Rambling Ma'am: In the Beginning…
Editor extraordinaire turned eco-adventurer Diane Anderson-Minshall shares the trials, tribulations and triumphs of her RV journey to save the planet in her new blog.
I first started writing about lesbians in 1990 (I was 21 at the time, heady with women's studies classes and ACT/UP protests) and my biggest celebrity interview at the time was with a lesbian band called Two Nice Girls. They were hip and queer and hot in that dykey way that I surely wasn't. I didn't realize at the time that writers (even when they become, oh say the editor in chief of the largest lesbian magazine) are always less cool, hip or with-it than the people they write about and, often, get to pal around with. But the band, which at the time included Meg Hentges, Pam Barger Kathy Korniloff and Gretchen Phillips, oh how I adored them, especially Gretchen, whose face—in the form of a grainy black and white press photo—adorned my wall like that iconic Farrah Fawcett poster. So, even though I was already editing a weekly LGBT newspaper in New Orleans, I felt pretty insecure about this interview. I had 30 minutes after their concert to talk to the girls, so I dressed to be concert ready. I wore a black Madonna-ish bustier with no straps atop a tight black skirt, with a chunky lesbionic leather belt. If I had to be high femme, I'd better bring it, lest I get askance glances by every cute androgynous girl in the club. (At 21, heck even 31, I still felt I had a lot to prove.)
Two Nice Girls
And the concert, held in the Fauberg Marigny—a diverse, super queer neighborhood near the French Quarter—at some restaurant slash coffeehouse turned wide open band pit, it was awesome. The band sang all my favorite songs, including "Let's Go Bonding," "Princess of Power," "Sweet Jane (with Affection)" and the" Queer Song," so I spent a lot of time jumping up and down for a better view. During one such jump, the underwire holding up the cup that was supposed to be holding in my left breast, popped out. My girlfriend helped shove it back down. Then the right one broke. She shoved that one back down. If you have big boobs you probably know that without underwires, the strapless cups of a bustier will just fall down, so keeping the underwire in was critical. My girlfriend brought out her Leatherman (a little multi-purpose tool that almost every butch owns) and pushed them down, twisted the top so they'd never escape again.
After the concert and the usual greetings, the band and I retired to a sofa with my little recorder and my list of questions. They were fun and flirty and had me enthralled. I could barely get my questions out and after the first or second question, my boob popped out. Right there, in the spotlight, for everyone to see—my enormous left tit flailing about while I gasped in horror—and Gretchen Phillips said, “This interview just got better.” We laughed it off and because of the band's reaction I managed to not die of embarrassment and finish the interview.
I think it was then that I realized that writing about lesbians would be a calling. A few months later I discovered a new lesbian magazine (the one that later became known as Curve), three years later I was working for an erotic lesbian magazine called On Our Backs, and a year after that I had started my own lesbian magazine, Girlfriends. Though I've had stints in mainstream publishing (did you know Details used to be a mixed-gender magazine?) and at a handful of gay publications (QSF and Passport, the latter a travel magazine I still write for) and I once started a magazine for young women of color called Alice—I've spent most of the last 20 years working at those three big lesbian magazines: Girlfriends, On Our Backs and Curve (where I just spent seven years as editor in chief).
And now that Curve has a new champion, in Avalon Media, I thought the time was right to expand my horizons and do something I've always wanted to do: travel across the U.S. in an RV, somehow documenting the people we meet and the places we see along the way, especially those who are making the planet a better place. So that's what I'm doing now—and that's the journey I hope to take you along as well. I can't promise it'll be as ground-breaking as anything I produced as editor of Curve, but it'll be honest and real and I hope as entertaining as that time my boob fell out of my shirt mid-interview.