Hello! For episode 38 I spoke to Chrysanthemum White-Alder about her Medieval Pagan Nun style. She's an interdisciplinary artist, witch, and academic currently working on a Masters of Education at Lakehead University. She's also studied intermedia and cyberarts at Concordia; and is an amazing visual artist.
One of her passions is the Reclaiming Witchcraft tradition, and she's really found a way to live in accordance with spiritual and ethical principles of conservation and respect for the earth. She's been a community organizer for over a decade and is deeply committed to environmental activism.
That commitment really comes through in her dress style! She recycles through sewing clothing from discarded textiles and lives a minimalist, low waste lifestyle.
Her practice of recycling through sewing clothing out of discarded textiles is rooted in principles of ecological respect and integrating the self into cycles of
generation and decay.
She has a sweet 6yr old dog called Hecate who you can hear a little during the episode....this is a canine friendly show after all!
We talked about Chrysanthemum's style influences which include early medieval Northern European Barbarian Tribal dress (!), and Slavic folk elements. Naturally that got me wondering if she is involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism (she's not).
She also loves Japanese influences, from street style to the films of director Hayao Miyazaki.
She mentioned her love for Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), and her affection for the head bow as an adornment.
We also talked about her interest in performance art; and she mentioned the work of artist Piilotti Rist.
We talked about this terrible piece in the guardian recently; where a columnist pretended to have 'been a witch' for a week. The article got a fair bit of play mainly from angry reactions, but the comments are worth reading if you're invested in the subject and want to feel less annoyed.
I really enjoyed what she had to say about being a 'chaos magnet' and how she employs non-violent communication to mitigate the effect of chaotic energy. I think those skills are useful for anyone, and it's cool to think of them as a form of community care (as well as self care!).
I asked Chrysanthemum who she thinks looks good out in the world, and she mentioned Rain Dove and Natalie Wynn (Contrapoints), both excellent choices IMHO. Oh, and Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala in Star Wars.
I know everyone is obsessed with Contrapoints but if you haven't watched her videos on YouTube please do so immediately and thank me later.
I miss identified this character as "Annikin Skywalker" and felt quite clever doing so. Might have helped if I'd seen any of these films.....
(I always need to know what everyone is reading, all the time.)
The Dispossessed – Ursula LeGuin
News from Nowhere - William Morris
This is his book about a pastoral utopia.
We also talked about Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.
And Chrysanthemum mentioned Starhawk's classic book on Reclaiming Witchcraft, The Spiral Dance (first published in 1979!) and the 1994 classic The Fifth Sacred Thing which Chrysanthemum was reading when we spoke.
The book I mentioned to Chrysanthemum was Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horseley. I had heard about this book via another one of my heroes, Dame Darcy. I interviewed Dame Darcy in an early episode of this show, which was a dream come true for me.
Chrysanthemum's work can be seen via her vimeo page, where some of her performance pieces are documented.
Thanks so much Chrysanthemum White-Alder! I hope more than anything that you get to establish an anarchist cult on the moon.
I'm back for the first new episode of 2020 with an amazing interview!
Sarah Potter is a lecturer, curator, practitioner of colour magick, and a tarot card reader. She's been all over the witch-ternet (sorry my bad) lately, featured in Architectural Digest, Dazed magazine, InStyle magazine and Teen Vogue. Colour magick is an occult modality of using the energy and associations of specific colours to boost your intention and manifest desired outcomes.
When we started discussing her personal style, the descriptor of mob boss combined with mob wife came up; and it's pretty much perfect to describe Sarah's style which is a wonderful, colourful blend of grooming and swagger.
“I love over the top; a more is more aesthetic.”
We had a great conversation that went off in fun directions--from discussing tarot, how your style DNA gets imprinted in childhood, and how toxic masculinity affects all genders. Oh and cats, obvi.
"I absolutely believe we develop our aesthetic and visual language in childhood’
Her influences include:
-the 1990s -- growing up in New Jersey, she perfected cat eyeliner and had acrylic nails at age 12! Adorable!
-The hand stitched applique clothing by Rosecut especially their tarot suit.
-Pantone's new Colour of 2020: Classic Blue, which Sarah sees as a call for clarity, focus and thoughtful communication in 2020
One thing I love about Sarah, is you'll notice if you follow her social media (@IAmSarahPotter on IG)--you'll notice she a big practitioner of shine magick too--she constantly talks about her contemporaries and hypes other creators work, which I love!
Among her favourite things are her signature jewelry (see photo!)--designed by Plutonia Blue-- on IG @plutoniablue.
Film that inspires Sarah:
The Love Witch (2016) - Anna Biller's genius note perfect reproduction of a 60s film exposes the dark side of where love magick can go very, very wrong in the hands of a witch who forgets the three fold law! It's just stunning and amazing and fun too. This is one of the few films in my life that I've sough out to watch repeatedly.
Marie Antoinette (2006) - Sofia Coppola's opus about the french queen featuring Kirsten Dunst and new wave/electronica music, and is a pastel macaron coloured fantasia!
Sarah's book recommendations:
Waking the Witch by Pam Grossman (2019)
Cat Call by Kristen Sollee
An Atlas of Rare & Familiar Colour: The Harvard Art Museums' Forbes Pigment Collection (2019)
Modern Tarot by Michele Tea (2017)
Initiated by Amanda Yates Garcia (2019)
She mentioned her book club is reading a book about the science of love too!
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher (2004)
She also had a music recommendation: Doja Cat's new album Hot Pink. She specifically mentioned the video for Juicy.
And of course, she shouted out a favourite podcast, The Witch Wave hosted by Pam Grossman.
Sarah had this to say about 'Instagram witches'--oft maligned for a perception of preferring style to substance:
"I think witchcraft has always appealed to outsiders, people who have been maligned, and people can be protective of that…but if the aesthetics are what draws you in, why are we fighting that?"
Why indeed? Thanks Sarah for a wonderful conversation. I can't wait to see what 2020 brings for you! Blessed be :)
DCC 36: Ivory COnover- "if you want to put me on a pedestal, and objectify me, cool. But you're going to listen to what I have to say"
"It's the biggest reason why I do what I do: as a model, as a performer and why i;m so mouthy about the whole thing. I belong to all these intersectional communities that are constantly told to be smaller, that are already fringe and already left out. and so as someone who takes up a lot of space, personality wise, looks wise, energy wise, I constantly speak out about these things because it's so easy to tell us to shut up and be forgotten about...." --Ivory Conover
Ivory is a multi disciplinary performer by trade...and by personality! She's a graduate of Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, and a former Miss Canada Plus. She's a singer, actor, dancer and model, not to mention a burlesque dancer who infuses her performances with intersectional feminist politics. She's also a co-founder of the Succulent Six--a team of curvy 'superSHEroes' who are working to promote body positivity and dismantle toxic ideas about female beauty. She's also a member of Les Femmes Fatales: Women of Colour Burlesque Troupe.
She's wonderfully outspoken about her politics and activism, which she attributes to her position on multiple intersections within feminist politics: she talked to me about being a biracial woman who 'passes' as white, a queer woman who 'passes' as straight despite her bisexuality, and her commitment to dismantling toxic cultural messages about women's bodies.
"Thank the gods, I'm an Aries, you know heady, and a fighter....I'm also a fire breather, ax thrower, an archer, knife thrower and horse back rider!"
She talked about her relationship with makeup, and starting a new process of learning to love her natural face--- "I think makeup is an incredible tool, I think it saved my self esteem. But part of my process to continually challenge my self love and my self worth, is pushing myself past comfort zones."
Please follow her adventures (and antics) onIG and twitter--and facebook. She's @pureivorydotca pretty much everywhere!
Thank you Ivory for a fun photo shoot! You are a delight and an inspiration :)
**photos by Sarah Innis unless otherwise attributed in caption!
Gigi is a long time vintage collector, appreciator and wearer. And an even longer time lingerie enthusiast! She is the owner/operator of Toronto's only Vintage Style Lingerie Boutique : Gigi's House of Frills.
We talked about 'everyday vintage', and her dedication to fashion and details from the 1930s to '50s. I love how her store makes you aspire to a more glamourous lifestyle, where you might entertain in loungewear or do your pincurls in a nightgown from the 1930s.
You can follow Gigi on her twitter: @gigisfrills
Instagram: gigisfrills or gigi’s house of frills, and of course her website which features information about the store and lookbooks.
Amazon Syren is a queer, poly leather femme, a sex-workers' rights activist, and a Professional Naked Girl. She's also a witchy glamazon who sings opera, writes poetry, reads tarot, grows veggies, works magic, spins her own yarn, cooks, preserves, and darns a lot of socks. The secret ingredient is always love. She lives with her wife and an assortment of metamours in 1821.
DIY is very close to her heart.
She has opinions! Which is what I love! We discussed the business of being tall women (she's 6'4" and I'm just under 6'2"), from slouching to people's surreptitious checks to see if we are wearing heels.
We also covered her 'femme muse' Musetta from La Bohème, queer hanky codes, what a newly minted dyke wears to pride in 2008,
DIY is a big deal with her, from knitting and handspinning yarn to gardening, preserving and cooking. She also weaves and sews. As an urban homesteader, the 'little house in the big woods' thing is no joke.
We discussed the terminology around ethical non-monogamy, and the idea of being "solo” poly, which she points out has no meaning unless you're working from a coupled default position. She also clarified the differences between pansexual and queer poly (spoiler alert it's hetero-normativity).
And please find Amazon online via her twitter, @amazon_syren, and also her two blogs:
Urban Meliad and Syrens.
Thank you so much Amazon! It was a pleasure. ♥
Amanda died in September of 2016. Rest in power Amanda, you left a huge legacy and I was privileged to talk to you for this episode.
I encountered Amanda Harris’ work via a Gender and Media class. I love her Femme Spaceproject and was so excited to talk to her for this episode! Amanda is a queer high femme charmer from the South. She was the co-curator of Y’all Come Back: Stories of Queer Southern Migration in the 2015 National Queer Arts Festival, where she exhibited portraits in her EXODUS series.
Her photographs have been published in Glitter & Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Galaxy, G.R.I.T.S.: An Anthology of Southern Queer Womyn’s Voices, Towards the “Other” America: Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action for Black Lives Matter, as well as various online sources including Al Jazeera America. She believes in the future of the femme oligarchy and the power of portraits to tell stories.
Amanda’s art and activism has been informed and nurtured by online femme community. We talked about femme visibility and marginazation in queer and other spaces. She also talked about taking the conversation beyond queerness to include race, class, ability, emotional labour, privilege of butch and masculine of centre people –and letting femme stand alone—femme sex, and femme on femme relationships
I liked hearing her perspectives on collaborating with vs exploiting femmes from marginalized groups. On the topic of privilege, she referred me to an article online by Cyree Jarelle Johnson,here.
….also to a wonderful resource for femme articles and resources—intiated and collated by Blyth Barnow, reflecting the wisdom of large community of facebook femmes!
Of course in the bonus round I asked Amanda for her book and music recommendations.
She mentioned author Amber Hollibaugh, whose book My Dangerous Desires is a favourite of mine too.
The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader
She recommended work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha whose most recent book isDirty River I totally recommend too!
And…Amanda contributed to a recent book, Glitter & Grit: Queer Performance from the Heels on Wheels Femme Galaxy. which I’m gonna try to get my hands on soon!
Her music recommendation is GAYmous which you can find on FB
Amanda’s latest project Y’all Come Back Now, is here, and looks amazing. Thank you so much Amanda! You’re a charmer for sure. ♥
**all photos from www.femmespace.net/femmespace used with permission
Crystal is a fat activist who moved from fashion blogging to tackling more contested spaces in fat feminist thought: cultural hatred of fat bodies; and how fatphobia can manifest as violence in intimate partner relationships. She's in her second year of a PhD gender, feminist and women's studies.
One of many nice things about Crystal is she seems to look pulled together effortlessly....which belies her thoughtful and reflexive approach to fashion, fatshion, getting dressed and fat activism, and how all these things intersect. She questions and challenges not just the status quo, but also her own belief systems.
Crystal was excited about Charlotte Cooper's Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement --which is out now!
“I’m told to look good as a fat woman I’m supposed to dress a certain way, I’m supposed shrink my body, or bind my body in particular ways, that create a particular shape….that conforms to what we are told is feminine, but that’s completely unnatural to the way my body goes…”
Vivek Shraya is a multimedia artist living in Toronto with strong ties to prairie malls.
She's produced 10 albums, written 3 books (with 2 more set for release next year) and created 4 short films, all to great acclaim. She talked to me about the production of art, how performance grounds her,
Her debut novel, She of the Mountains, was named one of The Globe and Mail’s Best Books of 2014. A three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek has read and performed at shows, festivals and post-secondary institutions internationally, sharing the stage with Tegan & Sara and Dragonette, and has appeared at NXNE, Word on the Street, and Yale University.
Vivek is a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, the 2014 recipient of the Steinert & Ferreiro Award for leadership in Toronto’s LGBTQ community, recipient of Anokhi Media’s inaugural Most Promising LGBTQCommunity Crusader Award in 2015, a 2015 Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award finalist, and a 2015 recipient of the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize Honour of Distinction. Both Vivek’s debut collection of poetry, even this page is white, and first children’s picture book, The Boy & the Bindi, will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2016.
Her POC fashion project (co-edited with Karen Campos Castillo) is at
We talked about Rihanna, Beyonce (duh), gender expression, performance vs 'real life', and style as class privilege. She also educated me in the nicest way possible about being so judgemental about other people's style.
Thanks Vivek! You're amazing!
I'm baaaaack this week with Andrea Zanin, a butch/femme academic and leatherwoman who writes prolifically and teaches about BDSM/Leather/kink, power dynamics, non-monogamy and queer sexuality. She's also pursuing a PhD in Gender Feminist and Women's studies (I didn't realize when I booked her that we're in the same program!) --and her thesis is about Canadian leatherdyke history.
Andrea's erotic short stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies.
Her online home is here.
Andrea co-organizes the annual Canadian leatherdyke weekend An Unholy Harvest and runs a pervy book club called The Leather Bindings Society.
FInd Andrea on twitter too: @sexgeekAZ
Thanks for listening!
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Mimi Thi Nguyen is an associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois. Her research interests are war, empire and...zines!
I first encountered her work via her amazing blog (a collaboration with Minh Ha T Pham) called Threadbared. Her zine work includes Slander, Race Riot (that link is to a pdf made possible by the POC zine project!), and a couple years ago Guillotine Press put out a chapbook called PUNK, a conversation beween Golnar Nikpour and Mimi.
Her first book is called "The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt and other Refugee Passages" (Duke 2012).
Her website is here.
She describes her looks a "New wave party girl who is forced to teach", although her 9 yo friend thinks she looks like a Monster High Doll.
She also made some awesome book and music recommendations.
Please see www.dresscodecracker.com for images and more show notes!
twitter: @dresscodecrackr or @sarahinnis
and Mimi tweets at @Inzombia !
Thank you Mimi!