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Periel of wisdom

Periel of wisdom

Periel

Fashion designer-activist Periel Aschenbrand made waves with her "the only bush i trust is my own" underwear in 2004. Now she has a book of the same name--and strong opinions about Larry Kramer and being "post-gender"

Periel Aschenbrand is a writer and agitprop fashion designer who made a splash at the Republican National Convention last year while protesting in her "the only bush i trust is my own" underwear creations. Her literary comic debut, The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own, will be published by Tarcher/Penguin in August. Here she talks to Ken Siman, author of Pizza Face (and her editor), about flirting with her girlfriends--including a Mormon missionary--and her love of gay men.

You made a name for yourself by designing a "the only bush i trust is my own" clothing line, and in your book you write about making "Larry Kramer for president" T-shirts. What draws you to him?He's the Martin Luther King of gay culture. I really believe that. He did what everyone else was afraid to do. He was a fucking visionary. He not only saw what was going to happen, which was pretty remarkable given the lack of data then, but he said it, he stood by it, and he kept saying it. People didn't want to hear it, and he kept saying it: Having unprotected sex with strangers will infect you. Part of why I admire Larry so much is because he didn't take orders from anyone. And also, this isn't revolutionary, it's common sense: Use condoms. You don't need to fuck 900 filthy strangers who have been blowing lines of crystal meth all night to have a good time or to achieve sexual freedom. More likely, you'll end up in some dive clinic, getting sticks of acid shoved up your ass to burn off warts.

In the book the closest you come to having sex with a girl is when you sit on your Mormon missionary friend's Book of Mormon. When it comes down to it, are you just a big tease?As my editor, it's a bit shameless for you to be asking this question being that there is a very specific allusion in the book to me going down on a female cellist.

So do you consider yourself bisexual?I spent two years studying with the French social theorist Monique Wittig, and I agree with her that gender, like race, is socially constructed. I consider myself post-gender.

Oh, man, I hate it when you get highfalutin. But be that as it may, I think you are the best girlfriend a gay guy could dream of, and I know I'm not alone. How do you make your friendships with all these gay guys work?I don't try to sleep with them! Besides, we can say anything to each other. I remember the first time I had all my pubic hair waxed off and I showed one of my gay boyfriends. He shrieked, recoiled in horror, and told me it looked like a shriveled up grapefruit.

Periel Aschenbrand's opinionated comic memoir, The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own ($9.95), is a paperback original from Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. Writer Jonathan Ames calls it "ribald, outrageous, gutter-mouthed, [and] hilarious."

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