Some Frequently Asked Questions
1.How Long does it take to do your makeup?
One of the most common answers to this is, "How long do I have?" On average, it takes a Sister about an hour to get into Habit, from shower to cab. Some Sisters can get ready in as little as 20 minutes, some need several hours.
2.Why do you mock nuns?
We are not mocking nuns, we are nuns. We are very dedicated to our calling and our vows reflect our commitment to our community. If you look at the work traditional nuns do, and then look at the work we do, you will find many similarities. They minister to their community. We minister to our community. They raise funds for the needy. We raise funds for the needy. They are educators. We are educators. See any significant differences? The list goes on and on...
When Mother Theresa took her convent to India, she and her Sisters started wearing saris so that they would fit in better in their new community. In a similar manner, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence dress in a manner that fits in with our community.
3.Aren't you all gay white men?
The original Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were exclusively gay male nuns. Over time, we have become more inclusive. Our members are men, women and transpeople; gay, straight and bisexual; Latino, Black, Asian and white. We believe that if you have a calling and are willing to do the work, you can be a Sister.
4.What do you believe in?
Although the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. is not a religious group, spiritual practices are welcomed and discussed. Many of our ceremonies (and even our name) can be traced back to the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, much of Roman Catholicism was "adapted" from much earlier "pagan" practices. Our ritual is also heavily tainted with goddess worship, transcendental meditation, radical fairy-ism and self-empowerment. Each Sister has her own belief system and spirituality.
If we were to pick a belief that all Sisters share, it would be found in the vows that we all take. Namely, we vow to promulgate universal joy, expiate stigmatic guilt and serve the community.
5.Do you dress like this all the time?
There are many of us who would love to devote our time to nothing but our Sistering. However, we do not have the deep pockets of the Church bankrolling our efforts. Many of us have full-time jobs that pay the bills and support our Sistering. Besides, can you imagine how horrible your skin would be if you left a pound of make up on it for ten or twelve hours every day?
6.Where do you get all your jewelry / make up / clothes?
Without giving away too many of our secrets, we shop in the same stores that most everyone else does. Many of us are on a budget, so we look for the best value for the lowest price. The base make up we wear is nothing more than simple clown white, available from most theatrical make up stores. None of the money that we raise goes to us getting our uniform (if you want to call it that), makeup or any of our accessories, that all comes out of our own pocket.
7.What does it take to become a Sister or a Guard?
Most often the Sisters are seen out having a good time, looking fabulous and enjoying ourselves. However, what is not often seen is the great deal of work that each Sister does. Similarly, we are often associated with fundraising. Although we do a lot of fundraising, that is not our mission and our work spans a lot of other areas.
In addition to fundraising, the work of a Sister also includes ministry, education and entertainment. We organize, plan and throw events, some of which are very large and complex. The Sisters regularly visit local hospices, bringing joy to the people there. We also have some very intense one-on-one sessions with the people we meet while out. Ours is a "ministry of presence". The Sisters frequently act as educators, lecturing to classrooms of students and informing the cute boy at the bar about the risks of unsafe sex. And if you've ever been to one of our bingo games or any other event that is hosted by the Sisters, you have seen us in our role as MC and hostess. Being a Sister requires a lot of different skills and an investment in time, energy and money.
In evaluating a potential new member, we look at a number of things. We look for drive, passion and commitment; a desire to perform community service; the ability to handle many tasks with grace; honesty and a genuine character; good people skills and the ability to interact with others in a meaningful way. However, having the drive and skills is not enough. The Order is made up of people who all must be able to work together smoothly and efficiently. We are far from perfect and, like any family, often have our misunderstandings. Despite that, we all work towards our common goals and often can make miracles happen. A new member must be able to mesh with the Order and should add to the group dynamic, not detract from it.
We are more than just another community service organization: we are Sisters. As with our more traditional counterparts, nearly all of us felt a genuine calling to do this work. There is room for a lot of fun in the Order, but we take our callings and our vows very seriously. The majority of Sisters consider this a lifelong vocation; the path may twist and turn, the outer manifestation may change, but the commitment to service never waivers. Being a Sister can be one of the most challenging and demanding things you can ever do but it also offers some rich and enlightening rewards.