Wild Animal

OBSRVTNS: February 18th, 2018

 

 

Greetings Syrenauts! 

 

It’s been awhile!  I was going through a bit of a comedy slump, but more importantly I was finishing the first draft of my novel.  That meant book club, and all my other loftly plans for the Patreon fell to the wayside.   I’m happy to report…THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE NOVEL IS DONE!

That’s right, bitches.  I finished my first draft of my first novel.  I had been toiling on and on, when Conner Habib pointed out I’d written three novels and was on my way to the fourth when the first was already finished for a while now.  A few months ago.  So the book is done.  Now I have to go through and begin the first series of rewrites, revisions, line edits, and all the other stuff that goes into getting a manuscript as perfect as possible.  I’m committed to this journey, no matter how long it takes.  Even it is another year before it’s ready to be sent off to an agent and shopped around town. 

In the meantime, the heavy lifted of writing the damn thing is done, which means I can spend a couple hours a day working on the edits; but have my fucking mind back! 

I’m going to finally have time for the book club and to rearrange my living room and get video equipment so I can put the podcast up on youtube.  I’m going to have time to read for the book club.  I’m going to have the time and energy to write this newsletter, and I have the space to write stand up.  I’ve written ten minutes of new material this week. 

I turned the valve, and it all came rushing out. 

 

 

Speaking of stand up.  I headlined for two days in Fresno with my friend Dustin David.  Dave Apkarian, a bear of a man and goodhearted as heck, hosted us at his place.  I love visiting home, seeing how much it’s changed and how much it is the same.  I got to visit my dad and introduce him to Dustin.  I’m cagey about letting people that far in, but Dustin is a good friend and it felt nice to let someone see something I’m so protective of.  I grew up pretty poor and I still feel embarrassment from time to time about letting people see where I came from. 

I realized this weekend that I still carry around some of that shame.  It’s why when I’m at friend’s houses that are better off than me, I still fear that I’m letting my poor get all over everything.  I know rationally this doesn’t make much sense, but my brain tends to be wire backwards, as Melanie Vesey says. 

I’m going to be in Fresno again this Friday, and I’m performing two spots in Los Angeles. 

I also went to the taping of Melanie Vesey’s comedy special Wild Animal.  She has an incredible story.  You can find her episode of the podcast on http://sovereignsyre.net/observations or on iTunes or on http://observationspod.libsyn.com

You can find the latest podcast with Dustin David and Dave Apkarian there too. 

For my upcoming shows you can go here: http://sovereignsyre.net/shows.

 

 

Speaking of the podcast and patreon; I’ve moved the podcast from SoundCloud to Libsyn.  The old episodes will stay on at soundlcoud, but new episodes will be uploaded to libsyn.  If you’re subscribed on iTunes, Libsyn automatically switched you over to the new feed.  If not, you can always stream the podcast from my site: http://sovereignsyre.net/observations.  If you aren’t subscribed on iTunes, please do!!! It really helps to get advertisers, sponsors, etc to have a high subscriber count.  Please download that episodes as well, instead of just playing them.  Advertisers look at downloads not plays.  And of course please rate and review the podcast on iTunes.  You can do it all from your smartphone and it really helps the podcast out!

 

My guests this past week were Dustin David and Dave Apkarian.  You can find out more about Dustin at his site http://dustindavidcomedy.com

If you want to know more about Melanie Vesey and where you can buy her special when it comes out: http://melanievesey.com.

 

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Stuff I’ve been into lately:

·         Just discovered Mom on Hulu.  I know it’s all corporate, but it’s incredible.  I’m late to the party, but I didn’t get television until this year. 

·         Marc Maron’s podcast episode with Martha Kelly is really moving.  Martha Kelly plays the best friend/romantic lead in Baskets, a show everyone should be watching.  Here’s some of her standup: https://youtu.be/XpttkQOd3iw

·         And I never get tired of SAD by Kirin J. Callinan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgBSAs5gwGk

·         I’ve really been into Roy Orbison and his balletic voice lately.  Here’s some Blue Bayou: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiMl4yX1JiA

 

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Failing in Front of People You Actually Respect

Greetings! 

How is everyone?  Good, I hope? 

I’m going through some creative shit lately.  I’ve been writing new material.  It’s headier stuff, but I’ve been writing it out at my laptop, trying to get the language more precise.  From my videos, I’m sure you can tell that my material can be dense.  I’m making it denser.  I’ve been working on something tying together masturbation fantasies with racism, the way our fantasies and fetishization of black men is an expression of our deeper anxieties.  It’s an ambitious thesis so the material needs to be strong.  I’m working it out. 

I’ve done the set a few times, and its done well, but then something happened.  I was booked on a show with a comedian I really respect and I psyched myself out.  He’d never seen my standup before and I wanted it to be good, but I also wanted to run my new material.  I ran my new material.  It didn’t go well, the laughs weren’t coming, I was too stiff, I was looking at him the whole time, feeling that I wasn’t doing my best. 

It’s a decision you make as a comic, try new stuff at open mics and save your best shit for booked shows, or run you new shit at booked shows.  I tend to do my strong material at clubs, and for bar shows to let it ride, try out my new shit.  A booked spot I get more time, an open mic, you’re getting 3-5 minutes, you never get to run your set altogether. 

The good thing about bombing is that I came home and started writing, trying to fix it.  In that sense, I should try bombing more, because it makes me work harder. 

 

This week on the podcast I have Beowulf Jones!  (http://twitter.com/iambeowulfjones)  Beowulf is the LA producer for the RISK! Show.  RISK! is a live storytelling show and a podcast.  I’ve done the show three times so far.  If you want to hear those episodes you can check them out here: http://sovereignsyre.net/media I gathered all my podcast appearances there, so you can listen to them all if you’re really into me talking.  Beowulf and I talk about the storytelling scene in Los Angeles and about how to turn your life into a compelling story for the stage. 

 

This week in comedy Aditi Mittal had her one hour special released on Netflix.  It’s called Things They Wouldn’t Let Me Say.  She’s an Indian comic and one of the first female stand ups in India.  It’s really good stuff.  I get tired of stand up specials because the material feels stale.  I’m really in love with the Netflix specials with comics from other countries.  They don’t promote them on the front page, but there are a lot of interesting voices out there.  Get into it.  She’s funny and unexpected. A solid special, dirty, relatable, fun. 

You can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTLsFUk5fTk

 

I’m going to be running my full hour in San Diego for the Arte Pad (https://artepad.org) festival that Ash Hollywood is producing.  I’m not sure which days I’m going to be there yet, I might be at the Laugh Factory on one of the days.  I’ll keep y’all posted.  For my show dates: https://sovereignsyre.net/shows

 

I’ve been listenign to Qveen Herby lately.  She’s a singer from the YouTube machine, but she does an amazing cover of Desiigner.  You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZKpHH6IHC0

Another singer I’m really into right now is Yebba.  She’s super young but already full of a soulfulness that is absolutely haunting.  I just love her.  Check out this performance.  Get your life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXwE1G7_U9M

 

Interesting people to follow on Twitter:

Sparkle http://twitter.com/hersdayatoms

Denzell http://twitter.com/dzlfbk

Dr. Ben Carrington, a sociologist and previous guest on the podcast: http://twitter.com/benhcarrington

Leigh Cowart, for all your science porn needs: http://twitter.com/voraciousbrain

Reggie, ex soldier and anarchist type person: http://twitter.com/tesseraconteur

Black Feminisms, academic blog focused on Black Feminism: http://twitter.com/blackfeminisms

Spenser Wells, anthropologist and geneticist.  He was the explorer in residence for National Geographic and is responsible for filling up that DNA database that ancestry.com uses to tell you how African you are and how Native American you’re not.  He went around the world collecting everyone’s DNA.  He’s also been a guest on the show so check that episode out.  http://twitter.com/spwells

 

Some good reads this week:

Journal of African and Ethnics Studies: #sayhername a case study of intersectional social media activism.  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01419870.2017.1334934

People Lie But Search Data Tells The Truth: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-09/people-lie-but-search-data-tell-the-truth

Author of “Everybody Lies” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz goes in our search histories and what they reveal about the character of the country. 

 

Word of the week: 

Bombinate: to hum and buzz.  Have fun with that one!

 

That’s all for this week!

 

If you love the podcast, enjoy my Twitter, or aren’t able to make it out to my stand up shows to support, please consider becoming a patron.  If 1/12th of my followers on Twitter gave a dollar a month to my Patreon, I would have the funding to do every last thing I want to do. 

You can support here: https://patreon.com/sovereignsyre

If you can’t support financially at the moment you can still support by tweeting about the podcast and the patreon on your social media stuffs, getting your friends into the podcast. 

 

I love you guys.  Be excellent to each other. 

XOXO,

Sovvy. 

 

 

 

Greetings Earthlings

Greetings Syrenauts!

How have you all been?  I’ve admitted to myself that I’m a grown up and that the podcast and my standup are only going to become my career when I give them the same energy I would give a job I was doing for someone else.  My listeners ARE paying me now and I want to rise to the occasion, not just for them but for myself.  I’m buckling down and focusing my energy on raising the quality of the podcast, approaching my stand up strategically (going on tour, figuring out how to reach a wider audience, you know, investing in my future with a narrative of success). 

I’m not sure if it’s a me thing, or a woman thing, the impulse to prioritize anything but myself, to regard my dreams as unreachable, but I’m trying something new.  I’m doing something radical (for me), I’m believing in myself, investing my time and energy in my projects with the belief that such an investment will pay off. 

I’m feeling good!

I sat down and mapped out what I wanted to achieve and put my head in the fucking game.  How can I get more listeners?  What do successful podcasts do that I’m not?  If Twitter isn’t effective for marketing, what other things can I do that I haven’t been?  It might seem silly that I never did this before, but I think as a creative I’ve always believed in the “if you build it, they will come” mentality.  I had to get honest with myself, that approach is far too passive. 

So, I came up with a plan, a business plan if you will, a series of new actions I can take to expand my reach and up the quality of my output.  Not surprisingly, I’ve found my mood much better, my anxieties greatly lessened, and a sense of empowerment as I move forward.   

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This week’s interview on OBSERVATIONS is with stand up Allen Strickland Williams https://twitter.com/totallyallen ! We talk about comedy and social justice, satire, how far is too far, and if such a thing exists.  We talk about Kathy Griffin and her Trump Stunt. 

You can listen on SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/sovereignsyre  on iTunes, on Stitcher, on the Laughable app, and of course you can stream from the player on my site: http://sovereignsyre.net/observations

 

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I just came off of the West Coast leg of my tour with Alia Janine, Alia and Sovereign Do America.  The tour was a learning experience to be sure.  As much as I promoted on Twitter and Facebook and even going on the radio and other podcasts, it was hard to pull in crowds.  We ended in breaking even, which I’m still happy about.  I learned from other producers we met that we should have been reaching out earlier to local arts magazines and blogs, sending fliers to the venues, things I just hadn’t really thought about.  It was heartening though, because I learned there is more you can do than just putting a link on Twitter.  Like I said, I’m buckling down, and taking the business part of my business into my own hands.  We weren’t deterred.  We’re already planning the next leg of the tour, through the South West.  I’ll be posting more info as I go. 

 

I’m also going to be at the Arte Pad festival at the end of the month working out my hour! 

As always, I have stand up spots through the month.  You can find all my dates and ticketing info on my site: http://sovereignsyre.net/shows/

I’m going to start a new exercise, taping three new minutes of stand up each week in my living room.  I’m going to make these available to my patrons on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/sovereignsyre)a week before everyone else.  But I’m excited to see how strong it makes me as a stand up.

 

I’ve also gathered all of my podcast appearances and web series guest spots into one place on my site: http://sovereignsyre.net/media

 

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This week in art:  I’ve been working on a joke about masturbation that includes a reference to Jean-Baptiste Belley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Belley).  Belley was the first black deputy to take a seat at the Convention in Revolutionary France.  When his portrait was commissioned, there was some controversy over the depiction of his large generative organ.  Over time it’s been written about as an example of the image in the European mind of the black man as a savage, a stud horse full of animalistic sexual appetites.  I’ll post my bit in the future as I work it out. 

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The Stand Ups came out on Netflix this week and the Fortune Feimster segment is really great and worth a watch.  Also go back and watch the episode of Chelsey she references in her set.  I’ve also fallen in love with Chelsea Handler all over again.  Go watch the episode where she visits England. 

Jackie Kashian was on Conan and she killed it.  The last show of the tour at Nerdmelt was supposed to feature Marc Maron, but he had to cancel.  Jackie came in last minute and saved the day.  I love her. 

Watch it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxGcQ52oQQw

 

Also, if you haven’t yet, you should go pick up a copy of Tyler Knight’s memoir about his life in porn.  It’s a top seller on Amazon and a true literary achievement. 

(https://www.amazon.com/Burn-My-Shadow-Selective-X-Rated/dp/1942600690)

 

Amazing photographer Allan Amato photographed me for his new coffee table book Seraph.  Order it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1193179890/seraph

 

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Finally!  I have a Patreon.  I’m still tinkering around here and there, but there are new rewards, new tiers, a new break down of costs and an accounting of where that support is going.  Please consider pledging!  If 1/12th of my Twitter followers pledged $1.00 a month I would be at the financial goal needed to manifest all of my projects and get them back out to you!!!

If you’re not in the position to pledge a really helpful thing you can do is post on your social media about the Patreon or about the podcast so that it reaches more people.

https://www.patreon.com/sovereignsyre

 

I’m also adding a new feature to the podcast.  I want your questions!  Ask for life advice, my opinion on politics or social issues.  Anything you like.  I’ll talk about them in the podcast in a new segment I’m adding.  After I was on Not So Nice Advice with Chuck Nice he strongly encouraged me to consider adding such a component to the show. 

If you want to listen to those episodes you can find them listed on my site: http://sovereignsyre.net/media

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Well, that’s all for this week! 

 

XO,

Sovvy

 

 

 

 

It Did Feel A Little Weird.

I've decided to take a less formal approach to this blog this week.  I'm going to make it a bit more like what blogs were supposed to be for way back in the day, which was before my day, but lets call it a day.  It'll just be a collection of things I found interesting this week.  But first, some me stuff:

If you listen to the podcast you know that I talked to my biological father for the first time in 15 years.  To mark the moment I recorded him on the podcast after we ate Thanksgiving dinner.  I did it this way because I wanted to give us a bounded space within which to process our feelings, so that our baggage didn't crowd the entire holiday.  I think it went well.  He cried.  I cried.  I got to ask a lot of questions.  Some people told me I went to easy on him, but the thing is, I know that his excuses for abandoning are flawed and I could have gone after him for it, but that wasn't really the point.  I've worked through the anger and despair parts of it and now I wanted a healing.  For a long time I didn't talk to my dad because I wanted to punish him, he abandoned me, so why should I reward him with a relationship now...but I changed my mind.  He may not deserve a daughter, but I deserve to have a relationship with my natural father. 

It did feel a little weird.  Having an adoptive father that I've very loyal too, I didn't know how to talk about him to my father.  I just started saying "my other dad."  That seemed to work ok.  I'm going back to spend Christmas with him and my other mom, so I'll keep you posted.  My mom also listened to the podcast, which I wasn't expecting.  I would have been more diplomatic in discussing our relationship if I'd known she was going to listen to it.  She actually approved.  I'll have her on soon. 

In other news.  I've been listening to a lot of conservative rhetoric lately.  I'm less concerned with sympathizing with the "other side" than I am just entertained at listening to conservatives try to be funny.  Anne Coulter can actually be funny, and Milo can too, but some of the humor labors under broad generalizations that aren't true enough to warrant a laugh.  Most of Milo's jokes are about how feminists are fat lesbians, but I've worked as a model and a porn star for seven years and most of the women I work with consider themselves feminists and most of them are super hot and attracted to men, so, I just don't think the jokes are funny.  Moving on.  Here's fun stuff from around the web:

Milo on Joe Rogan

Interview with my dad.

The oldest bridge in Manhattan

The history of the Tampon.

Adam Curtis's HyperNormalisation (how Trump and cyberspace won)

This week on OBSERVATIONS with Sovereign Syre I talk with award winning adult performer and trans activist Venus Lux!  Subscribe on iTunes.  Rate. Review.  It helps!

I'll be in NYC October 10-16.  Check out my show dates: HERE

XOXO,

Sovereign.

 

Not Much To Report

Not much to report this week.  I've been doing very good at the lying fallow thing I was talking about last week.  Just working on my book, editing my graphic novel and working on my jokes.  I'm exhausted by politics and I'm really looking forward to the election.  And then the election being over.  I think I've always been in denial about the possibility of Trump winning the presidency and excited about Hillary getting into office because, like most other ladies, I'd like to have a lady president.  And she's the most qualified candidate ever to run, but she also has troubling foreign policy and a strained relationship to queer issues.  I don't like Trump mainly because I think he's very unattractive and his arrogance is off putting.  It's an emotional reason I know. 

I'm most frustrated these days with the culture that's emerged of feigned outrage.  More and more the alt-right and liberal sensibilities seem interchangeable.  I don't have the energy to articulate the feeling better.  It's the feeling you get when you see think-pieces about how offensive it is that people refer to their pets as if they're children, or why Amy Schumer's Formation video was problematic.  If you don't know what's wrong with Amy Schumer's video, a think piece can't tell you, you're beyond hope.

I've really taken to listening to Milo Yiannopoulus's podcast for this reason.  I don't agree with anything he has to say, but at the same time it's refreshing to hear someone saying how they really feel.  Is that weird?  It's weird.  I call it hate listening, and I do think it's important to know what the opposition thinks.  I'm not a conservative, but listening to conservative rhetoric helps to remind me why I disagree with the alt-right and also why conservatives feel what they feel, or even what they feel.  So that's my confession.  It actually feels good to hear someone saying what they really think, knowing it's unpopular. 

A lot of my comedy friends didn't have anything to say about her Amy Schumer's Formation video.  I'm gonna guess it's because they didn't want to potentially damage their careers.  A lot of them know her or have known her.  A lot of fucking voices were silent, which is the same as endorsing it to be honest.  If you really believe that institutionalized and systemic racism is wrong, why not speak out when one of the most famous white women in the world does something so tone deaf?  It left me dejected.  I don't know.  What the fuck do you really care about you guys?  Like really?  Because think pieces about how people talk about their dogs are sign of liberal ideology in deep shit.  We look ridiculous y'all and we need to get in fucking #formation. 

This week's guest on OBSERVATIONS with Sovereign Syre I have stand up Matt Kirshen.  We talk about the experience of being on Last Comic Standing, the difference between English and American comedy and then we get into stuff about polyamory, slut-shaming and forgetting when you have a tampon in. 

XOXO

Sovvy

I'm Not Gonna Lie

I'm not gonna lie, this last week I did a lot of sitting on my ass and vibrating with my own fear of success shit.  Other people call it bingewatching on Netflix.  The main thing I've learned is that it takes approximately three hours for me to find fictional characters more interesting than the world around me and about five hours to be more invested in their future than my own.  There is some good to it.  I was watching American Horror Story and it was good to get out of the world of the two books I'm working on and just fucking enjoy some TV.  It is some of the best acting on TV right now, even if the writing is fairly uneven and often predictable. 

In it's own way, when you're really living in a project, everything is seen through the filter of that project. I'm always writing my book even when I'm not, so as I watch an episode I'm studying it, how does this narrative thread work, why does this one fail, etc.  That kind of thing.  So even distractions aren't really distractions.  Today I sat down and again was writing in earnest, even more focused because I knew what not to do.  I get mired down in knowing exactly why my characters are doing something, feeling that if it's not very clear why Louis would suddenly feel this way or that way about Marc-Aurelien, well, it all goes to shit.  The truth is, it's not that important.  I just need to write the scene and let the characters have some fucking serendipity.  It's not like most of us know the reason we do half the shit we do.

For me writing becomes very much about restraint.  Holding back the muse like she's a rabid dog on a chain, when what I should do is let her run.  I'll find her eventually and build a strong fence once I know the full extent of the territory. 

Is that enough mixed metaphors for everyone?  Cool.  The good news is, as I edit the script for the graphic novel, I become more confident in my choices as a writer.  Things are good.  Not so used to that.  It means that things can get boring or a little scary.  I haven't done stand up in a week.  I just lost the passion for it.  But I'm forcing myself back out there.  I just have to get in the habit again. 

I tend to sit in the house all day working on one thing.  I forget the importance of getting outside.  The longer I linger inside during the day, the more of a task it seems to go out, and out is where the action is.  At least, there aren't any comedy shows or open mics that take place at my house.  Everything in LA is a drive and man, sometimes you just want to watch the next season of American Horror Story because Evan Peters is so god damned good at his job.

This week's guest on OBSERVATIONS with Sovereign Syre is stand up comic Sarah Hylander.  We talk about auditioning for Saturday Night Live and living on Doug Benson's couch.  She's fucking funny.  Does great characters too. 

XOXO,

Sovvy

I'm Not Sure How To Sustain The Enthusiasm

I'm not sure how to sustain the enthusiasm.  I feel less excited about comedy lately, it's something that wanes quickly when I stop going up.  I started editing my graphic novel script and I was surprised at how good it actually is.  I'm not saying that as a brag, I mean it in relation to how bad I was convinced it was.  When you spend eight months writing something, you kind of forget what you were writing in month one.  I'm looking forward to working on it, it's going to be a lot easier than I thought.  I've never completed such a long piece of work before and I learned a lot along the way.  I tend to over write, I like to layer like Nabokov, but having some distance from it has made it easier to see what can be pared away.  I think it's a really good story and I'm excited to see exactly what shape it takes. 

I've also been burning through the novel I'm working on.  I think about it all day, I dream about the characters.  I feel like a mother giving birth.  It's hard to sustain the enthusiasm for other things...which makes standup more difficult.   I write on stage and I write about things that are going on in my life, but the only thing going on in my life is sitting in front of a laptop writing stories about the lives of imagined people hundreds of years ago. 

I think I'm going to have to go on another one of those quests where I try to go up 100 times before December 20th (the first time I did stand up).  I guess that's what life is, being consistent even when you don't feel it.  Forcing myself to go up and tell jokes even when I don't feel inspired.  I've been working on a bit about rape culture, Milo Yiannopoulos, the alt-right and pc culture.  I think it's good stuff, but I get scared sometimes up there.  The language is strong, though so is the point I'm trying to make.  Wish me luck!

This week on OBSERVATIONSwith Sovereign Syre, (please subscribe, rate and review, it helps) I have Jonathan Larroquette on of the two hosts of the wildly popular Uhh Yeah Dude podcast.  We talk about everything from turning a podcast into a phenomenon to growing up with a famous parent and trying to find yourself.  He has a gold tooth that I'm super jealous of.  I'm getting my own made. 

I have a new clip up over on the media page.  It's Dave Foley helping me read some of my email at last month's Cobra Juice show.  This month's Cobra Juice is October 21st.  We have Open Mike Eagle and a secret special guest.  She's a comedy icon.  You'll regret not going to this show.  Go get tickets!

XOXO,

Sovvy

I Keep Forgetting To Breathe

I keep forgetting to breathe.  It's a thing with me lately.  I get to the end of a sentence and realize I forgot to take a breath.  Or maybe I'm having low grade panic attacks, like those little shocks that travel down a fault line before the tectonic plates do a little shifting and trigger a massive quake.  I can't shake the feeling that something is about to happen, something big.  I don't know if it's good or bad.  Things I've been feeling more of lately, paranoia about how much of myself I put out there or perhaps the feeling that for the first time I'm putting my real self out there.  Doing stand up, writing as a writer and comedian and not the character of a pornstar, requires you to put your real self out there.  The opinions you have, the life experiences you've had, they all belong to you, not a made up character.  That's been an adjustment for me.  On the podcast I'm starting to talk more about myself, the conversations are becoming less focused but more intimate. 

Writing a novel length piece of work is an emotional sine wave.  Every day I wake up and feel something different, excitement, apathy, fear, despair.  You run the gauntlet of insecurities.  Is this good enough?  Does anyone care about this story?  Is this even interesting?  Why am I writing this?   What am I trying to say?  I know that I can't get to the art if I'm too focused on what other people are going to think of it, if I'm creating some imaginary audience.  I have to write as though I'm the only one who's reading.  It's a balance.  To spend time, A LOT of time, working on something that you're not sure will have a pay off or not.  If I work on this novel and nothing comes of it, have I wasted a year of my life I should have spent working on a TV pilot so I could get into a writer's room?  Those kinds of questions.  At least if you're me.  I'm always trying to comfort myself with a plan. 

This week on OBSERVATIONS with Sovereign Syre I talk with retired pornstar and current stand up comic Alia Janine.  I let her get me stoned, which I don't do very often.  Get into it!

No One Cares

So, I watched the debates last night.  I don't really follow politics, at least not in the specific sense of backing a candidate or following bills and propositions passed.  I can't tell you who the police chief is in my area of the city.  I do care about politics, but in a more general sense, I worry about the effects of racism and sexism on the culture and how those institutions are perpetuated by the laws enacted to regulate society.  I get it.  I care.  I'm worried about inclusion and intersection. 

I usually just vote for the democrat.  The democratic party is a constellation of moral and ethical views that I align with.  After watching the debate between Trump and Clinton, I found myself wondering how it is that we've gotten to this point.  I'm not even voting for the democrat, I'm just voting for the politician, and she's running unopposed. 

What was really frustrating, or what has been frustrating, is watching people constantly point out Donald Trump's lies, his obfuscations, his racism and sexism like it's going to make a difference, like anyone cares.  Trump doesn't even care.  No one cares that he's a horrible person, he's promising to make America great for white people again. 

All the progressives ideas that have taken root in the culture and allowed women and minorities to be included in the conversation also mean that white people have to make room, they have to give up privileges that they're now realizing they relied on.  Trump is a protest against progress.  Progress is inconvenient if you're white, if you're privileged.  You have to think about the language you use, in effort to be inclusive.  You can't go around raping women or using racial slurs as a punchline.  You have to consider other people.  No one wants to do that work.  Americans have become lazy and apathetic.  Fucking Vote.  For Clinton. 

This week on OBSERVATIONS with Sovereign Syre my guest is stand up Katie McVay.  She's an incredible human and so so funny.  We talk about body image, body hair, genetic legacy.  All the good stuff.  Subsribe on iTunes! Rate and Review.  It really helps!

XOXO

Sovvy

 

I Hate To Be Redundant, But It Is What It Is.

I just got back from visiting NYC.  I was staying with a fellow comic, Alia Janine.  She has a sweet place in Bushwick that has a podcast recording studio in it.  Since I started writing my novel, I find that it's all that I want to do.  This was the first time I was in NYC where I didn't really go out at all unless I was doing a set.  I sat up till three and four in the morning sometimes in her office working on the book.  I've become a bit obsessed with it.  I think about it all the time, imagining different scenarios, watching people interact with each other and imagining how the characters would react in the same situation.  Sometimes it give me ideas, some times it drives me crazy. 

New York is always a strange trip for me.  I have the weird kind of nostalgia where I can remember every fight, every desperate moment that I spent on various street corners, in random store fronts.  I spend a lot of time thinking about the trajectory of my life, how I've ended up where I am now.  I'm grateful every day that I made it out, that I made it through all the hardships that I've encountered on my way through life.  I truly was the last person that thought I'd get out of the Hell I'd built for myself when I left home.  I never would have thought that any of the things I do every day would even be possible. 

I hate to be redundant, but it is what it is.  Every day I have to stop and wonder at how far I've come.  I'm always aware it could go away at any minute.  I try to keep moving.  My friend Daniel says that's my best attribute, that I'm always moving forward.  My mom thinks it's my worst, that I never stop to appreciate what I've done. 

I'll figure it out someday. 

This weeks guest on OBSERVATIONS with Sovereign Syre is Civil Justus.  He's a recording artist, director and activist.  He's also if Barbie came out with a "Woke Bae" Ken doll.  He's a sort of pinup for male feminism that's genuine. 

Subscribe, download, rate and review on iTunes

September 24th is Cobra Juice at the Steve Allen Theater.  Ticketing and more info is available over on my shows page.

XOXO

Sovvy

Telling A Rape Joke on 9/11

I'm writing to you guys from my friend Alia Janine's downstairs office in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  I'm in NYC again doing a bunch of stand up shows.  I like to say that coming here is like comedy bootcamp, but I think the real reason I like to come is that I like visiting the city where I first started this crazy adventure I've been on for the past seven years.  It feels safe here, and in a lot of ways it feels like no one is watching.  The scene in every city I've done stand up in is different and New York is definitely for workers.  Los Angeles feels more like place where everyone wants to be seen.  I think both things are important.  You have to be invested in being good, but you also need to be thinking about an audience and being able to make what you're doing accessible.  It's a hard line to tow for me because I know that my material can be intense, dark and cerebral. 

I have found that I resonate a lot more with men than I ever thought I would.  It's usually men that come up to me after shows to tell me they thought it was funny, and when my friends are in the audience they tell me it's always the "bro dudes" that laugh the most.  It's something they notice because it's unlikely.  I'm told that's the crowd I want to be appealing too....so ha! Fooled them!  Maybe I've found the perfect way to sneak a disruption into the narrative and it'll trigger some enlightenment next time they encounter a rape scene on Game of Thrones or something like a sleeper agent in a terrorist cell, but the opposite of terrorism.  IDK.  I'm rolling with it. 

I wrote a rape joke that's really more of a joke about how terrible the alt-right is and I'm proud of it.  I got to deliver it on stage in the East Village on 9/11, which was a real blessing.  It's a fun show and the hosts always say kind of fun stuff.  Like last time, after I went up the host said "Sovereign Syre everyone!  That wasn't a lady comic, that was a dude in a dress.  Holy shit."  This time a different host told me I was really funny then ended with "My ni**a." like he was Denzel Washington in Training Day.  I didn't mind either thing.  I get the sentiment behind it.  New culture, new rules. 

I had been going through a slump.  I was struggling with creating new material, or even being good at delivering the stuff I've already got.  It turns out I just can't take more than a few days off from doing it.  It took a few shows, but I got my groove back, so the trip should be ending on a high note.  I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I can really throw myself off worrying that I'm perfect every time.  I don't give myself a chance to not be funny and to work on stuff even at open mics, which is the whole point of open mics.  I will rehearse bits for an open mic.  That's where I'm at.  This trip I tried to relax and just go up and riff as much as I could before going into my act and it was good.  It's taken me eight months but I'm figuring out how to be comfortable on stage.

This week on OBSERVATIONS with Sovereign Syre I have Josh Lawson.  He's an actor (House of Lies) and a writer/director (The Little Death).  We get into it about fundraising for independent movies, the future of film and how streaming platforms have changed the relationship between the artist and the audience.  It's great stuff.  Coming Tuesday. 

XOXO,

Sovvy.

 

Making Sushi Out Of Puffer Fish

I think I've written close to fifty pages this week.  The writing has been coming so fast and strong.  It's a blessing, but it also keeps me from being human sometimes.  Yesterday I spent six hours in front of my laptop.  I get edgy and anxious.  I sweat.  I don't eat.  It's like being on meth.  Not sure what that is, or if it was always there.  It feels good though, committing to things.  I talked about writing this novel for ten years.  Since I committed to changing, to taking risks and actually trying, in the matter of ten months I wrote a three hundred page novel and am headlong into another one.  Maybe that's what the anxiety comes from after a long day of writing, it means I've spent a long day of doing something the terrifies me, finishing!  The cycle is pretty standard, right?  Once you finish something, then you have to show it to people, and then they feel things about it, but it doesn't feel like they feel things about it, it feels like the way they feel about thing you made is the way they feel about you.  It's a pretty tough bargain.  I'm asking a lot of myself if I'm asking to write the greatest novel of all time every time I turn the laptop on. 

I was having a crisis about stand up too.  I did two sets in a row that I thought were horrible.  Every one that I talked to about it assured me that no, I was great, but it demoralized me a little bit.  I thought maybe I wasn't that serious about comedy or as good as I thought I was.  Then I did a storytelling show at the last minute with/for Andy Dick.  It was at a clubhouse in a loft apartment building.  A lot of working professionals and professional girlfriends wearing juicy sweatpants and implants, carrying louis vuitton bags.  I told the story about the time I had to take a shit in the street.  It's a funny story at the end of my act and I adapted it last minute to adapt to the format of the show.  It went okay.    Then at the open mic I go to every Tuesday I tried my first material about the fact that I was in porn.  I'm not sure if it was me being self conscious or if it was the audience, but it was hard and awkward.  I've been doing this mic every week for a year and no one knew that I've been in porn movies.   Audience reaction was hard to gauge, but they were all also comics, so audience reaction is always hard to gauge.  So by the end of all that I was feeling pretty over comedy.  Maybe I'd had it for minute and now I was moving on to writing. 

But then I was watching a documentary about whales and I wrote a great joke about rape culture.  So back on.  I also have some choice stuff about cool girls and making sushi out of pufferfish. 

I also recorded my first episodes of OBSERVATIONS out of The Comedy Store.  They went amazing.  I'm going to try to have the first one up by Wednesday!  I interviewed writer and activist Conner Habib.  We got into some deep personal shit.  I also broadcast the podcast on periscope.  We'll see how people like it.

This week I'm performing standup in NYC the 10th and 11th.  Mosey on over to the shows page for details. 

I also have a role in a new web series called Sportz Night on youtube.  I play a foul mouthed lady sportscaster.  Go peep it on my media page.

Do You Know What You're Really Asking?

TRIGGER WARNING: this story is not about sexual assault, but it centers around a sexual assault.  No graphic depictions or trauma porn. I promise.

 

When I was in college I was sexually assaulted by a professor I considered a mentor.  I was at function at his house, he got everyone drunk, volunteered to be my designated driver because I lived down the street.  The rest of the narrative is pretty standard.  But this isn't about what happened, it's about what happens.

My friends all agreed that something awful had happened to me, but not one of them, male or female, suggested I go to the police.  They worried that the fact that I had been drinking or that I had a girlfriend in the past would color judgment of me, I'd be seen as drunk and sexually deviant.  The fact that he'd been my mentor professor, that I'd spent time in his office alone, that we'd hung out socially a few times because we lived in the same neighborhood, well, that might look like a relationship, like we were dating.  They were worried I'd get hurt again. 

My female friends told me their stories of being hurt by men they trusted.  We commiserated.  They suggested I find a way to drop out of his classes and just never deal with him again.  That was a little complicated, I was on the verge of graduating with a double major in his field and he was teaching the last two classes I needed to get that second bachelors degree.  But the idea of being the same building with him, seeing him everyday, how was I going to do that?  I guess I didn't need a second degree anyway, I'd decided to get it on a lark the year before and had found a way to fit all the classes in, but I could let it go.  I was planning on going to graduate school for writing anyway.  (Phew! That was easy.  Just give up on something you worked really hard for!)

I wanted to call the police.  But he was my friend.  He was my mentor.  I didn't want to get my friend in trouble.  I mean I did, but I didn't want to send him to jail.  But I did.  But I didn't. There's nothing more terrifying than the thought of interacting with the police. I knew what would be coming, that I would be scrutinized, dissected (as all my friends had been quick to point out when I told them).  And I blamed myself, how could I have been careless enough to drink, to put myself in a situation where I was alone with a person of the opposite sex and alcohol.  Everyone knows that once a girl has alcohol in her system you're allowed to do anything you want to her. 

I knew I'd done nothing wrong, but I knew that it would be easy to imply that I had. 

When two weeks went by and I didn't go to class, he starting calling, leaving messages about not want to have to fail me, asking if everything was alright (because he knew it wasn't).  Then he started showing up at the stop where I caught the bus to school.  He would talk to me about how what had happened was a mistake, but something we did together, we had cheated on his girlfriend.  Besides, the school wouldn't like it if anyone found out, he was a teacher and I was his student.  "What if someone found out about what happened?" I asked wanting an answer, some reason why he had done this to me.  "I would say look at her.  Can you blame me?"  My heart sank, because I understood that such a defense could very well work.  "My girlfriend is older and fatter, I'm used to dating younger women.  I just needed something different."  

I went to a professor at school and told her what had happened and that I now found myself in an untenable situation.  Everywhere I went there he was.  She took me to the woman that ran the women's center on campus.  She said I should report what happened to the campus police.  I can't begin to articulate how terrifying it is to file a police report against someone.  It may seem easy but you keep thinking to yourself, "This is going to be really, really hard, and he's going to say I'm lying and a lot of people are probably going to believe him and I'm already an open wound." 

But these women said what had happened to me was assault, was a crime and that I had an the right to get justice for myself.  And I was bolstered.  That's all I'd wanted.  People to say, I believe you, you should do the right thing.   And I fucking did it.  I sat down and I did it.  I filed the report.  I got a call later from the police, wanting to go over some details.  They wanted to know if he was my boyfriend, if we had a relationship, if we had been dating, if we had a previous sexual relationship.  I was horrified.  He was in his forties, which was ancient to me.  I'd never done anything more than makeout with someone.

Based on my report the DA's Sexual Assault team or whatever they called themselves on the phone, told me that they didn't think I had a "good case" (think about that, it wasn't whether I'd been harmed, it was whether they could win) because I had been drinking and he was a professor and there was no physical evidence and it would be his word against mine and I'd probably lose and it would just be humiliating and traumatizing all over again.  They reassured me that I had the right to press charges, but they just wanted to council me on the likelihood that he wouldn't be found guilty and what a toll it was going to take on my life before we got to court.  I was gutted.  They were telling me I was going to lose, but they were really nice about it.

An hour later, someone else from the same office called me.  She said I might want to file sexual harassment charges with the school.  The burden of proof would be less, and she'd looked up the university's policy about professor student relations and it would weigh in my favor.   He could lose his tenure and that would make it hard for him to get work at another school.  So I did.  I didn't like characterizing what happened to me as harassment, but I was someone working with the only weapon I was told I had access too. 

My natural father called me when I was about to file the complaint.  He told me "Are you sure you want to do that baby, they're a huge institution and you're just a kid.  They're gonna be on his side."

The investigator told me I was a good witness because I wasn't sexually active and I had good grades and was well-liked.  "You don't fit the profile of someone who would make this up to get attention."  Someone actually said this to my face.  This is the person you're supposed to report abuse to.  The investigation starts at skepticism.  (When I filed a fourteen page complaint against the school for how they handled my complaint later, he told me he'd pay for me to take the LSAT.  He was a decent guy, but the mistrust of women, the assumption of men's innocence is so institutionalized, it becomes invisible.)

He stalked me, broke a window in my apartment in front of a neighbor while I was home asleep on the couch.  I had to tell everyone in my apartment complex to not hesitate to call the cops if they saw him.  Which was a moot point because the cops told me repeatedly they couldn't really do anything until he actually physically hurt me.  Even a restraining order is toothless unless someone violates it.  And that's what was most traumatic, finding out just how helpless a woman really is if she relies on the authorities to help her. 

When he was finally put on leave I was sitting in a study group with a bunch of students from class.  They were all talking about why the professor was gone.  They had heard that he'd sexually harassed someone.  They opined about how he was such an easygoing nice guy and that political correctness was ruining everything.  They had a lot to say about what women should and shouldn't be ok with.  After an hour of it, I confessed that I was the girl that had filed the complaint.  I told them what happened.  They all came around, because, you know, they knew me, they knew the kind of person I was.  

After the investigation, he was found guilty.  All of his colleagues thought he did it.  All my classmates thought I was telling the truth.  Hell, he'd even confessed to a student that we had "messed around" and now I seemed "upset about it."  He was caught in a web of his own lies by the end.  Phone records and witness accounts supported that he had engaged in a pattern of stalking and harassment to intimidate me from going through with proceedings.

When he saw the evidence against him he resigned.  On a side note, he was sent everyone's statements and several of us sat in fear for weeks that he would show up at the school and shoot everyone or something.  I can understand why people wouldn't even come forward to an HR department now.  I was told he was the most arrogant person the investigator had ever interviewed, and my investigator came from a background in the military investigating sexual assault and harassment complaints. 

Nothing happened to him.  He went on to teach at another University.  Still does.  His rate-a-professor score is quite high and all his reviews are raves.  He's is a very charismatic and charming guy.  And very arrogant.  I'm sure he thought my resistance was just inexperience he was going to fix. 

Whenever I told people what I was doing, that I'd complained, they would say "Whoa, that's really serious!"  Not that I'd been harmed, but that I was telling on him, that he might get in "real" trouble.  The women would also ask "Are you scared?" and I would tell the truth.  "I'm fucking terrified.  I wish I'd never said a word."

It may be that women can "say whatever they want about a guy," but men can get away with doing whatever they want to a woman.  So when you ask why a woman didn't report a sexual assault, understand what you're really asking of her.

 

 

Just Keep Swimming

I finally finished the graphic novel that I was working on.  It happened while I was sitting in a cafe in Seattle visiting my brother.  I was struggling with plot, trying to figure out how to end the story when I realized that the story was already done, that I was just trying to avoid being done.  I hate being done because it means you have to move on to the next step and you're closer to giving something to the world.

Now it will be time to start the editing process.  I was wallowing in the "I hate this and it's a tire fire" stage of the drafting process, really letting myself have it.  I was scared to give it to my writing coach for notes, I didn't want him to think I'm a terrible writer, but I pushed through it and found the upshot of having finished a fucking three hundred page epic in a script format I'd never attempted before.  I learned a lot about how to write a long form story.  I kind of threw everything and the kitchen sink into the story from magical realism to Timucuan mythology and found that all those things fall away when you get into good characters. 

So I've already started writing my next novel.  This one is a traditional format piece, a novel I've started and stopped over the last few years.  Having finished something I know now how it's done, by showing up and writing every day.  I can edit one while writing the other so that by the time the graphic novel gets to you, something else is queued up and ready to go.  A friend told me that as long as you keep creating new things you'll stay excited.

I'm going to be doing the podcast out of the comedy store starting next week.  These will be my first interviews on my own and I'm feeling a little nervous.  I'm used to having Richard Avery there to kind of tug things along. 

This week I'm doing two shows! 

I'm going to be at the Funny Bone in Columbus August 25th!  TKTS are available on the shows page. 

The Sov's Birfday Edition of Cobra Juice this month is going to be amazing.  Dave Foley of Kids in the Hall and Dr. Ken is going to read my email and Marc Maron, one of my favorite man people is going to headline.  This will sell out because other people like these guys too.