Episode 560 — Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore


Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the guest. Her new novel Sketchtasy is available from Arsenal Pulp Press.


This is Mattilda’s second time on the podcast. She first appeared in Episode 237 on December 25, 2013.

Described as “startlingly bold and provocative” by Howard Zinn, “a cross between Tinkerbell and a honky Malcolm X with a queer agenda” by the Austin Chronicle, and “a gender-fucking tower of pure pulsing purple fabulous” by The Stranger, Sycamore is the author of a memoir and three novels, and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies.

Sycamore’s memoir, The End of San Francisco (City Lights 2013), won a Lambda Literary Award, and her most recent anthology, Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform (AK Press 2012), was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

Mattilda’s novels include So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights 2008) and Pulling Taffy (Suspect Thoughts 2003). She is the editor of four additional nonfiction anthologies, Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal 2007), That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (Soft Skull 2004; 2008), Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving  (Haworth 2004), and Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write about Their Clients (Haworth 2000), which now also appears in Italian (Effepi Libri 2007).

Mattilda has written for a variety of publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, BOMB, Bookforum, The Baffler, the New York Times, New Inquiry, Los Angeles Review of Books, Truthout, Time Out New York, Utne Reader, AlterNet, Bitch, Bookslut, and The Stranger, and for ten years, Mattilda was the reviews editor and a columnist for the feminist magazine Make/shift.

Mattilda made a short 16mm film, All That Sheltering Emptiness, in collaboration with Joey Carducci. The film premiered in 2010, and has screened around the world.

Mattilda created Lostmissing, a public art project about the friend who will always be there, and what happens when you lose that

Mattilda’s activism has included ACT UP in the early ‘90s, Fed Up Queers in the late ‘90s, Gay Shame, and numerous lesser-known (or even unnamed) groups.

Mattilda’s papers are archived at the San Francisco Public Library, and are accessible to the public.

Mattilda lives in Seattle, Washington, but will be on tour for Sketchtasy from fall 2018 through spring 2019. In the past, she has appeared in independent bookstores, community centers, performance venues and universities across the US (and Canada), from Yale to Evergreen, UCLA to Harvard to Mills to McGill.

Mattilda loves feedback, so contacther, okay?

Mattilda is now on Twitter. Don’t tell anyone, but she kind of loves it.


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In today’s monologue, I talk about creative frustration and focus and intentionality. It gets neurotic.