Tag Archives: marlene hoeber

Girl Talk

 Marlene says:

I have written here about the first Girl Talk a couple of years ago. I was very excited about it. I am now even more excited because I have been asked to speak this year. In fact, it happens next week. I’ve been mulling over all sorts of clever things to say about why you should go see it, but the truth is that this is simply a very special event populated by some of the smartest people I have ever met/heard/read. If nothing else, you can come watch me sweat while I try to keep up with people I consider my heroes.

I’ll be posting more about it after the event.

Girl Talk: A Trans & Cis Woman Dialogue Thursday, March 24th, 2011 7:00pm – 10:00pm San Francisco LGBT Community Center – Ceremonial Room 1800 Market Street between Octavia & Laguna Tickets: $12-$20 (no one turned away!) (Link to BrownPaperTickets site: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/163744 I strongly recommend that you get tix in advance — we sold out very fast last year.)

Queer cisgender women and queer transgender women are allies, friends, support systems, lovers, and partners to each other. Trans and cis women are allies to each other every day — from activism that includes everything from Take Back the Night to Camp Trans; to supporting each other in having “othered” bodies in a world that is obsessed with idealized body types; to loving, having sex, and building family with each other in a world that wants us to disappear.

Girl Talk is a spoken word show fostering and promoting dialogue about these relationships. Trans and cis women will read about their relationships of all kinds – sexual and romantic, chosen and blood family, friendships, support networks, activist alliances. Join us for a night of stories about sex, bodies, feminism, activism, challenging exclusion in masculine-centric dyke spaces, dating and breaking up, finding each other, and finding love and family.

FEATURING: Mira Bellwether, Gina de Vries, Tara Hardy, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Marlene Hoeber, Sadie Lune, Elena Rose, aka little light, Ray Rubin ***Curated & hosted by Gina de Vries, Elena Rose, & Julia Serano.


MIRANDA BELLWETHER is a 28 year old trans dyke and student. She is a femme, a queer, a dork, a loudmouth, and lots of other things. Her interests include the 1920s, literature, masculinity, homos, conversation, rodents, and of course sex and sexuality. She is the creator and editor of “Fucking Trans Women,” a zine about the sex lives of trans women and our lovers.

GINA DE VRIES is a genderqueer femme, a queer Paisan pervert, and a writer, performer, and activist with a long history doing political organizing in and with queer, trans, and sex worker communities. She is the founder and co-curator (with Julia & Rose) of “Girl Talk: a trans & cis woman dialogue,” and is very proud to be producing the show for the third year running. Gina edited the queer youth anthology [Becoming] in 2004. Her writing has been anthologized dozens of places, from the academic to the pornographic. Her publications include Coming & Crying: true stories about sex from the other side of the bed, Take Me There: Trans & Genderqueer Erotica, Bound to Struggle: Where Kink and Radical Politics Meet, The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Partner Violence Within Activist Communities, $pread: Illuminating the Sex Industry, Femmethology, Girl Crush, and Curve, make/shift, and On Our Backs magazines. Gina was the head curator of the San Francisco in Exile queer performance series from 2006-2010. Shows she’s produced include “Ecstasies & Elegies” (for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers), “Rebel Girl: a riot grrrl nostalgia show,” and “Cherry: queering virginity.” Gina has performed, taught, and lectured everywhere from chapels to leatherbar backrooms. Recent university appearances include Harvard University, Yale University, and Reed College. She regularly teaches writing for WriteHereWriteNow queer & trans writers workshop in Boston, Massachusetts; regularly presents on issues ranging from sex work to intersex activism for the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program of the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps; and works a day job fundraising for St. James Infirmary, the nation’s only clinic run by and for current & former sex workers. She is the founder and facilitator of Sex Workers’ Writing Workshop, a writing class for current and former sex workers at San Francisco’s Center for Sex & Culture (where she also serves on the Advisory Board). A graduate of Hampshire College, Gina is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing at San Francisco State University, where she is working on a memoir and a book of short stories. Find out more at ginadevries.com, and keep track of her on the daily at queershoulder.tumblr.com.

TARA HARDY is the working class queer femme poet who founded Bent, a writing institute for LGBTIQ people in Seattle, WA. She is a founding member of Salt Lines, the all woman performance poetry group that toured the U.S. in March of 2009 and 2010 in honor of Women’s History Month. Tara has been finalist on National Poetry Slam stages 7 times and is currently the highest ranking woman in the Individual World Poetry Slam. She’s been the Seattle Grand Slam Champion three times, and was elected Seattle Poet Populist in 2002. Tara has been the keynote speaker for Seattle University’s Lavendar Graduation, Humboldt University’s 2009 Kink on Campus presented by the Women’s Center, and Seattle’s 2008 Dyke March. A daughter of the United Auto Workers, and activist in the Battered Women’s Movement, she is committed to art as a tool for social change. Her upcoming book, Bring Down the Chandeliers, is due from Write Bloody Press in the spring of 2011. To contact Tara, or arrange for a performance, email wordyfemme@hotmail.com. Her webpage is www.tarahardy.net. You may find her on MySpace at www.myspace.com/tarahardygetsbent

TOBI HILL-MEYER (www.HandbasketProductions.com) is just about your average multiracial, pansexual, transracially inseminated queerspawn, genderqueer, transdyke, colonized mestiza, pornographer, activist, writer. She has given talks on several campuses and her writing has appeared in And Baby Makes More: Known Donor’s, Queer Parents and our Unexpected Families, Who’s Your Daddy?: And Other Writings on Queer Parenting, and Best Lesbian Erotica 2010. She directed and produced the first porn film by and for trans women, Doing it Ourselves: The Trans Women Porn Project, and just finished work on her latest film, The Genderfellator, a campy sci-fi pornographic parody of a little known transphobic film from 2007. Her zines and films can be found at HandbasketProductions.com.

MARLENE HOEBER is a long time queer, kink, trans, sex-positive, feminist, social justice activist and a devout pervert. She is currently Director of Collections at the archive of the Center for Sex and Culture. Marlene was a founding member of the world’s first college campus based BDSM organization in 1991. She has worked in diverse trades such as dildo manufacturing, jewelry, motorcycle repair, tool design and laboratory management. Her hobbies include target shooting and cognac “tasting”. Her writing can be found at Fukshot and Body Impolitic.

SADIE LUNE is a multimedia artist, absurdist, sex worker, and pleasure activist. She has won awards for her films and performances, exhibited explicit whore-positive work in museums, and shown her cervix internationally. Her writing on art and sex is published in books and magazines in the United States and Europe. Sadie is currently working on “Biological Clock” a queer fertility ritual performance as part of her ongoing project Teaching Myself to Love. She is looking for patrons, sperm donors, and a wife of any gender. Sadie lives in San Francisco with her three snakes.

ELENA ROSE, a Filipina-Ashkenazic mixed-class trans dyke mestiza, is a writer, preacher, scholar, and survivor from rural Oregon. Dedicated to the projects of radical love, community building, and queer ministry, she writes online as “little light” at http://takingsteps.blogspot.com and elsewhere, serves on the advisory board of the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, and was a charter member of the Speak! Radical Women of Color Media Collective. A sweet-talking monster at the mic, Rose has performed to sold-out crowds up and down the Pacific coast, from multiple headline shows in Portland to collaborations with the Bay’s Mangos With Chili and Seattle’s TumbleMe Productions, and has twice been a San Francisco Pride Featured Performer with the National Queer Arts Festival production, Girl Talk: A Cis and Trans Woman Dialogue. Her writing has found its way everywhere from law school classrooms and academic conferences to bathroom mirrors and protest marches, and has met print in magazines including Aorta and Make/Shift. After the dust settles on Rose’s coast-to-coast tour this spring, she will be busy finishing her first book, Mountain of Myrrh, to be published by Dinah Press. Rose currently resides with her wife in northern California, where she stays busy being in good stories. She carries a pen, her ancestors, and the mismatched ID of a citizen of the borderlands with her at all times.

RAY RUBIN is an FTMTF anti-capitalist that spends most of her day asking people for money. She is an activist for Lower-Haight, gluten-free, post-PCOS, rickets survivors who listen to public radio. She’s especially fond of independent publishing & has written for a number of zines that can be found at the free section in Dog Eared Books.

JULIA SERANO is an Oakland, California-based writer, performer and trans activist. She is the author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (Seal Press, 2007), a collection of personal essays that reveal how misogyny frames popular assumptions about femininity and shapes many of the myths and misconceptions people have about transsexual women. Julia’s other writings have appeared in anthologies (including Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, Word Warriors: 30 Leaders in the Women’s Spoken Word Movement and Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape), in feminist, queer, pop culture and literary magazines and websites (such as Bitch, AlterNet.org, Out, Feministing.com, Clamor, make/shift, and others), and have been used as teaching materials in gender studies, queer studies, psychology and human sexuality courses in colleges across North America. For more information about all of her creative endeavors, check out www.juliaserano.com.

Much Better Porn!

Marlene says:

A while ago, I wrote about my experience watching some porn that I wasn’t so happy with. I’m glad to say that I’m now writing about some porn that does live up to my expectations. Doing It Ourselves, The Trans Women Porn Project is important work that does the things that independently produced, politically conscious porn is supposed to. It makes more space in the world. It shows people how they actually are.

I’ve exchanged a couple of emails with Tobi Hill-Meyer, the director and driving force behind the project. I’ll be sharing some of her thoughts here as well as my own.


Doing It Ourselves is a hot collection of trans women and their partners of all genders engaging in sex the way they want to be represented. Starting with a group of trans women who are tired of the way that they have seen trans women portrayed in porn, this film tells the story of its own creation when they decide to, well, do it themselves. (quoted from the back of the DVD box)

This has never been done before. There has never been porn featuring queer trans women that is anything like this, produced by trans women. There has been a good amount of porn in this style by trans men, some of which inspired this work, but trans women have almost entirely been portrayed in mainstream “she-male” porn before now. FYI, very few trans women engage in sex that resembles mainstream she-male porn without being paid. I know some do, but really not many.

While the box says “all genders” I should point out that there aren’t any cis men in the movie. Tobi told me that there are somethings that she would have liked to do in terms of the range of performers that she was not able to. She says:

Diversity in a cast is another difficult trick.  While being primarily about trans women, I also wanted to have representation of a cis guy, a trans guy, a cis woman, a variety of body sizes, and races — I only had 8 performers in the entire film and at least that many identity categories I hoped to represent.  I think I did a relatively good job of reaching my goals on that matter, but I eventually had to realize that I just can’t be all things at once.

I have my own set of responses to this work that are not always easy. I realized, when first watching it that it wasn’t turning me on. I couldn’t figure out how not to be distracted by the bodies. You see, I have had sex with only one other trans woman since my transition and that was very early on. This is my first time seeing this much naked flesh of trans women who haven’t had tons of plastic surgery. I was looking at women like me for the first time. I’m sure that many fat women had similar experiences when first looking at Laurie’s photographs from Women En Large for the first time.

I find myself looking at hips and thighs and breasts and bellies and asses thinking that they do or don’t look like mine. It’s an up-and-down experience, alternately responding positively and negatively to comparisons I make to my own body. These responses are stronger than they are than when I’m looking at the bodies of cis women. A feature I envy on a cis woman is often a feature that I can’t have without doing something like removing a couple of ribs (wasp waisted I will never be). Watching Doing It Ourselves, I see things I like and they’re features I share. That’s really affirming. When I feel like I don’t measure up, it’s that much harder.

I’m generally pretty good about my body image stuff. I don’t mean to sound as though I am uncritical of some of my responses. There’s nothing wrong with my body, but I am not used to this particular circumstance and am not prepared to check myself in the ways I would usually expect to.

I’m sure my experience will change as I continue to watch Doing It Ourselves again (and again and again). I’ve watched it three times at this writing, and what I see and respond to is already shifting. Nothing is new for very long.

This is intense stuff, and not just for me in front of my TV. I appreciate the fact that the people in this movie did it. I’ know it wasn’t easy for all of them. I saw the original casting call and thought about it for a minute. In the end, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get past the fear and my own body issues (and there were other factors at play for me as well). Tobi says this:

But folks who I have asked to consider being in my film know as well as I do that that’s not necessarily the response they will get from others.  I’ve been turned down by a lot of folks.  Some who don’t want the risk of being associated with porn, some who are dealing with too much dysphoria, and relatedly, some who have serious issue with their own body image and don’t want it displayed or seen.  Ultimately, regardless of my expansive sense of attractiveness, I don’t want to create a film that other folks will be commenting on how the performers are unattractive or ugly.  And that’s not really about sales or popularity as much as I don’t want to put my performers into that situation. I always defer to their own judgment on the issue, but it’s hard to know when to push and when not to. For example, Joss Blaine cringed and was triggered at seeing herself in it.  She’s happy with her participation, but it’s still a concern of mine.

Frankly, those who have been told frequently and regularly that they are beautiful and hot are much more likely to see themselves as hot and as a result, more willing to be involved in a project like this.  Overall I feel happy about the representation I brought to DIO, but I can’t help but notice certain gaps — both in my film and in my sex-positive community which I drew talent from.  I know sexy, self-confident trans women who are skinny or curvy but not so much those who are fat.  Similarly, I know sexy, self-confident fat women, but they almost all seem to be cis.  I think that’s representative of how many negative messages there are about each of those groups in both the mainstream culture and our counter-cultures and the weight that they hold combined.  I know that queer/feminist producers like myself would like to create alternative messages, but there’s only so far ahead of the communities we draw upon for viewers and for talent that we can go.

Unlike most porn, the extras on the DVD (actually a whole extra DVD) are really worth watching. The interviews with the performers are sweet and thoughtful. These people are not just hot, they’re smart. I’m especially fond of the discussion Tobi has with Gina de Vries, sitting on a bed, with cat in the foreground, talking about the scene they did together and about the project generally. The cat does a solo scene (playing the fiddle) while they talk.

The sex scenes themselves are beautifully done. There is generally an emphasis on faces and bodies over genitals (compared to most porn). Not everything in it is my cup of tea, but let’s remember that my cup of tea tastes funny to most folks. I think it is safe to say that anyone who has or might like to have queer trans women in their life should check this out.

Sex is one of the most important ways people communicate and there are subtleties expressed about who the people in this film are that just don’t happen conversationally. I suppose that may be the most important thing about Doing It Ourselves, it tells the truth. The scenes show (at least some of) the sexual reality of the participants rather than the fantasies a film maker assumes will sell to straight men.

At the end of Tobi and Gina’s scene, Gina has just had an orgasm and starts to make sure Tobi gets off too. Tobi says “I just don’t think I’m going to get there tonight.” I’m not sure if that’s a porn first too, but I think it might be.

Tobi won a Feminist Porn Award for her work in Doing It Ourselves just days after its release. A line has been crossed. Tobi Hill-Meyer saw something that needed to be done and she did it. I don’t know her beyond the few emails we’ve traded, and I don’t want this to sound overly familiar or like I did anything to make Doing It Ourselves happen, but I’m really proud of her.