Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Praising Jesus: How the Blogosphere Might Just Resurrect My Tee Shirt Slogan Career

Now I've seen everything. Just minutes after pretty much bagging any plans I may have entertained involving my greeting card and tee shirt career, I find Jesus--and a black hockey one, at that--wearing one of my tee shirts. (Allegedly for church attendance purposes.)

Yes. The Team Vagina baseball jersey. One of my favorite designs, not to be outdone, mind you, by the "Ask Me About My Vagina!" series, and the "Vaginas Are for Lovers" line of merchandise that has been for sale at my CafePress stores since sometime around 1865. I admit that offering to send Black Hockey Jesus a tee shirt was a no-brainer, considering that his daddy blog is called The Wind in Your Vagina. It is ironic, though, since I never would have predicted I'd be sending some of my favorite home-grown pieces of merchandise to a man, much less a man I'd never met. But these times, they are a-changin'.

"What gives, anyway," you ask, "with the vaginal slant to your work?" (No pun intended, I'm sure). That's a long story; put on a pot of cough medicine and hunker down, dears. I'm about to tell you what happened long before Jesus there got dressed up for church, and what's happening now. Side note: None of it has anything to do with the DNC, the RNC or the next presidential election, so if you've come seeking a political respite, or a way to cleanse your political palate, you've come to the right place.

In 1997, I was a fine young woman going about the business of figuring out who she was, and in my love of literature, happened upon a book called The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. I admit, its brilliant simplicity hit me hard, and I immediately declared it one of the most important works of literature I'd ever read. Most of all, I wondered, "Hey, why hadn't I thought of that?"

Also at the time, I was busy launching my lifelong career as an Internet dilettante, and was enjoying the free time that being self-unemployed afforded me. I had launched a little 'zine called Saucy Chicks, which was receiving a modicum of recognition, and was fun. This, as I learned, was a recipe for hatching crackpot schemes that were sure to make me millions overnight. In other news, I'm still waiting for morning. And also, I became the author of slogans that I thought were funny, cool, and destined to further countless women's hard-fought battles for vagina liberty. Represent.

In keeping with all my networking, reaching out ways, I had become vaguely friendly with the folks over at VDay, Ensler's anti-violence philanthropy event, and was asked to contribute some of my merchandise for their first annual benefit in New York City. (They celebrated thier 10th anniversary not long ago.) I was so excited by it all, that not only did I send boxes of "Vagina" tee shirts to be auctioned off in support of Eve Ensler's flagship foundation, but I went to the event and met Ensler herself. She and her staff were friendly and enthusiastic, and the women I met were nothing but supportive. When I asked where the shirts and mugs I'd sent were located among the other auction items, they told me that everything sold within seconds. I admit: tee shirts at an Eve Ensler benefit is not a tough sell, but I was sure all that was a sure sign that I was going to be featured in The New Yorker at any moment. All told, I'd say it was a net gain. I still consider that year one of the coolest times in my life and remember it like it was yesterday.

And then shift happened, as it will. I became a different kind of writer, a wife, a mountain-dweller, a work-a-day gal, and a mom. I've had ups and downs in my career, a goiter in my neck, a false start on a memoir, a problem with discipline and time management pretty much everywhere. I passed off Saucy Chicks to its co-founder, and now we'll say it's just napping instead of defunct. A literary agent told me quite a few years ago that she considered the vagina thing kind of over with. Moreover, I stopped caring about funny little creative projects that were going to make me--the underdog, the dark horse-- into the heroine as the credits rolled. I think the word is "disillusioned," but I refuse to say it out loud. I admit that I kind of gave up for a good, long while.

And then some dude under the moniker Black Hockey Jesus starts a daddy blog of all things, and really embraces it with the same kind of enthusiasm most people reserve for gambling, or eating hot wings. It made me nostalgic. Inspired, even. Maybe even kind of fired up in the same ways I was fired up over Saucy Chicks, meeting Eve Ensler, my early writing career, technology, and my own creative potential. My tee-shirts and mugs and stupid little shit no one is supposed to care about. I think the word is "hopeful," but I'm not ready to say it out loud. Yet.

While I was at BlogHer '08 this summer, I happened to meet the nice people at Cafe Press. They gave me a free upgrade to a premium shop for a year, which I thought was right neighborly of them. I'm designing shirts again. They make me happy, which I think is important, no matter how many or few I sell. Some of them are more kid-friendly than others. Some are more philosophical, like my forthcoming signature line of What Would Charo Do? tees. And then there's a little special something for the bloggers out there. It's coming. Will you wait for it?


Black Hockey Jesus said...

Good luck with your shirts. I don't have a lot of luck with Cafe Press. It's so expensive.


Laura said...

Tell me first!

I'm so glad to know your vaginal history, Jody! (Did I say that out loud?) xo

amy said...

Why, absolutely I'll wait, Jody! I did not know you had a CafePress site. I dig that place--sometimes I just hang out there, laughing. It's probably why I never get anything done. That, and I nap too much.

Also, I'm really glad to learn the vagina isn't irrelevant anymore. Vaginas are the best thing to happen to this planet!

Unless they're crazy Alaska vaginas who are totally clueless and want to tell all the other vaginas how to live.

I don't think I've ever written the word "vagina" so much in my life. It's quite freeing!

Anonymous said...

well.. it's like I thought!