The answer was so clear and obvious that it took one friend saying, “Dude, fuck it…just call it pink asterisk!”
Wheelock and his partner Dan Walk are the techie minds behind Pink Asterisk* that they say is a new and innovative approach to co-working for St. Louis.
“An asterisk is a wild card in computer language,” explains Wheelock. “You can substitute it for any strain of data so it implies boundless creativity. Our take on co-working is fluid. We’re not like Shell or Nebula where you rent this chair or this space or desk at 50 or 100 dollars a month. What we are is an Internet technology studio. So yes, we will provide you a space to work but what we’re really trying to do is generate creative synergy with other professionals.”
The result is a model that is not about making money on renting space but instead about trading services. Pink Asterisk* co-workers in effect contribute to the co-working community by accessing one another’s specialties to enhance their respected projects and by referring one another to other clients in an effort to build a working network of professionals.
“It’s a new way of working,” says Walk. “We’re not about renting a desk to someone and not having any other interaction with them. We really do want to become involved with what their trying to do and see what we can contribute to it. Our focus is to build a community of people who can work and survive in the economy since it’s tough right now for a lot of people.”
For Elise Taggart, a queer sexuality and gender therapist, co-working at Pink Asterisk* is more than just a space to counsel clients.
By partnering with Wheelock and Walk Elise can access their knowledge of Internet technology to provide virtual therapy via tele-video-communication along with access to secure email and data encryption.
“It is difficult to find a well educated, trained therapist who understands the lines of identity,” says Elise.
She explains that it is common for trans, queer and kink folk to have to teach their own therapists about the complexities of their sexual or gender identities or about non-vanilla sex and that counseling can be hard to find in rural areas outside of St. Louis or Kansas City.
Elise provides therapy in St. Louis but she also operates one day a week in Columbia. Her specialty is in queer, kink, trans and poly therapy where she says she works to erase the shame of sexuality or trauma in an individual’s life.
“We [as a culture] have shamed people who behave or act differently. I don’t pathologize. When I decided I wanted to be a sex therapist I wanted to help people to reclaim their sexuality.”
Elise admits that a lot of the technical jargon discussed with Walk and Wheelock, “…goes completely over my head!” but she says she can relate to their philosophy because much of it derives from shared values like radical inclusion and radical expression.
“Here Elise benefits by having access to the space at any time to ask us questions, schedule client appointment and having access to a secure network or a graphic designer,” says Wheelock.
He adds, “Co-working provides support and motivation so even if you are looking for a job you are more likely to find one if you are in a co-working space with other people. There is that peer-pressure to be more productive in the space.”
And that kids, is queer co-working in action.
Pink Asterisk* is open and looking to partner with other LGBTQ professionals and freelancers. You can find out more at:
BY: JOSHUA BARTON