🍺 So here’s to you, World Wide Web. Look at you, wireless, mobile, social, deep, and dark. How you’ve grown! You’ve changed the world as we know it, for better in some ways, for worse in others. You’ve shaped the way I live and love, make a living and make love. You’ve made me your whore. A toast to the World Wide Web! Cheers! 🍻
My daddy forbade me to get naked for a college play. He didn’t realize it was not his call to make. I was eighteen. I could make my own decisions about my body.
I had just finished a run of my first professional theatre gig. “By George!” was a musical revue of George Gershwin starring Dulce and directed by Behn Cervantes. I was a wispy little chorus girl, but I had a solo part after Michelle Gallaga in the song, “I Got Rhythm.” It was a showstopper!
Throughout the run and for weeks after it, I hung out with Dulaang UP kids. Even though I went to Ateneo, I auditioned for a part in the play “Fili,” adapted by Floy Quintos from Jose Rizal’s “El Filibusterismo.” Director Tony Mabesa must have been amused by my novelty because he cast me in a big part, the role of Kontessa, the Kapitan-Heneral’s whore.
Sisa was Eugene Domingo, who had briefly changed her name to Geena Domingo to assume a more dramatic persona. She was a student then, not the big comedy star she is now. The big star of the show was film director Mario O’Hara as the protagonist Simoun.
Rehearsals were exciting. I was getting a master class in theatre performance from the best in the Philippines. I tried my best to keep up when we read through the entire script. I was in one big scene with chunky monologues and several lines back and forth with the Kapitan-Heneral. I was off-book and ready when it was time to get the scene up on its feet.
Sir Tony had me enter with a lit candelabra in each hand. I recited my lines, projected my voice as big as I could make it. My scene partner, the Kapitan-Heneral, was played by a flamboyant opera singer. I couldn’t let my voice drown alongside his. At center stage I was directed to hand the candelabras to the Kapitan-Heneral, kneel in front of him with my back to the audience, and undress.
Sir Tony was serious. I would be getting naked onstage.
My heart raced. My face heated up. I felt small. Literally. I had no tits. I was very self-conscious about it. We weren’t even onstage at the time. We were in a rehearsal room with unforgiving flat fluorescent lighting. I sheepishly removed my street clothes and returned to my spot center stage. The Kapitan-Heneral looked down at me. He was enormous.
“Drip wax on her,” Sir Tony directed from behind a desk. The stage manager sat next to him coldly taking notes on her script.
I continued my lines, gasping every time hot wax hit my bare skin. I felt all eyes on me. Cast and crew held their collective breath as a virgin had her first taste of Dominance and submission. Public humiliation. I didn’t know any of them and none of them knew me. I was an outsider. Just a doe-eyed girl from Ateneo who thought she could run with the cool kids at UP. I felt so alone.
As the scene drew to a climactic end, Sir Tony said, “This is where you have an orgasm.”
“What’s an orgasm?” I asked.
Sir Tony laughed a big booming laugh that echoed throughout the rehearsal hall and in the back of my head for years to come.
“You poor girl.”
Sir Tony took out a cigarette and stood up. The stage manager called a break.
We worked the scene in the succeeding rehearsals. I grew in confidence each time we ran it. I was determined to conquer this role. Eventually, though, Sir Tony decided to get someone else to play Kontessa, a woman named Grace, who rumor had it was a Muslim princess. She was a grown woman with full breasts and dark hair down to her ankles. She fit the part more than I did. She knew how to have an orgasm.
I’m trying to imagine my 18-year-old self as the Kontessa. Not yet five feet tall, a tit-less waif. I would have been the child prostitute version, which is not without a visceral power of its own.
I was demoted to the part of a common whore. I wore a blonde wig and a big poofy dress. I had a couple of lines and got to kiss Sir Mario O’Hara at the beginning of the play.
I got asked out on dates a lot during the run of the play. Maybe I was fresh meat from Ateneo. Maybe it was the challenge of giving me my first orgasm. Maybe that very first wax dripping scene rehearsal played in their imaginations more often than they could bear it. More than my naked body on display, I like to think it was my innocence, vulnerability, and courage that captivated them that day.
This is an excerpt from the memoir I am currently writing. I am so proud that I got to work with Sir Tony Mabesa, who recently won the MMFF award for Best Supporting Actor in the movie Rainbow’s Sunset. Salute to Dr. Jose Rizal. Mabuhay!
Puki was attempting to jump to the windowsill. She was there for a long time yesterday, watching who knows what outside. Squirrels? Whatever birds were left around? Or the remaining leaves still shivering on the branches.
I held my little Puki close this morning and whispered to her, “Today I will take you to a place where there are many other cats and kittens for you to play with. Sometimes it’s going to be fun and sometimes it won’t be. Sometimes it will feel absolutely horrible. I don’t know if they’ll put you in a room with other kittens or put you alone in one of those cramped little lockers. They likely will take you to the vet and get you your shots and get your ovaries and uterus removed. It will feel weird, even painful, but hang in there, wild thing. I will miss you. I will miss having a little wild animal in my life. You were born here, under our couch. I remember fearing that you were dead because you weren’t moving. I touched you within the first hours of your birth and you heaved a big sigh and I knew you were alive. Now look at you. A little wild thing to remind me of what wildness is like.”
I want to nurture that wild creature within me. I love it. I love that wild side. I would never want to tame it.
“I will miss you, wild thing. My little Puki. Your scaredy cat Mama. I wish you both the best. This is why I’m giving you up before Christmas. There are so many people who want to take kitties home for Christmas. Let it be you. I hope you get a good family to adopt you and you get to explore another exciting home, a forever home. And when you’re done exploring and things get a little boring and all you do is sit by the window looking out at the snow, maybe you’ll think back to our crazy haunted home where you were born, the magical place where you and your Mama were together. I hope there are stairs in your coming home. You were so intimidated at first but later you raced up and down and tripped us up constantly. May you have many Christmas trees to attack and shoes to shove your face in.”
“Will you remember me? Remember us snuggled under lots of thick blankets? Will you remember that I will love you always? I give you a piece of my heart. Keep it. Take it for a walk or a run sometimes. Let it dance around your head when you’re feeling sleepy. I want you to never once think nobody loves you. I love you. When you’re at the vet and surrounded by nurses and people who don’t know what a kung fu kitty you are, that you know how to give secret handshakes, that you get up on your hind legs like a lemur, remember that I love you and that we share that secret, your secret identity: Kung fu kitty.”
Jay packed the Mama cat into the carrier. She fought him hard and cut him many places in his arms. He never liked it that we kept going to the shelter even though we couldn’t adopt. He didn’t want to fall in love and not be able to take the cat home and keep it forever. I don’t mind. I have no time to protect my heart from love. I don’t mind breaking my heart. We were born on this earth to break our hearts over and over until we die. That is our purpose.
Have you broken your heart? If you haven’t broken your heart, then you haven’t lived. What are you waiting for? Wear your heart on your sleeve. Break it. Million tiny pieces. More. Don’t play safe. Be a fool. Love.
If you are here, you are part of a strange and loving community. I am grateful that you confide in me. This is a safe place. You are accepted just the way you are. Even if you’ve never commented, I want you to know that I count myself lucky to have you. You have saved me.
You may already know that last week, my dear friend died unexpectedly. Gina brought so much life to everyone she touched – always so present and generous. She wore herself out giving. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I can’t keep living and not give as much of myself as she believed I can. I will be the best version of myself I can be, but I will also forgive myself for not being perfect. I hope you’ll join me.
Take every opportunity to be kind and generous, even if it’s just a compliment, a smile, or a facebook “like.” Tell people you love them. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh out loud. Play music. Dance. Make love. That includes making love to yourself. Yes, that’s love, too.
I’ve been working on Book 3 of the Lilith series for a long time, struggling with the Impostor Syndrome way longer than I should have. I’m giving myself a kick in the ass by posting my drafts publicly in a social storytelling site. Chapter One of Lilith: Beyond the Deluge is Sisters. I hope you enjoy it. I would truly appreciate it if you leave me feedback in the comments section to help me shape the final draft.
I went to an all-girls nun-run Catholic high school in the Philippines, very strict and narrow-minded. I was a good student but something as trivial as my asymmetric hairstyle got their granny panties in a bunch. What made high school life worth living was Gina. She and I connected on an artistic and literary level. She was a huge The Cure fan, so I drew her a portrait of Robert Smith. She wrote me a fantasy article for Town & Country magazine, in which I am a fabulous art curator and married to Johnny Depp. We talked endlessly about ideas for stories we wanted to write someday and we talked about sex. Sure, we had no experience whatsoever, but we were teenagers. Sex was an obsession.
In college she went to UP and I went to Ateneo. She partied hard with her sorority sisters. I got sucked into music and theatre. She invited me to an Upsilon event once. I felt out of place. Our paths divided for the time being.
She tracked me down in the mid-90s when I was in New York. I was performing Off and Off-Off-Broadway. She was a young single mom, making it as a writer and editor in Manila. She found out I made my own body products so she asked me to write an article for her fledgling magazine, Earthian. It was granola and green long before it was a thing. I accepted. It was my first published piece.
In the mid-2000s she discovered an obscure anonymous blog I was writing about my pregnancy and home birth. She asked if she could publish it on Working Mom magazine. How could I say no to celebrating my infant’s birth on the pages of a glossy magazine? Gina made me feel like royalty or at least like a celebrity.
When she found out about my porn, she stayed on my side all the way. She defended me against attacks behind my back from people we went to high school with and if you knew her, you’d know she unleashed a fury on anyone who crossed her or her loved ones. I flew to San Diego to catch up with her when she visited in 2010. We were regulars at her pub, Fred’s Revolucion in Cubao X in 2012. A few years later, she and her family were guests in our old farmhouse in Maine. We shared stories, beer, and laughter indoors while our kids ages 11 and 12 built a bonfire in the backyard because that’s the kind of parents we were and that’s the kind of kickass kids we raised.
She roped me in to write for Agam, the book of photos by her husband, photojournalist Jose Enrique Soriano. As executive editor, she included me among 24 contributing writers – accomplished poets, journalists, anthropologists, scientists, and artists from the Philippines. I felt like the black sheep among those luminaries, but Gina was my champion. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She autographed my copy of the book: Will always be your friend, fan, and supporter – living vicariously through your groundbreaking work. Love you.
Tuesday night I got a message from her husband. Gina was in a coma in St. Luke’s ER. No one saw it coming. He asked for prayers. When an atheist asks an agnostic to pray for a Catholic, you know it’s serious. I prayed. I used all my mental energy to summon her back. “Come back, Gina,” I commented on a recent Facebook post in which she had tagged me. Come back, Gina, I thought constantly day and night. Come back to us. Thursday around 5 in the morning I woke up with a cramp in my chest. It pinched everytime I breathed. My heart literally hurt. I messaged her husband, “Tell me something, anything.”
“She loved you and we were looking forward to visiting again.”
I had a difficult loud ugly cry by myself until Jay came out of his studio and held me and we cried together. I am so glad he got to know her. I’m glad I have somebody to grieve with and celebrate her life with.
Gina recently posted a fabulous profile picture across all her social media channels and even more fabulous photos of her and her kids at a kiki ball. Just last weekend her kids thanked her for giving them “a rich uncommon childhood.” She said she won the “lotto of life.” Her latest piece, my favorite yet, the crass and soulful Patricio, was published online on Esquire posthumously. I joked to Jay that it was a memorial-worthy social media presence, one to aspire to. He asked me not to die until my profile pictures got really old and ugly.
I got out a bottle of beer from the fridge, spilled some in her honor, and drank to my friend. Gina had a sharp wit and a fiery nature. She was a fierce mother and a fierce friend. She burned brilliantly, my friend for life. Gina burned fast, but she burned exceptionally bright.
I’ve been fostering a pregnant cat that some heartless people abandoned at the shelter. She’s a scared little thing, so confused about what’s happening to her body and untrusting of any human. I don’t blame her. You fuck real good once and you’re in trouble forever. Can you imagine being kicked out of your home just when you need one the most? She’s been under the couch most of the time. Once in a while I coax her out with kitty treats. She gently takes it from the tip of my fingers with her tiny teeth. So cute!
Lately she started lounging out in the open, but darted back under the couch as soon as anyone moved. On Autumn Equinox this weekend she spent the entire day and night under the couch. Around ten o’clock, while I was troubleshooting the Raspberry Pi I set up, I heard peeps from under the couch. Kittens!
She came out later, her crotch wet so I knew for sure she had given birth. Kitty Mama cleaned herself, drank and ate a lot, then relaxed on her bed. I took the opportunity to take a peek under the couch. One tiny baby kitten.
I stayed up late with my Kitty Mama, rubbing her body and telling her she did good. She was so hungry for affection, the sweet thing. Before going to bed, I peeked at the baby again. It wasn’t moving. I got scared. What if it’s dead? I reached out and touched it. It squeaked. It was warm. I was relieved, but only slightly. What if the Mama rejects it now that I’d touched it? I dream worried dreams now. A little lifeless kitten, kittens running amok, my rat terrier getting in through the French doors and eating the little kitten. Moms… Moms worry.
Prior to this I’d been having frustrating dreams. Dreams that ended before they began. I dreamed about my first lover. The first boy I ever fell in love with growing up in the Philippines. We were hanging out with other people, not speaking to each other, just there, trying to keep it cool but wanting so badly to reach out and touch him. Finally we were alone but before we could say one thing the dream was over. I was awake. What a cruel trick awakening is!
Another time I dreamed about my high school best friend and me walking by a beach in the Philippines with a couple of boys I don’t believe I’ve met in real life. She ripped her clothes off and jumped in the water. The boys undressed and followed. I fumbled for the buttons on my shirt. I wanted to go skinny dipping, too, but the buttons seemed to take forever to undo. I woke up before I could get my shirt off.
I have someone who tells me constantly that he dreams about me. He says he wakes up hard as a rock and has to get himself off in the bathroom.
It’s 20 days till my birthday and those of you who’ve known me for at least over a year know what that means. Every year on my birthday I take a nude photo to celebrate being born naked, yes, but also it’s a record of how my body has changed through the years. This year will be my 19th annual birthday nude. 19!!! Some of you weren’t even born yet when I started taking these nudes.
If you want to send me a present (I love presents!) I’m going to add items to my wishlist on Amazon daily to give you an idea of what makes me smile. The presents I added today have something to do with this little anecdote I’m about to share with you, so go take a peek at my wishlist, then come back for the rest of this post.
Did you see it? Alright, here goes…
I was driving a long winding road in the White Mountains and singing along to The Breeders – All Nerve turned up really loud.
I won’t stop! I will run you down!
Suddenly a red fox crossed the road right in front of me, waving its pretty white tail. My heart slowed, then sped up, then pounded hard. The fox stopped to look back at me before it disappeared into the woods past the other side of the road, oblivious to how awestruck I was by its wild beauty.
My giddiness ended abruptly when I saw police lights in my rearview mirror. Shit. I turned The Breeders down. I stopped, reached for my registration out of the glove compartment, my license out of my purse. The cop was at my window faster than I expected him to be.
“Hi, officer! Did you see that fox?” I handed him my documents.
“Yeah!” He smiled, looked over my license and registration. He looked pretty good himself. Young country cop, sexy navy blue uniform, bright ginger hair.
“I’ve never seen a fox in broad daylight before,” I kept talking, spread my legs nonchalantly, gave the cop a view of my smooth creamy thighs, black lacy panties peeking out of a black miniskirt printed with little yellow sunflowers. “Have you, officer?” I looked up at him expectantly.
He grinned. “No, not like this one.”
There was nothing on either side of the road but forests. There wasn’t a house for miles. I felt vulnerable, excited, scared. I think he did, too. He didn’t look like the type of cop who would routinely abuse his power. He seemed like a model citizen, with his high school sweetheart wife and 2.5 kids, a house with a white picket fence. The kind of guy who goes to his small town church on Sundays. Also the kind of guy who may not get a chance to act out his basest fantasies, ever, much less with an experienced woman of exotic origin.
I wondered what it would be like to suck his cock. Was it pink like his cheeks? Was he waiting for me to make a bolder move? Or would I scare him the way a bold move may scare a wild animal? How would he react to fear? Is it worth it to find out?
His gun sat silently in its holster.
“Slow down on these roads a bit, okay?” He handed my documents back and was gone as quickly as he showed up at my car window.
Sometimes life only gives us a chance to connect in the briefest of moments. In big cities we brush up against so many people, overwhelm our senses with music and food and media, and grow numb. Out there on a lonely road in the middle of the woods, my nerves tingled.
This photo was taken at Ground Zero of what remains of the World Trade Center. On September 14, three days after the planes crashed and burned the Twin Towers, it rained. By nightfall the rain ceased and dust settled in the city. It was time to go to the funeral.
I headed for East Village. St. Mark’s Place was bustling. People were in shock but in good spirits, a camaraderie that graciously emerges when tough times unite a group of people. I had Japanese noodles at a hole in a wall so crowded it felt like the end of the world. We all slurped our noodle soups like it was. After that I knew I was ready for my pilgrimage downtown.
I walked around the barricades to make my way closer to the ruins. Even in shattered pieces, the World Trade Center was impossibly huge. First responders worked round the clock. I took a good look and got out of their way. I bought an American flag off a vendor and tucked it into my bag as I walked away. The subway smelled of Lysol and burnt flesh. Firefighters off their shift slumped in their seats on the train. They stared dead ahead of them in between nods at people who thanked them for their service.
I had a ticket for Rocky Horror Picture Show on Broadway in my pocket, purchased weeks prior. The show was going on that night and I wasn’t about to miss it. Dick Cavett was the Narrator. He talked about life and death and life going on. Each one of us with beating hearts do our part to keep life going.
Back then, New Yorkers were in it together, regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation. How did that same event that united a city become the catalyst to a war with no end in sight?