I have this friend name Lise.
Lise is easily one of the most interesting women I’ve ever known. Interesting is an understatement, but even more than that, Lise sparks inspiration in a very lonely part of me that’s just so rarely sparked. We first met back in the early 2000s, like 2002? I think? She was managing the coffee shop where I worked, and she was also the baker, and I was an opener, which meant we would have these strange few hours together in the very earliest morning, before dawn, smack dab in the middle of a dark and deserted downtown, and that sort of eerie setting makes for some really cool conversation.
Lise baked confections and named them for dead writers. “If Bukowski Were A Cupcake!“, the sign would read. She once told the entire story of my first true love, which she was watching unfold in real time, through an elaborate series of angel food cakes. Over the course of months and months. Glorious start to grisly, miserable finish – all captured in cake (those Ooh-La-La Cakes were legendary, man I should tell that story sometime).
Anyway, why is Lise so inspiring? Because, well, she is basically Bohemia incarnate. She is my proof that you don’t have to “grow out of it”, or at least that you don’t have to grow into that place that almost everyone seems to grow into. That you don’t have to become muted. Because Lise is so fiercely authentic, so living-breathing-being her creative self, all the time, and that is a rare, rare thing indeed.
But I promised you a story about a dress!
So Lise wears many artistic hats, and one of them is as seamstress. Costume designer for local theaters, and dressmaker for any occasion, Lise is amazing behind the spinning wheel of a sewing machine. And a few years back, she was working on a series of “art dresses” to show in a local gallery.
Right around that time, Lady Gaga wore a meat dress to the VMAs.
Lise was appalled and more than that, driven to action. And thus was the birth of this dress – officially titled “Shame on Lady Gaga the Anti-Meat Dress“. In Lise’s own words:
For me the reason for my “Shame on Lady Gaga the Anti-Meat Dress” comes down to this: until we acknowledge that we have caused and are causing every moment tremendous and undeniable pain and suffering to millions of animals, we will never be free of worry, we will never be happy, we will never sleep in peace. The very thing that enables us to turn away from our cruelty and continue, the very attitude that allows us to look away and justify our actions, the very ability we have to blindly pursue our own lusts over other animals lives-allows us to live unkindly as people, unfairly as citizens, and inhumanely as fellow passengers. And this dress is my VERY SMALL, tragically insignificant attempt to be a STRONG AND LOUD voice in this world moving too fast for its own good and too selfishly for its own survival.
Lise wrote in length about the creation of this dress on her blog (and I promise, her writing is worth reading): A Militant Stitcher
But did you notice the material it’s made out of? Silk.
This story has many layers. Because Lise poured her heart and soul into an animal rights dress, and she constructed this incredible piece of art out of silk. And when she was done she offered the dress to PETA, to auction or keep or do with as they wished. And they . . .
. . . said no thanks. Because the dress, you see, is not vegan.
What I love about this story is that in the end, Lise learned something new too. She learned about silk production and when I had coffee with her last week, I asked her, “So do you still use silk in your sewing?”
She cocked her head as she paused and thought, and then with a sort of surprised half-smile she said, “You know? No, I haven’t bought silk since then.”
I was so honored to be able to wear this incredible piece of art. And I’m happy to announce that Shame on Lady Gaga the Anti-Meat Dress is currently for sale, with ALL proceeds going to animal rights charities.
Bidding starts at $300, please email me at info AT bonzaiaphrodite DOT com to make an offer.
Thanks so much to the amazing Lise, for allowing me to wear your dress and share your story. Read Lise’s blog here.
And special thanks to Clovis IV for the incredible photos!