Judith Masur

I first saw Judy in that Fat Chance performance at Skylight studio in 1979. I was there in clown, as Prosciutto, selling Mom’s cheesecake with my then lover Sara (as Mabel) and hawking the very first edition (of 4) of Big Woman Notecards. I was blown away by the performances – both the physicality of the trapezes and, yes, handstand/backflips, and the depth of the personal stories that tied them all together. I immediately wanted to be part of telling the story of growing up and living fat in our American fat-hating society. In those days I had been working with Mothertongue doing readers theater and I approached Judy after the show and told her I thought I could help in creating a readers theater around fat oppression/fat liberation. What followed was Fat Lip Readers Theater, ten first-born fat women, nine lesbians and one confirmed bisexual.

We wrote every week for a year and then launched ourselves, some kicking and screaming, into performance. How great it was to send out that message from the stage. Judy was the foremother and we were the messengers. She was exasperating and inspiring, a fierce advocate and critic all at once. Many’s the time we quarreled and came again to an understanding based on principles and a common desire to fight for a just outcome and to care for each other.

I used her as the body model for my FAT POWER t-shirt and so she remained with me even years after I left the Bay Area for the southwest with my partner Jess, who died in 1998. Big Woman Notecards grew to 26 cards, Fat Liberation touched millions of lives, and Prosciutto still wears that t-shirt, 13 SF and 12 Santa Fe Pride parades later. I honor Judy for what she gave us all.

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