Opinion
1 min

The coolest job

The Xtra experiment worked — the ‘bar rag’ generated both income and interest

Sonja Mills in the early days of Xtra. Credit: Jake Peters

To celebrate Xtra’s 30 years of publishing in Toronto, we’re running a series of memories and musings from community members, current staff, writers and former staff members. 

1984. Oh my god. Or, as the kids say today, OMG.

I had the coolest job at The Body Politic, was living in Chris Bearchell’s House of Lesbian Porn and had my first serious girlfriend. She was in the army. Not fucking kidding — I’ll tell you about that sometime.

Whatever that building is now on the southeast corner of Bathurst and Queen, that used to be the Big Bop, was the Holiday Tavern, the strip joint I hung out in on my lunch hours. The dancers seemed to enjoy their dyke regulars: we were good tippers and weren’t there to objectify the ladies. Sometimes we’d tell them to put some clothes on because they looked chilly.

My job was to organize the events listings (which I assume takes a team now) and to come up with little entertaining bits for Xtra, The Body Politic’s new one-page free bar rag that we had started to try to generate some advertising income. Basically, I was getting paid to stalk Lorraine Segato. I wasn’t a writer yet. Man, I got away with some dumb shit.

Thank goodness I had lots of artist friends whose gigs desperately needed free press, especially since my personal goal was to make sure lesbian events got space. Ken Popert once said to me, “How come every time Beverly Bratty sneezes she gets her name in the paper?” My understanding is that Ken is still an ass.

The Xtra experiment worked. That “bar rag” generated both income and interest, and the collective had to make the sad decision to close TBP and concentrate our efforts on the new publication.

Congrats to everyone who made it through all these years. Not all of us have! My thoughts on this anniversary are with Chris Bearchell, Rick Bébout, Paul Baker . . . the parties are less fun without you.

PS: By the time this is published, my tits’ll be gone.