Stage I – Costume for Change

Content warning: discussions of female genital mutilation (FGM).

Okay! Now that is out of the way – please, if you haven’t read the post I did about why I am making this costume please do!

There is no capacity for comments on this post for a reason. No one is going to explain this to anyone, unless you are Khadija Gbla herself!

It’s really quite simple, if this project bothers you…scroll on by!

It’s taken me a long time to start this costume making project, life got in the way, I’ve been really unwell for over a year now and my comedy has been part of my recovery (although in a much less capacity). And this costume has had a couple of design attempts which failed. But I think I have it now…

First things first, I have to build this so Khadija can pull off what parts of the anatomy are removed, through the different types of FGM.

So it’s constructed in reverse to how FGM is carried out, mainly so I make sure it will work when worn on the front of Khadija’s body. I will attach shoulder straps and a waist band, a bit like if you have ever worn a backpack on your front.

So stage one of this project is equivalent of Type III FGM – where all external features of the vulva are removed and the vagina entrance sewn shut, with a small opening left behind.

I’ve deliberately made the stitching rough, but effective, as the diagrams often show stitching that looks almost aesthetically pleasing, which is not the intent of FGM. However I do think I will make the stitching more easily seen from a distance for the purposes of caricature.

And here’s a video of getting it so far to the point that this will be the piece worn in front of the body and I will build out the other types and anatomy from here…there is much to be done yet…

2 days (with a lot of distractions) squished into 2 minutes.

On turning 50

I stood in the kitchen today and took a deep breath. I’ve just had a significant birthday.

I am exactly where I wanted to be by 50.

This would not be by many people’s standards, but I’ve never paid other people’s standards much attention, so that’s unimportant. It’s also vastly different from my working class roots, but still has aspects of working class sentiment.

What prompted this thought:

A battered passport filled with 18 countries that most people don’t get to. Not your usual suspects, but the kinds of places that make conservatives heads spin. They’d think me a drug lord or a terrorist. All travelled on shoestring budgets, for lengthy stays, guided by locals and more like immersion than tourism. Not just travel for travels sake, but for love of diversity and the planet.

A home filled full of meaning, not just objects. Things like a hand made chess set from Bolivia – with comical chess pieces (that I bought from an old lady in La Paz). Second hand up cycled furniture, some traded, gifted, some bought, some salvaged. Babysitted plants. Art and music space. Everything has a story and not just for decoration, but stories of not just of how it got here, but also why I have it.

Stories worth telling. I am that quirky character I wanted to be as a child. Really I am; but it still shocks me that I am. I had no desire for a suburban life filled with people. Rattling around a house minimally filled with the quirky, living alone, monitored closely by an overprotective greyhound, onto the next course of study (of many) and in no need of validation from anyone or anything. I study because I love learning, not to prove anything, just because I’m curious and interested.

Wealth beyond money. I’ve rejected the notion of acquiring property and land and instead, exchanged it for a life filled with experiences. To others monetary wealth is not renting and staying settled and acquiring property – and that’s fine for them, I have no issue with that. But it’s not for me. To me wealth is the freedom that I’ve got the next few years here doing a planned PhD and getting back to teaching work and I’m not sure what else is next.

But I’m promising myself it will be interesting. Today’s the first day in a while I’ve felt this hopeful, this is huge for me.

2020 was rough, but it was only 1/50th of my life.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this life, however long or short in time, however challenging or rewarding that might be.

Binary Busting #1 – Leaders vs. Dictators

*Menippean satire warning* Leadership is not really a matter of good vs. bad, it’s a matter of amplifying ideas considered effective and acceptable over a certain time period. Can someone burn those “Leaders” Vs. “Boss” memes now please?

So, the world is filled to overflowing with advice on what ‘good’ leaders look like, or what a leader supposedly is. In the current climate of world politics fixated with leadership styles; I’d like to offer some philosophical fat to chew (apologies to those I have just pissed off with a meat eating or considered unhealthy lifestyle reference).

When I studied anthropology I was fascinated with double bind theory and cartesian duality and I read widely. And primary to those studies one notion become clear.

THE binary. Not just any binary. But primordial ooze of social constructs – good vs bad. Good vs bad infiltrates most things humans do and nuance can be lost so easily in the mire.

Sit down. Buckle up. If you are religious, cross yourself, pull out the prayer mat, beads or depiction of any deity, prophet, saint or martyr of your choosing. If you are not religious, then hang onto to your science, relevant belief system, dead or living musician or artist of choice. If you are ‘other’, then wave a crystal, sage stick or do a bog dance or prepare to google stats and take them out of context. The fact is all of you will have a point that will be valid in some way.

This is uncomfortable to write, so I am guessing it may or may not be comfortable, for some, to read.

If I see one more reductionist post or story about what is “good” leadership I am going to vomit. The only thing reduction is good at is great tasting sauces.

But first, an obligatory disclaimer for the manufacturers of outrage and the “you can’t say that” purists. Dictators exist. I am not debating that some leaders become dictators, or are dictatorial from the beginning. This is not angsty existentialism, but I am also sure someone will take it there, and I shall get ready with my popcorn.

Similarly, there are most certainly, leadership styles. But to reduce them down to “one is better than the other”, means donning a funny hat and dancing a jig in the town moot with a jar of snake oil in our collective hands. It’s a sales pitch.

The fact is, some people respond to authoritarian styles and other to humanist leadership styles and some to all the modes in between, around and in circles.

Some of the worlds “leaders” have done awful harm to the world and the planet by killing and destroying. I think most people agree this is bad (yes, I do!), however some will justify it, somehow.

So, a portion of humanity does not share that view, based on experience or their social conditioning throughout life. It’s kill or be killed to their way of thinking, although that might be acceptable to them through “they are taking our jobs, our economy” etc. etc. So leaders who take this view and harness it, are just amplifying what is effective and acceptable to the people they are trying to reach.

And then there is the in between-ers on what is an effective, acceptable view. The “they didn’t die of COVID, they died of an underlying condition – so I am unsure of who I support” folk who will sit on the fence unless they get a painful splinter in the anus, get sick with the virus or someone they know dies. This too is not good or bad, it just is a way of processing information. Some will sit on the fence forever, others will be pushed off it by…well…life. There’s always going to be fence somewhere that all of us will sit on for lack of knowledge or not a large enough splinter.

The notion that there are good or bad leadership styles, in the moral sense, suggests hate spouting leaders who divide and conquer are bad leaders. Yet millions follow them and millions die or create certain social outcomes in their name. So therefore, this ‘evil’ is also good leadership if painted with a binary brush, because that leader has achieved outcomes in large proportions.

Divide (make effective) and conquer (make acceptable) as a leadership technique has worked in the building of kingdoms for a very long time in human history. Even the most moral and ethical leaders can be found promoting a little divide and conquer if you look close enough.

What I am saying this is that people follow other people with worldviews that are acceptable to them at any given point in time and that may shift over the course of a lifetime.

If the ideas of a leader appeal to a human, that leader is effectively reaching someone, then those ideas are acceptable or becoming acceptable to them.

How many more TV shows that put people with different views in the same place under pressure can you watch? Some come out changed, some come out with bits of another views, some come out unchanged. And while there is an argument it’s not a sustained time period with ‘others’ by which to change or that going home to privilege negates that experience – you can witness the varying interpretations of “good” and “bad”.

It’s only when presented with counter positions over a sustained period that humans begin to question the ideas of what a leader or dictator is presenting to them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the grains of arguments I thought I held dear in the arguments of supposed dictators. So I watch and listen. And usually I am that annoying person at a party who knows the ins and outs of policy, rather than an assumed position and who is quite content to observe people arguing and learn from it.

Leaders are. Dictators are. But I don’t think we are divided so much as people that the two are concrete binaries as some decry, I think there is a more practical reality than good vs bad leaders. You what a position from me? Perhaps humanity needs to stop treating the world stage like a zero sum game to be won or lost.

But then, I don’t consider myself a thought leader or any other kind of leader, so what do I know? *insert splinter here*

Stay tuned for other choice binaries as this unashamed nobody writes them in my head on walks with the dog over a period of days.

Hypocrisy vs. Integrity

Parenthood vs. Martyrdom

Madness vs. Sanity

Religion vs. Science

Hustle vs. Luck

Left vs. Right

Holism vs. Health

Fact vs. Fiction

Love vs. Loneliness

Alliterations vs. Assholes (I’m trying to resist both, I really am).

*Authors note: Google has reasonable reference to satire. I was asked to refine my brand. So my brand is chaos.

The Toughest Gig is Not Comedy

So I did Melbourne Fringe and I decided to do something I titled “Tardy: Ready and Disabled”. I have lost so much confidence in the last 12 months since I killed it on stage for “Tickets on Myself”, last year’s Melbourne Fringe. And that lack of confidence shows, but some people have still enjoyed this show and that positive. feedback. is. literally. the. best. thing. ever.

Tardy is best described as a conversational piece more than anything and a hodge podge of part comedy, story, rant, audio visual, music, prompted by being trapped in lockdown and literally, losing and trying to reclaim my mind.

I faced some huge COVID and non COVID related personal challenges – like so many others in Victoria. I was injured at work in October/December 2019 and had a mental and physical breakdown. That was tougher than any comedy gig I’ve ever done.

This recovery has been the toughest gig I have had for long while, made worse by lockdown. In fact in February – May, I wasn’t sure I’d get to be on stage in November. I’ve grappled with regular suicidal ideation and this regularly requires intervention. It’s been a massive personal battle with demons that I’ve held onto all my life and finally had to face.

I’ve been estranged from my mother and adult son since 2014. They came back into my life during the pandemic and rebuilding that relationship, (required because of the legacy of domestic violence which I fled from with my then young son in 2004), has been wonderful and confronting too. The biggest demon was the feeling I was a failure as a parent. If I failed at that, I must be a truly terrible human being. Turns out I didn’t fail, but it sure felt like it for the past 6 years. This last six years of missing them has been by far has been my toughest gig ever.

During this reconciliation period my mother fought breast cancer and they were in another state and did my best to support her from a distance, worried I would not see her again. But in October I could feel little parts of my heart healing, so I decided to do a show, knowing it would be a tough gig.

I’m still only just managing basic life stuff with support and recovery is slow. Honestly, my creative efforts have kept me alive and keeping going and so has my beloved assistance dog, Pepper. Who is featured in the “Pepper Paws” inserts in this show (she’s there on the green sofa the whole time).

My timing is off, my confidence is down. So I decided to talk about being authentic in this show and just be me – talking to the audience like they are friends in this show. Risky.

So, I am planning to cut it up and put on YouTube in some little bits for the next few days for prosperity’s sake. Don’t get me wrong, I do like this show, it’s just not my usual standard and it’s born of struggle.

It’s not the polished, young, hip, sexy, massively rehearsed confident comedy that dominates the scene. I don’t aim to be (and let’s face it, I would never have been when younger anyway). And that is completely okay. *By the way – I love that young and fresh comedy above I have just described.

So, I want to say this to anyone reading this:

I did this show, regardless of the struggle it took to even speak, but because if I keep putting off doing something because it’s not perfect, then I would still be deep in the headspace I am trying to leave.

And after the twelve months I have had and after putting this out there, warts and all, I feel like I’ve still got a lot of fight in me yet.

And yeah, I can play basic piano now and write my own very basic songs. I can thank this struggle for that too.

Big thank you to Andrew Lewis and James Williams for encouraging me and being a part of this.

Enough with all the “talk”

So, coming up is International Day of People With Disabilities. And for me it’s also my 50th Birthday.

Here’s a list of gifts that would be nice:

  1. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  2. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  3. Stop picking on people for how they speak or don’t speak.
  4. The above on repeat until people start recognising that communication is multi layered, not just dependent on speech.

I sit on the more socially acceptable side of this, being hyperverbal, but I do experience shut down and need more silence and then I am interpreted as rude when I go quiet for days at a stretch. I struggle with tone and pitch, I speak too fast and I get word order “wrong” (whatever that means). Modifying this is exhausting, not just metaphorically, but physically exhausting.

Most of my meltdowns are related to not getting enough solitude away from people asking me to speak – plus related to the hyperacusis and sensory processing pressures I experience. It’s still hard work for me to speak in a “socially acceptable way”.

It literally takes 10x more effort for me to public speak, because I am constantly modifying how I speak for a neurotypical audience, as a matter of survival in the arts world. Then people will still find a problem with it – and frankly I don’t care if they do.

I won’t mask for you, pretending to be neurotypical is harmful to me. I will try out new things that feel comfortable and I think I’ll sing more (because it feels better than this cultural obsession with punchline comedy). But I won’t mask for you.

And if it’s considered inappropriate, well isn’t everyone at some point? All this focus on speech assumes there is some standard way to communicate.

Speech is not superior to any other form of communication. And perfect speech or perfect non-speech doesn’t exist.

#IDPWD #autism #speech #communication

3 Weeks in Holsworthy

As I turn 50 next week – I am reflecting on life. I think this is fairly typical human behaviour when faced with a significant birthday.

I have no regrets. Well, maybe one. This poem is about that one regret.

I remember that look in her eyes

That said to me, “It wouldn’t be wise”

Settled back and watched her play pool

Admirers gathered, like thieves to a jewel

Years later I wonder how long she played

Played straight, played safe, existing afraid

1989 it was illegal to be a queer in Defence

Mutterings of military prison for the offence

“You’ll get a long three weeks in Holsworthy”

Imagine how gruesome prison would be?

So we got lost, in a world, filled with fear

And now as I queer up in my 50th year

I wonder where she is and how she is now

If she is finally free from this, somehow?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to find her

But still for some LGTBIQA+ remains a slur

At 50, in the age of finding those lost on the net

Never being able to find her is my one regret

I really don’t know if she’s happy or still scared

I hope she can remember just how much I care.

Morning Improv Song

Morning shit-take karaoke. Laughter therapy through the piano.

Nonsense has always saved me from the crushing social anxiety I experience. Laughter keeps me coming back at life, day after day.

I may never be that entirely polished performer because my brain is not wired that way and I like being the one making equal parts nonsense and equal parts poking the bear of a system that says #autistic people should “communicate like the rest of the world does”.

I am naturally inappropriate and proud of it!

Since I learned to be a laughter yoga leader I laugh more – and practice the action of laughing daily. Sometimes it makes things better a lot, sometimes only a little bit, but that even little bit is more than I had before laughing. The act of laughing, even when I don’t feel like laughing reminds me:

Are we laughing because we are happy, or happy because we are laughing? (thank you Dr. Brian King this is lifted from your book – The Laughing Cure).

So things got pretty shitty this last 12 months. So I learned piano and now I am doing morning improv song making that makes me laugh and is pure nonsense.

I’ve also decided to quit trying to be that perfectly timed, punchline driven perfectionist that some think is “the only comedy”. And I guess I’ll never make the big time this way, but at least, I’ll find my joy. And find a better word than bog to rhyme with dog.

Besides, I am a comedy variety artist now. And now, after the chaos of spending the last month putting a Melbourne Fringe show together – I’ve got this mess to reorganise in the studio…lol.

Oh…here’s the link to the show. It has character comedy, original music having shots at Trump and the Australian government and general quirky bits and pieces and some rants.

21, 22, 24 – 29 November online – at 6pm, just in time to spoil your dinner.

P.S. I can do more than one tune on the piano, I just don’t want to. #mentalhealth #anxiety #musictherapy #laughteristhebestmedicine

On the FRINGE!

So I hummed and haaed about doing Melbourne Fringe this year. But decided what the heck! I am, of course, happiest on the fringes of mainstream culture, so why not, right?

So I have made a special mash up show from everything I have done with a BIG TARGET OF ABLEISM!

It’s online and so available all over the globe! Book at the festival website in the link below…

My Melbourne Fringe show is live and online (all over the globe!) Part audio visual, part musical, part storytelling and rubbishing all the stereotypes and ableist slurs (without using them!). If you think ableism should burn in hell but still want the right to insult people who deserve it, this show is for you.

Join Jacci, a nonbinary, neurodivergent truth bomber and occasional anthropologist in the comedy therapy circle for a quirky, comedy conversation. The show is presented as an autist’s not-so-anonymous meeting in the art of being literal and the politics of autism diagnoses for people born with vaginas.

“You’re a bit tardy”…isn’t that derived from R… Remember the R word? Let’s burn it down! Queer. Autistic. Veteran. Late to the party. Late bloomer. Late diagnosed. But NOT TARDY. Jacci Pillar was born to be late, then bullied by people who hurried and messed everything up.

#melbournefringe #melbfringe

My first comedy parody composition!

So, in March I could barely put my fingers in the right positions on the keys of a piano.

I’ve sung in choirs and on stage. But to play my own music has always been a dream. But it’s also a dream I am terrified of, because I was carrying some memories from a childhood abuser. Never ever underestimate the power of an adult running down a child’s attempts to do something – it can and does lead to a lifetime of anxiety and harm.

But I have an awesome music teacher who knows how to teach someone like me, and I am super grateful to Spencer for giving me the confidence to get there.

So here is my first comedy parody song, complete with my beginners piano playing (which I incorporated in the nature of the comedy performance, good way to get extra cringe-ness!).

It’s in character as the nasty neo-con Bronwin Budget-Slap. Her working class butler has highjacked the teleprompter and changed the lyrics…

#parody #cringeworthy #piano

Wtf is “Millionaires for Morrison?”

Millionaires for Morrison is an Australian grassroots political activist comedy group based upon the US open source project Billionaires for Bush as a contemporary Australian equivalent – Millionaires for Morrison, which to date has four confirmed “Millionaires”, a website in development and a Victorian chapter with hopes to grow it beyond Victoria to chapters all over Australia. 

To date the Millionaires consist (some have only fledgling social media profiles):

  1. Bronwin Budget-Slap – self appointed leader of the Millionaires.
  2. Honey Ind’Munee – Women’s Delegate
  3. Mort E. Morrison – Start Up Guru (who doesn’t do social media atm)
  4. Penny Snevaenuff – Business Delegate

The plan is to uniquely modify the original recipe to target conservative regimes and raise issues (via satire) of structural inequality to those people who would avoid these topics normally.

In 2021, it’s hoped the “Millionaires” will attend political events and rallies all over the country to sing parody songs and recite poetry about social justice issues, like proper “sheep in wolves clothing”.

It’s an example of what is known as “overidentification” humour (Molé, N.J. 2013: 289). It’s that kind of satire that mimics the kind of behaviour that a political movement wants to change, but does so, in such a subtle way, that it takes thought to appreciate that it is in fact, mocking that behaviour.

The reason for doing satire this way, is when governments start censoring or trying to ban political commentary political satire as the Australian government tried to in 2016/2017; it’s time to, well, up the anti. The Millionaires decided to continue to add to Australian political satire pot that features such legends as Sammy J, Shaun Micallef, The Chaser and Juice Media.

The fact is, left wing, right wing, we are all on the same airplane, headed for a monumental crash.

The tools of the oppressor have been well described in human history, yet we often fail to see them in operation, as self appointed leader of the Millionaires is subtly pointing out with her “Liberal Conversion” video series.

While some decry that democracy is losing out because of party politics, the fact remains that political positioning on a left and right binary, hasn’t existed for a long time. You will regularly hear Australians complaining that a political party they have supported for years, or even generations, has sold out.

Some of our Millionaires parody is more obvious, like the work of Mort E. Morrison, who plays on the endless stream of get rich gurus on the internet. But the ‘overidentification’ irony will always stand that there are people out there, that will believe money fixes everything and is the only human value worth aspiring to, even at the cost to their own communities.

Lots of comedians will tell you they just aim to be funny, and that’s totally cool. But political satire is a different beast altogether, it’s hard to deny it’s more somatic, change making sub texts.

Peak irony: “Millionaires” with IRL identities as members of marginalised communities. The ultimate court jester playbook move, they mock cruel side effects of profit before people every single day of their lives, by simply existing.

Ultimately, it’s not about party politics for us “Millionaires” it’s about conservative thinking and how it excludes human diversity and results in policies that harm people. It’s about issues and largely about how our obsession with money is trashing humanity and the planet.

And while we are on the subject of money, most conservatives would prefer the arts never get paid, but all that means is that we just make content that never ruffles a feather. So, if you can afford to buy us a coffee, you can here. You’ll get something for that too, unlike a neo-conservative policy document that promises the world and gives you a word salad instead. You’ll get even funnier outtakes and serious discussions about satire, social change and the future of democracy.

So, come for a ride with us Millionaires, particularly if you don’t fit what the twin set and pearls brigade finds acceptable or thinks is broken; because we “Millionaires”, are your people.

#millionairesformorrison #auspol

What is this Millionaires for Morrison thing? Australian grassroots political activist comedy group…follow them @millions4scomo

Reference cited: Molé, N.J. (2013). Trusted Puppets, tarnished politicians: Humor and cynicism in Berlusconi’s Italy. American Ethnologist Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 288-299.

Follow Millionaires for Morrison: