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REMOTE ACCESS: Witches ‘n’ Glitches (July 2020)

The Allied Media Conference is everything. The Detroit-based organization Allied Media Projects produced this gathering every year and the program just makes you coo. The coolest movement people showcasing projects and processes for media activism? Phew, so good.

When they released a call for auxiliary parties during their remote 2020 conference, I submitted a proposal on behalf of the folks who wanted to keep the REMOTE ACCESS vibe going after our first party in March of that year. I was presenting at the conference with members of the Critical Design Lab on crip podcasting and that was right around the time that I started thinking of myself as someone who could give the conference nightlife scene a zhuzh.

Here’s what I wrote in the pitch:

🔮 a party from and for access magic 🌘 featuring: incantations for glitch intimacies & live shows & drag spells & dj sets & captions & audio description & sound description & access doulas & more! 🖤 join us in the conjuring! 🔮

They dug it, they gave us a mini-grant, we were off.

But let me just give you a sense of how fabulous it was to have a party nested in this kind of partnership with a rad conference. The conference organizers offered several fantastic sessions preparing folks for their work at the conference, including one on radical hospitality. In another one, they offered us a whole design kit, made of various visual elements we could recombine in Photoshop to create our own flyer while still working within the design aesthetic that has been in the works for a while. For example, there were many kinds of “portal” objects, which were images that had been dragged like a brush to create what looked like loops in time-space. Images from AMP’s organizing! Turned into magic! For us to design our own magic with!

A center square portal with purple-pink gradient holds all-caps white letters. REMOTE ACCESS: WITCHES N GLITCHES / FRIDAY, JULY 24TH / 9-11PM EDT. 4 other square portals hold info about the party: ASL / CAPTIONS / AUDIO DESCRIPTION / SOUND DESCRIPTION / ACCESS DOULAS / FACILITATORS; SPELLS: AIMI HAMRAIE / MOIRA WILLIAMS / EZRA BENUS + PEREL; VIBES: DJ CRIP TIME / DJ WHO GIRL; CHOREO: OCTAVIA ROSE / JERRON HERMAN; SHOWS: YO-YO LIN + KEVIN GOTKIN / ALOPEXIAN. 3 objects have an orange-yellow overlay: a glittering disco ball made with uneven glass shards, a cracked early iPhone with an arduino board resting on one side, and a lit votive candle. A magic portal does loops in the background - no beginning or end in the frame. The logo of the Allied Media Conference - tri/angular A, M, and C - is at the bottom of the yellow-ink gradient background. In the top right corner: July 23-26 / 2020 / Virtual. This flyer was designed by Kevin Gotkin using a kit provided by the Allied Media Conference artist-organizers.Hundreds of people showed up. It was wild. DJ Crip Time (Stefana Fratila) from Toronto opened the party, then we had opening incantations from Aimi Hamraie who casted a crip circle, Moira Williams who called in the ancestors, Ezra Benus + Perel who deputized us shabbat queens, and whatever fun nonsense came from the emcee in the pink wig (me).

We had shows from Alopexian who dramatized their experience of hair loss, Lil Miss Hot Mess who danced through empty L.A. streets lip syncing to Justin Vivian Bond’s version of “22nd Century” (“…When there is no one and there is everyone / Tomorrow will be the 22nd century…”), and I shared a piece with Yo-Yo Lin & Pelenakeke Brown called “Glitchual.”

Jerron Herman and Octavia Rose activated choreo by being spotlit during the party. We had electric ASL song-signing from Brandon Kazen-Maddox and excellent and joyful captions from Mirabai Knight. Margaret Fink, Sasha Kurlenkova, Charles Eppley, and Cameron French. I closed the night with a DJ set.

I reviewed the recordings from this party over a year later, when I was relieved of some of the mom energy of being-in-it. And I got my time-shifted blessings. And I got to hang with my friends again. And I realized just how fucking absolutely awesome this party was, one of the most lurid memories from that awful and raucous summer of 2020.