The famed literary performance tour Sister Spit: The Next Generation was held at the Wicker Park Art Center as part of the Chicago International Movies and Musical Festival Saturday with performances by Dorothy Allison, Michelle Tea, Justin Vivian Bond and other notable acts.
“I never know what [performers] are going to do,” said Sister Spit co-founder, Michelle Tea. “I think it’s a kind of literary event for people who don’t necessarily think they would enjoy a literary event.”
The Sister Spit tour brings together writers, performance artists, poets, and other creative luminaries for an evening of queer creative expression. Among this year’s performers were playwright Erin Markey, Slam poet and Mr. Trans man 2010 Kit Yan, Chicago illustrator Edie Fake, and special guest, award winning author of the novel Bastard Out of Carolina, Dorothy Allison.
“It’s a really diverse performance troop, and [Tea] puts together very interesting poets, performance artists, provocateurs,” Allison said. “We’ve been watching [Markey] scare the crap out of college girls all over California.”
Chicago received a special show when musician and author Justin Vivian Bond, best known for a starring role in John Cameron Mitchell’s Short Bus, joined the group on Allison’s last night on the tour.
“What excites me about Sister Spit is that it’s bringing all of these different communities together,” Bond said. “We have people on the tour from from New York and San Francisco, and then we go to all of these places and perform with people from those areas to connect all of these queer thinkers together.”
Notable performances for the evening included Allison reading an emotional excerpt from one of her well known novels Trash, a screening of a portion of the feature-length film version of Tea’s queer classic novel Valencia and an impromptu performance by Bond from v’s (preferred pronoun) new album Silver Wells.
The Sister Spit tour was formed in San Francisco in 1994 by Michelle Tea and Sini Anderson, a Chicago Native, bringing together members of the queer artistic community from different creative mediums.
“We have a really huge fan base here in Chicago,” Tea said. “There’s a great queer community here; it’s a great city and we often hit it after going through the Midwest so we’re always ready for a big crazy show, and Chicago always delivers that.”
The tour disbanded in 2006, but was revived by Tea in 2007 as Sister Spit: The Next Generation, bringing together a new variety of queer and feminist creative thinkers.
“It’s all about making real what we know the world to be, and if you’re my age you live in a world in which most of the reality of queer life was denied.” Allison said. “We weren’t present in the storytelling and one of the primary things that changed with the impact of Feminism, and gay studies and culture, was that we made ourselves real and it’s done through storytelling.”
The sold out show brought in people of all ages from the queer community.
“This is my second year to come,” said Nikk Selik, an audience member. “If you don’t want to put your toe in, and you want to just jump right into [Chicago's queer scene] you should definitely come to Sister Spit.”
With Sister Spit evolving for almost 20 years, Tea told Chicago Phoenix what she would like to see in the tour’s future.
“We are slowly getting into more museums and I love that,” she said, “I would love to get into more museums and also more institutions that are able to get funding and offer free shows for the cities that we’re in.”
Chicago is the 14th stop on a 28 city tour throughout the month of April. Visit Radarproductions.org for more tour dates.