Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Annotated Rainbow Brite Fan Fiction

Rainbow Brite fanfic front cover

Have you ever read Rainbow Brite fanfiction made up by a three-year-old girl and narrated to her teenage babysitter? Well, you're about to. This is the first of five stories that I came up with in the year 1987. My babysitter Bret did the transcribing because I couldn’t hold a pen yet.

Below, I’ve annotated my story for you in the hopes it will make some kind of sense.

The Adventures of Leila in Rainbowland
Leila Sales Publishing Co.
By Leila Sales and Bret

“A true landmark in children’s literature. Stunning.”—New York Times Book Review

“Sales is at the top of her game. Remarkable.”—Los Angeles Times

[I’m sure it seems like major newspapers were lining up to laud my infantile fan fiction, but in fact, these review quotes were actually written by Bret. 26 years later, the New York Times Book Review would, in fact, go on to review a book that I’d written. Bret was prescient in that regard. Sadly they did not use the word “stunning.”]

Comments by readers:
1. “A truly fabulous collaboration.”—Daddy S. [This blurb is from my dad, clearly. Side note: I have never in my life referred to him as “Daddy.” The “S.” presumably stands for “Sales,” but if I called him “Daddy Sales” to his face, he would have to conclude that I was a changeling.]
2. “A great, nicely written story.”—Emily V. [I do not remember who this is.] READ MORE


Notes From A Future Shitbag Mother

On the last day of August in 2014, following an especially harrowing phone conversation, I typed, “I want to stop hating my mom” into Google. There were 63.5 million results. READ MORE

Men, Makeup, Money: The Boylesque of Rify Royalty

IMG_5372"I really want to work out before my gig tonight," Sharif Abaz said. "But I still have to fix my costume and my makeup is going to take forever. I have no time." He picked up his outfit for the evening—a black mesh bodysuit, tank-top and shorts that cover the groin with a thick strip of spandex—and packed everything into a backpack. As he walked out, he took a final glance in the mirror by his front door, then brushed glitter from the night before from his eyelashes and rubbed his hand through his beard to check for untamed hairs.

Abaz arrived at the downstairs bar area of The Monster, a gay bar located on Grove Street in New York City a half hour before midnight. The dim room was crowded with sweaty young men and women, murmuring and anxious for a show. When the DJ announced the next set, Sharif took the stage in the darkened room and stood, waiting, with his head down. A moment later, the lights came up, revealing Abaz as "Rify Royalty" in full Dia de los Muertos makeup, with a long black veil covering his dark hair, a black gown over the mesh bodysuit underneath, and massive sexual attitude. He slowly raised his head toward the spotlight and began with a reverent rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" as he slowly stripped away his outerwear, then ground his hips on a chair as he lip-synched to Rob Zombie's "Living Dead Girl" before moving to the floor, where he shot his legs in the air, exposing thigh-high stockings and high-heeled platform pumps. Piece by piece, the costume came off, until he was left in a black V tank-thong bodysuit, stockings, and heels, revealing a small collection of tattoos: an umbrella with rain underneath, pin-up girls, his mother's name, scattered across the olive skin of his slender, toned frame. After the set, which lasted about ten minutes, Rify bowed as the crowd cheered and threw dollars at the stage. He exited stage right, clutching his earnings and teetering on five-inch heels. READ MORE


Pedestals and Platforms: The 50 Year Argument

I don’t call myself a writer. When I’m asked what I do—a frequent inquiry from people living in my industry-geared and status-obsessed city—I reply with one of the following answers: “I work in film;” “I write about movies.” If I’m feeling the urge to be particularly cagey or flirtatious, “I watch a lot of movies.” These are all true facts, and they are also all action statements—I use verbs to describe what I do, not nouns. I hesitate to say “I am a writer” because in my mind a writer isn’t just someone who gets paid to put words to paper (or a screen) as I do, but someone whose words provoke revolution, tears, laughter, orgasms, and other things that make life worth living. READ MORE


Ask Baba Yaga: Will My Life Ever Be This Good Again?

baba good again
Transcript after the jump. READ MORE

More Thoughts on Shoes

shoe rack

So the other day I put on a pair of heels, and I looked down at them and thought "okay, if I were Sherlock Holmes, what would I be able to discover about me by looking at these shoes?"

(This is a true story. I literally stared at my feet and pretended to be Sherlock Holmes.)

So I thought "well, they're pretty functional, they have no embellishments, the heel is short and balanced for ease of walking, and there's that seam that's partially ripped on the inner side of the left shoe."

The seam is the most telling part, the Sherlock Holmes half of me told the Nicole half. "A ripped seam might say you can't afford a new pair of shoes, but the rest of your outfit disproves that. No, this ripped seam clearly tells me that you had the opportunity to buy a new pair of basic black heels but you did not because you do not care about these shoes. You wear them once every six months and then line them back up in the corner of the closet."

And then I wished I could just wear my everyday ballet flats to the restaurant instead.



The Hairpin Rom Com Club: She's All That

Screen shot 2014-09-16 at 8.01.18 AM
Welcome back to The Hairpin Rom Com Club. It’s just like a book club, except you will not be expected to listen to anyone talk about their monogamous sexual partners, or, god forbid, children.

This week’s movie is She’s All That, starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachel Leigh Cook, and a cast full of late-nineties favorites. There’s Paul Walker as a frosted-tip jerk, Anna Paquin as a sexually frustrated private school girl slash fairy godmother, and Matthew Lillard playing Everything That’s Wrong With Reality Television. READ MORE


Six Signs You're Truly Comfortable In Your Relationship

1. [yelling, from the bathroom.]

"Hey babe! Can you come here?"

"I just put toilet paper in there this morning. Did you drop it in the toilet?"

"No. Come here. Look at this poop. My shit is... it's, like, blue. Babe, my shit is blue. Come look at this. Bring your phone."

2. "You look different. Are you not wearing makeup?"

"No, I'm not wearing skin. I am sick of adhering to skin-filled beauty standards. Pass the chips." READ MORE


A Letter To My Aunties


I heard some of you tried to Google me.

My mother tells me this sitting on the edge of my childhood bed. I’ve been gone from the home I grew up in for five years. I left to start my life. I’m back now to show my gratitude—like a spiritual praxis; there’s a cord that ties me to my family and their needs; I am a healer at my best.

As a kid I didn’t understand why my life had restrictions. Unlike so many of my friends, I had a list of terms and conditions governing my free spirit; a body of rules that determined my morality. READ MORE


The Best Time I Was A Child Con Artist

My family has many unwritten rules. The second most important is: do not open the door if the doorbell rings only once. In our family, if the doorbell only rings once, you were either a salesperson or a canvasser. And salespersons and canvassers are liars and thieves.

My mother came to this conclusion shortly after she first immigrated to Canada; two scam artists pretending to work for the government tried to enter our home. Looking back, this is probably why I couldn’t make it as a (sort of) con artist, selling chocolates on the mean streets of southwestern Ontario. READ MORE


The Red Heads

The Red Heads

The Irish Redhead Convention takes place in County Cork

Natalie Eve Garrett is an artist, writer and sea creature. Prints of her paintings are for sale here.


More Than the Banana Skirt

Nichelle Gainer, author of the fantastic Tumblr Vintage Black Glamour, had an in-depth interview with Collector's Weekly that came out months ago, and none of you told me, but we'll put that behind us for now. I make no secret of being fiercely interested in mainstream depictions of people of color, historical depictions of people of color, artistic, religious, political—my boyfriend knows to tell me if a show has any black people in it to get me to watch—but throw in some GOWNS? I'm all there.

Gainer, who's releasing a coffee table book of her findings, initially started the project as research for a novel, but soon found herself enamored by 'Negro beauty pageants', and soon discovered that an aunt of hers was a major player in them. She knew that the resulting blog she wasn't filling a void, particularly, but instead creating a space where famous African-Americans' identities' weren't just pigeonholed into the handful of famous photos that are conjured up when one hears their name. She builds out our visualizations: READ MORE


Thrift Store Wigs, Absolutely No Heart: The Brittany Murphy Story

Brittany Murphy Lifetime 1

Lifetime has recently been focusing on biopics instead of their usual awesomely bad cyberseduction-forbidden-priest-romance fare. Last year, they released The Anna Nicole Story; despite a decent cast (Adam Goldberg, Cary Elwes) and this shot of Martin Landau as J. Howard Marshall, the film fell flat. So far, this year we'll see The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Movie, an unauthorized Aaliyah flick to look forward to (or fear), and a Whitney Houston movie directed by none other than Angela Bassett.

Lifetime’s latest release, The Brittany Murphy Story, seemed like it came out of nowhere. And it did; The Brittany Murphy Story was shot in just two weeks, with the lead actress having only two days to prepare for the role. If I was going to sum up my review in one sentence, that sentence would be: this movie was a depressing three-ring circus with lots of thrift store wigs and not much heart. READ MORE


The Internet is a Mirror: An Interview With Astra Taylor

People line up to cast their votes outside polling station in Majuli, a large river island in Brahmaputra riverOnce, someone tweeted that the Internet was garbage, and I retweeted it. Twitter was feeling like a huge circle jerk. Google was refining that search personalization algorithm, but Gmail wasn’t sending my emails. OkCupid sent me an email with a picture of a guinea pig with an arrow connecting a “YOU” to it. And I quit Facebook over a year ago, so that my feelings wouldn't be toyed with or updated.

Astra Taylor is a multi-hyphenate: documentary filmmaker (Examined Life, Zizek!), writer (The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age), and activist (The Rolling Jubilee campaign) doesn’t so much think that the Internet is garbage, but rather that it could be more democratic. She was in town for the Toronto International Film Festival’s Doc Conference, where she spoke about how the Internet is affecting documentary filmmakers. We sat down together to discuss her book, women on the Internet, and drinking from the fire hose of social media. READ MORE


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