Bondage and State Snobbery

Dear Internets,

As some of you know, my name is Alisa Starr. I make Snarky Cards. I sell them in bars from a box that hangs beneath my boobs. And, I also sell them in stores. In fact, my etsy store seems to work as an online advertising tool, more than a place for commerce. I don’t sell my cards online very often, but I’ve been getting one store a month from all over the country, asking about Snarky Cards because they saw them on etsy.

Noir Leather is not one of those stores. Six months ago, Kim emailed me. She was starting a new business in Portland; Cigarrette Girls. She’d buy candy, and some trays, and the girls would wander in and out of the bars of Portland selling things from their chest that drunk people want, but can’t get for themselves.

Kim wanted my advice, since at present the two people selling things in the bars of Portland are me and The Rose Guy. Who is pushy, and annoying, and harbors secret homosexul feelings, and has a tendency of groping straight guys, while trying to bully them into buying a rose for their straight-guy friends. At least once a night a customer tells me “Thank God you’re not The Rose Guy! That guy’s a dick!” He’s been banned (for being a dick) from a lot of the bars that I sell in. So I didn’t start seeing him in action until the last six months or so, and within 15 minutes of me watching him in action for the first time, he totally was trying to give an innapropriate massage to one of my favorite regulars. I almost died laughing. The thing is, The Rose Guy is married. He sometimes makes his wife go out selling with him. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard that he has kids too. Which is why his homosexual feelings are secret and they leak out of him at innapropriate times, and in ways that make other people uncomfortable. I think of him as a walking lesson in accepting yourself. Either dig yourself the way you are or become an angry troll who annoys and enrages strangers, and whose sexual advances are both unwanted and abhorred.

If you live in PDX, and you'd like a job selling candy and cigarettes in bars, essentially being this hot girl, leave me a message. I can totally hook you up!

Anyway, so Kim asked me for help. I made her a list of all the bars I like going to, with a little write up of what to expect from each bar. I loved giving her the downlow on my job. I don’t have co-workers, and so I don’t really get to chat about the more mundane parts of my job with anyone. It was fun. “But this isn’t going to be the hardest part.” I warned her. “You’re going to have a hard time finding people who want to do ‘work’ in Portland. I mean, money isn’t really a huge motivator here.” Kim is from Detroit, and works for Target. She has kind of a regular job, and she just got here. So, she didn’t really beleive me.Two months later, she sent me an email saying something like “You’re right. What’s with people in this town? Why aren’t they into working?” I just laughed.

I moved to Portland, initially, because I wanted to go back to school. I grew up in the Silicon Valley. And I started working there at the height of the dot com boom. Most of my working career I’ve spent in the Silicon Valley, where everyone is trying to shape their good idea into a brilliant business. Everyone is trying to get ahead- you have to to survive there. I’ve worked 90 hours a week for most of my adult life. Part of the reason I wanted to live in Portland in the first place is because my friend Cara promised me the life was slower here. I had just gone back to school, and I wanted to go to school full-time without having to also work full-time. I was tired. And hungry. And frustrated. “People can live while only working 30 hours a week.” she told me. I was sold.

After competing in the San Jose rat-race for 10 years, I was burned out. And the idea of a place where people work in order to finance their life, and stop working in order to go out and have that life. And so I moved to Portland, ostensibly to continue to work on my Bachelors Degree in Psychology.

But, it turns out that I don’t want to be a psychologist. They don’t always get to tell their patients the brutally honest truth. Which is kinda my thing. And shrinks are usually crazy. That’s why they become shrinks, to fix their inner crazy-person. And you’re not always allowed to call your co-workers out on the crazy shit they haven’t fixed. So, I’d be surrounded by crazy people all the time, and I wouldn’t be able to confront them about their shit.

Who could torture these adorable monkeys? Harlow you dick.

And also: when I took Intro to Psychology it turns out that psychologists use a lot of animal torture to help us understand understandable pheonomon’s. Like the time that this Asshole named Harlow wanted to know if babies need comfort. So he deprived baby monkey’s of comfort. What kind of fuck-witt wonders about the necesity of comfort? That guy was just a dick, who liked taking out his personal problems on baby monkeys. And I don’t think I can justify being part of a profession whose basic ideals are based on information they got from monkey torture. Also: I don’t want to be part of a group of people who have had to ask themselves “Do people need comfort?” in seriousness.

I made this card for me. My birthday is coming up, and I'd like some make-out.

So, instead of becoming a psychologist, I started Snarky Cards. I know that recently I’ve done a lot of bitching about Portland. I think in my mind, I always felt bad about leaving the Silicon Valley. I left it in part, because I couldn’t keep taking jobs I hated to barely survive; I wanted to pursue my dreams in a less pressurized environment. And, at that point, I had lost two of my best friends to an ill-thought out love affair they embarked on with each other, my sister had abandoned me and I hadn’t had a boyfriend in 5 years. It felt like I was ejected from the Bay Area. I was never convinced that it was all my choice.

Since then, I’ve mended some of my friendships. And some of my other relationships with Californians have gotten stronger. I’ve maintained a casual fling with a boy in Santa Cruz for the last couple of years. And I’ve been feeling like maybe I should just give up and move back. But the last time I went back (as you might have read) it sucked. Reminding me that there are lots of reasons that I don’t want to move back. Money isn’t the only one. Ruling it out as my fantasey-alternative home made me start looking at Portland differently. I live here. And I choose to live here. So, I need to accept the good and the bad of the city. So, instead of being like “Fucking lazy ass hipsters! What the fuck?!? I have no idea why they’re like that. But, really, how much can you blame on the fucking weather?” I’ve been thinking “Isn’t it interesting that I moved here because I wanted to live in a place where people like living their life poor and working less, and now that drives me crazy?”

Anyway, so Kim gave up on her business idea, or at least put it on the back-burner because she couldn’t find the labor. But, she and I are still friends. And she still loves Snarky Cards. So when she went back to Detroit, a few months ago, she asked me if she could sell Snarky Cards, from a box that hangs beneath her boobs, in The City Of Champions. (No shit, that’s a legitimate nickname for the city. Wickipedia said so). So, armed with 100 Snarky Cards, Kim spread the good news through-out the city, while she drank her way through a weeklong friend-fest.

This is an event The Ritz threw, the bondage gear was provided by Noir. See what I mean about them being hard-core?

While she was there, she sold Snarky Cards to Noir Leather; one of Detroit’s oldest sex-positive toy stores. They’ve been around for 26 years. And they specialize in Leather gear for S&M play. They have a leather crafter on staff, for custom peices. They’re probably the most hard-core store to carry my cards. It’s been 2 months, and they seem to have sold all of the dirty cards that Kim sold them. And I just sent them a new stack of the dirtiest cards I could find.

Our Madge: Around the time she declared that she would rule the world

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 6 years old. When I was 19 years old, I saw a video of Madonna, as a 24 year old, on Dick Clark. She had been declared a one-hit wonder.And Dick Clark seemed like he was humoring her more than anything else when he asked what she was going to do next, now that her song “Holiday” had peaked on the charts.You might remember that she grabbed the mike and shouted “I’m going to rule the world!”. Everyone around her cheered. She seemed so delighted with herself. I was mesmerized. It occurred to me then that 1. Ruling the world is possible. and 2. Madonna had a plan. And she executed that plan well. I could create a plan, like Madonna, and then execute it well. Since then, I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m going to be famous and a writer, watching the small businesses I’ve worked in, trying to figure out how they worked, and why they sometimes didn’t. When I started Snarky Cards, I came up with a 3 pronged approach to expanding sales, and as I’ve gone along, I’ve explored several different plans for taking it farther. But so far it’s been pretty simple in that: people seem to like Snarky Cards. And people keep buying Snarky Cards.

I’ve never thought about Detroit before, except when I notice that people with Michigan accents are cute. People who live in Campbell, Santa Clara, San Jose, San Francisco, and all the little cities in between tend to think that they are living in the center of the world. And in the 80’s and 90’s, while I was growing up there, we were the center of the world. Google was founded in Mountain View, which is the first place I’ve ever had sex. When I was 20 I had an interview with Napster; the company that invented music file-sharing. Yahoo, Apple, The Internets, they all grew up with me. I assumed that California was the center of the Universe too. I thought that if I was famous in California that that would be enough. I was shocked, last month to discover that I didn’t want to live there anymore.

And even more than that, I feel a rush of pride, when I add another store from another state to my Snarky Card list. (Which also intonates that California is no longer the center of the Universe in my head) Adding Noir Leather makes me feel like my Rule The World plan is working. And it also helped me shed some of my state-snobbery. After all, I like anybody who likes me. And if Detroit likes me, it must be pretty swell itself. So, thanks Noir Leather, for being hard-core and liking bondage, genital mutilation, golden showers, vibrators, dildo’s, anal plugs, whips, chains, rubber hoods, leather imprint paddles, extreme ass spreaders, milking sticks, anal scopes, urethra dilators and Snarky Cards!

Love,

Alisa

One thought on “Bondage and State Snobbery

  • July 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm
    Permalink

    Fixed gear bikes are awesome, but they are not for everyone.

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