My Summer Vacation or Mortville for Womyn

Katrina does Archery

I haven’t shot a bow since I was about 9 years old. It felt amazing to do it again.

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a community builder. I started a women’s basketball game, I make movies about girl gangs. I host parties and brunches, I make meals for people, I take my friends surfing. I’ve been joking about starting a surf camp for wayward girls. When I meet new friends I like, I introduce them to old friends I like. I’ve connected people that way for years, people who went on to play in bands together, to work together. It’s part of who I am. Ex girlfriends call me “the mayor,” In some circles I am known as “the Ambassador of Good Times.”

About a year and a half ago I was newly single and I saw Randee Riot’s photo album on facebook. She called it “Summer Camp.” Within were pictured Randee and her cute pals in cuddle piles on lawn chairs, in hammocks, in sunshine, out in the woods. I was intrigued, it looked great; I wanted to be there.
So I asked her about it and she said “Oh. It’s Michigan Womyns Music Festival. Katrina, it’s amazing you have to go!.” As it turns out, a few other women I know and love go to Michfest every year; the girls I play basketball with go and they all said the same thing. “Oh my god, It’s so much fun. It’s amazing. Katrina you HAVE to go.”
So I decided. “I have to go.”

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Honestly I didn’t even know Michfest was still going on. I had heard about it from way back. It was founded in 1976 by lesbian separatists. it’s women’s land with no men allowed. I never really was a fan of women’s music. I’m a rocker. I like AC/DC, GSX, I like punk rock. Not so much into folksy stuff apart from the occasional Kate Bush or Dolly Parton or Fiona Apple singalong.
I mean, when we were kids my stepmother played Buffy Sainte Marie and it was cute, I loved the political message. I am a feminist. I’m pro peace and nature. But please, that music is just so, uh, granola and most of its naked intimacy really makes me cringe all over.
I began, however, from Randee’s pictures and from my friends urgencies, to get the idea that Michigan Womyns Music Fest is about way more than the music. In fact, the whole experience of camping in the woods with a bunch of sexy friends who are way underdressed, the idea that we can all be together for a week in the woods and do workshops, play basketball, dance, do yoga, play football, shower together, do archery, go topless. It just all started to sound like too good to be true.
Also, I saw that Joan as Policewoman was on the bill and I like them.

Cut to early August, I didn’t have a ticket or a way to go, but a miracle happened, the heavens opened up and Randee came sailing on the Hand of God into my field of vision via text message: Contact Nicky Cutler right away; Go Magazine needs someone to go to Michfest.

So I did, it worked out and at the last possible second I got the green light. I packed up my jeep, reached out on facebook for a travel partner pal with a free week (“you have to be awesome and female”) Kat O. responded and we hit the road.

I hadn’t gone camping since I was a teenager. Since going single I’ve been threatening to go camping and here I was in the Michigan woods, pitching a tent. I felt like a girl scout again, improvising with ropes and tarp and twine and trees. We borrowed gear from other campers. We figured it out.

So how was Michfest? It was AMAZING. It was like being on a really pleasant, mellow acid trip. My cheeks ached from smiling all day long. I would say, “I’m just gonna go over here for a minute I’ll be right back.” Somehow these little errands would turn into wonderful journeys. Kat O. nailed it when she said it was like being a teenager, you’d go to the park to see what’s going on and then to someone’s basement to listen to them play music and then continue to drift pleasantly, aimlessly, throughout the evening. These desultory journeys were sensory treasure hunts; I found a spontaneous dance party, a bonfire with a rollicking conversation and someone grilling bratwurst in a cast iron skillet, bonfires with singing and s’mores, a conversation under a tree, a conversation in the shower, someone cute to make out with, a cuddle pile, a massage circle.

We also realized it reminded us tremendously of Mortville from “Desperate Living.” Minus Queen Carlotta but there were (female) leather daddies and crazy outfits and lots of gold lamé in this ramshackle, temporary city in the woods.

The showers at michfest are wide open in the woods. I stood showering with women of 70, women of 24, women of all sizes. And conversations just flowed everywhere. I felt the spirit of connecting with elders on a really sweet human level. I took an archery workshop. Other people took conscious communication workshops, dirty talk workshops, how to find your g-spot workshops. Team Dresch played and women crowd surfed without the fear of being groped by dudes. The sign language interpreters were amazing to watch. I’d never seen live music interpreted for the deaf before.

In the dark of night lit by torches and flashlights I watched a demonstration of fisting and female ejaculation. I hadn’t seen such a great graphic dirty show since Lady Hennessy took the stage at Pyramid Club in the late 80’s. I heard Dorothy Allison read her unpublished southern story within a story. I saw the milky-way, great oak trees, a raccoon in the moonlight that I whispered to. “Raccoon. I see you.”

It was my lesbian Heart of Darkness, my hippie Lord of the Flies; I went native, I drank the Kool Aid, I bought the tie-dye. It was a magnificent moment and I’ll never be the same.

There were drawbacks and downsides. Every ticket comes with 3 vegetarian meals a day and although I really like vegetarian food and would definitely cook something like what they served, somehow, overall the food just sucked. I wanted to like it. Some meals were great. But on the whole I was disappointed. I mean, would it kill them to put a little vegan bouillon in the rice? The weather on the whole was great but it did rain for two days straight and I had forgotten to pack any boots or any waterproof clothing.

One ugly thread was the political controversy that got visible this year with the implementation of red shirts to indicate the support of keeping MichFest only for wbw or “women born women.” Officially, the festival is not trans inclusive. Although I saw a full spectrum of the female gender represented from waxy, wasp-waisted high femme to bearded stone butch and a handful of ftm, mtf, trans and intersex people. It seemed like everyone was getting along. It was explained to me that no one is checking people at the gate for penises or vaginas or variants in between. It’s basically don’t ask don’t tell. However, there was a sad, uncomfortable, angry feeling among people who support trans friends and their inclusion. I brought it up with one old timer and she said yes, well, then they should start their own festival [that’s trans inclusive.] Some people simply won’t come to michfest because of this policy. Other people come and don’t tell their friends that they’re coming, because they don’t want to hurt their trans friends feelings by supporting a transphobic event. There’s an opinion floating around that the festival is losing steam and will die out because of this controversy, which is truly sad. I was pleased to see that there were trans and intersex people there, it made me feel at home because my chosen family includes queer folk of all gender persuasions.

I came home on a mission to convince all my favorite bands to play, my favorite writers to come read and to convince all my friends to come play in the woods next summer. At the end of the trip I returned to New York City and had the end of summer blues a little early. I don’t want to go back to school; to be civilized, I was Huckleberry Finn, a drifter, a girl pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl, making friends, saving lives, having adventures, making maps, elaborate ones, of secret places, secrets with trees, with the soft ground, the surprise.
I didn’t want it to end.
all photos were taken with permission of the subject(s), and photo permission was cleared by the festival organizer / creator.

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Documentary about Surfing in Rockaway

Katrina del Mar “Made in NY”


I recently had the pleasure to see the premiere of Elisa Garcia Bates’  documentary film “AWAY” about women who surf Rockaway in NYC. As one of the subjects of  the film, I was pleased to be in attendance along with a lot of long term die hard NYC surfers including Mary Leonard and Jee Mee Kim, who are also featured in the film. It premiered at the New York Surf Film Festival in September.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/40244148″>AWAY Teaser Trailer</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/elisabates”>Elisa Bates</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I was excited to be asked to participate in the project. And I loved reconnecting with George Bates, who shot the water camera footage from which these stills were taken. I’ve known George since we were just 19 or 20. He’s a gifted illustrator and a great surfer. We had a lot of fun out surfing these little longboard waves.

Katrina surfs Rockaway

Katrina surfs Rockaway

Girl Gang Trilogy screenings in COPENHAGEN and CHICAGO

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“New York City filmmaker, photographer, artist and producer of massive collisions of talent and beauty, Katrina del Mar, triumphs in the underground, revels in the grit and lathers on beauty…”

COPENHAGEN 25 OCTOBER / CHICAGO OCTOBER 27

An explosion of rebel girls, rock’n’roll, and wheels by the noted New York underground filmmaker thought of as ‘the lesbian Russ Meyer’ and ‘Kenneth Angers lesbian stepchild’ – Katrina del Mar. For the first time in Denmark, MIX Copenhagen is proud to present the cult classic ‘Gang Girls trilogy’. Del Mar’s lady-loving, leather-clad cast are keeping the feminist/punk/DIY spirit alive as they cause an unpredictable ruckus through New York City. “None of us can do anything right but we all do it all day long!”

The films will be screened at Støberiet on Blågårds Plads.

The NIGHTINGALE and THE CHICAGO UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL present
GIRL GANG TRILOGY by Katrina del Mar
Presented as part of The GATEWAY DRUGS Series
Katrina del Mar in Person!

at THE NIGHTINGALE THEATER
1084 N Milwaukee Avenue
http://nightingaletheatre.org/“Katrina del Mar’s 27 minute GANG GIRLS 2000 makes a powerful companion piece; a fiction about girl gangs (the Ponies, Glitter Girls), it depicts their antics (mostly fighting and kissing each other) by mixing black and white with color and clear close ups with fuzzier shots, edited with an excellent sense of rhythm and the erotic possibilities of brief close up images of a whip or a pair of lips. It’s light and humorous, a fantasy that moves from violence to sex rather than vice versa, drawing its energy not from single objects or figures but from connections between editing, speech rhythms, and character and camera movement.”
– The Chicago Reader

Program Details:
HELL ON WHEELS GANG GIRLS FOREVER (HDV/Super 8mm 36 minutes 2010)
SURF GANG (DV/Super 8mm 24 minutes 2005)
GANG GIRLS 2000 (Super8mm 27 minutes 1999)

Katrina del Mar is a New York-based art and commercial photographer, as well as an award winning filmmaker. Her work has been described as “beautiful” exuding an “intimate chemistry” and also as “filth of the highest quality.” Katrina directs and produces independent films, has produced television for the internet, while also covering the world of group and solo gallery shows, club installations, media design, production and publishing. Katrina has shown her work at Deitch Projects, The Museum for Contemporary Art (CAPC) in Bordeaux, France, American Fine Arts Company, Binz 39 in Switzerland, the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, the Miami Light Project, P.S. 122 in New York City, Wrong Weather Gallery in Porto Portugal, and the University of Cardiff in Wales. http://www.katrinadelmar.com/

Suggested Donation of $7-10

Thanks for Supporting Chicago Cinema.

The 20th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival will be held March 6-10, 2013 at The Logan Theater visit http://www.cuff.org/ for more information