S1: Hello and welcome to the August edition of Outward, I am Ramona alum, and I’m just recently a year older and wiser. And here’s what I learned upon entering my forty fourth year. It is possible using only cookies, ice cream and store bought ice cream sandwiches to make the best birthday cake you’ll ever have. This is an actual recipe from the New York Times, but I honestly feel like you can extrapolate based on that list of ingredients. And I truly think that this is maybe all the wisdom I have to offer as I enter a new year.
S2: This is a good reminder that isn’t your thing making your own birthday cake.
S1: My children’s birthdays follow my own birthday very closely. And so I usually do a lot of like birthday cake construction for them. And it usually happens in a rental house kitchen because we are often out of town for their birthdays. But this particular recipe I’ve just described, you could make it like on the fly, you can make it in the back seat of a car if you had to highly recommend trying this one out.
S2: Well, I’m often trying to make a birthday cake in the back of a car, so I use this recipe the next time I’m in that situation. Yeah, you
S3: could probably pull it off. Absolutely. So I’m Brian Lauter, editor of Outward. And I have just learned just before we went to press to record now of the existence of the Chromatica remix album by Lady Gaga and many other exciting artists. And so my summer is now complete. This is something that had been rumored and now it has been confirmed just I think just last night. So I’m a happy guy and excited for that right on my remix.
S2: I’m happy for you. Congrats. I’m Christina Katya Ritchie, a senior writer at Slate. And I am coming to you live from our co-workers apartment in Brooklyn, where I am sitting for a small angel named Sebastian and Brian, I was thinking of you because in our little video calls, I see your cat’s tail just kind of swooping around in front of your face. And today I got to experience that rite of passage for myself.
S3: Is it only when you’re giving attention to, like, people on the screen that this cat comes up because that’s what mine does.
S2: It’s oh, my God. Yeah, yeah.
S3: It’s only when you’re somehow someone else is getting energy that the cat wants to come.
S1: Well, it’s the dog days of summer right now. So I think it’s only appropriate that this month’s episode is hot. We’re going to start things off with a chat about the beach as a frontier for Queer existence. We know Queer beaches are better, but is it possible that the beach itself is Queer? We’re going to dig into that later. We’ll be joined by the performer GirlFlexx, who is one of a handful of dumb Strippers working nationwide right now. The journalist Holly Lieberman wrote an amazing piece for our On the rise of these dancers and how their presence is sort of queering male exotic dancing. It’s really a must read. I’m so excited to talk to her. Then we’re going to close up with our regular updates to your gay agenda. But first, it’s time for pride and provocations. You guys, how are you feeling this month?
S2: I’m feeling proud this month, actually. Scratch that. I’m feeling patriotic. Oh, so this month I watched my home country, a land of opportunity, home of the brave. When 32 medals in the Olympics, we placed 11th out of all the countries, which is right above the athletic powerhouses of Canada and Brazil. No small achievement for a country of our size. Obviously, I’m not talking about the United States of America. I’m talking about Queer nation. So Outsports, which is an LGBT sports blog, did really the goddess’s work here. They made a list of all the out LGBTQ Olympians midway through the Olympic Games. I just bookmarked that page because I found that every time I was watching a sport, I was Googling like so and so, gay and lesbian, like, just to see I’m like, I need to just keep this list handy. One of your favorite pastimes. Oh, my God. Yes, Brian, I’m obsessed with finding out if people are gay or not. According to that list, there were at least one hundred and eighty two out LGBTQ athletes in the Tokyo Olympics, which is more than three times the number who competed in Rio in twenty sixteen. In fact, it’s more than all the Queer most who have ever competed in previous Olympics combined. So this was really are coming out moment at the Olympic Games. Another fun fact. There’s nine times as many women as men on the list. I guess that could either be a pride or a provocation, depending on how you look at it. Obviously, homophobia abounds in sports, especially men’s sports. But I have to say, watching. The gays get their flowers was the greatest joy of the Olympics for me, especially because, you know, in the US at the very least, there’s been a long history of lesbian athletes being asked to stay in the closet, for example, for recruiting purposes so that parents won’t be scared that their kid will turn gay if they join a women’s basketball team or something.
S1: Mm hmm. If that worked, I would be straight because I was forced to join the soccer team. So I’m just saying, like, you can probably put that particular myth to bed.
S2: So obviously, I got a lot of just personal pleasure watching the strongest dikes in the world flex their muscles for me on the screen. But it also feels like, you know, it’s got to be a really celebratory moment for these athletes who can, you know, finally feel like they can be their full selves in the spotlight and who are actually getting praised for it, too, or at least ogled for it. I know there are plenty more athletes who are closeted who competed at the Olympics. I know of one one of the people I stalked on Instagram. She has a ton of pictures of a woman who is certainly her girlfriend on her social media, but she lives in a country that’s really hostile to Queer people and Queer rights. So I guess on a more sober note, it’s also a reminder at this international gathering of gay people and others that Queer life just looks very different all around the world. And it gives me great hope that we had more than one hundred and eighty out athletes at these games. I will be anxiously awaiting the Beijing Games to see if we can top that, because I’m always looking to top things. Congrats to all the people. How are you guys feeling this month?
S3: Well, I’m feeling pride as well. And it’s actually sort of a follow up to the provocation I had last month on last month’s episode. Back then, I mentioned at the time of recording that I was hearing some rumors about breakthrough cases of covid coming out of Provincetown and Fire Island, these sort of gay resorts on the East Coast right after like the week after we are two weeks after we recorded and the episode dropped, this became like a news story. So it went from sort of rumor and anecdote to to an actual thing that was being reported on and eventually studied by the CDC. So there was a report at the end of July that came out of the Provincetown cluster in particular about how essentially how virulent the Delta variant is, to put it simply. And the pride I have is for all of the queers who were part of that so-called July 4th cluster, who did their own sort of contact tracing in the sense that they recorded who they had had seen and been close to, maybe stayed with, partied with whatever in Provincetown. And then when the CDC finally became interested in this a little bit later that month, shared the reporting with them so that the official investigators sort of had a head start on what was happening and could really get a sense of what was going on there. We had a great piece in Slate that I just want to flag about this by Joel Rosen, and it’s called I was part of the July 4th Provincetown Breakthrough covid cluster. And it’s been a sobering experience. We’ll put that on the sharp edge. But it’s a great example of how even in the midst of something pretty scary, you know, getting a break through case of covid, when a lot of us thought that that wasn’t something that was very difficult to happen and it turned out not to be quite as difficult as we maybe thought that you could do something sort of good for the larger community out of that experience and sort of take on the citizen scientist role that, you know, Queer have had to do before in our history with the crisis at otherwise. So, you know, even though it was sort of a scary moment this past month, looking at all of this, there was a sort of silver lining and that we Queer is out of town, did something useful with it. So proud for that.
S1: It reminded me so much of our conversation with Shulman and her book about act up and the ways in which people with a little bit of knowledge or really tangentially related knowledge could apply to solve a larger social problem, which, as you said, is something that happened. Was frequently the case happening in the 1980s when the government wasn’t really paying attention or didn’t really care. So it’s kind of extraordinary, especially because I can’t do anything. So like when I hear people like with that kind of intelligence apply it usefully, I’m just sort of I marvel at that, you know.
S3: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
S1: Remon, I am feeling so provoked this month, it’s sort of tangentially. But Roberta Kaplan, who represented Edie Windsor in her sort of landmark case that made it possible for everyone in this country to be legally wed, resigned from the organization Time’s Up, which is an organization that has really been in the headlines in this sort of post meta Hollywood moment. Roberta Kaplan was on the board of directors. It was revealed that she had worked as a consultant for Andrew Cuomo the at some point former governor of New York. He’s still governor. I’ve never heard of a governor giving a resignation notice, but apparently he did. And Roberta Kaplan offered the Cuomo campaign strategy on how to discredit one of his accusers. And it was really, really disappointing to a lot of people because of Kaplan’s work with Time’s Up, which I think has or had until maybe just now a really sterling reputation as an organization that was on the forefront of fighting sexual harassment. And it was just such a sobering reminder that it’s possible for lawyers to be on the good and the bad side that like the law is this malleable thing in the task of the lawyer is to sort of serve the client. So it’s possible for a lawyer to work on behalf of Edie Windsor, for whom, like I think so many people just have such a fond feeling of memory of the late Edith Windsor with Roberta Kaplan standing by her side, taking like fighting the good fight. And it’s so disappointing to see that person who really did fight this good fight, choosing to fight this bad one. So I really provoked by that. It’s a really disturbing reminder that, like, you know, every step forward, there are always these sort of steps backward and that people are only people and that the law is sort of like in the hands of fallible people.
S2: Yeah. And you know what else? The head of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, is also linked to this campaign to discredit Cuomo accusers. You know, they’re investigating him right now. And we had him on the podcast last year to talk about covid. And it’s just so disappointing to see. You know, I always think we should be better and we’re not. I have higher standards, I think, for Queer leaders. And I always assume that they’re coming at their social justice activism. They’re looking at it through an intersectional lens where, you know, campaigns against sexual harassment are very much related to fights for gender equality and Queer equality. But not everybody sees it that way.
S1: It is really disappointing. And I think I share what you’re saying. Like, I think I have this sort of like optimism about the people who represent us in the government, who look like us and are like us. But in the end, politics and power and money are the corrupting influence as they are. And it’s always disappointing to be reminded of that.
S2: Yeah, yeah.
S1: There’s this magical place in Queens called Jacob Park. It’s about a 40 minute drive from my place in Brooklyn, but it’s also just a world away. And I know this sounds ridiculous, but I personally always forget that New York is on the seashore. And so I’m in my minivan with my kids, like driving down Flatbush Avenue toward the Atlantic Ocean. And I’m always just amazed at how the city falls away and it melts into something that feels like the suburbs. And then it melts away into this thing that feels like all the shore towns on the east coast of this country. But this is like truly a New York City beach. And in fact, it’s often called the People’s Beach because it is named in honor of Jacob Reese, who is a journalist and social reformer who agitated very publicly to improve the conditions of urban life for New York’s poorest. So it’s really fitting to see how Jacob Park has been embraced by New Yorkers, young and old, who don’t have a house in the Hamptons. Right. And especially Queer New Yorkers, because when you get to free speech, the streets go to the right and everyone else goes to the left, which is where the party is because it’s summer, because so many of you listening are either headed to the shore or just back from there or at home, kind of wishing you were there. We thought it would be the right moment to talk about the beach itself. Our producer Katya in our last meeting proposed this very provocative question, which is like, is the beach itself just inherently Queer? I don’t know if it is, but I do think the Queer do the beach better than most. So let’s talk about it. Like maybe we can first talk about our own experiences with the gay beach. Is the gay beach inherently Queer want to you take this on?
S3: I can start because I recently discovered a brand new to me, Queer Beach, which I’m very excited about also in New York, a very different part of New York. But it was amazing to see that we are truly everywhere and at every beach. Yeah, sorry. I recently learned about I live in Harlem, in New York and the Bronx is near to that if you know the geography of the city. And in the Bronx, there is a village called Orchard Beach that is sort of a normal public public beach, much like, I think Caprice. But I had been told that to the left. And this is something we should talk about in a second. But if you go to Orchard Beach, park it out, go to go to the beach where everybody is and go to the left, there is actually a kind of hidden garbage. And so recently my partners and I gave this a shot. We drove out there and ended up only being like 30 minutes from my house, which is sort of embarrassing that I didn’t know it was so close. But we went there, sort of entered the beach, you know, turned to the left to hike down to the end, come to like a sort of forest. And there’s a little trail through the forest and it says there’s a sign that says to Tree Island is this way. So you go through the forest because of the forest. Suddenly you come upon like a kind of wetland area that opens up onto Pelham Bay. And there is indeed a little mound of trees and rocks and earth that is the garbage here. And so we went up to it. And indeed, there were probably 10 queers up there studying and hanging out and fishing and chatting and just having a nice afternoon. And so we had a lovely couple of hours just chillin there before we hiked back into the Mughal Mughal beach. Yeah, it’s like it was sort of amazing. And I think most beaches I have been to, at least ones near cities, have that kind of feature, which is always a really nice thing to discover.
S2: That’s beautiful. How did you hear about this? And. Yeah, why haven’t you gone there before?
S3: Someone I want to say it was a radical ferry Facebook group that I met and someone just reminded folks at this place exist. There’s so if you’re looking for like a fun summer thing, that’s not Sandy Hook or Jacob, which is a bit farther from me, you can try this place. And so, yeah, I just I’ve been like had not heard of it before. And once I realized how close it was, where we had to go and I will go again, I loved it so much.
S2: That’s so cute. The most magical Queer Beach I’ve been to actually wasn’t explicitly Queer. And I guess it’s not explicitly a beach either, but it’s close enough that I want to talk about it because it’s so special. It’s a women’s only swimming pool outside of Sydney on the coast. It’s a natural pool, all rocks. It’s sort of built into the cliffs along the ocean. And this is something that on the coast of Sydney, there’s a lot of these sort of natural sea pools where they’ve been built out with rocks or maybe the cliffs have been carved into to create, you know, a place where people can do laps and weight. And it’s a little bit safer than waiting in the rocky outcroppings on the shore. So this place has a really incredible history. It was used by women for generations, you know, as far back as the early eighteen hundreds, even possibly before by the Aboriginal people who lived there. And, you know, eventually when Australia was colonised, women who were colonizers would also them there because they couldn’t swim in the men’s pools in the area. So it was sort of formalised and created later in the eighteen hundreds. It’s called the McIver’s Ladies Baths, and it’s in a suburb called Kuji. And I have to tell you, when I went there, it felt like I really had entered like the place where Wonder Woman was born. Whatever that island is that I hate about the world that we live in is that I don’t feel like I get to see a lot of older women’s bodies, even at straight beaches. Any sort of mainstream beaches are pools. I think a lot of older women tend to due to social pressure or their own feelings, cover up their bodies at this place. There were a lot of older women there, in part because the pool has been there for so long. So a lot of people learn to swim there or whatever. And there were a lot of topless people, a lot of Queer people, also Muslim women who would rather swim there than in pools where men swim. It’s also open to children, although I didn’t really see any when I was there. And, you know, I think this place has sort of become default Queer because it’s women only. You know, the people who told us about it were Queer friends that we had in Sydney. And I was sort of immediately like, what are the gender politics here? Like, how do they enforce the gender mandate? Because I know that can get real tricky. Right. Trans phobic. Real quick. Yeah. And the person one of the people who told us about it was trans and they were sort of like, it’s cool. Like trans people swim there and and nobody makes a thing about it. Apparently more recently, the management of the pool, they posted something saying trans women can swim here, but. Only if they’ve had gender affirmation surgery, which is insane, so the people who are part of the governing body ousted that management team and I think are working to make sure it remains inclusive, but still centered on women. As you know, we talk a lot about safe spaces in the Queer community, and this felt incredibly safe and joyful to me. And also, just on a beach note, there were like sea urchins in the pool and a wave would come up and splash on it. And, you know, calling it a pool is not doesn’t fully describe the magic of swimming in this beautiful spot built into a cliff. It was awesome.
S1: That sounds amazing. That sounds amazing. I’m I’m really intrigued by the fact that both of you had these experiences via word of mouth. Right. That Cristina, your friends told you about this, Brian, like somebody from Facebook reminded you of this place’s existence. Like there is something so remarkable about how a place can develop a sort of Queer association over time and via word of mouth. And that is so particular and specific. And, you know, when we talk about Jacob Breece, I think as part of an overall push of gentrification in Brooklyn, which has seen a lot of young professionals who maybe a generation ago would not have set foot in Brooklyn, moving into Brooklyn. I know these families, all these people, all these three people mostly who say, look, you know, we go to Jacobs to like we always set up over here, we’re like the concession stands are and like the bathrooms are and all of that stuff. And that’s so different from my experience at that beach, because when my husband and I go there, we go to the Queer side and there are certainly families there. And it’s like part of what is appealing about the Queer site is that it really unlike the pool that you’re describing, Kristiina like there’s no management. It’s like held together by social contract, like anyone can go there. But it’s very clear that if you do go there, like you want, the experience of being in a crowd of like raucus young gay kids and like older, quiet lesbians and their stereos playing. And there’s all of that stuff. And that’s sort of like part of the magic of it. But so I feel like I’m always having these conversations on the playground with families who are like, oh, we’ve got to read speech, too. And I’m like, well, you know, that’s different. I don’t really I don’t know her like I don’t know what exactly you’re talking about, but I love going there so much and I love having our kids there with us because they see I mean, Christina, you said this thing that is quite true about like the body in particular, that like at a certain age, you’re sort of meant just to vanish. And Christina, I know you’re in New York. I think maybe you should take a day trip out there because those women are there. So we went to his beach basically every week of the summer a couple of years ago. And this older woman, like, introduced herself to us and said, like, listen, I just I see you all the time. And I wanted to introduce myself because I love your children and they’re so cute. And she’s probably in her sixties like, I don’t know, there’s just something about that particular experience that I was like, oh, this would never happen at a street beach. It just would not. Yeah, this woman would not like
S2: being in a gay bar.
S1: It is like being where it is. And by virtue of the fact that she was older than me, she was almost like the management. And like I had to sort of, you know, look, I was she’s lovely. And I thought I talk to her, but you know what I mean? Like, there’s some kind of tacit agreement that, like, she was welcoming me in in this sort of unofficial capacity. And I love that about being there so much. And I mentioned this to you guys when we were talking about this before. But like one of my favorite memories of being a breeze is like my older son Simon had wandered off and he came back with a paper plate with fried chicken and like Patroni salad. And I was like, what? Where on earth did you get this from? And there was this huge group of like Queer women just down the beach, like these amazing ladies. And they were like, oh, baby. Like he was we wanted to feed him. And then we came over and one of them brought like a plastic bag full of sliced cake. And she was like, this is for the babies. And I was like, I love it here. I love it here. Like, this is the kind of beach experience that I want to have.
S2: Wow. That is really special. So the thing about the word of mouth part of this is that unlike a gay bar, you know, beaches by and large aren’t owned privately. And so you can’t say, you know, if it’s owned by the state or whatever, you can’t say like this is the gay part. And so there’s no real way beyond. I mean, now it’s a little bit easier when you can look at Google reviews and stuff like that. But it really does have to be passed on by word of mouth. And that’s the part that I love it because it feels very homey and very old fashioned and kind of quaint in in a way that appeals to me. But I wish there was more of a way to explicitly try to express that a gay beach is a gay beach so that straight people are less likely to infiltrate it because part of. The reason why I want to go to a Queer space is to feel that sort of freedom that I feel in Queer spaces, and it’s a little bit harder to do that in a public space that is like maybe queerer than average, but not so much that a straight person would go up to it and say, like, oh, wait, I don’t think this is for me. I’m going to walk a little further to the right as it happens.
S1: Yeah. One of the only kind of times I felt kind of tense, Jacob Brez, is we were there and I overheard a couple who were straight and the man was sort of mocking another man’s bathing costume. And I didn’t want to, like, get into a brawl. But I was like, you know what? You have the rest of the world to enforce, like your lame standard expected. Yeah, this guy is wearing his, like, amazing sequined Speedo and he feels great and like, go fuck yourself. Really like, that is so lame. But instead, like, I told my kids that it was happening and I was like, that’s really lame. It’s never any of your business what anyone is wearing on their body or anyone’s body looks like. And that is like how it should be. People like that are not having fun. It’s his problem, that guy’s problem. Although I do think that Bryan Lowder has a very complex theory about how we can understand where the gay space is located in relation to the street space.
S3: Yeah, I think I do have a theory about this. And it’s not just mine. This is something that that I’ve heard from other people in disgust. So I don’t want to claim it as like a novel invention, but I think it could bear more research and evidence. So I actually like to ask our listeners, if they don’t mind to write in after I share this with your own examples or perhaps counterexamples on because citizen science. Yeah, exactly. Let’s do it. Thank you. Let’s do more citizen science. So the theory is that the gay beach, whatever beach that you approach in the world, just like make it as broad as possible, it’s always going to be to the left. So you enter the beach, you know, normal people to the right go to the left, you’ll find the gay people, normal people. Well, normal is that. Normal is a slur. Yeah. Mughals then magical people to the left. And often I’ll add on top of that, if nudity is allowed, there will be a gay beach and then a nude gayby. So yeah, further to the left. So this has been true in my anecdotal experience in many different places. It’s almost always accurate and it is sort of a nice haak if no one’s told you where to go. If you don’t can’t find some weird like Redit message board with a description of where the gay bitches try this and you usually come upon it. Can you guys think of that being true in your lives or any counterexamples to that
S2: inre HUBBARTH, commonly known as Cuomo in Delaware? Yes. So there’s actually two different beaches, Puddleby each, which is more gay male style and then a beach. I don’t even remember what it’s called, but it’s at the very northern end of the beaches and that’s sort of where the lesbians hang out. And so because it’s on the East Coast and it’s to the north, that lesbian beach is definitely all the way to the left if you’re looking at the ocean and Rosabeth.
S1: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s absolutely true, Jacobovitz, that like you, as you face the ocean, you turn to the left. As people pour out of the parking lot and walk up toward the beach, you can see like the people like the streets with the kids who want to go and have, like, fried clams or tacos or whatever, like, you know, have that experience. They go to the right and we always go to the left. And so I think I sort of naturally I mean, maybe it’s just like Queer like TrueNorth, like I’m at the beach now. I’m on Fire Island. And when we go to the beach, we go to the left and we go, like, actually all the way as left as possible as it is to go without leaving the town. Maybe your theory is more just about like Queer TrueNorth than anything.
S2: Yeah, we have some magnetic impulse.
S1: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
S3: Fire Island is a fun example, too, because I believe I think what are they like, seven different communities along Fire Island and the two gay ones are to the left? Absolutely. What do you think about it all the way, the program
S2: and the nude beaches I can think of. Ah, to the left. Yeah. And overlap between those two, huh. Yeah. OK, yeah. I’ll be curious to see what our listeners say. You can email us at our podcast at Slate Dotcom Rumaan. I want to pinpoint something you just said. So as you were talking about the parting of the waters, as it were, as people were getting onto the beach, you were like the streets with their kids. And but I want to point out that you’re a gay. Kids, yeah, and this brings me to, you know, Katya question about is the beach inherently Queer? I always think of the beach as a place full of families, which obviously I know plenty of Queer people have children, but many more straight people do. And so I’m not quite bought into that theory yet that the beach is inherently Queer just because it does seem like a place where children run wild and there’s more of a family vibe.
S1: I think that’s true. I do think that, like, you know. The ways in which my experience of running wild on Fire Island is so different from like my predecessors, like when I say running wild, I mean what you’re describing, which is like going to the beach and the kids are literally running around and screaming their heads off. It’s not like slipping into the woods for a quickie, which is, I think, maybe more common experience and Fire Island. But I will say that I do think that my experience of the beach is that the Queer with our kids are so welcoming of my kids in a way that I’m not sure the streets with kids would be welcoming of me and my husband. You know, like, yeah, there’s a lot of tolerance. I mean, I’m sure there are some citizens of our island who are sort of put off by my son’s running around and screaming. But for the most part, I sense like real welcome. And that has always been my experience, all of these fabulous gay guys. And they’re like amazing pets with their like amazingly names like there are these two beautiful boxers here who wear gold necklaces. And like, my kid goes and hangs out with these men and their dogs and, like, plays with them. And I don’t think there’s a perception that he is unwelcome, even if it is like meant to be a refuge from the kind of straight family space. And I think it’s because people know they have kids and people who are Queer are a little more chill about, like welcoming in people.
S2: Yeah, yeah. Especially if they know they’re Queer spon.
S1: Yes. Yeah, exactly.
S2: I guess a point in favor of beaches being inherently Queer or at least I Queer do it better than anyone else is that I think we have a very different relationship to showing off our bodies than straight people do. We do it in a different way and for different reasons sometimes. And I mean, as a woman, the beach has been kind of fraught for me in some ways in terms of wearing a bathing suit and having men sexually harassed me. Yeah. And so when I can be in a place that has fewer of them, like fewer straight men, it’s felt wonderful because I love wearing not a lot of clothes and enjoying the feeling of the sun and the water. And, you know, I think when it comes to Queer women like there are a lot of things that happen when we put on a bathing suit that will like out says gender, non normative, whether that’s body hair or like my wife doesn’t wear a bikini, she’ll wear like, you know, basically a sports bra and board shorts. She’s always the only woman wearing that in the beach. We go to in, let’s say, Rhode Island, where it’s all straight people except for us. And, you know, I think there’s historically been a wider variety of bodies considered like mainstream sexy in lesbian community is than in straight ones. And I want more places where, you know, those sort of bodies that diverge from the straight cis and white ideals of beauty can be celebrated. And just to give people the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of not wearing many clothes.
S1: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think that maybe the perception, or at least my perception was that maybe there was going to be like a rigorous enforcement of body standard or fashion even, and kind of put me off the very notion of coming to Fire Island for a long time, especially when I was younger. And in my experience, it hasn’t really been that way. Certainly there are like plenty of like white dudes who kind of all look like brothers wearing like a little bathing suits and in perfect shape like that definitely exists here. But what exists in tandem with that is just like older bodies, bodies that sort of like straddle, maybe like what people’s expectations of gender are. And the beach is a place of liberation for those people. And like really being in their body is like an important part of their presence here and like they insist on it. It’s a great reminder to see that. And I really do feel like, yes, it is possible to look around and sort of see all the six packs, but it is also possible to look around and see like just a different way of being in your body. And I think it sort of depends on like what you want to look at.
S2: I believe it. In our planning meeting, you said something about intimate jewelry.
S1: Yes. There’s an older guy who sort of walks the beach in only his most intimate hardware. And, you know, like, honestly, this is something that my husband said to me once, and it’s really stuck with me. Like we saw somebody sort of like really like in their body. And my husband said to me, like, oh, that person feels great. And I was like, oh, that person feels great. So like, why do I care and why should anyone care? And what should be the takeaway except for that person feels great and like the rest of the world will work so hard to make you not feel great. Yeah. You know, and like the garbage for me is like a place where you go. You do. And you just sort of insist on it and then it works, and I really love that about being here.
S2: Listeners, we are always looking for new gay beaches. We would love to hear about the ones where you live, especially if they’re lesser known beaches on lakes, I think count. So we’ll welcome all sandy patches next to bodies of water. You can email us and please do at Outward Podcast at Slate Dotcom
S3: and a piece we published an hour earlier this summer, writer Holly Lieberman introduced us to GirlFlexx, a lesbian stripper based in Detroit. What’s a stripper? According to the piece, Queer Flex and the other DOMS are pioneering a new style of exotic dance masculinised, lesbians stripping that appeals to both the LGBTQ community and to a straight female crowd, the type who generally show up to more mainstream shows like those by the Chippendales. And here’s a quote from Fleck’s in the piece where women who dance in a masculine way were aggressive dancers and we don’t mind pulling girls on stage and Queer dorm dancers work in cities across the US, including Baltimore, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, and many of them perform alongside crews of male dancers at events like bachelorette birthday and divorce parties. Fans clearly love them, tipping up to seven thousand on a good night. And according to flags, women who had identified as straight often end up being a bit more into her performances and then might have thought. Ever since I edited this piece, I wanted to have GirlFlexx on the show. And so we’re thrilled to have her joining us today. Fleck’s, thank you so much for being here.
S4: No problem. I’m happy to be here.
S3: Awesome. So I think just to start off, do you want to tell us a little bit about how you became a performer and what that sort of term even means to you?
S4: Well, just start now. Um, I’ve always been a dancer, just I love the dance is one of my passions. Someone with dances. I was a kid got into exotic dancing like this. And I like the local LGBT clubs and stuff like that. And then I got an offer to dance at a male strip club. I was different for me. So. OK, cool. You know, I didn’t know that what I was doing was a thing, that I was a dumb. I didn’t even know what I was. I just knew I was an entertainer. And now I’m in the circuit of dancing, you know, alongside Mills, and I’m destined for females. And then I start kind of reaching out to different people and stuff like that. So then I start kind of getting a history on it and kind of learning and learning about, you know, what I do. I actually like yo, what you’re doing is actually a thing like whole damn world out there. So it was pretty exciting to find out that there were other women like me and stuff like that. So once I pretty much got in that circuit is just like I’ve been pretty much rocking it out ever since.
S1: I’m so curious actually to ask, like, so it was someone else’s idea, a club owner or somebody came to you and said, hey, you should come dance here. What did the men who were performing make of you when you showed up? Like, were they like, what are you doing here? Like, did they welcome you with open arms or like what did was a competitive like how is that how do they reconcile that?
S4: At first it was like, you know, it was very welcoming. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or I didn’t feel unwanted by everybody welcomed with open arms except to me, you know, treated me like the rest of the guys now, more so than women was against it at first.
S2: Really interesting. Yeah. In the audience.
S4: Yeah. At first it was the women. It was more so the women than the actual other dancers. The women would be like, no, I want to see a girl. We come here, you know, see guys we came to see, you know, whatever, you know, like yeah we go girl. Yeah. So we’re after that first performance, I changed everybody. Mind you, forget your gender. You’re just hella talented, you know, like you did at this point. You have a lot of talent and we love to see you put on the show. So I just got and then people started to like, get to know me, my personality and stuff like that. So I’m just, you know, I’m a charmer. The ladies love me, you know, I believe I got a pretty good reputation. I treat the women nice, you know what I’m saying? Like, you never hear anything bad about me or anything like that. Like, I just I love to have a good time. It’s like what type of time I’m on is a good time. So I’m having a good time.
S2: Oh, yeah. What was your reaction to the idea of dancing with men? Was that something you had considered before?
S4: Yeah, it’s funny because when I was younger we used to joke about something like that, like when I was younger, dancing and stuff. So when my brothers and stuff, they used to make jokes like you going to be a male stripper, you’re going to be really yessiree soul.
S2: So like, what were you doing?
S4: Just a dance, I guess I didn’t like them. Right? I don’t like one of my brothers. He was a dancer, you know, in the industry at the time. So I will, you know, you know, dance with him all the time and then, like, I don’t know everybody around me just like, yeah. You going to be a male stripper? Are you going to be a stripper? Are you going to have a lot of girls? And they used to just be a joke and it was just like, here, go fast for fifteen years. Are, you know, Strippers, and you got a lot of girls like. Yeah, it’s fun, though, like I got a lot of support. Everybody is very welcoming. And my family, my friends, like, it’s very rare that I get a bad review or very rare that I get somebody who’s just so against it and just close minded and stuff like that. It happens very, very rarely. And then when it does happen, I’ll reverse their, you know, say their mindset about it. Like, well, listen, let me explain to you how this going to be open minded. And then it’s like, oh, OK. So let me just kind of just back off a little bit. So, yeah.
S3: Can you say a little bit about how you came up with your name and your persona and sort of the look that you have when you’re performing?
S4: Actually, my my first dance name was freaky, was my first Nazmi. And when I started just kind of like getting a little older, I was like all my social media names and stuff like that. And then it was like, well, I don’t want to just be called freaky, like publicly, you know, just walking around people calling freaks online. I want to grow up a little bit. So I just had changed my social media name to GirlFlexx. I just was listening to a song and I heard GirlFlexx. And I was like, oh, I’m just make that my mistake. But it wasn’t like for me to name myself that. But people thought that that was my name. So people when I started dancing at the strip club, it was like everybody was just calling me GirlFlexx and they just kind of stuck. It was too many people to correct.
S4: Over the years, I just kind of like made it mean something like, you know, put some meaning on it. So Flex is fearless, execute more, you know, just get it done, you know, stop being scared of the unknown. And it’s just like just flex, you know, my costume designers and stuff. My designer actually comes up with my costume designs. Cool. She just freestylers. Honestly, sometimes we might see something that we might be inspired by, like a designer or something, or we might try this out or but for the most part, I just literally like call her, hey, I got a show I need I need a costume and then she’ll send me what fabrics she may have. I’ll pick the fabric though, now that I will do out of fabric. And she just go to work. Yeah.
S1: So you can see a little glimpse of your work on YouTube. So I got the chance to watch you and how you carry yourself and the way you inhabit your body. You’re totally dressed in this. You’re wearing your outfit. But there’s something so like sexy and powerful about it. And I wonder, like, how much of that is a show when you are up on stage? Like, does it like unlock something inside of you that is like not anymore in your real life?
S4: Like alter ego. Yeah.
S1: Does it look at a superpower. Exactly.
S4: Yeah it does. It’s like it’s go time. Let’s go. So yeah I do, I do get like a little like a little kick when it’s time to put on a show it’s just like OK Felix let’s go. And usually don’t say shows last fifteen minutes, you know, average between ten, fifteen maybe more. And that whole time I’m just like let’s go. Like come on. I guess this is no limits. It’s just like, you know, I challenge myself, I push myself and believe it or not, actually I don’t practice. It sounds so like arrogant, but I don’t like routines I like to watch. So whatever I’m doing, I’m just doing it. Well, the one thing I do do is I listen to my music a lot and I know my music and I don’t know what’s coming next. So I will learn my show. Yeah, but when I comes to my dance moves and what I’m doing, I just do it. Mm hmm.
S2: Is that sort of a different persona on stage than who you are in real life, or does that overt sexuality is sort of moved through you at all times?
S4: It kind of plays in my real life too. So it’s just light. I think that my my dance, like GirlFlexx in my real real me pretty much are like for me regardless, that’s the one thing about me is always the same person. I’m like, I’m very outgoing, I’m very vocal, I’m very social and stuff like that. So it’s just like how I am in real life, really, you know, it’s really pretty much all I am as GirlFlexx is like, you know, when it’s time to get all sexy and all like I feel sexy in real life. So I be full of myself. Know. Yeah. I got to put on a show for the ladies. That’s like if you’re not feeling you, they may not going to feel you. You have to put on a show and it’s like, OK, whoever you want to be in this moment and you have to stand out. And you know, I’m saying the women are waiting. They anticipate Nasution. They anxious to see what you have to do.
S3: Yeah, well, speaking of that, one of the things that was really cool in the piece that we did about you was that you mentioned that, like, there are women who come sort of, I guess, identifying as straight probably, but then tell you that they have been sort of inspired to question that. A little bit by just the power of your your performance, how does it feel when these women tell you that kind of thing
S4: is so funny, like when people just, you know, come to me and they say, like, you know, it’s something about you, you and I, all these eggs will what is it? To this day? Nobody has ever given me an answer that I can actually understand. I think it’s pretty like ego booster, I bet. Yeah. Oh, I’m especially like that. All the. I can make you feel that way. OK, so now I’m just, you know, pushing a little bit more so I can make you feel that way a little bit more, you know what I’m saying. So it’s all entertainment. If you are entertained by me, I’m going to entertain you. Mm hmm. You are plenty ladies. Oh, I’ve never liked the girl before. Oh, I never looked at a woman like you before. Always something about you. And, you know, it’s just the way you dance or something like that. And then nothing with me as well as I do not hook up with none of my clients. I mean, it’s none of my supporters or anything like that. So everything is a fantasy. And I built, you know, my job as an entertainer is to build a fantasy for you to live off of. I am not supposed to fulfill it.
S3: Yeah, sure.
S2: Sure. I mean, from my perspective, obviously, you’re one of a kind, but like, it would be great if these women could then go back to their lives, meet other people, potentially other masculine of center or domme lesbians, and be inspired to think like, oh, I could be attracted to this person, too, because I was attracted to GirlFlexx. So, I mean, now that’s happened a lot.
S4: That’s happened a lot. Oh, yeah. It’s a lot of women there, like I said, that that they find me attractive or find some type of attraction or some type of interest in me where I make them comfortable with that. I’m saying it’s OK. Like it’s not the wrong way to go. You know what I’m saying? I understand. I know. You know, so it’s like I make women very comfortable with having feelings for me or, you know, finding some type of attraction for me once I make them comfortable in that, they become comfortable within their sexuality because now they’re like, OK, well, I’ll make a joke and stuff like that. I say, well, if you don’t, you don’t like women, but you like me. So then you’re bi flexible. That’s nice. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s how I just explain it to them. They agree with it like it is. Right. You know what I’m saying. So it’s like I get a lot of bi flexible with me and over time I will build these relationships with them, I’ll build these bonds with them and then they’ll eventually venture off. They actually go, they don’t want me go for you.
S2: You’re really doing the good work.
S4: If I’ve had twenty bisexual women, I can guarantee you 19 to 20 of them now dating women, huh? Wow.
S2: That’s the power of a great performer.
S4: Yeah, for sure. I just, you know, I you know, the people that I chose to become friends with and, you know, relationships where I just I’ll talk to them, you know, outside of dancing or something like that. Like you don’t necessarily have to be anything sexual or. Yeah. Yeah. Really just be friends like just you know, build a bar with this lady I know right now. She just recently got married and I was so surprised because it’s like I remember when you was just so scared of me, you know, so it’s just like when I get a lot a lot a lot of women that find comfort in testing their sexuality, or at least just the thought of it, because I don’t fulfill the fantasy. So I’ll kick it, which, you know, I’m saying stuff like that, but yeah. Yeah, yeah.
S3: What is your just personal favorite part of doing this work for you? You’re talking about what what it’s like for these women and the sort of service that you are like offering in some ways, but like for your own just senses, like an artist and a performer. What is what is the best part for you?
S4: My fans? I love my fans. You know, it’s just like I love the support I get. And it pushed me. It drives me. So the feeling that I get from knowing that I’m making people happy or they just, you know, I made a difference or I inspire them or people who pretty much idolize me and stuff like that because I’m in such a positive light. You know, I love the feedback that I get from my supporters. And I got key fans literally. So the kids I’m anti flix, you know, so it’s just like, hey, I’m just a big hearted person. I’m family oriented. So it’s just I love the love that come out of it, you know, it’s not all the money’s good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extra, you know what I’m saying? But I don’t perform to make money. I perform because it’s actually something that I love to do. I get to travel all over. I’m basically like, you know, I’m saying like your average music artist is and stuff like that get in both their venues, you know, they get taken care of and stuff like that. So it’s just like I love the experiences that I get to have throughout this whole, like, career. Like, I love it, you know, everything I get to experience the places I get this go to, the people I get to meet and stuff like that, like is really awesome.
S3: Where are you going soon? I was going to ask you, like, how can our listeners just, like, connect with you online and also find out where you’re performing next? What’s coming up for you?
S4: What I always, always post on my social media, my upcoming shows. Yeah, I’ll be traveling. Like I say, I’m pretty much booked out till the end of the year, so I’ll be in a different state. Wow. So you got my Instagram is GirlFlexx again. And I also have another one that I am GirlFlexx my I’m on Facebook. You could type in GirlFlexx Sidhom and you say my YouTube is freekeh for six ninety one. But so I always post videos. I actually have a really, really big show that I’m actually putting on. I mean one of my partners well is going to be a really big show. I’m bringing know in a few dimes out from a different, different state. Pretty much like I say everybody, I do what I do. They’ll be coming here and we will put on the show. And we got some some phenomenal dancers as well. And everybody has a different background. Like we have a very big variety of talent that will be put on this show that September twenty fifth and that’ll be here in Detroit. Other than that, every weekend I’m somewhere I got chips coming up in Louisiana. I’ll be in Virginia the week after that. Virginia again, the weekend after that. I got Atlanta coming up in September, Colorado coming up in November. So it was just like Kansas coming up. Wow. Yeah. Yeah, everyone’s awesome.
S2: I read that you don’t allow men at your shows. Tell me about that.
S4: So it’s like the dumb shows. Typically men are not allowed, you know what I’m saying? The dogs are being brought on to the male shows. Right. Well, it’s like we are the special guests. So like as far as like males that will be in a building nine times out of ten. They are other entertainers. But far as like outside, just males coming in. No, no, it’s not comfortable. You know what I’m saying? Males just do sometimes just really don’t know how to act. They think they had a male strip club. And all I see is the fact that you’re still a woman. So, you know, I’m saying it’s a test. They look and stuff like that, but it’s just not comfortable because I don’t I’m not I don’t dance for men. I dance for women.
S3: Right. Right.
S2: I know you also said in the piece that sometimes women even will, you know, get physically aggressive with you, trying to grope you. How do you deal with that?
S4: You have to be. So he’s like you have to have like you’ve got to have patience. That’s what you have to have a lot of patience because you have those people who go do too much, you know what I’m saying? And you got the people who just they know they they got respect for you and stuff like that. Some women just get too drunk, you know, they just they get too physical. Some women, you know, some dancers don’t like to be touched at all. I don’t mind it. You know what I’m saying? Like, my but I never mind my butt get in touch because that’s one of my biggest sellers. Everybody like my butt. So it’s OK. Well, if you touch my butt, you visited, you know.
S4: That’s good. Laugh about it and stuff like that. Or for like I say, women just getting too little, too touchy feely. And you know, I was just, you know, hey, chill out. Grabbed a hand or something more than hand bottle. Never make it like I want to fight somebody or just put on a big show. I know how to control it. I handle myself. I handle those situations. I don’t know how to handle the people that I’m dealing with. It’s like it happens, but it don’t happen often because I think a lot of people just got respect for me and a lot of women actually ex. Is it OK if I touch here? Is it OK, man? You know, I’m saying how far can I go, you know what I’m saying? And stuff like that.
S3: So yeah, if, if any of our listeners are curious about coming out to one of your shows or a show with DOMS generally and they’re not sure about it, what would you say to kind of convince them to come on out and give it a shot?
S4: You just have to be. It’s a new generation, you know what I’m saying? It’s a new generation and it’s a new generation of all types of entertainment. Yeah. This generation of social media is a new generation. Everything is constantly growing. You know, I don’t think you can be stuck in the past. You can’t be close minded. You have to in this world today. You have to be open minded. Yeah. You know, if you if you somebody who just who loves to see people, this this is something that you would like if you would just like to hear music. This is they like if you like to see nice costumes, this is something that you may like. You don’t necessarily have to be attracted to women to be entertained. You know what I’m saying? It’s always like me. I’m not attracted to men, but I love to watch the male entertainers perform because they’re painting. Right. And they come out with nice costumes. All they doing sweet stuff, you know what I’m saying? Like, oh, you can do that. It’s just entertainment. So don’t look at it going into what a sexual preference. Go into it with an open mind on. I’m going to be entertained. Yeah. Just to check it out, you’d be surprised if so many people like that come to events. And I just like, oh, I’ve never been to nothing like this, but I’m coming back right on type with women like it don’t matter. Caucasian women. In black women, Chinese, it don’t matter. I’ve come across all types of nationalities, I passed in front of big crowd, small crowds, obviously in front of seven girls. I danced in front of eight hundred girls. You know what I’m saying? You just put on those performances and just, you know, you never know who’s in a crowd. So you have to perform like nobody’s watching every time. And, you know, just encourage people to come back, you know. Yeah.
S3: Yeah. GirlFlexx thank you. So this was I seriously, since we did this piece, I’ve been wanting to talk to you. So this really is
S4: OK for me any time. Oh, wow. OK, I love to talk.
S3: Yeah. But thank thank you so much for coming on the show.
S4: Thank you. Appreciate it.
S2: That’s about all the time we have for this month. But before we go, here are your hot summer updates to the gay agenda. Brianne, let her rip.
S3: Sure. So I’m recommending a really lovely article in The New York Times. It’s called Just Being Me. And it’s a sort of photo essay piece photographs by Lindsay Morris, text by Ruth Padawar. And it is about a gender nonconforming summercamp that was put together, I think, about 14 years ago. And it was sort of a, you know, pretty rare thing at the time to have something like this, a place where kids who were perhaps trans or gender nonconforming in some way could go and be themselves. And in this piece, they tell the history of that summercamp and also follow up with a bunch of the attendees now where they are in their lives. And so you get these wonderful photographs of the kids back then and then also you kind of see where they’re at now. Most of them are about college age or thereabouts. And it’s just a really lovely portrait of summer camp, but also of a special special place for gender nonconforming folks. So I highly recommend checking out. It’s called Just Being Me and it’s in The Times.
S2: That’s really sweet. Rumaan, what did you bring us?
S1: I brought us two books by the Irish writer Colum Toibin. Colm Toibin has a new book coming out in September, but you have to wait for a little bit called The Magician, and it is a novel about the life of Thomas Mann. And it’s interesting that we talked about the beach in this episode and somehow did not talk about the seminal work of gay beach literature, Death in Venice, in which a 50 year old writer becomes kind of obsessed with a 14 year old boy when he is on a beach holiday in Italy. What Tobins books do is sort of study the lives of these great artists and really conceive them as Queer people. He wrote a book called The Master about the life of Henry James, which was published in 2004. So it’s widely available and I highly recommend it. And it just looks at a period of Henry James life and kind of re-examines him as a Queer person. They’re both really interesting books and they do a really stellar job of reclaiming these Queer heroes from the straight canon. It’s a really interesting thought exercise. And again, the magician won’t come out until September, but the master would be a really good thing to read on a beach,
S3: just a side recommendation to that one. I love his collection, Love in a Dark Time, which is also a book of Serguei portraits of various folks. Wonderful writer. Oh, my
S1: gosh. He’s an amazing writer. Amazing writer. Christina, what do you have for us this month
S2: as well as any Queer worth? Her salt knows the second season of the L word generation QUE premiered earlier this month, so I’ll recommend that. But specifically, I want to recommend the best new character on the show and the best part of this season. So far, it’s Tina’s fiancee, Carrie, played by none other than Rosie O’Donnell. Oh, so obviously I did
S3: not go, oh my
S2: God, I know. You know, obviously I’m in a very committed love hate relationship with this show. One of the things that Rosie is part in this show made me realize is that even though there are some funny parts of the L word, it’s very melodramatic. There’s not a lot of dry humor. It’s more, you know, slapstick like overdone shticks. It’s not really like a laugh out loud show for me, except and until Rosie came along. So she actually has a pretty small part in the first episode. But in 30 seconds, she is more of a lived in feeling character than any of the new characters we got to know for the entirety of season one as well as someone you immediately feel invested in. I want to say she’s also the first truly butch dyke on the show and the only one who’s not super skinny. I mean, I knew that those things were missing. But I didn’t realize how refreshing it would feel to see those things in a show that, again, I love hate so much until this character came along. She’s not a cool lesbian at all. So in that way, she sort of departs from the main crew. She is like kind of dorky, a little bit offbeat. It’s immediately clear sort of the way she doesn’t fit in with Bette’s family is part of the joke. But she’s also portrayed in a very sympathetic way. And the relationship between her and Tina, which the character of Tina I hate so much. But the relationship is so sweet that I really hope that Rosie I’m ready for a Rosie Sorenson and I really hope she gets the mega she deserves on this season. You know, I think to my critique, which has been made a million times by many people other than me about the fact that there aren’t a lot of like people with real looking bodies and real looking faces on the show. You know, I think the creators have said the show is supposed to be aspirational. And to that, I’d say, who’s to say my aspirations don’t involve a penny pinching, but with an oversized shirt and digestive issues? I’m so happy that Rosie has given me that sort of representation on the show.
S3: I have to share one little overheard in New York about Generation Queer, which is that on Monday I was walking somewhere and two women were seated behind me. And one of them said to the other, Gosh, the new season of the L word has been out for five days and I haven’t watched it yet. Like something is clearly wrong with me. Like something’s going on, something’s going on with me. And I like sort of grand into the universe because it was just fantastic. I hope she’s all right. Maybe she’s a listener and she finally really got around to watching because she sounded the forlorn.
S2: I wonder what’s wrong with I don’t
S3: know, something’s going on in her life to keep her from Katya criticism.
S2: Well, that’s all for August. We’d love to hear your feedback and any of your topic ideas. You can reach us at Outward Podcast at Slate Dotcom or on Facebook or Twitter at Slate Outward. Our producer is Katya Colm. Kova June Thomas is the senior managing producer of Slate podcasts and the umbrella over our beach blankets. If you like outward, please subscribe in your podcast app. Tell your friends about it, tell your lovers about and tell your exes about it. Rate and review the show so that other people can find it outward will be back in your field. September 15th. Five guys,
S2: big steak.