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About Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
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Nobody Passes is a collection of essays that confronts and challenges the very notion of belonging. By examining the perilous intersections of identity, categorization, and community, contributors challenge societal mores and countercultural norms. Nobody Passes explores and critiques the various systems of power seen (or not seen) in the act of "passing." In a pass/fail situation, standards for acceptance may vary, but somebody always gets trampled on. This anthology seeks to eliminate the pressure to pass and thereby unearth the delicious and devastating opportunities for transformation that might create.
Gay culture has become a nightmare of consumerism, whether it's an endless quest for Absolut vodka, Diesel jeans, rainbow Hummers, pec implants, or Pottery Barn. Whatever happened to sexual flamboyance and gender liberation, an end to marriage, the military, and the nuclear family? As backrooms are shut down to make way for wedding vows, and gay sexual culture morphs into “straight-acting dudes hangin’ out,” what are the possibilities for a defiant faggotry that challenges the assimilationist norms of a corporate-cozy lifestyle?
Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? challenges not just the violence of straight homophobia but the hypocrisy of mainstream gay norms that say the only way to stay safe is to act straight: get married, join the military, adopt kids! Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore reinvokes the anger, flamboyance, and subversion once thriving in gay subcultures in order to create something dangerous and lovely: an exploration of the perils of assimilation; a call for accountability; a vision for change. A sassy and splintering emergency intervention!
Called "startlingly bold and provocative" by Howard Zinn, and described as "a cross between Tinkerbell and a honky Malcolm X with a queer agenda" by The Austin Chronicle, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is undoubtedly one of America's most outspoken queer critics. She is the author of two novels, including, most recently, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, and is the editor of four nonfiction anthologies, including Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity and That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation.
This is Boston in 1995, a city defined by a rabid fear of difference. Alexa, an incisive twenty-one-year-old queen, faces everyday brutality with determined nonchalance. Rejecting middle-class pretensions, she negotiates past and present traumas with a scathing critique of the world. Drawn to the ecstasy of drugged-out escapades, Alexa searches for nourishment in a gay culture bonded by clubs and conformity, willful apathy, and the specter of AIDS. Is there any hope for communal care?
Sketchtasy brings 1990s gay culture startlingly back to life, as Alexa and her friends grapple with the impact of growing up at a time when desire and death are intertwined. With an intoxicating voice and unruly cadence, this is a shattering, incandescent novel that conjures the pain and pageantry of struggling to imagine a future.
The End of San Francisco breaks apart the conventions of memoir to reveal the passions and perils of a life that refuses to conform to the rules of straight or gay normalcy. A budding queer activist escapes to San Francisco, in search of a world more politically charged, sexually saturated, and ethically consistent—this is the person who evolves into Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, infamous radical queer troublemaker, organizer and agitator, community builder and anti-assimilationist commentator. Here is the tender, provocative and exuberant story of the formation of one of the contemporary queer movement's most savvy and outrageous writers and spokespersons.
Using an unrestrained associative style to move kaleidoscopically between past, present and future, Sycamore conjures the untidy push and pull of memory, exposing the tensions between idealism and critical engagement, trauma and self-actualization, inspiration and loss. Part memoir, part social history and part elegy, The End of San Francisco explores and explodes the dream of a radical queer community and the mythical city that was supposed to nurture it.
"Mattilda is a dazzling writer of uncommon truths, a challenging writer who refuses to conform to conventionality. Her agitation is an inspiration."—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
“Author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the artistic love child of John Genet and David Wojnarowicz, deconstructing language swathed in unbridled sensuality, while flinging readers into a disrupted, chaotic life of queer anarchy.”—Gay and Lesbian Review
"Bring on The End of San Francisco! And Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, whose new book has reinvented memoir without the predictable gloss of passive resolution. This book is undeniably brave and new, and the internal energy churning at its core is like nothing you've seen, heard or read before. I swear."—T. Cooper, author of Real Man Adventures
"We hear so much about coming-of-age narratives that we seldom think about going-of-age—the shutting down and closure, the making sense of where we've been. Written with grace, reserve and the honest tremblings that come when things matter, Mattilda shows us that The End of San Francisco is really the beginning of joy."—Daphne Gottlieb, author of 15 Ways to Stay Alive
"It would be easy to describe The End of San Francisco as a Joycean 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Queer' (although the book's intense stream of consciousness is reminiscent of the later, more experimental, Joyce) . . . but this is misleading. This journey of a life that begins in the professional upper-middle class (both parents are therapists) and the Ivy League and moves to hustling, drugs, activism—Sycamore was active in ACT UP and Queer Nation—and queer bohemian grunge, is profoundly American. At heart, Sycamore is writing about the need to escape control through flight or obliteration."—Michael Bronski, San Francisco Chronicle
In recent years, feminism has been at the forefront of social criticism in the United States, but the mainstream face of feminism is still typically white and often focused on gender issues to the exclusion of race, class, and almost everything else. Meanwhile, there are long and rich traditions of women-of-color-centered feminisms that acknowledge all systems of power as connected, and recognize how ending one form of violence entails the transformation of society on multiple fronts.
From 2007 to 2017, a small, Los Angeles-based independent magazine called make/shift published some of the most inspiring feminist voices of the decade, articulating ideas from the grassroots and amplifying feminist voices on immigration, state violence, climate change, and other issues.
Feminisms in Motion offers highlights from 10 years of make/shift magazine, providing a wide-ranging look at contemporary intersectional feminist thought and action.
We are living in a moment of mounting racist violence, xenophobia, income inequality, climate displacement, and war. Intersectional feminism has been creating and pointing toward solutions to these problems for generations. Feminisms in Motion offers ideas, critique, and inspiration from diverse feminists from Los Angles, to India, to Palestine, who are pointing toward a world where all people can thrive.
When you turn the music off, and suddenly you feel an unbearable sadness, that means turn the music back on, right? When you still feel the sadness, even with the music, that means there's something wrong with this music. Sometimes I feel like sex without context isn't sex at all. And sometimes I feel like sex without context is what sex should always be.--The Freezer Door
The Freezer Door records the ebb and flow of desire in daily life. Crossing through loneliness in search of communal pleasure in Seattle, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore exposes the failure and persistence of queer dreams, the hypocritical allure of gay male sexual culture, and the stranglehold of the suburban imagination over city life.
Ferocious and tender, The Freezer Door offers a complex meditation on the trauma and possibility of searching for connection in a world that relentlessly enforces bland norms of gender, sexual, and social conformity while claiming to celebrate diversity.
Explore the insightful--and oftentimes intense--accounts of sex workers who look squarely into the eyes of their clients, the sex industry, and society as a whole. Tricks and Treats delivers private stories about homo- and heterosexual encounters that sex workers usually confide only in each other. Not another “why I became a prostitute” book, it provocatively turns the tables on the buyers of sex, giving you a window into sex workers’lives. Tricks and Treats gives you straightforward accounts by sex workers to help you understand the pleasures, attractions, and truths of this profession.
Tricks and Treats tantalizes with its powerful collection of tales from a diverse group of male, female, and transgendered sex workers. Their commercial, cultural, emotional, sexual, (il)legal, and even spiritual relationships with their clients are discussed in intimate detail. You will explore accounts from streetworkers, escorts, strippers, porn actors, masseurs, dominatrixes, phone sex operators, an adult-video store clerk, an outreach worker, a sex educator, and even a sperm donor.
Tricks and Treats will ignite your imagination and answer questions few people dare to ask. You'll learn firsthand, of:
- how male, female, and transgendered hustlers turn tricks--in their own words--from sado-masochism and watersports to stripping, scat, foreplay, and fisting
- how sex workers face their own mortality when confronted with the AIDS virus
- a porn star's compassion and understanding for her fans
- a sex worker's coming-to-terms with his/her transgendered identity
- a male escort's attempts at dating
- a young man's experience of finding a family and home when living at a brothel
- a woman's story of spending thirty years as a prostitute
- the experiences of hooking on the streets and in clubs, cafes, and homes
Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving goes beyond the recovery narrative to create a new queer literature of investigation, exploration, and transformation. Twenty-six stories illuminate the reality of growing up in fear, struggling to rebuild lives damaged by sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse. The book explores how abuse turns queer survivorsmale, female, and transgenderedinto healers, heartbreakers, and homicidal maniacs, presenting brilliant stories that sear and soar.
Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving addresses all forms of abuse head-on, representing a cross-section of queer survivors in terms of race, class, ethnicity, education, origin, sexuality, and gender. Contributors use their own life experiences to create a book that takes back control from well-meaning outsiders, as they recount the daily struggle to overcome the damage done to their minds, bodies, and spirits in a world that denies their gender, sexual, and social identities.
From the editor: Dangerous Families consists entirely of writing by survivors of childhood abuse. That's rightno therapists analyzing our plight, no talk-show hosts exploiting usjust survivors, exploring our complicated, frightening, and fulfilling lives. These stories dispense with the usual technique of carefully massaging the reader's fragile worldview before plunging this unsuspecting innocent into a world of horror. They go right to the horror, the beauty, and the joy, often throwing the reader off-guard, revealing layers of meaning before the reader can step back.
Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving is an anthology of 26 true stories of growing up queer in families that magnify the horrors of the outside world instead of offering protection. The book is an essential read for therapists, caseworkers, cultural studies specialists, and anyone struggling to survive childhood abuse.