I left, for a safer feeling place, because I felt I was under some threat of invasion. Here, I’ll explain:
A few years ago I’d finished my shift at Exxxotica New Jersey and was being taken to my hotel by Steve—not the roommate Steve, a different Steve. A stranger, male presenting and much bigger than I am both horizontally and vertically, inserted themselves into my physical path.
It’d been a long day, so instead of “excuse me, I’m no longer on the clock” he got “I WILL HARSHLY BEAT YOU with my bag of super skin ™ orifices.” The other Steve let the whole thing play out because he was perfectly capable of intervening if necessary, but knew that most likely he’d just get a good show.
The strange man mumbled about whether I was scared of him or something.
I was in no shape to communicate this, but fuck yes I was scared of him or something. Life has taught my body that humans who are larger than I am are giant spike-y question marks. Like, they could be great, or they could do something physically or psychologically injurious on purpose. The only way to find out is to risk an interaction or watch if someone else decides to take that risk.
Molly Crabapple once interviewed me live, in person at the NYC SoHo Club. A guy waited through the whole interview—during which we discussed art, sex, politics, pornography, directing, and how it felt for me to be in charge. When question time started this guy put his hand up, and asked how I’d found being empowered like that.
I don’t think I literally spat, but I was suddenly almost entirely cat. I said: It isn’t the empowerment, it’s the fucking entitlement. Empowered feels as though that power can be revoked according to someone else’s whim. Entitled means it is far easier to believe that that power is actually mine.
He didn’t get it. At least not that evening.
Every public appearance takes a lot of preparation and recovery for me. I go into interviews and events as open as I possibly can. For me this is the way I must do my work in order to feel right.
If you ignore my “No” and ask again, I start to feel like someone is trying to push, so then I disappear. Understand?
Also published on Medium.