On Ferguson: Why YOU Make a Difference.

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Yesterday when the Ferguson verdict was announced
and a Grand Jury did not indict Darren Wilson
for fatally shooting unarmed man, Mike Brown, 6 times –
I felt powerless. Hopeless. And outraged.
There is nothing we can do to bring Mike Brown back…
there is nothing we can do to change the actions in the past…
but as a world community
we need to speak up and correct this so it never happens again.

How can we do that?
How can we be heard and make a difference
in a peaceful way
when the basic instinct to physically fight is so strong?

The moment that I saw that protests were happening in New York City,
my gut feeling was that I needed to go
and then my second thought was – a single person isn’t going to make a difference.

But then I thought..
“What if the 27 million people of New York City
all walked out of their apartments right now
and stood in the streets together
in peaceful protest?”

Imagine that for a moment.

I knew THAT would make a difference.

I envisioned it clearly in my mind…
all of us standing together in solidarity.
AND even if that wasn’t what was going to happen,
even if 27 million people didn’t walk out and stand on the streets together,
I knew that I needed to keep moving in the steps of what I hope our world can be.

So I grabbed my coat and went out last night in search of the protests
in Union Square, then at Brooklyn Bridge, then at Times Square
just to be counted….
to be one more person
one more body in a crowd
one more number
that was saying
“No More.”

We speak volumes in numbers
have no doubt.
Things are not working in our country.
This violence is unacceptable.
We need to stand up and make a change
otherwise
things like this will be the end to us all.

BE THE CHANGE.

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Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down: 4 Ways to Battle The Naysayers.

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Oh, the bastards.

You know exactly who I’m talking about.

  • The ones who tell you should be more “realistic”, when you are finally brave enough to divulge your dream to them.
  • The ones who tell you to have a solid back-up plan because they have deemed your dream too far-fetched to achieve.
  • The ones who tell you that it’s a shame you didn’t start earlier or had more training or had more money or….. (on and on and on and on).

How the hell do we navigate these kind of outsider onslaughts when we are sometimes already battling our own inner demons that are echoing these same words?

1. Take It For What It’s Worth (and 99% of the time it’s worth ZERO).
Before you let what they are saying really affect you, ask yourself 1 question:
Does this person have the life you are dreaming of?
I think it’s safe to say that more than likely…the answer is no.
People are afraid to take chances – and they are probably telling you not to do it, because someone else told them not to do it and they believed it.
Break the cycle.
Don’t believe them.

2. How You Like Me Now?: Use Those Naysayers as Fuel To Show Them What You Can Really Do.
You ready for some true confession story time?
When I was 15, they had end-of-the-year awards for all the different clubs in school.
They made a new award to give me and it was for the biggest fuck up.
You can’t make this stuff up.
It was a joke, it was tongue-in-cheek, but you can imagine if adults around you, teachers that you looked up to – give this award to a 15 year old with not the best self esteem in the world, how it can be pretty damaging.
But that award fueled me to show them, it fueled me to push harder.
When people think you can’t do it,
go and show them what’s what.

3. Ditch the People Who Say You Can’t Do It, to Hang Out With The People Who ARE Doing It.
Here’s the deal:
The people who hang out with on a regular basis greatly affect the person you are.
They just do.
If you’re hanging around with people who keep telling you that you can’t do it, eventually you will start to believe them.
If you start hanging out with people who are DOING it, you will see a whole new way to go about your dreams and you will do it, too.

Case in Point:  Kim Boekbinder is one of my best friends in the world and just hanging out with her helped me see creative ways to help my dreams grow further and keep moving forward.
She’s a genius musician and a genius at coming up with great ideas.
She came up with The Infinite Minute Song Project, which is currently rocking the internet. And I mean, how could it not? When people go after their dreams with passion, anything is possible. Kim’s superhero power is making the impossible, possible.

4. And lastly…..

Let them.
Go on with yer bad self
and do it fabulously.
Something I’ve learned over the past few years?
What other people think about you is none of your business.
So just do YOU.
Fuck ‘em.

And yes, that walking away feather fans strutter is me, and yes, I just randomly found this already made on the internet. Thank you, Internet.

How have you dealt with people telling you that your dream is impossible?
Share in the comments and let’s help each other.

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Trigger Warning: How To Recognize Sexual Manipulators and What To Do About It.

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Confession: I don’t know all the things to say, but I know it needs to be said.

Trigger Warning.
I’m talking about navigating through sexual manipulators that target younger people.
I’m talking about how to know the difference between your boundaries and what a manipulator might do to make you feel like you’re a “baby”, “stuck-up”, “uncool” to pressure you.
And I’m talking to all of you – because it happens to women and men.
It happens to us all.

I’m writing this today because I CANNOT stop thinking about the article Gala Darling wrote yesterday in her blog about a person who she knew as a teenager who was just sentenced to 6 years in prison for trafficking child pornography. It was a brave and honest piece in which she talked about all the complex emotions surrounding these situations.
These things are so fucking hard to talk about.
But we need to.
Because if we put this out there, maybe someone will read it and identify this behavior and know how to get away from it and alert others, maybe they won’t second guess themselves, maybe they will know how to reach out and talk to others.

Gala’s must-read full article is here.

I have my own story.
Sadly, you probably do, too.

And in case you missed it before, here is my story about an older photographer that tried to manipulate me when I was 21. It was something that I wanted to sweep under the rug, something embarrassing, something that I just wanted to blow off and forget…but if my story can help prevent someone in the future from falling into manipulator’s traps, then I will share it as many times as I need to.
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I had planned on writing about something else today,
but when I saw the new allegations against photographer, Terry Richardson, from yet another model,
I knew exactly what I needed to talk about.

I’ve never told this story before because I was embarrassed.
I was lucky and got out of a bad situation,
and I thought there was no story to tell.
Nothing to be learned.
But when I read this model’s account with Richardson, I saw that the same or similar coercion techniques were being used as in my own personal story dealing with a “professional” photographer at a young age.
I found myself getting really, really angry as I read it.

I have women and men tell me that they are inspired to be models, burlesque performers, circus performers and actors often…
I always encourage them, as I feel like performing for a living has changed my life.
However, occasionally, there are predators in this business and it is good to be ready for them, to see through their manipulative tactics and get out of there, report them, tell someone.

This is why I am finally going to tell this story today.

If it can help a single person, it will have done its job.

When I was 21, I was approached by a scout from a reputable New York Modeling Agency and I was asked to come in and meet with an agent. I went in and the agent said they’d really like to represent me, but because I didn’t have professional pictures, they were going to send me to one of their “top photographers” for a test shoot that the modeling agency would pay for.

I was so excited about this.
I was broke, I was insecure, and I was relatively new in New York City.
Here was this amazing opportunity out of nowhere.

Or so I thought….

When I arrived at this photographer’s studio, he sat me down across from him and started to ask me all of these weird and personal questions. He knew I was “new” in the business and New York City. He asked me about where I was from, what kind of things I wanted to do, what dreams I had.

Manipulation Trick #1: They will hold your dreams hostage to get what they want.  They will ask you how bad you want it and how far you are willing to go.  Then they will ask you to do things as though giving into to their request is a test of your dreams and aspirations.  “I thought you said you wanted to be a professional model, stop being a baby.”  

He put his feet on the desk so the bottoms of his feet were inches away from my face.
He asked me how old I was and when I told him 21,
he rolled his eyes and yelled out to his assistant setting up the camera, “I can’t believe they sent me another old model.

Manipulation Trick No. 2: They insult you or bring you down to make you feel like you’re not on the same level as they are and that you are lucky to be there. They hope that this will make you “over-achieve” with them and prove that you are incredible by doing whatever they say.

He got up, went to a closet and came back with a super tacky red lace teddy that was barely there and completely see-through.
He threw it in my lap.
“Go put that on, and we’ll start.”

I was really uncomfortable and definitely was not getting in this thing – partially because I was insecure in my own body and partially because I had a really bad feeling about him.

I explained to him that I thought I was there to model fashion and that the agency had booked him to shoot a portfolio for me.

He repeated again that since I was 21, I was considered old in the business.

“The only way you’re going to make any money in this business is if you do lingerie. Trust me. That’s your only chance. Now put on the outfit.”

Manipulation Trick No. 3: They will act like they are looking out for your best interest and that they are attempting to do the thing you’re uncomfortable with for your own good and your own success. They will also make it seem as if it is a desperate or heightened stakes situation… in this case, modeling this see-through tacky thing was the ONLY WAY I was ever going to get a shot at this business. It’s “do or die” manipulation.

He grabbed a portfolio book off the shelf and sat on the arm of the chair I was sitting in. He wrapped his arms around me and opened up the book. Inside there were all different photos of models. They looked like bad spreads from old Hustler Magazines just add a tiny bit of see-through fabric covering you know what. He pointed to one model in a similar completely see-through lace outfit on all fours. The photo looked awkward in a way that the model’s uncomfortable or intimidated feelings were coming through the picture.
“Now she’s a real beauty, such a natural, such a professional. She got right into it. I got her booked for Elle Magazine after this.”

Manipulation Trick No. 4: They will compare you to others and talk about how much better that person was, what a natural, how professional. They are indicating that you are none of those things and if you would only do what they ask you to do, you could be. Also, they will share success stories  (often made up stories) of people who did the thing you are uncomfortable with being rocketed to stardom.

My gut screamed that he was lying.

I remember that I started to talk and I stuttered.
I remember that I was surprised that my fear was coming through my voice.

“I-I-I just don’t want to do that.”

I felt weird. I felt like I shouldn’t be talking back to him. I felt almost powerless.

All the models on covers of magazines he shot looked at me from the walls.

He called out to his assistant, “Tell Little Miss Florida that all the majors do lingerie shoots.”

The assistant agreed with him. “Oh, yeah. That’s how everyone gets famous. Everyone has lingerie shoots in their portfolio.”

Manipulation Trick No. 5: Two people or more are telling you that whatever you are feeling weird about is actually fun, totally normal and what they do all the time. They will make you feel as if you’re the one being crazy or super uptight.

Right after this, his assistant left for the day, but not before saying… “You kids have fun, but not too much fun.   Hahaha.  I can’t wait to see your beautiful pictures tomorrow.”

The photographer closed the door behind the assistant and now I was starting to feel oddly trapped.

“Look. They told you to come here. They’ve booked my time with you. They are paying for this. You said you’d do a portfolio. I know what I’m doing. I’ve been in this business longer than you’ve been alive. If you don’t do this, you’re never going to be taken seriously in this business. I work with everyone.”

Manipulation Trick No. 6: They will make you feel bad because they are doing you a “favor” by working with you or that someone else paid for it (in my case, the agency), and that you are not holding up your end of the deal by not doing the thing that makes you uncomfortable. They will also make you feel like they rule the profession that you are trying to get into and by pissing them off, or crossing them, you are committing career suicide.

I just kept staring at him. Half frozen. Not knowing what was real, what was happening.

“If you are THAT uptight, you’re never going to make it as a model anyway. So why don’t you calm down, go get changed and let’s do this. You want to be successful at this don’t you? I thought they were sending me a professional model, and I got a baby.”

Manipulation Trick No. 7: They will resort to name calling and making you feel like you are uncool, too uptight, a prude or whatever – they will insert your dream of what you want to be and directly oppose it to how you are supposedly acting now. As in: “oh yeah, I thought you were this wild, free woman….why are you acting like a baby?”

I remember that I felt my arms get goosebumps when he said that. It was just the two of us alone, no assistants, no make-up artists, no one. I was five feet away from the door and I made my decision.

I distinctly remember staring at the door trying to summon up all my courage to walk through it.

I stood up and taking that as a positive sign, he said, “GREAT!”

Without looking at him, I walked toward the door and said, “I have to go.”

I remember he yelled, “You are FINISHED. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”

Whenever I hear someone use that phrase, I always think of that moment.

Once I was in the elevator, I was shaking.
I was proud of myself. I stood up for myself.
But on the subway ride home, I beat myself up.
It was just lingerie. No big deal, right?
I completely made a fool of myself.
Maybe they were right, maybe people do that all the time.
Now what was the modeling agency going to think?
I would never be able to work with them again,
or probably anyone ever again.
I just walked out of a shoot I promised I would do for an agency.
What was wrong with me?
Here I had this great opportunity and I blew it.

I didn’t tell anyone.
Then later that night, after running it over and over in my head, I went from feeling like I did something wrong to being pissed.
I thought about calling the agency and telling them what happened -
but then suppose that was normal and I would seem like some sort of weird prude.

I didn’t know what to do.

So I didn’t do anything.

But today, I share this story that was hidden. I share the embarrassment I had, the weirdness that it left me with, because we need to talk about these things to protect other people and let others know when they are being manipulated.

Luckily, the majority of the people in this business are respectful and upstanding and I have had the pleasure of working with many professional men and women who made me feel comfortable, confident and incredible. Those people are out there and you don’t have to deal with the manipulators and people trying to take advantage of you.

I just want to give that model who spoke up about Richardson a hug. She made me realize how important it is to talk about these things, and I commend her for being brave enough to come forward and tell the truth.

If things like this have happened to you -
remember -
you are not alone.
Reach out.
Ask for help.
We can walk strong together.
I am always here…
rooting for you.

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My Tarot Deck – Your Card

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In my deck….there is a card waiting for you.

This deck of magic tarot cards have traveled with me
from tour in New Orleans in 2009 to New York City in early 2013.
They have seen the world and were constant companions of mine.
They know first-hand about love, adventure, travel.
They have been thrown down in tour buses, in little cafes, on hotel bedspreads.
And for the last year they have been sitting on my altar.
They want a new adventure.
Would you like one?

Let me pick one for you.
I’ll write down the description on parchment paper.
And send it to you
to keep forever on your adventures.

Perfect to frame, add to your own deck, put on your magic altar or give as a present.
First come, first serve….
Click Here.

Thank you to Michelle Benz for the graphic design. xo

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Your Recipe for Riot Grrrl Fashion: Picture Post with Tips

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For the Winter of 2014, I’ll be serving up some Riot Grrrl circa 1990s.

Wanna rock some fabulous basics with me? This is the recipe for your riot (in fashion that is):

♥ In the Gutter Forever.
Rule Number one: Fuck it up. Destroy Perfect.
Messy hair. Black smudged eyeliner. Smeared Lipstick. Attitude for days.
You’ve got your own band, you run a zine, you’ve got something to say and you want the world to know about it.

♥ Vintage Slips for DAYS.
Any thrift store or second hand store has got tons of beautiful slips on the cheap. Lace, satin, sexy straps. Most likely, because they’re vintage, they’re already slightly fucked up, so you can pass out on floors with them, rock out on stage with them, and roll around in the gutter. It just gives them more character and you’ll look good doing it.

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♥ Plastic Barettes, Tiaras, Flowers.
Crown yourself Queen of Everything.
It’s time to take back what’s yours. You can also throw in a mix of things – tiaras, vintage hair crowns, plastic barettes hanging on to the ends of your hair, do it all. Roll around on stage and then give the camera the middle finger.

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♥ Fucked Up Tights/Fishnets/Crochet Stockings.
It’s Winter in NYC – so time to pull on those tights, knee socks, crochet stockings, layers of fishnets and march into that cold cold night like it’s no big deal.
You’ve got this.

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♥ Oversized Round Black Sunglasses.
First Coco Chanel made them popular, then Kurt Cobain took that shit over.
Nina Gordon from Veruca Salt regularly rocks the oversize black ones – and those are my favs.
Black, round and big – to match the hole in your soul.

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♥  Babydoll Dresses.
The Riot Grrrl Movement took back the dress – you could be a badass and rock a babydoll dress at the same time. Peter pan collars are my favs. This is my vintage 1968 Dunkin Donuts outfit and it’s the damn holy grail. Throw your choice of hair accessories on, pull some stockings on, lace up the vegan doc martins, dab the glitter in the corner of your eyes and you’re good to go.

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♥  Leopard.
You can’t go wrong with leopard print. You can’t. It’s a punk rock staple and it has a bad reputation….just like you. So throw it on, grab your friends, jump in a pile in the gutter and look at those stars…….

For the Riot Grrrls and Boys Forever.

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How To Not Die While Going After Your Biggest Dream: 5 Easy Tips!

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1. You Aren’t Done Until You’re Dead.
For the last 2 months, I’ve been in my own personal Lord of The Rings journey.
Hear me out:

  • If Frodo and Sam left the Shire and walked to Mordor getting tans and drinking margaritas, nobody would give a fuck about their story. And while I’m sure they would have had a great time, their victory wouldn’t be as big either.
  • But instead, Frodo and Sam have to deal with dragons flying at them, giant spiders attacking them, monsters running at them with battle axes and a naked bald hunched over slimy guy trying to steal their shit.

They keep pushing through ALL of this.
Even though they think they might die at any moment.
Even when it seems too big and too crazy to continue.
But all those obstacles and all those true tests make the victory even sweeter.

When you think you can’t go anymore,
when you think you are going to lay down in the middle of the road and wait for it to be over,
drag yourself up and keep going.
You can handle it.
As long as there is still breath in your body and the bastards haven’t killed you yet,
you are winning.

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2.  Find Your Allies.
One thing I discovered out on the road is that the majority of people out there in the world have had some kind of wild dream.
When you come across these people and you’re in the middle of trying to figure out your wild dream…it sparks something in them, and they will be kickass allies in helping your journey.
We found Allies in every town we found ourselves in.
We did that really scary thing every single day:
We asked.
We talked to complete strangers and told them what we needed and what we were looking for.
We got rides, awesome locations, free coffee and donuts, hugs, homemade dinners, and a borrowed sedan from a Mayor’s office (you can’t make this up).
There’s too many things to even list all the sweet things that people did.
And we were grateful for every single one.
Without our Allies – people that were previously strangers the day before, who became our friends and rescuers…we would have been screwed.
Shout out to Team Revolver and Team Revolver Graphic Design (Michelle and Shawna).
To all of you who are reading this, and you know who you are, we are allies for life, and any wild dream you need… I’ve got a car, a spare bed and a warm meal for you any day of the week.

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3. Fuel Up By Being Inspired By Others Doing Their Dream.
Remember this: You are not on this path alone.
There are other crazy motherfuckers out there that are also going for their biggest dreams.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Every person you look up to – every hero you have had…
has travelled this road you are on right now.

There would be moments waking up in dingy motels or moments I’d feel lost and I couldn’t push forward anymore where I would grab my phone, throw in my earbuds, and listen to friends like Kim Boekbinder, Jaye Bartell, Emilie Autumn and Kai Altair, to just escape for a moment and know that all of them are out there right now on the path to their dreams. I would read inspiring blogs and thought provoking articles by my friends like Gala Darling and Molly Crabapple to name a few.
You are not alone. Keep repeating it.
Hurl your body into the wild unknown of your dream knowing that others are right there with you.

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4.  Still Look For The Stars Even When You Are Lying In The Gutter.
Rock that attitude of gratitude.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Oscar Wilde:
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Even in the scariest and worst moments
look up to one thing that you can hold on to…
just one positive thing.
And I promise more will come.
You can always just roll around with me in the gutter with me for a little while – I’m always there.

5. When You Have Been Beaten Down and Turned Over Sideways By Your Dream, Refer to Rule #1.

Never give up, motherfuckers.
We’ve got this.
Sending you all my love with 2 broken toes and battle scars from my dreams.
If you think someone in your world could use this today, please share.

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2 Years of Adventure, Lust, Wildness and Danger….written for you.

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Two years ago today, I made a 7 month dare
that turned into more…
The Danger Diary was born.

The bound diaries that I kept
for all of my life
were read by flames
and stolen by fire
in 2011.
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Paper and pen
fed it
all of those stories I wrote
hungry
hungry
hungry
I could not trust paper and pen.
So I put it here.

In wildness,
in destruction,
in adventure,
in love
I wrote uncensored
and
you
read.
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Thank you.

There is something here.
Something read by all of you
that can never be destroyed.

They can take everything from me
strip it all
but the stories of the girl i am
the girl i was
will hide here
untouched by time.

What are the visions of the future?
What happens next?
We are wild things.
Unpredictable…you and I.
We will write our own stories.
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Come.
Find your hand in mine.
I have been waiting for you.
They cannot destroy us.
We don’t live by their rules.
We live until bursting
open
wild
and
I will be
right here
writing it
all
down.

Evidence.

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