5/5/14

Debrief

THANK YOU to everyone who came out to the performances of MAPPLETHORPE this weekend, and to everyone who helped me through this process over the last year. I am totally overjoyed, and kind of in shock with the crowds that came to the show, and the response I got. I feel very, very lucky. Very grateful, very humbled and very happy.

A few people asked me about the original versions of the songs I sang in the show this weekend, so I've made another little playlist with those:


There's one song missing, because the famously litigious artist who wrote the song (titled "Still Waiting") doesn't allow their music on YouTube, so you'll need to look elsewhere for that.

I wanted to make something sort of like Sinead O'Connor's famous stunt on Saturday Night Live. In a way, this show begins where her performance ended, ripping up a picture of the pope. Not literally, but the act of virtuosic irreverence, as the place to start, was important to me. The first line of the first song is "I'm the one." The last line of the last song is "I'm your puppet." I'd been thinking a lot about Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly's band Throwing Muses, and their album "House Tornado" which Hersh describes as circular, the final chords of the last song echo the first chords on the album opener. Donelly's later band Belly had a song about puppets, "Gepetto" and is a reference as well. I'm your puppet and you are the puppet-masters. The drums to "Malibu" in the show were lifted from the Muses song "Him Dancing".

I had originally began working on this show because I was obsessed with Teena Marie, and the myriad of feelings I had around someone who was so famous as a white lady soul singer. The idea of loving something, even though it was, to use a now-exhausted description, "problematic" was interesting to me. I ended up mostly abandoning Marie, but I wanted to find a way to work that queasy anxiety into the show. I wanted to make something that was hard to love, or hard to love the right way. Something that, if you decide to like it, or listen to it, or participate in it, might make you feel a little bit gross. Because that's what it's like, I think, so love someone else. It means dealing with the inevitable disappointment of getting to know someone, or even yourself. I'd been toying with the idea of performing as a character named Mapplethorpe, mispronounced on purpose, for a few years. At least since 2009 or so. Originally he was going to dress like a leather daddy or something, but I moved away from that. I'd often been styled that way in photo shoots, and I often felt like such a phony, and I wanted to make something out that feeling. And the thing of getting history wrong on purpose. Of amnesia.

I had a lot of ideas about this show and I wrote many dozens of drafts, and I discarded 99% of everything I wrote. I was trying to cultivate a kind of grace; of making one joke hit all the weird things I needed it to hit. And sometimes that worked and sometimes it didn't. But I wanted my struggle to do something so nuanced to be part of the experience. I want you to see the sweat. I feel really gratified that people saw what I was doing, so THANK YOU, EVERYBODY.


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