Archives for posts with tag: shows

I want to be the kind of person that a little sparrow on the sidewalk sees and thinks to itself “I’m gonna jump into her hand right now and nestle my little feathery head into her fingers. I want her to hold my whole little fragile body there and be so sweet to me.”  But I never get the vibe that this is what they are thinking. House sparrows are everywhere in New York. There are about 14 sparrows for every one human in New York. Does that mean I have to hunt for the 14 that want me to hold them ?

Once I was asked to do an outdoor performance for a street festival in New York. Outdoor performances require a lot of planning. You have to compete with the sky and the architecture and all the people who didn’t mean to be in the audience and actually don’t care that you are doing a performance. I don’t mind these constraints, but they are the kinds of constraints that I usually don’t work with.  I can’t just slap on a costume and rattle off a tried-and-true favorite that works on a normal stage or club or gallery. For this, I had to make something new, specifically conceptualized for the feel of being outside on the street in the east village of New York City on a Saturday afternoon in 2009.

This is what I came up with: I would buy a box of saltines and a jar of peanut butter. I would spread peanut butter all over me, head-to-toe, and stick the saltines to the peanut butter. I would have a tiled, crispy saltine skin.  I would climb the stairs to the stage, put the empty Saltines box at my feet, fill the last peanut butter spot on my body with the last cracker, and extend my arms. Cue the music. A karaoke track.  I would start to sing “Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag)” from Mary Poppins as stylistically close to Julie Andrews as I could. After a while, hopefully some pigeons would try to eat the saltines off of my body while I sang. Maybe by the end, I would be a human covered in Pigeons. Another part of me felt hopeful that some pigeons would NOT try to eat the saltines off of my body while I sang. I had never had wild animals eat anything off of my body and didn’t feel that confident or at-ease about it.  I also had some fear around pigeons not really noticing or caring.  Even though I knew this would potentially be the most hilarious and dangerous and glorious piece ever, a couple hours before the performance I called the festival and told them I was sick.

I know there are people who can charm birds. But they have worked at it. You can’t just “have a knack” because you want a knack. You have to develop a knack. No matter what people think a knack is.  I want to have a knack for everything. And then when I realize what kind of time and effort it takes to develop the knacks, I get mad.  Because I truly do want to put in the time and the effort, but NOT if there are only 24 hours in a day and if i’m not immortal.

When I got back from France a couple weeks ago, I became really determined to be a French speaker. Not really being in a position to spend money on tuition, I arranged a barter.  With a French school. I will clean their office every Sunday at 11 am and they will teach me French.

It is a toughie. Knowing that the most efficient way for me to be an elegant French speaker is to become a janitor.

I started the cleaning a couple weeks ago. My classes don’t start til mid-november so I’m not a janitor who speaks French yet –AKA a French Maid. I am simply a janitor.  There are several pieces of me who feel embarrassed about this.  But I think the embarrassment comes from the fact that I like it so much.  There are very clear goals. Wipe the toilets down. Wipe the marker boards down. Vacuum leaves. It is easy for me to understand how to achieve the goals and I achieve them. It takes me two hours. I don’t strategize before or evaluate after. It feels perfect. It  is not a job where I have to get people to want to hire me back and respect my work and believe that my ideas are credible in the world of art, that I’m young and hungry and pretty. That i have the kind of potential anybody could tap AND OIL WOULD FLOOD OUT OF ME AND WE’RE ALL GONNA BE MILLIONAIRES.  It is a job where I move my arm really fast to the Die Antwoord Pandora station.

But what if liking being a janitor means that being a janitor is my destiny? From the day of my birth, I’m pretty sure my parents made it a priority to get me into college so that I would never have this destiny. (But if they knew that letting birds eat peanut butter saltines off of you while you did your best Julie Andrews was a job they would have hoped for janitor. Or lawyer.)

I am being told by multiple people in my life right now that you don’t just decide you want something and get it immediately. Or that it’s wrong to believe that you are something when you haven’t really proved it.  The value of practice versus the value of imagination/entitlement. I lean towards valuing the imagination parts of me.  But now i guess it’s time to believe that there are more than 24 hours in a day and that I am immortal so that I can put in the time to develop the real knack for all of these things that I want to be and do.

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At the end of September, I went to Zagreb, Croatia for a week.  I was dancing naked in a show. And then I went to Paris for a week. I walked around for hours every day, ordered a lot of “veh” and muttered “Je suis desolee. Je ne parle pas Francais. Parlez vous Anglais?” to people who chose to talk to me. I did it so they would like me for my American modesty. OR. If they weren’t sold on that look, then maybe the classic “a girl who is sorry.”  I felt embarrassed to love France so much and to be so dumb in the mouth.

I’ve been home for a week and a half.

The hardest thing and the only thing I am obligated to do right now is work on my own musical web series project. Which is why I’ve been trying to find lots of other things to do. Like, I enrolled in a French class.

Also, I was scrolling through my facebook newsfeed and found an article somebody had posted: “How Capitalism Can Save Art” by Camille Paglia.  One of Paglia’s claims is that young artists don’t have any vocational skills. They don’t actually know how to do anything with their hands that doesn’t involve a computer. And that this creates a really sterile liberal-upper-middle-class-studio-art BFA/MFA alienation from the rest of the world. Paglia’s very “THE SIXTIES MEANT SOMETHING REAL.” And I felt very YEAH about it.  I immediately google searched “trade school NYC.” I wanted to find something along the lines of fixing a car or making a tiny stool out of wood—a class I forfeited in middle school to take keyboarding. So the first thing that came up in my google search, of course, was a conceptual trade school, a school that operates on a barter system, being run out of a gallery at the New School.

Forgot about the stool. I took a two day course called “Digital Cinemantics: Movie Making in the 21st Century” taught by a guy who renamed himself Noemi Charlotte Thieves after moving out of his Mom’s house. He had a Muslim name, and  as a thirteen year old in post-911 Florida, he got detained at the airport for hours every time he tried to fly anywhere since.  His old name included parts of four of the suicide bomber’s names. His first name is now the same as my Grandma’s. She died when I was really little so it felt pretty special to be at the table with another Naomi as a big girl. In exchange for his grandmotherly 21st century digital filmmaking knowledge, I brought potato chips with ridges to his first class, and for the 2nd day of the course, I will be making him dinner.

I also took an i-ching class. I brought Polish cookies and  learned how to read people’s fortunes with nickels using the oldest spiritual book people still care about.  I’ve been reading some of my fortunes too.

Yesterday, I held my nickels between my palms and asked the i-ching, “What can I expect if I choose to produce the musical webseries, The Dardy Family Home Movies, myself?” I tossed them six times. And this is what she told me.

Hexagram 7: The Army 

or Organized Discipline.

If you hold or aspire to a position of leadership, remember that the true leader captures the hearts of the people, and articulates a clear, simple vision that binds them together….  Only when the state is economically prosperous can the army be strong… Only when the army is disciplined can the state be protected from disruptive outside forces.

Modesty and generosity at the center can be a magnetic force that keeps the relationships intact.

Solidarity among all elements is essential for success at this time.

Steven is letting me borrow his snare drum.

Tomorrow I am taking a software coding class and a cyanotype photograms glass.

Then I am obligated to rally the troops. Rat a tat tat.

Yesterday, we were girdled secretaries with glossy toes.  Gia was back and she bounced, and we squealed to see her.  We all wanted to take off our perfect costumes because the heat on the top floor of the castle is thick and sleepy and damp in mid-July.  Our hair bubbled up frothy on our heads, full of pins and bows.  Tonight there will be cupcakes and milk onstage.  Monday was jockstraps and leather somewhere off Castro Street.  We too are image makers and the impulse is deep and old and persistent.  Is this about money?  And yet it’s also an act of love.  But not the way they always taught: “love-making,” a phrase that never made sense to me.  This is not how love is made.  It’s concrete and viscera, the wet and hard and dirt and rope.  This work smells like braking trains and oranges and that’s a different kind of love.

“You’re doing a public service,” someone tells me, but it isn’t true.  As the power dynamics change, it only becomes more mine.

Ask me what I want on any given day and I can not tell you.  “Sleep,” I’ll say, or “popcorn.”  Nothing changes that, no matter what ceremonies, no matter what books and planes.  I want: 500 words a day, all pink everything, whiskey, beauty, complex problems to unravel.  I want wet and glitter and love.  But none of that illuminates a path.

It’s a new project now, being an ageless age and evil in photographs and the painful sorting of poems in Oakland with Joseph.  How can I be a maker?  500 words a day, minimum.

“I won’t put my makeup on for less than 400 dollars,” I once heard a woman say.

For 3000 dollars, my teeth get straighter.  A luxury.  There are so many ways to make sense of the world through math.  But which one is the right one?

The dog as usual sleeps about it and his eyelids move rapidly, his face squashed against my leg.  There are so many of us trying to make.   In the morning before makeup I think about journalists, consume so much of the work of journalists both clumsy and skilled and I think of what’s been written about me and by me and which of the words can teach me something.  What can I do? That is not rhetorical.

Outside of our house there are ginko trees, olive trees, eucalyptus.  All of the trees are green and silver like money.

I’ve been living in a luxury hotel for the last 40 days and 40 nights. There are routines here.

I am in a play. The setting of the play is a hotel room. Our production is site-specific. I live in the hotel room where we perform the play twice a night, five nights a week. So half of my home is covered in army netting, bamboo, tropical plants, a crushed velvet tiger painting and houses 28 chairs for audience members. It’s lush. There are fruit flies. The sheets have big flowers on them. Pink, Red.  I watched How to Marry A Millionaire here on Netflix Instant and Marilyn Monroe kept calling things Creamy.

Yesterday I was sick with a gross cold. I was in the other half of the suite. It is bleach white and charcoal. Plates on the wall. Faders on the light switches. The deepest bath tub in America. I spent 32 hours in a king size bed with a pile of dirty kleenexes, a casio keyboard that me and my sister and brother got for christmas one year, a sack of clementines, and some really slow wifi energy charges inside of my laptop computer.

I heard a maid come in. I heard her walk through where the audience sits, past the bed where I pretend to almost have sex in front of an audience eighty times a night Wednesday thru Sunday, and then I saw her peek her head around the corner to where I was lying with my kleenexes.  I muted the episode of Smash I was watching on Hulu. She wanted to know if she could clean the room. I didn’t know. Could she? Is it her job or my job to clean this up? If I’m sick, isn’t it my mom’s job? Could I go somewhere in my pajamas? Or could I just lay in the bed while she changed the sheets? Am I a quadriplegic?

We both had these “honor thy mother and father” looks on our faces like we were about to get the shit kicked out of us if we did the wrong thing.

“I’m sick,” I said. And laughed a tiny bit to let her know that being sick is…funny?

When should she come back to clean, she wanted to know.  In my congested nasal passages, the answer was Never, but I didn’t want to get her in trouble with mom and dad. I made up a time. 5pm. But I knew how Groundhog’s Day that would be. She’d come in at 5pm and walk past the chairs, the ferocious tiger painting. She’d turn the corner and see me still trying to stream Smash on Hulu at 240 pixels per second, but this time it would be obvious that I had eaten some microwave oatmeal.

So I backpedaled on the 5pm thing. And we hovered in anxious silence. Sad giggles. Neither of us spoke the other’s language.   I wanted to be honest with her. (And with everybody I would ever meet.) And once I remembered that, I knew what to say. I pointed to the phone.  “Oh, I’ll just call down when I’m ready?”

Our faces changed. It was like we were giving each other secret back rubs in another dimension.

“You just call them.”

Now we knew the things to say. We said them.

She walked back through the Tennessee Williams set and was gone.

Until the next day at around the same time.

It was cold all night. I left my window open because my radiator is a temperature dominatrix and I like to let a window be a safe word.

I want to try a different coffee shop today in an effort to try a different life.  Maybe not even get a soy latte.  I heard there was a place that sold chicory coffee near me.

When I was moving away from Michigan, I had no specific plans or goals.  I gave myself two options.  New York City or New Orleans. Michigan doesn’t have the word “New” in it, so I knew i had to go somewhere that did.  I had visited New York City once before to perform a show at the Guggenheim. Sounds fancy, but we stayed at a YMCA in bunk beds and I got so drunk at an Irish Pub I woke up and found more than one tampon inside of me.  I guess that was the clincher.  I chose New York.

There’s a picture of Judy Garland in my bedroom and a calendar I made so I could give myself stickers for everyday i do a p90x work-out.

I made my bed this morning. I do that now in New York.

When I was little,  my Aunt Pat gave me a a teddy bear dressed in a nurse’s uniform.  I looked at it and saw some kind of future.  I don’t mean that I explicitly thought I would become a teddy bear nurse or even a nurse, but that for some reason, i felt like a stuffed animal in an employer uniform was a weird hint. Aunt Pat was the only woman in my family who had a job.  My mom, Aunt Chris, and Aunt Ruth were all homemakers.  Aunt Jo was a nun, and that just felt like she was a different gender than the rest of the world, and that that was a job, and that  job meant having short grey hair, singing way louder than other people at church, and joyously playing Kings In The Corner with me and Granddad on Thanksgiving.

When you’re a kid, people want to know what you want to be when you grow up.  Given my options, I obviously wanted to be a nun.

(I think it’s important to note that a subletter in my apartment who does a lot of coke is doing what sounds like filing his nails really really fast in the room next door to mine.)

I’m not a nun. And I’m grown up.  I’m an artist who accidentally took the vow of poverty.

The difference between taking the vow of poverty as a clergy member and accidentally taking the vow of poverty as an artist, is that, as a clergy member, you get to make up a meager budget that covers all of your basic needs.  Rome pays for it.  Nothing extravagant.  Shelter. Medical. Food. Utilities. Car. Gas. Stuff like that.  You work related to what you specialized in, medical, administrative, etc. in the context of your spiritual practice.

Rome doesn’t pay for my art.

But here I am dressed as an elderly teddy bear. Reading a monologue at an art party. a few years ago.

Lorca as translated by Carlos Bauer.  Lord how I wish I spoke Spanish.

It’s gotten colder and my dog wants to always stick his nose in my armpit while I write.  Why does he do this? I wish he’d open his mouth just once to talk to me in words.

I plan things and plan things.  Appointments for blood tests and x-rays and dinners with poets.  Flights to cities with airport codes I’ve memorized.  Reading assignments for the students I’ve yet to meet.  My library card gets so much action.

Wednesday I wade through the Market Street river of orange-shirted bodies, armed with my pink totebag stack of Baldwin and Dickenson, Notley, Bersenbrugge, and Wright – both James and C.D.  It’s a weirdly hot day for November and the people are walking on broken cups and crushed brown-bagged cans of Sparks.  In front of the Blick off Sixth, a teenager – so skinny like a clapper in the bell of his wind-filled t-shirt – climbs a streetlight to either hang or tear down a black and orange flag – it isn’t clear which.  Fifty people gather to chant at him and I can’t get through without holding the books in front of me as a shield or a weapon.

On Friday I bring mudcake to the bar and carve it up with plastic spoons and cocktail napkins.  We play slaps and I bust my foot on the heavy wooden door.  Nicole laughs her way through another birthday.  The first girl who tries to sell us lighted silk roses from a heavy tray reminds me how much better it is to be writing a syllabus than to be treking up Broadway in heels. But then Saturday night comes and I’m gathering dollars from a hotel carpet. I’m riding the elevator with fur-collared tourists on their way to the Top of the Mark, knocking on the door of an 11th floor suite with Lilah beside me, and between us our bags of heels and costumes, rolled lights and wet wipes and sharpies and cans of whipped cream.

The bachelor’s single friends have brought girls up to the room.  Female guests at a bachelor party can go either way – as Lilah and I are setting up I hear one of the girls say: “how much would you pay me to strip?” And I think: really? Do you go out to dinner and barge into the kitchen to show the chefs how well you can cook?  But the girl turns out to be sweet and curious, if naive.  Lilah and I lock ourselves into the bathroom to count out and the girl is in there with us, peeing.  The girl says, “So how did you guys get started? Did you take classes?  I want to go to your class.”  And while I’m glad for the recognition that this job requires skill, I can’t help but laugh at the image of a girl in a four hundred dollar hotel suite asking the stripper where to take lessons.

In the suite’s bedroom, men who are younger than me smoke cigarettes out the window.  They’re wearing khakis and button down shirts and they still have money in their hands.  Outside, it looks like Gotham.  Like every lonely hotel movie sequence.  As we’re leaving, one of the guys, slurring over a plastic cup of vodka and ice, asks “Where do you girls go to college?”  He turns to the guy slouched next to him on the beige couch and says, “All strippers go to college.”

Some of you will recognize this format and some of you won’t– the beauty and terror of secrets.

it is mine, and now it can be yours.  the first reading of my newest musical PLUS special San Francisco guests. Read on for details.

thursday, feb 25 @8pm

dixon place

161 chrystie

nyc

*****
THE DARDY FAMILY HOME MOVIES BY STEPHEN SONDHEIM
by erin markey

DIRECTED BY:
Ben Rimalower

STARRING:
Cole Escola (LOGO)
Bridget Everett (Joe’s Pub)
Elizabeth Hoyt (Under the Radar)
Joseph Keckler (New Museum)
Erin Markey (Hell)
Jeffery Self (LOGO)

The Dardy kids are leaving the nest, but they’ve forgotten their entire childhoods on VHS. Now mom, Molly Dardy, has to find a place for it all. Too bad everywhere is a good place. A dark musical comedy based in a small industrial city in dark musical Michigan: Saginaw.

*********
HOW ARE US?
tara jepsen and beth lisick

Turning an insolent gaze at the petty undertakings of femalia and regarding the chemical stink that is hormones and pleasure by Beth & Tara.

Tara Jepsen and Beth Lisick
have been lady comediennes together since 1999. They have performed at endless events, festivals and fundraisers, including Billionaires for Bush, NYC’s Dixon Place, Homo-a-Gogo, and in a vegan’s living room in Santa Barbara. Their award-winning short film Diving for Pearls was taken down from You Tube for an unstated offense, probably nudity or the portrayal of women as ugly. It is now here: http://blip.tv/file/2428930