Oral History: Out From Under The Rug [Dallas]

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On Wednesday, September 21, hundreds of people packed into Dallas City Performance Hall to witness a moment in history. For the first time in Dallas, a group of men and women were set to share their own, true personal stories related to abortion. This special edition of Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales), entitled “Out From Under The Rug,” was created, produced, and directed by Oral Fixation founder Nicole Stewart, who shared her own abortion story in the OF show, “Bun in the Oven,” and felt compelled to push the envelope even further: an entire show of stories about abortion. Her hope: humanize this hot-button topic that has been stigmatized and moralized, and in this election year, open up a space where a conversation can begin. “It is time to #SweepOutTheShame of abortion,” Nicole has said. And given the crowd that showed up for #OutFromUnderTheRug, she is far from alone in her thinking.

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Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Emily Cortez

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Emily Cortez struggled with feelings of shame and isolation, knowing that she was not prepared to have a child. Hear her personal story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Emily Cortez is a third generation Texan from Dallas. Her hobbies include reading, writing, playing her flute and the occasional attempt to learn new cooking recipes. Currently, she keeps busy by running an online vintage boutique called 829 Vintage and is launching a project to help Mexico fight poverty.

Fixated Facts:

What’s your favorite part about Oral Fixation? Raw, emotional performances. Every story keeps you on the edge of your seat.

What inspired you to participate in Oral Fixation? I felt like it was important to show a woman who was sure of her decision, especially because I am Catholic and Hispanic. Our traditions are a bit outdated; I want women to know there are other options and choices in their lives.

Who is your favorite cartoon character and why? Muttley from the Hannah Barbara cartoons. I think I laugh just like him (or so I have been told).

What is your favorite Dallas hangout? Wild Detectives and The Great American Hero (the best sandwich place ever).

Sneak peak: “There was an ongoing struggle within myself as to whether I should be feeling guilty or not. I felt the guilt reemerge sometimes because I realized there was no guilt anymore.”

Don’t miss Emily perform on the Oral Fixation stage in the “Out From Under The Rug” Dallas show on Wednesday, September 21st.

Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Clark Harding

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When his best friend makes the decision to end her pregnancy, Clark stays by her side and helps her through the emotions, grief, and acceptance she feels, and he tells us the touching story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Clark Harding grew up in Homer, Alaska. He lives in LA, where he is a Visual Effects Artist for feature films and commercials.  A compulsive traveler, Clark made it to all seven continents before the age of 30 and will be returning to Antarctica this winter for the second time.

Fixated Facts:

What would you name the autobiography of your life? Strange Things Done in the Midnight Sun.

What is your favorite word? Exquisite, as in, “I find fit, older gentlemen to be absolutely EXQUISITE.”

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Sigourney Weaver

Name one thing you miss about being a kid: Playing with Barbies.

Sneak peak: “…It never occurred to me that the root of the problem is an inequality of gender, a lack of understanding of said inequality, and the imposition of a male experience on to a female issue. I thought I was being supportive, but really I was just going through the motions without really considering the context of what women go through.”

Don’t miss Clark on the Oral Fixation stage on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Britt Payne

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Caught up in a brittle on-again-off-again relationship, Britt Payne learns that her pregnancy will not create the stability she longs for. Hear her emotional story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Britt Payne is a Dallas native from a long line of Texans. She adores her husband, her hounds, and an ice-cold martini. A proud member of a cookbook club, she’ll talk grub any chance she gets. She prefers sunshine along with a rainy Sunday (a good excuse to cuddle up). 

Fixated Facts:

What inspired you to participate in Oral Fixation? This is such an important topic. I want to help move the conversation forward and hopefully help people see matters from a different perspective.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A mermaid.

What is your favorite Dallas hangout? Louie’s. That’s where I got engaged!

Name one thing you miss about being a kid: I miss the moments when time seemed to move really slowly- those long summer days. Now, time appears to be on warp speed.

Sneak peak: “Upon learning that I was pregnant, I was cautiously happy and extremely nervous. The reality of what I had done hit me like a ton of bricks. It became very real and I was flooded with so many thoughts and emotions.”

Don’t miss Britt perform on the Oral Fixation stage in the “Out From Under The Rug” Dallas show on Wednesday, September 21st.

Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Daniel Kanter

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Rev. Daniel Kanter looks back on a moment in his youth and tells the story of how one decision shaped his future. Hear Daniel reflect on his life and experiences in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Daniel Kanter is the Senior Minister of First Unitarian Church of Dallas. He serves as vice-chair of the national clergy advocacy board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and is active in multi-faith efforts to bring Dallas together around issues of race and equity. He is an avid cyclist, has two teenagers, and is married. 

Fixated Facts:

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? Erasmus, because he was a tenacious reformer of his time.

What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor, but that didn’t pan out freshman year of college.

What is your favorite Dallas hangout? The Old Monk, you can find me there with a pint on occasion.

What is the best book you’ve read in the last decade and why would you recommend it? Red, by Orhan Pamuk, because it is an incredible book on perspective and so fun to read.

Sneak peak: “At the clinic, and sometimes with my parishioners, I receive a kind of confession about mistakes and abortions and screwed up relationships, and I can sit there with some integrity, having been there myself. I know in receiving those stories we are both healed.”

Don’t miss Daniel perform on the Oral Fixation stage in the “Out From Under The Rug” Dallas show on Wednesday, September 21st.

Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Lulu Ward

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Lulu grew up in a place and at a time when sex education was nonexistent. Her experience directly relates to her upbringing and also informs the next several decades of her life. Hear her story in “Out From Under The Rug.”

Lulu Ward is an actor in Dallas. She was voted “Best Actress” in 2004 by the Dallas Observer, named Actor of the Year by the Dallas Voice in 2011, and named Outstanding Acting Performance in 2015 by the DFW Theatre Critics Forum for her performance in Tennessee Williams’s The Two-Character Play. Lulu teaches theatre at Collin College in Plano, TX.

 

Fixated Facts:

What would you name the autobiography of your life? The Misadventures of a Late Bloomer

What’s your favorite part about Oral Fixation? Theatre’s origins are in storytelling. As an actor, I am definitely drawn to the storytelling aspect of plays. My favorite plays all tell a great story. I think it’s fantastic that storytelling as an art still exists.

 

What do you want to be when you grow up? Patient.

What is your favorite smell? Puppy breath.

Sneak peak: “In the fall, at school, I told no one. I attempted to cleanse myself of the shame by being ‘The Perfect Little Girl.’ I didn’t date. I went to church every Sunday. I made straight A’s. I represented my town in Mississippi’s Jr. Miss Pageant. I became anorexic. I was 54 before I stopped trying to be “The Perfect Little Girl.'”

Don’t miss Lulu on the Oral Fixation stage on Wednesday, Sept. 21

Our Eyes Are Fixed On: Elise Bilodeau

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When she was 16, Elise Bilodeau had no idea what her future would look like. Later this month, she’ll take the Oral Fixation stage in “Out From Under The Rug” to share her story of how an experience she had as a teenager changed her life.

Elise Bilodeau is a transient liberal, who mistakenly made Dallas home. She works at an abortion clinic and volunteers with TEA Fund and DARCC. Her favorite acquisitions while living in the South include an affliction for cheese fries, a dog named Boo, tattoos, and an appreciation for “family” near and far.

Fixated Facts:

How did you hear about Oral Fixation? 
Since knowing Nicole’s personal connection and commitment to reproductive rights and how she brought voice and vision to that with this platform, I have been inspired – though never realizing that would pull me into its’ orbit.

What’s your favorite part about Oral Fixation? It’s humanity in action–plain and simple. To bring voice to our lived experiences is why we are here.

What’s your favorite smell? Sunscreen–the presumption of safety coupled with the call of the great blue abyss.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? Joan Didion–we’ve been in a one-sided love affair for a minute. She’s beauty, and she’s grace–she’s Miss United States.

What would you name the autobiography of your life? The Weather Channel

Sneak peak: “It’s perhaps no surprise I ended up pregnant at 16. But it was a surprise to me. And to my parents…My mother jumped quickly from shock to acceptance–acceptance of my future child and the belief that we could ‘get through this as a family.’”

Don’t miss Elise on the Oral Fixation stage on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Meet the Cast of “Out From Under The Rug” [DALLAS]

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Don’t miss these upcoming stories told live @ Dallas City Performance Hall on Wednesday, September 21.

This fall, Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales) sweeps out the shame with “Out From Under The Rug: True Life Tales of Abortion.” Powerful, personal stories, “Out From Under The Rug” will tug at your heart strings with empowering tales from men and women whose lives have been affected by abortion and women’s rights activism. Taking the Dallas City Performance Hall stage on Wednesday, September 21 at 8 p.m., our eight storytellers will motivate, impact, and encourage audience members to join them in chipping away at the stigma of abortion. From renowned physicians to clinic workers, women’s rights advocates to clergy, and brave young women to devoted best friends, “Out From Under The Rug” will personalize stories that often get distorted by the political spotlight. In advance of the presidential election this November, our presenters will leave viewers with more understanding of real experiences from a variety of different perspectives. Do not miss this show! $25 tickets are on sale now! Keep an eye out for more details: storyteller profiles will be published in coming weeks. First, though, some introductions are in order:

  • Unitarian Minister Rev. Daniel Kanter reflects on his life, looking back to a moment in his youth and revealing how one decision shaped his future.
  • An abortion provider shares his story of how he came to support women’s rights through his career.
  • His best friend wants to have a baby (desperately), but when things go wrong, Clark Harding supports her through a difficult decision.
  • Not having any practical or even theoretical knowledge about sex, Lulu Ward gets pregnant at 15.
  • Raised in a Mexican Catholic family, Emily Cortez wavers between feeling guilty and believing she made a selfless decision after having an abortion.
  • After having an abortion as a teenager, Elise Bilodeau devotes her life to working in an abortion clinic and helping other women.
  • Caught up in a brittle on-again-off-again relationship, Britt Payne learns that her pregnancy will not create the stability and life she longs for.
  • Show host, Nicole Stewart, opens up about her own personal experience with a late-term abortion due to medical anomaly and her passion to protect women’s reproductive rights.

Join us on Wednesday, September 21, at 8 p.m. at Dallas City Performance Hall. $25 individual tickets are on sale now. More info to come on every storyteller as their profile is published in the coming days. We can’t wait to see you there!

“Pulling Teeth” featuring Stan Cobb

Theme: “Pulling Teeth”
Storyteller: Stan Cobb

With a story that spanned decades, Stan Cobb — dentist, painter, pastor, professor, and cowboy — shared his challenging tale of starting over at age 42. “I was jumping off a cliff and taking three people with me,” he said. With a Texas twang that filled the performance hall, Stan tied up our evening perfectly by reminding us all, “it is the people in our lives that matter most.”

Follow our RSS, podcasts, social media (Facebook and Twitter) streams, and our YouTube channel to stay up to date on the latest stories.

“Pulling Teeth” featuring Tracy Hawkins

Theme: “Pulling Teeth”
Storyteller: Tracy Hawkins

Having suffered the ravages of meth addiction, Tracy Hawkins gave the audience a primer on why meth destroys teeth and how she once convinced herself to make her own new teeth out of fake fingernails. “I looked like a beaver on meth,” Tracy told us. In the end, though, thanks to Attitudes & Attire, Tracy ended up with one of the world’s best smiles.

Follow our RSS, podcasts, social media (Facebook and Twitter) streams, and our YouTube channel to stay up to date on the latest stories.

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