Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sex and the City - with an accent :)

Sex and the City - with an accent :)
“Relationships in New York are about detachment” says Carrie aka Sarah Jessica Parker, in… we all know what. “Self-protection and closing the deal are paramount. Cupid has flow the co-op” – writes Candace Buschnell in the first chapter of her best-seller turned into TV series turned into a (not so well received) movie.
New York. Which New York? There are three New York cities: one of those born here, one of tourists, and one of new immigrants. As a somewhat new New Yorker, who moved into the city ten years ago and still tries to make sense of what’s going on around her, I want to see if things are different in that other New York, the one with an accent. We all watched – well, maybe only the girls - “Sex and the City”, trying to understand better the relationship archetypes surrounding us, realizing that is oh-so-different from home, especially for those coming from patriarchal societies where women are still used to be the receiver of males’ sexual attention, not the instigator. A woman from those kinda places couldn’t help but wonder, buttoning up her pajama in front of a TV set spitting reruns at midnight: wow, there’s so much glamorous sex going on in this city, there’s so much dating in fancy places, there so much and yet so little, in terms of true romance. So the question that stuck into my mind, after discussing with many immigrant ladies, grew to be: Is the immigrant love life about detachment too? Is detachment the unwritten rule of all relationships in the new cyber-addicted business-obsessed media-hypnotized world?
This column aims to carry an immigrant eye in the streets, bars, theatres, restaurants, offices, cubicles, spa-s, lounges, subways, cafes and rooms of THE City. But don’t get me wrong – I plan to write about people not places. I want to show that there’s much more to the immigrant life than gritty asexual humorless routines: work-work-send-money-home-work-work. Of course, it’s not easy and everyday can bring just another grim fairy tale instead of the old hatching American Dream, but it’s neither bitter-and-angry nor goofy-and-silly as it’s been stereotypically presented so many times. You’ll see.

“You’re right, I prefer women who don’t have English as their mother tongue, says a guy called (here) Bob. Didn’t you notice: When you are forced to pay closer attention to people’s words, you actually communicate better. If you both speak perfect English and you both think you know what you’re talking about, there’s all this room for misinterpretation about what’s actually being said. But if you are not sure the other person is getting you, you check her out, you make sure she gets you. And if… if she’s not sure she’s getting you, she checks you out, you know, she pays attention, until she gets you… And even the silences begin to have some meaning, you know, because you’re used to pay attention to each other… “
These are (more or less) Bob’s words as I rewrite them from memory. Bob married twice with foreign women to help them get US permanent residence. He didn’t do it for money, “as some crooks”, but out of genuine concern, tenderness and care. Maybe all those words put together mean “love”, or maybe love is just overrated when we talk marriage.

Now, the question is of course: why are Bob’s marriages ending at some point. When and how does that happen. I truly hope that’s not when the woman starts to speak better English ☺. I asked him about the endings of his fairy-tales, what makes them not a “they lived happily ever after”. He shrugged and told me that I should ask his wives. Ex-wives, I mean. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to visit Tanya at her (now) legal working place: a Spa in West Village. A good occasion to get my manicure and pedicure done and to delve into a new immigrant love story. Eastern European, Korean, Chinese, the women working in the Beauty&*** salon share a particular charm of –hmmm - detachment, self-confidence, business smiles and poorly hidden boredom. They know you will surrender parts of your body to their power soon. It’s hard to see these women frightened, in a room, answering questions rapid-fired by Immigration officers. Have you ever been convicted of a felony in your country or in America? Have you ever plotted crimes against the United States of America? Have you ever taken part in terrorist activities in your country or in America? No, you can only surrender with a mixture of fear, relaxation, and a strange sense of familiarity, cuz you’re actually one of them, a global foreigner too. I ask to be “taken” by Tanya, Bob’s ex-wife, and I hope she’s one of those talkative pedicurists. Will she tell me her story between toe-one and toe-ten?

Saturday, April 2, 2011


LAUNCH EVENT at Nuyorican Poets Café
236 East 3rd Street Between Ave B & C


Sunday, April 17, 3-6 pm

(Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Week)

Tickets: $8 online BUY HERE
$10, $5 (for students) – at the door

IASNY, founded by Romanian-born playwright and NYU professor Saviana Stanescu, is an alliance of outstanding people working in the arts and academia who are committed to support, nurture and advocate for immigrant voices as a vital and vibrant part of the New York City community.

Advisory Board: Elizabeth Bradley, John Clinton Eisner, Teresa Eyring, David Henry Hwang, Carol Martin, Joyce Maio, Jose Rivera, Richard Schechner, Zishan Ugurlu

Leadership Committee: May Adrales, Amanda Feldman, Ana Martinez, Jelena Stupljanin, Tamilla Woodard, Graciela Berger Wegsman, Aaron Schroeder (PR)

As part of our efforts to expand our involvement in the New York community and advocate for the brilliant and diverse voices of immigrant artists as an integral part of that fabric, IASNY will be having its official launch at the storied Nuyorican Poets Café (executive director: Dan Gallant) in the East Village. Featuring performances by many prominent members, this launch event promises to embody the vision of IASNY as a forum for the exchange of ideas, the fostering of an immigrant voice, and a showcase of the breadth of talents in New York City's immigrant community.

The speakers/performers include:

Saviana Stanescu
Romania*, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, writer
President/Founder of IASNY

Teresa Eyring (advisory board)
Executive Director - Theatre Communications Group

Zishan Ugurlu (advisory board)
Turkey, director, actress, artistic director of Actors Without Borders - ITONY
Scholar, Assistant Professor at Eugene Lang College The New School University

Graciela Berger Wegsman
Argentina/Israel, playwright
Freelance Journalist Daily News/Hora Hispana and Daily News (VIVA)

Ana Martinez
Mexico City, Graduate Center (CUNY), scholar and designer

Tamilla Woodard
Director, founding member of The Internationalists

Jelena Stupljanin
Serbia, Actress

Susana Cook
Argentina, playwright, performer, director

Jennifer Lim
Hong Kong, MFA from Yale School of Drama, actor

Frances Uku
Nigeria/UK, Harvard University, actor

R. E. Toledo
Mexico, New York University/University of Tennessee, writer

Inma Heredia
Spain, flamenco singer/dancer/comedienne

Sujin Lee
South Korea, interdisciplinary artist
MA in Performance Studies from NYU

Ondina Frate
Romania, Glass Beads Theatre Ensemble, actress

Christina Quintana & Alessandra Hirsch
MFA playwrights at Columbia University

Blagovesta Momchedjikova
PhD, Bulgaria, New York University, writer

Stavri Karamfilov
Bulgaria, independent artist and scholar, theater director and sculptor

Paola Lázaro-Muñoz
Puerto Rico, Columbia University, playwright

Monica Santana
Venezuela, Columbia University MFA, actor

Jessica Litwak
Playwright, Performer, The New Generation Theatre Ensemble

Daniela Dakich
Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Serbia), HB Studio, actress

Natasa Trifan
Romania, dancer/choreographer

* We asked the featured artists/speakers to specify their country of origin if they are first generation immigrants or "legal aliens" – however, IASNY encourages the participation of all artists and scholars interested in the immigrant experience

Immigrant Heritage Week - established by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2004, celebrates the experiences and contributions of immigrants to New York City.

Immigrant Heritage Week 2011 is from April 11 to April 17 and celebrates the vibrant life stories New Yorkers have to tell.

Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas,
a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can safely DONATE HERE

For more details e-mail us at: