Profile: Dani Rachmann
May 1, 2018
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Profile: Puppett + Ish

HMI 2017

HMI 2017

 

Hi! We’re Puppett and Ish, a queer interfaith couple living in Los Angeles. Puppett grew up in Derwood, MD and went to high school and college in Pennsylvania before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in filmmaking. Ish grew up in Redding in Northern California and attended UC Davis where Ish accidentally graduated with a Religious Studies degree. They met in Philadelphia while Ish was working at a Quaker retreat center. After parting ways, a few years later they reconnected while both living in California (Ish was in Chico and Puppett was in Los Angeles). After almost two years dating long distance, Ish moved to Los Angeles and their cat collection began. They enjoy being surrounded by pine trees and lakes, and make a point to go camping and rejuvenate with time in nature. They live on the east side with their cats (two were on purpose and one was an accident).Ish and Puppett both made incredible friendships and Jewish community through HMI and deepened their connection with each other.

This year’s LA Pride theme is Just Be. What does that mean to you?

I: Honestly I was a much bigger fan of last year’s Pride theme. That was a march of

resistance against the rising tide of intolerance and violence we’re seeing happen towards

the LGBTQ community – and all vulnerable communities – since 2016.

Pride started as a protest. Once those protests started shifting cultural norms enough to

be accepted, it became profitable to be seen as accepting. Now Pride is too often a

heavily corporate-funded, flashy party. They actually have the nerve to charge admission

to this supposed “celebration” of “ourselves.”

“Just Be” as a theme is probably intended as a catchy version of “just be yourself.” That’s

great and all, but I’m still mad? I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m still scared out of

my mind? What exactly has changed from last year, so that now it’s okay to just let things

be as they are in this country?

A recent study by GLAAD found that, for the first time in the four years the study has been

conducted, Americans are becoming less tolerant of the LGBTQ community. According to

analysis of FBI data published in the NY Times, of all reported hate crimes, the highest

recorded were against the LGBTQ community.

So yeah. “Just be” is not enough for me, because our basic human rights and our survival

is under attack.

 

P: When you’re visibly queer, the act of Just Be-ing is itself revolutionary. However, the

statement ‘Just Be’ sounds like a call for complacency. I see Pride as a parade, a

celebration, a march, a protest, and a call for change. Our community is under attack from

local governments, the federal government, and our neighbors. Our representation in

Studio Film & TV is abysmal. Transgender and non-binary people are at higher risk of

discrimination and physical attacks, especially our QPOC and transwomen. When our

most vulnerable community members have the luxury to Just Be, so too will the rest of us.

 

Do you have any specific rituals or traditions around celebrating Pride?

I: One of my favorite parts of Pride is “Dyke Day,” which is basically a bunch of queer

people of all stripes who don’t really fit into the more corporate side of Pride, but actually

just want to be together to celebrate our community. Families come and bring their kids,

everyone has a picnic and it’s just a super wonderful day of seeing how rich and amazing

our community is. Even if I don’t go to anything else, I make a big effort to make it to Dyke

Day.

P: I really love Dyke Day too. I look forward to gathering with friends and celebrating how

far we’ve come, while also taking stock of how far we have to go. I like to experience Pride

in different cities. I wouldn’t say it’s a tradition for me to spend every year in a different

place, but I would like to get back to traveling for Pride more, even going abroad. I

definitely want to experience Pride in Barcelona and in Tel Aviv at some point.

 

What was your first Pride experience like?

I: My first pride was in 2009, in San Francisco. I was still closeted in most of my life, and

struggling with deeply internalized homophobia. I suddenly saw how beautiful we all are,

and how there’s no such thing as a right way to be LGBTQ. It was profoundly freeing.

 

How did you meet?

I: I creeped on Puppett online when we both lived in Philly, and somehow convinced her

to go on a date with me.

 

P: We originally met via OK Cupid when we were both in Philadelphia. We went our

seperate ways and then later reconnected via Facebook. We have a truly modern

romance story.

 

A specific project that you are working on right now that you are excited about:

I: I watched a TED talk about how you only need to practice for 20 hours to learn a new

skill. So I started from not knowing how to hold a brush to now – 12 hours in – actually

making pretty good watercolor paintings. I’m excited about that.

 

P: I’m producing a music video supporting gun control education & reform. The music

video, for a song called “Place Called Us,” concentrates on school shootings. It will

release in June alongside the launch of a website organizing resources for survivors and

information for orgs working toward reform (more info at TooManyBodies.org). A film I

directed is also having its online premiere this month for Pride and the three year

anniversary of marriage equality. This short film, Wedlocked, is a farcical comedy about

divorce inequality and it features Shelli Boone, Whitney Mixter, Guinevere Turner, Beth

Grant, Drew Droege, Rocco Kayiatos, and Sally Kirkland. It can be found on Seed&Spark

starting June 5th! You can stay updated at www.WedlockedTheMovie.com

 

This year will mark your first year anniversary of experiencing a Honeymoon Israel

trip. What is something that you have carried with you from that trip?

I: It’s so bizarre it was already a year ago. Since then, I think the most important thing has

been the community we have in Los Angeles now. When we have HMI reunions, I walk

into a crowded room and find that I know and like every single person there. It’s an

astounding feeling, especially for someone who struggles with social anxiety. I feel

profoundly lucky to have been a part of that trip, and the community-building that

happened on it. It was a really welcoming entrance to Jewish community, in all its

diversity.

 

P: We have friendships that will last moving forward. We’ve opened many doors for

conversation around how to have a Jewish household while holding space for the other

pieces of our lives, spiritual and otherwise. Ish is learning the Shabbat prayers and I am

finding joy in sharing my traditions with her.

 

What defines Jewish culture or tradition for you?

I: Jewish culture for me is a tradition of questioning the norm and fighting for social justice.

I love that aspect of it. I was raised fundamentalist Christian, and questions were not

super encouraged. So to find a religion that celebrates debate and intellectual freedom,

and a community that values social justice, is really amazing.

 

P: Questions questions questions, the nature of Judaism. Also: potato latkes, challah, and

sharing stories about why we do or don’t feel Jewish (or when we feel “too Jewish” and/or

“not Jewish enough”). There is great cultural diversity in Judaism, and as I (re)connect

more and more with my Jewish identity, it is through a lense of diversity, inclusion, and

social justice.’

 

What’s your favorite place in LA, and why?

I: Probably Swingers. I like to eat.

 

P: The entrance to Paramount Studios. It’s really pretty, and some day I’ll work there. 😉 I

would name a bunch of restaurants, because I LOVE food, but that question comes later.

 

A piece of advice you would give 13 year old you?

I: I would tell myself that it’ll be a rocky road for awhile, but that ditching the hiking boots,

scrunchies and unkempt ponytail will make it a lot easier.

 

P: You can connect to Judaism in your own way – these people and this community aren’t

all there is; you will be able to define your Judaism for yourself. In the meantime, at your

Bat Mitzvah party, get to the buffet BEFORE stopping to talk to anyone!

 

The world could use a little more…

I: Scientific facts in our decision-making.

 

P: Love and acceptance. It could also use a lot less plastic.

 

What’s one thing you know now about the Jewish community that you wish you

knew sooner?

I: Jews always order Israeli food at their events. And Israeli food is delicious. Go to Jewish

events.

P: Sephardic and Mediterranean food. Yum.

 

What song describes your mood right now?

I: “Nevermind,” by Dennis Lloyd.

 

P: La Roux’s “In For The Kill”

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