EP 24

EP 24

In this episode, Ordinals discusses their involvement with Devil Mask Society and what community-driven, democratized rope education could look like. As a rope educator, their primary goal is to become obsolete, aspiring for a world where access to learning isn't for the privileged few. Their message? Visibility breeds possibility!

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Guest Bio

Ordinals (they/them) is a queer switch, rope cryptid, and the proprietor of Devil Mask Studios in Los Angeles. When not sharing lukewarm takes on podcasts, they co-lead Cell X, the Devil Mask Society's bottoming education program, and enjoy making absurdly complicated cocktails. You can find them on Instagram as ordinals_ and in the chat during DMS class livestreams.

Personal Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ordinals_/

Studio Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/devilmaskstudio/

Devil Mask Society: https://devilmasksociety.com/


Wicked Wren [00:00:14] Hello everyone, and welcome to the Shibary Study podcast. I'm your host Wicked Wren, and today I have on Ordinals they use they/them pronouns. They are queer switch. They're based out of L.A. They're an educator. They've been a part of the public (…) scene for about 15 years. They also produce Devil Mask Society, which Ordinals will get into this, but it's this really cool program where they teach rope from the ground up, essentially, and we're definitly going to get into that. Ordinals, thank you so much for being on.

Ordinals [00:00:45] Thank you. It's great to be here. I am such a huge fan of the podcast, of what Shibari Study has done to sort of further democratize rope education and sort of access to that thing, which feels very much in keeping with DMS as well, right? So I produce our tying stream, which Ojipan and Good Most Times are the teachers for that and then I co teach the bottoming cell with Good Most Times. And yeah, both of those are like very soup to nuts introductions to rope and all that curriculum is available online if folks want to check it out. Devilmasksociety.com.

Wicked Wren [00:01:20] I want to talk a bunch about this but earlier when we were getting set up for the podcast, I said that you run Devil Mask Society and you corrected me in saying that you produce it. What is the distinction there?

Ordinals [00:01:31] Oh yeah, I love that question. So Devil Mask Society is, I think, at its core, a group of folks who have sort of self affiliated/opted into membership of DMS broadly because we have really similar values around what community means, what accountability means, the kind of education and content that we want to make available to other people. We talk a lot in our house about the fact that if the cell programs produce people who tie and bottom just like us, that is a failure on our part as educators. So really about creating space for so many different perspectives. So all of that is to say, like Andrew, Melissa and I are all pretty actively involved in organizing things and producing things. And also there's no one boss or bosses of DMS. It's an anarchist collective, give or take.

Wicked Wren [00:02:31] It really is a true definition of the word community when you think about it, because it's meetings, it's consistent meetings as well.

Ordinals [00:02:38] Yeah, it is very, very oriented around, If you want a thing to happen, show up and do it. Or, Show up and ask for help. That is ultimately what it takes to be a part of DMS is like, show up, meet folks, do the thing. That is how low the bar for entry is.

Wicked Wren [00:02:57] Earlier you said, Our house. And I'd like to be clear that when you say, Our house, you literally live with the DMS crew.

Ordinals [00:03:06] Yes. So, Andrew Ojian, Melissa Good Most Times are my partners. We live in a house. We have two adorable black cats named Gogo and Didi, and we're actually fortunate enough to also have a couple of other DMS folks in the building. So we are four floors up from the bank and have our upstairs neighbors are part of DMS as well.

Wicked Wren [00:03:28] I love it.

Ordinals [00:03:29] We're taking over the building slowly but surely.

Wicked Wren [00:03:31] It's perfect. It's perfect.

Ordinals [00:03:33] Yeah.

Wicked Wren [00:03:34] To get a little bit more definition on DMS for folks that don't know about it, it is based in Los Angeles. And how long is the whole program?

Ordinals [00:03:44] So the tying cells are... The tying cells are about 18 months start to finish and the bottoming cells, about 12 months start to finish.

Wicked Wren [00:03:53] Okay. How long is a cell?

Ordinals [00:03:56] So each cell... So we use cell to describe the cohort of students going through the program. And it is generally ten-ish folks? Sometimes we will admit a few more, sometimes for whatever reason, folks need to drop out. And so those are folks who commit to meeting once a month, third Sunday of the month for 2 hours if you're on the tying cell and 3 hours if you're on the bottoming cell, and then whatever practice is necessary on top of that.

Wicked Wren [00:04:29] How or why is the bottoming cell an hour longer.

Ordinals [00:04:33] There is so much for us to talk about and go through is part of it. The other part of it is that a big part of what the bottoming cell does is we are trying to create a safer container for exploration and experience for folks who are learning. And because bottoming is... a higher context, higher risk activity than tying generally. Broader strokes, right? It's really important to us that those students have an opportunity to have a little bit more time in class to have those practical exercises together with those like guardrails of a class environment with the stunt tops that we've organized and then sort of like disperse and go back and do homework.

Wicked Wren [00:05:18] What is the first thing that you would do with a bottom?

Ordinals [00:05:23] I mean, I think that that answer has changed over the years. So I think our, our perspective is, and anyone who comes into that bottoming cell is ultimately already equipped to do that thing; they are already – you are already the bottom that you need to be.

Wicked Wren [00:05:41] I love it.

Ordinals [00:05:42] But it's about building the knowledge base and ultimately the confidence and communication skills to effectively take care of both yourself and the person or persons who are in that scene with you throughout that experience.

Wicked Wren [00:05:56] What an amazing change of the way I ask that. That was a really bad way of saying that like, [00:06:03]You're already the person you need to be when you come in. There's nothing you have to learn to be a good bottom or a bad bottom. [6.2s]

Ordinals [00:06:10] [00:06:10]Yeah, exactly. It is about helping folks take care of themselves and each other. I think that ultimately is like if there is a thesis for everything that I teach, it's that. [8.9s]

Wicked Wren [00:06:20] I love that. When did you get involved with DMS?

Ordinals [00:06:24] So I've been a part of DMS – I've lived in Los Angeles for... almost four years now? Three years, three and a half years? I moved in May of 2020, which was a bananas wild time to move anywhere.

Wicked Wren [00:06:38] Really good time to move.

Ordinals [00:06:40] Yeah. I drove across the country with Andrew and a car full of my stuff and so had been aware of DMS generally when I was living in Minneapolis, which is where I am from. I had folks or friends who would like produce events and they'll be like, Oh, like DMS might be watching the livestream, like we need to do a really good job, which is very funny to me now, both because... like DMS is not an official entity. Like, it's not like DMS is going to come and watch you. This is not like a Big Brother situation. But also because I now know so many of the folks who were involved in founding DMS and how I think that we all sort of have this sort of... I don't know, what we're doing is fundamentally a silly (…) hobby for a lot of us. And that's great.

Wicked Wren [00:07:31] Yeah. I took it really seriously in the beginning. And I look back at messages that I sent people and I cringe.

Ordinals [00:07:37] Exactly. Yep. 100% that.

Wicked Wren [00:07:40] That's kind of the arc that everybody's on, though, I think.

Ordinals [00:07:43] Yeah, I think um –

Wicked Wren [00:07:45] To cringe is to grow.

Ordinals [00:07:46] Exactly. And I think um – do not kill the part of you that is cringe, kill the part of you that cringes.

Wicked Wren [00:07:53] You know, I've actually been thinking about my relationship with the word cringe lately, and I realize that it's all just ego based, and I need to get rid of that. So it's funny you say that. It's been on my mind a lot lately.

Ordinals [00:08:09] I really feel like I bring a lot of that energy or like, camp counselor energy? And that's the thing I got some really complicated feelings about for a while, but I am sort of coming to fully embrace the like goobery enthusiasm that I have about the stuff that I love. That's just who I am. And I'm not, not going to apologize for that to myself or to others.

Wicked Wren [00:08:32] You shouldn't. There's no reason to.

Ordinals [00:08:34] Yeah, exactly.

Wicked Wren [00:08:35] Can you tell me how DMS works in an online setting?

Ordinals [00:08:39] Yes. So we have a Discord set up that is open to the public. If anyone wants to come and join, you just have to come on and like click the like, Yes, I've read these rules. I will be a decent human being. I understand this is a privilege and not a right. And so we have a couple of virtual events. We do quarterly steering meetings, which was for anyone who has questions about events, Hey, I want to try this thing, but I'm not sure. What a good space is for it. So trying to run, to conduct sort of like that business side of it as transparently as possible. And then Ojipan and I do a couple of monthly-ish events. So we do one Monday, it's just like... hang out, talk about rope. And one Monday is office hours. So if you've come to one of the cell programs, either if you're a student or you're watching the streams, you can hop on Discord and ask us questions and say like, You know, hey, you mentioned this thing or this wasn't super clear on camera. Can you walk me through that again? Which I really like.

Wicked Wren [00:09:42] Yeah, That's amazing. We will, I guess, try to drop the link to the Discord somewhere. That would be awesome. I think that's a really good thing that people should hear about. Earlier, you said that you've been in (…) for 15 years. Really long time. How have you changed throughout that journey? It's a long (…) time.

Ordinals [00:09:58] Oh, my God. I am yet another one of the high-femme power-bottom to non-binary trans-switch I find. Like that is, that is such a thing for folks like I think who are sort of my age cohort in (…), right?

Wicked Wren [00:10:18] Yeah, yeah.

Ordinals [00:10:19] And I mean, it's I think I am like (…) Methuselah. Like I am your great, great, great grandfather as far as like generations of rope go. Which is like both a blessing and a curse, right? In terms of having that longevity, having that context and remembering a lot of cycles of (…). But on the other hand, getting to see that change really is possible on a long enough timeline and seeing people like Fuoco, like Tifereth, driving like incredibly cool, innovative shifts in how we think about rope as a practice and how we think about our bodies as things that we engage with, that's like a sort of core to (…).

Wicked Wren [00:11:02] I really love that positive outlook on it. Rather than the opposite. I feel like a lot of it is really negative, but that was awesome. There has been positive change.

Ordinals [00:11:13] Things are so much better.

Wicked Wren [00:11:15] Yeah. You talked earlier about being non-binary, being queer, being a switch and all these things are kind of liminal. They all exist in this place. It's like a middle ground between stuff and it's hard to get footing.

Ordinals [00:11:28] Yeah, I think it is. I think of sort of my switchiness and my queerness and my gender all as sort of a... ultimately related. In that once you sort of, once you see any one sort of like check yes or no box, like once you realize that that's a false choice for any one category of your life, I think that that suddenly opting in to like other liminal, more squishy identities becomes incredibly more possible. And I think so much of it for me is like, I want to try all of the things, all of the ways with all of the people. Every other human is a mystery to me. I think that is part of why – oh man, we're going to get really (…) spicy. So this is one of my spiciest, spiciest of all takes. I think heterosexuality is a myth.

Wicked Wren [00:12:26] Okay, tell me about it.

Ordinals [00:12:29] I think [00:12:29]heterosexuality is a myth [0.9s] because core to heterosexuality is the belief that you can know the truth of someone's gender and or genitals based on like clocking them on the street. And that is, I believe, fundamentally not a thing that we can ever know or do.

Wicked Wren [00:12:48] Yeah.

Ordinals [00:12:50] So, yeah, that's my, that's my hot sexuality tape for your podcast.

Wicked Wren [00:12:54] Thank you so much. We really appreciate it here at Shibari Study.

Ordinals [00:12:56] You're welcome!

Wicked Wren [00:13:00] Well, off that thought – it's kind of funny because the biggest (…) of (…) are straight dudes. 100%. The people that care the most about the size of their (…), the idea of it – of someone else (…) their partner, whether it's like, you know, a (…) type of thing. It's straight dudes that like that.

Ordinals [00:13:20] And also the desire for... trans and gender, less normative bodies, right? And the ways that that sort of plays out in terms of certain political discussions, shall we say. And I think that this idea that if you want to have (…) experiences with a (…) that means something about who you are, about your masculinity, about your sexuality. I'm like, I don't know, man (…) are fun!

Wicked Wren [00:13:52] Yeah, there's a lot of (…) thoughts around (…) in general. The way people interact with women that have (…) is often extremely (…).

Ordinals [00:14:05] Yes. Well, and I would say also the presumption that the presence of a (…) makes a space innately less safe. That hits on something that I've been thinking about and talking about a lot with, with some friends recently, which is on a very fundamental level what is community. Are the things that we describe or call communities actually communities? And I think sort of coming to, at least for me, the [00:14:33]belief that community has to be an act of often choice. [4.8s] We can't declare that someone is in community with us or that X whatever is a community. And that's, I think when they like to bring it back to rope a little bit. I think of rope as something that is a shared practice. But I don't think that there is broadly a rope community as such.

Wicked Wren [00:14:59] Agreed. You're getting me on my community rant, but I essentially feel the same and that's why when you were talking about DMS, I feel that is a community, because it's people that have to opt in. And if you break one of the contracts of that community, cause harm, don't show up, etc. etc., etc., then you're removed from the community. There's repercussions for the community.

Ordinals [00:15:24] And I will say like we don't ban people which is... I don't know if that is a controversial position or not. We don't ban people but part of continuing to show up in our community and with us is the understanding that if harm has happened, if some sort of repair needs to occur. Like, there might be some uncomfortable conversations and every time you show up, we might have to have that challenging conversation. And so some people opt out because they like, you know, they're not interested in that thing. But for the people who do opt in and continue to show up and have those conversations and figure out how to find a path forward to not just sort of offer repair or restitution to the person or persons that they've injured, to the community, but also themselves. That is ultimately, I think, how we drive the world towards being a better place that is more in alignment with sort of all of our hopes and dreams. People, we're not cops, we don't treat each other like cops. And part of that means asking each other to be better.

Wicked Wren [00:16:35] Yeah. This is a topic that comes up a lot and if you just shun somebody and ban them, it's not like they're going to stop doing the activity. The best thing to do is to say like, Hey, come in and let's talk about it. This is a space where we can talk about these things and grow. Obviously, they're the exceptions. If you do something that I think 99% of people would deem very bad, then yeah, you should not come into the group. Yeah, but these are common sense things. Like these are not edge case scenarios.

Ordinals [00:17:08] Exactly. Yeah. 90 – I'm not going to attach a number to it because I feel like that way lies madness. But I do think that so frequently... Yeah. Ultimately, being asked to be compassionate and present and really treat that sort of friction as a source of potential growth and transparency is great. And I think I really – I feel like we are in alignment on this as well. Like, being told that you have hurt someone, being told that you have (…) in some way. Like, ultimately, that's a really deep expression of care, investment that someone believes, not only that you are a safe person to say, Hey, you (…) and hurt me or hurt someone else. But like, Hey, I believe that you can you can be better. I believe you can be more in alignment with our shared values. Right? Like, that's so cool.

Wicked Wren [00:18:00] I haven't thought about it like that. But you're right. No one would waste their time saying, Hey, this thing happened I didn't like it. If they didn't think that you could learn and stop harming, you know? That's a really good way of looking at that.

Ordinals [00:18:14] Yeah, that has made [00:18:15]receiving feedback for me much less scary in terms of thinking about like actually this is someone saying like, Yeah, I care about you. [9.6s] Hey, I love you. Hey, this relationship is important and valuable to me.

Wicked Wren [00:18:29] In DMS, do you all talk about communication between top and bottom? Because I feel like... I feel like the words we use are really important, and I think that it is hard for tops because all the feedback comes to them and it's at them and it's all generally the things that people didn't like, you know, not the stuff that's like, we skirt around all the things that are good because it doesn't matter. We only talk about the bad things and that's really (…) hard.

Ordinals [00:18:55] It is. And like part of my personal debriefing after a scene is to make sure to identify at least one thing that is like, Hell, yes. Emphatic thumbs up. Thanks for doing that. It really – it breaks my heart when I bottom, and I'm negotiating from that perspective, and the person who's going to tie me, or beat me up or certain activities here is surprised when I ask about what they might need for aftercare or what they might need for check ins afterwards.

Wicked Wren [00:19:25] Yeah.

Ordinals [00:19:26] That's – Oh. Downtown L.A.

Wicked Wren [00:19:30] Downtown L.A. We love it.

Ordinals [00:19:32] We love it. We love it. So, yes, I think about that sort of communication both within a scene and about a scene quite a bit and if there is a secret sauce to sell acts, which is our bottoming cell, it is that it's 12 months of practicing using your words to ask for the thing that you want and to spell out the things that you don't want.

Wicked Wren [00:19:59] You mentioned having some emphatic yeses, some big thumbs up at the end of scenes. What have the recent ones been for you? Just curious.

Ordinals [00:20:06] Oh, I love that question. So obviously this is like recency, recency influence on big emphatic yeses. And actually so I took that, this is a thing that I am now going to take and implement into the ways that I tie people, because I'm like a chaos gremlin who loves doing terrible things to people, but shifting the weight of – So if you've got like one leg in like a single-column half lifting the other leg up and draping it over to like really make that single-column hurt significantly more. Like, delightful and terrible. What else? Oh, so one of the hottest, like, enthusiastic consent check ins I've ever experienced was, Cool. I'm going to put your hand on my (…). As long as you keep touching me, I will keep (…) you.

Wicked Wren [00:21:04] Oh, that's great.

Ordinals [00:21:05] Which is great on so many levels.

Wicked Wren [00:21:07] That's so smart!

Ordinals [00:21:08] Right? I (…) love it.

Wicked Wren [00:21:10] That's so smart! I love that! Everyone, you can steal that for your own at home practice. But when you do it, make sure you think about the Shibari Study Podcast!

Ordinals [00:21:19] Yes, exactly.

Wicked Wren [00:21:20] How does it work? Because the three of you live together. I'm assuming that you play together.

Ordinals [00:21:26] Yes.

Wicked Wren [00:21:27] You proctor DMS together, which I'm sure is a lot of different things you all teach together. There's also life going on because you're life partners. How do you find time to play? What does that look like?

Ordinals [00:21:40] Part of it is, like, like so many non-monogamous people, we keep a pretty solid series of calendars.

Wicked Wren [00:21:48] You're the Google spreadsheet queers. I like it.

Ordinals [00:21:52] Yeah. Absolutely. I certainly am. So I mean, it can be as simple as like, I will throw a calendar invitation up that's like, Hey, let's do rope Sunday afternoon, let's try this thing out. And also part of it is, I think the other piece of it is you have to intentionally make time for that thing. Especially the stuff that fills your cup up? That keeps you excited about this thing as a practice, not just as sort of a resource for other people, which I think it can be really easy to, to fall into just focusing on the ways that you can be... I mean, certainly for me, a resource be useful, be of service to the community, and that is certainly complicated by the fact that none of us feel comfortable in summer 2023 playing without masks in a public dungeon. Which really limits the kinds of rope and the kinds of scenes, the kind of energy that we're going to bring to it. So saying,"Okay, we're going to do like cool flippy circus (…) at Threshold, which is our local club, but also like making sure that there's time for mushy, (…) connection rope at home where you can put things in someone's mouth, for example.

Wicked Wren [00:23:10] Do you like one or the other better?

Ordinals [00:23:12] There are so many things that you could be asking me to pick between here. So you mean flippy (…) and mushy, (…) rope?

Wicked Wren [00:23:19] Yeah.

Ordinals [00:23:21] I don't. And I think they feed very different parts of me. I love to be an expert. I love to be recognized for being very good at something, which is part of why teaching about bottoming is intrinsically satisfying for me. And like flippy (…) rope in public absolutely feeds that desire. Whereas that like (…), intimate rope is very much about connecting with these people that I love and feel comfortable being very vulnerable with. And especially like as a queer trans person right now. Like, it can be really (…) hard to connect with your body and your desire and really, really like be in the moment. And I feel, yeah, I don't know, really, really (…) fortunate to have, you know, not just one people, not just one person or two. Like, I have a number of partners for whom that feels, with whom that feels like not only possible, but like really easy to access a chance. Amazing.

Wicked Wren [00:24:28] It's really amazing that you've fostered that. Do you like to do the lovey mushy rope in public for people to see?

Ordinals [00:24:38] I do. And I, especially as a top. Especially as a top and especially tying partners who are men, are masked. Like folks who are outside of what we think of as being like pretty typically desirable rope bottoms. Like, it is very important to me to not just provide that experience to them because I love having that kind of connection and moment with them. But to offer that model to other folks as well? That like... Yes, I'm absolutely going to tie up this person who is like a dude and bigger than me and like, love the (…) out of him in that experience because that's yet another way to do rope.

Wicked Wren [00:25:23] Did you ever go through an arc where you were doing a lot of stuff for the public? Maybe it was taking photos and posting them or tying a lot in dungeons and stop doing that and doing it at home and wanted to just like be for you or something. Did you ever go through an arc like that?

Ordinals [00:25:40] Yeah. So there was, there was a period of time where I was almost exclusively tying when I was traveling with a good, good friend Hedwick who is now retired from, from teaching and generally from like rope and public (…) life. But like the vast majority of my rope was either, we were going to go teach an intensive somewhere or I was like prepping for that thing and getting ready for that. And I love so much of what came out of those years of my life. And also I came really close to burning out on rope altogether. Because I was not taking the time to sort of think about like, what do I find intrinsically enjoyable in this practice? Thinking a lot about what I was putting out and not so much about like what rope was. What, if anything, I was giving back to myself.

Wicked Wren [00:26:29] Yeah. This is kind of a boring question but I want to ask you it. What do you think about representation? Why is representation important? Do you have any thoughts on representation in general?

Ordinals [00:26:44] I do. I think I, if I have a [00:26:49]singular goal in teaching and in sort of creating educational content, it is to become obsolete. [6.4s] I would love to be obsolete. That is like my dream. And I think so much of that is a result of two things. One is that there are spaces that I sort of by virtue of who I am; I am white. I am financially stable. I read as like pretty able-bodied, regardless of sort of what's going on in the interiority of me. Like, all of those things mean that there are rooms that I can't or shouldn't be in. And so it is really important to make the knowledge that I have, make the knowledge that we, broadly as DMS, sort of collectively hold, available to people who can be in those spaces and who should be in those spaces. So I think that that is piece one. Piece two, is that it is really hard to know that something is possible if you haven't seen it before. And I think that that's the other piece of it and that maybe more than anything drives my like desire for obsolescence, as I would love for who I am and how I inhabit rope, especially as a bottom to be a total nonevent. I would love for that to be not politically radical in any way, but this is the world that we still live in, right? So...

Wicked Wren [00:28:21] Isn't that a weird thing?

Ordinals [00:28:23] It really is.

Wicked Wren [00:28:25] It's like everything you do is now a political statement. Everything you do is based on representation. Everything you do is like...

Ordinals [00:28:34] Like that is not a choice that we have the option of making. Like, by virtue of just showing up and who we are and how our bodies are politicized. Culturally. Socially. You are making a statement whether you want to or not.

Wicked Wren [00:28:51] Yeah.

Ordinals [00:28:52] I think of it almost as like the way that you are assumed to be, asked to be, just sort of by virtue of showing up like you are a mouthpiece for all trans people or like, all people of color. And that's (…) up. Like, let people be individuals.

Wicked Wren [00:29:11] Yeah, exactly. Like, I don't want to be a mouthpiece for everyone. I don't have to do that. That's like... And also, I'm not good at it. There are people that are specifically good at it and want to make that their life's work. It's not a thing you just do by existing. I also wanted to ask you, and this is kind of a weird thing, but you know the most about cheese out of anyone I've ever met my entire life.

Ordinals [00:29:33] I do. I [00:29:34]spent a pretty solid chunk of my twenties teaching people about fancy cheese and sort of gourmet food and pairings. [10.1s] Like I sold fancy cheese. I really miss it. I miss everything about that job except for the fact that it was my job, if that makes sense.

Wicked Wren [00:29:52] It does.

Ordinals [00:29:53] Yeah, that was like one of my first special interests and still a thing that I find just like so fun to talk about. And I've actually like incorporated it in (…) a little bit. Like I think that like cheese service and like sort of cheese board service is like a really underrated option, like option or avenue for providing service to someone.

Wicked Wren [00:30:15] You do a really good job at the bank. Like the spreads are always incredible; for people who don't know, Captain Daddy Sir runs The Bank. It's in downtown Los Angeles and there's these spreads of just like cheese and charcuterie and all this stuff. And you do a lot of it, it's absolutely incredible.

Ordinals [00:30:34] Thank you. I really feel like if – here's a free power move for, for anyone who is listening and really enjoys receiving service. Asking someone to put together a cheese board for you, but then asking them to assemble you like a bite from the board?

Wicked Wren [00:30:51] I love it.

Ordinals [00:30:52] Yeah. Yeah. Make me the perfect bite.

Wicked Wren [00:30:55] When – well, what is the perfect bite?

Ordinals [00:30:58] So I think for me like this is so contextual, right? So for me, it would be a cracker. You've got some kind of protein so like a slice of salami. Probably a harder cheese and then a garnish of some sort. So like, probably like a little bit of honey or a little bit of jam. So you've got like, sweet, salty, savory, fatty and crunchy.

Wicked Wren [00:31:19] Wow. When people come in and they want to buy a cheese and they're kind of splurging, it's a luxury item. It's a fun little thing. What do they say? Like, what do they – what is the first thing that they say? They're like, I want some cheese!

Ordinals [00:31:36] So I had this regular for... years and years. And he was one of my favorite people who came into the shop. He always came in like pretty close to closing and didn't have like a ton of money. But he really wanted like a little piece of something that felt fancy for him. And this is this is part of what I love so much about cheese and sort of more broadly food, is that there are ways to access that feeling of delight and pleasure across sort of an economic spectrum, across sort of an access spectrum. And so, so much of it was just like hanging out at the counter for 15 minutes, like tasting things, talking back and forth, like where are you feeling tonight? What's good for you? And like, he almost always got the same cheddar. But it was the process of getting to connect around this like really... lovely moment of totally optional opt in delight with each other. That was so perfect.

Wicked Wren [00:32:28] [00:32:28]Totally optional opt in delight. [1.4s] Phenomenal way to talk about cheese. Fancy cheese.

Ordinals [00:32:34] Thank you.

Wicked Wren [00:32:36] There is a point where I was thinking about selling wine. I think it would be really fun because it's everything you're describing. It has nothing to do with the wine, has everything to do with how you talk about it and stuff.

Ordinals [00:32:49] Yeah, and I think part of what I love about food and actually a thing that I love about many, many, many forms of rope and relating through (…) is that there isn't an objectively correct answer. There is just the thing that you like. Follow the thing that like lights up and puts those sparkles in your eye, whatever that is. Yeah. Find that.

Wicked Wren [00:33:12] On the scale 0 to 10 on the pretentious cheese scale. Where are you on the kind of pretentious?

Ordinals [00:33:21] I'm like a negative five.

Wicked Wren [00:33:23] Okay, got it. That's a really cool place to be, selling fun luxury cheese.

Ordinals [00:33:29] Absolutely. And that is, that is a conversation that I loved to have at the cheese counter, which is like, Hey, if you're making a hamburger, this like incredibly processed brick jalapeño cheese, like if you want something spicy, that's going to be like an incredible experience for you. I love a Kraft single grilled cheese. Like there's really – there is so much space for that in my heart right alongside like Alpage gruillère, which is like all the way on the other end of the spectrum in terms of like for your fancy. Yeah, all of it.

Wicked Wren [00:34:02] Did you find that a lot of people came in and they were trying to be a little bit cooler than what they were?

Ordinals [00:34:08] I think people would come in and I don't even know that it was trying to be cooler than they were. But there was a real reluctance to like, I guess maybe sort of coming full circle in our conversations, there was a real reluctance to be like a gooey, goofy goober about something that they found delightful and that – I love sort of having the time to drill down to like cool, Like what lights your pleasure centers at? Like what is, what is the thing that your body's like, Yes this thing, this is the thing that I want. And the only folks that I ever got like a little bit exasperated with were the people, almost always dudes who would come in with their girlfriend and she would say something, they'd be like, Oh, well, actually. And he was almost always wrong. So it's like the cherry on that sundae is like, That thing that you're correcting your girlfriend about is you're also fundamentally wrong.

Wicked Wren [00:35:04] I don't enjoy a well-actually-guy. One of my least favorite types of guy.

Ordinals [00:35:10] Correct. Absolutely agree.

Wicked Wren [00:35:12] I have one more cheese question. Do you know when you get cheddars, and they have little crunchy bits on them sometimes? What is that and why is it so good?

Ordinals [00:35:23] So that is a result of the way that amino acids break down as cheese ages. So they are – I want to say it is tyrosine specifically. And yeah, they are like little crunchy crystals. So if you ever see like someone cutting open like a giant wheel of parmesan and it looks almost like it's got polka dots. Same basic thing. That's those crystals. And those happen as cheese ages as it loses moisture.

Wicked Wren [00:35:50] If I wanted to find a cheese that has that, how would I do it?

Ordinals [00:35:54] So you're going to want to look for something that is aged. You're going to want to look for something that is... So like off the top of my head aged Manchego is great for it. Hmm.... aged  Pecorino so that is Italian sheep's milk. Manchego like aged Manchego is pretty good for it. But like Parmigiano Reggiano is like the king of delicious crunchy crystals. It's just like beautiful, savory candy.

Wicked Wren [00:36:22] Do you eat Parmigiano Reggiano alone often?

Ordinals [00:36:26] Yes, I will just like... I've got a wedge in the refrigerator and I will just break off a little chunk and just crunch on it like the little gremlin that I am.

Wicked Wren [00:36:35] What is your least favorite and most favorite cheese?

Ordinals [00:36:38] Oh, that's a great question. Least favorite... Like, this is not its fault. This is not the cheese's fault. Is like under-ripe Brie. It's just like so chalky and sad and doesn't really taste like anything. So that always feels like kind of a betrayal. And part of that is, you know, I'm not selling cheese professionally anymore. So like my ability to like just squeeze a wheel and be like, Yes, this is right, then I should eat it now, is like a little, a little bit off. My cheese senses are not as sharp as they used to be. Let's see, favorite... favorite is probably Alpage Gruillère, which I mentioned before. Which is... the best description that I've ever heard is that there are so few people producing this cheese in this way that it is a rounding error. It's statistically insignificant. Like, that's how few people there are. And so Gruillère, folks are probably familiar with, comes in these giant wheels that are like, I could not wrap my arms around the wheel made on the Swiss side of the Alps. Comté is made on the French side of the Alps. There was like a whole lawsuit about who gets to call their cheese Gruillère. The French are still pretty pissed about it. And so Alpage specifically means that the farmers have taken their cattle from these sort of low alpine pastures up into the mountains in the spring, and so they're grazing on this incredibly high mountain flowers and foliage, which is, because of the elevation, some of the most nutrient dense grazing pastures in the world. And part of what is so cool about alpage cheeses generally, and like this Gruillère specifically, is that it is different every year. Like, it is so much a product of the very specific time and place that it was made. Much – [00:38:41]actually, much like the way that a really good scene is a specific product of the people, time, and place that it's happening. [7.1s]

Wicked Wren [00:38:49] I love it. [00:38:49]Context is everything. [1.0s]

Ordinals [00:38:51] Context is everything.

Wicked Wren [00:38:52] I love how you brought cheese around to (.). Thank you so much for that. You really helped me out.

Ordinals [00:38:57] You are so welcome. Thrilled to do my part.

Wicked Wren [00:39:00] As we wrap it up, do you have anything else you want to talk about? Do you have anything else you want to plug? Anything coming up?

Ordinals [00:39:07] Uh, let's see. I think I've already plugged it, but devilmasksociety.com is where all of our curriculum is available for free. If folks want to take a look at it, if folks want to take that and do something with it. Please do. We stream our tying cells every third Sunday of the month. If you want to get notices for that, it's on our YouTube channel.

Wicked Wren [00:39:29] Oh, cool.

Ordinals [00:39:31] And we put notices up on the Discord channel as well. I'm sure we'll figure out a way to get a link to that in the show notes. Folks want to get in touch with me personally. I'm on FL as Ordinals and Instagram as Ordinals_ with an underscore after it.

Wicked Wren [00:39:47] I love it. Well, thank you so much for being on. I learned so much.

Ordinals [00:39:51] You're welcome. Thank you so much for having me. This has been a delight.


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