NYU Local http://nyulocal.com The Blog of New York University Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:01:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Importance Of The FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision http://nyulocal.com/national/2015/03/02/fcc-net-neutrality-decision/ http://nyulocal.com/national/2015/03/02/fcc-net-neutrality-decision/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:01:19 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129413 ATTENTION millennials: this has everything to do with your daily life and your undoubtedly large dependency on the internet. On February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made the decision to uphold a free and open internet. Don’t take this for granted because the decision is a huge deal, as it determines how easily you can access just about... Read More

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ATTENTION millennials: this has everything to do with your daily life and your undoubtedly large dependency on the internet.

On February 26, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made the decision to uphold a free and open internet. Don’t take this for granted because the decision is a huge deal, as it determines how easily you can access just about any of your favorite web-based destinations.

Net Neutrality can actually be defined as prohibiting online discrimination and giving any individual, organization, or company the same chance to share their ideas and find an audience.

One of the main arguments for net neutrality is to prevent the biggest internet corporations from using side-stream flows of money to gain better, faster access to the internet. Netflix (as much as we love you) had been engaging in a Pay-To-Play game where they gave ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) extra pay-outs to gain access to a separate VIP connection lane that made it way easier and faster for you to access their content, than let’s say, your favorite WordPress account (NYU Local).

Not only was this considered legal, but it was even encouraged by providers who got the extra cash, and were able to clear some of the traffic from the “basic” gateways that are crowded with internet powerhouses like Google, Amazon, etc. On the surface, this seems pretty reasonable right?

This is essentially the equivalent of a Monopoly economy for the largest internet players, directing most traffic to the biggest sites, and inflicting huge losses to the potential traffic and profit of small websites.

For illustration of just how powerful these side-streams can be, look to Netflix: “during peak hours in North America, Netflix accounts for over one third of “downstream” Internet traffic, which is the data received (rather than sent) by computers.”

Groups against neutrality claim that letting conglomerates use a side-stream to pay internet service providers for faster access is convenient, organized, and overall a necessity.

Would it be right to delegate which sites run faster than others? Think about it this way: say a breaking story hits every major news site claiming a civilian has been injured intentionally by a law enforcer. Then imagine an individual blogger claims to have video evidence of this occurring. Before Net Neutrality, ISPs had the legal right to intentionally slow the blogger’s site on your computer if it so desired, making it more difficult for you to access that information (it’s been done!).

Here’s the catch too: big sites like Netflix and Google are all for Net Neutrality. They know their product will thrive either way, and net neutrality will deliver the internet longevity that their companies need to survive. It’s the internet service providers who continue to push back against a free internet.

The FCC’s decision not only prevents service providers from playing favorites, it also reclassifies internet service as a public utility (like electric and heat), artificially keeping the price of access low (meaning you won’t be forced to pay more for your favorite, mainstream, basic b!@#$ websites).

Service providers aren’t backing down though. They refuse to recognize the FCC’s decision as the end of the game. There are major talks of mergers where AT&T and Comcast are trying to buy out providers like Time Warner Cable for billions of dollars to gain control of more than half of this country’s internet property. That’s a lot.

This case is definitely one for the books, and the decision that was just recently made will be one that our kids and even their kids may refer to as the beginning of an open internet.

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De Blasio, Guinness, And Queers To Boycott St. Pat’s Parade http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/03/02/de-blasio-guinness-queers-boycott-st-pats-parade/ http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/03/02/de-blasio-guinness-queers-boycott-st-pats-parade/#respond Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:59:27 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129417 Mayor de Blasio marched through the snow yesterday at the Queens St. Patrick’s Day Parade, also known as “St. Pat’s for All,” an unrelated event to the larger and more famous Fifth Avenue parade. Walking alongside other city officials, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, de Blasio’s attendance at the snowy event is part of... Read More

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Protesters At St Patrick's Day Parade

Mayor de Blasio marched through the snow yesterday at the Queens St. Patrick’s Day Parade, also known as “St. Pat’s for All,” an unrelated event to the larger and more famous Fifth Avenue parade. Walking alongside other city officials, including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, de Blasio’s attendance at the snowy event is part of a continuing saga of the mayor’s primary grievance with the citywide St. Patrick’s Day parade that is to take place on March 17th: that is, that the parade excludes LGBTQ revelers.

De Blasio’s decision not to participate this year isn’t the first time he’s turning a cold shoulder to the boozy promenade. He boycotted the parade last year, too, claiming that the parade was not “really and truly inclusive at all.” This criticism stems from the fact that, until very recently, all LGBTQ organizations and groups were banned from the city’s oldest parade. The parade’s organizers made history, pathetically, in November when they decided to permit exactly one LGBTQ group to march under its banner at the parade. This one lucky group, Out@NBCUniversal, has been admitted for the 2015 parade (pssst: their affiliated NBC news is the one who broadcasts the whole event). Other groups, including the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization, continue to be denied and encouraged to “apply next year.”

De Blasio, who hasn’t marched during his tenure as mayor of NYC and also did not participate while holding office as a public advocate, has chosen repeatedly to decline to attend the event because he “simply [disagrees] with the organizers of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in this city,” CBS reports. In fact, many organizations have faltered in their support for the exclusionary parade, and groups such as the New York City Council and even Guinness have chosen to boycott the parade’s stance on the matter. Other beer companies, including Boston Beers (brewers of Sam Adams beers) and Heineken have also cut support to St. Patrick’s Day parades in other cities due to a failure of the parade organizers to support LGBTQ organizations.

The NYC parade’s official stance on LGBTQ is ambiguous and unwelcoming: although such individuals are allowed to march, they are not permitted to carry a banner representation the organization they are marching with. This apparently all stems from the notion that the St. Patrick’s Day parade is a Catholic event, filled with sacred Catholic rituals such as chugging green dyed beer from a stein emblazoned with glittering shamrocks and then vomiting and passing out in the street at noon.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, apparently oblivious to such rowdy behavior that is literally unavoidable everywhere in New York on March 17th, has said that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community will not be welcomed with their representative groups because “they have a tendency to act up,” and they don’t “[keep] their pants on…you guys [the LGBTQ community] have masturbated in the street…I have pictures of what went on in the Stonewall 1994 gay pride parade.” Donohue has also complained that he would likely not be welcome at an LGBTQ even such as NYC’s annual Pride Parade marching under a Catholic League banner. When the organizers of that parade welcomed Donohue to march, he reneged.

 

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Art That Pleases, Art That Disturbs http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/27/art-pleases-art-disturbs/ http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/27/art-pleases-art-disturbs/#respond Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:45:31 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129374 The New York Academy of Art in Tribeca is currently exhibiting “Beautiful Beast,” a sculpture show featuring sixteen different artists that play with the uncanny beauty that often accompanies the grotesque. Arguably one of the finest exhibits that the Academy has put on in recent years, “Beautiful Beast” teeters on a fine line between what... Read More

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The New York Academy of Art in Tribeca is currently exhibiting “Beautiful Beast,” a sculpture show featuring sixteen different artists that play with the uncanny beauty that often accompanies the grotesque. Arguably one of the finest exhibits that the Academy has put on in recent years, “Beautiful Beast” teeters on a fine line between what constitutes as beautiful and also what disturbs the human emotion.

The show possesses a myriad of different mediums: foam, stainless steel, wax, fiberglass, carved wood, video installation and many mixed media projects. Sculptor Mark Mennin, for example, debuted his work of a human-chicken hybrid at this exhibit. Many other sculptor’s also played with the idea of the human form, elongating it to form elegant yet disturbing, worm-like, sculptures that completely subvert our sense of beauty. Patricia Piccini created almost discomforting images of tenderness between human forms and beasts. The whole exhibit is a fantastical, imaginative, scene of unencumbered creativity.

“The Piper,” a plastic and polystyrene (styrofoam) sculpture by Folkert de Jon perfectly encapsulates the juxtaposition of the innocent and the monstrous that the entire show evokes. It features a kilted man who appears to be playing a cotton-candy pink set of bagpipes. His face, however, is green and his eyes are red, and he possess an uncanny distant gaze. His leg is broken and braced in a pale pink cast. The work is unsettling, but at the same time you can’t take your eyes off of it and you can’t quite figure it out.

All of the art in the exhibition truly engages the viewer in many ways. The genius and mastery that went into creating all of the works is undeniably awe-inspiring, but it also fosters a sense of wonder at what inspired these artists. One wonders what this means or what was the message they were trying to convey, or if there was a message at all. Overall this whole exhibit does what very few art shows recently have been able to accomplish: it strongly provokes the thoughts of the viewer.

The New York Academy of Art was founded in the 1970s by a serious of popular artists including Andy Warhol and like its founders in the 70’s, the art that comes out of it today continues to break down boundaries and reflect the culture of the times. “Beautiful Beast” runs until March 8th at the Wilkinson Gallery and is free to the public from 2 – 8 pm everyday except Wednesdays.

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The Carolina Panthers Let DeAngelo Williams Down http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/27/carolina-panthers-let-deangelo-williams/ http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/27/carolina-panthers-let-deangelo-williams/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:00:23 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129357 Last week, the Carolina Panthers notified longtime running back DeAngelo Williams that they would be parting ways with him this offseason. Williams has been a Panther since he was drafted 26th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft; in his nine seasons with the team, the shifty runner amassed a franchise-high 6,846 rushing yards and 46... Read More

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Cincinnati Bengals v Carolina Panthers

Last week, the Carolina Panthers notified longtime running back DeAngelo Williams that they would be parting ways with him this offseason. Williams has been a Panther since he was drafted 26th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft; in his nine seasons with the team, the shifty runner amassed a franchise-high 6,846 rushing yards and 46 rushing TDs, though this past season he dealt with injuries. Alongside his counterpart Jonathan Stewart, Williams has long been known as the better half of the NFL’s most reliable rushing duo.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Williams is a huge fan-favorite and one of the most beloved Panthers in history. The team has one of the less-storied pasts in the NFL, and the 31-year-old’s 2008 season sticks out as one of the bright spots: 1,515 yards and 18 TDs. While his total career statistics are not eye-popping, that can justifiably be attributed to him sacrificing carries to Stewart. Regardless, ask anyone and they will tell you that DeAngelo Williams has always been one of the league’s better rushers.

That’s what make his claim that last year, when his mother Sandra Hill passed from breast cancer, the Panthers organization made little to no effort to reach out and grieve with one of the faces of its franchise. It makes sports fans take a step back and lament the fact that the culture of camaraderie we see in levels below professional leagues does not seem to translate once checks start coming in the mail.

Recently, in the second part of his Trade Value column, Bill Simmons refers to the uniqueness of the organizational values that the San Antonio Spurs honed over the Gregg Popovich era:

Last season, I taped an episode of NBA Countdown with Avery when the Spurs were in town; Pop invited him out to dinner with his team that night. Why? Because, as far as Pop was concerned, Avery Johnson was still on the team. No other NBA franchise operates that way. It just doesn’t happen.”

That conclusion is sad. I guarantee that there are maybe a handful of teams across all of the Big Four pro sports leagues that treat their current and former players like the Spurs do, and that might be an exaggeration. From one perspective, it is costly to keep a certain culture around a team—when the time for tough decisions to be made comes around, things can get muddled. For example, Danny Ainge trading Paul Pierce was something that seemed inevitable but ended up being tough to grasp (and it still is).

The other side will argue, however, that it is precisely that culture that ends up increasing the odds of what everyone wants: to win. The money, the recognition, the bragging rights, they all come with winning, and winning a lot. This theory would assert that it is not a tough fiscal decision, but rather the smartest fiscal decision to invest in a strong team and front office identity. The clubs that do this end up being the ones that consistently finish at the top of the standings and go deep into the playoffs. The Spurs, for one. The Patriots, the Cardinals, etc. the list goes on and on.

Williams case is more of a disappointing isolated situation. But, and I am saying this purely as an outsider I realize that, it may very well be reflective of the internal interactions the team has on a daily basis. After all, the Steve Smith stay in Carolina was always rocky, and Julius Peppers leaving was something the team was powerless to stop. Perhaps the Carolina Panthers, starting with owner Jerry Richardson and down the list, need to reevaluate what their identity is and what it should be.

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Bacteria Map of New York City Subway Stations Finally Gives Scared Freshmen An Excuse To Not Ride The Subway http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/27/bacteria-map-new-york-city-subway-stations-finally-gives-scared-freshmen-excuse-take-ride-subway/ http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/27/bacteria-map-new-york-city-subway-stations-finally-gives-scared-freshmen-excuse-take-ride-subway/#respond Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:11:34 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129385 In case you needed something else to worry about today, scientists with Pathomap are identifying and mapping the bacteria of New York City’s 466 subway stations. Everyday, 5.5 million New Yorkers ride the subway and, so far, researchers have identified 67 more ways to possibly die on the subway: 67 bacteria species are associated with... Read More

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In case you needed something else to worry about today, scientists with Pathomap are identifying and mapping the bacteria of New York City’s 466 subway stations. Everyday, 5.5 million New Yorkers ride the subway and, so far, researchers have identified 67 more ways to possibly die on the subway: 67 bacteria species are associated with disease and infections, including sepsis, anthrax, and an antibiotic resistant microbe known as “Iraqibacter”

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College took swabs of multiple surfaces in each location and sampled the DNA, finding that 47% of the genetic material was bacterial. The Bronx showed the most bacterial diversity, while Brooklyn and Manhattan were in the middle range. Staten Island–proving, yet again, to be the most boring of the five boroughs–had the lowest bacterial diversity. An interactive map is available courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Just like snowflakes, the bacteria of two subway stations are never alike: 8th Street – NYU on the N/R line showed evidence of food poisoning, radiation resistance, and toxic clean-up, while the B/D/F/M stop at Rockefeller Center was a cornucopia of both danger and flavors, including three different kinds of cheese, sauerkraut and kimchi, and also sepsis. The Manhattan South Ferry Station on the 1 subway line–the only station to be flooded during Superstorm Sandy–had what researchers called “the most unique bacteria,” showing genetic material assumed to belong to fish in the Antarctic.

But don’t freak out! Researchers insist that these data indicate that, “the subway, in general, is primarily a safe surface.” This sentence, however, is followed up by:

Although evidence of B. anthracis, Y. pestis, MRSA, and other CDC infectious agents was found on the subway system in multiple stations, the results do not suggest that the plague or anthrax is prevalent, nor do they suggest that NYC residents are at risk.

So we may not be catching the plague anytime soon, but it wouldn’t hurt to wash your hands a little more often to keep the sepsis away.

[Photo by Lena Warnke]

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Is Viagra For Women Any Closer To Becoming A Reality? http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/27/drug-turns-women/ http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/27/drug-turns-women/#respond Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:24:30 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129290 Sprout Pharmaceuticals announced last week that they will be resubmitting for FDA approval Flibanserin, their drug that is engineered to increase the female libido. The drug has been rejected twice previously, but third time’s a charm, right? The drug skips lighting your entire 10 square foot studio in Stuyvesant Town with pumpkin spice latte Yankee candles... Read More

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viagra?

Sprout Pharmaceuticals announced last week that they will be resubmitting for FDA approval Flibanserin, their drug that is engineered to increase the female libido. The drug has been rejected twice previously, but third time’s a charm, right?

The drug skips lighting your entire 10 square foot studio in Stuyvesant Town with pumpkin spice latte Yankee candles and playing Beyonce’s Fifty Shades of Grey “Crazy in Love” remix, and instead goes straight to messing with neurotransmitters in the brain which excite hormones relating to arousal, most specifically, dopamine and norepinephrine, while decreasing serotonin which can reduce arousal. It is intended to be used as a treatment for HSDD or Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in premenopausal women.

For many women’s rights activists, since the creation of viagra, a male sex drug, the creation of the female counterpart has been seen as an important component of gender equality. There are those who argue that a ‘female viagra’ pill is almost essential for men and women to exist equally. Some even argue that the FDA is treading water over the approval of this drug because of some sort of sexist bias within the organisation.

The contrary argument to the necessity of the so-called ‘pink viagra’, is that this drug is not a perfect female analogue to Viagra, and because of this, it is an unnecessary development in increasing gender equality.

Viagra is a vasodilator that affects only the male’s physical ability to have sex, rather than his desire to have it. Flibanserin, on the other hand, affects the brain and induces arousal, something that viagra does not do at all. There is no drug that aims to induce either male or female arousal in the same way as Flibanserin. For some reason, no one’s spent much time trying to create a drug that increases male sexual arousal.

Of course, there are those who argue that the FDA’s reluctance to approve the drug is due to safety concerns and also the possibility that the drug is just not terribly effective, not because of some inherent sexism in either culture or within the organisation itself.

However, Leonore Tiefer, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at NYU and one of the few people who can legitimately claim that their field of study is sexology, argues in an interview with Wired that conflicts over whether the drug is necessary for gender equality or even effective cloud the far more important issue: that the US has medicalized sex to a destructive extent.

She argues that pharmaceutical companies, intent on driving profit and creating problems for themselves to solve in order to do so, are helping to distort the concept and the range of ‘normal’ sexual behaviour. In the interview, she goes to some lengths to laud the existence of a variety of sexual lifestyles and promoting the validity of all, from binary fission to bland fifty shades stuff.

Although it is important not to dismiss this new drug as without medical utility, perhaps its creation and the arguments surrounding it throw into sharper relief wider cultural considerations on sex and more importantly, those who are perhaps curating sex culture for the purposes of profit and consumerism, rather than for the sake of health.

[Image Via]

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Go To The Biblical Art Museum Or Suffer The Consequences (Hell) http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/27/go-biblical-art-museum-go-hell/ http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/27/go-biblical-art-museum-go-hell/#respond Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:45:36 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129355 New York Heathens! You live in the modern day city of Sodom, it is time to renounce your false Yeezus idols and silence your Twitter prophets. Rejoice! It’s time to visit the Biblical Art Museum. Located right near Columbus Circle, the Museum of Biblical Art (MoBIA) focuses on all art inspired by the holy bible.... Read More

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BN-GX150_0210do_H_20150210163940New York Heathens! You live in the modern day city of Sodom, it is time to renounce your false Yeezus idols and silence your Twitter prophets. Rejoice! It’s time to visit the Biblical Art Museum.

Located right near Columbus Circle, the Museum of Biblical Art (MoBIA) focuses on all art inspired by the holy bible. While the Museum is located underneath the American Bible Society’s New York building, the museum itself is a secular group and is a cultural resource for all types of visitors.

The MoBIA is tiny. With only one open gallery space, and a room for film viewings, don’t expect to spend hours exploring art like a field day to the Met. “Tightly focused” is an expression used by MoBIA’s to describe the bite-sized displays the venue has to present.

Currently showcasing “Sculpture in the Age of Donatello,” however, this collection makes a strong argument for the subway ride uptown. Featuring works from the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Flore in Florence, the pieces depict a period in the city-states history of artistic exploration. Looking at works from 1400 – 1450, the collections highlights are the sculptures from greats of the likes of Nanni di Banco and Donatello, with other fascinating pieces such as bronze reliefs and wood models of the legendary Duomo.

Now’s the chance to skip the Florence study abroad all together! Go to the MoBIA and get a taste of the incredible art the city has to offer.

To get the most from this little collection, bring an Art history major who knows a thing about the Italian Renaissance. With such a short collection, it might be easy to overlook the true power of these works without a proper context.

At $9 for students, the MoBIA is not cheap. At most a trip to see “Sculpture in the Age of Donatello” might take 20 minutes. While the collection is fascinating, the price might not make this trip the best value for the pressed student budget.

While you’re at the museum, walk down stairs and check out the American Bible Society café and lounge. Visitors are welcome to just hang out and sit on the couches at their leisure.

Maybe grab some coffee, talk about the Good News. Lets face it, ever since you moved to New York you stopped going to church and frankly your grandmother is concerned about your spiritual life. Call her up and tell her you went to the Biblical Art Museum. For the love of God, it’s the least you can do.

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Queer NYU Students Weigh In On Why Angel Haze And Ireland Baldwin’s Relationship Matters http://nyulocal.com/entertainment/2015/02/27/queer-nyu-students-weigh-angel-haze-ireland-baldwins-relationship-matters/ http://nyulocal.com/entertainment/2015/02/27/queer-nyu-students-weigh-angel-haze-ireland-baldwins-relationship-matters/#respond Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:10:12 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129370 On February 2nd, famously out/agender rapper Raeen Roes, better known by their stage name Angel Haze, dropped a new song. Not just any song, but “Candlxs,” a gushy, yet gorgeous tribute to their girlfriend, Ireland Baldwin. The cover art is hand-painted by Roes themself, and features the couple sitting close, backs to the proverbial camera.... Read More

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On February 2nd, famously out/agender rapper Raeen Roes, better known by their stage name Angel Haze, dropped a new song. Not just any song, but “Candlxs,” a gushy, yet gorgeous tribute to their girlfriend, Ireland Baldwin. The cover art is hand-painted by Roes themself, and features the couple sitting close, backs to the proverbial camera. The whole package is quite cute and lends a weary listener some faith in true love.

On February 3rd, Haze and Baldwin broke up, subsequently breaking the hearts of queers the world over. The world was over, right?

On February 5th, Haze tweeted a picture of Baldwin (looking damn fine), captioned with hearts and whatnot. And all was well in the world again.

To clarify, I don’t have many shits to give about celebrity breakups/makeups. I’m not sure Haze, 23, and Baldwin, 19, even qualify as “celebrities,” with the former a talented artist and the latter criminally gorgeous progeny (her dad is Alec Baldwin). And I sure as hell am not socially aware enough to lend my burgeoning, partially-formed opinions to this article – gayness aside. I will say that coming out of a “cult,” as Haze did, makes growing up brown and lesbian in Mississippi sound like nirvana. But I digress.

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Angel Haze and Ireland Baldwin are so very important. Here’s why (and why not), brought to you by a handful of your friendly neighborhood queers:

“Being queer is constantly having your body and affection policed – who’s allowed to show affection with which bodies, where. So here comes this this teenage, biracial queer couple who don’t give a fuck about identity politics or being a “good” lesbian couple, fucking up the game. Who get tattoos after two months and U-Haul after four, and then get dogs. It’s the queer dream. Also, Angel goes by “they” pronouns now and constantly corrects people’s ideas that they’re gay, identifying as pansexual. (Finger snaps into the depths of hell.)” – Sophie, Gallatin ‘16

“I have very little investment in their relationship. I pretty much live vicariously through Sophie on that one, because she’s pretty obsessed. My girlfriend Claire says, ‘I could not care less about their relationship. And I don’t think anyone else should.’” – Em and Claire, Gallatin and CAS ‘16

“I like the positive (from what I’ve seen) media coverage of an interracial queer couple, that’s great. And that Haze recently came out as agender on Twitter, that’s huge for representation.” – Hayley, Nursing ‘15

“I agree with the comments Haze has made about interracial dating, particularly between two women. I feel that queer lady relationships (especially with younger adults) are kind of trivialized/fetishized by media as just two girl who are friends. That kind of attitude, I think, permits the rest of society to have the same sort of view when they see queer lady couples. For all queer relationships, the media’s commentary and attention creates an example for others – that they can comment on queer relationships they see in public. I’m constantly berated by guys’ stares and comments when I show any sort of affection to a partner of mine. I understand that a lot of why those interactions happen is due to patriarchy and other issues, but I think there is one component of that interaction that is caused by this influence from media’s report of couples that two ladies engaged in intimate contact are just friends.” – Carrie, Steinhardt ‘15

“I’m really into Angel Haze, I think she’s fun and queer, so we’re on the same team. But I think this [their relationship] won’t pick up any traction, honestly. People care about male gayness because it disgusts some people. Honestly two cis white, skinny, hot girls [Angel Haze is Native American and African] in entertainment together just invokes horniness in the general population. Angel said some funny stuff about ‘people confusing them for friends’ but it’s like WOW, I’m so sorry your life isn’t in danger like butch queer women. Most of my queer lady friends are genderqueer and their personal style pisses people off sometimes because of their androgyny. Like, right by NYU, a group of ‘dykey’ lesbians were attacked in front of the IFC, a very white space. And these women were charged with heinous crimes – most of them went to jail. When Angel Haze whines about not being seen as a lesbian, it’s an extremely white-girl shallow thing to say.” – Skye, Steinhardt ‘16

“I feel good about there being an interracial queer couple gaining popular attention. I also love Angel Haze. And I think she forces people to confront their assumptions about hip-hop, black women, queer women and black queer women. Her cover of ‘Same Love’ demonstrates everything that is wrong with Macklemore’s original version and his commercial success as a result of queer people’s narratives. I think the way people talk about Ireland Baldwin and Angel Haze also exposes continued discomfort about bother queer relationships and interracial relationships.” – Simone, CAS ‘15

“The first time I heard Angel Haze’s music, I was really blown away. Her lyrics have both a tragic and powerful poetic force. ‘Battle Cry’ is a beautiful and bone-chilling song. As an artist, I respect her willingness to be unapologetically vulnerable in front of everyone like this. And then to find out that she identified as pansexual felt like Christmas. We need more outspoken performers keeping it real like that, talking directly about sexually traumatic experiences while also being proud of their sexuality and identity – and not having the two be in conflict, nor be causal to ‘queerness’. As a person of color with Native American roots, Angel Haze’s art and voice act also as a breath of much-needed fresh air for today’s predominately white-washed pop culture. I think people don’t really know how to react to lesbian relationships or any relationships between women (cis or trans), for that matter. Think of the media’s portrayal of the relationship between Kristen Stewart and her ‘gal pal’ Alicia Cargile. Even if there is nothing sexual actually going on between them, there still seems to be an ongoing effort to de-sexualize any relationship between women, especially when they are both have a certain amount of social or cultural power. Love and sex between women, agender, or trans folk is still made invisible and seen as threatening or perhaps just inconceivable to the mainstream.” – Sophie, CAS ‘14

“When they broke up, I literally got three different text messages from three different lesbians. There were Facebook statuses going ‘Oh my god, what the fuck?!?’ And I think it’s because she’s a normal girl [Ireland Baldwin], a normal pretty person who is openly – hardcore openly – dating a girl. They’ve been on the red carpet, there’s no sketchy coverage or ‘I’m actually bisexual’ stuff going on – they’re really dating each other. That’s what so appealing, what’s such a big deal. It’s like ‘holy shit, you can do that!’ She’s a hyper-reality of a person – tall, gorgeous, famous parents and everything. And she’s one of us! One of the top people is part of our crew now! The LGBTQ community is so small anyway, having this – we bond over it. You know how if there’s one lesbian character on a TV show – even if she’s just in one episode – you freak out and watch the entire series just to support the one appearance of queerness? This is like that. It’s on a national stage and repetitious and true. Your head fucking explodes.” – Lindsay, CAS ‘15

And there you have it, folks.

[Images via]

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New York State To Show New Videos About Avoiding Rape In Prison During Orientation Process http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/26/new-york-state-corrections-department-show-new-videos-avoiding-rape-prison-orientation-process/ http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/26/new-york-state-corrections-department-show-new-videos-avoiding-rape-prison-orientation-process/#respond Thu, 26 Feb 2015 20:36:04 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129327 How to avoid getting raped in prison: this is the topic of a new set of New York State inmate orientation videos released earlier this week by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit nonpartisan news organization covering America’s criminal justice system. Both films–one for male correctional facilities and one for female facilities–are directed by TJ Parsell,... Read More

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How to avoid getting raped in prison: this is the topic of a new set of New York State inmate orientation videos released earlier this week by The Marshall Project, a nonprofit nonpartisan news organization covering America’s criminal justice system.

Both films–one for male correctional facilities and one for female facilities–are directed by TJ Parsell, an ex-convict who, on the first night of his incarceration at age 17, was drugged and raped by a fellow inmate. The films are interesting in the fact that they’re not what one would expect from an orientation video: that is, 20 minutes of a smiling bureaucrat preaching bullshit.  While the Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections makes an appearance in both videos to emphasize that sexual assault should never be a part of serving one’s sentence, the majority of both films is current and former inmates sharing their experiences upon entering prison, as well as how their preconceived ideas of being “locked up” compared with reality.

The underlying theme of both videos is that, increased public awareness of prison rape means that it no longer occurs through the violent group assaults we see on television, it still happens. Now, however, predators force their victims into submission, not through force, but through subtle long-term manipulation and “grooming” similar to the way pedophiles befriend their victims and gain their trust with the sole purpose of lowering their victims’ inhibitions to make sexual assault easier.

The interviewed convicts describe the political machine-esque way that their assailants took advantage of their naïveté and fear by providing new inmates with things–such as shower slippers or cigarettes–out of the kindness of their hearts and supposedly for free. For many, the sexual abuse began later, when they were called upon to pay a debt they didn’t know they possessed. Thus, the convicts interviewed nearly all agreed that new inmates should look out for over-friendly strangers. Most likely, such generosity is not just a kind soul looking’s way to look out for the new guy, but rather is a sign of psychological manipulation that may lead to sexual violence. In fact, some inmates describes being manipulated so well that it was not until years after their sentences were up that they realized they had been raped.

There are some differences in the men’s and women’s versions of the film. The film for men’s correctional facilities has an added section about choosing a safe workout partner. One thing TV got right was the importance of exercise in what one may call “prison culture”; however, inmates say that what’s called the “weight pile” is often a sexual predator’s playground, for they can earn a new inmate’s trust easily by offering to be a spotter, work-out partner, or help in another way. Eventually, a predator may manipulate that trust into an eventual sexual relationship.

The women’s version mentions the added threat of sexual violence towards lesbian or transgendered inmates. One gay convict said that her masculine appearance–her “butchness”–made her a target, because it was assumed that she’d be easier to rape, because she already “liked girls.”

Public awareness of raped in prison is a rarely new phenomenon. In general, society doesn’t seem to like to think about the human rights of convicted criminals, because “you do the crime, you do the time.” In fact, there is no accurate assessment of how many convicted individuals are raped while serving their sentences every year, for it is an uncomfortable topic and reporting often seems useless due to fear that complaints will go ignored. However, the fact that it is necessary to show new inmates a 20-minute video about preventing sexual assault speaks to the greatness of the problem.

[Image via]

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There Are A Lot More Printers At NYU Than You Think! http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/26/theres-lot-printers-nyu-think/ http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/26/theres-lot-printers-nyu-think/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:45:41 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129265 This is a PSA for all those times you’re trying to fit in printing, grabbing lunch and calling your mom on your twenty minute walk to class, and you know that waiting in those ridiculous lines at Bobst will make you late. Here’s where the Printers around campus are. Bobst: LL2, LL1, BLCC Floors 1,... Read More

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This is a PSA for all those times you’re trying to fit in printing, grabbing lunch and calling your mom on your twenty minute walk to class, and you know that waiting in those ridiculous lines at Bobst will make you late.

Here’s where the Printers around campus are.

Bobst:

LL2, LL1, BLCC
Floors 1, 4, 5, 6 & 9 south
Floor 3, east

Other Places Around Campus:

25 West 4th Street, C Level
35 West 4th Street, 2nd Floor
14 Washginton Place, Lower Level
Leslie eLab (16 Washington Place)
Kimmel Center 2nd Floor
Kimmel Center 4th Floor
60 Washington Square South, 4th Floor
Academic Resource Center, 18 Washington Place

Other:
Third North, C3
Gramercy Green, 4th Floor
Color Printing:

Bobst LL1
Computer Center Help Desk
5th Floor Research Commons

Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments.

[Image Via]

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In Wake of Nation’s First Debt Strike, Students Respond Strongly http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/26/wake-nations-first-debt-strike-students-respond-strongly/ http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/26/wake-nations-first-debt-strike-students-respond-strongly/#respond Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:52:00 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129283 Monday, February 23, may mark a new phase in the fight against the student debt goliath, and the latest tactic is surprisingly simple: Don’t pay your loans. It’s being called a “debt strike,” and for fifteen former students from the for-profit Everest College, it has begun. Corresponding with the strike announcement, The Rolling Jubilee, an... Read More

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Monday, February 23, may mark a new phase in the fight against the student debt goliath, and the latest tactic is surprisingly simple: Don’t pay your loans.

It’s being called a “debt strike,” and for fifteen former students from the for-profit Everest College, it has begun. Corresponding with the strike announcement, The Rolling Jubilee, an organization dedicated to fighting debt, announced that it has erased over $13 million in student loans held by 9,438 former Everest students.

The fifteen debt strikers were enrolled in Everest College, a subsidiary of Corinthian Colleges, Inc. The education corporation has been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny recently. Alarmed by potential predatory practices, Senator Tom Harkin led an investigation into Corinthian Colleges. His report found that recruiters are “trained to discourage and deflect questions about cost from students.” The report also found internal Corinthian documents showing that recruiters were trained mainly to sell the program, not advise students. It quotes a hiring manual stating, “remember that this is a sales position and the new hire must understand that from the very beginning.”

Corinthian Colleges have been underperforming. Students find that they were mislead about job prospects after graduation, as many potential employers do not respect their degree. Many also report having difficulty transferring credit to new colleges. But regardless of the misleading practices and Corinthian’s inability to live up to its promises, the students are stuck with their loans.

This unfortunate equation for the students is being challenged. The Rolling Jubilee’s abolition of debt is more than just symbolic for the over 9,000 students who were effected by it. By purchasing risky debt off the secondary market, the group is able to acquire significant amounts of debt for pennies on the dollar. The group has previously purchased and forgiven about $14 million of medical and student debt.

Strike Debt, the mother organization of The Rolling Jubilee, has also announced a new project to accompany the debt strike. The Debt Collective is a pilot debtors’ union that’s first task is supporting the fifteen indebted Everest College students on strike. The organization hopes to spark a national movement, with debt strikes by alumni at many more colleges. “We shouldn’t be forced into debt to cover basic needs like healthcare, housing and education,” says one of Strike Debt’s members in a promotional video.

The logic of the strike is easy to follow. “If you owe the bank a thousand dollars, the bank owns you. If you owe the bank a trillion dollars, you own the bank. Together, we own the bank,” reads the Debt Collective’s website. So the question is, will the debtors get together?

NYU professor and active Strike Debt member Andrew Ross is hopeful. He believes the Debt Collective’s first step is to demonstrate proof of concept. “If [the striking debtors] win and have their debts discharged, it will show the power of collection action on this issue,” he said over the phone.

The actions also serve another goal. “There’s a lot of interest, the whole idea was to build interest” for future action said Ross.  Media coverage of the strike has been substantial. The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Guardian, Aljazeera, and others wrote on the announcements. So far, only a few days after the news broke, over 1,000 former Corinthian students have expressed interest in joining the strike.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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Russian Opposition Addresses Russian LGBTQ Rights In The West Village http://nyulocal.com/national/2015/02/26/russian-oppositioner-addresses-russian-lgbtq-rights-west-village/ http://nyulocal.com/national/2015/02/26/russian-oppositioner-addresses-russian-lgbtq-rights-west-village/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 17:28:31 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129330 Located deep in the West Village and not far from the infamous Stonewall Inn is Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), the largest LGBTQ synagogue in (at least) America, which describes itself as “passionate, provocative, and ‎deeply Jewish… [CBST] rejoices in diversity, denounces social injustice ‎wherever it exists, and strives for human rights for all people.‎”... Read More

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Located deep in the West Village and not far from the infamous Stonewall Inn is Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), the largest LGBTQ synagogue in (at least) America, which describes itself as “passionate, provocative, and ‎deeply Jewish… [CBST] rejoices in diversity, denounces social injustice ‎wherever it exists, and strives for human rights for all people.‎” The American, Jewish, and the rainbow freedom flags are proudly displayed next to each other in the CBST congregation room.

Accordingly, CBST hosted a very special guest last night at its 57 Bethune Street location – Russian chess Grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, and currently one of the most outspoken political opponents of Vladimir Putin and his regime, Garry Kasparov.

LGBTQ rights in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union are severely under-discussed, especially by Russian nationals and politicians. Kasparov’s mere presence in an LGBTQ synagogue is a breakthrough all in itself, especially for the people in the audience that had just come to America only a few months ago on asylum from Russia, fleeing in order to save their lives from violent persecution.

To set the stage, let us be reminded of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, widespread ignorance of hate crimes against LGBTQ individuals in Russia, and the largely anti-LGBTQ stance of the Russian government, oftentimes equating homosexuality to mental illness and pedophilia. Anti-gay vigilantes in Russia are known worldwide for their “sport” of kidnapping LGBTQ individuals and torturing them, sometimes to the point of death, whilst filming the entire process and posting it online.

Persecution in Russia is not limited to the LGBTQ community. Garry Kasparov himself was forced to leave Russia and move to the United States after being targeted by Putin’s regime for his outspoken democratic stance against corruption and totalitarianism. He is currently one of the most controversial people in Russia, wanted by the government and probably Putin himself.

However, someone who can master a game like chess must know what he’s doing. Kasparov spent the evening addressing the common problem that every member in the audience struggles with: the oppressive Russian government, headed by Vladimir Putin. Different subjects rooted from the common problem – the war in Ukraine, LGBTQ rights in Russia, human rights in Russia, corruption, etc – were touched upon frequently, as well.

Kasparov began the evening by going back to the fall of the Soviet Union: “It looked like we had a good future ahead of us, what the hell happened to the world?” Kasparov did not disappoint when it came to chess analogies, saying that when chess players lose a game they have to go back and analyze the game in order to find what went wrong, much like in history. “I believe in justice in history,” Kasparov said, “We know what happens to thousand-year reichs.”

For Kasparov, the events of today are simple. It is history repeating itself. He believes that the geopolitical situation now is quite similar to the one in 1939, but people do not or cannot accept this. “I was ridiculed for saying Putin will annex Crimea and then move onto Eastern Ukraine a year ago but look at where we are now,” he explained, “We are in the 1930s […] and the price to pay for not acting now will be higher tomorrow.”

Kasparov argued that the world was not doing enough to stop Putin and his anschluss into Ukraine and his crackdown on human rights in Russia, “People try to look into Putin’s eyes but they should look at his record. One of the first things Putin did when he entered the office was restore the Soviet national anthem.”

“History isn’t linear, it is seasonal, and winter is coming,” Kasparov declared. (He admit that “Winter Is Coming” may be the title of his next book, mostly because it’s true but also because he is a big fan of Game of Thrones, like a true American.)

The evening concluded with a return to the topic of LGBTQ rights in Russia. “What happened to human rights in Russia isn’t a surprise,” Kasparov said, “Accepting LGBTQ rights is like accepting the existence of human rights, which Putin does not want to do.” And although Kasparov could not provide a solution for the struggles of the LGBTQ community in Russia, he reassured those that were now restarting their lives in America by saying that people come to America for “opportunities that can only be created when there are equal rights for everyone.”

An audience member who had only recently moved to the United States on asylum from Russia told Kasparov in Russian that he doesn’t know of any Russian oppositioner that would stand next to the rainbow freedom flag. He’s right, the amount of times a Russian politician has stood next to a freedom flag can be counted on perhaps a two-fingered hand, but every time it happens the amount of hope for the future is made infinite.

[image via]

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Porn Musical Offers Free Condoms And A Lot Of Heart http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/26/porn-musical-offers-free-condoms-lot-heart/ http://nyulocal.com/city/2015/02/26/porn-musical-offers-free-condoms-lot-heart/#respond Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:45:31 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129295 Porn musical. When one thinks of this, they might imagine a triple-x version of a popular Broadway musical—just another parody, like Hardcore Seinfeld. Think again: this porn musical is Pretty Filthy, a theatrical exploration of the people involved in the “other Hollywood,” LA’s porn industry. Don’t be fooled by the cartoon-y promo art and free... Read More

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IMG_2933Porn musical. When one thinks of this, they might imagine a triple-x version of a popular Broadway musical—just another parody, like Hardcore Seinfeld. Think again: this porn musical is Pretty Filthy, a theatrical exploration of the people involved in the “other Hollywood,” LA’s porn industry. Don’t be fooled by the cartoon-y promo art and free condoms offered upon arrival, this show is far from parody.

Pretty Filthy was created and developed by The Civilians, a group of multidisciplinary artists helmed by artistic director Steve Cosson, who also directed the show. The Civilians call the work they make “investigative theatre,” collaboratively created through the exploration of a real topic the group is interested in, most commonly through research and interviews. Past topics include climate change and the 1871 Paris socialist revolution. The next step? Adult entertainment.

Theatregoers expect a lot of things when coming to a show. They expect a plot with conflict, resolution, and maybe a love story arc. If they’re coming to see a musical, they expect typical musical theatre songs that sound like the ones they’ve heard before.

At Pretty Filthy, all that is there. Midwestern ingénue Becky dreams of Hollywood and being a (porn) star, and travels to LA to realize her dream, bringing her boyfriend Bobby along with her. Becky and Bobby become Taylor St. Ives and Dick Everhard respectively, and their adult careers skyrocket. They struggle with relationship issues brought on by this unconventional day job and changes in the industry, sing and dance, and along the way we meet a whole slew of other characters.

Rather than breezing over them in lieu of the central plot, these other characters are just as important as anything else and have clearly-articulated lives and voices of their own. Through all of these characters, we both learn facts about the inner workings of the adult industry and see people and stories rarely featured on the American stage.

This ability to transcend plot while simultaneously including it helps bring the voices of those previously unheard to the stage. The audience has a story to follow along with and familiar-sounding songs, but the minor characters that would only be given shallow material or caricature-like comic relief in a standard-story play get to have their voices heard in monologues and songs that may be brief at times, but are imbued with life. In the show’s beginning, Becky sings a song about how badly she wants to do porn, but instead of belittling her unconventional desire or ramping up the humor, it is written as a classic musical theatre “I Want” song, full of youth, longing, and unabashed genuineness.

This authenticity of character is especially important considering the show deals with characters within an already-marginalized industry, letting people have moments onstage such as a black woman speaking about her unfair treatment in the industry, an old and happy porn performer couple discuss how porn brought them together, and an older female director-performer’s (Luba Mason in a standout performance) describes being stigmatized by parents at her son’s school. There are so many preconceived notions associated with porn that letting these characters speak offers a new perspective, asserting that these people and what they do matter and are valuable.

The show was created largely through interviews; characters are based off of real people. The Civilians traveled to LA’s porn capital, the San Fernando Valley, and met with a variety of porn performers, directors, and agents. According to the show’s program, “porn star karaoke” was involved. This foundation allows the show to escape the potential fate of being a too-academic piece that focuses more on information delivery and facts than the heart of the characters. Interacting in-person with these performers demystified them, framing them squarely as real people with a customer service job that may be a large part of their lives but does not fully define them.

Pretty Filthy has many laugh-out-loud and goofy moments, including a passionate Italian ode to female ejaculation (banned in UK porn, lest we forget), a Star Trek gangbang, and a lament about man’s inability to perform. This humor is largely due to composer Michael Friedman’s bouncy score. However, the show does not have a particularly happy ending. The sadness in the show does not come from predictable sources such as the poor exploited innocent porn girl going nowhere in life, but from the steady decline of an industry at the hands of the Internet: we see how these people begin struggling to make ends meet not because of their hard lives, but because this industry and career they find passion in is slipping away from them.

Pretty Filthy doesn’t sugarcoat what it is trying to say. The characters blatantly address the audience when speaking, unafraid to toss aside metaphors in favor of plain statements such as that the industry doesn’t exploit women sexually, just economically as any capitalist job, and another character fiercely asserting she is not in porn because she had a bad family, is involved with drugs, or is unhappy. She’s in it because it’s what she wants to be doing. These are voices rarely heard, and it’s time for theatregoers to experience them. It may not be subtle, but hey, neither is porn.

Pretty Filthy continues through March 1 at Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street. $20 student tickets are available. Directed by Steve Cosson, book by Bess Wohl, music/lyrics by Michael Friedman. More info at prettyfilthymusical.com

[Image via the author]

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Meet Drag Queen and RA Slater G. String http://nyulocal.com/entertainment/2015/02/26/meet-drag-queen-ra-slater-g-string/ http://nyulocal.com/entertainment/2015/02/26/meet-drag-queen-ra-slater-g-string/#respond Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:55:33 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129267 For her Geopolitics of Beauty class last semester, Slater G. String neé Stanley had sex with a potted plant. Specifically, she had sex with a dildo attached to a potted plant, on film, for her final project. In another scene she spreads glitter over her ejaculate and reads the result (there’s a bit of frustration... Read More

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For her Geopolitics of Beauty class last semester, Slater G. String neé Stanley had sex with a potted plant. Specifically, she had sex with a dildo attached to a potted plant, on film, for her final project. In another scene she spreads glitter over her ejaculate and reads the result (there’s a bit of frustration and angst in the tea leaves–it’s Finals Week, after all).

“I was trying to do something explicitly sexual, in a way that just wasn’t sexy as we traditionally consider it. You’re not going to get off on it, but it’ll make you laugh,” the CAS senior said. This is her drag philosophy, and it’s one she wants to share. “Sex is beautiful and gross and awesome and imperfect, just like us.”

On top of being a full-time student, drag artist, and personification of body positivity, Slater is an RA in Lafayette Hall. And she’d like you to know it’s entirely possible to love yourself and do it all.

Meet Slater. You’re welcome.

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NYU Local: Well, Slater G. String. How’d you choose your name?

When I first started out with drag, I tried a lot of different names. First I was Clit Eastwood, then Taylor Stiff, then Booty Calypso for a bit. Initially, I changed my name on Facebook from my birth name, so my parents couldn’t search me and what I do. My drag presence is very much tied to my social media presence–they’re intertwined, a symbiotic performance piece. Now, two years later, I feel like my drag is the thing I’m most proud of and I want to be associated with it.

I decided to reclaim my birth name on social media, as my drag persona, but just tweak the last part. I’ve come a long way from just-Slater.

2a  2b

What was “just-Slater” like?

Closeted. I didn’t come out till sophomore year. When I consider myself as a queer person, I think of a Pokemon. I was a Charmander when I was coming out, a Charmeleon when I was first getting into queer nightlife–I started with some make up here and there, and slowly got into wigs and fancier clothes. Being a drag queen is the pinnacle of queer shit. I feel like a total Charizard.

So in high school, I started doing this “Fruit of the Week” thing at assembly. I went to a really progressive place called Sage Hill. It was laid out like a college campus with this central quad where assemblies would take place. Now, I’ve always been fascinated by fruit–it’s just this thing growing on this tree that creates this pulpy sensation–it’s beautiful! I’d go to the Asian market each week, get a different exotic fruit, and present facts about it. And then I’d eat it afterward – on stage. It was my first performance, I guess. I’m thinking of going back there and going, “This week’s fruit of the week is me!” You know, just Charizard stuff.

And the G-string part?

In the beginning, I’d just go to the club in a thong, pretending to work as a go-go dancer or something. I’d go in and dance and take my clothes off, get on the platforms–and people would tip me sometimes! So I was like, why don’t I just call myself G. String?

Do you go-go dance for real now?

I don’t actually perform a lot, but I do go out in drag. I don’t like to perform so much because, for one thing, I don’t like to just lip-sync, and that’s what the market is for. I consider drag a performance art, and I put a lot of thought into the performances I want to do. I want there to be a message, a non-traditional entertainment value. I don’t consider myself a traditional drag performer.

3

What is that message?

Most of my work in drag come from a body-positive, sex-positive place. I mostly realized that through people’s reactions to social media, and their feedback after performances. Stuff that I didn’t previously consider seemed to have an effect on them. When I take my clothes off at the club, I’m totally comfortable–I’m just used to doing that.

I know I don’t fit the tall, muscular gay male gaze image. And I think so many people are so put down by trying to fit into that image. They can’t get past it and it hinders them from doing things. Like anyone, there are definitely things I want to change about my body, but I don’t let that stop me from doing the things I want to do – nobody should.

I feel like society has you thinking you’re supposed to be embarrassed about your body. And I don’t agree with that at all. I use drag as a platform to show my body, show I’m confident in it, and that there’s nothing wrong with loving your shit for what it is.

How do you convey that?

I dress up as a pretty woman, and then flail my crazy armpit hair in your face.

What do you mean?

We’re conditioned to believe that every gender is assigned a set of beauty standards that have to accord with it. We’re so convinced that this is the way it has to be–which isn’t the case. I try to disintegrate that absoluteness through dramatizing things that are traditionally gendered.

I’m not necessarily trying to be super convincing with the female illusion. It’s more of a campy character. Like, I wear really long nails. They’re so hard–just opening my purse is a disaster. I put nipple pasties on my butt that kind of twirl around when I shake it. And then there are the armpit extensions I made. They’re just braided hair extensions that you superglue in. That really hurts. But beauty is pain.

I want people to not know why they’re attracted to my performance. I hear from a lot of people on social media–especially straight guys–going, “This is sexy, but also gross.” That’s exactly what I want. An air of I-don’t-know-why-I’m-intrigued-by-this-but-I-am. I love to do things like hardly wear any clothes and be all sexual about it, but then I’ll have something so “ugh” like my armpit extensions. I’ll be in a thong with my ass out and all this hair coming out of my pits. I want people to go “Is this attractive? Wait, yes, but why?”

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You said earlier that your drag presence and social media presence are closely connected?

Yes, I have a massive social media presence, but none of that Grindr shit. I deleted it–I was so tired of racist, trans-phobic gays. What is “masc-only,” like, what is that? I’ll do a face mask–but “masc-only,” that’s bullshit.

But anyway, Facebook and Instagram are my most heavily used platforms. They’re places for me to show my body, show how amazing I look and how ok it is to love how you look when you’re naked! But I don’t have haphazard nudity. It is explicit, but everything is really thought through. The context is most important.

Do you ever get into trouble with your posts?

Sometimes. One of the major conflicts that I’ve found is censorship of the body. I’ll post these things and I get flagged. And I’ll have to go through all of these things like the Facebook rules and people not wanting to see what I’m posting. It makes me angry, because I’m trying to promote certain values that I think are important, but my body is being censored online the way it has my whole life by society! Like, if you’re overweight, you’re not supposed to show this, that, your stomach. Or, say, I want to post a pic of my butt, cause I have a great butt, and people will report that. If you don’t wanna see me, unfriend me!

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That’s fair. What kind of reactions do you get?

So, the thing about drag is, it’s a campy conduit for misogynist micro aggressions. Going out and presenting as a woman has given me a tiny insight into the daily lived experience of women – having to deal with street harassment, sexual harassment on the subway, stuff like that. You really start to realize how differently people interact with gender. Sometimes people will mistake me for a woman (if I ever do my makeup well), and they’ll treat me really differently until they realize I’m actually a man. Try to bridge the gender divide is one of the most important things you can do with drag. I think more people should try to understand more of the human experience than their immediate reality.

When I’m walking down the street late at night in my six-inch heels, and someone says stuff to me, even though I have a lot of confidence in myself, it affects me. I can only imagine that’s how a lot of women feel when they get hollered at.

It ties in with mainstream homophobia, especially in my case. So if I’m dressed as a woman, they’re just sexually harassing me, but then when they realize I’m not, they get aggressively homophobic.

Do you have any safety concerns about it all?

Well, I only go out in groups anymore. One guy tried to get me to suck his dick on the subway, once. I think he knew I was a guy–he kept asking if I dressed up often, and stuff like that. And we’re just talking casually, when all of a sudden, he whips out his dick, and then it’s in my face. I guess he thought he could do this because I was projecting a feminine persona, and he thought I was weaker, despite consciously knowing I’m a man. It’s not just womanhood – it’s femininity in general that’s traditionally associated with weakness. That needs to change–and that’s what I’m trying to challenge with my drag art.

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Where’s your favorite place to go out?

Definitely Brooklyn. The Brooklyn scene is refreshing. There are usually no cover charges, the drinks are cheap, and that allows for a really diverse crowd. And the art scene, and queer nightlife are totally intertwined there. It’s easy to perform – you just get up and do what you want, and it’s inevitable that someone will understand what you’re doing, and people genuinely want to support you.

I rarely go out in Manhattan, ever. I don’t like the type of people who go there. I don’t want to have to dress a certain way to get into a club, go through a bouncer who’ll tell me I’m worthy of being in there. I don’t want to be in a space where I’m disconnected from the performers–conventionally attractive people up on platforms–that’s not my thing. In Brooklyn, you have a real connection with the performers. They interact with the audience, have drinks afterward, and nobody’s too high up.

What’s so different about the Manhattan scene?

In my experience, it’s gay versus queer. Queer is more socially conscious. Over at those West Side clubs, they’re only looking for gay. They just want you to come out, look good and try to get some dick. You’re not expected to contribute anything, whereas in Brooklyn, I really feel like part of a social movement, actively trying to do something. And you’re having all these different types of fun–not just looking for a sugar daddy. Although sugar daddies are abundant in Brooklyn, as well.

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Do you get paid for your performances?

Here, I make no money at all, because there’s so much competition. In Shanghai, the pay is much better.

Wait, you were in China? When?

I studied at NYU Shanghai my freshman year, and again in the spring of junior year. It’s a major disparity for me: the first time I wasn’t even out yet, and the second, not only was I out–I was doing drag!

And you made more money there?

I was one of like, four drag queens in the whole city! It’s such a niche thing to be doing. Since the gay scene is small, the drag scene is tiny.

For Shanghai Pride, I performed two songs, and I made like $120–and the club owner bought me a bunch of dresses, which was a plus. Things are still just starting up there. I think this was the seventh Shanghai Pride ever. It was only in 2001 that China officially took homosexuality off of the mental disabilities list. Everything is behind–there’s gay culture, but it’s not very public. Pride isn’t people marching through the streets, it’s just some lectures and nightlife. I guess that’s the way, traditionally, it’s always been with the gay community–done at night. It’s basically as it was here, 30 years ago. It’s fascinating.

How so?

I’m a Chinese major, I’ve been taking Mandarin for 8 years. Having to adapt my vocabulary to the queer community has been super interesting. Some things just don’t translate through language. There’s no word for “queer” in Chinese. And when you want to say “a gay person,” it’s “same love person,” literally translated. The word for “drag queen” is “changing clothes emperor,” or something like that. It’s so interesting how, as things have progressed, they’ve had to fashion new words to fit these new identities. It’s beautiful. I’m doing a Gender and Sexuality minor, so it’s cool to find an intersection there.

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You’re also an RA–how do you balance everything?

People think that being a drag queen, you’re inherently irresponsible, or something like that. But I don’t know–drag queens don’t take any shit. I come home in drag, and I let my residents see it. It’s not hard balancing everything–they’re all different parts of the same life. And that’s how it should be – sex and school in one. It’s all you, why should one part be kept secret?

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Amen! What’s next for you?

Well, I don’t see drag as a career. I want it to be more of a hobby, a creative outlet and a vehicle for education. I want to be a makeup artist, eventually. I graduate this semester, and I want to go to MUD, the Make-up Designory, downtown.

I’ve come a long way with makeup. I used to be really terrible, but I’ve finally gotten to a place where I look pretty standard drag queen. In Shanghai, I did makeup on some of the girls for a fashion show, and they all looked like drag queens. I’m not used to doing makeup on cis-gendered women. Mine is more exaggerated drag-slut look.

It takes me like two whole hours to put on my face. It’s not easy being a 21st century gal.

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[Photos via Em Watson]

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Social Media Week Celebrates Worldwide Causes And Brand New Platforms http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/26/social-media-week/ http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2015/02/26/social-media-week/#respond Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:28:35 +0000 http://nyulocal.com/?p=129151 For one moment, let’s cast aside the somewhat looming fears that our phones have cut away any lasting hopes in advancing human relationships. Let’s forget any judgments we have passed in the last few years, in the midst of the social media rise. Let’s try and look at the bright side of this digital revolution... Read More

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For one moment, let’s cast aside the somewhat looming fears that our phones have cut away any lasting hopes in advancing human relationships. Let’s forget any judgments we have passed in the last few years, in the midst of the social media rise. Let’s try and look at the bright side of this digital revolution (a.k.a the present).

If we do so, we may have a light at the end of the tunnel that directs us towards the plethora of positive outcomes of the social media takeover. We’re talking the ability to connect just over 3 billion people in this world, not to mention a solid 3.6 billion via handhelds. I mean, how could we not see this as true innovation.

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Over half of the 3.6 billion people who use handhelds are using social media and “…every 60 seconds 4.7 million posts are uploaded to Tumblr; 277,000 snaps are shared on Snapchat; and more than five million videos are viewed on YouTube.”

Whether you’re more in sync with the complete privatization of your life (hipsters who refuse to join SM included), or if you choose the radically opposite version of this and post your whereabouts 24/7 (we appreciate you), it doesn’t take much to, at the very least, acknowledge the legitimate power that social media holds: connecting people.

Social Media Week is a worldwide initiative, and this week it has finally come to New York. #SMW15 aims to update the definition of how we connect to each other as humans, and because social platforms have become a primary way of doing so, the definition grows more important to assess. Just think about how many conversations are started because of the platforms that we are provided. Examples include #JeSuisCharlie, #BringBackOurGirls, #ALSChallenge and many, many more.

So why does this need to be a conversation? The answer to that is literally in your hand (if you’re holding your phone). Everyday our preferences are bouncing from one platform to another; one day, there’s a gif being passed through reddit, another day it’s Kim Kardashian’s Instagram ‘breaking’ the internet. Our attention spans are the size of a peanut, and in attempts to stay current, platforms are constantly having to evolve.

Remember the sudden outflow of Facebook updates? They were a hail mary (and success story at that) for the O.G. social company that almost saw itself among the has-beens of social, Ello anyone? This is also cause for reminder that there are plenty of ways to get it wrong, after all people do make a living running accounts of all sizes and kinds.

In celebration of this event, here is a succinct list of some of NYU Local’s very own violet-preferred platforms. Of course in true NYU form, mainstreams are excluded, cough cough, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook (though we do heart you).

  1. Tinder & Hinge, with added nominations for FarmersOnly.com (if you’re into that kinda thing).
  2. SnapChat (though we can barely call this an underdog).
  3. Artsy & Behance & LinkedIn
  4. WordPress & Wix & Tumblr
  5. WhatsApp & GroupMe

If you’re interested in #joiningtheconversation this week, make sure to visit the Social Media Week website for information, weekly event schedules, and conference passes that your socially savvy heart desires!

[Image 1 ViaImage 2 Via , Image 3 Via]

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