It’s unclear whether Dorothy Allison planned to celebrate her 63rd birthday with eight other freakishly talented writers, a platter of gluten-free cupcakes, and a standing ovation, but damn it, that’s what she got at Hugo House last night.
Sister Spit host Michelle Tea’s bubbly energy jump-started the night, as she assured everyone that she was only on her first Red Bull of the evening. (Read my interview with Tea and Allison here.) Later, with the deep, whispered voice of a phone sex operator, Cassie J. Sneider lamented the loss of her family’s car antennas. Erin Markey belted out songs from her one-woman musicals (one about a baby named Secret with no labia). Brontez Purnell shouted things like, “I had totally been fucked by a ghost.” Our own David Schmader wooed the crowd with tales of medical discoveries and sheet cake. In an intense Southern drawl, Allison read from Bastard Out of Carolina, which was also celebrating a birthday (20 years in print). The room replied with hushed awe.
The night ended after Allison’s birthday cupcakes, but not before she made an announcement: “The entire company has promised me lap dances.” The group has only been on tour for 11 days, but already they have story after ridiculous story from the road—Tea described an 8-year-old boy from California who was shocked to realize the tour members were all queers. Tea said she tapped the stricken boy on the shoulder and told him, “Now you’re gay, too.” The boy responded, “I’m going to go tap more people!”