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LOVE, AMERICA STYLE the Ugly Betty star chats it up with BFF Amber Tamblyn

celebrate your curves sexy lingerie for bodacious booties PLUS:



the young & the clueless what today's tweens know about sex













40 SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL Ain’t no party like America Ferrera’s tea party. Hey! Ho! By Amber Tamblyn

56 DIE, DIE MY DARLING Cherishing novels where the heroine perishes. By Marni Grossman

60 OH! YOU PRETTY THINGS Unmentionables worthy 48 LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX A former schoolyard sexpert digs up the dirt on how girls learn about “doing it” today. By Johanna Gohmann

of an honorable mention. Photos by Susan Pittard, styling by Tara Marks


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Editor’s Letter Dear BUST


Broadcast Much respect for Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Rec; Pink Taxis are the way to go in Mexico; all-girl choirs belt it out for hours; and more. 10 She-bonics Christina Hendricks, Lil’ Kim, Madonna, and Lady Gaga bring the drama. By Whitney Dwire 14 Pop Quiz The triumphs and fuckups of Mackenzie Phillips. By Emily Rems 15 Boy du Jour Havin’ a ball with RuPaul. By Emily Rems 16 Hot Dates Get some satisfaction from this early-spring action. By Libby Zay

19 Real Life Crochet the day away; keep your own hive alive; make the most of your compost; and more. 23 Old School Granny Mae’s fudge. By Eliza Thompson 25 Buy or DIY Whether you buy it or make it, you know you need a wallet. By Rachel Benefiel and Callie Watts


29 Looks A bike blogger shows off her gorgeous togs; the Sublet girls give fashion a whirl; complement your face with a statement necklace; and more. 32 BUST Test Kitchen Our interns get a feel for body butter, vibrating mascara, and a facial peel. 35 Page O’ Shit You’ll be smitten by this pile of gloves and mittens. By Callie Watts


Columns 12 Pop Tart Skeevy movies from the era of Polanski. By Wendy McClure 13 Museum of Femoribilia Good vibrations. By Lynn Peril 18 News From a Broad Dudes ace the “three little words” race. By Laura Krafft 24 Nickel and Dined Fill your belly with hearty chili. By Isa Chandra Moskowitz 28 Mother Superior Inky goes with Ma to get fit for a bra. By Ayun Halliday 36 Around the World in 80 Girls Discover the charm of Hanoi, Vietnam. By Teresa Coates 91 X Games Burlesque Breakdown. By Deb Amlen The BUST Guide 69 Music Reviews; plus gettin’ down with VV Brown. 76 Movies Temple Grandin cried Happy Tears into the Fish Tank. 77 Books Reviews; plus a new feminist treasure by Eve Ensler. 75 Party Pix Spectacular BUST Craftaculars! 86 BUSTshop 92 The Last Laugh Never trust a little brother. By Esther Pearl Watson



81 Sex Files Abortion doulas will be there if you need tender loving care; and more. 83 Ask Aunt Betty and Cousin Carlin Sex advice so nice, they give it to ya twice. 84 One-Handed Read My Best Friend’s Girl. By Sunshine Vega


ISSUE 61, FEB/MAR 2010


BACK IN YE olden days, every issue of BUST had a theme. Eventually we found that a bit limiting, so while we still produce a few themed issues, for the most part, each issue of BUST is a thematic free-for-all. Yet sometimes, almost accidentally, something like a theme emerges from our hodgepodge of stories. Such is the case with this issue. Without even trying, it seems to have organized itself around the subject of girlhood. But that’s as good a theme as any, since the topic is an endlessly fascinating one that somehow always feels a bit like a well-kept secret. The truth about what it’s really like to be a preteen or tween girl in America is a story so rarely told that when it is, and told well, the story becomes as treasured as a sacred text. But why is the story of girlhood so hidden? Well, let me pull up a soapbox and tell you my theory. Our pop culture, male-dominated as it is, simply has no use for preteen girls. They only like little girls, as Maurice Chevalier so creepily sang, “For little girls get bigger every day.” But little girls before they get bigger? Not so much. That’s why it’s so exciting to see some of those hidden girly facts of life written down and made real. When Johanna Gohmann first told us she wanted to write a story about having been the provider of sexual disinformation in her childhood schoolyard (and how quaint that was in this day of Internets and the Googles) we loved the idea—but wanted more. We asked her to find out how today’s young girls were getting their sexual information—mis- or otherwise. Have they all become Little Miss Know-It-Alls? Is Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret still a sacred text, the way it had been for girls of my generation decades earlier? The results of her research (page 48) are both eye-opening and reassuring (spoiler alert: Judy Blume don’t got nothing to worry about). There’s often a touch of melodrama in the stories that attract us as young girls. Maybe it starts with the fairy tales we’re fed as toddlers—the ones in which we prick our fingers and sleep for a thousand years, or run away from awful stepparents and live with dwarves, or are trapped in a castle with nothing to do but grow our hair. Hannah Montana notwithstanding, little girls’ fantasies are much more twisted than they’re ever given credit for, and nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than in Marni Grossman’s story documenting the bizarre death wish embraced by so many girls, especially those who are fans of the author Lurlene McDaniel (page 56). With their whole lives ahead of them, why do these girls dream of being just like McDaniel’s heroines, wasting away from cancer or some other God-awful disease? The answer turns out not to be so surprising after all. Of course, our cover lady, America Ferrera, is no little girl. But she’s been an important figure in girl culture ever since she burst on the scene in Real Women Have Curves, and her lead role in the thoughtful, girl-friendly, and hilarious TV series Ugly Betty has cemented her place in the pantheon. Plus, America starred in one of the few non-gaggy teen-girl movies, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Parts 1 and 2), and in our interview, conducted by her Sisterhood costar Amber Tamblyn (page 40), she reveals herself to be just as quick-witted, thoughtful, relatable, and insightful as she comes across onscreen. Like I said, this was an accidental theme, and there’s plenty of other stuff to sink your teeth into in this issue, including our profiles of Charlotte Gainsbourg (page 52), Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza (page 9), RuPaul (page 15), and musician VV Brown (page 72); the cutest vintage-inspired lingerie for real women who have curves (page 60) and recipes for fudge and chocolate chili (pages 23 and 24)—February is Valentine’s month, after all; a sweet granny square throw that would make yer granny proud; and lots more. So let your inner girl come out and play. xoxoxo

Debbie 6 / BUST // FEB/MAR

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Debbie Stoller CREATIVE DIRECTOR Laurie Henzel MANAGING EDITOR Emily Rems SENIOR DESIGNER Erin Wengrovius ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lisa Butterworth CUSTOMER SERVICE + CRAFTY LADY Callie Watts BOOKS EDITOR Priya Jain ASSOCIATE MUSIC EDITOR Kelly McClure CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Molly Simms CONTRIBUTING STYLE EDITOR Tara Marks PUBLISHERS Laurie Henzel & Debbie Stoller DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING + MARKETING Emily Andrews, 212.675.1707 x112, SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER Susan Juvet, 212.675.1707 x104, BOOKKEEPER Amy Moore, EDITORIAL INTERNS Leala Arnold, Brooke Connolly, Sheila Dichoso, Stephanie Gunther, Claire Hamilton, Nicole Mayefske, Amber Bela Muse, Eliza Thompson, Stephanie Valente WEB INTERN Vanessa Rees MARKETING INTERNS Bette Bentley, Bianca Casusol FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS Please email or call 866.220.6010 FOR BOOBTIQUE ORDERS Please email


WWW.BUST.COM ©2010 BUST, Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the permission of the publisher. The articles and advertising appearing within this publication reflect the opinions and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or editors. Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608 Canada returns to be sent to Bleuchip International, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2

DEAR BUST LOVE AND HATE FROM DEC/JAN ’10 My boyfriend just brought me the latest issue of BUST, and I haven’t even read past the piece on Gemma Ray (“London Calling”), but I had to send a thank-you! Like Gemma, I’ve had chronic fatigue syndrome for 13 years (I’m 26) and often get down on myself ing this about what I can and cannot do. Reading piece, however, I was inspired by Gemma. So thank you, BUST. I already loved you, but this article was all it took to make me adore you even more! Desiree Soucy, Chapel Hill, NC You have succeeded in doing the impossible: making me “hip” in the eyes of my daughter. She came over with the latest issue of BUST in tow, proudly displaying the page of Laurie Henzel’s holiday-gift suggestions (“Truly Gifted”) featuring the Where the Action Is! CD box set. I was the drummer with garage band Opus 1, and our recording of “Back Seat ’38 Dodge” is (barely) contained in the compilation. Thanks so much! Your brand-new fan, John “Chris” Christensen, Los Angeles, CA As an educator, it drives me nuts when well-meaning parents try to tell me how to do my job. I may have teeth, but I don’t go to my dentist and tell her what to do. Yet the same professional consideration does not seem to be extended to teachers, as evinced in Ayun Halliday’s most recent “Mother Superior” column (“Word Wars”). Invented spelling is a practice supported by research and which provides invaluable information to educators in determining where a student is in the process of spelling development. Teaching is a field where educators must constantly struggle for respect; Ms. Halliday’s column did nothing to help the cause. Kate Preusser, Philadelphia, PA

KISS AND TELL The advice given by Betty and Carlin to the woman with herpes (“Ask Aunt Betty and Cousin Carlin,” Dec/Jan ’10) was dishonest and dangerous. Both Betty and Carlin seem to believe that you don’t need to tell a sexual partner you have herpes unless you have an outbreak. However,, the National Institute of Health, and the Mayo Clinic all state that “you can also catch herpes from an infected person’s skin when they have no visible sores present...or from an infected person’s mouth (saliva) or vaginal fluids.” Herpes, while a minor STI, is still an STI, not a badge of being sexual. Ann Burnside, Philadelphia, PA I was absolutely horrified when I read this month’s sex-advice column. I found it highly irresponsible and grossly misinformed. Betty may not consider herpes a serious illness, but for some people, it can be devastating. Advising readers to not disclose they have herpes is highly irresponsible. I think everyone has the right to choose for herself whether it is a risk they are willing to take. Annie, Quebec, Canada Get it off your chest! Send feedback to: Letters, BUST Magazine, P.O. Box 1016, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276. Email: Include your name, city, state, and email address. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. // BUST / 7


Jim Datz, who illustrated “Let’s Talk About Sex,” is an illustrator, director, and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He draws on paper as much as possible and occasionally releases the results into the wild in the form of commissions and self-initiated products. His small multidisciplinary practice—Neither Fish Nor Fowl—manages a diverse range of projects for clients of every size, particularly those who hold a similar interest in elevating the market’s demand for quality and attention to detail. Marni Grossman, who explores her love for sick lit in “Die, Die My Darling,” holds a B.A. from Vassar in women’s studies. The degree turned out to be of little practical value but holds a lot of sentimental weight nonetheless. Her interests include subverting the patriarchy, reading, and Law and Order, the Jerry Orbach years. She’s written for the online magazine Sadie, Playgirl, Heeb, and, and you can find her online at Susan Pittard, who shot this issue’s fashion spread, “Oh! You Pretty Things,” enjoyed working with an amazing team and loved the idea of keeping it real for this vintage-inspired lingerie story. “Every woman feels sexy in a beautiful pair of undies,” she says. Pittard works and resides in New York City, where she shoots portraiture, beauty, and fashion. Her work can also be found in Teen Vogue, Lucky, and Women’s Health. Amber Tamblyn, who interviewed her bestie America Ferrera for our cover story, is an actress and author. She was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work on the television show Joan of Arcadia, as well as a Spirit Award for best supporting actress for her role opposite Tilda Swinton in Stephanie Daley. Her second book of poetry and prose, entitled Bang Ditto, was released last fall. She is the executive producer of the annual poetry and literary concert The Drums Inside Your Chest ( in Los Angeles and is co-founder of the nonprofit organization Write Now Poetry Society. She lives in New York City.



plaza sweet



IT WASN’T LONG ago that 25-year-old Aubrey Plaza was spending her days at NYU film school and her nights doing improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade. One week in the summer of 2008, however, changed all that. The comedian was in L.A. on a callback for the Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler movie Funny People but ended up also meeting about the upcoming Michael Cera comedy, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and NBC’s Parks and Recreation. She didn’t have any plans to relocate to the City of Angels at the time, but after nabbing roles in all these projects in one fell swoop, she had no choice. “Yeah, the past year has been the biggest of my life. It changed everything,” she tells me in a voice a few shades sunnier than » PHOTOGRAPHED ROSALES PHOTOGRAPHED BY BY RAMONA JOHAN RENCK

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the one she uses for April Ludgate, the ultra-blasé intern she plays on Parks and Rec. It’s no surprise, though, that Plaza’s career took off like a rocket. She knows exactly what she wants and has been tireless in her quest to get it. From her decision to move to New York from Wilmington, DE, to study film writing and directing, to regularly hitting the improv stage, to relentlessly faxing her resume to Saturday Night Live for an internship, Plaza has been ready for years. “I’m not a very patient person,” she says, laughing, “so when I graduated high school, I was like, ‘All right, I’m ready, let’s go!’” It’s not hard to see Plaza as representative of a new generation of ass-kickin’ female comedians in the tradition of ladies like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. “Being around [Poehler] is the best,” she says of her cast-mate and mentor. “Listening to her stories about SNL and all she’s had to fight for is really special for me. I try to remember it, and I keep the excitement



that I felt when I came to work the first day, because if I lose that, that’s when things start to go stale.” Besides Poehler, Plaza has another role model: Adam Sandler. “The fact that he went from SNL to writing and making his own movies like Billy Madison, that really influenced me,” she says. “I’d love to do something like that.” In fact, she’s already in the process of writing a comedy herself, rather than “just auditioning to be, like, the love interest in the next romantic comedy.” In the upcoming Scott Pilgrim, her character, Julie Powers, is another funny lady with a bite. Although she doesn’t get any action sequences—Pilgrim, played by Cera, has to fight seven evil ex-boyfriends to win the heart of Ramona V. Flowers, the girl he loves— she does get some choice bitchy bits. “Michael is the funniest person I think I’ve ever met,” she says, “so getting to scream and yell at him all day was a dream come true.” [JENNI MILLER]


“In the beginning, it was odd to have so much attention brought to my body type [by Mad Men]. I thought, Uh-oh, brace yourself. But everyone has been so positive. During the first season, a woman came up to me at dinner and said, ‘I just want to thank you. Watching you has made me proud of my body.’ I thought, What an amazing thing for someone to say! To make anyone feel good about themselves makes me feel good.” Christina Hendricks in Marie Claire “There were a lot of people telling me what to do. A lot of people’s hands were in the pot. I didn’t understand back then, so I let them. But I have my own record label now, and no one pulls my strings.” Lil’ Kim in Today’s Black Woman “I’ve always been inspired by people who aren’t afraid to express their opinions and speak about sexual politics and provocation. If I had been a man and done many of the things that I’ve done, I would not have had that much attention paid to me.” Madonna in Rolling Stone “My album covers are not sexual at all, which was an issue at my record label. I fought for months, and I cried at meetings. They didn’t think the photos were commercial enough. The last thing a young woman needs is another picture of a sexy pop star writhing in sand, covered in grease, touching herself.” Lady Gaga in Elle 10 / BUST // FEB/MAR



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pretty babies CREEPY MEMORIES OF LESS-APPROPRIATE TIMES WHEN I WAS growing up in Illinois in the late ’70s, we’d get a day off in March for Pulaski Day. It’s a school holiday commemorating a Polish-born Revolutionary War hero, but when I was a kid, I wondered why on earth we were honoring the freaky guy I kept hearing about on the news who’d had sex with a 13-year-old. It wasn’t

ers and in magazines the faces of girls who were older than I was but still young enough to identify with. Little girls like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver and Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby, who played hookers and lived in a solemn, R-rated world. They looked spooky in their makeup. Not like adults, of course, but like girls special enough to be

Once upon a time, 15-year-old girls were exploited in movies but led sheltered lives—and now it’s the opposite, with every girl who begins her career on the Disney Channel expected to end up with her crotch on until I was nearly 13 myself that I finally figured out that the occasion was not, in fact, Polanski Day, and boy, was I relieved. Roman Polanski’s arrest last fall on his 1977 rape charge brought back some weird memories of that era, when it seemed like every other director had a creepy thing for young girls. On regular TV there were still perfectly ordinary kids; I’d see them on reruns of The Brady Bunch and Zoom. But I couldn’t help but notice on movie post12 / BUST // FEB/MAR

in a grown-up movie and stared at in a way that even I knew wasn’t right. Yes, it could be sleazy, but it also felt serious. It was serious for a man to pay too much attention to a young girl—especially if he was brilliant or powerful— and it made the girl serious, too. Despite their sometimes-seamy roles, Foster and Shields were seen as serious young actresses, ushered carefully from their dressup worlds and sequestered at Ivy League

schools. When John Hinckley Jr. claimed he shot President Ronald Reagan to impress Foster, she seemed even more serious, capable of inspiring serious crimes. As for Shields, her two biggest movies, made when she was only 14 and 15, professed to take the first blossoming of teen sexuality very (ahem) seriously. There was Endless Love—“She was 15. He was 17. The love every parent fears,” read the poster—and The Blue Lagoon, which declared its quasi-soft-porn stylings to be “a sensual story of natural love.” Nobody my age was allowed to watch them, which meant we saw them furtively on cable. Of course, nobody these days would even think of making mainstream movies about the endless natural love of topless teenage girls. It seems stunning that it ever happened, now that we live in an era where vaguely boudoir photos of Miley Cyrus in Vanity Fair are considered an outrage. Then again, nobody ever made Brooke Shields apologize for “setting a bad example” the way poor Miley had to, even though I can personally testify that The Blue Lagoon on late-night Cinemax corrupted at least one slumber party full of impressionable young girls. How bizarre to think that once upon a time, 15-year-old girls were exploited in movies but led sheltered lives—and now it’s the opposite, with every girl who begins her career on the Disney Channel expected to end up with her crotch on For every age-inappropriate thing we saw young Foster or Shields do, the sordidness seemed to go only as far as the edges of the screen. For famous girls today, though, the dirt gets strewn everywhere— in paparazzi videos, Internet gossip, leaked nude pics, and whatever else might come up in the relentless surveillance that comes with being a star. Even when that star might be too young to make the best decisions, the world that leers at her somehow expects her to set a moral example. After all, everyone knows what’s right and wrong when it comes to pretty little girls, don’t they? We’re much less forgiving of the horrible stuff Roman Polanski did in 1977; we know better about a lot of things these days. But not about everything. ILLUSTRATED BY RACHEL DOMM




PAGE THROUGH A women’s magazine from the turn of the 20th century and you may be surprised to see ads for a device that looks somewhat familiar. “No,” you might think, “that can’t be. Great-Great Grandma never used a vibrator.” But actually, she may have. An electromechanical vibrator was invented by a British physician in the 1880s, and two decades later, there were approximately two dozen models on the market. These early vibrators were considered medical devices, used to help cure women of “hysteria,” a female disease characterized by physical and emotional symptoms, relief from which might be obtained by “vulvular massage” until the “hysterical paroxysm”—orgasm—was reached. As historian Rachel P. Maines makes clear, there’s no evidence that male physicians enjoyed providing these treatments, and they may even have been “reluctant to inconvenience themselves in performing what was a routine chore.” »


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broadcast Indeed, an early vibrator, buzzing at anywhere from 1,000 to 7,000 pulses per minute, made quick work for the doctor. “No human hand is capable of communicating to the tissues such rapid, steady, and prolonged vibrations and certain kneading and percussion movements, as the vibrator,” reported Anthony Matijaca in Principles of Electro-Medicine, ElectroSurgery and Radiology (1917). Beginning in the early 20th century, home-use vibrators were marketed in publications as straitlaced as the SearsRoebuck catalog and Home Needlework Journal. No whisper of sex tarnished these ads; instead, the vibrator was sold as a self-massager for the relief of neuralgia (nerve pain), or a beauty aid for the prevention of wrinkles or hair loss. There was, however, an emphasis on the superiority of the machine over the human hand when it came to providing

the “thrilling, invigorating, penetrating, revitalizing vibrations,” as one 1913 ad described. “Self-massage is most unsatisfactory,” counseled a New York Times beauty writer in 1911, “but with a good vibrator, one can quickly go all over the body, soothing nerves and stirring sluggish circulation.” In addition to the electric models, there were vibrators powered by foot pedals, water turbines, and combustion engines, priced anywhere from several dollars to a doctor’s-office model that sold for $200 in 1904, an era when a pound of coffee cost 38 cents. When vibrators began appearing in pornographic films in the 1920s, their reputation as medical devices was tarnished and the ads disappeared from respectable women’s publications but could still be found in newspaper ads through the ’50s, usually as part of larger displays of general merchandise. While neither the ad copy

nor the operating instructions provided with the ’40s and ’50s models pictured here mentioned a sexual use for the product, the hints were becoming broader. A massager advertised in 1941 promised to cure rheumatism, sinus problems, lumbago (lower back pain), arthritis, and muscular aches—and yet a quote from a satisfied customer mentioned none of these ills, stating simply: “Massager I ordered has done more good for wife than anything she used in past.” The vibrator was refashioned as a sex toy in the 1960s, but even today, when you can order up any kind of erotic gadget imaginable in a woman-owned shop, one of the world’s best-selling vibrators still bills itself as a prim and proper massager—otherwise it couldn’t be sold at family-friendly big-box discount stores. Great-Great Grandma would have instantly recognized the ruse.



SET ON A path of hard partying and substance abuse by her rock star father while still a child, it’s no wonder actress and musician Mackenzie Phillips grew up to be just as famous for her multiple high-profile trips to rehab as she is for her work on the classic ’70s sitcom One Day at a Time. Now clean and sober and making headlines with a shocking new memoir, she’s finally in the public eye on her own terms and is clearly lucky to be alive. Think you know what makes Mack keep coming back? Then take the quiz!

1. Born in 1959 in Alexandria, VA, Mackenzie’s birth name is ______ Mackenzie Phillips. a. Laura b. Mona c. Samantha d. Angela 2. Mackenzie’s mother, Susan, is a descendant of which of America’s founding fathers? a. George Washington b. John Adams c. Benjamin Franklin d. Thomas Jefferson 3. Mackenzie’s father, John Phillips, was the lead singer of what band? a. Jefferson Airplane b. ABBA c. Fleetwood Mac d. The Mamas & the Papas 14 / BUST // FEB/MAR

5. From 1975 to 1983, Mackenzie became a household name on the sitcom One Day at a Time, acting opposite what future weight loss–program spokesmodel? a. Kirstie Alley b. Whoopi Goldberg c. Valerie Bertinelli d. Queen Latifah 6. What Rolling Stone seduced 18-year-old Mackenzie with the line “I’ve been waiting for this since you were 10 years old”? a. Mick Jagger b. Keith Richards c. Charlie Watts d. Ronnie Wood 7. Miraculously, Mackenzie gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 1987, despite shooting up massive amounts of cocaine throughout the first __ months of her pregnancy.

a. 5 c. 7

b. 6 d. 8

8. Mackenzie was arrested in 2008 for cocaine and heroin possession after being stopped by L.A. airport security on her way to appear on what show? a. The Martha Stewart Show b. Tyra c. Rachael Ray d. Ellen 9. In 2009, while discussing her new memoir, ________, on Oprah, Mackenzie revealed that she and her father had had an incestuous relationship for 10 years. a. She’s Just 14 b. High on Arrival c. California Dreamin’ d. Go Ask Alice 10. Complete the following Mackenzie quote: “If my father set out to raise a ______, he did everything right.” a. criminal b. survivor c. TV star d. drug addict Answer Key: 1. a, 2. b, 3. d, 4. a, 5. c, 6. a, 7. b, 8. c, 9. b, 10. d

4. Mackenzie got her big acting break at 12 in what film? a. American Graffiti b. The Warriors c. The Outsiders d. Saturday Night Fever



BEFORE INTERVIEWING DRAG legend RuPaul, I couldn’t help but hope that at some point in our conversation he would tell me to “work.” Can you blame me? In 1993, the one-named wonder exploded onto heavy rotation on MTV with the ultimate party anthem, “Supermodel of the World.” The song’s incessant refrain, “You betta work!” cut through the era’s haze of gloomy guy grunge like a ray of sparkling sunshine, and just like that, drag became mainstream. Now 49 and still fucking fabulous, RuPaul remains the most famous drag queen in the world. But these days, he’s just as recognizable out of drag, thanks to the success of his Logo reality show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, entering its second cycle in February. “They were very diplomatic the first season,” Ru tells me by phone from L.A. about the differences between his inaugural cast and the one about to make its debut. “This season, not so much. You know the old, ‘I’m not here to make friends’ bit? Someone actually does say it!” Drag Race asks its contestants to assemble signature looks, model those looks, and then “lip-synch for their lives” in hopes of being chosen as the “next drag superstar.” Tough as the challenges are, however, these kids have it easy compared to the path their mentor had to take 17 years ago, when he cleaned up PHOTOGRAPHED BY MATHU ANDERSEN

his persona—that of a 6' 7" blonde bombshell—in order to introduce the artform to a wary world. “I’ve always equated my public image, especially earlier on, as a cartoon caricature,” Ru says. “That way, people could categorize me and accept me because I came prepackaged in the confines of what they’re already used to. But we don’t want our contestants to censor themselves, their sexuality, or any of their energy. We want it all!” This creative freedom gives the show real variety and makes the cross-dressing cast especially appealing to female fans. Ru says women respond to drag differently than men and has definitely kept us in mind while completing his latest book, Workin’ It! RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style, also out in February. “Culturally, many women feel they have to play along with how things are set up. Women are supposed to ‘be this’ and ‘do this,’ but drag queens mock that setup,” Ru explains. “The whole identity of being a woman, and the rules about what a woman can or can’t do, it’s all such a crock of shit, and drag queens embody the hoax of it all. Women see the show and think, ‘Finally! Someone is personifying how I’ve always felt about what society has told me I need to do.’” [EMILY REMS] // BUST / 15

broadcast Pink Taxis outside a casa in Puebla


sex drive MEXICO’S PINK TAXIS GIVE WOMEN A RIDE ON THE SAFER SIDE COTTON CANDY–COLORED taxis have been turning heads lately on the streets of Puebla, Mexico’s fourth-largest city. In response to growing complaints of sexual harassment by male taxi drivers, the city began offering licensing and training in October to the privately owned Pink Taxi company, whose fleet of women-driven Chevys picks up female passengers only. Each Pink Taxi comes equipped with a GPS, a satellite tracking system, a panic button that alerts police in an emergency, and even a beauty kit. The company’s aim is to make cab rides feel safer for Puebla’s women, and while Pink Taxis can’t solve the broader problem of harassment, passengers say they do provide a much-needed respite. “It’s uncomfortable to ride with a man who looks at you like a sex object just because you’re wearing a skirt,” says 21-year-old passenger Joss Roco. “I felt calm and confident being driven by a woman.” Melissa Ayala, a 17-year-old student in Puebla, agrees. “Mexico is going through a difficult time; insecurity is part of our lives,” she says. “The fact that these taxis can be found outside nightclubs makes our parents more comfortable. It was the first time I sat back and relaxed in a cab.” Rocio Nava, 35, one of the more than 60 women the company employs, says, “It gives women trust to know another woman is driving,” adding that the cabs are so popular, they haven’t been able to meet demand: of Puebla’s 12,000 taxis, there are just 35 women-only cars, though the company is aiming to reach 300 this year. Nava is also glad to help dispel stereotypes. “We don’t have to deal with the usual myths that women don’t know how to drive,” she says, citing her training, which included 180 hours of defensive driving, selfdefense, first-aid, and basic mechanics like learning how to change a tire. Some women’s-rights activists have pointed out that painting a cab pink and putting a woman behind the wheel does not address the larger issue of sexual harassment, emphasizing that the city should do a better job weeding out harassers. Yet, in a country where machismo is still so commonplace, the service at least raises awareness and provides an alternative. And one undeniable benefit is the increase in employment opportunities for women in a traditionally male-dominated field. “I was eager to use Pink Taxi, not only because it’s safer,” says Ayala, “but also as a way to support other women who are trying to improve their economic situation.” [LIZA MONROY] 16 / BUST // FEB/MAR

February 14 WOMEN’S MEMORIAL MARCH Thanks to Eve Ensler and her V-Day campaign, February 14 isn’t just for tacky flower arrangements anymore, it’s also a day to mobilize the global movement to stop violence against women and girls. In Vancouver, B.C., residents are getting into the spirit by remembering local missing and murdered women at the Women’s Memorial March. This year, the annual event is also set to coincide with the Olympic Winter Games for maximum exposure. Interested in keeping up the pace? Visit php?gid=70685286200 for details. March 4 – 12 BIRDS EYE VIEW Whether it’s movies made by women in developing countries, fashion films, or music videos, Birds Eye View is an international celebration of women filmmakers. Over 70 events are planned for the nine-day London event, set to take place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. This year’s itinerary even includes a retrospective on iconic blond starlets, from Marion Davies and Marlene Dietrich to Scarlett Johansson. Flock to for an overview, including details on a follow-up film tour. March 12 – 21 SXSW For the best sights and sounds around, look no further than South by Southwest in Austin, TX. Not only is it one of the biggest music gatherings in the country, but it’s also a world-renowned festival of film and a megahuge technology conference. This year, supercool girl groups, including VV Brown, the Brunettes, Gemma Ray, and Julie Peel, will be out in full effect, and BUST will be there again, too, so stop by and see us! Stay up to date on all the SXSW happenings at Opens March 21 ALICE NEEL: PAINTED TRUTHS This spring, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will be showcasing the work of iconic feminist artist Alice Neel. An American painter who lived through the Depression, the women’s movement, and many personal hardships, Neel became known as a “collector of souls” for her intimate, casual portrait style that focused on gender roles, aging, and maternity. Visit to find out more about her 67 must-see paintings that will be on display through June 13. [COMPILED BY LIBBY ZAY]

The Gaggle all-girl choir is on fire

sing, sing a song ALL-GIRL CHOIRS ARE LIVING OUT LOUD FORGET THE CHAMBER music and Sister Act visuals—London’s fierce female Gaggle choir isn’t your traditional singing ensemble. In leggings, colorful tunics, and shiny hoods, the 22-member group took the stage at London’s Field Day Festival in August and treated the audience to singing, chanting, and stomping to choruses like “I like cigarettes; I like guitars” and “I’m a drunk.” And they’re not the only group of girls taking choir singing outside the church. All-female alt-choirs from the U.K. to Montreal to California are hitting bars and clubs with a vengeance, singing original arrangements and covering indie artists such as Tom Waits and Björk. “We sing on the off beat à la ska and cackle like witches or ominous birds,” says Gaggle member KiKi (each of the Gaggles goes by a stage name, keeping their “real identities” secret). “It’s not about being pretty or being pitch-perfect singers,” she explains, “it’s about getting the emotional core of the songs out.” Since its formation PHOTOGRAPHED BY SHANE DEEGAN

in 2008, Gaggle and its raucous live performances have been gaining popularity and have even been featured in NME and on the BBC. Like the Gaggle girls, the women of the L.A. Ladies Choir believe the benefits of singing in a group are more than meets the ear. “Our choir is about creating healing experiences,” says 33-year-old cofounder Becky Stark. Best known for her other indie music projects, Lavender Diamond and the Decemberists, Stark started the choir in 2009 with the Moonrats’ Aska Matsumiya, 25, in an effort to “strengthen feminine energy,” she says. Sporting flowing, pastel dresses, the 18 Ladies perform both original compositions and covers, including a signature take on Yoko Ono’s “Sisters O Sisters.” “When all of these very independent women create this unified voice together, it just feels unstoppable,” Matsumiya says. “Sharing that actually feels like a force for change.” The joy of creating something with a wide variety of women is another factor

that brings ladies into the fold. San Francisco’s Conspiracy of Venus, founded in 2007, features 50 women who tackle six-part harmonies to songs like Rufus Wainwright’s “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk.” Their choir brings together a larger cross-section of women, with singers ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s. “It’s a wonderful mixture of perspectives,” says founder Joyce McBride, 48. Venus member Frankie Burton, 24, adds, “Being one of the younger members, I am constantly learning from other members about singing, life, being a woman, being part of a community. The difference between this choir and other choirs is that it’s like a second family.” And according to Stark, singing in an all-girl choir provides more than just membership within a growing phenomenon. “Singing with 20 or 30 people is so healing,” she says. “It’s really amazing to see how music is medicine that works. To me, it serves a practical purpose. I wish everyone would sing in a choir.” [ERIN DEJESUS] // BUST / 17


the L word MEN SAY “I LOVE YOU” MORE QUICKLY THAN WOMEN ACCORDING TO A recent article in The Telegraph U.K. (and granted, this is England), men are quicker than women to say “I love you” in a relationship. Citing a study conducted by Stella magazine, the article states, “Men take an average of seven months to tell a new partner that they love them, [while] women take almost eight months.” If you’re anything like me, you’re nodding your cynical head, because you’ve found lads will say anything to get down a

PAIN DON’T HURT Ladies Ain’t No Babies in War Women traditionally have a reputation for being hothouse flowers, what with our swooning and all. But according to a recent study published in the journal Pain Medicine called “Pain Among Veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom: Do Women and Men Differ?,” researchers found that though they “hypothesized that female veterans would have more overall pain, more

“Although women do tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves more than men do, men are just as emotional and sensitive—sometimes even more so.” lady’s knickers. But relationship expert Jenni Trent Hughes sums up the phenomenon by noting that “Although women do tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves more than men do, men are just as emotional and sensitive—sometimes even more so.” Hmm, OK. I’m happy to choose love over disbelief. But just as a heads-up, I’m even happier if the lover pays for dinner. 18 / BUST // FEB/MAR

moderate-severe pain, and more persistent pain than their male counterparts,” the numbers showed otherwise. The scientists based their hypotheses on the conventional wisdom that women feel more pain than men. And they’ve obviously never seen the kind of fight that begins with ladies taking off their earrings, because they were wrong

in two out of three instances. In a study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Health Care System in which the medical records of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were reviewed, women were found to have reported less overall pain and less moderate-severe pain than men but more persistent pain. Two factors are important to remember here: though women traditionally see less combat than men, there’s also the chance that these results are skewed, because women tend to use the veterans health system more sparingly and report pain less out of concern that they’ll lose benefits. So, is this a case of lady soldiers being able to grunt through battle like we civilians grunt through a bad case of cramps? All signs point to “Probably.” Which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever spent a workweek in heels and Spanx. But take that experience and multiply it by a war or two—ouch.

WHAT HAPPENS OVERSEAS STAYS OVERSEAS Are Government Contractors Above the Law? Jamie Leigh Jones was working for a Houston-based private contractor in Iraq in 2005 when she was gang-raped by her co-workers. Brutal? Of course. Horrendous? Definitely. Well, at least she’s an American, so she was protected by our laws, right? Unbelievably, no. In a nightmare scenario straight out of a horror film, Jones still can’t file criminal charges five years later, because the rape took place overseas, and a fine-print clause in her contract takes away her right to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Apparently, this type of clause is not unusual. According to MoveOn. org, corporations have fought hard to avoid what they perceive as trivial lawsuits from their employees, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is helping to protect them. But you can protest this unspeakable breach of professional ethics by adding your name to a petition telling the Chamber to stop opposing the rights of rape victims, at www. ILLUSTRATED BY JULEE KIM




IN THE HISTORY of crochet, there has been nothing more maligned than the poor old granny square. But a blanket made from these cute and portable little doohickeys doesn’t have to look like the acrylic monstrosity that was draped over the couch on Roseanne. Here, I’ve given the traditional throw a modern makeover by using real wool in bright, sunshiny colors, squares that feature flowery centers, and a sweet, scalloped border all around. The yarn is called “Full o’ Sheep,” and it’s from my new 100 percent natural, 100 percent affordable yarn line, Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller™ (available at Jo-Ann stores and on So get set to spend the chilly winter evenings making candy-colored squares while cozied up on the couch, with a mug of hot chocolate and a 30 Rock marathon on your DVR. Granny would be so proud. »


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Finished Size: 52" x 45" Gauge: 1 motif = 6.5" wide x 6.5" tall

MATERIALS • Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller™, Full o’ Sheep (3.5 oz. (100 g), 155 yd. (142m), 100% wool) · Color A: Little Lamb (#2205), 12 balls · Color B: Mediterranean (#2529), 1 ball · Color C: Plummy (#2550), 2 balls · Color D: Meadow (#2630), 2 balls · Color E: Aquamarine (#2510), 2 balls · Color F: Honeycomb (#2605), 3 balls · Color G: Poppy (#2910), 1 ball · Color H: Peony (#2705), 2 balls • Size I (5.5 mm) crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge • Tapestry needle

DIRECTIONS MOTIF PATTERN STITCH: Round 1: Ch 7, (6 tr into ring, ch 3) 3 times, 5 tr into ring, Sl st in 4th ch of ch-7. Round 2: Sl st in each of next 2 ch, (ch 5, work CL over next 6 tr, ch 5, Sl st in 2nd ch of ch-3) 4 times, working last Sl st in same place as 2nd Sl st at beginning of rnd. Fasten off. Round 3: Join yarn with Sl st in top of next CL, *3tr, ch 1, 3 tr, ch 2, 3 tr, ch 1, 3 tr) in next ch-3 sp of Round 1, Sl st in top of next group, repeat from * 3 times, with last Sl st in same sp as first Sl st of rnd. Fasten off. Round 4: Join yarn to same place, ch 4, 5 tr in same Sl st, *skip (3 tr, 1 ch, 3 tr), (6tr, ch 2, 6 tr) in corner ch-2 sp, skip (3tr, 1 ch, 3tr), 6 tr in next Sl st, repeat from * twice, skip (3tr, 1 ch, 3 tr), (6tr, ch 2, 6 tr) in corner ch-2 sp, skip (3 tr, 1 ch, 3 tr), Sl st in 4th ch of rnd. Fasten off. Round 5: Join yarn to same place, ch 1, 1 sc in each of 5 tr, *1 dc in ch-1 sp of Round 3, 1 sc in each of 6 tr, 3 sc in corner ch-2 sp, 1 sc in each of 6 tr, 1 dc in ch-1 sp of Round 3, 1 sc in each of 6 tr, 3 sc in corner ch-2 sp, 1 sc in each of 6 tr, 1 dc in ch-1 sp of Round 3, Sl st in first ch of round. Round 6: Ch 3, 1 dc in each st of Round 5 with (1 dc, 1 tr, 1 dc) in center sc of 3 dc at corners, Sl st in 3rd ch of rnd. Fasten off. 20 / BUST // FEB/MAR

3 2


4 5

COLOR SEQUENCES: Square 1: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color A; round 3 color F; round 4 color H; round 5 & 6 color A Square 2: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color B; round 3 color A; round 4 color F; round 5 & 6 color A Square 3: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color F; round 3 color E; round 4 color D; round 5 & 6 color A Square 4: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color G; round 3 color A; round 4 color C; round 5 & 6 color A Square 5: (make 6) Round 1 & 2 color C; round 3 color A; round 4 color F; round 5 & 6 color A Square 6: (make 6) Round 1 & 2 color H; round 3 color F; round 4 color D; round 5 & 6 color A Square 7: (make 6) Round 1 & 2 color C; round 3 color A; round 4 color E; round 5 & 6 color A Square 8: (make 6) Round 1 & 2 color D; round 3 color B; round 4 color H; round 5 & 6 color A Square 9: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color D; round 3 color H; round 4 color C; round 5 & 6 color A Square 10: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color E; round 3 color A; round 4 color F; round 5 & 6 color A


Square 11: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color A; round 3 color G; round 4 color C; round 5 & 6 color A Square 12: (make 4) Round 1 & 2 color B; round 3 color F; round 4 color D; round 5 & 6 color A PATTERN LAYOUT: 1 5 9 5 9








10 11 12







10 11 12






4 8

10 11 12 6



10 11 12

















FINISHING: Tuck in all ends. Layout motifs according to grid above. With motifs facing, sl st through back loops to join the squares together. BORDER: Join yarn with Sl st to corner, *skip two dc, 6 tr in next dc, skip next two dc, sc in next dc. Repeat from (*) all the way around. Join with Sl st to beginning. Fasten off and tuck in ends. [DEBBIE STOLLER]

real life

The author gettin' buzzed

the secret life of beekeepers OUR GUIDE TO HOSTING A BUZZWORTHY HIVE

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IT WAS ALMOST a year ago when I took the plunge into beekeeping and became a cardcarrying member of the San Francisco Beekeepers Association. Tending to a hive is not only a fascinating hobby (you’ll marvel at the bees’ mini civilization), but it’s also good for the environment, since honeybees are plant life’s main pollinators. On top of that, you get to enjoy the delicious fruits of their labor—honey. If you wanna be the head bee in charge, here’s a taste of what it takes. First you’ll need to set up a wooden hive, which looks like a large filing box with a lid, and fill it with frames that fit in it like files. Of course, a country field is an ideal location, but a backyard or rooftop works too, though you should check your local laws to make sure beekeeping is allowed. It’s best to start a colony in spring, so now’s the time you’d get your bees. You can order a package of them online at, and yes, all 10,000 of ’em plus a queen will arrive by mail. You can expect to drop a few hundred bucks to get started, because you’ll also need a smoker, which you would use to calm your bees, and a protective suit with a veil and gloves. Once

you get your box o’ stingers, suit up, then place the queen, who’ll be in her own mini cage, in the hive, then turn the package over so the rest of the bees fall in, too. Once they feel at home, there’s actually not a whole lot else you need to do. Since bees are hard-wired to pollinate, collect nectar, and make honey, the less you mess with them, the happier they'll be. But you will want to look in on the hive a few times a month to make sure it’s disease-free and the queen is laying eggs. As for the sweet stuff, you can hope for honey, but you can’t count on it right away, though eventually, a strong colony can produce up to 50 pounds of it a year. Most beekeepers harvest honey in late summer or early fall using an expensive mechanical extractor, but you can also just cut out a section of comb and extract the honey with a knife. Now that you know the buzz on beekeeping, I highly recommend finding a local club ( beekeeping-clubs.html). Most offer classes and can arrange for you to check out a member’s hive to see if you’re still gung-ho about the idea when you’re smack in the middle of thousands of bees. [KELLY WILKINSON] PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEN SISKA



THERE ARE AN awful lot of people on this planet, and by most accounts, we’re trashing the place. The typical American household generates over four pounds of garbage daily, but almost half that can be saved from a landfill by composting: putting food scraps in a bin with a bunch of hungry worms that will turn it into a crumbly, soil-like substance rich in nutrients— perfect for adding to your potted plants or garden. For those unafraid of handling worms and gettin’ a little dirty, you can compost right in your kitchen. Here’s how: 1. Assess your composting needs. A bin that can handle two pounds of food scraps a day is a good place to start for a household with a couple of roomies. Since red worms, aka compost worms, can process half their body weight per day, you’ll need four pounds of ’em (go to for a seller near you

and expect to pay $15 – $30 a pound). 2. Calculate the bin size. You’ll need one square foot of space per pound of worms (4 pounds of worms = a 2' x 2' or 1' x 4' bin). 3. Purchase or make your bin. It should be wood or plastic, 8" – 12" deep, with a lid. Drill holes in the lid and along the top of the bin walls for aeration. 4. Arrange 4" of bedding material (strips of newspaper or moistened leaves) in the bin, and add your worms. 5. Bury your food under the bedding. Worms are best at processing vegetable scraps, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and bread. Avoid

adding meat, dairy, and oils. 6. After a few weeks, when the bedding starts to look like potting soil, move it to one side of the bin. Arrange a new pile of bedding on the other side and begin burying your food scraps deep into it. In about a month, your original batch will be ready-to-use compost. Remove it from the bin, and repeat the process on that side. 7. A foul-smelling bin is indicative of a problem. Be sure to bury your food under the bedding, and if the worms seem overwhelmed with scraps, lighten their load a bit. [RADHIKA REDDY]

NACHO LIBRE For many aspiring vegans, giving up cheese is one of the hardest hurdles to overcome on the path to a cruelty-free lifestyle. But there has finally been a melty, stretchy, yummy breakthrough in nondairy cheese technology. We tried Daiya Vegan Cheese Shreds on a pizza and almost swooned. And even when reheated in the microwave, this stuff gets gooey like a champ. Snag some at


granny mae’s fudge MY GREAT-GRANDMOTHER Granny Mae was a real pistol. She lived in Roderfield, West Virginia, below a cliff nicknamed Rattlesnake Ridge, and whenever a stray rattler slithered down onto her property, Granny Mae had no problem beating it with a shovel. She also had no qualms about telling it like it is, a quality she apparently passed on to my mother and me. But Granny wasn’t just a straight-talkin’ spitfire; she was also a fabulous cook, most famous for this fudge recipe she handed down to my grandpa. He makes a batch for the family every winter, and after my grandma tastes it and declares it edible, we all fight over the delicious end pieces (which harden first). So whip up a little fudge to satisfy your own sweet tooth—the sugar high might leave you feeling like you could take on a rattlesnake, too. Start by covering the counter near your stove with paper towels (popping chocolate bubbles will leave a mess), and butter a platter for your candy. Mix 3 cups sugar, ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa (Granny Mae preferred Hershey’s), and a dash of salt in a sauté pan or a large, deep frying pan. Add 1½ cups milk, and stir continuously over high heat until boiling. Boil for 6 or 7 minutes and remove from stove. When the mixture stops popping and looks smooth, add 1 Tbsp. butter and 2 tsp. vanilla flavoring. Return pan to medium-low heat, and quickly add peanut butter to taste (I like about 2 heaping tsp.) and ½ cup chopped pecans, stirring constantly. Pour the fudge onto your buttered plate, and cut into squares while it’s still warm and soft. Don’t forget to save an end piece for yourself! [ELIZA THOMPSON] // BUST / 23

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2 pounds root vegetables, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks 1 Tbsp. olive oil 1 small onion, diced medium 1 red pepper, diced medium 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 Tbsp. mild chili powder 2 tsp. each ground cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano 1 ⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon 3 ⁄4 tsp. salt 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder 1 cup green lentils, washed 4 cups vegetable broth 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes 2 tsp. agave or maple syrup 1 ⁄2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional) Cilantro for garnish (optional)

super bowl I WANT TO say that your grandma knows what a “root cellar” is, but she probably lives in a condo in the Keys and eats raspberries in January. Her grandma, however, probably had a cool, dark space in her basement where she stored an assortment of fresh root veggies, like carrots, turnips, and rutabagas, so that she’d have some produce to eat during the freezing months when no other vegetables were available. But even today, when tomatoes from across the world are being sold at your supermarket in the middle of winter, eating what's in season is still better for both the environment and our palates, and it’s also a great way to save some non-chump change. So beat those winter blahs with a big ol’ bowl of root-veggie chocolate chili. Let its spicy aroma warm up your apartment 24 / BUST // FEB/MAR

while you lounge around in fuzzy slippers and a big comfy blanket, updating your Facebook status with stuff like, “Chili simmering, don’t be jealous.” This version also makes great use of lentils—which are packed with protein and fiber, have a luscious meaty flavor, and cost pennies by the cup—and cocoa powder (don’t take my word for its deliciousness; Mexico has been rocking the chocolate chili for thousands of years). Serve your chili with cornbread, over rice, or, for an in-season twist, on top of a baked sweet potato. Note: This recipe calls for 2 pounds of root veggies, so use whichever are available to you. Some of my faves are rutabaga or turnip (they taste similar, so I wouldn’t suggest using both), celeriac, golden beets, parsnip, and even the humble carrot.

Preheat a 4-qt. soup pot over mediumhigh heat, and sauté onion and bell pepper in oil until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. (Tip: For spicier chili, add 1⁄ 2 tsp. red pepper flakes when you add the garlic.) Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Add 1⁄2 cup of the vegetable broth and the cocoa powder; cook for another minute while stirring to dissolve the cocoa. Add lentils, the remaining vegetable broth, tomatoes, and root veggies. Cover pot and bring to a boil, keeping a close eye. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until lentils are tender and root veggies are soft. Mix in agave. Taste for salt and seasoning. Let your chili sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor. Serve garnished with cilantro if you like. PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARAH ANNE WARD





change we can believe in STYLED BY STEPHANIE HANES

TURN YOUR FAVORITE OLD CASSETTE INTO A NEW COIN PURSE WONDERING WHAT TO do with that crate of cassettes you just can’t seem to part with? Repurpose your fave music flashback into something you can appreciate without the help of a Walkman: a DIY coin purse. Even if you got rid of your tapes with the advent of the iPod, they’re a dime a dozen at thrift stores everywhere, so scope your local Goodwill for one that tickles your fancy. Then follow these steps to carry your change in cheeky, nostalgic style. »


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1. Use an X-acto knife to crack open an old cassette tape so you have two separate sides (be careful, they can break quite easily). Discard the spool of tape (or save it for your next knitting project), and use pliers to break off any parts that stick out on the inside of the plastic cassette sides. You can use a Dremel tool to grind these areas to a smooth finish. 2. To create the inside of the coin purse, cut a piece of cardboard measuring 3¾" x 5". Cut two pieces of fleece slightly bigger than the cardboard and two triangles of fleece measuring 3" on each side. Lay your rectangle pieces together, wrong sides facing, with the long edges at the top and bottom. Lay one triangle on top of the rectangle, with the triangle’s bottom edge flush to the bottom of the rectangle, matching the left point of the triangle’s bottom edge to the left corner of the bottom of the rectangle. Using a needle and thread, sew these three pieces together along the bottom edge of the triangle. Now fold the material so the bottom right corner of the rectangle matches up to the top unsewn point of the triangle, creating a V. Sew the three pieces together along the edge of the triangle, creating one side of your coin purse.


Lazy Oaf’s she-and-him purse is money: one side has a sweet lady-face, and the other’s got a doodle of a bearded burly dude (£12,

This supersoft fauxleather wallet is the Joan Holloway of billfolds— smart, chic, and bold on the inside ($19.50,

With cash flow tight, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another beautiful beast this affordable; now’s your chance to get one of the last unicorn wallets ($14.95, www.


You don’t have to go to the fawn shop to save money ($9.95,

4. Now it’s time to add the closure. On one side of an approximately 4" x 2" coin purse frame (available at, apply E-6000 glue inside the top of the frame (do not apply within the sides). Take the fleece/cardboard, and push one side of the top into the coin-purse frame. If you have difficulty getting the fleece into the frame, use your scissors or X-acto knife to ease it in (carefully, though—you don’t want to accidentally cut the fabric). Use your pliers to crimp down the frame. Repeat this process on the other side. 5. To add the cassette covers, apply a decent amount of glue to the inside of both cassette-tape pieces, right up to the edges. Position these pieces onto the sides of the coin purse and squish them down, making sure they’re well adhered. Hold like this for a few minutes to allow the glue to set. [RACHEL BENEFIEL] 26 / BUST // FEB/MAR




Next time you hit the open road with your bestie, pay homage to the ultimate driving duo with this Anne Taintor change purse ($9.95,

This handmade dough holder is so cute, your cash won’t have a chance to burn a doughnut hole in your pocket ($20,

Money talks in this supersized cell phone coin purse. It’s so right, you won’t need to be saved by the bell ($22,


3. To make your coin purse sturdy, fold the cardboard in half, and slip it between the rectangle pieces of fleece. Then sew the second triangle onto the other side of the V in the same manner.



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district and hotbed of Jewish culture. Little Big Ears has heard me singing its praises for years, but I felt sure the things I like about it are the ones that would send your average preteen scuttling for the nearest exit. “You know there are no changing rooms, right? Just a storeroom with a curtain across it.” “So?”

“Eat some chicken, bubula!” the Orchard Corset lady called as we were on our way out. “Grow those boobies!” “So, if there’s anyone else trying on bras that day, they’ll be back there with you,” I said, thinking of the various memorable strangers I’ve met there. The low-slung, Eastern European senior perched topless on a stool, wheezing stoically. The Long Island soccer mom steeling herself to request something sexier than the beige number the brass had picked out for her. The longtime customer laughingly recalling how the current owner’s mother determined cup size with a quick, unceremonious feel. “So?”

something too, mostly out of gratitude for the courtesy our unwieldy crew had been shown. “Eat some chicken, bubula!” the Orchard Corset lady called as we were on our way out. “Grow those boobies!” Moe had me snap a souvenir photo of her and Inky before the window display. When I told them to say cheese, they both yanked on their necklines to display proud slivers of prow. My seventh-grade self would have been horrified, as would the majority of Inky’s female friends, but I’ve got to say, her old ma was pretty damn proud.


BEFORE YOU CALL Child Services, allow me to state that Inky signed off on the subject of this column. That’s an amazing thing. If my journalist mother had sought permission to publish anything that might have publicly linked me to bra wearage when I was Inky’s age, I would have spontaneously combusted. I would have impaled myself on my kilt pin had my initial fitting consisted of anything more hands-on than a vague maternal belief that girls my age should be about a 32A. Friends and foes alike snapped its strap through layers of sweater as I navigated my middle school’s halls, but that didn’t make it any less private, otherwise known as shameful. The dress code requiring all girls to wear bras from seventh grade on was both a blessing and a curse. Everyone would know I was wearing one, but at least I could act like it hadn’t been my idea. None of this nonsense for my girl. She could not have been more explicit in her desire to visit the Orchard Corset Center, an old-time, no-frills holdover from the Lower East Side’s days as both a garment

So, Inky got her wish when my friend Moe came to town. She, too, was dying to visit the Orchard Corset Center. “Let’s get this over with, bubula,” the high-busted Orthodox woman presiding over the place sighed, prioritizing Inky above me and Moe, who had, incidentally, been living without bra or deodorant for some 20 years. “It’s OK, she wants to be here,” I gabbled, crowding into the back room, where Inky was eagerly showing the expert how poorly her off-the-rack Target model fit. “We call those fashion bras,” the pro explained, as she edged sideways past Moe, who had followed me in, immediately shucking her man’s Beefy-T. “My friend works on fishing boats in Alaska!” I said, rather too brightly. “I’ll find her something comfortable.” The Corset Center sage ducked behind the curtain, her professionalism intact. “She looks incredible,” Moe whispered. “I know. She’s like our age,” I whispered back. “And she’s a grandmother.” “And what’s so wrong with being a grandmother?” Inky challenged, loudly enough for the woman’s husband, who was manning the register, to hear. “Nothing,” I said, crossing my arms beneath my sagging girls as my other girl poked curiously at a lacy merry widow. “Don’t touch.” It turned out that Inky was in between sizes, so we couldn’t seal the rite of passage with a purchase on that visit, though Moe got a stretchy, sporty number “good for when you sweat on the boat,” and I got


meli burgueño GRAPHIC DESIGNER How would you describe your aesthetic? I enjoy being playful and dressing up for no reason. I wear dresses and skirts about 95 percent of the time. Why? Because I’m a big flirt! But really, they’re comfortable and practical for biking, partying, working...everything. My bike and I are attached at the hip. [laughs] What inspires you? I love movies from the ’60s and ’70s, the way people used to get dressed up to do the simplest things, like going to get a milkshake. Tell me about this outfit. I bought the dress four years ago to wear to a wedding. Though it’s girly and fun, it’s also comfortable because of its A-line shape. It cost about $150. The shoes were about $90 and are from either Shoe Biz or Ambiance [in San Francisco], I can’t remember. They have a little heel but are bikefriendly ’cause they’ve got grippy soles. The bag in my bike basket is from a Chicago-based company called Po Campo. It’s made to go over the handlebars but also converts to a clutch. The tights were $15 from Nordstrom, and the sweater was about $120 from J. Crew. That belt is stunning. It’s from Chiapas, in the southern part of Mexico. The women there use belts like these to hold up their simple, woolen skirts. I lived in Mexico for a few months and fell in love with the region’s textiles. What’s your background? How does that inform your style? Being a graphic designer, I am obsessive about design and details. I’m experimental, I love color, and I’m willing to give things a try rather than resorting to an all-black uniform. You have a blog, Bikes and the City (, where you often share your outfits. I want people to see that you can wear whatever you want when biking around. It doesn’t have to be tight, stretchy stuff or specialized clothing. Just wear what you like! [TRICIA ROYAL]


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The quintessential New York–ness of Annie Hall influenced their latest collection.

“This book by Katherine Dunn was so fucking brilliant. It was totally out there but amazing.” —Inessah




“We’re really inspired by people like Miranda July. People who are creative and interesting and doing their own thing.”

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Inessah [left] and Tara sport Sublet threads

WHEN INESSAH SELDITZ answered Tara Eisenberg’s Craigslist ad for a subletter in the summer of 2005, she got more than a place to live—she met her best friend and future business partner. In 2008, the girls, now 27 and 26 respectively, started Sublet—the name’s a nod to their serendipitous meeting—applying their stylish, DIY, eco-conscious lifestyle to a line of adorable clothes made from sustainable fabrics. The pieces are classic with flirty details like buttons and pleats and bows, and can be dressed up for a dance party or dressed down for a trip to the farmer’s market. Best of all, they’re totally earthfriendly without looking that way. Here, the duo shares some of their faves and inspirations. [LISA BUTTERWORTH]

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SWEET CHARITY Add some soul to your soles and snag a pair of these Product (Red) Converse—a portion of the proceeds goes to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa ($55,

Give props to your favorite moviemaker by wearing his or her mug on your lapel. Each of these limited-edition handmade brooches comes with a choice quote from the director. Collect all 30, including BUST faves Tommy Wiseau, Sofia Coppola, and John Waters, as well as classic greats like Jean-Luc Godard and Sir Alfred Hitchcock ($35 each,

ROMANCING THE STONE Formed to look just like crystals, these scented soaps are almost too pretty to wash with. But since each gem is made with herbal extracts, vitamins, and minerals, you won’t be able to resist sudsing up (clockwise from top: Amethyst, Soapal, Rose Quartz; $14.95 each;


This peel made me nostalgic for sleepovers! I enjoyed the slightly beady consistency and tingly sensation. I’m not sure it truly shrunk my pores, but it did get the gunk out of them and left my face feeling soft and grease-free.

With this mask’s exfoliating texture, it was like getting a scrub and peel in one. I couldn’t necessarily see that my pores had shrunk, but it definitely tightened and de-oiled my skin.

Whoop Ash Body Butter Cream, $19.95,


I have to admit, I was skeptical of this concoction. But with just one application, my cute face felt tighter and my jumbo pores had been tamed. Will I stick with this product? Hell yes.

This scrumptious-smelling treat transformed the scaly skin on my limbs into that of the oh-so-smooth variety. It took forever to absorb into my flesh, so with that in mind, I recommend applying this buttah before bed.

Don’t be fooled by its giggle-worthy name; this body butter means serious moisturizing business. I found the marshmallow-cream-like consistency a little hard to spread, but my skin felt soft the entire day. It has a yummy light scent, too!

Effective without being slimy; exotic scent; and 99.9 percent natural? This lotion has talent, bottom line. If I were a casting director, I’d give it the lead role in The Lion Cream. And you would be lining up for its autograph.

Maybelline Pulse Perfection Vibrating Mascara, $14.99,

Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel, $12.99,


Don’t be freaked by the pulsating wand! Once you get used to this nifty contraption, you’ll avoid pesky gobs like crazy. While my first attempt wasn’t much better than my regular mascara, it’s got the potential to give ga-ga lashes.

I love playing with makeup, so applying this vibrating mascara was fun. There were still some clumps, but my lashes were noticeably thicker and longer. I’d invest in this simply for the novelty factor.

This mascara was almost too exciting. It really did deliver the length, but I don’t need lashes quite so long. I had to hold back on coats ’cause I didn’t want to distract the general public every time I batted an eye.





AN ATTENTION-GRABBING statement necklace lets you add a whole lot of look without a whole lot of effort. All you need to make one are some pre-blinged appliqués, ribbon, and anything else you want to add, so take a trip to your local trimming store and pick out whatever catches your eye. To make pieces just like the ones pictured, follow these directions.

SPARKLE MOTION (left): On a piece of white paper, lay a 11⁄ 2" x ⁄2" rhinestone appliqué at the apex of two 4" x 12⁄ 3" rectangular appliqués so they form a V. To make a pattern, outline the appliqués, then draw the shape 1 cm. smaller and cut. Pin the pattern to an 8" x 8" piece of black felt, and cut along the pattern. Unpin, and glue appliqués to the felt using a superstrong, clear-drying glue, like Mighty MendIt. To make the ties for the necklace, take 20" of 1"-wide rhinestone-embellished ribbon and 1 yd. of 1"-wide black satin ribbon, cut both ribbons in half, and seal the ends with FrayStop (available at most major craft-supplies stores). Glue the decorative ribbons to the




shiny side of the satin ribbons, starting 1" from the end. Let all pieces dry, then flip the ribbons and appliqué rhinestone-side down. Glue the 1" of uncovered satin ribbon to the felt at the top of one side of the V. Repeat with the second ribbon on the other side.

OH, BABY, WHAT A BIB (right): Lay a 10" x 13" beaded, V-shaped appliqué on a piece of paper and trace. Draw the shape 1 cm. smaller and cut. Pin the pattern to an 11" x 14" piece of black felt. Cut along the pattern and unpin. Glue the appliqué to the felt and let dry. Cut two 25" lengths of 1 1⁄2" black satin ribbon, and seal the ends. Sew one end of each ribbon to the tops of the appliqué V. Flip right-side up, and glue 29" of fringe trim around the outer edge of the appliqué, starting at the top inside corner, until you reach the opposite inside corner (do not glue to the inner neckline). Trim excess fringe and let dry. Take several lengths of chain, and sew the end links to the black felt on either side of the V so they hang across the chest. [ CALLIE WATTS ] // BUST / 33

looks Weeks in action

school house rocks IF YOU WANT to sport some school spirit, your options are often limited to a bland, boxy T-shirt or an oversized hoodie, most likely made by an overworked and underpaid sweatshop employee. That is, until now. Founded by 25-year-old Rachel Weeks, School House is a collegiate-clothing line that repackages tired mascots into trendy university-specific apparel made ethically by female Sri Lankan garment workers. Weeks, a former BUST intern, has always had a knack for style, but as a women’s studies major at Duke University, she struggled with the idea that fashion and feminism were mutually exclusive. “There are lots of economic opportunities to be had, considering women spend trillions of dollars on fashion throughout the world and the global garment-factory workforce is 85 percent female,” she says. “Why can’t we create linkages and try to have a conversation that isn’t Chanel vs. Birkenstocks?” Recognizing a market for fashion-forward collegiate clothing, Weeks traveled to Sri Lanka on a Fulbright scholarship in 2007 to research socially responsible apparel manufacturing, and came away with the idea for School House. Now the line’s fitted, inspired clothing is sold at 14 U.S. universities—with plans for expansion—including Harvard, which offers a slouchy gray knit cardigan, and Duke, where a graphic tee splashed with symbols of the university in neon colors is a hit. Weeks admits to going “ape shit” when she spots someone wearing School House. “I see all of the people who made this possible in Sri Lanka, and then I see this 19-year-old girl at UNC–Chapel Hill who liked our product enough to buy it, and it’s overwhelming,” she says. To rep your alma mater in style, visit [HANNAH TAYLOR]



She’s Sew Lovely Designer Sarai Mitnick is bringing a breath of fresh air to the world of sewing patterns. With her collection of adorable, vintage-inspired designs, you can whip up 10 different pieces, like the flattering, flowy Chantilly dress and the Sencha blouse with its supercute keyhole neckline. Best of all, her how-to’s can be made into sizes 0 – 18, so get stitching at


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BRAID-Y BUNCH Thief & Bandit’s handmade necklaces are better than “Buddy Bands” and friendship bracelets combined. They’re woven and sewn from handprinted fabric and supersoft leather and suede, so as soon as you put one on, you’ll wanna twist and shout ($59, thiefandbandit.


This box of bonbon-shaped lip glosses lets you coat your kisser with four delectable flavors: Praline Princess, Mocha Choca, Rose Swirl, and Vanilla Fancy. Try them all, and give your main squeeze a taste test ($12.50,



cool hand nuke SLIP ON A PAIR OF THESE TO STOP THE COLD WAR [BY CALLIE WATTS] 1. Sock It to Me You’ll never say, “Get these monkeys off the back of my hands!” ($28.50,

3 2

2. Why Do Fools Fall Without Gloves? Put on some Italian lambskin drivers and you’ll be hotter than the highway to hell ($59.95, www. 3. Addicted to Gloves Why not warm your limbs in something hand-crocheted and embroidered ($29, 4. Well, If You Moustache… Keep hand-knit jokes at your fingertips ($40, 5. Professor Coldheart Flash ’em the Care Bear Stare with this hand-knit cashmere couples mitten while walking with your boo. If you’re not smitten, just rock it solo as a muff ($35,




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AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 GIRLS [#42] La Place is the place

Ahoy, Hanoi!

Death becomes him


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THE VARIETY OF exotic adventures that a day in Hanoi offers is reflected in the city’s distinct aromas: fresh baguettes and grilled meat, fish sauce and motorbike exhaust, strong coffee and wet cement. If you’re looking for an exciting trip that’s easy on the wallet, Vietnam’s capital, wedged along the bank of the Red River, is the perfect Southeast Asian destination. Its busy streets are filled to capacity with scooters and cyclos (the Vietnamese version of a pedicab), delicious fruit—fresh, dried, chilied, pickled, or mixed with condensed milk and ice—is sold on every corner, and each morning the city’s elderly residents surround Hanoi’s lakes to walk and practice the painfully slow movements of tai chi. Spring is the best time to visit, when flowers are blooming everywhere and the humidity is bearable, but you might want to plan your trip for fall when Hanoi will celebrate its 1,000th anniversary with all kinds of festivities. Despite its impressive age, this city is still relatively off the beaten path of travelers, so get a peek at its wonderful craziness before the rest of the world gets a clue. The country’s most famous culinary export is pho, the hot noodle soup that’s served in trendy spots across the U.S., and there’s no better place to slurp it up than Hanoi, so make Pho Bò

Gia Truyên (49 Bat Ðan) your first stop. I’d sell my soul for a bowl of their version of chicken noodle soup, but thankfully it costs less than two bucks. Or try some bún cha, a grilled pork patties–and–rice noodles combo that women cook over hot coals on the sidewalks outside their tiny restaurants. The best in town is served at the one-dish-only Bún Cha Hàng Mành (1 Hàng Mành), where they’ll seat you hip-to-hip with total strangers and expect you to throw your trash on the floor. (Don’t worry, they sweep it up as soon as you leave.) Once you’ve filled your belly, check out the Hai Bà Tru ng district, named after the Tru ng sisters, Vietnamese heroines who led a revolution against Chinese invaders in the first century. Get a little history lesson at the Hoa Lò prison (1 Hoa Lò), often referred to as the Hanoi Hilton by American war prisoners. You won’t find much reference to the Vietnam War there but loads about the sadism of the French colonialists who used the prison first. Refuel at Cong Caphe (152D Triêu Viêt Vuong) with a short cup of Vietnam’s official beverage: cà phê sua, a delectable mix of strong coffee and condensed milk. If you’ve got room for dessert, stop at Fanny’s Ice Cream (48 Lê Thái Tô), which boasts crazy flavors including durian (a spiky, stinky fruit that people either love •


Hai Ha Shop gets the stamp of approval

Coffee's the bomb at Cong Caphe

Charmed, I'm sure

Sail away in Ha Long Bay

or hate), avocado, and soybean. The vintage ice cream parlor décor is sweet, but take your cone across the street to Hoàn Kiê’m Lake, where you can watch tourists, businessmen, lovesick couples, and booksellers circling the jade water. For a real taste of the city’s bustle, head to the Old Quarter, a medley of streets that’s been the beating heart of Hanoi for centuries. Sidewalks double as storefronts here; the area is characterized by its original purpose as a shopping center where roads were named for what was sold on them: metal, bamboo, sails, tin, and more. Today, the products are different but just as plentiful: you’ll still find entire streets ˘ Can), devoted to sunglasses (Luong Van luggage (Lò Su), and altar kitsch (Hàng Quat). If you want to take home some traditional fashion, have an áo dài (traditional long tunic worn over loose pants) custom-made at one of the silk shops on Hàng Gai, or try the ready-to-wear fusion styles at Flower Fashion (92A Hàng Gai). Some of the best souvenir shops are on Hang Manh, but it’s easy to miss one of my favorites: Hai Ha Shop (22 Hàng Mành), where you can buy customized 38 / BUST // FEB/MAR

Get your Bun Cha here

bamboo stamps. Choose a design from a well-loved three-ring binder, or bring your own image. You’ll be amazed at what they manage with a hunk of bamboo, some tools, and a whole lot of skill. When you tire of the cyclo drivers calling to you like your name is Woohoo, hide away on the fabric-swathed second floor of the tiny La ’ Triêu), and indulge in one Place cafe (4 Âu of their delightful fruit shakes. West of the Old Quarter in the Ba Ðình district are all things Uncle Ho. The Communist leader is laid out in his finest white suit at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (Hùong Vuong) looking a tad orange and guarded by men with bayonets; get in line early if you want to catch a glimpse. A colossal Ho Chi Minh statue, complete with brass halo and fluffy clouds, stands in the front hall at the Ho Chi Minh Museum (3 Ngoc Ha), and just outside is the One-Pillar Pagoda, the silhouette of which is emblazoned on all manner of tourist keepsakes. If you still have energy, head to the Funky Buddha (2 Ta Hiên), a trendy new club with stiff drinks, loud music, and a tiny dance floor. Or simply relax with a cocktail at the supermellow Tadioto Cafe •

Flower Fashion power

Pagoda power

and Bar (113 Triêu Viêt Vuong). Everything is cheap in Vietnam, even the lodging, which will only cost you about $20 a night. One of my standbys, Charming Hotel (15 Yên Thái), is tucked down a narrow alley lined with early-morning sellers’ carts overflowing with carrots, pineapples, morning glories, and mangoes. Or try the Paramount Hotel (28 Ngõ Huyên). Wedged in with tiny homes and tourist haunts, it has a dining room with one of the best views of the Old Quarter. While you could spend months taking in the wonders of Hanoi, you’ll definitely want to head three and a half hours east to the pirate-worthy Ha Long Bay. Filled with nearly 2,000 islands and half that many tourists, there are few places more picturesque. Or escape northward on the night train to Sa Pa and tour the tiny ethnic villages that dot the terraced rice fields of the area. There’s no place quite like Hanoi, with its eclectic mix of the modern and archaic. Whether you’re eating delicious bowls of pho or lounging by gorgeous lakesides, there’s plenty to love about this fantastically frantic city. •

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From her cinema debut in Real Women Have Curves to her TV takeover as Ugly Betty, America Ferrera has built a career on playing the most relatable female characters in pop culture today. Here, she takes tea with her close friend and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants costar, Amber Tamblyn, and lets us listen in as they get into the scone zone


40 / BUST // FEB/MAR



// BUST / 41

HOW DO YOU write about a monumental achievement of a woman like America Ferrera? How do you describe, without manipulation, this 25-year-old L.A. native who has influenced you personally, introspectively, professionally, creatively, and whole-heartedly since you first met and worked with her in 2004? It’s semi-simple. You meet her for tea at your usual secret spot in New York’s East Village. You talk about the year’s madness, eat fresh scones and preserves, and talk about what the following year will bring. You ask her about working with her longtime boyfriend, Ryan Piers Williams, for the first time, on The Dry Land—a film he wrote and directed and in which she stars—about a soldier returning home from war to his family (it premieres at Sundance this year). She tells you about playing both

It’s always interesting to see who BUST selects for their covers. I think it says a lot about them. For the most part, it’s usually women who are famous and smart and have their hands in many projects. Like, Amy Poehler is on the cover right now. She’s a writer, she produces her show, she stars in her show. She’s a self-made machine. Those are the kind of women they put on their cover. And you’re very appropriate for that. Have you ever read BUST before? I have read BUST. I read it when you were on the cover, and then Diablo Cody. They write about people with a voice. People who have something to say and aren’t afraid to say it. [Being in BUST] seemed cool and fun, like it wouldn’t have the same pressure of living up to something that a lot of magazines can put on you. We’re not going to talk about the lat-

Man, I’m so sad, because I really wanted to answer all of those questions again. I detect sarcasm! No, I was going to ask you: when was the moment that you felt like you knew you were going to do something big, regardless of how people treated you? I think the first time I felt that moment was when I was seven years old. [laughs] Oh, my God. When I auditioned for Romeo and Juliet at the junior high, I tagged along with my sisters, and I watched what these people were doing, and I was like, “I can do this.” I got up and did it, and I got cast in the play as the apothecary. I showed up every day for rehearsal, and I couldn’t wait for the performances. I knew that I had found something that was work but that made me feel in the right place. I’m constantly trying to get back to the kind of self-confidence you just de-

“One day I’ll wake up and say, ‘I’m going places, I’m doing big things.’ And other days I’m like, ‘Can I just go live in a hole in Manhattan, watch movies, and eat my way through life?’” the daughter-in-law of Forest Whitaker and an animated blond Viking. And she discusses the pre–Ugly Betty days of wearing whiteface for an audition tape to get a point across, the sage and sacred advice of actress Judith Light, and the meaning behind her production company’s name, Take Fountain. She’s got a laugh so infectious, you’ll do anything to squeeze a chuckle out of her—like stick a crumb up your nose or make fart noises with your boobs (the latter is guaranteed to get a giggle from America). And being in her vicinity makes you understand how the world fell—and continues to fall—deeply in love with her. But how do you quantify her grace on paper? Her continuous humility in an industry that can barely afford women an honest place within it, let alone a right to dignity? You record it and print it. That’s it. 42 / BUST // FEB/MAR

est Chanel couture. [sarcasm] But I have my list of my favorite designers. And all the shows I went to at Fashion Week! [sarcasm] Love Fashion Week! I’m going to assume that most people know a good amount about you, so I don’t want to do a bunch of intro questions. You don’t want to know how long it takes me to get dressed up as Betty? Girl, I know, I be spying in your trailer window! You don’t want to know when the braces are coming off ? Oh, yeah, when are the braces coming off ? You don’t want to know if me and Amber and Alexis and Blake are still friends and hang out? Do we really share the pants? Were the pants real? Were the pants ever real?

scribed. That feeling of “I’m going to do big things” that I felt when I was seven and didn’t know the obstacles. Those moments come and go now. One day I’ll wake up and say, “I’m going places, I’m doing big things, I’m really excited about what I’m going to accomplish in my career and my life.” And other days I’m like, “Can I just go live in a hole in Manhattan, watch movies, and eat my way through life?” Those moments come and go. And, yes, when I heard about Ugly Betty—before I was even cast in the role—when Salma [Hayek] came to me and said, “I want you to do this,” I just had an intuition that this was going to be a powerful show. This show was going to really connect to an audience, and I am the right person to do this. So something like that just felt so right. I guess the moment that I really thought, “Holy shit, I can’t believe this is


happening,” though, was the first time I ever saw myself on screen. It was in the movie Real Women Have Curves [2002]. I was 17 years old when I shot that, and I saw it at the Sundance Film Festival in a room of 500 people. I didn’t even know what the hell Sundance was. The producers called and said, “We’re going to Sundance.” And I’m like, “Well…can I bring my mom?” And they were like, “You can bring whomever you want!” Then the lights came up and the movie got a standing ovation. I just couldn’t believe that I was a part of something that gained such a reaction. That’s a moment where I felt, “Oh, my God, Sundance today, Academy Awards tomorrow!” Was there ever a specific obstacle when you realized, “I’m going to be facing this kind of shit for the rest of my life, and I just have to buck through it”? Yeah, I’ve had those moments. One of them I remember, I was a senior in high school. I had just done Real Women Have Curves, and I thought, like you said, “I’m on top of the world. I can do whatever. Uggs gave me boots for free! This shit is on. I’m here to conquer.” And there was a part in this movie with this director who shall remain nameless. It was a

story set in Texas about this family, and they weren’t sure who they were going to cast as the male role, so they were holding off on the female role, depending on if the male role was Latino or not. They didn’t want to put two Latinos in the same movie, because then it would be “a Latino movie.” So in my delusionary state, I thought if I dyed my hair blond, I could show them that I could play anything. It was obviously very sarcastic: Is it really the color of my hair or the color of my skin that’s going to stop you from giving me this role that I could be really good at? So I stripped my hair. I looked fucking crazy. I only took one Polaroid and I burned it. You wore whiteface… I did! I’m not even kidding! I had such resentment. And that was one of those moments where I just thought, Wow. I didn’t even get the chance to fail at that part because of the color of my skin. If I didn’t get it because I gave a bad audition, then maybe my talents aren’t up to par. That I can work on. That I can change. That I can get better at. But how do I get better at being a blond white girl? I can’t, because it’s not who I am. It was just so isolating. I would love to tell this little recorder where we are right now, but as you

know, this is like Fight Club. The first rule of our magical teahouse is… …you don’t talk about the teahouse. Literally, the person who introduced it to me said, “You can introduce this to only one other person.” And it was meeee! It was you and Alexis [Bledel], and then maybe one other person. My mom. No one gets to know about this teahouse. But getting back to your story, it’s great because it has so much to do with the audition room. That’s such a classic example of getting shot down before you even have a chance to do anything at all. That’s when you realize that image is a big part of this industry. It’s a business, and the people with the money know who they’re trying to appeal to. And it’s very hard to change their minds. But it’s not impossible. All of the things that made me not right for that role shaped this entirely different career for me, which started with Real Women Have Curves. And they were also the reasons why so many people connected to it. And it’s the same with Ugly Betty. I don’t know if they ever thought a show being led by a Latina in her 20s would appeal to more than other Latinas in their 20s. And it has in an enormous way. It didn’t have to be “by // BUST / 43


Latinos, for Latinos.” They didn’t have to put us in that box. It turned out to be lucrative on other fronts, which is good for business and good for people who don’t want to be told that they have to be blond and white to get a role. Was there a moment when somebody gave you a great piece of advice? Something that encouraged you? I was just thinking about this the other day. And I think about it a lot, actually. I had a conversation with Judith Light [who plays Claire Meade on Ugly Betty]. She’s the most aptly named person in the world. She is light. That’s what she is. She’s like an angel in my life. She’s amazing. One of the things she said to me early on, like in season one or two of Ugly Betty— this was when I won an Emmy, and a Golden Globe, and a SAG Award, and all these things were happening. When you anticipate things like that, you anticipate that they will somehow make you feel all the things that you’ve never felt about yourself. It’s just a weird place to be. And at the height of all the hoopla, she said to me, “This experience is not about a TV show. This time in your life is not about what happens in front of a camera. You’re here to grow as a person and it’s about… it’s about everything else.” And I had that to really fall back on when things were rough, and it was like, this isn’t about a TV show. This isn’t about ratings. This is about the people who you’re exposed to, how you’re choosing to react, how you’re choosing to grow, how you’re choosing to learn. And taking that into the next three or four years of doing the show has changed the whole perspective for me. Because then I don’t feel like every situation is the end of something. It just is. You just take something from it, and when it’s all said and done, the only thing that’s gonna matter is, “How have I grown and changed as a person in the last few years of my life?” Because one day I’m gonna look up, and there will be DVD box sets on my shelf, and it would be such a shame to say, “That’s what I did with those years of my life.” I love the show, but I so hope that at the end of that run, I’ll have more to show for it than box sets.

That makes total sense. Switching gears, I want to talk about [your boyfriend] Ryan’s film. The Dry Land. He was writing this while we were doing The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, when we were in Connecticut, in the hotel. The hours that we worked on that film were some of the most horrendous I’ve ever worked in my whole life. I remember knocking on your door at 6:30 a.m. just to see how you were, because I felt so bad for all the hours that you had—and you came straight out of Ugly Betty to do that film—and Ryan would be all chipper at the desk, working on his script. Then you’d get up and you were like, “I can’t even feel my face yet.” But he was always writing every time I saw him. So I’m really happy for him, es-

And he did. And he ended up writing this incredible, gorgeous, beautiful script that I was so proud to have been a part of. But then also—and I’m only talking personal because it’s you… I know, baby. …to feel like not only is this something beautiful that you had a part in, but something so incredibly beautiful that came from your partner in life. It’s just so satisfying. I had no intention of being in the movie. It wasn’t a role that I wanted to do until it was perfect. I kept saying to him, “If for no other reason than your girlfriend is an actress trying to look for good roles in this industry, you’d better write a fucking good role for a woman.” Word. Give someone a chance. And toward the end of the making of the script, I just read it and thought, “Oh, my God, this is

“I love Ugly Betty, but I so hope that at the end of that run, I’ll have more to show for it than box sets.” pecially with the amazing cast that he got, including you. You’re also the executive producer, correct? I feel like there should be a more special title, like, “person who didn’t have her living room for two months because he was editing in it.” [laughs] Or “person who had to stay up for 200 hours to listen to audio.” Girl, that’ll be in the Oscar speech. But yes. I did executive-produce it. It’s so funny, ’cause he had been talking to me about this movie he wanted to do a year before he even started writing it. Finally, he did write it. I read the first draft and thought there was something really special in there, but it needed work. Like any writer, he was just anxious to get it out there, but I totally take credit for being the bitch in his life because [I had to say], “It’s not good enough. Keep going.”

a really good role.” [laughs] And then I said, “Can I do it?” And he was very, very, happy that I wanted to do it. And I was already on as executive producer, and it was right and natural, and it felt good. Tell us what the film is about. It’s about a soldier who returns from the war in Iraq to this small town in Texas who’s just trying to reintegrate into his life. What was so beautiful about Ryan’s vision for the film was he wanted to tell a story about human interaction. It wasn’t a political manifesto or anything. It was about showing human experience. It could’ve been anything. The trauma could’ve come from losing a child; it could’ve come from almost dying in an airplane crash; it could’ve come from so many things, and the film could’ve been the same. What happens when something has changed your life, and // BUST / 45

A Viking. Who is blond. You finally got to play a blond girl. A blond girl with blue eyes and a sick body. You’re like the Latina Precious. Exactly. The cartoon version of myself is who they wanted to cast in that movie. That is a really fantastic irony. “America, we looooove your voice, but we can’t make a cartoon that looks like you.” [both laugh] Good times. Good times. It was a ton of fun. And it looks great, and it’s about dragons, but it’s not about good versus evil. It’s a story of, like, the other. The dragons and the Vikings think they know what the other one is, and then this one little unlikely Viking changes the world order. It’s beautiful. And when is your memoir coming

“Producing takes you from that whiny, ‘Why aren’t there any roles for me?’ place to, ‘I’m going to create a path that feels right to me.’” to me as much as he could. He got the support of the U.S. Army, which meant that I was able, through them, to contact women whose husbands had come home from war with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. He was just present for his actors 150 percent. More so than directors I’ve worked with who are getting paid millions of dollars to make a movie. Some of the great directors are the first-timers who write their own work. Those are the people who are the most attentive. I wish I could say we had some big, dramatic fights on set, but we didn’t! It just came down to respect. I’m very lucky. You have two other films coming out. I know you have the animated one, which sounds adorable. It’s called How to Train Your Dragon, and you play… 46 / BUST // FEB/MAR

out? People just do that now, right? Put memoirs out really young? Miley Cyrus should put out a memoir. She has! It’s called Miles to Go. Why do I know that? I don’t know. [pretending to be Miley Cyrus] “These last few years as a teenager have been very difficult.” This is why we always get in trouble. When does the film come out? March. And right before that is a Fox Searchlight movie called Our Family Wedding. Forest Whitaker is in that. He’s amazing. He’s so amazing. And Regina King. So you’re going to have a busy-ass year. Now I want you to tell Little Mr. Tape Recorder what your production company name means, because I think it’s amazing. It’s called Take

Fountain. Tell them how you came to that name. I’m in love with Bette Davis. I did a marathon of all of her movies and became obsessed with her mastery of acting. I’ve watched interviews, read about her. And the famous story is that a reporter asked her, “What would you say to a young aspiring actress trying to get into Hollywood?” And she said [doing a Bette Davis impression], “Take Fountain,” as in Fountain Boulevard instead of Sunset or Santa Monica, because it’ll get you into Hollywood faster. Ah, she was clever. And she meant it as a big joke, and I loved that. But then I also thought—I don’t think she meant it this way—but I take it as “Take the road less traveled.” Take the road where there’s less traffic. But now Fountain is a bitch to drive on. I think it’s a great metaphor for life. That’s why I wanted people to know that. Are there any projects you want to talk about that are coming up for you in the next couple of years? I want to talk about this scone right now. This hot-ass scone. I don’t know. I never thought that I would find myself producing and being the creator. And I really, really enjoyed that. There’s a lot of satisfaction and a lot of personal growth in that, because it is about not sitting around, waiting for someone to say [putting on an old Hollywood producer voice], “You’re the girl we’re looking for.” “You’re the blonde we’re looking for!” It takes you from that whiny, “Why aren’t there any roles for me?” place to, “I’m going to create a path that feels right to me.” My last question would be: Why do I have the greatest ass in all of New York City? I’ve been asking myself that question for a long time, Amber Tamblyn. It is very beautiful. Especially from the side. It’s like the most ghetto booty on any white girl from Santa Monica. I know, I know, I am the white Beyoncé. That concludes our interview with America Ferrera. [laughs] Thank you, Amber Tamblyn. B


the world you knew isn’t the world you know anymore? I felt like it was a story that our generation needed to man up to and embrace for ourselves like so many generations have before us. What was it like being directed by your boyfriend? It actually was amazing. He is the most overprepared, hardworking person you could ever put yourself into the hands of. And that just challenged me to be as prepared in my own work. I think it did for the entire cast. Everyone knew what he was putting into it, and no one showed up without their A game. So I just really dove into my role. As an actor, he had been there for me by writing this gorgeous script, by answering all my questions, by having everything available

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LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX Once upon a time, getting the scoop on the birds and the bees was the domain of slumber parties and recess gossip—shrouded in mystery and full of misinformation. With the advent of the Internet, do today’s young girls know it all?

By Johanna Gohmann // IllusTRATION BY JIM DATZ

O YOU REMEMBER your playground sexpert? You know who I’m talking about—the kid who would spend recess whispering of bizarre, unbelievable practices, of “cunny linguists” and “four skins,” things that sounded as foreign and ridiculous to your 11-year-old ears as wombats. I remember her well, because that kid was me. With access to my older sister’s issues of Cosmopolitan and tattered V.C. Andrews books, not to mention cable television, I was the resident sexpert of my fifth-grade class. In between games of jump rope, my female friends and I would huddle near the bike racks, and I would regale them with the latest findings I had gleaned from Cinemax. With my bifocals, buckteeth, and plaid school uniform, I was practically a Norman Rockwell portrait of nerdiness and the last person you’d suspect of puncturing the innocence of childhood with a diagram of a man’s testicles. And yet, there I was, the lazy-eyed Anaïs Nin of my Midwestern Catholic grade school. I would sneak my sister’s Cosmo into bed, puzzling over the numerous “mind-blowing” sex tips—like “throwing a picnic in bed with your lover” and spreading jam where jam was never intended to go. Then I’d waltz into school the next day, ready to blow some prepubescent minds with this revelation on condiment foreplay. I was finally busted for my non-sanctioned sex ed when one rainy day, I came in boasting of the existence of some48 / BUST // FEB/MAR

thing so preposterous, one outraged girl absolutely refused to believe me. I had just unloaded the news that, apparently, there was an implement modeled after the male sex organ that some women used to pleasure themselves. This was the last straw for my fellow classmate, a girl I’ll call Bernice. I don’t know if Bernice had just grown tired of my tenure as sex guru or was horrified by the increasingly absurd picture of human sexuality I painted, but she promptly went home and asked her mother if there was, in fact, any such thing as a “dodo.” All hell quickly broke loose, as her mother called the school, and the next day our teacher delivered a furious lecture about how we were not to be discussing things of a sexual nature at school, her eyes lingering on my crimson face as she spoke. Worst of all, the boys in the class christened poor Bernice with a nickname that followed her all the way through high school. (Oh Dodo Bird, wherever you are, please know that I am very sorry.) Humbled by the experience, my one-woman Kinsey Institute abruptly closed shop, and I learned to share my sexual findings with only a few select friends who could be counted on for their discretion. Looking back on this over two decades later, my dogeared copy of Flowers in the Attic and pilfered issues of Cosmo seem rather tame. In an adolescent world that now contains the Internet, sexting, and Gossip Girl, my little dodo sex-toy kerfuffle seems as quaint as a sepia-tinted episode of The Little Rascals. I can only imagine what

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11-year-old me would make of things were she transported cover, well, Rachel and Ross did. “I learned a lot about sex to the present and introduced to a Google search bar. My from Friends,” Hannah chirps at me. “Like, about condoms. There’s a 97 percent chance of one working! And a 3 perbifocals would probably melt into my skull. I marvel at what it must be like for kids today, having cent chance that it won’t!” Both girls seem to regard their such incredible access right at their fingertips, not only mom, Friends, and actual friends as the go-to people for information and don’t put much online but also via text messagstock in the Internet. “Sometimes ing. Of course, we all know about with the Internet, if you’re lookthe scary side of the Internet, ing for the wrong thing, you might with the cyber-predators, and “2 get wrong information and get the Girls 1 Cup,” which no tween (or wrong idea in your head,” Amy human, really) should ever expesagely explains. rience. But on the positive side, Thirteen-year-old Melissa agrees: there are also awesome sex infor“I don’t like learning things about mation sites like, sex, puberty, or periods on the, or, puter. Just because I want to hear which is actually operated by a it from a person, not read it from a teen staff and loaded with articles screen.” Melissa also got the lowlike “I Want to Talk About Being down on sex from her pals. “I can’t Bisexual” and “Crabs: Not a Day remember exactly how I heard at the Beach.” Kids can look up The author [left] with a friend about it, but it was from a group pretty much anything under the

I can only imagine what 11-year-old me would make of things were she transported to the present and introduced to a Google search bar. My bifocals would probably melt into my skull. sun on these sites, be it a question on birth control, masturbation, or the exact definition of “transgender,” and should she find herself without Wi-Fi, a girl can always send a message to the Birds and Bees text line in Durham, NC. Within 24 hours, a worker at the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign will reply. (If this had been around back in the day, Bernice could have whipped out her iPhone and fact-checked my ass on the spot.) When I was a kid, the only references we could turn to were on the library bookshelf, where the raciest thing in the YA section was Forever. All this new media sure makes a penis named Ralph seem rather tame. I can’t help but wonder how much this easier access to information has changed the adolescent experience. Has it turned girls into jaded, pint-sized Carrie Bradshaws who would roll their eyes at Judy Blume and her medieval description of sanitary belts? To find out, I spoke to Amy, 14, and her little sister Hannah, 11. They tell me older friends spilled the beans about sex one day out at recess. They later had “the talk” that was given to all sixth-grade classes, and anything the talk didn’t 50 / BUST // FEB/MAR

of friends. Mainly guys. I didn’t know exactly what sex was, probably till about this year. And I probably still don’t fully understand it. But I have the general idea.” Melissa does cop to turning to the Internet for help at least once. “I asked my mom what oral sex was, and she wouldn’t tell me. So I looked it up. Once I did, I still didn’t understand it.” She also recalls a few raucous sleepovers, where she and her friends used Google to look up “sex and things,” and she says sex is a frequent topic of conversation. “It’s one of the main things girls my age talk about. I couldn’t think of a time I hung out with my friends and that subject didn’t come up.” Next I spoke with Jessica, a girl I babysat in her younger years. She used to have me read her bedtime stories from a book called It’s So Amazing!, which is a colorful sex-education book for children. It’s written like a graphic novel and narrated by a cheerful ovum that floats through the fallopian tubes with a knowing smile upon her face. I certainly never had such a book when I was a child, and as Jessica and I thumbed through it, I think I was more rapt than she was. I recall a night when she politely turned and demanded an explanation of “circumcision.” I was astounded (and

relieved) to discover that It’s So Amazing! had an easy-tounderstand answer, with a diagram. So when I chat with Jessica, now 13, I’m not surprised that she sounds so knowledgeable. She’s hanging out with her 15-year-old friend Ashley when we talk, and they seem highly amused by my line of questioning. “The Internet?” Jessica giggles. “I don’t really look on the Internet. It’s mostly guys who do that. If I had a question about sex, I would ask either my friends or my parents.” I ask her if there are any girls at school who claim to know a lot about sex. But again, she points the finger at boys. “Guys like to pretend that they know more than they do. They talk like they’re ready to do it, but they’re really not.” I can practically hear her rolling her eyes over the phone. Then we get into a discussion of “the bases.” First base is still kissing, second is touching above the waist, and third is touching below the belt. A home run, of course, is still “doing it.” But oral sex is now lumped in with third base and isn’t as big a deal as sex. This is vastly different from my day, when oral sex was viewed as something far more intimate than sex. It was beyond the home run—more like

lescent is thinking that this is slumber-party gold. Can’t you just envision whiling away the evening sending in questions, then rolling around on the floor laughing when you get a text explaining camel toe? Really, though, I don’t mean to make light of something as crucial as sex education. (Especially when Congress continues to bat around money for “abstinence only” ridiculousness.) But I find something rather touching and sweet in the knowledge that no matter how much times change, there are some fundamental things in the human experience that remain the same. Your first period, for instance, will always be both exciting and a little bit scary. “In the toilets we have baskets, and they have pads in them in case we were to have, you know, it, in school,” says 11-yearold Hannah. “I haven’t had mine yet, but I think a couple of girls in my class have. Anyway, we used to make such a big deal out of the baskets, like, ‘Oh, my God, one is gone! Somebody’s used it!’ And some of the girls in my class were afraid of the stalls that had the baskets. They would only go into the other toilets.” There’s a 22-year gap between Hannah and myself, and yet, I know exactly what she’s talking about. I

If fellatio is now on par with fondling, dare I even ask these savvy young women if they’ve heard of Judy Blume? Will I be met with the sound of crickets? what happened should the game move into extra innings. If fellatio is now on par with fondling, dare I even ask these savvy young women if they’ve heard of Judy Blume? Will I be met with the sound of crickets? “I thought Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was the most amazing book ever!” Ashley swoons. “She was, like, my idol. It was just so cool, because she was going through all of this stuff. And I was going through the same stuff. I read it was when I was 10 but didn’t really understand it, so I read it again when I was 12.” Melissa also hearts Judy. “I love her books, because they talk about teenage life and just make sense to me.” After talking to all of these bright, lovely ladies, I have one more, very important question to ask. But this time I do it via text. “What r blue balls?,” I write and send on to the Birds and Bees text line. I wait with bated breath, and sure enough, the next morning, I awake to this: “It’s slang for when a guy is sexually excited, but doesn’t ejaculate (cum), he sometimes gets an achy feeling in his testicles and lower abdomen.” OMG! I mean, of course, I already knew this, but while my adult brain is thinking, “What a helpful, efficient service!” my inner ado-

can remember being a kid in the school bathroom and eyeing the white metal tampon machines with that same mixture of wonder and fear. Like it was some portal to the future, and a quarter didn’t yield merely a cardboard tube but a final boot out of childhood and into—ta-da!—womanhood. Talking to Hannah and the others gave me pretty good insight into the fate of the Facebook generation, and on the whole, their budding awareness of the birds and the bees felt more familiar than foreign. Yes, they do seem a bit more knowledgeable than girls were in my day, and they also seem more confident about where to go for the right information. But when it comes to the nitty-gritty details, sex, and everything associated with it, seems just as mysterious and strange to these Internet-savvy kids as it did to my friends and me. As I listened to them tell me, in their high, chatty tones, what was what, I was taken right back to that quaky, murky time when I may have known the “facts of life” but was still waiting to learn about life itself. Whether kids are turning to, or relying on Margaret to ask God, preteens’ understanding—or misunderstanding—of sex isn’t so different after all. B // BUST / 51

French chanteuse and cinema siren Charlotte Gainsbourg has a career that just won’t quit. From Antichrist to her new album IRM , she’s been doing compelling work and collaborating with major men, and here we get the goods on all of it BY JENNI MILLER // PHOTOGRAPHED BY PAUL JASMIN

THOUGH CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG recieved a good bit of attention for her awardwinning work in Lars von Trier’s film Antichrist last fall, the buzz surrounding her these days is all about her new album IRM, her first since 2006’s critically acclaimed 5:55. The 38-yearold multitalented French progeny of ’60s supercouple Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, she has been acting since 1984’s Paroles et Musique, released the same year she and her father made waves with the notorious duet “Lemon Incest.” Now 26 years later, Gainsbourg has found a new musical partner in Beck. The two collaborated heavily on IRM, with Beck taking on mixing, producing, and lyrical duties. The title of the album, an abbreviation for image à résonance magnétique, refers to the many MRIs Gainsbourg underwent post-surgery to correct a brain hemorrhage she suffered after a 2007 52 / BUST // FEB/MAR

waterskiing accident. According to Gainsbourg, the sound of the MRI machine became a source of inspiration, fascination, and even comfort for her during that difficult time, and her experiences making Antichrist also informed the creation of this unique collaboration. Gainsbourg won the Best Actress prize at Cannes last year for her portrayal, in Antichrist, of a grieving mother whose psychological treatment at the hands of her husband goes horribly awry. Despite this high praise, however, the film has also been heavily criticized for its graphic sexual violence—including self-induced genital mutilation—as Gainsbourg’s nameless character is tortured, and in turn, becomes a torturer herself. Here she opens up about her journey from catastrophe to creativity and shares some of her impressions from the trenches of the most controversial film of 2009.

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Beck became much more than a producer on IRM. How did that evolve? We started out just trying things together, having no expectations, really, just seeing what it would be like to work together and what we could do. Because it happened in Los Angeles, and I don’t live in Los Angeles, I had to put my family aside [Gainsbourg is married to French actor/director Yvan Attal and has two children] and go there for small sessions. I did a film in between, and I came back. It lasted for nearly a year and a half. I loved that process of being able to work quite intensely for two weeks, do something else, and listen to what we had done. It enables you to take steps back, which is quite nice, and then come back with a different mood and different ideas. Were you working on the album while you were filming Antichrist? Yes, I did Antichrist in between, and I also did another film called Persecution, which is a French film by Patrice Chéreau. Did your experiences on the set of Antichrist inform what you were creating musically at the same time? I’m sure they did, but not consciously. I didn’t really come back from the shoot and say, “I want to do a song that’s based on the film or based on something that I lived through in the film.” It was more to do with the mood, because it’s true that coming back from the shoot I was…perturbed. A little bit. I had lived an experience that I had loved. It was very intense, but I didn’t really know what I had done because I hadn’t seen any images from the film, so I had just lived that very vivid experience. Going back to Los Angeles and being quite isolated in the city, even though I was working every day with Beck, I was in a different mood, a different state of mind. I could feel this on the songs, though I don’t know how, because I didn’t write the lyrics, Beck did. But I hope I influenced the writing. In a way, maybe Antichrist did take over a little bit, but not in a very conscious way.

In your last interview you did with BUST, in 2007, you said that you are very, very shy and self-conscious. Has working on projects like Antichrist helped you with that? [laughs] I think it did because it was a special experience. But my age helps also. I was very shy meeting Beck and discussing things at first. It took me a very long time to feel a little more confident and wanting to dare a little bit. It takes me time to get to know people

“What I’m hoping for is to have experiences that will take me somewhere. I have big dreams, and they’re out of the norm.” and want to dare, yeah. But it’s true that I had also been through an accident before Antichrist, and for nearly a year, I didn’t work. I was so willing to work and to really dive into something that would take my head off my own physical problems from the past. So I was just willing to go with no protections into a project as wild as Lars von Trier’s film was. Antichrist was very controversial at Cannes and even since then. Lars had to defend it against claims that it’s misogynistic. Have you been nervous

about defending it? No. When we knew that we were going to Cannes, the producers and distributors came to me and said, “You know, be prepared. It’ll be violent in Cannes. People are wild.” So I was ready to get spat at or, you know, really violent reactions. I didn’t feel embarrassed, even though I could have because of everything I show. But I didn’t. I wasn’t embarrassed by the film. A lot of people said it was misogynistic, and I didn’t have that feeling at all. I loved Lars. I had a great relationship with him. I admired him a lot, so I had nothing negative that people could hurt me with. I felt fine. I came away thinking not that Lars von Trier was misogynistic, but that your character felt so guilty [over the death of her child], she felt that women were evil. Yeah, yeah. But the thing is, I had the impression that I was playing him. So a lot of the fragility…he was in such a state that I could feel that all the anxiety attacks [I have in the movie], all those were his. And in a way, yes, I felt that I was using everything I could from him to play this character. So it made me look at the character as if it could have been a girl or a man. For me, it didn’t have a negative side. So that’s why I felt I could talk about the film and feel close to the film. At the risk of overgeneralizing, a lot of female artists become more conservative after having a family. Obviously, your family is still very important to you, as you mentioned before, but you’ve gotten bolder. What I’m hoping for is to have experiences that will take me somewhere. I have big dreams, and they’re out of the norm. I’m attracted to stuff that’s far away from me. I know that while I was shooting the film, I felt [it was] the first and only time when somebody would ask me to do something so extreme— to be in a crisis for two months and to howl and scream and cry and take my clothes off. I knew for me it was very unique, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to do it again. [laughs] I’m not sure it will happen. B // BUST / 55

DIE, DIE my darling

Author Lurlene McDaniel is the queen of sick lit, with her oeuvre of young-adult fiction featuring terminally ill kids. What is it about her books that have a legion of young female fans swooning? By Marni Grossman Photographed by Amanda Bruns


HERE ARE CAMPS for kids with cancer. I know this because Lurlene McDaniel told me so. I spent my preteen summers at Jewish camp, counting down the days while fantasizing about terminal illness and constructing romantic, overblown narration for my life. She walked to free swim, auburn hair billowing in the breeze, her tiny porcelain face exquisite. She was beautiful, but her dark liquid eyes revealed an inner pain. Never mind that my inner pain had much to do with being forced to go to free swim, or that my hair wasn’t auburn, nor was my face exquisite. The descriptions felt real. They were tragic, and they were mine. I was the type of girl who spent a lot of time holed up alone with books, writing poetry and thinking deep thoughts. I conjured up visions of a valiant death by tuberculosis, and I read Lurlene McDaniel novels. Turns out, I was not alone. Lurlene McDaniel began writing young-adult fiction in the mid-’80s and is now the author of some 50 YA novels, including Too Young to Die; Don’t Die, My Love; If I Should Die Before I Wake; and her classic tour-de-force Six Months to Live. Her books are of the made-for-TV, disease-of-themonth variety, featuring boys and girls—though mostly girls—and their struggles with leukemia and hemophilia and heart transplants. They are embarrassingly overwrought and inexplicably delectable. In fact, there is a legion of devoted Lurlene McDaniel fans, all of whom are ready to extol the virtues of her death-

and-determination dramas. Jill, a 23-year-old grad student, reminisces about her love affair with McDaniel. “In middle school, before I had encountered Shakespeare, Austen, or the Brontës, I considered Lurlene McDaniel books the height of romance,” she says. “No one I knew was dying for love—but dying of cancer was pretty close. Being sick, being genuinely, seriously, terminally ill seemed to be just as exalting.” McDaniel, now 65, began writing about kids with lifethreatening illnesses when her son, Sean, was diagnosed with diabetes. She saw a need for young-adult literature that taught kids frankly and sensitively about illness and mortality. “I hope ‘well’ kids will see a bigger picture of real life,” she says about her stories. To McDaniel’s surprise, the books became successful. So successful that Six Months to Live was chosen by children across the country to be placed in a time capsule at the Library of Congress. Six of her novels have been Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers, and many have graced the American Library Association’s year-end lists of “Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.” Turns out that kids love reading about other kids with cystic fibrosis (A Time to Die) and inoperable brain tumors (Mourning Song). McDaniel has attributed her success to her care in depicting the lives of her characters realistically, something she was able to do even more so after surviving breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 1997. “When you actually have cancer, you experience a whole range of emotions that you’ve not felt before,” she says. “People rarely // BUST / 57

Someone lives, someone dies, and another adolescent girl develops a desire for a brush with mortality.

think about dying until it becomes a real possibility. The diagnosis gave my characters greater depth, I think.” But the realism and depth extends only as far as the hospital walls. In their dayto-day lives, her characters are—almost uniformly—pretty, popular, and successful. They aren’t teased or bullied or subjected to the minor hurts and humiliations that make up adolescence. Outside the hospital, these characters have the kind of lives found only in fiction. And that, I’d argue, is what brings all the girls to Lurlene McDaniel’s yard, so to speak. On Facebook, there are 10 groups devoted to McDaniel, including the exuberant “Lurlene McDaniel is the GREATEST author EVER!” A browse through these groups’ wall posts reveals one incontrovertible fact: the highest praise from readers, it seems, is tears. “[Crying] comes naturally with her stories,” says 13-year-old Facebook group member Stephanie VanderStad. “Because they go deep and touch your heart in many ways.” Andrea Haddad, another young fan, agrees wholeheartedly: “Crying is the reason I prefer Lurlene’s books over all the other books. Not many authors that I have been exposed to have had the same effect on me.” While McDaniel’s characters are almost exclusively Christian, white, and middle-class, her fans come from 58 / BUST // FEB/MAR

all races and creeds, from locales banal and exotic alike. Among her Facebook fans are hijab-clad Razan and bikiniclad Jordie. Her readers live around the world, from Little Rock, AR, and Peoria, IL, to Jordan and Singapore. But there’s one attribute that unites them: they are all female. When I ask Stephanie why she thinks Lurlene’s books appeal more to girls than boys, she suggests that romance is at the root of the situation. Andrea notes, “Her work seems to appeal more to girls, since we are more likely to enjoy a good cry while reading a book.” Anna Yeung, also 13, proposes it’s because most girls are “more softhearted than boys.” For these young ladies, most of whom are still in middle school, hindsight has yet to set in. But I can see clearly now. My fascination with Lurlene McDaniel’s books had little to do with being soft-hearted and more to do with a love of melodrama, however ham-fisted. All of McDaniel’s books follow a fairly similar formula. Pretty, likable, white teenage girl develops a potentially fatal disease but, through a combination of pluck, spunk, and grit, overcomes the associated hardships. She learns life lessons, gets a boyfriend, and finally, someone dies. This last point is crucial. In McDaniel’s 1992 novel Someone Dies, Someone Lives, former track star Katie O’Roark is in desperate need of a heart transplant. But like all McDaniel heroines, she is a cheerful stoic. McDaniel writes, “From downstairs, she heard the sounds of her mother preparing supper. Sadness stole over her as she remembered how once she would have been setting the table and telling her mom about her day at school. Katie felt tears well up, and she might have allowed them to flow, but her father

walked through the doorway.” Even as her strength ebbs, Katie attempts to protect her family. That’s just the kind of girl she is. Death soon arrives, though not for Katie. Rather, it claims Aaron Martel, a rising football star. But, the Martels’ loss is Katie’s gain, since she receives Aaron’s heart. Josh, Aaron’s grieving younger brother, seeks Katie out. Naturally, the two fall in love. With the help of Josh—who, wouldn’t you know it, is a runner too—Katie runs in the Transplant Olympics and even wins. Someone lives, someone dies, and another adolescent girl develops a desire for a brush with mortality. Chicks dig terminal illness. Because here’s the thing: Katie O’Roark is lovely. Lying in the ICU, McDaniel writes, “Her dark hair spilled out onto the pillow, and she looked frail and impossibly thin.” On the cover of the paperback edition, she’s gorgeous with piercing blue eyes and a mournful expression. A good-looking guy with floppy Zach Morris hair gazes at her with loving concern. To an 11-year-old, Katie O’Roark is one lucky girl, beautiful and wonderfully tragic. Plus, she gets the guy. Katie—along with McDaniel’s other heroines—bears a striking resemblance to a number of other literary characters, particularly Little Women’s Beth March. Lovers of Louisa May Alcott’s classic are supposed to identify with Jo, who’s rebellious and funny and smart. Meg is materialistic, Amy is a snot, and Beth’s a goody-goody who doesn’t even make it through the novel. I wanted to be Jo. But I also wanted to be Beth—to die martyred and saintly and to be eulogized affectionately. Let’s call it Beth March syndrome, the indefinable malady of which lovers of

McDaniel and Miss March suffer: the desire to be kind and patient and cheerful and then wilt beautifully and die. Or simply come close enough so that everyone finally appreciates you. When Beth dies at 19 of scarlet fever, she goes out quietly, “like a tide.” She is, like Lurlene McDaniel’s sad-eyed protagonists, gracious and giving to her last breath. “Even while preparing to leave life,” Alcott writes, “[Beth] tried to make it happier for those who should remain behind.” In the poem Jo pens to commemorate Beth’s passing, she praises her “great patience” and her “unselfish nature.” Beth is described as a saint, too good for this earth. And in this, Beth wins. But is there something more to McDaniel’s popularity than the typical teen-girl penchant for melodrama? I believe the attraction lies deeper: all girls are susceptible to Beth March syndrome, because we’re taught that suffering is a woman’s most noble role, and bearing the wrath of a terminal illness lends an innate goodness to the sufferer. In literature, men go to war to become heroes, achieving immortality through great acts while women earn their place by courageously battling illness before graciously dying. I envied the girls in McDaniel’s books, not in spite of their ailments but because of them. Dying girls get the last laugh. They are loved and cherished and they are, above all, good—even if they aren’t. Because you can’t really talk trash about a girl on her deathbed, no matter how much you disliked her when she was healthy. Take, for instance, Scarlett O’Hara’s sister-in-law Melanie in Gone with the Wind. Melanie is not as pretty as Scar-

lett, nor as exciting, but she makes up for it in sheer goodness, killing Scarlett with kindness, despite her blatant attempts to steal her husband. Melanie soldiers on, bearing children, befriending prostitutes, and standing by her frenemy of a sister-in-law. Until she dies, having sacrificed her health in order to have another child. She is, as most of these types are, appreciated most in death. Rhett calls her “a very great lady,” and even scheming, underhanded Scarlett weeps for “dear Melly,” realizing “that Melanie had always been there beside her with a sword in her hand, unobtrusive as her own shadow, loving her, fighting for her with blind, passionate loyalty.” For a certain type of girl—a girl who maybe isn’t brilliant or bold or beautiful—there is something utterly alluring in this. McDaniel’s protagonists are just like us: regular girls who, with a dash of cancer, can be gorgeous, tragic, and good. Who, thanks to their sickness, are free from the typical petty trials and tribulations of adolescence. “[In McDaniel’s books] the ill, it seemed, were simply better than other people,” Jill, the 23-year-old grad student, says. “I attribute to books like these my own, imaginative form of hypochondria. I wanted to have appendicitis, a tonsillectomy, anything that would get me into the hospital for a couple days, at least. I wanted the attention, the proof that I, too, was just too good for this world.” For her part, Lurlene McDaniel seems to believe this just as much as the rest of us. She says, “I’ve met many, many sick kids whose lives and experiences have been deepened by an illness. They often take more time to examine issues they might not when there’s

no serious illness in their lives.” Girls with terminal illnesses, she seems to be saying, are fonts of wisdom. They’re kinder and more appreciative of their lives. They see the big picture that always seems to elude the rest of us. A dying girl, McDaniel implies, is always a heroine. Death by consumption was my first choice, since it seemed the most romantic and dramatic. I imagined myself lying on a plush velvet chaise, dark hair (which would later be described as “raven”) fanned out behind me. I’d waste away but, even in my hour of need, manage to touch those around me with light and goodness. And then at my funeral, Trip Potter, who’d once made fun of the way I blew my nose, would sob unrestrainedly, ashamed at what a little douche bag he’d been. It was this needy, attention-seeking part of me that glommed onto Lurlene McDaniel and her oeuvre. It was this love of Terms of Endearment–type drama that made cancer camp seem like such a blast. Kids with cancer seemed so deep, tuned in to the meaning of life. They didn’t have time to worry about frivolities like school dances or who said what to whom or whether someone would ever French kiss them. I didn’t want to die, of course. I just wanted everyone else to live like I had no tomorrow. B

Dying girls get the last laugh. They are loved and cherished and they are, above all, good—even if they aren’t. // BUST / 59

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ÓLÖF ARNALDS Við Og Við (One Little Indian) For such a tiny nation, Iceland (population: 320,000) has produced a hell of a lot of brilliant musicians over the past two decades. Ólöf Arnalds is very much a part of the Reykjavik music mafia: a member of Múm, her debut solo album, Við Og Við, was produced by Sigur Rós’ Kjartan Sveinsson, and she has shared a stage with Björk several times. Við Og Við (“Now and Then”) was released in 2007 in her native country, but it’s taken a while for the rest of the world to catch up—it was just released in the U.S. this year. Sung entirely in Icelandic, Arnalds’ delicate, glacial folk songs are sparsely backed by guitar and/or harp, leaving room for her pitch-perfect vocals to take center stage. At her best, as on the spellbinding “Í nýju húsi” and “Orfeus og Evridís,” she comes across like a Nordic Joanna Newsom or Vashti Bunyan. God knows what she’s singing about, but it’s often very beautiful. [LUIZA SAUMA]


BRILLIANT COLORS Introducing (Slumberland) On Brilliant Colors’ debut album, Introducing, this all-girl trio looks to genres long gone for inspiration, specifically the fuzzed-out, riff-heavy shoegazer sound. Full of distorted guitars and sorta indecipherable lyrics, the record is incredibly catchy, with punky influences (including length—the album clocks in at just under 25 minutes) that make you want to pogo. It’s hard to understand what the heck vocalist Jess Scott is singing about, but listen close—the lyrics are short and sweet ruminations on love and Anglophilia (“Over There” and “English Cities” are essentially love letters to the U.K.). These girls know how to leave you wanting more, but here’s hoping their next album makes it past the half-hour mark. [AMY PLITT]

CLIPD BEAKS To Realize (Lovepump United) Oakland post-punkers Clipd Beaks go pre-punk on their second full-length,

beach house TEEN DREAM (SUB POP) THIS BALTIMORE DREAM-POP duo has always been a master of heartwrenching melody, but Teen Dream (their third full-length and follow-up to 2008’s stunning Devotion) really ups the ante. Recorded in a converted church in upstate New York, the album is awash in a hopeful shimmer that’s gorgeous as all get-out—think Mazzy Star meets a darker Robin Guthrie. Ethereal jams like “Used to Be” and the epic “10 Mile Stereo” float in a gilded haze, while the almost funereal “Lover of Mine” flaunts organs worthy of a grand, haunted estate. Even classic Beach House elements like Victoria Legrand’s Nico-tinged howl and Alex Scally’s glittery guitars feel more sophisticated and emotional here, as if the two have reached a majestic lockstep even they didn’t know was possible. Teen Dream is destined to be one of 2010’s most perfect albums. [MOLLIE WELLS]

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the guide MUSIC creating a death-hippie vibe with meandering songs that hover around the five-minute mark like a smoky veil over barren landscapes. To Realize is a potent murmur of psychedelic drone that makes up for its lack of melody with an abundance of intoxicating buzz. The music’s grainy texture almost crackles, like a warped vinyl record, and song boundaries blur into a continuous musical suite. “Desert Highway Music” has a three-minute intro before the singer’s weak voice breaks through the eclectic clatter; is he a shaman conjuring altered states, or a sham-man mimicking the current call of the weird? Only time will tell. Until then, listen to the pretty colors. [PETER LANDAU]

CORINNE BAILEY RAE The Sea (Virgin) Eschewing the hopeful lullabies and languid odes to taking it easy that made her famous, Corinne Bailey Rae has drastically changed her tune on The Sea, the first release since the death of her husband in 2008. A cursory listen to the mournful lyrics of the title track leaves no doubt that the topic at hand is grief: “The sea takes everything from me.” The lone exception here is “Paris Nights/New York Mornings,” which recalls vintage Stereolab and is, at least instrumentally, as frothy and breezily cosmopolitan as the rest of the album is dense, shut-in, and subterranean. Whether this body

of work represents a brief shower on a sunny day or the eye of a darker storm in Bailey’s career is anybody’s guess, but The Sea is a worthy snapshot of one woman in the throes of the universal experience of loss. [DEVIN ESTLIN]

DELUKA EP Self-titled (Vel) Deluka are like the teenybopper sisters of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs—they can’t possibly live up to their older sibling’s cool but still desperately try to emulate their killer style. This English foursome’s fivesong, self-titled EP is catchy at times but is more often monotonous, occasionally bordering on dated. “OMFG” is by far the best song on the album, an example of pop music at its most fun: dancey, noisy, and carried by a decent hook. Unfortunately, the rest of the tracks don’t have enough of a distinct sound to differentiate them from one another. They merge together creating a sea of synth noise that sounds like it’d be right at home on the soundtrack for the ’90s movie Foxfire. Despite this homogeny, Deluka shows potential, and the album is worth listening to for “OMFG” alone. [AURORA MONTGOMERY]

GRASS WIDOW Self-titled (Make a Mess) The self-titled debut by Grass Widow, an all-girl three-piece from San Francisco,

harkens back to those sweet, sweet days when the iPod was but a glimmer in our collective eye. The album’s nonchalant harmonies and neck spazz– inducing drums aren’t tainted by any sort of fancy production tomfoolery, and the tunes are reminiscent of early Sleater-Kinney and Huggy Bear in their unbridled, self-sufficient energy. These ladies make the kind of catchy, melodic punk-pop that sounds like a mixture of hanging out in someone’s garage, riding your bike to the DQ, and catching a jar full of fireflies. The short tracks are so good, you might even find your face pulling a pained expression of bliss, the nonverbal cue for, “Oh yeah, oh yeah!” [KELLY MCCLURE]

JAPANDROIDS Post-Nothing (Polyvinyl) With Canadian duo Japandroids, size doesn’t matter. Their classic lo-fi indie rock has a big sound for such a small band. College mates Brian King (on guitar) and David Prowse (on drums) write catchy, upbeat songs full of refreshing, youthful vigor on their first signed release, Post-Nothing. With earnest vocals screamed over fuzzy guitars and big drums, songs like “The Boys Are Leaving Town” and “Sovereignty” are upbeat tunes with a poppunk feel that hit you in a visceral way. While Japandroids’ strength lies in melodic composition, their lyrical ability leaves something to be desired,

KATIE STELMANIS Join Us (Blocks Recording Club)

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Have you ever loved a CD so much that you wanted to duct-tape it to your body? That’s how I feel about Join Us, the first full-length from Toronto-based musician Katie Stelmanis. When Stelmanis, a classically trained vocalist, opens her mouth to sing, the sound that comes out is so amazing I question how her mortal body can contain its beauty. Sure, that’s a bit dramatic, but so are her songs—this album is an elegant and moving mixture of thudding beats, soul-piercing vocals, and driving piano. Her moody, electro vibe often lands her with a goth label, but that term doesn’t cut it. She may not fit neatly into a particular music genre, but Stelmanis sweeps in the talent category. [KELLY MCCLURE]

and most songs consist of just two or three lines sung over and over. Hopefully Japandroids will use their postPost-Nothing days to develop a more mature songwriting style to match their rockin’ noise-pop jams. [ERICA VARLESE]

LITTLE FISH Baffled and Beat (Custard/Universal) A boy/girl garagerock duo from the U.K., Little Fish somehow found themselves recording their debut in Los Angeles with Linda Perry, who made her fortune writing songs for the likes of Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Gwen Stefani. The result is Baffled and Beat, a slickly produced, no-nonsense punkrock album. Much of the LP is unashamedly derivative: the scuzzy riff of “Darling Dear” is a watered-down steal from the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man,” while singer Juju has a perfect PJ Harvey howl. The sleazy atmosphere sounds a little bit forced—the band is, after all, from Oxford, England, not 1970s New York— and lyrics like “Get me a gun/Let me die young” make Lou Reed sound like Tolstoy. But if you’re a fan of straightforward, predictable rock, this is the band for you. [LUIZA SAUMA]

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS Realism (Nonesuch) Magnetic Fields’ mastermind Stephin Merritt knows how to write poppy love ballads, and Realism is no exception. This acoustic album delivers morose lyrics reminiscent of the band’s three-CD set, 69 Love Songs, but leaves behind the electronic, reverb-heavy instrumentation. On the first track, Merritt strums his ukulele in a minor key, singing, “You can’t go around just saying stuff because it’s pretty/And I no longer drink enough to think you’re witty,” exemplifying the stark and humorous lyrical style the band is known for. Musically, the album exudes a minimal quality, replacing the drum machine with unusual percussion instruments, like actual tree leaves. “We Are Having a Hootenanny” has a childlike quality with an upbeat union of acoustic guitar, banjo, and accordion, while


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v-v-voom ECLECTIC POP STAR VV BROWN IS READY TO STAGE A NEW BRITISH INVASION LONDON’S LATEST LADY of the moment, retro-pop singer/songwriter VV Brown, has a look just as attention-grabbing as her infectious tunes. Standing at 5’11”, decked out in bright vintage duds, and sporting her signature doughnut-roll pompadour, the 26-yearold is paving her own way following the music industry’s attempts to label her. When I sit down with the musician in Capitol Records’ N.Y.C. office, she is candid and confident. Ruminating thoughtfully on dudes, clothes, and music, Brown shares exactly how she got to where she is now: poised to take over the States, on her terms. “I was so frustrated that I had to keep compromising everything I was doing to fit 72 / BUST // FEB/MAR

into a mold or stereotype,” she says of previous recording attempts. “It was always, ‘Oh, [she’s an] R&B diva with a long weave.’ You know, really typical and generic. And I was a British girl brought up on British pop music!” It’s obvious when listening to Brown’s superfun debut, Travelling Like the Light, that she’s crafted her very own musical mash-up, which hints at a sonic diet of old-school Britpop, soul, and ska. The 12song ode to love and loss features upbeat key riffs, clangy rockabilly guitars, and girlgroup “ooohs” against darkly honest lyrics. And Brown’s mixed-up sound is as refreshing as her DIY attitude (she played most of the instruments on the recording). Consider-

ing she wrote the album in two weeks on a secondhand guitar while nursing a broken heart makes it all the more impressive. Brown will have the last laugh, though, since soon enough, that unlucky ex will be hearing and seeing her everywhere. In addition to releasing her sparkly new record, Brown’s also signed with Next Models (the agency that fellow Brit “it” girl Alexa Chung shares), which isn’t surprising, given the anything-but-generic look she’s whipped up. For instance, on this occasion she’s wearing an insane Diane Von Furstenburg crocheted pom-pom beret, a sequined-shouldered minidress, and overthe-knee boots, a hodgepodge vintage style she traces back to her childhood. “When I was younger, I loved playing with fashion with my pocket money, as I couldn’t afford Topshop,” she says. “Now I just hate following the High Street trends. They are so boring. And everyone looks like a robot.” And though she obviously knows how to rock a killer look, music is her numberone devotion. “I love fashion, but to be consumed completely by it is a bit selfish for me. Music can fulfill people’s desires and needs more,” she says. “It’s nice when you see someone wearing a gorgeous coat, but a girl who hasn’t got any money can’t really afford that coat. But when someone hears a beautiful song, it could change their mood and make them feel better.” What’s next for Brown? Well, having just finished a whirlwind tour across the U.K. and with her single “Crying Blood” all over the British charts, it’s time for her to find success Stateside, which means a move to the Big Apple. “I really wanna break America,” she says. “I think for a lot of U.K. artists, it’s difficult ’cause you’re not in the scene. Like, today we were talking about Santigold over lunch, and later she drove up coincidentally behind our car. Everyone was like ‘Oh, my God!’ and we exchanged numbers. Stuff like that doesn’t happen if you are living far away from where you need to be. I love New York, it’s like another London to me.” [SARA GRAHAM] PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARGO SILVER


the guide

Merritt and vocalist Claudia Gonson chant in unison about having a rootin’, tootin’ good time. Although Realism differs dramatically from the noisy grunge of the Fields’ previous album, Distortion, it is an excellent follow-up. [AURORA MONTGOMERY]

MR. GNOME Heave Yer Skeleton (El Marko) Cleveland duo Mr. Gnome boasts a sound that’s an impressive balancing act between soft and hard, masculine and feminine, ethereal and earthbound. From the opening notes of “Spain,” Nicole Barille’s breathy vocals conjure up a misty place not quite a part of our reality, and certainly a far cry from their Rust Belt origins. With a name like Mr. Gnome, you know to expect some magic, but it’s not like Robert Plant singing about Mordor; theirs is a bit harder to put your finger on. “Hills, Valleys, and Valium” starts out like a gauzy dream, but Barille’s serrated guitars and drummer Sam Meister’s muscular beats cut through the haze quickly, building to a galloping rumble halfway through. The rollicking “Plastic Shadow” is a rustbucket rocker that Cat Power should have recorded at some point, and “Pixie Dust” glitters like some lost 4AD band from 1988: light as a feather, but heavy enough to weaken the knees, much like the album as a whole. [TOM FORGET]

NNEKA Concrete Jungle (Yo Mama/Decon/ Epic) Nneka is serious about exposing the concrete jungles she’s seen in Nigeria and Germany, jumping from the political to the very personal in each track of her U.S. debut. Lyrically, it’s not feel-good music, and it’s not supposed to be. But neither was Lauryn Hill’s solo work, to which Nneka’s has been deservedly compared. She strikes a much-needed chord in our pop lexicon, applying a passionate voice to a pitch-perfect blend of soul, Rasta, and hip-hop music. Concrete Jungle showcases the singer’s eclectic range of influences without devolving into cliché. Be it a Bob Marley–ish call to arms, blasting lyrics like “Wake up, world” over

lazy reggae upstrokes (“Africans”) or her coyer proposal of “Let us make a change,” on a jazzy ballad drenched in horns and soulful backup singing (“The Uncomfortable Truth”), Nneka’s intensity and versatility make her brutally honest message easy to swallow. [ERIN GRIFFITH]

OK GO Of the Blue Colour of the Sky (Capitol) OK Go is known more for matching outfits and stylized music videos than for their brand of L.A. power-pop. So it’s a bit surprising that the band has chosen to do Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, its first studio release since 2005, as a concept album. (The name comes from an 1876 book about the supernatural healing power of blue light.) Colour opens with “WTF,” a stab of white funk led by Damian Kulash’s writhing, Prince-like falsetto. The triumphant anthem “This Too Shall Pass” borrows heavily from Bob Marley’s “Soon Come,” while the burned-out disco of “White Knuckles” recalls Depeche Mode. There’s a welcome dark edge to OK Go this time around too, both lyrically (“I want you so bad/I can’t breathe”) and in the band’s generous use of vocal reverb. If color does have the conceptual power to heal, in this case it’s probably on the dance floor. [DYLAN STABLEFORD]

QUASI American Gong (Kill Rock Stars) As any drama queen worth her salt knows, sometimes it’s fun to wallow in a bad mood. Clearly, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss (the former drummer, of course, of SleaterKinney) share this view. Quasi takes a blue mood and turns it into indie-rock candy yet again on American Gong, a blend of witty lyrics and aggressive instrumentals. Now the duo’s added Joanna Bolme to the roster, and her bass playing brings a warmth and depth to the tracks. Though this album’s packed with winning tunes, the band seems most powerful and at home when they keep it simple, as in “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “The Jig Is Up.” Fans won’t find the group reinventing their partic-

ular wheel, but they’ll be satisfied with American Gong, and thrilled to have Quasi back after a too-long hiatus. Coomes frames it best on “Black Dogs and Bubbles”: “Always fall in love with what makes you sad.” [MOLLY SIMMS]

SPOON Transference (Merge) It’s been three years since Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon’s most triumphant release since 2002’s Kill the Moonlight, the album that contained, for better or worse, The O.C.-baiting “The Way We Get By.” On Transference, we find the Austin-based rockers with another set of hook-heavy songs that seem destined for fall television soundtracks on the CW (I wouldn’t be surprised if “The Mystery Zone” was written with Gossip Girl in mind). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when Britt Daniel’s detached falsetto (“I’m writing this to ya in reverse/Someone better call a hearse”) sounds like a pitch-corrected Stephen Malkmus. Spoon even takes a stab at electro-rock on “Who Makes Your Money” and the primitive dancefloor anthem “Nobody Gets Me But You,” and it all seems to work. It’s classic Spoon with a dash of psychedelia, all of which adds up to another solid rock ’n’ roll album by a consistently great rock ’n’ roll band. [DYLAN STABLEFORD]

THEM CROOKED VULTURES Self-titled (DGC/Interscope) It’s impossible to look at the debut from Them Crooked Vultures with clear eyes. The baggage this supergroup—including Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and Led Zeppelin bassist and keyboardist John Paul Jones—brings to the table is too formidable for expectations to support. My advice is to grab whatever you most like to drink, possibly smoke something, and try to listen to this for what it is: a rock record by guys who know how to rock. “New Fang” recalls the steamy boogie you used to hear coming out of the arcade at the lake, “Scumbag Blues” is like Cream on 2010-era drugs, and “Reptiles” is a Led Zeppelin II-esque showcase for the bands’ scary-good chops. Look,

you knew Grohl, Homme, and Jones were going to shred, and shred they do. Does it change the world? No, but that’s just fine. [TOM FORGET]

VAMPIRE WEEKEND Contra (XL) Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut earned the group a million great reviews, even more screaming fans, and, of course, a legion of haters. Their sophomore album is full of the same elements that made their first release so addictive: upbeat keyboard melodies, tribal drumbeats, and lead singer Ezra Koenig’s silky smooth vocals. This time, though, they sound a little less carefree and a little more mature, possibly because they’ve abandoned such groaninducing lyrics as “You spilled kefir on your keffiyeh.” Songs like “Giving Up the Gun” and the first single “Cousins” are just as danceable as anything you’d hear on pop radio, but slower tunes like “Diplomat’s Son” show off the band’s chill-out side. With Contra, Vampire Weekend sound like they’ve traded their Columbia dorm rooms for swanky, grown-up apartments downtown. [ELIZA THOMPSON]

VARIOUS ARTISTS Nippon Girls: Japanese Pop, Beat & Bossa Nova 1966 – 1970 (Ace) While Japan is nowhere near the powerhouse of the U.S. or the U.K. in terms of worldwide musical influence, it’s always had a thriving pop-music scene. The mid-1960s wave of Ereki (electric rock) in Japan gave birth to a slew of solo female artists who sold out concert halls with their singles. Researching each of these singers would be a Herculean task, so it’s lucky for us that Japanese girl-pop guru Sheila Burgel has done all the legwork. The result is Nippon Girls, which presents 25 of the best Japanese chick-pop songs of the ’60s, in packaging so adorable you’ll want to use it as wall art. The release provides a comprehensive look at the ladies of vintage Asian pop and a jumping-off point for those who want to dig even deeper. Either way, this album is an instant party—cue it up and have music geeks swooning. [MOLLY SIMMS] // BUST / 73

the guide MUSIC LAURA VEIRS July Flame (Raven Marching Band) In the lyrics on July Flame, singer/songwriter Laura Veirs expertly merges powerful human encounters with electric images from the natural world, delivering them over sometimes stark, always beautiful folk melodies. In “Sun Is King,” the protagonist is “Innocent as a summer flower/With a serpent coiled under his collar”; “Where Are You Driving” relates a moment of longing to clouds of dandelion seeds. “Silo Song” is a subtle soundtrack to new love, with Veirs’ guitar sounding giddy with emotion as she launches into the slightly anxious chorus, “Am I going up in smoke?” The album isn’t all about matters of the heart, though. “Carol Kaye” is an endearing tribute to the legendary bass guitarist and rounds out the tracks, furthering the theme of experiencing the full spectrum of emotion. [MELYNDA FULLER]

THE WATSON TWINS Talking to You, Talking to Me (Vanguard) The Watson Twins have matured beyond what they’re most known for: singing backup on Jenny Lewis’ 2006 solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat. In reality, the duo has little more in common with the Rilo Kiley frontwoman than their folkgenre classification. While both channel American roots music, the Twins go beyond mere interpretation; they have soul seething in their veins. The heart-wrenching ballads of Talking to You, Talking to Me make Lewis’ tales of dropping acid seem quaint (no offense, Jenny). The record is beautiful and dark, with lines such as, “There’s nothing to cure/I’ve been this way for centuries.” Siren songs like “Midnight” bring chills when the twins’ soulful vocals wail over a soft, waltz beat and eerie Rhodes organ. Talking to You, Talking to Me, is an open wound unabashedly bared. [ERIN GRIFFITH]

XIU XIU Dear God, I Hate Myself (Kill Rock Stars) Xiu Xiu is the brain baby of experimental indie rocker Jamie Stewart, and on Dear God, I Hate Myself he’s joined by new bandmate Angela Seo, who takes on piano, synth, and drum-programming duties. The album is an acquired taste, to be sure, what with the manic-depressive vocals layered over warped instrumentation. But a certain entertainment can be found in training one ear to appreciate the Joy Division–on-a-bad-day-esque compositions, as the other ear keeps a tally of somewhat ridiculous lyrics to make fun of later on. Like those found on the song “Chocolate Makes You Happy,” where Stewart, seemingly distraught over the treat, chortles out, “Chocolate makes you happy/ When you thrust your fingers down your throat/And wash away what’s wrong.” [KELLY MCCLURE]

YEASAYER Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian) After a three-year hiatus, Brooklyn experimentalists Yeasayer are back with a sophomore release that proves they’re not opposed to exploring new territory and they’re not afraid to dance. Odd Blood is a rollicking romp that tells the tale of love found and lost. The first track, “The Children,” takes cues from the chopped and screwed sounds of Houston hip-hop, making heavy use of vocoder over swaying beats. What follows is a whole block of New Wave synths that takes guitarist/vocalist Anand Wilder’s falsetto into Simon Le Bon territory. Though the first single, “Ambling Alp,” is catchy, the real standout is aching ballad “I Remember.” With this album, Yeasayer’s imaginative combinations pull them out of the folk/psychedelic/choral-indie-meets-roots-rock melee, and fortunately, they never lose the emotion that gained them their acclaim in the first place. [MARY-LOUISE PRICE]

AN EXPERIMENT ON A BIRD IN THE AIR PUMP The boys are reviving the early ’80s and getting it all wrong—the Editors sound like a pale copy of a pale copy (Interpol) of a pale copy (Bauhaus). Leave it to the girls to do it right! This trio from London—CBird, D-Bird, and X-Bird—is all menace and blackness and mirrors in the smoke: a cutting edge here, a blunt fringe there, and a whole fistful of attitude. Of course, there’s some Ronettes thrown in. Think: Xmal Deutschland, Animals and Men, Shop Assistants Nina Hagen factor: 9 Häagen-Dazs factor: 2 74 / BUST // FEB/MAR

BRIDEZILLA The beautiful, wind-swept, violintextured dream-pop of this Sydney quintet recalls the more charming moments from Chan Marshall and Opal, David Roback’s pre–Mazzy Star group, while not sounding like either. (That’s some charm, then.) Singer Holiday Sidewinder is the daughter of actress Loene Carmen and shares her husky drawl and an enigmatic smile. The group is awful live, but so was Mazzy Star.

PEEPHOLES A girl and a boy bond over their love for Times New Viking and Vivian Girls—everything is distorted and trebly past the levels of endurance. From Brighton, U.K., the Peepholes are a two-person Wall of Noise. Melodies, tunes, and drumsticks ricochet past in a frenzy of mating and keyboards and blurred photography. The duo is known to perform with polka-dot paper bags over their heads.

FINALLY PUNK This Austin, TX, foursome makes strange, rhythmical music that springs and canoodles and subverts. Girls harmonize wantonly with other girls. The songs are a burst of staccato energy, like Numbers’, and brilliantly brief. Drums clatter and stop. Guitars are minimal and taut and couldn’t give a fuck. Their influences nail it: “Skrewed up thrash clique, friends wearing flannel, skate punx, a cellphone lifestyle.” Like punk never ceased happening.

Think: Cowboy Junkies, Kendra Smith, Dirty Three Cool factor: 7 School factor: 10

Think: No Age, Crocodiles, Mika Noise crush level: 9.5 Annoys crush level: 8.5 wearepeepholes

Think: Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, the Frumpies, Erase Errata Punk factor: 10 Pink factor: 2


EVERETT TRUE’S FIRST LADIES OF ROCK The best girl bands you’ve never heard of [BY EVERETT TRUE]


Eager shoppers line up in the cold

Say it with your hands Totes by Yudu

Market Publique girls strike a pose

Laurie from BUST and Sheila B Shoppers galore


Cute girls shop for cute crafts

Puppy adoption from the AC&C




DJ Valida spins some Cractacular tunes

U.K. BUSTies extraordinaire, sisters Rachel and Jaqueline

Queuing round the block Quiltface Inc.

Spragwerks selling his killer belt buckles BUST took over three major cities again this year, bringing the best crafters together to delight holiday shoppers hunting for the perfect gifts. For our 2009 N.Y.C. event, we teamed up with Provo Craft, the makers of the Yudu personal screen printing machine, and handed out loads of personalized totes. And giving back was the theme when we included City Harvest, the Lower East Side Girls Club, and Animal Care and Control of New York City. Puppies and kittens went up for adoption throughout the day and donations were made to all the charities. A special demonstration from Erin Bried and a signing of her book, How to

The Broken Hearts

Lady Luck Rules OK

Merry shoppers Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew, was a total hit. Less than a week later, we tackled Los Angeles and also London, with a BUST Holiday Craftacular in both cities on December 12th. The Echo and the Echoplex in L.A. filled up with eager shoppers and vendors despite the rain and York Hall in London got crowded quickly, while visitors sipped high tea in style from Lady Luck Rules OK and even decorated their own gingerbread cookies! Once again, BUST brought you the best in handmade, and showed you how to give back during the holiday season. We hope to see you next year, too!


Fish Tank’s Katie Jarvis is marvelous

FISH TANK Directed by Andrea Arnold (IFC Films) It won’t surprise you after watching Fish Tank to learn that the film’s breakout star, Katie Jarvis, was discovered on a subway station platform while arguing with her boyfriend. Her natural hotheadedness surely came in handy during the making of this astonishing film centered around Jarvis’ character Mia, a surly 15-year-old with a fondness for hip-hop dancing and cheap hard cider, living a rather bleak life in a British housing complex. At the start of the film, Mia gets into a scuffle over some dance moves, and the result is an injury that further complicates her already disastrous life. Her dysfunctional relationship with her party-vixen mother (Kierston Wareing) and potty-mouthed younger sister only fuels her troublesome temper, her hip-hop dancing seemingly has no future, and her rotten academic performance lands her in a meeting with a boarding school. Everything starts to look better, however, when Mia meets her mother’s latest fling, Connor (Michael Fassbender). His affection toward Mia’s mother softens the abuse she often directs at her children, and the attention he gives the girls is of the chummy, fatherly variety. Fine and dandy as all these moments seem, though, Mia and Connor’s relationship develops a whiff of inappropriateness that renders viewers constantly on edge until the insanely complicated finale. Director Andrea Arnold does a 76 / BUST // FEB/MAR

Demi Moore and Parker Posey explore their fears in Happy Tears

spectacular job never letting her film reach a point of unbelievability as she depicts the dramatic tailspin of a difficult teenager. And through sublime cinematography, she captures the trash-laden decay of Essex, England, with picturesque portraits that pair especially well with the film’s climax. Watch out, America, this British import’s got bite. And if Cannes is any indicator (it won the 2009 Jury Prize), it will gather more worthy attention this awards season. [NICOLE MAYEFSKE]

HAPPY TEARS Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein (Pierpoline Films) Starring Demi Moore and Parker Posey, Happy Tears comes to us from Mitchell Lichtenstein, the director of that delightful 2007 feminist horror flick, Teeth, about vagina dentata. This new film doesn’t deal with toothed lady-areas, unfortunately, but it does stick with the subject of women—a pair of sisters dealing very differently with their father’s incipient dementia. The story focuses mostly on Jayne (Posey), a party girl turned yuppie wife to the heir to an art fortune. She prefers to live her life obliviously, ignoring details that might wreck the sentimental memories she has of her childhood. Instead of listening to a prognosis for her father’s Binswanger’s disease, for example, we see her daydream her way onto a beach with her husband. But this fantasyland is also a place where her anxieties flourish, and her concerns about the deteriorating men-

Claire Danes is grand in Temple Grandin

tal health of her husband, for one, are displayed in dreamy montages where salespeople are vultures and her husband bounces in a straitjacket like a Ping-Pong ball off the walls of a psych ward. It’s a little awkward to see these worries so literally portrayed on-screen. And while Teeth used the surreal to make a statement about misogyny, Lichtenstein’s use of it here is a little mystifying. Laura (Moore), unlike her sister, is an environmentalist supermom, pragmatic and unsentimental to the bone. Clad in braids and a hippie top in every scene, she becomes increasingly frustrated with her sister’s frivolity and willful ignorance as the story progresses. Despite their bickering, Lichtenstein does give the two some tender moments, but their dialogue isn’t quite convincing. And with their ailing father (Rip Torn) written as nothing more than a crude, cartoony philanderer and his girlfriend Shelly (Ellen Barkin) portrayed as a bawdy crack addict, Lichtenstein’s characters just never feel real enough to care about. [ANNA BEAN]

TEMPLE GRANDIN Directed by Mick Jackson (HBO Films) When audiences first encounter the usually glamorous Claire Danes in the opening moments of HBO’s new biopic Temple Grandin, they will no doubt be taken aback. “My name is Temple Grandin!” she shouts awkwardly. Clothed in lumpy, masculine western wear and stiffly striding across an optically freaky painted

set, she continues, “I’m not like other people! I think in pictures and I connect them!” It is in this simple, straightforward way that director Mick Jackson launches into the complex story behind one of the world’s most extraordinary visual thinkers. Diagnosed as autistic at age three in 1950, Grandin would have been institutionalized for life had her mother listened to the prevailing medical advice of the time. But instead, Grandin’s mother (Julia Ormond) helped cultivate the intellectual gifts she recognized in her misunderstood daughter and placed her in a succession of nurturing academic environments. As a result, Grandin grew up to become a Ph.D., a best-selling author, an educator, an autism advocate, and most famously, an animal scientist responsible for designing one-third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the U.S. But the road to all this success was far from smooth. And helping Danes along in her portrayal of Grandin’s seemingly impossible journey are a cast of heavy hitters in supporting roles. Alongside Ormond, Catherine O’Hara plays the aunt who helps Grandin create a lifelong bond with livestock on her ranch. And David Strathairn is very moving as the high school science teacher who takes Grandin under his wing in a place where she frankly freaks all her other teachers out. An impressively elegant and streamlined rendition of a challenging and rigorous life, Temple Grandin is not to be missed when it premieres on HBO in February. [EMILY REMS]


the guide

the guide



i am an emotional creature: the secret life of girls around the world BY EVE ENSLER [VILLARD] WHEN I ENCOUNTER “teenage girl” stories, whether in novel, play, or film form, I tend to change the channel. Participating in pop culture’s clichéd teen experience is like recalling “simpler times.” It is remembering a past we can never get back, because it never existed. I can’t think of a time when my life was less defined—popularity was a murky concept, rules were rubber, and perfection was always just out of reach. Leave it to Eve Ensler to get it right. Her new book, I Am an Emotional Creature, made me want to vomit from its emotional power. Ensler does not coddle the reader; instead she forces us to realize that teenage girls possess the largest untapped energy source in the world. Written in a similar format as her groundbreaking 1996 feminist theatrical work, The Vagina Monologues, Emotional Creature is a disjointed roller coaster of poems, fictional monologues, and scenes inspired by real girls around the world. Much like a quilt, the seams—the disparity between each piece—draw them closer together, even when the girls the stories describe live on opposite sides of the globe. Ensler’s world is a place where one high-school girl is tortured for her Ugg boots and another is mutilated for having a vagina, and she manages to tell both sides with equal degrees of honesty, courage, and heartache. Ultimately about all girls, this is a tale about dreams, nightmares, realities, boyfriends, fathers, body image, sports, friendship, popularity, mothers, piercings, and poetry. It’s the God’s honest truth, as my mother would say. [BETTE BENTLEY]

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn’t Stop Praying (Among Other Things) By Abby Sher (Scribner) Anyone who has ever suffered even a mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (an anxiety condition characterized by recurring negative thoughts and repetitive behaviors) will cringe with recognition when reading Amen, Amen, Amen, Abby Sher’s new memoir about her struggle with the disease. As a child, Sher suffered the loss of a favorite aunt and then her adoring father, over two consecutive summers. These deaths triggered the onset of Sher’s OCD, which started with her kissing a photo of her dead father hundreds of times at once and praying compulsively every time an ambulance passed. Her OCD rituals soon expanded to picking up trash—lest the errant items accidentally kill someone—

and praying for several hours a day. And though she sought therapy and medication, these behaviors continued into adulthood. Even as she landed a dream job as a player in Chicago’s renowned Second City improvisation troupe and fell in love with a patient, loving man, Sher became anorexic and started cutting herself; when the thrill of cutting wore off, she took to punching herself in the head until she nearly passed out. Sher’s tone is inviting and warm, even as she’s portraying exactly how stifling and debilitating OCD can be—and her descriptions of the rituals and behaviors associated with the disorder are dead-on. Sher, a comedic actress, also laces the book with welcome dashes of humor, though this is mostly a serious and thoughtful memoir. With Amen, Amen, Amen, Sher re-creates the madness of obsessive-compulsive disorder so vividly that almost every reader will see traces of their own habits in her haunting descriptions. [AMANDA CANTRELL]

ANGELS OF ANARCHY: Women Artists and Surrealism Edited by Patricia Allmer (Prestel) In her 1949 book, The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir famously singled out Surrealism’s founder André Breton for criticism, revealing the backhanded compliment that the then-contemporary movement paid womanhood in its art and literature: “Truth, Beauty, Poetry—she is All,” she wrote. “All—except herself.” Yet, as editor Patricia Allmer writes in this book that accompanied the 2009 Manchester Art Gallery exhibition of the same name, the contributors to Angels of Anarchy articulate “the ways in which women surrealists challenge patriarchy and how, through this, they allow surrealism to overcome its own blindness.” The book’s essays and accompanying images not only delve into the work of famous Surrealist pioneers

from everyone’s college art-history textbooks—Frida Kahlo, Lee Miller, Leonora Carrington, and Meret Oppenheim—but they also explore the lesser-known women on the movement’s fringes, like Remedios Varo and Toyen, as well as the partners and “muses” of better-known, male Surrealists, such as Nusch Éluard and Dora Maar. Among the standouts are essays by Mary Ann Caws—without a doubt, one of the most renowned living scholars of Surrealism—who offers a touching and personal essay on the “genius” of Surrealist women photographers; Katharine Conley and Alyce Mahon, who contribute sparkling, succinct meditations upon the relevance of domestic interior and still-life traditions on the movement’s women; and Donna Roberts, whose research on Czech women Surrealists is truly revelatory. Although occasionally oversimplified, these scholarly but brief pieces are an excellent primer on art history’s growing recognition of the legacy of this movement’s women artists. [MARIA ELENA BUSZEK] // BUST / 77

the guide


THE ART OF EATING IN: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove By Cathy Erway (Gotham Books) Brooklyn, NY, foodie Cathy Erway turned a pretty gimmicky idea into a really cool blog: Not Eating Out in New York chronicled the 20-something’s two-year decision to consume no take-out or restaurant-made meals while living in the culinary capital of the U.S. (Though she’s loosened up her dietary restrictions, the blog still documents her home-cooking adventures, making it a great resource for recipes.) Now she’s turned that blog into a pretty cool book. The Art of Eating In, however, is a more personal, behindthe-scenes look at Erway’s resto-free experiment, and while her storytelling can be a bit dry, she provides an awesome insider’s view of the burgeoning DIY food scene. In her effort to explore all the different ways one can not eat out in New York, Erway tried her hand at foraging (in local parks for wild herbs and berries) and even dipped into dumpster diving, going on a trash bin-tour with N.Y.C. “freegans.” She became a regular at cook-offs—first competing, then judging—and entrenched herself in the underground-supper-club scene, eventually starting her own, Hapa Kitchen. Her examination of our eating-out culture and its drawbacks—the lack of connection to our food, an insane amount of waste, a huge financial burden—will make you think twice about that Chipotle burrito you always grab for lunch. Luckily, each chapter ends with a few recipes (her baked brie with cranberry sauce was a Thanksgiving Day hit) so you can enjoy not eating out too. [LISA BUTTERWORTH]

THE BUTCHER AND THE VEGETARIAN: One Woman’s Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis By Tara Austen Weaver (Rodale) What do you do when you’ve been raised as a vegetarian but are told as an adult, by a doctor, that the only way left to treat your persistent, debilitating exhaustion is to eat meat? When faced 78 / BUST // FEB/MAR

with this dilemma, Tara Austen Weaver decided that, if she were to eat meat, she would do it conscientiously. This book covers her explorations into the world of carnivorism, starting with her first, nervous trip to the local butcher shop—where, like a priest in a porn store, she buys chicken bits for stock quickly and with her head down—and culminating in a visit to sustainable, organic Prather Ranch in Northern California, where Weaver watches a cow being slaughtered. She seeks meat that was raised humanely and with respect for environmental issues. She also, of course, wants to make herself feel better. Deliciously. Weaver skillfully depicts the barbecues and farms that she visits in the name of research, but her storytelling meanders a bit and repeats itself. She’s an award-winning blogger, and it shows: chapters read like posts, where none is reliant on the one before it. This is a skill, for sure, but in book form, it creates a narrative whose timeline gets tangled and has many “Can you believe this? ME eating MEAT?!” moments. She poses interesting larger-scale questions—is meat the territory of men? Will Americans’ unhealthy meat consumption and farming practices continue despite experts’ warnings?—and illuminates conscientious participation in one’s own diet. And, after a hearty foray into the pleasures of the flesh (and flank, and marrow, and skirt steak), Weaver finds an unexpected balance that revitalizes her health and matches her values. [CHRISTINE FEMIA]

THE DAILY COYOTE: A Story of Love, Survival, and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming By Shreve Stockton (Simon & Schuster) On a road trip across the country, photographer and writer Shreve Stockton falls under the dizzying spell of Wyoming’s beatific landscapes and peaceful atmosphere. Before long, she returns to stay: she moves her life from New York City to the small town of Ten Sleep, meets a cowboy, and begins to raise, thanks to her new boyfriend, a rescued coyote pup. Stockton decides to document her first year with the coyote, which she names Charlie, by

taking daily photographs of him, and it’s through this experience that her real journey begins. Coyotes are the ultimate predators in Wyoming, and in order to protect Charlie from people who want to destroy coyotes and their innate wildness, Stockton shelters him in her tiny log cabin. As she effectively raises Charlie in a domesticated setting, the line between wild and tame becomes blurred. Charlie is wide-eyed, loving, and loyal, yet he’s also a hunter full of feral curiosity and instinct. Just like Charlie, she reflects, Stockton herself tends to run wherever her whims take her. Ironically, in raising Charlie, she is offered a sense of constancy. Stockton initially approaches raising Charlie rather lightheartedly, and her prose reflects that attitude. As the coyote matures, however, so does the writing, with insouciance giving way to awe of the relationship between animals and people. In describing her developing bond with Charlie, Stockton asks us, aren’t we all just a little bit innately wild? [STEPHANIE VALENTE]

ENLIGHTENED SEXISM: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work Is Done By Susan J. Douglas (Times Books) In this lively critique, scholar Susan J. Douglas debunks the myth of a post-feminist society, stating that women are actually living in a time of “enlightened sexism”—a seductive form of patriarchy that encourages women to behave as sex objects in celebration of their alleged sexual equality. She argues that the media teaches younger women that their only route to power is through pleasing men, being hot, competing with other women, and shopping. In an attempt to expose these cultural messages, Douglas visits depictions of women in the media, including the Spice Girls, Gossip Girl, and the tabloid obsession with “baby bumps.” Although Douglas’ informal prose and irreverent sense of humor make this book an enjoyable read, her popculture analysis wanders quickly into predictable territory: reality television shows are ridiculous; fashion magazines

promote unhealthy body image. Part of the problem lies in the book’s broad scope—Douglas encompasses pop culture from the ’90s to the present in order to define the “millennial” generation, but the resulting effect is repetitive. Some of the more absorbing portions of Enlightened Sexism examine female politicians, noting how pundits labeled Janet Reno as a mannish, swamp-loving spinster rather than discussing her political accomplishments, or how aggressively the media monitors Michelle Obama’s wardrobe. Unfortunately, the majority of the book feels painfully like hearing one’s mom (in this case, a feminist, Ani DiFranco–loving mom) shaking her finger at your favorite guilty pleasures. [ANTONIA BLAIR]

THE FOSSIL HUNTER: Dinosaurs, Evolution, and the Woman Whose Discoveries Changed the World By Shelley Emling (Palgrave Macmillan) In this breezy biography, Shelley Emling uncovers the life of fossil hunter and tongue-twister muse Mary Anning, who, in selling “seashells by the seashore,” discovered the first complete skeleton of an ichthyosaur. Born into poverty in 1799, Anning, at age 12, unearthed the prehistoric sea-dweller while looking for ammonites, or “snakestones,” to hawk to tourists. The find was only the first of many. Over the ensuing decades, her beach-combing forays turned up the unusual and never-before-seen plesiosaur, as well as a pterodactyl, both of which attracted the attention of scientists across Europe, including Darwin, and helped cast into doubt the veracity of the Bible’s creation story. By the time she was an old maid, Anning was something of a “geological Lioness,” and yet many of her discoveries were credited to her male contemporaries, which Emling surmises caused Anning to feel “exceedingly resentful.” Thankfully, Anning eventually received some scientific acknowledgment and even had two species of fish named after her, but since her death from breast cancer in 1847, Anning’s contributions to paleontology have largely been buried by history. Ironically, excavating the full

details of Anning’s life seems to have been difficult, and Emling, a journalist, pads her biography with speculation and poetic liberties that melodramatically re-create Mary breathing a “sigh of relief” and such. Distracting fictionalizations aside, the unlikely life story of uneducated, lower-class girl turned respected 19th-century paleontologist Mary Anning is, in Emling’s hands, an inspiring one. [ERICA WETTER]

THE GIN CLOSET By Leslie Jamison (Free Press) The characters and situations in The Gin Closet feel familiar; close cousins to the women who populate Lifetime movies, sad songs, and countless other novels. In fact, the two main characters seem almost like clichés: Stella, the recent college graduate living in New York, overqualified for her demoralizing job, sleeping with a married college professor, jaded before her time; and Tilly—an aunt Stella only learns about at her grandmother’s deathbed—the beautiful ’60s wild child with a self-destructive bent, now living an abject existence as an alcoholic in a trailer park in a small Arizona town. However, this does not make their sufferings (and they are myriad) boring for the reader. Jamison constructs a narrative that is relentless, with confessional chapters alternating between Stella and Tilly’s points of view. That Jamison is able to render clichéd characters affecting is a feat, but there’s a voyeuristic thrill that lends the story a rubbernecking quality—we are momentarily glued to the spectacle, and then we move on. Jamison’s language is densely figurative, which at times succeeds, providing insightful, beautifully written metaphors. At other times, it falls flat, a euphonious phrase concealing a tenuous connection: “I heard noise in the background, the rustling of glass and gossip.” Does glass rustle? The most interesting aspect of the novel is the difference between Stella and Tilly’s accounts of the same events, which show the ways the women misread and misunderstand each other, the hurts accidentally inflicted, the annoyances poorly concealed. Unfortunately, it is never their language that we hear but Jamison’s. [EMMA HAMILTON]

I’M STILL STANDING: From Captive Soldier to Free Citizen—My Journey Home By Shoshana Johnson with M.L. Doyle (Touchstone) Although Shoshana Johnson was raised an army brat, she joined the army for the same reason a lot of young Americans do: to earn money for college. Johnson became a chef, and she assumed, like many army maintenance soldiers, that she wouldn’t be needed for battle. “War wasn’t part of my job,” she writes. Fast-forward five years, to March 2003, and Johnson is a badly wounded prisoner of war in Iraq. This memoir bounces around between war, family, politics, and Johnson’s life in the army, where it isn’t easy for a woman in combat. Johnson faces belittling jokes from male soldiers, who think women soldiers care more about their nails than saving lives (which makes it especially cringe-worthy when Johnson complains about her unruly hair in combat and then expresses joy at losing 20 pounds while in captivity). There are surprising stories of humanity shown by Iraqi soldiers while Johnson was held captive for 22 days, as well as terrifying scenes in which defenseless young men and women in uniform are shot at and killed. But perhaps the hardest part to read is her description of what she faced after her rescue by marines. She struggles with depression and nightmares, and the media attention she receives as the first AfricanAmerican female prisoner of war earns her resentment within the army. Then her friend Jessica Lynch, another POW from her unit, comes home to a hero’s welcome and nearly twice as much in disability benefits, sending Johnson into another fight—for equality. And though Johnson forgives and strives to heal, you feel a sense of injustice in the air. [AMBER BELA MUSE]

LONELY: A Memoir By Emily White (Harper) Now in her early 40s, Emily White has suffered from crippling loneliness on and off since childhood,

and it dominated her life for four years, beginning in 2002. She began research for this debut memoir as a way to further understand her condition, which, she discovered, is surprisingly common, especially among city dwellers. Citing a vast array of sources, including studies that conclude 10 percent of North Americans are chronically lonesome, White started a blog,, which enabled her to connect with—and interview—strangers grappling with similar issues. A Canadian lawyer, White is more motivated by the desire to shed the shame factor surrounding such a widespread condition than to tell her own story, and these two arcs never quite come together. Her vast data about loneliness merits attention (a particular highlight includes the multifaceted connection between loneliness and shopping), but White, for all her meticulous sifting through information, lacks humor. Loneliness may be a more serious affliction than is generally perceived, but White’s cerebral approach doesn’t invite the reader in. She’s honest about her life and the fact that she kept her homosexuality a secret until a couple of years ago, but she never comes across as fully present or self-aware—though her book does have a happy ending. When she falls in love, it comes as a relief, in part because one no longer has to see variations of the word “lonely” in almost every paragraph. According to all of White’s research, it’s too simplistic to state that romance is the cure for isolation, but here, as ever, it certainly doesn’t hurt. [SARAH NORRIS]

PRINCESS NOIRE: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone By Nadine Cohodas (Pantheon) Nadine Cohodas’ new book immortalizes one of the greatest musicians of our time, “The High Priestess of Soul,” with never-before-shared stories about Nina Simone’s childhood and her temperamental career that burned a path through the history of music. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, NC, in 1933, Simone grew up the sixth child of eight. She was known in her neighborhood as a child protégé on the piano,

playing flawlessly by the time she was three. In efforts to fund her own classical piano lessons at the age of 21, Simone supplemented her income by playing the piano and singing at the Midtown Bar in Atlantic City—and it was at this time that she would embrace her voice and change her name to Nina Simone, so that her mother wouldn’t find out she was playing in a bar. Simone is arguably most noted for her deep, sometimes baritone-range voice, which was often mistaken for a man’s. Cohodas goes into further detail about Simone’s personal relationships (including two marriages), her daughter, Lisa, her involvement in the civil-rights movement (which was brash, truthful, and aggressive), her ever-evolving fashion sense, and, of course, her vast and dynamic career. Princess Noire is a thoughtfully written page-turner, peppered with black-andwhite photos of Simone throughout her life. To any fan of Simone, Princess Noire will certainly be the equivalent of a little sugar in your bowl. [WHITNEY DWIRE]

THE SAME EARTH By Kei Miller (Orion) In this coming-ofage novel, a young woman named Imelda Richardson escapes from Jamaica during the hurricane of 1974, forcing her to start a new life in England. Years later, she finds herself back home after her mother’s death, only to feel like her island home is pushing her out again. In the small town of Watersgate, there is gossip and religious zeal to contend with. And when Imelda tries to spearhead a watchdog group after a fellow villager claims someone has stolen her underwear, she’s accused of replacing God and is told she’s going to hell as floods threaten her home once again. Though this tale centers around its 28-year-old female protagonist, the story really shines in the vignettes that showcase the memories of the other colorful and flawed people in Imelda’s world, including hypocritical deacon wife-beaters and a ganja-growing expat Jamaican. And the narrative is just as much about the dueling dichotomies of old and new, heaven and hell, and the idea that “nothing is really // BUST / 79

the guide BOOKS what it seems” as it is about Imelda’s awakening to freedom from society’s restraints. Kei Miller illustrates Imelda’s journey of identity with humor and balladry, weaving a seamlessly poetic and handcrafted folk song. He also creates a strong, punchy female lead who’s also very relatable—a feat for a 31-year-old male writer. From her first orgasm with “the boy who played drums well,” you can’t help but feel charmed—and inspired—as Imelda realizes that the old and new world both exist on the same earth. [SHEILA DICHOSO]

SAPPHISTRIES: A Global History of Love Between Women By Leila J. Rupp (NYU Press) “Nothing is sweeter than desire. All other delights are second.” These lines, written by one of Sappho’s admirers, are quoted by Leila J. Rupp in the beginning of her fascinating new book about the history of samesex female attraction. In this scholarly

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work that moves chronologically through time, Rupp explores the evidence of sexual and romantic relationships between women throughout history, concluding with a look at some of the many ways that same-sex desire among women is expressed and perceived in various cultures and communities around the world today. To do so, she examines information found in court records, legal texts, anthropological surveys, and memoirs, and draws on numerous literary and artistic works, citing intriguing examples of bold Sapphic sweethearts who risked everything for love and/or lust. (My favorite juicy anecdote was the true story of Mary Read and Anne Bonny, two swashbucklingly fabulous, cross-dressing 18th-century pirates who couldn’t resist each other’s booty.) Rupp convincingly argues that since the very beginning of history, countless women have ardently pursued their physical and romantic passions for each other despite the horrific punishments they often faced if caught; for hundreds of years, a

European woman convicted of having sex with another woman could be exiled, flogged, imprisoned, and (like for those accused of witchcraft) executed by drowning or burning at the stake. Another chapter, describing the flourishing queer subculture of Berlin in Germany’s Weimar Republic of the 1920s and ’30s and its subsequent destruction by the Nazis, reminds the reader all too poignantly never to take hard-won sexual freedoms for granted. [RENATE ROBERTSON]

THE STORM: A Novel By Margriet de Moor (Knopf) On the first page of The Storm, Margriet de Moor reveals the novel’s ending. Two Dutch sisters decide to trade places for a weekend, and one dies in a catastrophic flood before ever returning home. Despite the reader’s awareness of this inevitable tragedy, de Moor manages to inject the book with incredible suspense, and at times, a shaky hope that the death she declared on page one might not actually occur after all. Lidy and Armanda live on opposite sides of the same Amsterdam park: Lidy with her husband and daughter, Armanda with their parents. Armanda, who harbors silent jealousy for her older sister’s perfect life, proposes that the two women switch places for a change of pace. Armanda will attend a party with Lidy’s husband, while Lidy will go to a birthday party for Armanda’s godchild in a nearby rural province. What neither woman knows is that a freak weather occurrence is creating a storm that will cause one of the largest floods the Netherlands has ever seen. De Moor smoothly alternates between Armanda’s and Lidy’s stories, following Armanda to old age and Lidy to the final moments before her early death. Her prose sometimes reads as rather terse and scientific (perhaps because it’s translated), but it works well for her harrowing descriptions of a biblical flood and Lidy’s unemotional, instinctive desire to live. The Storm is a gripping survival thriller, but it is also a nuanced exploration of the relation-

ship between two sisters who can never quite separate themselves from one another, even as one lies dead miles from home. [ELIZA THOMPSON]

THEY IS US By Tama Janowitz (Harper Collins) Tama Janowitz first lit up the literary world with her short-story collection Slaves of New York, which humorously depicted the lives of penniless bohemians living in Manhattan. Janowitz’s newest effort shows a dramatic turn toward dystopian science fiction, mixing over-thetop wackiness with a bleak futuristic vision. They Is Us is set in suburban New Jersey at an undisclosed date in the future. Life, as one might imagine, has become grim for Americans. Hyperconsumerism and commercialism are rampant; even the president has his own Home Shopping Network show and charges Americans to vote for which country he should bomb next. Water no longer pours out of faucets and showerheads, having instead been replaced with gelatinous globs of hand sanitizer. Living in this world are Murielle and her two teenage daughters, the sweet-natured Julie and the blankeyed beauty Tahnee. Janowitz remains true to her recurring feminist themes and shows this trio struggling against a society that is still patriarchal. While Murielle throws out her slobby and bumbling second husband, her daughters fall prey to lecherous men. One kidnaps Tahnee for his sexual gratification, while Julie is tricked by an attractive mutant man into shooting down an airplane, causing catastrophe. The book is consistently laugh-inducing, with wry references to our current pop-culture terrain (senior citizens in a retirement community belt out Gwen Stefani “classics”). However, the satire is too hollow to allow for an emotional connection. In the end, nothing but misery and demise await the gloomy characters of Janowitz’s work, with little to be found in the way of redemption or perseverance. Still, through her offthe-wall sense of humor, Janowitz successfully critiques the ugly truths of life in America. [ADRIENNE URBANSKI]

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lean on me


ABORTION DOULAS PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR WOMEN WHO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHT TO CHOOSE IT’S GENERALLY ACCEPTED that childbirth is a stressful process. That’s why a woman in labor often opts to have a doula by her side—to nurture her during intense bouts of pain and emotion. But what about when a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy? Nearly three years ago, a small group of reproductive-rights activists came up with the concept of offering doula support for the “entire spectrum of pregnancy”—including abortion—and created The Doula Project to do so. Currently working out of a public hospital in New York City, the diverse group of 20 volunteers keeps women company and provides relaxation techniques during abortion procedures for no cost. “To me, it seemed like a very intuitive idea,” says Lauren Mitchell, who co-founded the Project. “Why aren’t there doulas for abortions? It’s usually an uncomfortable procedure, it can be emotional, it encompasses a huge range—life, sex, death. It’s intense.” Sometimes the doula will hold a woman’s hand or rub her scalp to calm her; other times, she may crack corny jokes or trade dating stories. The doula also offers information on the procedure and can explain to the woman what is happening to her body. Mitchell, who works full-time as a health educator at the hos-

pital, says not a single abortion patient has opted out of the doula service since it started, and all of them express gratitude for it. Like Kristen, who was thankful to have the support during her procedure. “At first, I thought, ‘I don’t want to talk to this woman,’” she says. “But [the doula] calmed me down. She held my hand through the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through. I was pretty close to freaking out, but with Lauren there, I felt like I was in safe hands.” Often, just “being there” is the most important aspect, says Mary Mahoney, the assistant director of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project and one of the co-founders of The Doula Project. “We’re not there to poke them, or stick things in them, or to judge them. We’re there as friends, and we’re there as advocates.” At this point, the service is very limited. Mitchell explains that it takes some doing to convince abortion clinics to allow an extra person in the room during a private procedure. Still, The Doula Project is working on expanding by installing doulas in two clinics in New York City, starting an affiliate group in Atlanta, GA, and putting together a doula training kit in the hopes that the idea continues to spread. More information can be found at [LISA HIX] // BUST / 81

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sex files



I’ve been with my boyfriend for over a year. I’m not too big on oral sex (especially if the guy is a meat-eater, and he is), but with the right person it can be great. He’s the best boyfriend I’ve ever had, but I don’t know how to tell him that his penis has a certain odor—it kind of smells like urine. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t shake it enough after he pees? Should he drink more water? Should guys wipe the tip of their penis? I know he likes when I give him oral pleasure, and I want to be able to enjoy it more as well. Please tell me how I should approach this topic; I don’t want to hurt his feelings. In Bad Taste


Betty says: I’ll bet you are right about the urine— your boyfriend might not blot the tip of his penis, which is a good idea, and sometimes if he’s in a hurry, he probably doesn’t give it a good enough shake. It’s quite possible that a few drops of pee end up in his underwear so the odor remains on his penis. I’d say the best approach is to start off with a really great comment, about how much you enjoy sucking his magnificent penis, or how you love the feel of it getting hard inside your mouth, but that on a few occasions you have noticed a urine flavor or odor and you wondered if he would please pay more attention to his hygiene. Some men have a strong odor on their ball sacks as well, especially if they don’t groom and the area is very hairy. Another approach would be to start your lovemaking by suggesting a shower, and then soap him up good. Stop worrying about hurting his feelings; that will mess up your sex life faster than anything else.

Carlin says: Is he circumcised? If not, then he may need to pull back on his foreskin and do a quick rinse before sex play. My boyfriend always does a wash beforehand, which makes me appreciate how thoughtful he is, because I don’t have to worry about any foul tastes or odors. Maybe you both could have some fun in the shower or near the sink as extended foreplay. Let him know that you’ll wash his if he washes yours, and enjoy the soapy goodness.


One thing that I’ve been reading about in a lot of feminist literature is masturbation, so I thought I’d try it. But I’m kind of lost. I feel like an idiot expecting something interesting to happen when I’ve got my finger down there, and then I get upset that I might be missing out on something that everyone I know seems to think is so great. Do you have any suggestions for the beginning masturbator? Learning to Love Me More

Betty says: Well, you’ve come to the right place, since I’m sometimes called the Mother of Masturbation. The first step is to examine your vulva in a freestanding mirror under a bright light using both hands and some kind of massage oil (I prefer almond oil, which can be found in most health-food stores). Learning all the different parts of your vulva will be a delightful journey. Take a trip to any woman-friendly sex shop where they sell different toys with the latest vibrators, to give you an abundance of orgasms. More information is on our Web site,, and my book Sex for One is a must. What fun is in store for you! Enjoy.

Carlin says: First, get a good lubricant. Pour some on your fingers and do a genital massage. Try different strokes like gentle circles over your clitoris, long strokes up and down the length of your vulva, and use your pointer and middle finger like a wishbone and rub on either side of your clitoris (we break down the strokes in our Manual Skills video on our Web site). And when it feels good, just keep doing it while you think of a fantasy image that gets you excited. Eventually, orgasms will come and come.

Gott a question G ti ffor B Betty tt and dC Carlin? li ? P Postt it att b t / tb b tt // BUST / 83



TROY AND I have been best friends since we were six years old, when we met in Ms. Colby’s kindergarten class. We spent our entire school life sitting next to each other—me McCain, him McCann. We’ve shared almost everything, from chicken pox and blanket forts to test answers and our first apartment. So why not share Claudia Chang? When Troy first introduced me to his new girlfriend Claudia, I couldn’t help but be jealous. She was smart, sexy as hell, and had even written, produced, and starred in her own porn. What a bitch! And how I longed for her. I don’t identify as gay or straight, just sexual, and there I was with a huge crush on my best friend’s girl. Troy was worried I didn’t like Claudia, so he insisted that we spend more time together. The three of us went to museums and concerts, we ate sushi and went dancing. I’d go home with wet panties while they’d go back to her place to fuck. The night Troy moved into a new loft in N.Y.C. we all slept there to celebrate, and I couldn’t help but masturbate to the sounds of their lovemaking. I lay on his couch, sliding my fingers slowly in and out of my wet pussy, hoping they would ask me to join them while simultaneously dreading the thought. I used the ball of my hand to dry hump myself to Claudia’s soulful moans, and I climaxed to her cries of ecstasy. Shortly after, Troy threw me a surprise birthday party at the Russian Vodka Room. Claudia came looking as hot as always. Troy sat between us and held both our hands at times. I drank one cocktail after another in an attempt to numb my tingling clit. In the midst of the celebration, I stole a glimpse of Claudia’s candy-apple-red lips. She looked at me 84 / BUST // FEB/MAR

and smiled. I saw Troy’s hand move across Claudia’s thigh, heading toward her hemline. “I have to pee,” I said, pushing my chair back. “I’ll go with you,” Claudia said. She slipped her jacket off to reveal a gold corset that pressed her breasts into halfmoons before leading the way through the bar. “After you,” she said, pushing open the door that read “Kitty Kats” to reveal a single-toilet bathroom. She followed me in and locked the door. “Do you want to go first?” I asked. “No, you go ahead. I’ll just touch-up my lipstick.” When I was done, I moved to the sink to wash my hands. She stepped out of her thong, lifted her skirt, and straddled the toilet. I realized I was staring at her in the mirror, my eyes glued to the ruby jewel piercing her clitoris. “You like it?” she asked. I nodded. She wiped without breaking eye contact then walked over and placed her hands under the water with mine. She lathered us both, turning my hands in hers. I was afraid to look up, fearful of what my eyes would say. I felt my hand being lifted to her lips. She kissed the tips of my fingers gently then took my pinkie into her mouth and began to suck. My heart beat fast, and my mind flashed to Troy, my best friend. Yet, there I stood in the “Kitty Kats” room with my pinkie in his girlfriend’s mouth, my chest heaving, my nipples hard, and my desire on full alert. I pulled away, turned off the water, and took a deep breath to sober up. “Troy asked me to give you a special


gift,” Claudia said. “If it’s OK with you.” The next thing I knew, she was kissing me deep. Her hand tightened in my hair. I hesitated for all of one second before grabbing her, and God, was she tasty. I pushed her against the wall and took her breasts into my hands. I kissed a trail down her chest, and my hunger for her was heightened as I sucked her dark nipples slow and hard. I felt one of her legs wrap around my hip as she rubbed herself against me, lifting my skirt. I wanted to be closer; I needed to be in her. We both reached for each other’s pussies and started to fuck to the sound of the noise beyond the door. She nibbled my neck as she applied more pressure to my clit and I added another finger in her tight, wet opening, rubbing her mound with every withdrawal. Claudia’s head went back with a moan as her pussy walls contracted and she covered my fingers with her sweet cum. She kissed me then pushed me gently away. As she slid down the wall, she grabbed my hips, and pulled me forward. Her candle-applered lips were now killing me softly with every lick while her fingers stroked me. Her tongue tortured me till I gave in. My knees went weak as I came, resting my forehead against the wall to steady myself. I pulled her up and we kissed, sweetly. When we returned to the party Troy pulled me onto his lap and pecked my cheek. “Happy birthday,” he whispered into my ear, with a knowing smile. “Thank you,” I said. I leaned in and kissed him on the lips.

BUST (ISSN 1089-4713), No. 61, Feb/Mar, 2010. BUST is published bi-monthly in Feb/Mar, April/May, June/July, Aug/Sept, Oct/Nov, and Dec/Jan by BUST, Inc., 78 5th Avenue #5, New York, NY, 10011-8000. Printed in the U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. Subscription prices, payable in U.S. funds, are $19.95 for one year (6 issues). Additional postage: In Canada add $10 per year, and in all other foreign countries add $20 per year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to BUST, P.O. BOX 16775, NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA, 91615.

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burlesque breakdown 62. Merger 63. What Not to ___ 64. Being, in Latin 65. Basil-based pasta sauce


Across 1. Craft and paint manufacturer 6. Emanation 10. Guns 14. “Well done!” 15. Sushi-wrapping seaweed 16. Austin Powers’ nemesis, Dr. ___ 17. Moorehead of Bewitched 18. Not hearing 19. Computer info


20. Traffic stopper 21. Burlesque dancer’s late-week pasties prance? 24. Actress Phillips of I, Claudius 25. Rajahs’ wives 26. Burlesque dancer’s hip thrust toward a West Side Story gang member? 31. Orgasmic utterance, for some 32. Bistro 33. ___ Solo of Star Wars 36. Bean ___ (tofu) 37. Simple knitting project 39. On its way 40. “Eureka!” 41. Influence 42. First name in daytime talk 43. Burlesque dancer’s misguided method for taking it all off? 46. Counsel 49. Break in friendly relations 50. Burlesque dancer’s hip-circling big finish? 53. Be a pain 56. Yearn 57. Ahmadinejad’s land 58. Talk show host who was fired from The View 60. First word of “The Raven” 61. Type of tone

1. Alpine transport 2. Desire 3. Nab, as in a job 4. “___ Been Everywhere” (Johnny Cash song) 5. Sticky notes 6. The Loves of ___ (1967 Andy Warhol movie) 7. Active one 8. It can involve sucking or blowing 9. Richard O’Brien’s role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show 10. Financial deficit indicator 11. Give the slip 12. Curriculum ___ (résumé alternative) 13. Kills, as a dragon 22. Nursery cry 23. Hard to find 24. Hightailed it 26. Florida city, informally 27. “No way!” 28. ___ Breckinridge 29. Resell tickets illegally 30. Guffaw sound 33. Captain Sullenberger, to the passengers of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 34. Backdoor sex, familiarly 35. Extreme degrees 37. Guaranteed 38. LXV + LXXXVI 39. Good name for a Dalmatian 41. Psych. disorder often experienced by returning war veterans 42. Present reverently 43. Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, for example 44. Creamsicle color 45. Chick-___-A 46. Luminous 47. Worker bee 48. Latin name for periwinkle 51. Pupil’s locale 52. Indian breads 53. Horned goddess 54. Brawl 55. Bingo relative 59. CW TV show ___ Tree Hill // BUST / 91

thelast the lastlaugh laugh {BY ESTHER PEARL WATSON}

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issue 61  
issue 61  

issue 61 with America Ferrera