event is missing, since the events on which individual tweets are based have already occurred.

Although missing the live component, the serial dramas presented in @RealTimeLARiots and @TitanicRealTime nonetheless have the power to spark new emotions as people on Twitter remember, learn about and share the events of the past. In the case of @TitanicRealTime, some younger Followers discovered for the first time that the story of the Titanic was real, rather than fictional. I haven't seen any confirmed instances of people confusing @RealTimeLARiots with the present-day, although that could emerge still.

To kick off @RealTimeLARiots, NBC-LA asked, "What if Twitter existed in 1992? How would social media help tell the story of Rodney King and the Los Angeles Riots?" Which gets it exactly wrong, because although @RealTimeLARiots can reconstruct the events of 20 years ago, the one thing it cannot do is tell the events of yesteryear as if Twitter existed back then. Reading the recreation of events presented on @RealTimeLARiots is in a way similar to watching an old movie on Blu-ray. The events are being remastered, not remade.

The news experience on Twitter is cacophonous, and never more so than when news is breaking. No one can say how Twitter's chorus of voices might have shaped the L.A. insurrection, even as it narrated its progress. Much has been written about how Twitter enables activism; it is also proving to be a capable tool during emergencies. The hashtag #SMEM, which stands for Social Media for Emergency Management, tracks some of the new uses of Twitter during emergency situations.

The L.A. insurrection might have unfolded differently, as participants shared information online; it also might have been managed differently, with citizens, first responders, law enforcement and military using Twitter to navigate the crisis.

Despite their limitations, @RealTimeLARiots and @TitanicRealTime are successful examples of new media serial entertainment or edutainment. Only time will tell if their popularity or the technology that supports them will last.

The first time I encountered the idea of the multiverse was reading a Flash comic book. I was a kid in school and a recent graduate to superhero comics, which were more challenging reading than the Harvey and Archie comics that I was used to. It was also my first step away from the Batman and Superman comic books I was already reading, which were easier to read because they featured characters that were familiar to me from television.

Cover of The Flash #237I had been attracted to this particular Flash comic by it dramatic cover, featuring contrasting suits worn by the Flash and the Reverse-Flash, also known as Professor Zoom. Although people often look down on comics as simple reading material, they do not always make for easy reading. In this case, I had jumped into a serial story in progress, with characters I was not familiar with and a complex plot dealing with time-travel.

Although aspects of The Flash were difficult for me to comprehend, I stuck with the comic series because the characters were compelling, especially the villainous Professor Zoom. The art added a tremendous amount to my understanding of the plot. In fact, at that age I'm not sure I would have grasped the idea of parallel worlds or branching realities without illustrations of Earth-One and Earth-Two. Editorial asides filled me in on back story that I had missed. The comics format also allowed me to flip comfortably back and forth through pages and issues, which helped me keep track of the story as it wove through time and across worlds.

Skip ahead to the present day, where I'm following a story of multiple worlds on the television show, Fringe. I want to say that it's the most complicated multiverse story I've been exposed to, but that's probably not true--I think DC's Infinite Crisis and the year-long 52 saga probably take that title. Fringe is, nonetheless, an extremely intricate story of multiple worlds. (In the season two finale, Fringe acknowledged a debt to DC comics and its multiverse mythos.)

This season, several of the main actors on Fringe, including Anna Torv, John Noble and Jasika Nicole, play as many as four different versions of themselves. Although there are sometimes visual indicators to distinguish among versions--for example, one Olivia is blonde while another is redhead--the burden is on the actors to show their characters' differences. The cast does an incredible job making us believe in their characters' lives across multiple worlds.

Unfortunately, the broadcast television format is not always supportive of Fringe's complex storyline. Long season and mid-season breaks make it difficult to keep track of past and present in the show's multiple universes. While earlier seasons were light on commercials, more commercials in the current season mean less time to explain the action and flesh out story arcs. In an interview, series creator J.J. Abrams claims Fringe was intended to be a serialized show, but that "we were instructed by the network, at the beginning of Season 3, to stop that." (Note: Corrected based on commenter input.)

While part of creating a successfully TV series involves working within the commercial demands of the medium, I can't help but feel that the power of "Fringe's" multiverse storytelling is being lost to narrow programming requirements. I hope Fringe gets renewed for a fifth season, but I hope it also receives license to develop the serialized storytelling that it's multiverse drama needs, and which have made the show such a standout in past seasons.

The 1% meets the one true heir

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There is a right way to have a cold. In the U.S., we are encouraged to think the best way to be sick is to keep on working. As a result of this indoctrination, I'd forgotten how to be sick correctly until just yesterday, when the need to take a second round of antibiotics provoked me to get some rest.

So it was that on a gloomy, rainy day--the closest approximation to winter that we have in L.A.--I sat down in a comfy chair, in the middle of the day, wearing my flannel pajamas and watched Masterpiece Theater Classic on PBS video. If you have to be sick (and apparently I did), this is the right way to do it.

I'm a longtime fan of Masterpiece Theater, so no one had to convince me to watch the current series, Downton Abbey, the second seaons of which is now showing in the U.S. I fit the profile of the bookish, tea-drinking Anglophile that I imagine constitutes the Masterpiece Theater Classic's typical audience. I'd read, however, that "Downton Abbey" was attracting a wider and much younger audience than is usual for the PBS series.

My favorite charcter, Mrs. Patmore In fact, this Downton Abbey mania has prompted some cultural critics to speculate about why the show is appealing to younger Americans. Some say Americans have latched on to the series because they are mesmerized by its depiction of extreme wealth. Others claim Downton Abbey offers a vision of a more stable class structure that is reassuring to Americans in these uncertain economic times.

I admit I had been puzzled as to why "Downton Abbey" would strike a chord with a youthful American audience, and I wasn't convinced by any of the explanations being given. But when I cozied up in my arm chair, tissue box to one side, to watch my old favorite, Masterpiece Theater, it hit me. There's nothing particularly different or distinguished about "Downton Abbey"; "Masterpiece Theater" is the same as ever. It's the change in the American people's interests and attitudes that have made "Masterpiece Theater Classic" popular again.

"Masterpiece Theater" is, at heart, one story, one long series playing on a handful of themes: the charms and constraints of village life, the difficulty of maintaining human relationships during wartime, and--centrally--the drama of inheritance. This is why I found turning to "Masterpiece Theater" during my cold so reassuring. Once the familiar theme song plays, I know that despite varying settings, periods and manners, I will be treated to the theatrics of primogeniture run amok.

From "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" to "I, Claudius" to today's "Downton Abbey," the core drama is about who inherits. Many of "Masterpiece Theater's" series are drawn from English literature, in which the inheritance plot is a standard storyline. Though there are variations, the inheritance plot usually revolves around an older and younger brother vying to inherit, often leading to violence. In "Downton Abbey", the male heir goes missing in the first episode, throwing the household into a state of anxiety from which it has--to date, at least--not recovered.

There are stock characters in an inheritance plot, which we see in "Downton Abbey." Often there is a schemer, who tries to arrange the inheritance to his or her liking. The Lady Dowager Countess of Grantham fulfills this role nicely, though it rotates to others both upstairs and downstairs. Visting the family are cash-poor relatives who may be eligable to inherit, represented by Matthew Crawley and his mother, Isobel. Finally, we have sympathetic characters who appear ineligible to inherit, which includes all three Grantham daughters, but primarily Lady Mary.

Now many years into a financial depression, the American viewing audience is in a prime position to emphathize with the disinherited. There is growing intergenerational conflict, stemming from disparities in income and expectations for the future, as well as from pressures brought on by multigenerational living arrangements. Americans old and young--but especially young--are concerned about what one generation will leave to another.

The Downton Abbey household presents Americans with a mirror of their own pressing anxieties about inheritance. The winner-take-all dynamics of the American economy are perfectly reflected in the family's struggle to determine who inherits Downton Abbey and all that goes with it. Of course, the show is also a pleasing distraction from the present. I know I'd much rather worry about whether the estate will wind up with Lady Mary than worry about whether there will be any potable water for the next generation of Americans to drink.

Recently the Cute Little Red Headed Girlfriend and I went to the Autry Center for the first of four programs on the history of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in the West. The first program in the Autry's OutWest series was a panel discussion revolving around the movie Brokeback Mountain, called "Whatever Happened to Ennis Del Mar?"

One shirt covers anotherIn addition to the panel discussion and reception, attendees were invited to view the shirts featured in the final moments of Brokeback Mountain, currently on temporary exhibit as part of the museum's extensive movie costume collection. You can see the shirts in the snapshot shown at left.

During the panel introduction, members of two groups in the crowded auditorium were asked to stand: representatives of the International Gay Rodeo Association and "the Brokies" (like Trekkies, but for Brokeback Mountain), who had flown in for the occasion. I knew the movie had a fan base, but I hadn't realized until that afternoon how ardent it was.

The panel discussion ranged over a variety of topics, including whether Brokeback Mountain could be considered a gay film or a Western, the movie's representation of male friendship and masculinity, and the film's reception in the U.S. Panelist Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio, read his original published review of the film as well as his scathing post-Oscars commentary on Brokeback Mountain losing Best Picture to the movie Crash.

As a Westerner myself, I have a longstanding personal interest in the history of the U.S. West. But I was also drawn the Autry Center's OutWest series because of some documentary footage on gay and lesbian elders that I saw many years ago that has stuck in my mind ever since. In first person interviews, gay and lesbians in their 80s and 90s discussed their lives on film. One of the men discussed his life as a cowboy, describing how he moved west to escape the heterosexual expectations placed on him by family and society.

Although he was seeking a life of solitude, once this man arrived in the West he realized there were others like him who had left home for similar reasons. When I heard this story, there was something startlingly obvious about it that struck me. I think part of what made Brokeback Mountain such a phenomena is that it brings to the surface this hidden yet in some ways plainly evident history of gays and lesbians seeking freedom in the West.

According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times about the Autry's OutWest series, the next program will focus on a female stagecoach driver who lived her life as a man.

Fringe Fiction

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When I first started reading fan fiction many years ago (invariably lesbian fan fiction), I mostly found stories at websites dedicated to a single TV series, either Xena: Warrior Princess or Star Trek: Voyager. Only a few sites I went to hosted fan fiction for multiple TV series; back then a group fanfic site might cover half a dozen TV series at most.

About a year ago I discovered FanFiction.net, an aggregator site for fan fiction sourced from TV, film, literature, comics, plays and anything else the community takes an interest in. I can lose hours browsing FanFiction.net. The site has many helpful filters, such as story language, length, genre and content ratings, to assist readers in finding the type of fan fiction she or he prefers.

I'm fascinated by many of the highly specialized fan fiction groups. For example, I was intrigued to discover a quantity of stories revolving around the Bert/Mary Poppins relationship in the movie Mary Poppins. It had never occurred to me that there was more to say on the subject. However, a glance at FanFiction.net shows that a number of dedicated movie watchers feel otherwise.

Over the years I've read volumes upon volumes upon tomes of fan fiction based on Xena and Voyager. Much of it is long, around the length of a short novel. The best of this longer fan fiction succeeds in creating a world or a universe in depth. Some examples of this type of writing from Xena uber fan fiction include In the Blood of the Greeks written by my friend MaryD, or Tiopa Ki Lakota, by D. Jordan Redhawk.

Nowadays, fan fiction writers and readers seem to prefer a very short fiction format. Perhaps it's not surprising since many forms of communication and creative work seem to be getting shorter. Today, fanfic writers jot down a few paragraphs and call it a story. There's more breadth in fan fiction today because writers can dash off a quick story based on one set of characters, then move on to the next fictional world that interests them.

Patty on the couch with her dog and Ellen

Despite the breadth of material at FanFiction.net, it's still possible to find original material that has been overlooked by fan fiction writers. For example, earlier this year I went looking for Damages fan fiction and came up empty-handed. I was shocked, not only because Damages has such a dedicated audience, but because the love/hate relationship between Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) and Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) seems so ripe for slash fiction.

After many failed searches, I eventually found an example of Patty/Ellen femslash ("I've got Patty right where I want her"), but on a livejournal site, rather than at FanFiction.net. My time spent searching at FanFiction.net was not wasted, however. While I was browsing the "D" series at FanFiction.net, I happened to look over at the "F"s and discovered Fringe femslash.

Olivia confronts Nina

Fringe is my favorite new show of last season, and I'm so happy it's going to have a season two. There are many things I love about it, like the fact that it runs with almost no ads; the character Walter Bishop, the LSD-loving mad scientist; out actor Jasika Nicole, who plays Astrid; and the fact that the most evil place in the universe, Walter's lab, is located at Harvard.

But of all the fringey things there are to gush over, the most wonderful is Anna Torv, who plays the show's lead character, Olivia Dunham. In the last year, Olivia and Torv have become very popular with the sapphic set. There's a certain brutality to Olivia's outlook that I think makes her appealing to dykes. She's a no-nonsense kind of gal, and we like that.

As the show has progressed, Olivia's toughness has been played up through a decidedly unfrilly wardrobe and increasingly intense action and fight scenes. There was also an episode where, through various plot contrivances, Olivia piggybacks onto a man's consciousness and in that state sleeps with a woman.

Olivia had a male romantic interest early in the show, but he was quickly dispensed with. Although Peter Bishop is the most obvious heterosexual object for Olivia, the show has kept her unattached. Instead, Olivia lives with her sister and her niece. However, if you watch the scenes between this little family carefully, you'll notice they play very well as scenes of same-sex domestic life. I know that sounds gross, but there's nothing sexual going on between the two sisters--it's just an undercurrent that makes Olivia's home life seem a bit more "alternative."

The fan fiction I came across at FanFiction.net explores Olivia's relationship with Nina Sharp (played by Blair Brown), an older woman working as Senior Vice President of Research and Development at the mysterious Massive Dynamic corporation. Like Patty Hewes on Damages, it's never entirely clear whether Nina Sharp is friend or foe. It's that tension between Nina and Olivia that serves up great material for fan fiction. That, and Nina's robotic hand.

"Fascination", written by Fembuck, examines Olivia's ambivalent feelings towards Nina and the corporation she governs. Olivia's anxieties are expressed through her response to Nina's prosthetic hand, which has been engineered by Massive Dynamic.

'Is it the hand?' Nina asked; her voice soft and curious as her eyes dropped to look at her fingers which were still resting lightly on Olivia's arm.

The hand was a prosthetic, a very realistic looking, extremely sophisticated bio-organic prosthetic, but a prosthetic nonetheless. In one of their first meetings together Nina had removed the malleable, extremely convincing flesh covering and showed her the mechanics that lived underneath.

In the second installment of the story series, "Worry in the Morning," Olivia compulsively seeks out Nina once again, as she often does on the TV show. This time the results are more satisfactory for both parties.

Fringe is adding a new female character into the mix in the second season. Although I like the Nina/Olivia combination, Nina's presence on the show is sporadic. Whoever the new regular is, I hope she and Olivia have good chemistry.

This past weekend, the Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I made the now annual trip to the Roxy in West Hollywood to see Lucy Lawless perform in concert. Owing to personal circumstances, we knew we could only attend one night. So we chose Saturday and decided to go all out: we wanted front row standing-room seats and we were ready to do whatever it took to get them.

What it took to get them turned out to be seven hours of waiting, including six hours baking in the sun on the utterly filthy yet justly legendary Sunset Strip. Once the Girlfriend and I realized we were engaged in an urban version of camping, we immediately became more comfortable with our situation, since camping is of course an in-born lesbian skill.

I spent my time on the Strip socializing and occasionally Twittering on my mobile phone. That morning, I had used Twitter to poll my fellow Lucy fans on what shoes I should wear to the concert. They voted for the glam-inspired silver-spray-painted Doc Martens, which can be seen resting on the pavement outside the Roxy in the photo below.

This year's Roxy show was to be different from prior years in that we were promised a stage show, rather than a musical concert. Pleasuredome is based on an unproduced musical co-written by Xena creator Rob Tapert. The script is set during the AIDS crisis and chronicles some of the highs and lows of that period. To create her stage show, Lucy developed a plot around one of the lesbian characters, named Sappho, contained within the original script.

As soon as we entered the Roxy, the Girlfriend and I rushed to take up standing positions in the front row, at the very edge of the stage. We then settled in to defend our territory until the show began. A mix of tunes consisting of 70s disco--the unofficial classic soundtrack of all gay pride events--with a few odd ball hits, like Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" thrown in, played over the sound system. The mood was joyous and inclusive, especially when Sister Sledge's "We Are Family" came on, resulting in a group sing-along.

As the waiting continued, the sing-alongs became more boisterous and maudlin, especially when Celine Dion's ballad, "Power of Love," played over the loudspeakers. Swaying in sync to the music, the mostly lesbian crowd screeched their way through lines such as "'Cause I am your lady / And you are my man / Whenever you reach for me / I'll do all that I can." There was a drunken-Girl-Scout-camp-counselor-type vibe in the air that I'm sure brought back positive memories for many on hand.

Call to confession. The evening began with a short but funny set by stand-up comic Cat Crimins, back for her third opener at the Roxy. Not too long after Cat left the stage, a stern nun by the name of Sister Mary Catherine, bearing a striking resemblance to Cat Crimins, appeared in order to deliver a message of penitence to the audience.

"Sinners!" Sister Mary Catherine called in greeting. Zeroing in on one female audience member, Sister Mary Catherine asked pointedly, "Do you have a boyfriend?" When the audience member answered that she did not, Sister Mary Catherine tried to impress upon the large crowd of women the urgent need to find boyfriends. The nun humor went over like gangbusters and everyone appreciated the nod to Lucy's role as the Mother Superior in the forthcoming film Bitch Slap.

Finally, the curtain rose on Pleasuredome with an exuberantly campy rendition of the Gloria, which gestured to the religious themes that would continue throughout the evening. It also held out to fans the promise of a reprise of Lucy's rendition of Patti Smith's "Gloria," which Lucy had previously debuted at her London concert. In addition to the band, three women dressed in religious robes were present on stage, forming a chorus.

Lucy appears on stage in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit that brought to mind the sexualized school girls of Yuri anime and manga. Her hair dressed in pigtails and swinging a school bag, Lucy launches into the show's first song, Queen's "Somebody to Love." Mixing heartbreaking earnestness with a determined naughtiness, Lucy's character Sappho sings of her desire for worldly experience and, especially, the tellingly gender-neutral "somebody" to love.

As Sappho imagines the somebody who awaits her, her fingers reach for her own nipple, only to stop short and pluck away the school cardigan instead, revealing a white blouse worn in a saucy halter style. (The outfit was actually not that risque, as Lucy was wearing a full bodysuit underneath the schoolgirl outfit, which allowed for a later costume change.) Next Sappho's hand creeps down and fastens itself between her legs.

Suddenly, Sister Mary Catherine walks on stage, calling out in dismay, "Sappho Warrior Princess! What would your parents think?" Sappho's adolescent swagger wilts in the face of religious authority, providing a launch point for the next song, Nina Simone's "Go to Hell." Sister Mary Catherine remains for the song and gets well into the spirit of the thing, busting out some dance moves and joining in for the recurrent damning choruses of "Hell!"

Despite the humorous references to the trappings of Catholicism, I found the underlying message concerning Sappho's conflicted feelings to be quite serious. Over the many years I've been out as a lesbian, I've met gay people from a variety of faiths who have been tormented by the threat of their religious sect's version of hell. I've met Mormons worried about Outer Darkness, Baptists and Pentecostals who have undergone exorcism, and still others who have submitted themselves to the ex-gay movement in an effort to avoid eternal flame.


Even more disturbing are the many secular gays and lesbians who have spoken to me of their fears. How, in the middle of the night, despite their education or modern outlook or secularism or other mitigating factors, they will waken and hear a voice in their head that says it's all true: that they will go to hell for their sexuality. My own life has been decisively and negatively impacted by the Catholic Church in ways that have left me feeling helpless, even though my own relationship to the church is to say the least tenuous. And so, the central conflict in Pleasuredome, however comically presented, struck me as an extremely relevant one to Lucy's lesbian following.

With hellfire at her back, Sappho is introduced to the discotheque known as "The Pleasuredome," where she will be sorely tempted by the figure of Gloria (interchangeably called Laura) bearing a platter of cocaine. Sappho wasn't the only one struggling with temptation. I found it increasingly difficult to concentrate as Gloria emerged from the chorus, removed her robe and began to parade about the stage in electric blue hot pants and a flimsy halter. The other two singers, who had less developed roles, also removed their robes. One singer had such an ample and inviting bosom I found it necessary to discipline myself to not look at that corner of the stage unless she was singing solo, lest I become lost in reverie.

Laura "Needs Warning Label" Sperrazza. The Frankie Goes to Hollywood song "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" became the soundtrack for Sappho's dynamic seduction by Gloria/Laura. Now, I don't want to take anything away from Sperrazza's talent as a singer, or her considerable capabilities as a dancer, or for that matter, her acting prowess. But HOLY FUCK let's talk about this woman's body for a minute or three.

In this time of homogenized Hollywood breasts, Laura Sperrazza is indeed a potent reminder of just how much havoc one woman with a full A/small B cup can cause in a room. My best attempt to convey to you the effect Laura Sperrazza's body has is to say she is the kind of woman that might lead otherwise upstanding people to commit grave crimes.

I ran into several lesbian fans in the 24 hours after the Saturday show with a dazed and absent look in their eyes, like they'd been caught staring too long at the sun. A little probing on my part revealed they had simply been gazing at Laura's gyrating ass too long. Sadly, the essence of Laura Sperrazza is lost in photos. You really needed to be there to experience the fine crease of her hot pants, savor the plushy softness of her flesh, follow the bounce and sway of those little heart stickers on her nipples.

Sappho did not stand up long to the temptations offered by Gloria/Laura. A portion of the audience hooted and hollered with glee as Sappho bent to snort her first line of coke. Once the show was over, another portion of the audience claimed to be confused by many of the drug references in Pleasuredome. None of my jaded citydweller friends had any trouble deciphering the visual cues, which I found clever and concise.

The Big Plunge. The next songs in Pleasuredome revolved around Sappho's pursuit of Gloria and the establishment of their relationship. As Gloria/Laura exits the stage at the end of "Welcome to the Pleasuredome," an intrigued Sappho begins to sing the Eurythmics' "Who's That Girl?" This song, like almost all included in Pleasuredome, was a gay club hit in the early 80s. I remember this one well from when I first started whoring around going to lesbian and gay clubs in West Hollywood, back in the day.


Next came Cyndi Lauper's "She-Bop," re-imagined as a wild and raucous celebration of girl-on-girl sexuality. As she has occasionally done at previous concerts, Lucy changed the lyrics to suit her lesbian audience, switching out "blue boy magazine" for "blue girl magazine." Wearing a blindfold over her eyes in mockery of the blindness said to be caused by certain forms of sexuality, a toppish Sappho grabs hold of Gloria's hair and guides her in simulated oral sex.

Although the oral sex scene was sexy, it was also hilarious. I was struck by how Lucy is able to convey incredible sexiness and be extremely funny at the same time. Hers is the type of humor one can laugh out loud at, but somehow the laughter never defuses the sexuality present. It's a unique quality and I can't think of another female actor who can do that. The looks on Sappho's face as she was being serviced were priceless. From our position down front, it was like we were mainlining the juiciness of it all.

The chorus of "She-Bop" was punctuated by Sappho rhythmically spanking Gloria and, sexiest of all, several segments where Sappho played air guitar. I feel certain that when I get to dyke heaven, it will be filled with large panel screens playing a loop tape of Lucy Lawless on air guitar.

Then came Jet's "Be My Girl," in which Sappho woos and wins Gloria. By the end of the song, however, it is Gloria who appears the more dominant partner. In an intensity-filled segment, Sappho sits on her knees facing the audience while Gloria straddles her legs from behind, gripping Sappho's tie as if to rein her in while driving her with a riding crop as if in slow motion.

Some fans interpreted this scene as bondage or S&M. I took the meaning to be more psychological. But whether the pussy-whipping was literal or symbolic didn't really matter to the progression of the story. I enjoyed the ambiguity and multiple meanings inherent in the Pleasuredome staging generally. Whatever was lost in terms of narrative clarity only added to the interactivity of the theatrical performance.


Following the show, some fans complained about the content of this segment, calling it "pornographic." When I told the Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend about these responses, she replied, "They obviously haven't seen very much pornography, have they?" I thought she made a very good point. However, Pleasuredome does display some of the in-your-face sex radicalism that I associate with queer politics during the AIDS crisis. That's certainly not a bad thing from my perspective (I'm a devotee of shock aesthetics), but it's to be expected that it will alienate some people.

As far as I know, there's only been one musical that documents the AIDS era: Rent, which has been marred by accusations of plagiarism, among other criticisms. In a note dated 2/5/09 on her Official Fan Club page, Lucy states her interest in developing Pleasuredome further. Whether the show is scaled up or is repeated in its current form, it's one I would be eager to revisit. I value in particular its representation of the sexual adventurism that many urban-dwelling lesbians embraced at the very moment that the gay male community was forced to give up more libertine sex practices. It's also an interesting addition to the various Catholic-specific political and cultural protests regarding the Church's position on sexual orientation.

The Naked Soul. Having found love, Sappho revisits the meaning of faith through the R.E.M. song "Losing My Religion." But the move away from faith also signals a descent of sorts. Stripped down to a flesh-toned body stocking and under the blare of a strobe light, Sappho sings "White Lines" while she and Gloria doodle on her body with white paint, symbolizing further drug exploration.

The song "White Lines" proved a good showcase for the band, led by musical director and Xena composer Joe LoDuca, who played guitar. My one regret from the evening was that I didn't spend more time watching the band. I was aware of their presence because they were responsible for the flow of the performance, weaving a rich, seamless sound experience that left me rapt for the entire night. Besides being a great rock band, there was also an additional element of orchestration that raised the collection of songs to a level that merited the term "rock opera."

My favorite song from the show, "Gloria," was next. I was eager to see Lucy perform it, but I didn't expected her to deliver it with as much power and conviction as she did that night. It began with Sappho attempting to wipe the white paint from her body, only to leave dark greasy smudges in their place. Sappho stands there nearly naked, singing her heart out, while covered in what looks like mud or shit. Meanwhile, Gloria/Laura takes up pom-poms for a frenetic dance that reinforced the incantatory and hypnotic aspects of the song. It was completely mad and over-the-top and I just loved it to pieces.

The relationship between Sappho and Gloria deteriorates and doubts emerge in the Heaven 17 song, "Temptation." A sense of escalating crisis culminates in Soft Cell's song "Tainted Love." Although this was intended to express a moment of sadness and betrayal in the show, my reaction was led off track owing to the fact that this song--along with Pete Shelley's gay anthem "Homosapien"--always fills me with an immediate desire to shed my clothes. The dark, sexy musical arrangement and Lucy's suggestive delivery didn't help matters. Nonetheless, it was an excellent song choice in terms of plot development.

Redemption through Love. Forgiveness is asked for and extended in the duet "Power of Love," movingly delivered by Lucy and Laura Sperrazza. The song, which melds religious and romantic imagery in its lyrics, concluded with a dramatic bent-back kiss between Sappho and Gloria. Lucy's fans drew on years of pent-up enthusiasm as they cheered the kiss; meanwhile, many miles away, back at Lesbian HQ, a well-manicured hand picked up a sharpened pencil and deftly marked off one item on the collective "100 Things to See Before I Die" list.



The show ended with Hoobastank's "The Reason," further underlining the redemptive power of love in the painful journey toward one's personal truths and the acknowledgement of imperfection. I was pleased the show ended on a happy note for Sappho and Gloria, rather than an endpoint of spiritual decadence or heartbreak. For me, Pleasuredome seemed to last only an instant, and it was a show I could go back to see again and again.

She knows what girls like, she knows what girls want. I don't know if Lucy worked with her regular costumer on Pleasuredome or not. I often think of her costumer as a kind of Evil Mad Costumer occupying a basement lab/design studio where he tests out his creations on a group of test lesbians, all hooked up to the female lubricant-measuring plethysmographs used in various half-baked sexology studies. "Let's see what happens when I add silver studs to these chaps!" he cries out, a peal of maniacal laughter filling the room.

Lucy's outfit for her encore followed the existing pattern of costumes tweaked to create maximum pain impact on her core audience. Amid thunderous applause, Lucy strode on stage wearing men's trousers reminiscent of Marlene Dietrich, thick black suspenders and a skin-baring racerback camisole tank. To quote lesbian blogger Dorothy Surrenders, who has copiously documented lesbians' love of the tank top in her recurring feature, "Tank Top Tuesday," "Any woman wearing a tank top and suspenders automatically goes to the front of the crush line." Lucy's arms and torso were still smudged with black and white goo left over from when she'd been wearing the bodysuit. Her dirty and disheveled appearance combined with the menswear gave Lucy an appealing E.M. Forster-era rough trade look that made me want to reach for my wallet. Finally, just to add that little something extra that makes you lose your mind, Lucy topped off the look by removing her shoes so we could all sigh over her distinctive and adorable toes.

One of the musicians held his hands over his ears to block out the din of the audience while Lucy urged the overexcited crowd to calm down. As the opening to the fan-favorite "Hallelujah" began, the audience quickly became silent. According to information posted on her official website, Lucy was influenced by the Jeff Buckley version of "Hallelujah." Before writing this report, I assembled all the lyrics to the Pleasuredome songs (which you can download from here) and read up on some of them, especially those with multiple popular recordings. The Wikipedia article on "Hallelujah" was quite informative, providing a link out to a BBC article noting the many Biblical references in the lyrics and quoting Jeff Buckley as saying his rendition was about "the hallelujah of the orgasm." With its mixture of religiosity and sexuality, "Hallelujah" extended the themes presented earlier in Pleasuredome.

The final song was the 80s hit, David Bowie's romantic "Let's Dance." With colored lights swirling across the stage and a ceiling-mounted snow machine dispensing fake snow, the room took on a party-like atmosphere as Lucy sang and thanked the Pleasuredome cast. An evening with Lucy is always marked by a sense of fun and playfulness and "Let's Dance" captured that carefree spirit the fans enjoy so much.

After Lucy ran off stage for the last time, slapping the front-row fans' raised hands as she exited, we unglued ourselves from our positions at the edge of the stage and drifted among the crowd. Inevitably, we ran into more people we knew. And so the evening continued for us, outside of the Roxy now, but still in the company of fans, with thoughts of Lucy vivid in our hearts and minds.

Special thanks go to several of my fan buddies, Janna, Kathy and Van Lord, who let me use their photography in this report. Photo credits are as follows, numbered from top to bottom as they appear in this post: nos. 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 18, Janna; nos. 4, 10, 14, 15, 17, Kathy; nos. 5, 8, 9, 16, Van; nos. 1, 2, 3, 19, Teresa.

Consult the Oracle

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I've mentioned before my enthusiasm for Karmabanque Radio, a podcast conducted by my pals Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert. I'm thrilled to announce that Max and Stacy now have a new TV program on BBC World News called The Oracle.

On The Oracle, Max discusses current economic events with guests, while Stacy provides insights and presents statistical research to help frame the issues. In episode one, for instance, Stacy cites the "Cheech and Chong Index," which measures economic well-being based on the popularity of Cheech and Chong. At the end of each segment, Max calls upon the Oracle to help predict the answer to economic questions such as, "Are we in a recession or a depression?"

One of the ideas I liked from this first airing is the notion that low wages of U.S. workers helped create the current economic crisis. Richard Blustein, the alter ego of Yeast Radio's Madge Weinstein--another podcaster I love--also makes an appearance on the show. You can watch episode one of The Oracle in its entirety here.

Note to readers: At this concert, Lucy Lawless showed two short videos that featured her taking care of an abandoned baby squirrel. In introducing the second video, Lucy explained that squirrel mothers lick thier baby's genitals in order to encourage them to urinate, thus preventing health problems. In the second video, Lucy takes the squirrel in hand and proceeds to "wank him to pee." You can see the squirrel videos at Lucy's official website; they are referred to several times in this review.

The Cute-Little-Red-Headed-Girlfriend and I have returned from a weekend trip to San Francisco, where we attended Lucy Lawless's concert at the Herbst Theater, a fundraiser for REAF. Our adventure started last Friday, the day before the concert, when we slid on our Travelling Pants and prepared to meet the Xena Sisterhood (and a few brothers).

Leaving from Los Angeles International, we flew into San Francisco on Virgin America. Sitting down in the purple- and pink-accented plane interior, on a flight laden with queers, I felt like I had boarded the Homo Express for Homo Town. I relaxed as the Girlfriend tuned into a re-run of Battlestar Galactica on Virgin's nifty in-flight entertainment system.

After checking into our hotel, the Girlfriend and I went out for a brief walk, intending to orient ourselves to the city. We stopped for a few minutes near a busy street corner while I waited for Google Maps to download satellite data to my cell phone. Suddenly, a familiar face came into view a few steps in front of us. I raised my arm to point at the figure and said, "It's Michael Orland."

Then we noticed Orland's beautiful companion. Lucy had her head pulled down, her hair dangling around her face, presumably trying not to draw attention. Her outfit consisted of a light green t-shirt and jeans, and she appeared to be wearing her natural hair color and no makeup. We watched Michael and Lucy pass by, then turn and enter their hotel.

I recently saw an interesting BBC documentary called "Hotel California: LA from the Byrds to the Eagles." The documentary brought to light Linda Ronstadt's role as an under-credited force on the music scene of the '70s. I mention it because Lucy's look just then--the casual clothes, big eyes, soft strands of brunette hair pushed forward--brought to mind early images of Ronstadt.

Lucy crawls on the stage with squirrelThe following evening we showed up at the Herbst Theater, a staid, mid-size venue a few doors down from the San Francisco Opera House. Some fans wore what lesbians consider to be fancy dress, however, there were also a lot of Creation shirts on display. We took our seats in the second row, behind a line of three men and one woman who I think were associated either with REAF or the Herbst Theater.

The lights went down and Sharon Delaney's familiar voice came over the speakers to introduce Tig Notaro as the opening act. She did a funny improvisation on a seating mishap in the front row, which led her to visualize a large swing descending from the roof of the theater, on which t-shirted fans were seated, kicking their legs. As Tig concluded her set, the band began to take their places.

The theater stage was much larger than the club stages I've seen Lucy perform on, perhaps even twice as large. There was room for a grand piano for Michael Orland, and a new female band member, Christy Crowl on keyboards. As the band tore into "Tell Momma," Lucy bounded out in a smoke black sheath dress fringed with feathers at the bottom hem, matching long black gloves with feather trim, and open-toed, animal print stack heels.

Black sequins glittered around the dress's skin-revealing front neckline and racerback, while the dress body was composed of alternating bands of a matte stretch material and a more reflective material of the same color. The dress would often take on colors from the lights, creating effects similar to that of the catsuit Lucy wore in New York at the Canal Room.

Sometimes, it was possible to see a pattern of tightly placed rectangles in the dress, making it shine like armor. Of course, what was most significant about the dress was what it revealed. Lucy's bare legs were an imposing sight as she strode around the stage that evening. The muscles of Lucy's exposed back and shoulders undulated beneath her dress's back straps.

Streaks of dark color lent a richness to Lucy's hair, which fell in thick curls around her face and neck. Silvery eyeshadow complemented the reflectiveness of Lucy's dress and added to the impression of old Hollywood glamour given by her appearance.

Lucy dances facing squirrelLucy gave a terrific rendition of "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" filled with the energy and pure life force that makes her so entertaining to watch on stage. Early in the show, Lucy performed a striptease with her gloves, tugging at the long sleeves with her teeth to reveal her magnificantly proportioned hands. I'm hoping that when the time comes, L Word producer Ilene Chaiken offers us some lingering Bound style close-ups of those sexy beasts.

During a few songs fan videos were screened in the background while Lucy sang. Although I did find it disconcerting to be staring at videos when Lucy was live a few feet in front of me, the videos were excellent. Congratulations to those fans who contributed; you did a great job.

Lucy's decision to integrate fan culture into the performance seems indicative of a larger shift towards participatory formats within mainstream entertainment. Same goes for the geeky squirrel videos that were captured on Michael Orland's cell phone. I loved those squirrel videos. I could watch a whole channel of that. In fact, I would upgrade to HD for that kind of quality programming.

The improvements in Lucy's voice that I noted in my report on the Universal CityWalk concert were also evident in San Francisco. Lucy has a lovely voice at the high end, but I find the character and texture of her voice comes more from her lower range. This was particularly clear in her performances of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," "Hallelujah" and "River Deep Mountian High."

My favorite song of the night was "New and Beautiful." I feel like this song has crept up on me from behind. Lucy always does a spoken intro to this song where she asks the audience to "make it their own." The song has meant very different things to me on the occasions I've heard it, and I always find it tremendously moving.

Michael Orland was more relaxed on stage this time around, kidding and joking with Lucy from time to time. Backup singer Peggi Blu sounded great paired with a male backup and looked lovely in an all black ensemble. Ted Perlman, guitarist, did a fantastic job as usual and seemed thoroughly confused by all the applause fans directed at him. It was cute.

Some fans have said this was Lucy's best concert yet. I both agree and disagree with this appraisal. On the one hand, Lucy's vocal performances on songs like "River Deep Mountain High" and "Wide Awake" were the best to date. However, I thought overall the performance was an incremental improvement from the Universal CityWalk concert, which was more of an "OMG, WTF!?" improvement. More than anything, it raised my expectations for what comes next.

I'm not much of a stage door gal, so when the concert was over we went to the lobby to talk to friends. In time, we were kicked out into the street, where we continued our discussions with fans from England and other far-flung places. Finally, tiredness began to set in, and we said good-bye to our fellow Xenites with the parting words, "'Til January."

My thanks go to Sharon Delaney of Creation Entertainment for helping me out with missing details about Lucy's band.

This report was first published in slightly different form at AUSXIP. Thank you to MaryD for permission to use photos from her site in this post. Top photo by L. Boyles. Bottom photo by K.T. Jorgensen. Squirrel additions by me.

A neon guitar outside the Hard Rock CafeAt a time in which the price of nearly everything seems to be going up, Lucy Lawless fans were presented with a free outdoor concert at the Universal CityWalk, located in the studio-state of Universal City.

The Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend and I showed up at the concert several hours early, as is our custom, to take up a waiting position close to the stage. A barrier had been set up roughly eight feet back from center stage, and when we arrived, a single layer of Lucy's fans was already entrenched around it. We chose a position in the second "row," near the center, and settled in with many familiar faces.

For those unfamiliar with the CityWalk, it is an outdoor complex combining entertainment, shopping and dining. If you can imagine the architectural equivalent of a pinball machine playfield, you have grasped the essential experience of it. It is chaotic to navigate, dense with colorful facades, and filled with gargantuan neon objects.

CityWalk surprised me by being not just a good place to see a show, but a good place to wait for a show. It was easy to grab a snack and and go back to waiting, and there was a constant stream of activity to observe in every direction.

One of the bonuses of arriving early was getting to see Lucy and her band perform a soundcheck. While the band and the back up singers tweaked and tuned, the fans got to see Lucy onstage sporting her new, darker hair color and a ravishing blue gown.

Looking drop-dead gorgeous without makeup, Lucy stared back at us through her reflective shades and occasionally turned to her iPhone for a bout of texting (hey, aren't the fans supposed to be the nerds?). Lucy and the band performed a few songs all the way through, including "Superstar," which once again brought me close to tears (see earlier concert report).

Shortly after the sound check, a series of opening acts commenced, introduced by a Universal CityWalk Master of Ceremonies. Throughout the evening, this MC found it greatly entertaining to repeat the name "Lucy Lawless" at every chance so as to elicit squeals from Lucy's female fans. It became tiresomely Pavlovian after a while, but the MC continued, in his simple way, to enjoy it, and we continued to oblige him.

Lucy on the big screen where she belongsA Circus on Stilts was paraded out onto a separate stage, situated behind the fans. I was able to watch the act with the aid of a giant screen, which later carried Lucy's image. There were several such screens, positioned to provide a good view of the stage acts to various locations on the CityWalk, such as the terraced dining areas. The act concluded with an explosion of streamers that dispersed throughout the crowd.

Next, we were introduced to the opening band, called Paperback Hero. They were an amazingly decent, unsigned hard rock band. It cheered me to see that Los Angeles still offers casual opportunities to see a hard-working band on its way up. Lucy's fans listened to them appreciatively as the evening half-light darkened into night.

After the MC took some minutes to aggressively wrest as many screams as possible from the fans, Lucy finally entered on stage in a drapey knit two-tone dress and stack heel boots. The thin knit swung easily as Lucy danced and sang to "Tell Mama," the opening song. The purple and beige dress gently clung to Lucy's shape as she twisted and turned--it was a great performance outfit.

Having seen many of Lucy's concerts and appearances, my impression is that her singing abilities are consistently better each time I see her. I love hearing the development of her voice and her renditions of specific songs over time. At this point in Lucy's singing career, she sounds fantastic. This was the first concert I have attended where it seemed like Lucy's voice was fully her own, unique, complex and distinctive. I felt like I could both see it and hear it in the confidence she showed on stage.

Lucy's dress stunned her fansMoving into "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" and "Like the Way I Do," Lucy began working that dress in some unexpected ways. Lucy's repertoire of stage moves seems to have expanded, and "Like the Way I Do" included a plunging crotch grab down the front of the dress that brought gasps and sudden screams from her fans. You can find it at around 3:28 on the .wmv version of the file (likethewayidoconcert.wmv) available for download from Lucy's fan club page.

It is not an exaggeration to compare the impact the dress made on fans to the first appearance of chaps at the Roxy concert in 2007. Later, after the show, it would be much discussed at the planned fan gathering at the Hard Rock Cafe. The dress also seemed to click with more casual concert watchers as well. Several guys, presumably in casual attendance, yelled "We Love You, Lucy!" in unison.

Lucy pitched her voice low, in imitation of the guys' deep voices, and said "Thanks, guys," before wisecracking, "It must be the dress." Lucy teased gently, "Why haven't I seen you at any of my other shows?" Pointing to her "old fans" in front, Lucy commented, "These three rows in front--I recognize them." The underlying message was, "You think you love me, but these are the ones who really love me."

Lucy played consistently to her audience, often prefacing her songs with a few words to indicate that they were intended for her fans. She chatted easily on stage and called out or waved to various people in the crowd, including former Xena: Warrior Princess director T.J. Scott and Victoria Pratt, who played the character Cyane on the show. Encouraging everyone to "think of their favorite actor," Lucy goofed with musical director Michael Orland and her backup vocalists Terry Wood and Peggi Blu during "You're So Vain."

Earlier in the week, Los Angeles has experienced an intense heat wave. Although the worst heat was over, temperatures rose on Saturday in Universal City, but it was never truly uncomfortable during the afternoon wait for the concert to begin. However, once the opening band took the stage and the crowd began to close in, the temperature seemed to increase despite lower evening temperatures.

After performing "Wonderful," with its lyric question, "Does it feel hot?" Lucy remarked about being warm on stage. As the show progressed, the heat was evident in the glowing sheen of perspiration that appeared at the hollow of her throat.

The warmth, however, never marred Lucy's appearance. In keeping with the 70s fashion evident in her wrap dress, Lucy wore a "natural" style of makeup, including nude tone lipstick and eye shadow. Heavy black eyeliner and false eyelashes completed the look, making Lucy's blue eyes blaze out from between fringed lids.

Lucy works the dressI had not thought that a dress would be a good match for the fiercer side of Lucy's personality, but she was able to make it work on angry songs like "What's Up?" and "Bitch." Regrettably, Universal's "family-friendly" policies required Lucy to change the lyrics to the latter song from "I'm a bitch," to "I'm a witch," a switch that made me dissolve in giggles each time I heard it.

That wasn't the only editing required by Universal. The opening band also mentioned Universal's family-friendly requirements (also known as censorship in some circles). Despite these strictures, Lucy wriggled in a few naughty moments, including the aforementioned crotch grab, and slipping a same-sex pronoun into the second verse of "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."

I noticed that Lucy changed lyrics in several songs when it suited her phrasing. Its another example of Lucy's growing conformability on stage. There was an easy, almost effortless feeling to the show as it moved from tender songs, like "New and Beautiful," to the poetic "Hallelujah" to the raucous "River Deep Mountain High."

All of the elements I've mentioned--Lucy's voice, her stage presence, her personality and her beauty--all seemingly upped a notch--combined to make this hour long concert a stand out. Just when I thought I'd seen all the talent and all the sexy that Lucy knows how to bring, it was like she broke open her secret stash and brought out the really good stuff.

After the show, several fans gathered for dinner and drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe. As it turned out, Lucy was also there with her good friend Marissa Jaret Winokur, seated at the opposite end of the terrace. Midway through our meal, Lucy and Marissa joined us for several minutes to chat.

Yes, that's right--we were in the Presence. Lucy asked us to pass on to the other fans how happy she was that we all came out to see her and support her at the concert and that we gave her confidence and courage during her performance. I managed to commit the message to memory before the dulling force of Lucy Haze descended upon me, blotting out rational thought.

Who Got My Hot 100 Votes

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Last year, AfterEllen.com decided to put together a list of the 100 women that lesbians and bisexual women found most attractive. The list, know as the AfterEllen Hot 100, came together in response to Maxim Magazine's list of the most desirable women. AfterElton.com also got in on the act, putting together their own list of the hottest guys according to gay and bisexual men.

This year, AfterEllen.com has put together another Hot 100 list, along with four countdown videos describing the appeal of each listee. Voting this year was done by write-in ballot, with 10 slots available. The instructions said to nominate "the hottest women on the planet," which I found amusing because so many of my entries were inspired by scifi characters, who live mainly in space. Here's the 10 women I voted for, in alphabetical order:

Victoria Abril's cute faceVictoria Abril
Abril is a Spanish actor probably best known to U.S. audiences for her appearances in several Pedro Almodovar films. She's played lesbian or bisexual characters in films such as Gazon Maudit (French Twist) and 101 Reykjavik. Besides being a talented comic actor, she's a trained dancer with lovely sinuous legs.

Chaves-Jacobsen in RazorStephanie Chaves-Jacobsen
In the two-hour Battlestar Galactica special, Razor, Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen played Kendra Shaw, the solider forced into hard tutelage under the dominating Admiral Helena Cain, played by Michelle Forbes. Although I liked Razor's ending, I wish there was some way for Chaves-Jacobsen's character to return. Lacking that, I'm going to keep an eye out for her in other productions.

Helfer as NatalieTrish Helfer
Battlestar Galactica is such a cornucopia of lesbian delight--I could easily have voted for all of the regular female actors on the show. But I only had 10 votes, so I gave mine to the incredibly dishy Trish Helfer. She plays the femme-bot model number Six on BSG. The audience sees several distinct Sixes on the show; I'm partial to the Six named Natalie, pictured here. With such incredible women on the show I sometimes think BSG's creators must really love their lesbian audience; then an unclothed Gauis Baltar will show up on screen and I realize, no, I am mistaken.

Holloman beams playing TinaLaurel Holloman
Many lesbians complain about character inconsistencies on the show The L Word. But if it weren't for that inconsistency, I probably wouldn't have voted for Laurel Holloman, because her character on the show, Tina, would still be on my shit list. But Tina made a big rebound in the last season and Holloman worked it to the max. She appeared confident, stylish and sexy. Holloman is also a self-described bisexual, which may be why I've never heard her make any intentional or unintentional homophobic comments in personal interviews. Many hotness points to you, Laurel, for understanding your lesbian fans.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 13

Lawless with shy smileLucy Lawless
I like reading books about the theater, especially when they describe famous performances of the past. It's the only way to relive what it would have been like to see great stage performers bring to life the roles that made them famous. But it's also sad to think those moments cannot be fully experienced in the present, because nothing, not even film, can truly capture what it feels like to be in the presence of someone with star quality or outstanding personal charisma. Likewise, I sometimes feel sad thinking about lesbians of earlier times because they will never, ever be able to experience the smoldering sexual power that emanates from Lucy Lawless in person. It's one of those existential issues that's too sad and disturbing to contemplate for very long--like the fate of the poor unborn babies in limbo--so I push the thought to the back of my brain and try to be thankful that I live in such a blessed era.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 16

Author Ariel LevyAriel Levy
I saw Ariel Levy on The Colbert Report one night being smart and became enamored with her. It's a bit perverse putting Levy on this list, since she's the author of a very though-provoking book, called Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, which argues that women have adopted male chauvinist behaviors like, uh, creating Hot 100 lists. Even if voting for Levy makes me a bit piggy, it's also proof of what an old-school dyke I am. After all, the woman discussed hardcore feminism for ten minutes on national TV and I was completely bewitched. I recommend reading her book (yes, I read it after seeing her), which incidentally starts with a Susan Sontag quote, giving her additional hotness points from me.

Matlin in a blue dressMarlee Matlin
I like bossy women. Matlin's character on The L Word, Jodi, was a big, big bowl of bossy. I have never met Marlee Matlin personally, so I don't know if she herself is bossy; when I watched her on Dancing With The Stars, she seemed intelligent, determined and driven. Matlin also has a fine, taut body, which her dancing costumes made the most of. I especially loved her in the tiger-print dress. And of course, who can forget her end-of-season "fuck me" scene on The L Word? Begging will get you everywhere, Marlee.

O'Connor singing on stageRenee O'Connor
Although I identify myself as a Xena: Warrior Princess fan, while the show was on it might as well have been called Gabrielle: Warrior in Need of Female Assistance--that's how focused I was on Renee O'Connor's character. Since then, I've followed O'Connor's every movement career and been enthused by her decision to take on independent projects, including movies and stage plays. DIY and artistic cred = major hotness.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 21

Streep wearing purpleMeryl Streep
There is a contingent of lesbians who have it bad for Meryl, and I count myself among them. I suspect lesbian attraction for Meryl might be a generational thing. I imagine it's that group of dykes whose maturation process--from girlhood to womanhood, from closeted adolescence to out lesbian--roughly corresponds to the rise of Meryl's film career. Plus the fact that anyone who can emote as hard as Meryl is going to be a totally awesome bottom.
Place on the AE 2008 Hot 100 List: 91

Torres on FireflyGina Torres
Another woman who has distinguished herself in my mind primarily through scifi and other genre shows. I loved her as the second-in-command on Firefly and as the bad ass on Alias. She's great at anything that involves punching or shooting. Torres also has a radiant smile and possesses a womanly quality that I find very attractive. The word "womanly" is hard to define, but I think it means the capacity to appear feminine without being girlish, and it implies a certain knowingness as well.

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