Self = Portraits…part four

Now is a better or worse time than ever to delve into the next installment of my exposition of process for my Self=Portraits video series. Since my last posting about this special compilation of visual narrative memoirs, another one of these works (Immigrant) has been presented as part of the inaugural Berlin Music Video Awards.

As Narcissistic as these videos are, I’m not so embarrassed by my attachment to them anymore as I approach the 50 mark. These are an important part of the history of my artistic and professional development, and now with the advent of my work in this genre, they are as much a relic as a catalyst for me.

You can see the previous postings in regards to the initial films here:

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

25. Light
This video, while thinly veiled under the props and music, was a profound statement about my desire to continue along with my relationship with Daddy (see previous postings) despite the tumult. The “light” at the end of the tunnel quite simply was the difficult task of removing all of the old and crooked things in his life and replacing them anew. This video was shot in one of his holiday flats, just around the holidays, after normalcy began to prosper in our secret relationship and he pointed out the lamp in the video to me at a store while we were shopping. The framed photo was a gift that he gave me for the holidays, right around the time I was planning to leave Berlin to go to Amsterdam, which I rebuffed. Later the lamp showed up in a personal video belonging to Daddy with another one of his conquests…

26. Requiem
A quick tour through the aftermath of many times where I had tried and failed to immerse myself in the sexual culture of Berlin, this video was derivative of inspiration from a scene from “Requiem for a Dream” by Darren Aronofsky, one of my favorite films of all time. Not only was it a half-assed homage to the technical brilliance of simple theater craft (the use of portable/rotating dolly) but to the backstory of the the scene itself. This was right around the time I was becoming privy to the darker side of not only the sexual culture of Berlin, but also the heavy drug culture of its denizens.

26. Holiday
Shot on a relatively warm New Year’s Eve (Silvester) before the turn of 2012, I was on my way to meet a friend to celebrate the holiday. Holiday of course is the word they use in Europe to sometimes describe a “vacation”. At this moment, I am getting ready for a Platonic date with my friend (we ended up riding the Ubahn and drinking up and down the streets of Berlin – it was great) while Daddy was spending the holiday with his boyfriend, a variable vacation of sorts. In the video I am dropping a tab of ecstasy before the trip. The song was more than appropriate for this moment, as they always are. You can see the results of the trip here: Silverster Berlin 2012.

27. Ennui
The French word for extreme boredom, this video was shot in Paris, France. There is much that can be said for this video and what happened during this special trip. I spent all of my money to travel there to meet up with – you guessed it – Daddy, in some sort of romantic venture to see if “we” could ever work. Notably, throughout more trouble with him, I somehow discovered one of the most monumental events in all of our time together. There in that romantic city, even with nothing, being completely bored – we found each other. This film was a statement about how that nothingness can feel like everything when put into special circumstances.

[I think I might have deleted a video here]

29. Arbeit
This was a very necessary element to add the the chronicle. I took up an extra job with an Architectural Firm/Cleaning Company. Here I am in a “Kita” or Kindergarten, dallying between adult and child, that lost innocence of becoming once again established in the working class world, yet not losing sight of my artistic leanings. Hard work has never been a stranger to me – and there was a certain joy that comes with this undertaking.

30. Over
This is right around the time when I became weighed down (again) by depression. I was very interested in documenting the environments in which I was staying (temporarily) because at this time I was looking for a new living situation as I found out too many inappropriate things about my tenure with Daddy. I had gone back to square one so to speak, and was feeling at a loss from the home I had come so close to building.

31. Pussy
A double entendre if you will, this short film is a comedic statement of the tragedy I was facing at the time. That bouncing through loneliness and the never ending plight of dating. I was meeting men and trying my best to be satisfied by the rebound offerings, but as justly noted in the film, much of what was taken and given was animalistic in nature – nothing more. I was starting to feel like a stray cat.

32. Negative Space
One of (if not the only) video title with more than one word – this self-portrait was the first time I recorded the video with something other than my iPhone or MacBook Pro. I was using a Canon something or other from my then new roommate; a French Photographer – it changed the entire landscape of my video work from that point on. I strayed away from my typical voyeuristic POV single shot camera angle but kept much of the backwards Cubist stop motion technique. This film speaks volumes about my confidence in a lot of ways – having finally found a place to live, having stability in my work, and being mostly free in the realms of dating and love, I was at an all-time high and ready to take on the world. This was also the first time I started to feel homesick – when I finally found a home. I added this very subtle element with chewing gum – something so readily associated with Americans here in Europe.

33. Fetish
One of the most highly viewed and anticipated films of this series, this one is so multi-faceted I don’t even know where to begin. Shot just under a year ago during the Spring here in Berlin – it was one of the first films where I tried to conceptualize a scenario and a character. This was in fact inline with the whole self-portrait venture in that the character I am playing in the video represents the character that I was starting to feel like I had to play in my real life. I was becoming more aware of the fetish culture in Berlin and the specifics that are involved with that. I was not only exposing my relationship to the fetish culture (in regards mostly to Daddy) – but my own longstanding fetish for married men and my voyeurism/exhibitionist tendencies. In the film I am pretending that there is a man present in the room with me instructing me what to do. There is also a not-so-obvious blooper in the film – I put on my leotard backwards which I did not fully edit out. I love those happenstance mistakes. The dog tags were a gift (that I stole) from Daddy – an object that became fodder for many of our occasions. The dance attire objectified the fetish of my personality as a whole, and for the first time, despite all of my Burlesque leanings and my love of the reverse striptease, for a solitarily iota of a moment, I bare it all, full frontal DeVo, for the very first (and last) time. I edited another version of this film that was made especially for Daddy where the nudity is not so brief and shy.

While my naked body was surely and duly noted by the audience, I did not consider it a cheap trick to gain attention. It was a necessary step in furthering the proof positive unfortunate circumstance of “sex sells”. While most of these videos do contain rather explicit or intimate details of my life and body, in a way, this was a big relief for me just to finally be naked without much repercussion of knowing that people were going to treat it like porn rather than art. This film was perfect for this experience because in this piece in particular, I am feigning innocence and guilt in the world of fetishism…something that I learned is rather physical here in Europe rather than much more psychological in the States.

34. Change
There is a purposeful chaos to the filming and editing of this video portrait. This was the beginning of a complete loss of reason or rhyme in my life and I wanted to capture the essence of losing myself in such a tragic way. Once a source of power and control and harmony, the head shaving catharsis was no longer possible – something had to change.

 

35. Acting
Clocking in at over 2,000 views, I am not too ashamed to say that I knew what would happen when I posted this. It was not initially meant for stroke material – as I swing through various decibels of self-esteem. Simply put, this was a film in regards to getting in character for one of the most challenging roles in my acting career, the part of Cody in Neil LaBute’s critically acclaimed and resented “This is How it Goes” that I performed in last summer at the English Theater Berlin. The character in the play was very athletic, a track star, a cocky asshole, a wifebeater, somewhat of a racist and many other horrible socially diseased things – all indicative of LaBute’s work. I actually started jogging to get into that method acting technique and remember what a “runner’s high” felt like. My body was in great shape, but my mind was at its worst, for many reasons.

36. Acting II
This was another effort in my method acting technique. Up until this time I never had my head shaved with a straight razor. My character of Cody – in the play as aforementioned – seemed like the kind of guy who would pamper himself in these sorts of ways so I followed suit. I cannot explain to you how much this moment changed my life and how it really effected my efforts for getting into character. It was a rewarding experience and brought back that catharsis of head shaving that I have previously mentioned, but this time in a different context.

37. Acting III
This last installment of my experiences during that pivotal acting job is just me on stage going through some of my vocal exercises and memory citing. As an actor I have always had issues with my projection and annunciation, though my physical acting has never been a problem. My insecurity with my voice and the general sound of it has always been a problem for me and it is something I fear I will never conquer. Even with public speaking this is a problem. This video has no music and no backwards stop motion technique and I hate listening to it.

 

Picture 4

38. I Know
This is basically a video that I made private – it was one of those things where I was completely drunk and decided to record myself singing Fiona Apple. It went over pretty well with a couple of my “fans” but I am sure that is just because I took my shirt off. Other than that – I remember quite well me wearing that key to my bedroom on my necklace at the time. I was making a joke about it at parties and whatnot, telling people it was the key to my heart because in order to win my heart you must first win me over in the bedroom – something far from a lie.

39. Monogamy
Finally I took another step in the development of my special editing technique and I grasped onto my thin patience and used stop motion photography in its true sense (though still utilizing my unique backwards motion slant). The reverse striptease is here in full-effect and caused quite a stir with viewers once again. This video was filmed right after the very last time I visited Lab.oratory, a famous and infamous sex club in Berlin. In a way, the trip was a last attempt to see how “the other half” lives, after I had readily given up my dating and cheap, easy sex life to fall in love with a man who put me through hell. It was a sort of experiment sometimes to go with my close friend to these places and gawk at how easy it used to be for me to have sex with strangers – the novelty had worn off. Though I was cruised several times, I went home empty handed and full in mind. I wanted to make a piece that spoke about the plight of virtual monogamy – in that the physical essence of monogamy is much easier than the emotional essence. While stunted by the attraction to one man (a man with several other suitors no less), I somehow tried to convince my body to return to the wilderness, to no avail. The garb worn in this film is a statement about how I love to joke about fetish attire. I am wearing colors that in no way pertain to my interests, but are very specific to many fetish enthusiast in this city. The addition of my father’s shorts (the only surviving relic of his that I own), adds to the dark humor of the whole piece – the newness of tradition lost.

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