empowerment Archive

Sharing my Milestones from the Mile-high City!

April 23rd, 2011

Greetings from Denver!  I had a great show in Kansas, was in Williamsburg, VA these last few days for a guest lecture at William and Mary and now am back on the other side of Kansas in the Mile High City! My first time here! I do a show at Ft. Collins next week.

Unfortunately, I’m spending my weekend in Denver working on a grant application.  I’ve been nominated for a prestigious national career fellowship and won’t forgive myself if I don’t take at least the weekend to work on this application.  I’m pretty exhausted from the traveling and it broke my heart when my hosts asked me if I wanted to go wine tasting with them today.  Sadly, there’s just so much work piled up, including this application, that the only wine tasting I’m doing this weekend is WHINE tasting.

Dammit Dammit Dammit!  I hate working on weekends!  Especially grants!

But I’m just offering up this post because the last one was particularly HEAVY and wanted to share some joy.   I’ve been writing articles and pitches for some big sites (thanks Jezebel and James Franco for the dooropening!)!    I was also named one of “7 of the Funniest Eco-Comedians!” Yes, there’s actually a term (and praise) for being a performance artist with a bus pass.  I’ll be putting up Going Green the Wong Way at the Upright Citizens Brigade in June and in San Francisco in July.  Check my schedule for details as they come.

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Category: artist life., empowerment, press | Tags: ,

Dorothy may not be in Kansas anymore. But I am.

April 18th, 2011

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!

Here’s some press on the show… 8 Asians, Culture Map, Yellow Magazine, and the Houston Entertainicle.  I also did an article for Sexy Voices of Hollywood which I have yet to listen to myself in.

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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.

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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!)


Category: a shot at love with kristina wong, artist life., balance, Blog, cat lady, empowerment, i'm kristina wong, New Orleans, vision

Gesbian Pride

October 31st, 2008

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!)

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Category: a shot at love with kristina wong, empowerment, feminist research, i'm kristina wong, Obama is hot, oh my god, sex is unnecessary when you have yarn.

“So this is what it’s like to be in a soft porn.”

April 21st, 2008

I’m listening to various commencement speeches online in preparation for my little 10-minute number that I’m given to the graduates in the English Department in June. Right now I’m listening to Steve Jobs who so far I’ve learned was adopted, dropped out of college, returned bottles for nickels and would treat himself to one meal at the Hare Krishna temple because he was so poor in college.

He’s like me, except way richer. I was pretty poor in college. And if not for the Hare Krishna people who fed people by donation, I would have subsided entirely on Tino’s burritos, ramen and twix bars.

I actually wanted to drop out of college my first year. The bureaucracy was too much. I wasn’t learning all the things I wanted to learn. Something I’ve noticed that happens to students at some of the universities I go to– they get lost in the system. But I couldn’t listen to my gut. Instead, I listened to fear that being a “college drop out” would damn me for life and make me the great shame of my family. And so I slugged it out in an rigid system. Perhaps this is the great speech I shall give.

“What are you doing here?!? We should be out in the world traveling and making art. Let’s save our parents money and get out of this joint!”

I have no idea what my speech will be about. My mother forwarded me this really long email from her high school friend (a Chinese American baby boomer) with Chinese-American- Drill-sargeant-advice for my speech.

Here’s an excerpt…

“Tell her to go for it. Keep the 10 min speech professional with a little humor; no off-the-wall jokes; tell the kids what it is like to “really survived” and make it in this tough world. No need to go into long-winded personal biography…the kids would care less. If they really want to know, Kristina could “jokingly” refer them to a website and tell them to read all about it.”

My friend Isaac often remarks how irritating it is when people who don’t work in our field give advice. I am thinking that perhaps I should send my mother’s friend a video of me doing a speech that complies with her advice…. Other notes which include….

“Sticks to one issue, such as “how English helped me to survive and landed me a job in communication/acting/; how English helped me become a writer; etc.” NOT SOME CONVULUTED SUBJECT that will take a lifetime to explain. Keep it SIMPLE.”

Seeing as I don’t actually have a “job” nor any stories of how English helped me survive (I credit my career survivial more to my savage cockroach survival instincts than what I remember of Beowulf), so I’ll send her a video of the audience giving me the bird for being such a goody goody know it all.

Or maybe I’ll tell a great story about my day yesterday, I locked in that mid-life crisis early with some pin-up photos!

I took the train to New Jersey to sit for pin-up photographer Viva Van Story. The most not well kept secret in the world is that I’m turning 30 in June. Which means I must finally come to grips with the fact that just maybe, I will never be discovered as a supermodel. That the whole supermodel career and becoming a real Miss Chinatown thing or a lingerie model will probably not pan out.

Plus my junk on the front and back are falling down.

The solution? Take hot pictures of myself to put up in my apartment! YES!

It was actually really hard to lie around in underwear and a corset on the floor looking good and now I find myself saying, “Wow, Tyra Banks is actually good at what she does.” It probably didn’t help much that we shot in a bowling alley where these high school kids were singing Jesus Christ Superstar songs really loud and their parents were circling us. But I did it. The day ended with me naked in a bubble bath making sexy face for the camera. The make-up lady blew bubbles while the photographer said, “Close your mouth. I don’t need to see so much of your teeth.” And I was screaming, “Holy smokes, so this is what it’s like to be in a soft porn!”

That’s right kids… I’m going to be your commencement speaker!

Anyway, nobody gets to see the pics. Only me, the two people who visit me a year, and the cat get to see.

Aaahhhh…. This is what it’s like to age gracefully.

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Category: artist life., empowerment, hollywood wong, is unnecessary when you have yarn., sex is unnecessary when you have yarn., toastmaster wong, vision

The Indiana Slumlord speaks.

November 16th, 2007

So I’m up in San Francisco again for a grant panel. And now I’m headed back again next week for Takesgiving.

My three day run in Los Angeles this week was nuts. I did a show, got interviewed for current tv about the car, did some acting work, went to a rehearsal at CBS, threw out a bunch of crap from the apartment. Then ran back to the airport to sit on a grant panel in SF. I’m actually in the process of re-establishing residency in San Francisco (and will be living both here and in LA when there is work). I can’t wait because there’s so much more grant money here for the arts.

So…I have been giving this real estate thing another thought. I don’t know if I’m going to be a slumlord in Indiana. This global warming/ end of the world thing is kinda making me wonder if it makes sense to own anything anymore. Like isn’t the world going to just explode soon? And will is even matter to own property? Shouldn’t I just spend my money on margaritas and a good massage?

If only there was a scientist who could weigh these options for me.

One of my friends who now owns sent me some interesting things to ask myself…

“Do I want the length of my life in Los Angeles to be determined by a
housing market or by me?
Am I making enough money and can I commit to making that much money,
that is, never again making less money, for the rest of my life?
Do I love the place or am I just in love with the idea of being a
Can I do all that homeowner crap on my own (unless you got married
recently and I just missed that somehow)?”

And there’s also the fact that while I may not seem to be “directly” impacted by the mortgage crisis and could stand to own for the first time out of it, I am part of the economy and could easily be a homeowner with flailing arms trying to figure out what to do in a rocky home owning economy. So for now, renting is ok.

All I know is, I’m having a rough time today where I am feeling under-accomplished and overwhelmed by life. I’m running into artists doing as much as I take on, if not more, and some of them have kids, and even had a wild past where they are now sobered up meth addicts. I don’t even have the excuse that I was a meth addict to account for a lot of wasted time in my 20′s. Just sleeping too much and being involved in too many projects that never got finished. I can’t imagine having a kid on top of it.

Do you ever feel like I do right now? Like despite having done a lot in your life, it still isn’t enough?

Thoughts please.

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Category: empowerment, hollywood wong, i'm kristina wong, property mogul, the secret, vision

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