Monthly Archives: November 2015

Multi-Talented

Today is the final day of my Yes-Vember! It’s been an enlightening and somewhat dull month. Apparently being positive doesn’t inspire much commentary. Well, that’s cool. I’ve enjoyed making a fuss over my friends and keeping myself from complaining. Online, at least. Hah! I’ll warn ya, there’s plenty of pent-up crap about OKCupid comin’ up soon!

Everyone I know is talented in one way or another; many are talented in a number of ways. Carpenters who are DJs, seamstresses who are skilled barmaids, singers who make films. My life is full of creative people. And because it isn’t easy to make a living as an artist, they need to use that creativity to do all kinds of things. We all cobble our lives together. Here are three friends who manage to juggle at least three different types of artistic projects simultaneously.

il_570xN.867268446_gyjk.jpgI mentioned Ezra in the DJ post; he’s also an amazing artist. He paints and makes patches, silkscreens t-shirts and creates scary zombie illustrations. I love his tiny postage stamp-sized stickers. You can buy his wares from his Etsy shop. Oh! And he is a trash MASTER!

DWB_Main_NoSig.jpgDavid Watts Barton is a “journalist (in print, on line and on radio), a writer/performer and singer/songwriter, an intrepid traveler and an amateur photographer who captures his adventures for his followers. He is living every minute of his life to the absolute fullest!

larry_krone_concert_e.jpgI met Larry Krone in Downtown Beirut, back in the day. He was an NYU student and an emerging artist. I reviewed his first big gallery show. I loved his sand-blasted shot glasses and song lyrics embroidered with his hair. He branched out into performance, singing country songs with his sister. He has designed stage sets and costumes. And now he is poised to release his “Look Book,” an art book of his “alt-couturier” fashions, featuring photography by Todd Oldham. In all his work, Larry has always effectively communicated his sense of humor.

Playing with Fire

It’s probably not too surprising that I know a lot of fire performers. It might be more of a surprise that I met many of them before I went to Burning Man. I know it’s stating the obvious but entertaining with fire — fire fans or fingers, swallowing it or spinning it — is a dangerous

Keith-and-Stephanie-with-curtain-flat-300x198.jpgThe first people I knew who played with fire with Keith and Stephanie of The Bindlestiff Family Circus. Keith was just learning and he was a little bit…singed. Now, decades later, they perform and teach and have pretty much mastered being a circus.

11409_10152366452702676_4147967447071203412_n.pngWhen I produced the event I consider my Pieta, I booked Flambeaux and his human candelabra installation. He has been creating artistic performances incorporating fire for quite some time and recently informed me that I was the first person to book him! I kinda couldn’t believe it. His productions have continued to grow and in both size and complexity, as the photo clearly illustrates. He is definitely the P.T. Barnum of fire.

I’ve booked Claire de Luxe as well. Her areas of expertise are “fire theatrics, stilt dancing and LED acts” but she’s also an instructor, so if you’re looking to learn fire spinning, she’s the best place to start!

Ilise, aka The Lady Aye, is the “Sweetheart of the Sideshow.” Along with fire eating, she is a human blockhead, an escapist and a super sexy sword swallower!

Once I got out to the desert, you couldn’t walk 10 yards without tripping over a fire performer. It was the more personal, “just for us” shows by my fellow DPW crew members that impressed me. Niko is definitely one of the most talented spinners I’ve ever seen.

I could probably go on but I’m gonna wrap up. It’s been a long holiday weekend with a lot of drinking!

 

Capturing the Crowd

Yes, as everyone with a laptop is a writer, everyone with an iPhone is a photographer. Being a fine art photographer is obviously different. And being an event photographer is a talent and skill that’s different in another way: Blending in as a member of the crowd, shooting what’s happening without getting in the way, both participating and working, isn’t an easy balance. Here are two gentlemen who manage it perfectly.

11218912_10152962863911364_1785275607246608097_n.jpgNeil Girling is one of the official photographers for Burning Man. Along with John Curley, he shoots the DPW Parade and captures us at our most epic. He’s responsible for the all-com shot before the parade starts, as well, which is closest to a class photo that we have. The above pic is a close-up of this year’s. He’s on-site at all of San Francisco’s coolest stuff: Cirque Berzerk, Kinky Salon and the Anon Salon soirees.
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Ed Barnas is sort of the official photographer for the many local burlesque events. His web site is primarily beautiful women who artfully disrobe. But he also comes along on our Brides of March, the Mermaid Parade and SantaCon and every other crazy costumed crawl. He captures us in our epic finery as we take to the streets of New York City.

Happy Capitalism Gone Wild Day!

Black Friday. When Americans are not just encouraged but expected to go out and shop till they drop. Or till they trample their fellow Americans in pursuit of a cheaper flat screen TV.

“Black Friday. Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”

“Black Friday combines every great American pastime into one: camping, shopping, standing in line, rioting and fist fighting.”

“Stop buying shit you don’t need.”

The new says 45 million people will shop on Black Friday. I love to shop, too, but not in regular retail stores. Where’s the challenge in seeing everything all brand new and perfect? I prefer thrift stores, consignment shops and flea markets, where finding something I love — or fit into — isn’t a given but a happy coincidence. Or a fuckin’ miracle, depending on the place.

So today, I decided to spotlight two friends who create the feeling of home and hearth — where there is no home or hearth — through the food they serve. I’m admitted non-cook. Almost an anti-cook. If I can’t heat it up in the microwave in three minutes or pour it out of a bag and toss some salad dressing on it, I ain’t makin’ it. But these women not only cook for themselves, their friends and family; they cook for complete strangers! Now that, in my book, is a real talent! Love expressed through food is a whole different ballgame.

Image.jpgRoseann Rostoker and I have been friends since she was a regular at Click + Drag. When Mother closed and I started promoting at True, “Madame Cole” was my partner in Gomorrah. We had four different teams who each took one Wednesday a month; Madame and I were a team. I’ve experienced some of the wildest nights of my life with this woman. And you know that is saying a whole lot! Seriously. Stuff I can’t even write about. I’ll let your imagination wander with that one! Anyway, as Roseann she would invite me to her home and one Thanksgiving I stuffed myself with so much amazing Italian food she’d prepared I thought I’d never eat again. Now “Roe” lives in New Orleans, where she runs a restaurant called Red Gravy. (Please read her little bio in the About section. If it doesn’t make you want to fly down there and dine with her, you’re a heartless fool!) Five years ago, she moved to a new city, started a new business and has become an active, valuable member of a whole new community. I’m not surprised. If you find yourself in the Big Easy, stop by and say hi!

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Sylkia and her crew, 2012 – Photo by Vertumus

Sylvia Sanchez feeds the motley Playa Restoration crew, the 150-or-so dusty, wind-battered folks who stay on till the bitter end of Burning Man, picking up the event’s final tiny remains. As she said in an interview with Ignite, “Very simply, I love to cook for my friends and family, and yes, after three months of living and working together, these people are part of your chosen family. Feeding people well and then having them tell you that they eat better out there than they do at home is the highest compliment a chef can get. Of course, I couldn’t do this without the amazing crew I have. I tip my hat at them for everything they do to help me make this happen.” I can attest that she makes me feel like family! Every year I weep with gratitude when we start eating back in the Saloon and Sylvia makes sure we have real coffee. Reeeeealllll cooofffeeeeeeee. Sylkia has served up delicious food in Austin, TX and is currently plating amazing grilled cheese in San Francisco.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day of gratitude, I’d like to thank the Native Americans, who didn’t turn the white interlopers away or slaughter them on sight. Which, in retrospect, would probably have been a wise idea… America may not be perfect but it often seems better than the alternatives.

I was going to save this post for the end of my Yes-Vember! month but decided today would be better. I want to recognize the unparalleled people who love me! They all have their own, individual talents but the one I appreciate most is their patience with and love for me. I’m not always an easy person to be with. I complain a lot. (Which you readers are painfully aware of, I suppose…) Is it lame and lazy to merely list them? Do you need backstory? Screw it. I’ll say that these are the people I call when I’m depressed. When I can’t get out of bed. Or out of the house. They’re the friends who talk me back from the ledge. If I need to borrow money or a couch to crash on, these are the people I’d ask. They’re also the folks who show up to celebrate whatever it is I’m celebrating: birthdays to ridiculously costumed bar crawls, Pink Drinks to unappreciated holidays. (Er, maybe all the holidays. All of ’em. Cinco de Mayo. St. Patrick’s Day. Easter. I’m a sucker for a holiday.) They’re the inner circle of my inner circle. I couldn’t make it without them. And I am so grateful for them. In alphabetical order so no one feels more — or less — important!

Amy
Dayzee
Douggie
Eeva aka Pinky
Jamye
Karen
Marianne
Mel
Natasha
Nick
Robin
Sandra

If you didn’t make the list, don’t feel bad. I know I’ve cried on the phone with a whole lot of people. These folks are lucky to receive the brunt of my meltdowns. Tomorrow I’ll be back with less sap! And maybe more backstory. <wink>

Cousin Lori

I realized this morning that I have been in New York City for 30 years. Thirty years! That’s over half my life. And I love my city! Autumn in New York is the best time of year: from the waning days of summer to leather weather, the pumpkins and gourds of Halloween and Thanksgiving into the holidays, which, though stressful and earlier-onset every year, make the city streets so festive! Even the long-left-behind back-to-school vibe that makes you feel like you should be buying new knee socks is happy! It’s also the season when time seems to telescope. Between Labor Day and New Year’s, the weeks fly by so fast it will be 2016 before we know it!

inger-red.jpgIn keep with the theme for the month (and the week) of gratitude, I’m going to focus on family. All my relatives are talented in their own ways, from painting and pottery to real estate and Reiki. My most talented relative is my cousin Lori, aka Inger Lorre. In fact, she’s the most talented person I’ve ever met. She writes music and lyrics and can play an array of instruments. She designs clothes and costumes and has modeled professionally. She can sketch, cartoon and illustrate. She can sculpt and is proficient with watercolors, oils and every other medium she’s ever used. When she apprenticed with a glassblower she created stunning, gallery-quality pieces right off the bat. There is, seriously, nothing she’s ever tried, creatively, at which she wasn’t almost immediately adept. As the lead groupshot.jpgsinger and front woman of The Nymphs, she achieved an impressive level of fame, even appearing in a movie. She’s also gained a level of legendary notoriety, immortalized in print for some of her scandalous on-stage antics. She has made holidays with the family movie-worthy memorable on many occasions.

Jamye & Amy Jo

Another one of my oldest friends is Jamye Waxman. She’s on my side of the country this week and we got to hang out yesterday.

I met Jamye when she was working for Alan Colmes. That was way back in the day when, if you were looking to find a freak in NYC, I was the go-to person. Kinky publications, fetish parties, I had a Rolodex full of boot lickers, balloon masturbators, human carpets and expert spankers. She booked me for Bob Berkowitz‘s “Lovebytes” show and probably a bunch of other things too. Fast forward a couple decades and we’re still close friends. We’ve wrangled balloons together at Coachella. I’ve stayed with her in LA, Santa Cruz and at her aunt’s when I was Assistant to Ms. Waxman on her three instructional porn DVDs. She’s stayed with me here in New York, at my parents’ in San Rafael and we shared an RV at Burning Man. We’ve 41a98gnyJpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgsupported each other’s projects over all these years and she has served as one of my primary cheerleaders. Jamye has written books, most recently “How to Break Up with Anyone: Letting Go of Friends, Family and Everyone In-Between,” but also her female masturbation book “Getting Off” and the young, hip sex guide, “Hot Sex” Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight!” (with Emily Morse). She’s been a producer, a director and a podcaster. She’s appeared on radio, TV and in print publications. She’s pursuing her MA in Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University and her Ph.D. in Human Sexuality Education from Widener University to augment her Masters in Sex Ed. All that is just frosting on the cake, though, ’cause I just love hanging out with her!

unnamed.jpgAnd speaking of books written by people I’ve known for years through what I’ve always referred to as the “sexerati” (or “cliterati”), Amy Jo Goddard recently had a book published. “Woman On Fire” offers advice on “how to master the 9 elements of sexual empowerment to reclaim their desire and live the sexually fulfilling lives they want.” Amy Jo is a “sexual empowerment coach,” but her expertise goes 41uBpvTZZLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgbeyond the bedroom and right into your wallet, as she instructs you to light that fire within you for a more empowered life. I’ve taken a few of her workshops and she really helps you delve into the nitty-gritty.

Everyday Costumers

Halloween is my favorite holiday because I love, love, LOVE to wear costumes! Seven-and-a-half years of weekly theme parties has given me a seriously deep inventory of costumes. It takes me longer to dress like a “normal person” than it does to look like just about anything else. On the many nights when I’ve ventured out in some sort of wacky drag, people enjoy yelling, “Halloween is over!” For me, every day is potentially Halloween. The same can be said for these folks!

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Photo by Talli Jackson

Darrell Thorne is the most talented costumer I know. And that is saying a lot! The photos of him hardly even look human. He creates massive headpieces and enormous wings, coats himself with layers of glitter on top of layers of body paint, drapes himself in chains and basically becomes somethin. Darrell works for all the big fancy parties in NYC — and around the world slide_374434_4368330_compressed.jpg— as a go-go dancer but he is really more of an art installation. I mean, look at that photo. Seriously. Obviously he is in high demand
whether he works as a stylist, makeup artist or performer. He also creates otherworldly accessories for others, including Madonna, Brooke Candy and Jennifer Hudson. Check out the After Dark profile of Darrell for photos of his many looks.
11289414_10155558188840570_7707553715067885945_o.jpgNina and Jim always spend ages on their costumes for every event they attend. As the reigning king and queen of Kostume Kult, they really need to bring it. And they consistently do! “Costume Jim” is a founder of the Burning Man theme camp and event production group that’s behind The Black & Light Ball, The Horned Ball and their annual Halloween Parade float. On-playa, they give costumes
906112_10207768620830388_3620244404454677599_oaway in their dome and invite people to model their new ensembles and Jim presented a TEDTalk: “Fun, Farce and Purpose.” Year-round, Jim is an artist, event producer and executive recruiter. Nina is a psychiatrist who conducts brain experiments and serves on the Fashion Committee at The National Arts Club. But together, they’re an indomitable costume duo. Jim really found his costumery equal in Nina!

10645061_10204878764511533_4721834682689189936_n.jpgPaul Nagle is a clever combination of costumer and activist. He often creates his outfits with a political concept behind them. That’s him at the Peoples’ Climate March, in the photo above, with the white robe and 11001822_10153123125382460_4199189433969581979_n.jpgcolorful halo of flowers. He takes to the streets in full regalia to support the causes he believes in: protests against Monsanto and fracking, the NYC Pride March, Bernie Sanders rallies, as well as all the best celebrations: Dance Parade, HONK NYC!, the Halloween Parade, SantaCon, Invasion of the Pines, the Mermaid Parade…well, you get the picture! And so does Paul! The camera loves him; he shows up in the photo essays of every event he attends. He works tirelessly for a number of community organizations, volunteering his time even when not in costume!

Machine Dazzle is another masterful costumer, shouldering some of the most cumbersome ensembles I’ve ever seen. For one Mermaid Parade he was one of five dancers; he carried the mannequins of the other four! I met him back when he was designing the costumes for the Dazzle Dancers and have stage managed him at numerous events, including Night of a Thousand Stevies. He’s another one who’s a blast to have backstage! He is “an alchemist, able to take humble materials and spin them into charmed garments that transform humans into radiant, magical beings.” And speaking of magical beings, Machine was the costume designer for Basil Twist’s recent show at Abron’s Art Center. I was loving the rhinestone-studded loin cloth!

You Spin My Right Round, Baby…

I know a lot of DJs. From my years working in nightclubs, going to nightclubs, and participating in Burning Man and all its related events, I’ve met many people who make people dance with their music. I know that with all the technology we have now, “everyone’s a DJ.” But orchestrating a good time for a roomful of people — either a dozen or a thousand — is a true art form. I’ve watched when it hasn’t worked and it’s a very sad sight indeed. Ugh. Nothing’s worse than witnessing a DJ clear a dance floor. You won’t see that happen to any of my friends! Here’s a semi-exhaustive list. (Oh. And I’ve been failing slightly lately with where I actually met people so I’m not going to give too much, if any, backstory on these folks.)

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Johnny Dynell
He’s been Chi Chi Valenti‘s partner and co-producer of many events since I met him. He’s probably the most “famous” DJ I know. (Which reminds me of the funny sign that was on the bulletin board in the Mother office: THANX GOD I’M A VIP! Hah!) He spins everywhere from Fire Island to Cannes, gets hired for Elton John’s Oscar Party and is busy just about every night of the week. But I know him best for being behind the decks at Jackie 60 and all subsequent Mother productions.

DJ Althea Loveless
Still, to this day, the maker of the absolute best ambient theme mix CDs. Like a soundtrack to a mood. A set decorator for an idea. Difficult to describe.

Julie Covello aka DJ Shakey
I met Julie when she was DJing one of The Baroness’s bashes and was surprised it was her first fetish event. She totally got it. Since then I’ve heard her at all kinds of different parties. She gets all them, too. Plus she puts together a great clothing swap!

Douggie Style
I met Douggie when he first moved to NYC. We were doing “The Bunny Hop,” a SantaCon-type thing at Easter time. I was being bunny-esque but Douggie was being an evil clown. I wound up with grease paint on my ass and we’ve been friends ever since! He spins at all the fundraisers and on-playa at Disorient.

Sammy Jo
We used to work the door at Mother together. Since then he’s traveled with Scissor Sisters and DJs all kinds of fabulous parties, big and small, including our annual Halloween fete, Ghostlight.

Xris Smack
I met Xris in the early ’90s and went to his very first SMack! party. He’s about to celebrate his 20th anniversary. Wow. He’s been DJing some of the Kostume Kult parties recently. Worlds colliding. He’s also a producer and sound engineer.

Michael T.
I loved Kitsch Inn, which was my party, and Motherfucker, which wasn’t. Both may be over but back in the day, their dance floors were kept moving by the ever glamorous Michael T. He’s still spinning, both on the decks: Beauty Bar, David Barton’s Gym and the newest underground sensation Berlin; and onstage: Bowie Ball,  and Oh You Pretty Things!

Erwin Ozoa
Erwino is not only one of our DPW medics, he’s also an amazing DJ. He’s spun for our Shitshow Sundays, keeping us dancing (and screaming along) for over 24 hours. On one of our Mutiny days, he dragged his entire DJ rig out to Frog Pond and, I swear, was inside our collective heads, playing an incredibly eclectic mix. Masterful!

Ezra Li Eismont
Ezra, aka Old Man Gravyfoot, is the man behind the machine at all the most ridiculous DPW parties. He spins Yacht Rock and super cheesy 70s shit and we all sing along. It’s a beautiful thing. On his Chickenfish radio show, you might hear the “irritainment of meltdown music, obscure remixes of  or a full day of holiday classics in middle of summer. He is primarily a visual artist and deserves a whole separate listing for that. Stay tuned. Heh. See what I did there?

$mall ¢hange
Jim has been spinning the underground gigs forever, notably No Parking On the Dance Floor and Rubulad.

DieJ! Mars
Mars used to spin for Gomorrah. He was always so easy to work with. Today he lives in LA and is making movies!

Beenjammin’
Ben has been behind the decks at all kinds of cool fundraiser ’cause he can always be counted on. And he’s an amazing treehouse architect!

Orion
Another count on-able dude who will show up to support your cause!

John Margulies
Originator of Hobotech, most recently spinning at Coachella. Super fun guy who was always working the burner bashes before he moved west.

Load Rezenhand
Aldo was one of our Click + Drag DJs.

There are more.
Friar Tuck
Arrow Chrome
Tim The Enchanter Schumacher
Illexandra
Jeff-O
Morgan
Shalin
Ian Fford
And probably even still more.  My apologies if I left you off this list or didn’t “flesh out” your listing. It got a little overwhelming.

 

 

 

 

 

The More Things Change…Amy & Edie

Ya know, people complain a lot about how much their neighborhood has changed. From San Francisco’s Mission District, to The Marigny to my own East Village, gentrification has altered the face of many cities. It’s most pronounced on a Friday or Saturday night, when these areas become “destination neighborhoods” for mobs of marauding hipsters, hell bent on finding the hottest watering hole. Or artisanal bitters. Ahem.

An article on Papermag.com, “Why There’s No Better Time to Party in New York Than Now,” follows only a few weeks behind Ada Calhoun’s piece about why your city may be gone but it’s still there for those who came after you. Both reenforce the idea that if you’re over going out, of course it was better “back when.” I was one of those people out on the sidewalks last night. I was looking for cheap beer instead of artisanal bitters, but hey, I was out! Because New York is definitely not over!

Anyway, this is what I was thinking about this morning when I went to the local bodega for my usual, egg and cheese with avocado on a croissant, which, bee-tee-dubs, the guy behind the counter knows I want before I even open my mouth. It was a beautiful fall day here in Manhattan, leather weather, I like to say, and as I walked to the bodega and back, the people I passed on the street were anything but marauding mobs of hipsters. They were pretty much everything but. Young and old, speaking a dozen different languages, pushing their shopping wheelies, carrying their dry cleaning, holding their kids’ hands. The nighttime may be for the fun-loving and, perhaps primarily, the young, but the mornings are definitely for the locals. Who, from the look of things, haven’t changed all that much.

Which brings me to my fabulously talented friends! Given my little morning reverie, I thought I’d spotlight two of my oldest friends.

320126_10150353652029559_663308915_n.jpgAmy Shapiro and I go way back, all the way back to The Deviant Playground, still one of the best parties I’ve ever attended. She’s lived on the Lower East Side all this time and is one of the last Manhattan hold-outs. Amy’s an artist in many mediums; I was especially moved by her performance piece reliving the trauma of 9/11. She’s hung from the ceiling as a bat, been the many-breasted Artemis, acted in a serial play and painted pieces for Art Around the Park. She came with me to Burning Man in 2003 and created big art installations in subsequent years. Her current project is “Medical Panoramas,” a photo project “about being a cancer survivor and waiting to see the never-ending stream of doctors.” I’m very much looking forward to the eventual gallery showing! And having Thanksgiving dinner at her place!

0305720.jpgI met Edie Winograde  in the early ’90s, when I was working at New York Press and she was pursuing an MFA at SVA. She became part of my Downtown Beirut crew: Birthday Bar Crawls, pitchers at Sidewalk, those “Best Of” parties in the Puck Building. It’s the time that I’m referring to whenever I say “those were the days.” She told me about Burning Man a bunch of times but I never listened to her. She went back in the way early days and got to say, “I told you so” when I finally did. While at UC Santa Cruz, she was friends with the boys of Camper Van Beethoven and photographed them. A few weeks ago, she posted, “I contributed a bunch of my old 35mm photographs for illustrating the 1980’s in Santa Cruz in the documentary film Get Off This about David Lowery and the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven” with a link to the Blurb book she created from the photos, “We Are The Baddest: Santa Cruz and CVB in the 80s.” The gallery shows of her work are mostly giant prints of sweeping vistas. Her “Sight Seen” series “depicts juxtapositions of the present and the past in the experience of iconic landscapes.” She used to turn an entire room into a camera obscura. I love her shots of Civil War re-enactments. And I wish she didn’t live so far away!