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I'm Erin Judge. I'm a comedian and a writer. I live in Los Angeles. Let's hug.

August 11, 2016

Vow of Celibacy is OUT!

It's official: As of this week, Vow of Celibacy is OUT!

 "Out" is also the title of the last chapter of the book. I believe that we ALL have to come out as who we are, not just LGBT people. The great transition that happens between our mid-teens and full-fledged adulthood can be complicated and difficult to navigate, but two core components are figuring out who we are and what we want, and not being afraid to share that with the world.

Vow of Celibacy is a queer story and body-affirming story and a sex-positive story, but mostly it's a story about stepping out of the shadows and into the light.

I hope you enjoy it.

July 13, 2016

vow of celibacy

My debut novel Vow of Celibacy hits bookstores August 9th, and word on the street is that it is A) sexy, B) good, and C) sexy as hell.

"Gosh, that sounds great! How can I obtain a copy of this sexy, funny book and otherwise support its release?"

Wow, thanks for asking! Here are all the ways:


*not really

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Reviews & Blurbs
"Erin Judge’s compulsively readable debut is the rare novel that contains equal parts heart and wit. And yes, it’s sexy as hell, too.”
Maris Kreizman, author of Slaughterhouse 90210

“A smart, funny, and fast-paced book about sex, love, body image, and friendship.”

“Fat-positive, bi-affirming, clever, and fun, Vow of Celibacy is the beach read of your dreams.”
Lindsay King-Miller, and author of Ask A Queer Chick

"Erin Judge's Vow of Celibacy is a smart, witty coming-of-age tale starring a complex and courageous heroine who stays burned in your memory long after you put down the book. Natalie's bold adventures in self-discovery and desire are sometimes hilarious, sometimes unnerving, but always engrossing."
Heather Havrilesky, The Cut's "Ask Polly" and author of How to Be a Person in The World

“Like an updated and more grounded Perks of Being A Wallflower, Vow of Celibacy cuts to the bone. The struggle has never been more real, and no writer understands it better than Erin Judge. There is a dearth of literature with bisexual characters at the center—Vow of Celibacy stands out because it captures the experience honestly and in a way that is so relatable. Equal parts witty and devastating, Vow of Celibacy understands the struggle to find footing in this difficult world better than anything else currently on the shelves.”
Catie Disabato, author of The Ghost Network

"Vow of Celibacy is so funny and sexy and heartbreaking and joyous! I didn't feel like I was reading accounts of relationships as much as I was overhearing friends talk about the most vital and exciting parts of them."
Josh Gondelman, comedian, co-author of You Blew It & writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Read the synopsis & find out more about my publisher, Rare Bird Books, here!

...and thanks for everything!

April 23, 2016

late april

Yesterday I received a call from a friend in search of love advice. My friend was wondering how you know if the challenges in an otherwise good relationship are red flags, or if they're just normal stuff that can be worked out. I advised this friend to take a step back and first answer a few important questions: What do you want from relationships in general? Do you want to be in a long-term relationship? Do you want, someday, to build your own family?

Partnership is not simply long-term dating. It's a different thing, a bond that lives at the nexus of romance, friendship, and family. If it's done right, the strength of all three, and indeed of every variety of relation that can be created and cultivated - erotic, collaborative, advisory, artistic, collegial, intellectual - all grow indefinitely.

Well. Until death.

Inevitable. Mercurial. Sometimes reluctant. Often merciful. At times unfathomably cruel. Death.

My mother's partner died ten years ago today. They were never married. In fact, the idea that gay marriage would be legal in Texas by 2015 was pretty much unthinkable when they got together, back in the late 1980s. Nonetheless, the period of time leading up to Doreen's death, when Mom and I held vigil over her hospital bed in our living room, helped me understand what commitment means and what it is worth, why partnership and union and the joining of lives in adulthood are all so important.

I have a lot of love in my life. I am extremely lucky. I miss Doreen very much, and I wish she could've known me and my chosen family better in my adulthood. She was very young, not quite 44 years old when she died. We needed so much more time.

Yesterday, Patton Oswalt, a person I care about and respect immensely but have interacted with only via social media, lost his wife, the writer Michelle McNamara. From all accounts, her passing was very sudden. Patton is the kind of person who routinely pens pitch-perfect reactions to events in damn near real-time, even as they happen, from hilarious jokes to eloquent articulations of outrage to poignant tributes. He's as smart as he is sensitive. My whole heart goes out to him. I wish, in the wake of this awful tragedy, that I had gifts like his to offer.

Grief is literally crazy-making. You hear voices, see things, lose your mind a bit. Those effects last longer than you might expect, especially given the three meager days of bereavement "leave" most workplaces offer. It's awful.

And, while I don't have too many core beliefs, I know this thing for sure:

Love is worth it.

Love is worth the pain of loss. Love is bigger and love lasts longer than even the worst agony and heartbreak of death. Grief changes us, shapes us, pokes holes in us that never really get filled up again. But we would be nothing at all without love.

It's been an intense week. Prince is one of those people who I knew meant a lot to me but had no idea quite how much until he was suddenly gone, also far too young. Michelle McNamara's intense curiosity and keen intellect made her True Crime Diary project so compelling. She, too, had so much more art in her, so much more to tell us, so many more stones to turn and truths to reveal.

Today, where I sit, the sun is shining. Palm trees shimmer and whisper in the wind. My husband is on his way home from a week of backpacking, and my mother is off gallivanting around America on a road trip, celebrating her retirement and her pending relocation to Southern California. Our family is smaller than it should be. But we are happy, well, optimistic.

I remain very, very grateful for love, including all the love that still lives within me for the people I've known who have died. And I get to keep that love, to savor it, for my whole entire lucky life.

December 31, 2015

find your figurative desk

2015 is the year I bought a desk.

After writing and editing an entire novel in hotel rooms, friends' homes, Airs BnB, and my dining room table, I figured catch-as-catch-can was good enough. When we moved into our new home in California last December, I decided I'd be fine continuing to operate without a designated space for my artistic work.

Stand up comedy has certainly taught me to value no-fuss, low-overhead creativity. All you need is a mic! And a little lighting! Maybe a stool! Stools are optional! Even conjuring my friend and mentor Salome Gawkerton, Internet Feminist requires little more than a hair tie and a pair of broken sunglasses.

But, as 2015 rolled on, I found I wasn't making a whole lot of headway on my second book. That brilliant new pilot script remained confined within the squishiest regions of my grey matter. I re-designed my whole website, but I did so hunched over my tiny laptop keyboard while sitting in a dining chair. When November came around and my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas, the indignity I'd been steadily subjecting myself to boiled to the surface. "I think I need a desk," I began. "It's been pretty hard using the table," I admitted. I felt an upwelling of hyperbole in the pit my stomach, headed directly towards my vocal chords. "This situation is impossible!" I insisted, my voice trembling, at my poor agreeable spouse. He just stared at me, wide-eyed, as I leapt to my feet, rent my garments, and wailed: "I'm a FUCKING NOVELIST! And I don't even have my own GODDAMN DESK!"

Then I swept out and I took to my bed.

The day after Christmas, we visited every used furniture store in West LA, to no avail. We followed that up with a particularly depressing trip to the high-end Helms Complex, where I was silently mocked by $580 worth of Scandinavian particle board. Instead of pulling the trigger on an antique dinette table or a piece of children's furniture that costs more than my entire wardrobe, I turned to dear ol' Uncle Craigslist, and I found the perfect thing, just posted, down the street, for twenty bucks.

Over the past year, I've been adjusting, moving, changing, finding my way. That's what we do every year, of course, but I've spent 2015 navigating a new coast, a new job, a new schedule, a new life. I journaled and meditated and read Jung. My soul tends to tell me what it needs.

And, at the dawn of 2016, what my soul needs is a desk. The first person who has to take my art seriously is me. If I'm reluctant to invest time, resources, energy, and effort in my work, then everybody else will be too. And if I don't make the space, literal and metaphorical, for my creativity, nobody's going to do it for me.

So I encourage you to find your own metaphorical desk this year. It doesn't have to be big or fancy or expensive or Swedish. It just has to matter.

Happy Desk Year!

December 16, 2015

whites against white paranoia

white, prosperous, and real dang angry
During last night's debate, W. Kamau Bell inspired the hashtag #WhitesAgainstTrump, and I was happy to chime right in. I LOVE it when standing up for all that is right and not fascist is not only fun but SUPER EASY, and that's especially true when it involves sitting on my couch in my yoga pants with a glass of wine typing <140 characters! Hooray for me! I #hashtagged! I'm an activist!

In seriousness, it's always eye-opening for white people to see how non-white folks characterize us as a group, since we're this privileged class that gets to exist, often utterly oblivious as to our outward collective identity. But Kamau's call to whites to topple Trump made me think, and it made me realize that my state of disgusted alienation from Trump's supporters is actually a big (perhaps the biggest?) part of the problem.  

I gotta say, deep in my heart... I'm not just disgusted by Trump-supporting white people. I'm worried about them.

My grandmother watched the entire Republican convention in 2012. It was the television highlight of her year. My mother's partner's parents, who lived next door, watched Fox News all the time. Patton Oswalt has complained publicly about Fox News with a fervor that only those with loved ones in its grip can muster. Most white people I know have family members, even close family members, who live in that cognitive hellscape.

But how many of those white, solidly middle-class* people who have been watching Fox News for the past 15 years are sincerely happy? Do they feel safe, secure, comfortable? Did they under George W. Bush, or were they kept nice and terrified back then too? Roger Ailes and his ilk have poisoned countless minds with frightening falsehoods and imprisoned otherwise prosperous individuals in a psychological cage of intensifying hatred and paranoia. Paranoia is a fucking diagnostic criterion for mental illness. It is not a happy, healthy, positive, reality-based state to be in. 

So what we have is a bunch of people, many of them with respectable 401Ks and savings accounts, who can get brand new knees and guzzle Lipitor and live comfortably for decades, and they're miserable. They're angry all the time, they feel disenfranchised, and it's partly because the "information" they've been given 24 hours a day is utterly misaligned with the direction of our country. If the "information" Fox presents as true actually were true -- if climate change weren't real, if Iran were allowed to have nuclear weapons under Kerry's deal, if Syrian asylum-seekers were mostly radicalized ISIS loyalists entering the country unvetted by the hundreds of thousands -- then every decision the Obama administration has made would seem fucking insane. Seriously, try empathizing with that for a second. Millions of Americans' current psychological state -- paranoia and resentment and seething frustration and fear -- is actually, to some extent, the logical conclusion of all those lies.

Since the Iraq invasion I've been somewhat obsessed with questions of the nature of truth, about what people are inclined to believe, about confirmation bias and other ways our brains are "designed" to retain false beliefs. I try my damndest to remember that my own mind is a not crystal-clear chamber of logic and veracity either. 

My white family members (or high school acquaintances, etc.) who follow Trump think I'm naive AF. They think I've been brainwashed by college (you know, the one that those self-same family members were so determined to get me to). That's the assumption most of us #WhitesAgainstTrump are facing.

But those of us who have watched relatives get progressively angrier and more racist have first-hand knowledge of one thing, for damn sure:

Standing up for non-white non-Christian Americans is not something we must do solely for the benefit of those non-white non-Christian Americans. We need to do it for our families, for our disjointed communities, for sanity, for human happiness, for our own hearts and souls. And I'm ready to do more, not just by Tweeting into my personal echo chamber, but on stage, on the page, and in tough conversations with the people I encounter.

I want to say something about how I'll put my body on the line and fight, too, in the streets and in every way possible. But honestly, I don't know where to put it. I remember during the anti-globalization movement stuff back in 1999, a Civil Rights-era activist who spoke to my coalition explained (and I'm paraphrasing): "A movement doesn't consist of demonstrations. You have a march or a protest to demonstrate that there is a movement." 

So how do we build a movement to oppose Fox News, and other profiteers in the Big Paranoia concern? It's certainly a matter of interest to people on all sides of the political spectrum. But I'm against censorship, obviously, and I also don't think that MRE companies are gonna pull their ads any time soon. The prepper phenomenon illustrates that the paranoia industry is substantial. 

So what do we do? I welcome your suggestions. 

*I know there are many MANY thousands of broke, pain-pill-addicted, underemployed, traumatized veteran, and/or otherwise marginalized white people out there who also harbor these paranoid beliefs. And yes, I want to help them. In addition to supporting VA expansion, drug treatment programs, tax breaks for the poor instead of the rich, public education, and Medicaid expansion, I think fighting the Fox News agenda, in whatever law-abiding free-speech-affirming way we can, will help them too.

October 12, 2015

entitled to nothing

I wrote this in response to an LA Times humor column lambasting Millennials. The LA Times declined to publish it, so I'm sharing it here. Jessica and Ashley were two of the most popular names for girls in 1985.

Jessica: OMG did u see that piece about Millennials?

Ashley: which one LOL

Jessica: LOL

Jessica: This one's some LA Times guy

Jessica: Says we’re entitled to nothing

Jessica: Twice

Ashley: LOL yea my retired uncle posted it on my FB wall

Ashley: we sure do suck huh

Jessica: Yup! Total spoiled brats

Jessica: How r u?

Ashley: OK

Ashley: at work

Jessica: On Sat?

Ashley: yeah

Ashley: new retail gig

Ashley: my student loan payments went up again

Jessica: Wanna get coffee after work Mon?

Ashley: can’t

Ashley: gotta pick up Lily from daycare and give them most of my paycheck

Jessica: Dude.

Ashley: yeah it’s crazy

Ashley: fri?

Jessica: Nope

Jessica: We’re moving again

Jessica: 4th time in 5 years

Ashley: dang

Jessica: Yeah, wish we could get a house

Jessica: But there's no way

Ashley: I know

Ashley: cheapest thing in our neighborhood is like $700k

Ashley: how’s ur wife?

Jessica: She's alright

Jessica: Back home right now

Jessica: Her cousin is fighting charges from a #BlackLivesMatter protest

Jessica: Didn’t ur mom used to protest a lot?

Ashley: yeah against Vietnam

Ashley: she says movements today lack clear demands

Jessica: You mean like demilitarization of police departments? And a DOJ review of systemic abuse by police?

Ashley: LOL I know right?

Ashley: how’s ur bro?

Jessica: Not great

Jessica: Still drinking a lot

Jessica: Nightmares etc

Ashley: is the VA helping?

Jessica: Not enough...

Ashley: dude wtf????

Jessica: I know right?

Ashley: sucks

Ashley: sorry Jess gotta go

Ashley: break’s over

Ashley: miss u

Jessica: Miss u 2!

Jessica: Anything I can do 2 help?

Ashley: texting is nice

Ashley: lifts my spirits

Jessica: Ditto babe.

Ashley: will do

Jessica: Luv u!!

Ashley: luv u 2 xo

August 22, 2015

ashley madison as hell

I am in an open marriage. I am entirely, obnoxiously public about this fact. And various reactions to the Ashley Madison hack reveal a number of widespread misconceptions about the reality of marriage in America today that we urgently need to rectify.

Widespread Belief #1: Married Equals Monogamous

Here's a soundbite from every physical I've gotten since getting hitched:
Doctor: Okay, and you're married, so we don't need to do an STD screening.

What the fucking fuck America. Even if you do assume that my marital status means that I profess monogamy, why would any medical professional with access to the research presume that my marital status means I practice monogamy? Or that my partner practices monogamy, regardless of what s/he might tell me? Non-monogamy is growing as a lifestyle choice, and "infidelity" -- a word I loathe -- is both presently and historically widespread. Every married person in America needs to be screened routinely to maintain his or her physical health and fertility. This should be standard practice.

Widespread Belief #2: Non-Monogamous Relationships Make You A Pariah

Here's an excerpt from a commenter on Glenn Greenwald's reverse-scold piece on internet scolds and Ashley Madison:
My SO knows about my AM membership.... But because of this hack and the attitudes of people who are so locked into your very narrow line of thinking and lacking of so little empathy I will most likely end up loosing [sic] possibly friendships at work and in my personal life and most likely will have to find another job.
First of all, who the fuck is firing you over this? Do you work for the Archdiocese of Squaresville? Even if you do, and they do fire you, fuck 'em. Sue 'em. They're probably looking for an excuse to fire you anyway because they're still trying to cover the costs of the legal judgments they're paying out to all the little kids they abused. And if you're just talking about being so uncomfortable at work you decide to find another job so you can start over under a pseudonym at a place where you can pretend to be monogamous again, then your problem is you. If your friends don't support your perfectly reasonable choice to pursue sex outside of your marriage with a person who has become physically incapable of sex, with your spouse's permission, then your friends are narrow-minded fucking assholes.

Let me be clear: the closet is, very often (but obviously not always), a privilege. It's often a place where you pleasantly pretend to conform to the status quo while other people live out the consequences of the public scorn for the activities that you yourself consciously and repeatedly engage in. If you do drugs, you should talk about it publicly, and you should at the very least vote for the decriminalization of drugs, because there are Americans in prison right now for doing what you -- that is, what we -- routinely do.

Many of the think-pieces out there seek to differentiate the public hypocrites from the private hypocrites. By this line of thinking, Josh Duggar deserves what he gets because he shits on gay people, but some person who is in a consensual open marriage does not deserve to have her life "ruined" by this leak. But what are you standing by and tolerating as a condition of your special secret life? Have other coworkers of yours been fired for non-monogamy? Has your friend group shunned other people for engaging in consensual non-monogamy? If so, you're kind of a coward. You're letting others take hard falls for making the same choices you've made. That's a hypocrisy that I'm not going to cry too hard for you about.

Widespread Belief #3: Love Equals Monogamy Equals Love

The vast majority of the people on Ashley Madison, presumably, do not have consensual open relationships. They are cheating. But instead of feeling a collective schadenfreude at their exposure, maybe we should instead question our demonstrably false equation of sexual monogamy and marital love.

Sexuality is a drive. For most of us, it's a pretty gripping force. It motivates us to act against our better judgment at least a few times in our lives. And considering that our species is not monogamous, and that our sexual connections to our lifetime partners inevitably wax and wane and get out of sync, perhaps we should stop expecting 5+ decades of pair coupling as the general baseline.

If you love being monogamous, great. Go with that. Have fun. But the default setting is not ideal for many, many millions of Americans. If you're truly happy being with one person sexually forever, then you don't need to feel threatened by allowing space for others to do what feels best for them.

Here's a crazy idea: try telling the people you love the truth. Try being open and honest. Most people are actually pretty receptive to new ideas and alternative ways of constructing a life. Ask for permission rather than forgiveness. That takes courage. And courage is exactly what we need if we're going to dismantle the dehumanizing aspects of a social convention -- in this case, lifelong monogamous marriage -- that fails to work for far too many people.