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The REAL GIRLS return to the Dinah for REVENGE (and Jello Shots) April 1, 2011

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Hello Tello! December 22, 2010

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So it’s been a while since my last post, and I thought it was time to get ya up-to-date on all things Real Girls

The latest cool happening is that now our entire 1st season is officially downloadable! TelloFilms, “a venue for films made by for/by/or about lesbians,” just launched the “premium content” section of their site, which means that now you can download Real Girls (and other awesome shows like Brunch With Bridget and 3-Way) directly on to your hard drive! (Check us out in the Tello Store HERE)

BUT WHY (you may ask… in a cheesy announcer voice…)WOULD YOU WANT TO DOWNLOAD SOMETHING YOU CAN GET FOR FREE?

A.) Way better quality! You don’t have worry about things like “buffering” or random attacks of pixilation…which will make your next network board meeting presentation about how smart, sassy feminist web shows are all the rage (and why shows like Real Girls need to be on TV) go MUCH more smoothly.

B) Even if corporate greed destroys our digital our way of life, YOU will have your own copy of Real Girls to pass along to your grandkids as you reminisce about the glory days of the Internet! (Not that we will EVER let that happen, right?)

C) It’s super cheap ($.99 an episode)! Plus, 80% of that will go back to US and will allow us to make more Real Girls (imagine a whole shit-kicking army of fierce, fun-lovin’ feminists)! And the other 20% goes back to Tellofilms, an awesome girl-powered startup, that’s helping to make Lesbian-centric content not only visible, but also viable.

ALSO, Tellofilms has introduced a monthly subscription option for “exclusive content” you can’t see anywhere else and will be launching their original series Cow Girl Up in January.  Lots of cool stuff on there that’s free too, so be sure to check’m out at http://tellofilms.com/.

BUT BACK TO US…and the question of what the hell we’ve been up to…

VIRTUAL LESBIAN LOOKS. Back in October Real Girl Reena Dutt (“Sydney”) spoke at the University of Arizona on a panel featuring Real Girls (alongside Anyone But Me and Girl Trash) about the exciting trend of independent lesbian-centric shows online.

ALHLIVE. In November, the cast of Real Girls was featured on a LIVE video podcast. In this 40 minute interview lead by Seattle-based journalist Lawrence Haskins (which included live Q &A with viewers) we covered everything from the feminist revolution in new media…to farts…. to “junior cougars” (huh? what? Just WATCH IT ALREADY!=)).

MORE INTERVIEWS!  In the “other-web-series-we-love-department,” we have interviews coming up with web pioneer, Yuri Baranovsky (Break a Leg), “Office” writer and web-creator Anthony Farrell (Dwelling), as well as our own Nikki Brown (producer and star of Sheroes) and Kai Soremekun (creator of Chick) about why Female Superheroes are taking over the web! So stay tuned…

OFF-CHANCE PRODUCTIONS. And finally, as to what the hell have we been doing for the last month while you have been blogless?  Our mama company Off-Chance Productions has been busy, busy…

Our critically acclaimed stage play, The Limitations of Genetic Technology, just closed to sold out audiences! And we just wrapped 2 shorts….SAT I (written by and starring Real Girl, Reena Dutt) and Eat, Dream, Play, Shit, Die (written by Luis Arturo Reyes and directed by ME).

Also, we just found out that our play, Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto (written by and starring Real Girl Anna Khaja), has been nominated for TWO Ovation awards!

And you thought we were just sitting here braiding our toe hair.

So, have some kickass holidays! And thanks for all your love and support throughout the year!

We seriously could not have done any of this with out you!

WE. LOVE. YOU.

-Carmen

Carmen slutting it up with Santa...some time in the '90s.

Drinking the Social Media Kool-Aid October 29, 2010

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Before the launch of Real Girls back in February, Twitter was something I knew relatively little about. Like most “non-users” I regarded it with skepticism, unknowingly bandying about anti-social-media clichés like “do I really want to know every time your dog takes a dump” and “it sounds like a big a waste of time.”

But there was a moment last week when I realized how far out I had ventured into the Twitta-sphere. I was talking to my dad on the phone and heard him repeat some of these now-familiar phrases, which then led to a conversation about invasion of privacy, the culture of self-indulgence and exhibitionism (whadda you want? He’s an English professor, that’s just the way we talk…), and I found myself saying ”yeah, there’s an aspect of that, but there’s a LOT more to it.” And suddenly I realized I had become that person, the one who gives unpaid testimonials about the value of social networking and how it’s being used to “create community” and “level the playing field” and rambling on about hashtags, @replies, direct message and IRL encounters. If this had been a Skype call, I would have seen his eyes glaze over.

The subject came up because a couple of weeks ago I was asked to be on a panel representing at the “140 Character Conference” in Hollywood. So now (despite being a Luddite with an active AOL account and an uneasy relationship with a second hand iPod), I can pretend to be an authority on a tech-related subject. Cool! (And just for the record—and because he’ll probably read this—my Dad has a first-hand iPod and was happily Skyping long before I was).

The conference, created by Twitter seed investor Jeff Pulver, runs for two days in half a dozen cities and features panel discussions on the value and use of social media. The range of panelists is pretty impressive, from marketers to homeless advocates, to street performers, to aid workers in Haiti, to small businesses, to some of the biggest creative forces in Hollywood. I was invited to appear on a panel about “writing and community” along side moderator Debra Eckerling, creator of the writer resource site WriteOnOnline (who did an interview with me a few months ago), and Zac Sanford, creator of the popular #ScriptChat (a twitter based forum for screenwriters). The conference, as a whole, was a thrilling experience. It felt like something truly democratic was taking place. Finally, here was a forum where having a voice had nothing to do with money and prestige and everything with having something to say. Here was a forum where homeless bloggers were given the same respect as pop-culture icons.

For example, in the green room, waiting to go on stage, I ran into Tim Kring (creator of Heroes), Ilene Chaiken (creator of The L-Word)…and Smokey the Bear. Where else could this have possibly happened? (Read another interesting article about the strange menage of Real Girls, Smokey and Tim King HERE.)

Carmen Elena Mitchell, Tim Kring, Debra Eckerling & Zac Sanford

Me & Smokey

And yes, I asked Smokey (recalling a frustrating encounter at Disneyland with Eeyore) if he—like his Disney brethren—was forbidden from actually speaking. He nodded his head “Yes” sadly (but TWEET he does…and yes, the rumors of my brief un-reciprocated twitter-flirtation in the week following the conference are true, but I digress).

So yes, in some respects I have drunk the Kool-Aid. And yet at the same time, I recognize that there’s a dark side to all of this too. One need only look at the recent suicides of gay teens attributed to “cyber-bullying” to see that there’s something else very troubling going on. Through our drunken consumption of social media we’ve carelessly laid open the doors to a world without privacy, a world without boundaries, and—most problematic—a world of self-conscious childhood, where every moment of one’s evolving vulnerable self is potentially captured, exposed and critiqued in front of millions. We’ve created Big Brother and he is US. And no one born before 1990 can truly appreciate what it feels like to grow up in that world.

But then at the same time consider the reaction to such acts, like activist/columnist Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” Project, which started in September as a response to Billy Lucas’ suicide (which has inspired everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to President Obama to create videos directed at LGBT youth letting them know that “it gets better”); and The Trevor Project, which provides 24/7 nationwide suicide prevention hotlines and support.

If you missed it please check out this video by Fort Worth city council member Joel Burns released on October 13th, which already has over 2 million hits.

Consider the NOH8 campaign.

Consider the countless on-line non-profit organizations that act as lifelines to teens in communities where there are no other resources.

Consider independent web series like Anyone But Me that have earned an enormous international audience though normalizing representations of LGBT teens.

Consider that before social media (BSM?!) many LGBT youths still took their own lives because of a lack of community, visibility and access to support.

Consider that in this brave new world the bully is often now exposed, and that there are consequences, whereas before most of this behavior went unreported and unpunished.

In the end social media is just an innovation, like TV, like radio…like the automobile even. And like those innovations it’s going to be regarded with skepticism. There will be people who refuse to utilize it and who claim that it’s impacting the culture in negative ways. And they’re right, it is. But it’s simultaneously changing it for the better. As with all advances in technology, we need to grow as a culture in order to learn how to use social media responsibly, and how to counter abuse so it does not go unchecked. We need to wear seat belts—or more importantly…we need to learn how to drive.

But in order to do that, we all—particularly those of us who are parents—need to be part of the conversation and at least take a sip of the Kool-aid. Right, Dad?

xo – Carmen

My Big Fat Gay Weekend July 1, 2010

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Hello, Dear Real Girls Fans!  Robin Daléa (Rasha) here.  I had the pleasure of being in NYC last weekend not only for Pride Weekend, but also for the first ever Out Of The Box LGBTQ Web Series Festival! Sadly, my Real Girls co-stars couldn’t join me, but I did my very best to represent! I took some drinks – I mean, notes – so I could relay the evening back to all of you.  So grab a cosmo…or a Hefeweizen …or a hazelnut latte…and read on…

The Festival…

On Saturday, June 26, the cool folks at Novo Novus Productions (also the producers of the quirky web series Drama Queenz) hosted the festival in the funky, intimate bar at New World Stages. Yummy hors d’vours and sangria were provided and the atmosphere was laid back and welcoming. (After all, it was 93 degrees and humid in the city that day, so your attire had to be casual and your attitude grateful for air conditioning!)

The mission statement of Out Of The Box goes like this:

Out Of The Box is dedicated to bringing greater awareness to the high-quality LGBTQ programming making waves on the web, and honoring the visionaries and artistic trailblazers who are filling the diversity void in traditional media.

So, needless to say, it was an honor for Real Girls to be a part of the first annual festival. And I can personally say that the evening lived up to the festival’s goal.  Although I knew of some of the series there that night, I had not had a chance to really view them all prior to the event.  I was more than pleasantly surprised by the diverse, original and high-level productions included in the line up.  (Check them out for yourself – a list of all the screened web series and attendees can be found here: http://otbfest.blogspot.com/)  Broken down into segments of “Life,” “Love,” and “Laughter,” each segment screened about six shows (five minutes each) and then a talk back.  (Real Girls was in the Laughter section, ‘natch.)

With all the great stories and topics covered in the screeners, the interviewers had their discussion topics cut out for them.  Here are just some bullet points of core discussions that could have gone on for hours:

  • utilizing the accessibility of web series to reach people in the fly over states who may not have access to an LGBTQ community
  • demonstrating inclusiveness by showing that LGBTQ folks are in every neighborhood and their lives and dreams aren’t much different than straight folks
  • creating talk shows that cover the diverse LGBTQ artists in every city
  • building a show around characters without it being an “issue” show
  • casting around chemistry, not race
  • questioning if the search for love is different in the LGBTQ community
  • using real stories like ex-gay recovery movements to create comedic storylines
  • using comedy and silly stereotypes to access the real topics so discussions can follow

So you can see, each of these discussions could’ve been the focus of a festival. The hosts kept the evening tight though, and made sure everyone was finished in time to move on to other late-night pride weekend events.

Overall, the evening had a great display of talent, support and potential media-changing shows.  Clearly, the LGBTQ community continues to get more and more coverage as the Internet reaches further and further. And this is how we normalize diversity, my sisters and brothers.

Out Of The Box photos on their FB page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-York-NY/Out-of-the-Box-LGBTQ-Web-Series-Festival/133419193338363?ref=ts

It’s a PARADE….

Sunday was my last day in the city, so I sweltered in the subway down to Christopher Street and then sweltered in the humid 90 degree day to see what I could of the parade.  I wasn’t disappointed.

For any New Yorker like myself that now lives in L.A., returning to the Big Apple is like returning to civilization. It’s not just the sheer number of people, nor the fact that you’re forced to rub elbows with all of them that makes the city feel like home.  It’s the real, down home, inescapable diversity that reminds one that the world is filled with a variety of colors, ages, shapes, sizes and styles – a diversity that is under-represented in mainstream TV and film. Which is why web series like The Real Girls and all of the Out Of The Box participants strive to represent those communities through new media.

What I enjoyed most about the Pride Parade were the diverse cultures represented not only in the parade, but also in the crowd. And of course, the drag queens who rocked those heels better than I ever could. And the fabulous outfits (and lack thereof) that would outdo even Vanna. And the spontaneous spanking I got from a stranger and her Pleasure Chest paddle.

I took tons of pictures and they really speak better than any words I could offer.  So take a look.  Enjoy.  Pretend you were there. Wave your rainbow flag and spank somebody.

http://www5.snapfish.com/snapfish/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=1721370027/a=3245345027_3245345027/otsc=SHR/otsi=SALBlink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish/

Our Dinah Diary… April 18, 2010

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Has it been two weeks?! Time flies when you’re trying to dismantle patriarchy and save the world!

So it was approximately two weeks ago that we headed off to Palm Springs for a few days of girl-powered mayhem at The Dinah. For those of you who are unfamiliar, The Dinah is basically “spring break for Lesbians” – a week long pool-party with dancing, performers and the occasional “Celesbian” appearance. Only one in our party had ever actually experienced The Dinah before…but by the time we left we were all well acquainted with the refrain, “Whatever happens at the Dinah stays at the Dinah.” So in the interest of preserving our reputation as nice wholesome girls, I will not reveal too much, but will say that highlights included a sing-along in the ladies room with “Sexy-Ukulele girl,”

…and having Meredith Baxter and her partner rescue Robin Daléa (Rasha) before her virtue was nearly corrupted by an over zealous fan (aka “scary, drunk, overly-tan girl”). However, all’s well that ends well, right? And somehow this landed us with a picture with MB herself.  So thank you scary, drunk, overly-tan girl!

By the way, if you have not seen Meredith’s webseries debut check out “We Have to Stop Now” Season 2! So great! We love you MB.

The big Real Girls event for the weekend was the Battle of the Lesbian Webseries (sponsored by One More Lesbian.).  The battle consisted of a poetic presentation by each of the shows and several rounds of party games. Heavy drinking beforehand was encouraged.  Several mojitos later, I was wearing a ginourmous Real Girls Clock ala Flavor Flav and prepared to test out my rap-skills. Fortunately, The Girls intervened in the nick of time (all my raps start out with “My name is…” which is, apparently, a very bad sign) and we ended up going a little more spoken word (poem below…).

We also met our competitors, Renée Olbert from Seeking Simone, Nicole Pacent from Anyone but Me, the gals from Lovers and Friends, among others. All lovely women…all of whom I drunkenly accused of cheating and making us lose even though WE HAD A CLOCK (as I, apparently, was fond of reminding everyone), and even though Reena Dutt (“Sydney”) was able to balance an apple on her head for LIKE an HOUR (or maybe 5 minutes…), and even though Robin had everyone in the place swooning with her dramatic interpretation of “Honey I love you, won’t you give me a smile?”

(check out the dork in the background wearing a CLOCK!)

In the end, Lovers and Friends walked away with the silver trophy, probably due to cheating…and yet so  adorable and charming so that we forgive them. Next year, bitches! You are going DOWN!! (okay, wrong choice of words…). Not that we’re competitive or anything.

Also, we finally met some of the amazing folks at our host-sites. After Ellen and One More Lesbian (who sold our T-shirts for us – thank you!!), Cherry Grrl, and SheWired.

The rest of the time was spent at our digs in La Quinta, in a big, swank pre-fabricated house that made us all feel like we were on our own reality show (which probably explains the random eruption into gossipy confessionals, smack talking and bed swapping…our Dinah Reality Show Adventure Vlog coming…as soon as I can figure out i-movie!!).

The place was in this enormous development off of a golf course. At some point we lost our way and got directions from a man in his mid 60s with a gentle southern lilt and thick grey hair under a baseball cap who was driving a golf cart with two women who appeared to be his wife and daughter. After some debate we decided that it was definitely Bill Clinton (along with his top secret “second family”). And then we turned a corner and spotted another, and another. It was like BC had cloned himself and populated the entire place with himself and secret families!

Sunday morning we decided to go out for a stroll and chase the bunnies in honor of Easter. We traipsed around the golf course singing and bunny stalking…and generally enjoying our manufactured desert oasis .At some point we found a little cave, and scaled up the hillside to check it out.

No sooner had we made our way into the cave  (where we discovered a paper target body and lots of stray golf balls which I couldn’t help collecting because they were “free”), than we heard a man’s voice urging us to come down.  Again…Bill Clinton! We made our way down to the path where BC was waiting for us. He said not only were the hills teeming with rattlesnakes, but that non-golfers were actually not allowed on the course because of the threat of stray golf balls hitting them in the head.  We apologized pleading ignorance… when suddenly, from points all around, the Bill Clintons simultaneously stopped “mid-putt” and started converging on us, remarking how the Bill Clinton that had just come to our rescue was always keeping all the pretty girls for himself. After some nervous reflexive giggling that is almost a requirement in the presence of a cloned president famous for his sexual exploits, we headed back to the house… conspiring about how “wouldn’t it be awesome if we showed up the next day wearing helmets (to protect ourselves from stray golf balls…and other balls…) and bikinis, and laid out on the sand patches like it was a beach.”

We stayed through Monday, ditching work, pretending that this was our life. Lazy mornings in our pjs, barbeques, hot tubs and watching the wind in the palms. Gentle desert earthquakes where you don’t need to worry about anything falling on your head except the big blue sky. Thinking how great is it when saving the world from patriarchy is rewarded with trips to awesome places with the people you love.

Oh, and here’s our Dinah Poem ( if you’re still reading…=))

WHY WE FUCKING ROCK

by The Real Girls

Seeking Simone makes our keyboards sticky

And we’re totally fucked up by Feed

We wish We have to Stop Now would put US on the couch

And sometimes we find ourselves digging through the Girl Trash on hot summer nights

Hoping that Insight will pull US over

So we can party in hole with Autonatic

And have hot makeup sex with Lovers and Friends

Until the world dissolves into a Cherry Bomb

And we’re back in high school with Anyone But Me

Watching the sunrise through Julie and Brandy’s vag-colored glasses

The Real Girls loves ALL GIRL-POWERED WEB SERIES…and yet…

We fucking went to Afghanistan!

And we have casual references to feminist theory!

And we openly mock douche-bag republicans!

And we’re not afraid to rock the big hairy bush!

(But NOT to camera…)

Or date MEN as sociological experiments!

(um…don’t talk about that part…we’re at the Dinah shhh!)

But that doesn’t make us better.

Um…maybe a little bit?

Shhh…you’re going to hurt their feelings..

Yeah, and I’m a little scared of Girltrash…they could totally take us

Like sweaty-hot-rip-your-clothes-off-scared?

Yeah that.

xo-Carmen