Order of Profession – Sisters
- Sister Kali Vagilistic X.P. Aladocious
- Sister Hecate
- Sister Amanda Reckinwith
- Sister Pollyanal Buttercup
- Sister Milk-A-Lotta Cummings
- Sister Skagnolia Thunderpussy
- Sister Epiphany-Marie Laveau
- Sister Mary Drama Penelope OverHymn
- Sister Samoa CrackaToa
- Friar Stogie
- Sister Harley Giggles
- Sister Ghana Maria
- Sister Nora Torious 13
- Sister Clemmidia Burns
- Sister Evelyn Tensions
- Sister Ashley Wednesday
- Sister Freeda Sole
- Sister Pixie Dust
- Sister Ida Know
- Sister Indica Sativa
- Sister Bianca Tempt
- Sister Raven Lunatic
- Sister Anna Wanda Mei
- Sister Atta Van Haldol
- Sister Mary Queen of Shots
- Sister Livia Lyfe
- Sister Renee Zonce
Order of Profession – Guards
The Asylum of the Tortured Heart
On Saturday evening, 23 April 2005, folks who came to be the initial Founders of the Asylum worked together with the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in an event called “The [Last] Passion of Adam” as a send-off for the then-current Mr San Diego Leather Adam Latham on his journey to IML. The next day, a few of the LA Sisters met for what The Asylum would later call “The Last Supper”. Fourteen San Diegans joined Sisters Candy Cide, Unity, Tragedy-Ann and Erotica to chat about the start of an SPI Order in San Diego.
Ever since that day, the San Diego Sisters have devoted themselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. The Sisters believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.
Founded in 2005, the Asylum of the Tortured Heart, Inc., or the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization composed of men and women dedicated to the support, education and development of the diverse communities of San Diego.
The Artist’s Perspective by Dennis Wymbs…
Daily, we are confronted with the paradox of truth being an illusion and our illusions prescribing our truth. Mark Twain once said that we see in a picture whatever we bring, especially when we stand between it (our perceptions) and the mirror of our imagination (that which is possible). The design and execution of the stained glass piece I have called “Sistah, Sistah” was my attempt to capture that facet of the human condition.
The design began with the need to portray the duality and ambiguity of who we truly are and how it is that we choose to be perceived, both within and outside our community. For that purpose what better vehicle could be chosen than the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? From her inception, “Sistah, Sistah” was intended to invite the viewer to look into a portrait that mirrors aspects of our own sense of self, our perceptions, our illusions, and our delusions—all of which shape what is “true” for us.
I have chosen to portray that juxtaposition of truth and illusion deliberately in glass, which too can cut, crack, craze and shatter. We tend to lead our lives based upon those illusions we create about ourselves. Our lives are often directed by social “truths” that have been created by others for and about us. Stained glass, like us and our perceptions, changes with viewer, placement, time of day and season. It is the intention of this stained glass piece to take the viewer into, through, and beyond what often seems to be quite disparate worlds.
The glass chosen for this piece is accordingly of two types: “opalescent glass” (which is a mixture of two or more colors with streaks and swirls) and “iridescent glass” (which requires the addition of a metallic finish to produce a reflective, distinctively rainbow quality). The former was used to suggest the blending and sometimes the tumult within the community. The latter suggests our diversity. Most importantly, the reflective quality of iridescent glass encourages the individual to look at himself as both viewer and participant—to reflect upon his own definition of self.
The specific colors for this piece were also chosen to address the “Judas kiss” of man. What is the role–what are the limitations–of the individual in a world of prescribed social expectations? The duplicity of color association was a major player in the design and execution of this piece. Crimson was used for the background of “Sistah, Sistah” to suggest the blood of sacrifice that leads to birth, yet at the same time it is associated with sin and immorality. The double meaning associated with purple and blue were utilized in the habit. Blue, a tranquil color–filled with heavenly, religious symbolism—is also historically associated with earthly idolatry and whoredom. While purple connotes righteousness and majesty, it also suggests mockery of authority and social separation. Black carries with it the harshest of social significance…sorrow, sin, disease and death. It is also associated with authority and power. Purity, symbolized by the color white, is the most difficult to maintain. On an ethereal plane white suggests innocence, beauty, and eventual salvation. Its frailty, however, is fraught with the stains that make us human. Appropriately only variations of white are used on the “face” of things and only for trimming.
As a metaphor, the actual portrayal of “Sistah, Sistah” begs a dialogue between the masculine/feminine, physical/spiritual, decadent/holy, and the socially revered/socially reviled qualities we each possess. This co-existence of vices and virtues permeates the piece. The silk veil and partial habit of the “should-be” female is juxtaposed against a bare muscular chest and suggestive nipple. A gossamer corset is worn with a leather jock. Pious hands held high in prayer are contrasted with temptations of the flesh suggested by bared legs, stockings, and garter. Gloves seem to hide dark secrets and still offer absolution. A ring–suggestive of sacred office–concurrently smacks of both saint and philistine. The other-worldliness of the nun is flaunted by the exaggerated eyelashes, makeup, and jewels of this world. “Sistah, Sistah” is not kneeling submissively or contritely, but is seated and seductive. The viewer is uncertain whether her voice is raised in hosannas to Jesus, the Christ–her salvation–or to Jesus, the man, who led her into temptation. Finally, the scene chosen is suggestive of both a back room and a chapel. In the background a cross blurs the line between pain and deliverance from evil and pleasure and deliverance trough pain. It begs the question of whether life everlasting and life ever-lusting are mutually exclusive.
The current ideological climate of righteous indignation has attempted to prescribe limitations and impossibilities. “Sistah, Sistah” looks back at us peacefully–without acrimony–and grants all absolution. While asking us to question our perceptions, she proposes to us an alternative–that which is without limit and is indeed possible.
I want to thank and acknowledge The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for all their community work and specifically for providing us with a visual reminder of tolerance, acceptance, joy and love.
Special appreciation is given to Sister Pollyanal Buttercup and Sister Clemmidia Burns for hours of conversation in preparation of this piece and their support of this artist.
The stained glass piece by Dennis Wymbs called “Sistah, Sistah” (2007) is dedicated to The Asylum of the Tortured Heart—San Diego.