For a year-and-a-half, Oral Fixation prided itself on establishing a haven for the local LGBTQ creative community. A place LGBT individuals could comfortably get behind the mic, speak their minds, and show off their stuff, through multiple artistic mediums, including poetry, comedy, song. The open mic series has seen it all, said the event’s organizer, author Sheree Greer, from emotionally charged and heart-wrenching to comedic, lighthearted work.
“It’s like a talent show, but with no prize,” she said. “People just come and do something creative.” And for the LGBT community, “it’s really important to have that safe space. Other open mics are not as inviting as they’d like to seem.”
The event was held monthly at the Chelsea Nightclub and drew a regular crowd. But when the club shut its doors last fall, Oral Fixation was left homeless, scrambling to find a new location.
“We were bummed when the Chelsea closed, as it was such a great space for us,” Greer said. “The owners were responsive and caring, but it just didn't work out.”
Greer knew what she wanted out of a new venue and set out to find it: “Some place easy to get to, some place where we would be welcome, and some place that would treat us like friends and not just customers.”
And it took a few months, but much to the relief of its regular performers, she found all of these qualities at the R Bar. “They were excited to work with us, so I'm hoping this will be a great fit,” she said.
Originally a one-time event, the first Oral Fixation was held in a conference room at a Busch Boulevard hotel during Tampa Black Pride weekend in 2010. But it was such a hit that Greer was asked by Nora Gupton and GrownGurls Events, an organization devoted to bringing adult lesbians of color together, to host the event regularly, starting in March 2011. Eventually, Greer took on a more active role, and now produces the monthly show.
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Greer, who teaches at St. Petersburg College, released a collection of short fiction, Once and Future Lovers, last summer. It’s available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and kobobooks.com.
Armed with an MFA in creative writing from Columbia College in Chicago, Greer has been published in Hair Trigger, The Windy City Times, Reservoir, Fictionary, and the Windy City Queer Anthology: Dispatches from the Third Coast. She has performed her work across selected venues in Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Chicago, and Tampa. She received a Union League of Chicago Civic Arts Foundation Award, is an Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund grantee, and completed a VONA residency at University of Miami. An excerpt from her novel What Has Never Been Taught appears in Best Lesbian Romance 2012.
Find Oral Fixation on Facebook for more information about the open mic series. And follow Greer on Facebook and Twitter, or check out her website for more information about her work. She also has a blog called “Doing the Write Thing” on Tumblr.