Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fuck You All SWAG!!

Thought I'd repost this... just because.

FUCK YOU ALL Coffee Mugs... And More!

FUCK YOU ALL is now swagalicious.

Coffee mugs. T-shirts. Shower curtains.
Duvet covers. Clocks. Rugs.

I mean, who doesn't need a FUCK YOU ALL throw pillow?????

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Monday, December 10, 2018

Don't Know About Art, But I Know What I Like

FUCK YOU ALL was honored to be represented in art show at our friend's awesome gallery in Joshua Tree, La Matadora.

 The show was titled DYS/function: Functional Art for our Dysfunctional World! A multitude of fabulous artists showing: Melmac Plates, Latch-Hook Rugs, Shrinky Dink Knick-Knacks, Lite-Brite Art, + Custom Lamps & Chairs.

Not being familiar with melmac plates, a lot of friends were and had made them as kids. Basically you make a drawing and mail it in and ta da! A plastic plate featuring your art gets returned! Pretty cool. Very 70s. Fun!

The company that makes them was not happy when they got the FUCK YOU ALL plate drawing and refused to print it, claiming they are a "family business." Being told it was an adult art show must have swayed them however, as the plate arrived with all the others in the gallery order.

And it even SOLD at the art opening!



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Breastfeeding in Public

What? You want me to cover up while breastfeeding in public. Sure, no problem.

Oh, and FUCK YOU!


Monday, August 6, 2018

Honk Honk, Outta My Way!

I was at my usual beach spot in Santa Barbara yesterday watching a Chumash ceremony in which they sing and chant and then row their handmade wooden boat out in practice for a yearly trip to the Islands. They ended up right behind this ginormous catamaran leaving the harbor with an obnoxious honking of horns. I see now it is owned by Warren Buffet. Quite the dichotomy of worlds. 



Bikram the Peace Stealer

It was the spring of 2003 and it was my first day of Bikram Yoga teacher training. I was in Beverly Hills, California, at the official Bikram Yoga headquarters. As I walked in the door a large woman behind the front desk took one look at me and screamed (literally). She then shrieked “You CAN’T wear that! You need to change IMMEDIATELY!” Taken aback and flustered, I discovered that I was wearing the very taboo color “green,” which Bikram bans from his studio. (Apparently it has to do with a tragic incident involving Bikrams’ guru, Bishnu Ghosh… sorry I didn’t get the memo!) Funny thing is, I rarely wear anything green, and it’s not like it’s my favorite color or anything. BUT on THIS day, of all days, I had on a green hawaiian shirt, army green shorts, and camo flip flops. Unknowlingly, I was breaking rules head-to-toe. I went to the locker room and quickly changed into my black yoga shorts and a black top, which I had packed in my green camo backpack. 

Looking back, I think the cosmos were trying to tell me something. “RUN!”

Today, it’s fifteen years later, and I just finished listening to the excellent ESPN 30-30 podcast that explores the world of Bikram and his yoga. The five-part series covers Bikram yoga’s beginnings as a fitness revolution in America in the 1970s, to the current black cloud hanging over its community as its founder, and “guru” to some followers, Bikram Choudhury, is accussed of rape and sexual harrassment by former students. It’s the story of a man who I like to believe started on a path with good intentions and dreams of bringing a healing yoga practice to the western world, but got caught up in the glitz and celebrity of star-studded Los Angeles, and started to care more for fame and fortune. It’s a sad, depressing story of a man who abused, and continues to abuse, his power.

Let’s go back to the spring of 2003. 

With three years of a Bikram yoga practice under my belt and craving a career change, I had just forked over $5,000 and signed up for a nine-week Bikam yoga teacher training in Beverly Hills. I shared a room in a business hotel in Marina del Rey with three other students, and drove half an hour to Bikram’s studio Monday through Friday (and Saturday mornings), where we practiced Bikram class 2x a day, memorized and rehearsed “dialog” and sat (on the floor) through long lectures about yoga, anatomy, and all sorts of stories from a rambling Bikram who loved to go off on tangents that had nothing to do with yoga. It was a very long nine weeks, and physically and mentally one of the most challenging things I have ever suffered through. 

Most Bikram teachers, back then, when asked about teacher training, would gush about how much they LOVED it. 

I hated it. HATED it.

For maybe the first week I was having fun — if you can call it that. Sucked into the whirlwind of something new was exhilerating. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I had huge expectations of learning more about my body and the yoga series, getting to dig into anatomy and physiology, and starting on my path to help others heal their bodies and change their lives. 

It didn’t take long to realize that “training” was a bunch of bullshit. 

It was NOT what I expected. At all. At times it was novel (new teachers! new friends! physically challenging myself!), awe-inspiring (teacher Emmy who was well into her 70s had the body of someone half her age), and orgasmic (basking in an after yoga glow after doing so MUCH can feel really, really amazing). But more often that not it was was culty, exhausting, intimidating, clique-ish, and even boring (memorizing and repeating dialog day in and day out was so utterly tedious, epspecially having to use broken english and weird grammer that didn’t mean anything like “hold your elbows each other”). The rebel in me was screaming to tell Bikram to fuck off and walk out. But I stayed. It was like an ultimate challenge to endur it all. After the initial excitement/newsness of it all and getting over being awestuck by Bikram, he just gave me… a bad feeling. I didn’t like him or his style. He is the kind of person who makes himself feel big by making others feel small. He told us over and over “not to ever let anyone steal your peace,” yet he was the biggest peace sucker of them all. The first night of training we had to, one by one, get up in front of him and recite some dialog we’d memorzied. I watched him berate a plump woman with bad skin. He went off on her skin, her body, asking her what she ate, picking her apart in front of 249 strangers. I cringed inside. And aftereward lived in daily fear he would put me in the spotlight somehow and embarrass me. He ruled with fear, it was his total MO.

The “business apartments” I lived in had been stripped of televisons. We were told by Bikram that it was best to stick together and advised that during training we should only associate with other classmates. To beware of friends and family during the next nine weeks, as they wouldn’t understand what we were “going through.” The first day of training I had one of those “what the fuck?” moments when I noticed Bikram being massaged - one woman on each side of him. The were massaging his back and arms while another woman brushed his hair. This was a daily occurance. I used to tease my roommates, telling them i was going to volunteer to brush his hair. If some of his usual female indian handlers weren’t next to him he would point to a student and say “you, come massage me.” I recall him doing this to one of my classmates who was young, gorgeous, blonde and had big boobs. I was mortified for her but also slightly relieved as I didn’t think he’d ever “pick me” as I certainly wasn’t that type. 

Remember that first night of training where we had  stand up in front of EVERYONE and do a one on one with him? As soon as he saw me, he said “No more tattoos.” HAHAHA. Oh please. There were tattooed guys in my training but he didn’t say this to any of them. Needless to say, he was your typical chauvinist, sexist Indian man. He was married due to an arranged marriage. His wife, Rajashree, was Indian also, 19 years younger than him and totally gorgeous. Bikram would sit in front of us lecturing in a huge white leather chair, wearing only a speedo. Usually leopard or gold or something blingy and ridiculous. He ruled the room. If too many people got up to go to the bathroom he would bark at all of us - “No more getting up!” It was intimidating and scary. I remember many nights during his lectures, being so tired I thought I was going to fall asleep. I was exhausted and worn out and worried he would catch me nodding off and yell at me. Most nights after night Bikram class and dinner, he’d lecture until about 11 or midnight. But sometimes he’d go longer if he felt like it. Nothing made Bikram (and some of the other masochistic teachers) happier than “breaking people down.” There were a lot of tears from utter exhaustion. And looking back, confusion. There is nothing that wears me out more than sleep deprivation and I was being challenged with very little rest. Bikram would tell us again and again about how he rarely slept much. So we were all expected to keep up with his midnight storytelling, hold our bladders for hours, and just deal with it.

Early one morning I was leaving for class, in my usual training attire - a frumpy t-shirt and pajama pants, loose and comfy. I was getting into the elevator at my apartments and looked so disheveled and tired that someone got in the elevator and said “Are you just getting home from a party?” I wish I had been. “No,” I told them, “I am on my way to school.”  

One night all 250 of my classmates and I lined up to give Bikram a hug. He’d hug each of person, calling each guy “boss” and each woman “sweetheart.” He didn’t say much else. It took two hours to get through the group. 

One afternoon he demanded that we all dress in our best yoga clothes and told the girls to wear makeup and look good for our evening class, as we were going to be video-taped for a Bikram training video. He had all kinds of lights being set up in the yoga room for the videographers. I coudln’t believe it — I was paying him money to be in his video? No thanks. I knew then that I didn’t want to be in his video. I felt like it was bullshit and that he was essentially using us to self-promote. I went to the front desk to ask if it was “required” that we do the class being filmed. It was balked at that I didn’t want to participate, but I was told I would not be forced to. I was encouraged to keep it on the down low if I didn’t attend the filming. Later, I went to a pizza place around the corner and hung out for the four hours while the filming happened. I was chilling out and eating pizza while everyone else was holding and re-holding poses over and over. The class went over an hour longer than a regular class. One of my roommates almost passed out she was so exhuausted and hungry — the lights made it extra hot and the “taping” cut into our usual dinnertime, so she didn’t get to eat until 9pm. 

Then there was the night after dinner that Bikram decided he wouldn’t lecture, he’d dance around for us. Outside, in the parking lot where he’d pulled up one of his Rolls Royce’s and had the doors open and stereo blasting some awful indian disco music. There we all were, in yoga clothes and t-shirts and shorts, while Mr. Chodrey shook his ass under the stars. I remember thinking how super obnoxious it all was. Like a little boy showing off.

During training we had a talent show where we were all encouraged to do some sort of skit. One of my friends and I decided to play ukuleles and sing. While teaching and lecturing Bikram would often sing to us. One of his repeat tunes was “Tiny Bubbles,” so we put this on our setlist, thinking he’d get a kick out of it. So there I found myself,  strumming my uke, walking up to him as he sat watching the talent show with his family, as I sang “Tiny Bubbles” to all of them. I will never forget how he just stared right through me. No smile. No glimmer in his eyes. Just stared blankly. It was jolting and I remember thinking… You…are… such… an… asshole!

These are just little slivers of memory and highlights - or shall I say low points - of my miserable nine weeks in the “torture chamber” as Bikram calls it. As I have mentioned my experiences with him were over 15 years ago. After training I thought of how I should write about all this somewhere, express how I felt, tell others NOT to go to training, that it was bullshit. But I mostly kept it to myself. Why? I was afraid that I would get banned from the studios I practiced at if I shit talked too much. There is an understanding that at most Bikram studios, all over, if you went to Bikram training you could practice yoga for free. It was my only redemption. I thought that in ten years I could pay myself back what I’d spent at training  (about $10,000 total with tuition and living expenses). Bascially, I kept my mouth shut because the hot room beckoned. I love that hot room. The seqence. Head to toe, fingers to toes, muscle to bones, inside and out. I just wanted to sweat and bend. It helps center me, focus me, like nothing else.

I have tried many different work outs and exercise routines. Pilates mat, pilates machines, all kinds of yoga -  Vinyassa, Power, Iyengar, weight training, bootcamp class, swimming, biking, running… but nothing clicks with me like Bikram Yoga. I work for Kaiser Permanente and they have this series of posters FIND YOUR THING. Find what works for you. Well, I’d found it.

After “graduation” I taught Bikram classes for about a month at a studio in San Francisco. It only took those four weeks before I decided to quit teaching. Reasons included that I was only getting $35 to teach a class, was a “contractor” so I got no benefits, was expected by my studio to attend unpaid weekly teacher pow wows, was only given about 10 classes a week to teach and then told by my studio I was forbidden to teach at a nearby competitor who had offered me work. I was barely surviving money-wise, and on top of this I kept getting pressure (again, from the studio owners) to “do more yoga,” and to start taking advanced Bikram yoga classes which I wasn’t interested in. Hell, I loved my Bikram practice but I did NOT want to live, work, eat, shit  Bikram yoga 24/7. It was too much. I also found that when I taught I was depleted, sweating for two hours and really… wishing I was ON the mat instead of leading the class. 

I was really confused and let down. I decided to book an appointment with a therapist who I had seen for a year previously so she knew me well. I still remember that session and giving her the lowdown on Bikram, training, and the studio owners.  “You need to GET AWAY from these people!” she told me.

So I did. I quit teaching and took a “yoga break.”  I knew I loved Bikram yoga as a practice, and that’d I be back. But inside I just felt like something with Bikram was “off.” I didn’t want to personally represent him. I didn’t want him to have me as a spokesperson, I didn’t feel like he deserved it. This was one of the best choices I ever made. Ten years later, as some of Bikram’s darker character started leaking out, allegations of sexual harrasment, abuse of students, even rumors of rape — I felt… so vindicated. Finally. (Gotta note here that the 2012 book, Hellbent for Yoga, by Benjamin Lorr, was a brave and awesome outing of Bikram’s bullshit.)

I’ve been practicing Bikram yoga for over 18 years. I like to call it “Hot Yoga” these days. I never get tired of it. Right now, I can’t wait to get off work and do it tonight. I have told people about the yoga so passionately that I recall one person asking me if I got paid if I recruited people to go to class! I don’t of course. But it has changed my life. I don’t know how to explain it. Once you make it through the heat, exhaustion, workout, you feel different. You feel and see your body change. Your mind changes. For this, the gift of this series, I am thankful to Bikram. But for everything else, he can, as I  wanted to say to him all those years ago and never did, FUCK OFF. And for his crimes and general shitiness as a human being, I really hope his peace is stolen. Namaste.