Rachel Lark
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Rachel Lark

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Rock Comedy




"The Poster Girl For Period Sex: "I think it's unfortunate that women often think their vagina's kind of gross.""

San Francisco singer/songwriter Rachel Lark may not have intended to become the poster girl for period sex, but with her latest single, “Warm, Bloody, and Tender,” and the appropriately gory video co-starring sex columnist Dan Savage, she may not have any choice. The song tells the story of a woman nervous about having her period during a particularly hot date, debating whether to tell him or not. The guy turns out to love his surprise “monthly treat.” The Kickstarter-funded steak-eating, “blood”-smearing video takes the premise to an even wilder conclusion.

But it’s Lark’s eminently catchy chorus and melody that have made it, by her admission, her anthem since she first performed it as part of the popular Bay Area-based Bawdy Storytelling in July 2013, where Lark’s performed many of her sex-themed songs, such as “For The Guys,” a song about consent and sexual assault. Though Lark, 27, considers “Warm, Bloody, and Tender” one of a host of songs with names like “Text Me The Fuck Back” and “Fuck My Toe,” she’s embraced the fact that her fans and friends now proudly let her know when they’ve gotten it on during Aunt Flo. Ahead of her fall West Coast tour, Lark spoke to Salon about normalizing menstruation through music, watching people squirm when she performs, why not being into period sex is a dating dealbreaker, her recipe for fake blood—and how she got Dan Savage to be in her video.

How long have you been playing the kind of music you play now?

Not that long actually. I started about almost three years ago. Before that I wrote serious heartbreak songs about boys and angsty emotional stuff. It wasn’t until I got linked up with Bawdy Storytelling and fell in love with the show that I decided I was going to propose writing dirty songs for [host] Dixie De La Tour, even though I’d never really done that before. It worked out great. I still write serious emotional stuff too, but it’s cool now to have this whole other fun comedic silly part of myself expressed through music.

How does performing these kinds of songs in that atmosphere affect what you write?

For one thing, the community of perverts and sex positive weirdoes are the most supportive crowd you could hope for. If it affects me at all, it probably gives me a boosted sense of confidence because those crowds tend to eat it up. They’re so excited to see people talking about this stuff and sharing it and being honest and dirty and unashamed. It’s fun because I write these songs in my room by myself. You never really know until you get in front of an audience if they’re actually funny or if they’re weird.

How did “Warm, Bloody, and Tender” come about? Was it based on personal experience?

It was the first song that I wrote for Bawdy Storytelling [for their BawdySlam]. The theme for the night was “But We Finished Anyway.” So I was trying to think about what’s a situation where maybe we should put the brakes on it but we don’t. I immediately thought about all the experiences I’ve had when I’m on my period and I’m not expecting to it. The story that’s in the song is definitely a fiction, I’m sorry to tell you, but it’s based on an amalgamation of my experiences, the conversations I’ve had with guys, and the ways that I’ve handled it—everything from telling them to not mentioning it and just going for it.

It’s funny because before I wrote the song, it’s not like I was this outspoken advocate for period sex. It didn’t come from that; it more went the other direction. The more I started thinking about it, the more militant I got about the idea. Women get sprayed with come on a daily basis and we deal.

It’s become this sort of trademark. People text me when they’ve had period sex. They complain about their boyfriends who won’t go for it. I’m not saying everyone who won’t do it is a total prude and you should dump them. It’s more about, here’s one less thing we should feel weird about.

Do you get different reactions from guys vs. girls?

Not as much as you might think. I think everyone has the same arc of emotions across their faces when they hear it for the first time. I’ve gotten used to watching it happen. With the first verse, it’s oh gosh, is she going to do that? It’s this wince of I’m bracing myself for it, I really hope it’s not gonna go there. And when it goes there, there’s disbelief over how gross it is. Then it’s this full body, can’t-handle-it laughter that takes over. By the last chorus they’re singing along.

The best reaction in terms of entertainment value for me was performing for college freshmen at Stanford University. That was the biggest collective squirm I’ve ever witnessed.

How does your songwriting process usually go?

Usually the chorus comes first. When I can get the chorus locked in, then I know that the song’s gonna get written. My problem with “Warm, Bloody, and Tender” was I kept writing verses. I was actually writing right up until the moment I got onstage the first time to perform it. I actually had little pieces of scrap paper I taped to the microphone stand with all my ideas.

When did you get the idea for the video and how did you go about making it?

I knew I wanted a music video. “Warm, Bloody, and Tender” had kind of become my single. It had become part of my identity in the Bay Area; people really associated that song with me. But I didn’t want to make a video about it because honestly, part of what’s great about it is that your mind is doing all this imagining for you. I felt like it would ruin it if I acted it out. Also, I didn’t know how to act out that story.

I was talking to my friend from college, Dillon Majoros, about it. He’s a theater person and a bit of an artistic genius himself. He said, “Then don’t act it out. Act out a totally different story. Come up with a story where you’re getting ready for a dinner and everything’s immaculate and everything gets messy and gross.”

Dylan suggested I talk to production collective Of Clouds. Their sense of humor and production values were that right blend of really gorgeous cinematography with really crass tongue in cheek subject matter.

We had to build that entire set because we weren’t going to find someone who was going to let us use their living room to make a blood orgy happen in it. We tried out a lot of different blood recipes. The recipe that was in the video is corn syrup, chocolate syrup, red food coloring, a tiny little bit of blue food coloring which gets the orange out of the red, and corn starch. Let me tell you—when that stuff is all over your body, it feels awful. It’s sticky, solidifying on your eyelashes; it’s the worst, but it was worth it.

How long did it take you to shoot?

We shot the video in two days. We had one day for the dinner scene and one day for the band performance footage and that was it. It was high stakes because we got only one shot for a lot of those scenes; once you make a mess you can’t go back to clean. So we had to nail it, and we did, luckily.

What was it like to be in the middle of that?

It was ecstatic. I was ecstatic. I think it was the first scene where we’re feeding each other steak; right in the middle of that, it hit me—we got it. It was really exciting. Up until that moment you really don’t know if it’s going to make sense.

How did Dan Savage get involved in the video?

Dan Savage has been such an amazing supporter and a friend at this point. He’s told me many times how much he loves the song; he’s quoted it to me. As we were talking about casting, I said, “Dan Savage might be down.” I texted him and asked if he’d be in the video and in just a few minutes I got an all caps exclamation point message saying yes, he would.

He was really fun to work with. He was definitely a little squicked out himself during the process but he rallied. I don’t think it was ever his plan to be covered in a depiction of vaginal blood. Luckily there was a lot of cake on set; he’s a big cake fan.

Were you ever concerned about people finding the subject matter offensive, or that they’d think, this is too much?

I’m ready for people to call me offensive. That’s when you know that you’ve won. [laughs] It’s concerning to me that I haven’t pissed anyone off yet or gotten any death threats; I feel like I’m not a big enough deal if I’m not making people angry yet.

Seriously, I don’t have that concern. I feel pretty sure that catering to what’s acceptable is a horrible strategy as an artist. That’s not what’s going to make you stand out or get people to care about your music.

Part of my mission as an artist and as a person is to talk about not just the stuff that isn’t talked about, but the stuff that everyone has experienced. Women are on their periods almost 20 percent of the time, so this comes up. It’s less about periods specifically and more about validating these everyday experiences as worthy of art. It’s not just breakups and losing the love of your life that’s worthy; sexting is worthy of a song and having trouble cleaning your messy apartment is worthy of a song and IUDs poking your boyfriend’s dick is worthy of a song. All those things are part of our human experience. They’re emotional and funny and interesting and they unite us, really. Period sex is a bigger part of that class of human experiences that I like to talk about and draw inspiration from.

What would you say to women who are categorically against period sex?

I would be interested in why. It’s interesting that you say women; there are a lot of women who are uncomfortable with it when the guys they’re with would be okay with it. That’s definitely a dynamic I’ve encountered before. I think it’s unfortunate that women often think their vagina’s kind of disgusting and they get grossed out by it.

On the other hand, I also love the concept from the kink community of “squick,” the idea that you can be turned off by something without attaching a normative judgment to it. Instead of “that is disgusting; why would you ever do it?” you’re able to say, “This squicks me out; that’s not my thing.”

Have people told you they’ve changed their mind about period sex because of the song?

I’ve gotten so many stories that I think I’m going to start sharing them on my website or create a blog where you can post your stories about it. I never expected this, but I got told a story recently about a threesome that happened because of it. A woman told me the other night that because of this song, she now looks forward to her period. I was like, “Wow, girl, I’m not even there.”

I do think it is having a positive effect for people who hear it. Music’s great like that. It’s a little bit of mind control in a way because you get everyone singing along to something and then they have this memory of singing along to it and then they’re like, well, I must be okay with it, that must be something I’m into because I was really into that moment we all had together. And then that’s one more hang-up removed.

When did you get your first period and how did you feel about it?

I actually got my period really young. I was 11. I hadn’t quite gotten the memo that this happens every month. Everyone had talked about, when you hit puberty, you get your period. I had always heard it in that context, so I thought it was kind of like wet dreams. It happens, and then it stops happening.

I got my period, told my mom, had the whole thing…and then the next month it fucking happened again. I was like, What is this shit? What are you talking about?

Being the first girl in the class to have her period gave me a lot of power. I became the sage woman in the classroom for the other girls. They could ask me anything about periods. I got to carry around a cute little backpack with tampons during my period and no one else got to, so I felt pretty cool.

Did you ever feel grossed out by it growing up or into adulthood?

I still feel grossed out by it, I’ll be honest. I think it’s a struggle every day to not find stuff about your body kind of gross and annoying and weird. The way you deal with it is you make light about it and talk about it and sort of desensitize yourself. Puberty is a time especially for girls where it’s hard not to be grossed out by your body and all the changes that are happening. I always had fairly good self-esteem which maybe allowed me to skip the step that some girls take of this is gross, therefore I am gross. I never felt that way.

Have you ever been with someone who said they’d never have period sex?

It wasn’t until late into college. I had had several partners who were totally okay with it, so that set me up pretty well to have the attitude that guys should just deal. I remember I was about to hook up with this one guy and I told him I was on my period and he said, “Oh gross! Ew.” My response was, “You suck.” That was my cue to exit that relationship.

I would call it a dealbreaker. I’m not going to judge a person morally, but for me, I wouldn’t be able to be with a guy who wouldn’t have any sexual contact with me during my period. That’s just too much of my life.

In the two years you’ve been performing it, has it changed your personal take on period sex?

Absolutely. I’ve definitely gone for it before the song, but now I feel like I must go for it. I am Rachel Lark of “Warm, Bloody, and Tender.” I must continue. I also feel like guys have this disclaimer now; I don’t even need to bring it up. They know it’s going to happen at some point. - Salon

"SF Singer/Songwriter Talks About Her New Video About Period Sex"

Don't worry, everybody. The "blood" — all 6 gallons of it — in local bawdy singer/songwriter Rachel Lark's first music video is just corn syrup.
"No sex-positive people were harmed in the making of this video," she tells SFist. Lark's song, which has become something of a "single" for her, explodes the social taboo of having sex during your period. After all, that's an act Lark says she vastly prefers to being covered with corn syrup. She does mention one problem with the shoot, however — which looks amazing, not to mention very gnarly, by the way. "I forgot how we were gonna clean up afterward," she confides, explaining that the crew ended up mopping up corn syrup "blood" with T-shirts.
"Warm, Bloody, and Tender" — which is not for the faint of heart, because you'll be laughing to hard — features cameo performances from the writer and activist Dan Savage and local SF sex luminaries Jamie DeWolf, Polly Superstar, Dixie De La Tour, Sister Flora Goodthyme, Wonder Dave, Laika Fox, and Paige Goedkoop.
Says Savage “I’m a Stephen Sondheim obsessive, a Tom Lehrer obsessive, a Tim Minchin obsessive. Rachel Lark is right up there with all of those." High praise indeed.
The video is NSFW.

The above video was funded by Lark's recent Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $15,000 for its production and work on her most upcoming live album.
In the meantime you can catch Lark in person at local Bay Area venues and events, listed here, from "Bawdy Storytelling" to "Tourette's Without Regrets" to Folsom Street Fair itself. Lark's upcoming "Vagenius" tour, named for a live album that drops next week, will take her farther afield as well.

On tour, Lark says she's frequently asked about her San Francisco home. "As a working artist the big question everyone asks is how can you afford it," she says, "My response is usually how could I not live in san francisco. I like that I'm a product of the work that activists for sexual freedom have been doing here for years. They've made this place what it is." - SFist

"Esther's Picks for Joshua Tree Music Festival"

Rachel Lark

Truth be told, this chick is my top pick this time around. As your trusty JT Fest guide I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you about my favorite artist scheduled to debut her genius this weekend at the Festival. Bay Area resident, Rachel Lark is a talented and accomplished singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who happens to be the only female artist that I have ever seen utilize a technique called “live looping” during performances. Live looping is the recording and playback of a note or piece of music in real-time using either dedicated hardware devices, called loopers or phrase samplers, or software running on a computer with an audio interface. (Don’t worry if that seems confusing. See the YouTube link below.) This technology essentially allows Lark to electronically orchestrate original instrumentals live on the spot as she sings. (Still confused? Don’t worry, just trust me on this one.)

Lark: “I was always in bands so when I started my solo career I missed the full sound of a band.” She explained to me that some songs she wrote were best suited for her ukulele but she wanted to expand. When she performs her live-looping show there is a sense of drama, edge and fullness to the music that is completely different from her acoustical performances in almost every way.

The truth is that I only discovered Rachel Lark a few weeks ago while doing research for this article. Within minutes of watching her performance videos I become an enthusiastic fan and over the past several weeks I have found myself boldly singing the praises of Ms. Lark to anyone who will listen. A rising star in the Bay Area music scene, Lark has become a sensation for her acoustical performances of some of the smartest and most hilarious songs on taboo topics I have ever heard. Don’t get me wrong, she is no shock-artist. She isn’t merely throwing out senseless raunch for attention. If you listen closely, it becomes clear that the angel-faced performer is highly skilled at communicating radical, sometimes eye-popping messages through her songs.

Admittedly, I was briefly confused as to what exactly it is that Lark does. I couldn’t figure out whether she was a folk singer, a DJ, some sort of spoken-word performer/activist or something else entirely. At one point, while looking through her YouTube videos I actually wondered whether or not I was watching videos of different performers who shared the same name. I soon realized that trying to define Lark and her art was a fruitless waste of time and a bit of a buzzkill. Basically, I was missing the point. This petite, songstress is in a category all her own and if I was you, I wouldn’t miss out.

You can experience Rachel Lark on Saturday at 11:30 pm. - Coachella Valley Weekly

"'Hung For The Holidays' Is The SF Xmas Album We've Been Waiting For"

The wonderful, local, sex-positive Rachel Lark is beloved for her bawdy jams, which have been heralded by folks like Margaret Cho and Dan Savage. And now she's brought us all some Christmas cheer with a surprising, subversive holiday album.
Herein Lark, who sometimes performs looping music at spots like the Boom Boom Room and The New Parish, just accompanies herself on her signature ukelele, allowing her lyrics and voice to shine. "Hung for the Holidays" is available on bandcamp.com to stream or download and name your price, but remember It's the season of generosity...
The album was written, at least in part, for a holiday performance on Dan Savage's podcast Savage Love. He's rightly smitten with Lark, who proudly jokes/admits that she took a bunch of acid and wrote these songs.
Highlights include "Oh, Poly Night," the bitterly hilarious "12 Fights of Christmas," and San Francisco lyrics like "This holiday's nothing but wholesome / so why you gotta turn it into Folsom?" It's sure to terrify your family and delight your friends. - SFist

"Born This Way: Poly Singleish Interviews Rachel Lark!"

Sassy songstress Rachel Lark, formerly of Psychedelic-Rock Band Antioquia, is the rising star of the sex-positive comedy scene in North America. Emerging from Dixie De La Tour’s Bawdy Storytelling in San Francisco, Rachel has performed on the Savage Love Cast, and recently finished up a tour of North America. I got to meet her last year when she came to play at Vancouver’s Erotica Electronica and blew the socks off everyone! She just launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money for her first official music video- for her song Warm, Bloody and Tender- and I decided to find out a little bit more about this phenomenal woman.

The Importance of Play

10456169_965426473477060_1911291600581177019_nMel: Rachel! You’re a singer and songwriter. You used to teach music to babies…

Rachel: I actually still do teach babies, a little bit- I do a bit of contract work with preschools. Basically I teach parents how to be musical with their babies, because kids learn from modelling, so if your parents sing to you when you are a child, it is very likely that you will be musically proficient. It actually doesn’t matter how good they were at singing, it just matters that they sang. So that’s what I used to do full time, and I really like that balance, cos sometimes when you’re a musician, in clubs and bars, in makeup, dealing with drunk people… well, its really refreshing and energising to be around young children, who are completely unaware that later in life they’re gonna have to get drunk to be this silly, you know? They’re just into it because its fun. You don’t have to convince them at all. I love working with kids, I get inspired by them, and it’s a hugely validating experience to have a group of children super stoked and having a good time. Of course, if I was only doing that full time, I’d probably have to kill myself, because there’s only so many times you can sing “Pop Goes The Weasel” before you go crazy, but its a nice balance.

Mel: So how the heck did you end up touring North America and singing songs about consent, cunnilingus, and dropping acid on christmas day?

Rachel: They sort of happened simultaneously! When I first came here to the Bay Area, I came here to join a band called Antioquia, and we toured the country non stop for two years. It was my full time thing, we were all broke, and I had random gigs trimming weed and catering and substitute teaching and babysitting. We would come back home, do a couple of things to make money, and hit the road again. So it wasn’t till that band broke up that I wanted some kind of job in the Bay Area that was regular and fulfilling to me, rather than just all these gigs on the side, and that’s when I started teaching full-time, but that’s also exactly the same time I started my solo career, and picked the name Lark, and worked on the stuff I’d wanted to write for a long time.

So I found this stable job that was really fun and creatively gratifying, and I started making this music that was really fun and creatively gratifying, and it was really in tandem for a while till it hit the point where I really had to pick one. And it was hard to give up the teaching because, a) the money was good and b) it was really rewarding and great to get to know these kids and families. But I needed to be able to tour the country. And I decided, you know, I can teach twenty years from now, I can’t necessarily tour and play five shows a day twenty years from now.

But- maybe what you’re asking about is I sing about sex and drugs and I also teach kids? I think that makes perfect sense! I might be wrong, but I think that people who are good at working with kids tend to understand Play, and if you understand Play, well I think that we think of Play as being something that is reserved for children, and when grown-ups play, its usually like sex or drugs or dealing with life in a fun, uninhibited way. I think that Play is extremely important no matter what age you are. Clearly it needs to be age appropriate, but I don’t think there is any real contradiction there in understanding play at whatever stage you are at.

Mel: It’s almost like you have this Clark Kent Persona that teaches music to babies, and then you take the glasses off and let your hair down and are like, “Hi, I’m Rachel Lark, and I’m going to sing a song to you about a threesome.”

Rachel: I don’t feel that I’m a different person when I walk into my classes with kids. Clearly I’m not singing about the same things. But my suspicion is that if you were to come to one of my preschool classes, you would also be laughing your ass off and having a great time, and wouldn’t be disturbed by this new Rachel you see in front of you. I think it’s a continuous thing for me- and my bigger mission of just getting people to simultaneously to lighten up, and question everything, is very compatible with both of those ideas. I’m also lucky that in the Bay Area a lot of parents I meet are thrilled to find out what I do in the evenings. They don’t see too much of a contradiction. It is funny. It is good fodder for a memoir.

Sex Positivity

Rachel playing in Vancouver at Erotica Electronica, Oct 2014. Photo by Cameron Bowman
Rachel playing in Vancouver at Erotica Electronica, Oct 2014. Photo by Cameron Bowman
Mel: What does the term “Sex-Positive” mean for you?

Rachel: I just read this article about Sex Negative Feminism. To me, sex-positive means celebrating sexuality, and this article that I read was saying that this author’s view of sex negative feminism- and why she called herself a sex negative feminist- is because she believes that sex discourse has a place when we are talking about sexuality too. Some third wave feminists believe that whatever turns you on is great and we should never talk about how that could conflict with your feminist ideals, whereas this other author is saying, no, we should think about how patriarchy plays out in our sex lives and we should be analysing that.

I tend to be between the two. I think sex is fascinating to talk about from an analytical and political perspective. But at the end of the day I do believe that understanding what turns you on and embracing that is a wonderful thing, and I think that we have to live in this world, and we have to love ourselves in this world, and we are not going to help ourselves by feeling shame about what turns us on, because that is often like a very deep thing that is part of who we are.

I think that what’s wonderful about the Kink community and the overlap between feminism and kink: there are ways to play with these things that can turn you on, while also holding true to values that you have as an individual in other parts of your life. In short, I think sex-positive means loving your kinks, loving your turn ons, and having that eager curiosity to learn more about sex and appreciate the joy and the play it can bring into our lives.

Mel: Well said.

Rachel: Thanks!

Non-Monogamy and Healthy Relationships

Mel: I know you talked with Cunning Minx a bit about this- I’m curious, how would you define your flavor of non monogamy?

Rachel: Hmmmmm. Ummmm, my flavor of non monogamy. Well, I definitely feel like calling it Non-Monogamy. For starters! But, I don’t know. Since I did that interview a lot of people have talked to me about the Relationship Anarchist title, and I do like it, I think I do wanna stick with it. I believe in honesty and communication and commitments. but I don’t believe in promises about the future. I can promise behaviours for the present, and I can commit an intention about something, but I’m very jaded about the concept of “I will love you forever.” But maybe that’s just cos I’m someone who got married when I was 23! On my dating profile I write, “I make no commitments except to honesty and things not sucking.” Does that answer your question?

Mel: Oh, it totally does. And I can relate, as someone who got married at 22, that jadedness about loving someone forever- you learn a lot about getting stuck with those expectations and getting trapped and limited by them. I was going to ask you what you think makes a healthy relationship, but I think you’ve already answered that! Honesty and things not sucking, I like that.

Rachel: Yeah, you take care of you and I’ll take care of me, so we can take care of eachother. I think ‘healthy’ is such an interesting word. We have so many weird cultural markers for what’s healthy, and often ‘are you in a relationship’ is a marker of if you are healthy. You’re in a long term relationship- oh even healthier! I don’t identify with that as a gauge of mental or sexual health necessarily, but I think that healthy relationships of all kinds, whether they are friendships or romantic relationships or flings, are relationships where you both feel like you are being seen and valued for who you are, while at the same time being challenged to grow in the ways that you want to. I think that’s the good place to be. And if you’re a single person with a bunch of great friends and fuck buddies and you’re getting that, i think that’s extremely healthy. And you know sometimes we get stuck in relationships, and we’re not growing, and we start growing backwards and pulling out the bad parts of each other, and I think that’s very unhealthy, and you should get out of a relationship if that’s what’s happening.

Mel: Dan Savage has talked about the importance of people doing non-monogamy to be open about it, if they can. Do you see a role for yourself in promoting awareness of healthy non-monogamy?

Rachel: Absolutely! It’s a big reason why my boyfriend Andrew and I put our relationship status on Facebook. It’s not something either of us were into before we started dating, but I felt it was important to put “In an open relationship with so-and-so” on facebook, in large part because I feel it’s important for non monogamy to be visible. I want people to be aware that I am in a happy, public, non monogamous relationship. Also, I wanted him to have an easier time getting laid.

I feel like I’m in a place where I feel super fine being open about it and have no problem talking about it.

Mel:Your song “For the Guys” has become an anthem for Consent Culture. What inspired it?

Rachel: Yay! Oh, what inspired it? A couple of years ago I was in a community of musicians, and a guy in that community was sexually assaulting women in that community. It started with one rumor that was easily brushed off cos “she was crazy” but then it started to be more and more women. And I hooked up with this person, and had a situation where we were making out and things started going really fast and I said “Hey stop! Hang on!” And he didn’t, and I had to scream and push him off me. I wasn’t raped, but what I had been through certainly gave a lot of credibility to what other women were saying.

I was approached by some women who wanted to organise an intervention of sorts, and it was a really, extremely hard and strange process. We had no idea what we were doing. There wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute this person. A lot of the women felt they weren’t heard or seen by this community they used to be part of, and they wanted a chance to speak, and confront this community they felt had turned their back on them. We organised 50-60 people together, to have a meeting about what to do. It was one of those events where you see everyone’s true colors. Till this point we all knew each other from partying and having a good time, and things never got deep or challenging, and then we were facing this moment where you could see who was willing to step up and handle this, and who would rather act like its not a problem.

So we had this meeting. We brought in a woman from Bay Area Women Against Rape to talk about Rape Culture, and then each woman read out their story to everybody. There were eight women; those are just the ones we knew about. There was a facilitated meeting, a conversation. It was frustrating, because there was one comment at the time that really got me. This guy raised his hand and he addressed the women in the room, “You know, women, you guys need to express yourself more, cos sometimes it’s not clear, and sometimes there’s this grey area and we don’t know what’s going on.” And I didn’t have the words in the moment to say, “Cool, then get your dick out of that human! If it’s not clear, what the fuck are you doing?”

I didn’t have the words at that time to say that, and I was just in shock. There was so much in the meeting about what women can do to protect themselves better, and also how to help this guy. It was frustrating, realizing that a) I don’t know what to do in that situation, still, cos what we did didn’t do a damn thing, cos he raped two more women within a year after that and he’s still out there, and b) it was really amazing to see that people find it so much easier to believe that a community of women would make this up, than believe that it actually happened.

I stayed in that community for a while and was jamming at someone’s house one night, there were thirty people drinking and playing music, and at a certain point I was going to leave, and everyone was like “No don’t leave!” I joked to my friend about how no one was letting me leave, and he said, “That’s cos you’re the only girl left.” I suddenly felt really unsafe. But I realised I was drunk and so I decided to crash, and he gave me the couch. I went to sleep and turned off the lights and then I woke up later to a guy making out with me. At that point, I realised that community was toxic. And I held so much anger about this, and people were telling me to write a song about it, and I was like “Fuck that! This is so stupid, it’s so obvious you don’t behave the way these men behave!” I was kinda defiant. Assholes don’t get songs written about them! I’m writing positive stuff about positive experiences!

And then- there was a Bawdy Storytelling show coming up, and the theme was “Trigger Warning” and there were no stories about rape in that show. So I started writing it six months before I had to perform it. It was the hardest song I’ve ever written.

Mel: Wow, thank you for sharing that. That’s intense and, the sad thing is, that’s not the only community where things like that happen. I hear these stories repeated over and over again. It’s great that you wrote that song, I’m so glad that you wrote that song. Humor can help teach people. My experience talking about Consent Culture in my community has been that a lot of people just want to get angry about it and about fighting Rape Culture. But the people who are oblivious, who don’t understand there’s a problem or that they might be part of the problem, they don’t respond well to the aggression, and they just act defensively and say “Fuck You!”. But to have this song, and say, “Here, this is funny, and we can laugh at ourselves in this song” I find that sinks in deeper, and reaches more people.

Rachel: I agree! I have been sort of humbled and terrified that there have been several men who have come up to me and said “Wow I never really got it that way before thankyou.” I think, wow, I feel excited that my song did that for you but I’m also like- really? You didn’t get that before this moment? But yeah it is pretty amazing.

On the Rise to Stardom

Mel: So, you’ve performed for the Savage Lovecast, as well as for Bawdy Storytelling. How does it feel to be an up and coming celebrity in the world of Sex-positive, non-monogamous Relationship Radicals? What’s it like?

Rachel: Surprising! It’s surprising, it’s exciting- and yeah it’s certainly not how I thought my path to career musician was going to go. There’s so many great musicians out there who write great and funny songs about sex, and I didn’t think myself to be so different from a bunch of songs that Dan must have heard already. But, I’m super grateful. I do write about other things! And sometimes friends who have known me throughout my career ask me, “Is it weird for you that people just expect the funny raunchy stuff?” And- no. I mean this stuff is still super emotional for me. I don’t think it’s trivial, but also the reaction that I’ve gotten is that people who become my fan through hearing me on Savage Lovecast or Bawdy, once they discover my other music they are usually really into it and supportive as well. I don’t feel that it’s a different person I put on. It’s all me. And when people like an artist they tend to trust them to do different stuff.

Mel: I’m super appreciative of your musical versatility. I loved your loop set when you played here in Vancouver. You sang Flowers Fuck- with all the beautiful feminine vocal melody happening. It’s so cool! Its groundbreaking.

Rachel: That’s the next music video I want to make! For the electronic version of Flowers Fuck!

Mel: Speaking of music videos! Let’s talk about the Kickstarter campaign! You raised 25% in your first day! And from what you told me, it’s going to be a “who’s who” of today’s sex-positive celebrities. What more can you tell us about it? How do you think it will affect the world?

Rachel: Well, I can tell you that Dan Savage is going to be covered in… blood. And, call me crazy, I think that might get some reach!

It’s tricky being an artist and wanting your stuff to get a bigger and bigger audience and thinking maybe this will be the thing that goes big! And I try not to think that way cos my path so far has been through this awesome organic growth of community, and I think that’s more important than suddenly getting a million views on Youtube and being forgotten later.

But it would be cool. It would be cool to make a music video that gets picked up by some sex and feminism blogs, and I feel ready. I feel like the music is ready to be heard by more than just the West Coast pockets of sex positive communities that I’ve gotten into.

Being an independent artist and having a well done music video that showcases your message is critical, it’s like a business card, its an essential part of levelling up in terms of the kinds of shows you are booked at, the reach you are able to get, how much you get paid for different shows. It’s a critical step in your career, and to do it right, you do kinda need a lot of money. It’s going to be pretty epic. The team working on it is amazing, their sense of humor and professionalism- it’s that perfect balance of class and vulgarity that I tend to hang out in. It’s a really good fit. We’ve been doing pre production for months, and so much has already been happening. It’s amazing to see all these people who want to be part of this project, and that it is worth all this effort.

Mel: It’s my favorite song, well, other than Acid and Hot Springs.

Rachel: It’s a catchy one! It has a solid hook!

Mel: Yes! That sing along bit! One of the best things I have ever witnessed was three hundred kinksters and ravers sitting down to listen to you play that, and joining in with the chorus.

Rachel: Yeah, that’s the preschool training!

You can find Rachel’s Kickstarter campaign by clicking here, download her previous albums on her Bandcamp Page, and stay updated on her tour and show schedule by following her on social media here! - Poly Singleish

"A feminist songwriter explained equality in a way 'even our president can understand.'"

One night in late 2016, singer, songwriter, and satirist Rachel Lark was performing her song "Free the Nipple," just like she had many times before. But something just didn't feel right.

"I just had to stop and say to the audience, 'Wow, guys, I'm sorry. If we just elected Trump, we are clearly not advanced enough as a society to be having that debate right now,'" she explains in an email.

The conversation about censorship of female versus male nipples — while undoubtedly important — seemed moot in the wake of the United States electing to the highest office a man who has openly joked about committing sexual assault.

If she was going to really make a difference with her music, Lark knew was going to have to break things down into even more basic terms.

It doesn't get much simpler than the title of her newest song, punctuated with an exclamation mark for emphasis: "Women Are People!"

"Lately I've been concerned that the type of debate I'm trying to have around feminism is a little too complicated for the world we're living in," she says at the beginning of the video.

"So I thought I'd bring it right back down to basics, to a first-grade reading level, so even our president can understand."

In the video, she gathers a group of small children — and, pointedly, some grown men — and asks them some basic questions:

"Do you guys that think frogs are people?"

"Noooooo!" the kids shout.

"Do you think that Popsicles are people?"


"But do you think that women are people?"

"Yeeeeah!" they all say.

See. Kids get it.

The lyrics are both absurdly obvious and, apparently, completely necessary at the same time.

"Women are people / Women are people / They have thoughts and feelings," Lark sings.

"Your mom — she's a person! / And your teacher — she's a person! / And little girls are people too."

"Nurses — they're people! / Even strippers — they're people! / No matter what it is they do."

"The song is an anthem for those of us who are sick of breaking down really obvious feminist causes to people who want to reverse progress rather than build on it," Lark says.

She adds that explaining incredibly elementary things like "Sexual harassment is bad" and "Birth control is health care" gets exhausting.

Maybe, just maybe, by going back to basics and making sure the whole world understands that yes, women are indeed people, everything else will fall in line.

Lark was especially impressed by the smarts and thoughtfulness of the kids she featured in the video.

Now if only the grown-ups would catch on. - Upworthy.com


Still working on that hot first release.



Rachel Lark is a singer/songwriter and political satirist from Oakland, CA whose music has been featured on Upworthy, Salon.com and The Savage Lovecast. She's made waves for her incredible lyrics, fearless authenticity, and hilarious, raunchy wit. She's been called the "musical muse for the sex-positive revolution" and "in the league of Sondheim and Tim Minchin." Rachel Lark & The Damaged Goods take the audience on a unique journey through politics, drugs, sex, and heartbreak with a soundtrack of infectious electro, pop, and rock instrumentation.

Band Members