No Apologies

Title (as given to the record by the creator):  No Apologies
Date(s) of creation: June, 1995
Creator / author / publisher:  Barbarism, FaT GiRL
Physical description:
 One page of a zine, two columns of text and a photo in black and white
Reference #:  FG3-023-NoApologies
Links: [ PDF ]

[image description: 4 women seated close together, touching, in what looks like a community center or lounge space. They’re talking and laughing. 3 appear white and one Black. They’re of various body sizes: thin to fat, small to large. One is seated in a wheelchair with a tray table.] Photo shows members: Beth Smith, Patty Overland, Pandoura, and Jan Levine. Photo credit: Max Dashu

Wry Crips Disabled Women’s Theater presents: 

No Apologies 

Review by Barbarism 

I had the honor of seeing Wry Crips perform in the fall of 1994 at the Fat Women’s Gathering in Oakland. Their performance left me jazzed and itching to hear more, see more, know more about these talented women and the work they are doing. No Apologies, an open-captioned, half-hour video produced by Peni Hall, fulfills some of that desire, though it doesn’t have the same impact as seeing them live. What it does do is create a new venue and accessibility to their work that didn’t exist, documenting both performances and history. 

Wry Crips is a performance group of diverse disabled women—­diverse in disability, size (fat to thin), class, age, race (though pre­dominantly white). It has been a place for diverse disabled women to educate about each other and each others’ needs. 

They have been around for about 9 years and, according to Diane Huss, call themselves Wry Crips because they are “dryly humorous disabled women.” 

This humor nuances itself throughout the documented perfor­mances from “Call 1 800- I’m a jerk” to “Super Crip Girl… prying open steel trap attitudes.” But don’t be misled-No Apologies will propel you through a range of issues and voices across the terrain of anger, joy, dignity, sensuality, frustration, and empowerment. The performers are dynamic, witty, intelligent, and sexy. No Apologies documents Wry Crips and the force it continues to cre­ate in the disability culture movement. The performances were filmed in 1990. No Apologies has won first place in the theater cat­egory at the Berkeley Video Festival 1994 and the “Bronze Apple” National Education Media Award Recipient 1995. The video is informative, political, and celebratory of the revolution of the dis­ability culture movement. 

This video is particularly important to fat women and the fat dyke community—fat women are a part of the disabled women’s community as disabled women are an important part of the fat women’s community. Non-disabled fat women need to understand the differences in accessibility issues for fat disabled women as well as non-fat disabled women. Fat issues and disability access issues are often pitted against each other-as if somehow demanding accessibility for one group will mean less accessibility for another. Fat people are often set up as the ones who can make a choice and change-we’re morally corrupt, out of control-and are set up in opposition to the disability community who should be “pitied” somehow as not fully capable and unable to make a choice. 

In No Apologies, Peni Hall states it well: 

“Part of how we are hurt as disabled people is the way we are treated around our bodies. How big they are, how small they are, how thin they are, what color they are, what shape they are, what we do with them, what we don’t do with them. And I think a lot of that oppression comes from doctors.” 

All of the performances in No Apologies are entertaining and hard hitting, the writing well crafted, performed by eight disabled women and one non-disabled woman. “Trail Mix,” powerfully per­formed by Pandoura Carpenter, attacks a presumptuous Doctor (played by Peni Hall) who tries to force the issue of dieting instead of communication and healing. Performer Jan Levine is eloquent in both her interview and performance of “Spastic Hands”. 

Three of the pieces also deal with sexuality—”She Says He Says” being about a lover’s desire for their lover’s disabled sexual body—a very hot and charged moment. “Crip Lovin” is a beautiful piece about the sex and sexual relationship between two disabled women, passionately performed by Patty Overland, “you cannot have this/they said/no one will want you/they said/we reach once again for hot sweet places.” The delicious and amazing perfor­mance by Sascha Bittner and voice interpreter Amy Gup of “Self Celebration” rocked me the most: “But I think that the relationship I have with myself is at least as important as the one I have with others/I’m always around when I need me/I’m a great date/and when I bring myself home and I take advantage of myself/I don’t feel taken advantage of…” Her timing and expres­sive eyes carry you to suggestive places. 

Wry Crips are continuing to do vitally important work in creating access—from stages to revolutionary ideas—in an unapologetic stance. 


Wry Crips, PO Box XXX, Oakland, CA 94620. (510) XXX-XXXX. Cost is sliding scale: $25-35 for individuals, $55 for institu­tions, plus $4 for shipping and handling.