The world is so... what's the word I'm looking for. So IMMEDIATE. Why is it all so fast. We want to talk about karma. We want to talk about aging. We want to talk about fate, luck, nature, time. We want to talk about it like these things are out of our hands. Our Hands = Individually. Our Hands = Human species-wise. The only people who refer to their circumstances as luck are people who have good fortune.

Is it that they don’t have better shit to do or is it that there is no better shit to do. Is it radical to have leisure time, to go to private parties in private hotel lobbies. This is your television you’re on me. Is it radical to possess yourself. Is it radical to have leisure.

It is sort of reassuring. I so often feel like a sell-out because I work a job and I only write or make stuff or whatever when I feel like I really want to or can. But I feel like maybe it’s kind of selling out to be talking about how you are radical when what you are is not radical—you’re doing you and that’s fine but that’s not radical. You’re shopping. Radical means style.

Following the gaze. Are we looking towards each other or are we looking to see if other people are looking at us. Here’s an example: I’m struggling with anxiety and depression and even using those terms to describe myself. It’s a freaky and embarrassing thing to do, and to talk about, even for someone like me who feels little compunction about talking about themselves. What makes it feel less freaky and embarrassing, what is a comfort for me is having some additional context, some more information. What I am feeling, as Pema Chödrön says on her Oprah episode, is what everybody feels, what everybody has always felt, since the beginning of time, and will always feel. To some extent or another.

I’ve been struggling to read Cvetkovitch’s Depression: A Public Feeling for a very long time now. I’ve lately reaffirmed my efforts to work through it, though, and one of the things she talks about is the multiple ways of seeing what depression is or could be. Different models think of it solely as an issue of brain chemicals but it could also be a totally rational and logical response to fucked up situations and to the capitalist white supremacist patriarchy in which we live. There are forces in our world that make some people very rich and very comfortable and the way those forces work is my telling others of us that we are worthless and useless. And these forces make themselves known in a multitude of ways, including public racist violent crime, committed by the so-called police. The system, as many have noted, is not broken, unfortunately, it's doing exactly what it was designed to do.

So are your feelings, which we all feel, of insecurity, of desire for more (power, security, control, etc.) are your feelings letting you know that you’re in good company, with the rest of humanity? Or are they letting you know that they are real and that you need to tell the rest of the world about them? What’s going on right now. Are you talking about the national media around these public lynchings in 2014 in U.S. cities or are you taking pictures of yourself by the pool in Miami at art basel even though you’re not actually an artist, you’re just paid by a gallery to go to parties (which is what artists do but it’s not the only thing artists do). I’m not into the thing of who gets to be an artist and who doesn’t get to be an artist—we’re all artists if we wanna be. It’s just the question of who gets to be busy? Who gets to be too busy to care about this. Who gets to be too busy to show up. Lots of us.

But then who gets to be too busy as to say you’re into feminism but you’re not into protesting lynchings. If you’re into social change but you’re not into protesting lynchings. It’s like, maybe you’re not actually into change. If you think about it. Partying in Miami is not radical.

I guess what I’m saying is you don’t get to be about it if you’re not about it, and you don’t have to be about it. It doesn’t have to be your thing. Just drop the whole idea of being radical from your brand. It’s not radical to be a celebrity. It’s not radical to be rich. It’s not radical to be lazy. The flaneur is no longer a radical gesture. It is no longer possible in New York City to live that bohmenian lifestyle and it hasn’t been for a very long time. Yes, you could eke out a living giving shows shows shows three nights a week and it would be rough and you might love it but you couldn’t really do it forever as everyone knows. This is a context of literally no future and everyone on some level knows that.

I’m glad that the younger gays are pointing out the hypocrisy here, and that the older gays (I’m writing about social media right now, sorry) are pointing out the hypocrisy here. I feel a little hypocritical because I didn’t go to the marches last night but I also feel okay about that because I’m sick, and I’ve been sick all week whatever. I’m trying to go tonight.

I feel like this is an opportunity to make some connections. I've been really struggling lately, with feeling like I'm a big fraud, like I'm not a person, like no one is a person. Okay. I'm not wrong about this.

I have to see this as an opportunity to have compassion. So many people aren't weighing in on this they way they did for, say, the FaceBook "real name" policy, or marriage equality or whatever. The idea that this is bigger, separate, different or in any way less personal is a misapprehension. Unfortunately, we're not all about it. We're not all on the same page. And that's ok because I think deep down, we more or less get there eventually. But part of getting there is acknowledging that for a lot of people right now, people we love and people who we want to keep in our families and in our communities, for a lot of us, it's not hitting home. For a lot of us, we're still really excited about seeing Miley perform for free at a private event. After all, if it's your job. After all, if it's your assignment, right? We're not all about it. Some of us do in fact want to feel like we're out for change, but the change is a changing of the guard. We don't all have to have the same values. Consensus was always a pipe dream and ever will be. Let me meet you where you are.

Tell me about your party. Let me hear about what you're feeling and what you're thinking about when you fit it. I'd like you to hear something too, from some other people, who couldn't make the party this week.


“This morning at the Chinese bakery in midtown,
Off-duty drag queen (turban)
casually reading the newspaper.
She’s not in any rush.

Last night for dinner;
Frozen broccoli, Keith Haring.

For dessert I waited
until my roasted yams cooled,
to feed myself with computer noise, ground glass,
chaos, toxic
personhood or subjectivity.

Vertigo’s got an excuse
like everybody else
he’s just doing his job.”

On the morning after the verdict (which is to say no verdict, no indictment) I woke up to a text message from my friend. We had plans go to out drinking, to go to Karaoke on Tuesday night but she wonders if maybe we shouldn’t go out, after all, because there will be protests.

I’m thinking how will you talk to your kids about this. This time, in America

Meanwhile in New York I’ve had to start setting an alarm for 8:00am every morning, an hour or two after I wake up, to remind me to take my antidepressant. The alarm is the sound of windchimes. I had to set the alarm because I kept forgetting to take it, and would spend the day worrying that I wouldn’t be able to effectively treat my symptoms. My symptoms: feeling worthless, listless, powerless. Feeling emptied out. Feeling like nothing. But on Tuesday morning I take my pill after the reminder chimes

Is wanting to listen a feeling. Is listening a feeling. Is watching a feeling.

I was telling Daniel that is just sucks, so much. That thing of being human. Of having to watch the world turn to shit, NO MATTER what era you live in. It sucks. Of having to watch everyone you know get old and sick and die. Of having to, the indignity of having to live through it yourself. The fucked-up thing of bearing witness. It’s all you or I or anyone can do, right. Tell the world about what we did to them, what happened, so it’s not forgotten. It seems, I was saying to Daniel, it’s just so fucked up. So unfair. I mean I know it’s fair, of course, I know it’s the only really fair thing or whatever, but just that THAT’S the basic requirement of humanity—bearing witness. It’s just, like, ugh.

Is watching a feeling. Is paying attention a feeling. Is there a name for that emotion.
Yeah so I’m thinking how will you talk to your kids about this. This time in America. How will you explain it to them. We can’t say it just started happening because it didn’t just start. We can’t say it was new because it’s not new. What’s new about it. The videos? That we know the names, now? We could all have known the names all along if we’d tried. Is it that there’s actually such an incremental shift towards justice and empathy, such a SMALL step, that actually the slowness is what’s so freaky and painful? That’s a nice fantasy but that’s not true. We can’t tell that to the kids.

I don’t want to have children nor do I expect to but I do expect someday to have a conversation with a teenager and have them ask me: what did you think, what did you do, what happened. Why did it keep happening. What would we say.

When I was a kid I grew up in California and I remember Rodney Kind and the OJ Simpson trial and my parents sort of explaining things to me in the way they did because they had lived through the 1960s and 1970s in California but I wonder, will we tell the kids that we protested, that we wore signs that said BLACK LIVES MATTER. Of course black lives matter, right. It’s like insulting that that’s the slogan. Are we protesting ignorance or displaying our own.

Who gets to be a person. How’s subjectivity meted out. I mean. That’s what I want to see. It’s like some people don’t get to be human so they’re deaths don’t count. And other people don’t HAVE to be human, others of us get to shirk the responsibility of humanity. The responsibility of humanity being: bearing witness, empathy, being accountable. Does anyone get to be a human.

I’m not equating all experiences with one another. I want to point out, of course, that’s it’s not a two-way street. It doesn’t go both ways, obviously. It is like a road though, in the sense that we see where this is going. It’s like a bad movie. It’s so bad you can tell what’s going to happen before it happens. Does it make me a bad person if I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t indict Officer Wilson. I Wasn’t surprised. They planted a tree in Washington DC in memorial of Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955.


Your Things

Thinking a lot about grunge records. Indie as a genre. I was talking with someone recently and I made this joke about how all I'm really good for, my skill, my "thing" seems to be reminding people about stuff that that they know about, have already forgotten about. Like indie rock bands from the 1990s. Or other things-- I'm usually way behind the curve. My lateness and my... "enthusiasm" could be a great entry point for other people. Maybe you don't know a lot about Miriam Makeba. I don't either but I'm a big fan. It's okay to not know a lot about her biography but to check out her music. It doesn't make you ignorant or stupid. It doesn't make you more ignorant or stupid than me, I mean. So it's okay. Let me be this for you, a doorway, an entry point. Your goofy friend who gets uncool and excited about dumb unhip shit. That's my "thing" I guess, right?

Couple things about that:
- It's not like I actually make or do anything, myself. So there's no glory to me. I know that. I don't want glory.
- It's a way to be in the world without actually being in the world. It's a kind of cop-out. Being a sort of vessel or mirror or something, a way of not being a person.

But then again, even having a "thing" is sort of silly. Who has a thing. Who, really, wants to be better understood, boiled down. Why is being a vessel a bad thing? Why do I have to be a person? I'm not so interested in myself. I don't want to bury myself. I don't want to superimpose myself into the things I love. It's more that I don't feel that I have a self. I don't feel like I am a person, so instead I look for, if not myself, a way of existing. SO I go by what I love, by what turns me on.

I'm not saying that my love or my taste has any meaning. I'm saying, in fact, that it has none. That it's not at all particular to me. That's it's not a way to be a person or have a thing-- it's a way to meet other people, to be less of a person, less of a thing, more general. I don't want what I love to inform who I "am". I want what I love to be, full stop.

But sometimes, in some way, somehow this got lost. At some point, I stopped loving things. Not to be dramatic, but at some point the idea of passion just stopped occurring to me. I don't want to plumb the depths anymore. I don't want to have to go so deep. It's humiliating; depth. Interiority. How silly and strange. I just noticed that things that used to turn me on like writing, music, live performance, talking to people, kissing, whatever. Nothing seems enticing. I wonder. I got some mean feedback. There was weather. I could have been knocked off my post and been to ashamed or too unfocused to notice. Why does it always come down to me simply not being vigilant enough? This is my answer to everything-- I must have done something to deserve this. I could have a physical injury (such as I do right now), one that could and does happen to literally EVERYBODY. And still, I think, I assume-- this must have happened because I'm such a uniquely shitty person. I must have put myself in harm's way somehow. It seems to corroborate my general feeling, my hunch, that I am worthless and that everything is constantly in the process of falling apart. That we live in a chaotic world and that some people can negotiate that and some people fool themselves and others into believing that they can negotiate it, but I cannot fool anyone and am doomed, by my own mistakes somehow, to suffer continually.

I was given to understand that this was like, a nuclear reaction. Like it just perpetuated itself, and all I could do was keep dumping water onto the toxic fuel of my so-called self obsession. Is it self-obsession if you hate yourself? Tempted to draw a comparison, to flatten out all nuances of narcissism. To make everything be the same because, as I said, then it seems to explain so much more. If the theory is stupider it's so much more applicable. The problem is that I think I exist and my pretending to be in denial of my existence is what's keeping me suffering. That was one way of thinking about it. But no, it's not exactly the same. I'm not served, even on an unconscious level, by being so down on myself. I know it's a turn off. I know people don't want to hear about it. But I also know it's not the fuel. Or it doesn't have to be. I also know that it's not because I deserve it. It's so easy to blame nuclear power. It's so easy to judge. I guess I've been listening to the wrong things. I don't know.

These are some videos of songs I hadn't heard in a while. Maybe you forgot about them or maybe you didn't know they existed in the first place. Or that we do too.


I don't really know. it feels like I broke something. I chipped a weight-bearing bone. I punctured some membrane. I woke up with a fever. That's not true, I didn't wake up like this, I've been hurdling towards it for at least a few years, but now it's here in a new and different way.

I don't really feel much shame or compunction about it, I probably should, I guess. I feel like I'm coming out of the closet again. As a crazy person. As a person who is struggling with... if not mental illness (this is fraught) then at least someone who is struggling with, let's say, insurmountable struggles.

I try. I try really hard, you guys. I exercise at least three times a week. I never get less than 7 hours of sleep. I use alcohol and other substances in moderation (to say the least). I meditate as often as possible, though not every single day. I have creative outlets, I guess. I write here and all sorts of other places. I see a psychoanalyst. I try to tell my friends what's wrong and get advice from them.

And yet, I'm still buried. And for the first time in a long time I'm really trying to face this thing down and start, I don't know, doing something.

I used to think that it was just a matter of my perspective changing. Of being more present. Of paying attention more to the present moment. Of not wishing for some imaginary future, of just dealing with the here and now.

But what if the here and now sucks. What if you can't actually get into the here and now because you don't feel like you're allowed one.

I've gotten some really sweet and supportive advice and assistance over the last few weeks. People have reached out to me and tried to find out what's wrong with me. Yes, I'm struggling to get my work shown, read and seen. Yes, I am struggling with loneliness and isolation. Yes, I am having a very hard time being around other people or talking to people or being heard or seen by people. I'm very frustrated. A lot of the advice seems to boil down to, you know, suck it up. Do your work. Keep writing and making things and then eventually that will prove to be its own reward, the right opportunity will present itself, you can save yourself.

But I can't do my work. I can no longer sift through what's "real" and what is "not real". It seems very real to me that I am hated, strongly. That people in my town, scene, community, that people who'd consider themselves my friends, even, want me to disappear. It seems very real to me that I do not exist. That I would not be missed. That there are significant forces and desires working towards my erasure. It's hard not to see this as real. I have to find a way to move forward and nothing is working.

I don't know. I feel like it's a compulsion, this making stuff lifestyle. Like I don't have a choice. If I lost my job I'd functionally wind up homeless. I could probably get my parents to let me stay with them, but then I'd be stuck in California.

No one wants to see my art or my writing or have me around. Thanksgiving is coming up and I am totally mortified that I'm going to spend it along again. I don't know how to fix anything.

I have an appointment with a mind doctor this week. I'm having actually a lot of kind of protracted and very painful medical issues right now, all of which are very expensive. Here's what I want: someone to hang out with me. Someone to want to see me, not have me come to their party to "bring friends!" Sorry.

I'm getting bitchy. A few different friends have said that I seem angry and that I should let the anger out. I'm scared to do this. I'm scared because I habitually make myself the object of my anger. I'm scared because I don't know if I feel like I deserve to have anger. I haven't cried in, I don't think, five years? Though I've certainly wanted to. I think a lot about the circumstances of the last time I cried, in January 2009. I sort of forgot about those circumstances. Essentially, it was someone I didn't know very well just laying into me about how much they hated me when they met me. Other people could take that, I couldn't. Then some other fucked up stuff happened while I was crying. I guess my big take-away from the last time I cried was that it's not safe for me to cry. That I have no right to cry. That I have nothing to be sad about. That I have nothing worth loving in me. That my only use/purpose is to make other people feel good about themselves. That I am empty, worthless, stupid. I've apparently devoted energy and time in reinforcing those ideas and finding people who would reinforce them for me.

I feel like, I know on some level that something is fundamentally wrong with me but no one can see it, or me. Because the thing that's wrong is the thing that's me. And it doesn't help that trying to talk about it, thus far, makes me seem like a crazy person. I know, I know, "don't care what other people think" but I keep saying, when people ask what's up, what's wrong, how can they help, I keep saying that I feel left-out, that I feel worthless, that I'm struggling to form coherent thoughts or connect to people, that I feel mad and angry about being kept out of so many things. And people keep saying that it's not real or it's not happening or maybe I should try fitting in elsewhere. The writers think I should try to the theater kids. The theater kids think I should try the writing kids. The music kids think I'm too performance art-y and the performance people don't want to know who I am. It's like I keep trying to say that i'm out here, but it just keeps me out

It's a cruel irony that trying to get help results in people being grossed out by me. The only thing worse than being me is being me when I'm down, right? Because it just adds this shitty untouchable layer to everything. Why bother getting involved. He's just being self-indulgent. He's just trying to get attention. What right does he have to feel good. Doesn't he deserve to feel bad.

I wanted to meet people and learn things but it feels like every move I make, in any direction, just makes me less and less a part of anything. No one wants me around. No one wants to actually be my friend. No one actually thinks anything I do is valuable or could be valuable. There is no promise in me. There is no point in being me. This is really frustrating and painful and I'm sorry if it grosses the two people who read this out, I need to get this down.

I do not know what to do.



I'm raising money to buy these shoes, I really want. It's kind of an online art project/performance.

They're currently marked down to $550, marked down from $650 but only for the next few days, I guess. though they retailed for $1000. They're from last Summer. I've already reached out to Jil Sander America to ask for a pair of them to review for the blog, but they haven't gotten back to me yet, naturally. SO: I'm doing an informal crowdfunding or busking campaign. I really want these shoes and I can't afford them. I saw them when they were in season and thought they were cute but unreasonably overpriced. Then they weren't on sale anymore. Then I saw them on a European looking guy in SoHo wearing gym clothes and I thought they looked so great. I vowed, if I ever encountered them again to try to buy them. I found this one pair in the next size up from what I usually wear and I want to buy them. I bum cigarettes to lots of people, I try to give to other people's funding campaigns whenever I can, some people do just have some random dollars in their PayPal account, so, dear friends: send me money via PayPal to billycheer@gmail.com.

I'll come up with some kind of fantastic and individualized Perk for you. Or if I end up not being able to get them I'll refund your contribution, natch. I want to look cute, these are nice, and I'm asking.

Sort of courting ire, too, with this, I know. Does it make you mad? I'm gonna get these shoes though, and I've already been getting some donations. I'm just barely on my way. Don't you want to be part of this exciting opportunity?


“What would you be, if you were doomed to spend your entire life-cycle growing uncultivated. To be alive, to bud, blossom ripen and rot. To be a perfectly sweet fruit but still be unfavored by industry. Not perfected by agriculture. A fruit with just the wrong taste, shape, color. A fruit too picky to be bought and sold. A thing too sensitive, not hardy enough to be reliably made and marketed. Most fruits are like this. It’s only the rare few clones, special children, hybrids, all sterile— that get chosen to be developed. Exported. What would you be if you simply thrived under your own ideal conditions, out on your own, eaten and enjoyed within your own ecosystem. What would this make you. What would you be. We can say natural. We can say wild.”



Songs about being invited. A photo exhibition of waiting in the bathroom line. A collection of essays on conversations I had with the stage manager, backstage. Conceptual art projects by a conceptual artist. Hypothetical art projects.


Being Alive

I've been really obsessed with Blonde Redhead lately, and trying to find interesting interviews with them about their work. They've changed so much over the years, but are sort of inscrutable about what they're going for. I found this interview with Kazu Makino and it have me a lot to think about.

So, some take-aways from the video:

- She refers to it as "This Band Called Blonde Redhead." As if her entire career, no one had ever heard of her band, or something. Maybe that's accurate. Theirs is a weird kind of fame, where they're never, like, CELEBRITIES, but they play these huge shows and have devoted fans and people love them and even twenty years into their career, are interested to find out more. That's great. But still maybe kind of anonymous.

- Drinking, and "taking it to the limit." I definitely didn't think of Makino as a heavy drinker. I like the idea of people going to all sorts of extremes to feel alive. I think I drink, and most people I know also drink, to feel the opposite of alive, n'est-ce pas? Maybe that's just one of those stories we tell ourselves.

I think that thing of detachment is interesting. I suppose I feel that sometimes too, I think everybody does, right? The idea that the focus of ones life, though, could be the fight against that detachment-- the notion that, like, okay, your "whole thing" is fighting against detachment, trying to find ways to feel alive. This seems extreme to me, unthinkable. I mean, again, I guess we all do it. I guess I'm just not used to seeing it written about like that.

Does music help with that.?

This quote from Ana Anaïs Nin seems apt as always: "How to defeat this tragedy concealed within each hour, which chokes us unexpectedly and treacherously, springing at us from a melody, an old letter, the colors of a dress, the walk of a stranger? Make literature. Seek new words in the dictionary. Chisel new phrases, pour the tears into a mold, style, form, eloquence. Cut out newspaper clippings carefully. use cement glue. Have your photograph taken. Tell everyone how much you owe them. Tell Allendy he has cured you. Tell your editor he has discovered a genius, and turn around into your life work again, like scorpion in his fire ring, devouring himself."

To that end, I'm playing a special show on Sunday night. I haven't performed music as Max Steele by myself in a long, long time. Won't you join me?

THE SOFT BATCH [featuring JD Samson and Tami Hart of MEN]
GAUZY [ex-Tayisha Busay]
MAX STEELE [this is me]

152 Ludlow St.
$8, 8pm doors
21+, please bring your ID


CEREMONIOUS/UNCEREMONIOUS: Interview with Brontez Purnell and Sophia Wang

As you may know, I'm a big fan of Brontez Purnell's work, which includes his band The Younger Lovers, his zine Fag School, and the recently published The Cruising Diaries (with Janelle Hessig). He has ALSO been dance performance work as the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, and although they've mostly been making and showing work in the blessed Bay Area, they recently had their first international performance in Montreal last month, and I am more than a little bit anxiously awaiting their New York debut star turn. Brontez and BPDC co-founder Sophia Wang have made a new work, Ceremonious/Unceremonious, which will debut October 10th and 11th at Airspace SF. I had a chance to chat with them both about their newest piece.

Unwanted Conversation + Radical Gestures photos by Yvonne Portra

FAG CITY: How did you two start working together? Can you describe your collaborative process? How does this piece differ from the work you two do on your own?

BRONTEZ PURNELL: We had been in each others indie rock orbit for years but we "officially" met at a Ballet Class at Shawl Anderson some 4 or 5 years ago. Sometime in 2010 i got the notion that i wanted to start a dance company and asked Sophia to be a part and its been snow balling every since. Our collaborative process is basically (as i see it) 50% inspiration and 50% perspiration. Its alot of talking and processing and agreeing and making intentions congruent and then when the mental pathways are clear we get down on the floor. REAL GIRLS GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR. I don't really feel like this piece is hugely different from a solo either of us would do. I mean we are different people with regards to how we move, musculature movement training, etc. but underneath I have always sensed we have the same basic intention driving our movement language or fundamentally that is.

SOPHIA WANG: If I had to name a common intention driving both of us, it might be something like "realness": real bodies in real time, no virtuosic illusions or masking of effort. We've been told that we're both very physical movers - but I wonder what non-physical movers look like?? That's probably a euphemism for something having to do with our particular bodies and how we work with mass and gravity. Brontez and I are both literary thinkers, so we often build a piece like a story: character dynamics, a theme, a catalyzing event. I'm always amazed at what Brontez comes into the studio with - he'll have a vision, a whole idea for a piece, movement material, a visual aesthetic. I'll try his movements on and he'll try on mine, and we'll build phrases out of what sticks. It's really clear what elements Brontez brings to this process when I'm working alone; the pieces I make for myself feel headier, less explicitly joyful - Brontez brings a lot of exuberance to his work and ours.

The Episodes photo by Robbie Sweeney

FAG CITY: You've said that this piece picks up where Brontez Purnell Dance Company’s The Episodes left off. Could you elaborate on that? I'm curious how your works speak to one another (albums, books, performances). Do you often feel like your work is a continuation or response to another project you've done?

BRONTEZ PURNELL: Well The Episodes have a basic post-Modern dance premise. That is- the everyday ritual as performance. But this notion becomes less basic when you think of the millions of people and the millions of ideas driving each one and then you multiply that by the million different variables pulling us as individuals which every different way and you have an infinitely renewing story telling resource. "Ceremonious…." is different (in my head that is) in that its not about the everyday but about those times in which your life is rewarded with celebration. Those times you get to have your cake and eat it too, though there are times when celebration gets routine… I often feel like I explore the same themes through all my work. Its pretty fascinating to me how a basic human theme of say loneliness or restlessness can manifest itself in writing as opposed to a dance work

SOPHIA WANG: I started dancing and performing as I was finishing my PhD in poetry a few years ago, and the piece I ended up making and performing last year in collaboration with Brontez, our filmmaker friend tooth, and the poet Bernadette Mayer (whom I'd written a dissertation chapter on), felt like my graduation ceremony and dissertation defense combined: as if the ultimate goal was to be viscerally, generatively moved by the texts I'd been writing about all those years. And since then, Brontez, tooth, and I have kept making new pieces from the resources we gathered for that first piece, so I do really think that material persists across projects, whether you take "material" literally or figuratively: like the audio files of Bernadette reading her poetry or the movement phrases we revisit vs. more conceptual material: a theme or affect, like loneliness or restlessness.

The Episodes II photo by Robbie Sweeney

FAG CITY: I'm interested in this piece's investigation of the Rite of Passage. Are there particular rites, cultural symbols or historical/social tropes that lead you into this subject?

BRONTEZ PURNELL: YES. I had (after 12 fucking years) FINALLY graduated from college, stopped drinking again, moved out of a house I lived for a decade and all these themes came popping up. I think sometimes this dance presents itself as a theme of "Holy shit….WHATS NEXT?!?!?!"

SOPHIA WANG: Yeah and I'm gonna just come right out and say that it took me 13 years to finish my doctorate, so Brontez and I were on parallel adventures through schooling, and only just recently finished up, so now we've both been cast into the terrifying abyss of the rest of our lives...

Unwanted Conversation + Radical Gestures photos by Yvonne Portra

FAG CITY: I'm curious about the "Ceremonious/Unceremonious" axiom, as opposed to questions of everyday movement versus dance-y movement, or classical versus vernacular dance. How did you come to the idea of ceremony or ritual? Does spirituality or ideas of the sacred play into this?

BRONTEZ PURNELL: I feel like themes of the sacred play into EVERYTHING I do/think about. But I'm also a pretty visceral creature-I over think only in retrospect but in action I go with gut feelings as a general rule because of this I sometimes have a hard time discerning the sacred vs. the vernacular. Like, why cant I eat a fucking box of Oreo's everyday? Isn't that what life is about? (this is the basic ponderance of my everyday life!). Thats just one example. Its funny you say that about pedestrian movement vs classical movement. We had a works in progress showing of the piece and Keith Hennessy (Bay Area dance super hero dude) was questioning my use of Ballet in certain parts or why I made that choice as opposed to the faux African movement I had used in another part of the dance. I have a high booty and flat feet so naturally ballet on my body is always going to look like satire. I don't share with alot of my contemporaries a hate for ballet. I really love it and think it looks pretty but I do have my point of contentions with it (its not an interesting argument to me but I'll lay it out) just like the classic themes of it being a dance for ethereal thin people. BUT I like how fucked up it looks on my body. I like the dissaffection of it. When I do ballet I think it looks punk. Plus my continuous performance of my "failure" of balletic movement is something I kinda see as a theme developing in alot of movement phrases of mine. Its the charge of being in constant coversation with something that you don't really do that well….which to me is in a way (for lack of a better term) "sacred".

SOPHIA WANG: That basically describes my relationship to performing dance: it's never about showcasing expertise, and always about confronting my own limits and flaws, whether or not that's legible to whoever's watching. What I most want to be good at is exactly that: being willing to do something I don't really do very well, and being willing to be seen fumbling through the process, because that feels like the ultimate human rite & right: to be stuck in this body that's built the way it is and didn't happen to get trained in ballet or modern from the time you were little, and to put it to work, despite all that. That said, one of the things I love about working collaboratively is learning body intelligence from other dancers through mimicry. Brontez's "faux African movements" are even more faux on me cause I don't even have that training in me, so there are a couple places in Ceremonious where my task is to approximate this movement that Brontez can do gorgeously and which on me feels disjointed and wrong, but it's one of my favorite moments, it's like homework: pure practice.

The Episodes II photo by Robbie Sweeney

FAG CITY: The notes describe both of you as MC's at a party while also being party crashers, functioning something like the archetypal trickster, asking: “what makes this all so goddamn special”? I'm curious about the idea of interrogating a party situation. Where did this question or this position come from?

BRONTEZ PURNELL: When I started BPDC with Sophia I feel like it was gut instinct and me going on a lot of faith that I was going to fail and look silly in some ways but also I was going to keep going and get better and better at it. I had no real ties to the Bay Area "Dance Scene" (whatever the fuck that would mean) so when BPDC was started there was the sense that we were crashing a party. I mean my dance training (or my "untraining" should I say) started in my going around the country in my early 20's in my tighty whiteys and performing/dancing with Gravy Train!!!! and from where I stand I think that's every bit as valid as someone who say studied "serious" technique (not that I didn't buy the way-but just as example) only works/shows in the Bay and select spots in Europe and New York. I think the Bay has a WONDERFUL and SUPPORTIVE community. I LOVE making work here! But I also have to contend with the fact that I generally make work not for people who wouldn't normally go see a dance show.

SOPHIA WANG: Starting to dance with BPDC fast-tracked me into this weird, late-in-life (well, late in terms of normative dance trajectories) obsession with dance where suddenly I was performing and making work having had basically no prior inkling that I'd be doing any of this. I really love that the company celebrates and prefers movers without traditional training or any prior experience with performing. So yeah, when I was suddenly performing here and there and going to auditions and getting cast and finding support in the dance community here - and it's a well-established, deep-rooted community - it felt like I'd pulled off some fantastic trickery. But like any party crasher, I think the party likes being crashed.

The Episodes II photo by Robbie Sweeney

FAG CITY: Could you walk us through the "story" of the piece? You mention that it begins with a physical exertion, a response to listlessness, almost an explosive reaction to boredom. Can you describe how you decided to start where you're starting and end where you're ending?

BRONTEZ PURNELL: CONSTANT CONVERSATION. I don't really know how to answer this because I feel like this is the first dance piece we've done where the choreography might change up until the day of!

SOPHIA WANG: This is definitely not the first dance piece we've done where the choreography changes up till the showing! It's not feature creep so much as eleventh hour inspiration and elements clarifying themselves in due course. As far as story goes, I feel like this piece has less of a trackable story than The Episodes do; I find my way through it more energetically - there are esoteric tasks that transform into recognizable actions and then drift away from the literal and back to the symbolic. We contend with the physicality of our props, the floor, the ceiling, and we make the audience do this along with us. I think of the ending as a reward for everyone in the room and the work we'll all have done together.

Brontez Purnell Dance Company at Pop Montreal, 9/20/14

FAG CITY: How does documentation figure into making these dances? Do you want there to be video, text, photos? Do you have any plans to tour this work?

BRONTEZ PURNELL: Some people hate documentation, but I feel like without it you have a body of work that never really existed. Which is fine if that's what your going for but I feel like I lose enough to memory everyday. BY ALL MEANS IF YOU SHOW UP TAKE A PICTURE!

SOPHIA WANG: I don't think it's pics or it didn't happen, but for sure you need documentation to share your work widely when you've got limited resources to travel and produce. BPDC just did our first international gig at Pop Montreal, and we've been scheming up ways to tour and we already know the ppl we'd love to tour with... so: YES.

Ceremonious/Unceremonious, a duet by Brontez Purnell and Sophia Wang, founders of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company.

October 10th and 11th at 8pm
1 Grove Street
San Francisco,CA 94102
Presented as part of AIRSpace - Queer Performance Art Residency Program


Trying Bad

I've had two different friends suggest that I get mad, that I turn bad, that I let my anger and my rage out. That I crystallize it. That I dye my hair black. That I get evil. I want to be evil. I want to be bad. I want, as one friend suggested "the end of nice." Not that I'm particularly nice. I mean, I am nice. I want everyone to like me. The end of that.  I want a change. A decision. A turning towards the night. It is Autumn, right? That annual reminder of death, rebirth. Decay. Rotten. I feel like I am turning into a demon. I have to go to Hell. I have to have my Season in Hell, I guess, for a little bit longer. I have to accept it. This is how I will learn to articulate it, the anger that I think is righteous. It's a cycle. Like, I have to trick myself into setting myself on fire or something, about being in Hell. About being, like, cosmically aflame. Like the Sun. Like the planets. It's weird that there's even fire in outer space, since there's no air there, right? It's not fire exactly. Can someone smarter than I am explain that, for me. Can I subcontract that out, an explanation of flame in outer space? What about the music of the spheres. There's so much I don't understand-- I keep using the same metaphors, the universes, the gravitational forces inside a person. I'm deciding to go dark, to see the other side. I knew I was going to. I knew this would be required. It's just so scary and confusing and sad. But that's okay. Persephone. I'm ready. I've faced the Sun and now I'm ready to face the fucking Moon. I'm turning to night. I want to be evil.

I'm worried about my fatty acids. I'm worried I haven't been getting my Omega-3s. My DHA and my EPA and ALA. My acronyms. I'm told, I researched what they're for. Where they occur (their sources) and what they do for you (their benefits). The bad news is I have neither. I'm given to understand that they benefit the cardiovascular system, but that's just one wing of their miraculous reach. Apparently they also affect the brain; how it works. Furthermore, there seems to be a link between Omega-3 consumption and emotional function. Mood. Maybe that's the reason I'm so depressed, so unfocused, so unsuccessful, etc. It's just a matter of oils. Maybe it's just that my neurons just need to be greased up. Lube, as any sex-positive sex-educator will tell you, is critical and yet culturally underrated. So now I'm sprinkling flax seeds into everything. The cheap kind I get from the "Latin Foods" aisle of the grocery store. I'm contemplating fish oil, but there are literally communities set up with archives of information on how to start shopping for fish oil supplements, how to start conceptualizing the seven (yes, seven) criteria you should be using when shopping for fish oil supplements: freshness, potency, sustainability, taste, purity, I forget the other two. It's disgusting. I want to take that fake algae supplements, but maybe those don't work. Should I start eating fish? Cold water, oily fish? Should I get really into sushi? Maybe this is the cure for my depression: sushi. It could be that simple.

There's an exhaust fan on the roof of the building next door. The chicken shop. It runs all day and all night. It's incredibly loud. I think it started this summer, started making noise this summer. I just started noticing the noise when I got back from West Coast in August. At first I thought it was like an infernal buzzing, like a chainsaw, like a jackhammer. I called the cops. I filled out noise complaints. I tried to describe the noise, and its location, in forms submitted online to the police precinct. I gave the address. I got an automated e-mail response the next day, saying that the police had visited the location but could find no evidence of the disturbance. Since no further action was required, none was taken. Well of course not. You can't hear the buzzing from ground level; only up here. I wonder if Paps can hear it; it's right outside her bedroom window. It drove me mad.  Lately, though, the sound has changed. It's gotten wobblier, less intense, somehow more percussive. I can hear it rattling around a little bit. I think, Maybe the machine is loosening itself. I think, the machine is relaxing. We're getting to know each other. Now the machine and I are neighbors. Now I hear it clicking more, lisping, stuttering. Now, I think, I can hear it purring.



(This is old, I'm playing catch-up.)

I'm going to listen to my horoscope and instead of focusing so much on what isn't working and what's missing, I want to pivot a bit and focus on what is there. My horoscope said to focus on what's next. This is good advise generally, but also particularly to my concerns right now. So instead of focusing on my list of grievances, a ransom note, I'm working through envisioning, imagining a list of solutions, answers, rewards, cash prizes, etc. Instead of focusing on the fact that my snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue, which was at least three or four years old, suddenly fucking died this week, I'm going to focus, instead, on what kind of awesome new plant I'd like to welcome into my life right now. So this means also focusing not on all the shows I'm not playing, but on the shows I am playing.

My dresser broke so I went to Ikea to buy a new one. I kind of feel silly buying furniture from Ikea. Is this a middle-class aspirational thing? That I feel like I'm too old for particleboard? I mean, I don't think anything is permanent. I might not live in New York forever. No one will be able to. But so it's all I can afford and I like the ease and I like the design so I bought a new nightstand. Had a kind of a missed connection on the train home, it was funny.

The other week I went to K8 Hardy's exhibition at Higher Pictures featuring reproductions and installations from her zine: Fashionfashion 2002-2006. The press release includes the following description of the zine by John Kelsey, from his essay "Information in Drag" which is included in Hardy's How To: Untitled Runway Show:

(Hardy) released a series of zines called Fashionfashion, featuring mostly cut-and-paste images of herself, posed and styled (by herself) in grotesque, brutally collaged fashion/lifestyle editorials (by herself). For these riot grrrlesque publications, Hardy exploited her own exploitation working as a stylist’s assistant, scavenging outfits at thrift stores (or making them herself), and wearing make-up more in the clown/horror vein than what mainstream women’s magazines call beauty. In one memorable self-portrait from this time, Hardy spread her legs wide for the camera while menstruating through underwear printed with a repeating dollar sign motif. She called this her “money shot.”

K8 Hardy Fashionfashion, "Money Look" 2006

I thought the show was really cool. I didn't know she had made that zine, or that the zine existed at all. I like K8 Hardy's work. I've been, like I'm sure many other people are, a little bit intimidated by her work. I had, for a while, this preconceived notion of what her work was like-- that it was very cool, very coded, very radical (politically, philosophically, aesthetically) that it was too arch and too smart for me. I was wrong, necessarily. I've always liked seeing her work, whenever I have. I'd like to imagine that she and I have some shared reference points; queer independent culture in the Pacific Northwest among them. It seems like K8 Hardy got into making art, the art world, etc. a lot earlier than I did. I feel like I have as much of an authentic claim to punk culture as one can have, but I still feel very much like an outsider in the art world. Okay-- this isn't about me. The point is I like K8 Hardy's work, though I felt sort of ignorant of it for a long time. Seeing this new show at Higher Pictures was another example of finding out about something an artist made, possible a while ago, and really liking it, immediately, and wondering why you hadn't seen it before.

I told my friend I was with "Wow, I wish I had known about this zine before!" What I meant to say was, I wish I had known how to read this zine before, back when it came out. Think about it, in the early 00s, Hardy was making this zine. Apparently she was also working as a stylist's assistant, which I'd like to know more about, personally. This is a period when I was definitely not following fashion at all, and so would not have been able to read a response to the visual culture of fashion in any kind of informed way. Looking at the photos from the zines now, though, it is a little spooky. She was so right on.

Fashion, as a thing, is constantly cannibalizing itself, collapsing into itself, a kind of permanent and proto-Futurist function of being addicted to the "shock of the new". Hardy seems to have grasped that fairly early on, and the apparent hijinx captured in these zines reads, to me, like a strong, clear way of derailing, participating in that conversation. I'm trying to think: what was really in fashion in 2004? When, during the early 00s, did chav culture, lad culture, youths roughhousing come back into fashion? I look at these photos of K8 and her friends goofing around, looking alternately casual, poised, bored, angry, hysterical, somnolent, in thrift store concotions, belted bags. I see this as a kind of ripping apart, dumbing down, washing, exploding fashion. Notions of streetwear, sportswear, couture.

The exhibition included a note from Hardy about aknowledging the collaborators involved with producing the zines. Hardy notes: "One of the stances I explicitly took when originally making this zine was an anti-credit stance. I didn't want any names on the zines, any recognition of clothing designers, or photo credits, or even my own name. It was to be the opposite of fashion magazines, where every credit is a small advertisement... There are no designer clothes in these zines, to the best of my knowledge."

I wish the actual zines were still available somewhere, but luckily you can go up to Higher Pictures this month and see the blown-up, gorgeous monster-sized versions of them.

After the opening, we went downtown to the Hole to check out an evening of performance in conjunction with the Future Feminism exhibition, organized by Antony, Kembra Pfahler, Johanna Constantine, Bianca Casady, Sierra Casady. The exhibition is sprawling,. ambitious, and features 13 evenings of performances. Kind of a lot to keep up with! A little bit amazing. The night I went I saw Narcissister, Dynasty Handbag, and No Bra. Three artists who I've had the good fortune to see around New York for a while, and whose work (while very different) I like a lot. Narcissister showed some fantastic films I hadn't seen before and did a couple mesmerizing live numbers. Dynasty Handbag did the Beyoncé "Drunk in Love" piece I had heard so much about but hadn't seen yet. No Bra performed numbers off of her most recent album Candy, which I'm still obsessed with, as well as her first great big hit, the classic club banger "Munchausen" which I had never had the good fortune of seeing her do live before. It was great:

I think the Future Feminist show was a qualified hit. I wish I'd seen more but it was kind of crowded, right? Like an actual hit.

Thursday I went to the opening of the Thread Lines exhibition at the Drawing Center. It's a really varied, thoughtful show. I was in kind of a rush when I went by, and it was crowded, so I didn't really get to spend as much time with it as I might have liked to, I should go back. Also on Thursday I went to Mattachine at Julius' Bar, always a favorite. The DJs were Angie diCarlo, Amber Martin, and Nath-Ann Carrera, all deep loves of mine. I had fun, kind of stayed out too late.

Friday I was feeling blue, and bored. I partied with the kids downstairs, PLD and Paps. Lola came over, we hung out like we were all students, except Lola's the only one with that as an excuse. It was fun. Eventually I went to the Village and hung out with Ryan and went bar-hopping. This was, gosh, two Fridays ago.

The next night I went to see Cole Escola's solo show at the Duplex. Cole has been doing these shows once a month for a while now, almost a year. Each month it's different. Similar characters come in and out, but it's new material every month. It's really scary and brilliant. One of those "Oh, shit" moments in New York. Obviously, Lena Dunham and Kathleen Hanna are singing his praises, etc. It's like, a bit like what I imagine Whoopi Goldberg's The Spook Show might have been like. Unmissable. SO ANYWAY: Cole is going to go on a little sourjurn but before he does he's doing ONE MORE SHOW in New York, on OCTOBER 11TH. Get your tickets HERE.

I went home, I listened to Bossa nova and changed my clothes, and went to GAYLETTER'S Interracial party, being held at the new Williamsburg gay nightclub spot LoveGun. The party was fun, and PACKED as usual. I'm glad it's back, that party. Not that it went somewhere, or like, was canceled, but I like when it happens. The crowd is unfortunately somewhat homogeneous, ethnicity-wise. And in many ways. I do think, though, that in 2014 in Williamsburg it's pretty cool to have a queer party where the theme is diversity, or the "interracial" theme the Gayletter boys are putting forth. Like, I do think that's a cool thing. GAYLETTER has also, in addition to reviving the party, put out an actual honest-to-god Magazine, which you can buy HERE. So the party was packed, I went to Metro to go to Frankie Sharp's party Mentrosensual, which was cute and also packed. I was pooped. We went for a walk, the weather was nice. I went to bed kind of early.

Sunday I went to soundcheck at Joe's Pub for the AFTERCLAP show, the Afterglow Festival benefit. After sound check I went to go see Marie Karlberg's exhibition, A Stranger in the Dark, at Reena Spaulings.

It was a very cute show. I don't know Marie very well, I try to see her artwork whenever I can, I've been to her parties before. I think she seems nice and smart and cool, I've heard her talk a bit about her career and her values in terms of art. The press release for the show begins with: "This shit is pretty retarded. Parents, don't let your kids get a fine arts major." and ends with "Be a BRAVE Woman take off the panties / nice panties". Maybe I'm not great at reading art and performance, because I have a subconscious way of "interpreting" work by projecting my own ideas on it. Maybe everyone does that? I'm into Marie Karlberg's work because I think she and I have similar values or are interested in similar questions, about power, commerce, the current climate in the art works / media world. But I think maybe we get to these questions in different routes. I think her work is punk, but it's not flippant. I think her work is feminist but it's not didactic. I think she's not trying to necessarily be rebellious or wild, the drawings weren't slovenly at all. Sort of craft-ische. Really considered, studied. Not stern, but pretty sure of itself. Definitely not fucking around. That's, I think, a great way I'd describe the show-- she's definitely not fucking around. Or, if she is fucking around, to a degree (who isn't?) she's mostly not fucking around. She seems like she knows what she's doing. I was into it. I missed the performance though, I had to leave. Oh, one other cool thing was that people at the gallery were totally smoking indoors. I feel like the only time and place in New York where I see people smoking e-cigarettes these days is at art gallery openings. It was cool to be at Reena's and see folks smoking cigarettes, the old-fashioned kind (the analog kind), indoors, with utter impunity.

I went up the street to Joe's Pub and I did my performance at AFTERCLAP. The show was fantastic, it was fun to be reunited with the kids from Ptown. The evening was somewhat marred, however, by an unwanted visitor. Whatever. I did a new piece, which I'm going to do in other things. It's like this:


I sang "Glory Box" by Portishead to the tune of "Paradise" by Sade. Because, to me, being a woman would be like Paradise, right? Would be like being in Paradise. That's what it feels like, to me. Plus there's this gendered notion of Paradise, at least most Western ones, tied up as it is with the Eve/apple/ snake thing.

I can't find the interview somewhere but I seem to recall Beth Gibbons as saying that she had written that song to be about a transsexual? Am I making this up? A "transvestite"? It was, I think, even in 1994, a problematic and troubled topic-- this projection of one's desire onto another. Even if I'm misremembering (though I don't think I am), I wanted to capture something that was problematic but sincerely passionate. The thing of wanting to be a woman. It's not that easy, right? Also I wanted to try to sing kind of more soulfully. I'm going to sing this song again on Wedesday at Judson Church as part of THE BLUE HOUR hosted by Rumi Missabu of the Cockettes. It's a free show and there's a dance performance beforehand, KEEPING THE TIGERS AWAY. And before that there's a free meal at Judson, so maybe you'll want to come.

So the show was cute at Joe's. I had fun, until it stopped being fun, but I was sort of okay with that anyway, could deal.

Last week, I had the good fortune to see Mecca Normal perform at Le Poisson Rouge, opening for Mt. Eerie. I had never seen Mecca Normal perform live before, and I was totally thrilled and blown away. They mostly performed songs from their new record Empathy for the Evil, which is fantastic, as well as some new songs written just for the tour. They were really beyond. Here's a video for a song off the new record. "Art was the Great Leveler."

Jean Smith is so real, you guys. I got to meet her, because I'm working on an interview with her. It was a fantastic show.

That all being said, Wednesday I was in a very bad mood. I applied for this fellowship and I didn't get it. I know it's just one opportunity, but I took it really hard. It happened to come at a funny time for me, and I got really depressed. I feel like I had a kind of a nervous breakdown on Thursday, after talking to my analyst about it. I don't know if I really want to talk about it now. I feel like I'm supposed to be brave and push forward and just get on with my life, but I'm really, really sad. I took the weekend off, it feels like. At least from social media. I don't know. It feels like something is different. I need to get mad, to get evil. To get bad. I'll get back to this later. Mecca Normal was amazing, right.

Friday I went to the optometrist and got fitted for contact lenses. It's a fucking trip. My optometrist also put the kibosh on my favorite beauty-secret, my Rohto eye-drops, claiming they were a) horrible for eyes to begin with and b) totally incompatible with wearing contacts. I figured out how to put them in, but taking them out is a real bitch. This morning I put my contacts in and it feels wrong. Like, something feels weird. I'm taking them out at 3pm, after 8 hours, since I'm still new to this. Regardless, Friday I spent a lot of the day poking at my face, feeling weird and awful. Friday night I went to go see Bridget Everett's show ROCK BOTTOM, which is at Joe's Pub until 10/16, and is fucking AMAZING. I've actually never seen a full-length Bridget show before, which is shameful, because I love her so much. As you know, I interviewed her for the late great EastVillageBoys in 2011, and she also played my mom on TV. Her show is a masterclass in comedy, music, cabaret, performance art, talking, being pretty, making a point. She has so much to teach us, least of all about Chardonnay.

I was seated at a very nice comp table (gracias, Colita) next to a cute and perky gay couple. One of the boys asked what i was drinking and I said whiskey ginger ale. I wish I could have had chardonnay but I decided against it. By that point in the evening, since I knew I was drinking, I had already taken my contacts out and switched back to my glasses. I don't want to have to wrangle my contacts when I'm fucked up. Not yet. So I told the gay next to me what I was drinking, saying it should have been chardonnay huh, and he said "Oh, no, honey-- not with those glasses." Less about me.

Bridget Everett is obviously a fantastic star, I'm totally obsessed with her. She had gorgeous outfits in the show, all made by House of Larreon. The songs, from her album Pound It with the Tender Moments, are smart and catchy and addictive and fucking nasty. I don't know what else to say. I was terribly depressed all weekend and she was a beacon of light, joy. I love her. If you can get tickets to the show (which you might not be able to) you should do whatever you can to go, it's amazing.

Saturday I went to a photo shoot, feeling a little self-conscious. I went to the Pleasure Chest uptown with Max B to celebrate the store's birthday with free champagne. It was cute, there were cute people there, I bought lube. Thinking about the leather/bondage scene. It's always there. That's always an option, right? We took a very long walk downtown, then ultimately went to Gag! at Metro. That was fun but I was tired of seeing people, of being unseen by people. Still not over my bad mood. I'm such a fucking baby.

I woke up early Sunday and went to the Art Book Fair at PS1. As usual, I spent too much money and still didn't buy everything I wanted. Someone had made these 3 Teens Kill 4 shirts, but by the time I got there on Sunday they didn't have my size left. I bought a book of the collected issues of Shotgun Seamstress, a fantastic back issue of Linda Simpson's legendary zine My Comrade, and a copy of the new issue of Women Artists. I guess I can't really let myself feel bad about spending money in this way. It's not like I bought drugs or something.

After the book fair, which was fantastic but really, every year, so overwhelming, I went to Anthology Film Archives to see COCO, a new film written and directed by Margaret Haines, presented by Sex Magazine.

I've heard so much about this movie, since I'm friends with Robin Newman (who is one of the stars) and Patrick Dyer, who made the music. I was not disappointed, COCO more than lived up to the rapturous mythos I had clouded it in. It's a stupidly gorgeous, somewhat tense, and totally engrossing look at girlhood, adolescence, trauma, fear, memory and socialization. There was a book released in tandem with the film, which I wish I had stopped to buy, because I'm very curious about Haines' thinking in the film. I'm not really qualified to speak on Cinema (or Art, really)-- I loved the movie. It sort of creeped me out and sort of made me feel really proud and conspiratorial, like when you're friends with a tough girl at school. Or a sick girl. Someone you don't have to protect but want to align your power with. COCO was sensational. I hope it gets shown some more in New York? Keep your eyes peeled, it was pretty amazing.

When I was in Provincetown, I was walking one night on my way to the show. I was late. I stopped by Essentials, a little general store, to buy cigarettes. I was late for my thing. The woman behind the counter said, instead of looking at my ID, she had a new thing, where she was going to try to guess people's ages. I calmly said, "Well, how old do you think I am?"
She looked at my for a minute. I had to focus on keeping my cool. I wanted to bolt out of the store. "I'd say, 24." she said.
"I'm 30," I answered.
"Well," she said, "I was going to say 24, 25."
I told her that was sweet. She said she was also good at guessing Sun signs. I asked her to guess my sign. She guessed Sagittarius. I said no, close, I'm a Sag Moon. She asked what my Sun sign is. I told her, Leo. She said she was surprised. I asked her why.
"You don't seem like a Leo." She said, thoughtfully.
"I don't?" I asked. I was in a hurry, I was late, true, but I was also curious. I feel very much like I am a typical Leo. In a way where I don't feel typical or actual at all, in most ways, I identify very strongly with being a Leo.
She said, "No, you don't seem like a Leo. You didn't come in here, like 'It's all about Me!'" She said. That was funny, I thought I had done exactly that. "What's your rising sign?" She asked.
"Cancer." I said.
She nodded sagely. "See," she said, "that explains that."


The Elephant Which Is Us

Woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. Wished I had a round-shaped bed, this morning. I'm not sad, I'm mad. I'm not tired, I'm bored. I'm angry that I'm not more talented. I have a lot of grief about not being successful. I want to be rewarded for these things; I want to be accepted for not trying to fit in, for not marketing myself. I want the fact that I'm just beyond the purview of some kind of sexy trend piece to be a virtue, but it's not. And I'm upset about that. No profile piece. No symptom-mapping. No fascination. I don't want to be fascinating. I think that's more evolved, but it hurts.

I struggle to get people to book me and then when someone makes the mistake of booking me to play a show, I do something deliberately "off-putting" and am incensed when no one gets it. I feel like no one ever asks me to perform and I so desperately want the opportunity to perform. Music. And to do readings of the stuff I'm writing these days. And I know, I know, I know that I can't do every show. But I also feel like I don't really get asked to do many shows, at all, anymore. I want to, very much.

Twice, people referred to me in the past tense this week. As in "I loved your blog back in the day". People who I didn't know back in the day. Who didn't say anything at the time. People who wouldn't be caught dead asking me to perform at any of the 7,685,766,324 shows/events they organize, but want me to come support them. Because they read my blog back in the day. It feels like there's some weird shared understanding that I suck and that I'm over-rated and that I need to be brought down a couple of pegs. Maybe that's just how it feels.

I feel like I can't win for trying. I see so much shared sentiment among so many people right now. In New York and elsewhere, and in me too: we're fed up. But we're having a hard time talking about it or making the connections between our hang-ups make sense. And for me I'm experiencing it as this culture of consensus. How the shit that gets done gets done by clique. Like: the same groups of people perform together and mostly for each other and work in the media industry to further solidify their "legend" while not, you know, doing anything other than making rules for themselves as to who's in and who's out.

It's not unlike in American Vogue, when you'll see the Marc Jacobs perfume ad, the magazine feature on new clothes you should buy this fall (including that Marc Jacobs dress), then an editorial featuring models wearing that hot new Marc Jacobs dress, and then personal anecdotes from the editors where they say their favorite newest item of clothing is that hot new Marc Jacobs dress. We can say gesamtkunstwerk. The "total work of art" in Wagner's imagination-- inseparable from totalitarianism. The abject beauty and power-fetish-kink of the feedback loop. EVERYthing looks prettier when it's smaller, when you're up above. Or so the thinking goes.

Maybe people feel like we need those scenes, zones of of self-comfort, of affirmation, of "security" as a kind of escape from or safeguard against the horrors of an unjust world.

Like: "My life is hard, I get a lot of negative attention when I walk around New York because of my style, because of my gender style, because of my poverty, because of my gendered poverty style, so I need to be part of a community that makes me a star. It's my right, for being so imaginative as to demand it. I deserve-- I'm entitled to this. I am correctly identified as a star, the Future of Queer Art in America, I am the most important thing and I demand respect. I demand that the world sees me the way I want to see myself." Maybe that's how these scenes get justified, right? Are we not having the same conversation people have had for centuries? About the necessary of beauty over truth? The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? Belle Epoque? I remember this is a similar reasoning used by Rose Melberg in describing Tiger Trap's twee imagery back in the day. I'm not saying it's not justified, I'm not saying it's bad. I'm saying it's going on and we're pretending it's one thing and not the thing it actually is.

It's not just that I'm sore about not being included. Thought I am sore about not being included. But it's a two-way street: I don't get invited to glamorous shows and I wouldn't be right for them, on some kind of philosophical level. Maybe I'm just not meant to be hip or celebrated. Or included. Maybe this is just a cop-out and I'm just trying to make myself feel better about the fact that no one wants to book me.

The fucked up thing is that I'm actually not trying to get famous. I'm not trying to get rich. Someone at Afterglow asked me what my ultimate goal was. Was I an Actor hoping to make in in a movie or TV? Did I want to get a record deal and become a famous singer, like the character I played in MAPPLETHORPE? No. My answer is that I really love making art work and it feels like that's what I'm best at and want to do. So I want to be able to spend as much of my life as possible doing that, making art. For me right now this means performance.

I feel like: if you're in a scene that doesn't challenge you, that is just about telling you how special, pretty, good and fantastic you are, you need to be in a bigger and more challenging scene. I'm really good at being nice and also being challenging. I have a lot of cognitive dissonance. I'm really compelled by the inherent paradoxes of social practice. I'm funny, I'm not the worst singer in the world. I know how to get an audience's attention. I consider performing live to be a kind of sacred ritual. I don't think there's any reason to perform unless we address the elephant in the room, which is us. Maybe that seems weird and maybe it's not as glamorous and maybe won't affirm your white dick and the feelings you have about your white dick, but I think what I'm doing is useful and important and I want so badly to get the opportunity to perform it for you and to read you the writing I'm doing about it.

I'm good. I'm available. I'm working. Please, please book me for your shows.




FIRST: The People's Climate March. Maybe you've heard of it? Check out this cute video by Ombro de Oro and Viva Ruiz and Ryan Streit:


SECOND: For those of you that missed the Afterglow Festival in Provincetown, there is a special performance and benefit this Sunday:

An Encore Evening of Performances by the Shining Stars and Special Guests of the Afterglow Festival in Provincetown Hosted By Stella Starsky + Quinn Cox

FEATURING:  Justin Vivian Bond • Joey Arias • John Kelly • Max Steele • Amber Martin • Nath Ann Carrera • Jill Pangallo • Patrick Johnson • Brian King • James Lecesne • Tammy Faye Starlite • and Musical Director Matt Ray

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21, 2014 at 9:30

OK this is just a small update. See you all Sunday!



Ahead of the new Comme des Garçons collections being shown Next Saturday in Paris, I want to talk about this new handbag that CdG matriarch Rei Kawakubo designed for Louis Vuitton, as part of their ‘Celebrating Monogram’ series, which features a series of collaborations with fashion, art and design luminaries reinventing the iconic LV monogram. The collection includes collaborations with: Karl Lagerfeld, Frank Gehry, Cindy Sherman, Marc Newson, Christian Louboutin and Rei Kawakubo. You can see the complete collection HERE. The press notes indicate that there's a slight precedent for this, as Vuitton celebrated their 1996 centenary collection by including collaborations with Azzedine Alaïa, Manolo Blahnik, Romeo Gigli, Helmut Lang, Isaac Mizrahi, Sybilla and Vivienne Westwood. That one sounds cute, no?

This isn't Miss Rei-K's first time tangling with Vuitton, of course. She put together a daffy little collection of mutant handbags, deformed little monster pouches and purses back in 2008, when she approached LVMH with the idea of a collaboration to celebrate Vuitton's 30th anniversary in Japan.

Those handbags were gorgeous, and so precious that one's still baffled and finding any of their pricing information. You couldn't just go buy one. You couldn't call the store and order one. You had to go to one of the specified limited CdG x LVHM "shop-in-shop" locations, officially order your preferred bag, and then pay for it in advance of them being made and then shipped out to your local Vuitton dealership, or some such thing. The story of that collection goes that Kawakubo had been so "excited" to see Vuitton opening in Tokyo in 1978, it had seemed to her to usher in some new sense of optimism or excitement that French luxury fashion brands were expanding into the Japanese market. That's a nice thought, but I do struggle to envision Kawakubo getting particularly excited about shopping, excited about purses. I do like thinking of her in 1978 though. At that point, Comme des Garçons had developed a fairly cultish following in Japan, her followers already known as カラス族 ("Karasu-zoku" or "Gang of Black Crows"). In 1978 she had yet to show her work in Paris, and it's nice to think of her encountering a brand-spanking new Vuitton boutique in Tokyo and getting "excited" about the cross-cultural implications of designing and promoting luxury. She referred to her 2008 collaboration with Vuitton as a collection of "party bags" to celebrate the brand's 30 years in Japan. Does Rei Kawakubo seem like someone who often thinks about or talks about "parties"? Here's a photo of Rei Kawakubo and former LVMH CEO Yves Carelle (RIP) together at the launch of the Vuitton x CdG collection in 2008:

Party Girl

ANYWAYS. The 'Celebrating Monogram' collection features the collaborators describing their work, posing with the finished product (Cindy Sherman wears the new Spring collection by Ghesquière in her portrait), and providing a brief on their inspirations for their collaboration, perhaps a behind-the-scenes picture or two. Kawakubo dispenses with the formalities and the celebrity worship, naturally. Nobody who's even remotely familiar with her work or her approach to marketing would bat an eye at the fact that for her photo, she's had a pencil drawing hung behind the handbag instead of posing with it, or the fact that there are no behind the scenes photos, duh.

On her inspiration for this collaboration:
"Breaking the traditional Louis Vuitton Monogram was the premise of this one work—which was to find something that would be new, some kind of new value. Although there are various ways of breaking to create something new, this time I tried to play it straight: I simply made some holes in the fabric of the bag. I generally like small bags."

I'm really curious about the translation here. Did she actually say "play it straight"? Is that an idiom that resonates in Japanese, or French? For that matter, you know homegirl knows a thing or two about her LGBT brethren, and you know Miss Thing speaks much more English than she lets on. The idea of "straightness" as it relates to the work of Rei Kawakubo. I'm off on a tailspin about this. Anyway, here's what "playing it straight" means, to Rei Kawakubo, in 2014. Here is her "Bag with Holes":

Just fucking cut holes in the damn thing, right? I love that for Kawakubo, "playing it straight" means not, y'know, coming up with some fussy twisted shape (a la Gehry) or fucking with some oversized or conceptual "sport-y" silhouette like Lagerfeld and Newson. No, for Rei Kawakubo, "playing it straight" means just slashing holes right through the bag, so that you can see through it. The bonded interior lining "to keep belongings secure" seems like something the higher-ups at LVMH insisted on, for the sake of practicality. Kawakubo notes that she generally likes small bags. This is a red herring, CdG has never just been about Kawakubo creating clothes that she wanted to wear. That's what Comme des Garçons Robe de Chambre (which has since become Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons, or "Comme Comme") is for: to recreate her own wardrobe. Yeah, usually Kawakubo is rocking one of the vintage wallet-sized purses, or one of the teensy Paco Rabanne chain-mail collaboration purses. I doubt we'd see her, even at a "party", rocking this huge flat thing with holes slashed out of it. I don't think so. I love that this is her way of paying tribute to, somehow reckoning with Vuitton's "heritage." And yeah, it is something new, I guess.

"I feel," says Kawakubo, "that Louis Vuitton is the house that most beautifully and skilfully transforms what is tradition into what is now. Yet I always approach all of my work in a way that is exactly the same: I look to create something new."

SO, again, she's being kind of a punk here: Yes, Vuitton is all about tradition and history and making history relevant. That's all well and good, but Kawakubo, lest y'all forget, has one mandate, the same one Ezra Pound pounded: Make it New.

Continuing on, she says: "When designing the bag for this project, I was looking for some new design, something that hadn’t been done before, something within the limits of possibility."

These are certainly new. Hear me out: these aren't the randomly applied fraying holes she used to great acclaim in the early 1980s in the garments Suzy Menkes so charmingly dubbed "Swiss-cheese sweaters". No, these holes are artisanal, super-deliberate, a form or decoration. These holes are the concept of embroidery doggedly purse pursued to their logical conclusion. They seem reminiscent of the crafted holes cut out of the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus Fall/Winter 2014 collection, the "Holy Jacket" collection, which featured these stylish little kicks:

These are new, these are a new way of exploring texture, shape, volume. And embedded in the design is an implicit indictment of the luxury and tradition Kawakubo claims to have been to taken by, back in 1978. This is her trying to "Play it Straight": don't fuss with any kind of fancy shape, color, material or process: just find a new way to ask philosophical questions about materials, history. Play it straight, right? Just carve a fucking hole in the precious object. For Kawakubo, "playing it straight" means literally ripping the thing a new orifice.

But let's back up for a second. Her stated goal here was to keep to her usual modus operandi of finding a way to make something new, and she also notes that in addition to newness, she was looking to design "something within the limits of possibility." Possible how exactly? Possible as in practical? This is the woman who famously designed chairs that weren't really designed for, you know, sitting as such. Maybe she means "possibility" in terms of something that could, physically, exist in our reality at this time. Or maybe she's referring to "the realm of possibility" in another way.

I don't know if these collaboration pieces will be as hard to buy as the last time she tangled with LVMH, but out of the six artists chosen to design new products for this collection, Kawakubo's contribution with a suggested retail price of $2790.00 USD, is the cheapest one in the collection.


Reporter Boys

Friday night after my chores and my day job and my gym, I went to Printed Matter for the issue launch party for Gay Goth Scene #3. They haven't put out an issue in over ten years, but the zine's editors Raven and Bones (a.k.a. Joel Gibb and Paul P) are right on time, in terms of giving the children what we want. Perfect Little Daniel and I went, because B0DYH1GH is absolutely a gay goth band, and we weren't disappointed. The new zine is spooky and cute, and a positively diabolically delightful addition to anyone's archive.

After the zine party we went out to eat at Taim, then I went home to change clothes watch cartoons. I headed out to the new party "GIRLS" which was the inaugural party for the new Williamsburg gay bay LOVEGUN It was produced by the rightfully legendary Frankie Sharp, and featured the line-up of all your favorite Night Club Dolls as co-hosts, DJs, performers, personalities. BIG thanks to Sam B. and Bailey S. for getting me listed and Eli for the encouragement to go to the front of the line and admit that I was on a guest list.

The party was fun and cute and really really fucking crowded. I'm surprised I didn't know more people there. I probably did, in fact, but it was just so dang crowded. A really cool space, and I'm excited to see what comes of it. I always like a new gay spot withing hobbling distance of my lair. I went out for a cigarette and texted with miss Kayla, who was around the corner so I went to go hang out with her at Jawn and Peter's house nearby. We drank Jager and watched music videos and talked about New Orleans and gentrification and pop stars and gossip. They're journalists so they're really funny and know a lot of cool things. It's their job to know those things and to tell them, that's their job. We screwed up our courage and went back to Lovegun at 3am and it was cute, way less crowded, a fun time. Dancing in the upstairs lounge with all the kids, getting down to new records. It was a very auspicious feeling. A lovely new moment.

Saturday was hard, because I was hungover. I went grocery shopping, in the rain. I went out to lunch. I saw The Material Image at Marianne Boesky uptown. It's curated Debra Singer and includes Michele Abeles, Lucas Blalock, Sam Falls, Ryan Foerster, Amy Granat, Rachel Harrison, Leslie Hewitt, John Houck, Barbara Kasten, Jason Loebs, Nick Mauss, Ken Okiishi, Arthur Ou, Anthony Pearson, Marina Pinsky, Mariah Robertson, Matt Saunders, and Chris Wiley.

I liked the show. I like all art shows that happen in Upper East Side townhouses. Maybe that's not fair. My favorite piece, the creator of which I didn't actually ever nail down (sorry!) was a window shade that had the bars of the window-frame stenciled into it, as if by having been exposed to sunlight. Then it was flipped upside down for a nifty little "Hail Satan" trick. You can see it on the right hand side of the installation shot above. No but seriously the show is sober, smart, not too pretty and not too funny. A strong if unobtrusive play on physicality, history, space. I was thinking about the idea of the "living archive" and the mechanical production of art. I was thinking, at the show, about how everything came together, how the artists and the curator must have organized their thinking about the work, the flow through the house, the colors, etc. Certainly worth seeing and definitely worth the trip uptown. At the opening, I could not for the life of me score a glass of wine, but I did see some fancy art patron ladies rocking the same Eileen Fisher harem pants I wore to great acclaim this past week in Provincetown. When I shuffled to the beach-front hotel patio for morning coffee I was the envy of everyone there.

From there, I headed downtown to see the Voir Dire*, the first U.S. solo exhibition by Cyril Duval, at Johannes Vogt Gallery. I sure did like this show a lot. It made me think about how sometimes I'm so naive. I, and I think a lot of people like me (as well as people unlike me) have a tendency to sort of gloss over or willfully refuse to see a sinister aesthetic. To me, the show was light, playful, poppy fun. Of course, spending more than two seconds looking at anything Duval has ever done would start to disabuse a body of such optimism. I'm not saying it was mean; I'm saying it was toothsome. How can I describe the show? It was like gummy candy. It was chewy, its textures surprisingly tougher than it's putative flavors. I was really into the assemblages of debatably real retail detritus. The reappropriation of McDonalds' sweeteners, songs, imagery was nice, but I feel a little inured to the electric revelation of horror below the Golden Arches. Maybe it's because I grew up in America. Maybe it's because I obsessively ate fast-food for the first half of my life, maybe it's because I became a vegetarian and haven't touched it since. I'd almost rather have seen a fictional fast food company, something a little less loud. But I suppose that's the point. The show is super gorgeous, unsettling and kind of kinky. Like dating an Earth sign. HIGHly recommended.

item idem, Super Gospel Rap 2014

In contrast to the Boesky gallery girls, the Duval opening was packed with downtown kids rocking their clubwear-inspired Designer Duds. I saw more than a few boys rocking the boots, the coats, whatever, from the Raf Simons and Sterling Ruby collection. I love both Simons and Sterling but the new collection hasn't really stirred anything in me. Certainly, though, they're clothes you could wear from the art opening to the nightclub. For that familiar journey-- they have you covered.

Went back home to recuperate a minute, then back up to the city, to Midtown no less, to meet up with my buddy Steven (Another journalist, actually. Another reporter). We went to Ladyfag's new party Holy Mountain. The trick was that if you RSVPed, you could get in for free before 11:30pm. We did so but were met with a line like I haven't seen in a while. We barely made it inside by, like 12:30, at which point we all had to pay the cover, which kind of sucked, but I get it. The party itself, the space, was MASSIVE. Multiple rooms to bounce between, dark alleyways. It felt like I was always on the stairs, like some kind of M.C. Escher painting but with house music.

After much searching and many random versions of the same drink ordered at each of the four different bars, we found the Jade Room, where Juliana Huxtable and Rizzla were DJing. I got there right as Juliana was DJaneing a rad remix of No Doubt's "Don't Speak" which was frankly fantastic.

I made out with this cute boy, it was weird. Drunk people at nightclubs think we're being so romantic but I think it probably did not seem that way to anyone looking on. I wore this old old Marc by Marc t-shirt (I know) from like... Before the recession? OLD. It looked good in the ubiquitous black lights. I saw a few people who seed to be invisible black shapes, but when they turned around the white drop-stitches on the back of their shirts, the non-logo logo of Maison Martin Margiela, glowed in the blacklights.

On our way out of the club at 3am, we found a drink ticket on the sidewalk. I kind of thought this was a sign that I was meant to go back into the club and wait in another line for another drink I surely didn't need, but instead we offered the ticket to a group of improbably young partiers, decked out in their sportswear finest, who snatched it up with nary a thank you. Harrumph.

Sunday I woke up to a literally perfect blue wonderful day. I walked over the bridge and listened, finally, to the new Blonde Redhead album, Barragan. I've been obsessed with them lately, rediscovering Penny Sparkle and Misery Is A Butterfly and just remembering how much I loved them I high school, college, forever. The new record is a little funky, but not too funky. Like... a little bit 70s, Prog? I can't really describe it. It's like a more angular less fun Mazzy Star. It sounds sort of folksy, like Goldfrapp's new record? Like an electric version of that. It's not really familiar, easy, fair or useful to try to categorize. I can only compare things to things that I know.

I went uptown to go window shopping at Barney's. I'm planning a little change to my look, and I'm in the market for a red sweater. I saw a nice Margiela one, a cotton sweatshirt, but I can't justify the $500 price tag. Sure, they have it in a darker shade and a size too big for a third of the price on Yoox, but I can't even. I think instead, I might cop a nice FANMAIL sweatshirt from their Fall 14 collection, since their new collection features this really nice red:

From the FAMNAIL A/W 14 lookbook lensed, as usual, by boy genius Milan Zrnic.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous day, I took myself to lunch at Zabar's, having my favorite, their gazpacho for probably the last time this season, I guess.  Then to Sadie Benning's new solo show Patterns at Callicoon Fine Arts. The show was smart and sweet, included a luxurious green carpet, falling somewhere between AstroTurf and suburban den. From the gallery's press release: "Each work proposes a way out of prescriptive orders even while they formally articulate those orders."

Indeed! I'm always into stripes, polka dots, patterns as a way of dressing, expressing and contextualizing myself. I was inspired by Benning's use of treacly, Fimo-like materials and anxiously outdated color palettes. Look: I'm obsessed with the 70s as anyone can be that didn't live through it, but when you show a pattern of mustard yellow next to black next to burnt sienna, you're saying something about colonialism and the cosmically planned obsolescence of the EuroZone and no one can tell me differently. The patterns are about how they fail, how they grow. The patterns are like the rings inside of a tree: a tool for measurement, but a living document, an organically disruptive "order". I saw so many friends at the opening too. I spent most of the night talking with people about those Kate Bush shows in London and who we would drop that amount of money to go see. Melissa said Roxy Music, if it included Brian Eno. I said Sade, maybe? I don't know. Living in New York I'm so spoiled with getting to see the best fucking performers. Like the Raincoats. I fucking saw the god damned Raincoats. There's nothing to top that, really.

After the opening I went up to the East Village for drinks, and I ran into Xenia, looking so fab. It was one of those days where I felt so happy and lucky to live in New York, where I get to see so much cool stuff, for free, and I kept running into fantastic friends I love.

Went to Boiler Room where the jukebox is always good because they let anyone play whatever. Someone put on The Misfits' "Where Eagles Dare"

Then they put on a lot of Eminem. (Menime? Menemy.)

Got home pretty late and had a rough time waking up this morning! I'm supposed to go to a thing tonight, a journalist's birthday party tonight. I'm so tired though. I might go anyway.

To get the inside scoop.