Lamar Van Dyke was born Heather Elizabeth Nelson in Canada in 1947, and grew up in Buffalo, New York. Lamar’s mother was a homemaker, and her stepfather was a pipe fitter and a staunch German patriarchist who told basically told Lamar, ‘You will not do this, you will not do that, you will not leave the house.’ Throughout Lamar’s teenage years, she and her stepfather were at war; in her words, “It was some kind of Freudian thing: I grew breasts, and he lost his mind.”

At nineteen, Lamar left home and had a daughter whom she gave up for adoption. In the following four years, she got married and divorced three times. Then, as far as she was concerned, she was done with men. She’d heard there were lots of lesbians in Toronto, so she headed there and soon moved in with a lesbian couple who were publishing a women’s newspaper, and experimenting with separatism and ‘smashing monogamy’ (what today we might call polyamory). From Toronto, Lamar and three other women joined the Women’s Land movement, buying a farm near Peterborough, about an hour northeast of Toronto. 

Lamar survived one winter on the farm, then hit the road again, this time spearheading a group of rabblerousing women who shaved their heads, dubbed themselves the Van Dykes (dykes in vans = the Van Dykes), and hopscotched across America and even into Mexico, stopping only on Women’s Land. At the 1979 Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, the Van Dykes put on the first S&M workshop. Many women found the display deeply harmful, not to mention offensive. To Lamar, it was liberating.  
In 1980, now on her own, Lamar landed in Seattle. Tattoos and leather became the focus of her life, and her tattoo shop became one of the key epicenters of Seattle queer life. 

Along with running her tattoo shop, Lamar became a ‘queen-pin’ in the local S&M scene, and just as in her Van Dyke days, developed her own devoted following of women. In 1994, Lamar’s daughter, now 26 years old, contacted Lamar out of the blue. They connected and are still in each other’s lives today.  

A lot has changed in Lamar’s life since she flipped her stepfather off for the last time. Today, Lamar speaks with men, works with men, and even allowed a man to interview her for the OUTWORDS archive. She waxes on about things like menopause, her grandchildren and her garden. But make no mistake: Lamar is still wild, a big pirate of a woman. Life to Lamar is and always will be an adventure. Otherwise, why bother?
Lulu Gargiulo: [00:00:00] We're rolling.
Mason Funk: My questions are not especially chronological.
Lamar Van Dyke: That's all right.
Mason Funk: As I told you, it's a little bit of an experiment, this interview, in terms of just how we're going to go, but I always first of all, start off by telling me your name and spell it out, please.
Lamar Van Dyke: Spell my name? My name is Lamar Van Dyke, L-A-M-A-R V-A-N D-Y-K-E.
Mason Funk: [00:00:30] That's essentially three words?
Lamar Van Dyke: Three words, and I put a space between the Van and the Dyke.
Mason Funk: Okay, okay, and tell me your birth date and where you're born?
Lamar Van Dyke: 5/13/1947, and in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.
Mason Funk: Just say that again, Fort Erie?
Lamar Van Dyke: Fort Erie. There is a fort there. I don't know what they used it for but there is a fort there. Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.
Mason Funk: Perfect, okay. Paint me just a little picture of your family.What they were like,
Mason Funk: [00:01:00] what your parents were like. What things were valued? What things were devalued?
Lamar Van Dyke: My mother was very musically-inclined. She played the piano every single day, and she always said that she married my stepfather because he promised to buy her a Hammond organ, which he did not buy her for a number of years, but eventually he had to do it because she was making a fuss. Then she played the Hammond organ as I was growing up, which meant that the atmosphere in my house
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:01:30] was like a roller rink, and she would do things if I was pitching some little jealous fit. She would go and sit down at the Hammond organ and play Jealousy. "Jealousy, night and day, you torture me," and I would start screaming, and then I would be laughing, and then it would be over. I was a problem, I'm sure, but she was really good with me.
Mason Funk: You later said that your whole childhood you were being told you were too this, too that,
Mason Funk: [00:02:00] and so tell us about that. Tell us, was that a theme?
Lamar Van Dyke: That was a theme. My mother was raised by a Victorian mother, so she had all that Victorian stuff going on, so I wasn't supposed to show emotions and I wasn't supposed to make too much noise, and I wasn't supposed to take up too much space, and there I was. Being myself from the time I was born, making way too much noise, taking up way too much space, screaming, slamming doors,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:02:30] carrying on as a teenager, just doing that, everything that would be a nightmare to a Victorian person. I was doing it, and I wasn't supposed to be doing that but it's just how it was. That's who I was. Everybody had to accommodate that or put up, not really accommodate it, put up with it. They just had to put up with it 'til I got over it, but I grew up feeling like that. I was very tall at a young age and my feet were really big at a young age, and I was really loud
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:03:00] and making a fuss when things didn't go my way, and all those things, like just tone it down. Tone it down. My family would try to get me to tone it down, and it didn't work. I wasn't good at that.
Mason Funk: Did you later, like my sister for example, who had a similar experience at childhood, but to this day, she still grapples and agonizes over those messages she was given that you're wrong, wrong, wrong. How was it for you working out all those times
Mason Funk: [00:03:30] in dealing with and processing all the times you were told you were too X, Y, and Z?
Lamar Van Dyke: I left as soon as I could. I left home as soon as I could. I tried to leave before I was 18 and got brought back, and so as soon as I was 18, my plan was: go. For some reason, I knew I had to go to the West Coast, that things would be different on the West Coast.Sure enough, I got to California. I got to San Francisco, and people were bigger, and their minds were bigger, and
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:04:00] the hippie thing was happening, and I was right in the thick of it, and everybody was expressing themselves and carrying on. It was perfect. It was perfect. I fit in for the first time, really, I fit in. I didn't fit in much when I was a kid, and I got used to that but I did fit in in San Francisco.
Mason Funk: Today, if someone were to come to you, if you were to encounter, say, a person in their teens, for example, who has this feeling like that they don't fit in,
Mason Funk: [00:04:30] would you say to them, "Get the hell out of dodge." What advice would you give to a younger person who feels like they just don't fit or a square peg in a round hole?
Lamar Van Dyke: I would say, "Do you really want to fit in?"
Mason Funk: Do me a favor. Start over and frame my question into your answer, so if somebody-
Lamar Van Dyke: Okay. If somebody came to me and said that they they were younger than me and they said that they felt uncomfortable because they didn't fit in, and whatever they did just didn't fit in, I would question them about what they want to fit in to? If you look around
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:05:00] at what's happening, do you really want to be identified as being part of that? Not really. Do you really want to give up all the things that are you so that you can look right, act right, whatever right is? No. No, don't do that. Just be yourself. Go ahead. Kick it out. Don't fit in. I revel in not fitting in. I did not want to fit in. I tried. I had husbands. I went through a few of them like fine grain sand. I had three husbands, boom, boom, boom.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:05:30] That was not for me. That was totally not for me, and I didn't feel bad about the fact that that didn't work. I was like, "Thank God. I know that didn't work. I got to go."
Mason Funk: Do you think you were getting married because you were trying to fit in?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Tell me about that.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. It was my version of trying to fit in, but I got married in California to a guy that was a shrink, but I think actually, he was gay. Now, when I look back on it, I think that he was gay, and he just was trying to be straight for a minute,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:06:00] because that lasted like six months. and my mother's, "She's married a psychologist. It's so wonderful." It's like, "Yeah." That's not it. We're eating acid on the weekends and we're smoking pot every day.It's not the kind of psychologist she's thinking about. So she wasn't happy with that. Then the next one was a biker. How's she going to deal with that? Then, the next one was a Unitarian draft resister where we ended up fighting with the FBI and leaving the country.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:06:30] My attempts at fitting in were to get married, but I wasn't marrying the kind of person that my family wanted that to happen with, and I wasn't really going down any of those roads, and it still didn't work for me, so that was good. I got that out of the way pretty quick.
Mason Funk: Right. A big theme obviously in the women's movement and lesbian movement is lesbianism as a personal choice versus a political choice.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: A huge theme.
Lamar Van Dyke: Huge theme.
Mason Funk: [00:07:00] Do you want to just riff on that for a minute? Obviously, we can't spend too much time on it, but what's your take on that?
Lamar Van Dyke: Lesbianism, when I came out, it was in the '70s and feminism was on fire. We were just on fire with feminism. We were going to change everything for women. Everything was going to be different. We were running around with hammers and power tools, and fixing our own cars, and doing all of that, and setting all programs for women to get women to move forward.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:07:30] After a few years of that, it became pretty clear to a certain group of us that we just needed to go and do something. We just needed to do something for us. So the separatist thing, like I was for many years, I was a separatist. That was us removing ourselves, we thought. We thought we were removing ourselves but so that was us saying, "Okay. Now, we're done with this. We have purchased a farm. We're going to move to the country and live the good life
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:08:00] and we're going to make our own tofu, and we're going to grow our own vegetables, and we're going to take care of ourselves."That lasted for me for one Ontario winter where the snow was up over the windows of the house. When spring came, I took off in my van and became a Van Dyke. I got a van and went off and became a Van Dyke, and that was also a whole separatist thing because we were
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:08:30] first, I started with one woman, and I went off with her in her van, and we had a great time, and I said, "I love this lifestyle but I need my own van. I cannot live in a Volkswagen van with another person anymore."I went back, sold my share of the farm, bought a Step-Van and off we went, and then we found other women with vans, and we became the Van Dykes. We travelled all around North America and Mexico, and we went around,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:09:00] and we shaved our heads, and we didn't speak to men, and we just did what we wanted, and we ate vegetables and drank water, and I weighed like 130 pounds. We were going, going, going, going and gone, and then of course we got arrested in Mexico because women can't act like that, and women can't have all those vehicles either.We had all of these women and everybody had a vehicle.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:09:30] In that time period, women in Mexico did not have vehicles and here were these bald American Dykes running around, not speaking to men.Men would speak to us and we just wouldn't answer them. We just looked at them, unless they were a waiter or a car mechanic, or somebody that we needed, then we would speak to them, but if we didn't need them, we wouldn't speak to them.We wouldn't acknowledge them.In some ways it made our lives much easier, because before that, feminism has got a lot to do with men.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:10:00] It's women getting strong within that structure. Women expressing themselves within that structure of heterosexuality and male domination, and all of that. If you take that away, women are strong, period. You can do whatever you want, until they arrest you. Until you do too much, and then they arrest you, and then you can't do whatever you want.
Mason Funk: Two questions is, what then was the shift that occurred from that stance to whatever came?
Mason Funk: [00:10:30] I know what the shift is. That's probably another good huge topic. What I wanted to ask you is, was there value in spending time in that frame of mind even if you did stay there?
Lamar Van Dyke: Fantastic value in spending that time.
Mason Funk: Tell me what kind of time you're talking about, so the years that were out around being a separatist?
Lamar Van Dyke: Right, the years that I ran around being a separatist, the value was that I didn't have all those distractions.The patriarchy presents women with all of these distractions.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:11:00] You want to get out of the hole that women had been shoved in, and you want to get out of there. If you remove the male element, you're out of there. There's no, you don't have to try.You don't have to climb. You don't have to do anything. You're just out of there because you're in charge of your own existence, and that is a thing, like who is in charge of our existence, which everybody's fighting about now,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:11:30] but yeah. You become in charge of your own existence, and you get used to that. Once I had done that for a couple of years and I came that's how I ended up in Seattle.I didn't have a policy. I would speak to men and all of that, but I didn't have any men friends for the first 10 years I lived here. I didn't know any men. I just went after the women and the women's community, and functioned there, and had my shop, and was on Pike Street,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:12:00] and everything was gay, gay, gay. We had the little lesbian enclave, and that's how it was, and I just assumed that that was how it was instead of having to fight to make that be like that.
Mason Funk: Got you. It's really interesting because I from your point, you're obviously a man. I've always been much more aware of this story you were telling, where it's like women's rights equals trying to be equal to men on their playing field. I suppose it's just saying, "We're going to make our own playing field," so it's really-
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:12:30] Yeah, we're going to play a different game. We're going to have a different field and we're going to we don't even really want to be equal. That's what I got to. Like, I don't really want to be equal. That's not what I'm after. I want to be my own everything and you can all do whatever but I want to be my own everything, so equal is out of the equation.
Mason Funk: That's fascinating. Okay. I'm looking at some other questions. You're a great talker. You tell good stories. You don't ramble. These are all good things.
Mason Funk: [00:13:00] Tell me about that I think you called it a lonely little tattoo shop in the article-
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Which I just want you to paint me a picture. I know it's jumping out of sequence, but paint me a picture of that shop on Pike Street and how you found it, and how it was lonely, how it became your thing?
Lamar Van Dyke: I was becoming a tattoo artist.
Mason Funk: [00:13:30] Set where we are in the world.
Lamar Van Dyke: Okay, so as I'm travelling around, I'm going in tattoo shops trying to find a woman to teach me to be a tattoo artist. That was hopeless, because the women in the tattoo shops were attached to men. Their husbands ran the shop. They were just there doing whatever they were supposed to do. That wasn't going to work for me. When I got to Seattle, there was a woman in Seattle who was an independent tattoo artist. Her name is Madame Lazonga, brilliant, fabulous tattoo artist, and she had her own place. I went there
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:14:00] and I became, probably for the first time in my life, unable to speak. I sat in her shop. I looked at her art. She was tattooing somebody and I was going through all of her stuff and when she was finally done, she came and said, "Can I help you?" and I could barely speak.All I said to her was, "I'll do anything. I'll wash your floors. I'll cook your meals. I'll clean your shop. Can you teach me how to do this?" She said, "I can't really teach you how to do this right now because I just opened this shop
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:14:30] and I have to pay attention to my shop." She said no and I went and got my tattoo equipment. I ordered it from the back of some comic book or something.I got my equipment and I started tattooing people. First, I tattooed myself, then I had friends who said, "You can do this." Then I ran out of ink, and I was trying to find some white ink, and somebody in a store told me there was a gay guy on Broadway
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:15:00] that had a tattoo shop. I should check with him, so I did, and he hired me.He gave me ink. He said, "I'm not going to sell you ink unless I can see what you're doing." I said, "Okay," so I sent people in. He said, "Okay, do you want to be an apprentice?" I said, "No, I'm tattooing for money right now. Why would I be an apprentice?" "Okay, do you want a job?" "Yeah." He hired me to work in his shop, and that was the beginning of it. I worked there for about a year,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:15:30] and then he was leaving town so I needed to do something else. I went down to Pike Street, which was just empty, empty. It was cars, guys working on cars and garages, and there was nothing there. There was just nothing there and I rented a space for $450 a month and sat in that space thinking, "What am I doing? What am I thinking? How is this going to work?" People would come in and it started working,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:16:00] and then some friends came and said, "What would you think if we bought the bar next door?" I said, "Turn it into a lesbian bar?" They said, "Yeah." I would think I had died and gone to heaven, and so they bought the bar next door and they turned it into the Wild Rose, and it's still there, and there we were. We were like this little lesbian enclave on the corner, and then the whole gay community moved down to Pike Street because it was cheap.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:16:30] That's what we all do. We go open our businesses and rent spaces where it's cheap. It's not cheap anymore, but it was cheap. So it all sprang up all around me like magic. It was fabulous for me.
Mason Funk: You literally, without boasting, can take credit for planting the seed that became that entire neighborhood, entire community?
Lamar Van Dyke: Probably. I think it would have happened anyway, because it was the next logical geographic space,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:17:00] and then some guys opened up Alex Fieldtree opened up a bar around the corner and made it all chi chi, and fixed it all up, and it was all nice. It turned out that across the street, there was a place called the Seattle Boxing Club. They had big printing on the front of the building.They called it the Seattle Boxing Club, and I never knew what that was until I worked for the guy on Broadway. It was a gay men's sex club,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:17:30] and they had dungeons and stuff in there, and I thought, "Wow, that was there all that time and I didn't know that? How did I not know that?"
Mason Funk: The boxing was like a front? Or was that just-
Lamar Van Dyke: It was a front.
Mason Funk: It was?
Lamar Van Dyke: I guess it had been a boxing place at some point, and they just left it like that. Yeah, it was good.
Mason Funk: This is still in the '70s, right?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: God, I wish I had been around.
Lamar Van Dyke: The '80s, that's in the '80s.
Mason Funk: Okay. Okay. Let's go back to lesbian separatism.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:18:00] Okay, okay.
Mason Funk: Because I want to ask one more question.What, today, does that philosophy still have to offer, maybe even more so today than ever? Make sure you mention those groups.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. I think that lesbians, lesbian separatism and feminism, which are fairly connected, I think they're going to come around again. They're going to come around again, because not much has really changed.Some things have changed, but not much has really changed
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:18:30] in the 50 years since I've been doing all of that. It's only a matter of time before the next generation gets pissed off about the same things, and take steps to empower themselves and take steps to empower other people.Right now, assimilation is the big deal. Let's get married. Let's have babies. Let's just fit in. Let's go be like everybody else. That's got a short shelf life, really. You do that, then you end up with divorce, and then you end up with having to divide up your stuff,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:19:00] and then there's the kids, and all of that. Right now, people are focused on assimilation and once that's been established, then people are going to want to get out of that.The way that women get out of that is having a better sense of feminism and a better sense of the things that are truly holding them back.
Mason Funk: What is that better sense? What is that better sense of what the things that are holding them back?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:19:30] The things that are holding them back are: we don't have any control over reproductive rights. We still don't have wage parity. All of those things that we were fighting for, we still don't have them. What we do have is women now seem to have two jobs. They take care of the kids and go to work. Maybe it was better when they were home cooking the food and the men went to work.I don't know. I don't know, but women are going to get unhappy
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:20:00] with the pace of that kind of lifestyle and they're going to want to do things for themselves, and nurture themselves.There actually are more possibilities there now for women to do that, and I think there'll be more. There'll be more.Women now own a lot of women own businesses. A lot of women are entrepreneurs. Things have changed where women are actually going for it. They're still hitting a wall somewhere, hitting a ceiling somewhere, but they'll keep doing it until they get there.
Mason Funk: [00:20:30] Great. Awesome. All right. By the way, we'll take a little break at a certain point because I can I'll dump this card.
Lamar Van Dyke: Okay.
Mason Funk: [00:21:00] Just a technical process. One of the things, again, I think from that article that was mentioned, there was the whole question of women being sexual.Some people really wanted to deemphasize the importance of sexuality. One woman, I think, was quoted as saying she wanted to free the libido from the tyranny of orgasm. I love this shit. How do you evolve around the question of,
Mason Funk: [00:21:30] like, give us a little bit of a historical paint us a picture of the history of women's and their own sexuality, and sometimes shunning that as a vestige? Other times, grabbing on to it and wanting to completely claim it. It's a huge topic.
Lamar Van Dyke: It's a huge topic. Women's sexuality is a huge topic, and as separatists, our view on that was that men
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:22:00] have been attempting to control women's sexuality since the beginning of time, and that that's what monogamy was all about, because men certainly are not monogamous. They say that they're monogamous, but they're not. Women say they're monogamous and they are monogamous. So we decided that that was bullshit, and that we could have sex with whoever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and we could do whatever we wanted, and we would do whatever we wanted. The Van Dyke journey,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:22:30] we were all sleeping with each other. I was there with my ex-wife and my new wife, and a girlfriend, and it was a mess. Emotionally, it was a mess. Sexually, it was a blast, but of course it imploded, because jealousy is a real thing and you can put it on the back burner for a certain amount of time and all that, and then there you are. People aren't acting right. So when I came to Seattle, I had been being very sexual,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:23:00] and I was the new girl in town. Here I was, the new girl in town, and we had been doing SM because one of the Van Dykes left and went to California and came across Samois, the SM group and she came back. She said, "I think we're going to like this." Of course, we did. When I came to Seattle, I was looking for women who were like-minded and I found them.We proceeded to put on shows and events, and contests,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:23:30] and we just went for it, and then we got those boys at the Seattle Boxing Club to let us in, to let us have that space for one night a month, and let us have that space for things that we wanted to do. We got them to let us into that secret world of male sexuality without them there. We didn't want them there, but they had the facility. We said, "Let us in." And they did. And they did,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:24:00] and so the whole SM, the Dyke SM thing in Seattle erupted all around me. It was just like the gay neighborhood erupted all around me. The SM thing erupted all around me. When I got here, there certainly were women who were doing SM, but they weren't talking about it. It was a secret. I was talking about it, and had jewelry on my leather jacket, like a little whip on my leather jacket and stuff, and so people were identifying me
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:24:30] and coming to me and telling me.I thought, "Oh, there's actually a lot of SM Dykes here. They're just not connected." So I started connecting them. We started connecting the dots, and pretty soon there was a huge vibrant community of motorcycle riding, leather jacket wearing, carrying on Dykes that were having a blast.
Mason Funk: [00:25:00] For the uninformed who are watching this, who don't know what SM stands for, give us a little I always have to do this. It's like I'm just reminding myself that someone might not automatically know, because Ive typically heard S & M, and people might be more familiar with that, I don't know. Anyway, tell us, when you say SM, what are you referring to, and what was the importance of that as an evolution for you? What was the importance of embracing SM or S&M?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:25:30] SM stands for sadomasochism. We prefer to call ourselves leather dykes but it was the same thing. For me, it was like the first time, the first real time in my life that people loved me because I was too loud, too big, too pushy, too all those things that I was too, too, too of. Suddenly, I was hanging around with women who loved that about me. It settled me down in some,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:26:00] like we were having fun. We were just having lots of fun in doing crazy things like shaving cream wrestling in my backyard, and like lots of I was doing lots of stuff, and being appreciated for it instead of being told, "That's too much." In a way, it made the rest of my life easier, because I could be too much of everything on Friday night between 10:00 and 12:00, or for a weekend,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:26:30] or for a conference, or for whatever. Then the rest of the time, my life was a little, I don't know, a little calmer, a little easier. It helped me sort it out in a way.
Mason Funk: That's fascinating. Can you go on on that a little bit,contrasting your former life to this? Where your wildness was a little more like you said, it happened between 10:00 and 12:00 on Friday night?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:27:00] Right.We'd be hanging around in my shop, and I would get out the Polaroid camera, and we'd start just dressing up. Somebody would start dressing up and we'd start-
Mason Funk: Is this like the older version of you or is this how you-
Lamar Van Dyke: No, this is the SM version of me, right. Then I decide, okay, its National Enquirer time, let's take electrical tape and put it on our nipples and we put blindfolds, and we had people posing and everything, and then more people came in. It just happened. More women came in
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:27:30] and then the whole thing grows, and then I'm just going, going. "Let's do this or let's do that, or let's," and I got to let's go downtown and tie you to the railroad tracks, and then I got a no. Then, I got a no, so then I stopped. I was surrounded by women that I could say these crazy things and they would say, "Yeah, let's do that." We would do it. That was heaven for me.
Mason Funk: [00:28:00] What is the value of that? Imagine a woman watching this, or a guy for that matter, who is never going to do that, is never going to like be that wild, but nevertheless has that spark of wildness inside of them that's maybe yearning to be free. To people who are at a very different place on the wildness spectrum than yourself, what is the value of that lesson or that experience you had for virtually anybody?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:28:30] I think when you can find your kinkiness or your kinky tendencies to a fantasy level and you can find it to your imagination, and you don't ever try to act it out, or even really speak about it, because a lot of people can't speak about it, then youre just uptight and slightly inhibited. If you let it go, this thing that you might think is the weirdest, like, I can't say that. I just can't say that. I wanted somebody to take a knife and make a cut on my arms like I just can't say that.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:29:00] Say it. Say it. It's not the end of the world. It's a little cut on your arm. Say it. Get a cut on your arm. Maybe you like it. Maybe you don't, but you're not going to really know until you own it, but everybody's busy with that puritanical thing that we all grew up with, and sex is a bad thing. Everybody does it. How bad can it be? Everybody does it a little different. Everybody has different things that turn them on.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:29:30] Everybody has different things they want to do. Just do it.
Mason Funk: It reminds me of my husband who's a therapist, we talk a lot about how in life you don't come out once. Can you riff a little bit on that idea that you think you've come out, but then there's all these other layers inside yourself, and even within the gay community, you're still coming out, coming out, coming out?
Lamar Van Dyke: Coming out, coming out, yeah. SM was certainly one of those things. I came out as a lesbian in Toronto, and as
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:30:00] I was telling you earlier, got arrested for that, did all of that, and then you're just out. That's just all out. Then when I took off in my van, I came out sexually, and then when I stopped being in my van, I totally came out into leather. Actually, there was an interesting thing in Seattle. There was a group of feminists that were having a conference and they were very opposed to SM. They invited us to come and be on a panel and I thought, " You know what? I don't want to be on a panel.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:30:30] I don't want to sit on a panel and justify this thing that we're doing that's fun. That's not fun to be on a panel." Instead, I got some women together, and I wrote this poem. I guess we were rapping. Rap didn't happen then, but I guess we were rapping. I wrote this poem that said, "We are sick. We are sick. We are sick, sick, sick. We like leather. We like lace. We like to whip, whip, whip."
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:31:00] Everybody like maybe six of us, seven of us, went to this conference, and took off our outside clothes and had on lingerie and corsets, and fishnet stockings, and whips, and all of that, and stood there and said our poem, and the place freaked out. These women in the back started screaming, "Stop this! Stop!" and the whole ... people had their opinions. It caused people to have their opinions. When we were done, we just
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:31:30] put our outside clothes back on and left, and left them to discuss it, which they did. They did. Apparently, it turned into a huge discussion between them about censorship and people doing what they wanted and they had they processed it and we did not process that for them, and I love that.
Mason Funk: You left it for them to process?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Oops.
Lamar Van Dyke: It doesn't matter. We didn't know how that was going to work. I just knew that I was not sitting on a panel.
Mason Funk: [00:32:00] Right. Because by definition that would be like explain yourselves to us. Make yourselves understand-
Lamar Van Dyke: Why do you this? Well, we do it because it's fun, and we like to shock people. We're in age where we like to shock people and we like to have fun, and we like to do what we want to do, and this is what we're going to do for you. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Great. I'm going to check the time, let's see. Okay. This is great.
Mason Funk: [00:32:30] We're covering a lot of territory. Oops, sorry. Hold on one second. [inaudible 00:32:41]. Okay. We have to cover two very important things. One is, you've referred to the Van Dykes, but you haven't explained: How did you get your name?
Lamar Van Dyke: Because we were dykes and we were ... okay. The Van Dykes. The Van Dykes happened because I traveled around with a woman in the van and
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:33:00] I said, "I think we're Van Dykes." She said, "That's a good name," so the two of us called ourselves Van Dykes. Then as we got more vans and more people, everybody had a Van Dyke name. Everybody at that time changed their ... not legally. I did legally change my name, but everybody changed their name at that time period to Van Dyke, and they also changed their first names like Anne changed her name to Brook Van Dyke because she babbled all the time. She talked a lot.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:33:30] Chris changed her name to Thorn Van Dyke because she was very thorny and she was always ready for a so, she announced that she was Thorn Van Dyke, and it was like that. Then we were all Van Dykes. Then, when the Van Dyke thing imploded, I kept my name and legally changed my name to Van Dyke, because I just love that. I love the idea of going to a restaurant and having a reservation-
Mason Funk: Oops, we should turn that off.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Hold that thought though.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:34:00] Yeah.
Mason Funk: I'm not sure that's me in the frame, so set it where it won't be in the frame, perfect.
Lamar Van Dyke: I like the idea of taking a bunch of dykes to a-
Mason Funk: Do me a favor. Just so get your chair in the side.
Lamar Van Dyke: All right. The Van Dyke thing, I really loved the idea of having a reservation in a restaurant and having them say, "Van Dyke party of six,"
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:34:30] and having six dykes stand up to go to the table. I just love that idea, so I kept that name because it suited me. The name I was given when I was born was okay for a while but it wasn't ... it didn't turn out to really be my name. I eventually settled on my name and it was perfect.
Mason Funk: How did the Lamar part came into play?
Lamar Van Dyke: My mother named me Heather, and she had this image that I was going to be a
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:35:00] beauty queen and a Shirley Temple. I was raised to be a Shirley Temple, and I sang and danced for her friends when I was three with my little speech impediment, and she gave me permanence, so I'd have ... my mother was just a little bit crazy like that. I heard about Hedy Lamarr, the movie star. I had no idea who she was. I'd never ever seen a movie. I was just very small.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:35:30] For a while I ran around saying, "I'm Hedy Lamarr, the movie star. I'm Hedy Lamarr, the movie star," because Hedy was something that they called me, right? As I was sifting through my names, because I had all these husbands, and then as a feminist, you don't want your father's name, so are you going to be Ruth's child, or are you going to just use your first two names. The name thing, its a very male-identified thing, and we were freeing ourselves from that.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:36:00] The Van Dyke helped us do that, but the first name just was never right. Heather was not the right name for me anymore. When I came to Seattle, one of the women that I became good friends with, she said, "I think your name is Lamar," because I told her the Hedy Lamarr the movie star, and she said, "I think your name is Lamar." "Oh my God, you're right. You're right."
Mason Funk: Brilliant.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. I got here and I got my name. I settled on my name and I became what I was going to be when I grew up, and Seattle was very good for me in that respect.
Mason Funk: [00:36:30] Briefly tell me what happened to the different paths that some of the women who were part of the original Van Dykes, where they ended up in their lives?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. Chris, Thorn is-
Mason Funk: If this was a new thought, so refer to the Van Dyke-
Lamar Van Dyke: The Van Dykes.When the Van Dykes grew up, which eventually we all had to do,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:37:00] Chris became a PhD English professor. Actually, so many of the women that I was hanging with when I was young and rowdy are PhD people now. It shocked me. Some of it just really... it's like, "Wow, okay. I always knew you'd like that, but I didn't realize you were going to pursue it to that extent." She became a PhD person. One of the other women died.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:37:30] Two of the women, we don't speak. I don't know what became of that. I don't know what became of them. I don't know if they know what became of me.
Mason Funk: Did any of them that you know of become settled down or go back to "more conventional lives"?
Lamar Van Dyke: Chris did, the one that became the PhD, she did. She hooked up with a woman. They've been together for 25 years. Her partner is writing books. They have a very conventional happy little life.
Mason Funk: [00:38:00] How do you view that when you say they have a conventional happy little life?
Lamar Van Dyke: For her, she wasn't really... she was on vacation. Chris was on vacation with the Van Dykes. She was doing it, and we were travelling, and that was all fine, but it clearly wasn't who she was.She had been my wife before we went on this trip.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:38:30] She had been my wife so I had lived some of that with her.With some other women we bought the farm and we lived there, and we did that kind of thing, and she was very happy with that, and I was restless with that. It wasn't good for me. She went off and became restless with the Van Dykes and did that and then when that was over, she went back to being happier with a more traditional, in a lot of ways, existence, than I would have had.
Mason Funk: [00:39:00] Right. Is there a theme here of each person has to find obviously what fits that persons like? Do you see all people as basically just wild animals who either suppress it or not, or are some people just more conventional?
Lamar Van Dyke: I think some people are more conventional. I think women have that nurturing ...
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:39:30] I don't have to negotiate anything. I like that. Some people don't like that. Some people want that compromised in that negotiation. That makes them feel better. I'm not one of those people.they want the unit. They want that coziness. They want that. I had that on many occasions and I didn't like that. It made me feel very restricted and confined, and I didn't really want a partner in that way. I have had partners in that way but right now I'm very happy to be living
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:40:00] by myself in my house, seeing people when I want to, hooking up with whoever I want to, when I want to, and then coming home, and having all of this space to myself, and not having to negotiate the laundry, the dinner, the vacations, all of that.
Mason Funk: [00:40:30] Great. It's very refreshing. I totally relate. You can probably totally relate too. The give and take, the compromise of the laundry and the dinner. It's like sometimes you just want to say, like my husband and I, were so happy when I go away, when he goes away. It's about like go out for a few days. So its mini versions of that.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. I used to send my wife away, the last wife that I had.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:41:00] I said, "I think it's time you went to California and visited your friends. Don't you want to get on your motorcycle and go on a trip? Why don't you go?" She's like, "Yeah, great," and so she would go, and then we'd both be happy.
Mason Funk: She was probably nurturing the secret thought, just needed you to get the permission.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay, let's see. Let's take a little break. Just take a break. I'm going to download this card and stretch.
Lamar Van Dyke: I'll use the bathroom.
Mason Funk: Give me one sec here, 1950 painting?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:41:30] My mother painted that.
Mason Funk: That's so cool.
Lamar Van Dyke: My mom was taking a painting class.
Lulu Gargiulo: Yes, we are.
Mason Funk: Okay. Let me ask you basically that ... just tell me that story about being in bed and-
Lamar Van Dyke: I had rheumatic fever when I was a kid, and I think now they give you a pill and you're over it in three days. At that point in time, they said you had to stay in bed so that your heart would heal, so your heart wouldn't be damaged. My mother's job was to keep a five year old in a bed for a year.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:42:00] I can't imagine that that was any easy thing. She put a hospital bed in the dining room, because if she tried to make me stand in my room, I was just up and running around. She put a bed in the dining room, which was the very center of the house and then she could talk to me when she was in the kitchen, and she could talk to me when she was in the living room, and all of that, while she was taking a painting class and she wanted to paint. I wouldn't stop talking to her because that was my entertainment.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:42:30] She bought me a paint by numbers kit, and said, "Here, this is how you do it. This is what you do. Follow the numbers." I sat down and followed the numbers and then I said, "Do I have to really follow the numbers?" and she said, "No." Then, I would just paint whatever the picture was. I would just paint it the way that I wanted to paint it so I've been painting since then, since she got me going.
Mason Funk: [00:43:00] The question I asked you a minute ago, to some it might be surprising that your mother said, "No, you don't have to paint with the numbers." What made her capable of that?
Lamar Van Dyke: My mother really got me. Even though she was a Victorian person, she got it that I was not inside the box, and she never really tried to stop me from expressing myself artistically. She always thought that that was ... she encouraged that. She encouraged that. "You want to paint?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:43:30] Great, let's go get paints. You want to do this? Great, let's get you this." She did get a little concerned about me insisting on being a tomboy, which I did, so she approached that transition as an art project. She got me stuff so I could dye my hair, and she got me makeup so I could paint my face, and she got me things so I could shave my legs. She presented this as an art project so I got all into it. I just thought it was fun. It's like, "White lipstick, yeah!
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:44:00] I'm going to iron my hair and make it be straight," like my hair was curly to begin with, but whatever. All of those things, she encouraged those things. She knew it wasn't exactly the way that she wanted it to go, but I was doing it, and I was stopping being so much of a tomboy. She really wanted me to move down that road and go and try to be Miss America, which is hysterical. Every year, we had to watch the Miss America pageant together. It was mandatory.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:44:30] We would watch the Miss America pageant and she would point out to me how poised those young women were. Look, you can ask them anything, and are they laughing and giggling, and falling down, and peeing their pants? No, they're not. They're simply answering the question. You might like to try that. Look at those girls. Look at how nice and straight they stand up. Because I was very tall and I was taller than everybody, so I was trying to, you know. Look at how nice and straight
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:45:00] they stand up and they're even wearing heels. It was my lesson. I had to sit there and watch the pageant with her, which I thought was fun. It was fun. But she was telling me, "You need to be like this." Then, she sent me to charm school so I could be charming. She really tried to get me to the best of her ability to do what she thought young women should do. I did it for a minute, and then I was over it.
Mason Funk: At a certain level she was also able to adjust?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:45:30] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. She could adjust and she did. She had to.
Mason Funk: Right. Right. It's like-
Lamar Van Dyke: She had to.
Mason Funk: Niagara Falls, what are you going to do?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Cool. Now, there is a story that you told earlier that I don't want to forget.Its the story of you all getting arrested, and then in a way how this almost became like a Stonewall, like this is for our history, this is important. Give me a pretty condensed version of that whole episode, that story?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:46:00] In 1972, I was living in Toronto and we were being feminists, and had a women's center and had hostels for women, and battered women shelters, and everything was women, women, women, women and women. The women at the women's center, I was the coordinator of the women's center for a minute. The women at the women's center were fighting with the women at the gay center, because the women at the gay center were, in their opinion, wasting their time working with those men. I thought, "We're all working towards the same goal."
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:46:30] I called up the coordinator of the women's center. I invited her to bring her girlfriend and let's go out for dinner. We went out for dinner, and we had a great time. We became lifelong friends actually. We had a great time, and we didn't want the evening to end, and we went next door to have a beer when they threw us out of the restaurant at about 11:00. We went next door to have a beer and they were having amateur night which was a precursor to karaoke. There was a woman playing the piano,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:47:00] which would be like I'm in my living room at home with my mother. She did that, and she would play whatever and you would get up and sing. I asked her if she knew how to play I Enjoy Being a Girl, and she did, so we got up and started singing I Enjoy Being a Dyke, which is a song I sing every year at the Dyke March. I emcee the Dyke March and I sing that song. I do it so I can sing that song. We got up and we sang the song and the piano player freaked out,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:47:30] and pulled the plug, and they threw us off the stage, and the guy that owned the place came over and he said, "Finish your beer and get out." It was a round table, about a four foot round table, and people around us started passing us beer, and pretty soon the table was full of beer. There is no way we could possibly ever drink that beer. We were pretty much there for the rest of our lives, if our message was drink the beer and get out, so he didn't like that.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:48:00] Then we saw the police come in and I thought, "The police are here, I wonder what that's about." They were there for us. They hauled us out and put us in a paddy wagon and took us to jail.Then they didn't charge us with anything and told us to leave. I said, "We're not leaving until somebody knows we're here." They picked us up physically, and carried us outside, and threw us in the snow banks of Toronto, and said, "Don't go back to the Brunswick Tavern."
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:48:30] We immediately went back to the Brunswick Tavern because we needed witnesses. We had a federal case. We had been mistreated. We were on it. We went back to the Brunswick Tavern, and, of course, they were waiting for us, and this time they did arrest us. They took us outside and they started throwing us around so I kicked a cop. We were teaching self-defense classes to women. What do you do when someone has your arms behind your back? You go like this in their stomach and you stomp on their foot. You go like this in their stomach.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:49:00] They let go of your arms. You stomp on their foot and you're gone. He had me from behind and I went boom, boom, and it worked. It worked, but of course they were like eight of them, or something, so we were arrested. We decided that we needed a lawyer and we went after Judy LaMarsh, who had been the Minister of Health and Welfare for the country of Canada, and she was now a professor at York University. We went and found her.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:49:30] We loved her. They had given her so much shit when she was the Minister of Health and Welfare, because she had big thick glasses and she was stout, and she didn't take any shit from anybody. She spoke her mind and she went after what she went after. She was fantastic. We loved her, so we went to get her and she wasn't having anything to do with us. She let us come in and talk to her and she said, "I don't take any cases." We're like, "Right. Well, this is what happened."
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:50:00] "All right, tell me what happened." We told her what happened, and when we got to the police brutality, she snapped her pencil in half. She had a pencil in her hand. She snapped it in half, and she said, "I detest police brutality." Okay. Then, she took a minute and said, "All right, I'm going to take this case, but if there are any demonstrations of any kind in that courtroom, I'm leaving." We were all about the demonstration.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:50:30] We were a demonstration, and so I said, "A demonstration. Now, if everybody that comes to court is wearing a shirt that says, 'I enjoy being a dyke,' do you consider that to be a demonstration?" "No, I'm speaking about you. I'm speaking about the four of you." "Okay. If we wear shirts that say, 'I enjoy being a dyke,' is that a demonstration?" "Yes, but I have no control over the crowd." Okay.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:51:00] She whipped us into shape and we would have done whatever she said. We loved her so much, and we knew she was going to save us. We were in trouble and we knew she'd save us. When we went to court, the courtroom was packed. There were 400 people there all wearing shirts that say, "I enjoy being a dyke." Then, the judge comes in and asked the bailiff, "Is there a class observing the court today?" The bailiff said, "No, Your Honor. These are friends of the defendants." " Is the right honorable Judy LaMarsh in the court?
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:51:30] " She stands up and says, "Yes, Your Honor." "Okay, 10 minute recess," and he goes and gets himself together, and then he comes back and he has to conduct this very obvious trial that's being kept track of, and it's going in the papers, and all of that. In fact, that's when I had to tell my mother I was a lesbian, because I had been arrested, and it was in a different city, but she had friends in that city, and I knew that somebody was going to call her
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:52:00] and tell her, "I saw your daughter on television. She was singing I Enjoy Being a Dyke." I went home and I said, "Mom, I got to tell you something," so I told her. How could you be surprised? She wasn't surprised. Yeah.
Mason Funk: So, this case became...
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. The case became, apparently, some turning point in the Canadian gay movement, because 20 years later it was ... I've been gone from there for a very long time,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:52:30] but 20 years later it popped up in the paper. It says, "The 20th anniversary of the Brunswick Four." People started getting a hold of me, "We want to make a movie." A number of people have gotten a hold of us to make a movie. Nobody has made a movie, but we just say, "Yes." There's two of us that are left from that group. Our policy is we just say yes, and maybe someday somebody will do it and whatever. If they don't, they don't.
Mason Funk: [00:53:00] To this day to a certain degree, the case of the Brunswick Four can be somewhat compared to our Stonewall, would you say? Can you just tell me that?
Lamar Van Dyke: Mm-hmm. It was an uproar.The whole gay community in Toronto, which is a big city, so the whole gay community and the whole dyke community was totally in an uproar that we could be arrested for singing a song, and it is a little stunning, really. We were singing a song.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:53:30] How many people go to jail for singing a song? We did. It was a turning point. Everybody said, "That's enough of that." Yeah.
Mason Funk: That's great. Okay. I don't want to go through too much further than that. I think that's a great story. It reminds me, I Enjoy Being A Dyke reminds me of a famous Elizabeth Warren, or famous phrase thats become attached to Elizabeth Warren, "Nevertheless, she persisted." It's one of those things you can put on a T-shirt, which of course people have.
Mason Funk: [00:54:00] Let's talk about more about SM, or S&M. It created a huge controversy, because for a large portion of the women's movement, the lesbian community, they didn't want this to be associated with them, but you obviously feel differently, about the importance of SM.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:54:30] It was really the importance of women claiming their sexuality.
Mason Funk: Tell me what you're talking about.
Lamar Van Dyke: Okay. When the whole SM thing exploded, the lesbian SM thing exploded on the scene. In our opinion, the SM dykes, it was us claiming our sexuality, and us saying, "We're going to do whatever we want. Men have been going around for thousands of years doing whatever they want, sexually, to whoever they want. We're going to do whatever we want.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:55:00] We're not going to really hurt anybody. We're not going to really damage anybody, but we're going to push those limits. We're going to play with that stuff. We're going to talk to each other about it. The big thing was talking to each other about it. Lesbians, up to that point, felt... my experience with lesbians up to that point was that somehow sex descended from the sky in a large lavender cloud.
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:55:30] You could be going along with somebody, and then for some unknown reason, you'd be having sex, but you didn't really talk about it. It just happened. You maneuvered it or you whatever. It just happened. What the SM dykes were doing was saying, "We're going to talk about this. We're going to totally talk about this. What are you into? What do you like? How do you go? How does it work for you? What do you want to do? What don't you want to do? Where are you at?" It was a whole, for me
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:56:00] and the women that I was with, it was claiming our sexuality and just saying, "Hey, we're going to deal with this straight up."
Mason Funk: When you talked earlier about how the idea of separatism was you were going to try to ... I guess the word that comes to mind is... Was SM an attempt to appropriate male sexuality and make it your own, or was it
Mason Funk: [00:56:30] creating an authentic women's sexuality, or something entirely different than those two ideas?
Lamar Van Dyke: I think that SM was really women creating an authentic lesbian sexuality, because we were not the same as men, and we weren't the same as all those gay men that had this Seattle Boxing Club across the street. Their idea of fun was different from our idea of fun, and that was okay. As long as we were in our world and
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:57:00] we were exploring our idea of fun, and we were doing workshops and classes, because lesbians are like that. It's not like you just jump off the high board, no. You take everybody with you. You have workshops and you have conferences, and you organize the community around these issues, and so we did organize the community around these issues, and we did have these conferences called Power Surge which were lesbian SM conferences, and
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:57:30] it was like anything goes. We had workshops during the day, and then we had dungeon parties at night where you could go and try out the things that you learned in the afternoon at the workshop that you went to. It was a very safe environment, and people were having lots of fun and living out their fantasies, and having things happened that they'd never thought would happen before. Everybody was very high and energetic, and excited about the whole thing.
Mason Funk: One second. You can keep going. I just want to point this mic I keep noticing but it's ... hold on.
Lulu Gargiulo: [00:58:00] Still sounds good, all good.
Mason Funk: Okay. You just point it a little bit more-
Lulu Gargiulo: You stay where you were. You were fine.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Yeah. What do you say to someone ... Because in this archive, one of the things I'm dealing with is I'm not excluding anybody, believe me, for any point of view. If somebody comes along and says, "Those people," what do you ... like someone who was threatened effectively by what you are saying? In a conversation,
Mason Funk: [00:58:30] what do you say to that person who feels threatened or scared of what you're describing, a man or a woman?
Lamar Van Dyke: I would say, "What do you care? You're not doing it. It's not happening to you. It's not in your life. What do you care? Why does that affect you so much?"
Mason Funk: When you say that to that person, is that more of a way of saying fuck off or is that a way of
Mason Funk: [00:59:00] actually trying to create a conversation where you open up something to them that they might be a little closed off to?
Lamar Van Dyke: I think that telling somebody, What do you care about what I'm doing? I'm going down this path. I'm being wild and crazy and doing SM, and pushing all those limits. I'm doing that, and you seem to have a very strong opinion about that. Why do you have such a strong opinion about that? Why do you care what I'm doing? I'm not saying you have to do it,
Lamar Van Dyke: [00:59:30] so where does that come from? What is that for you? If I'm feeling like I want to talk about it, but if I'm not feeling I want to talk about it, it would be a fuck off. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Like that panel?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. Right. It's like, how much do we want to talk about this? It's 20 years later, this is about having fun. This is not about ... SM is about having fun and getting out there and pushing yourself, and trusting yourself, and trusting somebody else, and just going for it. It's not about so much sitting around and talking about
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:00:00] how it's really okay to do this, and you really could be tied up, and nothing terrible would happen if you didn't want it to. We did a lot of that in the beginning, but then it was just about having fun.
Mason Funk: You mentioned trust, and everybody seems to agree that trust is a good value, whether it's between casual strangers or whether it's with your partner. In a way, do you think that in this practice,
Mason Funk: [01:00:30] you're creating a possibility of different types, deeper levels of trust that many people never get to? It's a loaded question.
Lamar Van Dyke: I think that the SM thing, the trust thing, we had to develop that. When we were having play parties and having sex and playing in public spaces, that was actually a very safe thing to do, because you weren't off with somebody that you didn't know, doing something that you didn't know if they really were a serial killer,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:01:00] or you were in a room, in your own little corner doing something. If it wasn't going right, there were 50 people there that would step in and just get you right out of there. You did have, that public sex thing did provide some safeguards that weren't there in other situations. I would say for me, SM really created a situation where I totally trusted myself.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:01:30] All of the years that I had been held back, and you're too this and too that, and too this and too that. When I got to SM, everybody loved it that I was so big, and bad, and loud. Then, I had questions like, how far would I go? What wouldn't I really do? I was like that for a little while until I realized that I could just let my imagination run wild and it was fine.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:02:00] It was fine. I wasn't really going to do any damage to anybody, serious damage to anybody. I wasn't really going to tie anybody at the railroad tracks, and have them get run over with a train. None of that was really going to happen, that it was fine. I could trust myself, which meant that when I was playing with somebody, I could just go for it, and it was fun. If it wasn't fun for them, I would stop, but I could just go for it, and that was the freedom of that expression for me.
Mason Funk: [01:02:30] Were there ever any times when you felt like you had crossed the line and gotten to a place that was unsafe, and you realized, that fire actually burns, and that you had to make a course correction?
Lamar Van Dyke: Not necessarily, because of the people I was playing with. The people I was playing with were very adventurous, and so they would go there too. I think when I started doing fish hook suspensions,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:03:00] that really pushed ... that pushed it for me because I had never done that before, and I wasn't sure. I'd never gone to a workshop about it because there weren't any workshops about it and now it's a fairly common thing. When I did that, and I did it at one of those Power Surge things. We did it as one of the evening's activities. I put fish hooks, big fish hooks all along both sides of somebody's back,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:03:30] and I didn't really know how many we would need, like what if there wasn't enough? When we took away the table underneath, that person's skin just ripped and they fell down. What about that? You don't know about that until you do it. I just put a lot of hooks in her. I've done that a few times and each time there were fewer and fewer hooks. The first time,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:04:00] there were a lot of hooks in her and it was very exciting and scary for me. For bottoms, a lot of things are scary and that's what they're getting off on. For me, there weren't a lot of things that were scary but every now and then something came along or somebody wanted to do something and I'd think, "Okay. All right, Ive never done that before but let's do it." Suspending somebody with fish hooks was one of those things.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:04:30] When we got all the fish hooks in her, and then she was on a table, she was laying on her stomach on a table and then we pulled ... we had the thing on a pulley. We had her hooked into an apparatus, and we started pulling her up, and pulling her up very slowly, and she was okay. We pulled her up and she was okay, and then she was up and off the table, and we just move the table out, and she was hanging there,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:05:00] and she was very high. The whole thing just... she was flying. She was just flying, flying, flying, flying, flying. It was fantastic, and I had never done that before. It was scary and it was fun. It took a lot of work.Somebody had to build the apparatus, and I had to take the barbs off the fish hook so that they were just sharp and didn't have that thing on them. There was a lot of preparation that went into that,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:05:30] and a lot of people worked on that, so that when we got to the moment of doing that, there was a lot of energy focused on that and it had to work.
Mason Funk: How many fish hooks, just out of curiosity, did you end up having in her, and when you lift-
Lamar Van Dyke: Let's see, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, maybe fourteen. I did both sides of her-
Mason Funk: State that as a complete sentence.
Lamar Van Dyke: For that suspension, I would say there were probably 14 hooks in her
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:06:00] that went down both sides of her back and down the backs of both of her legs, so that she was my goal was to have her weight distributed evenly instead of have her hanging from some part that was going to be uncomfortable. How was it comfortable that you're hanging from fish hooks? I don't know. By the time we were done, she looked pretty comfortable.
Mason Funk: That's fascinating, because the way that's evenly distributed which is like incredible metaphor or something-
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:06:30] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Mason Funk: Wow. I heard this person's name, Gigi Wilborn in Houston, who you would definitely enjoy her acting, who does workshops. I say woman ... Gigi is intersex and he/shesaid whatever pronouns work for me. Even still, I had to think, am I using the right pronouns? But she has workshops and a whole lot of apparatuses in Gigi's back house,
Mason Funk: [01:07:00] and yeah. It's fascinating. Okay. That was a great example because that just makes it very tangible, so that's a great story to get people to understand the boundaries that you all are exploring. How much-
Lamar Van Dyke: It was communication. The whole thing was communication. It's like you could do whatever in the SM, dyke SM world, you could do whatever as long as you could talk about it and if you couldn't talk about it, you couldn't do it.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:07:30] We learned to talk about it.
Mason Funk: Flush that out for me in terms of the communication. I'm guessing it happened before or after, essentially, is that right? Just flush out the idea of communication within these practices and these experimentations.
Lamar Van Dyke: We have this big SM conference coming up, and it's a big event, and we're having an Amazon feast,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:08:00] and we want some entertainment for the Amazon feast, so I say, "Let's hang somebody with fish hooks." People say, "Yeah," and this woman says, "You can hang me." Then, I have to talk with her about what that means, and where she's at with that, and is she willing to be naked, or does she want to be wearing clothing? Just getting into the details of that whole thing. Does she have somebody with her that's going to be looking after her? Because when you come down from that,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:08:30] you're not only full of endorphins but you have ... you need icepacks on your back and there's things that have to happen. I wasn't really going to be doing that so she needed to have somebody lined up to do that for her. We had those negotiations beforehand, and then I had negotiations with the people who were building the apparatus about how I thought that should be. Then, while it's going on, we are negotiating. She's laying on the table
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:09:00] and I'm putting these gigantic 12 gauge fish hooks in her back and I'm talking to her as I'm doing it. I'm telling her, "Okay. Now, I'm going to put another one in there. Are you ready?" She's like, "Yeah." "Okay, so is that good?" "Yeah, that's good." "Okay, I'm going to put another one in there." We're talking the whole time and then I say, "Okay, we've got them all in, and we've got them all tied up, so are you ready?" She's like, "Yeah, I'm ready."
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:09:30] I said, "Okay, so you let me know if this isn't working." She's like, "Okay," and she just closed her eyes and we started hauling her up, and it was good. When we brought her back down she did have two ... I think she had two people. She might have had three people who were there to like ... I took the hooks out and they took her and they put icepacks on her, and I took care of her until she came down a little bit because she was totally spaced out.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:10:00] It's a fabulous spaced out thing to do, and she came down a little bit and we were good.
Mason Funk: How did you know the physicality of how deep to go with the hook?
Lamar Van Dyke: I didn't know.
Mason Funk: Tell me that in a complete sentence.
Lamar Van Dyke: I didn't know how deep to go with the hook. I had never done that before, but I did have a feeling that you had to have enough skin there to hold the weight of her body
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:10:30] so it wasn't like you could just like you take little needles and you stick them through the ends of your fingers when you were a kid. It's not like that. It's like I needed to have a good chunk of her so I could feel it. It's like I would pinch her skin, and then I could feel that there was some muscle under there and I could feel that, and I would feel like that was a pretty good spot and I would go through there. I didn't know. I really didn't know. I was just doing it, which was the fun of it for me, was that I didn't know and I was just doing it.
Mason Funk: [01:11:00] Very cool.
Lulu Gargiulo: Amazing. Can I just take a quick break?
Mason Funk: Sure.
Lulu Gargiulo: Okay, just make a note of it.
Mason Funk: He's really good typically.
Lulu Gargiulo: Okay.
Mason Funk: Okay. We're speaking? Okay, so let's talk about first of all, starting with Michael Oreos.
Lamar Van Dyke: Michael Oreos. Michael Oreos was this fabulous he was a bartender at this tiny little bar in the front of a Greek restaurant downtown.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:11:30] This bar was frequented by drag queens when they were not in drag. It was this den of iniquity that people were there, and they would come back at 6:00 in the morning for morning madness. It was a scene and a half, and Michael pretty much ran that bar, and he was this very tall, good looking, articulate guy that just kept the whole place humming, which was not a big deal because it was tiny.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:12:00] He ran for mister who was he? It wasn't Seattle. Maybe it was Washington. Anyway, he ran for some title, some drag queen, some butch segment of the drag queen title, and of course he won, because he was Mr. Handsome and Mr. Charming, and Mr. All Of That. He won, and he did a lot for that drag community simply by being himself and keeping that whole thing happening.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:12:30] When everybody was not in drag, and they were in that bar, he would just keep it humming and keep it going, and keep everybody laughing, and people would come in with ... he'd just kick him into laughing. Michael was great.
Mason Funk: What happened? Is he still around?
Lamar Van Dyke: I don't think so. He was older than me, and he, for a while,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:13:00] was one of the owners of Tulas so I saw him downtown maybe fifteen years ago going into Tulas, and got to talk to him for a minute. That was fun, but he looked pretty old then, so I suspect that he's not around anymore.
Mason Funk: You mentioned him as a creator of community?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah, he did.
Mason Funk: The obvious, not obvious question is, what does that mean? Why was it important?
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:13:30] Community for me at that particular point in time, community was changing, like I was coming out of this time period of not speaking to men. I had no use for men. I did not speak to men. Now I had a girlfriend who eventually became my wife, who hung around in this little Greek bar full of drag queens who were not in drag, and she wanted me to go to that bar with her and meet her friends. I was like, "No, really? I really have to this? I don't know about them. I don't know," so we went there,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:14:00] and she, before we went there, she thought Michael was behind the bar. She told them all, "Don't touch her. Don't try to hug her or kiss her," because they all did that. They all would come in and kiss each other and everything and she said, "Don't touch her." I came in and these guys were like, they were stiff, and they were like, "Hello, nice to meet you. Oh, good,"
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:14:30] and Michael was behind the bar and he started laughing and he poured me a drink, and then he said, "Let's play seven, fourteen, twenty-one," which is a drinking game that I had never ever played, and we started playing this game, and then pretty soon in a matter of 20 minutes, we're all friends and I'm having a great time with these guys, and Michael is like laughing, laughing, laughing. Everybody's relaxed, and then Michael says, "Can I hug you?" I said, "No."
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:15:00] He's like, "Okay, okay."
Mason Funk: That's great. That's great. Again, what is the importance of why is community-
Lamar Van Dyke: Community. Community is one of those things. If you develop a community or you become a member of a community, you have validation for whatever that community is standing for, so with me and the SM community,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:15:30] we all, because we were all doing all these funny kinky things, nobody thought it was weird. We would just egg each other on, actually, to do more and to do it better. The gay community, same thing. It's like, the gay community. When there's issues, when AIDS popped up, the gay community rallied. Everybody rallied and started making a fuss about that. When things come up, the community comes together and says, "Okay, we're going to push this up a notch. We're going to kick this up a notch."
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:16:00] Michael Oreos was involved in the drag queen community, not as a drag queen, but he was involved in that community, and he pushed them up and got them going, and got everybody to feel together with each other instead of to feel opposed to each other, even though it was competitions. It was like one contest after another contest, after another contest. It didn't matter. It was a community. There's so many contests. By the end of it, everybody got to be something somewhere.
Mason Funk: [01:16:30] The great [inaudible] or the contests in [inaudible]?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah, which is how I became Mr. Gay Washington by accident.
Mason Funk: That's actually the next question I had.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Tell us about being Mr.-
Lamar Van Dyke: I'm hanging around with the drag queens.
Mason Funk: I was talking so start fresh.
Lamar Van Dyke: All right. I'm hanging around with the drag queens, and they're having all these contests and they're running for things, and I'm watching them and I'm thinking, "Gosh, they don't even know the words to the songs that they're lip syncing." They're just standing there being glamorous and moving their mouths,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:17:00] like come on. I was raised to be Shirley Temple, so if I'm going to put on a show, I'm going to know the words, sing the song, put the act together, have the whole thing going on. So the first thing that I did, was my wife and I ran for Mr. and Mrs. Gay Seattle, just because I couldn't believe the drag shows were so incredibly boring. We ran for Mr. and Mrs. Gay Seattle, and
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:17:30] she rode her motorcycle down the stairs and onto the stage, and I tied her to her motorcycle and whipped her. It started out that there was a group of us wearing regular clothes, and then she rode her motorcycle down onto the stage and we ripped off our clothes, and had on corsets, and all of that, and I tied her to the bike, and was whipping her on the bike while the backup girls were doing synchronized whipping, and it brought down the house. It totally brought down the house, and they could not deal.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:18:00] We were running as a pair, which people didn't do. We said, "Either we both win or none of us win." We didn't even really want to win. We just wanted to do it. We didn't win and people freaked out that we didn't win because it was such a huge thing so I think we were the runners up in that, so then a number of years go by. Then we do our own shows.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:18:30] We put all these shows on and we do all these dyke shows and all these leather shows, and all these shows are happening. Then, I got bored. We had some friends who died and we went into grief mode for a year and a half, and then I woke up and thought, "Oh my God, I'm so bored. What am I going to do?" The Mr. and Mrs. Gay Washington pageant was going on. I thought. "Great. I'll go run for Mr. Gay Washington. They'll never let a woman be Mr. Gay Washington. I have nothing to worry about. I'll just go down, act crazy, have fun, and leave."
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:19:00] I went down. It was in Olympia. I went down to Olympia. I acted crazy and then I tried to leave, and my wife said, "You can't leave. This is a contest." I said, "Yeah, yeah. I know it's a contest but let's go. Come on, let's go. I'm done." "No, you can't leave. You have to wait 'til the end," so we're hanging around, then they make all the contestants go out into the hall to wait for the winners, and I thought, "If anything,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:19:30] I'll be a runner up," because that's what they did with Mr. and Mrs. Gay Seattle. They made us be the runners up. I thought, "I'll be a runner up, no problem." They called the runners up and it's not me, so I looked at her. I said, "Okay, so now can we go?" She said, "No." Then, they called the winners and it was me, and I ran. I went, tried to get out the door. I tried to get out the door and into the parking lot. I did not want to be Mr. Gay Washington. That would not be the point of me being in that contest,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:20:00] and she just pushed me back into the auditorium where the crowd just there I was. I was Mr. Gay Washington. The Mr. and Ms. from the year before are sitting on their thrones. It's all very full regal. It's hilarious. They're sitting on their thrones and you're supposed to go up and get on your knees. They'd do stuff, and I went up and stood in front of them, I said, "I'm not getting on my knees." They said, "That's fine. That's fine."
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:20:30] For a year, I was Mr. Gay Washington, and Olivia Fig, who was this six foot four, fabulous drag queen, was Ms. Gay Washington, and there we were. Actually, what came out of that was that next year, when I would be the one sitting in the chairs, I got to perform again, so I put together a singing group called The Sluts from Hell. The Sluts from Hell were like four butch dykes
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:21:00] in high femme drag, so we looked like drag queens. I guess it was a gender bender but at that time, that wasn't really an issue. We looked like drag queens and we learned two songs. We could sing two songs, because that was also one of my things. Well, these drag queens, it's all okay, but they can't use their own voices. Let's go and do what they can't do. Let's go sing, so we did. We went and we sang our two songs, and then people started calling, and wanting us to come and perform at this,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:21:30] and coming to perform at that, and we ended up going up and down the West Coast as The Sluts from Hell, and actually went to Hollywood, and were on The Gong Show. We got to be on The Gong Show. Then, that was the end of it. At the end of The Gong Show, we either had to pursue it in a serious way or give it up. One of the women, one of the Sluts had a kid, and she was a mailman.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:22:00] People have lives, and they couldn't pursue it in a serious way, so we gave it up.
Mason Funk: Right. When you were crowned Mr. Gay Washington that first time, were there people in the audience who were in a sense, "No. This isn't right.Set the stage for me. [inaudible]?
Lamar Van Dyke: Well, when I was Mr. Gay Washington, when they announced the winners, it was more the guys that were running for Mr. Gay Washington were prancing around
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:22:30] on the stage in blue spandex jumpsuit things. There was nothing butch about it, but they were just running for Mr. Gay Washington. I was there as one of the Blues Brothers and had a hat and his glasses. I was actually being butch in the contest, so people were happy that I won. You had to go through an interview process, and the people in the interview process,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:23:00] they were happy to have that happen. People were happy that I won. After that, all women have had titles now since then. That was 1984, '85, something like that.
Mason Funk: Excuse me. What is, in a general way, I would say gender bending? What is the importance of why is it important to gender bend?
Lamar Van Dyke: Well, gender bending... gender bending is one of those things.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:23:30] Gender bending was something that was fun. It was fun to go out and pass for a guy. It was fun to go out and pass for a girly girl. It was fun but my real life, in my real life, I was a dyke, and I was good with that. Now, people seem to take that very seriously, like you have to be one or the other. You're going to change, so if you want to go around dressed like a guy, well then, you better be a trans-person.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:24:00] If you want either, then you better be a trans-person. The gender bending was more playing with those roles and seeing how, in some ways, ridiculous those stereotypes actually are. I mean, I went and entered a contest at the Eagle, which was a boys' leather bar, one night when I just was in my shop and it was getting late, and I had nothing to do, and I was a little bit bored. I glued on sideburns. I glued on a mustache. I put on a hat and my leather jacket,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:24:30] and I went down to the Eagle, and I entered the best chest contest. I glued hair on my chest and had on a bustier under my jacket. I spent 45 minutes before the show started, walking around in the Eagle not talking, because if I talked, they'd know I was a girl. With a can of Budweiser, I had a can of Budweiser in my hand, and when the guys would talk to me, and they were, they were cruising me, and all of that. I just go, Ugh.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:25:00] "What's your name?" "Max." It was the lowest common denominator of what was a man in my opinion, and I, of course, won the best chest contest, because it was a fundraiser. People threw money on the stage for some AIDS thing or something. I got to the stage and the emcee says, "What do you want me to say about you?" I said, "Let's start with my name is Max and
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:25:30] I'm Lamar." He went, "My God, Lamar?" I said, "Yeah, but don't say that." He didn't. He's like, "This is Max." "Well, Max, is there anything you want to tell us about your chest?" I said, "Yeah." I unzipped my jacket. I had this hairy chest stuffed into a bustier. Of course, they went crazy and the money came, and it was fun. I call that gender bending. I thought that doing
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:26:00] that stuff was hilarious. "What's your name?" "Dick." Yeah. Yeah.
Mason Funk: That's great. Do you want to take a Do you have a couple of questions? Do you want-
Lulu Gargiulo: I don't.
Mason Funk: Okay. All right. Otherwise, you can still feel [inaudible] chance. We got to go back to those two people on your list.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: The two people. We got totally sidetracked. Ingrid Burkeout?
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:26:30] Ingrid Burkeout, she's my Dutch friend. She came here from Amsterdam, and the whole sexuality thing in Amsterdam is very different. Everybody is way more open. Nobody really has opinions about what other people do or don't do in bed. Ingrid came to America and just loved it, that America was so big, because Amsterdam and the Netherlands, everything was very small. The houses are small and everything's small. She came to America and expanded.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:27:00] She just expanded. When I met her, she came into my shop and introduced herself, and I said, "I'm Lamar Van Dyke." She's, "Fandika, are you Dutch?" I said, "No. No." Her girlfriend kicked her, because her girlfriend got it and she said, "Oh. Oh." She has spent her life doing things for women,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:27:30] working with the Breast and Cervical Health Project at the YWCA, and setting up screenings, free mammograms, free Pap smears for women. She has that whole nonprofit let's do good for women thing going on and nobody pays attention to that that much anymore. A lot of people are doing social work in that way, but I think that it's remarkable that she has spent all of these years doing that when she could have been making some money, but she didn't.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:28:00] She didn't. She kept working for a nonprofit, and she's happy with that, and I'm happy that she did that.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Great.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Then, Anne Rector?
Lamar Van Dyke: Anne Rector. Anne Rector was a crane operator when women were getting into the trades, and that women are learning to be electricians, and plumbers, and going to all these apprenticeships, and stuff. Anne became a crane operator. Then, Anne started her own construction company, called Rector Construction.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:28:30] There was a point in Seattle when there were five or six lavender cranes, big tower cranes putting up buildings all over the city that said, "Rector Construction." She was hiring women, and she had this whole she had this whole women in the trades thing going on for a number of years. Then, something changed, and she continued to be a crane operator, but something changed with her construction company, and she stopped doing that.
Mason Funk: [01:29:00] Is she still around this time?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yes. She is still around. She's retired now. She's retired now and paying the price for being a crane operator. Her thumbs don't work and her knees, and that's one of the things with women in the trades. It's like yes, women can get in the trades and then there's carpal tunnel, and there's all of these things happen to our bodies, because were doing things that our bodies are not really used to doing or equipped for, or we didn't train for, or whatever.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:29:30] Yes. Now, she's getting her knee fixed, and now she's getting her back fixed, and she's getting herself fixed up so she can enjoy the fruits of her retirement, which are great. She's almost making as much money retired as she was when she was in a crane.
Mason Funk: Wow. Wow. Is that an actual thing that either women that women's bodies don't have the same physical stamina or capabilities as men's bodies to do that manual labor?
Lamar Van Dyke: I don't know. Maybe, men get messed up too.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:30:00] She climbed up those tower cranes hundreds of feet every morning. She'd climb up into a crane and sit in that crane all day long, sitting there, doing things with her hands and these levers, and all of that. She paid a price for that, but I suspect that probably men pay that price too.
Mason Funk: Yeah. You see broken down men, [inaudible 01:30:31] bent over and tumbling.
Lamar Van Dyke: The women were becoming carpenters when the whole carpenter thing was happening. There was a lot of carpal tunnel from the hammering,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:30:30] and I think that that's because women didn't do anything to strengthen that part of their body before. They just decided, "I'm a carpenter, off I go." Then, they're a carpenter, off you go, well, then you pay the price. Maybe there were some things you could've done to get your body used to doing this all the time.
Mason Funk: Right.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: That's an interesting metaphor as well. The idea that you do something, almost as a political statement,
Mason Funk: [01:31:00] but you haven't necessarily been trained in doing a race. If you're a boy at the age of seven, you're hammering a little bit.
Lamar Van Dyke: Right.
Mason Funk: You maybe developed some little muscles-
Lamar Van Dyke: Yep.
Mason Funk: If you're doing it more as a political statement, you don't necessarily have the foundation.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah, and you watch the muscle with all the trans stuff that's going on. When women start taking testosterone, they develop muscles. They develop muscles they did not have before, and those muscles work great, but they didn't have them before, so yeah.
Mason Funk: [01:31:30] All right. You mentioned I think in your questionnaire Actually, let me go sideways for a second here. Talk about the importance of the Women's Music Festival Circuit, just from a historical perspective.
Lamar Van Dyke: The Women's Music Festival Circuit was so much fun. It was so much fun. The Michigan Music Festival, which happened, it just stopped happening last year,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:32:00] was on this piece of farmland. The very first one was on this piece of farmland outside of a small town in Michigan, where the people in the town were freaking out that there were thousands of women on this piece of land. Of course, it's all women so everybody's naked. Everybody's naked. Nobody cares. The men from the town are coming and lining up along the fence and trying to see the festival,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:32:30] trying to see the naked women, and just trying to sneak into the festival. That year, there was a lot of, "Man on the land, man on the land." Then, security would go and find the man and he's not on the land. They were taking up a lot of space just by being themselves. I organized a bunch of people to go with cameras to the fence where they were standing and to start photographing them, gawking at the women, because their wives and daughters
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:33:00] were at home not having any idea where they were. There were one hour photo places, so we could take all these pictures and take them to the one hour photo place in the town where they knew all of these men. That calmed that down a little bit, but it ended up being 10,000, 12,000 women, 10,000 or 12,000 women, only women on this piece of land camping, cooking, eating, dancing, singing, painting, selling.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:33:30] I was selling dyke T-shirts at that time, so I was always in the merchant tent, which meant that you saw everybody, because everybody walked past you and everybody looked at your shirts, and you got to talk to everybody, and all of that. The music festivals were very empowering for women. Then, more festivals popped up. There was West Coast Music Festival. I think there's going to be more popping up because now Michigan's not there anymore. We were talking about community earlier, it was so much community there.
Mason Funk: [01:34:00] That's amazing. For whatever reason, there was either never a need or never the whatever, for men to do anything similar. This had to be-
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: This was a necessary thing for women.Either it wasn't necessary or men didn't care, but there were no men's music festivals.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:34:30] Well, the whole issue of women-only space, which was a big deal in the '70s and the '80s, and it's something that I did in Seattle consistently.The dyke SM things were women-only. The women-only thing causes great anxiety among straight people. For some reason, people are opposed to the idea of women getting together without any men there whatsoever, not like that would ever be the world,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:35:00] unfortunately sometimes, but the whole idea of that just sends people over the edge, that there's something wrong with that. You're excluding people. Well, we're excluded from half of what goes on in this life that we're living, in these times we're living in. We're excluded from half of that so, hey, how about a weekend? How about a weekend where it's just us? What's the big deal? It comes back to what I was saying earlier, what do you care about that?
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:35:30] Does that really affect you? Does that change your life in any way whatsoever? No. It does change the lives of the women who go to those gatherings because it is an entirely different feeling to be walking around without your shirt on and nobody's staring at your body, and nobody's even noticing that you don't have your clothes on, because nobody's got their clothes on, or people are wearing things wrapped around them, or whatever. Nobody really notices that when it's a women-only thing.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:36:00] Everybody's just there, and what you're focused on is the point of being there. In Michigan, the focus was the music, although, really, the focus was the community and the opportunity to just be together and relax, and be yourselves.
Mason Funk: That's great. That's great stuff. You mentioned in your I think as the thing
Mason Funk: [01:36:30] that is the biggest change, it's something about small minds, and I wrote a question. Bear with me. This is in the realm of what you've learned, and me wanting you to be able to put that into words that can transmit it to other people. The question is, how do you open a mind that is very small?
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:37:00] How do you open a mind that is very small? Well, I used to think that the way you opened a mind that was very small was by screaming at them and insisting that you're right, and telling them they had to read things, and just pushing, just pushing them into changing their minds. Now, I'm seventy, so now I realize that that does not work. Now, I think the way you get people to change minds that are very small is by asking the right questions, and by
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:37:30] being an example of whatever it is that you want them to change their minds about. That would happen in my tattoo shop quite often, actually. Some guy came in and his daughter wanted her navel pierced, and he didn't want to be on Capitol Hill because of all those queers on Capitol Hill. He had a gun in his pocket because he was a Vietnam vet, and he'd brought her in just to talk to me, and he took one look at me, and was I just kept talking to him and said,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:38:00] "Well, we can do that if you want." Then, he decided he liked me. Then, he decided he was going to get tattooed. He changed his mind just by me being relaxed and easy with him, and treating him like anybody else. There he was, talking to somebody he'd never ever would have talked to before if his daughter did not want to go into that tattoo shop on Capitol Hill. It changed him. I watched it.
Mason Funk: [01:38:30] When you encounter someone who isn't so amenable, who is insisting that their mind is going to stay that exact same size-
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Then what do you do, if it matters to you?
Lamar Van Dyke: If it matters. I suppose if it matters, I would just turn on the charm. Sometimes, it doesn't matter. Like, right now with all the stuff going on with Trump, and everybody's hating everybody,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:39:00] and fighting with each other, and duking it out, and nobody's listening. Nobody is listening. None of those people that support Trump are listening to any of the people that don't support Trump, and the people that don't support Trump are not listening to these other people, so nobody's going to change their mind. Nothing's going to happen there to change anybody's mind. I think you have to go at that in a different way, and you just have to educate. Find a way to get new ideas
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:39:30] into people's minds in a nonthreatening way, because everything's so threatening. I don't quite know how that's going to work, but somebody's going to figure that out. It's like some new ideas have to pop in there even though everybody's shut down. Something has to happen there.
Mason Funk: Yeah. People are going around feeling like to listen would be to capitulate.
Lamar Van Dyke: Right. Right. Yeah.
Mason Funk: [01:40:00] Yeah. I mean, I'm definitely in that space and I know pretty much all everybody [inaudible] is in that same space and like, "If I listen to you, my God."
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: It's like surrender. It's like a white flag.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. I tried during the election. I'd gone on myself about that, and I thought, "Well, Lamar, you want everybody to be big on diversity. Diversity is a big deal. You better practice your own diversity. You cannot think. You cannot possibly walk around thinking that all these Trump supporters are stupid. That is not practicing diversity. People have their opinions, so I tried. I lasted about two weeks.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:40:30] I had an open mind for about two weeks and at the end of two weeks, I thought, "They are just fucking stupid. They're just stupid. I can't get around it." I don't need to be running around screaming that at anybody, but that really is what it appears to be to me.
Mason Funk: Taking that thought, then how are you going to, at the same time, practice what you just said, which is actually listening to them, if you think they're stupid?
Lamar Van Dyke: Right. Right. I know. I know. I tried. I failed.
Mason Funk: [01:41:00] Yeah. I agree with you. We need something new.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: We need something new. The old model's worn out.
Lamar Van Dyke: It doesn't work.
Mason Funk: Yeah. Can we go back to that lonely little tattoo shop?
Lamar Van Dyke: Lonely little tattoo shop? Yeah.
Mason Funk: Just give me more of a sense of what it was like, because I just think this is rite of passage stuff.
Lamar Van Dyke: Well, I've rented this space on Pike Street, and it was 900 square feet. I had my tattoo stuff which took up three square feet.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:41:30] I had my chair and a massage table, and that was pretty much it. I was in this vacuous space with all this wall space that I needed to fill up with tattoo designs that I didn't want to buy. I wanted to draw them. I was busy doing that. I put a drawing table in the front room. I had a counter and a drawing table in the front room so I could sit there and look out the window, because you had to go down three steps to get into my shop, so I could look out the window
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:42:00] and see everybody going by. I would sit in there. In the beginning, I would just sit in there for days.
Mason Funk: Back up a little bit.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Just tell me about how you walked down the three steps and you would sit there, and-
Lamar Van Dyke: You walk down the three steps when you're in there and then there's these plate glass windows, so you're looking a little bit up at people, and I would watch people going by. I think, "What am I doing in here?
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:42:30] What am I thinking? Can I really pull this off? I didn't go to tattoo school. I know what I'm doing, but what am I doing? What am I thinking?" Then of course, when the lesbian bar opened up next door, everything changed. Then, when I was in the front room, I could watch everybody going to and from the bar, and I would know who broke up with who, because you'd see people together.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:43:00] Then, you'd just see one of them being really sad for the longest time. Then suddenly, you'd see them with somebody else, and it was all just walking by. There was no communication about it. I just watched it. I think I knew more from watching it. It was only in the winter that I actually had the time when I could do that, because winter is a slower tattoo time. The month of December, people are not getting tattoos. The month of December, I could just hang out and look out the window a lot. Mark and I would I had a guy that worked for me,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:43:30] and we would stand there and look out the window and talk, and I said, "Look. Look. I bet they broke up." Then, it became a hop-in little place. Yeah. We had weddings in there and funerals in there. It became a whole community center thing.
Mason Funk: Again, the sense of community. How about now? Do you have any questions? I don't want to put you on the spot. I just want to make sure-
Lulu Gargiulo: [01:44:00] No. I still don't. I'm just fascinated listening.
Mason Funk: Okay. All right. Well then, I'm going to move on to our final four.
Lamar Van Dyke: Final four.
Mason Funk: The so-called final four, and then there's still a little time. Actually, give me one second to just look this list over. We talked about those people, the women's-
Lulu Gargiulo: I always like to do a portrait. That's one thing I always-
Mason Funk: Have her look at the camera?
Lulu Gargiulo: Yeah. Just have her look at the camera.
Mason Funk: Okay. We'll just do that at the very, very end, okay?
Lulu Gargiulo: [01:44:30] Yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay. Okay. Promiscuity. This phrase got into my notes. Promiscuity as a final act of war resistance. That's a big topic as well, but my question is more generally, what is the importance today of what is the ongoing importance of promiscuity as you see it, so-called promiscuity?
Lamar Van Dyke: So-called promiscuity?
Mason Funk: Hold on for the plane or the helicopter.
Lulu Gargiulo: I feel very lucky.
Mason Funk: I know. Incredibly lucky.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:45:00] Yeah.
Lulu Gargiulo: Knock on wood.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: Okay.
Lamar Van Dyke: Okay. If the topic is promiscuity, I would interpret that to mean more sexual freedom. Having been a hippie in San Francisco in the '60s, it was all about sexual freedom. Then, being a dyke,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:45:30] it was the magic of the lavender cloud, until we got to SM, which was, spell it out. Let's do it. Let's go. Let's talk about it now. Then, when we start doing it, we'll just be doing it. Promiscuity is one of those things that gets looked down upon. I mean, that was one of the things about the AIDS crisis that this the establishment said, "Well, if those gay guys weren't so promiscuous, they wouldn't have this." Well, that's got nothing to do with it.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:46:00] That's got nothing to do with it. Promiscuity really undermines the concept of the nuclear family, and I think the concept of the nuclear family needs to be undermined. It is so confining for absolutely everybody, and it's so restrictive for absolutely everybody that promiscuity is a great thing because it undermines that, and it blows some of that out of the water, and that I think needs to happen. Not that people cant have nuclear families,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:46:30] but if that's your goal, if you grow up and that is your goal, that's a pretty mediocre goal.
Mason Funk: Which leads me to my next question, which is your feelings about marriage equality and gays in the military, which in your questionnaire I think, you downplayed, if not, [pro-prude 01:46:56], if not, pissed on it. Especially relating to the AIDS crisis, of course, marriage equality grew out of the AIDS epidemic and the need for protection,
Mason Funk: [01:47:00] and so on and so forth. How do you balance that all out in the topic of marriage? Let's just do marriage equality.
Lamar Van Dyke: Marriage equality. I find marriage equality as a goal to be fairly, for me, disappointing. However, it's something that needs to be that needed to be fought for, because it opened up doors and it made it gave queers more room, and it gave queers more
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:47:30] they were noticed more and taken in more. Somehow, your family can accept it if you're queer and you're married, and you want to have a baby, and all of that. That's assimilation, and I do believe people should be able queers should be able to do that if that's what they want to do. I support that if that's what they want to do. That's not for me.Now we've accomplished that, so let's move on. It took a huge, a huge amount of energy to make that happen,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:48:00] and it happened. We did it. That's good. People should feel good about that. Now, let's move along with that, because that's not it's not like, "Great. Now, we can get married." Now, here we are. There's so much to do. There's so much to do. The system is so got such a stranglehold on people who want to be different, who want to live differently, who want to expand their parameters.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:48:30] It's just not allowed and it's not encouraged, and it needs to be. I'm hoping now that marriage equality has happened, everybody will get married. Everybody will get divorced. We can move along to something that is maybe a little more vital, has little more vitality to it. Gays in the military, I am just I don't know why gays would've even want to be in the military,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:49:00] have that be a goal. "Let's go to other countries and bomb people. That's a good thing to do. I think I'll sign up for that because I need to do that. I'll be in the closet, because that's more important to me than anything else. I'm just going to go and bomb people and invade their countries, and do it in the name of freedom, because God knows, fighting in Afghanistan makes America free. I'm going to participate in that, and if they won't let me, well, I'm going to fight for that right to do that." I just don't have any respect for that. I just don't.
Mason Funk: [01:49:30] Wow. I love that part because I have to do an interview with a retired admiral [inaudible 01:49:46].
Lamar Van Dyke: Perfect.
Mason Funk: Alex Simon, who after he retired, spent a lot of time and energy, but I do want to say you said you pointed out, we spend a tremendous amount of time and energy, and money, getting marriage equality. Would you regard that actually, I'm not going to ask the question because I think you've already answered it, so I want to move on, but that was great.
Mason Funk: [01:50:00] That was great. Okay. That was one thing that I wanted to cover. Okay. I'm actually ready for the final four, if you are?
Lamar Van Dyke: Okay. I'm ready. I am ready for the final four. I'm center court for the final four.
Mason Funk: The tip-off. The first question I ask anybody is, if someone comes to you and says, "I'm thinking about coming out." Whatever that means to that person at that time,
Mason Funk: [01:50:30] what short, simple piece of wisdom or guidance do you offer that person?
Lamar Van Dyke: Do it. Do it, because it takes away all the barriers. If you're pretending to be something that you're not, or you're simply not saying it, that's taking a tremendous amount of energy out of your life to maintain something that's just so stupid. You thinking you want to come out? Do it.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:51:00] What's the worst thing that's going to happen? Your mother's going to have a fit. Your father's going to have a fit. Well, they'll have a fit. They've had fits before. Chances are good, they'll get over it. If they don't, you don't need them. If the people that you tell that you're gay have a problem with that, you don't need those people in your life. You don't need that kind of pseudo-drama. It is pseudo-drama. It just eats everybody up. I'd say, just do it.
Mason Funk: [01:51:30] Okay. Great. Secondly, at this moment in time, what is your hope for the future?
Lamar Van Dyke: My hope for the future? Well, I hope that people get disconnected from their telephones. That's one of my hopes for the future. It is just so astounding to me that everywhere I go, people are staring at their phones. They're in the supermarket talking on their phones, and everybody's on their phones, and participation is really a good idea. Looking at someone and talking to them is a really good idea.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:52:00] I FaceTime. I do all of that. I do all of that, but it seems to me that people are really dummying-down and not thinking so much for themselves anymore. I would like people to think for themselves and question things, and go through it for yourself, and decide where you're at with that, not what's the current trending on Facebook,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:52:30] or what's the current headline in the newspaper. Do it for yourself. Think for yourself. Don't ask Siri. Siri doesn't know everything. She just pretends she knows everything, and the things that she knows are programmed into her, so think for yourself. I hope in the future people become a little more independent in their thoughts and their lifestyles, and their personal choices.
Mason Funk: [01:53:00] Great. Why is it important to you to tell your story?
Lamar Van Dyke: Well, it's important to me to tell my story so that people don't have to spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel, because we do that. I mean, 50 years later, everybody's still fighting over abortion. I was fighting for abortion 50 years ago. What's happened? How did all those years go by and nothing changed? Hopefully, by me telling my story,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:53:30] people won't have to do and go through some of the things that I did and went through, and they can just start there, and go to a new place. Take it to a new place.
Mason Funk: What are the odds of that?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah. Slim. I would say slim just from looking at it but it would be nice if that would happen, but no, really. What I'm getting is, "Wow. It was so " the woman that did the New Yorker article, Ariel Levy, she was here for the weekend, and what
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:54:00] she was saying to me was, "You guys, you had so much going on. You had so many options. Things were just so exciting for you. Now, what are we dealing with? Marriage equality." I said, "Yeah. We'll pick it up." She said, "Well, I'm writing this article." I said, "Okay. Write your article and see how many times in that article, in the New Yorker, you can say the word 'dyke'." I said, "My name counts."
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:54:30] She laughed. She said, "I can do that." I said, "Okay. Well, there you go. That's doing something. That's putting the word dyke in the New Yorker as many times as you can. That's good.
Mason Funk: That's great. That's great. Final question, but I think there's going to be others, but this is allegedly, which is in fact this is really pertinent, because in some ways what you just said makes it calls into question to the premise of OUTWORDS, which is that if people recorded their stories,
Mason Funk: [01:55:00] that that wisdom can be handed down and be useful, it's premise of the idea of continuous change and progress, and that may be a false premise. If I say that is a premise, what would you say is the importance of a project like OUTWORDS?
Lamar Van Dyke: Well, the importance of a project like OUTWORDS is that when queers come along and they're doing research on a project, they can go to someplace like OUTWORDS and get information, and stories,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:55:30] and research material for whatever it is that they're working on, and they could have an idea that things actually were different. The I enjoyed being a dyke thing, getting arrested for singing a song, would not happen now. It's important for people to know that that did happen then, and people got arrested for all things then that had nothing to do with anything except the fact
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:56:00] that they were queer. You're putting that information out there. You're making it available to people and it's good. That's good. People need to know that.
Mason Funk: Okay. I'll buy that. Is there anything that you feel we haven't covered, that would be important to talk about whether it's an event, a story I know. I just thought of one. Do you want to talk about your daughter?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: What I would like, because it's a long story, it's a very, very interesting it has many twists and turns.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:56:30] Yeah.
Mason Funk: If we tell the whole thing, it will never get to scene.
Lamar Van Dyke: No. No.
Mason Funk: What I would like is a condensed version of that story, and then maybe what your takeaway from the whole experience was, but have [inaudible]?
Lamar Van Dyke: Well, I had a daughter, and I gave her up for adoption when she was born, and then she found me 27 years later. The process of her finding me, for me,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:57:00] I always thought that she would find me, but I always thought that I would be just so cool. I thought I'd just take her and throw her in the back of my motorcycle and we'd go to the beach, and I'd say, "Okay. I'll just answer all your questions. No problem." When she found me, the top of my head blew off and I could not think, and I couldn't anything. I was just pacing up and down the hall. It was way more emotional than I thought it was going to be. Then I realized I was going to have to tell her, because we were talking on the phone every night, that I was going to have to tell her that I was gay.
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:57:30] I have not had to tell anybody that for 50 years. I mean, look at me. I'm Lamar Van Dyke. I'm a dyke. I make it pretty clear, but I'm talking to her on the phone so I have to tell her, and I don't quite know how to do that. How do you do this and not just be awkward, and weird and stuff? I thought about it for a couple of nights. Then, I said, "Okay. Now, when you talked to Marlene Mildenberger, which was the woman that did my high school reunion,
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:58:00] which is how she found me, through my high school reunion, "When you talked to Marlene Mildenberger, did she tell you that I was gay?" I thought I was so slick. She said, "No. She didn't, but I thought maybe you were." I said, "Why did you think that?" "Well, you own a tattoo shop and you have a motorcycle, and I just thought maybe you were." I said, "Well, I am. Do we need to talk about that?" I said, "I'm happy to talk to you about that if you want. You want to talk about that?"
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:58:30] She laughed. She said, "I grew up in the Bay Area. We don't have to talk about that." She said, "My mom had some gay friends. We don't have to talk about that." I said, "Okay. Well, if you ever feel differently about that, we'll talk about it." Then, I wondered about I was nervous about meeting her, but not as nervous about meeting her as I was about meeting her mother. I was really nervous about meeting her mother. I had so much awe and admiration for the woman
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:59:00] who had done what I was unable to do, at that time. I was just beside myself about it. I went down there to meet the mother, and she literally opened up her front door, put her arms out like this, grabbed me, hugged me, and said, "I have always wanted to meet you. Always. As I watched her grow and watched her do things
Lamar Van Dyke: [01:59:30] that I had no idea why she was doing them but she was doing them, I always wondered about you." Now, we're one big happy family and her mom and I are tight, and we go on family vacations together, and my granddaughter's living in the basement. She just took me into that family and suddenly I had a family like I had never had before.
Mason Funk: That's wonderful.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Mason Funk: [02:00:00] It's an interesting parallel that she had the experience of watching her daughter do things and not completely be following and confused, and your own mom had that same experience?
Lamar Van Dyke: Yep. Yep. It is very similar. Yeah.
Mason Funk: That's interesting.
Lamar Van Dyke: Because her mom is a very, in some ways, a very proper Bostonian person, grew up in Boston, and has some of that she can get very hotty at times.
Lamar Van Dyke: [02:00:30] Then, she had this kid. She adopted this kid who was a wild kid, and she tamed her, but she had a wild child on her hands, which surprised her.
Mason Funk: All right. All right. Interesting. Okay. I think we're done.
Lamar Van Dyke: Great.
Mason Funk: That was fantastic.
Lamar Van Dyke: Good.
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Lamar Van Dyke: It worked out good?
Mason Funk: My God. It was so fantastic.
Lulu Gargiulo: Okay. Here's what this is the idealization, do a portrait-
Mason Funk: Yeah.
Lulu Gargiulo: Then, then you get room tone at the same time.
Mason Funk: [02:01:00] Okay.
Lulu Gargiulo: This is a portrait room tone.
Mason Funk: Explain what that is to Lamar.
Lulu Gargiulo: Just I want you to just look in the camera.
Lamar Van Dyke: Yeah.
Lulu Gargiulo: You're posing perfectly.
Mason Funk: At the same time, we're going to record the sound of this room with no one talking.
Lamar Van Dyke: That's the room tone?
Mason Funk: That's the room tone.
Lamar Van Dyke: Okay.
Mason Funk: Okay. I'll be quiet.
Lulu Gargiulo: [02:01:30] You're really good at it. That's good.
Mason Funk: Okay.

Interviewed by: Mason Funk
Camera: Lulu Gargiulo
Date: August 15, 2017
Location: Home of Lamar Van Dyke, Seattle, WA