Welcome to “Seven Minutes in Heaven” GO Magazine’s brand new interview series that profiles a different queer lady each day, by asking her seven custom (sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
Queer Abstract popped up on my Facebook newsfeed a few months back and I remember thinking “Now this is an event I have to go to.” After my first experience at a Queer Abstract event—I was hooked. Shannon Matesky the mastermind behind the whole production, is for one hilarious. She emcee’s the event and makes sure the crowd is having the best time ever throughout everything. Tech glitches? No problem, Matesky will just improvise a comedy set.
Queer Abstract is a space for QTPOC performers and artists who you maybe haven’t heard of before. You will absolutely be blown away by the talents that hit this stage, Matesky curates the whole event and invites audience members to contact her directly if they want to get involved. In having our “Seven Minutes in Heaven” with Matesky, we learned about her goals for Queer Abstract, who were queer role models are and so much more.
GO Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?
Shannon Matesky: I’m Shannon Matesky, a writer, actress, producer, director, beast. My life’s work is a mix of performance and production. I like to be on stage, on film, and place make for others to create as well. I call myself a beast because I’m always managing more than one project at once! I am also an educator, activist, sister, lover, business nerd, and pet mom.
GO: What was the genesis of Queer Abstract?
SM: Being new to New York my queer social life seemed to mostly be surrounded by parties and I wanted more balance in my life and more social offerings. The performance community is amazing here too but the shows weren’t as often as I had wished, and sometimes limited space or more exclusive to one form. I really wanted to make friends, build community and bridge the gap between the performance and party crowd. I also wanted a place I too could perform so people knew me by what I did and created, not just what party I attended.
Inspired by a dope community and show in Chicago, Salonothon, I set out to create a similar model but specifically for QTPOC performers. The shows I had been to seemed to only feature one or two QTPOC’s at a time. I wanted a place that we could perform, party and fellowship. I think the show provides a special opportunity for the community to be exposed to artists we may not have had the opportunity to see so explicitly. We rotate about 8-10 artists per show, try to show all genre’s and make the show as diverse in representation as we can. Then, we dance.
GO: As we face a scary and uncertain moment politically, what gives you hope? What drives you to keep going?
SM: I believe our communion and celebration with each other is a statement of radical resistance. After Orlando queers could have made the choice to stay home, after the election, we could’ve given up. Instead we still show up for each other. We are loving ourselves and each other unapologetically and I think that is so brave. I feel this is the legacy of so many queer warriors before us, we live to dance another day.
When I get down, I get really down, but what keeps me going is remembering how many amazing people I’ve encountered through my work and life and reminding myself I am a crucial part of that eco system. When we lose a community member it resonates through so many bodies. I want to resonate hope, light, fun, and love. We all need those to survive, so in order to add to that I have to contribute in the ways I can. I contribute by being a maker, an organizer, a body on the dance floor, a community member who is also being brave. This is resistance. There is power in numbers.
GO: Who are your queer lady role models?
SM: All my little sisters really. The mentees and students who are finding more radical ways to be brave. Finding more opportunities to show pride, to defend our ever changing queer existence. Who have major style and bad ass eyeliner. My queer peers doing the work. The queer women activists who lead the people. The lady bosses I’ve encountered who are holding or fighting for larger roles in leadership. Queer artists, performers, and makers that are brave enough to be out in the limelight. I look up to them all. Solidarity and support.
GO: What music are you listening to right now?
SM: Lizzo, SZA, Noname, Jamila Woods, Syd, Solange, Andersen Paak, Jay Z, Khalid, DJ Khalid, Tyler the Creator.
GO: If you could do or be anything for one day, what would you do?
SM: Topless on a sailboat writing poems.