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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Screening of ‘The Oldest LESBIAN in the World’ Today (Sunday, Jan. 30) in WeHo

Bobby Staff

By Karen Ocamb -

Nearing 100 years old, national treasure Bobby Staff whimsically exposes a rare and revealing insight into the romantic life of a butch lesbian born in 1913. Accompanied by her long time friend, Sweet Baby J’ai, Bobbie takes us on a trip down a very steamy memory lane through photographs and vivid memories of many decades living her life as an out lesbian in New York City and Los Angeles.
The FREE screening is Sunday, Jan. 30, 3pm at the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, 626 N. Robertson Blvd. West Hollywood, 90069
Bobby Staff and Renee Sotile & Mary Jo Godges will be there for a post-screening discussion. Sweet Baby J’ai will also sing. For more on the filmmakers, go to

In a jarring sidebar to this story, Renee reports that she experience difficulty getting a barcode for the film because the company thought the use of the word “lesbian” indicated that the documentary was pornographic.

Here’s Renee’s account of the issue:
“My wife and I are indie filmmakers; our company is called Traipsing Thru Films.  You may have heard of our runaway hit musical/comedy, Dykes & Their Dogs or our 3 minute dykeumentary that included Ellen and Lily chiming in on Lesbian Fashion? You can see them now on our website TRAIPSING THRU FILMS.
Way back when in 2001, VHS was the acceptable form of medium. In Videomaker magazine, I saw an ad for a dub house in Nashville that offered good prices on duplication and placed an order for 100 VHS copies of Lesbian Fashion? Shortly after, I sent them the master tape needed to make the copies, it was returned with a stern letter stating that this company does not make “pornographic material.”
We were pretty shocked and didn’t get the association, but blamed it on the times.
But here we are 10 years later watching a rerun, and reality or should I say, homophobia reared it’s cockeyed head again.
We recently completed a new film titled, “The Oldest LESBIAN in the World!,” and needed a barcode for the DVDs we were making of the film. A barcode is that black-and-white code on almost every item purchased from a store or mass merchandiser, that when scanned the item is priced and tracked.
In the past I’ve purchased two barcodes from a company called Nationwide Barcodes based in Washington State for “non-gay themed” films and decided to use them again for this one. I placed the order on Jan. 7, 2011, for The Oldest LESBIAN in the World!, but on Jan. 10 during a telephone conversation, Phil Peretz, the company’s owner, informed me he was “canceling” my order because he does not deal with “pornography.” I tried to explain that the film was merely about the life of a women who is 97 years old and a lesbian.  “I do not trust your motives and it sounds like pornography to me,” he replied. At this point one of us slammed the phone down…pretty sure it was me as my partner came in the room saying “who are you arguing with already? It’s only 9  in the morning.”
Then Putz Peretz sends me an e-mail confirming cancelation of my order and apologizing for the “direction of the call.”  I know I should have taken the higher road and let it go but that’s just not me. I couldn’t help but respond.
Highlights of the exchange:
ME: The tone of the call obviously stems from your feelings about gays and lesbians. You were way out of line calling a film that has the word “lesbian” in the title pornographic.
HIM: I do not know if this is a documentary or a sex film.
ME: Again, what part of the title implies a “sex film” to you?  Why did porn even come to mind if you weren’t associating lesbians with porn?
Okay, so you get the picture.
In my outrage at the ignorance of this guy, with laptop on lap, I went to the National Center for Lesbian Rights website and e-mailed Kate Kendell (our hero, from afar). She does not know us but of course we know and respect her work.
She responded pretty quickly with a note saying that she is “looking into this and that Peretz  may be a violation of  Washington’s non-discrimination law.”  Go Kate!
In 2001 and now in 2011, the word “lesbian” means porn to some people in parts of this great land. What is that all about? All I can say is please do not support this company!
Phil Peretz, Nationwide Barcode/680 Digital, P.O.Box 2750 / Issaquah, WA 98027
Thanks for listening. I feel better now.
Renee Sotile”


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