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  • Live Nude Elf :The Sexcapades of Rev. Jen

    February 03, 2012
    Live Nude Elf :The Sexcapades of Rev. Jen
    Reverend Jen Miller, Patron Saint of the Uncool is an author, artist, elf, a former sex surrogate, former professional submissive and all around New York City celebrity. Here we untangle that history: nude house cleaning, tantric sex, upscale BDSM while taking a stroll through the troll museum — which the ordained-by-mail Reverend runs out of her Lower East Side apartment, of course.

    To enter the home of Reverend Jen Miller is to enter another dimension. The front half of her rent-controlled apartment is the “Lower East Side Troll Museum.” Hundreds of trolls line the walls, naked and bejeweled. Further inside, Rev. Jen’s paintings hang on the walls — unicorns, aliens and fairies swirl in pastel colors.

    Jen collapses onto a hot pink couch with her Chihuahua, Rev. Jen Junior, in her lap. “I just got out of the gym, so I don’t have my ears on,” she says. Jen perpetually wears pointed elf ears, attached with stage glue, when they fall off she buys another pair and the cycle repeats. This ritual is the inspiration for the title of her new memoir, Elf Girl which is about Rev. Jen’s psychedelia-laced art-world adventures. The book is a follow-up to Live Nude Elf, which tracked Jen’s work a sex writer for Nerve.

    “So tell me about that, what are the wildest things you did in the name of experiential sex-journalism?”

    Jen’s first task was nude house cleaning. It was snowy and Jen trekked to the Upper East Side, to a posh apartment building. “You really can’t look that sexy when you are cleaning house,” she says, “But I washed his dishes, and he was like, ‘you are jiggling enough for me!’ Jen spent the rest of the session hanging out with him on the couch, naked — save for the dishwashing gloves — drinking red wine and talking about his ex-girlfriend. She did one more session with a different guy but it wasn’t as much fun — “he just watched Pokemon the entire time!”

    What else did she do?

    There was the 70’s style key-party Jen hosted ala The Ice Storm. She dressed like Sigourney Weaver and everyone got into the retro vibe, but when it came time to pull keys it was a mess. “Straight people were pulling gay people’s keys and the two hottest people there pulled each others. They totally cheated.”

    Trying tantric sex is also among her favorites, “you start with meditation and aligning chakras. By the time you start including body parts, it feels like tripping on acid.” Jen had good help with this — “I was seeing both a woman and a man at the time, they were roommates. She was a lesbian and he was straight and I had attention from both of them! Jen tells me the female roommate worked for the person that wrote She Comes First.

    “Who was that? It wasn’t Betty Dodson...?”

    “No, but I met Betty once. My friend Tom and I were at a party and she came onto him. I was like ‘you should go fuck her! She’s probably the best ever’!”

    The columns also came easily to Jen because of her past with sex work. At 22, Jen worked at the luxurious Manhattan dungeon, Pandora’s Box. Jen describes wandering into the gold-and-cream Versailles Room, with its rococo mirrors and plush carpeting and feeling like Alice walking through the looking glass.

    Jen worked as Pandora’s only pro submissive, which can be dangerous but Pandora’s had rotating walls like a Scooby-Doo haunted house, “if a session went bad you could push on the wall and be in the next room” explains Jen. It wasn’t until Jen started seeing clients privately at the Chelsea Hotel that things truly slipped down a rabbit-hole. “I think it was writers curiosity, I had to go to the darkest place that I could,” she said.

    Years later when Jen started writing Elf Girl, she needed to pay her rent and, reluctantly, turned again to the adult classifieds, one ad caught her eye: “Sex therapist looking for a pretty girl. Must be smart, compassionate and open minded sexually.” Jen responded and became a sex surrogate for an Oprah-famous sex therapist. A sex surrogate isn’t a sex worker exactly... they work with a licensed therapist and engage in physical and intimate relations with the clients to help meet goals.

    In the Park Avenue offices, Jen started with touch, “premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction basically stem from the same thing, the men are sexualizing the situation, and thinking too much.” The goal was to get them out of their heads and into their bodies. “These men didn’t know that a hand down the hip-bone feels great, they have to re-learn all of that.”

    Later sessions involved deep breathing and masturbating the men, asking constantly where they were on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being orgasm. When they reached a 4, she would stop, take a break and start over. “The whole thing sounds very 1970’s but it works,” says Jen. There was no penetration, but they did use flesh-lights — “that was always hilarious and fun, but cleaning the flesh-lights was gross.”

    These sex work experiences are the fodder for Jen’s next two novels. The inspirations for her paintings, however, seem to come from somewhere otherworldly. I point to a painting of cloaked aliens surrounding a Chihuahua, “I like this one.”

    “That was inspired by a dream. Rev. Jen Jr. was abducted by aliens and I had to go to outer space. When I got there, she was floating in the air and they were worshiping her like a Goddess. I was so happy.”

    Outside the windows, it is growing dark. Jen is going out tonight, and will wear a new shiny catsuit. “What are you going to wear it with?” I ask. “Six inch heels” she responds. The elf-ears are a given.

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  • Schmekle: Revolutionary Trans-Core, Jewish, Punk Rock Band

    January 20, 2012
    Schmekle: Revolutionary Trans-Core, Jewish, Punk Rock Band © Ian Kowaleski
    Schmekel is Yiddish for "little penis" and seems to be the perfect name for a “100 percent transgender, 100 percent Jewish” punk band that doesn't take itself too seriously. The band’s parody punk rock is made for fun but the end result is an act that crosses boundaries and reaches beyond the queer audience you'd expect.

    In the basement of a Brooklyn bar, the members of Schmekel are sitting across from me on a couch. A band called Girlcrush is playing upstairs, and Schmekel’s up next. “Do you want to hear the names of our new songs?” Lucian Kahn, who does lead vocals, asks.


    “There is “You Are Not the Only Bear I Fisted”, he says, counting them off on fingers, “The Binding of Isaac” which is about a guy named Isaac who is binding. And “Homotaschen” which sounds like hamantaschen, a triangular shaped Jewish cookie that looks like a vagina or an anus.”

    Ricky Riot, the band’s keyboardist, interrupts —”why would your anus be triangular?” I try to be helpful — “well the anus could be like two triangles, you know like a star. Like a Star of David... that could maybe be a song title?”

    A cute guy bolts down the stairs and mouths something at Lucian. “I’m doing an interview,” he says and the guy does a sort of “jazz hands” move as if to say “ooooh!” Lucian gives jazz hands back, “that is my boyfriend,” he says. The fancy hands are well deserved, the band have been getting press and were even profiled in The New York Times.

    And not for nothing. The band is tight. Some songs recall 80’s punk, “Dead Milkmen,” I write in my notebook, and many of their other songs are more gypsy-punk, recalling Eastern European folk music. They are always hilarious; the band is witty on stage, their timing impeccable. Watching them, I jot in my notebook — “Woody Allen meets The Dresden Dolls?”

    It’s the focus on trans-issues that really makes Schmekel stand out. Usually, when one thinks of trans activism, jokes are not the first thing that come to mind. Lucian says for the band, this was natural.

    “When I was first starting to deal with trans issues, I was bummed that most queer art and music was depressing and intense. I needed a way to get through the hard stuff that made it seem like life was fun and that the experience could be interesting. I think we all felt like we needed that, as a catharsis.” The group nods in agreement.

    Nogga Schwartz, the bass player, adds: “Queer theory becomes something that is so inaccessible but queer theory is also so new. The theory these people are talking about is stuff a lot of us are actually living! It is not inaccessible, it is what we are dealing with everyday, and sometimes it is really funny.”

    It might be the novelty factor and their plucky attitude that helped Schmekel get noticed by the likes of The Times, but the band represents a larger movement — in small bars like this, Trans-Core is taking hold.

    “It is becoming a real scene, especially in Brooklyn. We have bands like Novice Theory, The Clits, The Shondes, Glitterpunch, The Homewreckers,” Nogga says. Talking about this, he traces it back to Riot Grrrl, the feminist off-shoot of punk rock which bled into Gay-Core, about gay fronted bands. That turned into Queer-Core, but with trans issues taking center front and visibility becoming stronger it makes sense that a trans movement would follow.

    The crowd at the show looks like it belongs to a new movement as well. The look is young, hip and gender variant. An androgynous person in a leather jacket, tight jeans and 90’s ball cap with a basketball logo turns my head. In front of me, a butch girl with a fresh dagger tattoo leads a taller butch girlfriend, who wears a denim vest with a Bart Simpson patch, to the stage. A tall blonde wears a patch that says “feminist chicks dig me.”

    “I think that is how a lot of revolutions have started,” Nogga says, “through art and music. The queer community’s hubs have always been in art, in being bohemian and on the fringes of society. That is where queer people have always found their space.”

    Schemekel is at the forefront of this movement, perhaps because they have the capacity to reach beyond a queer audience. In one interview, the band notes it seems Jewish people like them more than queer people. A lot of Schmekel’s jokes would be lost on a crowd of gentiles. Take for instance, the lyrics to that song about binding:

    “The synagogue’s packed but I’m only binding. I look like I’m twelve — at least my face is not a pizza, but no one seems to know me on this side of the mechitza.” (A mechitza is a partition that divides men and women in a synagogue — cue the “oohh!”)

    Nogga tells a story about playing a straight Jewish event, when afterward a group of bro-like dudes approached them, “they were like ‘wow you guys are so funny! Suck my matzah balls! So are you trans or is that some kinda joke?’ And we were like ‘no, we are really trans... most of us were assigned female at birth.’ And he’s like, ‘oh, but you are so dudely, you are dudes!’”

    Singing about trans issues invites questions about trans-ness. In a way, Lucian says, this is good. “This band has made it easy for me to talk about being trans in a way that doesn’t make straight cis people nervous. Because I can be like ‘So, I’m in a comedy band. And I am also a transsexual. So, here is my comedy band!’ And they listen to it and it’s funny and we don’t really have to talk about my being trans, they get a free pass.”

    Of course, this doesn’t make asking personal questions about bodies or sexuality post-show okay, but anything the band sings about is pretty much on the table.

    “I would feel okay if people asked me about fisting!” says Lucian.

    Nogga agrees — “I am, in fact, an actual demo top in fisting. I do a workshop on how to properly fist. I am an expert!”

    “For the record,” Ricky cut in, “Nogga just made a hand motion that looked like fisting. I can’t really describe it.”

    “It’s kind of like when you make a little hand puppet, and you are about to make it talk,” I say, trying to help Ricky out, “A talking fist puppet.”

    It has become tradition, during the last song of a Schmekel set, that the audience dance the Hora. Everyone holds hands and dances in a cheerful, jumpy way, toward the right with the left foot, and then right follows left.

    There are some people who are singing along, eyes closed and leading, and others who are laughing, doing the dance for the first time. If there is a new movement happening, a movement based on being trans, some sort of trans-riot, I hope this attitude could be it’s core. This embracing and openness toward culture and tradition and change; this above all: remembering to keep things light and not always take it all so seriously.

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  • Coming Out with Preston Charles

    January 05, 2012
    Coming Out with Preston Charles
    Rachel recently sat down with Preston Charles (you know, the black gay guy from The Real World, New Orleans) to talk about his recent MTV special, Coming Out, his own coming out and well, then things get a little out of hand...

    I’m meeting Preston Charles at Metropolitan in Brooklyn, a gay bar with a particular Williamsburg charm — the decor is dive-y, the beer is cheap and the boys are bearded, tattooed and looking to hook up. The masculine look recalls Castro in the ‘70s. Preston, who is notable as the first out, black, gay man on MTV’s The Real World, is not out of place in a plaid shirt, the top three buttons un-done.

    We aren’t here to talk about The Real World, necessarily, but about Coming Out, the one-hour special Preston recently produced for MTV. The show is a documentary that follows Rachel, a lesbian coming out to her estranged father and Nevin, a gay man coming out to his rubgy team.

    I order a beer for myself, a whiskey for Preston and we settle into a booth.

    “What I wanted to do with Coming Out was show the public that gay people are sexual entities,” he says, “but that got mixed up because of MTV. Their audience is younger so it couldn’t be that sexually explicit.” Preston says he initially imagined a show centered on the emotional and sexual side of coming out — what it is like to explore those things for the first time.

    “So you imagined your interviewees being like, ‘Yeah, I like sucking cock! Like, I am really into that right now.’”


    “But instead it got a bit neutered,” I say.

    “Right!” he says, “Snip, snip. Right off.”

    “There goes your cock-sucking.”

    “But, I am glad it turned out that way because now we can reach a younger generation of kids,” he says. “So the show is not focused on sexuality but more on family and saying the words—accepting yourself.”

    Preston’s own coming out was also documented by MTV, in a re-telling. On the fourth episode of The Real World, New Orleans Preston, in coming out to his roommates, tells them about his first coming out— as a highschooler in Michigan. He says this was, of course, an inspiration for the show.

    “So tell me about your coming out,” I say, probing.

    “I was 17, when I hooked up with a boy for the first time. He had the most beautiful lips and these green eyes that pierced your soul. It was amazing; he had this huge cock that curved to the right.”

    “See, this is the real coming out story!” I interrupt — “This is what you talk about!”

    “This is what you talk about! Holding onto a cock was magical! It was the magic wand, the horn of the unicorn. So, this was huge for me and I told three of my closest friends. But it wasn’t long before it got around the entire school. And really no one suspected I was gay in high school. I was the black kid but I wasn’t the gay kid!”

    At this point Preston had a decision to make. Did he stand up for who he was, who he wanted to become? Or did he stay in the closet?

    “I walked into my second hour class. I had tunnel vision, I couldn’t see anyone, I just went to the front of the class and started screaming like I was on a mountaintop... ‘FUUUUCKKK YOOUUUUU. I’M GAY. I SUCK DICK. I LIKE IT A LOT!’” Preston says in a demonic tone.

    “That is not what you said!” I laugh.

    “If I had the hindsight I do now, I would have come out screaming that. But really I just said, “Yes, the rumors are true. I like men. If you don’t like me because of that, fuck you.”

    Preston then left the class, jumped in his car and went home. Minutes later his phone was lit-up. Some kids would end up treating him differently, some people stopped talking to him, but he was out. Free. And planning to leave Michigan soon.

    In his audition interviews for The Real World, Preston told producers about his mother, a crack addict had abandoned him as a teenager. It’s surprising, because of how affluent Preston comes across — thanks to good grades he received a scholarship for University. The crack-addicted mother story ended up getting some airtime on TV, of course.

    He tells me the same thing he told the cameras: “I remember being seven and my mom taking me with her to get her drugs. I remember knowing that it wasn’t right. And I remember crying hysterically in the backseat. I think that was when I became conscious of what was going on.”

    As I watch the Coming Out special, I see Preston with each of the interviewee’s — Rachel is estranged from her father, as is Preston from both his biological mother and father. And Nevin, the collegiate rugby player is, like Preston, a young, black, gay man. Nevin has a great relationship with his father but seems to represent a certain masculinity that Preston aspires to — “He is basically, a version of me I would like to project,” Preston agrees.

    When The Real World, New Orleans aired, Preston’s black-ness and gay-ness were highlighted in a not so flattering — or PC — light. Previews for the season painted Preston as a “bitchy” villain “with no filter.” Commercials constantly showed an event where he defiled a roommate’s toothbrush — scrubbing it inside a toilet bowl and then urinating on it. This angered commenters online. Many pointed out that that of course the black, gay man was supposed to be seen as bad, while others questioned Preston as someone who should be representing the black gay community.

    Preston says he liked the villain-hype because to anyone who watched the show, it was clear that it was the white, homophobic roommate who was out of line. After this roommate made many homophobic comments and destroyed Preston’s property, is when the “toothbrush incident” finally happened. Preston says that because of this, perhaps viewers perceptions about black men or gay men were flipped, if they sided with him. Though, as he told the Advocate, the toothbrush incident was “not his finest moment.”

    There was also speculation that the homophobic castmate was closeted himself. At this point in the discussion, our first round of drinks seems to be kicking in...

    “I did piss on it, because urine is sterile and I thought that would help.”

    “Well, there are a lot of gay men, or otherwise, who pee in each other’s mouths,” I offer.

    “That is called piss play,” Preston says into the recorder. “Golden showers. Do we like piss play?”

    “Yeah! It can be fun.”

    “I don’t know,” he says. “I am not sure I want someone to pee on me.”

    “You wanna be the pee-er?”

    Preston laughs, “Yes, I want to be the pee-er, okay that is fun.”

    “So, one could say you introduced this closeted homophobe to gay culture by...peeing on his toothbrush.”


    “I can’t believe you just agreed with that.”

    Preston laughs, “No, I mean, we are okay with bodily fluids and piss and shit.”

    “Well maybe not shit?” I offer, “that fetish seems kinda rare.”

    “I mean, as a gay man, you kinda have to become okay with shit,” says Preston, looking around. “I am sorry, I am getting distracted, Metropolitan is starting to become full of hot, dirty, gay men.”

    The bar is getting packed. Preston and I start pointing out favorites — the grungy one with the fuzzy beard, the one in tight pants with neck tattoos. This seems a fitting end for a story about coming out. This is your “it gets better”— a land of hipster guys and hot hook-ups. And this is what Preston points out was great about his own coming out: the excitement. Excitement about being gay. Finally.

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  • Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree... Oh! Christmas Tree!

    December 22, 2011
    Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree... Oh! Christmas Tree!
    Winter Solstice, meet your kink. A dendrophiliac is a person who is attracted to trees, who has romantic, sensual, sexual encounters with the forest. So, in this (most wonderful) time of year, when the evergreen tree becomes a decorated centerpiece of the Holiday Season, why not draw our attention to those who have a very personal relationship to trees?

    These are stories from dendrophilaics — people whose celebration of trees goes year round. In three parts, here are tales of tree orgasms, beautiful willows and the tantric tapestry of nature:

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