Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. (December 3, 2010): Lining “Dottie’s Magic Pockets” and making lesbian history in Botswana



Dottie’s Magic Pockets is just the sort of clever, playful show that any kid would enjoy watching. What makes it particularly special is that it’s also the “first kids’ show for gay families and their friends.” Tammy Stoner (writer and creator), Andrea Maxwell (director) and Jennifer Plante (the actress who stars as Dottie) have joined forces to make a children’s video for “the gay family, the adopted family, the traditional family – all of today’s families!” Dottie’s Magic Pockets has already appeared in multiple LGBT festivals, is now available in libraries in the U.S. and Canada and has gained national recognition for tackling the under served demographic of gay families.

In an effort to raise funds for the DVD and distribution costs, Stone and company have launched an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign (which wraps up tonight). We chatted with Stoner about how her own son’s desire to see a show with two moms inspired the production and what the future holds for Dottie and company.

A scene from Dottie’s Magic Pockets When I last saw you, you were hosting The Sugar Daddy Show in Los Angeles. How did you make the change from drag king emcee to LGBT media mogul?

Tammy Stoner:
Why, that’s my first time being called a media mogul! [laughs] From “Frankie Roundfirmenhigh” to Mom – I didn’t make a change really, since I am the kind of mom who likes to go out in drag every now and again.

Being an emcee prepared me for public speaking when I introduce Dottie at festivals and for performances, and gave me a great foundation for producing live shows, which we have done with Jen Plante (the actress who plays Dottie).

AE: Please walk us through the story of Dottie’s Magic Pockets, from inception to birth.

When Oliver, my son, was two he asked for a show with two mommies. I looked around and realized that were no shows available. Since I had been involved with producing short films and am a writer, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by a crop of talented friends who also saw how critical it is that our kids see themselves reflected in media they can understand – and, beyond that, how critical it is that their friends see gay families to take the “oddness” out. So they joined in – a director and editor who had been working at Sony, the former Art Director for The Advocate and OUT magazines, a passionate film producer, and a communications expert – and we started Pink Pea productions.

Early on Andrea Maxwell, the director, and I knew we wanted Jen Plante as the star, having worked with her on another short film. Jen is amazing and had a background in children’s entertainment – plus she’s ridiculously creative and fun. After Jen agreed, we were linked to our fantastic composer, Allyson Newman, then dozens of people who volunteered to build the set, work the shoots, take photos, videotape their kids, make costumes, supply food – do all of the multitude of things that needed to be done. So I really think of Dottie’s Magic Pockets as a project-by-community.

Below is an exclusive song, “Cheese Picnic,” from the Dottie’s Magic Pockets CD, The Super Secret Seashell Cave:

AE: How much influence does Oliver have production/content? Is his enjoyment of the show the ultimate litmus test for your success?

We did a few tests early on and adults said Uncanny the Singing Can might be too much with her falsetto. But the kids, including Oliver, loved Uncanny. And sure enough, Uncanny – who was created in-house by Wayne DeSelle, our Creative Director – has grown to be one of kids’ most favorite characters.

Oliver’s interests definitely shaped the content of the DVD – especially the theme of “words that sound the same but have different meanings” – and later, the age level of our new sing-along, adventure CD, which we created to reach a slightly older demographic. Dottie’s Magic Pockets was started with him in mind, so for me yes, I measure part of my success by his enjoyment. The other part is the enjoyment I have seen from his friends who watch the show and then say, “Hey, he has two moms, too.”

Oliver and Tammy

AE: You took Dottie on the LGBT film festival tour. How was it received?

Fabulously! We played in over 15 festivals, including international film festivals in Melbourne, Toronto, London, and OutFest in LA. Dottie also performed at the Austin Gay Lesbian Film Festival and at Frameline in San Francisco this year.

It is always amazing to see how excited the kids are when Dottie performs. When we did the Rosie R Family cruises, they literally swarmed her like a rock star when she surprised the kids by appearing on the deck in-between show days. They run over yelling “Dottie! Dottie!” – all very proud to tell her about their unique families.

AE: How will the funds for your indiegogo Dottie campaign be used?

We couldn’t include all the footage we had wanted in the original DVD due to some post-production issues – so the traditional family footage had to be removed – and we never liked the opening title sequence very much, but ran out of the funds needed to upgrade. So now, as we get ready to pitch to larger investment so Dottie can be brought to a broader market, a big part of the money will go to improve the DVD.

The rest will support finishing our first music video “Who’s In Your Family,” which is stuck in post-production, and cover our ongoing business expenses. This has been a labor of love that we have supported out-of-pocket. We’ve contributed our time, talent and savings to support the show thus far. We’ve reached the point where we need to call on our fan base and the community to support us while we continue growing Dottie’s Magic Pockets, because we believe it is “the little show that could.”

AE: Do you have any other projects in the works?

Oh, I’m always doing something! I’m also on the board of directors for Gertrude Journal up here in Portland and I’m finishing up a novel and a few scripts to get ready for the gauntlet! I am also in early discussions with a business partner about starting a small press – who knows, maybe we’ll do a Dottie’s Magic Pockets’ book one of these days…

Here’s the video for Dottie’s Magic Pockets IndieGoGo campaign:

Dottie’s IndieGoGo campaign wraps up tonight, Dec. 3, at midnight, with a fundraising goal of $8,800 (and has raised over $6,200 so far).

by Karman Kregloe

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