(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:
GLORY PARADISE BOX
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."