track 1: welcome to bodyhome maker
Kae: Hello, and welcome to bodyhome maker. My name is Kae. My pronouns are they/them, and I’ll be your host and oral historian.
Before we get started, I have a favor to ask you. Press pause and go get something that will help you express ways your body could be a better home for you. It could be a few pieces of paper and a pencil. Or a sketchbook and your favorite pens. Or a tablet with a drawing app. Or a stack of magazines and some scissors. Or some hair ties to braid your hair. Or some nail polish for your nails. Or whatever you have around that you can use to express yourself while you listen. Go get that now and then come back.
Ok, thank you. You should have something to do with your hands now. As you listen, I hope you will create an image of what a good bodyhome looks like to you, or do something to your body to make it look more how you want it to look today.
Now I also want you to put your computer or your phone or whatever you’re using to listen to this somewhere where you don’t have to look at it unless you want to read the transcript of the audio you’re hearing. If you don’t want to look at the transcript, you can even turn your screen brightness all the way down. I’ll give you a minute to get situated.
Thank you. Please take one more moment to make yourself comfortable while you listen, and then I will tell you about what you’re listening to.
bodyhome maker is a companion project of the Working 2050 podcast. Working 2050 is a speculative oral history where we talk to people today about what they do all day and how they feel about it. Then we use what they say to write science-fiction about what the world will be like in 2050.
For the next 30 minutes or so, you will be listening to two alternating voices. First you will hear from Georgia McCandlish. Georgia is a queer and trans tattooer from Baltimore, Maryland. They are also the co-owner of an interdisciplinary tattoo and art studio called Fruit Camp. We recorded two conversations about their work in late 2020.
Second, you will hear from Jules, a young oral historian working on a community oral history project in the year 2050, 30 years from now. Jules is doing an interview with their friend Maya, who is learning to tattoo. You will hear recordings from Jules’s field notes that they recorded right after they completed the interview.
Of course, Jules is fictional and from the future, and Georgia is real and alive today. I hope that you will listen to their voices next to each other and start to think about what it takes to feel at home in a body.
I am drawn to what Working 2050 is doing because I think that in order to survive, we must imagine a hopeful future and then take steps to make that future a reality. To me, a bodyhome is not just a body that looks a certain way. A bodyhome is a body in relation to other bodies. A good bodyhome is a body that is supported, fed, affirmed, and loved by other bodies around it. I believe that there is a future in which my trans, nonbinary body is a good home for me, but I know that I cannot get to that future alone.
So, as you listen, I hope that you will join me in imagining what we need to do today for us to feel at home in our bodies now and in the year 2050. What work do you need to do? What work do you need to stop doing? Who do you need around you? What can you do right now to feel a little bit more like your body is an adequate home, today and in the future?
Thank you again for listening in. Without further ado, this is bodyhome maker.
track 2: how we get to walk through the world
Georgia: I think when we were coming up with our name and what we wanted out of the aesthetics of Fruit Camp, we were pretty clear that we wanted it to feel friendly and femme and also—it’s not quite maximalist in here yet. But we’re certainly kind of anti- minimalism, I would say. Yeah, I think it felt very important to have the environment feel just like almost poking fun at the masculinity or sterility of either traditional tattoo shops or like, new edgy ones. Like I want it to be fun and inviting and warm and beautiful, and also maybe indicate a little bit some of the collectivity and community that it is possible because of.
My name is Georgia. My last name is McCandlish. Georgia McCandlish. I go by they/them pronouns. I live in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m a tattoo artist.
I’m at Fruit Camp, which is a tattoo studio and interdisciplinary art studio that I co-own with my business partner in Baltimore. We’re in the neighborhood of Remington. It’s the last month of 2020.
It’s cute. I’ll show you. It’s cute.
The doors incredibly sparkly. We’re a corner building. We’re a double wide row home. This whole neighborhood is architecturally very Baltimore classic row homes.
The door is sparkly with a prismatic plastic adhesive. And we made it sparkly because the door has a big glass pane in it, and we wanted a little bit of privacy but also to let the light in. And also because we’re gay, so we like rainbows. But cool rainbows like these beautiful cushions that my friend custom made to be holographic and match the door. This is our front. We recently got this really gorgeous, custom made desk from a queer friend who is a woodworker and also is a skater who rents the garage space with the Queer Skate Collective.
So in imagery I work all in my own hand and in my own style of drawing. And so that is, I would say, a sort of like printmakerly wood cut/etching black work kind of style. So a lot of like, fine lines and textures made through line work. But then my subjects are like my normal. I guess like visual language really draws on a lot of sort of a combination of like, esoteric and comic book-y work. So, I do a lot of kind of—when I’m doing custom work, I illustrate a lot of mythical figures for people either ones in existing mythologies or personal ones. I love to do gay freaky aliens.
I mean, I think that’s, a way that I think about a lot of the things that we queers partake in, is like, we’re trying to make homes in our bodies in the best ways we can. And that looks like surgery and that can look like hormones. And that can look like haircuts and makeup and fingernails or button down shirts or whatever type of thing. But tattoos—it’s it’s really lovely that I think that’s a reason why a lot of queer people seek tattoos is to sort of like, have agency over how they get to walk through the world. How we get to walk through the world.
track 3: 2050.07.07fieldnotespt1
Jules: So today is July 7, 2050. My name is Jules, I’m 17 years old, and I’m recording this because I just did my first interview for the Working 2050 project. The project is an oral history thing. This guy who is running the project did a workshop at my cooperative’s community center on how to do old-school oral histories with just sound recording. I guess oral historians 50 years ago or whatever were obsessed with how people’s voices sounded, so they recorded them talking about their lives in audio. Sometimes video if they were really high tech. The workshop people said that video is like a biosoma but if you take out the bio-somatic track, so you just see and hear, and not feel. And audio recording is just hearing, no visual track or bio-somatic track. And I guess this year in 2050 some famous oral historian’s recordings turn 100 years old, and that’s why we’re doing this project where we just record people’s audio talking about what they do all day.
So anyway the guy who taught the workshop also said that you should record your thoughts after you do an interview so that you remember how you were feeling and details that the audio recorder didn’t catch. Also so that people in the future know what you were thinking about during the interview and why you did it. And I guess so that people in the future know what your voice sounds like. So, future people, this is what my voice sounds like!
track 4: cared for and seen and collaborated with
Georgia: I do feel like it’s an incredibly special way to work. Like, I think it’s very rare for artists to get to, one, support themselves on their work alone. And to get to make something that has its place in the world instantly. Like, the second, it leaves my hand, it lives on a body, and it no longer becomes mine. And, in fact, there’s actually no way that I can claim any ownership over it because it’s literally somebody’s body, and they will always be the owner. And I just love that. I love not having to handle authorship. And I love not having to make further sales. And I also love that a lot of the work that I do that lives with people has zero resale value, and it dies with the person. And I think that’s just really fucking mystical and special and it’s kind of like this capitalist dead end that I just really cherish. And I also feel well compensated for it. So that’s cool.
And then, in terms of the experience, I don’t know, what I want is for my clients to feel cared for and seen and collaborated with. I do feel like the experience of a session should feel like we’re on a team together, and we’re working on this thing for their body. And in my personal experience, tattoos are a great way to make your body feel more of an adequate home for you.
I have some tattoos that I have done, where they were either on friends or acquaintances, where the experience of tattooing has like deepened our friendship just a lot, either over multiple sessions, or in that one space in that room. And I think that’s really magical. Or even, I have some friends that I met because they were my clients first. And that’s not an expectation I have for everyone I come across, but I think it’s a really cool thing that can happen in the space of a tattoo because it is an acceleration to intimacy, in a lot of ways. People really open up much more quickly when you’re causing them pain, often.
And then I have a few clients, and then often people who have referred each other, who are—they just bring me like the coolest fucking ideas. And especially I have one or two clients who are Black folks who bring me their sort of like—a lot of their tattoos are revolutionary heroes, or Black intellectuals, or spiritual or mythical figures that they’re sort of building their canon of through getting tattoos. And that just feels really fucking precious to hold. And I feel super honored by being asked to illustrate or inscribe some of those figures. Because I also know that it’s pretty specific to be a white person and be trusted with a job like that. So I definitely value those experiences and also the mythologies and histories that I get to learn more deeply through that relationship with clients. Yeah. And also, like you have to—somebody is trusting me with their body. So that also feels special in those instances. It feels special all the time. But, you know, there’s so much bullshit and so much white supremacy in the world that overcoming some of those things—I feel like I take it very seriously.
track 5. 2050.07.07fieldnotespt2
Jules: I am on the train back from a cooperative like an hour from mine. Um, I did an interview with this person Maya. Xir living in this weird building and doing this apprenticeship to learn how to tattoo, which I actually think is pretty cool. And it was really great to talk to xir in person because we actually met on C44672. Um, for people in the future, C44672 is a comms app and it’s all in Morse Code. It started out as like mostly poets but now lots of people use it to just talk to people in other cooperatives. I’m not really a poet, but I started learning Morse Code like a year ago because it seemed like all the good comms apps were using it. So yeah Maya and I started talking like a year ago, and now Maya’s living in this building with all of these older people as mentors.
We did the interview in the building where Maya is living. It’s kind of a weird space, it’s almost like a community center because it’s got lots of different art and self-actualization media rooms and supplies. But it’s also got housing built right into it so the people who make art there also live there. The housing is kind of like the youth housing on my cooperative but most of the people who live there are millennials and gen z-ers. In my cooperative the only people who choose to live in housing with shared bathrooms are like 20 years old or younger. It was actually kind of funny to see old people living in housing like that and not in apartments with their own bathrooms and kitchens.
I think it would be really cool to live in housing like that, except maybe not in my cooperative. My mom says that youth housing is dirty and loud and that I wouldn’t like it. But Maya’s building wasn’t dirty or particularly loud. Well I guess at one point there was some drilling or something and we had to stop the interview for like 15 minutes. Maya said someone was building a stage on the side of the building. Which I think is really cool. Some people in the building were going to put on a play. But yeah, the building wasn’t dirty even though people there didn’t really seem like they followed a cleaning or chore schedule. Like while we paused the interview because of the drilling, someone poked their head into the room we were in and asked if we wanted lunch. It was just some random time, like 12:13 or something. In my cooperative everyone takes their lunch break at noon, and everyone does their cleaning chores at 4pm, and that’s how you know things are going to stay clean.
Anyways I think it would be fun to live in Maya’s building. The only gen pH-ers who live there all have some kind of apprenticeship with the older people. They all had to apply and once they got there they could pick one or two mentors to learn crafts from.
So yeah each person has a room to sleep in, and there are shared bathrooms and a big kitchen that everyone cooks in. Actually Maya told me that the building used to be part of a small college that couldn’t afford to stay open through the north Midwestern rabbit flu in 2029. Um, a college was a place that some people went to learn a specialized discipline after they finished their mandatory school. That’s how a lot of the buildings in xir cooperative were originally built.
track 6: on Mondays we do the mutual aid garden
Georgia: You know, I feel like in the future people don’t have careers. And I’m not a tattooer. But I know how to tattoo probably still in the future. So I think I want to imagine like a future post-anticapitalist revolution, where work—extracted work for pay no longer is relevant or exists. And instead, like, we spend our time working on all the different projects that support our community and make it possible to survive together.
Yeah, and then also, like, in general, in the future, I don’t think people should have to fucking work at all. But I’d definitely continue to tattoo but only like—ideally not really as a form of barter but as like a form of gift giving. And as a form of hanging out. And like, relationship building in like, in like activity, one on one activity and intimate activity and celebratory activity. And I think I would just like to be able to do tattooing as like one of the many things I would do in a community with others. Which it is, certainly, it’s just also the thing that I make my rent on currently. But you know, it can be one of my—you know, on Mondays we do the mutual aid garden, and on Tuesdays we do the childcare collective, and on Wednesdays I tattoo my friend because I made the plan.
And in some ways tattooing has already reached one of its like worst case scenarios, which is that it is a profession. Does that make sense? Because a lot of tattooing and history of tattoos come from super ritualized and culturally specific places that maybe they—that many of which styles have been extracted from and colonized and turned into these sort of packaged aesthetics and brands. And therefore, it’s rife with cultural appropriation. And so even my role as a person who does my drawings on people for money is still kind of a version of the commodified tattoo. But I don’t feel purist about it. So I don’t know. Maybe worst case scenario is Instagram starts to like—Instagram explodes, and everybody ever who is making their money from being on Instagram is just completely out of work.
I also do think like in the future of work in general, things becoming hyper localized is one of the possible ways into a more ethical style of exchange. And being a local queer tattoo shop that is well known as a local queer shop is important to me because of that.
Someone was telling me about how there have been attempts to automate tattooing. And I feel like that’s an unrealistic ask at this point because it seems really challenging for a robot to do this job when there are so many different kinds of bodies.
This is not something that I can do, or that people can do forever. It’s really intense on the body. And, you know, I’m in all likelihood gonna still be alive in 2050. And my back is probably not going to be in good enough shape to tattoo three days a week. If I continue doing it for the next 30 years.
track 7: 2050.07.07fieldnotespt3
Jules: Anyways so Maya moved in like six months ago when xe turned 16. I think Maya is really lucky that xe grew up in a cooperative that has this kind of thing in it. My cooperative is all pretty new. Most of it was built in the 2040s, so it’s all really standard and boring. It’s just like, family housing, youth housing, old people’s housing, community center, children’s center, food distribution center, work areas, and that’s it. Very boring. I wish we had cool stuff like Maya does.
Um so when I got to Maya’s cooperative, Maya showed me around xir building. It’s not just tattoos there, they do all kinds of things. They’ve also got a pretty big garden around the building, and people in the cooperative can come pick fruit and vegetables from there when the cooperative food stores are low on fresh foods. They’ve also got a childcare area where people can drop off their kids for a few hours. I guess maybe their cooperative children’s center isn’t big enough? Or maybe they don’t have a children’s center? I forgot to ask. But everyone who lives there takes turns with the childcare and the gardening in addition to regular building chores like cooking and cleaning and managing the therapy room schedule.
Once Maya showed me around xe introduced me to xir tattoo mentor. They’re this older person who used to tattoo as like, a job to pay the rent and stuff, back before cooperatives were a thing and people had to pay rent. But they can’t really tattoo anymore because they did it so much that their back gave out. I talked to both of them. Maya told me what it’s been like to move into this building and learn a new craft, and xir mentor told me more about the history of the building. Some of the oldest people who live there now moved in before cooperatives were a thing all in the Midwest. At first they weren’t recognized as a cooperative at all. I guess because there was no such thing as a cooperative. They were just some people living in an abandoned building.
Maya’s cooperative wasn’t that far away from mine. It only took like an hour on the speed train. But being there was like going somewhere totally different. I guess I’ve never really been out of my cooperative much before. I’m excited because I’m going to go back in a few weeks and Maya’s going to make a tattoo on me. My mom has a bunch of tattoos but I don’t know if she would like how Maya’s set up to make them. My mom said she had her tattoos done in a “studio” in Chicago back in the 2020s, whatever that means.
But whatever, Maya’s gonna do one of xir tractor designs on me, probably on my arm. Maya’s tractors look like a mix of old-school gas-fueled machines and like new, cutting-edge farming equipment that xe mostly made up. Some of the tractors in Maya’s drawings fly with, like, tractor jet-packs. I definitely want a flying tractor tattoo.
Um, yeah, so people in the future, that’s how I interviewed Maya at xir cooperative. You should listen to the interview! It was really cool. Ok bye!
track 8: visionary drool
Georgia: In Baltimore, instead of tattoo artists being individually licensed, spaces are licensed.
So yeah—so basically you are tattooing legally if you’re tattooing at a licensed shop. You’re tattooing illegally if you’re tattooing anywhere else. It’s fairly—the licensing process of a space is fairly complicated and obnoxious. But I think otherwise, it’s a fairly under enforced place to be an underground tattooer. So we sort of started the process of looking for a space that we could potentially get licensed and work in legally. And a lot of that I think, was propelled by the dissolution and shutdown of the Bell Foundry—the sort of wider shut down across the country of DIY spaces.
This is actually a really kind of poignant day to be thinking about that, because it’s—I think it’s December 3, which means it’s the anniversary of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Which means it’s an anniversary of a big tragedy, where a lot of people died in that fire, and also the sort of wave of crackdowns on Do It Yourself spaces across the country, which the eviction of the Bell Foundry was certainly a direct consequence of.
We certainly could have found things that were cheaper, and they would have been a lot smaller. And they would have supported—spaces that would have supported me and Emi working in and had space for basically us and maybe one other station that we could have guest artists come work at. And I think that would have been fine too. But the thing that was sort of tantalizing, or that like, I think was giving us visionary drool—it was the idea that this particular setup could support, like—could support more than us. And also could be structured in a way that would be mutually supportive. We’re able to have our leases on this large space, because we are connected to our group of friends, communities, artists, makers, kinds of folks who want a part of it and want to be a part of it, and want to have space here. And without that, we would be on the hook for a rental capacity that is like way, way above my actual ability to earn as a tattooer in Maryland. It gave us a bigger dream than what we were necessarily needing to look for, but it’s also the thing I’m maybe the most excited about at Fruit Camp, like the idea that it is bigger than a tattoo business and then it will continue to grow. Not in size or in scale or in multiplicity. Like I don’t want to franchise or open new locations. But in density. And the more things that I can help pack in here, the more nooks and crannies that become a resource to people, the better in my opinion.
track 9: credits
Kae: Hi, it’s Kae again. I have lots of people to credit and thank, but first, I would love if you would share whatever creation you’ve made while listening. On the bodyhome maker website, click on the “submit your bodyhome” link at the top of the page to send us a picture. We may even post it on the Working 2050 Instagram page.
Ok, on to the credits. First and foremost, thank you so much to Georgia for giving me so much time and attention for this project. Talking to Georgia and spending so much time with their words has been a joy.
In the spirit of reciprocity, I would love if you would follow Georgia on Instagram @ghostnests. Once you’ve followed them, watch out for fundraisers and calls to action for Uplift Better Waverly Mutual Aid and Baltimore Jail Support. If you’re in Baltimore, you can also get involved with Baltimore Jail Support directly. You can find more information about getting involved at https://baltimorejailsupport.noblogs.org/get-involved/.
Tim Livingston played Jules in this piece. Thank you, Tim. You’re the best.
Patricia Taxxon wrote the backing music for the intro, Georgia, and credits tracks. In order, the songs I used are called: Crocus 6, Rainbow Road, Glitter, Somewhere, Crocus 7, and Crocus 5. You can stream and buy Patricia Taxxon’s music at https://patriciataxxon.bandcamp.com/.
Katie In made the Working 2050 “time travel” music. You can hear short bits of that music in this piece at the beginning and ending of every Jules track.
Freesound.org user toam made the train sound recordings in the background of the Jules tracks. Thank you freesound.org user toam!
Thank you to Digital Publishing Librarian Michelle Wilson for helping me get the bodyhome maker website up and running.
Thank you to H Kapp-Klote for allowing me to work on this project. H created Working 2050 and has supported me in taking his idea and totally changing it for my own purposes. You can listen to the first episode of the podcast by searching for it in your favorite podcast app. Make sure to subscribe!
Thank you to Carlin Liu Zia and Amy Starecheski for instructing the Curating Oral Histories course for the Oral History MA program in Spring 2021. Thank you also to my oral history classmates this year. You can experience the class’s work at ohmaexhibits.org—that’s O-H-M-A exhibits dot org.
Finally, thank you to RV and Jon for putting up with my working a full time job and taking probably too many credits this semester while I worked on this project. I promise to do the same the next time one of you decides to go to grad school.
And thank you to you if you’re still listening. Until next time, this has been Kae with Working 2050.
Georgia: It’s my problematic opinion that everyone is a queer trans femme and they just need to like—they don’t even need to find that in themselves, but, like, she’s in there waiting for you. And also that like—the entity of god or whatever—is also a queer trans femme. And and that is basically the reason why she’s in there. Waiting for you. Patiently.
Yeah, I still feel that way.
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