Amos Mac is the co-founder (along with Rocco Kayiatos) of the FTM trans quarterly Original Plumbing. He and Rocco also have mad genius for putting together some of the most interesting, most fun queer events on either side of the Mississippi. Their next event, A Spot of T, kicks off San Francisco Pride in spectacular homo style this Thursday, June 24th.
Lissa Doty: So, tell me about your event on Thursday.
Amos Mac: It’s the first Trans Male Cabaret! There will be performance art, film, visual slide shows, readings, hip hop…Rocco and I really wanted to showcase a wide variety of artistic talents within the FTM community from across the country. Although most of the performers are Bay Area based, we were excited to get some guys from other parts of the US as well (NYC, PDX).
LD: It’s a great idea, and given the relatively large trans community here in SF, it’s kind of astonishing that it hasn’t happened before now.
AM: After working on Original Plumbing magazine this past year, it seems like a very natural step to take (to produce shows highlighting trans artists)…
LD: Ha! I was just getting ready to ask you about that…because OP is pretty groundbreaking, and your events are a wonderful addition to queer culture. And while I don’t identify as trans, just genderqueer, it’s great to see people who look like me and you coming out in droves to your events.
AM: It’s really incredible!
LD: It’s like all the people I would see once a year at the Trans March finally have a place to go.
AM: I am always pleasantly surprised when we throw an event, especially in cities outside of San Francisco. We just had a reading in Philadelphia, a photo exhibit/magazine launch party in LA, a party in Brooklyn…the community really comes out to these events. Some people drive hours!
LD: Your New York events have been a lot of fun – the launch party for issue #2 was packed and the Mr. Transman Contest was inspiring. And it seems like you’re constantly coming up with new ideas.
AM: It’s true! So Rocco and I started Original Plumbing Productions as a way to funnel our ideas into something that goes beyond the print magazine.
LD: When you started the zine last year, did you have any idea that you’d be expanding into event producing? Or did the idea of the zine and the events come hand-in-hand?
AM: I didn’t personally think of anything other than producing the magazine for a long time. When the release parties were immediately huge, we knew that there was an audience and that people would probably appreciate things other than regular club events…
AM: Since Rocco and I are both artists, we are always talking to each other about our own individual projects outside of OP magazine. It felt very natural for us to create a space for other trans artists and [to create] events catering to people who appreciate queer art.
LD: What are you working on right now?
AM: I’m working on a video project short: it’s a chapter from Michelle Tea’s book Valencia, which is being made into a feature. (A different artist shoots each chapter with a different cast). And I’m also making a limited edition mini photo zine called Transsexual Trampoline, for Darin Klein’s “Box of Books” zine project.
LD: Love it!
AM: Have you voted for Original Plumbing for Best of the Bay Readers Poll yet? : ) “Best Local Zine” http://www.sfbg.com/bestofthebay2010
LD: When’s the last day of voting?
AM: June 23.
LD: How different is it working on the Valencia project, which involves moving pictures (i.e. video) and a storyline?
AM: Ask me next month when I’ve started it! I’ve just done a rough outline of the script and cast the lead character at this point. I have so much work to do on it in a very short period of time.
LD: Among the many thing that I love about the OP empire, is the humor that infuses your zine and your events.
LD: And I also love that it’s so post-coming out.
AM: Well, yes, we like to interview people about their current lives, way beyond coming out stories. There are plenty of websites out there that have covered those bases for everyone.
LD: OP has generated a lot of press in both gay and straight media – some articles have been awesome (the Autostraddle interview comes to mind), and others have been borderline clueless. Have you changed in how you deal with the media (and with being interviewed) over the past year?
AM: I haven’t dealt with press any differently. You never know what to expect with an interview, and I think it’s important to talk to press about these projects. When a major publication wants to interview you about your work, it’s hard to say no to that, you know? You can only hope they’ve done some sort of homework on trans stuff before the interview and know what is disrespectful or rude to ask beforehand. If questions get too rude, I’m not afraid to tell the interviewer that. And I’ve always been very aware about speaking from my own experience only and not trying to be the mouthpiece for any community.
LD: I always hope that these mainstream articles and interviews end up reaching queers who might not know about OP, and that even if the pieces aren’t ideal in their representation, they’ll still have a positive impact…And speaking of reaching queers, is there some way people can contact you if they want to have an OP event in their town?
AM: Of course! They can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org