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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SURF GANG to screen at Filmmakers Cooperative Summer Cinema Salon

My film SURF GANG will screen Saturday June 11 8pm at Filmmakers Cooperative Summer Cinema Salon in legendary arts garden Le Petit Versailles. East 2nd St near Avenue C, NYC.

think Goodfellas meets Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!

think Grey Gardens meets The Warriors.

Think Mel Brooks meets Russ Meyer and bites off Dog Town and Zboys. Think Blue Crush: lose the lame story, add hot cast from Gang Girls 2000.

A gang of urban surfer girls leaves its home break and runs a course of chaotic violence until a call comes in from the other side.

Starring former ABT Ballerina Nicolette Nolan, Kembra Pfahler, Andrea Purcigliotti.  filmed in Rockaway Beach, NYC, Southampton, East Hampton and Montauk.

Surf Gang won the NYFA Fellowship in Video and Best Experimental Film, Planet Out Short Movie Awards and was screened at the Museum of Contemporaray Art CAPC Museum, in Bordeaux, France
Here is the trailer, edited by Melissa Huffsmith Roth

Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever WINS ACCOLADE AWARD!

Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever WINS ACCOLADE AWARD!

Director / Producer Katrina del Mar of Plushtoy Productions/ Delmarvelous has won a prestigious Award of Merit from The Accolade Competition. The award was given for Katrina del Mar’s exciting new film, Hell on Wheels, Gang Girls Forever.

The Accolade recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment of contribute to profound social change.  Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film and television industry. Information about the Accolade and a list of recent winners can be found at www.theaccolade.net.

Krank meets the Outcasts

Betsy Todd as Krank meets the Outcasts;L-R Dolinda Meeker, Sarah Greenwood, Bones Patterson, Betsy Todd, Regan Venezia, Ashley "Patches" Evens

Katrina del Mar says, “Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever was a complete labor of love, or perhaps an exercise in mental insanity. We created this “no budget” girl gang movie with a giant cast of 55 women out of collective love for creativity and fun.  It’s a collaborative, improvisational effort, shot on a shoestring budget and propelled solely on love for filmmaking.

“I am extremely gratified to receive this award, I feel I have to share this award with the entire cast and crew: in particular, Betsy Todd, Genny Pavitt and Meredith Miller, who are extremely talented and funny people and who essentially wrote the film with me as we went along. Dee Finley and Lola RocknRolla also helped shape the vision of this film into a funny, somewhat meditative, usually violent kick in the teeth to preconceptions about vegans, the homeless, disabled people and bike messengers.

“I also want to thank the many many people who contributed time and effort to get this film made, including co-editor Melissa Huffsmith Roth, sound mixer Carl Mandelbaum, director of photography Beka Venezia and so many others*.

“My girl gang films are modern day fairy tales with elements of ugly reality firmly embedded like jewels in a tiara of sheer fantasy. With a knowing nod to the “genre” B-Movies of the ’50’s 60′ & 70’s.  The stories have a wide streak of cruelty, a little bit of pathos and an unhealthy dose of the bizarre.”

Accolade Award

Accolade Award for Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever

IN WINNING this award, Katrina del Mar joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award. Thomas Baker, Ph.D. who chairs The Accolade, had this to say about the latest winners, “The Accolade is not an easy award to win. Entries are received from around the world. The Accolade helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptionally high quality of entries. The goal of The Accolade is to help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.”

Katrina del MarHell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever, experimental

*Complete list of credits are at ganggirlsforever.com

“Brooklyn Girls” in Queens!

“Brooklyn Girls” is screening at at the Queens Museum of Art 3-5pm with Cinemarosa! see details at cinemarosa.org

Fall 2009 Season Premiere
Queers in the City

Selection of shorts from independent local filmmakers

Back To Life -Dirs. Desi del Valle & Hollie Lemarr, USA, 2009, 12 min.
A woman grieves the death of her girlfriend only after experiencing the vulnerability of sleeping with her best friend.

Brooklyn Girls -Dir. Katrina Del Mar, USA, 2009, 3 min.
All the prettiest girls live in Brooklyn! Breakout Brooklyn Band, Hooray for Goodbye’s sing-along single “Brooklyn Girls” starring Genny Slag, Marz Mikeo, Sora An, Wendy Kidd, see the girl on the corner like a math problem, makes me wish I would have stayed in school!! Featuring the whole gang of Williamsburg hip chicks…riding bikes, shooting craps, playing ice hockey and making out! Fun!!

Hooray for Goodbye "Brooklyn Girls" Video Still directed by Katrina del Mar

Hooray for Goodbye "Brooklyn Girls" Video Still directed by Katrina del Mar

Don’t Bring Scott -Dir. David Pavloski, USA, 2008, 31 min.
A biographical portrait of the director’s family and their acceptance for his partner. Filmed over several years, Pavloski manages to capture the complex relationship with his parents and siblings while making the decision to bring his partner to a family gathering.

Even In My Dream -Dir. Flavio Alves, USA, 2008, 8 min.
Michael, an elderly widower meets the “doll” of his dreams while passing by a sex shop. His fascination with the exciting figure awakens dormant erotic desires, and a sexual discovery at the end of a lifetime of sexual repression.

Human -Dir. Aaron Cobbett, USA, 2008, 5 min.
Bringing the “fairy” back in “fairy tale” Ari Gold transports himself to a world where Little Red Riding Hood meets E.T., where Narcissus doesn’t drown in his image but makes art with it, a world where what makes us human is something more intangible and magical than anything we can imagine. A reworking of the Human League hit transformed into a human rights anthem.

The Red Stitches -Dir. Todd Goings, USA, 2008, 12 min.
Behind the scenes of a slasher film, unexpected connections are revealed between the fear and excitement involved with scary movies and first time sexual experiences.

Weak Species -Dir. Dan Faltz, USA, 2009, 34 min.
Steve and George are part of a frightening food chain. High school rivals, each gravitates toward sex and violence in an attempt to feel. Their downward spirals could lead them to self-destruction.

We Belong -Dir. Dean Hammer & Joe Wilson, USA, 2009, 11 min.
The story of two rural teens who had the courage to stand up to bigotry and intolerance in their schools – and the determination to tell their stories to the world.

Directions to QMA: E, F, V, R Trains to 74th Street & Roosevelt Avenue, change for #7 Train. Exit at Willest Point/Shea Stadium, walk in the direction of the park. Museum is located in front of the metal structure, the Unisphere.

Hell On Wheels Gang Girls Forever PREMIERE At Anthology Film Archives SATURDAY OCTOBER 3RD

promotional postcard for Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever directed by Katrina del Mar

promo postcard for Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever directed by Katrina del Mar

“Gang Girls 2000” is everything you could want in an indie flick and more”. – Chris Parcellin, Film Threat

September 3, 2009 (New York, NY) – New York City filmmaker, photographer and artist, Katrina del Mar, described in the press alternately as “the Lesbian Russ Meyer” and “the lesbian Kenneth Anger” will premiere to the screen the girl gang movie, Hell on Wheels; Gang Girls Forever which will wind up her award-winning cult classic trilogy of Girl Gang Films! It will be screened at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City October 3rd 2009. Katrina and her wild-women cast members, (a definitive who’s-who of the downtown NYC scene) will be on-hand for the screening and a Q&A after the films.

Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever directed by Katrina del Mar production still l-r Jessica Templin, Sarah Greenwood, Betsy Todd, Dolinda Meeker, Meredith Miller

Hell on Wheels Gang Girls Forever directed by Katrina del Mar production still l-r Jessica Templin, Sarah Greenwood, Betsy Todd, Dolinda Meeker, Meredith Miller

“Del Mar means of the sea, but Katrina del Mar is all concrete. Particularly, the sidewalks, endless walls and abrasive faces of New York City. Looking at her photos is like walking down its cool, tough avenues. Already this sounds like an echo of every article written on del Mar. But it’s hard to come up with new words, because she’s so cool, so tough.” Lisa Carver  The New Nude, Nerve Chronicle Books

Katrina del Mar: Hell On Wheels Gang Girls Forever PREMIERE Saturday October 3, 2009 two screenings: 7pm & 9pm $12

Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Avenue, NYC 10003

Subways: 6 to Bleecker, F or V to Broadway Lafayette

To view samples of Katrina’s work, visit her website.

NEW FILMS & FILMMAKERS ADDED to Katrina del Mar MOVIE MAYHEM..

Presented by Gail Thacker and the The Gene Frankel Theatre!

“Gang Girls 2000” is everything you could want in an indie flick and more”. – Chris Parcellin, Film Threat

August 10, 2009 (New York, NY) – NEW FILMS & FILMMAKERS ADDED TO MOVIE MAYHEM..
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 the beauty in a number of short films and music videos that will be presented at Gene Frankel Theater in New York City Thursday, August 27th. Katrina will be on-hand for the screenings and a Q&A afterwards. Also Short “Art” Films by Anne Hanavan (sexually explicit self portraits where the artist works thru issues surrounding past experiences with sex work, rape, and Catholosm), Lola RockNRolla (The Lesbian John Waters), Jasmine Hirst (Dark Australian Film Artist most famous for her death row interview with Aileen Wuornos), Charlotte G. Choclet (youtube sensation, pregnant bikini model, and sensual astrologer) and more TBA!!*

Films presented include new scenes from the hotly, highly anticipated latest work “Hell on Wheels, Gang Girls Forever” (Slated to premiere in October ’09). Also “SURF GANG” (Awarded Best Experimental Film, Planet Out Short Movie Awards and the NYFA Fellowship in Video), “Gang Girls 2000,” and “A Beautiful Death” (Official Selection, Frameline Film Festival).

“Del Mar, known for her amazing photographs of Lower East Side freaks and rockers, builds on decades of traditional James Dean archetypes and comes out with a girl rebel vision that is truly unique…” – Sarah Jacobson, IFC Rant

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