With its rich history of counterculture movements and California abundance, the Bay Area is a lifestyle laboratory for people and communities seeking to de-center the center and un-normalize the norms. Whether in the form of radical gender and sexual identity, political inclination, body modification, or technological utopianism, we are what the rest of the country fears and/or hopes to be. What’s in the local water that attracts the Black Panthers, the weed-farming millionaires, the decompressing Burners? Given the rapid succession of social and identity-based movements here, what does the future hold for new, even radical, expressions of self?
The best way to frame this conversation is to weave together the influential voices—and avatars—of thought leaders working at the nexus of personal identity and cultural anthropology. Part I of the conversation explores gender and sexuality, featuring Michelle Tea, Valencia author and founder of RADAR Productions and Sister Spit, interviewing Amos Mac, founder and editor of Original Plumbing, the SF-based magazine dedicated to exploring the sexuality and culture of FTM transgendered men. Part II explores technology and the virtually human: Tom Boellstorff, Professor of Anthropology at UC Irvine, and author of Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human, will be in dialogue with Philip Rosedale, creator of the paradigm-shifting virtual world Second Life. Finally, we will open up the discussion to the group at large where your perspective will be an essential element of an enriching discussion.
Tom Boellstorff is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. He is the author of The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton University Press, 2005); A Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer Studies, Indonesia (Duke University Press, 2007); and Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human (Princeton University Press, 2008).
Philip Rosedale is known for his entrepreneurial approach to new technologies, starting a network software company when he was 17. In 1995 he created an innovative Internet video conferencing product, which was later acquired by RealNetworks, where he went on to become Vice President and CTO. In 1999, Rosedale left RealNetworks and founded Linden Lab where he led the creation of Second Life from initial concept to a market-leading virtual world, with a robust economy and a global population. In 2009, Rosedale founded LoveMachine, Inc. Rosedale holds a BS degree in Physics from the University of California at San Diego.
Amos Mac is an artist, writer and publisher who photographs the dynamic, the gender rebellious, the under-represented and beyond though voyeuristic, snap-shot styled portraits. He has shown his photographs in galleries and at events internationally, and his work has been published in collaboration with Italian Vogue, CANDY, OUT, and others. In 2009 he founded and became editor-in-chief of Original Plumbing magazine, the premier quarterly magazine that documents the culture of transgender men. In the summer of 2011 he will release the first edition of Translady Fanzine, a photographic periodical featuring one woman of transgender experience per issue.
Michelle Tea organizes and curates all of RADAR Production’s artistic programs. In 1994, Tea co-founded the legendary and long-running Sister Spit all-female open mics; from 1997 to 2003, with a 2007 re-launch, Sister Spit conducted several national tours that called attention to the City’s emerging lesbian artists who performed to sold-out houses across America. Tea has published 5 novels, a book of poetry, numerous short stories, hundreds of Bay Area newspaper articles and has edited several anthologies on fashion, class, queer writing and personal narrative. Her novel Valencia won the 2000 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction, a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award for Literature, and the prestigious Rona Jaffe Foundation award for early-career female writers.
In May 2001, she published a seminal article on gender and sexual identity issues entitled “What Is A Woman?” in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Tea’s article “Transmissions from Camp Trans” was published in Best American Non-required Reading 2004, edited by Dave Eggers. In 2006, both the SF Weekly and the Bay Guardian’s reader polls named Tea the Bay Area’s best writer. Her most recent novel, Rose of No Man’s Land, has been translated into Italian. She has received four Individual Artist grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission. In addition to her prolific literary output, Tea has curated and/or emceed more than 1000 Bay Area spoken word events over the past fourteen years that have enabled emerging queer writers and performers to reach audiences of a significant size.