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POP INTERVIEW: Feminist Publisher/Author Felice Newman

Felice Newman, publisher of Cleis Press since 1980 and an author herself, wishes to change the modern day attitude regarding feminism as a naughty word.

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“Feminist” in 2013 isn’t exactly a compliment. At least, not to celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and others who deny any connections to the word or its movement in public statements. Ironically, if it weren’t for feminists, none of these young women be able to earn the incredible sums of money they do each year. Felice Newman, publisher of Cleis Press since 1980 and an author herself, wishes to change the modern day attitude regarding feminism as a naughty word.

Felice Newman

You started out as a poet. Who are your favorite poets? What about female poets?
My favorite poet is Mary Oliver—though I am excited to have discovered Richard Bianco, Obama’s 2013 inaugural poet, who wrote so eloquently of our one, shared world. I would think they they would like each other, too.

Back in the 1970’s, you started a small feminist publishing company. What kind of materials were submitted to you then? What impressed you with some manuscripts that made others churn?
I was a cofounder of a very tiny feminist press, Motheroot Publications, in the mid-70s. We asked Adrienne Rich for permission to print a small chapbook of an essay of hers that we loved, Women & Honor: Some Notes on Lying. We kept that little chapbook in print for many years, first through Motheroot and then Cleis. I admit to not really remembering what our slush pile looked like back then. But I can tell you that when Cleis Press started in 1980, we were most impressed with books that spoke authentically of women’s lives from the first person point of view. Books that gave testimony to women’s experiences, both struggles and victories. The first book we ever published right from the slush pile was Voices in the Night: Women Speaking About Incest. This was before The Courage to Heal, and there are nothing, absolutely nothing on the subject. We sold many many thousands of copies of Voices in the Night.

Do you think it is possible to embrace women’s traditional roles and feminist ideals at the same time? Can these two worlds work together in one’s personal life or entertainment?
I love this question! There is abosolutely nothing wrong with sex roles—as long as you have the freedom to choose the one(s) that resonate for you. As Adrienne Rich once said, and I may be paraphrasing, “There’s nothing wrong with privilege…as long as everyone has it.”

Let’s assume a man or woman is new to reading LGBT literature. Which books should he or she pick up within the lesbian catalog?
Within the lesbian catalog: First, the Best Lesbian Erotica series. If you want to know what makes a lesbian a lesbian (!), start with erotic stories like those in the Best Lesbian Erotica series. After all, this is where you will find women writing unabashedly of their desire for and experiences (both real and imagined) of sex between women. Then, I’ send that reader right to my book, The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us. There is no better guide to lesbian and bisexual women’s sexuality. I say that as both the author and the publisher—and as a reader of books about sex. The reason I wrote this book is that I had been waiting years to receive such a book proposal. It never happened. I know the book was needed, so I decided to write it myself.

Felice Newman1

For straight people, why might they too be interested in reading LGBT books? Some people seem embarrassed being seen near the aisle.
Well, LGBTQ books speak authoritatively and authentically about sexuality and gender. It’s hard (even today) to sift the good info from books which really pander to the shame-based, sex-negative status quo. So I would encourage everyone to look to LGBTQ books for a fresh take on their own sexuality. After all, as humans we have far more in common you we may think.

What is the worst thing someone ever told you about your books? How did it make you feel great? Because criticism sometimes does that to you, leading you on a power trip when you know you’re doing something right enough to be controversial.
There was a time when some feminist publishers and some feminist booksellers were quite dismissive about what Cleis did, because they considered erotica and sex guides as not a politically legitimate contribution, to say the least. During their own leans times, they would say, well, of course YOU’RE doing okay, you publish sex—as if we were exploiters cranking out crap for money. We were doing better than many of our sister publishers, but we think it’s because we were publishing books people wanted to read. And doing it well. And respecting the varied reading interests of our audience.

What do you see as the parts of life in America where women are most oppressed? Outside this country, which countries in your opinion need progress?
I’m going to speak about America and not other countries, simply because it’s so easy to point to other regions for examples of oppression. Women are oppressed in the US because as long as we are on the defensive regarding access to contraceptives and abortion, we will spend much energy and money trying not to lose what we’ve already gained, with not enough resources left over to push forward on basic issues like income equality. Women still don’t earn as much as men.

Do you think feminism is still around anymore or was it something that ended in the 90’s?
Feminism is definitely still around, though perhaps some people don’t want to label themselves with the word “feminism.”

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Amber Riley Performs Beautiful Tribute To Naya Rivera On ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’

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RIP.

Whenever Amber Riley and Naya Rivera combined their insurmountable talents on the hit show Glee there was an almost tangible magic that left fans in awe of the powerhouse duo. Playing Mercedes Jones and Santana Lopez respectively, the two characters may not have always seen eye to eye but when they joined you knew you were in for a memorable performance. It is sad to think that we will never get another “River Deep, Mountain High” or “The Boy Is Mine” moment after Rivera’s passing last month but there is something special in knowing Riley will carry the torch for her fallen costar forever.

On Thursday night introduced by guest-host Lil Rel, Riley virtually appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!  to perform a new song from her EP entitled “A Moment” which was dedicated to Rivera. “Not too long ago we both lost a really amazing friend in a tragic accident and we both will miss her forever,” said Lil Rel. The performance is displayed in black and white and features Riley singing in front of a montage of photos of her former co-star. It is truly stunning.

Check out the tribute below.

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You Will Have Hearts In Your Eyes When You See Cardi B’s New Hair Do

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Wait till you see her WAP (Wonderfully Artistic Pigtails)

Cardi B has never shied away from a bold look and her latest hair do is proof of that.

The 27-year-old “WAP” singer…song of the year IMO…took to Instagram Tuesday night to show off her pink, heart-shaped pigtails and people are loving the look. In the short video Cardi asks fans if they would “go to the club with your hair like this” and I think we can all agree that this look would definitely turn heads at the clurb.

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Ya like my hair ?

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The artistic hair do was crafted by Cardi’s long time longtime stylist Tokyo Stylez and took at least three hours to complete. Fans commented about how beautiful the unique hairstyle is but questioned how the rapper was going to sleep that night. Let’s hope those pigtails can be twisted off and be thrown on the nightstand.

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Check It Out, Joe Jonas Has Shocked His Fans With His New Look

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I’m a sucker for his new do.

It doesn’t matter if you are more of a “Nick” or a “Kevin” or a “Joe” when it comes to loving the Jonas Brothers. All that matters is that you all agree with me that Joe is obviously the most attractive of the three brothers and that’s just a fact. I’m sorry but I don’t make the rules.

The 31-year old stunned fans today earlier today when he debuted a shocking new look on his Instagram. Sporting a black t-shirt and those signature dark, furry-Murray eyebrows, Joe flashed his new platinum blond buzzcut. I know I might be in the minority here but I do love when these Hollywood hotties switch it up and do the blond thing. I loved it on Adam Levine. I loved it on Zac Efron. I even found myself oddly drawn to the OG platinum stud, James Michael Tyler aka Gunther from Friends.

Credit: Instagram

Perhaps the new do is a part of Joe’s daddy-makeover as he and his wife, Sophie Turner, recently welcomed their first child, Willa. A source told ET “Sophie and Joe have named their daughter Willa. The couple’s bond has gotten even stronger since the addition of their daughter. Although circumstances are different right now because of the [coronavirus] pandemic, Joe was there for the birth of his daughter. The couple is happy they now have time to spend at home with their daughter and get used to their new life together.”

Be still my heart.

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