Greetings from Emporia, Kansas! The claim to fame of this small college town two hours South of Kansas City? It’s the founding city of Veterans Day! Woohoo! Party!!
Since my last update, I premiered CAT LADY in Houston. It was exhausting, expensive, though went over extremely well. Two and half years of hair-pulling and tens of thousands of dollars later culminated in a three day run that went by in a blink. Yes yes, art is a journey, not a destination… I still felt like I crashed from the world’s most pricey heroin binge after the show closed. After feeling sorry for myself about the ephemeral nature of my work, I thought: Yes. I did it. I got it up. The show got made. It was to my liking. And now I don’t have to sit in that never ending creative gestation period. Hallelujah. Time to have a private life!
I don’t much to say of the city of Houston because I barely saw it. Touring hardly ever means getting to be a tourist. I did meet one of my longtime blog readers who lives in Houston–Chris Lopez and his wife Lily. They took me out to awesome sushi and even sent me money to make CAT LADY! Lily was so cute and treated me like I was actually a celebrity, not just a woman who got her 15 minutes by getting dissed by James Franco. Shout out Chrisnlily!
I went to New Orleans after the show closed. It was my first non-work related vacation in YEARS. I really must schedule more vacations which is why I dropped five years of airline miles for a seven week trip I’m taking to Southeast Asia in the summer. My first VISIONQUEST! I’m excited now that I have six full length shows under my belt, four of which I can still tour. I finally get to give myself a break and absorb life again.
New Orleans was wonderful. I didn’t open my laptop once. Ignored most calls. I just consumed, consumed, consumed. Stayed at a private house via Airbnb just outside the Quarter and discovered all sorts of music clubs in the neighborhood. I rode a bike to Lake Ponchartrain and as far out as the Lower Ninth Ward (btw, there’s still a lot of post-Katrina damage in New Orleans, keep them in your thoughts). I didn’t call any friends in New Orleans. I didn’t want to have any conversations about art or how my show went. I just wanted to be an anonymous fat tourist, and I got my dream come true!
The best part about my Houston premiere? It felt like I had finally taken the trash out on the last 2 1/2 years of my life. The creative process sometimes stilts the passing of emotional trauma because I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s happening in my life and how to share it with an audience in a viewer friendly way.
Some people mark time by jobs, homes, kids they’ve had. I mark the Dynasties of Wong Adult Life with my shows and creative projects. There was the bigbadchinesemama.com Era (2000-2001), Emerging Voices Fellowship/Novel that has yet to get finished Era(2002), Miss Chinatown 2nd Runner-Up/ Flailing around Hollywood Era (2002-2003), Free? Era (2004-2006), and of course, the longest dynasty of them all Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Era (2006-2010, though THAT Era seems to keep leaking into the present).
I sent a lot of ugly to the stage in CAT LADY, found ways to reflect and transform it artfully and so it’s become something else I can manage and understand better. What’s wrapped up in the Cat Lady era? My existential crisis, bouts of depression from touring a show about suicide for four years, many empty hook-ups, and several failed relationships that includes a relationship I’ve not talked much about before on my blog… a really traumatic relationship with a verbal abuser.
And somehow… I made it funny to watch.
The only show I’ve allowed myself to get addicted to this season is Celebrity Apprentice. (I get addicted to shows quickly, so I choose from hulu carefully.) I hate the idea of celebrities playing for charity, and how one charity wins per episode, but that’s Hollywood and capitalism and amazing drama. Anyhow… I started crying when Nene Leakes bursts into tears in the boardroom. She was the Project Manager and her team was at risk of losing (and they did) and she confesses to The Donald that she wanted her domestic violence charity to win because it’s a cause that hits home. Nene, Latoya Jackson and Marlee Matlin (who I’m quickly becoming a superfan of and is my pick to win) all admitted to Trump to being a abusive relationships. (Of course, the following episode Nene goes off on a verbally humiliating tirade on Latoya… rather ironic considering Nene’s cause…)
Trump’s Obama birth certificate antics aside — I find Celebrity Apprentice a fascinating opportunity for always under-documented social issues to have a bigger presence. And while I’d rather nobody have had to experience it, felt somewhat comforted that these “celebrities” were so openly admitting their domestic violence experiences because the subject of domestic violence I had considered shameful to share publicly.
As brazen as I seem to be about sharing my personal life with strangers, I’m pretty guarded about speaking openly about private experiences I’ve had with violence. And I’m especially private about talking about my relationships, I usually just hide under the persona of the tough talk funny perpetually single cat lady.
But I’m feeling more and more compelled to share with strangers that I survived and escaped a verbally abusive relationship not too long ago. I want to “come out” about this because domestic violence is unfortunately not that uncommon. And domestic violence victims are rich, poor, educated, not educated and come in all colors. I am hearing that many of my friends have been in abusive relationships. One friend’s experience was so extreme that she had things thrown at her while pregnant and had to run into hiding with her son.
I never knew what it meant to be in an abusive relationship or even thought that I could be in one. My friends work for social justice non-profits and so I’m constantly educated on equity, I’ve read a million and a half books on self empowerment (I’m married to myself for Christsakes), and this verbal abuser was someone I was introduced to through friends who (I thought) had my best interests in mind.
What I thought was a runaway romance quickly became a Lifetime Made for TV movie. He’d keep me up in the middle of the night, screaming at me, berating me, picking fights with me as I tried to sleep. He’d yell constantly at me, sometimes in public– yelling was his volume of choice. He’d control parts of my life and my behaviors by constantly correcting me. I was terrified what would happen if I didn’t follow his demands carefully, and found myself lying to friends to avoid situations where I’d incorrectly perform his directives. My secrets, my family members, my shows– were all the subjects of his cruel put-downs. I knew something wasn’t right when I began to compile a list of who I could call to rescue me if he ever got out of hand. It got to the point that he was called me every derogatory word imaginable as he almost drove me off the road and then threw a can of soda at me– that’s when it was clear I had to get out of the relationship.
As it turns out, the person who introduced us knew he was unstable and had a history of psychological meltdowns (one that actually got him fired by the same person who introduced us… a minor detail that would have been nice to know earlier). I actually hung out as long as I did (eight months) because I thought: “We’re of the same community of friends, so this is supposed to work, I’m supposed to endure this. This yelling is just him being passionate. My friends would not put me in a dangerous situation right?” He would call me names until I cried. It was his way of making sure I was still emotionally invested in him– if I could take his anger and still come back to him, then he had control and my love. Sick sick sick. And so characteristic of verbal abusers.
I’ve read that violent unstable people prey on people like me who do live ambitiously and pursue our joys– artists and activists. I think this verbal abuser thought I’d fix his miserable life– he was not in a profession that made him happy. Nor was he courageous enough to travel, let alone, clean his room in over five years. But I couldn’t fix the fundamental misery of his life. In general, nobody comes into your life to fix things. I have learned that when you enter a relationship, you need to COME CORRECT not broken like my last partner. A good relationship is one that inspires, not compromises. And I was not inspired. I was scared.
As I finally move past that chapter in my life, I am becoming more vocal of sharing with audiences and friends that I am a survivor of domestic violence, specifically verbal abuse. And it’s been a very long and heartbreaking road to recovery. Over a year out of that relationship, and I’m just learning I’m not this piece of crap person who does everything wrong. That I am actually quite an amazing person. And yes, that I do deserve to be loved by someone who is brave enough to love without cruelty. And yes, that I need to screen these candidates WAY better. And yes, there are actually nice people in the world who know how to be generous and act without anger.
We live in a world where the angry customer gets their way (though now, selfish corporations trump them). Where democracy can only be achieved by violent upheaval of the government. Where cat fights don’t get the ratings that fist tossing bar room brawls do. Violence is embedded in our personal and global histories. It’s how change is incited.
Even in the Asian American community, domestic violence is commonplace. Unfortunately, it’s shameful to talk about it and so women are suffering silently rather than reporting it. Some (not all) Asian men think that it’s ok to yell at women. That girlfriends and wives are “property.”
As an artist, I was not seeking an abusive relationship. But I was broken. I was depleted from touring a show about suicide and needed comfort. I needed someone to be my rock. I was tired of dating broke people that I was always underwriting. I saw in this verbal abuser someone who might be my rock in my continued pursuit of a financially tricky and emotionally draining profession. Instead, I was bait and switched, pummeled with words, and knocked way off my horse until I was forced to figure out who I was again.
He did not take me away though. And I am learning that it is possible to be brave and love again. First myself. Then someone else. Someone who comes correct and has earned the privilege of my love.
It is actually possible to be in a relationship where loving communication does not happen with screaming, verbal humiliation, threatening gestures, throwing things, hitting, intimidation, forced sex or hurting. It might take a few tries to find a partner brave enough to act with kindness (or to even find it within yourself), but it’s possible. Love can suck, but it is not supposed to hurt.
(Wow, quite a lot of revelation for having been in Kansas for just one day!)
A film I co-wrote and acted in last April in Chicago is playing in a film festival in Gstaad, Switzerland! And it’s up for an award called the “Golden Cow”! It was a blast working with my crazy talented director friend Masahiro Sugano and it felt like one of those really exciting true collaborations where you are just running with ideas and going going going.
But the best part is you all get to see me making out with this guy Dwight on a lawn full of goose poop while old Chinese men watch us. Yes, it’s true. Sex is unnecessary when you have yarn.
UPDATE: Looks like the director is taking this down in a few days because we need to let this film make the rounds at festivals all over the world first. So enjoy it while you can. In the event that it’s important to you to see the film and can’t wait til it goes online because you are someone in a high position of power or relative of mine, email me and I’ll send you a link where you can download the film. Thanks!
I just saw a casting notice for “Shot at Love 4″– they are looking for a new bi-bachelorette star. Oh man, I have arrived. I have arrived like damaged mail.
Network executives! I have a pitch that will be sure to increase your viewership among performance art aficionados, third wave feminist academics, and nasty old white pervies.
It’s A Shot at Love with Kristina Wong!
Synopsis: 36 beautiful men and women (mostly Korean) ranging from ages 22-80 move into Kristina’s 2 bedroom apartment in West LA for a chance to win the heart of this reclusive-yet-extroverted, neurotic-yet-sincere big bad Chinese cat lady. Each week, Kristina eliminates the unworthy, and those who remain will get a special crochet hook on a necklace ensuring another week in the apartment and the one ultimate shot at love with Kristina!
Week 1: Welcome to West LA! All the contestants get off the Santa Monica Blue Bus and drag their luggage two blocks past the corner liquor store and the loitering homeless on Santa Monica Blvd to move into Kristina’s apartment! The 36 all huddle into the living room where every imaginable sleeping area is claimed faster than you can say “Interdisciplinary Performance Artist!” Kristina rolls up in her pink benz to greet her future suitors in an outfit to die for– A hand crocheted poncho! (Note: Due to car catching on fire last August, this entrance will likely be staged in a shopping cart) All Koreans who show up get a “use-whenever” coupon to hang out with Kristina and are automatically moved to the next round creating racial tension in the apartment.
After a night of mingling over orange juice and bottle water, Kristina picks a handful of the unlucky (in an elimination ceremony staged in her carport) who will not make the next round.
Week 2: Who is oppressed? And who can comment on it ironically?
Challenge: To find out who can most identify with Kristina’s work, she’s set up a challenge that will really put them in her shoes. Using only fake blood, a roll of toilet paper, and butoh movement, the contestants must convey their inner legacies of oppression by creating an improvised performance art piece. Bonus points awarded to those who can be self-referential. The winners get to go on a special bike date with Kristina and buy her sushi.
Week 3: The Cat Lady Cometh
Challenge: What would you do for Kristina’s love? In this challenge, massive piles of cat diarrhea and cat pee have been left in the apartment by Kristina’s cat Oliver. And the contestants who clean up the most wins a date with Kristina at nearby Stoner Park for a vegetarian BBQ that they will cook for her.
Week 4: Grant me a Future
Challenge: Kristina needs help writing a high stakes Rockerfeller MAPP Grant that needs to be postmarked by midnight. So all the contestants get a shot at writing Kristina’s grant. The strongest grantee wins a date with Kristina– a shopping spree at Ross Dress for Less! But here’s the challenge twist– every two minutes, one of Kristina’s friends will instant message with nothing important to say. Can they survive the online distractions, write the killer grant and get to the airport post office in time?
Week 5: Oil me up! Challenge: Seeing as the price of vegetable oil has now climbed higher than that of gasoline, Kristina sends her contestants to the back alleys of some of LA’s finest strip malls to find some fuel for her pink Benz. The contestants must pump and filter used cooking oil so that it is usable for driving. The one who returns with the most usable oil wins a date taking Kristina to the auto shop in Silverlake (where it was dropped off for yet another mechanical problem during the last episode) so she can actually put the fuel in her car.
(Note: Now that the car is non-existent, we may have to change this into a challenge where people help me put together bus fare from my couch cushions.)
Week 6: Can you tech Wong?
Challenge: This week’s special guest judge is Jen, Kristina’s theater technician that has toured with her on the road. Jen once teched Kristina’s show from behind the scrim– meaning she teched her show BLIND! Jen will do a crash course with the Wong-loving hopefuls on reading Kristina’s scrawly handwriting and how to read Kristina’s inconsistent stage cues. Jen will also offer tips on how to kick Kristina out of a pre or post show panic.
Whoever can best tech Kristina’s show after this crash course wins a special date to see the Wooster Group at the REDCAT.
But here’s the real twist– they won’t be teching the show in a theater but a cafeteria! Can they make it work?
Week 7: Oh the Yarns we Tangle
Challenge: Oh no! All of Kristina’s yarn stash has come loose and tangled. Even her really nice Rowan yarn. The contestants must untangle and re-skein the yarn so she can knit it. The winning fiber untangler gets to go on a date with Kristina to Wildfiber, Kristina’s favorite local yarn store in Santa Monica.
Week 8: Guess Who’s coming for dinner?
Challenge: The contestants are surprised when ex-Calvin Klein model and all over hot lesbian Jenny Shimizu shows up as surprise judge. Jenny grills the remaining hopefuls for their “creepy factor” screening out those with right-wing tendencies, lack of motivation, and an obscene collection of Japanese anime deemed as too creepy for Kristina’s love.
Drama hits the house when Jenny starts to come onto Kristina. After Kristina and Jenny engage in intense lovemaking, walk arm-in-arm past all of Kristina’s ex-boyfriends, and taking plenty of photo evidence to document it all, Kristina sends (heartbroken) Jenny on her way.
Week 9: Meet the Wongs The remaining three contestants fly to San Francisco where they will meet Kristina’s parents and extended family in what stands to be the greatest challenge yet– gaining the Wong Family seal of approval. Who’s FICA score is strong enough to withstand Mama Wong’s credit check? Who will survive Papa Wong playing Whitney Houston’s self-titled album on a loop for five straight hours?
Kristina eliminates one, and only two remain.
Week 10: Only One is Right for Wong Kristina takes the final two for a special getaway. No, not Miami…. not Jamaica… not Hawaii. But Sawtelle Blvd, a few blocks from the West LA apartment! Exotic! Kristina springs for dinner at Yashima’s where she worked as a hostess for a month after college (they still hook her up). There she asks the final two to put all their guns on the table and sing their best Karaoke renditions of a GnR song.
In a spectacular finale ceremony in Kristina’s carport that involves battery powered Christmas lights and fake flowers bought on clearance– the winner of Kristina’s heart is revealed.
It’s a sexy idea for a show isn’t it? Yes, I thought you’d agree.
My awesome trans friend Riku commented that this has been the gayest week of my life. And more awesome than that, he said that I may have actually “out-gayed” our gay as hell friend D’lo this week.
It really has. I was out campaigning for “No on Prop 8″ on Wednesday. It had been a while since I stood out on the street with a sign rallying. And yesterday, I coordinated “Kristina’s Lesbian Jamboree.” It was a gathering of lesbians and their friends in West Hollywood. It was about getting the married lesbians out of the house. Introducing my lesbian friends to each other. And also building some awareness around “No on Prop 8.”
And oddly enough, for a gathering of Lesbians, it was not that dramatic.
I still struggle with pinning my “orientation” down to any one word. And though many speculated that I may have definitely been bi- or bi-curious when I rode my bicycle with the “Dykes on Bikes” at Pride a couple years back, I was still mums about how it is I identify myself.
But I’ve decided this week to come out of the closet.
Ladies and Germs, I am a loud and proud Gesbian.
I know this may come to a surprise to all of you. Particularly, this may be hard on my family who like my friends, are still trying to figure out what a “Gesbian” is. (I want my family to know that I love them and that I would never do this to hurt them.) I’m sure my family and friends are worried about me– getting “Gesbian bashed,” being discriminated against for being a “Gezzie,” and will I have the right to marry another Gesbian? Could I have kids with another Gezzie?
I’m ready for the scorn, the discrimination, the Gesbiphobia. Because this is who I am. And I refuse to be someone else. I’ve hidden it for so long. But at my core, I’m a GESBIAN.
Last night my two good girlfriends who are partnered and are absolutely meant for each other sent a late night email that they are getting married today at City Hall. I think if they had the choice they would have waited to plan their wedding more at their pace. But right now, they don’t know if they will have the choice after November 4. So they are rushing to do this.
I cry now as I re-read their words and the passion behind them.
“those of you who are closest to us know how much we care for and love one another and most of you understand the commitment we continue to make in our “practice” of lifelong love. it is not a magical something that just appears, even when it feels magical. it is the practice of committing and trying and learning that makes our life together strong and lasting. homophobia and heterosexism do not always give us the best options when it comes to this practice.
“we are hoping that in the awful event that proposition 8 passes, our marriage will not be retroactively nullified. and therefore, affording us all the rights and benefits that married couples have in the state of california.
“we would love to share this moment with all of you, so please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow as we marry. please keep us in your thoughts when you vote on Tuesday. the best you can do for us is to vote NO on Proposition 8.”
I think it is remarkable….
That they believe in their love this much that they will stand up against the ignorance of homophobia and heterosexism to have that love.
That consenting adults still have to fight for the right to love who they love. And that other entities will spend so much money and energy to stop other consenting adults they do not know from marrying each other.
That their marriage ceremony does not have the luxury of being planned with the time that a straight couple has to plan, and that it still risks being nullified if something as archaic as Prop 8 passes.
I am not getting married anytime soon to neither a man nor a woman. In fact, if you remember, I am married to myself and would love the government to recognize my marriage as a real legal binding contract. And on top of that, I am a pioneer in the fight for Gesbian rights and visibility.
I am working on the “No on 8″ campaign because it affects my friends. It’s about equality and that’s something that we all should be concerned about. I am encouraging you to vote “No on 8″ because discrimination should not be written into the constitution. (Leave that shit for reality TV!)
I hit a grumpy moment when my cell phone charger conked out just a couple hours ago. It’s inexplicably wet on the inside. I have no idea how. But it is. There’s no puddle or leak in the cottage, it just stopped working and was all wet inside and plugged in nowhere near water. Nature most definitely has turned against me. First, it was my keyboard ($185 to restore the F key!). Now my phone charger. Next it will be… my other electric powered vices….
It’s her way of saying, “Time to not have a cell phone for a few days and blog about your wedding which you never told your readers about.”
The Wedding of Kristina and Kristina! June 4, 2008
Yes, it’s true. I am married now as of June 4, 2008. Our ceremony was at the Merkato Ethiopian Restaurant in LA. And surprisingly, the first wedding ever to happen there. I even have changed my status on myspace and facebook to “married.” It’s serious. Who is the lucky guy, girl or tranny you ask? Me! Kristina Wong! I know, it was very sudden. But when you know someone is so right for you, you can’t help but dive right in.
I vowed to love and cheerish myself forever. Unconditionally. I had some cold feet but thanks to the encouraging words of friends and an Ethiopian guy dining at the adjacent table, I am learning that love is ongoing. It is a process. It is “survived” (in the words of my poet friend Kelly Tsai). The Wedding of Kristina and Kristina was officiated by Reverend Marcus Kuiland Nazario. My Man of Honor/ Ring Boy was Pete Lee. My friends and other restaurant patrons and staff were my witnesses.
Here are some highlights from the ceremony…
It is customary for the bride to spank her guests. My friend Yi, got me a riding crop as a wedding present!
At this wedding, we ate first! This is one of my favorite restaurants in LA. I always order the fish.
I asked friends to give to my favorite non-profits as part of my “gift registry.” I did get some plants though! Here is a money plant from Daisy Lin Shapiro who did the “Yours Truly, Miss Chinatown” documentary that I am featured in.
There was a pretty funny moment when I got to the “altar” and looked both ways… and yep, nobody else was coming. Just me and me!
Reverend Marcus makes me look at my wife. Though this mirror looks like a birth control container.
Nurit, who directs a lot of my work, offered the advice of “not being so tough on Kristina when you get married to her.”
My friend, Ellen Switkes said to not go to bed angry. What great advice. We really have listened to it.
My best friend Pete Lee offers some loving words of advice for the couple.
My ring was a plastic heart. “With this ring, I me wed.” Of the ring I said, “This is the everlasting circle, and like the plastic this is made of, so our love last as long.”
I also put on a necklace that had a jade pendant from my grandmother, and another jade pendant from my mother as symbols of the women before me and the love and nagging that fuel my spirit.
Cutting the wedding/ birthday cake. This was a red velvet one from Susie’s. When I went to pick it up they were like, “You are buying your own birthday cake? How sad.”
“No, not sad. Awesomely awesome,” I said as I left.
Oh those crazy newlyweds feeding each other cake!
What’s a wedding without a bouquet toss? This one was for men and women!
Shameka gets married next to herself!
My friend/ reverend Marcus officiates by offering his words of wisdom for the bride and bride. I also do my own vows.
Reverend Marcus leads the group vows. He’s very creative.
So that’s it. That’s the report from married life. I am still learning the ropes of self-love being a Newlywed a month and a half later. It’s hard to learn to live with someone forever… even if it is yourself. I actually do look over to my pink plastic wedding ring and feel what a lot of married people feel: “Wow, look at that, there’s someone out there who is committed to loving me. And I’m with her all the time!”