Imagine a fantastical caravan of indie, queer culture that tours North America and Europe, filled with in-your-face word-slamming, soft tales of heartbreaks and hardship, interactive performance pieces, scraps of memories stitched together with songs and comics, and an overall big-boots, spectacles-filled spectacle of a good time. Then maybe you’ll get an inkling of what Sister Spit: The Next Generation is all about.
Faintly echoing the starship-centric television series Star Trek, this motley crew of literatis and microphone-wielding zinesters navigates the spaces of cultural divides and devoted DIY scenes to follow the prime directive: bring underground talent out to the masses in one long, rambling adventure. At the same time, they tip their hats to those who came before. The original Sister Spit Ramblin’ Roadshow began in 1994, co-founded by Michelle Tea, who captains the 2007 revival.
Originally, Sister Spit was a San Francisco-based collective that grew into a spoken word tour. Their strong feminist streak had them dropping verses at the Michigan Womyn’s Festival and various Ladyfests while their queer following made them popular at Prides. Legends in the lineup, apart from spoken word star Michelle Tea herself, include Lynn Breedlove of Tribe 8 fame and rock-star-like poet Eileen Myles.
The 2010 crew will feature Michelle Tea, Len Plass, Nicole J Georges, Elisha Lim, Lenelle Moise, Annie Danger and possibly other special guests from previous shows. Tea and Moise, spoken-word and performance poets, can be expected to bring heartfelt, powerful pieces to the stage. Len Plass, a writer who co-edited Lowdown Highway, adds his ragged, moving tales. Nicole J Georges could regale audiences with excerpts from her Invincible Summer zines while Elisha Lim might display pages from her 100 Butches catalogue-like comic. As for Annie Danger, she can tell you herself about her shapeshifting performances.
XTRA: How did you get involved with the Sister Spit tour?
ANNIE DANGER: I got involved with Sister Spit, technically, because Michelle invited me, but I think it’s actually because of my performances. We knew each other around the Bay area for a long time but I hosted a lot of shows…. I think she’s seen me enough that she started asking me to be in some of the ones that she put together.
XTRA: What unique aspect do you bring to the show?
DANGER: I bring a lot of theatricality. I don’t consider myself as a writer and I’m certainly not a singer or songwriter — what I bring is a lot more theatre-based and performance art-based. I come from more of an artist/visual artist/performance art background. And so that’s one thing that I’m definitely bringing that’s pretty unique. I also have a lot of characters.
XTRA: Can you describe your performances?
DANGER: Well, we bring different things different nights. I have a project that’s called “It’s That Easy” with Terry Van Veen, which is kind of a personal empowerment seminar. So you know, I am Terry Van Veen, along with a whole lot of people that I am from time to time. But Terry brings you on a rollercoaster ride — he’ll break it down and ask everyone in the room “Who here has experienced intense personal feelings without an outlet? Anger without an outlet, it’s an outrage. Who in this room has experienced outrage in the last one month over injustice in their personal lives?” And a lot of people have experienced injustice and they’re outraged about it. You know, generally a full room. So there we talk about specific tools that then are designed for the purpose of problematic situations of collective outrage.
XTRA: What about Sister Wendy, what’s that about?
DANGER: I had been asked to be in a show, it was a couple of years ago in San Francisco, and someone had titled it “Untold Stories: Transwomen Speak.” And I don’t believe anyone who organized the show was trans. I mean, it’s fine, they want to put something up but then the title I found kind of offensive. I wanted to make it a public discussion so I kind of ended up making a fake video by PBS that was not PBS called “After-Hours with Sister Wendy.” So Episode #6 is called “The She-Male Art Underworld.” So I’m trans, I’ve worked with trans sex workers and I find the term “she-male” hilarious, but not everyone can call me that and get away with it. So “The She-Male Art Underworld” is basically about all these mystical amazing ways of the she-male in the art world and ohmigod they’re just like regular people! It was me expressing through Sister Wendy the thought that I’ve got a lot of comfort in my body; I’ve got a lot of privilege in my life. If you want to talk about trans women having untold stories, there’s a different way to do it. My story is heard, I am loud, I am assertive all the time, plus other people in the show have published books. Our stories are pretty told. And there are tons of women who work the streets, who are actually struggling, who are around the city or around the world who should have been brought to the gallery to speak. So my piece was kind of a comment more on the title then trying to revise it. But the whole point is trying to make activism fun, through these hilarious pieces like the Sister Wendy video.
For more insight into Annie Danger, check out AnnieDanger.webs.com or see her live in the Sister Spit: The Next Generation Show on Sunday, April 25, 7pm at Club SAW (67 Nicholas St).