Letters

2013-04-30 16.00.12

We are commenting on this blog post: https://piefolk.net/2012/01/12/rice-queen/

This blog post gives an introduction to the “rice queen” term and identity, which is used predominantly to describe white gay men who are primarily attracted to Asian men. The blog post outlines a conversation that Michael Martin has with an older fellow, and illuminates the problematic that exists in the fetishization that is inherent with the “rice queen” moniker. The fellow that Michael converses with frequently reduces entire national and racialized identities into a few characteristics, and denies the complexities that these folks have as human beings. Additionally, Michael Martin comments on the imperial aspects of what many “rice queens” do: travel to Asia in search of cheap sex workers.

In this blog post, Michael does nothing to combat the overt racism that his conversation partner is spewing, but rather voices his discomfort with the rampant racism being perpetuated in the conversation. Though the blog post breaches the “rice queen” topic and label, Michael does not begin to implicate his admitted dominant attraction to Asian men in this system. He seeks not to deconstruct his own location in a racial hierarchy and the imbalance of power in his own relationships with Asian men, but merely frames the fellow whom he is having the conversation with as the evil person, and upholds himself as the one that recognizes and stands against racism.

This blog post speaks to the fetishization of coloured and racialized bodies, which, while deemed disgusting, undesirable and ugly by dominant white society, is also positioned as being for the purpose of white sexual consumption when it is so desired. 

Anonymous 

Hi. Thanks for writing. “We” who? Are you the Borg or something? Also, why would you refer to me in the third person? Creepy. Okay:

I don’t think it’s my job to combat racism in America, but I do write about things that happen to me. Conversations I have, etc.

I’m not responsible for racism in the gay community, or in the world at large. I have a blog that is well attended, and I do my best to remind gay people to play nice with each other. Ultimately, however, the blog is just my outlet to process my own feelings of alienation. I’m a member of an oppressed minority who has not yet garnered its civil rights. Let me say that again. Gay people have not yet garnered legal equality in the United States. That makes us (and trans, or gender queer people) the bottom rung of the civil rights ladder. If I feel like processing an awkward, but polite conversation I had with an older person from a more racist generation – that’s what I’ll do. And I’ll do it online to call attention to the issue.

I am not ‘required’ to start a shouting match with an old gay man who just wants to cuddle with someone on a Friday night. I have respect for people, even racist people. If anything, I’m interested in hearing his perspective, because it’s so foreign to me. It makes me feel good that society might be slightly different now than when he was my age.

I’m not interested in ‘getting my head in the right place,’ if that means people from one oppressed minority are attacking people from another oppressed minority. I don’t quite think I deserve a kick in the nuts for talking about racial politics on my blog. I think calling attention to the issue is valuable for its own sake, and I won’t change my format or apologize.

People seem to be uncomfortable that I’m eroticizing Asian men on my blog. Too bad. It’s about time we as a society started looking at Asian men as sex symbols. There are very few Asian male sex symbols in the media today, though things are slowly changing. I don’t think I’m helping make great strides in racial politics, but then again I’m just a comic. I say what’s on my mind and some people listen. I’m grateful, and on a good day, humble.

I do think it would be useful if you folks went after straight white people, instead of a working class gay guy, but that’s your prerogative. Enjoy complaining to your friends about my blog, and as always, thanks for reading!

Michael

2013-04-30 15.31.19

Letters

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Hey Michael, 

I’m the guy from Duke University/UCB that you talked to on Friday at the Blue Boar. Since talking to you I’ve followed your advice by not fucking anybody in the comedy world and so far it’s going great. It was fun hearing gossip and an honest perspective about UCB, and I’d love to pick your brain again about how one goes about turning comedy and song writing into a career.

Rick

Hey Rick,

It was fun talking to you, too.

So, yeah, don’t fuck any comics. I’ve watched a few of my friends date themselves out of career options when relationships with other comics go bad. One friend in particular springs to mind. She’d had so many failed relationships with UCB comics that there were few teams at the NYC theater who would have her perform with them. Politics, politics…  She’s still successful in her own right, but for my money I’d do it differently.

Aside from that, my only other advice is keep going. And, don’t just improvise. Write jokes. Write sketches. Write pilots and spec scripts. You never know when you’ll meet the person who can put your script in the right hands. Also, just keep writing and performing as much as possible. That sounds cliche but it’s true. Keep at it.

I hope this helps, and please invite me to your shows?

Michael

Dear Michael,

 
You may not remember, but about two and a half years ago, I wrote you about being in the closet at the Naval Academy. I just wanted to say thank you so much for the advice you gave me to stick it out. Soon after you posted your response, I started to come out and the response was mixed but mostly good. My last two years at school were much better since I wasn’t worried about people finding out about my sexuality and I actually found a great group of friends who were either out or in the process of coming out. This past May, my boyfriend and I graduated from Annapolis and started our careers as officers. I am so glad that I decided to stay and just wanted to again say thanks for helping me make that decision.
 
Sincerely,
Brad
Thanks, Brad.
It isn’t very frequent I get a follow up from one of my advice letters, and it’s nice to know I didn’t steer you in a disastrous direction. You and your boyfriend sound totally adorable and everyone in the world must be jealous when you two arrive at a military function in dress uniforms, holding hands. In fact, I’m picturing that right now, and I’m wondering if you two would like to come photograph for the blog in uniform?
Thanks for coming out of the closet. It’s important we stay visible, since the world needs positive gay role models. You boys are an inspiration.
xo
Michael
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Tuesdays With Woody: Episode 1

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Hello all. This is Tuesdays With Woody, Episode 1.

I wrote this and acted in it. Some other comedy jerks helped me and I’m eternally grateful.

If you like it, share with friends?

If you hate is, share with enemies?

Did I mention I’m grateful? I am.

Thanks folks.

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Gandhi and 4 Questions

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Arpana restaurant.  Miss Snow and I are checking on Kafka, our adopted Japanese man-child, who works in the kitchen.  We have just finished a meal and have been invited to have our palms read by an Indian mysitc. There is an air of romance. We just came from Tiffany.

 

Him: I am a palm reader. You may ask four questions for 15 dollars.

Me: Okay. I believe you are a psychic because you have a magnifying glass made of Mother of Pearl. You got that near the ocean, didn’t you?

Him: Yes. In Florida.

Me: I knew that, because I’m psychic. Or perhaps it just reminded me of shells.

Him: What is your first question?

Me: Why do I have to lie to pepole? It seems like people don’t respect me, unless I lie a little?

Him: The universe doesn’t want you to lie. You will be very ashamed if you lie, and so you cannot be a liar. This is very important and I cannot stress this enough. There are layers of deception, and self deception and you’ve been peeling those layers back for a long time, and now you find the fruit of your labor. Enjoy anything sweet that comes your way, but do not try to lie. It is not in your nature.

Me: Really? I tell stories for a living, though.

Him: That is not the same as lying. You make a clear distinction in your work life, from your home life, and you have earned the right to say with conviction ‘I have integrity.’ Say it please.

Me: I have integrity.

Him: Integrity means wholeness. You know exactly who you are in this life and your opinion can not be swayed.

Me: Even so, just because you have a story, doesn’t mean you have to tell it.

Him: That is also true, but wisdom comes from a practice and a discipline. You must keep writing.

Me: I didn’t say I was a writer.

Him: You didn’t have to. What is your next question?

Me: How does a shepard become King?

Him: How does a King lose his kingdom?

Me: By being unkind to his servants.

Him: Get ready. You are going to be responsible for a LOT of money. A lot.

Me: I don’t want that. I only want un oueff. An egg. Enough. I only want enough money.

Him: Whether you like it or not, you have a tremendous amount of money coming to you. It can be a burden or a blessing depending on how you care for the money, and what you choose to do with it.

Me: I’d like to start a charity for abused LGBTQ people.

Him: That is a noble cause but it will not erase the pain you have suffered.

Me: I like remembering the pain I’ve suffered.

Him: Why?

Me: You’re the psychic, you tell me.

Him: You need to remember your pain so you can grow into a new man.

Me: Ding! Growing Pains is a great show.

Him: You are showing a smile again that betrays who you really are. You’re struggling to evolve and when you do the world will be at your feet.

Me: Sounds like I’m going to live in Tibet.

Him: You will leave the country soon.

Me: That is true.

Him: Do you have another question?

Me: I’ve been blythely telling everyone that all of human knowledge is inside all of us when we are born. Do you agree?

Him: It is true. But, unlocking that knowledge comes at a price, and as soon as you become aware of your power, you must wrestle the demons of your own fear.

Me: Forever.

Him: There is only forever, never, and now. Are you afraid right now?

Me: No.

Him: Then I hope the money you are getting will be spent wisely. What is more important than money?

Me: Time.

Him: You are wiser than I gave you credit for. Thank you for an eye opening session.

Me: Don’t I get one more question?

Him: I would rather you come back regularly, and talk to me about how things are progressing. Is that fair?

Me: As long as it doesn’t cost money next time.

Him: Friendship is freely given.

Me: How much do I owe you?

Him: 30. 15 for you and 15 for your fiance.

Me: Will you take 35?

Him: Most certainly. And don’t forget, there is a Goddess of Infinite Compassion – she is much older than the God you worship.

Me: Hey now. Don’t give away the milk for free, buddy.

Him: I saw you dancing, earlier, very graceful.

Me: Thanks, pal. Next time I’ll read your palm.

Him: Is that so?

Me: Yes. I have to get a magnifying glass first.

Him: Go to the ocean.

Me: And make salt.

Him: Yes. It is everyone’s right to make salt in the ocean. No government can control this.

Me: Gandhi.

Him: Yes.

Me: What a drama queen he was about his anorexia.

Him: You are a funny man.

Me: Ugh. I know. Don’t get me started

More information on Match Game Live  and Summer Camp here.

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Stop. Be still.

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Him: Are you okay?

Me: No. Obviously.

Him: Stop. You look tired. Stop. Don’t. Don’t hug me. You always try to hug me.

Me: I need affection. Please hug me.

Him: Stop. Fine. Yes. Here. Hug me.

Me: Thanks. Let’s lie down?

Him: No, I’m not here for that. I’m here for you.

Me: I’m fine.

Him: You’re not.

Me: I am. I’m fine.

Him: No, Michael. You’re not. You’re not fine at all. Some very traumatic things happened. You’re trying to act like you’re fine, but you’re bouncing off the walls. Be still.

Me: I can’t. I don’t. I don’t have time for being still, not for one second. I have so much to do.

Him: Why am I here? Why did I come over here? Do you know?

Me: Kiss me.

Him: Stop. No. Stop.

Me: I need affection. Hug me again.

Him: Okay fine. What happened?

Me: Lots of stuff.

Him: How was LA?

Me: It wasn’t as nice as I’d hoped it would be.

Him: Are people mean?

Me: Uh. Some of them are, yes. Extremely.

Him: You mean at the Network?

Me: No. I mean other comedy types that I thought were my friends.

Him: How was the Network?

Me: They were nice enough.  I had no idea what I was auditioning for. I had to stay in my hotel room for three days straight while they grilled me about who I was. I was isolated. I quit my job, lost Alex over it, and I got so exhausted that I might have showed too much ‘realness’ in the final interview.

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Him: Wait, you lost Alex over it?

Me: He was terrified of being alone for six weeks. Maybe he just didn’t really love me to begin with, though? Soon as he said yes to moving in with me, the smiles stopped.

Him: He stopped smiling at you?

Me: Yes. He would look for reasons to provoke me. He wouldn’t smile. He wouldn’t eat food I made, even when I knew he’d skipped dinner. I got a few promotions, and career advancements. He wouldn’t show up to celebrate them.

Him: Wow.

Me: He left me right when I needed him most. He left during the hardest callback process of my life. Whywouldyoudothattosomeone?

Him: Michael. Slow down. Things are fine now, right?

Me: Sure?

(long pause)

Me: I hate this so much.

Him: Stop.

Me: Lie down next to me.

Him: Stop.

Me: That’s why you’re here.

Him: Stop. Stop pacing around. You’re crawling out of your skin.

Me: Why did he do this?  I hate this the most. I told him I didn’t want a relationship but he kept at it. He kept coming over.

Him: You need to be still. People play games. They don’t even know they’re doing it.

Me: Somewhere along the line he stopped smiling at me. Started making me beg for affection. Cruel. I had to work so hard for every morsel.

Him: That’s how us Asian boys act when we don’t get monogamy.

Me: I offered him monogamy.

(pause)

Him: You offered him monogamy?

(pause)

Him: What did he say?

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Me: He told me it was too late – that I should have wanted monogamy the whole time. That I should have known when I met him. I told him the next time he tries to change the mind of a grown man, expect it to take much longer than 8 months.

Him: Hm…  That doesn’t sound right. That sounds like an excuse. Maybe he’s just a kid? Maybe he doesn’t know what he wants?

Me: People are cat-fishing me now, online. They’re making up fake profiles in order to say cruel things. Why is everyone so awful?

Him: Stop. Be still. Okay. Lie down. I’ll lie down with you.

Me: Kiss me?

Him: No. Just lie here with me. I want you to be still. It’s okay to cry, but don’t move. Just be still. I’m going to touch your face a little.

(he touches my face. tears slip out of me. we are quiet for a long time.)

Me: (whispered) He tricked me. I don’t trust anybody now. He took that away.

Him: Stop. You trust too much anyhow.

Me: No. Not anymore.

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(long silence. i am still. my diaphragm shakes.)

Him: Stop.

(long silence. tremors build inside me.)

Him: Still. Be still.

(long silence. i control the tremors)

Him: Good. Still.

(i turn away. i am still. i breathe, but not too deep. he starts to snooze. he has no idea i’m still crying)

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L.A. Story #3: Where’s Your Voice?

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Him: It’s steep. I told you not to wear Converse, Michael.

Me: Eh. I’ve hiked the Adirondack trail in Converse. I bet I’ll be fine.

Him: I forgot to tell you how steep it is. Where’s my car?

Me: I don’t know?

Him: I took a photo of the street signs. It’s okay. I know how to find it. Don’t worry so much?

Me: I wasn’t – Fischer –

Him: I’ve been here for 6 weeks, Michael I know how to get around.

Me: Okay.

Him: Don’t walk over there! It’s really steep! What if someone came up and pushed you?

Me: I’m four feet away from the edge. Also, if someone pushed me that person would be a murderous sociopath. I prefer the company of narcissistic sociopaths, personally.

Him: This is way deeper than it needs to be. Look at the canyon!

Me: I’m looking. It’s beautiful.

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Him: Look around – do you see any recognizable faces?

Me: Yeah. Everyone sort of looks like everyone else. Part of that is conformity, probably. Part of that is surgery, probably.

Him: Do you know that to be true?

Me: I’ve been in town four days, three of which I was sequestered by Network.

Him: So you’re just making blind assumptions.

Me: I’m just making jokes.

Him: Well, people could be listening.

Me: Good. I think my jokes are funny, sometimes.  Maybe they’ll give me a dollar? You’ve only been here three weeks, by the way.

Him: Doesn’t mean I’m not careful what I say and when.

Me: Let’s yell really loud into the canyon and listen for the echo.

Him: OMG no! Is that Aubrey Plaza?

Me: No. Aubrey is prettier than her. Also, she’s gabbing away. Aubrey listens and judges.

Him: How do you know?

Me: I might’ve been on an improv team with her, once upon a time.

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Him: REALLY?

Me: Who can remember? Ancient history.

Him: Introduce me to her!

Me: She’s not here! But that’s Gus Van Sant.

Him: Let’s get a photo with him.

Me: I’m joking. That’s not him. He lives in Williamsburg. That’s a Pilates instructor that takes screenwriting classes on Thursday afternoons.

Him: Michael, people could be listening to you!

Me: They should be listening to you. Are you singing?

Him: I don’t sing anymore. I want to write television and that’s the only thing I care about.

Me: You have a lovely voice. Frank and I had our eye on you. You probably would have made a team.

Him: You’re not my teacher anymore, Michael. This is Los Angeles.

Me: Yes.

(pause)

Me: It certainly is, Fischer.

(pause)

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Me: Even at Peg’s apartment you wouldn’t sing. Even just in front of the dogs.

Him: I don’t know about my voice. It has problems.

Me: It’s a legit musical theater voice. You have a great voice. I want to hear you sing my songs.

Him: Could we make money selling songs?

Me: We certainly could.

Him: How’s that done?

Me: I imagine you go over to Gaga’s house and sing her a song you wrote on your uke.

Him: That’s too twee. Also she writes her own.

Me: That’s true. Gaga has actual writing talent. But quite a few pop stars don’t.

Him: People could be listening.

Me: Fischer.

Him: What?

Me: You’re my friend.

Him: So?

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Me: So, I know this is L.A. but let’s just pretend this is New York, for a sec? Let’s just pretend, Fischer, that it’s totally okay to just talk without getting incredibly paranoid Stephen Spielberg might be listening to us. He has bigger problems than two homos talking philosophy. Trust me.

Him: It’s not the type of conversation you have on Runyon Canyon.  I think that’s Omarosa.

Me: It’s not. It’s Michelle Obama.

Him: Really?!

Me: Who cares?!

(pause)

Me: I think it’s Serena. No – Beyonce. No – Miley. It’s Miley.

Him: Don’t walk so close to the edge!

Me: Why did you stop singing? Where’s your lovely voice, Fischer?

Him: I don’t. I don’t want to perform.

Me: If you want to sell a song, you gotta sing a song.

Him: I just want to write.

Me: All the best comedy writers I know perform all the time.

Him: I don’t have to. Don’t walk so close to the edge!

Me: You’re right. I’m going to run the rest of the way.

Him: What? Why?!

Me: We have to remind ourselves to do brave things, sometimes, Fischer. Otherwise we wind up moving to Hollywood with a beautiful voice – and then become too shy to even sing.

Him: What? Stop! Don’t!

Me: See you at the bottom of the canyonnnnnnnnn!

(I run away, singing, and flailing my arms. Fischer looks mortified. Paris Hilton is amused, then annoyed. Also, she wasn’t there at all.)

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