As some of you might know, my name is Alisa Starr. I make Snarky Cards: Brutally Honest Greeting Cards. I sell them from a box that hangs beneath my boobs. They will crack you the fuck up.
Last year, my cousin Deanna and I carpooled to Seattle a few times. I was going up there to sell cards and hang out with Joy, and Deanna had a boyfriend up there. I’d met some people who wanted to invest and I told her about all the work I’d done getting the pricing together, and estimating profit. After running all the numbers, I realized, if I do this, there’s a “profit margin”.
I haven’t seen a profit margin since I started Snarky Cards. It takes me somewhere around a half hour to make each Snarky Card. And I sell them for $3 each, when I go out selling them myself. But I sell them for $1.50 wholesale. Which means that my time is roughly worth somewhere between $3-6 an hour. And it’s meant that in order to pay my bills, I have to work somewhere between 60-90 hours a week, for the last 3 years.
When I explained about this magical “profit margin”, her eyes got huge. For a minute, I thought I was in trouble. Deanna and I have always liked each other, in theory. But in actuality, we have never gotten along. When we were little kids Joy and Deanna and I formed a little gang. A gang that’s never broken up. Deanna’s a year older than me, and I’m a year older than Joy. So the three of us made up our own languages, and formed clubs, and told each other secrets. All the while, Joy and I would compete for Deanna’s affections. Deanna was diplomatic, and would spend one year being my best friend, and the next year being Joys’. But by the time we got to our teens, I was coming in a constant second. See, I unnerved her. because of my big mouth, and she was always inexplicably telling me to shut up, which annoyed me. Deanna’s always been the cool one. She taught me to finger-knit when I was 8. She had crazy-big 80’s hair in the 80’s (whereas, I had to perm my hair in the 80’s because Sherri wanted us to matchsies). She joined a Filipino gang when were in high school, she went to raves, she knew how to swear.
So when we started hanging out again, as adults, both of us weren’t sure how long our harmony would last. But over the last few years, she’s realized that I don’t mean to ruin everything by talking about it. And I’ve tried to figure out how to watch what I say. But I wasn’t prepared for her enthusiasm and pride over my Snarky Plans. “I wanna invest!” She crowed. Deanna has a real job, a career in fact. So, when my other investors and I had a falling out, she said “I have enough money, let’s still do it!” so we opened a bank account. And we put some money into it. And we placed our order, and we worked out the design together. All the while, a little proud of ourselves for figuring out how to stay in each others good graces.
In my last post, I told you that I had lost Claire’s half of the rent on my way to my friend Alicia’s bachelorette party. I got home the next day, and Claire was bouncing up and down. “Look! Look what Portland did!” She cried, as she handed me the money order that had fallen out of my pocket the night before. I started bouncing too. “OHMYGOD!!” I screamed. “Ohmygod! I love this town!” We bounced in unison “I KNOW!” She gushed. “I got home, and someone had affixed it to our door! I can’t believe someone returned it! I tried calling you! Now you can go to Seattle!” Claire was buoyant.
I gently shook my head. The night before, Claire had been incredibly cool about me losing half our rent. She had been reassuring, and kind. “I’m so angry at myself right now.” I was destitute. “I don’t think you can be angry at yourself for this,” she cautioned. “Well. Can I be deeply disappointed in myself?” Claire paused. “No.” She was firm. “Shit happens. You can’t even be deeply disappointed in yourself. This could have happened to anyone. And it was an accident.” We both agreed I couldn’t leave town until the rent was delivered. Anne Lamott says that any problem that can be solved by money is boring. And I’d rather die than be boring. So, between Claire and Anne, I let go of being mad at myself, and gave into having a marvelous time, dancing and drinking with my friends. And at some point in the night I realized two things.
1. I’d been planning on driving back down to California with the bus, and staying with my friend Matt in The Castro, painting in a house he was sitting for the week. I figured this was probably a sign from The Universe that I am not ready to go back to California.
2. The Underwear was coming. Once I picked it up from Modified, I had to figure out what I want the labels to look like. And I have to make the Snarky Cards that come with each pair. And I had the big show at Cafe Nell to get ready for. And also, I had to mentally prepare for the underwear. All of this means that I needed a week at home, not to go traipsing up and down the West Coast in search of fun.
The Universe pulled Claire’s rent out of my back pocket so I’d stay in town, and then Portland returned our money, so that I could spend all week getting ready for the underwear. And I needed that week.
I spent the first few days of last week trying to “prepare” for The Underwear. I started by taking all 50 of the magazines I use to collage my envelopes with, and cut the shit out of them, pasting them on to all 200 of the envelopes I had ordered the week before. I collaged for two days, all the while, eying things around my apartment; mentally making lists of shit I needed to get rid of. Old VHS tapes, and clothes I don’t wear anymore, some dusty art supplies and books I haven’t read in years all made the list. At hour 16 of collaging, and mentally getting rid of all of my shit, I freaked out a little about my freak-out. I mean, how was this shit really going to help me?
Then I remembered that SARK (who wrote Succulent Wild Woman) says that we have to honor the ways in which we procrastinate. So I just let myself collage and rearrange my living room, and clean my kitchen, until I finally got the call that they were ready. This made me nervous. So, I decided I needed someone to go with me. Claire was on her way to work, so I went downstairs and asked Erica, my neighbor, if she would go with me. She said “Sure!” and we got in the car and before I knew it, I was holding them in my hand.
By the time Deanna picked me up for Cafe Nell, I’d been spent 3 days painting and typing up Undy labels. And I was terrified that no-one would want them at all. I was so nervous that I forgot my typewriter. As I waited for her to return with it, I had a drink, and started schmoozing with the gorgeous fags. There is no malady that hot gay men, in short-shorts making bitchy comments cannot solve. After a while I relaxed.
The party was full of queens (and people who love queens) who wanted to get drunk and dance. It was a giant nexus of awesome. And a steady stream of people came up to my table to tell me about what cards of mine they’ve gotten and from whom. And where they see them, and where they buy them, and after they were done telling me that they loved my cards, they started telling me how much they liked the underwear.
Deanna and I worked the table and our tits. My friend Eduardo told me later that we were an amazing team. “Every time you say something to someone, she looks horrified! She’s you perfect straight man!” All I know is I wouldn’t have made it through without her. We sold 3 pairs of underwear. Which isn’t a lot. But it’s more than none. And it quashed my fears that no-one would ever buy them. Each time, she looked at me like “See? I told you. Calm the fuck down. We’ll be fine.” I finally realized she was right, people really like my Snarky Undies.
Sam Adams stopped by our table, and gave me a hug, and we giggled about how much hotter soccer players are then baseball players. And after he left I spent a few minutes sighing over how handsome and charming he is. God, I don’t know what it is about him, but I get so twitterpated every time I see him. And him making a special effort to say hi to me just made me more starstruck.
I have spent a lot of time bitching about Portland, lately, and between returning my rent money, and watching people at Cafe Nell flip out about my cards, and my undies, and getting to kiss Sam Adams again, I decided that I’m making my peace with Portland. I love my city. And my city loves me; without Portland’s support, I couldn’t have gotten this far. So, thank you PDX. I promise to not talk so much shit on you anymore.
Yesterday Claire, and my neighbor Erica posed for Snarky Undy pictures. It was weird to do an underwear photo-shoot with my friends. I found myself rearranging their panties, and telling them to hold poses. But the bitches look hot right? Claire is modeling the Large and Erica is modeling the Small.
And so now that they’ve been previewed, and packaged, and people have made a small fuss over them, I present to you with with confidence: Snarky Underwear! Available for purchase on etsy. And coming soon to a store near you!
PS If you are the person who returned Claire’s money order, or you know that person, please tell them we’d like to give them some sort of Snarky Reward for their trouble. They saved us. At the very least, they’re invited to the Art Shack for some weedalicious Murder She Wrote.