Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Hokey Pokey Players interview

Dublin Core

Title

Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Hokey Pokey Players interview

Subject

Lesbian, Tucson, activism, history, feminists, 1970s, collectives, media, theatre

Description

Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Hokey Pokey Players interview
This oral history interview highlights local feminist and lesbian feminist activists as part of the Southwest Feminists Reunite collection, which was started in spring 2013 during their 40th Anniversary celebration in Tucson, AZ. That powerful experience in March 1973 and the dynamic creativity and political action that followed sparked feminists and lesbian feminists to reinvent their lives and organize for change over the next four decades. This collection consists of oral histories and digital scans of photographs.

Creator

Jamie A. Lee, Project Director, Arizona Queer Archives

Source

Recorded digitally on Sony HDR-CX580 digital video camera

Publisher

Jamie A. Lee, Project Director, Arizona Queer Archives

Contributor

Southwest Feminists Reunite. Lavinia Tomer and Deborah Dobson

Rights

Rights given to the Arizona LGBTQ Storytelling Project and the Arizona Queer Archives

Relation

Southwest Feminists Reunite

Format

H.264 300Kbps streaming QuickTime movie, 427 x 240

Language

English

Type

MovingImage and Oral History

Identifier

Southwest Feminists Reunite

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Anastasia Freyermuth

Interviewee

Hokey Pokey Players: Dee Whitcomb, Doreen Dobzewitz, Ellen Litman, Chris Miller

Transcription

Interviews with Hokey Pokey Players:
Dee Whitcomb, Doreen Dobzewitz, Ellen Litman, Chris Miller

Interviewer:
So if you don’t all just mind starting by stating you name and just a little bit about yourself?

Dee Whitcomb
Sure, Dee Whitcomb. I wrote the first play the Hokey Pokey Players did back in ’77, something like that. Uhm, I’ve lived in Tucson since 1976…uhm…that’s a good start.

Interviewer: That’s a good start…all right…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
I’m Doreen Dobzewitz, I’ve been in Tucson since 1974. I ended up coming out here to go to graduate school which I completed. Got a job right after I finished in January of ’77 and here I still am. Uh, way back then I actually when I came out here was married to a male and realized what a big mistake it was on the drive out across country and right after I finished graduate school, I got divorced and came out and got involved in the women’s community and theater and politics. The women’s community was very involved with a variety of aspects of societal life.

Interviewer:
Great, great. Would you like to introduce yourself again?

Ellen Litman:
I’m Ellen Litman and uhm I was in this play, Post Hypnotic Daphidilles It was really a lot of fun…and what year was it?

Doreen Dobzewitz: We think ’77 or ‘78

Dee Whitcomb: No, ’78.

Doreen Dobzewitz: ’78?

Dee Whitcomb: I don’t know, something like that…it’s a blur still.

Doreen Dobzewitz: A lot of us have a lot of blurred years unfortunately.

Chris Miller: Get it…Post Hypnotic…?

Group: Laughs

Chris Miller:
I’m Chris Miller and I was one of the players in Hokey Pokey Players and uh…I got involved because I thought this script was fantastic and fun and we got to get together every night with this wonderful group of women and the play had some symbolic meaning also because Ellen and I worked in a substance abuse counseling center called the matrix and the play had…one of it’s scenes was substance use among women in the community…

Ellen Litman: abuse

Chris Miller:
Substance abuse…thank you…among women in the community so…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
and I just have to interject too cause I actually came out here and got my Masters in counseling and ended up working at one of the drug facilities…remember I worked at Hope center…during that time…

Dee Whitcomb: It was a good thing…


Ellen Litman: We had quite a time in Tucson…

Interviewer:
Okay so before we delve into the Hokey Pokey Player group specifically, I just would like to uhm…and you would know this question a lot too…throw out the question of when do you first become aware of the feminists and lesbian feminist movement? And if you could just speak a little bit about your personal experience with that or kind of gotten involved and why…

Dee Whitcomb:
Well I came out in Ithaca New York in 1969 and there was not much of an organized community per se, and it was still very much rooted in the stereotypical norms of the fifties. So if you went into a gay bar and you were dressed in jeans and hippie clothes, it really boogled the mind of most of the women there. So…but there was a small group at Cornell but Cornell is so (inaudible). Then when I moved out here in ’76, then there was more active, with the social, with all the organizations, The Women’s Center, the Rape Crisis Center, the New Directions for young Women, all of these different non-profit organizations that had been created for women and most of them I think I can say safely were initiated by lesbians. So we were busy doing that and then we were just busy figuring out who we were and having a good time. We had a really good time.

Doreen Dobzewitz:
I uhm…I went to undergraduate school in Buffalo and I graduated high school in ’69 so that time was amazing with all the protests going on against the war and the women’s movement coming on heavy and everybody burning their bra and coming out and getting involved in politics and music. There was a whole expansion of really writing and arts that happened and I ended up kinda like…I distinctly remember being in the student union one night and going into one of the rooms and there was a women’s dance and a women’s band and I was like, “Wow” I was like so amazed man. There were these women musicians and all these women together and everybody was having so much fun and I just found myself totally taken in and I ended up…some male friends of mine…uh…I needed a place to live and they lived in a duplex and I ended up moving in the is duplex unbeknowance to me with two gay women who were partners…I was… stupid me you know…well they didn’t really tell me they just said Dora and Lisa need a roommate and it was a three bedroom place and you know I just figured…and they even showed me how ones an art studio and Lisa’s and artist and here’s our bedroom and this is your room and it’s still like…and I kinda...sexually, I kinda dabbled around when I was in undergraduate school a couple of friends of mine who supposedly you know were into men and had boyfriends but we would all like get into these heavy make out sessions and stuff you know…

Ellen Litman: She dabbled…

Doreen Dobzewitz:
(laughs) That was my really introduction to the a lesbian/gay world.

Interview: Chris would like to speak a little about what uhm…

Chris Miller:
Sure. When I was back in school at Kent State there was a women’s feminist class that I took and it was very eye opening we read Robin Morgan and just a lot of the early writings from the sixties and that period and it was just pretty incredible. You know I just really began looking at myself differently and I had always felt a lot of strength growing up but I really began feeling some inner pride about...I know it sounds cliché the whole I am woman piece that really resonated with me. And then I moved to Tucson and uhm…

Ellen Litman: What year?

Chris Miller:
In about 1972 and went to the Tucson’s Women Center which was on sixth street and it was a house very close to the University and there was a woman there that greeted me named Morning Waters and then the second person I met was Dandelion…who you’ll probably talk with today…and they were so warm and welcoming and it was like, “Gee, I feel home,” and I began finding out and meeting so many women that had either recently moved here or been here awhile and really knew the community and the culture and the community and it’s like we were all beginning to grow up together and we were having such a great time both the growth of the feminist movement here in Tucson and many women like myself were coming out at that same time so it was pretty exciting.

Interviewer:
Great, so kind of segue from going into a little bit of what you’re talking about…would you all like to speak a little bit to how the specific Hokey Pokey theater group and what was your vision and…

Dee Whitcomb: Laughs

Ellen Litman: Was there a vision?

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Some what…didn’t we wanna get…didn’t we want to say something…we wanted to get the word out you know

Dee Whitcomb:
Yeah…it started… at least this is my recollection. There was one theater group that was started which was great…

Ellen Litman: Was that Pleiades?

Dee Whitcomb:
Yes, thank you…I could not remember that…and I worked with that, I don’t know if you all did…it was more…it started to progress and get more close and exclusive. So when I wrote the first play which was the Queen’s Review, it was like anybody…I purposely wanted to have anybody who wanted to be on stage could be on stage, anybody who wanted to work tech could work tech you could do whatever you wanted which kind of set a tone I think for who the Hokey Pokey Players were.

And then Lynn Lane started writing plays that we started doing and so it was more… let’s make this…yes there were statements made but it was all so fun. I mean I can remember you and this group before…we were in the invisible theater waiting for the audiences waiting outside and there’s this huge group of women all doing the Hokey Pokey loud…so it…there’s Meg…

Chris Miller: Hi Meg…..Chris Miller..

Voice off camera: No…

Group: says hello to Meg. Lots of side conversation.

Interviewer:
All right so going back to our original question, just basically give me a little bit about the historical background of the Hokey Pokey Players and your involvement.

Dee Whitcomb: That’s all I got from my perspective.

Ellen Litman:
Well I have to say I never remember us having a name, The Hokey Pokey Players…I remember doing the Hokey Pokey but I did not know that was the name of our theater group.

Dee Whitcomb:
Well no we really didn’t have a name, because we did it I think we have become to be identified as such


Ellen Litman: I guess so…

Dee Whitcomb: Because you don’t say Pleiades you say….(points to EL)

Meg Fox:
Yeah, cause I think there might have been a little (makes gestures with hands)

Doreen Dobzewitz: There was there was…

Meg Fox: Because Pleiades was like….

Dee Whitcomb: This is what I was talking about…

Doreen Dobzewitz: Very up in the air…

Ellen Litman: Oh, they were really actors right?

Meg Fox:
They were serious and there were a lot of rules. I was in Pleiades we had a lot of rules.

Yarro:
I’m from Pleiades so since we’re talking I’m coming over here.

Interviewer: Would the newest members like to introduce themselves?

Meg Fox:
I’ve already been done a dozen times if you don’t know who the fuck I am…oh..Meg Fox. Younger than the rest of these people

Dee Whitcomb: Really?

Meg Fox: I think so, I’m fifty-seven.

Ellen Litman:
You’re the youngest…well I can’t really speak for everybody.

Chris Miller: Sixty-four.


Dee Whitcomb: Sixty-one

Doreen Dobzewitz: Sixty-two in two weeks

Yarro: Fifty-eight

Ellen Litman: Sixty-seven

Meg Fox: You are not.

Ellen Litman: I am too.

Dee Whitcomb:
She was always the oldest that’s why she played the mother.

Group: Laughs

Ellen Litman: And I was a mother…I knew how to do it

Doreen Dobzewitz: Right the mother figure.

Meg Fox: There was tension

Yarro: And uh….I’m Yarro

Meg Fox:
And she was one of the tensest…I just made that up…The Hokey Pokey Players

Dee Whitcomb: You were doing Pleiades..

Yarro: I was doing Pleiades

Meg Fox: Because it was fancy…

Yarro: It was…yeah.

Meg Fox:
We were making high art (points to Pleiades group) and we were fucking around (Points to Hokey Pokey Players).

Dee Whitcomb: Pretty much.

Yarro:
These were the rowdy out of control…and though we had our own out of controlness…

Meg Fox: It was controlled.

Yarro: Yes.

Ellen Litman:
It managed, I mean we managed…wasn’t it at the Loft?

Doreen Dobzewitz: No Invisible Theater

Dee Whitcomb:
The first one…The Queen’s Review…the one I wrote we did for three days and Lynn’s plays, they progressively got longer and longer runs and we had sold out audiences all the time…

Meg Fox: We were fucking awesome..

Dee Whitcomb: People were laughing…really laughing…

Yarro: It was very well written…this is what I recall

Meg Fox: It was well written but what I really (inaudible)

Dee Whitcomb: The Queen’s Review I wrote

Meg Fox: Didn’t you write another one?

Dee Whitcomb: No I didn’t that’s a whole ‘nother story

Ellen Litman: Everything is a whole ‘nother story.

Chris Miller: The hypnotic daffodils was a story about four college kids..

Meg Fox: Oh…you remember the story

Chris Miller: I remember bits and pieces…

(Lots of cross talk/inaudible)

Chris Miller:
It was four college students wide open young women…Wild women there were several wild ones and I played the part of the naive young kid that…


Doreen Dobzewitz: Patty

Chris Miller: Patty…the every body kind of…(inaudible)

Meg Fox:
It was typecasting you know…she was very sweet even though she was a therapist right? I have no idea what the plot was.

Dee Whitcomb: All I know is I had to fain masturbation on stage

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Yes…and right there with ya…and I had to do it on video, I was on video.

Ellen Litman: I was doing a lot of this (Shaking finger)

Meg Fox:
What was Chris Machete doing, she was one of the people and Karen S, and you and who was the fourth person?

Chris Miller: We were all roommates

Meg Fox: (to EL) What were you doing there…

Dee Whitcomb: She was the mother…

Ellen Litman: I was the mother…I was doing this (shakes finger).

Doreen Dobzewitz:
Oh Morya’s mother the rich, Jewish, New York kid’s mother

Dee Whitcomb: But there was another play after that

Doreen Dobzewitz: Karen Maste

Ellen Litman: Once a brat always a brat

Dee Whitcomb: I know Lydia and I had issues about it.

Meg Fox: Did you guys do it together or was she…

Dee Whitcomb: No, she did…

Ellen Litman: Had issues about what….masturbation?

Meg Fox: Lynn generally had issues

Dee Whitcomb:
No the next play she did after that I didn’t care for it and she asked me and I told her. We had to go to therapy for two months…

Doreen Dobzewitz: Oh God, I was going to therapy back then

Meg Fox:
Okay how many people in this room? Thirty percent of the people in this room….(places hand in front of EL) cause you were kind of and you definitely were are you still? …therapists

Ellen Litman: We work in the same place


Chris Miller: We do groups together

Ellen Litman: We grew up together

Chris Miller: We did

Ellen Litman: I grew up with you

(Cross talk/inaudible)

Dee Whitcomb: So those were only the three plays I remember we did

Meg Fox:
Hokey Pokey Players…frankly…well you know Pleiades only did three

Dee Whitcomb: Oh well…there you go


Yarro: Man in the Marigolds, The Children’s Hour…

Meg Fox: War Widow

Yarro: That was…I was on my way out

Citation

Jamie A. Lee, Project Director, Arizona Queer Archives , “Southwest Feminists Reunite ~ Hokey Pokey Players interview ,” Arizona Queer Archives, accessed June 13, 2021, https://azqueerarchives.org/items/show/149.