Corky Wick

Loading...
Corinne Sue Wick, today known as Corky, was born in 1935 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin into a large Jewish family. She went to the University of Wisconsin, married a future doctor, and soon had three sons. But when she and her husband ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Corky’s tidy existence unraveled. Much to Corky’s shame, her marriage fell apart. A second marriage also failed. Through these dark times, Corky began to find herself. She enrolled at San Francisco State University (a hotbed of radicalism in the late 60s and early 70s), helping to form America’s first women studies department, and gradually began to discover and make her own identity as a person, a woman, and a lesbian.
1978 was a pivotal year for the California gay movement. A ballot measure named the Brigg’s Initiative sought to ban gays and lesbians, and potentially anyone who supported them, from working in California public schools. A bevy of queer activists including Harvey Milk rose up against the measure under the slogan ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are!’
Corky heard the call, helped defeat the Brigg’s Initiative, and began looking for other ways to express her identity as a lesbian. She got involved at the new Women’s Building in San Francisco, creating programs for the community and for students, and began a 30-year teaching career at San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco in the fields of women studies and speech & communications. Oftentimes on the first day of class, she introduced herself to her students as “the lesbian you’re supposed to meet when you go to college”.
Corky’s most enduring passion and pursuit was Mothertongue Feminist Theater Collective, which she helped start in 1976. Corky and other women collectively wrote “sweet and sour stories” about their experiences, reading the stories aloud to large and small groups around the Bay Area and beyond. To this day, in Corky’s words, “we are still alive and aging and writing”.
Today, Corky enjoys close relationships with her three grown sons and her eight grandchildren. We were moved and inspired by these stories, as well as by her reflections of her journey to discover herself, her body, her eroticism, and the raucous intimacy of lesbian sex.
Mason Funk: [00:00:00] Excellent. This has been so much fun already, and we haven't even started the interview yet.
Corky Wick: I'm really glad. Let's set them up.
Mason Funk: Well, as I told you, Natalie and I are working together for the first time, and so it was nice to come into an environment, where I felt like it was a friendly, welcoming environment.
Corky Wick: It's fine. Right. Whatever you do is really fine, and I'm really happy with this. I feel very happy to be part of something historical, and something that will last.
Mason Funk: Great.
Corky Wick: And the thing about it, I'm just going to start talking.
Mason Funk: And are you rolling?
Natalie Tsui: Yeah, I am.
Mason Funk: We're speeding. Go.
Corky Wick: [00:00:30] So at 82, this is ...
Mason Funk: Do me a favor, before you start?
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: Just tell me your name because I need to have this at the very top.
Corky Wick: Sure, sure.
Mason Funk: Tell me and spell out your name, including "Corky" if that's how you like to be identified.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: And tell me when and where you were born.
Corky Wick: Okay. So, action?
Mason Funk: Action.
Corky Wick: [00:01:00] Okay. So my name is Corinne, and everybody calls me "Corky" Wick. And Corinne is C-O-R-I-N-N-E. And if somebody mispronounces it and calls me "Corinne", I know it's the police or the IRS, so you know, go away. And Corky is C-O-R-K-Y. My Uncle Uffe named me Corky. We were from a Jewish Russian family, and everybody had other names, too. So Corintula or Corkula, or something.
Corky Wick: [00:01:30] I'm not going to spell those. But my last name is Wick, W-I-C-K, which was probably Witkonich. My father changed it for business reasons. I have his papers. And then, his father, who was very religious and very old, changed his name to Wick too, so I was very surprised that they lost their Russian-ness because I know there are a lot of Wicks who are English. Not me.
Corky Wick: [00:02:00] I was born from a family of immigrants from the Ukraine, but in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1935. So I am happy to be 82, and as Gloria Steinem says, I stop people on the street, "I'm 82. Can you believe it?" I'm walking. I'm limping, but I'm still doing it.
Mason Funk: And do me a favor?
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: Because I always like to have the exact date.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: Tell me, what was your exact birth date?
Corky Wick: [00:02:30] So my exact birthday was February 20th, 1935, and I was born on the same day as my Uncle Uffe, who named me Corky, because he knew someone in high school whose name was Corinne and they called her Corky. So he started calling me Corky, when I was very young. So that's it, I'm not going to grow up. I'm going to stay Corky or Corkula, or Coringucal, also was one of those sort of Russian names that came along.
Mason Funk: Fantastic. Everything good for you?
Natalie Tsui: Oh, well, there is one thing.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Natalie Tsui: That chair is a little creaky.
Mason Funk: It is a little creaky.
Corky Wick: Is it?
Natalie Tsui: [00:03:00] And I am hearing it, so I am wondering whether or not we should ...
Corky Wick: Try a different chair?
Natalie Tsui: Yeah.
Mason Funk: We can try. At a certain point, it might [crosstalk]
Natalie Tsui: Yeah.
Mason Funk: That's not a little creaky, but let's try one more.
Natalie Tsui: Okay.
Mason Funk: It's [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: A different ...
Natalie Tsui: I'm just going to cut it.
Corky Wick: All right. Do you ...
Mason Funk: So now, we'll just carry on, and she'll give us a report as to how the audio is.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah.
Corky Wick: Are we on?
Mason Funk: So we're back, speeding?
Corky Wick: Okay. Action?
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: [00:03:30] So now, tell me, paint me a little portrait of your family. Who was in your family when you were born, and what the family ... Like kind of what the feeling of the family was?
Corky Wick: So being born in 1935 was still Depression, so people were ... My mother, my father. My father had a family corporation, and he sold electrical appliances and sporting goods, and he was a traveling salesman.
Corky Wick: [00:04:00] So he would be gone for a week or two at a time, and I was the youngest in the family. I have an older sister, who is five-and-a-half years older than I am, and a brother who is four years older than I. They ignored me or teased me, or didn't care about me, and it's interesting. But I was the baby of the family, and that's the way my mother used to introduce me, even when she was 85. She would say, "This is my baby," so that was really good. A very stable kind of ...
Corky Wick: [00:04:30] We were probably lower middle class, renting a house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lived there in a neighborhood that had some Jewish neighbors, some Catholic neighbors, some Nazis down the street because Milwaukee was a German, really German town full of breweries and things, and taverns all over that scared me
Corky Wick: [00:05:00] if I walked down the street and smelled that alcoholic smell that would come out of taverns. It was like that wasn't Jewish, and that was a big thing. It was a big Jewish family. Lots of aunts, and uncles, and cousins, who had escaped from Russia or the Ukraine, coming for economic freedom, for religious freedom, for being who they wanted to be, and starting over. And they must have had family in Wisconsin, and that was why they went.
Corky Wick: [00:05:30] My father's father was a shechita and that's a religious man who kills animals, bleeds them in a certain way, and makes them kosher. So this was actually a job, and he would deliver kosher meat throughout northern Wisconsin with a horse and carriage. So if we think about the differences between how that my grandfather had a horse and carriage,
Corky Wick: [00:06:00] I have a Mini Cooper, so it's ... You know. I don't deliver meat in it though at all, just other women. So it's really my ...
I was very lucky to have grown up in this time, except that the whole big shadow of World War II was really right there. And not that I really understood, except that I used to be afraid, and I knew there was just fear in the atmosphere.
Corky Wick: [00:06:30] I remember saying to myself if the Nazis come, if Hitler comes, I'm going to hide in my mother's closet, way in the back. She had a walk-in closet that was full of her clothes, and her shoes, and her smells, and it was very comforting to think that's where I was going to hide. But that's such a strange thing for a little girl to think about, to be fearful of that. So I think that was just the general kind of atmosphere of growing up, and being the youngest. And everybody knew more than I did, so there was that too.
Mason Funk: [00:07:00] Wow. You're a great storyteller.
Corky Wick: Oh.
Mason Funk: And if I interrupt you, it'll be because I want to go back and maybe reframe or pick up on a thread.
Corky Wick: Yes, sure.
Mason Funk: But I love that you're telling complete stories, and then you finish with a nice little line, and then you pause. Thank you for that, as opposed to like ... You know, anyway.
So, I'm so fascinated by that awareness and the darkness of the war. You're maybe between say six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years old, until the war finally ends.
Corky Wick: [00:07:30] At 10, it was over. Right, '45.
Mason Funk: So how did you ... Do you remember when you heard? You said you had this plan if the Nazis come, if Hitler went ... How did those words even become a conscious to, like Nazi, Hitler?
Corky Wick: That is such an interesting question about when did I even think about Hitler or the Nazis. It must have been there. It must have been. My father read the newspaper, and I always used to wonder, how could he hold that newspaper?
Corky Wick: [00:8:00] It's so big. The newspapers today have shrunk a bit, but it was always amazing to me because he was big and he could hold this big newspaper.
Radio too was very prominent in my family. It was how we got news. I'm sure I heard my parents talking in ... I'm not sure it was whispers. No. They would speak in Yiddish so that we wouldn't understand. That's what it was, and I don't really understand Yiddish.
Corky Wick: [00:8:30] I just know ... I know how to swear in Yiddish, but the crossover words I know, and I am teaching them to my grandchildren too. I want them to know all these strange little expressions that are so full of meaning and emotion.
I think it was the emotion. I think that sense of they were fearful, and I think my mother was afraid of strangers too. I think I had that in my mother's milk.
Corky Wick: [00:9:00] I think I really had that sense of, wait a minute, they're not family, or they're family that are from Chicago and not Milwaukee, so my mother would have a little fear. And it could be class too, that she was from an immigrant working class family, and she didn't trust anyone who had more money although that's what they were eager to do. To be stable.
Corky Wick: [00:9:30] The war was a terrible thing, and I had three uncles who were in the service. And I remember when my Uncle Uffe, whom I dearly loved, and I was born in his birthday. That's the other thing I wanted to tell you. So he was very dear to me, and very loving.
When he went into the service, we started crying, my little cousin and I. And we were upsetting all the adults because they weren't crying, but here was the raw emotion. So there was a lot of fear about what would happen to them, and would they live?
Corky Wick: [00:10:00] His brothers, who were identical twins, they looked like Ugly Danny Kayes with curly hair and big noses, and they were very funny. They were like Danny Kaye in their comedian aspects, but they were gone, and my mother would write them letters. So that there was this sense, oh, there's a war going on. There was this ... Just again, this general ... You called it darkness. It was really fear that you could almost touch and worry. Big, big worry.
Mason Funk: [00:10:30] I think it's so ... We talked about the greatest generation. We talk about the war, certainly, but I think it's so valuable to touch on that very real sense that we could lose this war.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: Some people might forget, might not realize that we were ... Because we emerged victorious, so oops, we might not have.
Corky Wick: Right, and look what happened in France. Yay! So that's good, and then what's happening in this country.
Mason Funk: [00:11:00] Yeah. Yeah. So you mentioned in your questionnaire, a few things that you are aware now that you wanted that you didn't have. Like you wanted your mom to be a little bit more intellectually curious, and maybe not quite so afraid. I'm just curious. How did you know, or did you know consciously what you wished you had that you didn't have, or how aware were you that there were some things you were kind of yearning for even then that you didn't quite have?
Corky Wick: [00:11:30] We had a neighbor who had a book club, and who was reading and discussing, and it was something that my mother never did. I think as my sister-in-law said, she hadn't read a book in 25 years, or changed her mind, and this was very sad to me.
Corky Wick: [00:12:00] This wasn't true of my father, but it was like my mother, who was softer and someone who was loving towards me. I wanted her to have a mind. My father did, but my father wasn't there, and my father was very reticent to talk much. But I remember very clearly being with him and being with his father, who was also this very bright sort of rabbinical man.
Corky Wick: [00:12:30] So I had so much ... I could see the contrast, and could see that I wished my mother understood more, and could teach me more.
It's like this is a classical mother thing. When I got my first period, when I was 11 years old, she handed me a book, and it was an old book and it had things about sailors and stay away from them, and things that really were not helpful.
Mason Funk: Start that over. Oops.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, this was the ...
Corky Wick: I don't know what that is.
Natalie Tsui: Sorry, that was my alarm to move the car.
Mason Funk: [00:13:00] Oh, that was the alarm to move the car. Okay.
Natalie Tsui: But you've already moved it, so we're [crosstalk]
Mason Funk: Okay, we're good. So just you're going to have to start the story about your mom, again. So start by saying, "This is such a typical mom memory. When I was 11 ... " Just start right there.
Corky Wick: So when I was 11, I got my period, and it was something ... There was blood in my pants, and I wasn't quite sure. I think I knew a little bit, but not enough, and my mother handed me this stupid old book, and it said things like stay away from sailors.
Corky Wick: [00:13:30] This was sort of World War II stuff, and I didn't really learn a lot, and she found me Kotex, and you had to have the blue line out. This is women stuff, and it was crazy. This was the days before tampons, and this material sort of came out of nowhere. I'd never seen it before, so realizing there were secrets in the house that I didn't know about.
Then, at the dinner table, it was my brother and my sister, and my mother.
Corky Wick: [00:14:00] My father was out of town. And she said in this very big tone, "Today, Corinne became a woman." And all I could do is be embarrassed about, well, wait a minute, me? It was just very embarrassing, so that was sort of she didn't quite know how to do it, but she tried. She tried, and in a very loving way, she tried. My sister and brother probably laughed.
Mason Funk: [00:14:30] That's a great story too. Oh, I love these. It's just vivid. Your memories are amazing.
Corky Wick: Except for certain words.
Mason Funk: I know, but I mean they're so vivid. I mean, really, it's incredible. And interestingly, we're interviewing ... This is a side note, but Judy Grahn, the poet.
Corky Wick: Yeah. Yeah.
Mason Funk: I know that she's written extensively about menstruation, and I'm really excited.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: I mean that's what [crosstalk] I'm learning so much that I just get to be like a sponge.
Corky Wick: Well, did you know that when you wear a Kotex, the blue line has to be out?
Corky Wick: [00:15:00] Who knew what would happen if you wore it? I mean this is such 1940s stuff.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Okay. Fantastic. Did you have ... This is a question [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Did you have any inklings in these days? Say you're preteen, early teen.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Did you have any sense that you were "different" in any way, shape, or form from your milieu?
Corky Wick: [00:15:30] I think I felt a little isolated, but I didn't have any idea that I was in any way headed in such a completely different direction. I felt very much like I had to get married, I had to have children. I had to fit in, and this was big. But it was in a Jewish community, where I could fit in, I could have boyfriends, I could have girlfriends in a pal-sy kind of way.
Corky Wick: [00:16:00] No inkling of being a lesbian, of being attracted to women. I always had good girlfriends, lots of intimate conversations, but there was nothing other about me than I wanted to conform, I wanted to fit in. I was a good girl.
Mason Funk: And do you remember in those days, was there ever talk, quiet talk, hushed talk about lesbians or gay, anything at all?
Corky Wick: [00:16:30] Milwaukee, Wisconsin, nothing that I knew of. And years later, I went back, and there was all of this other buzz, and friends, and classmates. But no, I really never heard the words, never knew anyone until I was older. It was really a blank to me. There was nothing but really fitting into a heterosexual community. That was nothing until later.
Mason Funk: [00:17:00] Great. Okay. So now, we're going to have to kind of do a little bit of a fast forward over time because eventually you got married, had three boys, and ended up in California in San Mateo.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: So give me a relatively brief overview of how that ... We can go back and cover details.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: But just give me the overview.
Corky Wick: But very fast.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Corky Wick: [00:17:30] Okay. Well, I knew I was supposed to get married. I went to the University of Wisconsin.
Met somebody who was going to medical school, I married him. I helped put him through medical school. Harvard Medical School, as a matter of fact, and lived as a heterosexual woman.
We went on a honeymoon to a music tour with 28 other people and his mother, and at seeing ...
Corky Wick: [00:18:00] I think there were bare breasts in the Folies Bergere, something in Paris, and that was very exciting to me. So it was like I like women, just the beginnings of it. All undercover. All, okay, push that away. Don't even think about what that means, except when you masturbate, and then I could have fantasies.
But then, he was sent to Tripoli, Libya for military service. We lived there for two years. Had one son in Boston, had one son in Libya,
Corky Wick: [00:18:30] and then came back to California after his service was done, and had a third son. So, just little inklings of how much I liked women were beginning to happen. There was something about breasts for me that was really, really exciting.
Mason Funk: So I have to interrupt you because I love that you just very frankly said, "Except when I masturbated."
Corky Wick: Of course.
Mason Funk: So me not being a woman, me not knowing about women's lives in the '40s and '50s.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:19:00] So your own sexuality was alive to you, and you were comfortable pleasuring yourself, and just tell me about that.
Corky Wick: Oh, God. That's what I'm not quite remembering, except that in sort of heterosexual sex, I could bring myself to orgasm by thinking about things, and by touching my own breasts, and by thinking about women, and that was sort of secret and unknown.
Corky Wick: [00:19:30] I don't think I ever told anyone about that.
But then, I had a very good friend from college, and she came to San Francisco with her family and we went ... Well, I went back to school in the '70s. I went to San Francisco State as a reentry woman. I had been divorced, and it was a whole big mess, and traumatic. This wasn't supposed to happen to me, but okay. So I had these three children, and it wasn't supposed to happen.
Corky Wick: [00:20:00] I went back to State, and I started meeting women who identified as lesbians. Sally Gearhart, a woman in one of my classes, said very clearly, "I'm a lesbian." It was very exciting to me. It was fraught with a little danger, but it was also very exciting. So this was my really first big awareness of the fact
Corky Wick: [00:20:30] that I had these deeper feelings, sexual feelings, love feelings for women.
The other thing I loved about it because I had other teachers who were sometimes closeted, sometimes not, Sally and Sally's girlfriends, who would come around. And Jane Gurko, who was my English teacher would say, "Nobody's biz that I'm a lesbian." And then later, everything changed, and we were all out.
Corky Wick: [00:21:00] It was very exciting to hear this, and they liked themselves. That was the other thing.
That they had an acceptance of body. Acceptance of who they were. Acceptance of throwing off a patriarchal structure, which is why feminism is intertwined with my identity because it was so exciting to be part of the feminist movement that was happening at San Francisco State, and the beginnings of women's studies.
Corky Wick: [00:21:30] Oh my God, that we could have programs that didn't include the world and man. This was women and economics, women and the law, women and sexuality. So all of that was really brand new to me, and I felt like I could have choices, and I could change things in my life.
Corky Wick: [00:22:00] So not only was this throwing off of this idea I had to be married, and that I had to be married to a man, but that there were women in my life.
So this becoming a lesbian was quite wonderful, and I'm leaving out lots of details. But the thing that I really want to tell you is that I thought being a lesbian meant you slept with all your friends. That's what it was.
Corky Wick: [00:22:30] You just added sexuality to this generalized love, until I fell in love with a woman, and that made it very different. And also, very heartbreaking, and trauma, and all of this stuff about ... There was all of this discussion in the early '70s and '80s about monogamy, and about free-floating sexuality, and about hating men. You know, stay away from any man, including the women's music festivals, where one of the singers said, "No male children."
Corky Wick: [00:23:00] This was shocking because it meant that the little boys had to leave. So there was an Alive! jazz group, a women's jazz group and they took all the children out, and then they made a big parade when that singer, and I've forgotten her name, it's there someplace, and somebody knows. She finished her singing.
Corky Wick: [00:23:30] She is now a mother and a grandmother and has grandchildren now. So I know she's changed, so it's a good thing I've forgotten her name. But this group Alive! brought in all the babies, all the children with the big parade, a big jazz parade, and we were all cheering and standing up. But I realized there was a whole sense of punishing the women who had children, who had boy children, and that is one of the things that has changed.
Corky Wick: [00:24:00] But it was heartbreaking at the time because I had three sons, so it was like, oh, I did a bad thing. I didn't have girl children.
Mason Funk: I'm going to interrupt you because there's so much in there. Like it was only when I interviewed Lani that she talked a lot about this thing, this wholesale rejection, and I want to spend some time on that. But I want to go back, first.
Corky Wick: Yeah. I know, I sort of skipped over the masturbation because it was like, wait a minute, I can't remember. I don't want to remember.
Mason Funk: Hold that thought.
Natalie Tsui: There are buses that are running through periodically.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Natalie Tsui: Are you just going to ...
Mason Funk: It's just going to be fine.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah? Yeah, okay. I was like it seems like it's pretty minor.
Mason Funk: [00:24:30] It actually is pretty minor compared to some other stuff we've dealt with.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, yeah. It's not like a plane or an airplane.
Corky Wick: Really? And the dogs aren't barking.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Natalie Tsui: They barked a little bit earlier, but I have everything turned off.
Mason Funk: Our audio is going to be so present that a little bit of background will be fine.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay. So do you want to go back to that masturbation question story, or do you want to just kinda leave it be?
Corky Wick: Well.
Mason Funk: Because there's multiple questions in what you just said that I want to go touch on.
Corky Wick: Right, right.
Mason Funk: But I did notice that you just kind of skipped right past that.
Corky Wick: [00:25:00] Right. I did. I did, and I think I am embarrassed, and I think I couldn't remember. I couldn't remember specific things that I felt like I could say, so no, I don't really. I have a good story later about a lover and me, and so on.
Mason Funk: Okay, great.
Corky Wick: We'll come back to that.
Mason Funk: So, I think I have a clear sense. You married a doctor. You ended up in San Mateo, you had three boys. Tell me ...
Corky Wick: [00:25:30] That Mason, I just want to tell you I had another marriage, and I'm sort of skipping over that because I'm embarrassed about that too.
Mason Funk: That is fine.
Corky Wick: But I know ...
Mason Funk: It doesn't have to be part of the record, unless you want it to be.
Corky Wick: I should.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: I should just say that.
Mason Funk: So, give me a little summary then of your two marriages.
Corky Wick: So I was forced, I didn't ever expect to be divorced in 1968. It was really a shanda, a shame. I was ashamed. I felt bad for my parents.
Corky Wick: [00:26:00] My mother said, "He was never any good. You should be glad, and he had sick eyes," is what my mother would say, and I said, "Don't say that to the children." Anyway, they were three, six, and nine, so it was the worst time of my life to have this marriage ended in failure.
Natalie Tsui: Oh. I'm sorry. I just have to adjust your ...
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Natalie Tsui: Somehow your shirt came untucked from the [crosstalk] and it's rubbing against the mic, so I just want to make sure that's [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: Okay, okay.
Natalie Tsui: [inaudible] that doesn't.
Corky Wick: [00:26:30] I also have a story that I wrote from MOTHERTONGUE about that time, too
Natalie Tsui: Okay.
Corky Wick: I don't know if you want me to tell it, or ...
Natalie Tsui: Well, let's get a little bit of the history.
Corky Wick: No. Okay. Okay. Okay.
Natalie Tsui: And we're going to get to MOTHERTONGUE in a big way, we're going to bring it back there.
Corky Wick: Okay. All right. Good.
Natalie Tsui: So, we're good. Okay. So that was your first divorce, is that correct?
Corky Wick: Right. And then, I spent time as a heterosexual woman looking for ... I was supposed to be married, so I spent time looking for men and dating, and sort of this freewheeling sex,
Corky Wick: [00:27:00] and this was before AIDS, and the time of birth control, so that was also a big part of this.
So I had these three little children at home, and I was also going to ... I went back to school, and I thought school has always been a happy time for me. So I went back in 1970, and I also still had this feeling of I should be married
Corky Wick: [00:27:30] and that someone who was a handsome man, and lived in the neighborhood, and had four children. So at some point, we got ... I bought a house, which was really good because I had money from the first marriage to buy a house. And he came to live with me, with his four children and my three children. It was just set up for disaster.
Corky Wick: [00:28:00] So it was all suburban, as Lani says, we were suburban mothers and doing the cooking, and the cleaning, and the entertaining, and he started drinking a lot. It was a disaster that lasted for about six years, and I'm in touch with some of his children, which is nice, but it was a ...
And I think I had an inkling because I was at school and meeting these lesbians
Corky Wick: [00:28:30] that I might be off the heterosexual path, and I know it bothered ... I even talked to ... Sullivan was his name. I talked to him about it. He said, "If I had ever known, I wouldn't have married you." And then, drank and drank a lot, and finally, he left.
Corky Wick: [00:29:00] So I was left with a house that I owned that was mine, and these three children who sort of came and went. And school, which I loved, and I started thinking about women, and had a couple of affairs, and realized and I could take on this identity. Because coming from San Francisco State, where this was a community of lesbians, I could fit in, and I could be one of the chosen people again. It was a place of belonging, and I was welcomed.
Corky Wick: [00:29:30] And MOTHERTONGUE had started at that point, my theater group, in 1976, so this was when this was all bubbling and boiling, and we were having women's conferences, and women's thinking, and women's studies classes, and women being out as lesbians. And then, I could come out in a welcoming way.
Corky Wick: [00:30:00] Oh yeah, somebody gave me a rose. One of the women in Mother tongue gave me a rose, and welcomed me. So, I had a little bit of a ritual of a coming out ritual.
Mason Funk: Do you remember? I notice some people, I think in maybe more women than men, talk about their sexuality in the kind of context of personal versus political. Like we interviewed someone last summer who said, "No. For me, being lesbian is really more of a political thing.
Mason Funk: Do you remember? I notice some people, I think in maybe more women than men, talk about their sexuality in the kind of context of personal versus political.
Mason Funk: [00:30:30] Like we interviewed someone last summer who said, "No. For me, being lesbian is really more of a political thing. I could have gotten married to a man, and just sailed right through, but it was important to me politically to affirm to my own lesbianism." Can you relate to that in any way?
Corky Wick: Well, yes, I do because that was what was happening. It was this combination.
Mason Funk: Tell me what, when say "That".
Corky Wick: [00:31:00] Well, at San Francisco State, and the women, and what they talked about, and this throwing off of the patriarchal structure. So that I was in consciousness-raising groups that was started by now, an organization of women. So I would be the sort of conservative in the city because there were all these really radical women, who were "I hate men. I'm a separatist." And then, I'd go home to my sons, and be a radical in the suburbs but a conservative in the city.
Corky Wick: [00:31:30] It was political, it was. It had to do with this whole understanding of how suppressed we had all been, and where were the books by lesbian women? And so, we would start reading "Well of Loneliness", which is a terrible book as a beginning. I mean it's really painful and awful, and all of the ideas of women who were lesbians committing suicide in films, and in so many things.
Corky Wick: [00:32:00] So we had to recreate a political climate for ourselves, and a culture for ourselves. So it was very exciting, and that's where my theater group came in because that's what we were doing. We were recreating a political world and a cultural world that was of our own making.
Mason Funk: That's amazing. That's amazing. Can you just say a bit more? Because I can't get enough of this, this feeling of the '70s. Like say mid '70s, like just the firm of the foment.
Mason Funk: [00:32:30] I was literally 30 miles away at Stanford.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: I had no idea.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: It sounds so exciting, and rich, and vibrant. Just tell me more anecdotes, whatever.
Corky Wick: Well, just this whole thing of knowing that these women were smart enough to know that we needed academically, women's studies. And it was Sally Gearhart, it was Jane Gerkel.
Corky Wick: [00:33:00] There were some other radical women who were straight, but who were really allies. Nancy McDermott, who was the chair of the speech department, which is where I was, and she became the Dean of Humanities. Very welcoming, loved Sally. Wanted Sally to have tenure, and safety, and so did other people in our speech department.
There was just this whole excitement of we will tenure women, we will start this department.
Corky Wick: [00:33:30] Somebody made up this little ... I helped to bake up these little ceramic buttons that said "Tenure Women". This whole idea that we were part of a lesbian feminist movement, it was totally exciting, and totally that was the place to be.
When I look back on it, it was a place of great ideas, and a place of movement and change. That was the big thing.
Corky Wick: [00:34:00] And that the idea behind feminism for me was choice, choice. I could be different, I could explore things I hadn't ever explored before. With these other great minds, I have to say Sally was very funny, and very beautiful, and we were all in love with her, and so we'd sit at her feet. And she didn't teach like that. It was really let me hear what you have to say, very Socratic, asking questions, and listening. So I have to tell you, I started teaching like that.
Corky Wick: [00:34:30] I was fired from a job for being like that, but it's okay. I learned. I learned a little more from that.
But I can't tell you, the '70s at State, and the rallies and ... There was a young woman who was killed in the library. We had a rally outside, it was a take back the night march, outside in the quad, and we were all there and we were chanting.
Corky Wick: [00:35:00] And a man went by and said, "What are you doing?" And I said, "We don't speak English!" You know, really clear and loudly. That kind of separation from anything that was male to us, and what was ours, and what we could control, which didn't feel like very much. But with these other women, it did. It was big. It really was boiling. It was this pot of lesbian feminists, and allies along.
Corky Wick: [00:35:30] I love Nancy McDermott. I love Jane Gerkel, who is no longer living. I love Sally Gearhart.
It was this generalized good feeling of we're going to change the world, and we have. Some things really have changed, but it was such a time of excitement.
Mason Funk: Yeah, that's awesome. That's awesome. Let me put my glasses on, so I can look down here.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: But I want to talk.
Corky Wick: [00:36:00] Yeah.
Mason Funk: One of the questions, but I realize now it's not relevant is when you got divorced from your first husband, you weren't coming out as a lesbian. So you didn't worry about losing your children, of course. Many women ...
Corky Wick: Oh, he would threaten.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: But no.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: There were moments, and he accused me of sleeping with my lawyer.
Mason Funk: Oh, okay. All that stuff.
Corky Wick: Just all that, it was really messy.
Mason Funk: [00:36:30] So talk to me a bit more about the separatists who were really strong-voiced, and voices.
Corky Wick: Yes, yes, and still are.
Mason Funk: Yeah, and I'm really fascinated. I have yet to interview, I think ...
Corky Wick: I have a name for you.
Mason Funk: Oh, great. Okay, so give me that name afterwards. But because Lani told me about how when she came out as bisexual, it was like really serious.
Corky Wick: Oh, these were cultural wars.
Mason Funk: So, tell me.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:37:00] Tell me about ... In other words, it wasn't all roses and love.
Corky Wick: No. No.
Mason Funk: There were wars.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Tell me about the wars.
Corky Wick: Yeah. There were cultural wars.
Mason Funk: So, set me in the times.
Corky Wick: Okay. The 1970s, and the kinds of discussions, and arguments. And really, fiery kinds of things that were happening. Walking out, leaving, over things like this needs to be an all-woman community. This needs to be an all-woman class.
Corky Wick: [00:37:30] Sally taught a class called "Patriarchal Rhetoric", and three men, and they were probably gay men, came in, who wanted to take the class. And I said to them, "You have to leave. You have to get out." And the other lesbians in the class said, "You can't be here. Get out." We were jeopardizing Sally in many ways because she didn't have tenure at that point, but that was how strongly we felt about this is our space.
Corky Wick: [00:38:00] You haven't had our experiences, you never had a period, you never had to worry about being raped. All of these ideas were coming out that separated us from men, and we didn't want to listen to them. We didn't want to hear anything they might have to say about having a feminine side. No, not at all. This was very clear to us that we were just going to be in an all-woman space.
Corky Wick: [00:38:30] So it was very hard for me, going home, and having boy children. And although people were good about that, they were ... My lesbian separatist friend, who still is, was willing to come, and willing to see me as a mother. But she was somebody who had left her children, so there was also that kind of thing. I'm not going to be a mother. I'm not going to be a traditional woman.
Corky Wick: [00:39:00] I can leave my children and become something else. I never had that. I saw that, and I saw the pain, I saw the damage. I saw the reconciliation of all of that. But what was happening at that time, really was a rejection of anything that we thought wasn't a strong lesbian identity, and that's why the bisexuals were really shunted. "Oh, you still have relationships with men? No, you can't.
Corky Wick: [00:39:30] You are not part of this community." And I said terrible things to Lani, I really regret the ... I don't remember what I said. She reminded me, and I was chagrined.
But yes, these were big terrible kind of rigid rules that I am so glad aren't there now, although I do see some rigidity about other issues. But yes, it was terrible.
Mason Funk: Yeah. It's sounds ... My question, I guess, is do you think that as terrible as it was, that this was a necessary ...
Corky Wick: [00:40:00] It was part of the growth of the women's movement, of the lesbian movement. Yes, to be very self-contained. And then, understand that, as one of my friends said, there are lesbians who are plural. There are feminists with an "S" at the end. Many different kinds, so that we're much more accepting and understanding
Corky Wick: [00:40:30] of the wide variety of cultural influences, of the kinds of rules that we grew up with that get shaken, but then we go back to for stability, and for mental health. This was really a shaking up of the way we were thinking to come to something bigger, and broader, and more encompassing of worldwide lesbian feminists.
Mason Funk: [00:41:00] Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's outstanding. Now, talk a bit more about because I think this is also you told the anecdote of the jazz festival, when some people wouldn't perform with boys?
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Tell me about having three boys.
Corky Wick: Boy babies.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Tell me about having three boys, and how in some ways, that was a stigma on you, or just that was not ... Just take me into that world.
Corky Wick: So I can tell you the story of coming out to my boys too, in that.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: All right. So tell me again what you want me to say, what you are asking?
Mason Funk: [00:42:30] So, that there was a wholesale rejection.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: And if you had boy children, it was worse than if you had girl children, in a way.
Corky Wick: It was. It was a failure.
Mason Funk: Tell me what you're talking about.
Corky Wick: So I had boy children, and it was a failure not to have girl children, where you could bring them to meetings because there were lots and lots of meetings about women's studies, and about lesbian organizations,
Corky Wick: [00:43:00] and about starting the women's building, and about being part of a lesbian name group. My boys were not invited. They had to be hidden, and out of the way, and they felt it. It's one of the things that I feel guilty about as a mother, but it was like there was a rejection of anything male, and so this was a rejection of a part of me that I was fighting with,
Corky Wick: [00:43:30] so I really had internal struggles. I don't think we're conscious about they don't belong, and yet these are my babies. It was a very hurtful kind of thing that lesbian separatists had in their rules. I was hurt by it.
Corky Wick: [00:44:00] My children were hurt by it, and that they couldn't go to the picnics, that they couldn't go to the events, but that the other little girls.
I had two miscarriages, and this was one before I had any children, and one after. My husband, who should have known better, said, "They were girls. That's why you miscarried. You can't carry girls."
Corky Wick: [00:44:30] This was a weird thing to say, but I was thinking about that the other day. It's not true, and scientifically it's not true, but it was like I wish I had a daughter in this. I now have eight grandchildren, six of them are girls, so if you wait long enough, you get it. And that was part of it, but it was a very awful kind of deep old hurt
Corky Wick: [00:45:00] that is full of guilt, and that's motherhood, your name is Guilt. So, there was that.
But what I wanted to tell you about was when I came out to my sons, and I wrote this as a Mothertongue story, but it's part of what my whole background is in this. So when I came out to my three sons ...
Natalie Tsui: Wait, let's pause. There is a dog barking.
Corky Wick: Oh, the doggie.
Natalie Tsui: I think we should wait until it's done because this is such an important part.
Corky Wick: [00:45:30] It's hard to know when they'll stop, or when they'll start.
Natalie Tsui: We can definitely hear it on both.
Mason Funk: Yeah. We'll just pause for a sec.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah.
Mason Funk: We'll see if the dog just calms down. It might just be a momentary.
Corky Wick: I can go out and tell Johnny to bring his dogs in, if ...
Mason Funk: You have that kind of relationship with your neighbor? Oh, if you're able to do that comfortably.
Corky Wick: I can.
Mason Funk: And say, "Hey, I'm doing this thing. Can you bring your dogs in?"
Corky Wick: I can.
Mason Funk: It'll save us some ... Because otherwise, it could be intermittent.
Corky Wick: Let me try.
Natalie Tsui: I'm going to just cut for a ...
Mason Funk: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Corky Wick: I haven't had really published things.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Corky Wick: [00:46:00] We publish orally, that's what I say about MOTHERTONGUE
Mason Funk: Right.
Corky Wick: But that's too bad.
Mason Funk: Well, anyway, we can talk about that afterwards.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: It is too bad. It happens though. There's always, like in this process, you lose people at the last minute, and then you scramble.
Corky Wick: Right, right. Of doing this, right, right.
Natalie Tsui: Okay.
Mason Funk: And there's got to be ... Well, we'll talk. We'll stay on the interview track for now, and then we'll talk about finding someone to replace her.
Corky Wick: Okay, okay.
Mason Funk: I always feel like, you know ...
Corky Wick: Cute.
Mason Funk: Thank you.
Corky Wick: I haven't seen Natalie's socks though, I don't ...
Natalie Tsui: Oh, they're just white socks. Nothing special.
Corky Wick: [00:46:30] We'll have to give you some colorful [crosstalk]
Mason Funk: She's way butcher than I am.
Natalie Tsui: I'm rolling, whenever you're ready.
Mason Funk: Okay. So I have some specific questions, oh, but your son is coming ... You're coming out to your sons.
Corky Wick: Oh, right.
Mason Funk: We're right there.
Corky Wick: I should tell you that story.
Mason Funk: Yeah. So tell me about coming out to your sons, and make sure to tell me what ages they were, and give me a sense of the year. Just generally-speaking.
Corky Wick: Right. I'm going to tell you about coming out to my sons, and they were probably in high school.
Corky Wick: [00:47:00] It was probably ... I can't tell you which date, but probably the oldest. He might have been in college, no, it was high school, and they were all three years apart. The youngest was probably 10, so it went up to 13 and 16. It was probably about that.
So I wanted to tell them about this big change in my life. I was in school.
Corky Wick: [00:47:30] I loved all these women, and my teachers, and what I was reading and writing. So I wrote this for a piece in MOTHERTONGUE, which is what we usually perform with scripts in front of us. But I know this one because I lived this one, so this is ...
When I came out to my three sons as a lesbian, one of them cried. One of them left home, and one of them said, "You want a bite of my sandwich?"
Corky Wick: [00:48:00] Which is so much their personalities, and it was the youngest who cried, and the middle one who just was really rigid about it. And Terry, my oldest, who is just funny, so that was his little humor. But it was so much like them, and they were okay. I think Larry, the youngest, had more trouble with this. He was younger.
Corky Wick: [00:48:30] It was like, oh no, not that. They had gone through a divorce. They have a father whos fighting his own demons, so it was hard on them.
Mason Funk: And did they ... You said one left home, was that the middle one?
Corky Wick: It was the middle one, and yeah, he went to live with a friend. And the friend had a very stable father, so it probably wasn't a bad thing because his own father was so ...
Corky Wick: [00:49:00] He had such a mixed relationship with his father, so he lived with a friend, and the friend's ... A middle school math teacher, so it was a good stable relationship.
Corky Wick: But again, I feel guilty. You know, it's ... Gosh darn.
Mason Funk: Yeah, so how did you react? How did you react? Give me a little bit of a sense of how you built up to the moment, and then the moment of telling your sons,
Mason Funk: [00:49:30] "Okay, I'm going to do this," and then, it unfolds.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: And then, how did you feel afterwards?
Corky Wick: It was publicly coming out. Harvey Milk said, "Be out. Be out." This was probably '78, then. So I felt like it was my duty to come out, and it was also Proposition 8, I think, which said you couldn't teach school if you even mention homosexuality, or anything about it.
Corky Wick: [00:50:00] So I felt like it was my political duty to be publicly out, which meant my family. So I didn't tell my mother and father, but I did tell my children because I had girlfriends coming over, so there was that.
Corky Wick: [00:50:30] It was hard on them for them to shift too, into a wider world. To no longer be contained by heterosexuality, but that there were different kinds of ways of being in the world. Very, very interesting, they all have gay friends now, and good friends, so that was one of the lasting effects of my being publicly out.
Then, I had the girlfriend I fell in love with (*Barbara Hammer) was a big troublemaker,
Corky Wick: [00:51:00] and difficult, and lovable, and creative, and wonderful, and they didn't like her, so that was hard. It was like they liked some of my girlfriends, and they didn't like this big first love, and I see why.
And actually, one of the things that happened, which I still feel a little guilty about what she said, "Let's live together." And I said, "Well, you could live with me here."
Corky Wick: [00:51:30] She said, "I don't want to live with your three sons." In fact, I have to remember to tell you what she said when we broke up.
So she said, "Let's get a house in the city," and it was so exciting to me to think I could go and live with a lesbian lover. I could leave San Mateo and go to San Francisco, and live with this lover, and lead this lesbian life,
Corky Wick: [00:52:00] and be in these marches together, and be political, and do whatever it was I wanted to do, and not be this mother housewife.
So we found a place in the city in Holly Park. You don't know San Francisco, but Natalie does, and rented it. In fact, I think it was just my youngest son who was living with me at that point. I said, "Do you want to go to San Francisco with us?" And he said, "No, I don't want to leave here."
Corky Wick: [00:52:30] So there was somebody, my good old friend living in my house with her son, and she agreed to stay there with my son, and I went and lived in San Francisco, and led my lesbian ideal life with guilt on one side of me, and freedom on the other. And also, a lover who was a big baby, and she'll hear of this. And she has apologized to me, so I hope this is okay.
Corky Wick: [00:53:00] So we lived in this cute little house, and we had our lesbian separatist lives. She was a filmmaker, very creative, and there were all of these films we were going to, and making, and being part of. This was our lesbian life for nine months until she slept with somebody else, who was an Israeli. And she said,
Corky Wick: [00:53:30] "Well, go and talk to this woman." So like a fool, I went to talk with her, and the woman said something ... "We can coexist," which is a very Israeli-Palestinian thing to say.
I went home and I was so mad. Here we are in our little lesbian nest, and there she was, the lover, ironing.
Corky Wick: [00:54:00] And she said, "I can be in love with two women at the same time," and I went for her throat. It was just terrible. I'm this peace person. I'm this nice one, and all I wanted to do was choke the life out of her.
Well, we got into this physical fight, and she lasted for probably seconds. She hit me in the eye, and that brought me back to my sense, and I was insane at that moment. This was the end- Terrible, this is terrible- of my lesbian freedom life,
Corky Wick: [00:54:30] and I went back to the suburbs and lived with my son. And she went to the East Coast, and I went back to the suburbs. It was traumatic, and it was probably the best thing that could have happened. I immediately went into therapy, and said I can't be violent. I can't. I knew too much about battered women.
So this girlfriend once said she was a battered woman, and it made me laugh
Corky Wick: [00:55:00] because I ended up with a black eye, she didn't, but anyway. No, but my therapist and I talked anything it was impossible. I had to get out of that. And I also understand that it was a buildup, that it was all of these other incidents that I couldn't tolerate that blew up, but what a terrible thing.
Corky Wick: [00:55:30] Anyway, I'm not proud of that moment, except that I understood violence. I understood being crazy. I understood the passion of all of it, and it's not something I'm proud of.
Mason Funk: Wow, that's an amazing story.
Corky Wick: Oh, it's so terrible.
Mason Funk: Oh my God, it's fantastic. I mean it's just very gripping. I'm not saying it's great that you did that. I'm not saying it's horrible you did that, it's just very real.
Corky Wick: It was very real.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Corky Wick: I mean I ...
Mason Funk: You were such a ... Oh my God, leaving your boys, moving to the city.
Corky Wick: [00:56:00] For her, for her.
Mason Funk: Life is going to start over again, and then it all crumbles, and falls apart because you're all human beings, and there's jealousy and rage.
Corky Wick: It's so interesting because she is with a woman who has children, and long term, and she actually apologized for having me move in with her and out of my sort of family nest. I'm sure she and her lover have talked about it.
Corky Wick: [00:56:30] I'm sure. But I also thought I have apologized to my sons, many times, about leaving him, and he is okay. It's like I understand, you don't have to apologize anymore. But this whole big fat crocodile of guilt can just come in and say, "You bad mother!"
Corky Wick: [00:57:00] And does, it still does. I tried to feed but its fish, but it's still this big huge unnamed and ill-formed guilt of being a mother, and not doing the right thing. It comes up so often, and part of it was the whole lesbian feminist thing.
Mason Funk: It just occurred to me because my mom didn't do what you did. I don't think she was a lesbian, but she certainly desperately wanted to run away, and she never did.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [00:57:30] But interestingly, late in her life, she carried probably just as much guilt as you do.
Corky Wick: It's a horrible part of our culture, and I'm sure other cultures too. We see ... I'm trying to think of the first important feminist Chinese novel that was written. I don't know if you know, Natalie, where she talks about her family a lot. "Joy Luck Club". Just all of this, and she gets back in some ways by writing.
Mason Funk: [00:58:00] We interviewed a Chinese American poet a few weeks ago, and she talked about the "Joy Luck Club" as being tremendously influential for her. But what it makes me wonder is you feel this guilt now for the things you did, and I know this is like the rational part of my brain and you have a rational side as well that says, "Well, if I hadn't left, I probably wouldn't have any better for them." You have been dying. You would have probably found ways to take it out on your children that you never left.
Corky Wick: [00:58:30] Well, I would have waited. This is what I should have done. Waited until they were grown and gone because they all left finally. The childhood time is very little. I just see this now, and I just should have waited to have this whole freedom experience. I'm sorry about that.
Corky Wick: [00:59:00] It's a lifelong kind of guilt that I try to put in place and understand, and I think just talking about this helps, and hearing about your mother helps too. We all want to run away and start over again with someone we're in love with. This wasn't even independence. This wasn't even I'll find out who I am. This is this passion and this new passion, and also with someone who is leading a very creative life,
Corky Wick: [00:59:30] and that was very appealing to me to be an artist, and part of the filmmaking community, and the poetry, and the writers. And I think that was one of the big reasons for our theater group, too.
Mason Funk: Well, let's go to that.
Corky Wick: Okay. All right.
Mason Funk: But I want to, as a precursor question ...
Corky Wick: Oh, and I wanted to talk about Lani Silver for a minute or two.
Mason Funk: She's on my list.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: She's right here.
Corky Wick: Good.
Mason Funk: [01:00:00] She's right here. But as a precursor, I think MOTHERTONGUE was in some way born of the Women in Violence conference in 1976.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: So I am fascinated, first of all, with that.
Corky Wick: And how did you? Oh, Lani told you that, did she?
Mason Funk: No, I did some research. I dug around.
Corky Wick: Oh, great. Great. Where did you find it? Because there's some newspapers articles, and some stuff I pulled out.
Mason Funk: I think it's that you gave a large trove of archival materials.
Corky Wick: We did.
Mason Funk: And in there, a writeup.
Corky Wick: Yes, yes.
Mason Funk: In the writeup of the significance of Mothetongue, they say it sprung out of this conference.
Corky Wick: Yes, yes.
Mason Funk: [01:00:30] So tell us just as a standalone event, what was this Women in Violence conference in 1976?
Corky Wick: This was something that my friend, Lani Silver, organized.
Mason Funk: Tell me what you're talking about.
Corky Wick: I'm talking about 1976, San Francisco State, and Lani Silver was a teacher there, and taught a class called "Women in Violence",
Corky Wick: [01:01:00] which was something we'd go in and cry about, and yet learn some tools to fight back and to have a place like Casa de las Madres. So there was a conference of women, who were also looking at and studying this whole concept of violence, and violence towards women, so that was really what it was focused on.
It was a big success. People came from all over, and out of that came this idea
Corky Wick: [01:01:30] that we need to continue to educate, and continue to talk about this. So a group of us said instead of giving speeches, because Lani had set up the speakers' bureau in San Francisco, where people would go places. I was a speech major, but it was easier, I thought, to educate through theater, which had always been a little ambition of mine.
Corky Wick: [01:02:00] So especially since we could have readers' theater, which was holding a script, being able to know the material, but still have it in front of us so that we gott every word in, and every nuance, and could write little notes to ourselves in this script. That that was the birth, really because of Lani Silver, and because of the violence conference,
Corky Wick: [01:02:30] because these other women came together wanting to do theater, and liking the idea of readers' theater. So it was a very exciting time, 1976, and we went through a big thing about what are we going to call ourselves? And we wanted the name of Breast and Roses, due to the play on Bread and Roses and, which of course, you know.
Corky Wick: [01:03:00] And we thought, no, we wouldn't get into elementary schools if we used the word "Breast", so we went through these other number of names. And then, one of the women wrote a poem, and she said something about speaking in mother tongue, and so we all loved the name MOTHERTONGUE.
And I went to my English professor, Jane Gerkel, and I said, "Has this been used in any way?" This is '76. She said no, so we claimed it.
Corky Wick: [01:03:30] I'm not sure that it's ever been copyright, writ, whatever the verb is, but we were so excited about this name. So we started writing about our experiences about breasts and roses, and that was one of our very first scripts, where we talked about what it was like to be a woman.
It was a mixture in MOTHERTONGUE of straight women and lesbians, at that point.
Corky Wick: [01:04:00] So we slowly had women who were friendly to lesbians. We had fights about it. We had bisexual women, who we didn't want them to write too much about. So that even though we said we had guidelines, we would have ... Oh, we called them "Filters", so that there would be a way of moving the material we didn't like, like ...
Corky Wick: [01:04:30] I'm not going to say it right, S&M. That's not right, I know that, anyway ...
Mason Funk: BDSM.
Corky Wick: You correct me. But we didn't want that material. Oh, that was too harsh, that was too real, that was too revealing. But gradually, gradually, there were changes, but one of the other things that was big about MOTHERTONGUE was that we didn't want a director.
We didn't want a hierarchical structure.
Corky Wick: [01:05:00] We also wanted to accept anybody who wanted to be part of this theater group. There were no additions, it was you're a writer, you want to perform, you don't want to write, you just want to perform, you only want to write. Everybody was every woman and we said who identified as a feminist, that was about our only filter.
Mason Funk: That was great. That was great.
Corky Wick: Okay. Good.
Mason Funk: Paint me a picture, and start by saying, "In MOTHERTONGUE."
Corky Wick: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: What was it called, Mothertongue Feminist Theater [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: [01:05:30] Mm-hmm (affirmative). Feminist Theater Collective. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: So just start with that, so we know what you're talking about.
Corky Wick: Right.
Mason Funk: And then, paint me a picture of what a typical performance would be like.
Corky Wick: Okay. All right.
Corky Wick: In MOTHERTONGUE Feminist Theater Collective, which is something I'm very proud of. And in fact, I've given a speech where I talk about MOTHERTONGUE, I talk about feminism, I talk about collective because I was a speech teacher.
Corky Wick: [01:06:00] So I thought this was one way to organize, but it was MOTHERTONGUE Feminist Theater Collective, and we would gather together in our community, and community was important. And we would do check-ins, first, and talk about how we felt right at that day. And then, we would start to do some writing, we'd have a theme.
So lately, our theme is lost and found because so much has happened, and we're so old now.
Corky Wick: [01:06:30] So we would start writing about that as a theme, and then we would read to each other what we had written. And largely, we tried to be very supportive and say things in a very positive way, and my friend, Marsha Perlstein, who was important in that point in my life would say things like, "Let's quote." It's a quote from one of the great poets, either Walt Whitman or Carl Sandburg, something.
Corky Wick: [01:07:00] "In every work of genius, we reflect ourselves." That's not quite right. So we would try to find what resonated for us in what other people had written, or say could you say more about this? And then, we would put a script together, either chronologically, or by themes,
Corky Wick: [01:07:30] or by these words follow this and, which is a process and a fight, and a structure. And as Sally Gearhart used to say ... Something with the process, think of the process. That's not the right word, it's gone from me. Like trust, she would say "Trust the process." Thank you, head.
So that's what we would say to each other a lot, and we would finally come up with a script.
Corky Wick: [01:08:00] And it wasn't until we actually performed, we would sit in a circle and sometimes do some blocking, and sometimes do some standing or some sitting, that we realized what belonged and what didn't belong, or that the order belonged or didn't belong, and lots of changes and as we're doing it. So it really was a process, this really was a process of helping each other, and this is really what community is to me. We were a MOTHERTONGUE Feminist Theater community.
Mason Funk: [01:08:30] That's such good stuff. And then, you would take it out, and perform in public spaces? You mentioned schools.
Corky Wick: We went to schools in performances, we went to jails, we went to street corners, we performed at Gay Day rallies, we were invited to women's conferences in Arkansas, we went to anyplace that would invite us,
Corky Wick: [01:09:00] and it was never about money because we never expected to be ... We have $1,000 in the bank though, but we never expected that kind of financial success. It really was about our friendships, and about our growing together, and about, at this point, growing old together. The end, many of us have died from the original group, and new people join, and they die too, but anyway. But we have this evolving community of people who want to do this, so I'm really happy about that.
Corky Wick: [01:09:30] We've performed in women's studies classes. We performed at Stanford, where had very smart questions from the audience. We really had to think about the answers. And so, what we do when we perform, we all have equal parts, and we identify who we are. And then, an important part of our process is to have a discussion with the audience afterwards, and people will say things,
Corky Wick: [01:10:00] like when we've had mothers and daughters. And so, people will say things from the audience. And often, there are tears from all of us and people in the audience.
We've performed in a synagogue in the South Bay. We've performed at funerals, and try to read the woman's words. So there's that wideness that happens, and continues to happen.
Corky Wick: [01:10:30] Recently, we've been in senior housing performances. There's Strawberry Creek in Berkeley, which is where old radicals go, so we are performing for the old radicals. There is one in Marin, where we're going shortly, and have the Redwoods, we performed there a couple of times.
Mason Funk: I think I heard you say to Natalie ... Oh, that was so well-timed because the car honked.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: That car honks right when I ask a question.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [01:11:00] But I think I heard you say that you are the longest something that there is like a little statistical thing, so make sure to tell me what the name of the collective again is.
Corky Wick: So in MOTHERTONGUE Feminist Theater Collective, I am one of the far-lasting original collective members. I am the only one from the origins from 1976.
Corky Wick: [01:11:30] So others have moved away, others have moved on, others are in the big horizon on the big farm in heaven someplace because that's where they all are. We're going to perform in heaven sometimes too, I hope.
Mason Funk: Wow, that's really cool. I didn't realize from my little bit of research that in fact it carries on today, which is really [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: From '76.
Mason Funk: Amazing. [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: It is amazing, 40 years. And we usually have a party. We did at 10 years.
Corky Wick: [01:12:00] We did at 20 or 30, and we're going to at 40.
My film, I think was ... A little film I did, which I want to show you, if we have time, about we had a celebration. We've performed at Women's Cancer Resource Center, and we did some workshops there with women, who were in their cancer lives.
Corky Wick: [01:12:30] There's some scripts that we've tried that we haven't really been able to do one on health. We haven't really been able to do one that's just political. It's coming. We haven't been able to do women and money, and mothers and sons. You know, just like the materials, the stories are there, and we couldn't bring it together.
Corky Wick: [01:13:00] There was too much blockage, or too much discord, or too much guilt. So it's really interesting about all those topics that we haven't been able to successfully write about it until now. We're hoping in this political age to do something really, really important, and resistant.
Mason Funk: Wow. Uh-huh (affirmative). So like the vocation of the group keeps evolving?
Corky Wick: Yes, and the membership too.
Mason Funk: Let me check my notes.
Corky Wick: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mason Funk: I always have to keep an eye on the time as well.
Corky Wick: It's ...
Natalie Tsui: [inaudible]
Mason Funk: [01:13:30] Sure, perfect.
Mason Funk: [inaudible] are you good? Okay, good.
Corky Wick: Can I see it?
Mason Funk: Oh, sure. That's a sample.
Corky Wick: Oh, great. That is good enough. I've got my cute shoes on.
Mason Funk: You have totally cute shoes. I love that green. It's kinda like the same color as your blouse was.
Corky Wick: That is right.
Mason Funk: So at least it's represented in your shoes.
Corky Wick: That is right. Well, I may wear this to my class today then because I haven't worn this Guatemalan thing. It's a little warm, but yes.
Mason Funk: Oh, good. Okay, so let me go back to holistic questions.
Corky Wick: Okay. All right.
Mason Funk: [01:14:00] We're going to kind of jam for about a half an hour here, and then we'll be done.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: And inevitably, I have to remind myself and you, some things are going to get left out. Because if I freak out about that, I couldn't sleep at night.
Corky Wick: I understand. I've done a little filmmaking, so I understand.
Mason Funk: Yeah. But we have a good list of questions, and you've covered a tremendous amount already. Oh, there is a person I want to ask about as soon as we're speeding, but let me ask you while we're ... Okay.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [01:14:30] In the notes about the documents you contributed, there's mention of a woman named Ida VSW Red.
Corky Wick: She is the separatist, and really did I?
Mason Funk: No, it's only in the ...
Corky Wick: Oh, it's in the archive.
Mason Funk: It's in the summary.
Corky Wick: She is the separatist, and she and I were lovers.
Mason Funk: Can you tell me about her?
Corky Wick: She ...
Mason Funk: So start out by saying Ida.
Corky Wick: Oh.
Mason Funk: Or do you not want to talk about her? [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: No.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: I want you to interview her, and I don't have her permission.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: And she is somebody who is prickly.
Mason Funk: [01:15:00] Okay. Then, we'll pass over that. Okay.
Corky Wick: So I'm really sorry because wonderful ... she left her children, and that was ...
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: And I didn't mention the first lover's name, which I'm willing to tell you. Barbara Hammond, she is sort of the grandmother of lesbian films, and I felt like I ...
Mason Funk: No, no. I just want to ...
Corky Wick: Oh, you're recording that? Now, you know.
Natalie Tsui: [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: You choked her.
Mason Funk: [crosstalk] transcript. You're going to get this transcript [crosstalk]
Mason Funk: [01:15:30] But what I want to ... Just because I did this little bit of research.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: Are you also familiar with something called Fat Lip Reader's Theater?
Corky Wick: It was one of the daughters that came, yes.
Mason Funk: So tell me about that, but start by saying "Fat Lip Reader's Theater."
Corky Wick: And Wry Crips.
Mason Funk: Okay. So tell me about them as kind of offshoots [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: So I can just ... You're recording. Everything I've said is ...
Corky Wick: [01:16:00] There were groups that we birthed, they were our daughters. Fat Lip Reader's Theater was one of them, and these were women who were extremely proud of their big, big bodies. These were big-bodied women and they would wear onstage sometimes gorgeous luscious lingerie and perform in a very sexy way,
Corky Wick: [01:16:30] and there the butch fat women too, but it was very exciting to hear their stories, and I learned a lot. I understood the educational value of this, of storytelling, and of really saying I was forced to take diet pills when I was five years old and the terrible toll that takes.
Then, there was another group called Wry Crips Reader's Theater, and these were all disabled women, who were willing to tell their stories in it.
Corky Wick: [01:17:00] Out of that in many different ways came a MOTHERTONGUE disability script, where women who were in wheelchairs, and women who were deaf, and women who were willing to tell their disability stories came about. So these themes sort of blend into each other, but we were very proud that we were able to have these scripts that we helped the format. We helped to start.
Mason Funk: [01:017:30] That is great. I have to scooch down because I realized I was creaking, but I'm really glad we have those for the record.
Corky Wick: Good.
Mason Funk: I'm really glad.
Corky Wick: It's good. Yes, it's important, and I ... Ida was an important member of MOTHERTONGUE and did a lot of shaping, and she was a very good poet. She still is a good poet.
Mason Funk: Okay. Oops. Oh, that was good timing too.
Corky Wick: [01:18:00] Oh, shit. If you just pick up that phone, do you see that? Just pick it up and put off on.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, I just answered it. Hello?
Corky Wick: These are calls for money. I was trying to turn that off. I thought I pulled it out.
Natalie Tsui: It's a return call. It sounds like a telemarketer.
Corky Wick: It's not a telemarketer? I don't care. It'll have to go to my ...
Natalie Tsui: You called about information.
Corky Wick: Probably not because I don't leave this number when I ...
Natalie Tsui: [01:18:30] Oh, it's about a commercial that you saw on television. I think it's a telemarketer.
Corky Wick: It's tele- ... That phone is usually, and I tried to turn the sound off on that, and don't know how.
Natalie Tsui: I wouldn't know how to [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: I know. Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry about that.
Mason Funk: Okay [crosstalk] No worries. We were going to pause anyway.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: I'm going to go ... You've talked, I think, about Sally. Why don't you hold up Lonnie's photography?
Corky Wick: Lani. This one is Lani.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: [01:19:00] And it's Lani Ka'ahumanu, and Lani Silver, so ...
Mason Funk: So?
Corky Wick: So?
Mason Funk: Are we speeding?
Natalie Tsui: We are speeding. If you could hold it on your ... Oh yeah, that's great.
Mason Funk: But what I actually like is if you do it this way, start by just holding it towards yourself the way you did, looking at it. And then, just say, "This is" and then as you start to talk, but try not to rub the ...
Corky Wick: I like her necklace.
Mason Funk: Oh, I see. But anyway, just start by saying this is Lani Silver, and then talk about her.
Corky Wick: Okay, okay.
Mason Funk: [01:19:30] [crosstalk] And hold her towards the camera as you talk about her.
Corky Wick: Okay. This is my dear friend, Lani Silver.
Mason Funk: [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: I am sorry. It was just like ...
Mason Funk: Yeah, I know.
Corky Wick: I was looking at Natalie. All right, okay.
So this is my dear friend, Lani Silver, who died about five or six years ago,
Corky Wick: [01:20:00] and she was very important in my life, and one of the lesbian bisexuals at San Francisco State, and she and Sally were lovers, and I was her teaching assistant. She was just somebody who didn't follow any rules, and resisted authority. What did we say? We said opposed. Did we say ... We said knock?
Mason Funk: Question.
Corky Wick: [01:20:30] We said question. This is Lani. Question authority. So my dear friend was also a graphic artist, and I said something once, and she put it into graphic art. Freud used to say "Biology is destiny." Well, Lani said ... I said, and then she did a little photo for me, "Botany is destiny." It's how we grow. It's how we're watered. It's how much sunshine we get, so it's really lovely that she would take my words and make art out of it.
Corky Wick: [01:21:00] So as her teaching assistant, she taught "Women in Violence". She taught women interpersonal communication. She was a political scientist, and I really loved her dearly. So she was part of the community of women, who really formed me, and I formed too in this community at San Francisco State.
Corky Wick: [01:21:30] I was her teaching assistant for a little while, and she would come into the classroom, sit cross-legged on the desk. And she'd smoke cigarettes, and she'd put them out underneath the desk, and then throw the butt in the corner. This was just absolutely astonishing to me that she was such a bad girl, that was really what it was, and she always saw the political viewpoint of things and did question everybody was really what she did.
Corky Wick: [01:22:00] She helped to start a Holocaust oral history program, which was really important. She lived all over the world, and she died of a brain tumor, and her loving sister took her in at the end of her life. I count Lani Silver as one of the people who helped form me, and made me the man ...
Corky Wick: [01:22:30] The woman. Well, anyway, it was somebody I loved dearly, and I miss. And I think, oh, she would love ... She used to always say, if somebody said something garbled, she would say, "That person said fuck Ronald Reagan." She would love to say that about Trump. She would be here with us in the marches,
Corky Wick: [01:23:00] in the sign-making, in the art that she posed. Just all of her, so I just realize how important she was to me, and to the whole lesbian feminist movement that was happening at San Francisco State, and the wider community of people.
Mason Funk: Great. That's a wonderful tribute.
Corky Wick: I loved her dearly. I just felt like ...
Mason Funk: No, that was wonderful. That was wonderful.
Mason Funk: [01:23:30] Now, you also wanted to talk about your lovers and how they have been ... Well, you wanted to talk about them.
Corky Wick: I want to talk about this other big huge influence in my life as a lesbian, and that's aside from community because this feeds into it is how important my former lovers are to me today. It's just so amazing, and I don't know that this happens in the gay male community,
Corky Wick: [01:24:00] but these women are my family. This is beginning with even this ... My filmmaker lover that we can see each other and still have regard and love for each other. I care about her. But then, there are the lovers who are living here in the Bay area, whom I see regularly, and have just such respect and love, and regard for.
My dear friend, Cecelia Wambach, who taught at San Francisco State was part of that lesbian feminist community,
Corky Wick: [01:24:30] who also had a son, and who also said we're the first generation of women, of lesbians, who have raised sons. That was something she felt was really important, and part of all of these ideas that march in together. So Cecelia, I love Cecelia. I'm a little jealous of her lover,
Corky Wick: [01:25:00] but I love her and she at one point was a nun. And so, you see this great saintly affect that ... I have her art, she is also an artist. She is a singer. She is a renaissance woman, who knows and loves people, and went to Lesbos to help the refugee children there. She is a math genius. So she is a big part of my present lesbian life.
Corky Wick: [01:25:30] Then, there's my other darling, darling friend, Annie Bailey, who loved my sons. And I think my sons loved her too, so that was important. Ann gave my son, who went to Yale, a credit card, and said, "Here, you can use this up to $50. You'll need to go out on dates, and buy books," that she would be so financially able and willing to help my children.
Corky Wick: [01:26:00] I think she felt they were her children too, which was really that kind of love and that kind of regard. Just the bigness of our love still carries today. She's my family, she is my lesbian family.
So my ... And there is someone who comes and goes in my life.
Corky Wick: [01:26:30] She keeps moving away from me, but we love each other and care for each other, Allison Richter, who is my ... I think she is my girlfriend. It's hard, but I love her dearly. We go to theater and movies together, and she has moved out of the Bay area, but I see her often.
There is someone in Sonoma, I consider my family too, who is this brilliant, beautiful woman.
Corky Wick: [01:27:00] I feel very lucky that I have and am contained, and can go to these women. And I think I would care for them if they needed help, both physical and financial, and I think I believe that they would care for me too. So this kind of former deep lovers, these are my deep lovers, it's really exciting
Corky Wick: [01:27:30] to think that they are a dear part of my life and my heart.
Mason Funk: That is wonderful.
Corky Wick: Okay, okay.
Mason Funk: That is wonderful. Yeah, what a special tribute to them.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: And to the loves that you all carry forward on a daily basis, that's wonderful.
Corky Wick: Yeah, and the jealousy.
Mason Funk: Yeah, exactly. Well, that's ... It's also you can't have really one maybe without some of that passion still, which of course inspires things like jealousy.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [01:28:00] Oh, Natalie, I never told you this, but I always make time for my camera operator to ask questions as well.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, okay.
Mason Funk: So I'm sorry to spring it on you.
Corky Wick: God. Oh, right. Right, you can think about it.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Natalie Tsui: I'll think about it.
Mason Funk: Think about it because I have ... So we're at 11:30, so we're going to go 15 minutes more maximum.
Corky Wick: Okay, okay.
Mason Funk: I have a final four questions I ask every single person.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: So these are [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: Let me just think about if there was something else I wanted to ... Yeah. There is something. There is something else I want to say, and this is ...
Mason Funk: [inaudible]
Corky Wick: [01:28:30] So in my teaching career, I always came out as a lesbian, and this is my famous line for City College and people would laugh or leave, just like my sons. But I always would say at the very beginning, the first classes, "I am the queer you're supposed to meet when you come to City College," and the gay folks would laugh, immediately, I would know who was who. It was a really kind of marker because people who couldn't ...
Corky Wick: [01:29:00] Who really had any homophobic tendencies wouldn't stay in the class, and it was always very interesting to me. I had the class I wanted because I was teaching public speaking for a long time at City College, and at San Francisco State. So it was part of my career, and part of my holding on of Sally Gearhart because I pretty much taught the way I learned from her, but I'm the queer.
Mason Funk: [01:29:30] Yeah.
Corky Wick: And I like the term "Queer". I find it all-inclusive, and so I could be almost anything, including transgender in there.
Mason Funk: Great, great. That reminded me of a side note. You mentioned ... You said "And the bisexuals." So tell us about, because we're making a real point of being inclusive of bisexual voices and perspectives [crosstalk] because we have a lot of projects that they have not been.
Corky Wick: [01:30:00] You know, that's right.
Mason Funk: What I really want people to understand, what this big issue is that keeps bisexuality on the fringes?
Corky Wick: Well, it was.
Mason Funk: Tell me what was?
Corky Wick: Bisexuality was one of the cultural wars, and those women who openly identified as bisexual had to be very brave to be able to come out because
Corky Wick: [01:30:30] there was such a resistance to anybody who was supposedly a pure lesbian, and the pure lesbians had never slept with men. So I'm not a pure lesbian, and that, it's sort of funny, that whole thing. But it does relate to the women I knew who were bisexual, and who didn't want to talk about it, and Lani Silver was one of those people. She would talk to Lani Ka'ahumanu about being a bisexual
Corky Wick: [01:31:00] because she knew Lani was, and Lani was beginning to write about it, and talk about it. But as Lani said of Lani, "I keep my men in the closet," so that was the shame of it, and the unwillingness, and the hiddenness of it is really right there. And I certainly feel badly about how rigid I was
Corky Wick: [01:31:30] in those days of the '70s and the '80s, it's not something I feel today, including the rigidity that can happen about being transgender.
There is a rigidity in some people about the non acceptance of that, and it's very interesting to me. I know about five transgendered people who are in my life,
Corky Wick: [01:32:00] and I'm old, and not as big in circulation these days. But it seems to me, this is something similar that there were culture wars against bisexuals, and there may and there are cultural wars against who is transgender, and the acceptance of this brand new way of being, although there have always been transgenders in history as bisexuals.
Mason Funk: Right, and tell us about, because this might be news to some people,
Mason Funk: [01:32:30] from the lesbian/feminist point-of-view, what is the particular specific resistance to transgendered individuals? I would imagine ... Well, is it the same for women who transition to men as for men who transition to women?
Corky Wick: It's men who transition to women.
Mason Funk: So, tell us.
Corky Wick: That is ... So being a transgender, a male to female, is very hard for many lesbian feminists.
Corky Wick: [01:33:00] Not all, but there is a resistance, and I saw it in a group called Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. They had a mediator. They had to talk about would they let M2F transgendered women come into Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. They talked about it, and I didn't want to be part of this.
Corky Wick: [01:33:30] I knew how I felt, and I didn't want to be part of this discussion. But I would hear the fallout and how some people, lesbian separatists felt these are not women. And so, there's again a lot of pain, a lot of discussion, a lot of argumentation. A lot of rigidity.
The females to male women that I've met, I think are adorable. I would date one,
Corky Wick: [01:34:00] where it's like, yeah, you know the female experience. And there's a rabbi, I would love to date. Anyway, it's just all a little embarrassing, and also I just think there was a woman who was a gym teacher in Emeryville, whose name I've forgotten, but she said, "I had sex as a woman with women and men.
Corky Wick: [01:34:30] I had sex as a man with women and men," and it was just such an amazing idea of this wide variety of ways of being.
Mason Funk: Fantastic. Good, good, good. Okay. Now, do you want to take a turn?
Natalie Tsui: Okay. I have a question, I guess.
Mason Funk: But you're going to answer me, as if [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: Yes, as if it's coming from you. Okay.
Natalie Tsui: It's very loosely formed.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Natalie Tsui: Okay. So you mentioned the Reagan area, and right now, we're kind of reentering another Reagan era.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Natalie Tsui: So I am wondering what advice you have to queer youths about resistance in this era.
Corky Wick: [01:35:00] Yeah, yeah. Resistance in this era to our orange cartoon person in the White House, and I can't call him by name, and I can't call him by office, is really important for all of us, and it brings us all together. And I think it's a real unifying force for us, older lesbians,
Corky Wick: [01:35:30] to interact with young lesbians, and young gay men. I think it's something that we all understand that our freedom is really being threatened, our civil rights, our energies. Just this whole thinking, we were going forward, and now, we're going backward as though we're in a dystopia.
This will not happen, and I think this kind of unifying for all of us, politically. And I see old women, old men ...
Mason Funk: [01:36:00] I would have to stop you.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Sirens.
Natalie Tsui: There's the siren.
Corky Wick: Oh, sirens. Oh, oh, because I was just going to say it brings us all together.
Mason Funk: You were good. You were going ... You were perfect, but at a certain point, I just can't let the siren.
Corky Wick: Okay. I can't even ...
Mason Funk: It was the only time it's happened, and now it's stopped.
Corky Wick: I haven't heard it.
Mason Funk: So now, if you're able to just rewind a little bit. I'm sorry.
Corky Wick: Yeah, rewind. But it was such a good question.
Corky Wick: [01:36:30] It was such a good question about how in this time of great resistance, do we all come together and learn about each other, and where we are in the different stages of our lives. And I have so much to learn from young lesbians and gay men, that I think this is a good time and a force that will bring us together, and I realize I need to do more of that.
Mason Funk: [01:37:00] Great. That's great. Do you have another one, at all? You don't have to have more, I just want to make sure.
Natalie Tsui: No. I was just ... Yeah, yeah.
Corky Wick: That was good.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah. I was just curious because clearly you survived the Reagan era, so I'm like what do we have? I guess banding together and forming a community, and also [crosstalk] How do you see intersectionality fitting into this?
Corky Wick: Inter, inter?
Natalie Tsui: Intersectional.
Corky Wick: Intersexual.
Mason Funk: Intersectionality.
Corky Wick: Intersect, not sex. Inter being in ...
Natalie Tsui: Intersectional [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: [01:37:30] In that the separation of some of us? I'm not sure what that word means.
Natalie Tsui: Yeah. Well, so intersectional feminism has to do with feminism, not as just ... I'm just like it's not just about being a woman or being queer, it's about marginalized people coming together. Because you spoke about Angela Davis, so I'm like I wonder if you have any thoughts about that as well?
Mason Funk: Are you hearing [crosstalk]
Corky Wick: Yes, I am. I am hearing fine.
Mason Funk: Okay, good.
Corky Wick: [01:38:00] I don't know that I have a ... I feel like I don't have a good enough answer for that.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, it's okay.
Corky Wick: But one of the things that happens in terms of worldwide feminism and lesbianism because these movements and the whole gay movement is of understanding the oppression of each one of us,
Corky Wick: [01:38:30] and coming together through that oppression because I do see that the people of Africa, the lesbians that I've met from Africa are different, and certainly have different concerns. I think this whole wave of immigration in our time today, which is just a catastrophe, makes us think we have to have broader concerns. And my concerns are really with the children, and the mothers. I have to do more.
Corky Wick: [01:39:00] If I can't go the way Cecelia has, I can give money. I can write letters. I can talk to people because I have some of those skills to do that. So I think this is a time of really broadly thinking about the whole world, and not just our most fabulous San Francisco communities.
Mason Funk: Great. Okay.
Corky Wick: Did that answer anything?
Natalie Tsui: Yeah, yeah. No, that was great. Yeah.
Corky Wick: Because I feel like there is so much more to say about that, and I would like ...
Natalie Tsui: Yeah, it's very deep. It could go on, forever. Yeah.
Corky Wick: [01:39:30] It's so on and on. I wanted to tell you I know Bell Hooks too. I don't know if you've read her.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, yeah. Bell Hooks.
Corky Wick: She taught at San Francisco State. That's a pseudonym, and I can't ... Gloria Watkins.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, I know.
Corky Wick: It's so good. It's still working.
Mason Funk: You've still got it.
Corky Wick: Well, I worry about my mind.
Mason Funk: Sure.
Corky Wick: You know?
Mason Funk: Sure. Okay.
Corky Wick: Yes, all right.
Mason Funk: Final four questions.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: To someone who is about to come out as whatever, and at whatever age?
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: [01:40:00] And these are intended to be relatively short, like here it is in a nutshell.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: What would be the kernel of wisdom
Corky Wick: Find a buddy. Practice. Say it out loud to somebody you feel safe with so that gives you a way to practice. Homework.
Mason Funk: Okay, great. That was probably the best short, concise answer I've ever gotten.
Corky Wick: Good.
Mason Funk: [01:40:30] In this time of political uncertainty and change, what is your hope for the future? What hope do you have? It's funny. This question was different last summer than it is now, but what is your hope for the future in the context of everything that's going on?
Corky Wick: Yeah. I have many hopes for the future, and certainly, if we talk about broad concepts
Corky Wick: [01:41:00] of clean air and lack of hunger throughout the world, and all those are really passionate things that all of us can cry about. But in this country, I want ... I don't know how to make him gone. I hope all the witches of the world can just come and wave this magic wand over the Republicans and change them into thoughtful humanitarians, which is what I wish for the world.
Corky Wick: [01:41:30] I think we just need this coven of many worldwide witches to come in and warlocks too, we'll have those men in here, because I don't see a clear future. I don't have a good political path, but getting rid of ... Politically get rid of those people who are not humanists. They're capitalists in the worst way, so it can't be business first.
Corky Wick: [01:42:00] It has to be people first, and that's what I want. I have these grandchildren who are inheriting this world. I worry, and then I have this hope for magic.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Corky Wick: Oh, it's how awful, how awful.
Mason Funk: Yeah. I know. I know. I know. But like I say, it was so bizarre last summer, that question [crosstalk] very different answers.
Corky Wick: Yeah.
Mason Funk: But here we are. The next question, why is it important for you to tell your story?
Corky Wick: [01:42:30] You know, I'm one of those people who is sort of not famous. I am one of the people here, and it's exciting to be able to focus on this long life, and the contributions, and the thrill that I've had at San Francisco State, coming out in a feminist lesbian community, and that MOTHERTONGUE has lasted for 41 years.
Corky Wick: [01:43:00] Something that I helped create that is still alive, and educating, and creative. I feel very proud of that. So it's very interesting to go through this process of looking at my life, and trying to pick out some high points and some low points. So I thank you for this, it's been exciting.
Mason Funk: Great. Thank you for that. And then, lastly, the last question is, so specifically, this project called OUTWORDS.
Mason Funk: [01:43:30] What do you see is the value of a project like OUTWORDS? And please use "OUTWORDS" in your answer, the name OUTWORDS.
Corky Wick: So the value of OUTWORDS to me is that it's a nice play on the "Word Is Out", and all the people that I loved were in that film with Sally Gearhart being in it, and other women who were from this area. So I feel like yes, this is another public out,
Corky Wick: [01:44:00] and a public speaking, and a revealing, and a kind of path to the future that this is all okay. And that, my God, things will change. It's a law of our natures.
Mason Funk: Whoa. We got that truck in the background on the last sentence you said.
Corky Wick: Oh.
Mason Funk: You said things are going to change. It's the nature of things.
Corky Wick: Yes.
Mason Funk: So maybe just recap that thought, and explain it a little bit.
Corky Wick: [01:44:30] Okay. I just know that everything has changed, and everything will change, and so it seems to me this is one of the laws that I think you'll in OUTWORDS, you'll be able to capture those changes. Important for all of us.
Mason Funk: Fantastic.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: That was wonderful.
Corky Wick: Okay.
Mason Funk: Now, we're going to do something we call room tone, which is the sound of this room with nobody talking for 30 seconds. It's at technical thing.
Mason Funk: [01:45:00] So Natalie, you can just call it whenever you're ready. We call this room tone.
Natalie Tsui: [01:45:30] Room tone.
Okay, that's 30 seconds.
Mason Funk: There we go.
Corky Wick: My coffee hit in, so I was starting to feel a little shaky.
Mason Funk: A little shaky.
Corky Wick: Oh, yeah.
Natalie Tsui: Oh, did you want to ask the if there is anything that you'd like to add?
Mason Funk: No, because she herself kind of said there's one more thing I wanted to add.
Corky Wick: I did, right there. That thing about coming out, and I really wanted to get that in because it is my signature at City College.
Mason Funk: [01:46:00] Yeah, I loved it. I loved it.
Corky Wick: It was really good.
Mason Funk: I can only imagine. I wish I had college professors like you when I was in college.
Corky Wick: You know, I know, and that's what was so wonderful about Sally because she was the first open teacher I ever had.
Mason Funk: Yeah. I think she was the first lesbian to ever get tenured.
Corky Wick: She may have, and let's see if I can find that button that we helped make.
Mason Funk: So ...
Corky Wick: If you want ...

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Natalie Tsui
Date: May 08, 2017
Location: Home of Corky Wick, San Francisco, CA