Michelle Tea on “Valencia: The Movie”

 
 

AE: I have a very important question. True or false, pickles are incredibly sexy? One of the shorts has a scene that is kind of erotic involving eating pickles out of the jar.

MT: You know, that actress, Annie Danger, she’s a performance artist and she’s just so good. I feel like she did make pickles sexy. I think she made it a lot sexier than I made it during the time. I think I was sort of stumbling and goofy but she’s so good in that. She’s like very magnetic.

You know, a lot of the people who were cast in it are working performance artists or writers or just people who create culture in their particular little queer community. So in a way, a lot of these chapters function as snapshots of the great queer scenes across the United States.

AE: There’s kind of a movie mash-up in one of the shorts. How did that come about?

MT: Those filmmakers, Chris Vargas and Greg Youmans, came on a little bit later in the game and didn’t really have the time to sort of do the casting and the shooting and everything. And so they did kind of like a visual sampling and it’s so brilliant. I mean, I think it’s one of the highlights of the entire film. I’m so happy. But again, because of the constraints of reality, again, and creating something that’s just so special. And they’re awesome.

AE: Were there guidelines that you gave the filmmakers? Maybe like time length or something like that?

MT: We had to give them some technical guidelines…but there’s the format of the short and how it had to be delivered to [Hilary]. It was pretty specific, and unfortunately, we had a couple of really great films that were shot before we had come up with those guidelines, and the difference between the quality was so drastically different that we couldn’t use them. Really a bummer. But nothing was supposed to be longer than, I think, five to seven minutes. Everyone pushed at that boundary.

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AE: You said you’re somewhat new to filmmaking so is it safe to say you’ve caught the bug now?

MT: Well, I feel like I’ve had it, you know? I’ve been in a couple of Hilary Goldberg’s films. I’ve been in a couple of Peter Pizzi’s films. So, yeah, I would love to keep doing stuff like this. But at the moment, I’m contracted to write three books, so I’m kind of crazy right now with books.

AE: Are these book projects also memoirs? Fiction? Queer-centric?

MT: It’s all of those things. I had a book that just came out this spring called Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, and it’s the first in a young adult trilogy. I’m pretty much at the end of the second installment right now. Ad after that, I’m doing a book with Penguin called How to Grow Up, and it’s a memoir, but it’s different than my other memoirs. When I wrote them, I kind of wanted them to be very novelistic, like you’re just reading a novel, like you’re very in that moment. And this is going to be a totally different angle of more like looking back.

Valencia premieres at Outfest tonight. For more information on future screenings, visit the website. Outfest continues through July 21st in Los Angeles. For information on the films and tickets, visit the website. You can also follow Michelle Tea on Twitter.

 

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