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INDIA’S VIGILANTE WOMEN • PEACHES • COURTNEY LOVE QUIZ • DIEGO LUNA

FOR WOMEN WITH SOMETHING TO GET OFF THEIR CHESTS

YEAH YEAH

YEAHS! BY THURSTON MOORE

“It looks like Mick Jagger” and more things we think about our lady parts

UNCENSORED JUNE/JULY ’09 DISPLAY UNTIL 7/27

$4.99US $6.99CAN

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CHEAP, HOT AMERICAN SUMMER from the best beach tricked-out gear to tricked out staycations


FEATURES [JUNE/JULY ’09]

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ANGELA BOATWRIGHT, CHRIS BUCK, ALIYA NAUMOFF

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42 ABSOLUTELY FABU-LIST Funny lady Kathy Griffin snorts coke and punches her makeup artist in the face! (Psych.) By Priya Jain

42

58 ANGRY IN PINK In a country known for trying to stifle

strong-willed women, an unlikely leader and her army of pink-clad vigilantes are hell-bent on justice. By Anuj Chopra

48 THE VAGINA DIALOGUES Getting to the bottom of why chicks are trying to “fix” their lady bits with surgery, and the results of our private-parts reader survey. By Johanna Gohmann

64 PEACHES AND CREAM Not now, honey—our favorite fatherfucker has a headache. By Callie Watts

66 ON THE ROAD Nashville is the perfect backdrop for 54 PUTTIN’ ON THE BLITZ A rock icon gets the goods on one of his favorite bands, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs! By Thurston Moore

this denim daydream. Photos by Glynis Selina Arban, styling by Leanna Ford

ON THE COVER: KATHY GRIFFIN PHOTOGRAPHED IN L.A. FOR BUST BY CHRIS BUCK. ON KATHY: SKIRT: H&M; TOP: MAGASCHONI; SHOES: BURBERRY; BELT: KATHY’S OWN; EARRINGS: TEN THOUSAND THINGS; JEAN JACKET: CURRENT ELLIOTT.

// BUST / 003


CONTENTS

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Broadcast Away We Go with Vendela Vida; feminist go-go girls shake it just for the fun of it; why Jeannette Rankin is someone politicos need to know; and more. 10 She-bonics Neko Case, Kate Winslet, Jessica Alba, and Tina Turner let it all hang out. By Whitney Dwire 16 Pop Quiz Courtney Love could eat you alive. By Emily Rems 17 Boy du Jour Diego Luna es muy caliente! By Jenni Miller 18 Hot Dates Get off your keister and get some culture, sister! By Libby Zay

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Real Life Make your own piñata and stuff it full of love; travel the world without leaving your ’hood; Kansas City’s snow-cone queen shows us how it’s done; and more. 22 Celebrity Old School Clara Bow’s vanilla marlow. By Jenny Hammerton 25 Buy or DIY These cute and crafty shower curtains will make even the dirtiest girl wanna come clean. By Emma Onstott and Callie Watts

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Looks Inside fashion designer Keiko Lynn Groves’ closet; sublime summer swimwear; unbelievable human-hair jewelry; and more. 32 Fashionista You’ll love the artistic inspiration behind Alyson Fox’s Small Collection. By Laura Neilson 36 BUST Test Kitchen Our interns get down with some sunblock, some salt scrub, and some oil-absorbing tissues. 37 Page O’ Shit Everything you need for a BUST-y beach party. By Callie Watts

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Sex Files The island of mutant vibes; and more. 92 Ask Aunt Betty and Cousin Carlin Because sometimes, getting it on just isn’t self-explanatory. 94 One-Handed Read Good Neighbors. By Claire Kirwin

Columns 12 Pop Tart Have you seen Jessica’s Ass? By Wendy McClure 14 Museum of Femoribilia For women in the ’50s, lab work was more than just child’s play. By Lynn Peril 20 News From a Broad The New York National Guard gives mandatory pregnancy testing the boot. By Laura Krafft 28 Eat Me Snack on these super sandwiches. By Chef Rossi 30 Mother Superior Kid-friendly science centers give this mom heartburn. By Ayun Halliday 40 Around the World in 80 Girls Wellington, New Zealand, is where it’s at. By Gemma Gracewood 103 X Games Musical Mystery Date. By Deb Amlen The BUST Guide 75 Music Reviews; plus time well spent with Tori Amos. 83 Movies Séraphine finds herself in The Hurt Locker when Sita Sings the Blues. 85 Books Reviews; plus poet Staceyann Chin on her new memoir. 82 96 104

Party Pix SXSW was the best! BUSTshop The Last Laugh Hair today, gone tomorrow. By Esther Pearl Watson

FROM THE TOP: AMANDA ELMORE, SARAH ANNE WARD, AMANDA MARSALIS

Regulars 6 Editor’s Letter 7 Dear BUST


EDITOR’S LETTER

bit by bit, putting it together I GOT THE call yesterday that for the first time in the 16-year history of BUST, our fearless leader, Debbie Stoller, wouldn’t be able to write the editor’s letter. She’s been out sick, so I told her not to worry, I’d whip something up instead so she can get some much-needed rest. I’ve never written an editor’s letter, but having been involved in every single one of these pages, I’m definitely up for the challenge of introducing to you all the great stuff in this issue. I came to this mag in 2001, brimming with enthusiasm for what BUST represented to me as a reader: a relatable oasis of real girls just being their smart, snarky, silly, sexy, sarcastic selves in a world whose other representations of women left me feeling alienated and confused. I would soon discover, however, that putting something like BUST together is a lot tougher than I’d imagined while I was enjoying my issues at home. I’ve spent the last eight years working my way up the editorial ladder, from intern, to associate editor, to managing editor, all the while developing a healthy obsession with bringing our readers the very best in girl culture. Whether it’s the visual elements, the people we choose to include, or the editing of our stories so that the compelling, independent spirits behind them shine through, every aspect is so important to me that I lose sleep thinking about ’em at night. It’s hard work, but one look inside this issue and you’ll see the kind of groundbreaking women and fascinating ideas that make it all worthwhile. For example, our cover gal, Kathy Griffin, is one of the savviest cultural critics working today, especially when it comes to lambasting the entertainment industry’s treatment of the fairer sex. We were stoked to get her on our cover, and if our in-depth profile of the comic genius on page 42 leaves you wanting more, you’re in luck! Kathy’s film crew for her hit show, My Life on the D-List, was in full effect at her BUST photo shoot, so keep an eye out for more fun from our time together on Bravo this summer. And when it comes to sisters doing it for themselves, just wait until you see our amazing story on India’s Gulabi Gang, on page 58. For the past three years, this unlikely group of pink-clad vigilante women has been confronting the corruption and domestic abuse embedded in their rural society, by taking the law into their own hands—and believe it or not, they’re winning. It’s unbelievable shit, and their saga is chock-full of the kind of remarkable personalities that can make being a feminist downright exciting. In other pink news, we were talking in the office recently about why we think so many normal, healthy women are paying big bucks these days to get cosmetic surgery on their genitals. It’s a controversial discussion that we wanted to (ahem) open up to all of you, so we sent out a big email blast, asking our readers about how you feel about your va-jay-jays. The story and survey results on page 48 might surprise you! Speaking of surprises, when I reveal the unbelievable roster of musical heroines we’ve also nabbed for this issue, you’re sure to flip your wig. Where else are you gonna find Peaches (page 64), Tori Amos (page 80), and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs interviewed by rock legend Thurston Moore (page 54) all in one place? I know, crazy, right? Truly, I’ve never been as psyched to be a girl as I have since I started doing this job. Reading about all these incredible women issue after issue can really make a gal feel like anything is possible. And leafing through our pages, I hope you guys feel the same way too. I’ll tumble for ya,

Emily 006 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

ISSUE 57, JUNE/JULY 2009

FOR WOMEN WITH SOMETHING TO GET OFF THEIR CHESTS

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Debbie Stoller CREATIVE DIRECTOR + FASHION EDITOR Laurie Henzel MANAGING EDITOR Emily Rems JUNIOR DESIGNER Erin Wengrovius ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lisa Butterworth CUSTOMER SERVICE + CRAFTY LADY Callie Watts BOOKS EDITOR Priya Jain ASSOCIATE MUSIC EDITOR Sara Graham CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Molly Simms PUBLISHERS Laurie Henzel & Debbie Stoller DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING + MARKETING Emily Andrews 212.675.1707 x112, ads@bust.com MARKETING, PROMOTIONS + SALES ASSISTANT Susan Juvet, 212.675.1707 x104, susan@bust.com BOOKKEEPER Amy Moore accounting@bust.com INTERNS Alison Carroll, Liza Eckert, Yoswadi Krutklom, Jacquelyn Lewis, Emma Onstott, Regina Panis, Peter Taylor, Alison Thornsberry MARKETING INTERN Bianca Casusol FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS Please email subscriptions@bust.com or call 866.220.6010 FOR BOOBTIQUE ORDERS Please email orders@bust.com

MEMBER OF THE MAGAZINE PUBLISHERS OF AMERICA

WWW.BUST.COM ©2009 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

Stimulation Nation When I read about the effect the recessry sion is having on the magazine industry in BUST’s Editor’s Letter (Feb/Mar ’09), I became quite distressed. What would I do without BUST? I realized that prompt action was required to o ensure that express my love and, more selfishly, to the best magazine ever continues to exist. I went online and purchased a two-year subscription. I then bought the 19 back issues that were not already in my collection. Thank you for being there for all of us. And know that we are here for you, too. Kathryn Oatridge, Watertown, NY I had eschewed buying women’s magazines because I was fed up with being encouraged to feel like I wasn’t thin enough, didn’t spend enough on clothes, and couldn’t give the perfect blowjob. Then I discovered BUST, and now I’m a devoted subscriber. Hurrah for a magazine that celebrates art, intellect, friendship, diversity, and the sheer fabulousness of women. But I’m concerned for the future of my favorite magazine in the current economic turmoil. So I’ve created my own BUST stimulus package: Every month, I will buy something from the BUST Boobtique or from one of BUST’s advertisers. I’m not loaded, but I need enough birthday, baby shower, and Christmas gifts to keep it up (and of course, a girl’s got to treat herself occasionally!). I encourage all BUST readers to join me: Let’s make sure BUST is never in danger of going bust! Jen, via email The editors respond: Thanks so much for your kind words and great ideas you guys! As always, we can’t spell BUST without U.

BUST-ing With Love I want to thank you for all your creativity and awesomely smart and funny content. Thank you for never talking down to your readers and for making me feel proud to be a quirky, intelligent woman! How can you not love a magazine that puts Amy Sedaris jumping out of a cake on the cover (June/July ’08)? That features lesser-known but way-fabulous heroes? That rocks out its music pages with spot-on reviews? That’s tapped into the DIY-ers of my generation with tons of great resources for fabric arts, crafts, recipes, and fashion? Yay, BUST! Betsy Lam, Chicago, IL My seven-month-old boy, Oscar, is fascinated with Lily Allen on the April/May ’09 cover. This has become one of my favorite pictures of him. Julie Tiknis, Chicago, IL

Get it off your chest! Send feedback to: Letters, BUST Magazine, P.O. Box 1016, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276. Email: letters@bust.com. Include your name, city, state, and email address. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. // BUST / 007


CONTRIBUTORS

Want it NOW? Get instant access to BUST’s digi editions at www.bust.com

Toronto-born photographer Chris Buck, who shot cover gal Kathy Griffin, takes portraits and other pictures of curiosity from his home bases in New York and Los Angeles. His clients include IBM, Microsoft, GQ, Esquire, and The New York Times Magazine. In 2007, Buck was the recipient of the Arnold Newman Portrait Prize. He first met Kathy Griffin 10 years ago, when he attended a celebration at her house. He remembers her as a warm hostess despite the fact that the group he came with was thrown out after two members were caught trying to steal shoes from her closet. Johanna Gohmann, who wrote “The Vagina Dialogues,” has penned essays, articles, and reviews for Red, Elle, Publisher’s Weekly, Babble.com, Parade.com, and others. A native of Indiana, she spent nine years in New York City writing about everything from werewolf erotica to the Queens Mineral Society. She currently resides in Dublin with her Irish fiancé. In 1977, Thurston Moore, who interviewed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, moved to N.Y.C. at age 18 to play punk. He started Sonic Youth with Kim Gordon in 1980. Shortly after, he began collaborating with no wave death kitten Lydia Lunch and perverted filmmaker Richard Kern. He’s published fanzines (KILLER, Sonic Death) and books (including What I Like About Feminism), and he started the record label Ecstatic Peace. He’s also edited books about mixtape love and the history of no wave. Sonic Youth’s new album, The Eternal, comes out in June on Matador Records. Sarah Anne Ward is BUST’s go-to gal for still-life photography. She graduated with a degree in professional photographic illustration from the Rochester Institute of Technology and shoots from her studio in Brooklyn, NY. Always up for new adventures, she’s currently working on a personal travel series photographing B&Bs. She was recently selected as one of Adorama’s “Ones to Watch” in its Up and Coming Digital Technician Contest. In March, Ward was part of an all-female exhibition at the Mercer Gallery in Rochester, NY, in honor of Women’s History Month.

008 / BUST // JUNE/JULY


NEWS+VIEWS

viva la vida! GREAT GIRLY WRITER VENDELA VIDA TAKES HER DREAMS TO THE SILVER SCREEN “WE JUST FOUND out this week that it’s rated R. I was like, ‘Why is it rated R? Oh, yeah, there is the word ‘cuntsucker’ in there,’” says Vendela Vida, laughing. The R movie in question is Away We Go, a film the 37-year-old literary all-star co-wrote with her husband, author Dave Eggers, that comes out in early June. It stars John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a 30-something couple with a baby on the way, searching for a city to settle down in, and was directed by Sam Mendes of Revolutionary Road fame. Not bad for Vida’s first foray into screenwriting. But also not surprising, considering what she’s already accomplished as an author with a compelling knack for writing about women. Her first book, Girls on the Verge, was a non-fiction exploration of girls’ comingof-age rituals, and her novels, 2003’s And Now You Can Go and 2007’s Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, bring strong, memorable women to life as they grapple with acts of violence and sordid secrets. We meet on a drizzly morning in San Francisco at the office of The Believer, an unconventional literary mag Vida co-founded. She tells me she’s sleep-deprived, having recently given birth to her second child—“There’s an expression, it’s Norwegian, that translates into ‘one is one and two is ten,’” she says—but I’d never know it. She has a cool, collected demeanor and pauses thoughtfully before answering my questions, which makes her “cuntsucker” exclamation all the more funny. “I honestly started worrying not only about what my parents might think but also about my doula, or the teachers I had,” she says about seeing the movie for the first time. “It’s one thing to swear on the page but another to see those curses coming out of a 15-foot-wide mouth.” Luckily, the movie has just as many laughs and poignant moments as it does foul words, probably because the couple wrote it to amuse each other while Vida was pregnant with their daughter (who’s now three and a half), even working on the script while she was in labor (“I needed a distraction,” she explains). “I think it only had advantages,” she says, of collaborating with her husband. “You know what the other person is doing all the time. So if they’re like, ‘Oh, I can’t work today, I have to go work on something else,’ and then you see them watching TV, you’re like, ‘Mm-hmm, yeah.’ It kept us both focused.” [LISA BUTTERWORTH]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHLOE AFTEL

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broadcast

we can dance if we want to

The U.K.’s Panthergirls are all ears

LEERING MEN BEWARE: though the kitschy Panthergirls may look like pussycats, they’ve certainly got claws. The 10-strong, fiercely feminist go-go dance troupe from Bath, England, was once accosted on London’s Brick Lane by a group of lessthan-civil lads who got rather overexcited upon seeing their faux feline ears. “But we chased after them,” says 20-year-old proud Panther Ellie, “and managed to get a few pointy-booted kicks in.” The Panthergirls, and other synchronized dance troupes like them, are suddenly springing up all over, from the U.K. to the U.S., and they’re giving international nightlife a welcome makeover. Sporting matching retro outfits and an

equally aligned girl-power sensibility, they declare their work is feminist, not only because of the support they offer one another, but also because they’re shaking it their way, to the sounds they like, with no restrictive beauty standards or body-image qualms to slow them down. “Yes, we wear skimpy leggings and leotards. But that doesn’t mean we are pandering to the male gaze,” explains Ellie. “It’s really more like we’re giving the finger to ideas of bodily perfection by jumping around in spandex because we want to.” The roots of this go-go resurgence can be traced to San Francisco’s Devil-Ettes, a gang of gals who started busting out their synchronized sequences in 1998, as an opening act for local bands. In 2000, British sisters Sarah and Sue Todd caught the Devil-Ettes’ act and were inspired to found the Actionettes in London. Former Actionette Delia Sparrow then went on to form

the Panthergirls in Bath three years ago, who in 2007 were joined in Bath by the Shake ‘n’ Bake Girls. “Our intention was always to create an atmosphere where the audience wanted to dance,” says 24-year-old Shake ‘n’ Bake Girl Frankie Glover. “Often, this happens to the extent where they join in with us. This can be fine, until we reach some of the high kicks, at which point they suddenly give us more space!” Nowadays, sporty feministas are saying it with two wheels in Manchester’s Spokes bicycledance gang; the Hormonettes are rocking in Rome; Austin’s got the Shim Shimmy Go-Go Girls; the Revelettes from Chicago are turning the Windy City into one big dance party; and the list keeps growing. According to 35-year-old Revelette Kaara Kallen, contemporary go-go dancing represents the aspects of feminism that focus on “reclaiming the glittery, eyelashy, girly side of being a woman as an OK part of your identity. We are professional, educated women. We’re engineers, electricians, editors. Some of us are wives and mothers, but we all like giant hair and short skirts. Live with it, label assigners of the world!” [LEONIE COOPER]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY ANDREW DAVIES

FEMINIST GO-GO GIRLS MOVE THEIR FEET TO THEIR OWN BEAT

R.I.P. Helen Levitt When legendary N.Y.C. street photographer Helen Levitt passed away at her home in Manhattan on March 29, at the age of 95, the art world lost one of its most astute documenters of the Big Apple experience. To check out the latest books showcasing her astounding seven-decade career, visit www.powerhousebooks.com/author/107.

she-bonics

{

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES

[COMPILED BY WHITNEY DWIRE]

“[My dad] claimed he made [my name] up while he was on guard duty at the Air Force base, and he claimed to have smoked a bunch of pot, which, for some reason, he thought was a great selling point as to why that name is so great. I could never find one of those fucking bike license plates with my name on it.” Neko Case in Spin

“I come from a very traditional, Catholic, Latin American family. But I was always very liberal, which weirded everyone out. I’m on tape at age five calling myself a feminist in a thick southern accent because we lived in Mississippi and Texas, so I’m like, ‘I’m a feminist! Women’ll rule the world! I’m never gonna rely on no man!’” Jessica Alba in Elle “I don’t use special creams or treatments. It’s a mistake to think you are what you put on yourself. I believe that a lot of how you look has to do with how you feel about yourself and your life. Happiness is the greatest beauty secret.” Tina Turner in Woman and Home 010 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JASON CREPS

“I did think that, post-kids, my sex-scene days were over. [Then I did] The Reader, which is very graphic, and I did panic. But you know what? I saw the first screening, and I thought I looked pretty bloody good. There are two things in life I’ve never been offered: one is cocaine, the other is a body double.” Kate Winslet in Elle: Travel Edition


broadcast POP TART [BY WENDY MCCLURE]

girls gone wide AND OTHER STORIES THE MEDIA LOVES TO TELL A FEW MONTHS ago, we were right in the middle of awards season—the Golden Globes had just happened, the Oscars were gearing up—and for about three weeks during that glittery, glory-bestowing time of year, the thing the entertainment world was talking about the most was a smash hit of

up Jessica’s Ass during an interview with President Obama. By that point, Jessica’s Ass had undeniably made the big time. In fact, Jessica’s Ass became as huge a hit as Chunky In a Bikini, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Tyra Banks’ Thunder Thighs. Yes, Jessica’s Ass is filled with drama and

Jessica’s Ass became as huge a hit as Chunky In a Bikini, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Tyra Banks’ Thunder Thighs. epic proportions from one of our most recognized stars. I’m talking, of course, about the blockbuster success of Jessica’s Ass. Did you see Jessica’s Ass? Of course you did! It starred Jessica Simpson, a pair of high-waisted, unflattering “mom jeans,” and 10 to 15 pounds of additional flesh making a temporary but sensational debut. Or maybe it was a comeback—it depends on what magazines you read. Certainly, Jessica’s Ass got plenty of press coverage in the weekly celeb magazines and on Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight. But it also made major newspapers—even Matt Lauer managed to bring 012 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

comedy, controversy and courage, heartbreak and triumph. And, well, a few too many cheeseburgers, if you want to get all horrible and sexist, but that’s not what Jessica’s Ass and six dozen photos of Jessica Simpson at countless angles in carefully scrutinized outfits is all about, is it? OK, so it is about sexism. It’s also about what happens as a result of reality television, a beleaguered film industry, a glut of celebrities whose fame no longer has much to do with their movies or records, and a culture with enough technology at its disposal to keep anyone even halfway interesting under constant and speedily propagating me-

dia surveillance. Jessica Simpson, poor kid, is not without singing talent, but ever since her gawk-worthy stint on MTV’s Newlyweds, she’s been more famous just for being herself. Most of her movies go straight to DVD, but even though the world’s not terribly interested in seeing her on the big screen, we all sure pay attention when she—and her ass—get cast in a classic real-life drama about getting kinda chubby. Of course, the tabloid magazines have always done this, giving other celebs roles in sagas of their own. Jennifer Aniston stars in Looking For Love After Brad, for instance, and Britney Spears has her own franchise of crazy-lady-unfit-mom-recoverycomeback-mood-swing adventures. But it’s so much more insidious, somehow, when the story is about a celebrity waistline. Because while a Jennifer Aniston story needs a quote from John Mayer’s publicist once in a while to keep the plot going, a phenomenon like Jessica’s Ass can be made from nothing more than a few photos of, ahem, the subject. Hell, even the script of Jessica’s Ass changes constantly to suit the fickle sympathies and cruelties of the celebrity media and its readers. People, which likes to bill itself as the compassionate tabloid, insisted that Jessica’s short-lived weight gain meant she was “extremely happy”; Us tabulated the calorie counts for her room service meals and reported that she’s “tortured by food,” and, no shit, “bullied for her weight,” and OK! was the first to announce her “revenge diet.” Clearly, the world is of many minds about this one ass of Jessica’s. Everyone knows that the celebrity media exaggerates about things or makes them up. Jessica’s body, though, is real, and so are all the other famous bodies that are a little too conspicuously fat, or thin, or surgically altered, muscled, deeply tanned, pregnant, dressed badly, or not dressed at all. They’re visible truths that we can interpret any way we want, truths that any magazine or Web site or news show or blog can claim along with the photo rights. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when they take on lives of their own and become feature presentations. After all, it gives Jessica Simpson another reason to be in the spotlight. In fact, some folks are saying that Jessica’s Ass was her best career move yet, the part she was born to play. For her sake, I hope not. ILLUSTRATED BY JESSE LEFKOWITZ


MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA [BY LYNN PERIL]

under the microscope WHY A CAREER IN A LAB WAS A LONG HAUL FOR INQUISITIVE GALS WITH ITS PASTEL hue and photograph of young girls in frilly blouses, the Gilbert Lab Technician Set for Girls didn’t look like the other chemistry kits crowding the toy aisle in 1958. The contents, too, were decidedly girly, though mercifully, the microscope wasn’t pink. As Helen Schwartz pointed out in an essay about atomic-era toys, instead of seeing the “paths of alpha particles speeding at 12,500 miles per second!” as a junior scientist could with Gilbert’s Atomic Energy Lab kit (boys featured prominently on the box), girls could use their Set to watch “real shrimp eggs” hatch into “miniature swimming shrimp...in just 24 hours!” Definitely fun, even educational, but hardly the kind of explosive experimentation promised by kits aimed at boys. »

014 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARAH ANNE WARD


broadcast Despite the toy’s lack of pyrotechnics, a girl whose taste for science was ignited by it faced numerous hurdles if she wanted to turn her interest into a career. First among them was described by Betty Lou Raskin, a “lady chemist,” writing in an article titled “A Woman’s Place Is in the Lab, Too,” in The New York Times Magazine in 1959. She bemoaned “the man-made theory that the scientific world” was “for men only.” The A.C. Gilbert Company was also prey to this mindset. A 1949 article about the Lab Technician Set’s manufacturer noted that girls did “not figure very largely” in their scheme of things: “A conspicuous few [girls] are reputed to hanker for the sets,” it stated, adding they were “invaders” in “a boy’s world.” There was also the frequently repeated charge that it was unfemi-

nine for girls to study science. Raskin recalled how, after she spoke to a seventh-grade science class, a young woman asked if she was a “real scientist or an actress-scientist,” because she wore a pretty suit and hat. “My mother told me lady scientists don’t care how they look,” the girl reportedly said. “That they’re the kind boys won’t date.” If the stereotypes didn’t stop an aspiring female scientist cold, she then faced being shunted into the role of lab technician instead of one of the higherpaid jobs men held as research chemists. Women were “employed in laboratories to do routine analysis. They are patient and painstaking, say the men, but what they mean is nobody likes routine analysis, so let’s give it to the women,” wrote a disgruntled female chemist in a letter to the editor of The New York Times

in 1944. And in her 1959 article, Raskin excoriated firms that excluded women from training programs, paid them smaller salaries, made them serve probationary periods not required of men, and refused to hire them “for executive positions or laboratory work, except, of course, as ‘dishwashers.’” At least they worked in a lab. In 1939, a group of “educators, employers, scientists, and personnel directors” issued a statement to The New York Times, suggesting that the “average, undistinguished girl chemist” was better off learning “auxiliary skills” like typing and shorthand, the better to use secretarial work “as an entering wedge” to the profession. So while still laughably sexist by today’s standards, the Gilbert Lab Technician Set was probably a breath of fresh air for young girls with aspirations beyond the steno pool.

pop quiz A TRIVIA TREASURE TROVE, DEDICATED TO COURTNEY LOVE [BY EMILY REMS] DESCRIBED BY ROLLING STONE as “the most controversial woman in the history of rock,” Courtney Love famously declared, “I’m not a woman, I’m a force of nature,” and it’s hard to argue with her. Though a brilliant singer, guitarist, lyricist, and actress in her own right, it was Love’s doomed romance with Nirvana’s suicidal frontman, Kurt Cobain, that would ultimately ensnare her in the grunge era’s most high-profile tragedy forever. Think you know what it takes to be Courtney? Then take the quiz!

4. In her early 20s, Courtney and fellow musician Kat Bjelland played in bands together and became famous for their signature babydoll dresses, plastic hair clips, ripped stockings, and smeared makeup, a look later dubbed _____. a. Riot Grrrl b. Pagan Baby c. Enfant Terrible d. Kinderwhore

7. Six months after her wedding, Courtney gave birth to her daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. Whom did she choose to be Frances’ Godmother? a. Barbra Streisand b. Angela Davis c. Drew Barrymore d. Winona Ryder 8. From 2003 to 2005, Courtney lost custody of her daughter in the wake of an arrest in L.A. on _____ charges. a. drug b. assault c. arson d. DUI

1. Born on July 9, 1964, in San Francisco, Courtney’s given name is _____. a. Courtney Michelle Harrison b. Ann Stephanie Lauper c. Courteney Bass Cox d. Patricia Lee Smith

5. Which of the following bands did Courtney not play in? a. Babes in Toyland b. Faith No More c. Hole d. Smashing Pumpkins

9. In 2009, Courtney sparked the very first libel suit involving what social networking site? a. Twitter b. Facebook c. MySpace d. hi5

2. Courtney’s mother, Linda Carroll, was put up for adoption in 1944 by her mother, the famous children’s book author ________. a. Dare Wright b. Paula Fox c. Beatrix Potter d. Margaret Wise Brown

6. When Courtney wed Kurt Cobain in 1992, he wore green pajamas and she wore a vintage dress once owned by what actress? a. Frances Farmer b. Elizabeth Taylor c. Clara Bow d. Bette Davis

10. Complete the following Courtney quote: “I want every girl in the world to pick up a ____ and start screaming.” a. gun b. microphone c. guitar d. syringe

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL LAVINE

3. There has also been some speculation that Courtney’s biological grandfather may have been what actor? a. James Dean b. Steve McQueen c. Marlon Brando d. Abe Vigoda

Answer Key: 1. a, 2. b, 3. c, 4. d, 5. d, 6. a, 7. c, 8. a, 9. a, 10. c 016 / BUST // JUNE/JULY


BOY DU JOUR

dark side of the moon IT’S HARD NOT TO SWOON OVER DIEGO LUNA EVEN OVER THE phone, Mexico City–born film star Diego Luna is pretty damn adorable, never veering from his friendly, laid-back tone (possibly something he picked up since moving to California), despite being shuttled from one hectic L.A. appointment to another during our conversation. “The photo shoot? It was easy,” he assures me, before calling me back from another number. Then I hear him yell, “Thanks, man!” to someone else as he’s led from a car to his next destination—unerringly polite, even in the midst of moviepromotion madness. Luna, who is turning the big three-oh this year, is currently promoting his new film, Rudo y Cursi, which opened in May. It’s a project that reunites Luna with his longtime friend Gael García Bernal, for the first time since the pair exploded onto the pop-culture landscape as two parts of an eyelashscorching threesome in 2001’s Y Tu Mamá También. This time around, however, instead of playing friends-turned-lovers, the two are portraying brothers facing off on opposing soccer teams. But the baby-faced actor now has way more on his plate than just Rudo y Cursi or even the upcoming slate of films he’s producing with Canana Films, a venture he formed with Bernal and Pablo Cruz. He’s also a new daddy, to his son, Jerónimo, who was born last August to Luna and his wife, Mexican actress Camila Sodi. “Life, it becomes simple,” he says of fatherhood. “There’s just one reason for you to be here, and it’s just to make sure someone else is OK and has everything. It’s a very special love,” he continues thoughtfully. “I love waking up with him. It’s the most beautiful thing ever. The morning was never so good. I used to hate mornings, you know? I used to wear sunglasses. I started to function after 11 or 12. Now at 5 a.m., I’m playing with my kid and changing diapers. You become a different man.” Being in the delivery room with Sodi, whom he married in early 2008, also had a big impact on Luna. “I have to say I became more in love with her when I realized what a good mother she is,” he reveals. “When you are there and see what they go through, it’s like, ‘Whoa!’” Speaking of life-changing events, Luna says his recent work on the Oscar-winning film Milk also resonated with him on a similarly profound level. “I think we have to be more critical of the reality that we’re living in and we have to take control. That’s why I loved Milk,” he says of the biopic of slain gay activist and politician Harvey Milk, in which he had a supporting role. “It’s the story of a guy who took control of his life and, in eight years, changed the lives of his whole community. One thing I learned from Harvey Milk’s character is that it doesn’t matter how long you’re here; it matters what you do with your time.” [JENNI MILLER]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY AMANDA MARSALIS

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broadcast Jeanmarie Simpson as Jeannette Rankin in A Single Woman

hot dates THINGS TO SEE, PEOPLE TO DO June 6

FILMMAKER KAMALA LOPEZ REMINDS US WHY WE SHOULD BE THANKIN’ CONGRESSWOMAN JEANNETTE RANKIN DESPITE ALL THE renewed interest in governmental trailblazing inspired by last year’s historic election, Americans are still in danger of forgetting another pivotal figure who was also a first on Capitol Hill: Jeannette Rankin. This devout pacifist and feminist icon became the first woman elected to Congress in 1916 and went on to cofound the ACLU. But even though her election was a particularly astonishing feat—women weren’t even given the right to vote until 1920—her accomplishments have all but vanished from public consciousness. In fact, after seeing a play in 2005 by actress and writer Jeanmarie Simpson based on Rankin’s life, L.A. filmmaker Kamala Lopez was aghast that she and so many others had never heard of Rankin before. So she set out to change that by bringing the play to the screen. After pulling together a grueling four-day shoot on a shoestring budget, Lopez released A Single Woman in 2008. And now the film is available online at ASingleWomanMovie.com, giving those unfamiliar with Rankin an opportunity to spread the word about the groundbreaking activist. Asked why she was so struck by Rankin’s story, Lopez explains, “She was someone who didn’t take no for an answer. All these suffragists were working for the right to vote, but she just circumvented the whole thing and said, ‘We’re really voting so we can have a voice in government. Why don’t I just get myself a place in government?’ She worked so hard for things that helped so many but was pushed to the side and marginalized. That really rubbed me the wrong way.” Once in power, Rankin shook up the establishment with her aggressive antiwar statements, and as the only member of Congress to vote against World War II, she became the target of political and media scorn. Undaunted, Rankin remained a pacifist and feminist activist well into old age. In 1968, the octogenarian organized a 5,000-woman march on Washington against the Vietnam War, and though Rankin passed away at 92 in 1973, Lopez is making sure her legacy isn’t forgotten. A Single Woman doesn’t have opulent sets or elaborate effects; it tells Rankin’s story with a spare, theatrical aesthetic. Nonetheless, Lopez got some high-profile names to lend their talents to the project, including Judd Nelson, Martin Sheen, Patricia Arquette, and Cindy Sheehan, and it won raves after official screenings for the U.S. Congress, the Smithsonian, and the U.N. But Lopez is particularly thrilled to show the film in classrooms. “‘Role model’ is such a cliché term, but young girls need someone to look up to who isn’t just saying ‘Be cute, flash your vadge, and it’ll all be OK,’” she says. “When I show the film to girls, I’ve noticed them drawing strength from the fact that she existed and did what she did.” [MOLLY SIMMS] 018 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

June 26 – 28

COMFEST Now in it’s 38th year, the Columbus Community Fest in Ohio is “arguably the largest free, non-corporate urban music and arts festival in the United States.” Much like the city itself, the fest hosts an eclectic mix of urbanites, bohemians, activists, and funlovers. Bands perform on six stages, public drunkenness is encouraged, and political paraphernalia and DIY artistry abound. Visit www.comfest.com to learn more about this “party with a purpose.” July 17 – 19

LADIES ROCK CAMP AUSTIN Having survived its inaugural year, Girls Rock Camp Austin is hosting another weekend for women who are ready to move beyond playing air guitar and itching to plug in. In a femaleonly environment, rockers will instruct “beginners, novices, virtuosos, and everything in between,” during an intensive training session that comes to a crescendo with a final showcase on Sunday night. This Texas camp is part of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, an organization that is now 13 cities strong. For registration information, visit www.girlsrockcampaustin.org. July 24 – 26

INTERCULTURAL WOMEN’S MUSIC FESTIVAL Get in tune with nature at this festival set in a meadow in Kludenbach, Germany, where women and girls from all over the world are invited to come together for a lady-centric, open-air weekend of music. Participants can spend each day enjoying women-fronted international bands, vegetarian culinary treats, and a DIY craft market before a night of peaceful slumber under the stars at an idyllic campsite. Sound good? Find out more at www.frauenmusikfestival.de. [COMPILED BY LIBBY ZAY]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARAH GOCHRACH

one singular sensation

KELLY’S RIDE Now you can help fight the cycle of violence perpetuated against disadvantaged girls, by grabbing your two-wheeler and biking for charity! The mission of this New Jersey jaunt is to raise money to improve the quality of life for young women who need help “physically, academically, emotionally, and spiritually,” and that means this year’s proceeds will benefit an orphanage in Honduras, a college scholarship fund, and more. With a choice of three routes that all end at the beach, experienced bikers and novices alike can ride together for a common cause. Visit www.kellysride.com for more details.


broadcast NEWS FROM A BROAD [BY LAURA KRAFFT]

pee all that you can pee NEW YORK NATIONAL GUARD STOPS REQUIRING PREGNANCY TESTS IT’S NO SURPRISE that the military has a lot of rules. What is a surprise, however, is that until recently, one of them was that women in the New York National Guard were periodically required to take pregnancy tests and faced dismissal if they became pregnant. According to the ACLU, which helped fight the policy, fe-

now simply requires all soldiers to sign a form indicating their understanding that in order to remain on a state active duty mission, they must be physically able to perform all tasks associated with their mission, including physical training drills.” So, contrary to what your mother used to say, it turns out you can be a lit-

Contrary to what your mother used to say, it turns out you can be a little bit pregnant—in the military, at least. male soldiers were also obliged to sign a form, “agreeing that becoming pregnant would end their assignments and cancel all associated health benefits, including health benefits for their families.” It goes without saying that their male counterparts suffered no such indignities if their spouses became pregnant. The ACLU and NYCLU brought the matter to New York’s Governor David Paterson, and a new policy was introduced. Under the guidelines, “being pregnant no longer automatically disqualifies soldiers from state active duty service, pregnancy tests are not required, and women soldiers do not have to sign a special form. The policy 020 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

tle bit pregnant—in the military, at least. After that, “pregnant soldiers will be dismissed from state active duty when their pregnancy advances to the point that they cannot physically perform the mission.” The positive side to all this? There’s finally an alternative to shooting yourself in the foot.

FROM WOMEN’S LIPS TO GOD’S EARS Studies show women more religious than men You know how people are always telling you you’re like a little slice of heaven? Well, it may be related to a recent review of data by LiveScience.com that found

women are considerably more religious than men. One study, conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, interviewed more than 35,000 U.S. adults and found that, “Women pray more often than men, are more likely to believe in God, and are more religious than men.” Speculation as to why women are more religious varies. One Gallup survey concluded that “women lean toward an empirical [depending on experience or observation] rather than a rational basis for faith.” Rodney Stark in The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion puts forth, “Studies of biochemistry imply that both male irreligiousness and male lawlessness are rooted in the fact that far more males have an underdeveloped ability to inhibit their impulses, especially those involving immediate gratification and thrills.” At the very least, the studies offer a good way to answer the next time some guy in a bar asks if it hurt when you fell from heaven. Now you can say that you don’t know, but thanks to your betterdeveloped impulse control, you have a better chance than he does of visiting the place one day.

OBAMA FOR YOUR MAMA Hats off to the new White House Council on Women and Girls We all know that the ladies love Barack Obama, and one of the biggest reasons is that he loves us right back. Besides making one of his first acts in office the signing of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama celebrated International Women’s Month in March by creating a White House Council on Women and Girls. According to Senior Aide Valerie Jarrett, who will be its head, “The council will examine all the programs at the federal level that touch on women and girls and will work to make sure that each of those programs is doing everything that it can to help support them.” Revolutionary? Not really. President Clinton launched the similarly themed White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. But necessary? Absolutely. In a time when there are a record number of women serving in Congress—and that record is still only a measly 17 percent—we need all the help we can get. ILLUSTRATED BY RACHEL DOMM


CRAFTS+COOKING+HOME+HEALTH

whack attack MAKE YOUR PARTY A HIT WITH A DIY PIÑATA

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARAH ANNE WARD

IF YOU’RE LOOKING for an inexpensive way to spice up your summer soirees, we’ve got the craft for you. A piñata is the perfect party stimulus—cheap, fun, and easy to make, it guarantees a smashing good time. Simply grab a newspaper and a few budget supplies, and get down to business making your papier-mâché masterpiece. There’s nothing like blindfolded revelers, swinging bats, a colorful piñata hanging from the rafters (or a tree branch!), and explosions of candy (or condoms and plastic mini liquor bottles) to make a memorable bash. »

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real life Materials Newspaper Scissors Sheet of plastic 1 cup flour 2 cups cold water Bowl Large balloon

Colorful tissue paper Liquid glue Long needle and thick thread X-Acto knife Additional balloons of various sizes for creating a different shape (optional) Cardstock (optional)

Instructions 1. A blown-up balloon covered with papier-mâché will create the body of your piñata, so start by cutting the newspaper into strips 3" – 4" wide and 12" – 14" long. If you plan on combining balloons to make your piñata a different shape (we used a smaller balloon on top of a larger one to create the head and body of the bird), cut several strips long enough to connect the balloons. 2. Cover your work surface with the sheet of plastic. Using your hands, mix the flour and water together in a bowl until you have a smooth, clump-free liquid. The consistency should be slightly runny; add a touch of water if necessary. 3. Blow up your balloon. You may want to place it in a bowl while you apply the strips. 4. Soak a strip of newspaper in the flour mixture for a few seconds. Use your fingers or the side of the bowl to remove the excess liquid from the strip (the more flour mixture on the paper, the harder your piñata will be), then place it on the balloon and smooth it out. Repeat until the balloon is covered, slightly overlapping strips to avoid any holes. Let dry overnight or at least a few hours. 5. Once your piñata is dry, reinforce the top area where it will hang

from by adding several more layers of papier-mâché. For an extrasolid hold, add pieces of masking tape to the spot, then cover with papier-mâché strips and let dry. 6. Feel free to add non-papier-mâché details to enhance your piñata’s design (we added wings, tail feathers, and a beak). To do so, cut cardstock into your desired shapes. Attach them by using your X-Acto knife to cut slots in your piñata (it’s OK if the balloon inside pops) just long enough for each piece of cardstock to snugly fit into. 7. Decorate your piñata by cutting tissue paper into 2"-by-4" D strips. Along one 4" edge, make several snips about 13⁄4" long, about 1⁄4" apart, leaving 1⁄4" at the top of each strip intact. Run a thin line of liquid glue along the uncut edge, then place the strip on the piñata with the snipped edge hanging down; start at the bottom and work your way up until entirely covered. Stagger the placement to create the classic, fluttery look of a traditional piñata. If you want, you can use spray glue and full sheets of tissue paper for a sleeker look. 8. If the balloon inside is still intact, poke your needle through the piñata to pop it. Then use the needle and thread to sew a loop about 2" long at the reinforced top of the piñata. 9. Using an X-Acto knife, cut a small, three-sided opening (hinging at the top) toward the upper backside of your piñata. Fill it with goodies, then close the flap. To hang, tie a rope or cord to the loop, and drop it over a tree branch (or through a secure hook fixture) so that it can be pulled up and down. Swing, batter, swing! [MEGHAN KEYS] Get inspired by our author’s mad papier-mâché skills and handmade piñatas at www.llavesdesigns.com.

CELEBRITY OLD SCHOOL

clara bow’s vanilla marlow RUMMAGING AROUND A grubby junk shop nearly 10 years ago, I chanced upon a 1930s cookbook entitled Favorite Recipes of the Movie Stars. I’ve been obsessed ever since, collecting signature dishes of old Hollywood heroines and chronicling their kitchen habits at SilverScreenSuppers. blogspot.com. This one, for 1920s silent film star Clara Bow’s vanilla marlow, a popular frozen dessert of the day, is an easy-peasy alternative to ice cream, making it perfect summer fare. A glamorous, frisky redhead, Clara led the wild flapper-girl lifestyle to its fullest. When not on set, she loved to zip around Hollywood in her scarlet convertible, a couple of red Chow puppies in the back to match. With her signature bob, kohl-rimmed eyes, and heart-shaped pout, Clara had oodles of that jazz-baby sex appeal, which she unabashedly flaunted in her hit 1927 film It—a classic tale in which she played a peppy shopgirl who snares the store’s playboy boss. Too busy making movies and taking lovers, Clara freely admitted that she “never had any knack about housework or cooking,” but this dish is simple and delicious enough for even the original “it” girl. Why not grab It on DVD and serve bowlfuls of Clara’s vanilla marlow to a gaggle of girlfriends while you enjoy the film’s feisty flapper fun? Place 40 marshmallows and 2 cups whole milk in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Once the marshmallows have melted, stir in 2 Tbsp. vanilla, then let cool. When the mixture starts to stiffen (about 30 minutes), combine with 1 pint heavy cream that has been whipped to stiff peaks. Pour the mixture into a plastic container with a lid, and place in the freezer until frozen, about 2 hours. Serve in bowls like ice cream. This recipe serves 8 but can be halved. [JENNY HAMMERTON] 022 / BUST //JUNE/JULY


real life

cool as ice MOST SNOW-CONE memories involve fluorescent colors, dyed lips, county fairs, and all-day sugar highs. But 32-year-old Lindsay Laricks has set out to change the tarnished image of shaved ice with Fresher than Fresh, her Kansas City, MO, gourmet snowcone shop housed in an adorable traveling 1957 Shasta trailer. “You instantly feel the rush that you felt as a kid when you chased the ice-cream man down,” Laricks says about her love for “food on wheels,” a trend she originally spotted during trips to N.Y.C., Austin, and Portland, OR. “You feel the pressure to pick something really good because you don’t know when you might see him again.” Intrigued by the idea, Laricks began brainstorming ways to combine traveling treats with her love of gardening and homemade, healthy food. Snow cones, she decided, could be the perfect antidote to hot midwestern summer days, minus the ingredients that gave them a bad rep, like high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings. Inspired by the abundance of her homegrown herbs, she started experimenting with syrup flavors. Using organic fruit and fresh ingredients, she’s created some unique and unexpected combos, including Lemon Prickly Pear, Watermelon Basil, Blackberry Lavender (use the recipe below to

make a Popsicle version), and all-time customer-favorite Espresso and Mexican Cane Sugar. Laricks’ all-natural menu has made her snow-cone venture a heat-wave hit since it launched in May 2008. While Laricks’ day job at an ad agency keeps her busy during the week, she opens up shop every Saturday evening from May through September at a regular location (110 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, MO), and also loves serving the crowds at local events like non-profit benefits, fashion shows, and block parties. For the cold, hard facts about Laricks’ treats, visit www.fresherthanfreshsnowcones.blogspot.com. [CHRISTINE CHITNIS]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY AMES MEIEROTTO; LINDSAY LARICKS; SARA FARRAR

GET YOUR LICKS WITH SUMMER TREATS BY LINDSAY LARICKS

LINDSAY LARICKS’ BLACKBERRY-LAVENDER POPSICLES

WHAT YOU’LL NEED 2 heaping cups blackberries 1 cup sugar 11⁄2 cups water 2 Tbsp. fresh lavender buds (you can use dried if necessary) 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (2 – 3 lemons) Popsicle molds (ice cube trays, disposable cups, or skinny highball glasses can be used instead) Wooden Popsicle sticks (plastic spoons, swizzle sticks, or chopsticks will also work) 024 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

INSTRUCTIONS 1. Put blackberries, sugar, water, and lavender in a saucepan. Bring ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. 2. Mash ingredients with a potato masher to extract the most juice possible out of the berries. 3. Let cool about a half hour in refrigerator. 4. Remove from fridge and add lemon juice. 5. Strain mixture into a large measuring cup with a pour spout (or something similar), using a fine mesh strainer or sieve. 6. Pour mixture into Popsicle molds. 7. Cover with foil, then poke Popsicle sticks through to secure in place. 8. Freeze for approximately 4 hours. 9. Pop those suckers out of the molds and enjoy!

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARAH ANNE WARD

FOR THOSE OF us who don’t own an ice shaver (your vintage Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine doesn’t count), Laricks was kind enough to provide an easy-does-it recipe for blackberrylavender Popsicles. This frosty treat is based on one of the most popular snow-cone flavors offered by Fresher than Fresh, so you can get a taste of her genius at home.


BUY OR DIY

it's curtains for you GIVE YOUR SHOWER SOME DIY POWER

PAINTING: EMMA ONSTOTT; MODEL: MOLLY CLIFFORD

A BATHROOM SHOULD shine from its tiles to the tub, so if your space is hurtin’, why not spruce it up with a new shower curtain? Your washroom will look ravishing when you turn a clear plastic liner into a DIY spray of hand-painted peek-a-boo flowers that won’t mind being overwatered. »

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SARAH ANNE WARD

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real life

BUY OR DIY

clean girls THESE BUYS WILL GET YOU WET WHILE THEY KEEP YOUR FLOOR DRY [BY CALLIE WATTS] Start with a clear shower curtain or liner. Hang it from the designated rod in your bathroom, and steam out some of the wrinkles by taking a hot shower. To make sure you paint one flower tall enough for your face to easily fit into its peek-a-boo center, while the curtain is hanging use a washable marker to mark the center of where you want a clear oval to be. Remove the curtain, write down the measurements of your mark, and wipe down the entire liner with a household surface cleaner. Cut a piece of kraft paper 2" larger (all the way around) than your shower curtain. Tape the paper to a non-carpeted floor. With a pencil, mark the parameters of your curtain on the paper. Then, using the measurements you took, mark the center of your desired peek-a-boo center. Draw an oval 81⁄2" tall and 71⁄2" wide, using your mark as the center. Draw two additional ovals of the same size at varying heights that will be the peek-a-boo centers of two other flowers. When considering placement, remember that it’s easier to bend over to see through a lower-placed oval than to engage in any dangerous shower jumping for a cut-out that’s too high. Also, keep in mind that a clear flower center made with a child in mind may become a crotch shot for an adult. Sketch your design onto the paper, drawing the curtain’s main flowers around the oval centers you’ve marked. We filled in our design with smaller flowers, leaves, grass, and polka dots. Feel free to get creative! Once you’re happy with your design, go over the lines with a black marker. Tape your shower curtain over the pattern. Using acrylic paint and a soft synthetic size 14 brush, trace the outline of your design in the darkest color you plan on using. Since you are painting such a large area, start in the center and work your way out to avoid smudging. As you paint, thin your acrylics with a bit of water to keep them spreadable, but don’t make your paint too thin or it will chip. When picking your paint colors, know that cadmiums and cobalt hues are more toxic then other acrylic colors; wear gloves if you use them. Let your outline dry. Then flip the curtain and retape. Using a 1" foam brush and your desired color paint, fill in the large outlined areas (this will be the inside of your curtain). Let dry. Flip again and, using the synthetic brush, paint any details. Once dry, apply a thin coat of acrylic gloss sealer to the painted area, 1 ⁄4" past the painted edge. Let it dry, then flip your curtain and do the same on the other side. Let it dry completely, then hang it on your shower rod. You may want to hang a second clear liner to keep it from getting grimy. [EMMA ONSTOTT AND CALLIE WATTS] 026 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

Show ’Em Your Anise

Eau de Toilette

Feather your nest with black flowers and yellow embroidered birds on a cotton sateen curtain. It sure makes for a golden shower ($125, www. blisslivinghome.com).

There’s a place in France where the naked people dance—pay homage to the City of Lights with this curtain de douche ($26.50, www.izolashower.com).

Shower Rangers

Norman Bathes

Scrub off your funk behind this pretty tree trunk ($30, www.bowlandboard.com).

A Psycho-inspired shower curtain makes washing up a blood bath ($20, www.kikkerlandshop.com).


real life

EAT ME [BY CHEF ROSSI]

These 'wiches are eggcellent

bread winners TAKE A SANDWICH TO WORK FOR A LUNCHTIME PERK

IN A CRAPPY economy, eating lunch out or ordering it in goes from daily habit to budgetbreaking luxury. But bringing a PB-and-J to work every day is a total downer. Why not brown-bag in style with these delectable sandwich ideas?

Spicy Egg Salad Put 8 eggs in a pot, fill with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook another few minutes. Turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let sit for 15 minutes. Run cold water over eggs till they’ve cooled, then peel. Chop them up well, and mix with 3 heaping plops of mayonnaise, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a dash of Tabasco, a pinch of mustard powder, and season with salt and pepper. Slather between 2 slices of bread; makes 4 sandwiches.

Classy Classic Club Toast 3 slices of white bread. Mix three plops of mayo with one plop of Dijon mustard, and spread some on one slice. Add lettuce and sliced turkey (sub with chicken or ham if you like), top with another slice of toast, and lay as much bacon, lettuce, and tomato as you like on top. 028 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

Cover with the third slice of toast. You’ll need a toothpick to keep this baby together until you can put it in your mouth. For a veggie version, replace the turkey with avocado, use tempeh bacon instead of pork, and add a slice of Swiss cheese. Pescetarians can swap the turkey for smoked salmon and the bacon for sliced red onion. Add plain mayo mixed with finely chopped scallions and a spoonful of capers.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich I usually grab whatever veggies look great at the market, but zucchini, eggplant, and red onion work well. Wash your veggies and slice lengthwise, 1⁄3" thick. Dredge in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and heat on a medium-hot grill until well marked (about three minutes) on each side. If you don’t have a grill, you can pan-sear instead. While your veggies are cooling, mix 1⁄2 coffee cup of mayo with a pinch of celery salt, a plop of minced garlic, a drizzle of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of paprika, and a plop of sliced chives. Slather your bread (a baguette or a roll works best for this ’wich) with the spread (non-mayo fans can use any kind of pesto instead), top with watercress or arugula, and lay on the veggies. PHOTOGRAPHED BY KATHRYN RUSSELL


vacation, all i ever wanted CAN'T AFFORD TO GO AWAY THIS SUMMER? HERE'S HOW TO TRAVEL WITHOUT LEAVING HOME! WITH MONEY TIGHT these days, most ladies are forgoing extravagant trips and enjoying staycations instead. We’re all for saving cash, but why sacrifice the fun of a getaway when you can fashion your own even as you stay at home? Whether it’s a Tuscan tour, an island jaunt, or craft camp you’re craving, here are our tips for a DIY version.

Tuscany Drink espresso: Start your morning at a local café. Order an espresso, add lots of sugar, and suck it down while standing up and reading a newspaper. Or make your own with an inexpensive stovetop espresso pot. Eat dinner alfresco: Pack a picnic of crusty Italian bread, sliced fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, and basil. Add some olives and a bottle (or thermos if your town has container laws) of Prosecco, the Italian aperitif of choice. Head to a park where you’ll be surrounded by green. Learn to cook pasta: Nothing’s tastier or easier than the recipes in Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Pasta. Make a new dish every night. Try speaking Italian: Pick up (or borrow from your library) Italian lessons from Rosetta Stone or any other recorded interactive learning device. Dress up everyday: Wear sleek, welltailored clothing and bring out your best shoes; feel free to overdo it a little on the gold jewelry and bedazzled sweaters. Yes, you’re on vacation, but when in Rome... Movies and music: Rent Il Postino and Under the Tuscan Sun. Stream Italian radio on your computer to hear all the latest pop hits in Italy (try www.italiansinfonia.com/stations.htm).

Hawaii Throw a luau: Decorate with tiki torches and invite your friends over for a pork roast, mai tais, and slices of mango and papaya. Serve drinks with paper umbrellas and pineapple wedges. Make leis by stringing necklaces of plumeria, marigolds, or carnations with a sewing needle and a length of dental floss. Get wet: Set up a kiddie pool in your backILLUSTRATED BY TANJA SZÉKESSY

yard (or living room), and slather on the Hawaiian Tropic. Nothing says vacation like the scent of coconut. Learn to hula or play the ukulele: Take a hula class at your local dance studio, or pick up an instructional DVD (like the ones on www.hawaiihula.net). YouTube has a ton of how-to-play-a-ukulele videos, and you can download song-chord diagrams at DoctorUke.com. Dress down everyday: Wear your bathing suit all the time, whether you plan on getting wet or not. Throw on flip-flops and a muumuu for stepping out. Always have a flower in your hair. Movies and music: Watch North Shore and Blue Crush. Listen repeatedly to Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles or Elvis’ Blue Hawaii (the movie is awesome too). They sound even better on vinyl.

Craft Camp Set up camp: Stream the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling at My.1club.fm/ group/NatureSounds (click on “Forest”), and spritz a little pine-scented air freshener— you’re in the woods!

Plan your schedule: Use each day to finish one of the half-done crafts collecting dust in your closet. Dedicate one day to learning a new skill. Pick up instructional books from the library, or try a DIY DVD. Want to spin your own yarn? Watch Sit and Spin from Insubordiknit.com. Peach Berserk’s Silkscreen Now book comes with a how-to DVD, and Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop series will have you click-clacking like a pro. Keep camp hours: Get up at 7 a.m. every day, break for lunch daily at noon, eat dinner at 6 p.m., and lights out at 11 p.m. Host a craft night: Invite your friends over to make a designated project, or have one of your exceptionally talented ladies teach a craft, workshop style. Serve hot dogs or veggie dogs, bug juice (aka Kool-Aid), and s’mores. Take a hike: Get some fresh air, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood. Movies and music: Watch Wet Hot American Summer and catch a screening of Handmade Nation, or pick up the book if the documentary isn’t showing in your area. Fall asleep each night to a CD of croaking frogs and chirping crickets. [LISA BUTTERWORTH AND DEBBIE STOLLER] // BUST / 029


real life MOTHER SUPERIOR [BY AYUN HALLIDAY]

mad science MOM GETS TO THE HEART OF HER DISTASTE FOR KID-FRIENDLY EXHIBITS

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someone who not only eats, but brags about eating, half-spoiled leftovers he wouldn’t touch with sterilized tongs. “There’s nothing wrong with the Hall of Science,” he says. Right, nothing that isn’t wrong with every other institution of its ilk. I say this with some authority, thanks to a reciprocal arrangement between the Hall and scores of other establishments just like it that has allowed me to “enjoy”

To be honest, my spirit of scientific inquiry has always tended toward the anemic. complimentary admission to the Liberty Science Center across the river in New Jersey and the much-beloved Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. That’s Franklin as in Ben. The enduring freshness of his bons mots and his randy enthusiasm for French hookers allowed me to forget that he was, at heart, a man of science. Speaking of hearts, the Franklin Institute has a great big one that you can walk through. Everyone I’ve bitched to about the $10 per person surcharge the Franklin

around with, I suppose. It wasn’t her fault. The tinder she was attempting to spark arrived damp. She gave me the grade I deserved, softened with a jotted hypothesis in which she speculated that my interest in the arts would ultimately serve me far better than anything she had to teach me. A valuable lesson indeed. Ayun Halliday‘s first children‘s book, Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo, is out now from Hyperion.

ILLUSTRATED BY AYUN HALLIDAY

KNOW WHAT I hate? Interactive science centers, the kind that make learning fun. They smell like someone dissected a dinosaur on an old wrestling mat. For every exhibit that works, there’s another that doesn’t, some vital motion that fails to occur no matter how hard I crank the wheel that will allegedly demonstrate something essential about vectors or molecules or the scientific properties causing airplanes to stay aloft. I’ll tell you what keeps airplanes aloft. Magical thinking in coach class. I'm in the grumpy minority with regard to these scientific wonder emporia. My kids are always up for a trip to the New York Hall of Science. We have to go pretty often to justify the cost of our family membership. Greg must harbor some fondness for the place, too. Why else would he purchase said membership without consulting his wife? I’m like, “It doesn’t skeeve you out, all those nasty little hands swiping their snotty noses, then touching all the grubby levers and handlebars you’re touching also?” He fixes me with a stern look, refusing to accept such squeamishness from

Institute slaps on for a special Chronicles of Narnia exhibit that’s little more than a brazen ad for the film franchise veiled in thin lessons about ice and beaver habitats, has interrupted to ask, “Ooh, did you walk through the giant heart?” Yes, I did, thank you very much. What choice did I have when my eight-year-old son balked at entering the great bacterial, musty-smelling thing without maternal backup? Once inside, he streaked far ahead, leaving me to plod from ventricle to aorta like some sort of arterial blockage, the little, overstimulated red blood cells behind me clamoring to squeeze past so they could rush to the next snot-covered inter-activity. It made me sad. In a different age, these youngsters would have lingered to leech those red walls for every drop of scientific edification, as focused as Archimedes or one of those other guys. Who am I to criticize, though? I, too, was resisting all temptations of intellectual/cardiac nature. Frankly, I was thinking about lunch. The food in those places always tanks, despite costing a small fortune, and I’d already been rooked into Narnia. To be honest, my spirit of scientific inquiry has always tended toward the anemic. Back in seventh grade, my teacher did everything shy of handsprings to try to fire me up about what was, for her, a sustaining passion. She dipped bananas and sections of rubber hose in liquid nitrogen, hurling them at the wall to prove that…uh…bananas are funny or dry ice is nothing to fuck


FASHION+BOOTY

keiko lynn groves FASHION DESIGNER How would you describe your style? It’s very feminine, quirky, whimsical. Tell me about this outfit. The sequined vest is from my mom’s consignment store in Florida. I think I paid $2 for it. I obviously get the daughter discount [laughs]. The shirt I’ve had for years; I think I paid a dollar for it at a thrift store in South Florida. I made the skirt from vintage dead-stock fabric, for [my clothing line] Postlapsaria. I don’t know where I got the tights, but they were probably really cheap. The shoes are Jeffrey Campbell; they were a gift from my boyfriend. That’s a pretty affordable outfit. I spend next to nothing on my wardrobe. I either make it, or I buy it at a thrift store and remake it. What’s the most you’ve ever spent on an item? Do you remember? Yes, it was for shoes, because I can’t make shoes! But it wasn’t even that much; I paid $50 for a pair of purple thigh-high boots at Wasteland in L.A. Where do you get your fashion inspiration? I get it from very odd sources. I love kids’ clothing—the little feminine ruffles and Peter Pan collars. I try to take those details and give them more of a grown-up look. Is there anyone whose style you adore? I love [NY fashion icon and textilecompany founder] Iris Apfel. She’s the most fabulous older woman in the world. Her signature is big owl glasses. I don’t try to mimic her style, but she’s inspirational because she wears the craziest outfits with no shame and pulls it off. Do you have any style advice? Don’t ever think that you have to spend a ton of money on clothing to make a great outfit. You just need be creative and patient. [LISA BUTTERWORTH]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY KARINE BASILIO

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FASHIONISTA

Fox is a lean, green designing machine

fantastic ms. fox

IT’S EASY BEING GREEN WITH THREADS FROM THIS ILLUSTRATOR-TURNEDDESIGNER

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ALYSON FOX HAS already made a name for herself as the creator of whimsical and slightly offbeat drawings. But now the Austin-based artist has taken her illustrations off the page with a clothing line of simple, stylish pieces that reflect her talent in a whole new way. Aptly named A Small Collection, Fox’s fashion debut prominently features effortless cotton dresses that are comfy yet flattering—such as the breezy strapless number with an empire waist and skirt pockets, or the belted shirt-dress with cuffs that tie instead of button—in easyto-wear neutrals. Her gathered-waist shorts are perfect for summertime barbecues, and her swingy belted skirt was made for a waltz under the stars. All 11 spring/summer pieces are created using sustainable fabrics, organic elastic, and buttons made from fallen tree branches. “The collection’s green, but not because it was the cool thing to do,” Fox says. “I try to live as green as possible, so it only made sense.” Working with eco-friendly sources was also a blessing in disguise, she admits, since the limited parameters made designing less overwhelming for the newbie. An avid vintage

shopper, Fox drew inspiration from many of her favorite thrift-store finds to create her pieces, all of which embody a modern yet timeless aesthetic. To avoid using nylon zippers, several of the pieces are belted or tied, lending a sculptural quality to the overall look of the line. The venture is the 29-year-old’s first foray into the world of fashion design, and it’s bolstered by illustrations, video shorts, and beautiful photographs all done by Fox and featured on the line’s Web site, www.asmallcollection. com. And as if that weren’t enough to keep her occupied, Fox has also teamed up with Brooklyn-based designer Caitlin Mociun (pronounced “motion”), on a limited collaborative collection, cleverly dubbed Fox in Mociun. The artful duo most recently turned out a series of undergarments in playful, bold prints, in addition to tees, totes, and scarves. How does Fox organize her creative ambitions? “I’m a list writer,” she says. “I can’t go to sleep unless I write a list of what I need to do the next day.” Given all her projects, that’s probably a pretty time-consuming tally. To see this foxy lady in action, go to www.alysonfox.com. [LAURA NEILSON] PHOTOGRAPHED BY AMANDA ELMORE


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who loves the sun

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SUIT UP FOR SUMMER [BY CALLIE WATTS]

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1. Where the Wild Things Are Look what the cat dragged in. Get the jungle look with this neon animal-print two-piece ($38 top, $38 bottom, www.roxy.com). 2. Bikini Kill Sweet Jesus, those are some merry chains. The reversible halter can be worn as a tube top or a twisted bandeau so you can switch this swimsuit up faster then Michael Phelps in a freestyle relay ($52 top, $54 bottom, www.shopbkb.com). 3. Dots Amore The price may hurt, but this ’40s-inspired bikini thrills because it never pills! The high-waisted 034 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

bottoms and peek-a-boo sides will have everyone yellin’ for you to come out and play ($90 top, $104 bottom, www.dineila.com). 4. Stoked to Stroke This retro, handmade two-piece has the look of a onesie without the ride-up factor. It’s a limited edition, so you’ll be the only babe on the boardwalk in this modern take on the maillot ($119, www.getgoretro.com). 5. Come On, Get Hippie This tie-dyed one-piece is perfect for day-tripping ($84, www. urbanoutfitters.com). // BUST / 034

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINE BLACKBURNE

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miss macgyver

ambiance chasers Big enough for a bottle of Prosecco, two candles, and an iPod full of sexy jams, this Lil Buddy cooler with built-in speakers can house everything you need to set the scene. Nothing screams beach like icecold drinks and hot beats packed into zebra streaks ($59.95, www.burton.com). [CALLIE WATTS]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINE BLACKBURNE

These earrings are fully loaded—the tops unscrew to reveal tiny hidden tools that’ll leave ’em shell-shocked by your resourcefulness. Inside are standard and flathead screwdrivers, a sharp pointer, and a spoon (which is obviously for little bites of ice cream). Start sweatin’ these bullets ($28, www.cubannielinks.com). [CALLIE WATTS]

test kitchen [ THEIR PRODUCTS, OUR INTERNS ] LIZA It’s hard to find an SPF 30+ sunblock that’s lightweight and unscented, but this one does the job. My pasty skin is happy to have found it!

T intoxicating lemony-mint scent The of tthis scrub made me want a mojito, o b but that quickly became a craving for m mojitos with a sexy Cuban on a beach iin Miami. Perhaps it was the added ttingling sensation. Yum.

Giovanni’s scrub is like dessert for the shower: the yummy part you look forward to at the end. It left my skin silky, slightly moisturized, and delicious-smelling. The mint aroma was superfresh—good for waking you up in the morning.

This made my skin feel cold and tingly, which would be great following a long afternoon at the beach or pool. But it left behind a weird filmy feeling, so I wouldn’t use it every day.

Nothing peeves me more than discovering my face looks like something that belongs in a bag of fast food. I now keep these ultrathin facial tissues handy to soak up that glistening look, because they absorbed the shine instantly.

I was skeptical at first, but these sapped the oil straight out of my face and didn’t leave any residue. They helped me look and feel human again after a long, sweaty day in the studio. A definite keeper.

My skin isn’t too oily, so I probably didn’t test the limits of these, but they worked well for getting rid of grease or sweat in the middle of the day. They didn’t dry my face out, either.

emerginC SPF 30+ Broad Spectrum Sun Protector, $35, www.emerginc.com

This is the sunscreen to wear to the beach if you don’t want to leave with half the sand stuck to your backside. It’s impressively non-greasy and absorbed completely into my skin without a lot of rubbing.

Giovanni Cool Mint Lemonade Salt Scrub, $14.99, www.beauty.com

EMMA

^ Naturals Oil Blum Absorbing Facial Tissues, $4.99, www.drugstore.com

REGINA I love that this non-greasy lotion doesn’t have the typical sunscreen smell; I felt confidently protected without feeling like I was repelling everyone. It also has vitamins and botanicals, which nou nourished my skin on a deeper level.

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going coastal SWELL SCORES FOR HANGIN’ DOWN BY THE SEASHORE [BY CALLIE WATTS] 1. Nautical, Dude Everybody will know you’re the biggest shit on the poop deck when you toss this ball around ($11.99, www.target.com). 2. You Can Lead a Horse to Water You’ll never throw in this Markie towel, so grab the unicorn by the horn and take it to the beach ($9.99, www.lisafrank.com). 3. Shorties Love Tall Boys The taste of hot beer stays with you for life. Cozy up to this custom-made cold sleeve, ’cause keeping your brew cool is like riding a bike—a lesson you’ll never forget ($5.95, www.bust.com). 4. Wet Hot Couture You can see clearly now, the glare is gone, thanks to these ConPHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINE BLACKBURNE

verse shades ($145, www.zappos.com). 5. A Head of Roses This bold swim cap is no grey garden, so tuck your tresses up and dive in with a splash ($14.99, www.headcovers.com). 6. Holy Diver, Soul Survivor With a lifetime guarantee, these underwater digital camera goggles are a sure shot. They also take video so you can capture all the motion in the ocean ($99.95, www.hammacherschlemmer.com). 7. Raftscallion You can pack 24 cold ones in this amphibious Mega Chill cooler and it still won’t sink, which means you’ll never be too drunk to float ($18.95, www.poolrafts.com). // BUST / 037


stop staring

flip ’em the bird Want an easy writer? These fine-tipped nail pens from Sally Hansen will have your fingers banging in no time, making detailed designs over your main polish a snap. Their fast-drying formula is environmentally friendly, and a wet cotton swab will fix all your ef-ups without messing with the base color you already laid down ($7.95 each, www.sallyhansen.com). [CALLIE WATTS]

doll parts This matryoshka sewing kit will keep your life from coming apart at the seams. The zippered case contains scissors, measuring tape, buttons, six spools of thread, safety pins, and needles ($8.95, www. bust.com). [CALLIE WATTS]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINE BLACKBURNE

Sleep with two eyes open. This peeper pillowcase set will have you nodding off on your own personal night watch ($19.99, www.urbanoutfitters.com). [CALLIE WATTS]

Golden Years The young and hip flaunt their outfits all over the Internets, but what about fashion-savvy seniors? Now they’ve got their own outlet at AdvancedStyle.blogspot.com, “proof that personal style advances with age.” From classy to crazy, you’ll dig the steez of these snappy dressers from the silver-haired set.

locks of love THE TRADITION OF incorporating strands of human hair into jewelry dates back to the 19th century, when bracelets of the stuff were exchanged as tokens of affection and remembrance. These days, modern lovers can get the message across with hand-crafted pieces by Philadelphia-based artist Melanie Bilenker, who uses layered strands of her own hair set in epoxy resin to create what she describes as “portrait miniatures of everyday life.” Using tweezers and a fine blade, the 30-year-old arranges tiny segments of hair to create delicate line drawings that depict simple, familiar scenes captured from still photos she snaps of her day-to-day activities. These diminutive pieces are then worked into brooches, rings, and pendants. Bilenker has always been partial to constructing keepsakes. As a child, she built dioramas and sewed doll clothes, and in college she began crafting her artwork using discarded buttons, fruit pits, and, eventually, her own locks leftover from haircuts. While investigating the history of jewelry-making, Bilenker became intrigued by the Victorian custom of painting tiny, wearable portraits, called miniatures, to memorialize marriages, deaths, and loved ones. “Since I have an interest in sentimental jewelry, I was immediately drawn to Victorian miniatures and hair work,” she explains. “Once I discovered that some miniatures had been painted using dissolved hair as pigment, I was mystified.” Bilenker’s current work reflects her fascination with the sort of overlooked beauty found in the mundane. “I am not commemorating an event like the Victorians did,” she clarifies, “but small moments. And because the scenes are from my life, it makes sense that the remnants, the hair, should be mine as well.” Check out www.melaniebilenker.com to start your own love affair with her hair. [SIRI THORSON] 038 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MELANIE BILENKER

MELANIE BILENKER’S JEWELRY IS TRESSED TO IMPRESS


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AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 GIRLS [#38]

The view is swell in Wellington

Getting torn at the Matterhorn

Sippin’ joe on Fidel’s patio

wellington, new zealand THE CAPITAL OF THE KIWIS IS THE PLACE TO BE [BY GEMMA GRACEWOOD]

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IF YOU CROSSED San Francisco with an Italian fishing village, you’d end up with something pretty close to Wellington. The city is a supercompact mix of cafés, bars, and galleries, amid forested slopes, steep paths, and bike tracks, all wrapped around a glorious harbor at the southern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Merely arriving is a thrill: a hair-raising landing on a too-short airstrip bracketed at each end by the ocean. We have the odd earthquake, but there’s a reason the earth moves—this is the town that brought you Bret and Jemaine. You’re welcome. In addition to fostering the genius of Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand’s capital has shucked its old image as the fusty bureaucratic heart of the country. “Wellywood” is now a hopping little arts mecca, home to movie mogul Peter Jackson and host to a biennial Festival of the Arts, as well as the flamboyant Cuba Street Carnival, held each February in the bohemian heart of the city. And there’s plenty of cool Kiwi culture to soak up all year round. There are loads of inexpensive backpackers’ joints, but for affordable luxury, book a room at The Mermaid (1 Epuni St.; rooms start at $50), a women-only guesthouse in a turn-of-the-century villa. Once you’ve checked in, saunter on foot

through the historic Aro Valley area toward Cuba Street. Though it takes its name from one of the first settler ships, many local businesses have taken the “Cuban” link literally, hence Fidel’s Cafe (234 Cuba St.), legendary for its big breakfast, and Havana Bar (32 Wigan St.), a tiny, happening haunt. Anything goes on perfect-for-people-watching Cuba Street, but if you want to get your shop on, check out the Welly style at Frutti (176 Cuba St.), a treasure trove of locally made bombshell dresses, ’50s blouses, and unusual threads. Be sure to visit hip streetwear-stockist Rex Royale (106 Cuba St.), and vintage fiends will love Hunters & Collectors (134 Cuba St.), presided over by Chrissie O, the godmother of NZ’s pre-loved scene. Iko Iko (118 Cuba Mall) is a kitsch wonderland of knick-knacks and modern design, while the latest in conceptual art is always on display at Enjoy Gallery (1/147 Cuba St.). Spend an hour flipping through the vinyl at legendary Slow Boat Records (183 Cuba St.), then grab a beer in the lively garden of popular pub Southern Cross (35 – 39 Abel Smith St.); on Tuesday nights, join a team for the Electric Quiz, a riotous trivia contest with live music. After you’re done checkin’ out the hotties on Cuba, peruse the racks at Starfish (128 Willis St.)—the boutique’s eco-conscious owner/designer PHOTOGRAPHED BY AMELIA HANDSCOMB


The snacks at Milk and Honey are totally money

Happy feet on Cuba street

The WIUO ukes it out

Cuties at Frutti

Oriental Parade makes the grade

Parliament represents

Laurie Foon is a pioneer of the defiantly colorful Wellington look—then lose yourself among the shelves of Unity Books (57 Willis St.). From here, mosey on over the timber City to Sea Bridge, just one of the waterfront’s sculptural wonders, and make a beeline for the national museum Te Papa (55 Cable St.) to soak up some of this young country’s history. When night falls, funky little BATS Theatre (1 Kent Ter.) is home to brilliant live avant-garde shows; time your visit for a Flashdance-style performance by the Real Hot Bitches, a Lycraclad troupe of ladies masquerading as ’80s dance stars. Dominating nearby nightclub hotspot Courtenay Place is the magnificently restored Embassy Cinema (10 Kent Ter.), where you can watch a flick in old-school grandeur. Nestled in its elbow is Deluxe, a tiny café with a South Pacific–kitsch-meets–Day of the Dead aesthetic, where you might catch a surprise show by the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, which boasts yours truly as a member as well as Mr. Bret McKenzie when he’s not fulfilling Conchords obligations. For a quiet cocktail, visit Hooch (46 Courtenay Pl.). You’ll be well taken care of amid the delectable burlesque décor by gifted bartender Johnny

McKenzie (who happens to be the brother of you-know-who). Kiwi cuisine is best described as a laid-back mash-up of ancestral British food, indigenous Maori flavors such as kumara (sweet potato), and fresh and tasty seafood, lamb, and beef. At its most delicious, it’s everything on the menu of Matterhorn (106 Cuba Mall), Wellington’s source of culinary pride. The classy joint is an award-winning restaurant with prices to match, but the classic Sunday roast is a favorite cheaper option. Hit it up on a Saturday night, when there’s dancing, and order the famous local cocktail, the “Falling Water.” Dance off with Welly’s cool kids at Mighty Mighty (104 Cuba Mall), a glam beer hall hosting various live performances, whether it’s country music or cabaret. You’ll love the hot-pink restrooms and toasted sandwiches. Solo travellers should feel comfortable hangin’ at “the Mighty”—it’s easy to make pals there, and the friendly staff will look out for you. Up the road, the rockin’ venue San Francisco Bathhouse (171 Cuba St.) has hosted the likes of Calexico and the Breeders. For a more intimate space that features acoustic and experimental acts, take in a show at Happy

(118 Tory St.); see who’s playing at www.texture. co.nz or www.wellingtonista.com. If it’s fresh air you’re after, pick up some tasty goods at enormous grocery store Moore Wilson (93 Tory St.) and fresh fruits and veggies at Commonsense Organics (260 Wakefield St.). Take your picnic up to the Botanic Gardens via the Wellington Cable Car (off Lambton Quay) or stroll down Oriental Parade, which runs along the bay. Grab a gelato from Kaffee Eis (2/236 Oriental Parade), or stretch out those muscles with some easy laps at the public Freyberg Pool (139 Oriental Parade), where the Jacuzzis look out over the harbor. For two-wheeler gals, there are the twenty trails in Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park (S. Karori Rd.), some of which afford awesome views of the city. Rent a bike from Mud Cycles (338 Karori Rd.) and pedal straight there. For more nature, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (31 Waiapu Rd.) is an amazing urban conservation project for NZ’s native birdlife. Watch the acrobatic young kaka parrots go bonkers at feeding time, or take your sweetheart on a kiwi-spotting night tour. So welcome, all the ladies of the world; we’d love to see you down here soon. // BUST / 041


EARRINGS AND NECKLACE: TEN THOUSAND THINGS; DRESS: BEBE

K

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Absolutely

Fabu-List Her reality show My Life on the D-List may have made her a household name, but comedian Kathy Griffin is still one of us. Here, she takes a break before her sold-out show to talk about being bawdy, breaking boundaries, and getting banned BY PRIYA JAIN PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRIS BUCK MAKEUP BY JENNIFER MONTOYA STYLING BY LESLIE LARUE

K

ATHY GRIFFIN WOULD like you to think she’s a hard-partying, fear-inspiring, drug-addicted diva. It’s a Sunday evening in February, and Griffin is in her hotel room, getting her hair and makeup done for her stand-up show tonight. When I ask the 48-year-old comedian, whose act trades in celebrity rumor and gossip, if there are any rumors about herself that she’d like me to break, she gets excited. “My dream would be that you walked in on something. Like, you could say that you walked in on me doing blow, or you could say, ‘One minute she was nice, and the next minute she hit her makeup artist in the face! And everyone in the room was scared of her!’ I never scare anybody,” she laments. “I always wanted to be that person in the room that people were scared of. Like Barbara Walters, where you have to stay out of her eye line. No one’s ever out of my eye line! So yeah, anything that you could make up that you saw.” She turns to her tour manager, Tom Vize, and instructs him to “go to the pharmacy and get some pills,” before turning back to me. “This might take a minute, but we could stage something really good for you.” The truth is, though, that when I enter Griffin’s hotel room, she is padding around in pajama bottoms and a hoodie, her shock of orange hair pulled back in a headband, and her face clean of makeup; a less newsworthy but more welcoming sight than what she might have wished. Her tour manager and makeup artist seem placidly unafraid, and Griffin herself is warm and attentive. But her rant is classic Griffin: self-deprecating but also brutally self-aware, revealing a genuine good nature as well as a mean streak. Her wish is simultaneously sincere and mocking of the type of celebrity that gets attention these days: Griffin would like to be more famous—her comedy routine is based on her constant quest for fame—but she’s also a teetotaler who has earned

her rising stardom through sheer hard work. She’s staying on the penthouse floor of the swank London Hotel in New York, but when I ask if the room means she’s enjoying the perks of celebrity, she replies, “It means I’ve been staying at this hotel since Suddenly Susan”—the 1996 – 2000 sitcom in which she costarred with Brooke Shields—“and I’ve been slowly working my way up to this room.” Griffin’s shameless striving for publicity is familiar to anyone who’s seen her reality show on Bravo, My Life on the D-List. Now entering its fifth season, the show is essentially about Griffin at work. It catalogs her gigs, emceeing corporate events and awards shows, as well as her various attempts at capturing attention. In the third season, she takes to the streets of Los Angeles to give away money, in hopes of becoming the “red-headed Oprah”; in the fourth, she sets out to promote her concert CD—which she released last year with the sole purpose of baiting a Grammy into her growing pile of awards, even titling it For Your Consideration. (She was nominated but lost to George Carlin.) But if Griffin is too good to join the ranks of celebrity train wrecks, she’s also too outspoken to be invited into the A-list sanctum she craves. Her stand-up act, which consists of discursive stories that suddenly break off into others and then loop back around, invariably serves as a report on her most recent interactions with boldfaced names. Tonight, for example, her stories will name-check James Gandolfini (backstage at the Emmys: “I’ve never seen anyone as famous as he is not being bothered by people…I call it the James Gandolfini ring of fire”), Taylor Swift (at the Grammys: “It kind of sounds like she’s taking a crap when she’s singing”), the Jonas Brothers (“I reject their bullshit fake promise rings”), Don Rickles, Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White (“I was just teasing [Rickles], I said, ‘Oh, you never slept with Mary?’ and he goes, “No,” and then Betty White goes, “I fucked // BUST / 043


him!”), and Cher (“We’d be sitting on the couch, and about once an hour, she’d turn to me and go, ‘Can you believe you’re spending your birthday with me? I’m Cher!’”). And in live broadcasts, she’ll invariably wind up getting herself in trouble (upon winning her first Emmy, for the D-List: “Suck it, Jesus, this award is my God now!”). All of which is to say that Kathy Griffin may be an attention-monger, she might be a rude, brassy, loudmouth—but she’s no sycophant. If she’s going to win this game, it’s going to be on her own terms. Griffin grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, the youngest of five, and when, after high school, her parents retired to California, she moved with them and tried to break into acting. In the late ’80s, she joined the L.A. improv troupe the Groundlings. While most comedians would stick around for a year or two, Griffin hung on for eight years. “I have a problem with staying too long at the party,” she jokes, but sticking it out proved fruitful. “Eventually, I was in there with Lisa Kudrow, and she said to me, ‘You’re funnier as yourself than when you do other characters.’” Griffin decided to try stand-up. “I did an amateur night at the Comedy Store, and this weird thing happened. It’s gambler’s first luck that the first set I ever did, I killed. Then I thought, OK, I’m a stand-up comedian. Then I went back to clubs and bombed for two years.” Rather than discourage her, how-

artifice behind all that “natural” Hollywood beauty. “I do think it’s funny that certain celebrities go out of their way to say they’re totally against plastic surgery,” she says, “and yet they’ve had it done and you can see their scars. So when I had it done, I thought, I’m not going to be able to fool anybody, so I just invited People and Entertainment Tonight to come along.” Most of that work—including a nose job, a face-lift, and an eyelift—was done more than five years ago, and since then, Griffin has sworn it off. “This is going to sound assholey, but I’ve gotten more compliments since I’ve stopped,” she says, and indeed, Griffin looks softer, more natural these days. I ask her if she still thinks plastic surgery is an OK thing to do, and she says, “It’s disgusting and gross. But I’ll tell you, I only stopped because it didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t make me one minute younger, and it didn’t make anyone think that I was beautiful. The liposuction was a complete disaster—I ended up in the hospital—and it didn’t make me any thinner. I didn’t know that to be thinner, I had to eat less and work out more,” she says, smiling. “I learned the hard way.” Those experiences have also helped her draw a line between what is and isn’t acceptable to say in her comedy act: criticizing someone’s looks isn’t OK, but when, say, Demi Moore insists that she maintains her figure by chasing after her kids, Griffin is quick to

“ If someone is going to behave in a way that is just not something anyone outside of Hollywood could ever get away with, then I’m going to go after them. ” ever, her poor reception in comedy clubs made her realize that she needed a different kind of venue to showcase her work, and she began renting out theaters for her shows. “[There’s a] difference between people sitting in a comedy club,” she explains, “where they’re getting drinks and they’re talking to each other, whereas in a theater, they’re more in the mindset of seeing a play, and for me that’s what I need, because I don’t tell these one liners, I tell 15-minute-long stories, and if you didn’t hear the first 5 minutes because you were talking, you’re not going to get the punch line.” But even when she was bombing in clubs, her stand-up helped her solidify her comedic persona—as “the annoying girl who says things she’s not supposed to,” which led to TV work, like the recurring character of Sally Weaver on Seinfeld and, in ’96, Vicki Groener on Suddenly Susan, both loudmouth characters not too different from Griffin herself. Along with the “annoying girl” epithets has come a host of criticism over Griffin’s looks. All female comedians have to contend with being judged as much on their relative attractiveness as they are on their talent, but Griffin, by positioning herself as a critic of the beautiful people, has faced more lambasting than most. She’s resigned to the fact that, no matter what she wears, she’ll be on some tabloid’s worst-dressed list the next day. And then there is Griffin’s incredible openness about her experiences with plastic surgery—another way in which she has both tried to move up the Hollywood ladder, by altering her looks, and buck it at the same time, by exposing the 044 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

the punch. “I’m not one to say, ‘This person’s ugly.’ I’ve been called so many names for being ugly. But on the other hand, if someone is going to publicly behave in a way that is just not something anyone outside of Hollywood could ever get away with, then yeah, I’m going to go after them. Because it’s just funny to me.” From the get-go, says Griffin, she found her audience in gay men. “I call them the unshockable gays,” she says. “I think as a comedy audience, the reason they’re so good is when you’ve been through so much, you’re not going to be shocked by a swear word.” There is also the fact that the celebrities she likes—Cher, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion—have their own gay followings. The other big chunk of her audience is women—in other words, she appeals to the same demographics as Oprah and Us Weekly. (She regularly starts off her shows by apologizing to the straight men who have been dragged there by their wives and girlfriends.) But you don’t have to be interested in the celebrity lives she details to appreciate Griffin’s comedy. Beneath the fandom and the judgment, she’s a savvy cultural critic, using her own wannabe-famous shtick to riff on Hollywood's rampant fakery. In one of the best, most eye-opening episodes of the D-List, Griffin sets out to win some publicity for her concert CD by driving around Hollywood with Adnan Ghalib, the former paparazzo and Britney Spears beau. Ghalib calls the paps and tells them where he’s going to be, and when they show up, he affects annoyance: “Don’t you guys have anything better to do?” he admon-


BRACELET: JENNIFER MILLER; SHOES: JIMMY CHOO; DRESS: AIDAN MATTOX; EARRINGS: TEN THOUSAND THINGS

ishes, before leading Griffin into Victoria’s Secret amid the jeers and taunts of the photographers. “By the way,” says Griffin now, “I’d like a little credit for that. Every year I lose at the Producers Guild of America to those fucking lazy assholes at 60 Minutes. Let me tell you why I should beat those bullshit assholes at 60 Minutes. Because I said to the producers of the show, ‘This guy is a household name for a week, and I’m telling you, it will create a sensation if I go somewhere with him.’” It did—the photos lit up the blogosphere, even though no one could possibly believe Ghalib and Griffin were really an item and the D-List cameras were recording the whole thing. “And by the way, the paps were not deterred by that,” says Griffin. “It was clearly staged, [but] he was still so hot at that moment, people were hungry to see anything with him.” I ask her if she’s aware of the commentary she’s making on celebrity culture and journalism with stunts like that, and she replies, “No, tell me! I’m just making fun of celebrities, but tell me if I’m doing something on a high-art level!” Regardless of whether she’s aware of it, her audiences appreciate it. Griffin coined the term “D-list” to describe her scrappy, wannabe status back when she was hustling for ridiculous gigs (like hosting the 2003 – 2005 NBC reality series Average Joe), but these days the term hardly applies. Tonight she’s giving her last performance in a four-night run at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in

New York; in her dressing room right before the show, a venue rep presents her with an award for selling out all four nights (“The only other person who has it is Tina Turner,” the rep says impressively.) She’s won two Emmys for the D-List, which starts its fifth season in June, and a few days after we meet, the news breaks that she sold her memoirs to Ballantine for a reported $2 million. She’s become a fixture on Larry King Live, and on January 1, she became a YouTube star when, while co-hosting CNN’s live New Year’s coverage with Anderson Cooper, she shouted down a heckler with, “You know what? I don’t go to your job and knock the dicks out of your mouth!” The clip, which was, by all reports, the highlight of the night’s coverage, made the rounds quickly. “That was a great moment for me. First of all, CNN got triple the viewership of last year, so they’re happy campers, and I loved it, because I’ve never been a YouTube sensation before. Everybody won in that scenario. Well, my mom did not win in that scenario, because she cried for three days.” That (mostly) happy ending is surprising—especially given Griffin’s track record. Hired by E! to cover the Golden Globes in 2005, Griffin was quickly fired for joking that Dakota Fanning, then only 10, had entered rehab. Her celebrity heckling has gotten her banned, officially or not, from talk shows like Ellen and The Tonight Show, and Barbara Walters has banned Griffin twice from The View, where Griffin // BUST / 045


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BELT: KATHY'S OWN; EARRINGS: TEN THOUSAND THINGS; JACKET: CURRENT ELLIOTT; SKIRT: H&M; TOP: MAGASCHONI; SHOES: BURBERRY

had been a regular guest host. Since New Year’s, reports Griffin, “my banned list has gotten really short, which is great. Once you have a hit show and two Emmys, all of a sudden, they’re not so offended by you. After CNN, when it was the most talked about quote of the New Year’s coverage, sure enough, I got my first booking on Conan O’Brien in 10 years, and Barbara Walters lifted my lifetime ban from The View. So this whole banning thing, it’s not a moral issue at all.” That said, Griffin hasn’t been reinstated on the red carpet, which she misses. “In my head, it is so clear to me that making a joke about Dakota Fanning going to rehab when she is 10 is so clearly a joke, and yet, when I watch Isaac Mizrahi…Hillary Swank had just announced her divorce, and he was very flippantly like, ‘What happened?’ I would never in a million years do that. There is such a difference between being funny and saying something to be an asshole. But it’s clear to me. Obviously, it’s not to everyone else.” Her career affects her personal life too, of course. The first season of the D-List showcased Griffin’s relationship with her then-husband, Matt Moline, a seemingly supportive partner who traveled with Griffin and helped her with her hair and makeup, but the couple divorced in 2006 when, as Griffin told Larry King, she discovered that Moline was stealing money from her. And although she’s dated a bit since then— including, most recently, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak—Griffin claims she is “very leery” of relationships thanks to her ex-husband’s

funny.’ To which I always say, ‘Really? Would you say to a black person, “Normally I’d think you were lazy and shiftless, but you seem to work hard?”’ And then they always just go to commercial.” The other side of that coin is the club and event bookers who seemingly want to support female comedians but don’t know how. “If you call your local comedy club,” she says, “I guarantee you the ratio is always about 10 to 1. It’s unbelievable. It hasn’t gotten one bit better since I started, not one bit. I could show you 30 emails from different charity events or TV specials where they’ll openly say, ‘We’re doing this event, and we’ve already got our 9 guys and we need a girl, so are you available on this date?’ I mean, can you imagine?! Wow! I guess since you’ve got 10 comedians, you only need 1 girl and then everything’s equal. So that is still rampant.” Part of Griffin’s drive stems from her awareness of this gender divide; she is, she says, acutely aware that “I have to work harder and jump higher” as a woman, and that “the only way I know how to do it is to try to be as prolific as possible. I know that I do more specials than anybody, male or female,” she says, and it’s true; she’s done two HBO specials, five for Bravo, and she’s recording another for Bravo in a couple of weeks, which will be based on the material she’s trying out tonight. “I’ll do two specials a year if that’s what it takes.” When we arrive at Madison Square Garden, the theater rep comes in with her award, and just before Griffin gets ready to go on,

“I think I get in more trouble because I’m a girl, I really do.” “financial impropriety.” She’s about to expand on the theme when her iPhone rings, and Griffin excitedly shows me the screen: it’s Andy Dick calling. (He invites her to a party and assures Griffin that he’s remained on the wagon since graduating from the VH1 reality-rehab show Sober House—the entire conversation takes place on speakerphone.) But despite this celeb connection, she insists that her standup limits her ability to expand her social circle. “I don’t have celebrity friends,” she says. “I can’t, because I can’t make anybody a promise not to mention them. But that’s all right. I don’t know what I’d do hanging out with a bunch of celebrities anyway. You’ve met them. You know. They’re not the brightest bunch.” Later, in the car on the way to the theater, she revisits this theme, wondering why a comedian like Don Rickles can get away with making fun of his A-list friends and Griffin can’t. “I don’t know, I think I get in more trouble because I’m a girl, I really do,” she says. Griffin doesn’t equivocate about what it means to be a woman in comedy. “The sexism in stand-up is absolutely astounding, it blows my mind,” she says. “When Joan Rivers started hosting The Tonight Show and got her own show on Fox, I really thought, ‘Oh, cool, this is it—from now on, we’re going to have an equal number of women in late night as men.’ And then it just ended with her. It’s unbelievable. When I do morning radio to promote a show, there’s always the Morning Zoo guy, and out of one side of his mouth he’ll say, ‘You know, normally I don’t think chicks are funny, but you’re pretty

Sherri Shepherd, a co-host on The View, comes by to say hello. Griffin and Shepherd, who’s best known for saying on The View that she didn’t know if the world was flat, exchange compliments and pleasantries, but as soon as Shepherd leaves, Griffin is in mocking mode. “Not all my friends know that the earth is a sphere,” she deadpans. “And you know what? That’s fine. People have choices.” It’s the kind of moment you could imagine on the D-List, with Griffin delivering the punch line in voiceover. “I think the D-List is more than fair to me,” she says. “I would say they edit me 100 percent accurately. In fact, if anything, they’re kind. I wish I could say, ‘Really I’m this sweet wonderful person’ and they edit me that way, but no, it’s right on.” She can’t help but spill the fact that this is the “celebritydriven season” of the show, and she giddily recites the list of who will make appearances. “For episode one, we have Bette Midler. No shit! Bette. Midler. Episode two, Lily Tomlin; episode three, Don Rickles. Paula Deen, who has more money than God, Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, Christina Aguilera, Taylor Swift.” The lineup reflects her new status, the no-longer-banned YouTube sensation who’s not the outsider she once was. That said, she’s not moving up to the A-list anytime soon. “Now when I say they’re on the show, the show’s not about us hanging out because we’re friends! I’m sort of tricking them and then using whatever I can to get them to talk to me.” She laughs. “So you’ll actually see more red-carpet moments of Christina Aguilera running away from me.” B // BUST / 047


The

Vagina Dialogues BY JOHANNA GOHMANN // ILLUSTRATED BY DAMIEN CORRELL

BUST examines your lady parts and looks into why women are going under the knife in the hopes of procuring “prettier” genitalia

T

HIS PAST NOVEMBER, two women wearing giant plush vulva costumes were shouting on a street corner in New York City. But they weren’t trying to reel in tourists; these vulvas had a purpose. They were standing in front of the Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery, performing a short play entitled “Dr. Interest-Free Financing and the Two Vulvas,” part of a creative, eye-catching protest against vaginal cosmetic surgery. There was even a brief cameo from a giant pair of scissors. Fifteen years ago, “The Designer Vagina” would simply have been a good name for a band. Now, vaginal cosmetic surgery is the fastest-growing cosmetic procedure in the U.K. While there are still only about a thousand surgeries done each year in the U.S., there was a 30 percent increase in 2005 alone. The numbers could actually be even higher, but data is still scarce. More and more women are opting to have their

labia snipped off and “sculpted” through labiaplasty, or their vaginas stitched smaller and tighter with vaginal rejuvenation. These women are of all ages, many in their early 20s. Even scarier, some surgeons have conducted consultations with patients as young as 15. What the hell is going on here? Who are these women, and what is pushing them to the extreme of slicing up their lady flower? As with anything involving our sexuality, the answer is complex, and a number of factors are at play. But the most common reason women give for wanting labiaplasty is, of course, cosmetic. Simply put, they want a “prettier” vagina. (And yes, I know the vagina is actually only the interior tract, but I’m using the word in the colloquial sense.) We live in the age of the Britney vadge flash, thongs, Brazilian waxes, and “sexting.” With that much crotch on display, it’s not surprising that the concept of an “ideal vagina” has emerged. But what // BUST / 049


If you’re straight, it’s very likely your vadge knowledge is limited to a squat with a hand mirror, or Jenna Jameson. exactly is it? When asked to describe such a thing, many of us would probably be at a loss. One that shoots out gold coins? Or can whistle Prince on cue? Some women are quite clear on what makes for a perfect vagina—they believe it can be found in porn and bring centerfolds to their surgeons for reference. As the Web site for the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of Manhattan proclaims: “Many people have asked us for an example of an aesthetically pleasing vulva. We went to our patients for the answer, and they said the playmates of Playboy.” Other docs concur that porn is the gold standard. Gary Alter is a Beverly Hills–based surgeon who has perfected his own “Alter Labia Minora Contouring Technique.” He says, “The widespread viewing of pornographic photos and videos has lead to a marked rise in female genital cosmetic surgery. Women are more aware of differences in genital appearance, so they wish to achieve their perceived aesthetic ideal.” Viewing vaginas in porn as “the ideal,” however, poses a number of problems. For starters, the majority of mainstream porn magazines and videos show only one very specific type of crotch—the perfect pink clam. Women with large or asymmetrical inner labia don’t get a lot of page room or airtime. (Interestingly enough, this doesn’t always have to do with aesthetics. Sometimes it’s a question of censorship laws—inner labia are deemed more “provocative,” and by not showing them, a mag can get a “softer” rating. Playboy is known for tucking in or airbrushing away labia.) So actually, Dr. Alter, women are not so aware of differences in genital appearance. While lesbians are probably a bit more informed, many women aren’t familiar with the look of regular, everyday vaginas, which come in an endless range of shapes and sizes. If you’re straight, it’s very likely your vadge knowledge is limited to a squat with a hand mirror, or Jenna Jameson. Maybe you also had a diagramed health-book drawing to stare at or a gym teacher who drew a crooked vulva on the blackboard. But Coach Sartini certainly never barked at me, “And by the way, Gohmann, there are all kind of labes out there! Long ones, hidden ones, asymmetrical ones, all kinds! Got that?” The vagina has long been shrouded in mystery and shame for many women. Thankfully, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues did a lot to break our culture’s vadge code of silence. As she so eloquently remarks in the play’s opening: “There’s so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them—like the Bermuda Triangle. Nobody ever reports back from there.” Sadly, it appears we’re still doing a pretty crappy job of reporting back if some women are using Barely Legal as a gauge for what is “ideal.” But 050 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

if some women believe that’s what men find attractive, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to be “hot.” However, through the course of my research, I encountered, time and again, men who say they really “do not care” what a woman’s vadge looks like. The general sentiment seemed to be that any vagina is a good vagina. Obviously, some men must care, or there would be more diversity in porn. But has their preference been programmed by porn, or vice versa? Personally, I think any man who calls a vagina “ugly” needs to be handed a photo of his testicles and sent packing, but unfortunately, not everyone feels this way. Yet not all women are getting labiaplasty for men. Or at least, so they claim. I spoke with Melissa, a bright and bubbly 24-yearold from California, who carefully researched her labiaplasty and breast implants, which she had done on the same day. Melissa was not only adamant that she wasn’t doing it “for a man,” but she also seemed rather insulted by the idea: “I don’t care if men like my nail polish color, and I certainly don’t care if men like my vision of an ideal vagina.” Melissa insists her desire for surgery mainly had to do with physical discomfort. Though she’s completely healthy with perfectly normal anatomy, Melissa’s labia were causing her pain—another major reason women list for getting labiaplasty. Some women with bigger labia say they become sore from too much time on the exercise bike, they feel tender after sex, or that certain underwear “doesn’t fit right.” While these problems are pretty universal for women, long labes or not, some feel it’s worthy of surgical intervention. In Melissa’s case, her labia were interfering with her passion for horseback riding. But she also admits to being a “perfectionist,” and after she made up her mind to get the surgery, she wanted to “look stellar down there.” She scanned porn sites to find the right “look,” then trolled beforeand-after albums at cosmetic-surgery sites like MakeMeHeal.com. She found only a few “after” shots that suited her, and expressed surprise that “most people wanted their doctor to leave more labia than I even had to begin with!” Melissa ultimately ended up getting what is known as “The Barbie Doll look,” or “the youth/ preteen look”: she had all of her inner labia removed. Plastic surgeon John Di Saia asserts that these surgeries are helpful to women and believes the practice has merely been sensationalized in the media. He used to do about three labiaplasties a month, but in the current economy, he performs less than a dozen a year. (Wow. This really is like the Great Depression. Who will pen our Labes of Wrath?) In an email interview, I asked him about the validity of labia interfering with women’s exercise, and he responded, “Some patients cannot wear tight clothing


because of the discomfort. That is not normal.” But he then went on to say, “In borderline cases, you may have a point, as each patient justifies her decision differently. Some women just plain don’t like the way their Labiae [sic] look. They want them looking ‘tighter,’ smaller, and frequently more oval-shaped.” It would seem that when “physical problems” are cited as reasoning for surgery, they are often closely intertwined with the cosmetic. And when those problems have to do with sexual dysfunction, the line between the physical and the cosmetic becomes even more blurred. In 2004, Dr. Laura Berman, director of the Berman Center (a treatment clinic for female sexual dysfunction) completed a study on the relationship between women’s genital self-image and their sexual function. She surveyed 2,206 women and, not surprisingly, found that the way you feel about your vadge plays a huge part in how much you enjoy sex. But rather than helping women deal with dysfunction by teaching them about their bodies and working toward overcoming esteem issues, our cultural response is to offer surgery as the solution. Doctors will simply trim away your “ugly” bits. “It’s promoted with claims of increased sexual pleasure, increased self-confidence, and a ‘better’ aesthetic appearance. These are seductive and sound good—who wouldn’t want better self-esteem or a better sex life?” says Virginia Braun, a psychologist and senior lecturer in psychology at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. She has been studying female genital cosmetic surgery since 2002. She points out that the claims these surgeons make “are not evidence-based, although they are presented as if they were facts—what will happen to you if you have the surgery.” So despite there being no real evidence (a formal medical study has never been done), many surgeons are loudly proclaiming the surgeries as a cure for your bedroom woes. The tricky thing is that in some cases, it’s true. But this is where the snake starts to swallow its tail. Dr. Di Saia himself probably explains it best: “Sexual response is frequently increased, but I think this has to do with comfort. Women tend to have a much more cerebral experience with sex than men do. Self-consciousness or worry of pain can stop things in their tracks, and nobody wants that.” I think we can all agree that women have a more cerebral response to sex. But that seems to be the crux of the problem. Women are slicing off parts of their sex organs in the hopes of having better sex. Before we raise the scalpels, it seems going to the source— the cerebrum—would be a much better option. Unfortunately, that’s not nearly as easy as a one-hour outpatient

procedure performed under local anesthesia. A root canal takes longer! A simple Google search offers a slew of Web sites promising the “solution” to your vagina problems, whether your sex life sucks, you’re training for the Tour de France, or you’re convinced your vagina is straight out of Cloverfield. Many of the sites look like they’re advertising a relaxing spa treatment, not a procedure that ends in dissolvable stitches. They call the surgery “empowering!” And something you can “do for yourself!” LabiaplastySurgeon.com explains that the surgery is a good choice for “women who are either experiencing sexual dysfunction, embarrassment, or pain because their labia minora are oversized or asymmetrical.” It states surgery is also for “women who dislike their large labia or shape of their labia, which may cause inelegance or awkwardness with a sexual partner.” That’s right, ladies! Dr. Bernard Stern wants to save you and your big, floppy labia from an inelegant moment in the bedroom. Extra helpful are the site's many before and after photos. On the left is a perfectly normal vulva; on the right is the same vulva, now trimmed of all that inelegant, nerve-filled tissue that can greatly contribute to a woman’s sexual pleasure. If you still aren’t sold, check out the loads of online “success” stories from past patients who make the surgery sound as easy as a belly piercing. And almost every doctor offers a “free consultation!” I tracked down a local clinic that offered labiaplasty and met with Michelle, a lovely registered nurse in her mid-20s. I gave her my made-up spiel about why I wanted labiaplasty, emphasizing that I had no physical problems whatsoever but just didn’t like the way I looked. “Many women have it strictly for cosmetic reasons,” she assured me. “It’s about making you feel better about yourself!” She then gave me a sunny presentation about how simple it was, how attentive they would be, and how I needn’t feel embarrassed. I listened to her very convincing pitch, after which I asked about possible side effects, like nerve damage or loss of sensitivity. “Oh,” she said, looking sincerely befuddled. “I’ve never heard of anything like that happening here. Really, it’s such a simple procedure. But you could ask the doctor at your next appointment.” With that cleared up, she slipped into hard-sell mode and pulled up her online calendar to book my follow-up. By the time I left the office, I almost felt excited for my pretend surgery. It’s all so easy! Like getting my teeth whitened. Sure, it was going to cost me ($5,934), but really, I should have done it years ago! I could only imagine what it must be like for women who truly are ashamed of their vagina and who encounter the

Rather than helping women deal with dysfunction by teaching them about their bodies, our cultural response is to offer surgery as the solution. // BUST / 051


It’s tough to find anyone who will open up about a procedure gone wrong—no one wants to be the cover girl for bungled vagina surgery. bright-eyed, Noxzema-clean Michelle, who promises such a quick and simple solution to their woes. While it’s not hard to find a doctor happy to perform labiaplasty, it’s a bit tougher to find info on how safe the surgery is—as exemplified by my free consultation. And this is because no one really knows. Again, no long-term studies have ever been done. Web sites and doctors downplay possible side effects and instead list “mild discomfort and swelling” as the main things to worry about. In 2007, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement that the surgery is “not medically indicated,” and that it is “deceptive to give the impression that vaginal rejuvenation, designer vaginoplasty, revirginization, G-spot amplification, or any other such procedures are accepted and routine surgical practices.” They offer a frightening list of potential complications, including “infection, altered sensitivity, dyspareuinia, adhesions, and scarring.” The surgeries were also blacklisted by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists after doctors saw an increase in women needing reconstructive surgery due to badly botched jobs. They issued a statement saying the procedures are “not very anatomically based and have the potential to cause serious harm.” So despite the lack of a formal study, there is little doubt that these surgeries can be incredibly risky and can come with grave complications. But it’s tough to find anyone who will open up about a procedure gone wrong—no one wants to be the cover girl for bungled vagina surgery. Even our reigning queen of vaginas, Jenna Jameson, was close-mouthed about her experience; when the famed porn star reportedly underwent a vaginoplasty in 2007, she was supposedly so upset with the results that she went into hiding. And when a woman with an “ideal” vagina is getting vaginoplasty, we’ve got a problem. There are a handful of organizations and individuals who are trying to tip the information scale in the other direction, letting women know there are roads to empowerment that don’t involve incisions. Most notable is The New View Campaign (www.fsd-alert. org), a group dedicated to “challenging the medicalization of sex” and the organizers of the aforementioned vulva play. Its Web site provides an extensive overview of vaginoplasty, as well as links to books and videos on women’s sexual health and dysfunction. The group has a long list of endorsements from various doctors and social scientists; it even gets the thumbs up from former prostitute turned sex guru and performance artist Annie Sprinkle. Its latest efforts include The International Vulva Knitting Circle, a playful way to bring women together to talk about their bodies and knit 052 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

vulvas. So far there are circles in Brooklyn, Melbourne, Toronto, and Auckland, with hopes to exhibit a global collection of the handiwork in New York next year. Offering a male perspective on the subject is British artist Jamie McCartney, who’s educating people on vadge variety with a piece called “Design a Vagina.” He is making 200 casts of volunteers’ lady parts and will be hanging them together in large panels. I had the opportunity to participate as a volunteer and see McCartney’s work—let’s just say it made a lasting impression. McCartney hopes his sculpture will eventually find a home in a public space, saying, “for many women, their vagina is a source of shame rather than pride, and this piece seeks to redress the balance, showing that everyone is different, and everyone is normal.” For the younger ladies, there is Scarleteen.com, a fabulous site that offers “sex ed for the real world.” In its “Give ’Em Some Lip: Labia That Clearly Ain’t Minor” section, the site answers young women’s questions about what a “normal” vagina looks like and provides helpful pictures and diagrams, including a link to the eye-opening drawings of Betty Dodson, a regular contributor to BUST. So there are a few voices yelling into the void, people working to follow Ensler’s edict to “spread the word.” And while some women might cringe at the idea of vagina sculptures and labia costumes and vulva cozies, they would no doubt prefer them to the proliferation of perfectly healthy women putting their most intimate body part under the knife for a potentially dangerous, unnecessary procedure. As it stands now, any means to bridge the gap between the mass of swirling misinformation and the truth should be welcomed, since what we have are the conditions for a perfect storm. With a lack of education and information, a builtin cultural shame surrounding vaginas, a preponderance of false images in the media, and a line of medical professionals taking our signed checks and nodding reassuringly, in five years time, will getting a streamlined vagina be as common as a tummy tuck? As The New View Campaign points out: just as the fight to rid Africa of female genital mutilation is gaining real momentum, the West appears to be picking up the very knives they are putting down. And yes, there are numerous differences between FGM and labiaplasty. But there is also the eerie similarity that both are born of cultural standards imposed upon the women of a society. While our surgeries may be done entirely by choice, one wonders at what point the disconnect occurs between denouncing the use of a scalpel by others and then picking it up ourselves. B


SURVEY SAYS… More than 3,000 BUST readers completed our survey about vaginas. Here are the results, along with some insightful and hilarious comments from the ladies who responded

1. Have you ever examined your vagina with a mirror? Yes: No:

95%

7. Can you identify the different parts of your vagina? (Do you know where your clitoris is, your labia, etc.) Of course: Not exactly:

5%

88% 12%

2. What did you experience when you first looked at yourself? A little wonder, a little disgust: Indifference—no big deal: Wonder—the body is amazing: I never looked: Disgust—it's like an alien:

8. Have you ever watched porn?

44%

Yes: No:

24% 23%

9. How do you generally feel seeing vaginas in that context? Turned on—porn is hot: Amused—porn is ridiculous: Indifferent—porn is boring: Disgusted—porn is degrading: Grossed out—porn vadge is bad:

“Oooh, it’s so pretty! Nobody told me there would be purple.” “I found out my lips are as uneven as my boobs.” “It looked like the inside of my mouth, minus the teeth.” “I thought I was looking at a picture of Mick Jagger.” “I discovered I have a freckle down there!”

Yep: Probably Not:

Nope, it’s part of the body: On occasion: Yes, but for health reasons: Yes, all the time:

53% 47%

“Ain’t no labia like my monster left labia!” “Only if I can use my hands.” “I could definitely win a game of ‘spot my twat.’” “Not only a lineup but a scratch ‘n’ sniff as well.” “Oh, God, what the hell did it do this time? I told it I wasn’t bailing it out of jail again!”

No two are exactly alike: I have no idea: Symmetrical: 3% Small labia and a tiny clitoris: 2% There is an ideal, but not here: 1%

20%

“Mine looks more like a sea anemone that someone poked.” “In between. Like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.” “My girlfriend says it looks like it’s sticking its tongue out!” 5. Are your labia symmetrical or asymmetrical? 41% 40%

74% 20%

12. If you could safely and inexpensively have cosmetic surgery on your vagina, would you? No way! Are you crazy?: I’d consider it: Sure! I’d love to:

88% 9% 3%

13. How would you feel about someone else undergoing vaginal cosmetic surgery?

19%

6. Are you comfortable saying the word vagina? 90% 10%

40% 39% 17% 4%

11. What does a “normal” vagina look like?

46% 34%

Symmetrical: Asymmetrical: I don’t really know:

29% 16% 9% 5%

“It’s kinda gross, but so are toes.” “It’s just like a bad hair day—sometimes you have bad vagina days.” “Yes, once a month!”

4. Would you consider your vadge an innie or an outie? Outie—like a butterfly: Innie—like a walnut: I don't really know:

41%

10. Have you ever felt your vagina was unattractive or “gross”?

3. Do you know your vagina well enough that you could pick it out of a lineup?

Yes! Vagina, vagina, vagina!: Mmmm…no:

94% 6%

5% 4%

Neutral: Somewhat opposed: Adamantly opposed: Somewhat supportive: Adamantly supportive:

41% 26% 25% 5% 3%

“I prefer cunt or pussy. Vagina is for biology class.” “Vagina means ‘sheath for a sword.’ Not female-friendly!” // BUST / 053


Puttin’ on the Blitz! The Yeah Yeah Yeahs shoot the shit with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore about their new tunes, being a nerd, geeking out over TV shows, and hitting the road again BY THURSTON MOORE // PHOTOGRAPHED BY ALIYA NAUMOFF

Nick (left), Brian, and Karen kick up some dust during a break from recording in El Paso, Texas


HEN THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS first started making noise in N.Y.C. back in 2000, it was hard to tell how awesome the band really was. Early reports made the new art-punk trio with the showstopping singer sound very exciting, but there was some skepticism—perhaps the group was just experiencing run-off hype in the wake of the then-exploding Strokes phenomenon (indeed, one of the Strokes wore a YYYs button when they played on Saturday Night Live). But the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ self-titled debut EP, with its raw take on avant-no-wave, post-garage-punk, dance-core action, as well as its badass cover, featuring a close-cropped

W

girl with a gold necklace that said “master” (yow!), immediately dispelled any flavor-of-the-week assumptions. Live, they have an intriguing, beguiling presence. Seeing the band on stage, where Karen O wails and dances, decked out in crazy, colorful costumes, while guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase play with casual, cool gestures that offset her flings and flights, is a mesmeric selling point. On their third full-length, Karen, 30, Chase, 30, and Zinner, 34, push the boundaries of their signature raw, raucous sound. This time around, they’ve tamed their usual urgency with fuzzy synths and dance-y beats, creating an almost blissful vibe. The title, It’s Blitz!, poetically stands as

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a magnificent minimalist hurrah, showcasing Karen O’s lyrical talent⎯the captivating chanteuse has an artful grasp of the cryptic and the straight-to-the-heart line. She’s the one who wrote the epic refrain of “Maps”; “Wait, they don’t love you like I love you” is one of this generation’s most aching and romantic swoons. Their sound has proven to be as distinct as their look, following in the footsteps of the most genuine N.Y.C. rock ‘n’ roll bands through history from the New York Dolls to DNA to Swans to Pussy Galore. And they are supernice people: charming, a little shy, smart, sexy, kind of weird—all the things we freaks move to the city for. When I catch up with Karen on her cell outside their rehearsal space, and the boys by phone at home, the three are in Los Angeles, happy to not be on the East Coast in the dead zone of winter, practicing their new tunes, and gearing up for a full-on tour invasion. [Thurston chats with Karen via phone.] Hey, man, what’s happening? K: Not much, I’m in Burbank right now. We’re doing rehearsals before we leave next week. Are you living out there? K: Yeah, I live in Silver Lake, but it’s pretty close. Do you have lots of friends in L.A.? I have this impression that you have a gang of girls that you maraud around with. K: [laughs] Girls are always the hardest friends for me to make, for whatever reason. I have a couple of girlfriends, but unfortunately, I don’t roll deep with a girl gang. Do you find you have more boys as friends? K: Yeah, definitely. Has that always been the case? K: It started later in high school and then definitely in college. Were you at ease with boys in high school, or were you kind of scared of them? K: I was at ease with the dorky ones. And just generally put off by the popular jocks. Were you a dork in high school? K: I don’t know if I would say dork, but a little bit of a nerd. Were you the kind of girl that boys liked to flirt with? Were you a hot chick? [laughs] K: No, not at all. I was probably pretty invisible to guys for the most part. Are you on Facebook? K: I’m not, no. I definitely have a reluc056 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

tance to get into that whole… Obsessive social lurking? K: [laughs] Yes! Maybe I’m old-school, but it kind of bugs me. People come in and out of your life when you’re ready for them to be there and when it’s time to move on. I feel uncomfortable with the fact that you can access those people that have left at any old time. People I used to hang out with when I was like 22, or high school kids, I kind of like them existing in their own space. Do you watch TV? Who’s your favorite Gossip Girl? K: I’ve only caught that show a couple times, but I can see how addictive it could be. It’s like a soap opera, right? Oh, yeah. A total soap opera and a guilty pleasure beyond belief. [laughs] K: I got roped into the whole Battlestar Galactica thing. The season that’s on right now is the last one—the final chapter of my obsession. It was a pretty major television-show love affair I was having. Do you think you’d ever want to be on a TV show like that? K: It seems like it’d be a lot of fun to be on one of those shows. I get real dorked out over TV stars, more than movie stars. When I was really into the first season of Dexter, I was sitting at a restaurant across from [Christian Camargo and Jennifer Carpenter, two of the show’s stars] in L.A. I had never felt more fan-crazy than I did for the “Ice Truck Killer” and Dexter’s sister. I was so giddy. It must be really difficult to live a normal life, because you’re in people’s homes every night and they fall in love with your character. I get the sense that people think Karen O is gonna break into an acting career. Is there anything to that? K: I’m ping-ponging back and forth with it. My boyfriend now, and in my last relationship, were both directors, and I always thought I’d act in something or make a short film of my own and be in that. But God, I couldn’t think of anything more devastating than auditioning for a TV show or movie role. I’d only do it if I knew I got the part. I was in a couple of plays in high school and it was fun, the exhibitionism and getting into a role. That part is appealing to me. But as I get older, I’m more selfconscious about doing something like that. Who’s this director guy you’re going out with?

K: His name is Barney Clay. He’s an import from London; he’s been living in New York for a couple of years. I like the title of the new record. It’s like a great minimalist poem, which is what rock ‘n’ roll titles should be. K: Yeah, it took me a while to come up with that one. [laughs] The cover [of a hand crushing an egg] looks cool. What’s the story behind it? K: I wanted to work with a New York– based artist. Urs Fischer, who did it, had done a Services album cover that I loved—it’s a woman’s eye with really beautiful, long lashes. But there’s a wad of spit on it. The photo’s a real close-up, so it’s hard to make out at first, but then you realize what it is and it’s fucking bold, man, bold and beautiful. And that’s my whole thing with the cover for this record, to reflect the fact that the sound was gonna be really different from what we’ve done so far. Are there any women you’d like to see on the cover of BUST, besides yourself? [laughs] K: Has Poison Ivy [from the Cramps] ever been on the cover? She’s so insanely badass. Also, one of my favorite women in music is Karin, who does Fever Ray and the Knife. I really like her presence, her vocal charisma. Are you psyched about going out on tour this summer? K: Yeah, I’m a little nervous, but I’m gonna try and ease myself into it. Most of the time, I come out with a bang. That’s the revelation I had today: touring for a year is like running a marathon—you can’t just start sprinting. When’s your birthday? K: November What sign are you? K: Scorpio Do you find that you’re kind of a loner? K: Definitely. People just don’t understand me. I’m misunderstood. [laughs] I think when you’re doing something that has a public profile and you’re still bombing around the city, no matter how much you’re dealing with people, you always feel alone somehow, especially living in N.Y.C. That’s the impression I get seeing you in the city sometimes. K: Yeah, I guess that’s just survival. I know Sonic Youth is touring this summer; hopefully I’ll be able to catch you. That would be great if we crossed


paths, although after you read this interview, you might punch me out. K: Why? Well, you know how magazines misquote and misinterpret. [laughs] K: [laughs] Oh, well, you’d be so dead. [On another phone call, Thurston catches up with the boys.] Hey, Brian. Where are you right now? B: I’m in L.A. Nick and I are sharing a townhouse while we rehearse. Do you miss New York? B: I do, yeah. Are you married? B: No. I had a long-time girlfriend, but we broke up. Well, there are lots of girls in Los Angeles, so that’s a good place to be, girlwise. Congratulations on your album. Where did you guys record it? B: It was recorded in several different studios. The first one was in a converted barn in rural Massachusetts, but the bulk of it was recorded on a pecan farm outside of El Paso, Texas. Cool. Do you like pecans? B: Uh, yes.

So, you were in a good place. [both laugh] Did you write all the songs together as a trio? B: The bulk of the music was written collaboratively. We did a lot of jamming and improvising on this record, which is interesting for us. We would play for 20 minutes or so and then listen back. We would hear a particular moment and within those 15 seconds, we were able to hear the future of the song. Did you have a good time? B: Yeah, in the end I could say that I did. [laughs] But it was lots of ups and downs, and since we were writing in the studio, there are so many dead ends that come with that. Maybe 95 percent of what we did wasn’t used, so there was a constant feeling of trying new ideas. [Thurston and Brian say good-bye before Nick gets on the phone.] So you’re with Brian in L.A.? N: We’re roommates. It’s kind of cute. [laughs] Good work on It’s Blitz! I like the title. Does it come from a song lyric? N: No, Karen came up with it. We always have this three-to-four-month agonizing process, trying to come up with an album title.

This phrase just kind of popped into Karen’s head and seemed to encapsulate all the feelings that we have with the music and the direction with what we’re doing. I noticed that all the tracks on the record are fairly short, three to four minutes. Is that typical? N: I feel like when we were first starting out, it was a real struggle to make something longer than two minutes. And now we’re comfortable in the four-minute mark. There were a couple seven- or eight-minute tracks that we really had to whittle down. So you recorded the album in El Paso? N: Yeah, in the desert right along the Mexican border. It feels like the Wild West out there. Not too many distractions? N: Not any at all. Which was good. They had a pet raccoon at the studio, so that was my distraction. “Oh, play with the raccoon.” [laughs] Is everybody getting along and loving each other? N: Yeah, it’s good. You get to a point where you get past all the bullshit. You’re just happy to make music and get it good and enjoy each other’s company. B // BUST / 057


angry in pink In rural India, a group of women calling themselves the Gulabi Gang are using vigilante justice to make their voices heard in a man’s world By Anuj Chopra // Photographed by Sanjit Das

Sampat Pal [right] trains young recruit Aarti Devi in lathi ďŹ ghting as other Gulabi Gang members look on

058 / BUST // JUNE/JULY


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Sampat Pal [front row, right side] with members of her Gang in the village of Thanayal

22-year-old Gang member Aarti Devi 060 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

45-year-old Gang member Bhagwati Devi


O

N A BROILING afternoon in Atarra, India, a throng of nearly two dozen women, all nattily uniformed in candy-pink saris, gather beneath the cool shade of a gnarled banyan tree. They listen raptly as a sinewy but robust woman—whom they hail as “commander”—stands in the middle of the group, delivering what seems like a military briefing. “If your husband beats you for stepping out of the house, you firmly tell him you are not his slave,” she thunders, her face beet-red. “You tell him that he should sit at home and take care of the kids.” All heads nod in agreement. The “commander” is Sampat Pal, a 46-year-old woman with an eighth-grade education who heads an all-female, pink-sari-clad vigilante group that seeks to strike fear into the hearts of “wrongdoers.” Pal started the Gulabi Gang (in Hindi, gulabi means pink) three years ago to confront those who continuously commit grave social injustices against the poor, particularly women. At first a localized group in the village of Banda, an impoverished and lawless district in the rural interiors of Uttar Pradesh, the Gang has since grown to include thousands of women across 600 villages, all of whom informally joined up and communicate through wordof-mouth, showing up whenever and wherever they hear their presence is needed. In the past two years, these women have gone after wife-beaters and rapists with lathis (traditional Indian bamboo batons used by Indian police to scare off crowds), taken up cudgels (heavy sticks) against corrupt law enforcement, and, in

ily finally telephoned Pal, even though she was hundreds of miles away. Moved by the family’s pleas, Pal called Bulandshahar’s superintendent of police, though she was sure she had no influence in that area. “To my astonishment,” she says, “I did not need to introduce myself. He had heard stories about how I had shaken up the officials in my district.” Fearing that he would be mobbed by a group of pink-clad women, the superintendent immediately registered the case and promised to investigate. The Gang’s unconventional ways have ignited the imaginations of Banda’s locals, who widely hail the women as heroes for giving a voice to the voiceless in this feudalistic region. Banda is among the poorest districts in India, and over one-fifth of its 1.6 million citizens across 600 villages lie at the bottom rung of India’s caste hierarchy. In this socially fractious and inequitable part of the world, caste defines identity. Lower castes have been socially ostracized and, in many cases, treated like untouchables at the hands of upper-caste landlords. “There is a pervasive feeling of helplessness here,” Pal says. “A collective belief that fighting back is just not possible. But that is slowly changing.” For Pal, the seeds of rebellion against an oppressive social order were sown young. Though she started school when she was four, her parents forced her to quit when she was nine. She protested by scribbling on the village walls and floors. Her parents finally relented, sending her back to school until she was forcibly married at 12. That year she went to live with her husband, an

“We function in a man's world, where men make all the rules. Our fight is against injustice.” this overlooked rural landscape where bureaucracy only makes life more difficult, have even goaded apathetic government officials into action by publicly shaming them. Last year, for instance, the Gang unearthed corruption in the local public food distribution system. A government-run shop was siphoning off tons of grain that was meant to be handed out free to the poor and selling it on the black market—until the night neighboring Gulabi Gang members, alerted by Pal through a messenger, stopped two trucks loaded with grain. The trucks were headed for the market, where the shop owner intended to sell the grain and pocket the profits. But despite threats from two knife-wielding drivers, the women managed to deflate the truck’s tires and confiscate their keys. The pink vigilantes then successfully pressured their local government to seize the grain and properly distribute it. “We function in a man’s world, where men make all the rules,” Pal says. “Our fight is against injustice.” This fight takes on an added urgency for Pal when she is called upon to aid abused women. In 2007, for example, a girl was raped by her landlord in an impoverished town in rural western Uttar Pradesh called Bulandshahar. The police in this area, paid off by the landlord, refused to register a case against him, despite the fact that the girl’s family lobbied tirelessly for his arrest. Exasperated, the fam-

ice-cream vendor substantially older than Pal, and at 13 she had her first of 5 children. But she was too ambitious to remain hidden behind the traditional Hindu ghunghat veil all her life or blend into a patriarchal society that still locks women away into a lifetime of subservience to their husbands and often requires the quiet endurance of horrific domestic abuse. Moved by the plight of women in her area, Pal began engaging with local non-governmental organizations to combat common social ills like child marriages, dowry issues, and domestic abuse from alcoholic husbands. But she realized quickly that dealing with the red tape surrounding bureaucratic women’s-aid programs in India made her efforts slow and ineffective. Complicating matters further, her region’s staunch patriarchal system seeks to hobble the will of women, demanding that they stay home, and Pal’s husband was strongly opposed to the idea of her going out, especially unveiled. But she says, her “zeal changed his attitude.” Still, Pal’s impatience with the ineffective channels of traditional activism pushed her to become more radical and emboldened her to form her own fiery pink vigilante group, run solely by women. First dedicated only to the fight for the emancipation of women, the Gang’s mission later broadened to include combating corruption and graft. Since its inception three years ago, thousands of // BUST / 061


The Gulabi Gang marches to raise awareness about women's rights in the village of Thanayal

women have come forward to join Pal’s pink sorority, and many are victims of domestic abuse and violence. There is no registration process to join the Gang. Once word of Pal’s efforts reaches their village (either by phone or messenger and then by word-of-mouth), women just need to don a pink sari to become a part of the Gang. They aren’t bound to attend every operation Pal orchestrates. But most pay close attention to what she advises and look up to her as their “commander.” For Chuniya Devi, a diminutive 30-year-old mother of 6, joining the Gulabi Gang meant learning to fight her husband’s violent, alcohol-fueled outbursts. But observing Pal, she says, was enough to inspire her to challenge her man’s abusive ways. On the afternoon her leader summoned her under the banyan tree, she was about to leave home, when her husband, Seevan, a broad-shouldered, middle-aged man, blocked the entrance, fuming with visible rage to see her leave the house without shrouding her face behind a ghunghat. “Don’t you have any shame going 062 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

out uncovered?” he barked. “You don’t care if men gawk at you?” Chuniya Devi’s face puckered. She tottered toward her husband to belch a fitting reply: “Don’t men gawk at me when I go out in the fields?” referring to the fact that women are not expected to cover up while doing the necessary manual labor often expected of those with farm land to tend. Dazed, Seevan stepped aside and let her pass. Under normal circumstances, this kind of exchange would have surely provoked a beating for Devi. But though obviously incensed by being spoken to this way by his wife, Seevan, like other husbands in the district, is now too fearful of being stormed by the Gang to physically retaliate. Before she joined the Gulabi Gang, Devi acknowledges that she dreaded talking back to her husband, but she now says confidently, “People often spout nonsense about the need to lock a woman in a veil. The more you suffer silently, I realized, the more your oppressor will oppress you.” After months of emboldening women

to stand up against their husbands without fear, beating up wife-beaters, forcing officials to go after rapists, and compelling men to take back wives who were kicked out of their homes for other women, a realization dawned upon Pal that their fight should not just be against abusive spouses. Corruption, she says, is a “cancer” that is eviscerating their economy. And bribery, she adds, has made it all the more difficult to bolster her country’s flagging infrastructure. In fact, Transparency International, a watchdog group headquartered in Berlin that addresses worldwide corruption, estimated that Indians, particularly the poor, paid over 200 billion rupees (about $4.5 billion) in bribes in 2005 just to get basic needs met that are legitimately due to them. To illustrate this point, Pal reminisces about how locals in Atarra desperately pleaded for years with the local administration to pave one of the village’s deeply rutted dirt roads. But their requests incited no response. “They will not act until their


Children follow Sampat Pal through Thanayal

palms are greased,” Pal says. “The system reeks of corruption.” In 2006, the pink-clad women took it upon themselves to get the job done. They swarmed the office of the local district magistrate, G.C. Pandey, with the relevant sheaf of papers, and Pandey was held down and had his face smeared with black paint in an act of public shaming. He finally relented, signing the papers and authorizing the road to be built. The villagers were jubilant. After the attack on Pandey, Pal was formally charged with 11 offenses, including rioting, assaulting a government employee, and obstructing an officer in the discharge of duty. In true Indian fashion, however, trials drag on indefinitely, and Pal has spent the years since the incident out on bail, engaging in more vigilante justice while her criminal charges remain outstanding. “She is a bold woman,” says Ashutosh Kumar, Banda’s superintendent of police. “But she works like a kangaroo court.” Kumar admits he admires her grit but says her gang is under suspicion for

being communist or Maoist sympathizers. Pal disregards such allegations, though, calling them a conspiracy against her. “To face down men in this part of the world, you have to use force,” she says. She concedes it’s her reputation for getting things done that scares officials into action, so she’s better able to “get justice done without using force.” Increasingly, she’s being called upon by far-flung villages for help—very often, by men. “Come help us,” is the SOS message she receives on her cell phone on a recent afternoon from Kalyanpur, an impoverished village in the neighboring Chitrakoot district. Apparently, villagers’ requests for work, under the rural employment guarantee, have fallen on deaf ears for months. Under this ambitious antipoverty project launched by the Indian government in 2005, the program promises 1 member from every rural Indian family at least 100 days of employment. The work usually involves building infrastructure; the government is required to pay a daily wage, and

everyone is entitled to it. But the program is plagued by corruption, and very often, officials concoct false employment registers and swallow the money. In this case, Kalyanpur’s villagers are legally entitled to the 100 days of work, but the program isn’t being implemented, so they worry officials have siphoned off the money. And that’s why Pal has been called in to help. Pal dashes to Kalyanpur, this time leaving her pink-clad platoon behind. After hearing the villagers’ grievances, she dials the district magistrate’s number. He is busy in a meeting. Getting through to officials can be difficult. And it’s widely understood that the district magistrate won’t talk to a “nobody.” Pal bites her lip and waits. But moments later, her phone trills. It’s the magistrate himself. She murmurs something into the phone and seconds later, she hangs up. Turning to the gathered villagers, she assures them in the same powerful voice that transformed her in a few short years from a child bride into a feared and respected gang leader, “Your work will be done.” B // BUST / 063


BY CALLIE WATTS PHOTOGRAPHED BY ANGELA BOATWRIGHT // MAKEUP BY CANDICE FORNESS

Our favorite sexual-outlaw rapper talks about feminist art, dressing like food, and why Beyoncé is “a big slut”

SPECIAL THANKS TO HELENA'S WIG SHOP; ILLUSTRATED BY YOSWADI KRUTKLOM

G

EARING UP TO talk to Peaches, I expected her to be just as eager to ramble on about pushing gender and sexual boundaries as she was when BUST first interviewed her, back in 2006. I just knew we’d hit it off, don nude suits, and run off into the sunset—rapping in tandem with our pubes blowing in the breeze. Sadly, it didn’t go like that at all. The first thing Peaches did when I approached her in the makeup chair at BUST HQ was apologize. She said she’d been battling a headache for four days, and the pain was making her less than chatty. I got her some water and Tylenol, and then we launched into an awkward conversation that involved me asking questions and Peaches responding with half-formed answers that sometimes trailed off into a strained “Oh, never mind.” But somehow, I was able to pull a few remarks out of her, despite her apparent indifference to everything but the throbbing in her skull. Peaches released her first of five albums, Fancypants Hoodlum, under her given name, Merrill Nisker, in 1995. But it was 2000’s The Teaches of Peaches that blasted her into the spotlight as the face of electroclash—a music style that blends elements of new wave with electronic dance tracks. While the electroclash scene quickly faded, however, Peaches maintained her girl-centric audience. She also kept churning out more albums brimming with her signature beats and raunchy raps that explode sexual taboos with comic brilliance. In 2003, for example, her album Fatherfucker’s standout track, “Shake Yer Dix,” invited boys to jiggle their goods right along with the ladies while raising the question, “Are the motherfuckers ready for the fatherfuckers?” In her lyrics, everyone gets sexualized, and every role gets reversed. Now 42 and showing no signs of slowing down, the bawdy Canadian-born, Berlin-based shock rocker is on the cusp of

releasing her latest collection, I Feel Cream. And at this point in her career, she seems accustomed to being referred to with terms like “uberskank” and “debauched diva” by the press. But she doesn’t see herself as the only horndog on the pop charts. “You can look at any Top 10 song from the 1950s through tomorrow, and eight and a half of those songs will be about sex,” she says, blowing off her tawdry rep. And when asked why people like Beyoncé can sing about sex without being labeled a slut, Peaches doesn’t hesitate to respond. “She is a slut. She’s a big slut,” she insists. “[Beyoncé] gets away with it by calling herself Sasha Fierce because she’s too religious to talk about sex. But she can talk about sex when she’s Sasha Fierce.” Peaches, on the other hand, is expected to talk about sex. For instance, the liner notes of her 2006 album, Impeach My Bush, featured a backlit photo in which her pubic hair can be seen curling out of her hot pants. The shot prompted fans to start sending her similar pics snapped of Peaches at her shows, which then lead to an online gallery of illuminated pube photos. But does the queen of crotch shots think she could pick her goodies out of a lineup? “I don’t know, there’s too much hair around it,” she muses. But the question reminds her of another famous crotch series. “Do you know Judy Chicago?” she asks. “She was a feminist artist in the ’70s who represented women she respected by making a dinner table [in a piece called ‘The Dinner Party.’] She made plates out of what she thought all her favorite women in feminist history’s vaginas would look like.” I’m sure if Chicago made a plate for Peaches, there would be a hair on her dish. In the car on the way to our wig-shop photo shoot, I busted out an ancient herbal remedy for my subject’s headache, and all I can say is, what a difference some shake makes! After a few puffs, Peaches cheered up substantially, and I finally got a glimmer of the woman I’d been hoping for. We even bonded over wearing food-shaped clothing. When I told her I was making a cheeseburger outfit for my friends who like to dress up as mascots, she revealed that she already owns a hot dog costume. “I’m gonna be part of your gang!” she exclaimed. “You’re going to be the cheeseburger, and I’m going to be the hot dog.” We may not have frolicked off into the sunset together, but she totally wants to be my wiener. B // BUST / 065


Country crooners Nikki Lane, Nora Jane Struthers, and the Weight’s Joseph Plunket model the easygoing threads of summer on the dusty trails of Nashville PHOTOGRAPHED BY GLYNIS SELINA ARBAN STYLING BY LEANNE FORD // HAIR AND MAKEUP MEGAN THOMPSON

066 / BUST // JUNE/JULY


ON NIKKI: SHIRT BY URBAN RENEWAL, WWW.URBANOUTFITTERS.COM; NECKLACE, VINTAGE; SHORTS BY DOLLHOUSE, WWW.DOLLHOUSE.COM. OPPOSITE PAGE: ON NORA (LEFT): SWEATER BY I.D.I., WWW.EYEDEYE.COM; JEANS BY MARC JACOBS, WWW.MARCJACOBS.COM; PLATFORMS BY BETSEY JOHNSON, WWW.BETSEYJOHNSON.COM. ON NIKKI (CENTER): DRESS BY 55DSL, WWW.55DSL.COM; BELT, STYLIST’S OWN; SHOES BY JESSICA SIMPSON, WWW. JESSICASIMPSONCOLLECTION.COM. ON JOSEPH (RIGHT): SHIRT AND BELT, VINTAGE; JEANS BY JBRAND, WWW.JBRANDJEANS.COM; SHOES, JOSEPH’S OWN.

// BUST / 067


ON NIKKI: JEAN JACKET BY SEVEN, WWW.7FORALLMANKIND.COM; BUTTON-UP SHIRT BY MATIX, WWW.MATIXCLOTHING.COM; JEANS BY J.CREW, WWW.JCREW.COM; BOOTS, NIKKI’S OWN.

068 / BUST // FEB/MAR


TOP LEFT: ON NIKKI: GLASSES BY GAS MONEY GLASSES, WWW. GASMONEYGLASSES.COM; SHIRT BY 55DSL; VEST BY DOLLHOUSE; SWIMWEAR BY POKO PANO, WWW. POKOPANO.COM; BRACELETS, NIKKI’S OWN. TOP RIGHT: ON NORA: “THE BAND” SHIRT BY HIGHWAY CHILD, WWW.HWCSHOP.COM; NECKLACE BY MANY WILL SEE, WWW.HAUDREY. COM; BELT, NORA’S OWN; SHORTS BY ROXY, WWW.ROXY.COM. BOTTOM: ON NORA (LEFT): NECKLACE, STYLIST’S OWN; SHIRT BY ELEMENT, WWW. ELEMENTSKATEBOARDS.COM/ CLOTHES; JEANS, NORA’S OWN.ON NIKKI (CENTER): NECKLACE, STYLIST’S OWN; BIKINI TOP BY POKO PANO; TANK TOP BY H&M, WWW.HM.COM; BELT, VINTAGE; SHORTS BY ROXY. ON JOSEPH (RIGHT): SHIRT BY WRANGLER, WWW. WRANGLER.COM; JEANS BY VOLCOM, WWW.VOLCOM.COM.

// BUST / 069


ON NORA: GLASSES BY RAY-BAN, WWW.RAYBAN.COM; BIKINI TOP BY POKO PANO; CARDIGAN BY URBAN OUTFITTERS, WWW. URBANOUTFITTERS.COM; JEANS BY LEVI’S, WWW.LEVI.COM.

070 / BUST // FEB/MAR

// BUST / 070


AMELIA CAMISOLE BY FREMONT, WWW.FREMONT APPARELCO.COM; SILVER ID BRACELET AND “IN THE CHIPS” NECKLACE BY THEA GRANT, WWW. THEAGRANT.COM; MULTICOLOR ROPE BRACELET BY ALYSSA NORTON, WWW.ALYSSANORTON.COM; BELT BY AMERICAN APPAREL, WWW.AMERICANAPPAREL.NET.

ON NIKKI: DRESS BY 55DSL; BELT, STYLIST’S OWN.

071 / BUST // APR/MAY

// BUST / 071


AMELIA CAMISOLE BY FREMONT; “IN THE CHIPS” NECKLACE BY THEA GRANT.

072 / BUST // FEB/MAR

ON NIKKI (LEFT): NECKLACE BY MANY WILL SEE; SHIRT-DRESS BY VOLCOM; SLIP, VINTAGE. ON NORA (CENTER): SHIRT BY VOLCOM; JEANS BY LEVI’S; BOOTS, VINTAGE; BRACELETS, STYLIST’S OWN. ON JOSEPH (RIGHT): SHIRT, VINTAGE; JEANS BY LEVI’S; SHOES BY CONVERSE, WWW.CONVERSE.COM.


ON NORA (LEFT): TOP BY KELLY NISHIMOTO, WWW.KELLYNISHIMOTO.COM; JEANS BY SEVEN. ON NIKKI (RIGHT): T-SHIRT BY WORN FREE, WWW.WORNFREE.COM; LACE VEST BY URBAN OUTFITTERS; PANTS BY KELLY NISHIMOTO.

// BUST / 073


the bust guide

MUSIC

A CAMP Colonia (Nettwerk) A Camp, the trio composed of the Cardigans songstress Nina Persson, Nathan Larson (Persson’s husband and ex–Shudder to Think guitarist), and Niclas Frisk (Atomic Swing), follows its self-titled debut with Colonia. Lighthearted, whimsical, and featuring both orchestral composition and music-box delicacy, the album shines with the presence of several American indierock talents. Guest appearances include James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Kevin March (Dambuilders, Guided by Voices), Joan Wasser (Joan as Police Woman), and Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse). “The Crowning” and “Stronger than Jesus” both carry a straight pop sound, while “Here Are Many Wild Animals” and “My America” have an Americana-meets–doo-wop vibe. The album has darker moments, too— Persson’s butterscotch vocals pour over a brooding orchestral interlude in “It’s Not Easy to Be Human Anymore,” as she begs that her sorrowful lyrics be heard. With songs this sweet, we’re all ears. [REGINA PANIS]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL SCHMELLING

AU REVOIR SIMONE Still Night, Still Light (Our Secret Record Company) Still Night, Still Light marks the third full-length from Brooklyn’s Au Revoir Simone and comes self-released on the trio’s aptly named label, Our Secret Record Company. Stylistically similar to previous releases, Still Night, Still Light continues to illustrate the all-keyboard, all-girl group’s juxtaposition of ethereal mystique and pop savvy. Their lullaby-tinged sound paired with the sweet vocals of frontwoman Heather D’Angelo make the album’s vibe neither upbeat nor melancholy, yet somehow both at once. Standout tracks include the cheerful synth-pop of “Shadows,” with its repetitive drumbeat and irresistible hook, and “Knight of Wands,” in which the ladies create a bittersweet stream of melody. Despite the synthetic nature of the music, Au Revoir Simone manages to create a genuine warmth that lets you lose yourself in the album’s lonely, dreamy soundscape. [ANDIE RISHOI]

sonic youth THE ETERNAL (MATADOR) SONIC YOUTH JUST keeps getting better with age. On The Eternal, Youth’s first album since breaking from a 15-year contract with Geffen Records (which, despite the presence of corporate overlords, produced some of the group’s best studio work), the 28-year-old band sounds energized and inspired, returning to its No Wave roots. Written in Northampton, MA—where Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon have relocated—and recorded in New Jersey, The Eternal is nonetheless as noisy and urgent as New York gridlock. From the opening hardcore of “Sacred Trickster” to the walled dissonance of “Anti-Orgasm,” the album makes sonic odes to downtown roots, with hints of Dead C, MC5, and Krautrock favorite Neu! all at once. There are the requisite obscure references, too—this is, after all, a Sonic Youth album—with nods to ’60s model/activist Uschi Obermaier, French painter Yves Klein, and New York beat poetry within the first 10 minutes. Even Britney Spears is on Sonic Youth’s mind, with Gordon singing, “A tough cross to bear/Oops no underwear,” on “Malibu Gas Station.” There probably isn’t a hit single here, but new label Matador isn’t looking for another “Kool Thing” or “100%” anyway. The fact is, there’s not a bad track on The Eternal, which proves to be a solid set for a band that keeps churning them out, one youthful riff at a time. [DYLAN STABLEFORD] // BUST / 075


the guide MUSIC ZEE AVI Self-titled (Brushfire) If Zee Avi has a “Bitter Heart,” as the first single off her debut album’s lyrics suggest, then she masquerades it well behind simple folksy-bluesy songs that are sweet and sunny while never cloying. The Borneo-born 23-year-old singer/songwriter, who deservedly caught her record label’s ear by posting videos on YouTube, sounds like Jolie Holland’s younger sis, but with less of an old-timey warble and more of a smoky Billie Holiday smoothness. Finger snaps and a jazzy, thrumming bass line on “Poppy” take the lyrical sting out of a song about a heroinaddicted ex; the foot-tapping ukulele strums and subdued horns of “Just You and Me” will have you putting the “bada-pa-bum” chorus on repeat; and on “Kantoi,” Avi sings in both English and Malay, complementing the uke’s island vibe. Besides a couple slow-jam snoozers, it’s hard to find flaws in Avi’s addicting ditties, which temper her melancholy lyrics with just the right amount of sugar. [LISA BUTTERWORTH]

CAMERA OBSCURA My Maudlin Career (4AD) Bands from Glasgow, Scotland, excel at adorable music, whether it’s the delicate cynicism of a Belle and Sebastian track, a love-scorned ballad by Teenage Fanclub, or the retro-pop of Camera Obscura. The latter’s fourth full-length, My Maudlin Career, finds its six members culling from previous albums, most notably by blending the nostalgia-soaked softness of Underachievers Please Try Harder and the exuberant organ-led melodies of Let’s Get Out of This Country. “French Navy,” the record’s opener, starts things off really big, showcasing the band’s trademark witticisms both lyrically and musically; “Swans” picks things up midway with xylophones and bouncy guitars. The rhythm of the album is what truly sets it apart from past releases—there’s never a moment that feels too slow or too derived. Rather, each track soothes and excites in one fell swoop. Just listen to the album’s closers, “Other Towns and Cities” and 076 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

“Honey in the Sun,” and you’ll realize why a Camera Obscura album can almost always cure life’s tediousness. [MELYNDA FULLER]

CHILDREN Hard Times Hanging at the End of the World (Kemado) From the sound of Children’s debut album, this Brooklyn-based trio could’ve stepped out of a time machine, straight from 1984; Hard Times Hanging at the End of the World is pure old-school thrash, with all the propulsive purpose and venomous fury that implies. Sonically sparse, there isn’t enough fat on these guys’ music to grease a cookie sheet, and even despite the extended running time of some tracks, they don’t waste a note. Opener “Advanced Mind Control” is an epic death trip that rushes forward on the wings of Skyler Spohn and Jonny “Rad” Ollsin’s dueling axes as Adam Bennati lays down tracks with his steady rhythms. It’s got as many movements as classical music, but without any of the pomp. The title track subtly apes Metallica’s classic “Battery,” with an extended Spanish guitar opening before full-on headbanging riffs explode. Listening to Children is like running for your life— terrifying and exhilarating all at once. [TOM FORGET]

JARVIS COCKER Further Complications (Rough Trade) To experience Jarvis Cocker live is to see what was once known as “star power,” a heavenly essence made obsolete by the American Idol set of current pop music. Fans of the former Pulp frontman will love Further Complications, an album that finally captures the larger-than-life stuff of a true soul man. There are so many flavors to savor here: “Homewrecker!” sounds like vintage Iggy and the Stooges in drag, “I Told You Twice (Leftovers)” is a Stax Records–era showstopper, and “Caucasian Blues” is a stomping romp featuring delightfully unhinged vocals. With recording ace Steve Albini (who’s lent his studio chops to such varied artists as Nirvana and Joanna Newsom) in tow, this glammed-

up collection is the most winning thing Cocker has produced since the nascent days of Pulp. In the fragmented state of the music industry today, we must cling to true talents like Jarvis Cocker with all our might. [ERICK HAIGHT]

THE DEAD WEATHER Horehound (Third Man) Imagine leaving a dive bar on a steamy, hot Texas night with a boy you just met and will probably never see again, and you’ve captured the vibe of epic supergroup the Dead Weather. This garagerock mishmash of the White Stripes (Jack White), the Kills (Alison Mosshart), the Raconteurs (Jack Lawrence), and Queens of the Stone Age (Dean Fertita) is pure seduction, from the blues-tinged sleaze of Fertita’s guitars to Mosshart’s sultry growl. Even White’s rhythms— yep, he’s on drums this time—exude dirty, sweaty sex. Tracks like the sludgy “I Cut Like a Buffalo” and dark-synthfilled “Bone House” pulse and explode over lusty slow jams “So Far From Your Weapon” and “Rocking Horse,” erupting into a screamy climax just when you think the tension will kill you. Sure, this sort of Led Zeppelin–evoking, sensual blues/garage rock has been done before, and by Jack White nonetheless. But Horehound is so raw and visceral that you can’t help but fall instantly in love. Or lust, as the case may be. [MOLLIE WELLS]

THE ETTES Danger Is (Take Root) “I’m just getting fucking warmed up,” Ettes frontwoman Coco growls into the mic on the last of two live songs off the band’s latest EP, Danger Is. The Ettes manage to embody the vintage-chic girl groups of yesteryear while nodding to the late ’70s New York punk scene, resulting in a visually stunning group that oozes sensuality. Coco’s vocals have that combination of vulnerability and raw female power we’ve come to love in powerhouses such as Beth Ditto and Karen O. As she purrs, “Are you bored/Let’s die together” on “Lo and Behold,” bandmates Jem and Poni pound their bass and drums, respectively, providing deep,

plodding rhythms that build into a barrage of rock ‘n’ roll cacophony. From the delicious marriage of Coco’s fuzzpedal and ’60s-inspired rhythmic piano on the first track, “No Home,” it’s clear that the Ettes are a force to be reckoned with. [ERICA VARLESE]

FLY GIRLS! B-BOYS BEWARE: Revenge of the Super Female Rappers (Soul Jazz) When New York-bred teenager Tanya Winley dropped her tough-as-nails “Vicious Rap” in 1980, she made musical history by becoming the first female to go on to make a rap record. Thirty years later, this cool double-disc collection gives an overdue shout out to those who have rocked the mic—from Tanya to Missy—with a woman’s touch. Some of the names, like Roxanne Shanté, MC Lyte, and Queen Latifah (who reps with 1989’s supremely confident “Ladies First”) will be familiar, but what makes this anthology way dope is checking out the fly girls who have flown under the radar. Case in point, Dimples D’s 1983 track “Sucker DJs” is a funky-fresh answer to Run DMC’s “Sucker MCs”; Bahamadia’s “Paper Thin” is smartly crafted; and the inclusion of old-school trio Sequence totally rules. Sure, there are some omissions (hello, where is Salt-N-Pepa?), but it’s hard to hate when there’s so much to love. [AMY LINDEN]

GIRL IN A COMA Trio B.C. (Blackheart) Joan Jett sure can pick ’em. Girl In a Coma, the darling of Jett’s label, Blackheart Records, makes music that moves (unlike an actual girl in a coma). This San Antonio–based trio of ladies has a sound that is both rebellious rockabilly and guitar-heavy punk, with a touch of the Pixies and a dash of Morrissey, all wrapped in a bluesy Texan blanket. Their second album, Trio B.C., shot me right back into the alt-rock ’90s and is taking care of unfinished business. Nina Diaz’s awesome vocals are pristine, from the tight wailings of “Baby Boy” to the lovelorn “El Monte,” in which she sings, “I wanna suck all of your toes.” Ballsy and bra-


the guide MUSIC zen, the whole album is bitchin’, y’all. If you’re looking for some boot-stomping rock, pop this in your car stereo, throw on your best assless chaps, and I’ll see you at the club. [WHITNEY DWIRE]

GRIZZLY BEAR Veckatimest (Warp) Experimental foursome Grizzly Bear is back with a third full-length, sure to be a hipster favorite. Veckatimest finds the spectral vocals of frontman Ed Droste more daring than on the Brooklynites’ previous efforts, and from the first track “Southern Point,” it’s apparent that he’s flexing his showier troubadour side. Songs like “Ready, Able” start out as standard indie-rock jams before blossoming with intricate orchestration. “Two Weeks” steps the beat up but remains true to the fantastic sounds from the four-

some’s wildly influential Yellow House. “While You Wait for the Others” posits a nice argument about wasted youth, with eerie echoes over postpubescent, angstpop guitar chords. Produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, this album has the decadent vibe of guitarist Daniel Rossen’s side project, Department of Eagles, but with perhaps more lavishness. Taylor mimics the escalating instrumentation not unlike famed soul producer Phil Spector. These song structures, coupled with Droste’s dreamy voice, amount to what sounds like a fey pop-opera full of ethereal crescendos and mystic sensibilities. [CHRIS STIEGLER]

GRACE JONES Hurricane (MSI: Wall Of Sound) When I was growing up, being provocative didn’t mean going on Letterman

{heavy rotation}

DIRTY PROJECTORS Bitte Orca (DOMINO) EVERY BOAT NEEDS an anchor for stability, just as it needs a sail for guidance. On the USS Dirty Projectors, that anchor has been Jeff Buckley–style wailer David Longstreth, who formed the Brooklyn-based band in 2003 and has been its sole constant component. With Bitte Orca, Dirty Projectors’ fifth full-length, Longstreth has found a sail to push him into much murkier, and even ’80s-meets-’90s dance-inspired waters, with four principal members and a new complexity in sound. Free-jazz guitar and hot downbeats twist the melodies throughout, as Longstreth and his crew hauntingly croon, chant, and cry against the tune. New female vocals add fullness to the string-laden anti-love song “Two Doves” and then funk things up before they get too saccharine on the amazing dance groove, “Stillness Is the Move.” This ship may turn out to be a party boat after all! Bottom line is, with Bitte Orca Dirty Projectors will be going far. [MARY-LOUISE PRICE]

078 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

and saying “fuck” seven times or showing one’s va-jay-jay on the Internet. It meant pushing boundaries as a visionary whose work would hopefully stand the test of time. Grace Jones, iconic model/actress/musician of the ’80s, certainly embodies the latter and has returned after 20 years of silence with Hurricane. This album finds ice queen Jones melting a bit and sharing some of her most introspective lyrics yet. “I’m Crying (Mother’s Tears)” and “William’s Blood,” which features a gospel choir, muse on her mother’s life. Of course, Jones’ hardass side is brilliantly demonstrated on “Corporate Cannibal,” “Devil in My Life,” and the title track. Appearances by Brian Eno, Tricky, Ivor Guest, and her old rhythm section, Sly & Robbie, take her postpunk/reggae/dub sound and update it for the post-Portishead generation. Grace Jones is back, bitches, and she’s still amazing. [MICHAEL LEVINE]

MORTON VALENCE Bob and Veronica Ride Again (Bastard) Electronic mixedgender Brit-pop outfit Morton Valence defies a singular comparison on its U.S. debut, Bob and Veronica Ride Again, which bounces from surging, swinging choruses to lazy lounge grooves, channeling the likes of Grandaddy, Beck, Calexico, and plenty of others. The album darts from epic pop anthems to precious heartfelt ballads, building a subtly diverse collection of mix-tape bait in the process. Aside from the occasional melodramatic flourish, Bob and Veronica Ride Again delivers. The second track, “Chandelier,” with its delicate music-box accents of bells and twinkling keys, manages a simultaneously catchy and chilly sound. The album’s closer, “Go To Sleep,” becomes a simple, minor-key lullaby, featuring frontwoman Anne Gilpin’s breathy, sullen vocals. These two tracks nicely book-end an album that overall, serves as the perfect lonely bedtime accompaniment. [ERIN GRIFFITH]

NITE JEWEL Good Evening (Human Ear) Making good on the promise of her

shimmering single “What Did He Say” (originally released on au courant Jersey dance label, Italians Do It Better), Nite Jewel’s transcendent debut LP, Good Evening, is the rarest of the rare—a lo-fi lounge gem sure to be lauded by jaded obscuristas and Hypercolor–loving scenesters alike. The brainchild of multidisciplinary Los Angeles artist and sometime Occidental philosophy student Ramona Gonzalez (joined on tour by partner in crime Emily Jane), Nite Jewel is a particularly apt performance moniker, because the songs glow like luminescent pearls from the deep, dark, velvety L.A. underground. Recorded entirely on eight-track cassette yet refreshingly devoid of throwback overkill, the sunny, slithering Moog-on-Mars funk of “Want You Back” recalls DIY freestyle, while the slow grind of “Chimera” sounds like a vintage track taped underwater. Night birds in 24-hour vegan cafes and storefront galleries rejoice—the soundtrack to your summer is here. [ROBIN HOLLY]

IGGY POP Préliminaires (Astralwerks) Upon reading the press release that stated the Godfather of Punk’s new album, Préliminaires, is a collection inspired by a Michel Houellebecq novel that “gets dangerously near jazz,” I almost wept. Seriously, Iggy? A French, literary, jazz experiment? WTF? However, when I gave the disc a spin, I found that it’s actually pretty cool. Préliminaires—which includes three French selections—is bookended by two versions of “Les Feuilles Mortes,” a track that showcases Pop reading seductively in French before breaking into a smooth croon. “I Want to Go to the Beach” is another quiet-yet-potent standout. Featuring a hypnotic piano accompaniment to the lyrical lament “I want to go to the beach/I don’t care if it’s decadent/I don’t know where my spirit went/but that’s all right,” the song will make you want to cry or fuck or possibly both. But the set list isn’t all slow jams. The mid-album rocker “Nice to Be Dead,” with its thudding drums and growling vocals, would be welcome in any underground club the world over. Even when getting wildly experimental, Iggy Pop can’t help but embody the soul of punk. [EMILY REMS]


// BUST / 079


the guide

MUSIC {INTERVIEW}

sin city GETTING A HEALTHY DOSE OF TORI AMOS

Those are some fabulous shoes. I am a shoe freak. I do worry as I get older and older, “Am I going to be able to sport this footwear when I’m 70, 80?” You’ll just sit down more. Everyone needs fabulous shoes. We do. Especially now—these are really tough times. I think the new record reflects that. I think people are being pushed to a place they haven’t been pushed to in years. I’ve been reading that a lot of the jobs lost have been men’s jobs, so women have had to take on even more responsibility. For so long we’ve equated men with being providers, a powerful trait. So if they’re not providing, how’s that going to affect their self-worth? One side of the partnership is feeling as if their whole life is valueless, and then the relationship gets strain put on it. I was seeing this everywhere during my travels. People are coming to terms with the idea that the world 080 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

as we know it is gone. We’ve associated money with power, so when you start to have very little money, do you feel like you have no power? Do you need to demean somebody else to feel powerful? Right now, in this new world, women are carrying a different sort of weight. A song that really struck me on your new album was “Police Me”—it made me think of women who monitor and disparage other women. We have enough to deal with; I wonder why we do this to each other? That’s a really good question. The word “feminine” is key for me. The intolerance that the feminist movement had—where was the compassion? Sometimes the meaning behind the word “feminist” doesn’t have any of the great feminine ideals in it. Nurturing, beauty: they became pejoratives. Who ever thought that we wanted to play the game like men do? I’m attracted to the sins of the patriarchy—how they have been able to control the masses for all this time—sort of like an investigative reporter. [ SARAH JAFFE ]

PHOTOGRAPHED BY KAREN COLLINS

SINCE 1992, TORI AMOS has been making unflinching music that defies categorization. The 45-year-old singer/songwriter has earned legions of devoted fans with her soaring vocals, poetic lyrics, and frank sexuality. As the economic crisis has us anxious about the future, her haunting, perceptive music has never seemed timelier. Abnormally Attracted to Sin (Universal Republic), her 10th studio record, is a darkly sexy album loaded with heavy questions about spirituality, love, why we let others hurt us, and why we hurt ourselves. Her unique voice and signature piano-playing are familiar, but once again she pushes the envelope, stretching from smoky torch songs to tracks that call for a sunny summer day in a convertible with the top down. The deluxe version of the album comes with a DVD featuring “visualettes” for each song, gorgeous short films that bring the music to life. When I meet the iconic songstress, we talk about society’s new woes, femininity, and her killer heels.


POLLY SCATTERGOOD Self-titled (Mute) Polly Scattergood’s self-titled debut will likely please the lover of smart, depressive Brit pop—the lady has oodles of musical capacity and a charming lyrical darkness that belies her blond, sprite appearance. Much of the album consists of slow jams that, for all their piano-driven minimalism, cool, electronic soundscapes, and lovely, whispered vocals, may be better as shorter pop tunes. However, as this is the 22-year-old’s first effort, we’re happy to go along for the experimental ride, allowing (and enjoying) some musical meandering. Three winners that deftly showcase Scattergood’s versatility, cleverness, and musical chops are buried in the middle of the album, so patient listeners will rejoice as the record builds up to its best tracks. “Please Don’t Touch,” is so good, it should be the opener; “I Am Strong” and “Unforgiving Arms” will also dazzle listeners with their gloom-pop perfection. [MICHAELA BRANGAN]

ST. VINCENT Actor (4AD) There’s something a little creepy about Actor, the second album by St. Vincent, née Annie Clark. And I mean that in a really good way. Clark, a multi-instrumentalist (and onetime guitarist for the Polyphonic Spree), has taken her sweeping, dramatic pop arrangements and fragile vocals to a new and spooky level. A macabre undercurrent runs through many of these songs (one is called “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood”), and Clark’s layered, chorus-like vocals, are positively haunting. It’s not a particularly dark record; songs like “The Strangers” and “Actor Out of Work” are downright jaunty, with pretty strings juxtaposing up-tempo synth and guitar riffs. Clark manages to evoke the ambience of vintage films here, too. The end of “Black Rainbow,” in particular, sounds as if it could have played in an old-timey horror movie. The effect is a little disarming, yet the whole of Actor is utterly cohesive, and—dare I say it?—damn near perfect. [AMY PLITT]

THOSE DANCING DAYS In Our Space Hero Suits (Wichita) Those Dancing Days’ debut full-length, In Our Space Hero Suits is like a freaking ray of supercool sunshine straight out of 1982. This gem comes from a fivesome of bright, young Swedish gals and draws from Northern Soul influences as well as classic New Wave girly bands like the Go-Go’s, the Waitresses, and the Flirts: think blaring saxophones, rolling drums, and bouncy keyboards in double-time ska stomps. Frontwoman Linnea Jönsson’s syrupy deep voice and Lisa Pyk Wirström’s artful command of the keys—which is clearly inspired by Elvis Costello and the Attractions—make their retro sound well-informed and irresistible. “Hitten” will win over the crabbiest cynic, and the blunt lyrics of “Actionman” speak to every girl who has experienced love fade, as Jönsson sings, “Still I don’t lie when I say I love you/But I’m a girl who needs some action/You are not my action man anymore.” These ladies aren’t just ubertalented, they may have made a near flawless song in “Those Dancing Days,” a track destined to appear on DJs’ turntables in dark, hip clubs within a matter of minutes. [SARA GRAHAM]

VIVA VOCE Rose City (Barsuk) Viva Voce, one of indie rock’s fave married duos, follows up 2006’s Get Yr Blood Sucked Out with ’90s-flavored Rose City. Conjuring U2, Mojave 3, and, weirdly, Chris Isaak, the band departs from their former mellow, stoner rock into new, raucous territory. Here, the riff prevails, ripping and tumbling through backgrounds of bold, precise drumming, as the pair’s cucumber-cool

voices rise and fall with well-practiced gravity on tracks like “Devotion” and “Good as Gold.” The dirge-like piano of “Midnight Sun” keeps company with little more than a beat and a guitar, as hopeful vocals soar in perfect harmony. That sneaky, desolate strumming reappears throughout the album, most notably on “Red Letter Day,” with the two lovers crooning spookily over it. Granted, the lyrics are nothing fancy, but there are plenty of surprises on Rose City that engage and endear. [MICHAELA BRANGAN]

{music dvd}

THE VASELINES Enter the Vaselines (Sub Pop) For all the rock bands that count Nirvana among their influences, there should be just as many who give props to the Vaselines. That’s because the way-cool Scottish rockers were on the defining grunge group’s inspirational short list and Kurt Cobain talked openly about cribbing from this punk-pop band. On Enter the Vaselines, a deluxe reissue of their 1992 compilation Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History, the stripped-down indie pop that inspired Cobain’s superfandom is in full force, with Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee trading lines over short, mostly three- and four-chord lo-fi songs. Classic tracks include “Son of a Gun,” the surf-punk “Monsterpussy,” and the standout psych-folk of “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” a version of which Nirvana covered on its Unplugged appearance. As this retrospective proves, the Vaselines are always oiled and ready. [DYLAN STABLEFORD]

DENGUE FEVER Sleepwalking through the Mekong (M80 Music) RECENTLY, DENGUE FEVER voyaged to lead singer Chhom Nimol’s native Cambodia, a country which has long inspired the Los Angeles band’s vivid psychedelic-slanted template. Sleepwalking Through the Mekong is the name of the DVD documentary of their tour as well as the accompanying soundtrack. While in Cambodia, the band played classic native rock songs from the ’60s and ’70s that were banned under the era’s brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge, reintroducing the culture to music that had nearly been forgotten. Thus, the corresponding 17-song album is more than a mesmerizing sonic journey for the listener—it’s a wide-eyed look at Cambodian classics from artists such as Ros Sereysothea, Sinn Sisamouth, and Meas Samoun. It’s also a stunning review of Dengue Fever standouts, like the surf rock riffage of “One Thousand Tears of a Tarantula,” the sultry “March of the Balloon Animals,” and “Phnom Chisor Serenade.” The documentary captures a very candid Dengue Fever, presenting a tight-knit group of friends earnest in understanding and embracing Cambodian culture. Between guitarist Zac Holtzman’s gregarious charm and Nimol’s maternal posture, the draw of the band’s individuals is as genuine as their talent as a group, reminding us that music, no matter what, remains the universal language. [MACKENZIE WILSON] // BUST / 081


PARTIES AT SXSW, AUSTIN, TEXAS 2009

KEEP UP WITH THE BUST IEST EVENTS. SIGN UP FOR THE BUST LINE NEWSLETTER AT BUST.COM BUST’s Sara Graham and Susan Juvet scope the subs table at Bird’s Barbershop

Akron/Family rocks out to a packed crowd!

King Khan has a shrine to BUST

Phosphorescent

N.A.S.A. plays jams from outer space at Bird’s Barbershop

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band at the Mohawk

Don’t hide your love for BUST!

BUST went down to sunny Austin, TX, for SXSW, the annual music marathon festival filled to the brim with amazing bands and musicians. A full day of BUST-sponsored events on March 18th included the opening party for Bird’s Barbershop with King Khan, N.A.S.A, Cut Off Your Hands, and more! In the evening, BUST headed over to the Secretly 082 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

Canadian/JagJaguwar/Dead Oceans showcase featuring Akron/Family, Women, These Are Powers, Phosphorescent, and special legendary guest Dinosaur Jr. Issues of BUST were handed out and read by hundreds of people, while concert-goers enjoyed the sounds of SXSW! If you missed us, catch us there next year.

ALEXANDRA MARVAR

Enjoying sun and BUST, Texas style


the guide

The Hurt Locker’s Guy Pearce looking fierce

Yolande Moreau gets serene in Séraphine

The colorful crew of Sita Sings the Blues

THE HURT LOCKER Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Summit Entertainment)

style sexiness, making explosions all

is currently making him breakfast. But

Rama. There are many versions of the

too enticing—even stunning. It seems

in the wake of WWI and the Great De-

epic poem, and even the three nar-

antithetical to the antiwar message at

pression, nothing is certain, and Séra-

rators who try to explain it onscreen

The boys’ club of American action-

hand to beautify death and destruc-

phine finds her hopes threatened as

(portrayed as wise-cracking Indone-

movie directors—the James Camer-

tion, but perhaps Bigelow is speaking

quickly as they had been raised.

sian shadow puppets) disagree on

ons, Ridley Scotts, and Michael Bays

right to those who sign up to fight

This fictionalized account of Séra-

the details. But here’s the gist: All Sita

who have dominated the scene since

based on these kinds of video-gamey

phine de Senlis’ life won seven Cés-

wants is to live happily ever after with

long before Die Hard—finally has a

illusions. [ANNA

ars (the French version of the Oscar),

her princely, demon-slaying hubby,

BEAN ]

but as we all know, little gold statues

but he has doubts about her purity

don’t always add up to a great film.

and continually tests her (exiles her,

The movie feels like it should be a

subjects her to a trial by fire, exiles her

she’s tackling the most serious action

SÉRAPHINE Directed by Martin Provost (Music Box Films)

moving work of art; there’s nothing

again—while pregnant!). Finally, exas-

subject: the war in Iraq.

In this biopic of French painter Séra-

sub par about the wardrobe, cin-

perated, Sita stops throwing herself at

phine de Senlis (in French, with Eng-

ematography, script, or acting. But

Rama and gives herself instead over to Mother Nature.

lady in its midst again. Kathryn Bigelow, director of 1991’s surf-cop thriller Point Break, is back, and this time

Filmed in Amman, Jordan, The

PHOTOS COURTESY OF NEOCLASSICS FILMS LTD., STRAND RELEASING, AND OVERTURE FILMS

MOVIES

Hurt Locker was adapted for the

lish subtitles), Yolande Moreau plays

for some reason, it comes across as

screen by journalist Mark Boal (who

the title character, depicted here as

just another overly serious historical

Rejection is a theme all women can

also wrote In the Valley of Elah) and is

an aging, eccentric cleaning lady in

drama—lots of detail, but no heart.

relate to, including the film’s creator—

based on his recent visit to Baghdad

the 1900s who is living a double life.

And based in truth or not, the female

Paley found solace in the Ramayana

to report on an elite group of soldiers

Séraphine is introduced to the viewer

visionary-slash-lunatic trope is tired

while dealing with her own devastat-

as hell and ranks right up there with

ing divorce, and her story is interwo-

all the other exhausting stereotypes

ven with that of the long-suffering

goes through her day’s backbreaking

about outsiders who either buck the

goddess. But Sita is the star here, and

drama.

labor. The things she takes are not

system or are crushed beneath it.

she is depicted as both a traditional

Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy

valuable—blood from a freshly killed

[JENNI

Indian painting and as a paper doll

Renner) is assigned to lead a small

animal, candle wax from a church,

whose job it is to disarm improvised

as someone who is constantly pock-

explosive devices (IEDs). The result is

eting items she comes across as she

two hours and ten minutes of deeply disturbing,

jaw-clenching

MILLER ]

with the body of Betty Boop and the

company of young men after their

mud from outside—but to Séraphine,

former trusted leader (Guy Pearce)

these are precious materials for her

is killed in a bomb disarming gone

paintings. The artist is then revealed

awry. But Sgt. James, addicted to the

painting throughout the night, while

SITA SINGS THE BLUES Written, directed, and animated by Nina Paley (Creative Commons)

thrill of his craft, grows reckless, much

singing in a sort of mystical reverie

In her first feature-length animated

the mesmerizing Sita too expensive

to the horror of his underlings. Crises

to a figurine of the Virgin Mary. Séra-

film, comic-strip artist Nina Paley uses

for theatrical distribution. But Paley,

voice of jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. Unfortunately, the exorbitant prices now being charged for the use of Hanshaw’s timeless songs have made

and hostilities ensue, but the film is

phine’s tenuous grip on reality is fur-

a variety of eye-popping techniques

in a groundbreaking decision, has in-

far from predictable; Boal’s characters

ther hinted at in a poignant scene that

to prove that heartache transcends

stead made the film available for free

exhibit unexpected depth.

shows her visiting with the nuns who

cultures and time periods. This psy-

(check www.sitasingstheblues.com to

cared for her as a child. As her story

chedelic pastiche of watercolor paint-

find out where and how to watch it).

some

progresses, it seems as though Séra-

ings, paper cutouts, cartoon char-

It’s a shame Paley won’t get the money

disquieting elements of American

phine’s passion is going to pay off,

acters, 2-D animation, bhangra, and

she deserves for this gem, but it’s also

Known for upsetting gender stereotypes,

Bigelow

explores

masculinity here. Unfortunately, the

when a German art collector (Ulrich

jazz retells the Ramayana, a famous

comforting to know that Sita will be

aesthetic style of The Hurt Locker

Tukur) happens upon one of her intri-

Sanskrit myth about a lovesick Hindu

there for us whenever we need a post-

sometimes verges on music-video-

cate paintings and realizes its creator

goddess named Sita and her husband,

breakup pick-me-up. [CORRIE

PIKUL]

// BUST / 083


A

boobtique

A

A portion of all proceeds are donated to the fight against breast cancer.

www.bust.com


the guide

BOOKS

LITPICK

i’m down: a memoir

BY MISHNA WOLFF [ST. MARTIN’S PRESS] IN HER FIRST book, humorist and former model Mishna Wolff recounts her highly unusual childhood as part of the only white family in an all-black Seattle neighborhood. When her parents fell in love and married, it was a hippie romance, but as soon as they moved out of the woods and into the rough and almost entirely unintegrated region where her father, John, had grown up, her Buddhist mom split. Raising Wolff and her younger sister, Anora, their unemployed dad crusaded to make his daughters “down.” As quickly as Wolff mastered the art of capping (exchanging charming insults like “Her ass is so flat, it looks like two saltine crackers that done lost they box!”), her mother roped her into attending a posh school with a program for gifted students. But there, Wolff’s over-the-top attempts to garner attention, including getting violent on the playground and acting out The Exorcist during class, made her akin to “Fear Factor for third graders.” She spent most of her time—whether in the school orchestra or on the basketball court—trying to navigate both worlds while making her father happy. Wolff is a natural storyteller and very funny, which makes reading about some of the more upsetting events, like discovering that a new, rich, white friend has been cutting herself, palatable. And instead of collapsing into stereotypes, Wolff portrays the characters in her life as fully dimensional people, who, in their wildly different ways, were doing their best to fit in. [SARAH NORRIS]

THE BACKYARD HOMESTEAD Edited by Carleen Madigan (Storey Publishing) In an economy such as this, many of us are on the lookout for creative ways to cut back on costs. So how about eighty-sixing the grocery store? Learn the skills The Backyard Homestead has to offer and those fluorescent, overcrowded, overpriced aisles might become a thing of the past. Editor Carleen Madigan combed through more than 25 years of Storey Publishing’s food and farm-based output to put together a sort of best-of compilation for the modern homemaker. The tone is sweet and accessible, and the well-organized chapters cover all the bases, from starting a vegetable garden to raising steer. If you have some land at your disposal, you’ll find a zillion cool ways to turn it into food. With the help of the book’s clear and cute graphs and illustrations, you can

build your own chicken coop or learn to plant and harvest grapes to make your own wine (yes, recipes included). But hey, city folk, if all you’ve got is a fire escape and a farmer’s market to work with, don’t despair. As long as you have sun, you can plant tomatoes directly into a sliced-open bag of compost, or you can pot herbs that you can later cook with or turn into delicious tea; if you have access to local milk, you can make homespun mozzarella or yogurt no matter how small that galley kitchen. And heck, if you live in a cardboard box, don’t feel left out either—the last chapter offers helpful hints on foraging the fruits and nuts already growing freely in your neighborhood. [JENNIFER CACICIO]

BAD GIRLS GO EVERYWHERE: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown By Jennifer Scanlon (Oxford University Press) Long before Car-

rie and company sucked down cosmos (and more) in the city, a plucky wordsmith rocked the culture with her racy take on the role of single women. A lightning rod both figuratively and in figure (she’s famously thin), Helen Gurley Brown was toiling as an ad copywriter when she penned Sex and the Single Girl, the brazen 1962 bestseller that advised unattached gals on how to handle their affairs, financial and otherwise. Its success helped her nab the top spot at Cosmopolitan and turn it into the vampy mag we know today. Scanlon details these and ancillary achievements to explain why the notorious HGB deserves a place among the ranks of our most notable feminists. If the idea of lauding Brown— who believed in flaunting bodily assets to boost material ones—as a liberator causes more than your bosom to heave, you won’t feel alienated by this bio. In typical academic-prose style (at times it borders on dry), Scanlon fairly balances her

subject’s most glorious moments with her gaffes, including Brown printing misinformation about AIDS and making flip statements about sexual harassment, and her belief that a woman’s appetite should be for men and money, not food. Yet, in addition to publicly rallying for the ERA and abortion rights, Brown encouraged millions of women to pursue pleasure and go after their career goals. Even if you’ve never been a Cosmo girl, after reading this book, you just might appreciate the Gurley girl. [ PAULA WEHMEYER ]

THE BLUE TATTOO: The Life of Olive Oatman By Margot Mifflin (University of Nebraska Press) The Blue Tattoo is well-researched history that reads like unbelievable fiction, telling the story of Olive Oatman, the first tattooed American white woman. Margot Mifflin // BUST / 085


the guide BOOKS {INTERVIEW}

word warrior MEMOIRIST STACEYANN CHIN’S LIFE IS AN OPEN BOOK

FOR FANS OF firebrand spoken-word artist Staceyann Chin, the basic story behind her new book, The Other Side of Paradise (Scribner), will sound familiar. Since her emigration to New York from Jamaica in 1997, the 36-year-old writer/performer has been mining her turbulent early life—a time full of abandonment and hardship during which she was passed off among various relatives—on increasingly public stages, from the poetry-slam scene of N.Y.C. to Broadway as a cast member in Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and even to The Oprah Winfrey Show. But never has her incredible story been as richly articulated as it is in her debut memoir, which hit shelves in June. Here, Chin opens up about overcoming obstacles, sitting across from Oprah, and more. When you moved to New York from Jamaica at 24, how did you establish yourself as a full-time writer and performer? Did you have a “regular job”? No. I kept my overhead really low by moving in with a family in Far Rockaway [Queens], because I knew I needed time to write, so I needed a place that wouldn’t cost a lot. I would just babysit a few days a week and buy ramen noodles. Although, I don’t think I was an intentional artist. I came to New York to be a lesbian. I came because I wanted to chase women, and it was illegal to chase women in Jamaica.

You dedicated your book to the one constant person in your life, your grandmother Bernice. I was so sorry to read that she passed away a year and a half ago in Jamaica. Yes. Thank you. And in your story you mention that she was illiterate, so you couldn’t write her letters, and she was deaf, so you couldn’t call. How aware was she of your success? Not very aware. She knew that I must have a job somewhere, because when I showed up to visit, I brought bags of deodorant and soap and underwear and Bengay, the things old ladies need, you know? [laughs] 086 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

[laughs] Those are the things you showered her with once you started making money? She wasn’t a woman of jewels. When she was near 90, she couldn’t see either, so a ring or a nice dress wasn’t the thing for her. But if you showed up with a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken, some Jamaican patties, some little undershirts and panties, and some Ventolin for her lungs, that was something. She came from a time and a place where survival was everything. If she could eat and she could sleep somewhere, that was living. And if she could do that without thinking about it, that was success. At this point, you’ve been writing and performing work primarily about your family for more than 10 years. Who in your family actually knows about that? I mean, I’ve been on Oprah, so now everybody’s seen it! What was that like? I think the most surreal experience was sitting across from her and not having a screen between me and that face. It’s a little bit like sitting across from a character who’s been in your mind your whole life—like sitting across a table from Anne of Green Gables! [EMILY REMS]

PHOTO COURTESY OF SCRIBNER PUBLICITY

You could go to jail for that in Jamaica? Yes, we’re still working on decriminalizing homosexuality in Jamaica. We’re still stuck in the place where we’re talking about whether homosexuality is moral or immoral. So I came to New York to explore that freedom. But once I got here, a woman invited me to the Nuyorican Poets Café, and Sarah Jones was there doing her show, and afterward, there was a poetry slam, and I was like, “Oh, my God! I wanna do that!”


based her book on historical record, letters, and diaries of family and friends, and what she found makes this story anything but dry. In 1851, when Olive was 13, her Mormon family began their trip out West to what they thought of as the Promised Land. They ended up being attacked and slaughtered by Yavapai Indians, save for Olive and her sister, and, unknown to the girls, their brother. Olive and her sister became slaves. Later they were bought by a Mohave tribe, in which they eventually were accepted as equals and acquired the facial tattoos that would mark Olive her entire life. Olive’s sister died, but Olive happily assimilated into the tribe, so when her brother tracked her down and brought her back to white society, it was against her will. Mifflin weaves together Olive’s story with the history of American westward expansion, the Mohave, tattooing in America, and captivity literature in the 1800s. It’s a remarkable story of a woman who not only was a survivor but also went on to inspire artwork, fiction, television, and movies; her story was told on an episode of Death Valley Days (with Ronald Reagan) and was one of the inspirations for The Searchers. [ELIZABETH QUINN ]

BRITTEN AND BRÜLIGHTLY By Hannah Berry (Metropolitan Books) This spellbinding graphic novel is a page-turner that pays artistic homage to the noir aesthetic of yesteryear. The old-fashioned, perpetually rain-soaked city in which the tale is set is painted in dark, muted hues, a visual style that is evocative of the story’s gloomy narrative themes: love affairs, blackmail, and murder. Fernández Britten, a private investigator, regrets his career choice. Since his inquiries into love affairs often result in botched marriages and ruined lives, he has made a name for himself in his field: the Heartbreaker. After some time in solitude, Britten takes on a case that he hopes will uncover the truth

behind the seemingly staged suicide of a publishing heiress’ fiancé. In the course of his investigation, Britten’s sullen inner monologue is voiced through conversations with his snarky partner and only companion, a teabag named Brülightly he keeps in his breast pocket. Although Britten is far from the next Sherlock Holmes, he is a much more complicated character than conventional hard-boiled detectives. The author, Hannah Berry, paints a complex psychological portrait of a dejected man whose line of business has him constantly surrounded by heartbreak and death. Likewise, Berry’s whodunit plot line is full of poetic twists that are as superiorly crafted as the characters within it. The plot quickly thickens, yet this graphic novel should not be hurriedly thumbed through. Like a cup of warm English tea on a rainy day, this novel is best if you give it time to brew and take it in slowly. [ LIBBY ZAY ]

DIRT: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House Edited by Mindy Lewis (Seal Press) Reading Dirt, the plethora of dust bunnies I’d been meaning to exterminate became too much to ignore. But I left them there on the floor anyway. Considering these essays are about housekeeping, I felt vaguely guilty, but luckily, there were almost as many pieces about the joys of a messy house as there were writers who would be horrified at the filth I live in. A lot of themes can be explored through the prism of cleaning: family, feminism, race relations, even sex and death. The best of these essays use window washing or the loss of a Barbie shoe as an organic metaphor—insight into how the writer turned a corner in her life. And the subject matter of the writing goes deep. One essay summarizes recent New York history from the days of grunge, when living with cockroaches was a sign of toughness and authenticity, to the recent ascendancy // BUST / 087


the guide of shoe closets. Another brilliantly describes the suicide of a mother who loved to make things beautiful, replaced by a cruel stepmother obsessed with a neat house. But there are less successful ones that read like self-absorbed blog entries: a straight description of finding a dead mouse under the fridge is of possible interest only to friends. And many themes, like mother-daughter tensions, get worn. There are even two essays about the “ba’lebusteh”—a Yiddish term for an impeccable housewife—that use the same joke about ball-busting. Dirt contains some polished patches, but could have used another round with the buffer. [KARIN MARLEY ]

PEOPLE ARE UNAPPEALING: Even Me By Sara Barron (Three Rivers Press) The title of this collection of autobiographical stories—about a smart, ambitious, pushing-30 waitress/writer—is a letdown: as acerbic as Sara Barron is, in the end, she’s not nearly unappealing enough. Winning personality is the last thing I expected from a girl whose opening chapter showcases her self-confessed lust for attention, but her childhood recollections of the giant menstrual pad in her swimsuit got me, and the teenage wrist brace from overenthusiastic masturbation kept me there. Barron has all the earmarks of a grating narrator—the underdeveloped sense of shame, a deadly history of bad acting/singing/dancing escapades, body dysmorphia, impulse-control disorder, hideous romantic entanglements—yet despite myself, I wanted nothing more than to sit at her knee and give her the attention it would normally utterly gratify me to withhold. Like fellow NPR/This American Life humorists, she has a knack for turning humiliating anecdotes into semienviable life lessons; while not quite pulling off the deliciously surreal tone David Sedaris achieves in 088 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

similar tales of loathsome employment and absurd family relations, she has her own distinctive voice. Barron also has a welcome gift for not seeming to want to be liked and not seeming to care if she’s rejected, at least on the printed page —an interesting twist for an innate spotlight hog. The collection ends with a perfectly unappealing story about spending the evening with a certain Chihuahua-totin’ celebutante (transparently disguised by the name Madrid Days Inn) during which Barron succumbs to the sick pull of Fame’s petticoat strings. Here’s hoping she gets all the fame she can handle, herself. [ FRAN WILLING ]

SCRAPBOOK OF MY YEARS AS A ZEALOT By Nicole Markoti (Arsenal Pulp Press) The youngest daughter of a German mother and a Croatian father, the protagonist of this novel grows up in Western Canada feeling out of place both at home and in her community. Desperate for an identity to cleave to, she decides to become a Mormon like her best friend, Vera. For several years she attends church and Sunday school before she begins to doubt the Church and distance herself from the religion, eventually rejecting it entirely. Despite this plot line, and the book’s title, however, there is very little in here about her faith, and the reader never sees much evidence that the narrator is a religious zealot. Rather, she seems like a lost girl who attaches herself to an identity she never fully subscribes to, and then eventually outgrows the game of makebelieve. To describe this novel as a “scrapbook,” on the other hand, is entirely accurate; it reads more like a memoir than fiction, wandering from one area of a life to another, in a way that is natural in its disjointedness. Though Markotic deserves credit for creating an authentic voice, overall, the lack of cohesion reminds us how uninteresting other people’s scrapbooks

and diaries can be. At the end of the book, the mother unexpectedly recounts her experience in World War II Germany, when she lost her crippled younger sister to the Nazis’ medical cleansing. Her story is tragic, gripping, and deftly told, completely overshadowing the main narrative. [ EMMA HAMILTON ]

STRIPPING GYPSY: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee By Noralee Frankel (Oxford University Press) BUST readers who are fans or practitioners of neo-burlesque will be thrilled to discover that historian Noralee Frankel has created the first truly scholarly biography of Gypsy Rose Lee. And in the same way that much of today’s neoburlesque phenomenon is fueled by feminist underpinnings, so too does Frankel, in this exhaustively researched work, reveal the forward-thinking politics of this burlesque pioneer. In so doing, Frankel is very straightforward about the need to “strip” away the historical fiction by which the world thinks it knows this provocative performer: the still-beloved musical Gypsy, which put a sugar-coated spin on the stripper’s hardscrabble life. Lee herself, in the parlance of the period’s burlesque, was famous for working “sweet” rather than “hot” and happily encouraged the myth behind Gypsy’s narrative— of a tomboy-turned-stripper who is egged on by the ambitious but loving Mama Rose. In reality, Mama was the abusive Rose Hovick, whose daughters June and Gypsy (born Louise) served both as meal tickets and as proxies for her thwarted ambitions from the time they were children. But as Frankel also deftly points out, this unconventional upbringing (which included Rose’s open bisexuality) also instilled in Lee a clear sense of injustice over sexism, racism, and class discrimination, and she fought for labor unions and progressive causes. More-

over, Lee, an unapologetic “career girl” and single mother by design, struggled to create a progressive personal life that matched her politics, making a case for her legendary legacy off-stage as well as on. [MARIA ELENA BUSZEK ]

THANKS FOR COMING: One Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm By Mara Altman (Harper Perennial) Orgasms elude 26-year-old journalist Mara Altman her entire life. Boyfriends, vibrators, sexually progressive parental units—none of it helps, and Thanks for Coming is the humorous story of her quest to find out what her problem is. To that end, Altman questions and consults an assortment of individuals about orgasms, vulvas, and vaginas. While continuing to explore sex and relationships through regular old dating, her more formal research includes orgasm workshops, a sexuality convention, and even spending some time at an “orgasm community” in rural Northern California. Her interviewees span the gamut, including several bona fide sexperts (including a sex surrogate, a sex therapist, and a Tantra teacher), her grandparents, a guy who sells vegan baked goods at the open-air market downtown, and random people she meets on a trip to Israel. For all her orgasmic inhibitions, the candor with which she can question her interviewees is refreshing, amusing, and inspiring. A few people along the way tell Altman that if she wants to have an orgasm, she basically needs to cut out the writing about it and just get down to business, and that’s probably good advice. Ultimately, though, the nuggets of wisdom and insight scattered throughout the book about the nature of orgasms and how they fit into the grand scheme of things are so valuable and thought-provoking, you end up being glad she dragged out the journey a bit after all. [ KIM HEDGES ]


THE UNIT By Ninni Holmqvist (Other Press) If you’ve been pushing the snooze button on your biological clock, The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist will leave you antsy to start making babies—or it would, if you lived in Holmqvist’s modern dystopia. Her novel, originally published in Swedish, is an eloquent account of the thoughts and emotions of a middle-aged woman in a hypothetical but entirely possible future society that values baby-producing families over single ladies. In Holmqvist’s world, all childless, aging, “unproductive” members of society are relegated to the status of living organ donors and scientific test subjects. And so Dorrit Weger, a childless writer living independently, is deemed a “dispensable” individual, so after her 50th birthday she's carted away to the Second Reserve Bank Unit. Despite her misgivings, Dorrit discovers that, if one can forget the constant video surveillance, lack of windows, and looming specter of the “final organ donation” (when a vital organ is removed and given to a family person in the outside world), the Unit is an indoor paradise. Everything in the shops is free, restaurants serve gourmet meals, and there is a massive indoor garden and elaborate sports and arts facilities. But Dorrit gradually realizes that the Unit is really just a “luxury slaughterhouse,” as her friend Elsa refers to it. When the system begins to show its weak points and Dorrit is confronted by an unexpected situation, she is forced to consider whether escape is an option or whether life, despite its drawbacks, really is better inside the Unit. Sometimes moving, other times disturbing, this book is a page-turner that explores human discrimination taken to a whole new level. [ KATIE SHAFLEY ]

VEGAN BRUNCH: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For— From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes By Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Da Capo Press) My favorite vegan recipes are the ones that are effortlessly able to slip into social gatherings of omnivores, earning oohs and ahhs for their sheer yumminess. And for my money, nobody is better at writing recipes like these than Isa Chandra Moskowitz. She has won over legions of palates since her first book, Vegan with a Vengeance, hit shelves in 2005, and now, with her fourth collection, Vegan Brunch, she’s focusing on the most social meal of them all and giving compassionate cooks oodles of new ways to impress their friends. There is some reprinting of recipes from past books, like an exact duplicate of VWAV’s pancakes. But even for obsessives like me who gobble up all of Moskowitz’s books like vegan cupcakes, there’s still plenty more to learn, in chapters that cover “Sweet,” “Savory,” “Sides,” “The Bread Basket,” and “Drinks.” I decided to test one sweet and one savory, with varying results. Starting with the savory, I dove into the ambitious-looking Mom’s Morning Casserole, a baked breakfast feast of layered roasted potatoes, herbed tofu, sausage-y tempeh, and vegan cheese. Making all the layers was pretty timeconsuming, and unfortunately, my potatoes came out limp and soggy after baking underneath the other ingredients, and the vegan cheese wouldn’t melt (despite an enthusiastic claim on the package that insisted, “It Melts!”). These issues, however, seemed more like my own errors than the author’s. And besides, the oh-so-satisfying Peanut Butter Waffles I tried next were so blissfully easy and delicious, they totally made me feel like a culinary rock star once more— and definitely deserving of one of Moskowitz’s signature Pink Grapefruit Mimosas. [EMILY REMS ]

advanced parenting 401 ON BEING A DAD, A LATE-TO-LIFE MOM, AND A STEPMOM THE BOOK OF DADS: Essays on the Joys, Perils, and Humiliations of Fatherhood Edited by Ben George (Harper Perennial) After the birth of their first child, Ben George’s wife—like many new mothers—read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, which gave her late-night insights into being a mom. To guarantee that the other half of the parenting team would not be left in the dust, George produced this 20-author anthology. The essays here explore the contemporary dual fatherly function of working and hands-on parenting (twin responsibilities that women have been tackling for quite some time), providing comfort in this brave new world of diapers and 2 a.m. feedings. There are stories, too, on becoming an accidental parent—as in Rick Bragg’s standout piece about the unforeseen blessing of becoming a stepfather—a graphic essay (by David Gessner), and a unique woman’s perspective by Jennifer Finney Boylan. As Ben Fountain writes in “The Night Shift,” “much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late.” Without devaluing motherhood, the authors adeptly illuminate and celebrate acquiring that knowledge in this kinetic world of ever-changing roles. [RACHEL BRAVMANN]

IN HER OWN SWEET TIME: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment, and Motherhood By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt (Basic Books) Book designers everywhere, I beg you: when the tome in question involves a major city, a woman, and relationships, can you come up with something besides a shoe to signify this combination? Ignore the heel on the cover of this one, a tender memoir by Lehmann-Haupt, a single woman approaching 35 who’s investigating alternate paths to motherhood. She interviews members of the organization Single Mothers by Choice, she talks to doctors about egg freezing, embryo freezing, and donor sperm. At times, the book feels more like a personal pros-and-cons list than an objective exploration into motherhood, but it also has warmth and insight. And the payoff here isn’t the suspense over LehmannHaupt’s happily-ever-after. It’s knowing that if you’ve ever thought about the when and how of parenthood, you’re in good company. [REBECCA BRAVERMAN]

STEPMONSTER: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do By Wednesday Martin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) According to research, half of all U.S. women marry men with children, and 70 percent of those marriages fail. I’m not surprised. Wednesday Martin builds a case, valid in some ways, that stepmothers often inherit a hot mess of issues, like vindictive ex-wives and confused children. While this book—which combines the author’s personal anecdotes with interviews—doesn’t offer easy answers, it delves into the stepmother’s complex role and internal struggles. Martin focuses her research on a particular but common situation, which she herself shares: the misunderstood stepmother, victimized by surly teenagers and their doormat daddy (who’s so guilt-stricken over his divorce, he leaves her to play “bad cop” with his kids). For women who find themselves in a similar family dynamic, Martin’s book should come as a welcome relief, and proof that they are not alone. Yet, I know there are stepmoms out there whose experiences have been much more positive; I’m one myself. And by limiting her subjects to uppermiddle-class white women, Martin’s study felt one-dimensional at times. Nevertheless, this book made me realize what a weighty role my husband and I play in his daughters’ lives. If anything, Martin spins a cautionary tale: blending families requires a high level of personal responsibility on all parts and should not be entered into lightly. [O. E.] // BUST / 089


sex files

the unusuals

Left to right: Tuyo, Cone, We-Vibe, SaSi

THESE UNCONVENTIONAL VIBES WILL HELP YOU THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX EVERY GAL NEEDS a go-to vibe, and once you’ve found the one, why change it up? How about because even a sure thing can get dull after a while? This fresh crop of unique vibes offers new ways to get off, so I decided to see which ones were worth getting down with. Labeled a “vibromasseur,” the spherical Tuyo ($75, www.babeland.com) is a little more awkward than a sex toy should be. While a ball o’ delight is fun in theory, the rounded shape makes it hard to get a lot of pleasure from this vibe, and its loud buzz can be kind of distracting. On the plus side, Tuyo has eight modes of vibration and a comfortable silicone grip, if you can get past the racket, though I had a hard time reaching the finish line with this one. It actually worked great as a body massager, but I recommend leaving it out of the bedside drawer. With its squat, teepee shape and pointy tip, the Cone ($130, www.babeland.com) may seem a bit daunting—but looks can be deceiving. Made from soft, squishy plastic, it is surprisingly comfortable. And while not intended for deep penetration, the external pleasure is worth the hefty price. Sitting upright on it was the only way I could reach an O with the Cone, but that made giving a blow job extra fun since the vibe’s hands-free shape meant I could easily use it at the same time. If you typically need to lie down to come (like me), however, you might want to reach for something more standard.

The U-shaped We-Vibe ($130, www.babeland.com) is the only toy that simultaneously stimulates internally and externally: one half fits inside your vadge, hitting your Gspot, while the other half provides direct clit contact, leaving your hands free to play. The We-Vibe’s all right for solo fun, but as the name implies, it’s really meant for partnering up. I was afraid my vadge might feel crowded, but once my bf and I got past the initial awkwardness of getting the vibe and his peen in there together (lube is key), it was comfortably snug and he liked the bonus vibration. We also used the two-speed, rechargeable We-Vibe as a cock ring (I loved the double-duty), and it’s pretty quiet. My only complaint? I experienced some intense cramping after use, which I think was due to my IUD. If you have one too, I’d check with your doc before getting a We-Vibe. If you want technological advancement at its best, pick up a SaSi ($148, www.babeland.com). Made to feel like a tongue giving oral sex, a smooth, rounded head moves under the soft cover, creating a kneading sensation that can also vibrate, and it is surprisingly realistic. The SaSi is customizable, which allows you to store your favorite movements via its Sensual Intelligence feature, though it took some button-fooling to find the setting I loved. If you’re in the mood for a quickie, opt for the less smarty-pants vibe until you master the programming. But once I got it down, the SaSi became my new best friend. [JENNIFER BEST]

THESE DICKS ARE FOR CHICKS When it comes to porn for women, the pickin’s are slim. Thankfully, there’s a new mag on the market, made by and for the ladies: Ligerbeat. With photo spreads featuring bang-worthy dudes and hilarious interviews and commentary from the editorial staff (which includes BUST’s own Callie Watts), this is one smut mag you’ll want to snag, at www.ligerbeat.com.

x

// BUST / 091


sex files

ask aunt betty and cousin carlin DR. BETTY DODSON AND CARLIN ROSS TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX BUT WERE WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO ASK

During the past few months, when I masturbate I still feel turned on after I climax and need to orgasm again. It’s not that that first one doesn’t feel good; I just don’t feel satisfied. Typically, I’ve been going for three additional orgasms and quit only because I get tired. It’s frustrating because although it feels great, I need to get on with my day! I also get the same feeling after I orgasm with my boyfriend. Why is one climax not good enough anymore? Is there anything I can do to change this so I’m not always waiting for my next fix? Too-Many-Os Woes

Betty says: This is what I call a high-class problem! Although waiting for your next fix is not all that pleasant, at least you’re not dependent on your dealer, because you are the source of your own pleasure. A lot of women prefer to have several orgasms during a session. Observe how long it takes you to have one orgasm. Instead of having a series of “quickies,” try stretching out your buildup to enjoy one bigger orgasm. Or wait for the weekend and just keep coming until you’re satisfied.

Carlin says: I masturbated for 20 minutes before I started my day and had 3 orgasms. I could have gone longer, but life doesn’t allow for an all-day masturbation session. It doesn’t have to be about having one huge orgasm that leaves you with no sexual desire. It can be about enjoying your body, recharging your batteries, and facing the day feeling confident from the endorphin boost. You can always have another orgasm—isn’t female sexuality wonderful?

092 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

Q.

I love dirty talk. I mean, really love it. Lately, when I masturbate I’ve stopped fantasizing about the act of sex almost completely and all that goes on in my head is a filthy dialogue. I have no problem even saying some of it aloud. When I’m with my boyfriend, however, I find myself feeling suddenly shy and at a loss for words! I have asked him to talk dirty to me, but he (being a scientist by career and by nature) is not very creative, and often falls back on the more clinical nouns and verbs. How can I lower my inhibitions and start saying what’s really on my mind? And how can I encourage him to think outside the box? Talk Dirty to Me

Betty says: I understand feeling inhibited. It took me some time to learn how to talk dirty out loud. The best approach is what you’ve been doing. When having sex with yourself, keep your filthy monologue going. Eventually, you will overcome your shyness with your boyfriend. Hearing you talk dirty will help him get used to using less-clinical terms, or those words might even become kinky on their own. You could also try recording yourself when you’re alone and playing it back during partnersex.

Carlin says: When I’m in the mood to talk dirty, I like to do a bit of role-playing. I pretend I’m a high-class escort in total control, fulfilling my client’s dirtiest desires. As you can probably guess, I’m addicted to Showtime’s series Secret Diary of a Call Girl and play the main character’s hooker persona, Belle, quite frequently. When I’m Belle, my shyness falls away and I can say and do the filthiest things.

Got a question for Betty and Carlin? Post it at www.bust.com/auntbetty

MARCELLUS HALL

Q.


// BUST / 093


sex files ONE-HANDED READ

good neighbors A DIVORCÉE ENJOYS SOME JUICY FRUIT WITH THE GIRL NEXT DOOR [BY

M

Y NEIGHBOR NELA and I are sitting in the long grass of her unkempt back yard in our London suburb, eating cherries from a basket. She’s a little younger than me and has white-blond hair and plump, pale skin that glows in the mid-afternoon light. Her dress matches the cherries. I’ve known her for a few years now—we’ve chatted over the fence, heard one another’s domestic tantrums, and shared the inevitable excess jars of chutney after a good harvest from the garden. Our children are away at school, and our husbands are absent in a much more permanent sense: Nela is a young widow, and I’m a cheerful divorcée. Both of us feel free as birds on this long, lazy afternoon. Nela throws herself backward and rolls in the grass, stretching like a child or a cat. Her skirt has ridden up, and I imagine I can see a pale, opaque fuzz of hair between her legs. Lying on her back, she holds cherries by the stalk over her mouth. Her lips are smudged red from the juice. She bites and sucks, then spits the stones into the air as high as she can. When I lie down beside her, she rolls toward me, her dress now dirty with grass stains, and offers a cherry to my mouth. We are so close all of a sudden, the atmosphere shifts. The buzz of the garden—birds, flies, the sound of plants rustling—is trumped by the weight of the silence that’s formed between us. I take the cherry between my lips and bite the flesh away from the stone. The other half of the fruit drops to the ground, but her stained fingers stay by my mouth. She leans forward abruptly and kisses me. Her lips are sweet from the cherries and warm from the sun. I am shocked, and surprisingly delighted. Before I can think about it, my tongue pushes between her lips, into her mouth, and hers reaches out to touch it. Her soft, sticky fingers trace down my neck and start to unbutton my shirt as my own hand runs up her leg, pushing the skirt of her dress up and over her bare hip. I have no idea what I’m doing or where this is going, but my hands are following their own direction, holding Nela’s soft waist and pulling her toward me. She helps me wriggle out of my open shirt and my breath catches. I feel out of my depth, a clumsy impostor in the eroticism of the moment, unable to move with Nela’s careless grace. She reaches behind me and unclasps my bra, then slides the straps down my arms. I feel a sudden and unexpected thrill of having nothing to hide. I look into her face as she lowers her mouth to my breast, keeping eye contact all the way. Her lips close over my nipple, her tongue swirling and flicking over the tip, making it stiff and sensitive. I lie there, holding on to her, feeling helpless and more turned on than I’ve ever been before. Nela takes my hand from her waist and guides it down between her legs. My fingers meet soft hair and a slit of wet heat. I try to relax and

094 / BUST // JUNE/JULY

CLAIRE KIRWIN]

tell myself that I know what I’m doing. I slip two fingers into her, and she moans. I find her clit, a swollen little button, slippery with her juices. As I circle it with my thumb, sliding my fingers in and out of her, her moans turn to gasps, and her fingers dig into my waist as she sucks and licks at my nipple, her eyes now closed. She starts to rock her hips against my hand, and I thrust deeper inside her, stroking her clit faster and arching my back to offer my breasts to her mouth. Nela opens her beautiful red lips and cries out. I feel the muscles of her pussy pulsing around my fingers and feel her body undulate against mine. I watch her face as she comes on my hand. She slows, stops, and collapses against me. Her mouth is pressed against my neck and she kisses me there, softly. Gradually her kisses move lower, over my throat and chest. She runs her fingers over my breasts, pinching my nipples lightly and sending a shock of pleasure through me as she licks and kisses her way down to my belly button. Her palms follow the curve of my waist and then cup the flesh just below. She unbuttons my jeans, and I lift my hips so she can pull them down. Strands of her white-blond tresses trail across my thighs, giving me goosebumps. She crouches between my legs, her lips so close to my pussy I can feel the heat of her breath through my knickers. She leans forward and kisses me through the thin, damp cotton. Her tongue flicks out, following the line of my slit, licking and teasing. I roll my hips upward, thrusting my pussy against my neighbor’s mouth. Nela smiles up at me, hooks her thumbs under the elastic of my knickers, and pulls them down. As she gently pushes my legs apart and starts to lick me, a new and intense pleasure builds. I stare at the blue sky and dig my fingers into the grass as Nela licks and sucks, bringing me closer and closer to orgasm. When it comes, it begins in my stomach and billows out in waves, tensing and releasing all my muscles along the way. I moan and push myself against her, my fingers tangled in her soft blond hair. I come back to my senses gradually, exhausted and happy. Nela’s head rests on my thigh and I stroke her hair shyly. She hooks her bare foot into the wicker handle of the basket and drags it toward us so she can reach inside. She begins eating the cherries one by one, occasionally stretching up lazily to feed one to me. We leave cherry stones strewn across the grass—they’ll destroy the lawn mower if she ever gets around to using it. I wonder if any of the discarded stones will grow. BUST (ISSN 1089-4713), No. 57, June/July, 2009. 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.


// BUST / 095


096 / BUST // JUNE/JULY


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100 / BUST // JUNE/JULY


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////BUST BUST/ /0101 101


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X GAMES [BY DEB AMLEN]

musical mystery date

58. Oven emanation, like fresh-baking bread 60. Ballet wear 61. Intimacy band ___ Party 62. Committee head 63. Subj. for an M.B.A. 64. Last year’s frosh 65. In shape 66. ___ Le Pew

Down 1. Recipe amt. 2. Diamond Head locale 3. Black, in poetry 4. Try to find 5. Talisman hung on the door of Jewish homes 6. Solo 7. Malodorous 8. Chemical suffix 9. Put two and two together 10. Author of I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence 11. “Mystery Date” horror who’s into electronic music? 12. “I just don’t have it ___” 13. Cough syrup amts. 21. Sharpens 22. Brazilian airline

Across 1. “Little piggies” 5. Callas of opera 10. The first of George Carlin’s infamous

20. “Mystery Date” hottie who’s into fast, hardedged, stripped-down music? 22. Defends oneself with an electronic control device

24. Happening place 25. Joker, e.g. 26. Acclaim 27. Negatively charged particle

23. Seep

28. “Mystery Date” failure who’s into rap music?

14. Honey

24. Close call

30. Draws in

15. African antelope

26. Hawaiian honcho

31. Dadaist Max

16. A long, long time

29. Break, Blow, Burn author ___ Paglia

33. Royalty’s command to a newly minted knight

17. Sole supporter

32. Labor leader’s cry

34. Crash site

18. Spaced (out)

33. Impersonator

38. What Savion Glover does

19. “What a ___!” (famous Bette Davis line)

35. Whiskey cocktail

39. Laverne and Shirley workplace, ___ Brewery

36. Chip go-with

42. Dustin Diamond’s role on NBC’s Saved

“Seven Dirty Words”

37. Hair pieces

ANSWERS TO “DANCE YOUR CARES AWAY” FROM THE APR/MAY ‘09 ISSUE. FOR ANSWERS TO THIS ISSUE’S PUZZLE, SEE NEXT ISSUE OF BUST.

By The Bell

40. Coffee holder

45. Jordin Sparks hit “___ at a Time” (two words)

41. “Aahs” partner

47. Put on TV

43. Capitol Hill worker

48. Avalanche, to a mountaineer

44. Cons, slangily

50. Flax-like fiber used in fabrics

46. Movie-theater nonpareil candy

51. Eyeballs

48. “No kidding!”

52. ___fax (datebook brand)

49. Force open

53. Runaways member Jett

50. Be worthy of

54. Brownish purple

51. Job seeker’s hope

55. Perched on

53. “Mystery Date” klutz who’s into

56. iPod competitor

improvised music? 57. Irritate

58. Be in a cast 59. Sorority letter // BUST / 103


thelast the lastlaugh laugh {BY ESTHER PEARL WATSON}

104 / BUST // JUNE/JULY


issue_57  

issue 57, featuring Kathy Griffin 2009 August September, Summer issue

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