About Okelle

Self-portrait photograph of Frances Johnston, 1889-1910
A portrait of the artist as a young bohemian
Photo credit: Frances Johnston, on exhibit at Clio

Miss Ophelia Karen Elizabeth Laurel Lucia Emmett (commonly known as Okelle) was born into a prestigious Denver family fallen on hard times during the Great Depression of the 1970s. Due to the family’s lessened circumstances, Okelle was forced to sell matches and flowers on the streets of Denver after school during most of her formative years. She refers to this period of her life in her memoirs as the “burning flower” years.

After her mother attempted to sell her to a local brothel to pay off her mah-jong debts, Okelle absconded to San Franscisco with the family silver. There she made a name for herself among the buskers and street performers as Little Nell, the Singing Match Girl. Eventually she attracted the attention of a sociology professor from UC Berkeley, who recognized Miss Okelle’s as-yet-untapped intellectual prowess and groomed her for a scholarship position at the University. Okelle took advantage of the professor’s kindness and eventually earned an undergraduate degree in English literature from UC Berkeley before going on to study at Cambridge as a Rhodes Scholar. While at Cambridge, she met and married one of the descendants of the notorious Bloomsbury group and bore him a child whom they named Buttercup.

Poor little Buttercup met a terrible fate at the hands of a drunken lorry driver, and Okelle’s marriage was unable to sustain the tragic results. She returned to the United States alone and in mourning, but could no longer stand to live in San Francisco. “The memories haunted me,” she wrote in her memoirs. “And the sunshine and flowers mocked me. I required a climate and location appropriately gloomy and morose.” And so she moved to Boston.

Says Okelle, “I came for the gloomy atmosphere. I stay for the fine weather and cheap rents.”

Upon arrival in Boston, Okelle took a tutoring position at Miss Fontaine’s Academy for Naughty Schoolboys. Her pupils came to her dissolute, disrespectful, badly dressed, and prone to making egregious grammatical mistakes such as using “it’s” to signify possession. They emerged from her care well-groomed, well-written, well-spoken, and with a feeling of true well-being. Many of them went on to become Harvard professors, stay-at-home fathers of happy children, and CEOs of multinational corporations. One is now a United States Senator.

Eventually, Okelle tired of the thankless drudgery of education and set her cap to the world of high finance instead. With judicious use of investment capital donated by a grateful former pupil and an unforeseen acumen for stock picking, she made her first million at approximately the same time that the dot-com market collapsed. She then went on to invest in and redevelop foreclosed properties abandoned by now-destitute dot-com employees. Her various holding companies now own approximately 10% of real estate in the Boston metropolitan area, including valuable and attractive properties in Boston’s South End, Back Bay, and Ladder District (formerly the Combat Zone).

Once she had established an independent source of income, Okelle finally began to pursue her dream of creating an arts organization that focuses on the work of women, queers, people of color, lefties, liberals, radicals, feminists, freaks, punks, smartypants, documentarians, librarians, goths, costume designers, corset makers, seamstresses, accountants, stockbrokers, sex workers, tailors, candlemakers, sculptors, street performers, immigrants, bluebloods, redbloods, palefaces, painters, patriots, poets, veterans, comedians, dancers, doofuses, puppeteers, pushy broads, net neutrality activists, and other unsavory characters. The Circus, as it is affectionately known to denizens of the Boston metro area, operates under the principal that creative expression is a natural state of being for all people. It offers websites, books, workshops, classes, performances, shows, and other vehicles that feature artists who might have received a frosty reception from other, more established arts organizations.

Okelle contributes generously to many charities and social justice organizations, including the UUA, Marriage Equality, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Nature Conservancy, and the One Laptop Per Child Foundation. In addition to supervising the minions who keep her real estate and financial empire running, she conducts workshops at The Circus, edits the quarterly Three Ring Review, and writes poetry, fiction, and memoir of her own. In her spare time she enjoys growing prizewinning irises, sailing, and cooking wholesome meals for her tribe of blood relatives and adopted family members.

Additional Facts about Okelle

  • The correct pronunciation for Okelle is Oh-KELL-ee.
  • Okelle does not play the tuba.
  • Okelle is a Capricorn, Virgo rising. Her midheaven is in Gemini, which makes her a sucker for astrology.
  • Okelle can do one hell of a Tarot reading.
  • Okelle believes that technology is another form of the occult, since the etymological origin of the word “occult” translates as “hidden” and nothing is more hidden and arcane than certain kinds of technology.
  • Okelle likes to dance naked on the embers of correspondence that bores her. You really don’t want to know what she does with spam.
  • Okelle’s favorite flowers are irises. But she is thrifty and usually buys carnations because they last longer. And are cheerful and smell good.
  • Okelle’s favorite food is chocolate. She should never, however, be allowed to eat it.
  • Okelle has an Amazon.com wishlist. If you buy her something from it, she will jump up and down and squee.
  • Okelle has a penchant for writing erroneous biographical notes about herself.
  • Okelle should not be operated while impaired.
  • Avoid contact with electrical conduits while operating Okelle.
  • Do not throw or puncture Okelle.
  • Do not feed Okelle after midnight.
  • Okelle used to call herself a lesbian-identified bisexual These days she prefers the term “ball-busting bitch.”
  • Okelle once said “men are brutal, but women are vicious.”
  • Okelle does not want to sleep with you, your girlfriend, or your girlfriend while you watch. Probably.
  • Okelle has a wonderful domestic partner named Army Guy. She’s just dykey enough for him.
  • Okelle still believes in the validity of domestic partnerships, even though it’s not fashionable now that same-sex marriage is legal
  • Don’t ever, ever, try to fuck with Okelle’s parking spot.

See also:


About the Gardener

One Reply to “About Okelle”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: