Social Interstices

May is my 8th month off work and without a regular home.

Living life is my full-time job right now, like Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Emile, or On Education (“Vivre est le métier que je veux lui apprendre” ). That’s presumptuous but that’s temporary anyway.

At first, I was the victim of my own song. Like, I once again quit all I had fought to establish because it felt meaningless and I had a call from the wild to confront the Unknown. But things turned out unexpectedly big times, and it’s been taking so much longer than I planned to fall back on my high heels.

I’ve been feeling like a total loser at times, because I am a 34 year old single lady who doesn’t earn money and doesn’t have keys to an apartment of her own. I didn’t manage to even get a bank account or a phone contract until recently. I’ve been literally stuck for all the daily life stuff. I couldn’t vote for the French presidential elections. I’ve been a “pariah” wrapped in trendy clothes.

In the last weeks, something shifted in my mindset. I started finding a harmonious rhythm in the chaos. I even grew to love my nomadic situation and to find peace in it, like the character of Kirsten Dunst in Melancholiawho finally finds a sense of serenity when nearing the apocalypse. I’m nowhere near the end of my world, but I always identified with the twisted peace of that girl. Don’t we all find soothing in odd circumstances?

I start not wanting to ever go back to “normal life”. I start dreaming of launching a different life style, a collective movement. It has been so rich and joyful to couch surf around and SHARE PEOPLE’S LIFE. I got to know for real some people I have known forever but actually didn’t know that much. I had never spent time with them and done casual stuff together, witness what their life is like.

Maybe “normal life” should be about claiming time and screwing the boundaries of habits. It’s such a downer when everyone lives in their own little appointed square of space because we’re used to it and we want to be quiet in our unsatisfying comfort zone. Whereas impromptu flat shares turn into exciting and creatively emulative pyjama parties. This is how I found myself doing a house removal wearing Vivienne Westwood stilettos – I mostly held the doors open – and modelling naked in the living room for an artist friend. Her cat spilt ink onto the drawing. We laughed. Then we swapped roles. She modelled naked for the first time of her life and I drew splendid masterpieces (*irony*).

I am daydreaming of a free and spontaneous life style, but this period of time as a “pariah” is making me more aware than ever of the holy trinity that provides us with social identity and  emotional and material security:

– A home (or at least an address)

– A job (or at least a profession)

– A relationship (or at least the desire to establish a steady one)

As stated above, I’ve been deprived of all three for months, and I begin to do so by choice just to study how I feel and define myself without the holy trinity of basic needs, without any sense of belonging at all. Does that make me a marginal? Does that make me a failure? Does that make me useless in the eyes of society? What is my value in that moment of transition? What am I producing if I don’t take part in the economical activity? Was I producing anything of true value when I was contributing to the economy of the country? Should I be rescued and put back on track? And after all, what if I was utterly happy right now?

It’s still and forever all about challenging the fucking norm. 

But. The truth is, I am mostly happy right now, if it wasn’t for the voice of patriarchy repeating in my head that I should feel guilty for not “producing” anything of monetary value. Yet I am feeling like a vibrant part of society, even without a job. I feel like I am producing things of value, even if I don’t sell them. I have a strong sense of belonging to a community, which I haven’t felt in a very long time. It’s the first time in years that I haven’t been feeling lonely, even if I am not in a romantic relationship. I’ve even been feeling useful for a change. I organise myself not to spend much money. I walk when I can, I see free art, read books, cook all my meals and get beautiful free clothes from good people.

I feel like I am exploring, revealing and flooding with fabulous colours the social interstices of the metropolis. With social interstices, I mean, everything that’s left when you don’t have a home, a job and a partner.

And there is so much to find out that I never suspected.

Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia by Lars von Trier

Addiction Is The Memory of Pleasure

Cover of the graphic novel ‘Mauvais Genre‘ by Chloé Cruchaudet 

I read that sentence on the page of a yoga workshop the other day. “Addiction is the memory of pleasure”. Something clicked in my head. Click and release. I instantly understood my most recent human addiction. Maybe it wasn’t about love after all, or about the ecstatic feelings that I had. Maybe the purity of the heart has nothing to do with it. It may solely be due to the strong memories of pleasure engraved in my body.

My most recent addiction was a girl who used to be a boy. I haven’t written about her. I vaguely evoked a brutal ending somewhere at the beginning of the year. I couldn’t write about that as long as I was riding the waves of metamorphosis that are still spreading across my system. I know I’ll keep unfolding the layers of that brief and madly intense story for a very long time.

Saying that it’s the greatest human connection or the best sex I’ve ever had would trivialise it. It’s much deeper than that. She shook my core, she tainted my essence. She awoke a wide range of subtle sensations and emotions in my guts which had been numbed out for decades, or didn’t even exist before. I read in an article that people with sexual trauma often happen to have “emotional anaesthesia”. Like most girls, the integrity of my body has been violated at different levels more than once.

We spent only three months together, and it’s going to be four months that we ended it. But I am still absorbing the after effects of her, digesting the rushes of adrenaline in my blood and the rushes of cerebral pleasure. That’s where the addiction lies. My conscience doesn’t miss her, but my brain and body do. It’s taking forever to evacuate her from my system, like she was always meant to be a part of it and she’ll remain in my cells.

I won’t go into practical, anatomical or social considerations of what it’s like to date a transgender woman. It’s totally not the point. What I care about is how odd and complex, yet super logical and beautiful the combination of our souls and bodies was.

Go figure that frontal collision. What was the chance? An extremely feminine girl trapped in a male body and an assertive yet questioning & traumatised lesbian femme taking off each other’s clothes with all the passion and tenderness there is in the world. It was perfection made fuck. It was superbly absurd. Life-changingly sensual. There was so much love when we started. I don’t know where all that love went. Is it in storage somewhere between Paris and South America, or did it dissolve like our communication? I wish there was a place to claim lost love like lost property.

Making love with her resolved my sexual traumas without her even knowing about them. Therapeutic sex. I realised that I have no hatred or disgust of the male body. I only have hatred and disgust of male authority and desire, of men’s certitude that they are superior to me and can own me.

I verbalised my main sexual abuse to some of the people who were the closest to me, and they didn’t even acknowledge that I said something. I’ve been trying to resist judging or being mad at them. It is their right entirely. I’ve been trying even harder to resist feeling guilty that I spoke up. But all in all, if I could go back in time, I would keep my fucking mouth shut, because speaking up utterly screwed a number of my friendships despite my will.

I think I reached out for help and people didn’t answer – or maybe it didn’t sound like I was reaching for help. She helped me. She fixed me without knowing. It had been a mind fuck for so long, but the other day, I was in the elevator, and I suddenly understood that for the first time of my life, my approach of human sex was absolutely, entirely and magnificently FLUID and joyful.

I identified as lesbian most of my adult life. I now identify as pansexual. The potential objects of my affection are: everything that’s human, adult, consenting, and bizarrely beautiful.

All the knots and obstacles that were ever put on my intimate path gently dissolved in her arms. She’s been my biggest human adventure of all times.

I Wish I Was You

My trips around the world are officially over. (Till next time).

Things are changing. My 95 year-old grandfather stops obsessing about me getting a steady job and tells me I must write about my travels and the people I meet. He said: “I don’t worry about you finding a job cause I know you will. I’m not talking about jobs. I’m talking about your intellectual arousal.” Bless him. I promised him solennellement that I was going to publish my Patagonia adventures to record that big human drama theatre.

I’m moving back to Paris. I almost have a French bank account and I almost have a flat. It wasn’t planned, but one random fact led to another, and why not after all. I didn’t know what else to do with myself: no one or nothing is expecting me anywhere. Circumstances paved my way to a sofa in the 13ème arrondissement that should soon become my “permanent” home.

That’s the longest period of ‘homelessness’ I’ve ever experienced. It will be six months on the 5th of April that I don’t really have a home. The other sleepless night, instead of counting sheep, I counted the number of beds and sofas I’ve slept on since I moved out of my London warehouse last October. It came up to 37 different places.

I used my hot wax machine again this morning to put my pilosity in order. I was shaving with shitty razors while I was gypsying around the world. I thought: “Hot wax means that the nomadic period is behind”. It’s the ultimate stepping stone to settling down again. Cheers to that.

I haven’t lived in my home country for seven years. I was a student and a baby queer back then. The atmosphere and social contexts were different. I’m disconnected. I walked to the social services office today to claim unemployment allowance and my shoes cost about half the amount of a monthly pension. My days of designer clothes may be behind but I couldn’t care less. I knew what I was signing for when I quit my comfortable life. The future is uncertain, but one thing I’m sure of is that whatever happens my fashion will remain.

On my way to the social services in my fancy shoes, I walked past a famous school of graphic design and I spontaneously walked in to drop my life model business card. I used to model in art schools to pay for university. I have missed the atmosphere of drawing classes, the smell and sound of charcoal, the density of the concentration in the studio. I love the challenge of being energetic in stillness, capturing the attention of an audience by giving them everything I have. Life modelling is the best job I’ve ever had, cause it’s the only job where I’ve had the space to expose myself fully and stand in front of people completely as I am. I didn’t have to conform.

I refuse to complain, but things have been far from easy in the last months. It’s challenging to find what to cling to when you have no daily habits and can’t find reassurance in material things. I’ve had to reinvent myself every single day. I open my eyes every morning and think: “How am I going to use my free self wisely today in the broad wild world full of possibilities?” It’s like heaven and hell in the same sentence. Freedom is terrifying. 

Yet, in the middle of my deliberately chosen struggles, I’ve been told several times by people in more comfortable positions that they would like to live like me. I’m told “I wish I was you”, “I wish I had your life”.

This is raising an infinity of questions in my head. How do we perceive other people’s life? How do you make total freedom and security co-exist? How do you find comfort in a nomadic life? How do you thrive and find peace as a creative, non-conforming, super sensorial queer woman in today’s world? How do you keep refusing to get back on the beaten path even when you’ve exhausted all your inner resources? Like the founder of the 5 Rhythms, Gabrielle Roth, used to say, it takes such great discipline to be a free spirit.

I really aspire to become the serene version of myself now. Maybe I’ll even settle down for good. Envy is not part of my mind set, but I envy people who have reached some kind of emotional stability. I am promising to myself that this period of time will be the last roller coasters of my life.

Apology of The Dance Floor

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I arrived in wintery Berlin beaten and bruised-hearted.

I’m on my sixth month of gypsiness around the world. This is by choice, so I would never dare to complain about it, but sleeping on sofas and being jobless whilst processing a brutal breakup is getting somewhat rough.

But Berlin’s nightlife shifted my moods and softly helped me reopen to life.

I was invited to a Russian Disco themed party on Saturday night. It was organised by the tenants of a communal building, typical alternative Berlin life style. They had turned the top floor into a genuine USSR flashback. There was a body search performed by officers in uniform to access the premises. I got stamped with a red star on my left hand and got in. The event reminded me of the Brighton-based performance group Duckie. A band of fake Pussy Riots was playing. DIY Orthodox icons, ice skaters and Matrioshkas frames were hanging on the walls. Someone put a communist hat on my head and that was it, the spirit of the East was in me. I danced till 4am. God! It saved my life. I felt deeply happy and full of perspectives again for the first time in months. A guy much younger than me came to me and put a drink in my hand saying  he had been watching me dancing. He was cuuuute. He flirted with me all night and I remembered that people will like me again.

I went to bed at 5am on Sunday and made my way alone to the Berghain at tea time. The Berghain is Berlin’s most mythic club. It’s located in a Stalinian building which used to be a power station near a wasteland. It’s reputed to have the best techno and electro sound in the world. It’s also famous for its entrance policy: not everyone gets in and nobody knows what the selection is based upon. The Berghain has legendary back-rooms and a very particular atmosphere inside. There’s barely no light, no mirrors in the bathrooms, no photos allowed, and the most admitted outfit is of BDSM tendency together with football socks and Doc Martens shoes.

I didn’t wear any of this but still managed to get in after queuing ten minutes, but everyone seemed to get in that day. I paid 16€ and got a stamp that said “Faggot” on my right hand. With the red star that remained on my left hand, my hands were saying “Communist Faggot”, aka “I had a great Berlin weekend”.

I only stayed couple of hours inside, I was wandering around the different floors and spaces to observe people’s style and vibe. There was a lot of charismatic creatures like I love. I felt good by myself. Only one person talked to me. He asked:
“Do you like beer?
– No.
– Do you like cocaine?
– No.”

He gave up on me. I laughed and I danced alone in the small room with hundreds of strangers. The music was really great, even the Kylie Minogue remix. I was relieved that I was able to be happy alone in a crowd. I felt my heart pumping and my blood running faster.

Dancing saved my life again. When I walked out of the club, I found an authentic 70s disco ball vintage top on the street. The universe loves party girls.

Someone once said in front of me that they got a “more authentic life” once they stopped partying. What a silly thing to say. Why would partying be superficial?

I totally consider that partying can be a spiritual practice. I have never done drugs in my whole life and I don’t even drink much these days. It’s all about the human encounters and burning the dance floor in liberating outfits. You can be the quintessence of yourself for an ephemeral moment, and there’s infinite truth in that.

The dance floor is where people reveal themselves. It unlocks moments of realness. It triggers epiphanies. It’s always been my way to find redemption and feel alive again. When everything else goes wrong, I know the dance will take me back to the present moment and provide me flashes of pure joy.

At the Russian Disco, there was a guy in a wheelchair on the dance floor. He stayed for a long time. People were dancing with him. It was great to watch.

I’ll never forget one of my most beautiful dance floor moments. It was in Lisbon, in 2012. I was visiting the city alone and was living up the night life, the best I’ve experienced. I went to dance at the Finalmente, the only drag show club in Portugal. The crowd was all gay men. We were only two or three girls. I spotted a very short man in his early 50s, wearing an elegant shirt. I noticed him cause he looked like my former economy teacher in high school. I started observing him. He was dancing his heart off with closed eyes. He was so dedicated. He seemed alone in the world. He didn’t pay the slightest attention to people around him. He moved me to the core cause he was so present to himself and there was something nostalgic about him. I made up a whole story about his life in my head: he was coming from a village far from the capital and couldn’t assume his gayness till a very advanced age. People had been picking on him all his life. He finally moved to Lisbon to be himself, and was finding his way and salvation dancing every night at the Finalmente. But he was still closing his eyes not to read any judgement in people’s glances just yet. He would dance with open eyes some day soon.

I still have his expression of realness printed in my memory. This is when I realised the deep therapeutic powers of the dance floor and gained eternal respect for its benefits.

I’m leaving Berlin in two days. Spring has arrived in the meantime. I know I’ll end up living here.

Glamorous Homelessness

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I’ve disappeared.

Some people have been asking me where in the world I currently am. I also have a hard time following my own peregrinations. Things didn’t quite turn out the way I planned.

So. What happened?

I last posted in November from Buenos Aires, at the beginning of my Latin America adventures.

Then.

In a nutshell: I went to Brazil. I proposed someone to marry me. She said yes. Actually, she said “Of course!” And everything collapsed in front of my eyes in the course of 7 days. I left Brazil at the beginning of 2017 to explore Patagonia alone. I had big highs and big lows. I hit the bottom of sadness as I hit the bottom of the world, in Ushuaia. Because I couldn’t go any more down geographically and emotionally, I knifed my way to the surface again.

From the Land of Fire, I jumped on a plane to Buenos Aires. There was a heat wave in the metropolis. One day, as I was walking to the Recoleta cemetery to visit Evita’s grave, I was hit by the certitude that my trip was over. I had seen what I wanted to see and lived what I had to live.

I prepared my emergency exit, spending hours figuring out how to get my ass to Europe ASAP. Anywhere in Europe. The cheapest destination occurred to be Paris, my birth place. The day after, I was flying back “home” on a two day journey via Atlanta and New York. Trump was omnipresent in the background of my US stops. I realised it wasn’t a joke anymore.

I landed in Paris-Orly on a Tuesday morning at the end of January. It was my first time landing in my home country since 2009. First time I was lining up in the “Citizens” passport check in 8 years. There was a cold wave. I had no clothes with me, just a little backpack, cause I have left all my stuff in Brazil. My belongings are scattered across 3 countries.

I contacted a very few friends to open me their door because I don’t have a home right now anywhere in the world.

My friend C welcomed me with croissants for my back home breakfast and gave me tights, socks and an adaptor to charge my phone. That was 23 days ago.

Since then, everyone has been donating me clothes. Beautiful ones. So I feel like a super glamor homeless.

I’ve been hanging out in people’s homes while they’re working. I’m offering myself the luxury to process my emotions as a full time job. I’m not trying to distract myself. I barely go see things or do anything. I’m spending most of my time seating alone to preserve the exact nature of my intense emotions. The last few months have been the most extraordinary, challenging and earth-shattering of my life.

I’m writing this in London, at the Circus Cafe in Crouch End. London is one of my energetic centres. There’s 6 years of my life here. I sleep in a whole lot of different beds and sofas. I love it. I am surrounded by an army of good souls who open me their door and provide me with everything I need, may it be a bed for the night, breakfast, words of comfort or Dragon Red Chanel nail polish. In exchange, I tell life stories, listen to life stories, and do the washing up.

I’m also hanging out in London to consult a transgender woman therapist. She’s bad ass. I pay £97 per hour and she holds the sessions in socks. I take off my shoes too and we become super casual. She told me that she revealed herself in Berlin in the 80s, “like David Bowie”. Everyday after work, she would take off her male suit and hang out at the Kit Kat Klub where she grew to be the woman she was born to be. I adore her already. She says that I become animated when I talk about my writing. She told me: “You’re going to write that book and I want a copy.” So I must do it.

I’m going to experiment glamorous homelessness in Berlin next. I’m going on Tuesday. I have no plans. I want to spend my days in free art galleries and write my book in cafés. And maybe reconnect with my queer dancer late at night in interlope clubs?

This is my life as of now. I love it. I love my life. I’ve never felt that much centred and that much awake in the present moment. I know I’m on the right track, as in MY track.

I’ll return to a more structured life sooner or later. I was proposed a flat-share in Paris. I said YES! So, by the spring, all my scattered belongings will converge to the 13th arrondissement. I’ll store my suitcases under my bed and I’ll have an address and a job again.

I’m truly excited about that perspective.

Till then. Anything can happen. I’m wide open. Life is fab.

Impressions of Buenos Aires

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I arrived at the airport late at night. I couldn’t withdraw pesos at any of the ATMs. I thought it was my foreign card and freaked out that I was going to get stuck there for good. I found out later that ATMs often run out of cash in Argentina. One day in the city centre, a nice lady let me walk with her for 15 minutes to a bank which was actually giving money.

Everywhere in public places, I only heard international hits of the 90s. I wondered why?

On Sunday morning, I saw more rain in a few hours than I saw in London over the last year. I braved the weather. The streets were completely empty.

Dove hand soap smells like Dulce de leche.

(Dulce de Leche is a religion).

In Palermo, I saw a number of dog walkers, one guy with 7 or 8 big dogs, one really looked like a sheep.

I recognised traits of Haussmann architecture on several buildings. Didn’t feel like Paris though.

The streets and parked cars are covered with the purple flowers of this tree I’ve never seen before. I asked what it was but couldn’t get an answer.

I knew that the accent is much different from the European Spanish I know, yet I wasn’t prepared to integrate that ‘lama’ is pronounced ‘chama’. It created a number of misunderstandings.

I was hanging out all the time in a colourful café called Bartola. The first time I went, I was reading Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes. The waitress exclaimed: “Virginie Despentes! La Teoria de King Kong!” We talked about feminist writers for a little bit. I felt welcome at heart by international sisterhood because King Kong Théorie is a book that changed my life.

I went to a tango class at the Armenian centre in Palermo, because the friends who hosted me told me that the famous open air milonga in La Plaza Dorrego San Telmo was a dangerous area alone at night. Later on TV, that night, we saw that the body of a big finance guy had just been discovered in a suitcase in that neighbourhood.

The tango class was kinda bad, there were mostly washed off dancers in couples. I was one of the youngest and I was by myself. There was a man who was the curly Argentinian version of an idiot guy I used to have a crush on in London, so I kept staring at him biting my tongue not to giggle. I, of course, randomly ended up dancing with him and I didn’t know any of the steps because I was focusing on his resemblance rather than on the teacher. At 10:30pm, everyone started dancing rock’n’roll out of the blue.

I was hosted by a lovely couple who are friends of my lover. I had never met them before but they opened me their door, gave me a set of keys, fed me empanadas for two days and helped me in every way they could. When I left for the airport, the guy dropped what he was doing and came with me to make sure I was getting on the right bus although he had a deadline for university that evening.

I took the bus back to the airport near the Rio del Plata. Some people were fishing. The dusk light was stunning. When I come back here, I’ll walk on the bank of the river for a whole day.

I crossed the city by bus as the night was falling. The further we were driving, the more the atmosphere was changing. At the periphery of the city, some houses were made of wood and cardboard. I saw a nun talking to a whore on the street – unless I’ve seen too many Almodovar movie and this was just my imagination?

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Maybe You’ll Have A Smooth Ride

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This is the house where I grew up.

I hadn’t been for eight years. 8 YEARS. I don’t know the precise reasons of my absence.

I was 25 when I was here last. I was, back then, an aspiring baby queer who hadn’t even come out to herself yet. I had just cut my hair short for the last time of my life (I understood soon after that it doesn’t suit me). I was a confused Parisian student with chubby cheeks. I was at the very beginning of my empowerment. I now gauge myself to be half way through it. I am proud.

It is 1:40 am as I am writing this. I can’t sleep. All my life possibilities and burning desires are spinning in my head. I turned on the light to smoke a café crème cigarillo. I’ve cruelly missed gypsy time management. I am humming an old East 17 song, Alright, alright, everything’s gonna be alright. I am contemplating all the time and freedom ahead of me. I know I can do absolutely anything there is to be done on that side of the fucking planet. Like one stereotypically says, the rest of my life is a blank page to be written. I am going to write it like I write my blog posts. Spontaneous, volcanic, irregular.

Being back between the walls which absorbed my passed fears helps me realise how much I’ve accomplished. It’s been moving me in a good way to be here. I went through all the things I’ve left in storage over the years. Each box represents an era. I ship more unwanted things here with every house moving. That’s a lot of archive to look at. I had forgotten about some of the clothes I used to wear. I tried some on again. The books I miss, the letters I received, some pictures of my younger face.

Since 2008, I’ve been an inhabitant of Paris, Berlin, Paris again, London, New York. All the trips. All the jobs. I am now an officially unemployed inhabitant of nowhere and this fills me with ecstasy. All my belongings are in storage. I am flying out to Buenos Aires in ten days to travel around Latin America by myself. People are afraid for me. I am not afraid for myself.

Above all, there’s been a ton of new people irrupting into my life since I was here last. I fell in and out of love. Got hurt and disappointed, but had brief moments of bliss on the way which made it all worth it after all.

I am now falling in love again and I am hoping for the first time in years, but my system seems to cope better with the big void of loneliness than with the effervescence of hope. I shared my ongoing agitation with my good friend μ4. He simply said: “Maybe this time you’ll have a smooth ride.”

At first, I wasn’t even sure what he meant. I had to rephrase to confirm I got it right. I was like: “Do you mean that things may be easy?” I realised that I’ve never quite seen things under that light. It’s just not part of my mindset. I’ve been repeating this quote like a mantra. It is not so much that I am afraid of life or that I am a natural pessimistic. Not at all. I am just not good with peace. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt serene in any way. I am so talented for chaos and violent feelings. It is a nature to tame.

Maybe things actually do sometimes get alright and stay alright in the end?

The book in the above picture is the cult lesbian novel Thérèse et Isabelle by Violette Leduc. I strongly recommend it. 

The Abolition of Privilege

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Picture by David Mery – Quote by Muriel Lester (1883-1968) hanging on the wall of the Bishopsgate Institute in London

There’s been the Paris attacks, which targetted people like me. Being a trendy Parisian is no longer safe. I am down one home.

There’s been the Orlando attacks, which targetted people like me. Hanging out in the queer world is no longer safe. I am down two homes.

There’s been the Brexit, which targetted people like me. Being a European citizen in the UK is no longer safe. I am down three homes.

Contemporary history has been slapping my immigrant queer French female face over the course of eight months. Pulling the carpet from under my feet.

My world as I’ve always known it is vanishing, and I haven’t even turned 33. I never imagined I’d be hit by nostalgia so long before menopause.

I suppose that it is how it goes about privilege: you don’t realise you have it until it gets abolished. I never thought an era would come when I would be part of the threatened group(s). I am grateful for having lived a fairly protected life so far. My “only” experiences of discrimination and violence have been sexism, street harrassment and homophobia – which are all solid trainings. Yet, I never imagined being afraid for my life in the city where I was born, nor being seen as an unwanted immigrant whose accent is a flaw rather than an aphrodisiac.

It feels like London’s face changed overnight after the referendum. London has always been that extraordinary Tower of Babel where all humans have been creatively co-existing, sucessfully mixing and joyfully getting along.

I refuse to see the end of that ideal world of clever diversity.

Because fate has humour, I happened to hand in my resignation on the day of the referendum results: June 24th, 2016. I had been planning for months to give my notice at the end of June, and just like a lot of people, I never believed in Brexit. My professional rebellious statement got somewhat absorbed by the political context. I wanted to send a firm message across to my upper management about my worth and how much I should be paid and what a terrible loss I represent, but when I found myself in my resignation meetings, all I could talk about was Brexit. ‘I am not prepared to face xenophobia. I am not prepared to see the new face of London” I said in all honesty and humility. Fuck my career statement. I claimed my love for diversity and the EU for 40 minutes to American managers who had just got in town. They were somewhat thrown off. I didn’t plan that my 4 year career in corporate would end on such an emotional and humanist note.

I am relieved to leave the ship. It feels like a wave of cool people will be leaving the UK, the progressist Brits and the gutted EU citizens. Hopefully we’ll all meet somewhere immigrant-friendly, queer-friendly, equality-friendly, to carry on.

The question that is running on everyone’s lips is: Where shall we go next?

Where in the world will I receive some fresh and hopeful wind on my queer immigrant arty woman’s face?

Which dance floors will I burn next?

Oh Gawd. I am there again.

Leaving.

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Found in London underground 5 days after the referendum

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And Strike A Pose For Me [Bar Wotever]

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Pictures by Goroyesque for Bar Wotever

I’ve been fairly stagnant, bored and boring recently. My sense of celebration was hibernating. But it all resurrected at Bar Wotever last night. Tuesday night saved my life.

My queer friend ε proposed me to go, so I put too much red lipstick on and the fascinator that I bought at Trashy Diva in New Orleans, and I met her there. I wasn’t suspecting that a miracle would happen.

Bar Wotever is a weekly open queer camp performance stage at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in South London. It’s super good spirit, I have always laughed and had awesome times there cause the shows are high quality but nobody takes themselves seriously. The crowd is a good sample of every gender, fashion style and body shape that exist on earth.

Two pretty people got on stage to advertise the voguing events that they regularly organise in London. One of them was nicknamed ‘Princess Butch‘. She had the prettiest smile. I was sitting on the first row of tables and I suddenly saw a hand pulling me up onto the stage. My fascinator caught their eye. I thought “Of course!” What could be more natural than finding myself in a voguing contest on a queer stage on a Tuesday night? We had to dance and show off like on the catwalk,  walk down to the audience, back on stage again, and the presenter would then say to finish his rap flow “And/strike/a/pose/for/me” and we had to stand still in a glamorous pose. I got the timing perfectly, so people liked my perf. It was so funny. Dudes, if I wasn’t wearing jeans, I would have killed that split. The audience was voting with applause. I made it to the last round (out of two haha).

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Then. The real stuff happened. The serious high level voguing dancers took over the stage and the entire room. Oh Lord. Revelation. Lightnings. Fireworks. Rainbows. I really felt for a second in the New York of the 80s with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Madonna and all the pretty people and I felt the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I had no clue that voguing was a contemporary thing, and certainly not that it was so joyful, artistic and technical. I only knew the clichéd mainstream version of voguing e.g. the Madonna song and the documentary Paris is burning about the origins of the movement. Now that’s it, I want to be a voguing dancer. Voguing is an art form and a lifestyle in itself. Voguing is the new 5 Rhythms, the new quest. Ahhhhhhh. (I’ve already signed up for a hoola hoop/voguing workshop next week). Those pretty dancers were super stylish and set everyone on fire, I had rarely seen such a good atmosphere in a bar. Literally everyone was dancing as a group or battling in improvised duets. At some point, the hot dancers were battling only with their arms and attitude, seating on stools. It became very theatrical without a single word, like ‘I have prettier nails than you’ kind of moves. Oh man! I wanted to be one of them.

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Suddenly, I saw her. She got on stage with a very 90s outfit, like she had been time travelling. She was the voguing doppelgänger of Emma Watson, with the most endearing mix of shyness, grace and attitude. My heart instantly swung in her direction. I hadn’t been that caught by a woman’s strength in a long time. Why do I always fall for people while they are dancing? (I know the answer to that: because they are really present to themselves and don’t bullshit). I asked a guy from the crew what her name was, but he didn’t know. I didn’t talk to her because I’m an idiot around people I feel irrationally drawn to. I’m now on a serious mission to track back the voguing Emma Watson. Girl, if you ever read that post: I want to hear the sound of your voice and learn that arm move from you.

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Came the end of the party. I was ecstatic. Emma Watson was still around, but I knew I wouldn’t have the guts. I never approach people. This is how my life goes.

ε left with me and we walked to the station. We kissed under Vauxhall bridge, just like that cause we were in the mood. Why not? She dragged me in a black cab to her new boy’s house. It was so absurd that it was jubilating to be caught in an impromptu threesome on a Tuesday night after voguing. I laughed on the inside and I felt alive again, after a few dull weeks where my only internal leitmotiv was that no one here really cares about me. I suddenly remembered why I like my life so much, for the joyful vibrant random sexy intensity of it.

I had never been in a trio with a boy and a girl, so I had to make a statement around my male tolerance. I finally relaxed and flowed with the situation. I need new stuff anyway. I need new everything.

I left at 6am and crossed London by tube with my purple stilettos and my leopard coat. My eye makeup was down to my cheeks but I didn’t try to fix it.

I worked all day. I’m writing this twelve hours later, travelling across London again to make the ladies dance at Mad House (the psychiatric hospital) with two and a half hours of sleep in my system. I didn’t want to cancel, because I’m in such a state of nerves that my sensitivity will be closer to theirs. Something magical may arise from our similar state of exhausted nervosity?

This is my conception of happiness. Walking my intensity across the city amongst colourful human landscapes to dance.

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King Kong Théorie : A Manifesto

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“[Rape] is a founding event. Of who I am as a writer, and as a woman who is no longer quite a woman. It is both that which disfigures me, and that which makes me.”  Virginie Despentes, King Kong Théorie, 2006

I’ve been trying for months to write that post in my mother tongue, which is the language of King Kong Théorie, but I’ve been unable to do so. It is challenging to tackle crude stuff in your first language. I am attempting again to pull my thoughts together on that essential piece of writing.

King Kong Théorie is to the 21st century what The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir was to the 20th: an intellectual electroshock and a feminist Bible.

For many years, I didn’t like Virginie Despentes ; or at least I believed so. Her case was completely misleading and I didn’t have much of a critical opinion on feminism when I first saw her on TV in 2000, the year that her feature Baise-Moi was censored in France. I didn’t like her in interviews. It seemed so unusual to speak on TV with such a neglected hair, saying bad words and not trying to please anyone. Baise-Moi (‘Fuck Me’) is like the rougher version of Thelma & Louise, whose lead characters are played by two porn stars of that time. They fuck and kill all the men they come across to take their revenge on patriarchy. Despentes says that her movie was censored because the heroins are women and female violence is socially unacceptable.

A few years ago, I read her novel ‘Apocalypse Baby’, which I found absurd and unnecessarily trash. At the end of the story, the teenage heroin blows the Palais Royal in Paris with a bomb stuck up her vagina: go figure the symbolism.

In 2012, my opinion finally shifted. Virginie Despentes published a column in Têtu [the most famous French gay magazine which ran out of business last year] as a response to the declaration of a politician criticizing the legalization of gay marriage. It was fierce, smart and brilliant. I was following the debate on gay marriage very closely back then, and I was reading a lot of what was written in both camps. Her words are the only words which really marked my memory. They’ve been staying with me ever since; I remember some of her arguments really precisely because she is the only person who articulated my own position with such precision. I endorsed every single of her words, including the offensive ones. I wished I had written that statement myself as a letter to my anti-gay marriage mother.

Finally, last summer, nine years after it was published, I bought a copy of King Kong Théorie. I got a sudden urge to read it, because so many women seemed to refer to it as a life-changing work. I started reading it during my holiday in France at my 60-something aunt and uncle’s. I was hiding to read, because I was afraid they would see the summary at the back of the book: ‘I am writing as un ugly one for the ugly ones: the old hags, the dykes, the frigid, the unfucked, the unfuckables, the neurotics, the psychos, for all those girls who don’t get a look in the universal market of the consumable chick.” I was lacking the guts to justify my literary choices. One evening, as I was reading in bed, my aunt got in the room to kiss me good night. I had the silly reflex to throw the book under the bed so that she wouldn’t see it. It fell in an out of reach spot: I had to move the bed around to get my subversive book back. There I was, an assertive feminist gay woman, moving the furniture in the middle of the night because I didn’t assume my feminist reading in front of my family. I felt utterly dumb. What exactly was I afraid of?

[In the meantime, my courage reappeared and I made my uncle read King Kong Théorie. I warned him about the crudity of the tone beforehands. He devoured it in two days and bought himself a copy, saying that it was a book designed for men. It is one of the small change-the-world achievements that I am the most proud of. My aunt read it too.]

As I was progressing through the pages, I started underlining certain passages which particularly resonated with my experience of living life in a very feminine woman’s body. But I soon realised that I was going to underline the whole book. Virginie Despentes verbalises things in such a striking way that I could finally put words on the confused rebellion which I had instinctively felt all my life, but which I never had the intellectual clarity to articulate, because I had been raised to believe that things were just meant to be that way when you are a girl. But I was discovering that my rebellion was legitimate.

Virginie Despentes relates her own experience of controversial themes where the female body is the common denominator of ongoingly unsolved issues: rape, prostitution, the porn industry, the myth of the ideal woman.

She knows what she’s talking about.

She always considered herself non-attractive: ‘I have always felt ugly. I put up with it and now I’m starting to appreciate it for having saved me from a crap life in the company of nice, dull, small-town guys (…) I like myself as I am, more desiring than desirable.’ Hurray to the concept of the Desiring Girl, that girl who can tell people asking her why she’s pretty yet single to fuck off! It is so much more fun to want (and get) than being wanted.

Despentes worked as a prostitute for a couple of years. Her vision of the job is original and defeats a number of clichés, pretty much like everything she writes about. She hangs out with porn stars and has every right to legitimately blow some fresh air on the heated topic of the porn business.

But in my opinion, the most edifying chapter, the most cult and groundbreaking is the one about rape. ‘The very definition of femininity: “the body that can be taken by force and must remain defenseless”. Virginie Despentes writes how she was raped by three guys with a gun at 17 as she was hitch-hiking with a friend. Just the way she simply writes:“my” rape’ feels like a taboo is breaking. So is the way she explains how many years it took her to call her rape a rape, the difficulty to name it. How everybody, victims and rapists, don’t refer to the act as ‘rape’ but use all kind of hazardous periphrasis. And above all, Despentes describes how she refused to be destroyed by it, how she refused to feel she wasn’t the same afterwards, like society expects a raped woman to be.

I read that chapter again and again. I discover different layers every time, I am more or less sensitive to a passage or another. Those few pages are my intellectual refuge and my reference piece for ever. I have been offering King Kong Théorie to all the boys & girls I care about as an initiation ritual into my world.

Everybody should read it.