What would it be like if women ran the world?
Corinne Loperfido and her feminist art community Pussy Power House are on a mission to show us. The self-described “Boss Ass Witch” imagines a culture free from sexual shame and ignorance–and manifests it in pop-up events all over the country, almost all of which are alcohol-free. The group is set to return to Taos Vortex and host a new experience this August 16–18 throughout the weekend.
At a Pussy Power House gathering, participants of all genders are invited into an “immersive world of feminist delights,” says Loperfido, which includes panels, workshops, fashion shows, crafting, and other forms of celebration and wisdom sharing. Past event themes have ranged from breast and pussy health to menstruation, masturbation, flowers, fruit, and zero waste living–whatever answers Loperfido’s lasting question:
Loperfido recently threw an interactive event called ZERO WASTE with BUST magazine that included workshops and demos called “Life without Plastic” and “DIY Dental care”–because along with tackling female empowerment, she wants to save this planet.
While Corinne cut her teeth throwing queer underground parties in Austin, TX, her art is distinctly New Orleans, where she now spends half the year. (The other half she tours festivals and gatherings in her van). She was first exposed to the New Orleans underground community while living in Austin, when she ended up at a costume party thrown by artists who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. After a quick visit to The City That Care Forgot with friends for Halloween in 2009, the verdict was in: “This is the best place of all time,” she remembers realizing, “I need to move here.” The move came eventually, but in the meantime she was determined to bring that spirit to Austin. “My first party cost $1 to get into and it was at a gay leather bar, (which is now a huge condo building) near Downtown Austin. We just played New Orleans music and it was hot sweaty summertime fun.”
Once in New Orleans, she immersed herself in the scene. She threw parties, toured widely as a dancer with bounce music legend Big Freedia, and in 2012 established Big Dick’s House of Big Boobs, a queer strip club event where anyone could take the stage.
The concept was an overwhelming success, and after several years running it in New Orleans, she took it on tour across the country. A scene grew up around the party centered on body positive performance art. With hundreds of people attending each time and dozens of parties thrown across five cities–thousands of people have been involved over the years. As a result, she wove a nationwide network that she continues to pull from today for Pussy Power House.
But things came to a halt in December 2016 when the warehouse occupied by Oakland collective GhostShip went up in flames, killing 36 people and shaking the DIY art community to its core. Amidst grief and concerns about safety and permitting, warehouse spaces closed en masse and Big Dick’s became nearly impossible to keep up outside New Orleans. A month later, Donald Trump was inaugurated. For Loperfido, this meant pivoting away from raucous parties to the more intimate women’s empowerment events she runs today: “We need to have a space where women can just be the dominant energy. . . where we can go and not feel threatened and just be ourselves, if that means be topless or talk about abortion or menstruation or whatever.”
Pussy Power House’s presence is still aesthetically maximalist, a queer-as-hell feast of the senses reminiscent of Big Dick’s House of Big Boobs, but it operates in service of a deeper message on female-power and pleasure, responding to what Loperfido views as people’s increasing disinterest in the typical “bar scene” – with its tired focus on getting drunk and getting laid. “There’s a lot of people that want something more interactive and they want community and they want to experience something, and they want to learn something.” In her words, “edu-tainment.”
Depending on the month’s theme, you may find yourself doing yoni egg exercises, receiving energy work, consulting with an herbalist, or learning about breast massage. The group operates within a trans-inclusionary feminism. While there are a handful of anatomy-specific educational events, “really it’s about creating space to support people that believe in Pussy Power as a concept.” All are welcome!
Consent is one of the cornerstones of pussy power, exemplified by “Pleasure Stacking,” an experience Pussy Power House premiered last year at Meow Wolf Taos Vortex. Imagine laying in a pink and red fabric hut and receiving a multi-handed massage while someone feeds you grapes and softly whispers affirmations while enveloped in a mist of essential oil infusions. Sound overwhelming? No worries. Each participant starts the experience perusing a consent menu.
“Encouraging people in a non-sexual space to be able to feel comfortable and sensual and ask for what they want is going to help them in the bedroom. . . to be able to assert themselves and not just be subservient to male pleasure,” explains Loperfido. In an era when female nipples are censored online for “violating community standards,” period talk is taboo in mixed company, and many people need Google to find the clitoris even on their own bodies, it’s easy to echo Loperfido’s understated point that “we’re just not having the best experience that we can have.”
With its lush artistic aesthetic and refreshing idealism, Pussy Power House embodies the new wave of inclusive, body-positive queer feminism that dances on the grave of the phrase “feminist killjoy.” It’s hard to come up with a more appropriate sign-off than Loperfido’s own: pleasure stack ya later!