Meander's Kitchen plans cabaret benefit for Camp Ten Trees
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Last month, folksinger Michelle Shocked made anti-Gay statements while on stage during a performance in San Francisco.
'I live in fear that the world will be destroyed if Gays are allowed to marry,' Shocked told the stunned crowd.
The 51-year-old singer reportedly added: 'You can go on Twitter and say 'Michelle Shocked says God hates fags.'
And after that unexpected onstage speech, many music venues dropped the singer, canceling her appearances in their club because they did not want their venue to be linked to her. (She has since appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, where she delivered a rambling five-minute kind-of-apology and showed up outside of a few of the clubs she was supposed to sing at, wearing a mask and strumming her guitar.)
One of the venues that told Shocked that she is not welcome is Meander's Kitchen in West Seattle's Morgan Junction. Instead, owner Miranda Krone decided she would turn a bad situation into a good one: on the very night Shocked had been scheduled to perform in her venue, Krone is throwing a fundraiser cabaret for Camp Ten Trees and Queer Rock Camp.
'Camp Ten Trees is an amazing organization,' Krone told SGN. 'They were recommended to me years ago for my daughter, as they support both LGBTQ children and also the children of LGBTQ parents. As a middle-aged Queerbo-mom, that's near and dear to my heart.'
Queer Rock Camp is a small program in Olympia that builds a sense of community and self-empowerment, creates safe space, and offers a means of expression through music.
'They are severely underfunded right now, and I cannot think of a more succinct comment on the entire situation than supporting them,' said Krone.
'We had nine bar stools and one table surrounding the cook's line,' she told SGN. 'We quickly filled beyond capacity and expanded into the space next door months after opening.'
In November 2012, the business moved into what had been Papa's Pub in White Center, with nearly 70 seats.
'We are essentially a diner, complete with regulars who line up on the coffee counter to swap sassy-ass commentary, serving primarily breakfast all hours of the day and night, and making everything from scratch,' she said. 'Biscuits, my Gram's marionberry jam, even our own ketchup. We get our sausage from Uli's, we use cage-free eggs, dairy with no bovine growth hormones, our smoked salmon is from Loki Seafood ... my rule of thumb is that if I wouldn't feed it to my daughter, I won't sell it to you.'
Krone says she's tried to create a space that feels like home - much of the decor is actually from her home, or gifts from guests.
'My favorite description of the place remains Susan Kelleher's quote from the Seattle Times: 'Meander's cares deeply, and it couldn't care less.'
'We've been called quirky, and I've personally been called a crazy bitch,' she laughed. 'I try my best to run the place in line with my own sense of ethics, which is rather neatly embodied by our shiny new 'BE NICE OR LEAVE' sign.'
Krone canceled the show without hesitation. In fact, she is proud that she joined the other venue owners around the country who, in less than 24 hours, told Shocked to get lost.
'I actually started getting e-mails from people while her show in San Francisco was still happening, because of the Internet,' said Krone. 'My initial reaction was along the lines of, 'Wha ...?' I mean, I'm 38, and still have one of her albums alongside my Tracy Chapman and Indigo Girls albums from the same era, you know?'
Krone had booked the show through Vera at Village Green Perennial Nursery, so she called her the morning after Shocked had made the anti-Gay rant. Vera had been planning on hosting the show at her nursery, but feared for April rain in an outdoor venue and offered Meander's the chance to host the show instead.
'MY BUSINESS IS MY HOME'
However, Krone reports, Shocked wasn't answering phone calls or e-mails to speak to what had happened.
'Watching the transcripts and quotes hit the Internet was like watching a slow motion replay of a train wreck,' she recalled. 'Neither Vera nor I had any question about cancelling the show.'
'I've gotten some feedback from folks that I 'censored' Michelle by cancelling the show,' says Krone. 'I am a private citizen who owns a business as a sole proprietor. I wonder how those same people would feel if they were asked to host an equal-rights rally in their home or business.'
'I identify myself as Queer,' she continued. 'Even if I didn't - even if I were utterly straight - I could never embrace the lie that wrapping a denial of basic human rights, and I'm not just talking marriage here, in the word 'love' makes it any less an act of fear, violence and hatred.'
'My business is my home,' said Krone, adding, 'My guests and staff are family. No one gets to use my living room as a stage to denigrate others.'
A FUNDRAISER IS BORN
'She had already been working up a small Queer burlesque show at the restaurant,' says Krone. 'Sort of a sexy mashup of our Queer DIY punk ideals and a fondness for the subculture of the 1920s, and it seemed like a natural progression to bump the show into Michelle's slot.'
'Since then, I've been thunderstruck by the amount of support and attention it's gotten,' admits Krone. 'A friend emailed me that the [Huffington Post] had even quoted my Facebook status, which had my 15-year-old daughter thinking that I was actually cool for an entire five minutes.'
'I've read subsequent interviews and the letters from Michelle, seen the Piers Morgan interview, listened to the audio from the show, and read the 1990 interview with her in Outlines Magazine,' she continues. 'My personal feeling is that her statements didn't leave much room for misinterpretation, that her apologies are disingenuous, and that she neatly sidesteps personal accountability by blaming the audience for their choice of 'reality.'
'She doesn't apologize for what she said, she apologizes for saying it - she regrets the personal consequences of her actions, not the sentiment or the pain it caused,' said Krone.
USE YOUR PLATFORM
'If you are a person with a stage at your disposal, a platform from which to speak and to be heard, you better use it while you can,' she said.
'The first time I was with a woman in the 'Biblical sense,' I was 15, living in a very small town with a father who didn't really get into talking squishy bits, and was already considered to be pretty weird,' Krone recalls. 'I freaked out and joined the local church.'
She felt accepted, loved, less scared and alone, and forgiven. She said it took her a while to figure out that she didn't need to be forgiven, but it took less time for her to figure out that she didn't fit within the church strictures.
'I don't know Michelle; she and I have never spoken,' said Krone. 'My own personal experiences certainly color my perception of what's going on with her, and I can't help but feel compassion for her. I seriously wish I could sit down over a cup of coffee with the woman and ask her, 'What the fuck? No, seriously. Tell me what the hell just happened.'
'GLITTER AND SUNSHINE'
'The logic behind it is a little inspired by Care Bears or My Little Pony,' Krone explains. 'In the face of all the cold, dark, sharp-toothed doom-y clouds, we will love your face off with rainbows, glitter, and sunshine.'
'I know that sounds goofy,' she admits, 'but bear with me a moment. I am Queer; I love a lot of different people a lot of different ways. It used to be called the 'love that dare not speak its name.' The only way we win is by loving loud and proud, out in the sunshine, out in the streets.'
'And, as a benefit for Queer youth, we as a community and as family support the organizations that support our youth, helping to create a sense of place, community, and self, and short-circuiting the cultural influences that so often leave us feeling alone, out of place, and living with self-hatred and denial,' said Krone. 'I believe that kind of action is the best possible reaction to the entire situation.'
The ticket information at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/367445 reads, 'Prepare to get yer socks Shocked and yer knickers dazzled by an amazing cast of characters ... Queer Burlesque, Drag, Song and Dance, Comedy, and all the Bells and Whistles, folks. You Are Loved! And by the time you leave, you'll feel warmed all the way down to your cockles.'
'Miss Cherry Tart Productions and I are incredibly grateful to Social Outreach Seattle, the Pride Foundation, Northwest Press, the crew at Meander's Kitchen, Aaron & Astro, the performers, and the incredible folks who have offered support in a myriad of forms to meet a sad and painful situation at the door and flip it around into a celebration of loving and being loved,' said Krone.
The show will feature two different lineups: April 26 has Cinnamon Maxxine, Lily Divine, Al Lykya, Olivia LaGarce, and Adra Boo booked. And April 27 has Sarey Savy, Chocolate Saucy, Randy Andy, and special guest Mary Lambert. Both nights include James Bound, Jeffery Robert, Tiger Bombshell, and Miss Kitty Baby.
'And more to be announced,' promises Krone.
'I think the entertainers are amazing,' she added. 'I think they have agreed to play an unknown venue in an often-maligned part of town to support their community and the kids - many of them are accustomed to much shmancier stages, and I can't wait to see every single one of them strut their stuff.'
'The show has evolved from burlesque to be more of a cabaret, including song and dance, drag, and comedy,' concludes Krone. 'Honestly, I'm incredibly humbled and a bit overwhelmed by how many folks have offered their support and involvement.'
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