Performed June 10th 2016 at Teatro Morelos De Maravatío, Mexico.
Boleto is a performance specifically for the people of Maravatío, an effort to return the feelings of welcomeness the city offered me as a visitor. At the beginning of the night, I circulated a few handmade tickets to the audience. Some comrades helped to direct visitors with a Boleto up into the loge where I hosted them. Rather, over hosted them. Attempting a cross between Charlie Chaplin and Mr Bean as usher, I entertained, dated, fed, and watched the show with my guests. I love the space of a great theater, the social agreement to look, to watch, to be willing, to use our gifts of persistence of vision and plausible denial to be taken in. These are the elements of the cinema and theater that are universal.
You'll Never Love Me Back
Performance at Studio Soto Boston, 2014
I began thinking of this performance as a display of a certain time in my life. A small town, violent existence. Violent on every level, physical, structural, psychological. The house I rented with two other young lesbians was a insular reality where we got high on various substances, licked our wounds, held parties, chased romance and sought out images of ourselves.
Yes, to reconcile these times is a common thing in the human experience - to seek out where and when these things formed. But the violence, that is what we really want to negotiate out of the hardness, out of the over sharing, of my turning an audience member into a voyeur of what some may feel is personal torture. Too hard, and why do it?
I started the video collage used in the performance of well known American films with a completely different intent. Inspired by drag queen Kevin Aviance’s Video collaboration with Johnny Mcgovern where the Queen, sesame street style appears on screen with a puppet and the letter of the day W is for werk.
I thought this idea would be interesting as a collage of queer or queered in the collective conscious images from hollywood films and television. I started out with a few rules, nothing pre 1980 (my birthyear) and that the content was mainstream enough that at some point my parents could have seen it in the local cinema or on television. This was important to me because I wanted to point out that the violence we were living was absolutely a part of the fear that began long before I came out, that this well earned and highly crafted aggression was palpable to me and those like me and the catharsis of looking for those like us in films was also couched in the cyclical violence that appeared onscreen. Somehow we knew we were not crazy.
Making this kind of collage is not quick, you must first obtain a workable piece of video in some manner, converting, ripping, downloading files. Sitting thru an hour or more of footage to find the six seconds you are hoping to use. So, when I started looking for the workVSwerk content it became so much easier to pull hate speech, small violence and ultimately murderous acts. In that way this self construction of violence that was not the original intention comforts me. Because as I started performing, I asked myself: Is it not true that all films focus on violent or extraordinary acts? I mean aren’t women and people of color constantly suffering on screen? And I answer to myself yes, but I really believe not so often in the films that are considered affirming of their culture.
It was important to me that I be “using” during this performance - because as a re-creation of a specific time for me, it was extremely helpful in understanding that substances had a FUNCTION in this world. As I became slightly inebriated towards the end of the 75 minutes I watched the 3:06 loop, something in me shut down, quite specifically, something mattered less about those pictures. Perhaps this part is just for me, the internal clock of addiction revealing things I can now understand. Placing the drive of addiction in a context that in examinable. However, the aesthetics of time and place are also represented in that simple brown paper bag. Only certain people drink like that.
This performance has helped me come to the realization that many people are going to think this presentation too violent, too much like torture, too sunk into self loathing or perhaps even self pity. But as I write about and examine it, I realize that this exposure for me is a communication, a relief of a subterranean cargo that I have carried for many years. It is an expression of what it is like to live in constant fear. Which, if you have never felt for any duration is wonderful. But for those of us who have, I believe it is important to try to communicate in that subterranean space itself. To put it on display. Because there is a constant fear I have of violence, of being found out, of consequent rape, of murder. These fears can manifest in my family home, the sidewalk, any restroom on the planet, public transportation, the list goes on. And you may say well this is a problem, you have some issues to work out. I say, it is precisely these fears that have kept me alive, and also a survival strategy for staying out of the looney bin.
It is also becoming important to take my place is a strange history. A history that is muddled with youth repeating some of my experiences and those to whom these facts seem alien. Some that move through a much kinder world and find classification, celebration and the categorization of difference in these 21st century times unnecessary. I do admit, these things I carry are not the constant troubles of what many urban youths would consider the pulse of here and now. But, I did not originate from these places, nor does my family have a support network that protects them from the subterranean cargo that this queerness holds. It is for the youth that have a similar experience that I dig out this work.