Self Defense

Lady Derringer

Lady Derringer

The last few weeks have been an emotional struggle for me. At least three members of our gay community have been assaulted. Several other friends let me know they were recently harassed for their sexual orientation.

Salt Lake City is supposed to be an oasis. It was recently ranked third among mid-sized cities for the prevalence of gay couples. In that regard, our city is a gay-friendly diamond in the sage-brush of the Great American West.

I was raised as a hick. And when a hick feels threatened, we turn to one simple solution. We pack heat. Following the attacks, my instincts told me that I need to get a bunch of sawed off shotguns and organize a little class on shooting from the hip. I expect the well-known pump action sound would be a very satisfying way to send any homophobic asshole running. And, since shotguns aren’t particularly portable, the Lady Derringer would be my first choice for a conceal piece, based more on style than function, of course. (As an aside, the Lady Derringer was originally called a “muff pistol” because the gentle ladies carried them in their hand-warming fashion accessories.) Sure, most Lady Derringers only have 2 shots before you reload, but as a friend points out, one warning shot in the air and then one, if needed, in the offender’s gut will take care of business pretty efficiently.

BUT WAIT! Sure, I was raised a hick but haven’t I grown beyond that? Ghandi and yoga and the Dali Llama and vegetarianism and saving the whales are MUCH more a part of my lifestyle today than red dot rifle scopes. I’m struggling to find peace between my inner cowgirl and my inner hippy. There is a war inside me. . . and I might have a solution.

A few years ago I began making an art/fashion line I called “Self Defense.” The concept was to design garments (not that kind of garments) that could double as a weapon. The idea is to look sexy and dangerous, but be able deliver on the promise, if needed, by backhanding someone with a bad ass glove or body slamming with a bra version of brass knuckles. I made the clothing from a wide variety of spent ammunition cartridges, washers, paint, glue, thread and industrial materials. I’ve also done a lot of research into the history of weapons. Even more than the weapons themselves, the different options for armor, holstering and concealing weapons grab my attention.

As I fight with my feelings about Utah’s recent outburst of homophobia, I’ve returned to making “Self Defense” fashion. I don’t want to give away my designs, because I plan to unveil my pieces at a show in January, but I’m making items that are easier to wear and a little more old fashioned and old west than the bullet bras, belts and gloves you may have seen around town.

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