Makeshift Society

What started as a simple window display for Makeshift Society in San Francisco snowballed into the creation of a series of short stories about a society of daring, highly capable women called the Adventure & Sleuthing Society (A.S.S.). The installation featured an enormous Mad Lib as well as a booklet of additional fill-in-the-blank stories, produced in-house on an EZ Risograph printer.




Guts & Glory

project type


The Crew

Sergeant Sparks
After earning her stripes and mettle as a soldier of the Universal Liberation Army, Sergeant Sparks was released from service due to excessive enthusiasm in the face of certain death and a crippling ingrown toenail. The latter was removed, and the former welcomed by the Adventure & Sleuthing Society. Sparks has a weakness for sandwiches, open-faced or otherwise, and is a passionate kazoo collector.
Professor Zagora
Raised by wolves in the wilds of western Hippitia, Professor Zagora cultivated a love for insects and a disdain for haircuts at a young age. Though she claims she learned more from her furry friends than she ever did at any human university, she went on to earn her PhD in cartography. She consumes nothing but cayenne-infused lemon water and raw meat in order to maintain the sanctity of her body-temple.
Dee got her first taste of flight at a young age. From zeppelins to submarines, flying saucers to steam engines, she can handle any vehicle with grace. She was knighted by the royal family of Pagentia for her bravery and skill with a hang-glider after rescuing the Archduke of the March from a pack of hungry paparazzi. When she’s not tinkering with her latest combustion engine or defying death with the Adventure & Sleuthing Society, Dee enjoys listening to Puccini and sipping a vintage Macallan 64 neat.
Dr. Mallomar
Earning her first college acceptance letter at the age of 6, Dr. Mallomar was a child prodigy who has studied all over the world. She received her first PhD by age twelve and continues to collect doctorates and masters degrees as a hobby. Prolific as an author, Dr. Mallomar has an entire library of books exclusively written by her. Though she amassed an immense fortune as a professional pole-dancer in her youth and earns royalties through her writing, she continues to struggle to pay her student loans. The Adventure & Sleuthing Society values Dr. Mallomar for her level-headedness, immeasurable smarts, and Hammer pant collection.
Born to a pair of B-list celebrities in the jungles of Hollywood, Janet discovered her love for photography at a young age. While studying with the Mentalists of Archivia, she developed her “memory palace” and loves strolling through its corridors to relive her past in excruciating detail. She is head curator of the Museum of Vintage Lesbian Pulp. Though she considers herself a polyamorist, she has vowed to throw it all away for a life of monogamy with Dr. Mallomar.
Clio Flamingo
Clio comes from a long line of mediums, all of whom had perfected the art of surreptitiously cracking their knuckles and storing homemade ectoplasm in their cheeks. Her parents were shocked to discovered she was the real deal, and used her to dominate casinos throughout the multiverse until she was old enough to strike out on her own. After losing her way in the legendary Poppy Forest of Somnira, Clio contracted a nasty case of narcolepsy, ending her gambling career but strengthening her psychic abilities. The Adventure & Sleuthing Society consults her on everything from investing in the stock market to which socks to wear.
The first tunnel Riley ever explored was an extra long sleeping bag, and that was enough for her to realize her love for spelunking. No matter the size or the danger, if it’s dark and confined, she’ll at least stick a finger in it. Her experience as an amateur paramedic has saved her time and time again from crippling rockslides and poisonous insects, though ever since she was bitten by a fearsome speculating spider (Fortuna aranea), Riley has struggled with an addiction to gambling. Luckily, she always breaks even. In her spare time, she enjoys sculpting life-sized replicas of celebrities out of butter.
Hacking comes as naturally to Petunia as breathing, probably because her father, an experimental bioelectrician, upgraded half of her brain with a 650 terabyte hard drive and an Intel 60-core processor. When she’s not hacking the networks of shadow governments or installing updates, Petunia runs a successful artisanal cotton candy business. She’s also an Olympic pole vaulter.

Love Vortex Gone Awry

Dee gave the hot air balloon a bit more gas, sending the team just above a pair of cloud beasts drifting along, slow as giant manatees. The larger of the two creatures began to twirl itself around the other. “Janet, are the cameras rolling?” Dr. Mallomar asked. “It looks like they’re mating. No one has ever captured the sex act of Cumulus theriae on film before!”
“Rolling, Dr. Mallomar! This footage is amazing,” Janet said, panning the camera along the puffy beasts. “Look at that color!” Shifting from shades of gray to deep purples and hints of pink along the edges, it looked as though they had swallowed a sunset.
One of the beasts began to rumble and a sudden gust of wind sent Dr. Mallomar’s Hammer pants flapping. “That’s the female!” Dr. Mallomar cried. “Isn’t she beautiful? Look, she appears to be mounting the male.” The two beasts spiralled lower and lower into the atmosphere. As they spun together the wind picked up, and the rumbling grew louder.
Dee hit the balloon with another shot of gas, but they seemed to be sinking through the sky at an alarming rate. “Dr. Mallomar? I think they’re making a vortex. We’ve got to lose weight, or we’re going straight into that hot, humping mess.” She kept the burners roaring. “Janet, throw out your camera!”
“No, Janet! Keep rolling,” Dr. Mallomar commanded. “Can’t we toss something else? What about the champagne?”
“Are you kidding me? This is an incredibly rare Krug Private Cuvee, a 1928 vintage given to me by Queen Elizabeth! There’s no way we’re tossing this.”
“We’ve got to toss something!” Janet shouted, but it was too late. Suddenly the basket flipped and everything went flying into the purple abyss: Janet, Dr. Mallomar, and Dee as well as 12 bottles of champagne and a cooler full of brie.
“Stay together!” Janet yelled. Dee grabbed her hand and stretched for Dr. Mallomar, who was struggling to remove her pants.
“Dr. Mallomar, this is no time to show us your pole-dancing routine!” Dee said. The next thing she knew Dr. Mallomar had her by the hand and Janet had grabbed one of the doctor’s naked legs. The cloud beast love vortex was above them now, and the ground was approaching fast.
“Do something!” Janet screamed. She wasn’t ready to die, but if the last thing she ever saw was Dr. Mallomar’s rhinestone studded thong she couldn’t complain too much.
With a jolt they were all parachuting toward the ground using the doctor’s houndstooth Hammer pants. “Don’t tell me you ladies were worried,” Dr. Mallomar said. “You know you can’t touch this.”

The Case of the Stolen Sub

“Again?” Sergeant Sparks said incredulously. “This is the fifth time someone’s stolen my sandwich!” She threw her empty plate across the mess hall, fuming. The team had been 1000 feet below the surface of the Haystack Ocean for months and tensions were running high. A series of disappearances of the two-breaded kind had distracted from their mission to clean up a dangerous needle spill. As the president of The Sandwich Club, Sparks had been leading the witch hunt. “Nobody leaves this room until somebody fesses up.” She walked slowly around the four women sitting at the table, glaring at them.
Janet looked up from her tattered copy of Two Girls: Clam Sandwich. “Wasn’t me. I’m deeply engrossed.”
Riley sighed and put down her cards. She, Petunia, and Professor Zagora were in the middle of a serious game of gin rummy. “Are you sure you didn’t just misplace it?”
“Yeah, why would any of us bother stealing it?” Petunia asked, looking up at Sparks. “There’s plenty for everyone in the mess hall.”
Sparks slammed a fist on the table and the stack of cards went flying. “Somebody took it! I don’t know who, and I don’t know why, but I intend to find out.” She paced back and forth,  hands clasped behind her back. “We have a serial thief on our hands, some sort of kleptomaniac. You realize that if we don’t find this villain, it could mean the end of our sandwich supply, right? Because she’s not going to stop, not until she’s gotten her grubby hands on every last sub on this sub. I for one don’t want to spend the next six months living on dust bunnies and bubble gum.”
“Well, it certainly wasn’t me,” Professor Zagora said, tossing her massive head of hair. Sparks could barely see her face through the perm gone wrong. Her hair curled in all directions, thick as the darkest of rainforests and impossible to tame. “I’m on a cleanse, and those sandwiches are chock full of toxins.” She lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, blowing smoke through her nostrils.
Janet rolled her eyes. “Come on, Sarge. Aren’t you taking this a little too far?”
“Damn right this has gone too far!” Sparks said. “I’m going to get to the bottom of this, with or without your help.” She marched out of the room, slamming the metal hatch behind her.
Riley shrugged and began gathering up the scattered cards. “Another match, ladies? Double or nothing.” Janet returned to her novel, sipping from a chilled vodka tonic.
Before long Sergeant Sparks was back, this time with Clio Flamingo in tow. With bleary eyes and disheveled robes, Clio sat down at the table and yawned. “What is it, Sparky dear? I was in the middle of my morning psychic yoga session.”
“We have a serial sandwich-napper on our hands and one of these ladies did it. I need you to help me figure out which of them is lying.”
Clio looked at each of her fellow adventurers in turn. “Did you do it, Petunia?” Petunia shook her head. “How about you, Riley? Professor Zagora? Janet?”
“Absolutely not.”
“Well, Sparky, it looks like none of them did it.” Clio smiled faintly. “I’ll get you a new sandwich from the hold, how about that?”
Sergeant Sparks flung herself on the bench, holding her head in both hands. She looked on the verge of tears. “I just want the one I had,” she whispered.
Clio sighed and patted the sergeant on the shoulder. “There, there,” she said. “Let me see what I can see.” She put her fingertips to her temples and closed her eyes, sending psychic vibrations throughout the vessel for irregularities. “How strange. I sense a seventh living being in this room.”
“Where?” Sergeant Sparks demanded as she crawled under the table, searching all crevices small and large for the mysterious seventh soul. “You can’t hide forever, you rotten thief!” She lifted up everyone’s feet but found only dust. “All right, ladies. Strip search!”
Janet was first out of her clothes. The others followed, reluctantly. “Come on, Sarge. Hurry up so we can get back to our game,” Riley said.
“Oh, this isn’t so bad. Celebrate your natural forms!” Janet said. No one else seemed to share her enthusiasm.
Clio yawned and suddenly her head was on the table. Ever since she’d wandered through the Poppy Forest, narcolepsy had been a ongoing problem.
Sparks carefully inspected each article of clothing, running her fingers over every seam and stitch, turning out pockets and pulling out shoulder pads.
“I just don’t understand it!” Sparks finally cried, banging her fists on the table so hard that Janet’s drink went sailing through the air, landing upside down on the professor’s perm. Clio woke with a start.
Professor Zagora screamed. As the vodka tonic trickled through her tangled locks, they heard a high-pitched chittering. A bright pink blur shot out from the professor’s enormous hair and landed on the table.
“Holy A-cup titties, Sparks! What was that?” Janet exclaimed.
Sitting before them was a chubby pink squirrel with a puffy tail, holding a slightly soggy (but still perfectly good) sandwich. The squirrel scurried over to Sergeant Sparks and offered up the sub as a sign of apology.
Clio put an arm around the sergeant and smiled. “Looks like you’ve got a new member of your sandwich club. Luckily we’ve got plenty of sandwiches for everyone, even our new furry friend,” she said.
Sergeant Sparks sighed. “Aw, nuts.”

Lovesick Over Obsession

After receiving reports of unbridled affection running rampant in the city of Amopolis, Dr. Mallomar, Petunia, Clio Flamingo, and Professor Zagora skirted the city in a surveillance van. Petunia hunched over a keyboard, typing furiously. “Just about got it,” she said.
The monitors flickered to life with grayscale video pulled from security cameras throughout the city. “Fantastic work, Petunia,” Dr. Mallomar said, leaning in for a better look at the grainy footage. People of all shapes and sizes in various stages of embrace and undress filled each screen. “It looks like quite the love fest out there. Reminds me of Havana back in ‘26. Wait, why are we here, again? I don’t see a problem, do you ladies?”
“Not at all,” Clio said, fingertips massaging her temples. “The city is wrapped in a great bubble of peace and fulfilment.”
Professor Zagora sighed and hit the brakes. “Dr. Mallomar, the city has come to a complete standstill. With all the businesses closed, who knows what the economic ramifications will be throughout the rest of the country? And worst of all, no one is eating or sleeping. Before long we’ll have a city of ghosts on our hands. What if it spreads?”
“Going out in a burst of love isn’t such a bad way to die, but you’re right, Professor. We can’t let these petites mortes become a grande mort.” She lightly squeezed Clio’s shoulder. “Clio, we need more information. Can you tell us what’s causing this indiscriminate love bubble?”
Clio adjusted her jeweled headpiece. “Certainly, but it will not be easy. I must enter a lovesick mind.” She pulled a series of brightly colored silk scarves from her sleeves, bangles clattering. “I’ll need you to restrain me in case I lose hold of myself.” Petunia and Dr. Mallomar made quick work of the scarves, tying Clio’s arms and torso to her seat.
A few deep breaths later and Clio’s eyes rolled back so far that only the whites were visible. “Ooooh,” Clio groaned. “Ahhh.!” She squirmed in her seat, but the scarves held fast. “Oh my. Everything,” she said, gasping, “is so beautiful.”
“Focus, Clio,” Dr. Mallomar said. “Can you see what happened?”
“Mmmmm,” Clio said. “I am tingly, dreaming, warm sun. Tiny legs, gentle breeze. Buzzz.”
Professor Zagora frowned. “Actually, there is a species of insect, commonly known as the lovebug, that swarms around this time of year. But they’re nothing more than a seasonal pest. Perhaps there’s been some sort of mutation. Wasn’t there a major perfume spill in Amopolis just a few months ago?”
Petunia closed her eyes and plugged her finger into an ethernet socket, using her mental computer to telepathically access the worldwide web. It didn’t take long for her to find the story.“Yes! It looks like the ObsessionTM plant had a major leak, contaminating the Rio Corazon, which flows through the city and a nearby nature reserve.”
“It’s possible that the perfume soaked a brood of lovebug eggs, changing their behavior to favor humans. Clio, do you see any bugs out there?”
Clio smiled beatifically and nodded. “Yessss, bugs. Bugs in my nose, on my ears. We all love the bugs.”
“That’s it!” Dr. Mallomar cried. “You’re a genius, Professor Zagora. How do we get rid of them?”
“Well, the average lovebug is attracted to light colors and car exhaust. But this breed is clearly anything but,” explained the professor.
Dr. Mallomar shrugged, fearless as always. “Bug or human, you can’t escape your natural instincts, even when a powerful perfume is involved. I have a plan!”
A few hours later the gang had piled into a stretch hummer painted in all shades of pastel. Huge speakers had been mounted on the roof. They rolled slowly past the barricade and down the main thoroughfare of the city, swerving to avoid the mass of writhing bodies. “Hit it, Petunia,” Dr. Mallomar said, and Let’s Get It On wailed through the streets.
Nothing happened. “Are you sure about this, Dr. Mallomar?” Professor Zagora asked. “I don’t think–”
“So come on, come on, come on, come on, Baby,” Marvin Gaye crooned. “Stop beatin' round the bush, heeeeey!” At that moment, the sky turned black with a throng of excited bugs as they rose from the lovesick to descend upon the hummer.
Petunia hit the brakes. “I can’t see anything! What do we do now?”
“Relax, everyone,” Dr. Mallomar said, popping a bottle of champagne that she had pulled from a cooler. “Everything’s under control.” Below the sound of the music, they could barely hear the thrumming of helicopter blades. “Fire when ready, Dee,” Dr. Mallomar said into a walkie talkie. There was a mysterious whoosh and a thud, like the sound of a tent falling through the sky.
Dr. Mallomar pulled out a set of hazmat suits from beneath her seat. “Put these on.” When the four ladies had donned their new outfits, the doctor opened the door and stepped out into the dim light. An enormous translucent dome surrounded them, and lovebugs flitted through the air. “Welcome to the Love Dome,” she said, “our latest entrepreneurial endeavor. For a small fee, visitors can spend an hour inside the dome to experience entomological love. Once we get a few pillows and some mood lighting this will be the sensation of the summer.”
“Sounds fantastic,” Clio said as she removed her helmet. “I’ll be first in line.”


Bern Porter