Live performance is a drag

joanne pk

This past Saturday afternoon brought me to Sleepy Poet Antique Mall in Charlotte. Not only did I have a bloodlust for vintage 40s hats, but a legitimate reason to be shopping there at all: local environmental activist Ahmer Inam and I are are going to be presenting at Pecha Kucha Night Charlotte, Vol. 13 — and I needed a suit.

Do not ask me why. That part is a secret.

Pecha Kucha is a presentation style with 20 slides clocking in at 6 minutes and 40 seconds total. Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture invented the method as a way to keep otherwise lengthy presentations concise and fast-moving. The first Pecha Kucha night was held in Tokyo in February 2003.

I will be spending the next week and a half working on my ensemble, the script, and eating guacamole with corn chips to keep me fueled. Hopefully I’ll get to see your fabulous face on April 30 — or just your face. Either way, I’d be happy to see you there.

Until then, keep looking out windows. You might see something you like.

Nacho, Nacho Man

Yesterday, I told you the top three places to get nachos in Charlotte. The only ingredients I had for nachos this morning were an unopened bag of blue corn Tostitos, which I must save for a party this weekend, and a small block of Parmigiano Reggiano.

What I had ready to go were wigs and costumes. So I danced with that bag of chips to the tune of “Macho Man.” I called it “Nacho, Nacho Man.” It’s part of my weekly #telecommvamping series on Instagram.

Tell me what you think about this series or today’s video in the comments section.

Hope you’re having a swell Wednesday!

Nacho, nacho man. No, really.

A video posted by @lookitsjoanne on

Search for the Best Nachos in the Queen City

Finally, I get to write about my first true love: nachos. CharlotteFive is featuring my take the three best places to get your queso fix. There’s even a recipe at the end of it, which my bestie/nachos-partner-in-crime Fitz created when we were stuck inside on a rainy day.

Did I pick your favorite place for nachos? Comment below and tell me your pick!

Let’s Share a (Hershey) Kiss

Pillow Talk Cover 2015 Soup

**UPDATE: Second Chance Soup has been postponed until March due to incremental weather. Stay tuned!**

Last June, I presented my web series Pillow Talk with Joanne to a live studio audience at Queen City Soup, presented by Project Art Aid. I came thisclose to winning their grant — and it was fantastic to share the experience with international drag queen Roxy C. Moorecox and transgender advocate Paige Dula.

This Friday, I’m coming back to the stage. And I’m better than ever.

Pillow Talk with Joanne is getting a second chance at a fabulous grant. And I don’t want to go to bed without you! I’ll be coming to The McColl Center for the Second Chance Queen City Soup Valentine’s Soiree. You’ll get to jump into the sack with me and we’ll share a (Hershey) kiss or two or five. Your sweet nothings will be doing something: Greenlighting Season 3 of the show.

Tickets are going fast, so I hope to see you there. 

If you’re looking for a preview to Friday, here’s a teaser from last year.


Pillow Talk with Kay Hagan?

 kay hagan collage

This weekend, I soiree’d at the Equality NC Gala in Greensboro, North Carolina. I arrived in my long velor gown with fake fur cuffs. AND fake fur scarf. Hello, Rita Hayworth.

That’s where I got to invite soon-to-be former Senator Kay Hagan onto Pillow Talk with Joanne. 

Hagan ran a tight race against resident D-bag Thom Tillis this year. He won the election against Hagan by 1.7 percent. Now there she was, less than a month later, schmoozing in the Empire Ball Room before the Gala’s cocktail hour. She was wearing a navy dress with a ruffled skirt. I got in the unofficial line to chat with her, looking around as if I wasn’t in line. Being casual. Then I congratulated her on running her campaign. She told me it’s a shame the Koch Brothers bought the election. I shrugged. I was hoping we would trash Tillis and perhaps laugh over a glass of wine, but I guess she had the more dignified response.

“What are you going to do now?” I asked.

“I don’t know yet,” she said.

“I have an idea for you,” I said, as if I was suggesting she use this time to try a new hobby, like Thai Chi. I told her about how I interview people in bed. She laughed and looked at her husband with a mixture of, “Can you believe that?” and “Is this woman a nutter?” I told her current Charlotte mayoral candidate Jennifer Roberts was on my first episode. A credibility booster.

“I don’t think I’ll be doing it anytime soon,” she said, giving my card to her husband.

“Think about it,” I replied, as if  she was saying a soft no to a car purchase. clay aiken“You’ve got time. Give me a call.”

Word got around that I had asked Hagan to be on the show. Then as the game of telephone tends to break down, people started asking me if I had invited Hagan into bed with me.

Kay, if you’re reading this, you are welcome on the show anytime. Fans of Kay, if you think she should be on the show, tell her! Maybe she’ll listen to you.

GOSSIP ALERT: Oh yeah, and I met Clay Aiken and we fell in love. He shook hands with the counter protesters outside the Empire Ball Room. He went back out into the cold to do that! I’m a total Claymate.


Still Praying the Gay Away?

hey hater bye hater final image

My friend Charles Easley wrote about the viral video that made me both snort laugh and shake my head this morning. It stars a gay man who was “saved” by the Holy Spirit from his man-loving ways — but obviously not from his “paisley Liberace jacket,” as Easley describes. Or muster-hued frilly tie and matching pocket square.

Each line of this man’s testimony needs to be turned into individual logo T-shirts:

“I’m not gay no more. I am delivered. I don’t like mens no more. I said I like women. Women, women, women! I said women! I’m not gay. I would not date a man. I would not carry a purse. I would not put on makeup. I will love a women.”

I like women too, sir. Because I’m a lesbian.

The newly saved man solidified his woman-loving ways with a dance right out of Paris is Burning, the iconic film about the drag ball scene in the 1980s. He was the Pepper LaBeija of his going-in-instead-of-coming-out party. Then a bunch of mostly men from the audience came up to put their hands on him and dance close together. There’s nothing more heterosexual than a man dancing cheek to cheek with other men.

I’ve had my experiences with bigots hiding behind their religion — I was riding on my Pillow Talk with Joanne float when I passed two protesters holding up signs filled with hate speech. One was an old man who started grinding his teeth and looked ready to spat on me if I had been close enough to him. He kept shaking his head and muttering “shit” under his breath. He was so mad at someone he didn’t even know that he was seething. Seething! Then a young man with a lush head of dark hair pointed at me and said, “Repent, you whore!” I shouted at him that I loved him. Every time he said something disgusting as I passed him, I told him I loved him. He finally got confused and said, “Yes, but…” See, already made a new fan.

LGBT people should not have to chose between their church and sexuality. That’s why I love seeing resources like that provide a comprehensive directory of LGBT-affirming churches. Plus, there’s a whole section on how to reconcile your faith and sexuality — Calling The Rainbow Nation Home by Reverend Elaine Sundby is a solid book noted on this page.

The full video is below for you to enjoy. Happy Tuesday.

ELECTION DAY EDITION: Free Pizza with a Future Mayor

Election day means it’s time to find your polling place — here’s one for Mecklenburg County and a saucily-named one for the ENTIRE United States.  Do your research and build your own ballot guide before hitting the polls. If you don’t, you’ll look dumb like me five years ago.

You see, current Charlotte mayoral candidate and Pillow Talk with Joanne guest Jennifer Roberts once meant only one thing to me: free pizza. Because I was an idiot and also hungry.

When I first saw Jennifer in the Green, a park in uptown Charlotte, I had no idea she was the chair of the Mecklenburg County Commission — again, because I was an idiot and also hungry. Tall and slim and assured-looking, she was the definition of an upstanding person. It was clear she was someone who didn’t say things like, “Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow,” like I did. Plus she was wearing an ironed pantsuit and surrounded by cheerful middle-schoolers speaking French. She was a walking infomerical for a wholesome life.

I, on the other hand, was a mess. Lunch was my time to take off the mask of being a responsible, underpaid paralegal. And boy did I go for it. Sensible, worn flats were discarded on the concrete ground. I could not form full sentences. If a passer-by had complimented my cardigan, I would have simply grunted. For one hour a day, I allowed myself to be a dried husk of a woman. To stop nodding my head at my senior partner as he gave his just desserts about the Accounting department, as if we were two girlfriends at a sleepover.

But on this day, Jennifer would not let me let myself go.

Jennifer walked away from the middle-schoolers, who were now digging through a stack of Fuel pizza boxes set on a wooden bench. They were taking out cheese and pepperoni and veggie slices. The dented, soggy tuna sandwich I packed for myself at 6:30 this morning looked even sadder in my hand. Jennifer stood over me like a sun god, her hair flecked with gold. Mine was flecked with cookie crumbs. I could never be this woman who was talking to me about foreign exchange students, even though I hadn’t asked about it.

“You know it’s great when we can get the community together,” she said, gesturing towards the students knee deep in marinara sauce.

I could have responded in any number of intelligent ways. Tell me more about the greenways in Charlotte. What is the future of public transportation in Charlotte?

Nope. This was the froth that issued from my mouth.

“Can I have a slice of that pizza?”

Jennifer’s smile faded.

Being the dutiful public servant I had no idea she was, she still brought me a slice on a paper plate with a napkin tucked under it. I deserved none of her kindness that day.

A few years later, I would make up for my bad behavior. I introduced myself — as if it was the first time — at a pre-Democratic National Convention 2012 luncheon and told her I wanted to write about her for Creative Loafing. At the time, she had broken her leg doing something sporty. Maybe skiing. I’d like to think she had fought a wild grizzly bear and won, but she loved the environment too much to get into a senseless brawl with wildlife.

I covered her congressional campaign that year. She called my articles about her run for office thoughtful. Yes, thoughtful. Then Jennifer was my first guest on Pillow Talk in January 2014. She put up with me dressing her in a captain’s hat. She talked about the environment and – in a scene I had to cut for time –her love of Swedish mystery novels.

I’d love to grab a slice with Jennifer, when she has time. Until then, I know she’d want you to vote. And to get informed so you’re not a sad, pizza-horny fool languishing on her lunch break.

Until next week, watch Jennifer talk about that grizzly bear fight! OK, not exactly! Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About the Author: Joanne Spataro is the editor and writer of #PillowTalkShow blog. She has been featured in The AdvocateThe Huffington PostThe Charlotte Observer and Creative Loafing.

We Laughed. We Cried. We Met Hillary Clinton.

ben joanne selfieOne of the biggest Pillow Talk fans is my dear friend Ben Church. We met as teenagers at Central Piedmont Community College so we could get high school and college credit on our transcripts. As seemingly the only two queer, homeschooled students on Levine Campus, there was an instant connection — our shadows cast a rainbow on the school’s brick face. We met in our first class around 8:15am, 45 minutes early because, well, that’s what good homeschoolers do: Not realize non-homeschooled students are never on time for class, let alone in their seats before the teacher is there.

The two of us were the happy face and sad face theatrical masks: he turned on the waterworks over wonderful and sad things while I was the buoyant Liza Minnelli of the Student Government Association. He used to punctuate a sentence with, “Kisses, Ben!” when we were supposed to be practicing Spanish in the language lab. He sounded like a walking 8×10 glossy that an MGM starlet might sign in bulk to mail to fans of their movies.

This weekend, we joined forces to meet the (hopefully) future first female president of the United States, Hillary Clinton. 

Hillary was set to speak in support Senator Kay Hagan’s reelection campaign last Saturday at the Charlotte Convention Center. The event invited past and present volunteers. I tore tickets at the front door. Then I wormed my way to the front of the crowd. Hillary spoke last. I was mesmerized by her presidential-esque speech, which was filled with quotables like, “Women’s rights are like the canary in the cave. If you don’t protect them, everyone’s rights are at stake.”


I almost cried, but I wanted to preserve my makeup in case I got a photo with her. Ben, who was down several people from me, was full-on blubbering. The two eventually came around the front row and shook hands with people. I was squished between a lithe man and a big guyhillary hello who stuck his green-checked shirted arm over my head to shake Clinton’s hand.

Then she was in front of me.

“Congratulations on your granddaughter!” I said.

“Thank you!” she said.

That’s when my head start spinning. Her face was glorious and wise and smiling. I looked at her turquoise beads and earrings.

“Turquoise is your color!” I said, and she laughed. Yes, I made Hillary Clinton laugh. All we needed were two mimosas, a fluffy pink bed and a captain’s hat and we would have been filming an episode of Pillow Talk.

Ben, through tears, told her that she inspired him. Her eyes got glassy. Glassy! They were crying together.

Once the last Secret Service agent disappeared behind the navy curtain, I found Ben. We made a high five Hillary video, and then went out for celebratory nachos and frozen margaritas. We gabbed en route to the restaurant about the quality of Hillary’s handshake.

“It was firm,” he said.

“Her hands were soft,” I noted.

“She exfoliates,” he said, as if he knew this fact the whole time and was just now telling me.

The experience of meeting Hillary is even more special because I did it with my old partner-in-crime. Ben, I can’t wait until Hillary invites us for brunch in the Diplomatic Room someday.

Until next week: What’s the best and/or most exciting thing you’ve done with a best friend? Tell me and follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Can We (Pillow) Talk?

Welcome to the Pillow Talk with Joanne blog, published every Tuesday!

When I first started filming Pillow Talk in November 2013, I had only one goal: To get the best and brightest in Charlotte into bed with me. To talk about the issues of the day while wearing caftans and pretending to receive calls on a kitschy rotary phone. To post episodes, co-produced by the fabulous Donald Devet. I was looking to do out-of-the ordinary interviews with guests that were usually seen behind a podium or in a chair — all while wearing a fake captain’s hat.

While I was interviewing other people about their lives, something big was going on in my own: I was struggling with publicly coming out as a queer woman. My family and close friends had known for years, but I otherwise kept my personal life a state secret.

The first episodes of Pillow Talk aired in January 2014. That was the same month I came out on the cover of QNotes magazine. I knew it was the right time for me to come out. I was mentally ready to be out and proud. The only doubt that lingered was how my day job would respond. I was a paralegal at a conservative law firm, one where the only out lesbian partner wore a lot of beige turtlenecks and had the protection of a few high-level partners in the firm. I had no such bodyguard-age. Or surplus of beige turtlenecks.

I was out there for the taking. As one of my former supervisors would later say, being out at the firm would have been “career suicide.” Yes, career suicide.

Pillow Talk was the beginning of a new era for me. I no longer wanted to live a double life of the cardigan-wearing, pearls and let’s-pretend-we-don’t-eat work lunches when I was a fuchsia pants wearing, screaming-through-a-mouthful-of-lunch-cheeseburger kind of person. Plus, the insidious white male privilege of my law firm made me deeply angry. The firm could have all the diversity programs in the world and there would still be a frat boy attorney making a crass comment to another frat boy attorney about what Sally Legal Assistant wore for the firm Halloween party. I wanted to set fire to their bookcases and roll out of there for good.

Luckily, I didn’t have to resort to arson. A new day job came in March 2014, thanks to my knight-in-shining armor, Mr. Gold. We did coffee at Amelie’s in uptown while it was snowing outside in February. As he walked outside after our meeting, he did a Lana Turner headsnap, looked at me, and said, “Don’t worry, Joanne. I’m going to get you out of there.”

And he did. His promise to me was as solid as his last name. If I was out of the closet because of the QNotes cover story, Mr. Gold carried me on his shoulders out of that room where the closet was and into the daylight. I was free. I could write about what I wanted as an openly queer woman. I didn’t have to play it straight anymore.

Every Tuesday, you and I are going to (pillow) talk. While full episodes of the show are on hiatus – Donald and I will bring it back better than ever, so no peeking yet – I’m bringing Pillow Talk to you in the form I’ve loved my whole life and pursued professionally since age 13: the written word.

Until next week, I’ll leave you with a mini episode of Pillow Talk: drag queen Roxy C. Moorecox talking about her taffetta gown and being electric in bed. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Mini #PillowTalkShow Episode #4: Total. Taffeta. 'Nuff said. #CLTPride #lgbt

A video posted by @lookitsjoanne on

Pillow Talk This Weekend! (Video)

Pillow Talk Paige and me rehearsal

PT has its first LIVE show this weekend! 

You are not going to want to miss out — there will be pageantry, drama AND a chance for me to win a $2,000 grant — which The Knight Foundation will match.

I need you there to vote for me.

What does this money mean? It means funding season two of PT and a fabo launch party at a soon-to-be-selected performance space. Mystery! Intrigue!

Get your tickets here. BBQ and drinks will be served.

Thanks to Project Art Aid for selecting me as a finalist for the Queen City Soup grant!

Need more convincing? Here’s a little video to rock (the bed) vote.