Guest Recommendations: Sofiya Alexandra

Writer and comedian Sofiya Alexandra likes fancy tea, inspiring punk rock, and doing stuff that’s kinda dumb.

High Tea

If there’s anything I love as much as punk (see below), it’s high tea with delicious sandwiches and pastries. Sound sissy? Fuck you, it’s punk rock.

The first kick-ass thing about high tea is having food served in tiers. It makes me feel like a mothereffing BOSS or at least Kirsten Dunst in the Gang of Four-backed opening montage of “Marie Antoinette.” I like to mercilessly eat my way up many levels of tiny finger sandwiches, mini-quiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, mini-eclairs, pecan bars, fruit tarts, and tiny pies like an explorer plundering a native land. Just writing this makes me realize I would murder all of you reading right now to go and have high tea, possibly using your dead bodies as very lumpy and terrible chairs.

Illustration for The Bygone Bureau by Laurel Picklum

I also like going to tea houses in places I’m visiting. I just went to Coral Tree Tea House in San Diego, and it was excellent. It’s in a quaint Victorian on an Old Town street chock full of them. One even houses a synagogue, which somehow looks adorable and wrong at the same time. The tea house also has a ton of fascinators on the walls (those sweet-ass ridiculous bright feathery British hats), which are incredibly fun to wear if you’re a simple idiot like me. Also, when I looked up the Coral Tree Tea House website, I was very excited by the promise offered by a tab simply titled “Ghosts?” Pigging out in a haunted Victorian while wearing a big hat? THIS IS TRULY AMERICA LAND OF THE FREE

Piss Factory

My love affair with punk began in college, when I was away from home for the first time. I pierced my tongue, dyed my hair red, made some bondage pants, and never looked back. While pretending to know the bands my friends were talking about, I tried to learn as quickly as possible. I hungrily sought out and consumed punk at an alarming rate. I would go to the GWU computer lab at 3 am with my friend James, when it would be mostly deserted, and we would download and burn mix CDs 10 computers at a time, on a manic high from all the X, Minor Threat, Bikini Kill, and Sleater-Kinney we could find. This was when a lot of my musical tastes were formed: I knew I loved the pre-punk and early punk of the New York scene (Velvet Underground, Television, New York Dolls, Ramones, etc), I had amazing times seeing Fugazi and Crispus Attucks live, I found and wore out Crass and Black Flag records. I got a mohawk. I read Please Kill Me, still one of my two favorite books on punk, looked up every band in it, looked up who they were influenced by, opening up tunnels into the past I would get lost in. I got the T-Boz haircut. I was inspired by so many people carving out paths for their creativity where there were none, putting together their own tours, printing their own records, booking their own shows. DIY became a motto for my life, a tattoo on my ring finger, and amazing advice I would need later when I became a comedian and a writer. And if there’s a song that captures that spirit, the courage of carving your own path, the difficulty of it, the freedom and the audacity to believe in yourself outside the beaten path, it’s Patti Smith’s Piss Factory.

You can cry, it’s okay. But never forget that I had some pretty epic hair.

Random Acts of Idiocy

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who makes a living doing what you love, life is mostly doing things you have to do to be able to do the things you want to do. The things I have to do frequently suck the life out of me and make me into a joyless hag. So, at those times, I try to perform some random acts of idiocy to make myself happy. Here are a couple of those, feel free to put your own spin on them.

Sometimes my boyfriend and I are sitting on different parts of our couch and reading/writing something separately in a very intense manner. When I notice he’s not paying attention to me, I take my boob out (the one he can see when I’m in profile), and continue reading/writing. It may take him 20 minutes to notice it, which is torture, but when he does, it’s totally worth it.

Occasionally I’ll be walking on the street and I’ll see a couple I like, either because they were just fighting or because they look really in love. I like to catch up to them and say, “Hey you guys! I just wanted to tell you that you make a beautiful couple.” By the end they stop being weirded out by me just popping out at them and say ‘thank you’ and blush. As they walk away I sing at them, mostly “When a maaaaan loves a woooman…” but I switch it up. My voice is like a garbage disposal with a knife in it, so it’s very romantic, and they usually laugh and don’t call the cops except for that one time. SCREW YOU, AUSTIN, YOU NARC!

And finally, allow me to introduce you to Waterfalling, an activity I invented with my friend Dave. We go to a place with a juke box (in our case, Astro Burger), order food to go, and put in enough money to play TLC’s Waterfalls four times in a row. The beauty of Waterfalling is that people are really excited to hear that song, because it’s awesome, but then you get to watch them slowly begin to hate it as it continues to play, while you and Dave watch from outside and giggle. You have to leave by the third time though, because that’s when the bloodlust kicks in. People just start arguing in their booths and they don’t know why, couples break up, cops throw coffee in each other’s faces, and everyone starts looking for the guilty party. Our local Astro Burger has actually removed Waterfalls from their jukebox (true story, check it), but the great thing about Waterfalling is that you can do it with I’m So Excited, Rock Lobster, or Space Cowboy! Be creative! And may idiocy be with you, always.

Sofiya Alexandra is a writer and comedian who grew up in Odessa, Ukraine, and moved to LA at the age of 11. You can follow her on Twitter, and find show info on her website.