Category Archives: disability

Watch Now: Funny, You Don't Look Sick

We’re excited to present Susan Abod’s first film about living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, nurse “Funny, diagnosis You Don’t Look Sick.” You can now watch it through Video On Demand. It’s also coming soon to DVD through Dual Power Productions.

Funny, migraine You Don’t Look Sick: An Autobiography of an Illness
Produced, Written and Directed by Susan Abod and Lisa Pontoppidan,
1995. Color, 64 mins.

2005 Merit Award Winner
Superfest International Disability Film Festival

This intimate documentary self-portrait is told with humor and compassion. Susan Abod is a woman living with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). Filmed over a period of 18 months in 1994-95, Susan describes in detail the nature of her illness, illustrates her daily routine, and gives us a guided tour of her environmentally “safe” apartment. Comments from Susan’s numerous doctors and a visit with her support group offer further insights in this illuminating, firsthand report on a baffling, twenty-first century disease.

susan abod | director
Before she became ill, Susan was a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist, teacher and performer. Susan has been documenting CFIDS and MCS for close to two decades. Funny, You Don’t Look Sick: An Autobiography of an Illness paints an intimate portrait of her struggle to live with these debilitating conditions. Funny You Don’t Look Sick premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts in 1995, and was a Merit Award winner at the 2005 SUPERFEST International Disability Film Festival. It has been screened internationally and can be found in doctor’s and lawyer’s offices, university and public libraries, medical classrooms, centers for independent living, support groups and in peoples’ homes all over the world.

Screenings: Humor Me! & BED

Humor Me and BED: A Place Called Home will be screening on Wednesday, thumb June 27 at Gallery 1412 in Seattle as part of The Sissy Collective‘s Short Film For Funds event.

Humor Me

Humor Me is a 9-minute documentary short that briefly interviews three sex-workers about a funny and humanizing moment from the job.

BED: A Place Called Home

Billie’s estrogen grows dense tumors in the soft tissues of her body. Her body is filled with tumors that, rx on days, buy information pills like this, make bed a place called home.

About The Sissy Collective (from their website):

We exist for sissies, nerds, geeks, outcasts, wimps, weaklings, survivors, gender deviants, People of Color, queer folks, trans folks, and anyone who has ever felt on the outside or oppressed in their ability to share their art.

We want to create intentional space for people in the arts through regular events in a variety of mediums. We’re working towards creating community that centralizes the marginalized.

We hold ourselves accountable to continually grow, change and evolve in our goals, events, and community building.

Seeking: Director of Accessibility

R/EVOLVE (a new feature film) is starting to crew-up for our summer film shoot in Seattle. We’re creating a new position called the “Director of Accessibility”. This role manages accessibility accommodations on set. Whether that be working with our disabled director or making sure that we’re doing the best we can to manage other accommodations on set. Other crew roles will be announced shortly, sovaldi sale but if you’re interested in working with people with disabilities in film, gynecologist then this might be the perfect role.

Check out the Facebook page ( and email [email protected] to learn more.

Homesick wins funding!

Homesick completed a successful IndieGoGo campaign and has raised enough money for the next step in our journey to completion. We’re very excited to bring this project to an audience.

HOMESICK needs your help!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the online streaming of the 2008 Sins Invalid performance. We had a successful viewing. Hundreds of people logged on to watch the show and Sins Invalid was able to reach a broader audience. We look forward to more!

Imagine that houses make you sick—dangerously sick. Common products like paint, ailment
carpeting, health system
new building materials and insecticides are poisonous enemies. Your bones ache, sales you’re feverish, you suffer from extreme headaches, disabling fatigue, mental confusion, asthma, nausea and sleeping disorders. The longer you stay in toxic housing, the sicker you get—and the less resources you have to deal with your desperate search for a home. You’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from the silent epidemic of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS).

Now imagine that you’re an artist, a critically acclaimed filmmaker and singer/songwriter who lives with MCS. Susan Abod is that artist. Susan was on the fast track to musical success when she was blindsided by a diagnosis of MCS at the age of 32. Her award-winning first film, Funny, You Don’t Look Sick: An Autobiography of an Illness (1995, Cinema Guild), has been screened internationally. Ten years in the making, her feature documentary Homesick: Living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities is the sequel.

To film Homesick, Susan hit the road with her camerawoman, learning how people around the country who live with MCS find safe housing. She interviewed people from all walks of life; their living quarters ranged from a house on stilts to tents and a teepee. Filmed over a period of ten years, the film now includes follow-up interviews with the original subjects. The trailer has been screened at the Santa Fe Film Center and at the Santa Fe Center For Contemporary Art’s Megabytes 4 Festival, and has been viewed over 200,000 times on the Homesick website. Homesick is currently in post-production, with a 64-minute rough cut. We’re almost there, but we need $6,000 to record the soundtrack and complete the post-production for the film. We need your help for Susan to complete her epic journey!

Sins Viewing Success

Thanks to everyone who participated in the online streaming of the 2008 Sins Invalid performance. We had a successful viewing. Hundreds of people logged on to watch the show and Sins Invalid was able to reach a broader audience. We look forward to more!

Sins Invalid VOD – August 6 to 12

Screenwriter’s Toolkit: 101 Writing Exercises is now available for purchase as a book. Written and refined over the past 8 years, tablets Screenwriter’s Toolkit has been taught at UCLA Screenwriter’s Program and has been an active blog with thousands of visitors. There are plenty of resources that will tell you how to write, doctor what to write and how to sell what you’ve written. Screenwriter’s Toolkit: 101 Writing Exercises will help you practice your writing skills. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, seek use the exercises to get your creative juices flowing.

The book is an updated version of the blog exercises. It brings together new work with practiced ideas. Bring it with you and use it to help you practice the Screenwriting craft.

Purchase It!
• Buy it online!
The Sins Invalid Video On Demand Performance came to Dual Power Productions from August 6 to 12, doctor 2011.

Hey crips, queers, artists, activists, allies, kinksters, kids, and creatures!

As part of our work as interns at Sins Invalid in stunningly wheelchair accessible Berkeley, California, my colleague Allegra and I are helping to launch a new web streaming series of Sins Invalid’s Annual shows. The pilot will be launched on the week of August 6th and will remain online until August 12th. Depending on the success of this venture we do plan to continue the series through the fall and winter!

As you may have seen on, our website has a wealth of clips from various Sins Invalid performances. However, this impression of Sins as a sort of cabaret is inaccurate, and we want to bring the full arc of the Sins shows to you, starting with the year 2008. We know that you may have been unable to attend shows in the past, and as a wheelchair user I know how inconvenient and painful traveling can be. This is why we’re taking action and getting Sins to you. This is about getting communities together and celebrating the work of Sins Invalid over the years!

Every piece speaks to and touches the last, they writhe and complicate and bless and grow in one another’s grasp. The 2008 show explores the territories of spirituality, the sacrifice and the sacred, as these themes play out in our relationships and over the landscapes of our disabled bodies. The performers are asserting the blessing that is the knowledge of one’s sexiness, agency, vulnerability, messiness, grace, and power, and if that’s a sin too, then so be it!

This will be a pay per view, sliding scale donation event of anywhere between $0-$100. We are a fiscally sponsored organization; check out the link to the event page to our sponsor’s website where you can make paypal donations. We are making a suggested donation of $10 but no one will be refused the opportunity to view the show for lack of funds.

And the bonus! There will be a discussion packet sent to any interested parties and a live Q & A with directors Patty Berne and Leroy Moore!

This event comes to you through a partnership with Dual Power Productions and is co-sponsored by Fierce Bodies. We hope you’ll check out their sites and support their work!

To participate in bringing a viewing party to your home or group, email [email protected], Allegra Stout: [email protected], Patty Berne: [email protected]?, or myself, Beast Von Fancy: [email protected]!

This is a preliminary event invitation. More details will be released as we create them. Just drop me a line or RSVP to this event to let me know that you’re interested.

Fierce Blessings,

billie reads @ Cripping Culture


this multimedia workshop was part presentation, approved part brainstorm session.

billie rain presented hir experiences and thoughts as a disabled collaborative filmmaker and disability justice activist. this will be a jumping off point for a discussion on issues facing disabled filmmakers and artists. specifically we will be discussing how access issues can be proactively confronted in the arts.

Who is billie rain:
billie is a disabled writer, activist and filmmaker. years of chronic illness and a rare tumor condition have given hir an amazing sense of groundedness, connection and self-advocacy that fuel hir passion to bring truth, in all it’s pain and glory, to audiences everywhere.

billie’s filmography:

  • To Be A Heart (Short) – 2006
  • Humor Me (Short) – 2010
  • Heart Breaks Open (Feature) – 2011
  • R/EVOLVE (Feature) – 2013
  • Love Like A Heart Attack (Feature) – Forthcoming

billie’s website:

Click to download the notes from billie’s presentation:
Accessibility In The Arts.PDF
billie will be reading from Fierce Bodies at:
Cripping Culture
A live poetry slam and art show

Thursday, hospital
May 26
6:30 to 8:30pm

Parnassus Cafe
Seattle, WA

3 Steps to Organizing A Fragrance Free Event

Want to make your event accessible to people with chemical and fragrance sensitivities? Here are three steps to making that happen.


Decide what accessibility measures you want to provide. Know that your choice will have an impact on all attendees. Be honest with yourself and your attendees. Choose the option you can commit to.

When deciding on accessibility measures, pills two things to consider are people and the environment.

You’ll be asking people to change their habits and products. What limitations do you put on smoking? What kinds of personal care products can you limit at the event? This process can be intimate. Be prepped to offer websites and articles as resources.

Environmental factors in an event space include air quality and building materials. Air quality refers to the amount of pollutants in the air. Do people smoke in the space? Was it used for events that used toxic supplies (painting, pharm silk screening, etc)? Do those chemicals still linger?

Assessing building materials refers to accessibility regarding the structure of the event space. Has it been painted recently? Does it have new materials that are still outgassing?

Here are three options for event accessibility. They are meant as helpful choices that make it easier for you to implement.

• No Smoking at or near the event space throughout the entire event
• Ask participants to not wear clothes that have been smoked in
• No colognes, perfumes or essential oils
• Ask participants to wear clothes that have not been exposed to perfumes, colognes or scented oils, laundry detergents or fabric softeners
• Ask participants to refrain from using scented body and haircare products before or during the event.
• Fragrance free seating or space set aside
• Air purifiers used to increase air quality
• Building checked for issues like paint and outgassing materials. Other event space chosen if current one has recent chemical use.
• Remove offending chemical materials from space (air fresheners, chemical cleaners)
• Clean with non-toxic cleaning products before event.

• No Smoking in the event space or within 25 feet of the event entrance
• No cologne or perfume wearing
• Fragrance free seating or space set aside
• Air purifiers used to increase air quality
• Building checked for issues like paint and outgassing materials. Other event space chosen if current one has recent chemical use.
• Remove offending chemical materials from space (air fresheners, chemical cleaners)

• No Smoking in the event space or within 25 feet of the event entrance
• No cologne or perfume wearing
• Air purifiers used to increase air quality
• Remove offending chemical materials from space (air fresheners, chemical cleaners)


Let your attendees know how accessible the event will be. Your online and offline publicity and marketing materials should communicate expectations to potential participants. Be specific about participant demands so people with fragrance and chemical sensitivities can trust that the organizers have put thought into accessibility.

Here are two sample write-ups.

To provide a chemical and fragrance free event, we request that participants refrain from the following before or during the event: Smoking; Wearing colognes, perfumes or scented oils; and using chemical based laundry detergents or fabric softeners. We ask participants to wear something that has had limited exposure to the items above.

Please refrain from wearing colognes, perfumes or other scented or chemical products to the event.


Create a plan for enforcing accessibility. Please don’t let this task fall on attendees who have chemical or fragrance sensitivities. If you are inviting people with sensitivities to your event, it is important to be assertive and enforce the plan to ensure their safety and health.

This plan should include an effort before and during the event.

Your pre-event effort will include an assessment of the space and the implementation of any changes to the space. Remember to remove chemical materials, add air purifiers and add clear instructions for smokers. If you have created special seating or sections, clearly label them.

Decide what to do if someone breaks the rules. What if someone shows up wearing strongly scented products? What if someone smokes in a non-smoking area? How will you address concerns if they arise? Will people be asked to leave? To change? To wash up?

Knowing your answers in advance will ensure a better response in the moment.

During the event, monitor the smoking areas and any special seating or sections to make sure the plan is still working. Assign an accessibility coordinator who can keep track of these things so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Enforcement is key to making this plan and your event as accessible as possible.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) accessibility basics

‘heart breaks open’, cure the feature directorial debut by billie rain was accepted as an official selection in the 25th BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival which plays from March 31 to April 6, more about 2011.

‘heart breaks open’ is a feature film about queer life, physician public health and community accountability. It was written as a four page outline and transformed to a feature-length project through a collaborative filmmaking process. Actors used improvisational acting to create dialogue and action. Documentary filmmakers captured performances using cinema verité techniques. Seattle locations and their staff were used to create an undeniable meditative realism.

A model queer activist and community advocate, Jesus (Maximillian Davis) prides himself in his work with the Seattle LGBT community. At the same time, Jesus is having unprotected sex and cheating on his long-time partner Johnny (Samonte Cruz). Jesus’s world implodes when he discovers that he is HIV positive, forcing him to confront his innermost fears, his relationship with his ex-boyfriend, and a future living with HIV. Faced with the unknown, Jesus is pulled from the brink of self-destruction by Sister Alysa Trailer (Brian Peters), a drag queen nun who leads him down a path of self-discovery.

For more information, visit:
Event: DISH! – An all-ages Queer Variety Show
When: Sunday, cialis
March 14, emergency
Where: The Vera Project. Seattle, WA.

DiSH! was THE fabulous must-see event of 2010. Welcome to the world of Queer, featuring drag kings, drag queens, burlesque, comedians, spoken word, musicians and a slideshow.

Watch performances on YouTube:

Performers Included:
Ilvs Strauss
Sister Babylon Anon
Paris Original
The Bearded Lady J
Angel Itenchi
Lady Chablis
Mark “Mom” Finley
Sister VixXxen
Belinda Carroll
David Coppafeel
EmpeROAR Fabulous!!!
Sharon Huzbenz
Pidgeon Von Tramp
Aleksa Manila
Miss Cherry Tart
Sister Daya Reckoning

MCs: Sister Daya Reckoning & Sister Alysa Trailer
DJ: Status Apparatus

DiSH! was a benefit for the film ‘heart breaks open’ and Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

‘heart breaks open’ is a feature film about queer life, public health and community accountability. It was written as a four page outline and transformed to a feature-length project through a collaborative filmmaking process. Actors used improvisational acting to create dialogue and action. Documentary filmmakers captured performances using cinema verité techniques. Seattle locations and their staff were used to create an undeniable meditative realism.

Lifelong AIDS Alliance is committed to preventing the spread of HIV, and to providing practical support services and advocating for those whose lives are affected by HIV and AIDS.

DISH! was organized by dual power productions, a media company in seattle, washington that produces films and books that strive to transform society.
Come out for an evening of fun, pills cocktails, mind food and a gala advanced sneak preview screening of the film “Heart Breaks Open”. Proceeds from our event will send our cast and crew to the 2011 season’s International Queer film festivals in London and beyond.

Join us for Bon Voyage: A benefit for ‘Heart Breaks Open’
March 6, 2011 | 6 – 11:30pm
Act 1 at Julia’s | Act 2 at The Broadway Grill
Get more information!
by billie rain

when it comes to Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) accessibility, health
it really starts at home. there are several levels of making your person accessible, online
so i’ll give the broad strokes of each.

1. fragrance-free events or activities

it is very important when attending scent-free events to make sure you are not wearing anything that has come in contact with scents or cigarette smoke. some folks set an outfit aside to wear to accessible events. if you do use essential oils, viagra sale definitely bathe with fragrance-free soap, shampoo etc and refrain from using them until after the event. also refrain from smoking after you have washed, until the event is over.

additionally, make sure your clothes are not dried with dryer sheets, as these are one of the worst chemical offenders. if you use public laundry facilities, it’s also a good idea to air out your clothes for several days before storing them or wearing them around chemically sensitive folks, as they tend to have residue from other people’s stinky laundry.

when i’m going anywhere where i know there is likely to be other chemically-sensitive folks, even if the space is not specifically designated as fragrance-free, i follow fragrance-free protocols.

2. being in community with the chemically sensitive

like some other folks with MCS, i do occasionally use scented products. they are particular to me and i try and restrict my use of them to my home or spaces where they will be completely drowned out by others’ scents (places where i generally need to use my gas mask). like everyone with MCS, my tolerance for scents is particular to me, and even to the brand or batch of the particular product or plant.

i have a small collection of essential oils. i use these medicinally, topically for aches and pains and i smell them for mental health concerns. i no longer wear them as perfumes, as i did before i became educated about MCS accessibility. i keep my oils in a metal box, and the metal box is in a cabinet.

when i meet other folks with chemical sensitivities, i will approach hanging out with them or going anywhere they might be as if i am attending a fragrance-free event and prepare as such. if we end up spending more time together, i usually like to do an audit where we go over the particulars of each others’ products and figure out what the other person is sensitive to.

there are people in my community who are educated about MCS and about my particular accessibility needs. i usually ask that folks who are serious about MCS accessibility consult with these allies if they have questions about anything. people in my various communities often send me emails about how to make their events MCS accessible. unfortunately i’m too sick to answer most of these emails. a lot more needs to be done to promote education about MCS accessibility in seattle (and generally), and unfortunately there is not enough popular education being done. YET!

i also try and make mental notes of anything folks with MCS say in passing about their particular sensitivities, as i know that not everyone is able to be assertive or completely thorough about their air quality needs.

which leads me to my final point about this: most folks with MCS are in a constant struggle to navigate our daily lives. if we are able to go out, we face a continuous barrage of life-threatening chemical exposures. because MCS affects not only our bodies but our cognitive abilities and emotions, we often cannot express or identify that we are being made sick by one particular product someone is using. so if we do take the time to let you know that something you’re doing is making us sick, please respect that and don’t make us tell you twice, or g-d forbid, more than twice. it’s incredibly painful for us to find that people who purport to be our friends or allies, who express the desire to be near us, do not take our basic needs seriously and even cause us harm after we have expressed that there is a problem. if you are struggling with a solution, please let us know so we can help you resolve it, or if that’s not possible, so we can stay a safe distance from you until you get it resolved.

3. friendships and intimate relationships

if you want to hang out with someone who has MCS, that’s great! lots of us do not have many friends we can safely spend time with.

firstly, to reiterate:
when you meet someone with chemical sensitivities, approach hanging out with them or going anywhere they might be as if you are attending a fragrance-free event and prepare as such. if you end up spending more time together, offer to do an audit where they go over the particulars of your products and let you know what they are sensitive to. it is best to send a list of products you use, so they &/or their allies can do research and identify known problems.

spending time with someone with MCS is not something to take on lightly. telling yourself that you’re fine because you think you are is not enough. many people with MCS will not tell you that you’re making us sick, either because we’re too sick or addled to communicate; or we’re overwhelmed because we thought we were going to be safe with you and we’re not; or we’re just too damn tired to talk about it and deal with the possible conflict; or we’ve been socialized or told that asking people to change their lifestyle for us is selfish, rude, demanding, unreasonable or wrong.

this is important. if you want to spend time with someone with MCS you must be willing to humble yourself to our needs, regardless of how that makes you feel. ask us for information and resources and use them. check in with us periodically and ask if anything has come up that we need to tell you about. don’t assume that everything is fine because we are not saying anything. we may be conserving our energy to survive the aftermath of whatever exposures we are getting.

if you feel overwhelmed with the changes you are being asked to make, seek support from folks who understand MCS accessibility &/or support you in pursuing these changes. if you need time to make changes, make sure you do not subject your sick friend to exposures while you are making the transition. believe me when i tell you that i prefer someone staying a distance away from me and telling me they are not fragrance-free/accessible to someone who gives me a hug cuz they’re trying to be fragrance-free and they figure i will tell them if the [blah blah blah] they are still wearing/using is a problem for me.

a last note

it is my belief that MCS accessibility, like all disability accessibility, is a social justice issue. if you decide to join us in the struggle for access, congratulations! you are part of a movement that is slowly gaining momentum and has the potential not only to save our lives but to protect the health and safety of all human beings and the planet. you are participating in a struggle that is part of the larger disability rights movement, and each aspect of this struggle is important and worthy. if you are living with other disabilities, i hope that you are fighting for your own access and we will be building bridges across our differences to increase our viability as a movement.

please feel free to repost this anywhere. thanks!!