Friday, 25 September 2009

Three Cheers for BJ, Our Guest of Honour

BJ is doing us the honour of being our esteemed guest at the Fat of the Land. She will cut the ribbon to open the event at 2pm sharp.

BJ! One of my fat queer heroes. The first time I met her I knew I'd never forget her. Dawn French was making a programme about fat and art for the South Bank Show in 1994 or thereabouts. A bunch of fat oiks, including BJ and I, were roped in to give the programme some colour. This involved swimming around Dawn F in formation around the beautiful Marshall Street Baths, just off Carnaby Street. We were kept pretty separate from Dawn, she was clearly out of our league, but I remember BJ clinging to me with her legs because she wasn't a strong swimmer back then. Thrills!

Like all the best people, BJ manages to straddle high and low culture. In 1997 she won the inaugural Miss Lesbian Beauty Competition at the Café de Paris, organised by Amy Lamé. Some people were really upset that a big fat dyke could steal the prize from under their noses, there were letters of complaint to The Pink Paper about it! But BJ won fairly and squarely, and she deserved to win too. She's been a muse to Vivienne Westwood, photographed by Del la Grace Volcano, and the award-winning artist Sadie Lee's painting of BJ, entitled Pinky, has shown at the National Portrait Gallery (see the pic above).

If BJ was the type of person to appear in the Sunday colour supplements, she'd likely be described there as a living legend or an institution. Raw, brave and fierce, my favourite memories of BJ include the sight of her throwing bottles of champagne around a dive bar, strutting in a bikini at London Fields Lido, and flirting as though it were an Olympic sport. She's bad to the bone and impossible not to love.

Anyway, you'll get to meet her on 3 October at 2pm.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Get your laughing gear 'round this, fatties

Sachi is making cakes for us. Yummy yum yum yum.

Naughty and Nice Cakes.

Love and Thanks to Our Fat of the Land Raffle Sponsors

We're having a raffle and we're giving away some fantastic prizes. Big fat thanks to the following people and organisations who have generously donated their stuff:

In alphabetical order, applause for:

Allyson Mitchell, for goodies from her artist's studio.

Becky Sanchez for the beautiful sampler.

Bill Savage, Unskinny Bop's most talented poster artist, for donating original art in mini-form. Swoon.

Charley Stone, the brilliant musician and mainstay of more bands than you've had hot dinners. Charley will record a Classic Cover of your choice in her own inimitable style.

Katie D, for gorgeous fat zines and knitted treats.

Katy 'Chanko Nabe' Hathaway, for genuine sumo stuff!

Lady Lucy, for a really blimmin' lovely drawing. It's ahem, of me (blush) and it's all about fat and queer activism.

Me, for pinching a spare goodie bag from the Beth Ditto for Evans launch back in August (you know, the party where Beth sang karaoke with Kate Moss). The bag contains promo copy of Gossip's Music for Men, a limited edition domino print scarf and a bunch of other bits and pieces, plus a mint condition copy of Love magazine, with extensive coverage of Beth, our patron saint.

Me again for donating a kit for growing giant vegetables, which includes assorted giant vegetable seeds (some for Clive's Giant Cucumber! oo-err) and an instruction booklet.

Raw Nerve, for a copy of the excellent Fat Studies in the UK book, featuring a bunch of people who are going to be doing their thing at the Fat of the Land.

Re/Dress NYC, the world's best plus-size vintage/ second hand clothes shop and queer fat social enterprise, who have donated some fatshion for one lucky winner.

Substantia Jones at The Adipositivity Project, an incredible photo project that documents fat people's bodies. Substantia has donated some covetable merch.

Susan Stinson, writer extraordinaire, for signed copies of her gorgeous novels Venus of Chalk and Martha Moody. Extra special bonus prize: an ultra rare copy of her poetry chapbook, Belly Songs.

Tom O'Tottenham, our favourite stonemason about town, who will cut you a plaque with your initial on it. Unique and rare!

Unskinny Bop, for donating a one-of-a-kind mix CD called Hey Kids, It's A Podge Pop Party…with Unskinny Bop. According to DJ Ruth, "This will feature lots of amazing fat pop stars in the vein of the first ever UBop at Ladyfest." Yeah! The lucky winner also gets free tickets to The Bop.

What Will the Harvest Be? A lovely community vegetable garden in E15, for donating a box of veg, fresh out of the ground!

You can win these prizes, yes, you you you! And look, there are loads of prizes so you have a really good chance of winning something excellent. All you have to do is come along on the day and buy a raffle ticket.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Unskinny Bop: The Posters

Unskinny Bop is a nightclub that started out from the dregs of Ladyfest 2002, an event where many of the people I think of as my friends first clapped eyes on each other. In the intervening seven years, The Bop has been home to an evolving bunch of misfits, club kids, cool people, and their mates. My happiest ever dancefloor moments have been at this place, Ruth and Tamsin can keep you dancing until you're begging your feet to stop.

One of the amazing things about The Bop is the artwork that's displayed every month. This is the work of Bill Savage. By artwork I mean the posters that decorate the venue. They show that pop culture, politics, music, a queer sensibility and dancing go together very well. Bill's work is absolutely beautiful, you may have seen some of it in the current edition of DIVA magazine.

Anyway, she is going to be exhibiting her posters at the Fat of the Land, and has donated some original art to the raffle. Be sure to show your appreciation.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Ooh look, a shout out from Shapely Prose

Fatosphere superstar Kate Harding gives us the nod at Shapely Prose. Thanks all!

And there's more support from our Fat of the Land friends around the world:

Golda Poretsky of writes:

If you're like me, you probably attend events like The Fat Of The Land and feel buoyed up and empowered by the queer-positivity and fat-positivity, and then, a few hours, days, or weeks later, the gorgeous sheen of that event starts to wear off. You talk to a friend or a colleague who doesn't understand it, you read a queer hating or fat hating news article, and the idea of changing society as we know it starts to feel overwhelming if not impossible.

So, I want you to know that you don’t have to convince anyone to change. You only have to acknowledge, embrace, and enjoy the change in yourself. The best thing we can do, as fat people, queer people, activists and advocates is to model what it is to be in love with our bodies and accepting of ourselves. We need to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi said.

In other words, being happy and fat in public is a revolutionary act. Being a woman who loves her body no matter its size is a revolutionary act. Being a person who is not thin but decides not to diet is a revolutionary act.

Therefore, living your best life is not a selfish act. When you are able to love yourself, take care of your own needs and stand for who you want to be in the world and how you think the world should treat you, you invite others to do the same.

The revolution needs you, right now, to embrace who you are and to do so in public. Whether you’re ready or not, I will keep standing for you.

And 'becca of Brooklyn sends a shout out too:

hello londoners!

i was just there visiting in august, and i'm so sad that i can't come back for your festival! but i will think of you all being fully in your bodies, creating big beautiful supportive community, and maybe (maybe?) savoring a little clotted cream on my behalf.



And another cheer!

As a queer US fattie, I am so encouraged to hear of all the fabulous fat queer culture going on in the UK. Truth be told, I'm a little envious of the rad fatties I know from the UK, the activists, artists, scholars, and the community as a whole is vibrant, fab, and creating an authentic and vital fat queer culture everyday. You all are so lucky to have venues like the Fat of the Land Harvest, and I hope you are raised up in pride and joy as a queer fatties or ally, after your attendance at the festival. Life really is more wonderful when we all embrace our mutliple selves without shame, and if you're still struggling with how to live in a fat-hating, homophobic culture as a queer fat person, please know we've been there, and we can assure you life is nicer when we dropped the shame. Have fun today, and be a queer sphere with pride!

-Julia McCrossin

And Marilyn Wann chips in too

We can choose to anticipate scarcity (of civil rights, love, sex, fun, medical care, life, respect, etc.) or we can choose to anticipate a surplus of everything we desire. For me, being a rad fatty involves refusing to believe in false scarcities and insisting on creating surplus for people of all sizes. (Also: relinquishing my envy of thin privilege as a necessary part of dismantling fat oppression!) I want every body to live humanely and free from alienation from our own embodiment. Big fat belly bumps to my fat/queer brothers and sisters of all genders and sizes at Fat of the Land!

So does Val Langmuir

Have an amazing time. Celebrate abundance! Banish scarcity! Be visible! Be proud! You ROCK!


Love to The Fat of the Land

We've been getting messages of support for Fat of the Land from activists and allies people around the world. This is from Susan Stinson, celebrated author. If you love what she's written here you'll be excited to hear that she has donated some of her beautiful books for the raffle, don't forget to buy a ticket.

Last night at the Three County Fair, I took a break from what a sweet-faced young man near me in the crowd of those who hadn’t paid extra for a seat in the grandstand happily called “demolition derby at its finest” to wander past the beer shed. There I watched as a fat woman, a fat man and a thin man threw themselves into complicated dance moves that had the men doing a Fred-and-Ginger turn cheek-to-cheek. In the Exhibition Hall, I noted that the winner of the scarecrow contest was a broom with blonde braids, a green boa and a Viking hat. A second prize cabbage head had a string bean smile. There was an exhibit on the benefits of earthworms in the rabbitry. The winner of Best in the Show in Youth Needlework had made a sinister figure in a fuzzy suit with a cravat and half a facemask, which suggested a cross between the Phantom of the Opera and Edgar Allen Poe. I note these details in your honor, celebrants at The Fat of The Land. I was a fat dyke alone at the fair, but I danced in the music tent when a rock band came on. The rough-throated singer wrote songs about little girls turning up the amp. Guitar, drums, bass. I stomped around the tent pole, bringing in a harvest of sweat. I turned everything loose. I thought of you, so far away. I thought of you.

Susan Stinson
Northampton, MA

Monday, 21 September 2009

Allyson Mitchell is Showing at the Fat of the Land

We are delighted to present an exhibition of Allyson Mitchell's work at the Fat of the Land.

Allyson is an artist and activist who lives in Toronto. Her incredible body of work includes Deep Lez and Lady Sasquatch, not to mention film-making and community performance. She is a whirlwind of brilliance. I can't begin to explain what she does, the best thing is for you to go to her website and immerse yourself in a world of fur, big-eyed dolls, strangeness and macramé.