Posts Tagged ‘butch’

DICHOTOMY: Cutting Into It

Monday, November 13th, 2017


Lanky and androgynous with short hair in a slit tank top and sweats, JANE, stares deeply into her eyes in the mirror.

One CLICK and the HUM of hair clippers echo through the room.

She brings the clippers to the top of her head.

Pause.  Deep breath.

Holds up her bangs.

The first cut is the deepest.

She slides the clippers slowly through her hair leaving a line of 1/8-inch fresh fuzz.

My life and my art are often indistinguishable, waxing and waning like the phases of the moon.  On January 1, 2017, I shaved my head.  I shaved my head and I filmed it.

I cut into my hair and I cut into my life.  I felt a need to dissect, to slice, to sever, to cut myself into pieces, mix them up, and then hopefully sew them back together again.


I was frustrated with waiting for those strong yet soft, butch lesbian roles. I was tired of competing with large or muscular women and feminine LA model chicks with their hair in pony tails and backwards baseball caps, auditioning for the “butch” role.  Or getting auditions canceled because they decided to go with a name.  Sure, I am grateful to be going in for roles originally written for men and happy to occasionally be seen for the doctor or cop or nurse, who just happens to be gay. I am thrilled to see butch roles increasingly being written and casting directors open to diverse interpretation. However, by the time they are cast and end up on TV, they are often homogenized and feminized or neutralized from what was originally written in order to cast a name actress or model or combine all the diversity into one character or just to placate the other half of the country.

I was tired of feeling insecure and like I was not enough.  I needed to do something bold.  Express myself.  Make something meaningful. Something that cannot be ignored. Challenge myself and society to see me.  And to not be afraid of it.  So, I shaved my head, for my art and for my life.

I made a short film called Dichotomy that I wrote, produced, and starred in.  It is about a butch lesbian who shaves her head, forcing herself into a battle with her masculine and feminine sides in a humorous and twisted journey of self-discovery.  Yeah, okay, pretty autobiographical.

I knew I wanted to title the script, Dichotomy, but I had to do a little research to make sure I was on the right track to fully express what I was feeling.

The word, “dichotomy,” basically means, to cut in two.  It is made up of the Greek root, “Di” or “Dich” meaning two and “Tomy” meaning to cut into.

The first definition of the word, dichotomy, according to Merriam-Webster:

“1: a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities – the Dichotomy between theory and practice; also: the process or practice of making such a division – Dichotomy of the population into two opposed classes.”

The fourth definition is very similar to the first:

“4: something with seemingly contradictory qualities

-it’s a Dichotomy, this opulent Ritz-style luxury in a place that fronts on a boat harbor

—Jean T. Barrett”

Human nature or nurture loves to divide things into dichotomies, black or white, pink or blue, good or bad, positive or negative, gay or straight, masculine or feminine.  Our whole universe is powered by polarities.  The gravity, magnetism, the tides, and the phases of the moon.  Conflict appears to be inherently natural.

Feminine and masculine have been taken over by society to mean dresses or pants, make-up or not, weak or strong, soft or hard, emotional or stoic, long hair or short hair.  In reality we are all made up of feminine and masculine genes, hormones, and DNA that come in as many variations as there are people on this earth.  We use labels to define who we are and yet at the same time our differences can divide us.  If we could get away from our human need for separation, perhaps we could realize we are all the same within our individual dichotomies and really are part of one loving and peaceful universe.

Now, if you look at the definition of the word, feminine. Again, quoting from the sexy Merriam Webster.

“1: female

2: characteristic of or appropriate or unique to women – feminine beauty – a feminine perspective.

3: of, relating to, or constituting the gender that ordinarily includes most words or grammatical forms referring to females – a feminine noun

4: a: being an unstressed and usually additional final syllable after the final complete foot in a line of verse – a feminine ending.

b: of rhyme: having an unstressed final syllable

c: having the final chord occurring on a weak beat – music in feminine cadences.”

I get that words have always had masculine and feminine connotations and in many languages the words actually have sexes.  Although, I never understood why one was masculine and one was feminine.  In French, hair is actually masculine.  A butterfly is masculine but a firefly is feminine.  A cat and even a beaver are masculine? At any rate, good for them for not being entirely stereotypical.

I consider myself a butch, lesbian woman. Although, I only use those terms because it is how society tends to describe me.  I still wear make-up and can be very soft, emotional, and nurturing.  Sure, I like to lift weights and be in control. I have masculine tendencies in the way I dress, the way I carry myself, my sexual preferences, and appearance.  But that does not make me any less feminine by definition.  I am still biologically a woman.  I have no desire to physically change into a man.

My character, Jane wants to reconnect with her innate femininity through androgyny.  Our hair has meaning to us.  Our hair represents who we are and how we see ourselves.  By removing it, cutting into it, shaving it off, Jane removes that social construct to face who she is beneath it.

During the film, my character, Jane has a debate with herself in the bathroom mirror mimicking the Gollum vs. Smeagol scene from the movie, The Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers.  Her demonic and strong feminine side tries to suppress her insecure and weak masculine side.  I chose this parody because of the distinct good vs. evil sides plus the added dichotomy of flipping the typical feminine and masculine roles.  Making the feminine side more aggressive and the masculine side more subservient.  In Jane’s world, society keeps telling her to be more feminine but her soul is fighting to express her masculinity ever present within her innate femininity.


We wants it, we needs it. Must have the femininity.  They stole it from us, sneaky little lesbianses.


No, no not lesbianses.


They will make you butch. They will make you shave your head. They will laugh at you.


Lesbianses are my friends.


You don’t have any friends.  Nobody likes you.


I’m not listening.  I’m not listening.


You’re a girl.  You love pink.  You love dresses.






Go away.


Go away?

GOLLUM lets out an Evil LAUGH


I hate you.  I hate you.


Where would you be without your femininity? I saved us.  It was me.  We got more auditions because of me.

My evil character venomously screams out the word “Dyke” as if it is the worst insult on the planet.  Most people know the term to refer to a lesbian, often in a derogatory fashion, or a dike (American spelling) that refers to a ditch or bank, “to control or confine water.”

The British word is actually spelled, “dyke,” like the lesbian term.  Dyke has always had a butch connotation to it. Every day, I am challenged to reconcile my identity as a woman with being a little masculine at the same time. Over the years, lesbians have done a great job reclaiming the word, dyke to just mean, “lesbian.”.  Even the water definition contains a dichotomy.  A “dike” either refers to something hard that forces the water in a different direction or something soft that allows water to collect and pool. Soft or hard, feminine or masculine, even the definition can’t decide.

I often get the question, “Why didn’t you spell the title of the film, “DYKEotomy?”  I considered it because I love some good word play but I really didn’t want to exclude most of the population by focusing with a lesbian lens.  All human beings feel the dichotomy of trying to fit into the categories that society uses to divide us. We are constantly forced into separate groups from the time we are children.  It is no wonder racism, gender discrimination, homophobia, and sexual abuse are so prevalent in this country.

The second definition of dichotomy was a bit of a surprise to me:

“2: the phase of the moon or an inferior planet in which half its disk appears illuminated.”

I have always had an affinity for the moon and I have gone through many phases in my life.  I went from straight to bi to lesbian to bi to lesbian.  I still have days where I feel somewhere in between and when I am not in a relationship it gets even more tricky.  This personal battle with masculinity and femininity has taken place frequently in my head and literally on my head.  In my more feminine days, when I had a long tress of dark hair covering my head and shoulders, the moon had only begun its journey.  A dark shadow hiding my true luminous self beneath. It took years of phases.  I went from long hair to mullet to short hair to longer, short hair to shorter, short hair and finally to baldly go where no woman had gone before. The full moon.

Dark shards of hair fall slowly into the white sink.

She shaves another line.

Jane continues to run the clippers through her hair.

More and more hair drops as she runs her hand over her buzzed head.

She stares long and hard into the mirror.

Her eyes slowly tear up with regret.

Sure, this regret was written in the script but at the same time, I was experiencing these feelings in real time. Not only was I shaving my head on-camera but I was looking directly into the camera as if it was a mirror.  I could not see what I was doing.  There was a lot of apprehension attached to this decision. How we define ourselves sexually and socially can be fraught with struggle, insecurity, and fear of regret.

When I finally did get a chance to see the full, hairless moon it was both shocking and liberating. It did really force myself to focus on who I was beneath the hair.  Fortunately, I have a pretty good shaped head. Physically it felt amazing.  There is nothing like it when you feel the sun caressing your tender scalp for the first time or the tingling sensation of heat escaping through the top of your head, or warm water absorbing into your pate.  I was more afraid of the human reaction.  I was offered a catering job a few days after the initial shave. I didn’t know if I should do it.  It was a small dinner for a Jewish Rabbi. I ended up sending my boss a picture. He thought it looked great and as it turned out, they loved it.  One of the women was extremely complimentary and said she wished she was brave enough to shave her head.  I have been surprised to see how many people focus on my face more with less hair.  I actually get less people calling me “sir.” I like to think they are somehow illuminated by my full moon to see my innate femininity within the androgyny.  I don’t know why that is so important to me?  I don’t think there is anything wrong with appearing or being completely masculine, it is just not who I am.  Occasionally I do get the, “do you have cancer reaction?” but that is mostly from men.  My life has become a bit of a social experiment anyway so I find it all rather fascinating.

Part of the experiment was to see how the new look affected my acting career. I did grow it out to a shorter buzz instead of the full on bald.  Maybe I am selling out but maybe that is just part of where I am at right now?  I was hoping it would give me a bit more distinctiveness, to push me forward into a new category. After all, I was partially inspired by Charlize Theron in the movie, Mad Max. I did book a couple of awesome, TV acting jobs this year, but unfortunately, they both ended up on the cutting room floor.  When these things happen or things get slow or I get lonely, the doubt and insecurity creep back in.  I look in the mirror and I see the monster lurking in the shadows.  My face looks long, or my wrinkles more prominent or my head makes me look like an alien.  This was part of how I got the idea for the film in the first place.  I really do talk to myself and make monster faces in the mirror.  It is when I see the humor and the humanity in it all that it snaps me back into the light.

Pulling it together, Jane fishes in a drawer and pulls out some mascara and begins applying it.

The brush slips marking her upper and lower lids black.

Frustrated she draws black lines all over her face.

Realizing how ridiculous she looks her mood begins to lighten as she makes faces in the mirror.

She rubs her head and GROWLS.

She scrunches up her face and hunches her shoulders.

The sun comes out again and I realize it is all part of the process.  By shaving my head, I may have cut myself out of a few of those more feminine roles, that I never got anyway.  However, I am suddenly getting called in and cast as the villain, creature, bad ass, prisoner, crunchy granola type, feminist, and cult member.  Way more fun! I am also beginning to realize that it is okay to face the dark side of the moon, to acknowledge it, and then let it go.

No matter what length my hair is or whether I am more feminine or masculine or butch or femme or whatever, it is constantly changing.  The light side comes back around in no time.  The phases of the moon are consistent and yet fluid like sexuality and life can be.   No matter what you do it will always wax and wane.  Ever consistent in its inconsistency.

Finally, we get to the third definition of dichotomy:

“3: a: BIFURCATION; especially: repeated bifurcation (as of a plant’s stem)

b: a system of branching in which the main axis forks repeatedly into two branches.

c: branching of an ancestral line into two equal diverging branches.”

It is through confronting the dichotomies within us that we truly branch out and grow.Our bodies, our organs, our lives are created by dividing cells. Is it even possible to remove division when it is such a part of our biology?  Society can be cruel but it can also lead us to introspection, activism, and change.  Without the election of President Trump, would we have had so many people and even corporations banding together and protesting against discrimination and sexual harassment? Not to mention, a huge increase in women, younger people, and diverse candidates running for office?  Division can be polarizing but it also creates action and further growth.  I am grateful to have my two opposing sides.  They give me the drive to create and to fight for what I believe.                                              


Leave now and never come back!




Leave now and never come back!




Leave now and never come back.

Pause. She looks around.


We told her to go away and away she goes.

She spins and dances around the bathroom.


Gone, gone, gone.  Jane is free.

She takes a moment and washes the black off and dries her face with a towel.

Long stare into the mirror.



Big smile.

In my short film, Dichotomy, Jane eventually drives away the dichotomy within herself to see the light within.  She finds peace and freedom in being the woman she is. It takes Jane about 11 minutes to complete her introspective journey. Dichotomy is based on my feature film script, I.D. In I.D., butch lesbian, actress Jane loses her I.D. card, searches for a sexy, identity thief, helps her gay roommate, Mike make a documentary on gender stereotypes, cracks an identity theft ring, and finds love and her identity, in about an hour and a half.  It is a gender-bending comedy of errors that takes Jane’s journey across New York City. For me, this journey has taken my whole life. I am still fighting and doubting and struggling every day to just feel somewhat comfortable as the butch yet innately feminine woman that I am.

I stare deeply into my eyes in the mirror.  Time to shave my head again.  Every four days to maintain a good buzz.  It is kind of like a rebirth, a reflection. Collect the pieces and sew them back together again. Every time I question my choice it reaffirms my path.

Dichotomy premiered at Cinema Diverse in Palm Springs and NewFest in New York City.  Two of the best LGBTQ festivals in the world.  It is a film that can apply to anyone and everyone who has ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin or unable to conform to societal expectations. I would like to see Dichotomy get into some “straight” or mainstream festivals and become more accessible through worldwide distribution. I would like to see my feature script, I.D. made into a movie and I would like to continue to promote the representation of butch lesbians in mainstream media. I want people to see themselves reflected in my mirror.

How you express yourself personally, sexually, or socially does not make you more masculine or feminine it just makes you more human.

I look at my daily calendar and notice there are little symbols that indicate the phase of the moon every month underneath the day of the year.  I never noticed that before.

The full moon shines through my window.  She follows me everywhere.  I feel her light and love shining on my freshly shaved head, guiding my life, and absorbing into my soul. Her shadow, her radiance, her masculine and feminine, her magnetic pull toward love, give me the strength to continue my journey to challenge society and find peace within myself.

Exploring life through art. Let Everything Sexy Be I Am Naked.

WAIT Training

Monday, July 4th, 2016

_DSC3946  Noelle_Messier_096
First off, I did not misspell the title.  It will all make sense in the end.  I promise.

Noelle_Feb_02_100c copyI’m at the gym working out with weights.  WEIGHT training makes me feel strong, powerful, masculine, and beautiful.  I can lose the expectations of society and my ego and become one with my body, pumping and stretching and falling into the music.  One more bicep curl, one more pull-up, a few more crunches, and nirvana.  A turn-on, a sense of accomplishment, freedom, and instant gratification in an hour and a half.

_DSC4816I walk back home, soaking in the vitamin D, with a spring in my step, and a drive to push forward with my creative career and my love life.  I get the mail and open up a SAG residual check for $0.59.  Yes, that’s right, fifty-nine cents.  Hiding under a Hollywood Reporter and some bills on my steel topped table I see my audition sides and bam!  Back to ego, back to thinking about the future, back to not knowing what to do, back to insecurity, and back to waiting.  Noelle_Messier_073

I need to learn how to wait.  And wait consciously, without denying my feelings and without driving myself crazy.  How to just be.  I need WAIT Training. I look it up on Google.  Other than abstinence education, semen conservation, and waiting tables, there is nothing.  Well, I am a do it yourselfer so here goes… So, those sides were for an audition for a reoccurring lesbian role in a pilot for a major network. Whoohoo! Right? No. The audition got cancelled the night before. My manager assured me it would be rescheduled.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Then a new slightly different breakdown was released and again my manager submitted and pitched me.  Okay, still waiting. Noelle_Messier_022          IMG_4262

They probably went with a name.  Pretty normal in this business.  Or maybe it will still happen if I just stay positive and wait.
I look up at my ceiling beams for comfort and all I see is my dead plant hanging from a metal chain.
I need a distraction.  Oh look, there’s a message on my computer from a dating site.  She has only one profile picture and it’s out of focus and she’s wearing sunglasses.  Really? I want to fall in love with her eyes not her sunglasses.  I delete her and her sunglasses from memory.
Anyway, home is where the heart is, right?  Then why does my heart suddenly feel like it’s on vacation? Why does it feel like it is breaking under the pressure of stasis and loneliness?_DSC4946

Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic. Don’t get me wrong.  I am busy as can be.  Catering my ass off, submitting for projects, keeping up on my manager, auditioning for acting roles and voice overs, getting new headshots, re-doing my demo reel, writing my next feature screenplay, and trying like hell to keep up on social media, yoga, and the gym. Noelle_Messier_067Yet, I still have this sense that I am missing something.  A sense of constantly being in limbo and not feeling quite grounded. Waiting for something. The big WAITING finger poking at the back of my mind and the pit of my stomach.  And it just keeps getting multiplied.  The waiting on tables to pay the bills.  The waiting for casting notices that are right for me.  The waiting for those perfect auditions and then waiting to book the job. And of course, the waiting during the job to do the job.  IMG_2131And waiting for a part where I do not have a line that is either, “I am not a man,” or “ma’am I’m not a sir,” or some such variation.  Granted, I have done very well with those parts and am extremely grateful. Waiting for someone to recognize that there is such a thing as a sexy, butch lesbian. _DSC5057Or an androgynous, lesbian lead character.  Waiting to be comfortable in my own skin.  Waiting to be recognized for who I am and to own that without shame or discomfort. Ironically, it is through being other characters that I really learn how to be me.


I do not just need WAIT Training for my career. I am still, almost pathetically, waiting for love. For that special someone who jumps off the page and down my pants and actually lives in Los Angeles.  I just put my profile back up on the dating site after a year hiatus. If and when I actually find a potential match, there is the waiting to meet, waiting to see what they actually look like, waiting for the next date, waiting to see where it goes, or waiting for it to end.

Our lives are full of waiting.  We spend endless hours in line waiting for food, waiting for entertainment, waiting to buy things, waiting to get things or ourselves fixed, and of course, waiting in the dreaded L.A. traffic.  Waiting to die and waiting to live. Waiting is part of life and death. It is what we signed up for.


So how do I make it all stop?  Kind of an odd conundrum.  I want to find a way to stop the immobility.  Maybe one way to stop waiting is to be completely present in the moment because then there is nothing to wait for.  Whatever I am waiting for only exists in the future.  My frustration comes from looking at my past and feeling like I should have accomplished more or done this or that. The missing link is obviously internal.  _DSC4888So yeah, I’ve done the self- help route and therapy and Eastern philosophy and A Course in Miracles, blah, blah, blah.  I know I should be embracing the NOW, living in the moment, forgetting about the past and future, and manifesting blah, blah, blah.  And it is all right and true, and I get it. But why is it so darn hard to do?  And then I get mad at myself for thinking that it is hard, because I should be thinking it is easy, if I really want it to happen. But I have to actually believe that and not just say it, blah, blah, blah.

Noelle_Messier_043My fear of waiting is not really rational. It is almost instinctual.  A self- protection mechanism to soften the blow of disappointment.  I actually have a lot to be thankful for.  This year I booked a nice part on a major television show, Dr. Ken, and I actually had a scene with over 5 lines. DR KEN SCREENSHOT 3 I love my new manager and have been getting some great auditions and feeling confident.  I am in the midst of researching and writing a love story about my gay uncle and his husband who have been together for 65 years.  My uncle John was a singer, a tailor, and a war hero.  He was married to a woman when he met Richard at Julliard in NYC in 1950.  It was love at first site. They sang opera, taught singing together, started a vocal foundation and coached Broadway stars.  They raised a son who became an actor who tore the family apart with homophobia and scientology.  John&RichardA true story of endless love, humor, music, tragedy, and faith.  For me, it has already been an inspirational, moving, and personal journey.  BTR POSTER-WEBA feature film I starred in finally got finished after 6 years of waiting.  Granted it did not turn out the way I had hoped but I learned a lot and it did get picked up by a distributer.  WedlockedPosterThat film, Black Tar Road, did not make it into OUTFEST but a little short I was in last year, Wedlocked, did.  I’m the cute one in the white t-shirt on the right.
I’ve been waiting for years for that. I will be part of one of the biggest LGBTQ film festivals in the world.  IMG_3439I will sit with my peers and soak in the estrogen on All Girl Friday as I watch myself on screen.
IMG_4004I built a voice over studio out of a telephone booth and have voiced four paying projects.  From all the catering work, I was finally able to ditch the 13-year-old car and buy a new one I love.

As much as I like to complain about the food service industry, it has given me the flexibility to do what I love.  It also keeps me in shape and I have made some incredible friendships and made a lot of people smile.  Yeah, the love life is still lacking but I’m working on that. All in all, I am pretty happy. 80% according to a test I took. Noelle_Messier_014Yet why do I still feel stuck in the muck of the stagnant pond of waiting?Cher MV Muscle1

The secret to WAIT training was whispering in my ear on the way home from the gym but I wasn’t listening.  I drink a glass of wheat grass juice and the light starts seeping into my brain.  Okay, so, WEIGHT training puts me in the present, one with mind, body, soul, and the universe. Lifting weights is a challenge.  So is waiting.  I don’t look at WEIGHT training as a chore but as an opportunity and a positive experience.  _DSC4879Maybe if I change how I look at waiting, it won’t be quite so difficult.  Look at Heinz Ketchup.  Their late 70s early 80s advertising campaign with the whole, “anticipation it’s keeping me waiting,” Carly Simon song thing. They made waiting and ketchup look sensual and delicious.  If they can do it, why can’t I?  But, this is a new millennium.  _DSC4694I like to be in control of my ketchup.  I don’t want to feel like a powerless cog in the waiting machine.  I want to slap the bottom of my bottle and spill my bloody contents all over the counter. Here I go, not wanting to wait, problem solving, and making a mess of things again.  Noelle_Messier_035
Perhaps, I need to accept that I do not need a solution.  I simply need to be comfortable with the problem. Maybe the secret to waiting is that I have to practice being at peace with the waiting and feel my feelings and just be okay in the discomfort.

Noelle_Messier_051Or I need more sex. Look at me, making it sound like I’m actually having sex. Noelle_Feb_01_059c
There is definitely a sexual component to WEIGHT training.

The push, the build, and the pay off.  My favorite part of sex is the tease.  The give and take.  That moment right before the thing I want is taken away is the most intense and powerful. The wanting and the yearning can be pleasing in itself. Especially if I am focused and concentrated and allow myself to feel it without fear of loss.  _DSC5073In that instant I am in the abyss, the waiting, and yet the anticipation is intoxicating.  The energy in that second right before the actual orgasm is, for lack of a better word, orgasmic. That payoff lives in every waiting moment.  It is happening right now, constantly, and in complete nothingness.  _DSC3985Maybe if I just give in and embrace it.  Feel the spark hidden in the waiting where desire and gratification meet in the present moment.  Then just maybe, that energy, in that positive space, will find a new home, where my heart, mind, and spirit can become one.  Where motion is free to enter my life and I am free and ready to accept it.

IMG_4262Noelle_Messier_016I look up at that same dying plant and notice one long, living leaf reaching out of the bramble.  Everything has its ebb and flow.  I am exactly where I am meant to be right now. I am a homebody nomad exploring life through love and art. A loving person in a loving world that exists in every waiting, magical, infinitesimal moment. Waiting is simply, joyful opportunity over and over again.  At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

Noelle_Messier_078Oh and Miss Casting Director, can you please just give me that audition, so I can blissfully experience the joyful, orgasmic, intensity of waiting to get the part, waiting to shoot the pilot, waiting for it to get picked up, waiting for the contract, and waiting for the money to rain down and wash me with love.