4/23/14



Today would have been S' birthday. He would have been 28 years old but he died (three?) years ago. We went out on a date. I don't remember why, I think he might have asked me out. I met him at the EastVillageBoys party at the Hose. I was recently cleaning my room and I found the flyer for it this weekend, actually. And I remember he had a necklace made of one of his molars, one of his wisdom teeth. Let me back up-- he was go-go dancing, and I was introducing the performer that night (Gio Black Peter). The EVB guys led me to the back of the Hose, to the store-room, where the go-go boys were. They had them in the back room with all the bottles of vodka. That seemed like a bad idea. I was dressed because I wasn't go-go dancing, but I was just hanging out back there for a minute, and S came over to me and introduced himself and asked if I was Max. He had that necklace of one of his wisdom teeth, all wrapped in gold wire. We talked about teeth-- I had just gotten mine taken out but was dismayed that they wouldn't let me keep it. I introduced Gio's performance, and I don't remember it, but apparently I was drunk and messy. I don't know when S asked me out but probably around then. God how old was he, then. 23. That was five years ago. And I was 24.

I remember we went out on a date to see a movie at Kips Bay. He told me he was a go-go boy sometimes, for other places too. He was maybe still in school? He did something with math, some high-level intellectual weird thing. No-- he worked at a start-up but he worked from home. Doing something in computers that I didn't understand. I think we saw either a horror movie or a superhero movie. I think he chose it. We went out afterward to a kind of insanely bad and loud restaurant in Murray Hill. But he was really cute and really charming and we talked about eating food and how, I was eating tortilla chips, those chips' molecules were becoming part of me, and the burger he was eating was becoming part of him.

He and I went out a few times. One time I brought him home with me and we had sex at night, and it was great. And then in the morning we sort of tried to have sex but didn't, really, try, and gave up. And that was disappointing. He lived in a very fancy expensive building, which no one I would ever know could afford, but he lived in a three bedroom with I think 8 or 9 other people. That was how they made it work. So he had a room mate for his bed. I remember coming home with him and making out and going to third base while his room mate slept on the mattress. Eventually he got up and left. It was awkward, but S told me that it was okay because sometimes he and his room mate had sex. I don't remember where we ended up the first night we went out but I remember him saying "I'm so glad you ate those tortilla chips and now they're a part of you."

S was very smart and very sweet and very weird. He would sometimes be at parties or shows and would be very calm and sweet and attractive and kind of mysterious. Once he was at a party I performed at, and I think he liked the lyrics to one of my songs (he tweeted them during the show). As I got offstage, (we had stopped dating by this point) he told me he loved me. I said that's probably not true but very sweet. He said no, no he did. I said you just think you do. He said I don't know. It was actually really really sweet.

I remember on two different occasions, being out at bars or parties with him and introducing him to other friends of mine, who immediately fell in love with S. I was a little jealous, both times. He was that kind of guy, he was really intense looking and funny and cute and made a very strong impression. I remember he went by his first and middle names, because his first and last name was also the name of a recently convicted killer who had gotten a lot of news coverage. I know he had gotten a boyfriend at some point, and they were very much and intensely in love, and I think lived together. Then I think they broke up? I'm not sure, we hadn't been in touch in a while. And then I was in touch with him and asked him how he was, online, and he said that he had tried to kill himself. He had jumped off of a building but had kind of miraculously survived, and was recovering at a hospital in NY before going to stay with friends in the midwest. He asked me to come visit him and I said that I would, and then he asked me to bring him weed, and I said I don't know about that. I felt uncomfortable and I didn't go visit him and I regret it and I don't know why I didn't. I'd visited other people in the hospital many times. When I was in the hospital, I really enjoyed being visited. I think it was the suicide thing. I think it was the scale of the thing. I made excuses, he was very nice. He went to the midwest to recover. He said no matter what happens, he wanted me to know that I was really cool, even if I was a little bit selfish. I later found out that in the ensuing months he had attempted suicide again and died. Today would have been his 28th birthday. I wonder, how to celebrate? I might eat some cake to celebrate his birthday, and then the cake will become part of me.

4/18/14

MAPPLETHORPE by Max Steele


Photo by Ingo Lamm

BAX | Brooklyn Arts Exchange
421 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Friday-Saturday, May 2-3 @ 8:00pm
Sunday, May 4 @ 6:00pm

Tickets: $15 General | $8 Low-Income

Mapplethorpe is a kind of service, a product or device. A disposable personality, a soulless soul-singer, a TV character set to self-destruct, a eulogy to stay alive, a pop star designed for rancor. A lover who cannot bear the weight of the spotlight and whose incineration glimmers on command.

MAPPLETHORPE is about a singer, who chose the name Mapplethorpe (pronounced MAP'llthorpe) because he wanted a powerful name. A name that was about power. Plus it has the word "Map" in it, so you know where to go, where you are. And he's here to pay your ransom. And this show tells how.

He's a rising young talent, here to introduce himself through his Gay Ofay Reggae Cabaret.

Last year in my first year as an Artist In Residence at BAX, I made ENCOURAGER, a self-help seminar led by a sincere but inexpert guru. The theme of ENCOURAGER was that the only true self-help possible is self-destruction.

In MAPPLETHORPE, I'm using cabaret, comedy and popular music as ways to investigate morality, charisma, power and the impoverishment of imagination.


Photo by Ves Pitts

I've lived in New York since 2006, and have been performing music in nightclubs, writing and doing spoken word from my zine Scorcher, and making performance art for theaters, galleries and museums. In this new show, I'm trying to tie together the various ways I've been making and presenting work. MAPPLETHORPE represents a shift from the narrative and thematic work I've made in the past, towards a more abstract, dance-influenced and experimental type of performance. I'm willfully conflating minimalism with deprivation, and rigor with discomfort. This is the most experimental and riskiest artwork I've made, and is the truest distillation of my values, and the questions I'm reckoning with right now.

I wanted to make a cabaret show that was about alienation, rather than intimacy. I'm interested unpacking the so-called passivity of the audience. I'd like to find the logical conclusion of charisma, and to activate the values of the viewer. As audience members, we so often carry our own psyches and baggage with us into the experience of watching live performance, and I want to make artwork that doesn't disregard that baggage, but instead calls on it. I want the audience to feel activated, stimulated, and encouraged to judge, decide, and choose how they feel about the performance they're seeing. The subjective experience of MAPPLETHORPE depends entirely on the suspension of disbelief, on the conscious denial or acceptance of one's own tastes and beliefs.

The title of the show seems to reference a famous photographer, but is pronounced differently. This is a show about getting things wrong all the way. This is a world in which there's no excuse for ignorance. It's not an accident if it's a choice. This is a show about getting things wrong, on purpose, to see the other side of a mistake. This has less to do with failure, iconoclasm and revolution, and more to do with self-sabotage, disappointment, frustration, impatience and slapstick humor.

Using the constraints of a nominally accessible form, I want to create a situation in which someone could be loved for the all the wrong reasons, and hated for all the right reasons.

Some more information about me and the project:
http://artistservices.bax.org/max-steele
http://helixqpn.tumblr.com/post/75894224999/the-helix-interview-max-steele

I've made a video playlist of songs and videos which inspired the project, you can check it out below:

4/15/14

SCoS



A week of sick. A week of injury. Week of blood. A week of ooze. Of dripping. Seeping, crusting. Explosions, gushing. A week of geysers. A week of Old Faithful. Week of oil well. Like in the Wizard of Oz, when the Tin Man is whining. I want knuckle tattoos that say O I L C A N.



A week of fever. A week of swelling. Of sweat. A week of white blood cells. Some shivering, a bit of tenderness, periods of exhaustion. Momentary failures. I wonder: is it because of the eclipse? A week of ointments.



I want to make the gay idiot version of shibuya-kei. I want to make the gay idiot version of bossa nova. Those might be next. I want to disappear into something I love, but I know it can't ever all the way happen. Gay ye-ye. Y'know? It's also about modernity, how 1960s modernism seems so old now, and to me, so idealistic. Even and especially the cynical, the cool, the "hip". The thrill of the "new". I see it as optimism.

Will this get better? Will it infect my bloodstream. Will it be drug resistant. Will this kill me. I do think I'll be perfectly ok though. But I am supremely uncomfortable. The other night I couldn't sleep. Isn't that bad, when the pain wakes you up? That's when you know to call the doctor. I already went to the doctor. I'm just waiting for the antibiotics to kick in. The treatment. I told the doctor at the clinic that my lymph nodes hurt and he told me that they're draining the infection, they're full of white blood cells. They're just doing their job. Is it bad, always, when pain wakes you up? Not always. It's better than when the pain puts you to sleep.

That's the thing about being sick. When you're sick, you start to notice other sick people. Then you can't stop noticing. You're part of a community of sick people, a secret underworld society. And some of us are crazy and some of us aren't. Some of us are just passing through. Well, we're all passing through. The community of sick people is like a hospital or a fast food restaurant-- it's not exactly there to be comfortable. Being comfortable isn't part of it. You're all passing through. Either you become a well person again or you don't, in which case you spend the rest of your life sick. In which case you die. But you're not alone! My mom once told me that's what being pregnant is like; you start to notice other pregnant people. They seem to be everywhere. That's what it was like when I quit smoking, it was like everyone was either a smoker or had quit and I was trying to suss out everyone's feelings about tobacco. I talked to everyone about it.

My ankle hurts, too. I think I somehow re-sprained it? From not wearing the brace all weekend? Friday night I went to see Melanie Jones' show at BAX. It was the first show of the BAX AIR season, and I was totally blown away. It was so fantastic and intense and smart and patient and just... really wonderful. I've honestly never seen anything like it, in terms of how intense and personal and freaked-out it was. I have never seen anyone go there like that and stay there along enough to even make it a thing. It was really masterful writing and acting and performing and thinking and yeah. Totally impressed. I'm still kind of dumbfounded.

After the show I went to Ryan's going away party. He's moving to LA. At the party we ran into our old college chum Ari who is ALSO moving to LA. Everyone is moving to LA. Because of the winter, I suppose. But jeez. We had a good time catching up and gossiping with Bennet and so many boys from Williamsburg, the extended network of Ryan's friends. So sad that he's leaving, we're losing a good one. I did not feel good when I went home Friday night, I felt real bad actually.

Saturday I went to the gym (my ankle felt better, then), and then I had brunch at Caroline and Jessi's house, which was lovely. I felt kind of out of it from sick, but we had a great time. C made waffles and I had a beer for brunch and we talked about upcoming projects and meditation and hanging out. It's so funny to me that we were internet friends from message boards 15 years ago. And now we live in New York and hang out. I'm always so blown away by how much funny stuff life contains. And the world is so big.

I went home after brunch and laid with an ice pack on my neck, feeling very poor. I eventually scraped myself together. Looking back on it I felt really bad, actually. Just putting a pin in that. I went to dinner and then I bummed around in a daze, leaving flyers for MAPPLETHORPE at bars. I got a drink by myself at the Metropolitan and sat in the back and chainsmoked, drafting this post. I was killing time. Eventually I went to Bradley's party, where I met Max B. CoCo was also there, and she had (as Max B. sagely pointed out) the best lines of the night. At one point someone was talking about drinking, our favorite types of alcohol to drink, and this guy was saying how his sister and her friends took him to the Hamptons and they brought a cooler full of prosecco and how bad of a hangover he had. Coco said: "Oh, of course! It's the only way to do the Hamptons." I'm trying to remember the rest but I can't. She was great, Bradley's great, they're all great. His room mate was nice and his friends were nice. They were really into dancing. I love a house party where you're dancing and sometimes with the lights on. They had a great DJ and when he played "Drunk in Love" the kids (the babies, the babes) went wild. I mean just W-I-L-D. Everybody screaming the lyrics along to the record. I love Beyoncé and I love her fans as well. And they love me. That's another secret underground society, right? The Beyhive?

I sneaked out of the party and stopped by GAG! at Metro. Did y'all know it's the 10 year anniversary of GAG later this month? How nuts is that. I remember going to the 3 year anniversary and thinking that it was such a big huge deal (it was) and so sophisticated and cosmopolitan. I don't know what I'm gonna do for the 10 year. I hope I'm healed by then.

Sunday I felt not better and not worse. I went to rehearse MAPPLETHORPE at BAX. I'm worried about the show. I'm excited about the show! It's a cabaret, and it's scripted, but it's like. It's a hard script for me to act, in a way. It looks natural but the logic of the character isn't my logic, it's made-up, so it's counterintuitive. But I'm looking forward to the show. And I hope you can come.



After rehearsal I came home and did my chores and got ready and went to go celebrate Lola's Dirty 30 Birthday Party at a local speakeasy. There was a photographer from a magazine there covering the speakeasy, she took a lot of flash photos, it was unnerving. The bartenders made expensive and very strong drinks and they wore vests. Our friends all came, Lola looked beautiful. I met some of her friends from graduate school. Her lil sister, who is now movie mogul (do y'all remember my short story CASINO? Cuz...) was there and she brought fancy donuts instead of cake (she asked what Lola wanted). We sang happy birthday and she blew out candles and we ate donuts. And then I came home and ordered take-out and watched this movie about communist Romania, Amintiri din epoca de aur.

Monday I was sick, I was worse. I started taking new antibiotics. My ankle hurt more, somehow. Like it got worse? It was getting better and then it got worse. It's very swollen and weak. It feels like my tendons are tangled up. It was a Blood Moon or something. At night I turned off the lights and I sat in the moonlight and I tried to visualize myself healing. But to be honest, I feel like the Moon doesn't give a fuck and I don't blame her. But it was nice and relaxing. I set an alarm to get up during the eclipse to see the blood moon. And I woke up, in the middle of a dream (forgot it already) and I couldn't see the moon. Maybe because it was behind the clouds, or behind a building, or I couldn't see it from my placement. But it was there.

It's funny. Last week I told my mom on the phone that my health was fine, it came up that I hadn't had to go to the doctor in a long time. And I also incidentally mentioned that I'm not celebrating Easter nor Passover because I don't believe in God. Mom, who's not particularly religious, but is superstitious, said "Oooh, honey, don't say that." And then I promptly started to injure and infect myself. Seems fitting. The laundromat on our block shut down for unspecified health code violations. I'm broke, ish. The window in our kitchen, which has been broken for a long time, got stuck open. And it's Passover so my superintendent (who is Hasidic) can't come and fix it even if he wanted to. I found a way to jimmy it shut again. And with my disfiguring mutilated afflictions, I have a reading tonight and a performance on Thursday night. Not a good week. Despite all this, I told my mom last night when we spoke, I'm in a good mood. I'm upbeat. I'm in good spirits. I've dealt with shit like this before and totally fallen apart, and so my ability to nominally keep it together this time is, to me, a sign of maturity and strength. I mean, I am incredibly uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally, but that is OK.



I love this song. The composer, Frank Churchill, apparently killed himself, on the piano bench, shortly after writing it.

4/9/14

Packed, Packing

It feels like I had a wildly unproductive weekend, but I guess that's not really true. I just feel sort of unproductive because I'm so exhausted.



Thursday night, I went to ClampArt to see Pages, the new photo exhibition by Linda Simpson. Linda is definitely my favorite drag queen in new York City, maybe in the whole world, and has been making NYC a fantastic place to be for a minute now. She is a performer, a hostess, and a writer. She published the legendary zine My Comradefor many years, and has thrown some of my favorite events in the City ever. I'm so excited that her sort of living archive of documenting New York has been given this life as Fine Art, thanks to ClampArt and Peradam (Pages is also being published as an art book by Paradam).

After the show I went to Analysis and talked about my new show MAPPLETHORPE at Brooklyn Arts Exchange. TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE NOW. I'm so nervous, and excited. And nervous! I hope you can come to it. After Analysis I went to the Monster to go to dear heart Aaron's new party LOVER, but it was already over. K&M came by with cute boy cousins, though, and we all had some drinks. Then we went on to one of the cousins' house, in the Village, and I saw his cute little dog and he put on a Star Wars movie and fixed cocktails and we hung out a bit more, talked about movie actresses we like/don't like. I sneaked home when they ordered dumplings.

I came home and tried to sleep but my neighbors got a new sound system or something; the courtyard was blasting music all night. I couldn't make most of it out (salsa?) but I know they played "Rock the Boat" a few dozen times. I didn't sleep, I felt horrible the next day.

Friday after work I went to James Fuentes to see the re staging of the Real Estate Show.



It was a madhouse! It was totally great. Obviously I love Colab. I studied with Robin Winters for two years in college and am deeply inspired be this group of artists and this show, their bodies of work in general. Definitely get into it. The show was packed. It was so much fun.

Came back to Brooklyn and went to a surprise birthday party for Diego in Greenpoint. He was really surprised! It was great. His BF organized it and did a bang-up job. We all had a great time. I ordered a pizza to be delivered to the bar, I felt so fancy. What a strange, quiet, weird bar in Greenpoint. Some lady at the bar, a regular, I want to say her name was Marie, had a special shot made, named after her, and didn't explain what was in it, but bought one for Wilkes, who drank it and then went on an international vacation (before the pizza got there). I did a lil' flirting and I also ate two birthday cupcakes. Sister Pico brought macarons, the fancy kind, and I had one of those too. It was awesome. I was so sleepy though, from Thursday night. I only drank tequila with the thinking being that it would keep me awake. I guess it sort of did.


Sam McKinniss, Ghostface

Saturday I met up with my friend Daniel R. to talk about making a video for MAPPLETHORPE and we got coffee in the East Village. Then we went to Good Work Gallery in Bushwick to see "First responders", a group show curated by Zach Smith. From the curator's statement: "Reflection doesn’t guarantee thorough results. Impulse can be refined, but flashes of the uncanny are rarely if ever reverse engineered." He's clever. I had only ever met him socially, but was really bowled over by his thinking about the show. And the show itself. Such cute work! Sam is obviously a favorite, I'm totally a fan, and I also loved Deanna Havas' pieces. It's a tiny gallery, I drank some beers and chatted with some kids. No one could get into the bathroom so we kept running across the street to go to the bathroom at the bar.

It was a kind of Spring-y, lovely, and kind of cold night. And I was exhausted and I went home early. It's so weird. I was like, in bed and passing out before midnight. I don't feel old, I've always pulled shit like that. I just really wanted to sleep, you know? I really wanted to sleep and I didn't really want to drink or anything else. So I didn't.

Sunday I got up early and I went to the theater writer / performer support group organized by the lovely Lady Rim. Always such a nourishing and grounding and hilarious time. Kudos to everyone for meeting, y'know, at noon on a Sunday. We did it! Then I came home, got a sandwich, took a lil nap and went to the gym. I thought I had booked a rehearsal for myself, which I definitely sorely need, leading up to the show. No such luck. I had, it turns out, rescheduled my Sunday rehearsal for Saturday, and forgotten about it. So that was neat. I came home after the gym, did some chores and errands, and then went on over to Joe's Pub.

At Joe's, we were celebrating Earl Dax' blessed birth with an epick cabaret line-up. Performers included the legendary drag faux-king MorrisSHE, citizen Reno, Justin Sayre, Machine Dazzle, Amber Martin, Nick Hallett, Phoebe Legere, Joey Arias, John Kelly Needles Jones and yours truly. SO much fun. I did a little bit of MAPPLETHORPE, so I guess it's ok I didn't have rehearsal that day, but still.


Photo by Albert Mitchell 

You guys I'm a singer. I had a few glasses of wine, and then we went upstairs to the Library and hung out a bit more. I gushed over how obsessed with Amber Martin I am (so obsessed). I went home at a reasonable hour, I thought.

On my block, a few dozen yards from home, I twisted my ankle, really badly. I heard and felt a loud crunch sound. It really fucked me up. I hobbled home and into bed. How awful, you know? I watched a documentary about Heavy D & The Boys. I don't know why. I didn't finish it.

Monday I took the day off work for feeling tired and burnt out. I met with someone about a new secret web project (watch this and all spaces), came home and lulled about the house, answering e-mails and catching up on work. Some exciting things coming up! Even beyond MAPPLETHORPE which is the big ugly scary exciting thing looming in my life. Though, of course, there are the events in the post below (Tommy's app release party and an event with Rumi). If you come to these events, 4/15 and 4/17 respectively, I'll be name-dropping a discount code for MAPPLETHORPE tickets so that you can buy them for $5 instead of $15, so. You know. You want to come.

Yesterday I went to work and it was just okay. We had waffles. Afterward I went to the dentist and got a clean bill of dental health, which means the world to me. He cleaned my teeth using high-powered baking soda. It tasted disgusting but it made my teeth look nice. Then I went to the Kitchen for this art talk featuring the Blow. People were talking about audiences. It was in conjunction with Gerard and Kelly's new piece there, Timelining. They talked briefly about notions of the audience versus the public. And about getting over relational aesthetics. I'm still not over it either! Still not over them.

On the train there, a young girl dragging a guitar case sat down next to me and propped up her guitar to hide her backpack. I could see, since she was sitting next to me, that in her backpack she had a tube of uncooked chocolate chip cookie dough, which she was sort of slurping on the train ride. At the Kitchen, I hadn't eaten all day, since the work waffles, and they had drinks there. I had one beer and I felt a little drunk. And then I had another and then I had a glass of white wine and then I had a glass of red wine and still! No dinner yet. A cute guy sat down next to me when I first arrived, and took off his overcoat. He was wearing a cute little red blazer underneath. After a few drinks, towards the end of the Art Talk, I noticed that while the nails on his right hand were plain, unadorned, the nails on his left hand were very long, very pointy, and painted a shiny dark blue. A gorgeous surprise, right.

I hung out for a tiny bit after the talk, I met a nice girl from New Zealand. Talked a little bit about Lorde and the Tall Poppy Syndrome. I went home and made a big salad for dinner. I woke up extra early this morning, 5:30am, and went to the gym. My ankle felt okay, I only did elliptical. But then at work I was talking and I somehow twisted my ankle again. I hate paid. I'm leaving work soon and going out to dinner and I feel optimistic and a little bit freaked out.

So many events, shows, performances coming up. Really exciting stuff, but yeah. Just a lot.

4/8/14

MY LOOK FOR SUMMER

I like wearing underpants. And nothing else. Just a pair of lil bikini briefs. European tourist in a speedo. And that's it. Maybe a faux-silk kimono or kaftan for the nights. A pair of sneakers, slip-ons. And a cigarette or something. That's what the fuck I want to wear to the beach, this goddamn summer.















4/7/14

Some Dates

I've been sleeping and then not sleeping. I am working on a bigger update, but in the meantime there are some shows I want to talk about. If you haven't signed up for my hopefully not-too-annoying e-mail list, you can do that on the right hand side here. I will be right back with real news, updates.

*Tuesday, April 15*
Absent Mindr app release party
Mellow Pages Library (56 Bogart St. 1S, Brooklyn)
7:30pm
FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1393155927627988/

Absent Mindr is a poetry chapbook by Tommy Pico of Birdsong Micropress, and the first one made into an APP for iphones/ipads and such--which you can download from yr friendly neighborhood app store starting the 15th. Tommy's throwing a part for the release, featuring readings by: MAX STEELE, MAUD DEITCH, LAUREN WILKINSON, SEAN H. DOYLE & TOMMY PICO.

The app is 24 poems, audio of Tommy reading each one, and features art by Cat Glennon, and was developed/published by VERBALVISUAL. For more info:
ABSENTMINDR site: absentmindr.com
Developed by VERBALVISUAL: verbalvisu.al
CAT GLENNON art: catglennon.com

*Thursday, April 17*
A Cocktail of Glamour and Anarchy
Bureau of General Services-Queer Division (83A Hester Street, New York)
7PM
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/843970615619212/

A COCKTAIL OF GLAMOUR & ANARCHY an evening of performance featuring original Cockette RUMI MISSABU in person! Accompanied by AGOSTO MACHADO, JARVIS EARNSHAW & JOE E. JEFFREYS and Special Guests RACHEL MASON, MAX STEELE & MARK GOLAMCO.

Rumi Missabu, actor/male actress, performance artist, director-producer, mentor and original member and archivist for the gender-bending early 70s counterculture troupe The Cockettes, once described as like the Little Rascals in drag doing Busby Berkeley on acid, Rumi Missabu, hosts an evening of conversation, spoken word, film clips, and musical interludes withspecial guests. Guaranteed to be a fun-filled romp laced with pure nostalgia that bridges the gap between the Summer of Love and thetimes of Harvey Milk.

*May 2-4*
MAPPLETHORPE by Max Steele
BAX | Brooklyn Arts Exchange (421 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York)
Friday-Saturday, May 2-3 @ 8:00pm | Sunday, May 4 @ 6:00pm
Tickets here: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/933517

Mapplethorpe is a kind of service, a product or device. A disposable personality, a soulless soul-singer, a TV character set to self-destruct, a eulogy to stay alive, a pop star designed for rancor. A lover who cannot bear the weight of the spotlight and whose incineration glimmers on command.

Visit artistservices.bax.org/max-steele to learn more about BAX Artist in Residence Max Steele

3/25/14

Tougher

Yeah so it's Tuesday, I get real stressed out on Tuesdays so I did a code and tapped in back in time and went and looked for someone, a file I had closed. We had stopped speaking, mutually, sort of friendly, sort of not. I felt sad, I'd been thinking of him fondly lately. He's doing well, I guess. He's in love with a doctor.

Is it mean to tell someone that you think of them as the one that got away? Is that cruel? It seems mean. It seems selfish. What if the person has a whole new life now. What right do you have to tell them something that would upset them?


The best part is always the waving at the horns on "good riddance, goodbye"

Might not even upset him, actually. Likely not. A fantasy of being a homewrecker. Too bad your family likes the Doctor. No, dump him and take back up with Billy. How would you explain me to the family "Yeah he was this totally awful guy I dated a few years ago and now we're back together"? It's a moot point. I just wonder, is it cruel or mean or wrong to tell someone: I think of you as the one that got away. You know. You know I've always loved you, carried a torch for you.

I think maybe it's not necessarily so mean. It's basically saying I'm sorry. I'm sorry things worked out the way they did. I wish they would have worked out differently. Or, maybe the better question to ask is if it's mean to say you're sorry. Probably someone feels pretty okay with how things have worked out so far. And besides, why bother bellyaching about the past?



"Don't fuck things up by getting sick, again."

Thinking about my old buddy Charlie today and missing him. If he were here he would definitely not stand for me throwing such a hissyfit. He'd take me out for milkshakes or something. Minigolf. He'd love most of my friends, and hate others, and he'd have crushes on all of them it'd be a wreck. Y'know, for someone who complains and freaks out as much as I do, I cut myself very little actual slack and I wish Charlie were still here to remind me that the exboyfriend is cute but not that cute and to get over it. Charlie would have been jealous. He would have reminded me that I'm stretched kind of thin and am overwhelmed, but the thing is keeping the way-- what do they call it? Keep the space? Hold the candle? Keep someone's memory alive? You have to do the stuff they used to do. That is, if you care about it getting done anymore.
I feel uncontrollably angry. I feel rage! It's energetic. I feel chaotic. I meditated this morning, my good-boy ten minutes. I wish, thinking back on it now, that I had spent that same ten minutes furiously masturbating, punching a pillow, or chainsmoking.

What's the point of being more present in your life if your life feels hopeless? This is my thing with the whole branding thing: what if you do the work of branding, of finding out who you are, and you find out you're a shitty person?

I've been having this struggle lately-- I feel like nobody wants to be my friend. And it's because I don't want to be my friend. I don't fundamentally feel like I deserve happiness and love and respect, and so I don't demand it. And I mistake flattery for love and I mistake resentment for respect. But it comes from me-- nobody wants to find out more about me because I don't want to find out more about me. I don't want to be me.

This is the school of acting that I subscribe to: it's not about putting on a mask to become a character, it's about taking off the masks you already wear until you find something that resonates with the character.

I have to think, statistically, I'm not such a fantastically awful person. But where is the proof of that. Where is the hopeful indication. Probably all around. Probably I'm just too freaked out to notice it. Do I sound bratty? Where's my parade. Feeling very much as if I am not good. I'm no one's favorite person. I am not anyone's "type". Nothing I could think of or say or do-- nobody is waiting on me to say it. I'm not fishing for compliments here, I don't want to be contradicted. I want to find out if this is really what my life is like, and therefore must be what everyone's life is like, and how come everyone else can sort of grapple with this and I can't? Is everyone fooling themselves? It seems like.

SO many people think they're so interesting. Get on my level, guys. YES, she had a rough day. She's had a lot of people lately (it feels like) tell her how awful and lacking she is. And she needs some people to be nice to her, to help her, to support her. But she doesn't know how to ask.

I would like it very much, the romantic comedy version. I would enjoy tremendously, the discotheque finale. The happy ending. I'd like very much for some knitted eyebrows to swoop in and save the day. To be nothing more substantial, for the answer to be no bigger than a couple fistfuls of flesh. Wouldn't. That. Be. Fucking. Great.

I'd much prefer it to be a thing that can be fixed by me just saying I love you, I love you, I love you but I don't know... It's weird. There're a couple guys in my life who it seems like, they just want to hang out with me every couple months to have me tell them how cute I think they are. How attracted to them I am. And I do this, happily. It sort of turns me on to be affectionate, it certainly, I think (and tell them) doesn't cost me anything. But the thing is, they never say it back to me. They don't actually like me, or they're not attracted to me. Or they just don't want me to know? I think, that's fine, I don't need that. But you know what I'm actually not a super self-confident person and I definitely don't think or know that I'm attractive, like actually, and I do need that.

I have three goals I set with my Analyst last week:

- Cry. Learn to cry, somehow.
- Get a boyfriend or at least start working towards more romantic relationships and romantic love in my life.
- Restructure my life in such a way that my workload and daily responsibilities don't make me so suicidal.

So, thinking about these guys in my life where I'm called on to just say I love you, I am attracted to you, You're my type, I think about you all the time. It makes me want to cry. But I can't. The funny thing is, these guys, they kind of look exactly the same. I have a type. I'll admit it. I want to be some body else's type.

3/18/14

We were talking this weekend, in Chinatown, about theories of pedophilia. We were at a tea house, the one he knew that made sugar-free bubble tea. He bought mine for me. I got mango with bubbles, regular sugar. We were talking about pedophilia. I told him that I sometimes joked that I'm the only gay man I know who doesn't want to fuck little boys. That's a joke, obviously. He told me about some theories, I forget whose theories exactly, Foucault maybe, which posit that the theory of the child is a kind of fallacy, a projection of adult fantasies. And that actually, so-called children could be thought of as completely autonomous, and they could in fact want to have sex with adults, with so-called adults. I'm boiling an eloquent point down to a sentence. Basically, that the whole question of adults doing it to kids is only one way to look at it; that there're other theories that think of it in more nuanced terms or whatever.

Right, I said. And how convenient. You know. How convenient to discover this theory that the kid maybe wants it. It's especially convenient if you want to fuck kids, right? To know about this theory. It's really lucky for you, to discover the theory, far out and radical as it may be that the kid wants it. That what you want is okay. Of course you have to think that.

And we were also talking about masculinity, and I expressed a kind of frustration I had (personal and political and larger) with this kind of masculinity that has to constantly assert itself. That only knows itself through conflict, domination and submission. The kind of masculinity that was concerned only with expressing, demonstrating power. He said "But that's what masculinity is."

I said no, it isn't. I said there's a myriad of other ways to be. To be masculine, to be in the world, in a way that we might call masculine. It's just that our culture teaches us there's only one way to be and only one awful way to measure it. It's like saying that that the only way to get around is in a Mercedes Benz. That could be the standard, the dream, the ideal or whatever. In the commercial. But as a matter of course, most of us have to find other ways to get around. I guess it's just that we don't talk about the buses we're taking. The public transportation. How we're all fine, right?

We finished out bubble tea and walked uptown and I met up with my cousin and we said goodbye. It was a beautiful day on Saturday.

3/9/14



I really identify with this video. I feel like that's me, you know?

Wildly unproductive weekend, but restful. Friday night I went to see darling boy Sam McKinniss read at Macie Gransion. I got there just barely in time to see him read, and then I high-tailed it back to Brooklyn to go to my old college friend's engagement party. I saw a bunch of old friends, and a couple old frenemies (yikes!) and had the best time hanging out with Miss Jiddy No-No and Miss Jess Paps. I came up with a new nickname for her: instead of Jess Paps I want to start calling her Dress Paps.

The DJ played "Lovefool" by the Cardigans and everyone loved it. I loved it. Then they played "Alright!" by Supergrass and everyone loved it. Then they played "Malibu" by Hole and everyone loved it. It felt so strange: this is going, pretty soon, to be considered Classic Rock. Oldies. But it already sounds old, right? But even the things it sounded like were trying to sound like other things. Everything, as I tweeted earlier this weekend, is always about something else, too. Everything is always lost in looking. I guess we all are?

So the party was fun and I came home, after having been drinking (ugh) on an empty stomach. I got a lot of falafel and ate it in bed and passed out by 1am. Saturday I went to the gym and I went to Thee Irish Horse's house to meet up with them and Lady Rimalower to rehearse/workshop some things we're all working on. They were totally tremendously inspiring and exciting. I feel really grossed out and frustrated with my show, MAPPLETHORPE. I feel like I need to be uglier and tougher and bigger. Actually it's just that I need to for real seriously write the rest of the show. And quit being so scared. OK.



After our get-together (Becca had these really amazing apples and crazy peanut butters: coconut almond cardamom? CInnamon? What.), I went to Miss Max Bernstein's house for Happy Hour. We ordered Indian Food and talked a lot about how she just got back from the Coast and loves it out there, wants to move back. We talked about love or guys or whatever, you know. I had quite a bit of Happy Hour and came home to pass out, again before 1am. What is wrong with me.

Woke up early this morning to go see the Duchess for her birthday. She did up her living room all in pink, with cat-faces balloons, vegan pastel candies, astrological sign coasters, super spicy potato chips, big pink pillow bed, oldies country music playing and Doris Day movies queued up. And sunlight streaming in, and the cats laying around, cuddling. X made this lovely cocktail out of sweet tea vodka, pineapple juice, coconut water and coconut cream. It tasted great, but it did smell, as the Duchess pointed out, exactly like a fresh pumpkin, when you cut into it to make a jack-o-lantern. It was nuts! Also, there was cotton candy. And then Maude and Jawn showed up with psychedelic red velvet and vegan brownie cupcakes, respectively. And then I had to go rehearse.

I went to BAX to rehearse and I don't feel like I did anything productive and I'm super angry with myself. I took a ten minute nap in the studio but I didn't fall all the way asleep so I'm half-counting it as meditating.

Then I went to the Whitney Houston Biennial in DUMBO. I had to wait in a long line and I was having a nic fit, but then I got in and the show was cool, and PACKED! And Annie Sprinkle was there. I didn't know anyone. And like, not to be a brat about it, but it was weird to be at a big big art show and to not know anyone there. It was cool, but then I saw people I know, like Andrew and Pozsi and Adam and Emily and it was cool. I had some wine and checked out the art. i didn't end up staying for Narcissister's performance. I bummed a cigarette from a cool girl outside and came home. I ordered Chinese from Red House and I'm doing this cute podcast video thing then I'm gonna eat and go to sleep. I feel weird and lazy and unproductive but I think it's sort of ok?

ALSO: I'm performing on Wednesday night at Wreck Room, at this WIRED party. I really want you to come. I'm on this thing of I want to be performing a lot, but it's also hard to get the actual desire together? Like I want to want. I do want to perform a lot. I'm glad I'm performing on Wednesday.

3/6/14

Such a Lazer Beam

Last weekend I did the "You Like Me" show of people performing famous American acceptance speeches. I performed Fiona Apple's speech from the VMAs. I think I did a pretty good job. I like acting. I like being an actor. It's so straightforward, in a way. The show was full of luminaries including Erin Markey, Molly Pope, Justin Vivian Bond, Perez Hilton, Michael Schulman, Rachel Shukert, Mike Albo... it goes on and on. I've wanted to do this show forever and so I was really vindicated to be asked. It was also at Ars Nova, which is pretty fancy. I noticed, leaving the theater after rehearsal, the condos along 54th Street. The plants in the windows. It reminded me of the ones my grandmother used to have. Like Bubby's. In a lot of the windows. These weird cacti with leaves. It made me miss her so much. I thought: lots of old people must live in these apartments, because these plants take a long time to grow.

I got really drunk in between the first and second shows. I think I kind of ran my mouth off a bit. It's because I'm actually kind of shy; I'm worried people won't like me, so I get nervous. And then sometimes I get drunk and just start trying to be as funny and charming as possible to get people to like me. It does not work, usually.

I got a text from a friend in the middle of the night last night that they went home to their parents' house and got high with their mom for the first time. But Mom thought it didn't work. I thought that was so sweet, to get in the middle of the night.

Last night, a different friend of mine showed me their list. They have a list, in their phone, of people who should stop, people who must be stopped. I was worried I'd be on the list. I wasn't on the list. There were some names I recognized and thought at the time "Yeah, I agree. That makes sense." but I can't remember them.

Last night I went to the opening of the Whitney Biennial. There's so much great work there. So many names that I remember seeing, and the work-- seeing it, and thinking "Yeah, I agree. That makes sense." but I can't remember them.

Downstairs at the Whitney, in the cocktail lounge, boy genius art star Travis was wearing very cute black colored textures, shorts over tights, and smoking an e-cigarette. I didn't know you could smoke those indoors, in a museum. But I guess you can do whatever you want. He had a whole pack of e-cigarettes. I took one and Christa, who was there, with a partially shaved head and a gorgeous black dress, took another one, and we e-smoked in the lobby, the lounge.

There was a DJ playing 60s psych rock. It was weird; he was dressed sort of like a Mod. It's not that I don't like that kind of music, I do-- doesn't everyone?-- but I just wasn't in the mood to hear it right then. Nobody was. Nobody was feeling the music.

Tonight I went to the Brucennial, the last one, and I saw Julia Norton's new painting and I saw a video Penny Arcade made about Jack Smith. I love them, those ladies. I wish I had seen both of them at the same time to introduce them to each other!

If you had told me, when I was 14, I would not have believed you. When I saw Penny Arcade perform at the first Ladyfest, in Olympia Washington, and I saw her really fuck everything up. I mean she made that crowded place go NUTS. People were furious! And happy! And everything in between, but mostly at the edges. If you had told me that some day I'd get to meet Penny, get to tell her how much her work meant to me, I would not have believed you. If you had told me that some day I'd go to an art opening and just casually shoot the shit with her while she showed me her video installation, I'd have thought you were lying. That she'd ask "Do you think they should put speakers for the video? It's too quiet." and then borrow my phone to call the person to come bring the speakers, I would not have believed you. I can barely believe it myself.

Then tonight I went to Analysis. Then I went to Aaron Tilford's new party "Lover" at the Monster. It's a soft-rock happy hour with $5 Tequila Sunrises and lots of Carly Simon. I almost didn't believe him, but it's real. It's kind of too good to be true? It's early, it's monthly, and it's free. It's my new favorite thing. He said he might have performances and I want to do a soft-rock song.

I want to perform a lot again right now. I think it's because I'm really angry and I have a lot of questions, I'm really confused. There's some stuff I still don't get and I'm trying to figure it out.

If you had told me when I was 15 that some day I'd go years and years without crying, that I would waste a lot of my life worrying, that I'd be so angry about so much, I would not have believed you.

Last night, a different friend described someone to me this way: "Oh, he's such a lazer beam. You know? When he's focused he's like--" my friend made a lazer beam gesture with his hand. I totally understood what he meant.

3/3/14

PIZZA CONFESSION

Alright, look. That guy who's eaten nothing but pizza for 25 years? That is a hoax. It's not true. You can't live like that. You would definitely become very ill and die. That guy did not eat only pizza for 25 years. It's a stunt. It's a performance art piece. It's me in drag. It's a performance I did. I had my friend take photos and I had someone else write an article about me and then I had other people tell everyone about the article. I just wanted to put that idea out there, into the world: that it's okay to eat pizza every day for 25 years and nothing else. That it's possible, that it's okay. That you can be cute and thin and have a "girlfriend". I decided it had to be a heterosexual because otherwise the gay thing would kind of overpower the rest of the story. So to keep it more universal or mainstream, he has a girlfriend. But she's cool with it! He's a vegetarian. He stuck to his guns. And he's fine. Some doctors say he's not but doctors are crooks. You can't trust anyone. He's fine. He does it every day. I just wanted to see, to show you all what that would look like. Was the idea I had.

FAG CITY TREND REPORT: 2014 ACADEMY AWARDS


  • Pregnancy, Moms of all ages.
  • Sparkly/metallic clothes.
  • Crazy Goat Eyes.
  • Making fun of Jennifer Lawrence, and making fun of women in general.
  • Thanking ghosts, talking to/for ghosts onstage. Representing dead people.
  • Pizza (ED. NOTE: THIS IS MY FAVORITE TREND!)
  • Nude dresses. Not beige, white people's "flesh tone". Sometimes embellished.
  • Designer collaborations, in general. A personal relationship to the clothing designer. Clothes designed as a personal favor to the wearer.
  • Fundraising. Frank discussion of finances.
  • Deliberately fucking up; either consciously or subconsciously mispronouncing people's names either to show a kind of so-called comic levity and/or to articulate thinly veiled racist sentiments.
  • Ellen DeGeneres' surprisingly caustic, nuanced and hilarious performance. She is a vegan. 

2/27/14

True Too

Been thinking, for the new show, about the difference between "Failure" as a practice, a kind of trendy concept and disappointment. I don't fault failure, but I was talking to someone about the new thing I'm making, about being (intentionally) bad music, that I am a bad singer, and they responded that I'm not horrible. It was as if to say that, if I'm trying to be horrible, I should actually push it further into being really awful. I realized though that right now what feels more accurate and more beautiful and more interesting to me, what I'm more curious about is when failure is not an epic catastrophe. I'm not interested in the rupture, the utopia, the explosion of failure, surrender, catharsis. What feels truer is the running list of all the minute, half-conscious acts, the hunches, bad habits, the tiny ways we betray ourselves every day. In terms of singing, I'm less interested in being spectacularly awful and I'm much more interested in being almost, but definitely not quite enough. To be within sight of the goal, to feel that the thing you want to be possible, and to simply not measure up. That's the kind of feeling I want to convey, in my singing. Cuz that's actually where most of us live, right? Most of the time. But you know, I still like big productions too. I was gonna say "I like drama" but I don't know if I do.



I've been suppressing the drama of my life. I've been holding it back and losing interest in discovering it.
FOR EXAMPLE: sometimes you think someone is your enemy, and they're not. That freaks a girl out, because surely the inverse must also be true, right? That sometimes you think someone is your friend, and they turn out to be your enemy. I guess. ANOTHER EXAMPLE of the endless hidden drama: my shrink was talking to me about love. I was talking, mostly. I said that I don’t think people can know each other for a long time and then suddenly fall in love. I said I think you know with someone, right away or pretty much right away. I think that can happen, sure, but it’s probably very rare, statistically impossible. Homeopathic.  And my shrink said it’s probably less rare than I think. Which was interesting, and then again of course the inverse is true too right. All versions, permutations of the True Thing are also True Too.


I want to go to a bamboo forest.

Like MAINTAINING THE FANTASY OF LEISURE

It's like if I don't hear someone complain about their job, or if I don't hear someone (in the course of getting to know them) complain about the constant hustle, the struggle, about constantly being broke then I just assume that they're a trust-fund kid. That their parents or their boyfriend or their girlfriend or their whatever-- that someone else is picking up the tab.

Even people who do complain. Sometimes trust fund kids complain so that you won't suspect them of secretly being rich. Of secretly being able to afford the soda they ask you for a dollar to help pay for.

It's like anal douching. Unless you talk about it we have to assume it's not happening, it's not a thing. But then of course some people talk about it instead of knowing about it. I was in a group of gay guys last year, at a party, I kind of got caught in this weird sort of bro-y conversation about douching; "Did you douche, first, dude?" "Naw man, it wasn't like a thing." "Dude, no way." "No I mean I didn't know, I didn't have time." It was so weird. But of course just weird because I'm not used to this kind of conversation.

It's like Courtney Love. You have to act like you're a huge fan but then if you meet her in New York you have to act like she's just another charming older lady with nice clothes and a bar tab. It's ironic. The entire point of Courtney Love is that you don't have to be put together, that it's okay to be fucked up. The band was called HOLE it's okay to have a hole, right?



Been so obsessed with Nic Endo's album Cold Metal Perfection recently. It's like, techno, sort of? But it's also free jazz? And ambient? And digital hardcore? It's really subtle and calm and stylish. I love Nic Endo. I remember reading interviews with her where she talked about how it was just easier to wear black all the time because then she could just wear it regardless of where she was, Berlin, London, New York, wherever. How convenient!

Speaking of black, the BLACK COMME des GARÇONS S/S 2014 collection is arriving and some wonderful soul put the lookbook online:








Obviously I'm totally obsessed. I want everything. I really want one of those long coats. Either a full-length moto jacket or a full-length bomber jacket. I don't know if they're warm though. What I do actually need is to replace my drop crotch pants, but I want to wear the pair I have until they literally, actually fall apart. I want all of this. I'm gonna stop by after work before Analysis to cruise it and then go to some galleries. I want to see the new Collier Schorr exhibit, and then some other stuff too I guess.


2/25/14

Total Ellipse

I'm really excited to be in this show this Saturday night, you guys. There are two performances on Saturday, at 7 and 9:30, so hopefully anyone who wants to come can come. I'm really so thrilled to be included in this. I only hope I can live up to it.



You Like Me: An Evening of Classic Acceptance Speeches

Saturday, March 1 at 7:00PM & 9:30PM
Ars Nova Theater
511 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019

Created by Rachel Shukert & Michael Schulman
Directed by Peter James Cook
Music Direction by Brad Garder
Featuring: Mike Albo, Justin Vivian Bond, Eliot Glazer, Roslyn Hart, Perez Hilton, Jackie Hoffman, Erin Markey, Michael Musto, The O’Debra Twins, Molly Pope, Mo Rocca, Max Steele, Michael Urie & Varsity Interpretive Dance Squad.

Spend Oscar Eve with some of downtown’s funniest performers as they reinterpret classic speeches from award-show history, from Meryl Streep to Angelina Jolie. No celebrity is safe in this merciless send-up of self-congratulation!

Tickets Here

A sort of fun blur, this 'everything running together' feeling. I feel like I'm always late for everything, but I know that can't be true. Everyday I'm hustling, it feels like. Everyday I'm hustling and it is also, each and every day, a winding road.





Nice color palette resonance there, eh?

This past weekend was pretty great. On Thursday night I met my friend at Mattachine at Julius' Bar. It was so much fun, like it always is. I saw so many familiar near and dear faces, I had three measly cocktails on an empty stomach and I feel like I was hungover all weekend after that, just chasing down enough booze to make the headache dissipate. That sounds worse than it really was, actually.

Friday I had that reading at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division to celebrate the release of FUTURE PERFECT.



The reading was really wonderful. I read along with Andrew Durbin (who edited Future Perfect), Justin Allen, Pamela Sneed and Juliana Huxtable. Everyone was fucking amazing. It reminded me how much I like doing readings. Pamela Sneed, especially, was really inspiring. So many nice people came, including Walter Cessna, who I love very much and haven't seen in a long time. It was a really nice night. I had some white wine and birthday cake, because it was Donnie from the Bureau's birthday. It was a pretty perfect Friday night.

Listen, this book is really special and features so many amazing writers including: Penny Arcade, Felix Bernstein, Stephen Boyer, Lonely Christopher, Nicole Eisenman, BDGRMMR, Bruce Hainley, Ed Halter, Juliana Huxtable, Ted Kerr, Kevin Killian, Wayne Koestenbaum, Rachel Levitsky, Trisha Low, Stephen Motika, Eileen Myles, Trace Peterson, Luther Price, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Pamela Sneed, Max Steele, and Laurie Weeks). As of right now, it's only available in real life at the Bureau in the LES (83 Hester St.) but I'm told it will soon be available online.

Saturday I had a meeting with the other BAX Artists in Residence, to discuss our recent Works in Progress showings. I feel so recharged and excited every time we meet. I'm a little scared and a lot excited to be making this new show at BAX, MAPPLETHORPE.

As a reminder, I'll be performing this new show, which is a kind of cabaret or nightclub act, at Brooklyn Arts Exchange on May 2nd, 3rd and 4th. You definitely have to come. You can see the interview I did about the project with Helix Queer Performance Network here.

Okay so after the artists meeting, I hustled on up to Printed Matter, for the launch party of Queer Zines 2.



It's edited by Philip Aarons and AA Bronson and is a follow up to the previous collection from a few years ago. I remember when that came out, and thinking sort of wistfully that I hope some day I make something that could be in a book like that. So it was with total surprise and utter glee that I was contacted this past summer about Scorcher being included in the collection. I'm really, really, really really happy to be part of Queer Zines 2. I bought a copy at the launch event (not entirely up to me but happy to do it). All I ever want, really, is just to be part of the conversation. It's so fucked up. I was talking about this with my shrink last week-- I don't want to be famous. I don't want to be powerful. I think those things are like narcotic addictions, they never satisfy and you can spend your life chasing after them. I don't want to be the best. I don't want to be an iconoclast or an inspiration, I don't want to be a conscience, I don't want to be a scapegoat or a doormat or a disposable friend. I just want to be part of the conversation. I just want to be included. It's hard to overstate how much it means to me, really, to have my little Scorcher included in the book of so many other really amazing zines. It's so strange and exciting and really weirdly emotional for me to have my work taken even a little bit seriously. Even just being seen as worth describing, it means a lot. SO: this is all to say that you should buy this new Queer Zines book.

And also to say that I am really putting out a new Scorcher very soon.

I met up with my good old pal Steven at the launch event, then we went for a drink down the street. So much fun to have known someone for so long. We met through a Missed Connection (seriously). It's so nice to be grown up and to know people and to get to see them become the things they become. it's nice to be part of that conversation too, I guess. I think showing up is the whole thing.

Then I high tailed it to Brooklyn to see Nadia Tykulser/Spark(Edit)'s show at Triskellion on a bill with Katie Dean. I had seen an early version of Nadia's piece in rehearsal a few months ago and was really excited by it, and I was totally stoked on the performance I saw on Saturday. I'm not sure if I can do it justice, really. The piece is, to my mind, a lot about social structures; how we understand one another and ourselves, how we understand the dynamics of place and isolation. But it's also about three alien space creatures who's revelation and articulation is the content of the show. As they reveal themselves to us, emerging from their "nest"-like space, they literally figure each other out and so we figure them out too. In terms of dancey-dance, the piece was subtly enervating. I sometimes felt like I lost track of the flow of a dance, only to have it kind of snapped back in my face. I was so happy to see this performance. It was the perfect end to a very sweet day.

On my way home I got Hana Food like I always do, and crashed early. Jiddy No-No was visiting Paps in the apartment downstairs so I got to visit with her for a second.

Sunday I woke up early to go to the gym and listen to Evelyn Champagne King. I came home, cleaned the house a little, went to the studio for what felt like an excruciating and unproductive practice session (oy!), then went back home to get my head right. I got dressed up then went over to the Rusty Knot for Scissor Sundays, the dance party JD Samson throws. This week the special guest DJ was Johanna Fateman. I forget how much fun that party is! It starts at 4pm and some of those folks definitely avail themselves of the 4pm open bar. By the time I rolled through around 8, the place was rocking. I got to see deer heart babygirl angel Colin Self, who is now bartending at the party as well. He gave me a special shot called a Cuntry Lass. It was so good!

I could only stay for one quick drink though (a shot is a quick drink) before heading on to Joe's Pub to see miss Erin Markey's FANTASTIC show on Sunday night. I've been to almost all of her Joe's Pub solo shows this year, and I never get tired of seeing her. She did a couple songs from the project she's making in her residency at BAX, and those were highlights as well. She introduced one number by joking "Okay, who's ready for another intense one?" And something sort of clicked for me. I'm totally biased, okay? I'm lucky enough to count Erin as a friend, but I'm also a die-hard fan of her work. Something about her cavalier reference to intensity clarified something for me. Erin's work (her songs, performances, and of course the writing that makes all this possible) is about, in a way, intensity. Not about being hilarious and gleeful and hysterical, but about how we measure, locate, and experience intensity of emotion. Her work is about how we grapple with understanding other people, and the awful, terrifying, but exhilarating experience of coming to understand something about yourself. The experience of her work is when someone asks you a question, like what do you want to be when you grow up, who do you have a crush on, what's your biggest fear, some kind of open-ended question, and you just say what first pops into your head. And as soon as you say it, you realize it's totally true. That wide-eyed excitement of things suddenly making awful and immaculate sense; that's the experience of Erin's work. Sunday night was a revelation, a masterclass in performance. I mean it. I am so proud of her. I slept deeply and dreamed of road trips. I was transported.

And then finally, last night was really the end of my epick weekend when I got to go see my homegirl and soul sister Tommy Pico read his work at the Poetry Project, on a bill with Christopher Schmidt. It is both a big deal, and perfectly appropriate that Tommy read at the Poetry Project. I was absolutely blown away by his reading, and by his new poems, which are going to be released in a poetry app he's finishing up called Absent Mindr. I've had the supreme honor and pleasure of getting to see Tommy's work develop over the years, and it's like having a favorite sports team or movie star or someone who is separate from you but who's work you are deeply invested in. I'm rooting for Teebs and I'm rewarded with his excellent efforts. His new work is both leaner, quicker, easier to laugh with, and also much more poignant, sharper, deeper, more resonant. He's building an emotional vocabulary that keeps revising itself; keeps adjusting, evolving, renegotiating. One of his poems talks about inheriting a sense of direction, and this is a hallmark of Tommy's work. The occasional vocal fry or meandering listicle are red herrings. Tommy Pico plays with play, he jokes about humor and pretends to effect a kind of searching. If he says he's lost he's lying, to make a point. The utter joy in Tommy's work is when he reveals that he did, in fact, know, all along, exactly where to go next. It was the highlight, the cherry on top of such a great weekend.

I came home and ordered take-out and watched "Unsung" like I always do when I don't know what else to watch, and I went to bed feeling so lucky to have such inspiring friends. I tried to get up this morning at 5am to go to the gym but I flaked. I did crunches and push-ups this morning, a feeble compromise. But there are more mornings coming up, there's never a lack of opportunities for being ambitious.

2/19/14

I Feel I'm Right On Time

Forgot to mention that I had the pleasure to get to interview CIBO MATTO FOR VICE. Please check it out. It was amazing; I've been a fan for many years and totally love the new album. It was kind of surreal, a dream come true, definitely.

Right now I'm waiting for Paps because we have a date to go to the gym together. Boy, it's so funny that I'm so excited to go to the gym. Busting at the seams, I'd say. To kill time, I'm watching Scott Panther's videos, his pics. Catching up on his updates.
BILLY: Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Tell me Scott Panther is sad and lonely and worried, just like me.
COMPUTER: I can't tell you that, Master.
BILLY: Repeat error report, Mirror, I don't understand.
COMPUTER: Scott Panther is not sad, Master, nor lonely, nor worried. 
The computer is right. Scott Panther is having a fantastic life, he's very successful. Wouldn't anybody be, after so many years. He's very much in love with a nice-seeming person. Good for everybody. They all have big apartments and small dogs, and ambition.
BILLY: Mirror mirror on the wall, please show me someone I used to know who now I'm doing better than they are.
COMPUTER: I shall load the obituary file, Master.
BILLY: Oh my god whatever. Fine. I get it. Nevermind.
COMPUTER: You're not actually doing so bad either, Master. 
I wonder if this is a thing where certain things will always feel the same, how we'll always use the same things, forever, even though they're old and don't mean anything anymore. Like, what does it matter what Scott Panther does with his free time, right, we don't actually know each other and haven't in a very long time. It's more about what it represents to me, in my head. It's funny though, it's like the music that came out when you were younger, you get sort of stuck. Don't you? Or the music you liked, at the point in your life when you liked music. That matters. That's a much better way of saying it.

Like, Mono.



This album, I think, really holds up. It's the type of thing that I would like to make. A big commercial success for like a minute, but real arty and smart and sincere and of it's time. In an Yvonne Rainer way, of its time. Or that Grace Jones lyric: "Right on time I feel I'm right on time."



Even if it's a time in the past tense.

2/18/14

I wish it were easier to say about the Women

I suppose it's just that time of year when people are starting to want to leave New York. For LA, for Europe, for other cities, or else beaches, the woods, wherever. It's true, this winter has been particularly hard. And yes, Winter will in general get more and more extreme and more and more difficult. But no one ever promised you life would get easier as you went along, right? I think of what my buddy Caroline said during a reading I saw her do a few weeks ago: "Dying is literally the most normal thing you can do." Anyway, I don't want to leave New York, at least not yet, uncomfortable though I may be. I don't want to leave because there's too much great stuff going on. What a fantastic weekend I just had.

On Friday at Saturday nights, I got to host Isaac Richard Pool and Chris Udemezue at BAX, for a weekend of performances I curated called NEWS CYCLE. I am so happy with how it went! Even though I wasn't performing, I was really nervous about the weekend, and the artists totally brought it. I think the weather affected the turnout a little on Saturday night, but other than that I think the weekend was a total success. I am so happy and flattered that these folks agreed to be part of this thing I was trying to put together, and that they made such fantastic work. Really inspiring for me, and, I hope, for the other people who got to see the shows this weekend. My heart swells.

Sunday night I had the sincere honor of being invited to see a screening of the new Elaine Stritch documentary, Shoot Me. I ran into Dan Fishback and Michael Schulman and Molly Pope there, it was great. The film is just fantastic. I say this as someone who is not well-versed in the Broadway canon, someone who is not already a huge Stritch devotee. Someone who does not necessarily think Sondheim is the most important American artist of his age. I mean, he might be, but I don't really know. Anyway, the documentary is so great. Elaine Stritch is an icon and deservedly so. I wish I had an ounce of her self-possession. The thing that keeps coming up in the documentary (SPOILER ALERT) is that her strength is derived from not holding back, from making herself vulnerable. Her legendary power comes from being real, being honest, being scared but going ahead with things. It was a real joy to see, and very funny. There was also a talk-back hosted by Perez Hilton. Molly asked Ms. Stritch at what point in her career did she realize she could handle anything. Elaine had a lovely but sort of meandering answer about wisdom and the gifts of time, I didn't really follow it but it was lovely to finally get to see Molly and Stritch have a convo in public. Then Michael asked if there was a story about Stritch's aversion to pants. At many points in the documentary people allude to her signature outfit (an oversized white button down worn with black tights). Perez even introduced Stritch in the after-screening talk by saying "She's here, and she's not wearing pants..." So I kind of thought we were all on the same page about how Elaine Stritch doesn't wear pants. Evidently this was not the case, as when Michael asked if there was a story about her aversion to pants, she definitely went off on him, saying how offended she was by the question, how (again a little hard to follow) that kind of thing should go where it belongs, right down into the gutter. A nice lady who had been sitting next to us at the screening said maybe it was a vocabulary thing; if he had asked about slacks she might have answered better-- maybe she thought "pants" meant underwear. The nice lady who suggested this had a point. She was also sitting next to me and was sleeping and snoring during a lot of the movie, but she had a nice big fur coat to sleep underneath, so I don't blame her, and was even kind of jealous.

That was another takeaway from the Stritch documentary, for me: get a fur coat. I want a fur coat! It felt a little fucked up to drink booze after the movie, considering Stritch's much-storied struggles with alcohol. But free booze is free booze and I definitely availed myself of as much white wine as I could guzzle before the hotel staff sort of began shooing us out.

Monday was a Holiday, so I went to the gym and then spent the day cleaning the house. I was on Living room/hallway and Bathroom duty. I also cleaned my room a bit. It was disgusting but totally worth it. I want to buy new slippers. Am I am old person, because I want slippers? It's okay to get older. We're all getting older, as Elaine Stritch says. So I cleaned my apartment, and then I went to see Tina Satter and Half-Straddle read from the newly published book of some of Satter's plays, Seagull (thinking of You). I have a confession: I've never actually been to a performance of one of Satter's plays. I've seen videos, and I've read a lot about them, but I've never been. So many people I love and admire are involved in the production of her work, it's kind of deeply shameful that I haven't been to the shows.

Anyway, I went last night and I was so inspired by the talk! And the readings! Eileen Myles was "in conversation" with Tina, but it was mostly her speaking about her process, about what she is trying to convey, how she tries to convey a feeling, say, of being an adolescent and wearing one earring to the mall and feeling cool. I wish I could more articulately convey how reassuring it is, how exciting it is to be in the same city as Tina Satter.

I wish I could handily explain how exciting it is to be on the same planet as these brilliant women who seem to just get on with the business of telling the truth through their art. I wish I could just say, real easily, "Oh yeah, and then she said this crazy thing that we were all thinking, it was so wonderful." It's not so easy. SO: go see the Stritch documentary and go buy Tina Satter's book and then sit next to me the next time they have a Half-Straddle performance in NYC.

So that was this weekend. Then I came home and ordered takeout and watched the first half of All About Eve, but then I got bored and started watching this Spice Girls documentary but then I fell asleep. That was this weekend.

BUT NEXT WEEKEND there are some really exciting things. One of which involves me directly.

FRIDAY 2/21/14 7pm FREE
LAUNCH PARTY FOR FUTURE PERFECT
Bureau of General Services Queer Division
83A Hester St. NYC

This will be a reading to celebrate the launch of FUTURE PERFECT, the benefit book for the Bureau. I'll be reading my contribution to the book, which is a brand new piece that doesn't appear anywhere else. I am so over the moon at being included in this project and in the company I'm with! These are some of my favorite writers in the world, and I'm so excited. I think/hope you can buy the book at the event as well? Please come join us on Friday night.

"Join the Bureau of General Services-Queer Division in a celebration of the book we produced for our fundraiser last year: Future Perfect. Edited by Andrew Durbin and published by Publication Studio, Future Perfect includes contributions from: Penny Arcade, Felix Bernstein, Stephen Boyer, Lonely Christopher, Nicole Eisenman, Bad Grammar, Bruce Hainley, Ed Halter, Juliana Huxtable, Ted Kerr, Kevin Killian, Wayne Koestenbaum, Rachel Levitsky, Trisha Low, Stephen Motika, Eileen Myles, Tim Trace Peterson, Luther Price, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Pamela Sneed. Max Steele, Laurie Weeks .

If you donated $50 or more to the Bureau's fundraiser and you selected Future Perfect as a perk we welcome you to claim your book at the event. Several of the contributors will be at the event, some of whom will read their contributions. Confirmed readers at this point include the book's editor Andrew Durbin, Juliana Huxtable, Pamela Sneed, and Max Steele. We'll announce additional readers soon."

Then SATURDAY 2/22 I'm going to see Nadia Tykulsker/Spark(edIt) Arts perform on a bill with Heather Bregman and Katie Dean at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn. Spark(edit) is performing a new piece titled Sheathings from a Steep Slope, and I saw a rehearsal of an early version of the piece a few months ago. I totally loved it, it was like finding out you had cable and you never knew it; some weird alien cable from the future. HIGHLY recommended. The show runs all weekend but Saturday is the only night I can go so please join me!

February 20 – 22, 2014 at 8pm
Triskelion Arts' Aldous Theater
118 N. 11th Street, 3rd Fl., Brooklyn, NY 11249
BUY TICKETS

Ok, and then on SUNDAY 2/23/14, the legendary Erin Markey returns to Joe's Pub in: There's A New Emergency Contact In Town: Erin Markey at Joe's Pub with Kenny Mellman.

I'm not gonna bullshit you: Erin Markey is the Sun. If you're reading this you already know. She's been writing these fantastic new songs with Mr. Mellman, and they're going to sing some of them, and I might cry? You definitely have to buy your ticket right the fuck away, because this show will probably sell out, because she's a huge star and everyone loves her and the show is too important and exciting to miss. So don't miss it, dummy.

And then finally, next MONDAY 2/24/14, my home-girl, soul sister, close personal friend and constant inspiration and guiding star, Tommy Pico will be reading at the Poetry Project. That's right, that's correct. Sister Pico is of course one of the most exciting voices in American poetry right now, and so it is only fitting that he be performing his work at the most respected and important institution for American poetry and I could not be more proud of him. He'll be reading work from his forthcoming e-chapbook/spoken-word app Absent Mindr. This is the thing I will see you at on Monday night, wearing my lil' cheerleader pompoms and painting 'TEEBS' on my bellyfat.

Monday February 24th, 8pm
the Poetry Project @ St. Mark's Church
131 E. 10th Street
NY, NY 10003

Tonight I'm gonna go grocery shopping, then work for a little bit in the studio at BAX (sing a little bit).