Death To Baby Voice: A Manifesto

I live in a city teeming with some of the most successful, powerful women in the world.
Confident, educated women who stride through these Manhattan streets with a swagger. They conquer this town in expensive shoes: social climbing, hailing cabs to chic restaurants, running up the steps of 100 Centre Street.
These women call board meetings, pounce on underlings, and take their places at broadcast news desks; telling America about current events that affect all of us.
Some of these women are my friends and co-workers.
When we get together, they speak in normal voices. They crack dirty jokes, bitch about boyfriends and politicians. They order drinks, dinner and towncars in a solid, “don’t fuck with me” tone.
But it all comes to a screeching halt when they are with their boyfriends, guys who think they’re cute,  or husbands…
That’s right.
When they’re talking on cell phones, office phones or at home.
All of a sudden, they become sweet Little Bo Peep.
All of a sudden, those expensive, haute couture clothes are resting on hunched, submissive shoulders.
Because all of a sudden, these powerful, cool, educated women are using Baby Voice.
What is Baby Voice?
Why, that’s what lazy, idiotic women use with men when:
1. they want to seem cute.
2. they want to complain about something, but don’t want to intimidate.
3. they want to get laid.
4. they want to demand something of the the men they are dating, but are afraid to sound demanding.

AND IT PISSES ME OFF.

How is it that some women can use a normal voice in the business world or with female friends, but have to revert to this pathetic voice with the men in their lives?

What does that mean?

Why do women feel the need to pretend to be children with men, even when they work with them everyday?

C’mon, bitches.
I want an answer.
What’s wrong with you?

And before anyone writes in to tell me they don’t use Baby Voice…
Fuck you.
You know damn well you’ve used it.
I’ve done it, and I’m writing this post.

Your turn…

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The Filipino Lounge Singer Who Babysat Me


When I was a chubby, tan little blonde kid running barefoot in Hawaii, my babysitter was a Filipino lounge singer named Kai Cauton. He was married to a very glamorous woman named Lillian and lived with two rhinestone collared poodles in the apartment upstairs from us on Kuhio street. My parents had split up, and we had left the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I was sad to leave behind Dad’s poker buddies at the pool and Benny in his glittering penthouse apartment, but Lillian and Kai quickly became a big part of our lives.

Lillian wasn’t too keen on me. She’d say to my mom in her “faux-French accent” (Mom was convinced she wasn’t actually French) “Kaisa, I’ll take Saara out for a walk if you buy her some ruffly socks and a little pink dress. The way you dress her makes her look like a little lesbian.”

As my standard wardrobe of overalls and plain cotton rompers never changed, we never went for walks.

But Kai Cauton loved me no matter what. He’d take me fishing and we’d go for picnics on the beach. Other times we’d go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay; amazed at the colorful fish darting in and out of the coral reef.

But what I liked best were Disco Nights.

Mom and Lillian would tell me to take a Disco Nap. This was really the best way to get me to take a nap, as it sounded much more exciting.

Then in the evening, I’d watch my mom turn into a Disco Queen; mesmerized as she slid into her slinky satin clothes, applied shimmering eye make up and lip gloss. She’d spritz a little Cie perfume and slather cocoa butter body cream on her toned legs.

Lillian took even longer to get ready than my mom, painting her long nails, adjusting her halter dress and drawing in her eyebrows with great precision.

Then they’d have a glass of wine or two as Lillian would recount what her psychologist said during their weekly session:

“Kaisa, he said my husband Kai is grinding me like a meat grinder!”
“Kaisa, he’s squeezing me like a lemon!”

For whatever reason, all his advice seemed to be laden with food references. After a while, Mom started to wonder if Lillian’s shrink was actually a frustrated chef.

But when these two shiny, sexy women were done with their day to night transformation and emboldened by a couple glasses of cheap Chablis, they’d deliver me to Kai. He’d begin his babysitting duties as they hit all the Honolulu hotspots.

Now, Kai Cauton made his living working as a lounge singer in the more touristy nightclubs of Waikiki. So he’d bring me along with his acoustic guitar to whichever club he played. I’d sit there drinking virgin Pina Coladas, enchanted by the glowing candles on the tables and the chatter of sunburnt tourists. I loved thinking about how all these people had come here from someplace else. They came from a place us locals called, “The Mainland”.

In my mind, these people made the long trip to our island just to see my friend Kai Cauton. He played songs like Billy Joel’s “Just The Way You Are” and Lionel Richie’s “Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady”. People clapped and slow danced. Some of the older couples just held each other close, sitting in their vinyl booths, the air smelling of the pretty plumeria leis they were wearing.

I loved Kai, and I loved how his music made everyone so happy. It was magical to me. So when I turned 7, I got the coolest gift of all. No, it wasn’t this pink dress that Lillian bought me out of sheer aggravation over my lesbianic wardrobe. It was the gift of Kai Cauton playing some songs for my friends and I at my birthday party. This man who all these Mainland tourists traveled for miles and miles just to see, this man actually came to play for me…

Laundry Room Litmus Test


The laundry room in my building has long been a bell weather of where this great nation is heading.
A lot can be gleaned by scanning the homemade ads pinned to the cork board. In years past, it tended to be diplomats selling their furniture before leaving the country. Or perhaps posters for off-Broadway productions.
But recently, while I was trapped down there with my dirty unmentionables, I saw:

1. A handwritten ad for a “T-Square 42 inch Width Aluminum Ruler-Heavy Duty Quality–$15”

Now, I’m trying to figure this one out. Was that ruler taking up too much space in this person’s apartment, or did they really need the 15 bucks that bad? To go through all that effort, fielding phone calls from prospective buyers and such, it just seems a bit tedious. And without much payoff.

2. An irate message, typed, in all caps which snarled at all who read it:

LAST NIGHT SOMEONE STOLE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS FROM MY DRYER:
-1 SPORTS BRA
-1 WASHCLOTH
-1 BATH MAT
PLEASE RETURN THESE ITEMS ASAP. I WILL BE REVIEWING THE SECURITY CAMERA FOOTAGE WITH MANAGEMENT TONIGHT!

I find it amazing that anyone would actually demand those dreary items back, and spend time going through security footage, playing Jessica Fletcher, just to apprehend the culprit. But then again, I’ve never had a sports bra stolen. I do not know her pain.

Furthermore, last night I snapped this photo I like to call, “Laundry Room Offerings”:

Now, people in my building have often left behind interesting stuff like board games (I scored a deluxe Scrabble game once) or mugs or vases. But look at how far we’ve sunk. Last night the pickin’s were mighty slim: one filthy bedroom slipper, an empty bottle of gin, some black rags and a tarot card book.

Either these are tools for some pagan ritual or these are simply bleak economic days in the laundry room and beyond.

A Salute To Book Hustlers

Today I’m celebrating a fearless group of enterprising innovators: The Hustlers. Hustlers are people who shake the world up and make things happen. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. They never stop selling and believing in what they sell. In particular, I love Book Hustlers. These energetic, creative authors realize that writing the book is only half of the equation. You’ve got to get out there and promote yourself. In other words, you gotta hustle.

Best-selling author Jackie Collins appeared via Skype at my art salon, Mama D’s Arts Bordello. She doesn’t need to do this type of small venue publicity. Jackie Collins is an incredibly successful author who lives in a gorgeous Beverly Hills mansion. She doesn’t have much to gain by talking to a bunch of crazy artists at a murky New York bar. But I told her about my show on Facebook, and she immediately said she wanted to be a part of it. She then Tweeted about my show. Moreover, she sold books at my show. But Jackie Collins believes in the art of promotion, in all it’s various forms. And guess what? This week her latest book “Goddess of Vengeance” is on the New York Times Best-Seller list. Yeah. While certain publishing professionals wring their hands and whine about changes in the industry, Jackie Collins is still at the top of her game.

Author Jacqueline Susann was another Book Hustler extraordinaire. She’d go to bookstores at 6am and offer coffee and doughnuts to the guys unloading her books from the truck. She knew the names of the book sellers and sent them birthday cards. When she found out that her rival Harold Robbins was staying at The Beverly Hills Hotel, she passed out free copies of her book “Valley of The Dolls” to sunbathers at the pool. So when he came to the pool, he saw everyone was reading it.

Of course, Harold Robbins was no slouch in the hustling department either. Not only was he a prolific writer of fiction, but he tirelessly promoted his books and fabricated his backstory to make himself seem more intriguing. Real life rarely has such a juicy story arc. These lies changed over the years, but they were even printed in his newspaper obituaries.

Book Hustlers have various techniques: Anne Rice arriving to her book signings in a coffin by hearse, Oscar Wilde touring America and talking to Denver coal miners about aesthetics, Stephen King pioneering TV commercials for books, David Sedaris staying hours overtime at his book signings, remembering the names of people he’d met before–these are stellar examples of hustling.

I decided to single out some of these top-notch Book Hustlers because here in New York I see so many of these wan, dull writers who somehow think that the books are supposed to sell themselves. These mopey, pasty, ever-so-anguished writers think the world owes them everything for being a genius. And guess what? They’re all broke and complain that no one reads anymore. Oh, and they’re misunderstood. And they’re the same people who give tired, boring readings and assume the audience will hang onto every word as they mumble and stammer over their work. Afterwards, we’re magically supposed to buy multiple copies of their book.

What they don’t seem to get is that you’ve got to give people a reason to pick up your book or listen to your reading. Especially today, when there are so many options out there. These tortured geniuses think they’re entitled to live in some rarified world; that a writer’s life is a genteel realm exempt from the messy, “unseemly” business of promotion. Well, it’s not. No matter how brilliant you are, books are products. Authors are brands.

So Book Hustlers, here’s to you. You make me proud.