Birds I'd Never Heard Before

I got to Austin Texas on Wednesday the morning, delirious. I can't sleep on planes and I was too excited to sleep the night before.

Dana picked me up from the airport and drove me into town, talking about New York and Austin and moving and New Orleans. I arrived at Lapland, where I was hosted by the lovely Jacob. Lapland is a legendary queer house in Austin and was gorgeous and spacious and better than any hotel in the world. The house was home to four cats and one dog and I loved them all as if they were my own.

I was in town for the OUTsider Festival. It was like a dream. The festival was incredibly well organized and had fantastic programming and the whole community around it was so welcoming and truly inspiring. I feel like I was at some magickal queer art summer camp or something.

I took a little nap and woke up in the afternoon and met my housemate Star Amerasu, who was also staying at Lapland. Star is an artist from Oakland who had briefly lived in Austin. She was very sweet and funny We walked up the road to the festival's opening night reception and ran into Star's friend Mia Tu Mutch, an artist, activist, and future first Trans mayor of San Francisco. We went to the opening reception at Mi Madre's and I was a bit intimidated. On our way to the performances that night one of the women had to run an errand so I went with them.

I always want to be around the cool girls. It's all I want. I had just met Star and Mia and they were catching up and gossiping about dates and including me in the conversation and we were walking the roads of east Austin where there are no sidewalks and I was chain smoking (cigarettes are cheap) and the weather was warm and the night was loud with bugs and birds I'd never heard before and it was perfect.

I was a little late to the Salvage Vanguard Theatre, where the show was. I saw almost all of the opening night burlesque show, which included LaWhore Vagistan, Chola Magnolia, Foxxy Blue Orchid, Lola LaStrange, Maxxy Radd, Queertini Time and Jasper St. James and La Chica Boom who headlined, and did a fucking amazing set. Went to bed early.

The next morning the "Conference on the Couch" hosted at organizer Curan & Pj's home was about queer bodies in art and activism, and was moderated by Evan Garza and featured Bug Davidson, Shannon O'Malley, Drew Riley, Beth Consetta Rubel, Alyssa Taylor Wendt, and Keith Wilson. I can't sum it all up except to say that it was a really cool, engaging, stimulating, welcoming and exciting way to talk about academia, art, politics, philosophy, sexuality and identity. Bug made this really mind-blowing comment about how there is a kind of "nostalgia of gender", which was so cool. There was excellent food at everything. I got to hang out with my big gay sissy sister Jim Fouratt, which was a real highlight of the festival. He introduced me to Annie Sprinkle (!!!) which was a trip, and I accidentally broke a houseplant, but I think the plant survived.

That night the shows were THE LOST BOYS, a dance created by Kevin Williamson, and featuring Julio Medina, Kevin Le and Raymond Ejiofor. It was fantastic. Sad and smart and funny and dark and bright and kinky and... great. The entire theater erupted into a well-deserved standing ovation. After that performance, I saw Tara Jepsen and Beth Lisick's performance, Uncorking the Butt of Jokes (And Success!). It was sort of a retrospective of their work together over the last 17 years. It reminded me that i saw them when I was 14 in Olympia Washington as part of the first Ladyfest. I think they are hilarious and brilliant and it was a thrill to see them again and get to geek out like olden days. They also showed their hit movie Rods and Cones, which features Jibz Cameron and dear heart Erin Markey.

The next morning the "Conference on the Couch" was about Sex in Public, and was moderated by the legendary Ann Cvetkovich, and featured Marcus Cruz Sanchez, Julie Gillis, Rockie Gonzalez, Jonesy, and Travis Mathews. Another fucking fantastic time, I must say. Friday evening I also saw The Gun Show, an installation and durational performance by the legendary John Moleteress, about mass shootings in America. It was scary and beautiful and oddly, surrounded by children. I was and am impressed by any performer who can think so clearly and beautifully about such difficult feelings and subject matter.

That night I went to see Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens accept the Legacy Award presented by OUTsider, and see them do a slideshow presentation of their work together and apart. It was definitely surreal to see Ms. Sprinkle, who I've long admired, speak so openly and generously about her work. Hugely inspiring, to think of how to connect yourself to a large world. How to make sense of your passion and make your love work for you. I felt enriched, for sure.

Friday night was ALSO the first night of SHABOOM! The official afterparty for the festival, hoseted at the secretive Museum of Human Achievement, featuring hobo clowns, cardboard glory holes/tickleboxes, an onstage "let's play doctor" exhibit, booze friends and lots of excitement. At a semi-secret warehouse location. Who could ask for anything more?

Friday night I had an incredibly scary and vidid nightmare, which I very rarely do. It was beyond affecting. Took me more than a little while to shake it off.

Saturday I sound checked my performance, a re-vamped version of The Good Daughter. I ended up missing most of the programming that day, sadly, in an effort to try to focus on the show that night.

My performance was fun and funny. I got some good feedback from people who recognized, or didn't recognize, my references. People made comments along the lines that they weren't entirely sure what I was doing, etc. I'm not trying to be mystifying but I am (or was) trying to make something new out of something that's familiar to me, so in that measure I succeeded. To be honest I've been so inspired and excited by the other artists in the festival I felt really intimidated! I don't know how I feel about that work of mine anymore. I've been feeling really weird about myself lately, and am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to try this stuff I've been thinking about.

Saturday night saw the second evening of SHABOOM!! but to be honest I was a little wiped out (and dehydrated) from performing, so I didn't stay too too long.

Sunday morning Lapland where I was staying hosted a beyond-epic brunch for the OUTsider artists, cooked up by the lovely Jacob (who hosted me) and his friends. It was maybe the highlight of the festival. Amazing vegan food, drinks, coffee, endless cats, partying, community. All in the glorious house where I was staying. I found out that Jacob and other of his housemates are Leos (like me) so that explains part of themagickal cat energy. I mean honestly, when in my life would I ever be sitting in a room with Annie Sprinkle and Nao Bustamante eating muffins? Never in a million years did I imagine my life would be like this.

Sunday afternoon I saw short performance art pieces by elements, A Shining Attribute and Little Stolen Moments. Again-- beyond inspiring. I felt so lucky to get to be in the room with these fucking people. It was like... I can't really explain it enough. Excuse me.

Sunday night was the closing night party at Cheer Up Charlie's, featuring music performances by Stanley Roy Williamson, Ah-Mer-Ah-Su, Theo Love, Kegels for Hegel, L E S B I A N S, GAYmous & DJ JD Samson.

You guys.

I knew I liked Star as a person when I met her, but seeing her perform was next level. I'm pissed that she's based on the west coast because Ah Mer Ah Su is my new favorite performer. I have not fallen in love with a live performance that way in a long time. It reminded me of the first time I saw people like the Blow, Pash(ly), Tracy + the Plastics, all my favorites. Her songs are deep, beautiful, dark, shiny, resonant, funny, funky, and are stuck in my head.

We need to talk about Star Amerasu more. Her website is WWW.MAKESTARFAMOUS.COM and we need to do this right fucking now.

Here is a loop of part of one of her songs "Little Bird" which she closed with on Sunday. I woke up to her practicing it in the shower that morning and it has been stuck in my head and in my heart.

Star: I love you.

ALSO performing that night were L E S B I A N S, the project started by Jenny Hoyston (!!!) and Tara Jepsen. Singing songs about being Lesbians, about the Goddess. Again: I was totally blown away by this band. I wish they were here, in New York.

Some additional faves from Sunday night and in general were Kegels for Hegel, featuring L Klotz who I went to college with, and GAYmous, who blew my fucking mind.

I was having amazing vegan cocktails at Cheer Up Charlie's all night and feeling so inspired. It reminded me of why I started playing music, making art in the first place. These are the feelings and passions I have and I want to connect with people about. It was dreamy, it was inspiring. It was too short.

I went home but didn't get any sleep and I came back to NYC and I'm struggling to reintegrate myself.

HUGE THANK YOU to Curran and PJ and everyone at the OUTsider Festival, everyone I met in Austin, and the other artists I got to encounter. Especially John Moletress who hipped me to this scene to begin with!

Very Grateful.


Star amerasu said...

Awwwwwww I love u 2 bb

Star amerasu said...

Awwwwwww I love u 2 bb

PJ Raval said...

Thanks so much Max, we loved having you be part of OUTsider!!! xo PJ

PJ Raval said...

...and the plant is totally fine ;)