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Featuring Leah Nichols' 100 AZNS of 2018

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News from the front

Updates on stories we've reported on

How Asian dominatrices control their own narratives

Mistress Lucy Sweetkill and Domina Dia Dynasty began working as professional dominatrices nine years ago, when they answered Craigslist or Backpage ads for "Asian women who wanted dominatrix training."

But while that might evoke images of dragon ladies or its inverse—the subservient lotus blossom stereotype— their work is much more nuanced, as Tiffany Diane Tso explores in a new piece for Banana Magazine.

“We have both in us,” Yin Q, a BDSM educator, says. “For example, when I decide to don my inner ‘dragon lady’ for an SM session, instead of being the stereotype of cruelty, I use my dominance to assist the person out of depression or shame. We can turn these experiences into something new and unique.”

(That said, Dia and Lucy warned against generalizing their experiences for the entire community.)

Not your 1920’s dragon lady

While the dragon lady-lotus blossom dichotomy certainly exists outside of the dominatrix world as well, Lucy and Dia consider it an opportunity to explore the stereotype more deeply.  

For instance, 95% of Lucy and Dia’s clients are cis white men—and in fact, “Asian dominatrix” ranks higher than “professional,” “white,” or “Latina” ones on Google Trends.

In some ways, Lucy and Dia lean into that racially-fueled desire—though at the opposite end of the “model minority” myth. To Yin, the dragon lady is “powerful” and “witchy”; to Lucy, dragon ladies inspire “fear,” reinforcing her role.

And that role defies the stigma against sex workers, not to mention the media’s portrayal of Asian sex workers as “trafficked, submissive, and destitute,” says Dia.

Don’t stereotype dominatrices, either

That defiance expresses itself in multiple ways, and not just in stereotypical “dragon lady” ones. Lucy and Dia have sent clients to workshops to check their privilege and become better submissives, and helped others get in shape or learn meditation.

And in line with a sea change in therapy, Lucy says, they’re reconciling BDSM and kink as parts of people’s sexuality, rather than a result of trauma.

Which are results clients might not expect from searching “Asian dominatrix”—but ones they might just welcome.

Chery Sutjahjo and Andrew Hsieh, editors, always here for empowerment

Incidentally, don’t Google “Asian dominatrix” at work

NOW PLAYING: We’re thrilled to be featured in Leah Nichols’ list of 100 Asian American people and organizations pushing the movement forward in 2018. The list is an illustrious collection of activists, artists, policymakers, and everyone in between, and we’re humbled that our little ol’ newsletter was even included.

An additional cheers to friends of The Slant who were included in the list as well, including Michelle Kim of Awaken, the Asian American Feminist Collective, The Cosmos, Adeeba Talukder, MILCK, Dr. Leana Wen and more—thank you for your partnership and support in 2018. Read more about the idea behind the list here.

This year, our team is excited to continue working towards our goal of upleveling marginalized voices within the Asian American community. We’re doubling down on our values and our mission, and have a few new ideas in the works as well. We’re proud of what we accomplished last year, grateful for the support we’ve seen from our community, and ready to take on 2019 with you.

Chery Sutjahjo, editor

Fish sauce made artisanal

Any reliable Asian market like Ranch 99 or Manila Oriental Market—as well as just about any Vietnamese household—has the traditional Nước Mắm Nhỉ fish sauce (the three crabs brand). And most people know that fish sauce is used to dip, saute, cook, and just drench over most Vietnamese cuisine.

Now a brand known as Red Boat Fish Sauce is hitting the western market in places like Walmart, Target, or Ralphs. It's creating global interest in fish sauce as an artisanal—i.e. approachable—craft.

But what about the taste?

Red Boat was founded by Cuong Pham, a Vietnamese refugee who immigrated to the states by boat. Pham went on to become an Apple engineer, but ditched Apple to embark on another journey: an operation to create the “purest” fish sauce.

Pham's fish sauce is made from only two ingredients: black anchovies and salt. It leaves out additives, sugars, or other fish parts. And, Pham says, because of its pure and clean flavor, it produces less of a fish taste, rather bringing out the "intricacies and umami."

What will our grandmas think?

With even kosher fish sauces and gourmet fish sauces (like a bourbon barrel fish sauce, or a hardwood smoke fish sauce), Pham's Red Boat Fish Sauce positions itself as more approachable, and even haute cuisine. Chefs all over the world are stocking it in their Michelin-starred restaurants, or even marinating steaks with it.

According to Pham, old ladies have even started buying it by the case, fearing that the nostalgic sauce will certainly run out. With acceptance from both the old guard and the new, Red Boat is changing the game for what Pham says was once just “a smelly sauce full of fish guts."

Natalie Bui, editor, whose grandma would honestly dismiss paying for expensive fish sauce

Aaaand it's on Amazon too

This weekend ... 📅

  • PREORDER America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan. Perhaps one of the most well-known Filipino American writers, Bulosan remains largely unknown in the larger canon of American literature. Hopefully, that'll change in May this year, when Penguins Classics (who published all our A.P. Lit books) issues his classic on race, class, immigration, and the toll America can take on a person of color. (It's one of our most-quoted books in our Slack channel. Read it! -Ed.)

  • VOLUNTEER on Saturday mornings (if you’re based in Brooklyn) for underserved Asian American communities through the Asian Professional Exchange (APEX) for youth. Brunch can wait a few hours.

  • LEARN MORE about the previously large but diminishing Punjabi-Mexican community, and how these unions were birthed out of out of historical and cultural necessity. Pros: you'll become aware of chicken curry enchiladas. Cons: you'll become aware you're not eating chicken curry enchiladas.
  • IMAGINE THE MOVIE that the story of Hank Wong and his compatriots, in a just world, would almost certainly inspire. As part of a clandestine team of Chinese Canadian troops, Wong and his fellow soldiers were recruited in secret to land in Japanese-occupied China and destroy Japanese infrastructure: a mission they weren't expected to return from for a country that didn't recognize them as citizens. The war ended before they were deployed, but don't lie: you were hooked from the start.

  • WISTFULLY SMILE with Frank Shyong's incredible piece for the L.A. Times, "Finding Chinese food, and home, in Nashville, Tennessee." It's the kind of piece that demands your attention from the start, with lines we'd pay a disservice to if quoted out of context. But we'll just give one: "We eat to remember. We eat when words fail us, which they often do. We eat to show love, even when we’re full or concerned about our weight. We eat to make Tennessee feel like home, to express a version of ourselves that choices and circumstances have forced us to leave behind."

This week's stories are curated by Natalie Bui, editor, and Andrew Hsieh, editor-in-chief, who are overdue for a trip to the strip mall to eat some actually incredible Asian food. Got a tip, or just want to share? E-mail us at news@slant.email.

The Slant is brought to you by:

Brian Hsieh, Marina Cheung, Billy Huang, Kevin Lin, Paulina Dao, Delwin Lau, AJ Grey, Michelle Pal, Mandy Diec, Lloyd Lee, Patrick Trinh, Emily Chi, Naomi Iwata, Kyla Hsia, Gloria Lin, Matt Young, Cat Xia, Crystal Shei, Sooyun Choi, Yi Cao, Meher Kohli, Ryan Ikeda, Jerome Finuliar, Abby Wang, Curtis Leung, Tracey Mantilla, Mika Kennedy, James Boo, Chris Moe, Eve Asher, Alexander Quion, Diane Lee, Angela Yang, Katherine Chin, Paul Kerr, Talisa Chang, Claire Tran, and Sara Mitchell, who are our new year, old favorites.

Join them in supporting The Slant on Patreon.

“Every time your picture is taken, you lose a part of your soul.”

— Anna May Wong, actress

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