A week ago, my friend Brooke Lefferts (a journalist/blogger/mom who writes a perfect blend of pop culture & parenting at www.carpoolcandy.com) and I attended the BlogHer 2012 conference in Manhattan.
According to the BlogHer site, "BlogHer creates opportunities for more than 40 million women who blog and their readers to gain exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment." To be included in this diverse group of women, celebrating the exploration of the (relatively) new terrain of online dialogue and social media, was exhilarating.
Actors will tell you that every audience is unique and possesses a group personality. (Here's a great clip of British actor, Oliver Cotton, talking about audience dynamic). In essence, actors are connoisseurs of the group dynamic. Put a bunch of people - some strangers, some related - in a space to share an experience together and within moments their collective energy creates its own group response. Backstage of any theatre, five minutes after the curtain rises, you can tune in to an analysis of the audience. "Did you see that guy in the third row? He's already snoring and the overture's not even over! It's crickets out there. Crap audience."
In my experience (sorry fellas) the BEST audiences are large groups of women. (Please note: large groups of women with a coupla drinks in them are better yet). Women are game. They come to laugh. To cry. They make terrific faces when they think no one's looking at them. They will elbow their neighbor 'til she's black and blue if they feel a nudge is in order. They'll stand up and cheer - even for the understudy. If you're going to be an audience member, my recommendation is to go with a bunch of gals.
Photo: Me and Brooke with the Jamba Juice Guy at the BlogHer Expo
BlogHer 2012 was the largest female audience I'd ever witnessed. (To be accurate, there were some men. However, the only one I spoke to was in a banana suit, so I'm gonna go ahead and focus on the ladies). Some women came in crocs and tee-shirts promoting their cause, some women came in Chanel. Some women came with Baby Bjorns and quietly nursed in a corner while other women came with tea cup Chihuahuas peeking out of Juicy Couture pocket books. Some women started saving seats for Martha Stewart's luncheon interview right after breakfast, some women ate street meat from a vendor on 52nd Street. Some women attended sessions on International Activism and listened to women who risk their lives daily to blog about their reality of being a woman. Some women made a bee-line to the Trojan table to pick up some lube and a travel size vibrator.
All those voices, all those different perfumes, all those smart, savvy, women in one Hilton, made for one head-spinningly phenomenal (albeit chatty) crowd. Tech Tutorials, Writing Workshops, and Swag Stations aside, the runaway highlight of the event was the Voices of the Year showcase. 15 honored bloggers* stood before this sea of fashionable intellect, and shared their written pieces of hurt, love, fear, triumph, and in one case, risk of utter humiliation at Aaron Spelling's mansion (huge shout out to Shari of http://www.dustyearthmother.com/ for delivering my favorite piece of the evening). Grateful for the BlogHer branded tissues on our table, I wiped my eyes again and again, overwhelmed and inspired by this powerful group of ladies who write.
I'd been missing such a lady. The recent death of Nora Ephron has left me reeling. I think about her daily. "Everything is copy," her mother's oft-quoted quote, remains tacked to my kitchen bulletin board. Her influence in my life has been consequential and I have felt her void. But in that darkened ballroom, amidst clinking water glasses and forgotten iphone tones, I breathed in the reality of 5,000 women writers and felt buoyed. The future of memoir is happening during nap times, and at coffee shops. In shopping malls in Middle America and in secret in the Middle East. Women are writing. They are creating copy out of everything. It is an audience like no other, of which I am beyond proud to be a part.
*If you'd like to get to know the "voices" shared at the Voices of the Year Event, I've linked to their blogs below.
- Elizabeth McGuire of Peace, Love and Guacamole
- Jane Byers Goodwin of Scheiss Weekly
- Varda Steinhardt of Squashed Mom
- Elizabeth Jayne Liu of Flourish in Progress
- Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month
- Shari Simpson of Dusty Earth Mother
- Issa Mas of Single Mama NYC
- Lori Volkman of Witty Little Secret
- Vikki Reich of Up Popped a Fox
- Arnebya Herndon of What Now and Why?
- Dresden Shumaker of Creating Motherhood
- Suzanne Barston of Fearless Formula Feeder
- Barbara Becker of equalshot
- Jenny Feldon of Karma (Continued...)
- Susan Goldberg of Mama Non Grata