Down ‘N’ Dirty and Down to the Heart of It

Vic and I go to Down ‘N’ Dirty Poetry Night in BigCity, NC, hosted by our two friends – Kam the butch and Becki the femme (both self-described and damn proud of it). We see each other monthly at Eve’s Night Out, but DnD is their night to shine in full costume, full character, and actually – fully themselves. We are there in support and also for a fun night out and we’re not alone; at least one hundred others are in attendance. After all, DnD is known in BigCity, NC as a safe place for women of all orientations to express their sexuality openly. And even though I am in the rural Baptist south and grew up in liberal Portland, Oregon, I can say with confidence that it is one of the safest events for women I have ever participated in.

To start, Kam marches through the crowd and onto the stage in full fatigues, an ex-marine who served for eleven years. The rigidity of her spine and the fierceness of her voice comes as second nature. Her skin is taught like a drum across fibrous muscles, veins crawling up her forearms and highlighting the smoothness of flesh. Her hair is cut short and tucked under a camo cap, which she wears firmly at twelve ‘o’ clock, like a good soldier. I have always been attracted to her – the confidence of her poetry, the creative force on the tip of her tongue, her unflappable yet rugged beauty. Later, she will tell us the story of being discovered as a lesbian in the marines, the lie that is the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mantra, and the pain she endured being rejected from her own family because of her sexual orientation. Once on stage, she makes orders then plays with the power of her own character as Becki joins her on stage in a full-fledged sensual waitress costume, ready to serve in any way the marine desires.

Parr for the course for an innocent straight girl like me, there is a bit of education involved in the evening. For instance, I learn about an entire culture of Drag Kings – the counterpart to Drag Queens – when a pair of women lip sync to Prince in full costume with no holes barred (though plenty of skin bared). Jokes are made about who’s on top, who’s on third, who’s on bottom, and the various possible words to fill the acronym M.I.L.F. Of course, not everyone is all slang or all subculture and in fact, I can find some way to relate to and/or appreciate every performer. Vic reads her elegant poem “Straight is Too Narrow,” and dedicates it to all the straight women that the lesbian women like to tease (meaning me, and perhaps a few other women in attendance).

We listen to women’s voices for upwards of three hours and still end up leaving early. There are door prizes yet to be offered, a dance party, and a performance by the Divine Maggies, local musical divas with an astringent bluegrass/rock sound. But already my well is full and I am again confirmed in my faith in the world.

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