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Nov 2012 08

by Darrah de jour

Rachel Uchitel is famous for being infamous. She starred on Dr. Drew’s riotous reality show Celebrity Rehab, on which she spoke candidly about her destructive tendencies as a love addict with a proclivity toward various pills. In the past, she worked as Director of VIP Operations at Las Vegas’s hottest night club Tao. There, she caroused with the ultra-rich and mega-famous. Among her indiscretions were affairs with two elite married men: golf phenom Tiger Woods and Bones star David Boreanaz.

Before Uchitel’s name rocked headlines and Elin Woods’ marriage, Rachel lost the two most important men in her life. Her fiancé died at the hands of terrorists in the 9/11 attacks, and her father died of a cocaine overdose when Uchitel was just fifteen.

She’s been a media favorite. And by that, we mean, she’s a tabloid celebrity that people love to denigrate. A peek at some of the comment boards below any story about Uchitel reveal the general public’s scapegoating of the “other woman” as a bewitching siren that should carry the cross and absolve the cheating man of all responsibility.

Case in point, while Joy Behar of The View was busy apologizing for calling Uchitel a “hooker” on-air, newspapers around the country were swinging wildly in defense of Woods, with headlines like “Tiger Doesn’t Owe Us An Explanation.” In an exclusive interview, we asked Rachel about surviving that double standard, how her reincarnation as a wife and mother has changed her, and if Dr. Drew really is the rehab king.

Darrah de jour: Congratulations on your daughter, Wyatt. How has motherhood changed you?

Rachel Uchitel: Motherhood has changed everything about me. First and foremost, you find that you become all about somebody else. People talk about unconditional love. It’s the first time I’d really experienced that and really knew what that meant. I put her before me in every circumstance. I’ve never truly felt like that before. I’ve never loved anything as much. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I just feel so lucky. I can’t believe that I waited this long to have a child. Had I known what it was like to have a kid of my own, I absolutely would have tried to have a child earlier in my life. Now, I’m thirty-seven years old and I want so many more! I don’t have all the years ahead of me to just pop out kids when I want. I just love being a mother.

Ddj: How was your pregnancy?

RU: I tried to be really healthy during my pregnancy. I worked out almost every day, doing Pilates and water aerobics. I did Zumba up until my eighth month. A lot of walking. Walking is prevalent here in San Francisco, so I did a lot of that. I didn’t have any weird cravings or overindulgent cravings, so it wasn’t difficult for me to not over-consume.

Ddj: You’re always pretty much in shape. You have a great figure.

RU: I try to. Again, I’m thirty-seven years old and I’ve always lived in a world where I’m competing with girls that are twenty-three in some way, shape or form. Living in Las Vegas when I ran night clubs, I was always the only girl there that wasn’t half-naked. Most girls there are waitresses or dancers or whatever, and as a female you always want to look your best. I felt like I had to stack up against these gorgeous, fit young girls. So I was always conscious of trying to hit the gym as much as I could because I had a decade gap between me and them. And it always kept me trying to be better than I would, because I had them to look up to. The girls in Vegas have a high standard for fitness and looking good.

Ddj: Speaking of that, it was reported in 2010 that you were going to pose for Playboy. Is that still in the works?

RU: No. I was in talks with Playboy to do a shoot with them. I’m not in talks to work with them anymore. I was honored that we were even in talks. A lot of people have different things to say about Playboy, and the girls that are in Playboy, but listen — as a girl that’s being offered to be in Playboy, it’s definitely an honor. Whatever anybody else says about the person and the choice that they make about doing it, I felt very honored. At one point we did have a signed contract and I did back out, actually, last minute.

Ddj: I noticed online that you applied for a detective license. I joke with my friends that women are more intuitive and conscientious at detective work than the CIA. Are you still pursuing that or are you trying your hand at another career choice?

RU: I’m in a tough predicament. I’m right in the middle of it as you and I are speaking. In the last week, I’ve been having a kind of crisis about this. I love to work. I have a strong work ethic. I’ve had a lot of amazing jobs that people may or may not know about me. I used to be a television producer for Bloomberg News for many years. Loved my job, I was really good at it, loved the news and I’m a hard worker. I love to be challenged in that way. Now that I’m five-months into being a mother, I do want to go to work in some way. I want to have a hobby, and a steady income coming in, so I can contribute to the household. It’s very difficult for me to get a normal job because my name proceeds me still. I have no desire to go work in a night club anymore. I’d love to go back into what I was doing, which was news. Local news. I’m not interested in entertainment news, quite honestly. My favorite shows are on HLN: Jane Velez-Mitchell or Nancy Grace. I’d love to be a producer; I mean, I’m not talking about on-air. I love writing for that, I love researching stories. You need somebody that believes in you and gives you a chance, and overlooks stuff that they may or may not know about you.

Ddj: You starred on Season 4 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. He reportedly paid you a personal visit to convince you to join the cast. What made you decide to allow cameras in on your recovery experience?

RU: That’s actually not true. I requested that. I didn’t believe in the Celebrity Rehab brand. I thought it was just a TV show. I said no for a good two weeks about being on the show. Finally, I said, ‘Listen if Dr. Drew and John Irwin [Executive Producer of Celebrity Rehab] will come meet me for a few minutes, then I’ll make a decision based on that.’ They both came. It was very odd. The second I sat down and looked at Dr. Drew I was in tears and I knew he could help me. I wanted someone to hear me and understand me. I immediately felt that with him. He had me at that meeting. I wanted to be in his presence and have him heal me, so to speak. I was so lonely and miserable.

Ddj: Dr. Drew seems to take on the role of doctor, father figure and friend to his patients on the show. What do you think makes Dr. Drew so effective in relating with his patients?

RU: I think that underneath everything he’s a little bit of a co-dependent. It’s such a great quality that he has. When he looks at you, he looks at you. He sees you and he hears you. That’s such an amazing quality for someone that’s so well known and so busy and someone that everyone wants a piece of. So when that type of person looks at you and hears you and wants to help you, that is a very attractive quality. He’s a genuine guy. I’ve seen people give him a hard time. [They say] you’re just a TV doctor, you’re not a real doctor. They’ve never been in his presence and they’ve never been treated by him. After the show, he treated me for almost half a year later until I moved away — that’s the only reason it stopped. He would come and meet me for an hour to two hours once a week, on his own time, without getting paid. Recently, I had a friend whose mother was struggling with food addiction. He took the time to write a long email about the different hospitals that would take inpatient treatment, how serious it was, and long story short, her mother went to one of these places and was there for two months.

Ddj: One part of Celebrity Rehab that is controversial is that Dr. Drew brings in people that are active in their addictions and he gets them on film. Do you think that the reality show aspect of Celebrity Rehab is a conflict of interest to the sanctity of the recovery process?

RU: No. Let me explain something to you. Whatever it takes an addict to get help is what it takes…My addiction wasn’t life threatening. It wasn’t like I was doing meth on the street corner, and was about to die. So, forget me for a second. But, some of the cast members on shows like this are serious heroin addicts, meth addicts, alcoholics, whatever their choice may be. Yes, they’re being paid, yes they’re hoping their career will be resurrected, but you can’t help but deal with your problems when you’re there. Yes, there’s cameras in your face, yes there are cameras in every corner of the room, yes, I think some people tend to overreact or act out in front of the camera… but at the end of the day, there’s no denying the help that you get when you’re there. I can attest to the seven people that were there with me, that the moment we left, we were all in amazing places. Those people who had suffered for so long — at that moment, were, what I would call healed. They were off drugs for thirty days, they were happy to be with friends, they were clean, they were sober, they had all of the tools they needed.

There’s a backlash because of a couple people who have died that have been on the show. It only brings to light those people and their addictions because they’d been on the show. They’re addicts! It’s not Dr. Drew’s responsibility to take the drug out of their hand once they leave treatment. I don’t understand why people say that they’re being exploited. The chance they got by being on Celebrity Rehab was a chance to save their life. They chose to take that chance.

Ddj: You’ve been involved in two high profile relationships with married men. Without asking you to recount any personal details, I wonder if you feel that our society places the burden on the “other woman” more so than the cheating man in those types of relationships?

[Writer’s Note: Rachel Uchitel would not comment on any questions related to Tiger Woods. She admitted that she had a relationship with David Boreanaz when he was married and has had relationships with married men. None of her answers reflect her experience with Woods.]

RU: My opinion on that is… Listen, it’s a very touchy subject for people. Adultery and cheating. It’s no fun to be the other woman, that’s for sure. And I’m not even talking about in celebrity status, I’m talking about in everyday life. It happens a lot in everyday life with everyday people. You don’t have to be on the cover of a newspaper to be in some scandal. It’s tough because I feel like the man does not take any responsibility. Let’s remember, for the most part, the man is the one making it OK in some way. I don’t know about other people’s situation, but in my situation with David. He was very clear to make it OK and to say that he did not have a relationship with his wife. And I chose to believe that. Now, I’m a smart girl. I didn’t necessarily believe that that was the truth and I also didn’t want to push it and ask any questions because I was happy in the situation I was in with him. I spent a lot of time with him, traveled with him. If he wasn’t somebody that was in the newspaper, I would have assumed that I was in a monogamous relationship with him because I don’t know how he would have time to go home and be with someone else. So I let it go. I believed what he was saying. And that’s a very stupid, very ignorant thing for me to have done. But I didn’t want to know the alternative.

Ddj: Denial is a really powerful thing. Were you in love with him?

RU: I thought I was. And I thought he was with me… I do think that sometimes [an affair] will rip your marriage apart and sometimes it strengthens your resolve and who you want to be with and what you want to do… The girl comes out as a home wrecker and a slut and a whore, and that was definitely not my relationship with him.

Ddj: There’s a general forgiveness with regard to the man. I’m not trying to pin boys against girls, but it’s like, “Maybe she seduced him, he was overcome…”

RU: The woman is always the temptress, the seductress, the person that lures the man into this awful thing and the man is helpless and weak in the knees and can be forgiven. That’s the way that I see it and read it when it’s written about anyone. The other woman is made out to be this cartoon character of the most threatening, seductive woman you can imagine who would steal your husband or your boyfriend away. And that’s sometimes not the case. Sometimes the husband just isn’t getting what he needs. Regardless of if it’s at home or not. Sometimes it’s an issue within the man himself and he finds it in other ways, shapes or forms and unfortunately sometimes that’s by cheating on his wife. It doesn’t really matter half the time what the woman looks like; it’s the connection and the chemistry and quite honestly it’s how she makes him feel that for some reason, he’s not feeling like that.

Ddj: I’m not sure if you’ve read the book Love Junkie by Rachel Resnick. It chronicles the tumultuous relationships had between the narrator and her sex-addicted partners. As a love addict, prior to treatment, were you attracted to sex addicts?

RU: Yes and no. I don’t really look at it that way. A sex addict to me is very different from a love addict. A sex addict has no connection with the person they’re having sex with, and for a love addict, it’s all about that emotional connection. And leaning on that person. For me, it’s two totally separate issues. I have been with people that were also love addicts. The people that I’ve been with are mostly addicted to that connection, that you’re codependent on each other.

Ddj: Sometimes a love addict is attracted to an aloof, unavailable person and they’re trying to extract emotion out of them. And the sex addict needs that person to be dependent on them and shuts them out. But, that wasn’t your experience?

RU: No. My definition of a love addict is that I mistook intensity for intimacy. So all this up and down and craziness and crazy things happening, that to me was mistaken for love. Another love addict also being crazy up and down with me and professing our love to each other and ignoring red flags and saying ‘This is the best person I’ve ever been with!’ Somebody that’s obsessed with the notion of being in love and you kind of forget who you’re in a relationship with. It doesn’t even matter. You’re just going on this whirlwind love fest. You could replace that person with anybody. Doesn’t matter who. Just as long as there’s somebody filling the seat.

Ddj: How have your relationships changed since getting treatment for love addiction?

RU: I attribute being on Celebrity Rehab for meeting my husband. Matt is somebody I would never have chosen to be with before. I always looked for people who had red flags that he doesn’t have. He’s a man with totally different qualities than anyone I’ve been with before and a different demeanor. Those are the reasons why we’re in a happy, productive marriage. Dr. Drew used to say I had a ‘bad picker’. He says, he adjusted my picker, so I could pick the right one. He also said not to date anybody for six months after rehab and to be careful who I jump into a relationship with and beware of the red flags and go slow. The first thing that I dropped was a type. I stopped saying, ‘This is who I want to be with, this is who I’m looking for.’ I let it happen with who it happened with. Matt is ten years younger than me. I’ve never dated somebody younger. But, I gave him a chance, and I’m very lucky I did.

Ddj: How did you meet your husband, Matt Hahn?

RU: We met on Facebook. He saw an episode of Celebrity Rehab and thought I was funny and I was friends of a friend of his. He sent me an email saying I made him laugh and he thought I seemed like a genuine person and he’d love to take me out for coffee.

Ddj: You must get letters like that a lot. What set his apart?

RU: I’m not sure. Normally I don’t go on Facebook. I looked at his pictures and most of them were him with his sister and his brothers — as opposed to the typical douche bags popping bottles of champagne over half-naked girls. Those were the guys I was used to going out with! Not that there’s anything wrong with those guys, but that’s who I’d ended up with before. Matt looked like a nice, normal guy. We started talking, and that was that.

Ddj: I’m so sorry about your fiancé losing his life on 9/11. What was the number one thing that worked as a salve in your grieving process?

RU: You can never get over something like that. It was such a horrific thing. Time definitely heals. Every year was a different level of healing. Ten years ago my healing was a lot different than two years ago. I thought that I was done and was over it and had closure many years ago, but I didn’t. When I went on the show with Dr. Drew, he came to New York with me and we put a letter into the water and I did something physically to have closure. On our anniversary, I went to Ground Zero and said my goodbye and that was it for me. It was a culmination of many things over the years and learning from the experience and my behavior and the loss. I had to stop living in the what-if. May 4th would pass and I would say ‘This is the date I was supposed to marry Andy.’ I was missing out on my own present by not being in the moment. That was the biggest lesson that I learned over time. Bottom line is it’s over — he’s not coming back. I had to stop dwelling in the pain surrounding that and grow from it.

Ddj: You gave an interview to Page Six, where you said, “My mother was never around; I was raised by housekeepers. I’ve basically been alone my entire life. I was put in the right settings, but I never had someone teaching me.” Do you feel like you’ve finally gained independence and wholeness as a woman?

RU: I’ve always been independent, I can say that. But I always felt alone. I can be in a room full of people and feel alone. It’s something that I suffer from. Because I didn’t grow up with a family. My whole goal in life was to have my own family, and now I have that. I have my own daughter, I have a husband. I do work on trying to remind myself that I can let people in.

Ddj: Do you stay in touch with Janice Dickinson, Leif Garrett or any of the other stars you were in rehab with?

RU: I was just in LA and Jeremy London and Leif came over. I don’t talk to Eric Roberts that much, but I talk to his wife. His son, who he was reunited with on the show, I’m a big fan of his work. I go to Keaton’s concerts a lot when Keaton comes to town. After I had my baby, I called Janice to let her know and to bury the hatchet because we had some problems on the show.

Ddj: You entered into Celebrity Rehab with an addiction to pharmaceuticals. Is that still something you struggle with?

RU: I was on anti-depressants then, and I was taking a lot of Ambien and Klonopin and Xanax and I haven’t taken one pill since I left Celebrity Rehab.

***

Darrah is a freelance journalist and consultant, with a focus on sensuality, environmentalism, and fearless women in the media. She appears as a “Woman on the Street” on The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet and has contributed to The Conversation website. Her lifestyle writing and celebrity interviews have appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W, among others. She contributes author and filmmaker interviews to The Rumpus, Hollywood Today. Her dating confessions have appeared in GirlieGirl Army and xoJane. Darrah’s “Red, White and Femme” columns for SuicideGirls takes a fresh look at females in America – investigating issues like gender, bisexuality, sex work, motherhood and more. Darrah lives in LA with her doggie Oscar Wilde. Her passions include youth mentorship, horses, painting and singing. Subscribe to her blog at Darrahdejour.com/, and friend her on Facebook.

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Nov 2012 05

by SG’s Team Agony feat. Lexie

Let us answer life’s questions – because great advice is even better when it comes from SuicideGirls.


[Lexie in Speres]

Q: I can’t seem to make the leap from friend-zone to boyfriend-zone. Everyone I ask advise from says “just be yourself.” I be myself and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Is it that girls just don’t want me?

A: Oh, boy. The dreaded friend-zone! First off, sure being yourself can work, but only to a certain degree. It can be a terribly slippery slope to make that climb from just friends to something more. Get the wrong footing off the bat and you’re a goner for sure.

You have to remember one important fact, not everyone is going to be in to you the way you are into them. Some people you’re just destined to be friends with. If I could give you a few pointers on trying to stay out of that zone, they’d be this.

Don’t be too nice/accommodating/helpful. If there’s one thing that screams friendship to me it’s having someone all too eager to lend a hand. This applies mainly at the start of building something, once you’ve moved into almost boyfriend-zone, crank up the helpful/sweet notch. Just make sure it’s not too soon or she’ll rely on you for little things and see you as that guy friend that’s so helpful. Be a little aloof/hard to reach. The more you step back the more she’ll want you.

Treat her well but know when not to push it. Take her out to a nice dinner, movie, concert, but afterwards send her on her way. Even though you want to take her to your place and bend her over that futon, don’t push it. Remember the whole hard to reach aspect? Play it up.

Don’t be whiney or complain. Nothing says unattractive like a whiney person. Especially if you throw in desperate and needy, you’ll automatically get thrown into the no boyfriend-zone.

Have something in common with her – I know this seems like a given, but I think it’s really overlooked. I get it, you want that hot bartender at your local bar, but if you just want to talk about Skyrim and the new Batman movie when clearly her eyes are glazing over, it might not work. When someone talks to me about things I have no real interest in, I tend to get instantly turned off.

Hopefully some of these pointers will get you in the right direction. Be yourself, and apply these and it might get you somewhere.

Lexie

***

Got Problems? Let SuicideGirls’ team of Agony Aunts provide solutions. Email questions to: gotproblems@suicidegirls.com

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Nov 2012 04

by Laurie Penny a.k.a. @PennyRed


[Image of Staten Island Relief Workers by Jenna Pope a.k.a. @BatmanWI]

In the forty-eight hours since I landed in the United States, flying into storm-torn Brooklyn just days after a bunch of cars floated down Wall Street, nobody has mentioned the election to me once. You know, the presidential election, the one that’s happening in – what is it, three days? Right now, New Yorkers have more important things on their minds.

Access to food, fuel and electricity, for a start. People who do have these things are opening up their homes to friends and strangers who don’t. Across the city, volunteers are packing cars and heading to the disaster zones of Red Hook and the Rockaway, as well as to Staten Island, the borough worst hit when Hurricane Sandy battered through to flatten homes and devastate lives.

Like I said, nobody’s talking about the election. The island I always privately think of as Starship Manhattan spent days cut off from the rest of New York state, all of the lights out for days under 34th street, basements choked with brackish water, old people stranded in their homes. There’s an actual crisis taking place: houses have been destroyed, lives lost. The eighteen-month media circus that passes for representative politics in this country seems worlds away from the women in Staten Island weeping in front of the remains of their family homes on the nightly news.

With it being practically impossible for anyone without a car and a full tank of fuel to cross the city, I’ve just come back from volunteering down the street at the Williamsburg Church emergency blood drive. Right now New York is in a blood crisis. When the hospitals were evacuated during the storm, there was no time to collect the blood left in storage banks when the power went out, and by the time they got everyone to safety, that blood had rotted. Now they need new blood desperately.

When me and my friend Veronica Varlow went down to the Church to open our veins for the cause, I was told that my tangy British blood was not acceptable because I might be riddled with mad cow disease (this from people who haven’t even read my Twitter feed). They did, however, need volunteers to help shepherd those donors who were waiting patiently in line for up to three hours to hand over pints of superior all-American hemoglobin. So, I pinned on a badge and spent a few hours buzzing around filling out forms for people, cleaning tables and chairs, handing out snacks and tea and generally making myself useful. Even doing something so small to help the people helping to rebuild the city felt powerful.

Blood: when disasters happen, I’m always struck by the readiness with which people queue up to restock the banks of blood, platelets, and plasma. In the days after September 11, 2001, the donation centers had to start turning people away, and indeed, here at the Williamsburg Church we’re doing the same thing; with the donation line already thirty people deep, we’re running around with sign-up sheets where eager donors can leave their name and number in case we need more blood tomorrow.

There’s something so tender about that impulse. Sure, it says, we could raise money or go and help pump water out of basements in the Lower East Side, but wouldn’t it be simpler just to give you this part of my own body that was pumping in my heart five minutes ago? I’m pretty sure that if the New York blood centre were to put the call out tomorrow asking people to donate a pound of flesh cut from the chest closest to the heart because someone stranded on Staten Island needs it, there’d be plenty of volunteers, and not all of them would be kinky Shakespeare fetishists.

When there’s a crisis on, people want to help. Running around with the snack basket I was reminded of the floods of volunteers who gave their time, money and expertise to the Occupy camps last year. Practical anarchism. Everyone so keen to do whatever they could to help. Not just the kids from all over the country who kicked in their lives to sleep in the cold and be arrested multiple times in the name of a better future, but the shop owners who shipped out their spare produce. The trained nurses who turned up to administer basic medical care to those who had none. The parents who donated freshly-baked pies and soups to the kitchens. The librarians and academics who created an enormous library that, almost a year ago, I watched the NYPD rip apart and hurl into dumpster trucks, just because it was messing up their nice clean corporate dead-zone.

It’s no accident that the original Occupy Wall Street organizers were among the first to set up and co-ordinate volunteering efforts across New York. The group, which has drifted in recent months, immediately set about organizing teams and transportation to the worst-hit areas. The Zuccotti Park protest camp which was evicted last November and the enormous post-Sandy volunteer effort going on this week are different expressions of the same thing: overwhelming human response to crisis.

Crisis is what people in the United States have been living with for at least four years. Active emergency, turning people out of their homes and into the cold, destroying lives. It’s not crass to compare a climate disaster to a juddering crisis of capitalism, because the two are connected, not least because those most responsible are also those most likely to be snugly tucked away in gated compounds shrugging their shoulders when the storm hits. Like the crash, Hurricane Sandy hit the poorest hardest, smashing through Staten Island and Rockaway while the lights stayed on on the Upper East Side.

Nobody expected it to be quite this bad. Last year’s Hurricane Irene was bearable for most. But what I’m seeing here, at least in Brooklyn where I’ve been stuck for two days, is a city coming out of a six-month paralysis: finally, there’s a concrete task that people can put their hands to.

Sarah Jaffe’s brilliant piece at Jacobin draws attention to Rebecca Solnit’s work on the communities that arise in disaster zones:

“There’s a particular opportunity for mutual aid in the void in the aftermath of disaster, particularly in a neoliberal state whose safety net has been shredded, where the state simply isn’t there and people step up to take care of each other (not “themselves” as our libertarian friends would have it, and not the rich handing out charity as Mitt Romney wants you to believe, but communities in solidarity). The idea of mutual aid was at the foundation of Occupy as much as the much-debated horizontalism and the opposition to the banks.”

Volunteerism, of course, can be regressive as well as radical. I am reminded of those “broom armies” in London in the middle of the August riots last year; the sea of white, middle-class faces holding up brooms they’d brought to unfamiliar areas of the city, the sweet intention to mop up after a disaster tempered by the idea that the kids from deprived areas who came out to fight the police could just be swept away like so much filth. Like any desperate human impulse, volunteerism can easily be co-opted, twisted into something violent, calcifying.

Greece, where I spent part of my summer documenting the human effects of economic collapse, isn’t the only developed country where people have been living in crisis for so long they are starting to numb down and accept it. As Imara Jones pointed out in The Guardian today, 50 million Americans, the same number as those in the states hardest-hit by Hurricane Sandy, are living in acute poverty, and nobody in the presidential race has deigned to talk to or about them, despite the fact that they also have votes.

How do we respond to crisis when crisis has become status quo? That’s the question facing the entire developed world this year, and neither of the men jostling to lead the nominally free world appear to have any sort of answer. The Occupy Sandy operation is not an answer either, not even the shadow-play of an answer, but it is deeply radical and compassionate. That means someone’s probably going to try to shut it down reasonably soon, especially if it continues to provide food and assistance to the needy after the floodwaters have receded. A community response to immediate external crisis can be spun as good PR for an administration, but a community response to structural, internal crisis is just embarrassing. In every case though, the most dangerous thing you can do in any crisis – the absolute worst thing you can possibly do – is sit at home and accept it.

Back to blood. Funny thing about blood: until the 1970s, America used to buy it. Blood donation, as the United States quickly discovered, is not something you want to inject with a market incentive when you have to juggle things like infection risks and supply shortages. All that changed when Richard Titmus’ book The Gift Relationship: From Human Blood to Social Policy was published in 1971, explaining why the values of public service beat the private market every time when it comes to social care. The private market in American blood was regulated until it became something like the British voluntary model – people coming in to open their veins for a biscuit and a cup of coffee, just because somebody else needs their blood more than they do. Quite a lot of my job at Billyburg church today was handing out packets of Oreos to younguns waiting in line to do just that – I still have no damn idea who donated those biscuits – and telling the people massing at the door that no, we have all the blood we need for today, thank you, come back tomorrow.

“There is in the free gift of blood to unnamed strangers no contract of custom, no legal bond, no functional determinism, no situations of discriminatory power, domination, constraint or compulsion, no sense of shame or guilt,” wrote Titmus. “In not asking for or expecting any payment of money, these donors signified their belief in the willingness of other men to act altruistically in the future.” There is still enough blood beating in the cynical hearts of New Yorkers to pound out an immediate, compassionate response to crisis. Today that gives me hope.

***

Occupy Sandy Relief information here can be found at interoccupy.net/occupysandy/ – a website put together by the good folks at OWS, which contains all you need to know about what you can do to help. Click here for the NYC Blood Drive list of donation centers and opening times.

Laurie Penny is a journalist, feminist, and political activist from London. She is a regular writer for the New Statesman and the Guardian, and has also contributed to the Independent, Red Pepper, and the Evening Standard. She is the author of Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (2011) and Discordia (2012). She has presented Channel 4’s Dispatches and been on the panel of the BBC’s Any Questions. Her blog, “Penny Red“, was shortlisted for the Orwell prize in 2010.

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Nov 2012 01

by Laurelin

There are moments in life when nothing has changed, yet all of a sudden everything is perfect. As I walk down the street from my house – the same street I walk every day with my head down – I suddenly look up and notice the leaves have changed colors and the sky is perfect. The wind blows and a single leaf falls into my outstretched hand, Tori Amos’s “Gold Dust” is playing on my iPhone, and I feel silly for being upset about such simple things when there is so much beauty in the world (“and then you’ll understand, we held gold dust in our hands…”). There are some songs you just remember, the songs you equate with moments, the songs that from that time forward will always remind you of autumn.

Taylor Swift’s “Enchanted” came through my ear buds on the way home from the bar one night two years ago on Boylston Street. I had met someone, our eyes connecting from across the bar, and after flickering away and back again a few times we wound up chatting; At the end of the night I had a new phone number in my phone and a smile on my face. She sang, “All I can say is it was enchanting to meet you, this night is sparkling, don’t you let it go, I’m wonderstruck, blushing all the way home.” And I was so hopeful, proudly wearing my newly blushing cheeks.

Ellie Goulding’s “Guns and Horses” reminds me of a year old summer fling, a boy who I would have done anything for after we broke up, even though I knew he and I never should have worked in the first place. He got a new girlfriend not long after our relationship ended, and I was devastated. His new girlfriend eventually broke up with him and it was his turn to be sad, and that’s probably why he and I started sleeping together again. I clung to those drunken nights with him, and always on the way home alone the next morning Ellie sang, “But I wish I could feel it all for you, I wish I could be it all for you, if I could erase the pain maybe you’d feel the same, I’d do it all for you, I would.” I wished so badly that he would choose me. He never did.

Oceanlab’s “Satellite,” while an upbeat electronic song, still makes me impossibly sad. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting to find different results. After being left not once, not twice, but three times by this abusive punk rock loser, I finally pulled what was left of my own self from the wreckage and managed to walk away with some shreds of my own personality and dignity left to cultivate and finally nurse back to full health. Each time I hear that beat and “You’re half a world away, but in my mind I whisper every single word you say,” I can’t help but cringe and remember the eight years when every day was spent feeling so hopeless and alone I could have just ceased to exist.

Taylor Swift’s “I Almost Do” has been on repeat as of late, and in my current state of mind I find myself reaching for the phone, wanting to reach out to someone and then remembering that I shouldn’t waste my time on people who don’t care. I delete his number and I feel foolish for wasting my time, silly for believing the things that came out of his mouth when I was as disposable as a Styrofoam coffee cup, only useful until you’ve sucked the last drop from the depths. It starts after I lock up the bar at 3 AM and I’m walking home alone as the city sleeps. “I bet this time of night you’re still up, I bet you’re tired from a long hard week, I bet you’re sitting in your chair by the window looking out at the city and I bet sometimes you wonder about me. And I just want to tell you it takes everything in me not to call you… every time I don’t, I almost do..”

I almost do. But I don’t, and I quicken my pace and I tuck the leaf that fell into my palm in the pocket of my black leather jacket. The wind picks up and I turn my head back towards the ground.

[..]

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Oct 2012 31

by SG’s Team Agony feat. Fabrizia

Let us answer life’s questions – because great advice is even better when it comes from SuicideGirls.


[Fabrizia in Cottonwood]

Q: I just found that my boyfriend is in fact a werewolf. However, I’ve got an issue with, err, zoophilia. And tomorrow will be full moon, and we have already planned a romantic dinner with candles and some French wine. I don´t want to hurt his feelings, but figure it might be best to back out. What do you think?

A: Sigh. Werewolves can be soooo inconsiderate. I mean, really, planning a romantic dinner during a full moon? What was he thinking? The bigger question you might want to ask is, were you the actual dinner? Perhaps you can cancel this time, then coordinate your future dates around his “time of the month” and have your own girls night out when he is in full wolf-mode. Personally, I would stick to dating humans. They are less hairy, smelly, and most important…they actually exist!

Fabrizia
xoxo

***

Got Problems? Let SuicideGirls’ team of Agony Aunts provide solutions. Email questions to: gotproblems@suicidegirls.com

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Oct 2012 29

by SG’s Team Agony feat. Perdita

Let us answer life’s questions – because great advice is even better when it comes from SuicideGirls.


[Perdita in Eames]

Q. I’m 27, and I haven’t had sex. Apparently, this is noteworthy and some kind of BFD. I’m not religious. I’m not waiting for marriage. I just haven’t found someone I like and trust enough. When I was younger, my first serious boyfriend did not treat me well, which included some incidents that, looking back, were assaults, though not rape. So I think it’s understandable that after that, I’m not looking to care about someone, have sex with them, and then be treated badly. I’d rather get to know someone first, before getting naked and making myself even more vulnerable. I’d rather feel safe that that isn’t going to happen again.

I’d actually really like to be having sex, and I’ve wanted to for some time. But I can’t seem to find anyone I’m attracted to, who is also attracted to me, who’s cool with not stripping down immediately. I’ve dated several guys in the last couple of years, but when they want to have sex and I say I’d like to wait, they lose interest. No, I don’t explain my past experience, because I don’t believe I am obligated to give a good enough reason to postpone sex. A good enough reason should be, “I don’t want to yet.” I also shouldn’t have to fall all over myself reassuring them that yes, I will have sex with them at some point in the future, as if they’d otherwise be wasting their time dating me.

I haven’t had success meeting anyone at work or in my grad school classes, or anywhere else. I’ve asked friends, and no one knows anyone to set me up with. So my dating has primarily been guys I meet on online dating websites. Is there some hidden, untapped market for non-religious, smart, funny, feminist guys who don’t think you’re a nutjob if you don’t want bone them before you even know them very well? If so, please share, or tell me what the heck I’m doing wrong here.

Signed,

Ladypants.

A: Hi Ladypants,

First of all, I’m so sorry to hear you are a victim of assault; it’s a terrible ordeal that no one should have to go through once, let alone multiple times. Given your past experiences I understand why you are so cautious of trusting others, and you have every right to feel this way.

However communication is key in building a strong, trusting relationship, and it has to go both ways. Your personal information is your business, but I think it will be healthier for everyone involved if you are a little more forward in regards to your expectations of the relationship from the beginning. It’s possible to say: “I’m very interested in you, I would like to get to know you more, and I’m definitely physically attracted to you. But due to some past negative experiences, I would like to wait to have sex.” Be direct and honest, because a little bit of honesty and openness goes a long way towards building trust.

And while you shouldn’t fall all over yourself to reassure someone, I don’t think it’s unfair to have multiple discussions on the topic, because you’re not the only person in the relationship. It’s important to for the other person to respect your feelings, but you also need to remember to respect their feelings as well.

As for the sex issue, if you want to wait for the “perfect moment” that’s totally cool, but sometimes you can miss quite a few good opportunities that way. Ultimately you need to take your time, and do what’s right for you. Just remember that communication is key, and that it takes two people to make a relationship successful.

Perdita

***

Got Problems? Let SuicideGirls’ team of Agony Aunts provide solutions. Email questions to: gotproblems@suicidegirls.com

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Oct 2012 18

by Laurelin

“And it’s electric: the neon hurt inside your phone call…”
~Something Corporate

There are few things in life I love and hate more than the glow and vibrating of a cell phone when you’re expecting something big. I use the term “big” loosely; 9 times out of 10 I’ve just said something to a guy and I’m not sure what he’s going to say: minutes crawl by like hours and then (as though I had been holding my breath the whole time) there it is, the reassuring buzz and glow. When that buzz is never returned however, we enter the moments where you become acutely aware you had been holding your breath, and you make that conscious decision to slowly exhale or simply pass out.

I remember one relationship in particular; one where when I woke up one morning he was just… gone. He had left me, I knew it, but when something so drastic happens you don’t just process it and know to move on. Your world is rocked, your foundation shaken to the core and everything you trusted – especially yourself – is betrayed. A year went by and everyday seemed the same, but in reality, a year is a year, and I suppose I was healing.

I remember I was at a party and I wasn’t even thinking about him. I was in a tube top that kept falling down and I stepped outside to the front step where no one inside would see me so I could tug it up. Mid tug my cell phone buzzed, and in the darkness of that October night I saw his name glowing. I literally felt my heart stop and I put my hand out to steady myself against the front door. I answered the call, and what happened after that is now insignificant and trite, but I will never forget that feeling; the wind knocked out of me with just a small glow in the dark.

Fast forward to now and I’m realizing that once again, I have made a mistake and started to let someone in, when really they had no business in my life in the first place. This isn’t a time stopping event, probably not even worth writing about, but I know I am and I probably will again. His texts, now few and far between, still managed to ruin my dinner when I looked down over a plate of crab rangoon and saw his name glowing in the gloom. Suddenly I wasn’t hungry and I wanted to dunk my iPhone into the giant bowl of duck sauce.

Earlier that day it had been a text from a married ex. “Saw this and thought of you,” he had said, sending a photo of a CD that played our song. Another one had stopped by the bar the night before and hugged me. “I’m sorry, I’m an ass and I didn’t call you on your birthday,” he said. “It’s okay,” I mumbled. “I didn’t call you on yours either.” He tells me to call him sometime, and I say I will although I know I won’t because I deleted his phone number when I was finally able to delete him from my life. I don’t expect to hear from him anytime soon.

I realize that I’m drifting off into my egg drop soup and I snap back to reality, tucking my cell phone into my purse and deciding to not look at it for the next hour. Suddenly it buzzes and I glance down just one last time. My defeated face turns into a bright grin, my cheeks turning red and my friends start to giggle and ask to see pictures when I show them who it is. Those boys… they know just the right moment to pop up and say hi. I make a conscious decision to leave my phone out of the duck sauce after all.

***

Laurelin is running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for breast cancer research and awareness on Saturday, October 20th; every donation counts and is greatly appreciated.

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