Self = Portraits…part six

Initially I wanted to make these films to satirize the amorphous landscape in which I was residing at the time, right before I made the sojourn to Europe. I thought that when I returned to the USA I would finish this project with a final destination piece but it seems as thought the journey will continue indefinitely. Here’s the last bunch of films from Berlin.

Self = Portraits…part one
Self = Portraits…part two
Self = Portraits…part three
Self = Portraits…part four
Self = Portraits…part five

57. Voice

The original filming included audio in which I was reading a letter that I wrote to a lover of mine who was involved in a polyamorous relationship. At this time (Winter 2013) I was in and out of hiding due to the effects of a serial stalker who was delving into a harrowing amount of constant abuse. Because social media is such an important part of my art, I had lost my voice. I started writing letters and postcards more often as a vehicle for my vice, but more and more I realized that I had to realize how to fight against the perpetrator’s offenses as his goal was to keep me silent. The lover of mine I wrote the letter to was an “action speaks louder than words” kind of guy, and I was addressing the complications of this issue – me being a writer and all.


58. Regret 1

Many people tend to try and convince themselves that they are able to live without regret. This is not a belief of mine. My biggest and continuing regret in life is that I never studied the piano with great discipline. I’ve never had the time or money to commit to it fully and though I can play by ear (the guitar as well) I am severely math-phobic and have not been able to tackle reading music. These thoughts of regrets were due mostly in part to the fact that I was realizing a lot of life deteriorating around me, as is commonplace in Berlin. I was staying with a friend who had a piano and I would try to regurgitate what I’ve learned in the past.


59. Regret 2

Being an artist in Berlin is great. You get to do whatever you want and nobody cares that you don’t make any money. I was an athlete growing up. Before I found Shakespeare and ballet I was playing basketball, soccer, tennis, and I was very good at track; so much so that I was poised to become an olympian on account of my record breaking tendencies. I loved gymnastics but I didn’t have the upper body strength to endure the rigorous events the likes of the pommel horse and rings (the parallel bars, floor and funny enough, the balance beam were my best events). Every so often I wonder what my life would be like if I stayed on the playing field rather than going with art.


60.  Temptation

Fruit, cages, contemporary striptease, blindfolds, stuffing of underwear: all indicative of typical DeVo satire. Needless to say, the soundtrack provides a pretty clear statement as to what was going on with me. I was surrounded by trouble, that big red button, and blindly I found myself with not many other choices. I contacted my mother around this time in a sheer act of desperation and only managed to get a rise out of her, not much of else except more tumult to add to the fire.


61. id

For an undisclosed amount of time I was traveling from place to place in order to avoid and/or prevent any contact with the aforementioned stalker who by this time was finding a new way to try to contact me about once every two weeks. I had to walk past this “RUN” graffiti every time I sought out this particular asylum. Seeing it all the time was laughable and painful altogether. There was a big lull in my filmmaking due to having to stay under the radar and I had dropped my iPhone in a bucket of water during one of my many indentured servant interludes. I had acquired a “company phone” for a dance performance I was casted in that had lost its funding and didn’t go into production. I was in fact fighting with my id much more than my ego at the time. I really wanted to stay in Berlin and maybe, possibly find love but…


62. Free

Once I accepted everything at face value, I felt free. I had struggled to make sense of the fantasy world that many Berliners and Berlin tourists were obsessed with. I had grown tired of the novelty of it all, but its persistence would go on despite my attitude towards wanting something more realistic in my world. I was waking up in the middle of the morning to the sounds of BDSM slaves being beaten and fornicated with. I figured if you can’t beat them, join them.


63. Grey

I had been eying this particular location for awhile. Located in one of the quieter parts of Schöneberg on the edge of Kreuzberg, this area was undergoing some heavy development and the imposing ways of gentrification were vivid in this neighborhood. Change was coming once again, bringing in the new and pushing out the old. I have always been a fan of the color grey and this park kind of exemplified the cold, dark angular paleness of East Berlin melded with the colorful and spritely aspects of the west. Naturally, the climbing, climbing, climbing theme returned to my work – that constant struggle that I find myself in and/or put myself in. This is also when Vimeo changed its policy on intellectual property rights for music, so it was a dreary day for me to find out that I would have to be more careful about my music choices. I hate the sound of my voice but the sentiment was fitting.


64. Space

Once again I had mustered to find my feet and I was going to make the confirmation to stay in Berlin. Though I was fighting with the urge to run away or to establish myself despite the decline in opportunities for financial sustenance – I figured out that I could make it once I had my own place after over a year of couch surfing and bed hopping and sleeping on park benches and other places that did not at all resemble any sort of home. My friend had an extra room and if I could muster up enough negligible cash, it was mine. Turns out, there was much more than meets the eye with the indecent proposal that ensued.


65.  I was on a crusade. I had been to over 5 organizations (including the police, the district attorney, a domestic abuse outreach program) over the span of 2 years to try and get help. After a lot of run around, arguing, doors slammed in my face, empty promises, lost paperwork, and general lack of sympathy – I decided to use my greatest weapon of satire and I wore this Tshirt to the family court on the third attempt to get a restraining order against my assailant. They didn’t find it as funny as I did, and you can see the perpetrator’s reaction as clearly noted by is response in the comments section. The audio in the film is from one of his many dastardly outbursts of insanity.



Prose: Schmerz – Part 5

The newest and most of a quandary of a pain is one that embodies a certain dichotomy between physical and emotional discomfort. It hurts both physiologically and psychologically, and the autonomic function of its origin is commonly taken for granted and/or overlooked altogether. A surprise to me at first when I was last accompanied by the arrival of it, the latter of the former and the cure of the cause. Suddenly I thought of the word that I had long expunged from my vocabulary all over again.

I see and hear the word Schmerz in advertisements and commercials and I am slightly tinged by the memories this particular vocabulary evokes. The glinting pangs do not envelope me in the way that they did before I grew a second and then a third skin against the impervious tradition of cold cultured Germany and its bastard child Berlin – both seemingly a part of a dysfunctional family at large with the ironic aptitude for luring illegitimate brethren to temporary trysts.

My language has gotten better over the past six months, in accordance to the shift in power and the seeping gentrification. I no longer get translation headaches thanks to my persistence, and the thoughtful dialect does not harm my ears the way it used to. Despite the lack of patience for my patient methodology of describing descriptions as suggested in deutsch, I am no longer scathed by the scolding.

Perhaps I was gracious for the schmerz that popped up like a darting and curious prairie dog, unexpected and welcomed at the same time. It was (as aforementioned) not the kind of schmerz resulting from extraordinary or experiential experience. It was not an ache in the head or the elbow or the ankle – these are qualms I’ve learned to withstand through my tribulations as an athlete and dancer, those joyous gained pains and trophies of progress. It was not the sting from a parasite, a marginal inconvenience that can sometimes go unnoticed until the arrival of a minute bump. It was not the stab of a foreign object, for I am over-aware of my surroundings these days so much so that I feel like I have developed a seventh sense.

This harm in particular came by way of nature and nurture and when it struck me I felt sick and healthy, miserable and happy, angry and pleased, helpless and helped, foolish and thankful…

I was full.


I am no stranger to starvation…

I have declared a very succinct proclamation that I will heed only to value things that I need rather than what I want. It is of the most import to me that I withstand the luxuries of excess now that I have had the opportunity to succumb to destitution. Having a long history of this matter, it is not so much a daunting trial – and somehow I always knew that sleeping on piss stained mattresses on the floors of attics shared with multi-colored rodents and eating sugar sandwiches in intervals normally positioned for actual meals would be a blessing for me. These lack thereof times would provide me with appreciation for the future and allow me to be thankful that I have transcended.

This unaccustomed pain came to me in my gut in large droves of agony, it was that regretfully glutton feeling that I used to get in my youth when we went to those all-you-can-eat places or those church dinner buffets or those family reunions or holidays where the bounty was aplenty and we feasted like we were going to or coming from war. The battle was of course, not knowing when we would eat again.

I’ve always hated the feeling of full. There is not much you can do about the pain. You can touch your belly and rub it but the sourness of it all does not go away. It is not so glamourous feeling fattened up, especially when you have so well acclimated yourself with emaciation.

That harsh and abrupt jolt of cramping was, despite all, nostalgic and something I missed. Thanks to an insisting friend who nearly wept at the heavy dimple cracks that once were my cheeks and couldn’t help but to ponder the feebleness in my stature – I was greeted with this abominable schmerz.

It is the most frequent subject of this coerced curse. I see and hear and smell it everywhere. I want it just as much as I need it, if not more – and the guilt that proceeds therein becomes a haunting crutch of self-loathing. I fear that my stomach has shrunken so small that an iota of anything will bring back the sore burning no matter the rations I provide or deny myself. It is funny and sad that out of all of the harm I face, the truest and purest and most unbearable schmerz comes from food.


Schmerz – Part 1

Schmerz – Part 2

Schmerz – Part 3

Schmerz – Part 4

List: Jobs

I’ve spent the last 3 years as a freelancer and I have been working for the past 1.5 years to hone my skills and become solely a Writer, something I’ve been undertaking since I’ve learned the alphabet.

Similar to Dennis Coopers’ George Miles Cycle, this long term plan of goals is starting to come to fruition. I’ve pained myself to acquire reputable accolades without adhering to the more commonplace pigeonholes of auspicious roles for Writers, that of being a journalist or a copy writer for advertising (or similar realm), as these are two of a very few accessible career choices for writers which can provide some semblance of making a living.

The safest route for me is teaching (as I’ve studied education), and my humble dream is just to become a professor in academia and use my research access to publish not only want is required of me but what I desire of myself.

During this never ending long haul, and furthermore due to my artistic leanings, I’ve had almost every job under the sun and then some that is the usual fare for a starving artist.

Florist Shop (My Mother’s Business): Florist and Bookkeeping
Walmart: Cashier
T.G.I.Friday’s: Server
Pier One Imports: Customer Service/Merchandising Assistant
Wawa: Shift Runner
Houlihan’s: Server
Olive Garden: Server
Iron Mountain: Data Entry Clerk
Ford Dealership: Car Detailer
Bleu Restaurant: Food Runner
Silver Diner: Server
Screem Clothing Store: Customer Service
Collingswood Cheese Shop: Customer Service
Private Company, Carpenter’s Assistant
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: Records Management
TLA Entertainment: Inventory Control Manager
Kenneth Cole Productions: Inventory Control Manger, Outreach Specialist
Xando Cosi: Shift Leader
Trust Kitchen & Bar: Server
Haddonfield School of Dance: Instructor
Meritage Restaurant: Server
Bettinger Company: Office Temp
The Peekaboo Revue Neo-Burlesque: Director, Choreographer, Writer
Cunningham’s Bar: Server, Bartender
Knock Bar & Restaurant: Server, Bartender
Drexel University Libraries: Administrative Coordinator
Stephen Starr Catering: Server
University of the Arts: Instructor
Blond Bar: Bartender
Private Company: Housekeeping
The Center School of Dance: Instructor
Studio Motion: Instructor

These are the ones I can remember.

Prose: Sugarcoat

The first thing I do is buy candy. I’m not talking just any candy. I’m not even talking about my favorite candy. This candy in particular is of the utmost import because it is an allegory for my sojourn to Berlin. It comes from the 94 year-old German company, Haribo. While they are famously known for their delectable and nostalgic Goldbären (gummy bears), I fancy their Tropifrutti brand for comfort.

Tropifrutti are similar to Goldbären in generalities but there is an obvious difference in that Tropifrutti are slightly larger in size, exhibit different shapes and colors in regards to each respective tropical fruit flavor inspiration (though they all taste exactly the same), and they have a different viscosity altogether. They are a bit more gelatinous than Goldbären, and have a thick outer layer that is not hard or crunchy, but rather a rigid coating of extra sugar that encases the pliable interior.


I walk directly to the nearest U-bahn station to find them, completely engulfed in the forthcoming serenity of the first bite – sweet, satisfying, distracting, but leaving so much to be desired in the technical realm of the palette found many times over in other brands.

I walk with my head down instead of up as I usually do, looking into the windows of strangers and creating stories about them, judging their interior design choices and reminiscing about when I used to have the luxury of such frivolity – it’s been over a year since I’ve even had my own living quarters or a room to call my own or a place to stay or somewhere to live. Sometimes I’ll see a fellow voyeur looking out at the city or a solitary smoker on the balcony or a few friends or a couple and I will make mental notes of who they might be. Sometimes I try to get their attention and deviously divert their role as the onlooker and turn them into the exhibitionist. Sometimes I see normal things, sometimes I see perverse things.

My hands are in my pockets, and in a few moments I will anticipate washing them again as I already did moments ago while I thought the water wasn’t hot enough and my hands will never be clean enough.

When I finally arrive to the kiosk I am riddled with the fear of being gawked at and examined by other pedestrians – wondering if they are wondering who I am and where I have been and where I am going, the same as I usually do whenever I am out.

I scan the Haribo section looking for the pelican and the faded bright periwinkle blue of the candy’s package (all of the products have a distinctive color designation) that is not always hard to identify easily in a disoriented state.

The shopkeeper is looking at me curiously, and I ponder the hypothesis that he could very well smell the dirty on me. I place the package on the counter while averting my eyes and then I ask for a pack of cigarettes (in German) and he always answers in English – at least at this particular kiosk where I most frequent during this distinct occasional foray.

I pull out the money, filthy and shockingly bright inside of my wallet that is filled with expired IDs from the USA and business cards of people I don’t ever do business with and used tickets from the subway just in case I somehow forget to buy a ticket one day and I have to prove to the (probably handsome and disarming) Ticket Controller that I actually spend a lot of money on BVG transportation services and I wasn’t trying to hop on a free ride. Then I think of how I really need to get my bike fixed but I can never afford to.

The money is so colorful and sly, like a pre-dawn rainbow. The magic of it dissipates almost immediately after its arrival. I’ve long forgotten about the currency exchange rate as it is no matter to me now that my American bank account is defunct due to the typical Berliner financial demise. Before I left three years ago I met a British man at a bar who was complaining about how American “notes” are all the same size. A culture clash in the opposite direction, I wish I had that elitist complaint. I’ve learned not to complain anymore. The orange, the red, and the blue were all welcomed objects of interlude to appease my constant destitution.


The second thing I do is walk. I walk. I walk. I walk some more. It doesn’t matter where I have to be, I walk. I can’t emotionally handle the confines of public transportation with all of my self-esteem sucked out of me. For the first time after a few hours, I don’t have to watch the clock or keep checking the time; I don’t care. I will get there when I get there.

I eat the TropiFrutti candy in variations of consumption, sometimes taking delicate, almost dainty individual bites, sometimes cramming handfuls into my dirty mouth to satiate my desire to brush my teeth over and over again. The sugar washes away the bitterness somehow.

I pull the sack of treats in and out of my bag instead of being practical about it. Perhaps that is the embarrassment of my heritage. In American east coast metropolitan areas it is commonplace to eat while walking, preferably from some heinous, manmade food or beverage vessel that accommodates the to-go lifestyle. Here on the other side of the planet and in a world of its own you don’t see so much as a coffee cup being carried by denizens on the go except for the exception of recyclable beer bottles that can be seen in the hands of a motley array of Berliners at any hour of the day and in any place in the city…

I walk and I window-shop. I look at things that I might somehow be able to finagle myself into buying even though I know I most certainly won’t. I see fancy breads at the bakery and beautiful ripe fruits on the presentation stands in front of the markt, I see men’s underwear and socks on the well endowed mannequins, the glaring red “SALE” signs with the percent punctuation mocking my entire exsistance. I realize then that I have convinced myself that I want these things and that I don’t need them or at least that I have learned to live without them or that anything is more than less of what I have.

The third thing I do is smoke a cigarette. Of all the things that are killing me, I covet and resent smoking the most. While it seems that it will forever remain one of Europe’s most fashionable addictions, whenever I get any miraculous bounty to call my own they are on the top of the list of priorities for my meager budget. I always hope that they have my primary brand, Parisienne. I was introduced to the brand by one of my dearest friends in Berlin who I met in the typical Berliner way, working together on an art project. We became fast friends and had the rare opportunity to commiserate about our attitudes towards our new lives, both of us being from the south and getting out of there as soon as a door opened to the northeast. We shared everything, and then somehow also in the typical Berlin way, our friendship became this epitome of vacant promises and constant longing. While we complained about Berlin being the loneliest city in the world, we also reveled in it (don’t all artists want more alone time in which to hone their craft?) – and in the end, it was Berlin that came between us, like it does for most everyone no matter if they stay on the light side or the dark side of the rabbit hole.

This is the real magic of Berlin: the disappearing acts of intimacy.


I used to sit at a fountain park in Charlottenburg with said friend and we’d smoke Parisiennes and catch up with our trials, tribulations and triumphs. I am very attracted to the product design of the package and the name. It reminds me of why I came to Berlin and my hope of one day making a pilgrimage to Paris. My first time in Europe – when I approached customs the officer at the booth looked at my passport and then looked at me with smiling eyes and said, “You must be a singer!”

It was this charming seduction that continued on for those fateful 10 days along with the open armed acceptance of my calling as an artist paired with a desire to live a life that led me to the decision to move to Europe for a little while. I’ve always hated the sound of my voice – I think sometimes it is too feminine and grating, but here in Europe they love the sound of my voice and my American accent and I’ve even been told I have a great singing voice though I consider myself more of an alternative rock wailer. I very recently got a comment from a British director for an audition, “Your voice is so great, very elegant,” but every once in a while, my mouth is not so elegant.


The fourth thing I do is try not to cry.

The fifth thing I do, once the entire bag of candy has been virtually made love to instead of eaten, the walking has taken me to whatever destination, the cigarette becomes a remnant of a brown stump of filter, and I humor myself with lies of how everything is going to be okay to keep the tears from welling, I stare out at the window and take a look at myself.

No matter where I am or where I need to go, I need to visually encompass the state of Berlin. The city lights entrance me and the constant moving makes me emotionally dizzy. I look out at the place that brought me to this place. Sometimes I gawk for a minute, sometimes for several minutes, sometimes for hours, and sometimes it seems like days that I stand or sit there watching the world go by while trying to figure out where I fit into it.

The sixth thing I do is wash my hands. I wash my hands in scolding hot water with two types of soap: hard bar soap, liquid soap. I scrub my nails clean, checking over and over again to make sure I haven’t left an iota or spec left behind. I rub my hands together ferociously because I learned from a nurse that it is not the soap and water that does the cleaning but rather the friction that kills germs. My hands get hot from my intention. I want all the germs to go away. I want the dirty to go away. I take a clean towel to dry my hands. I put the towel in the trash if it’s paper or in the laundry if it is cloth.

The seventh thing I do is look myself in the mirror. I really do not enjoy this part. This is the tale tell sign of my inner weakness, a weakness I am not so usually ample to admit. My eyes are more crossed than ever, as promised by the prognosis of my doctor about twenty-eight years ago after I had my second eye surgery. He warned me that when I was in my thirties I would need another correction. At the time I was anxious for thirty, knowing that I was going to be so much better of a person and have such a better life.

I try to keep my lazy eye from wandering off, it seemingly wanting to escape the instance in itself, and I do the jarring readjustment of the right eye and put it back into place with my ocular muscles. I notice the scathed veneer on my visage – similar to the quick deterioration of Abraham Lincoln when he too was fighting against slavery. The pockmarks have turned to craters, the cheeks have become hollow, the facial hair grows discriminately, the teeth aren’t aging gracefully, my lips are dirty.

The eighth thing I do is: refer to the fourth thing.

The ninth thing I do is I remove my clothes. I’ve always hated doing this because I was taught by nurture that my body was an object. When I was a little boy, after bath time I would wear my towel at the the top of my chest like a girl when I sprinted back to my room hoping that nobody would see me so close to naked. Naked was sex. Naked was bad. Naked was dirty. Here I was again defined: sex, bad, dirty.

The tenth thing I do is finally get in the shower after the water finally gets hot. This thing reminds me of my temperament with Germans in general. You adjust it a certain way and it does the opposite of what you want it to do – but if you are patient and fight with determination, it works out for a little while and then goes cold again just as you begin to get acclimated to what you actually wanted in the first place; there is a sanctioned reserve of warmth.

The eleventh thing I do is clean myself. I again use as many different soaps as possible not only to make sure I remove the filth, but to harken some sort of aromatherapy. This is not an easy task because (as suggested) my showers are few, short and far in between – this occasional shower is superfluously long (or is it?) and full of obnoxious cleansing sounds by way of my ambition. Sometimes I sing loudly to keep myself from thinking. Sometimes I sing Nina Simone. Mostly I sing the song Turn Me On.


The twelfth thing I do is drink alcohol. It doesn’t matter where it comes from or what it is. Sometimes in between and/or during the second and third thing, I buy a small bottle of vodka. Giving the leniency of the freest city in the world, all my qualms about public drinking have faded over the years. At one place where I get the little bottle of booze, a spätkauf (late night corner store) owned by Arabs, they typically play very hard, old school gangster rap. Sometimes the shop attendant is bobbing his head along with the sick beats, sometimes he tries to spit along, sometimes he dances. I am always enlivened by this.

The thirteenth thing I do is think about my Father. I think about all the things he knew I would be and that this wouldn’t be one of them. I think about all the grief I must cause to his spirit and how if he was still alive he would fight harder than tooth and nail to help me. I think about his humor and his fierceness and his strength against adversity.

I find myself apologizing to him for many different reasons though I know he would not be ashamed. I think about how I would say I am sorry for leaving him in that state, that time proceeding his final months, even though he insisted selflessly that I heed to my ambition. I think about how he would (per usual) call my mother “crazy” if I mentioned her involvement in my discourse and her monumental quip of “you gotta do what you gotta do,” he would really get a kick out of that.

The fourteenth thing I do is: refer to the fourth thing.


The fifteenth thing I do is open my notebook to make lists. Lists have always been a source of feeling accomplished – a vital part of my sporadic happiness. I cross off things completed from lists I’ve already made, I write down thoughts and ideas and deadlines. I come back to my first obsession besides McDonald’s, words, and I scribble them all over the paper.

The sixteenth thing I do is eat. This thing is tricky because I like to go to the grocery store and figure out how to budget a meal that won’t give me buyer’s remorse. I spend a lot of time looking at products that I usually cannot buy and contemplate treating myself no matter how much I think I don’t deserve it.

Instead of getting my usual standard of sliced bread (,55 cents), a jar of strawberry marmalade (,99 cents), breakfast cereal (,99 cents), a container of milk (,69 cents), and some type of luxury item that I’ve deemed the Precious P’s the likes of pasta (,49 cents), potatoes (1 Euro ,69 cents), pretzels (,39 cents), or peanuts (,69 cents) – as long as it does not go over 5 Euro in total, I splurge on vegetables and fruit juices and sometimes meat.

When I am “shopping” I think about how I once took for granted the habit of marinating things for dinner. I think about my ex-husband, but let’s not talk about it.

I light a candle during this first supper in a long time and humbly hope it is not my last. The preparation, the tastes, the smells, the feeling in my belly…it reminds me of my pre-immigrant days when I could go to the grocery store with a list and not beat myself up if I threw a box of my favorite cookies in the cart.

The seventeenth thing I do is smoke another cigarette. This one is different from the third thing because it is a “thinking smoke break”. I take time to envelope myself in determination in order to avoid sinking into that typical Berlin heavy gray depression. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I sit at a table, sometimes I look out the window again, sometimes I take another walk, every time I make sure I am alone.

The eighteenth thing I do is check my email and social media. I look for signs of life from back home and signs of life from vanished friends in the same predicament as mine, I check my stats and notices, I laugh a little about myself thinking about how I used to be funny, I look at art and porn and the witticisms of others, I look at fashion that I hope to buy one day as an inspiration to keep trying, I watch everything that everybody posts on the internet…

The nineteenth thing I do is clean. I wash the dishes, I scrub the countertops, I dust everything, I vacuum (no matter the hour), I do laundry, I throw things away, I put things in order, I clean clean clean and when I get close to passing out from exhaustion, I clean some more. Of all the control I have lost, my cleaning comes in handy. Cleaning is a necessary vice for me.

Sometimes I sing while I am cleaning, sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I sing along to the music I am listening to, sometimes I smoke cigarettes while doing it, sometimes I try not to cry.

The last thing I do is go to bed. I go to bed desperately hoping for a quick journey into slumber and rapid eye movement and I pray that I won’t have my usual nightmares or that I won’t be awakened by the typical Berlin nocturnal accompaniment of party sounds including but not limited to music, fucking, spanking, frolicking…

I think of all that surrounds me and how I do my best to write it off as a rite of passage or that I’m learning the best lessons at the worst times, or that this is a true testament of my strength and that my talent has been my lifesaver to get through the hell I’ve been put through and that all of this poor poor happenstance will pay off one day but no matter what, I can’t get over the fact that I’ve done the last thing I said I would ever do.

List: BBQ Preparedness

-1 Bowl Lemon Saffron Potato Salad
Lemon Juice
-1 Bowl Spicy Shrimp Pasta Salad
Chili Pepper Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
Cracked Black Pepper
Lemon Pepper
Sea Salt
Lemon Juice
-3 Figs
-1 Bottle Vega Cadur Brandy
-1 Pair Banana Republic Tighty Whiteys
-1 Pair White Socks
-1 Black & White Stripped American Apparel Crew Neck T-Shirt
-1 H&M Skinny Blue Jeans
-1 Pair H&M Black Suspenders
-1 Pair Vintage Waldläufer Black Velcro German Working Shoes
-1 No-Name Vintage Orange Cardigan
-1 Pair Ogï Spectacles
-1 H&M Newsboy Denim Cap
-1 American Apparel Blue and Gray Wallet
-1 Set House Keys
-1 Pack Smart Blue Cigarettes
-1 Bic Blue Lighter
-1 Tube Balea Lip Balm
-1 Samsung Mobile Phone
-1 Tiger Notepad
-1 Berliner Sparkasse Ballpoint Pen

Process: Research

Perspectives: An artistic investigation of inherent movement structures in reference to gender and sexuality as coerced by unfamiliar circumstances.

There are instictive reactions of the body relating to the id and ego when a person is put into a situation where the circumstances and outcomes are unknown. This digital media project is a visual and dialectal study of gestures that exploits the uneencumbered movement vocabulary of these reactions in an effort to notate the commanalities and differences between gender, cultural background, sexuality and other demographics.

I connected with friends and strangers through various media (in person, Facebook, telephone, Skype, email…) and told them I wanted to take a photo of them for a movement research project; I told them I couldn’t tell them anything else.

Everyone agreed to meet me at my home office. Each subject was offered tea and after some amicable and irrelevant (to the project) conversation, we retired to my office to begin the project.

I did not look them in the eye when they arrived in the room – I only gave them directions during four different settings in the room. It was interesting to see what was natural and what wasn’t – in the way they moved – and I did not mention or note any of the certain reactions until after the photographic process. All of the initial photos in position #1 and #2 were portraits of the body rather than the face, and the subjects were not notified until after the process of this technique.

When the photos and filming concluded, I apologized to each subject about the vagueness of my request to photograph them and further explained my intentions to build a movement vernacular based on researching the inherent physical reactions to unknown situations across a motley populous of age, race, gender and sexuality.

To develop categories and vocabulary of movement utilizing techniques and methodologies of Labanotation to establish a repertoire to be used in future choreographic/artistic and pedagogy contexts.

Main Conclusions:
Though examination of the quantitative and qualitative results correlating to the physical, photographic and data survey results, the inherent reactions of the subjects in accordance to their respective gender, sexuality and cultural distinctions show obvious patterns that are clearly noted in the photographic study. The men show tension and ease with different gestures than the women, as do the homosexual versus heterosexual. Through the portraits of the body, the subjects display major gestures that include clinching of the hands together versus freedom of movement of the arms, crossing of the legs and/or feet or keeping them open and spread apart, tension in various muscles, leaning or a heightened sense of posture.

Typically, the males make more use of the space than the females, and with each progression in position (from #1-#4), those identifying as homosexual tend to gravitate towards more freedom of movement, with less tension and posing.

The female subjects use less of the space and exhibit more trepidation than the male subjects.

Of the most import is the discovery of the unanimous reaction captured from position #4. All of the subjects were asked to stand against the wall and were told, “I need you to jump up and down for me,” with no inflection in voice or eye contact. Each subject, with little or no hesitation, began to smile and/or laugh. This inherent reaction was apparent in each case, and was documented by the photographic and film study.

Post-procedure comments included that the subjects were nervous but happy. In this moment when told to jump, feelings of youth and being happy were common, thus explaining the commonality amongst the photographic results. It is this tension that is released during this freedom of moment exercise after positions #1, #2, and #3 where the subject is not privy to the results of the camera or the requirements of the researcher – then there is a spontaneous dispute between the id and the ego, and the body is left making a subconscious choice and an initial unknown reaction to the perspective of the environment that up until that point had been completely mysterious and seemingly planned out.

Process: Editing

The golden rule is that writers should not edit their own work. That is, seemingly complete works that are ready to be disseminated. I break this rule all the time, primarily with the happenstance that the general population would classify me as an “emerging artist” given my credentials, and I don’t have the luxury of an editor or an agent (yet). The worst thing you can do is ask another writer to take a look at your writing, as best described by the character of Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen’s A Midnight in Paris: “If it’s bad, I’ll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it’s good, I’ll be envious and hate it all the more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.”

With plays and screenplays it is almost imperative to receive feedback from other writers, the harsher the better despite the fact that a writer is typically his/her own best/worst critic. One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever got was from another playwright who attended my very first staged reading. When I asked him for his contact information after he praised my work many times over and I explained to him that I wanted to see if he could share some of his contacts with me he replied, “I don’t want to give you any of my contacts. This play has got legs…”.

Now that I am shopping around my scripts to people that I’ve networked through my own volition and experience, I know better than to delve into correcting every little comma or expository clause – that is the pain and glory of rewrites that are inevitable and unavoidable no matter the circumstances of the director’s or producer’s lust for your talents.

I’ve been editing like mad – though I know I shouldn’t be, but I must do it in order to fit the brief of special requests, and I do this quite often with my scripts that I submit to contests in order to adhere to specific guidelines therein.

Yesterday I was looking for an old script (much of my complete writing took place shortly after my aforementioned launch pad staged reading during my golden years of 2005-2008 when I had a regular gig writing scenes for a burlesque troupe) and I found one of THOSE UNFINISHED NOVELS. Any writer will know what this is. This is one of those aborted babies that you wouldn’t dare throw out with the bath water. It was “the one” – the genius that was penned in the hopes of proving to the world that you are “the one”.

Originally written on a yellow legal pad, I transcribed the story onto a computer file, and I remember that the idea came about right after I read The Slaves of New York by Tama Janowitz. It was compelling to face the demon once again and I took right away to editing it – noting the vast differences in my abilities now compared to then – so many silly typos and so much comma worshipping of my yesteryears!

What was the most daunting and alluring challenge was the period piece nature of the work. Written over 8 years ago, so much of the scenes and stories are made up of time-specific nuances, especially antiquated technology. This is something that I face with my current work; it is hard to keep up with the advents of social media and hardware and software because there is always something new on the horizon.

This novel that I’ll never finish was adapted into a one-act that I expanded into a full length play, with similar themes but new characters altogether. I titled it “The End of the Beginning” and took the opening monologue out and had it performed during a night of contemporary vaudeville at the opening show of my Hokum Arts venture in 2006. That play then became the basis of my newest UNFINISHED NOVEL, a story with a similar background (to break the tension, I write mostly about starving artists and love quadrilaterals).

My goal is to stop editing and give all of these things to an editor, otherwise I’ll keep regurgitating unfinished pieces. It’s a lovely trap that I’ve put myself in – giving birth to all of these babies and enduring the fear of an empty nest.



The big red door…What the fuck am I doing here? I wish I could remember who I was, who I am with, what time it is, what’s this shit spilled on my shirt, where this bruise on my arm came from, and more importantly, what the fuck am I doing here again!? I’m being dragged across wobbly, busted cobblestones. There is still no explanation as to why these fucking bars and nightclubs decide to build their establishments right in front of the most fucked up and inconvenient terrain as if it wasn’t challenging enough lurching through dark parking lots searching for any sign of where I left my car or stumbling over potholes being led home by some Ben Affleck looking guy that had the really good smile and the really bad laugh that just so happened to by me a drink just in time for my standards to disintegrate before me. My vision is blurred as I am being practically gang-raped from behind by a big school of drag queens, the Barbara Streissand looking one asking me if I have any crystal, or “Tina” as he/she calls it.

“No man, sorry,” I manage to slur from my cotton-mouthed mouth, coughing and aheming all the way.

“Well, let’s move your arse a little faster honey, Mama needs a little pick me up and fast,” he/she slurs back at me with his/her elbows in my back.

I’m feeling nauseous now, looking up at the infamous big red door, gothic and cathartic in all its glory. A symbol epitomizing all that is passé in the _____ nightlife scene. I am already loathing the feigned smiles and sullen faces. The guy in the corner with the twitching problem, the exhibitionistic couples scattered ever so accurately throughout the dance floor, at the pool table, blocking the entrance to the unisex (and then some) bathrooms that someone’s already puked all over by 10:30; all of them half-naked and embarrassing, tossing themselves about the joint as if they were being paid to put on such a show. The music will suck. I’m sure that D.J. Disappointment will be on hand all night spinning non-stop tracks and mixes and beats of the most overrated, pop hoppy, housey drum and bassish techno bullshit. There will be an abrupt fight on the dance floor between two Guidos trying to get up on the same (girl?) with the really obvious breast implants. I know I’m going to run into everyone except the one I really want to see. There’ll be Mike and John and Mike, and Paul and Sam and that guy with the staring problem (he was always fucking staring at me!). The guy with the vet, Kevin and Jay and the really funny Jewish guy who bought me that funky heart shaped ashtray from Urban Outfitters, and the guy who took me to his office and I cut my leg on the coffee table, and Jim and Jim, and I’m sure both of the bartenders will be working, and the barback (what was his name, Josh?). And Ronnie and Fred, Mikey J., Ralph, Kevin (he still has my Portishead CD), and Jessi and Terry will certainly be here (God I don’t want to see them). I’m sure Rob will be playing pinball. And of course Greg will show up just to top off my night.

I guess I could be a bit more optimistic. I might just get lucky tonight, that’s if I haven’t already. I think I am starting to see shit and my skin is tingling like a motherfucker. What is today anyway? I hope it isn’t pedophile night or hip-hop night or freggin’ Goth night. Not that every night isn’t gay night.

Now I can actually see who is tugging on my hand making me ram into two underage prostitots in pleather pants and spaghetti strap tank tops, one crying because she can’t find her fake I.D. Whatever. Apparently I met some dude with a close cropped beard wearing tight assed Levi’s and a white tee shirt. He’s yelling something back at me. I grin and nod my head as he looks passed me at someone with a big hooded parka and gives him the thumbs up. Where the hell did this guy come from? We’re getting closer to the big red door and I can see Dave the doorman. I can’t wait for him to give me his extra special frisk just for fun since he already knows that I have at least three dime bags of coke, a few tabs of some Saturn Sunset or whatever it’s called blotter acid, a sack of kind bud, a vile of K and a flask of Jack Daniel’s. I’ll meet him in the VIP lounge later.

I reach down in my frayed vintage leather jacket and make sure my flask is still there. I opt to take a couple of swigs before I go in. All of a sudden I’m climbing stairs and I spill some sweet whiskey on my smorgasbord of spilled substances already polluting my new Disel shirt. Whatever. When mystery man and I finally get pushed to the door, I wave to Davey and he smiles and yells, “Hey sexy!”, before returning to his argument with some girl who probably wanted more than just to give him a blowjob. He pushes me through with this guy and we’re in.

Deep breath. I turn around and give the big red door one last look. Mystery man has disappeared already. Social dysfunction everywhere. Just how I pictured it. Just how I always see it. I am so sick of this bourgeois bullshit. What the fuck am I doing here? If only I had cable. The shoving has subsided and I stand paralyzed in a daze. Colors flashing, faggots twirling, bartenders flirting, eighteen year olds ODing, couples dry humping on the smoke laden dance floor, guys cruising meticulously, some of them drinking lukewarm Coor’s Light bottles, others fiddling with their hands in their pockets. I catch glimpses of laughs and strangers calling my name and pseudo conversations but the music is so bad and obnoxious nothing is really audible. My head is spinning but I am still dubiously conscious, recognizing a face here and there. I am scanning the four bars in the four corners of the room (all of them named after a color, respectively) then the game room upstairs that looks down on the club under a big glass floor, and then throughout the dance floor, squinting through the dissipating drama fog. And then, of course, as if in some fucking nightmare, my soothsaying and my pessimistic forecast prevail.

© Louis DeVaughn Nelson