LGBTQ&A: Timaree Schmit
Dr. Timaree Schmit is a popular local sex educator and host of the “Sex With Timaree” podcast. She chatted with us on her love for sex awareness and the creativity she puts into her monthly Honeygasm event.
You’re one of the few women I notice hosting events regularly in the Gayborhood. What is that experience like?
It’s true, most Gayborhood events are run by men, with male audiences more in mind, but there is absolutely space for everyone. Burlesque is magical because it’s largely female performers and the audience is often majority female — and there are few nightlife scenes like that, gay or straight. I got my start as a host/producer at Sisters. Influential women like Amber Hikes and Denise Cohen gave me my start — doing events with other women, for other women — and it was really inspiring to see that there is a market for that, and that we can make these things for ourselves. We don’t have to wait for the boys to set aside a spot for us.
Your events are unafraid to tackle female sexuality in a performance space. What makes sex a recurring theme for you?
Empowering people to feel good about sexuality is my life’s passion. Sexual freedom is intrinsic to human rights — it’s the core of autonomy over your body and brain, and living a life of your own design. If someone can tell you what to do with your sexuality, there’s literally nothing they can’t control. So it’s important to give opportunities for sexual expression and feelings of desire, especially the ones that are underrepresented. Plus, I just like it. And that’s important too. Pleasure is valuable! We forget that.
How do you defy stereotypes of possibly objectifying yourself or others in your events?
Performance is inherently objectifying: A person on a stage is an object to the audience onto which hopes, fears, and expectations are projected. That’s how a performer can connect with a roomful of strangers, by being accessible in that way. Burlesque is also objectifying of bodies — it showcases the dancer for their appearance and desirability. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing or that being a sexual object takes away power and agency. The performer is deciding when, where, and how you will look at them. They create a character, set a mood, and unfold a scene — they aren’t just passive, inanimate works of art. Burlesque allows me to showcase my ideas, my weirdness, my stupid sense of humor. So even though you might be staring at my big ass, you know there’s a person attached to it.
What are some of the things you’ve learned about queer sexuality and expression through your events?
All examined sexuality is queer, in my opinion, regardless of the gender of the people you like. We are collectively sold this narrative about who we are supposed to want, how we are supposed to want them, and how relationships should look. It’s a blessing to be LGBT because you figure out, pretty quickly, that these narrow, confining expectations aren’t going to fit. I was a queer kid in the Midwest at a Catholic school. It didn’t take long to figure out that the conventional storyline wan’t for me. But very few of us really fit any of these boxes, and every act of rebelling against hegemony is queering sexuality. Every person who expresses who they are and what they want is participating in queer activism. And being honest about who you are and what you want is terrifying and liberating and magical, whether that’s coming out to your family and job or by exploring desires on a stage in front of a crowd.
Your monthly Honeygasm event is this weekend. What makes this unique in comparison to standard burlesque shows?
Honeygasm is my baby. I love all of my shows, but this one has my name for a reason. It starts with the venue of Franky Bradley’s setting an open-minded, sensual, weird tone. There’s a lot of thought that goes into the casting: getting beautiful, talented people who don’t normally perform together. Often folks who have retired from performance choose Honeygasm as the vehicle to return to the scene because they know there’s a space for them to do their unique thing. It’s important that the lineup be super diverse: No two performers on the bill will look or perform alike. We feature many types of burlesque but also aerialists, drag queens, boylesque, sideshow, all sorts of amazingness. We play games, get messy, involve the audience. Everyone has a blast. The team is impeccable. Our DJ, Lili St Queer, is unbeatable. Our kitten, La Butcherette, is so fabulous. And then there’s the host who steers the ship. I was fortunate enough to have the incomparable Notorious OMG until her retirement and am over-the-moon lucky to have landed the Gayborhood’s crush, Flirt Vonnegut, to take over that spot. It’s a dream team.
To experience Honeygasm for yourself, check it out this Sunday, June 5th, at Franky Bradley’s (1320 Chancellor Street) at 7 p.m.