The 2009 List
1. Rachel Maddow
Photo: Vogue Magazine
Ah, Dr. Maddow: in the past six months she has put butch chic in the New York Times Magazine, made geek sexy, and made people everywhere wish we were a cocktail shaker. I won’t even go into the whole Rhodes Scholar, PhD, amateur mixologist details – it’s enough to give me a major do-be-do-be complex.
Some of us may have known her radio show on Air America, but liberals and progressives worldwide tuned in to her election coverage on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC last fall. She became the most popular show in her time slot, and for the first time I personally related to a political pundit show, which I manage to watch even though I don’t have cable television, because MSNBC is brilliant enough to reproduce the entire thing via video podcast. My morning commute is much better with some butch political commentary.
Despite her slightly glammed-up look on her show, her numerous appearances on the talk show circuit and in magazines shows her unapologetically masculine, and she has in fact self-identified as butch.
That Maddow is sexy is undeniable, and so common in queer circles that a certain butch I know created the Maddow Widowers’ Support Group, joking that our partners would, in a heartbeat, leave us for Maddow.
Despite that: thank you, Dr. Maddow, for all you’re doing for queer visibility, for butch visibility, and for political commentary.
#1, with a bullet, Rachel Maddow.
2. Skyler Cooper
You may not have heard of Skyler Cooper, a personal trainer (obviously! those arms!) and actor now living in California, originally from New York. Her bio says her first acting gig was a performance art piece called “Butch Love,” and she’s been acting ever since.
Recently, Cooper was featured in Debra Wilson’s award-winning documentary “Butch Mystique,” and she was cast in Amber Sharp’s television series Don’t Go – the trailer looks really appealing, but the blog hasn’t been updated since late 2007, and it seems likely that the series never found a home. But she’s also in JengoTV’s original series First Take, which follows her life as a butch-identified actor.
From an interview with Jasmyne Cannick, Cooper says: “I love butch women for what they represent. Unfortunately, I believe butch woman have not been properly understood. There are hordes of stereotypes about them in the media and our communities that don’t represent what I call butch. With that said, this is what I love about butch women: they have a natural marrying of masculinity and femininity in a woman’s body. It’s the essence of the two genders carried by a woman. It’s spectacular to see. A pure anomaly of nature. … For the record though I am a serial fem dater. Sorry butchies[!]”
I bet we’ll be seeing a lot more of Skyler Cooper in the future.
3. Chris Pureka
Folk singer-songwriter Chris Pureka is making the rounds in queer communities lately, and clearly we love her. Her music is not outspokenly queer, but rather deals with the complex poetry of describing interpersonal emotional landscapes and relationships. Pureka is the founder of her label, Sad Rabbit Music, and she has a degree in biology. Recently, she’s been touring with violinist Lyndell Montgomery (#21), and Pureka’s new album Chimeracame out in January 2009.
In an interview from Off Our Backs in 2005, Pureka identifies as genderqueer, and feminist. Her sexy crooning voice, complex lyrics, and sweet guitar just add to her comfortably andro look. If you have a chance to see her in concert, jump at it – she’s fantastic.
4. Shine Louise Houston
If you think the only lesbian porn out there is made for straight men, you’re just wrong: Shine Louise Houston has single-handedly changed porn with her film company Pink & White Productions, home of The Crash Pad Series, Champion, Superfreak, and In Search of the Wild Kingdom.
With her record button poised and camera aimed at the heart of San Francisco’s hottest queer porn stars, amateurs, and daring exhibitionist couples, Houston portrays real dirty queer sex with such a wide variety of gender expression, identity, body type, sex technique, and toys.
Her work will change your sex life.
5. Butchlalis de Panochtitlan
Butchlalis de Panochtitlan is Mari Garcia, Raquel Gutierrez and Claudia Rodriguez, a Chicano performance group out of Los Angeles. Come for their hot suits and butch attire, stay for their critical commentary on racism, classism, and urban development. From one of their show descriptions: “The self-described butch dykes/transgender butches/genderqueer spoken-word entertainers expand the lexicon of transexuality and its attendant physical and psychological neighborhoods and communities.”More information about the show on indybay.org or at the venue’s website, Foolsfury.org.
6. Ivan E. Coyote
Ivan E. Coyote is a masterful storyteller. I’m not sure exactly how Coyote identifies; the backs of Coyote’s books use female pronouns in the biography, but I’ve heard friends use male pronouns too. I remember Coyote saying something like, “People come up to me and say, thank you for describing so well the trans experience, and I say, you’re welcome; someone else says, thank you for describing the butch experience, and I say, you’re welcome; yet someone else says, thank you for describing the lesbian experience, and I say you’re welcome.” I went away from that thinking that all of those identities are parts of Coyote’s experience, that one isn’t necessarily valued above the others.
Coyote’s fifth book The Slow Fix (Arsenalia Press) came out this year and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Fiction. Read The driver had gay hands as a great example of Coyote’s storytelling abilities, as published in Coyote’s xtra.ca column. I also highly (highly) recommend the CD One Trick Rodeo / You’re a Nation with some of my favorite stories of Coyote’s, which talk about things like growing up tomboy in northern Canada (“It Doesn’t Hurt”) or taking a young queer kid out to the movies (“I Like to Wear Dresses”).
7. Amy Ray
Obviously, most queers are familiar with Amy Ray as being half of the folk-duo The Indigo Girls (whose most recent album, Poseidon and the Bitter Bug, was released in March 2009), but Ray now has three solo records under her belt. Her solo stuff is much more punkrock than her work with the Indigo Girls, though it’s still got her sexy voice, gorgeous guitar, and fantastic lyrics.
Ray’s most recent album, Didn’t It Feel Kinder, came out in August 2008 and she’s been touring with the all-butch band Julie Wolf (#28) on keyboards, Kaia Wilson (#43) on guitar, and Melissa York (#94) on drums, which was an incredible sight. They are doing another tour in August 2009 and you really should not miss them.
8. Janel McCarville
Janel McCarville plays basketball for the WNBA’s New York Liberty. I’ll be honest, I don’t follow basketball closely, though I do enjoy when I make the time to go to a game, so I don’t really have any ability to tell you what statistics on her are impressive. I will tell you that she was born in 1982, is 6′2″, and has been playing basketball since middle school. She was #1 in the 2005 WNBA Draft and was chosen by the Charlotte Sting; when the Sting folded in 2007, she moved on over to the Liberty, and was named most improved player of the 2007 season. She was named WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week on two occasions during the 2008 season.
There’s this particular photo of her waving … and her hand! her arm! I can imagine queers everywhere swooning – and perhaps being a little scared – of the sheer size of those fingers.
9. Jenny Shimizu
You can’t get very far when talking about hot butch and andro dykes without somebody mentioning Jenny Shimizu, though that was often followed with, “what’s she doing these days? Is she around anymore?” But yes, she is, very much so; she joined the cast of Bravo’s reality TV show “Make Me A Supermodel” in January 2009, and had a bit part in the film Itty Bitty Titty Committee which came out last year. In addition to being a model, she is also an incredible mechanic and can be found restoring Bentleys, Rolls Royce, and Cadillacs from the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Her tattoo of the woman riding a wrench on her bicep says “strap-on” instead of the tool’s brand, snap-on.
10. Syd Blakovich
I first saw Syd Blakovich in The Crash Pad, the first DVD from Pink & White Productions. Since then, Blakovich has been in Crash Pad Series volumes 1, 2,and 3, Lesbian Life: Real Sex San Francisco, and more, and has been involved in the recent rise of elevating porn to a serious artform.
In addition to being one of the finest fucks in queer porn today, Blakovich is also a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competitive fighter. The full-length indy porn film Champion, which came out in 2008, is about an MMA fighter and her tangles with an ex, a rivalry, one-night stands, and a manager, interspersing training scenes with sex scenes. Blakovich says: “It’s an MMA porno about a queer athlete that is super emo and filled with fighting and fucking, kinda like my real life, but I am not as big of an asshole in real life as I am in this movie. Okay, maybe that’s half true.” The sheer physicality of the Blakovich is amazing, and as far as I know Shine Louise Houston (#4) wrote this film with Blakovich in mind, since clearly I can’t imagine anyone else playing the part.
Make sure to check out Blakovich’s scenes over at the Crash Pad Series.
11. Kay Ryan
16th Poet Laureate of the United States, poets.org/kryan
12. Stephanie Tamez
Tattoo artist, StephanieTamez.com
13. Mz Fontaine
Musician, UK, MzFontaine.com
Performance artist, Myspace.com/Dlocokid
16. Natasha Kai
Soccer player, USSoccer.com
17. Bren Ryder
18. Wanda Sykes
20. Jiz Lee
21. Lyndell Montgomery
22. Julie Goldman
23. Alison Bechdel
Writer & cartoonist, Dykestowatchoutfor.com
24. Judith Halberstam
Theorist, writer, drag king, EgoMego.com/judith
25. Hanifah Walidah
Performance aritst, Suckaforlife.com
26. Andrea Gibson
Poet & activist, AndreaGibson.org
27. Nicole Piña
28. Julie Wolf
29. T Cooper
30. Deb Pearce
Radio host, ProudFM.com
31. k.d. lang
32. Toshi Reagon
33. Silas Howard
Writer, director, musician, activist, SilasHoward.com
34. Mélange Lavonne
36. Felicia Snoop Pearson
37. Angie Evans
38. Sarah Bettens
40. AJ Stacy
42. Chantal Hébert
Writer & political commentator, Wikipedia
43. Kaia Wilson
44. Lynnee Breedlove
45. Storie Tella
Hip hop artist, Myspace.com/storietellaslowflow
46. Rebecca Drysdale
47. Eileen Myles
48. S. Bear Bergman
Writer, performer, activist, SBearBergman.com
49. Lea Delaria
50. Ian Harvie
51. Melissa Ferrick
52. Tika Milan
Writer, AfterEllen mentions
54. Ellen DeGeneres
55. Nedra Johnson
58. Candace Gingrich
59. Pamela Means
60. Samantha Ronson
61. Tracy Chapman
62. Buck Angel
Porn star; Transexual-man.com
63. Judith Butler
Theorist & writer, Theory.org.uk
64. Angela Robinson
65. Carol Ann Duffy
Poet, Britain’s 2009 Poet Laureate, Poets.org/caduf
67. Mary Bonauto
Political activist & lawyer, Glad.org/DOMA/team
69. Tania Katan
Writer & performer, TaniaKatan.com
71. Khaos Da Rapper
72. Daniela Sea
73. Claire Cavanaugh & Rachel Venning
Sex activists, Founders of Babeland.com
74. Jenni Olson
Filmmaker, writer Butch.org
77. Deak Evgenikos
78. Katherine Moennig
79. Mary Gauthier
80. Christine Marioni
Education activist, HuffPost.com article
82. Ty Greenstein
83. Kelli Dunham
Comic, writer, KelliDunham.com
86. Cindy Wonderful
(Photo by Nash Cook)
87. Sara & Tegan Quin
Musicians, TeganAndSara.com (Though they are two different people, but this way they are both included!)
91. Catherine Opie
92. Camille Bloom
93. Dani Campbell
94. Melissa York
95. Elvira Kurt
96. Joe Stevens
97. Therese Stewart
San Francisco deputy city attorney, lawyer in the Prop 8 case, SFGate.com
98. Melissa Etheridge
99. Miss Money
Producer, DJ, rapper MissMoney.net
100. Joan Jett
2009: Honorable Mention
The list had to be cut off somewhere, an unfortunately I couldn’t include everybody. Here are some other amazing folks who were considered for the list, and whose work is fantastic and deserves mention.
In alphabetical order:
DJ Déjà Vu
The Topp Twins
Del Lagrace Volcano