Wednesday, November 28, 2012

me kissing Audell

Here is me kissing Audell Shelburne. He's a poet and an academic, maybe even in that order. He teaches now at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma, but I got to know him at his previous gig at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, where he directed an annual writer's festival and edited the journal Windhover. He even published a short story of mine in that journal a few years ago, so this is a delayed "writer kisses editor" sort of post. (See a few posts ago for me kissing most of the editorial board of the Blue Rock Review.)

Speaking of Blue Rock, Audell is another friend who was published in this year's volume, VOX. I think you should go buy a copy because I want you to read work by my friends as well as my own work, but as I've been reading through the volume this week and I have to say---we're all in really good company.

me kissing Beth

This is another kiss from the Blue Rock Review soiree this past weekend. This is Beth Melles, who I met there. She came with Audell (coming up next) and through him had seen my blog and knew before I finished asking what I was about to ask.

I love that. Makes me feel almost famous.

But I have to admit that this another one of those situations where I don't have much to say because I don't know my kissee well enough to tell stories.

But we're Facebook friends now. I look forward to learning more about her.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

me kissing Alice and Alan

Meet Alice and Alan Berecka. This is still at the Blue Rock Review soiree. Alan is a poet and has a poem in the new volume (and two previous volumes). I've known them a few years and I had the distinct honor of publishing Alan's first full volume of poetry, The Comic Flaw (back when I was a publisher).

There are probably any number of tales I could tell you about Alan, but mostly because he tells them so much better in his poetry.

However, I'll share this one, just because it's fresh.

After the Blue Rock party, I followed Alice and Alan to San Marcos to eat dinner (at an old college haunt, Grins!) and while we were there, they just casually mentioned that the day previous had been their wedding anniversary. I either said "Congratulations" or was about to when they confessed, "We both forgot about it until the evening."

Honestly? That's the kind of married person I want to be---to both forget the wedding anniversary and both be able to laugh about it.

They are good people I don't see nearly enough.

me kissing Sarah

Meet Sarah Webb, educator, poet, editor . . . not sure what all. She is in the current edition of The Blue Rock Review and she was at the release party for the new volume yesterday. I went to the party with the notion of maybe getting some literary kisses for my blog, but I admit I was feeling a bit shy. My multidisciplinary life sometimes leaves me unbalanced when I switch from my performance life to my writing life (or vice versa). It's hard to explain,

At the party, during the readings, editor Billy Crockett would call up three of us at a time. Sarah and I were in the same group. As I sat one bar stool over from Sarah and watched her read her poem, "St. Vitus Dance," I fell a little bit in love. She didn't just read it, she performed it. I guess it was some kind of affirmation that I was still among my people, in the right tribe.

She was the first person at the party I asked to kiss---even before all the people I knew well---and she broke the ice.

Look at that beautiful smile. I'm glad she was game to play along.

me kissing Blue Rock

Here's where I play with fire.

For the second year, I've had some writing published in The Blue Rock Review, a journal published by the Blue Rock Foundation. It's an annual journal (which, upon typing that, made me smile as I noted the roots of each word---word geek humor) and when they release each volume, they throw this great party to celebrate and read and sing and show art---all the sorts of things that I would count as a "great party."

Last year, I didn't have a kissing blog. This year . . .
So here I am kissing  three members of the editorial board. That's the dangerous part. It would be nice to be published there again---but you know, when they start looking at whatever piece of genius I'll send them next, they're going to remember this and go, "Yeah . . . no. He's just going to come to the party and start kissing everyone again."

But, hey, how many writers have wanted to kiss an editor? I just did it. No regrets.

I missed the other member of the editorial board who was there (and one was absent). So who knows? Maybe they'll be my advocates to get me in the next volume! ("Hey, I didn't get my kiss! We have to include him again!")*

Playing all angles . . .

In fairness, I sort of sprung this on them and I don't know these people very well. They even have actual careers and maybe they don't want to have me kissing them pop up in a web search on their name. So in sensitivity to that, I've decided to leave their names off these pictures, to lower their Google-ability.

I also invite them to leave a comment or email me at neilellisorts (at) yahoo (dot) com to tell me to tag them here. Because, you know, maybe they want to be known as being kissed by me. (Again, with the angles.)

All nonsense aside, I highly encourage you to visit the Blue Rock website and order a copy of the journal---even try one I'm not in! (It's not all about self-promotion!) It's a beautifully produced journal on every level, a labor of love by people who clearly want to have an ongoing conversation about creativity in all its expressions and permutations. Explore their page, order a couple of back issues, and enter the conversation.
* In case anyone misses it, I'm being silly. I've been doing this writing thing long enough to know that decisions about inclusion in anything is based upon any number of things, but getting a peck on the cheek is not one of them, one way or the other. Probably.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

me kissing Deborah

Hey look! I'm kissing Deborah Hay!

I first met Deborah over a decade ago while I was living in Austin, which is also where Deborah has lived for many years now. I took a workshop with her that she called "Dancing and Writing Together."

I have to be candid here. I sort of knew who she was, but not really. My grasp on dance history wasn't so great and I really was a bit befuddled by what I experienced in that workshop. (I did, however take it a second time!)

Without going into details, I sort of remember maybe being a little bit of a jerk in those workshops, especially the first go-round.

So, anyway, I leave Austin in 2001 to do graduate studies at Columbia College Chicago in Interdisciplinary Arts. The "Movement Images" class was taught by Nana Shineflug and Charlie Vernon, and a component of that class was dance history. It was that component of the class that changed my life (and is probably to blame for my become a sometimes dance writer).

It also really introduced me to the Judson Dance Theater. That class gave me a context for the aesthetic and practice of that movement of artists and gave me a retroactive context for the two workshops I experienced with Deborah.

And, to be honest, there are ways that my own preparation and practice for performance have been radically affected by those workshops.

So it's a joy to be able to spend this week of rehearsals and to perform with Deborah on Saturday. If you're reading this before October 13, 2012, do come out and see us in Richmond Hall---in Richmond Hall---performances at noon and 3:00pm.

me kissing Paul

Read the previous entry about me kissing Joanna to give this entry context.

But basically, this is Paul Smith. He and I are in Richmond Hall, the site specific performance by Deborah Hay. This is after rehearsal today. We are actually in the building that gives the performance the name. I love that skylight above us.

Paul has a resume in dance and performance, among other things, but he's also new to me, so here is that awkward moment when I admit I don't much much more to say about the person I'm kissing.

However, I do have this little fun fact: Deborah said one of the best meals she ever ate was prepared by Paul. So he cooks as well as performs. And very well, according to Deborah.

me kissing Joanna

This is Joanna Friesen. I've only recently met her, although she has a longstanding presence in the Houston dance community, especially as an educator at the University of Houston. 

My first experience with Joanna came when i received an email from her. She had gotten my name from my friend Toni (who was my first kiss on this blog!), who said I might be interested in a little project at the Menil Collection. Deborah Hay was coming to Houston to do a site specific performance and they needed six performers to support Deborah's solo.

My first thought was "I don't have time for this," followed immediately by my second thought, "I have to do this!"

The performance is this weekend, Saturday, in Richmond Hall (which is also the title of the performance). There will be two performances, at noon and 3:00pm. Click the Menil link above and look at their programs, if you're reading this before October 13, 2012.

 I kissed Joanna after rehearsal today. For getting me involved in this project, she deserves at least a kiss.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

me kissing Angela

One last birthday eve photo. This is Angela Fry. She is also in Wanderland. Yeah, it was a Wanderful birthday.

Besides dancing in dance films and such, she is also the owner and director of Tippy Toes Dancing, an after school performing arts program. Click the link to see what that's about.

Have you seen the movie, Bernie? I haven't, but the town where that takes place, that's where Angela is from. That may make no difference to anything at hand, but it delights me to know this.

me kissing Sabra

Another birthday eve kiss (see previous post for the head gear explanation). This is Sabra Yarbrough. That Wanderland dance film I mentioned last post? Sabra's in it, too. She teaches tango. I'm going to take a lesson sometime soon.

Sabra and I dance together a bit in Wanderland. I was awkward and stepped on her at least once, but only in rehearsal, I think. She has cats, but I won't say how many lest you judge her (although I aspire to her level of cat ownership).

She did look at me crazy when I said I wanted peach cobbler without ice cream. But I love peaches and I love peach cobbler, and ice cream, as much as I love it, just sort of gets in the way of the peach flavor. And it's my birthday, I can have my cobbler how I want it. So I did. I can handle a little crazy eye from Sabra. I know she's (mostly) playing in her judgment over my dessert choices.

me kissing anonymous woman

Tomorrow is my birthday and tonight I had a birthday eve dinner. So I got some kisses.

Here is a good friend, who I've known for over a decade. For reasons that actually make sense, she prefers to not be googleable and asked to be anonymous. So that's kind of all I can say on this post.

Except maybe I should explain my head. I'm wearing my birthday headdress, given to me by filmmaker/dancer/choreographer/costumer Ashley Horn. Ashley is busy editing a dance film she's shot called Wanderland. I'm in it. I kept asking for a headdress for my costume. I was denied, but she came through for my birthday. So it's a little bridal. Birthdays are about as close as I'm likely to get to a wedding, so it works.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

me kissing against malaria

 So tonight, Grace Lutheran Church had a fundraiser variety show, proceeds going to the ELCA Malaria Campaign. The show was called DragNet Follies. Grace is in the heart of Montrose, the traditionally LGBT neighborhood of Houston, and they knew they would have several drag performers in the show. Since they were raising money for mosquito nets, they hit on the idea of DragNet. Clever, no? I thought so.
Since this little blog has had some popularity, I offered to do kisses for tips to add a few more dollars to the total for the night. I mostly ended up kissing performers and friends who came out to see the show (some of whom I've kissed before). I also relaxed the rules a smidgen and let a couple of people kiss me. For charity, rules can take a hike.
  I'm not identifying the people in these photos. For one thing, I didn't get my usual permissions to do so, mostly because the evening was a little fast paced for all that and I announced I wouldn't in hopes of encouraging some shy folks to kiss against malaria. (For a drag audience, they were a little reserved. Well, many were my people---Lutherans---so there you go.)  So I invite those kissed to identify themselves in the comments below.
 Or, if you kissees prefer, I'll be glad to re-post your photo as an individual post. For tonight, it just felt like this group belonged together, recognizing all these folks who came out to support a good cause.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

may light perpetual shine

This is the sort of post I hadn't predicted that I would write when i started this little kissing project.

I'm writing on a Sunday. Just last Thursday, I kissed Jeremy Choate and posted it here. Last night, while waiting at a red light on his motorcycle, a driver rear-ended him. This afternoon, he died.

My Facebook news feed is a torrent of shock and grief. As I posted just three days ago, he was a common denominator between so many theater, dance, and music companies in Houston. The entire performing arts community is rocked. (To add anger to the grief, the driver fled the scene of the accident---on foot---instead of rendering aid. Senseless . . . )

He was a talented light artist. What's more, I've never heard anyone say anything bad about him. It seems we all admired him for his artistry, but he was much beloved for being Jeremy.

I didn't know him that well. We were in the same room at the same time on many, many occasions, but I can't say I really knew him. I have the post from last Thursday only because he saw another post about this blog on Facebook, wherein I said I'd kissed many of the dance community and was starting in on the theater community. He asked how he'd been missed or did I only kiss girls. I said I kissed boys and the next time I saw him, I'd have my camera ready.

And so I did. I wrote Thursday that I felt lucky to have had that moment of his reflected cool. I still feel that way only multiplied by and unnameable number.

He was 33. He leaves behind 2 little girls. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve the loss of their daddy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

me kissing Brit

It's a little bit shocking that I'm only just now kissing Brit Wallis. She's one of my favorite dancers in Houston. But don't tell her that. As you can see from that pose, she already has a little bit of an attitude.

I've seen her dance for Toni Leago Valle (who was my first "me kissing you" kiss). She's danced with Frame Dance (I think I've kissed close to all the dancers in that company---hence my shock that I'm just now getting to Brit). Here, she's just come off stage from a lovely evening in Hope Stone's Lemonade Stand. Those are the companies I know of for sure. It's too late tonight to go researching all the companies she's danced for and you wouldn't have time to read it all anyway.

I will say just a little bit more. She has an angular way about her. I'm not sure I can describe better than that. She's also a precise dancer. In Frame Dance Productions show a few months ago, Context, she has some quick movements to make, choreography that could have easily become visually muddy, but her angular precision made it breathtaking to watch.

Yeah, I don't know why I'm just now kissing Brit. I love to watch her dance. That attitude and all.

me kissing Jeremy

I'm going to employ a little bit of that old standby literary device known as hyperbole.

If there is a Higgs Boson particle of the Houston performing arts world, it just may be Jeremy Choate.

To much? Okay, maybe he doesn't hold the whole thing together, but he may be the common denominator to a good many theater, dance, and music companies. If there's a light booth in Houston he hasn't been in, I'd like to know about it.

Of course, I know Jeremy best through his work with dance companies. He's not simply a lighting designer, he's a light artist and dance especially lends itself to his gift. Go to his website and check out the photos. He definitely works some magic on the human body.

He also does light installation work. He's had shows in museums and galleries on each coast. Sadly, I've only seen pictures of them, but hope to see some "live" some day soon.

All this and he looks so chic in yellow-framed sunglasses. Not everyone can pull off that look. Jeremy makes it super cool. I'm lucky to have this moment of reflected cool.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

me kissing Lucy

Here I am kissing Lucy. Honestly? I don't know Lucy all that well. We run in similar circles, though and we have several people in common. I suspect as time goes on, we'll get to know each other better.

Lucy is an artist and works in an arts supply store. The first time I recall meeting her was when I bought some art supplies from her. Then I found out we had some mutual friends through Fieldwork and we run into each other regularly at dance events (as we did here, at Hope Stone's Lemonade Stand).

I just realized---even when I'm not kissing a dancer, there's a good chance there's a dance connection.

Anyway, one our mutual friends---Donna, who I kissed back in February, I think---brought up this blog tonight before the house went dark, and gave Lucy some time to think about being a participant. Hooray for me! She decided to be kissed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

me kissing Sari

So, I'm cooking up this project for the spring, a performance installation that will need large screens of fabric. I'd been to one fabric store, looking at stuff and really, I don't know much about fabric.

Then it hit me. Sari Frey is a textiles artist. I'd actually met Sari only once, well over a year ago, but we've been Facebook friends for a couple of years. My friend Misha Penton, who I kissed a couple of months ago, introduced us in cyberspace.

So I messaged Sari and asked if she was interested in a project. She said she was. We met at Inversion coffee to talk about it and depending upon all the chaos that life brings, it looks like we'll collaborating on this thing come spring.

But all that is nearly beside the point. We had a good visit. Besides this project, we talked about vocation and art and other frustrations and joys.

And then as we got ready to leave, I kissed her.

Monday, July 9, 2012

me kissing Martine

Here's another theater person from my weekend with the Landing Theatre Company. This is Dr. Martine Kei Green-Rogers. She's a dramaturg and teacher and she moderated all the talk-backs after the play readings.

Dang, she was fun. Lively and smart with a format for talk-backs that I'm totally stealing if/when I conduct one. I've already told her this. It's brilliant in it's simplicity.

As you might guess from that smile, she pretty well embodies the very idea of joie de vivre. I'd say how I hope to cross paths with her again, but she's leaving Houston soon to pursue a post-doc opportunity up in Utah. But the conversation at the bar stimulated some thought and clarified some aims as I make my way back into performing and performance-making and she vowed to return to Houston now and then. I hope this wasn't my one and only chance to visit with her. I need more smart, joyful people in my life.

me kissing Jennifer

This past weekend, I participated as a production assistant in the the Landing Theatre Company's first New American Voices Play Reading Series. This evening, after the fourth and final fabulous play reading (really, all four plays in the series were quite good), several of us went out to celebrate the series and just sit and visit with each other. You know, see, be seen, talk about whoever wasn't present. Theater stuff.

One of the Landing's partners in this venture was Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company. Perhaps you've read about them in American Theater Magazine. (Well, I have.) Anyway, Jennifer Decker, Artistic Director of the company, was there.

And as you can see, I kissed her.

I've known of Jennifer for some time and I have friends who have worked with her, but this is the first time I've actually met her. I found her to be smart, quick-witted and in general a pretty cool person to hang out with in a bar. I look forward to crossing paths with her again. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

me kissing Nicci

This is the last of the SWTSU theater kisses. I'm so very delighted to have this one.

So the organizers of the reunion are on the stage at Cheatham Street Warehouse, making announcements and one of them said, "And over here we are excited to have with us Nicci Harrison." This made me sit up and take notice. Nicci Harrison is here? Squee!

Nicci was the department secretary my freshman year at SWTSU. That doesn't even begin to tell you who she was. Telling you that we all referred to her as "Mama Nicci" maybe tells you more. She took care of us. She nurtured us. She loved us. I don't think I can stress that enough. Goodness, to be den mother to a bunch of theater majors . . . well, just think about that a moment.

What's more, I got to know her my senior year of high school. When I arranged a visit to the SWTSU campus my senior year, to see a show in the theater and generally hang out in that round, moat-encircled building for a day, Nicci hosted not only me, but another prospective student in her home. I can't imagine anyone doing that nowadays, and really, I'm not sure many people would have done it in 1982. Nicci did. She welcomed two high school boys into her home, gave us a place to lay our head at night, gave us breakfast in the morning. That was our Mama Nicci.

At the end of my freshman year, the department chair changed and Nicci felt that was a good time for her to make a change, too. She left the department but never our hearts. 

So now I have to tell you the mortifying part of my evening in San Marcos. When I went over to say hi and tell her who I was how I remembered her housing me for a night . . . I knocked over a glass of tea on her table. She had two binders full of what I gather were memorabilia from her years as our Mama Nicci and I spilled tea. Luckily, it wasn't a full glass and I think only the edges of some pages got wet, but wow. Do I know how to re-enter someone's life? I put my hand over my name tag and said, "Well, now I don't want to tell you my name." And as I'm helping wipe up tea and apologizing and basically feeling about 3 inches tall, she's saying, "oh, that's all right, don't worry about it." Because that's what Nicci would say.

And after all that? She still let me give her a kiss. Because, you know, she's Mama Nicci.

me kissing Sheila

Still at the SWTSU Theater Department reunion . . .

This is Sheila Hargett. She was my teacher for costume design and make-up classes. I still have the make-up text book that has photos of her modeling a make-up procedure. We all thought that was cool and fun to have a text book with our teacher's picture in it.

I had only those two classes with Sheila, and I wasn't a costume major, so our interactions were relatively limited. I recall she had some amount of patience with people who had never sewn before (I had some experience---Mama taught me some things on the farm). I also remember the costume majors worshiping at her altar. She was much beloved by the students with whom she worked closest.

Probably "is." "Is much beloved," as she continues teaching at the renamed Texas State University. Even as an acting major, I remembered her fondly enough to kiss her.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

me kissing Melanie

So Mary Margaret wasn't the only one to break my peck on the cheek rule. Meet Melanie Pleasure. I said it's just a sweet little peck on the cheek. She said, "You see these lips? They were made for kissing."

Theater people. Rule breakers. And kissers.

I definitely remember Melanie from college days. She always had a high energy and irrepressible joie de vivre. It surprised me not at all to hear that she's now a fitness instructor, specializing in hula hoop fitness.

It's a little hard to tell from this picture, but Melanie had some sort of sparkly rhinestone-ish decorations adhered to her face and back. This is apt. Melanie is nothing if not sparkly.

me kissing Cheryl

Ugh. I don't know what happened here. Didn't have the flash set on my camera? So this is darker than your average kiss.

But this is Cheryl Brown. We also worked together off campus at the Bastrop Opera House (like Mary Margaret). Again with memory lapses. but I believe sh did costumes. Maybe? Gah. I need to undergo memory regenerative hypnosis. If that exists. Something.

Anyway, she now lives "across the pond" and has a fiance who is quick with a camera and talks with an accent (although perhaps he thinks I'm the one with an accent). Cheryl obviously remembered many more people---and was remembered by many more people---than I. I saw her running from group to group, giving many hugs. It was in those moments I had the clearest flashes of memory. Her energy has not diminished.

Sorry for the dark kiss, Cheryl. Glad you made it back to the States for the reunion.

me kissing Paula

You know, time is a funny thing. You spend years in college and you think it's all an indelible mark on your heart mind and soul.

And then you grow old. You make a couple or three moves. You accumulate more and more circles of friends and acquaintances. Suddenly you're at a school reunion and trying to piece together history that you once thought was carved in granite.

I remember Paula Rodriguez, but some details are blurry. I know we didn't do any shows together. I'm pretty sure she did one or two of the children's shows. Backyard Story maybe?

Well, the feelings I get from remembering her name are positive, so that's something, right? That makes me slightly less of a forgetful old man, yes?

At any rate, here she is at the SWTSU Theater Department reunion. And she let me kiss her.

Monday, June 11, 2012

me kissing Mary Margaret and Bennie

Ah, college reunions. All about breaking rules.

Yeah, so I went to a reunion of the theater department of Southwest Texas State University (from way back when that's what it was called). I went specifically because Mary Margaret McNorton (which was not the last name I knew 25 years ago) said she was going. I don't know if I've seen her since we graduated. We did an awful lot of theater together, mostly off campus at The Bastrop Opera House. And she didn't want a kiss on the cheek. Mary Margaret is hard to refuse, and really, we have too much history to fight. So much for my rule about pecks on the cheek.

Don't worry, men, we were theater majors. We're only acting.

 This was the first time I'd met her husband, Bennie, although we'd already become Facebook friends. Mary Margaret found herself a keeper here, I think. We shared a disdain for the noise level in Cheatham Street Warehouse. We spent a lot of our conversation saying, "What?" He was also more willing to abide by my rule about pecks on the cheek.

Here's a photo of us from the summer of 1985. It's a scan of a Bastrop Opera House brochure and so it's crooked--the stage wasn't really slanted--but it's still a great (melo)dramatic moment in theater history, I think you'll agree.

I was glad to see other people at the reunion, but Mary Margaret got me there. We laughed, we reminisced, we kissed. Good times.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

me kissing Corian and Alex

I've seldom posted two pictures in one blog post, and I hesitate to do it now, but somehow, after what I saw last night, this seemed appropriate.

Let's back up a second. Corian Ellisor and Alex Albarca are native Houstonians (well, Corian is from Humble, but that's sort of way north Houston), graduates of the University of Houston, and I'd seen them dance before they both moved to Atlanta. And, as they showed last night, they are best friends.

I heard them interviewed for their Big Range appearance on The Front Row and it was clear that they thoroughly enjoy each other. The interview was so much fun that I would have come to Program B of The Big Range even if I didn't already know several of my favorite dancers were appearing. The banter between them comes so naturally, so quick . . . well, as they say in the description of the dance, "Be(a)stie is what happens when two people share a brain and decide to make a dance."

Be(a)stie is such a good title for a piece about best friends, the "sharing the brain" and also the strains of that relationship. Make no mistake, this is a very funny piece. I've seldom laughed so much during a dance show. At the same time, they don't pull back from some tender things. I'm going to be talking about this for a while.

And you know what? If you're a presenter, you need to think about bringing this show to your venue. It's about an hour long, so it could stand alone, has some media needs (a hysterical video projection at the end), and no regrets for having them in your space. Go listen to the interview linked above and multiply that fun by at least 3. Thank me later.

This show needs to go on the road.

me kissing Ondine

So, yes, more dancers. I was at the Big Range Dance Dance Festival,  program B, last night. Here we go.

This is Ondine Geary. She's a Memphis dancer in Houston for the festival. She presented two pieces in the festival, revealing a sinewy movement style, a sense of humor, and the willingness to go to some heartbreaking places. And if that weren't enough, one of the dances used Dionne Warwick's version of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." Yeah, she pushed all the right buttons with me.

If you're reading this the day I'm posting it, there's one more show of Program B tonight. Go. It's a long evening of awesome dance. Show Ondine some Houston hospitality.

Monday, May 21, 2012

me kissing Jane

This is the fabulous Jane Weiner. She is the president and CEO of the fabulous Hope Stone Inc. There's a lot of fabulosity swirling around her.

Jane had a fabulous (last one, I promise) career as a dancer in New York with the Doug Elkins Dance Company---which sounds like her career is over, but of course it's not. She moved to Houston and set to work building up Hope Stone, which has a full schedule of dance classes for all ages as well as a professional dance company. I don't know how you'd measure such things, but she's got to have one of the more active dance lives in Houston.

I posted on facebook recently that I'm always a bit surprised when I mention Hope Stone to a Houstonian and they don't know what I'm talking about. Intellectually I know that dance is one of the least recognized (and funded) art forms in contemporary culture, and yet, Hope Stone does so much. Go to their website and see. And then go see a performance. You should know Hope Stone, wherever you are, but especially if you're in Houston.

Oh, and I just noticed that Jane is my 50th kiss! Huh. You'd think there'd be a prize to go with that, but I guess not.

me kissing Amy

Meet Amy Llanes. I just did. She's another dancer/choreographer. I know, I know.

Amy is the artistic director of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company. They're new(ish) to Houston and I have to admit, they're new to me. I look forward to learning more about her and her work.

And the only other thing I know about Amy is she's not keen on having her picture taken, so I'm lucky to have her on this blog.

It's only the beautiful people who are camera shy.

me kissing Susan

This is Susan. I only just met her at the Photobooth on Montrose. All I really know about her is that she's an actor, writer, dancer . . . and that she rocks a pair of red, knee-high boots. And that maybe we should talk about some collaborative efforts. I can't see the future and we just met. (That should be a line in a song, yes?)

I should also mention that this photo was taken by Simon Gentry, proprietor of the Photobooth on Montrose. As you'll see throughout this blog, it's not really a photography blog so much as a kissing blog, and so the photos all kinds of amateur snapshot kind of things. Simon couldn't stand it, though. He took hold of my little pocket digital camera and took this (and the next two entries) saying,  "This is how you take a picture of a kiss."

So here you go, a professionally shot kiss with an amateur camera.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

me kissing Jay

This is Jay Mays. I'd met her before, too. She's active in the Houston LGBT community and is a performer as well as an activist.

One project that she's been very involved in is called The Gender Book. It's a brief educational book intended as a primer for exploring all the ways gender is expressed. It's not a simple binary of boy and girl, no matter what some people might try to tell you.

Another one of her projects is the Houston Gendermyn, who perform here and there, now and then. At lunch she mentioned her Dorothy Hamill haircut, which I said was super cute. She then admitted that it also doubles for when she does drag as Justin Bieber. I might find that less super cute, but then I've yet to catch that show. If anyone could make Justin cute, it would be Jay.

me kissing Amy

This is Amy. I met her once before today, so this isn't one of the "hi, here we are at lunch, want a kiss?" photos. Some people have to ease into this whole getting kissed by a big fuzzy guy thing. And, as I hope I've made abundantly clear by now, I don't guerrilla kiss.

Amy is going to seminary. I told her it was a great experience for me, but also the weirdest place I'd ever been. I told her a story or two. She seems unswayed. Must be a call from God.

Of course, I didn't tell her all the stories . . . but there's really no preparation for it. I can tell she'll do well. Weirdness and all.

(Also: I love how our shirts match.)

me kissing Karen

Meet Karen. I just did. And I kissed her.

She was also at the lunch where I knew only half the people. Funny thing, she didn't know anyone. She'd visited at Grace Lutheran Church that morning, where most of the people had been that morning (not me---I'd been at another church) and had kind of got caught in the tide of people going to lunch together.

Oh those church people. You gotta watch 'em every second.

What was super cool about Karen is that she gave me a ride to the Galleria after lunch. I, who rely on Metro and the kindness of strangers, enjoyed a chat with Karen while driving down Westheimer. Very nice individual, but you can probably tell that by the fact that she went to lunch with a bunch of strangers and then let on of them kiss her while she winked.

In my book, that's the sign of quality people. I hope our paths cross again.

me kissing Hazard

This is Hazard Buck Jacobs. She has a lemon in her mouth. I just met her, so i can't explain further than that.

Honestly, I was at lunch with several people and knew only about half of them, but it was a bit of a rowdy crowd and so I just said, "okay, this is a kissing sort of gathering." So I got out my camera and asked who I could kiss. Someone had the internet in their pocket (I think they're called "smart phones?") and looked up my blog and then everyone I hadn't already kissed got on board.

This is how life is supposed to be. Lemons and all.

Friday, April 27, 2012

me kissing Megan

Megan Rohrer is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's first transgendered ordained pastor. So if you're Lutheran and queer, you've probably come across the name before.

Living in San Francisco, Megan came a long way to be kissed by me. Not that Megan knew that was the reason for the trip. As the keynote speaker for the annual Houston Transgender Unity Banquet, I'm sure Megan had other priorities in mind. Whatever. I'm still giving Megan a kiss of peace, to take back to San Francisco.

Megan's main ministry is to the homeless population of San Francisco. In anticipation of the the Unity Banquet, I interviewed Megan for Houston's OutSmart magazine, so learn more about that ministry by clicking here.

me kissing Jess

This is Jess. He's about to graduate from UH with a degree in math and physics or something really smart like that. I admit I can't keep up.

I got to know Jess when he started dating my friend Lura, who I kissed a couple of months ago. They're super cute together, arguing over who is the bigger dork. I'm sure I could call that match, personally, but it's fun to watch.

He's planning a graduation party, which he says requires everyone come cross-dressed. I've never done drag, personally, but I did hear myself saying if I could find something slinky with spaghetti straps (because I just don't think I have what it takes to keep up anything strapless), I'd go to his party---but I wasn't shaving anything I didn't already normally shave. This seems to suit him and Lura just fine.

As luck would  have it, I think I'm busy that night anyway.

me kissing Hal

This is Hal Core! (He asked for the exclamation point, and I'm nothing if not accommodating to my kissees.)

Hal is a friend I've gotten to know through my Lutheran circles, although we don't go to the same church. The main thing I know about Hal is that we share a little too much knowledge of comics superheroes. I've seldom been so envious as I was the time he posted on Facebook a picture of himself at a comics convention next to someone in a very good Nightwing costume.

If you recognize Hal, you probably fly a lot. Or, maybe now that you've seen him, you'll start flying more. Just be aware, he's in a long term relationship. They share a dog and everything. Don't go wrecking a home with a dog. Okay? Okay.