Self = Portraits…part five

As I begin to organize too many ideas for the next film for my “Self = Portraits” series, I took some time and updated some details of the artistic process involved with the past segments.

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
Self = Portraits…part four

40. Era

The title of this film harkens the adage “end of an era” in that the location was the scene of an apartment that was turned into a fetish studio and owned by my ex-lover who is the subject of many of the previous videos. On this day, the fetish studio had become officially defunct and I was participating in helping to clean it out and move all of the furniture out. It was one of the worst days of my life – not because of the sadness of losing the haven, but because I spent all day fighting with the man due to his complete lack of order and disorganization aligned with his extreme anger management and control issues. I was happy that the place was being altogether eliminated from his life – this sleaze den had been the source of so many disasters in his life that I was trying to cope with. In some way I thought that this was the first step in helping him to escape the darker side of Berlin, and in turn, realize some sort of a possible reality for the both of us.

41. Stress

This was one of the first videos that I used a real SLR digital camera – a departure from my more voyeuristic POV use of my iphone or Macbook Pro. It was the camera of my photographer friend and I was not yet acclimated with the control functions on the equipment. The superimposed heat sensory function was a happy accident – as this video was a depiction of some ailments caused by the increasing stress levels in my life. I used a cue from one of my favorite songs, “Forever” by Juliana Hatfield as the medium. In the lyrics she compares the love of cigarettes to the love of another person. I used my unyielding loathing of rolling cigarettes juxtaposed with their necessity in regards to stress as a point of reference for this one.

42. Immigrant

Because this film has been so well received and was another notch on the bed post of successful entries into a competition (premiered at the 2013 Berlin Music Video Awards) – I will let this one speak for itself.

43. Alone

Music, Coffee, Cigarettes. Repeat…This became some sort of solace for me during this time when I made a trek back to the first café where I met the most acquaintance during my first sojourn to Berlin in 2009. I had since left visiting the place since I worked there for 2 days in what could only be described as a Typical Non-Paid Berlin Debacle. Another happy accident in this film (I started shooting with my laptop camera with unexpected results) was when the waiter/bartender touched my face. It was a direct statement about my longing to disconnect due to superficial connections readily available in this town – to be alone in a town of loners is not easy when there is a superfluous amount of unwanted advances.

44. Time

This film was all about simple theater crafts and props. I wanted to give the viewer the aspect of an outer-body experience. Here I am wearing a shirt that was a “joke gift” that depicts a rather off-color remark not only about my age, but my racial identity:  “Ich bin 27” – and “Schwarze Dose” respectively. With my male pattern baldness and the obvious continuing theme of chaos/control…this film represents an inside look into some of my biggest fears and my ever increasing tumultuous love affair with Berlin itself. Missing from the lyrics from the song used in this clip: “I looked at your wall, saw that old passport photograph – I look like I just jumped the Berlin wall. Berlin, I love you – I’m starting to fade…”

45. Moving

I wanted to make a film that is analogous to typisch Berliner verhalten. Here I am on a Sunday morning performing one of my favorite pastime rituals: going to Viktoria Luise Platz in Schöneberg (a place I once deemed my denkenplatz) that most times during the weekends resembles a human zoo.

For more insight about my affinity for this park: Berlin Stories – Viktoria Luise Platz

46. Staying

This film is noted as “Dedicated to Rob” who is my former longtime ex-boyfriend from the states who I had a 7 year relationship with. The red handkerchief appears in this film (as it does in many other videos and art works of mine) – and it is an enduring token of my memory of him as it is one of the only things that I own that used to belong to him. The “staying” is apropos to the fact that this was one of the first times that I found a place to stay for a long bout of time after a treacherous entry into homelessness that started in January of 2013 due mostly in part to the annals of my abusive relationship with the aforementioned lover (the topic of many of my other films) and the then current status of a rather inappropriate living situation with a typical Berlin artist, and the loss of my job. Here, my traveling suitcase appears as a sort of time capsule in my continuing sojourn in Europe, containing artifacts of departure and arrival. I reveal myself naked for the first time in a comfortable way – rather in some of the ways of my daunting past. It is a reclaiming of myself and my body that was a pivotal necessity during this time.

47. Slide

Reference to Sisyphus is a common theme in a lot of my works. Here it is no different.

48. Banana 2

At this point in my life I was having a little bit of artistic block in regards to these self-portraits because I was truly starting to feel that my time in Berlin was up, that I had accomplished more than I could ever have imagined, that if I stayed things would get progressively worse, and that it was time to move on. I decided that I was going to go back to my first initial videos and make an effort to restyle them in a way to correlate the past with my present and ultimately, my future. The very first film that I made of the series took place in Philadelphia when I was making plans to come to Berlin in 2011. Here is the reincarnation of the film that started this whole thing, which notably, was the first film that was screened here in Berlin and started to ignite my passion for video art which became my primary source of acclaim and accolades here.

49. Arbeit 2

Continuing the sequel theme to my previous videos – this one is more of filler than anything with not much more to say than: 20 Euro, 3 Hots and a Cot…this was what I had to pay.

50. Acting 3

In the summer of 2013 I somehow found myself with a center stage front row seat look into the entrails of the fashion world during Berlin Fashion Week. I was initially volunteering for the Berlin Fashion Week Film Festival in which I did get to help out with, but after the first day of orientation and set-up, the designer Charlie Le Mindu solicited me to be one of the models/assistants for his fashion show that was to be featured during the festival event. I still have not written about that whirlwind experience, but it’s on my list! This film is more about some of the continuing themes in the self-portrait series…here you can see my delving into vanity in order to be accepted in an outward facing profession (as seen in my earlier films where I am getting my hair professionally shaved to meet the standards of an acting job). Also of note is the song choice as well as how I edited in (rather than out) a peculiar sense of paranoia that was brewing at the time due to the looming situation with my ex-lover that around this time had turned into an extreme case of stalking and abuse.

51. Travel

Heavily influenced by my experiences with Berlin Fashion Week and my inspired interest in fashion film – I wanted to make something really DeVo that had a certain edgy humor to it that goes back to my burlesque roots; as in most of my work, there is some element of burlesque and satire. Here, the device is the reverse striptease. Of course the music plays a big part – as Rufus Wainwright is one of my biggest idols, and the lyrics of the song replicate some of my attitudes of having been brought up in a pretty nomadic life. Traveling is something that I crave and loathe and I have grown quite accustomed to.

52. Werewolf

This is probably the hardest film for me to watch.

3 months went by before I settled long enough to make this portrait. That time was spent tending to the trials of The Summer of my Discontent in which I had many experiences ranging a plethora of velocities and feelings. I grew a big assed beard, had several nervous breakdowns and somehow ended up falling in love again. This time, the love would be too good to be true, and in a typical fashion, due to my pending recovery from the abusive relationship prior, I was not able to offer any reciprocity for the affections offered.  The proverbial destitution of humanity that is indicative of Berlin and its history that I witnessed that summer has changed me forever – some for the good, some not so much. I learned a lot about what I wanted in life and what I did not want and many relationships were melded, strengthened and destroyed altogether during this time. I say sometimes that my skin is very thick, but it was around this time that I had grown a second skin of sorts, and it became my armor against any further attacks to my psyche, knowing full well that things would be getting much more difficult in my future before they got better – especially in the ways of love and romance.

I used the backwards stop motion technique here in a very jarring way. I HATE the sound of my voice, no mater how much I’m always singing when drunk – and the choppiness of it all disturbs me to no end. But I think I got my point across with this beast.

53. Yours

I will never claim to be an angel or a victim. I know I cause damage because of the erotic allure of my exotic demeanor. This is me in the state of succumbing to this curse.

54. Ophelia

I really wholly, honestly and truly thought this was going to be the very last work of art I ever made…

55. Indentured

This film encapsulates my entire overall domestic experience as a foreign immigrant in Berlin. All X-rated shenanigans, professional tidbits, and personal relationships aside, this speaks directly about the state of my daily “world” as it pertains to my survival during most of 2013. Longer than most of my films in the series (I usually try to keep them around one minute in length), I knew that this work might be used as an entry for competitions or exhibitions, so I really wanted to make something that was really really DeVo to the umpteenth degree including that kind of lulling dramatic quality, the harsh unorthodox editing, the unexpected surprise, the voyeur/exhibitionist aspect, and of course, some burlesque. It was a chore going through all the footage and a true test of my patience as I had well over an hour of footage to edit for this one. I am really proud of the result.

56. Kontrolle

The shaving thing again. It is always a visceral, almost cathartic process for me – and along with the cigarettes and the striptease and the climbing mountains, this process is heavily documented because it is something that is completely therapeutic for me. Since the inception of my bigger than life beard that started during The Summer of my Discontent, I decided that since the beard was so crazy (and admittedly, so not DeVo), that I would shave it when and only when my life started to progress in the way that I needed it to, as some semblance of reward for my progress. This was the first time I had trimmed my beard in months and it was a very painful and proud moment for me as I have grown quite attached to the thing.


What Can We Learn From Swiss Cheese Guy?

Amen, Sister!

Sex with Timaree

A few years ago, I was one of the many young women who received a message from the now infamous Swiss Cheese Guy. Basically, every young female I knew who was on OKCupid in the Philadelphia region heard from cheese

He had a template for contacting women: sending dick pics (with cheese, of course) and asking, somewhat slavishly, if we were interested in indulging him. His profile was entirely devoted to his fetish, describing his predilection and featuring pictures of his voluminous midsection and dairy merkin.

We giggled about it, made plenty of awful puns. What else were we supposed to do? It was certainly better than taking it as a personal offense, sitting there feeling impotently violated by the virtual intrusion of his wiener. The guy clearly had a desire to be degraded and humiliated- it had mentioned something of that in his profile- but was also engaging compulsively…

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Prose/Poetry: Old Blog Post – Writing Contest

Many of you may or may not know that I have been a blogger for over ten years now; my inception to online writing started in 2003 on the interface Livejournal. In the past 6 months I’ve been trying to shed my artistic proclivities apart from writing in order to focus on what I’ve been destined to do since I was a young boy. 

Here is a post that I wrote exactly 10 years ago highlighting my style as a writer.  

Thursday, January 15, 2004

5:51PM – Writing Contest

today the winners of The City Paper’s writing contest were revealed, exposed, exploited, whatever you want to call it. for the first time they picked something good.

i entered some poetry a few years ago and got null (i’m not bitter). the thing with “contests” is that even when it’s a popular alternative newspaper, there are always these generic works that “win” and appeal to a very narrow, very obsolete audience. this time i was impressed, especially by the poetry “winner”. that along with the prose entry were engaging and have stayed with me, and they both ended horribly, almost shockingly. i was very amused.

i’m so glad my readers block is gone. i am engulfed in this Blinded by the Right book and i feel like a strumpet when i read something that is not the book i am focused on. this won’t last long, i’m sure to read about 3 more books before i run out of gas to concentrate. i am so all over the place with the guitar and the painting and dance and now, (again) writing. my poetry is exploding. i feel as though i have transcended or something. i’ve been thinking of re-starting (again) The Novel i’ll probably be working on for the rest of my life. attached is an exerpt.

writing has always been my nemesis and my true love. i am a great capricornian thinker and i live in my head all day so writing is the absolute release. i have journals and journals full of crap, okay stuff, thomas jeffersonian lists and calculations, pathetic poetry, momentous events, and true gems. i’ve been reading so much lately and i always get a little bit better after i read something that truly inspires. i’ve picked up so much from my favorite authors: using parenthesis to set-off witty, subliminal asides (Erica Jong), having an impeccable sense of feminine passion (John Updike), erratic punctuation and repetitive use of my favorite words (Emily Dickinson), exhausting complete thought run-on sentences and starting a paragraph right in the middle of a thought (Bret Easton Ellis), phonetic spelling to satirically exaggerate personality (Moliere), an apt for setting a scene with insults and natural, unforced dialogue (Candace Bushnell), connecting separate words allintoone to enhance rhythm, and using unorthodox capitalization (e.e. cummings), pure, unadulterated sarcasm (Oscar Wilde).

i don’t have the attention span or the time or the confidence in my writing to go in and get something out of me that i know is waiting to come out. and people would read my work because it’s honest and real and fucking funny (when i want it to be). i’ve been so spoiled with this livejournal. it’s not that i get to exhibit my exhibitionistic side so much (well, i do), but i use lowercase all the time and when i really write, it becomes an issue. but it’s a statement. it’s a statement.

jamie told me last night that i write “amazing poems”. i do everyonceandawhile. it’s a numbers game. i do take pride in my songs which are basically lyrical poetry. “there is no difference”, she said.

( More Fucking Poetry, I swear this is good stuff this time )

Different World

this sad peninsula
North and South
suctioncupped to
two different cities
just the same

a heavy burden:
civil segregation
the bond with each our own Metropolis

separated by
a common language
accented with different accents

warehouses adjacent to New York
farmland parallel to Philadelphia
the armpit called Atlantic City
by and by

when i take the train
i feel i should have a visa
because i am going to a different world

Dis Ease

Your toxic blood,
My contagious insanity,
They should mesh somehow
But are torn apart by polarity.
Sickness is the sin-
The chasm between us.
We take our pills,
In vitality we trust.
The diseases we succomb to
Repel and disconnect.
We are quarantined,
Never to intersect.
Your cocktail nausea,
My suicidal tendencies,
Symptoms we don’t live without.
We’re broken peephole locks-
With skeleton-in-the-closet keys.


last night
my guitar whispered to me
from across the room
she asked if i could make her sing
why do we both have to be lonely
she interrogated me
i tried to explain
(she’s jealous of my other artistic vices, i think)
the papercuts
the uninspiration
the reason for my excuses
the horrendous hesitation
devoid of chemicals
that make me believe
that untaught me
and make me (feel) free
so i picked at her with my fingers
and together we hummed a solemn tune
and together we filled the empty
and together we filled the doom.

Little Wonder

…I wondered
if the little spider
that scampered across my desk
was really a little spy
a god or goddess incarnate
keeping all it’s little eyes on me
I wondered
for a little moment
if anyone is watching over
or under me
this little life
reminded me of the little things
I wondered…

the mysterious nose bleed

trickle of blood.
where did you come from?
deep within my venacava?
a large artery overfull with plasma?
did my heart mummur or mispalpitate
sending a rush of crimson liquid down my nose?
is there something wrong
deep inside my anatomy?
was it something i did or didn’t do?
what’s wrong with you
my mysterious body of mine?

The Novel

On Writing

Minus one of my grade school teachers, everyone of them knew I was going to be a writer. They never bothered to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. They knew. I always had the most profound little stories to read from my journals, I would have detailed little written presentations at show-and-tell and I loved to read aloud in class. “You’re going to be a great writer” replaced “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.

Before I could learn to read or write, I wanted to so badly. I would beg my sister to teach me everything she learned in school everyday. I would scribble on a piece of paper, hoping that maybe a letter was formed here or there. I made a few e’s, but it wasn’t until years later that I had the whole alphabet under my belt.

I wrote letters to friends and family. Simple letters written only for the pleasure of writing. My handwriting was bold and dark, and I was infamous for always being up at the pencil sharpener during class. I was so eager to get out every word, to make every thought prominent, I would break the point off of the pencil, watching the graphite crumble into little microscopic granules, that little “snap” of a freshly sharpened number 2 pencil over and over again under the relentless strain of my wrist and fingers.

One of the most heartbreaking days of my life was when I was in second grade. We had to write a story every night in our journal, and then the next day volunteers would read aloud their stories. One day, right in the middle of reading a story from my journal, I vomited all over it and my favorite book, and I sat there in agony having lost what meant so much to me.

The next day I refused to stay home from school despite my illness and I read aloud a wonderful story in a fresh new journal. It was half fiction, half not, an adaptation of the old Boy Who Cried Wolf story. It was about a boy who saw a fox on the way to the bus stop one day and was too scared to continue. He went back home and made up a story about being sick so he wouldn’t have to say anything about the fox (he was scared that no one would believe him because of the boy who cried wolf). So no one believed that he was sick and he got a ride to school. On the way there his mother almost ran the fox over as it crossed the street. The little boy said nothing. When he got to school he threw up in class and went home for the rest of the day. My teacher couldn’t stop praising me. I got a perfect attendance award that year.

Every year I got more and more involved with my writing. I would long for writing projects where I could envelope myself in my imagination. I was horrible at math so my grades in reading and writing usually made up for them. When I got to junior high, it became even more of an obsession. I was now writing reports and papers and summaries, oh my! Group projects were led by me. Teachers would leave long, detailed notes about my great writing style and how devoted I was to it. In high school my papers became famous even more and I started winning prizes for competitions and everyone told me what a great writer I was going to become. Except Mrs. Gold.

Mrs. Gold was my Honors English teacher sophomore year of high school. She was a feminist who strived to make her male students feel like incompetent wastes of flesh. She hardly let us speak in class, only calling on us when she had a trick question to ask about Greek Tragedy or some other open-to-interpretation ideal that we were learning about. I got a C in her class. She was one of the most un-inspiring teachers I have ever had. I was so spoiled by my English teachers in the past that I expected her to continue the tradition of pumping my ego, but instead, she would return my papers full of blood red pen marks, the margins full of nasty little notes like “this is convoluted”, “poor word choice”, “needs elaboration”, “did you research this?”. The bitch.

When I got to college I only wrote when I was interested in what I was learning about in class. My research projects would flourish with pretentious language, I was in college wasn’t I? But I was faced with another feminist teacher who picked up where Mrs. Gold left off. She inspired me to become a better writer and to keep the big words out of my papers. She was very stern and inspiring and made me realize what Mrs. Gold was trying to do to me. She loved my spirit and my knack for writing, but I was sadly misguided. One day while I was waiting for her in her office, I read all these horrible, bland papers that were marked “excellent!”, “this is great work!”, “wonderful job!”. I was disgusted but I knew that it was the negative reinforcement that would make me a better writer and that those students were so hopeless that trying to reinforce them to improve their skills would be a huge waste of time.

(c) 2004-2014 |