Monthly Archives: July 2009

tired statue.

three performances in four days. i’ve finally recovered, so it’s time for a recap.

i really wish i’d gotten to providence an hour earlier than i did. by the time wyatt and i were walking to my pitch around 6:30, there was already quite a crowd. i had over a hundred dollars just in my first hour. crazy awesome. but enough about money, let’s go over some of the high and low points of the evening.

+ so many adorable children! this one girl in particular, who had come to see me a few times last summer. she likes to just stand and watch me for long periods of time. twice in the course of the evening, she came up onto the ledge with me and gave me the strongest and most loving hugs i think i have ever received. she just makes my heart melt. one little boy had an equally intense experience, but at the opposite end of the reaction spectrum. i noticed this tiny little toddler walking up to me, arms outstretched, ready to grab at my dress. i slowly turned and motioned down toward him. he looked up, made eye contact, and this look of horror washed over his face as he let out quite a shriek. the crowd burst into laughter as he ran back to his mother, his siblings laughing harder than everyone else.

– there’s always at least one obnoxious child in the crowd. one little boy came up behind me and poked me hard right in the knee, then scurried away laughing as i turned to give him a gesture of disapproval. he proceeded to make several more attempts to poke my leg, which i managed to thwart, but it was frustrating nonetheless. i hate being distracted for so long by a child whose mother is standing right there, watching her child be a jackass, and does nothing to stop said jackassery. oh, she finally said something when i moved quick enough to poke the little bugger square in the chest, but it was a very half-hearted “okay honey, stop that.” sometimes, i want to slap the parents more than i want to slap the children.

+ i think there’s been a significant increase in the number of people that come up to pose for photos with me, now that i actually move to pose with them in some mildly silly way. i also think people are amused when i continue to hold that pose even after the person walks away. or, if a person is “trapped” by my pose after the photo has been taken. if only i could find all these photos online!

– lots and lots of hovering going on. people crowding around my tip jar, staring at me, preventing anyone else from getting near me. at one point i had to wave at people to back up because even i couldn’t see my tip jar. it was pretty ridiculous. respect the statue’s personal space, damnit!

– all the usual lewd comments. y’know, like the ever-popular “i wonder what she’d do for twenty dollars? winkwinknudgenudge”. one guy, who was part of the group i had to wave at to back up, was particularly determined to get me to move. a rather long string of stupid comments came out of this boy’s mouth. example: “i usually prefer dark meat, but i’ll make an exception for you.” at one point he turned to his friends and said “i wonder if she’s ever been sexually harrassed?” yes, douchenozzle, i have been. in fact, that’s what’s happening right now. these fuckheads are lucky i’m not the overly sensitive type. there are plenty of cops at waterfire that admire my art. i’m a well protected street performer.

– my left knee had been bothering me all day, and i hurt my left shoulder somehow at my ten31 gig on friday. i tried to keep my weight on my right leg, which wasn’t much of a hassle, but finding poses that didn’t make my shoulder ache was difficult.

+ overall, though, it was a very lovely crowd and a lovely evening.

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busking for love letters.

Before you begin or when you finish your performance, do people approach to talk to you, and do you keep in a certain character while you do this? How do you interact with people while youre in costume?

lots of people come up to talk to me when i’m getting to/from my pitch, or down for a break. sometimes they just want to know why i’m in costume, sometimes they saw me performing and want to ask questions or compliment my act. i’ve never talked to people “in character”, i’m as friendly or snarky with these strangers as i would be under less unusual circumstances. i thank those who express admiration for what i do, i answer every question that is asked, i pose for photos and accept tips, i say “wtf?” to people who are douchenozzles. it’s more amusing being approached by someone who has no idea what the costume/makeup is for, and i have to explain that i perform as a living statue. the reactions are mixed, they have a lot more questions, and more often than not they’re confused by it all [i guess it’s really one of those things you have to see to understand]. what’s really fun is going into stores or restaurants before/after a busking session. that’s where people are more likely to stare than to approach me, and i’ll catch groups talking about me, asking eachother “did you see that girl?!” it always makes me laugh, in a “i’ve lost faith in the intelligence of humans” sort of way.

Do people often give you things other than money? (Notes, candy, their numbers, for example)

i’ve had all sorts of things dropped into my tip jar. love notes, poems, and phone numbers. business cards, usually from photographers. flowers, candy, plastic jewelery, toys. cigarettes and lighters. images printed from the internet, like comic strips. tokens for amusement parks and arcades. allen keys, lug nuts, screws. lots and lots of religious propoganda. notes with complaints about my act. trash, chewed gum, rocks, sticks. not everything i get is pleasant.


“you do -what- for a living?”

How do people react when you first tell them of your profession?

i get a similarly wide variety of reactions when i tell people what i do as i would if they had actually seen me performing. most people are curious and want to know more details. some are downright fascinated by it. i get a lot of “oh! like that statue person i saw at [insert location]!” type comments. and some people just don’t get it. but that’s okay. i live to baffle people.

What’s the best moment you’ve had while statuing?

i have hundreds of best moments. any time a child is mesmerized by me, or absolutely terrified of me [i can’t help it, it’s funny every time]. i’ve been asked to hold a baby for a photo a couple of times and i just about died from the cute. i’ve been given gifts that couldn’t exactly fit in my tip jar, like large bouquets of flowers and paintings. i was once given a love note by boba fett on the bridgewater state college campus. an old waterfire acquaintence of mine, corvus, used to randomly perform with me, and i loved the spontaneous and improvised nature of those interactions. staring contests are always especially amusing.

every performance includes some sort of “best moment”. that’s why i love what i do.

What kind of thoughts pass through your mind while statuing for a long quiet time? Is it akin to meditation?

hardcore lulls during a performance are about as comparable to meditation as quiet time during one’s day to day life. waiting in line at a store, going for a walk, driving without a passenger or radio, doing household chores… the mind wanders in all sorts of directions while still paying attention [hopefully] to what’s going on around you. that’s the best way i can describe it. as long as there are people in the viscinity, i’m hyperaware of what’s going on, because i don’t want to miss a possible opportunity to interact with someone. but if it’s dead quiet and i’m at a gig, i kind of go into autopilot mode- still performing, but minimally, and paying less attention to my surroundings and more attention to my own thoughts.


rudeness & weirdness.

Have you ever kicked/hit sumbitches whilst statuing, or have you been tempted to?

kicked, no. that would be a difficult thing to do while wearing petticoats and long skirts. but i will slap or grab someone without hesitation if they abruptly invade my personal space. if they quickly move out of reach, i’ll flip them off. people see a street performer and think it’s an invitation to do dumb shit, and a girl’s gotta defend herself. every time i put myself out there in public, people try to poke, grab, push, grope, or tickle me. many living statues think it’s more important to hold their pose no matter what. i am definitely not one of those statues. i expect people to treat me with the same respect they would if i were just walking down the street in normal attire. if there is uninvited physical contact, i will most certainly slap those sumbitches.

What is the weirdest thing that has happened to you while statueing?

this is a really difficult question, as there are dozens of potential answers. if i had to choose one, i guess it’d have to be the first time i realized i have a knack for busking while bad things happen to other people. the first summer i started busking in downtown plymouth, i usually set up somewhere in the vicinity of the rock or the mayflower II, since those spots had the heaviest tourist traffic. on this particular saturday in july of 2005, i had set myself up on a large rectangular stone in an open area near the docks, hoping to catch people on their way to and from mayflower II. i was facing away from the street looking at the water. maybe an hour or so after i started, a police car pulls up on the gravel about twenty feet in front of me. i begin to worry, thinking they’re coming to bitch at me for solicitation or something. then another cruiser pulls up next to the first one. at this point i’m getting really nervous and my heart is pounding. do i look like a terrorist or something? a third cruiser appears. what the hell is going on?! logic sets in and i realize they can’t possibly be there for me. then i notice one of the officers taping off the area along the water, leading to the boat docks. people are talking, i’m catching little snippets of the conversations. blood. on the boat. what boat? i decide i have to know what’s going on and check it out. there was a small fishing boat that was docked near the mayflower, and there were blood splatters all over it. i still don’t know exactly what happened. i’m just relieved that i was not the reason the police were there.


a labor of love.

Is statueing more about practice and determination/care, or natural art and creativity?

if you have one or the other, you can be a decent statue. but if you have both, you can be a great statue. anyone can practice something and learn the skills required, but you’ll only get so far if you don’t have that certain spark, that artistic voice of your own. and if a person is naturally bursting with creativity, but does nothing to harness and refine it, it’s easy for them to unintentionally alienate their audience as they get too deep into their own little worlds.

performance art is not just about you. it’s about the relationship between you and the people observing and approaching you. what kind of relationship it is varies drastically depending on what your goals are. do you want to enchant and dazzle everyone who sees you? do you want to leave your audience confused and wondering what the hell you’re doing? do you want to provoke extreme emotions with a political statement? do you just want to appeal to the masses so you can make lots of money? these are things one needs to take into consideration. and in order to really sort out and execute your performance goals, i think it’s essential to have a natural sense of creativity and expression as well as technical skill and discipline.

I’ve always been curious about what you do. Especially how you train for this. Or are the performances themselves all the training you need?

i learn by doing. it’s all about trial and error and figuring things out as i go along. i have absolutely no formal training whatsoever. i’ve never even practiced in front of a mirror. i do, however, have thousands of photos taken during performances, as well as a fair number of videos, which help give me an idea of what i look like from the audience’s perspective.

there aren’t very many “how to be a living statue” classes out there. i’d like to change that, though. i’m trying to convince joe and eric to let me run some training sessions and discussions for ten31 performers. the suggestion has had some positive responses from everyone i’ve mentioned it to, so it looks like a realistic possibility. i’ve also thought about getting together with other veteran performers and having occasional workshops or something, outside of ten31, though i don’t know how many people would be interested in such a thing.

What would you have done if you weren´t a professional statue?

pretty much what i’m doing now, i’d just be putting more into it. i would have explored more options for working with horses as that’s my other big passion. equine massage therapy or chiropracty were, and kind of still are, under consideration. i also could have gone to college and drifted aimlessly for a while trying to figure out what i wanted to do. there are a lot of artistic things that i’m vaguely interested in that would make for decent careers, but i’ve never been drawn toward any of them strongly enough to seriously consider taking one of those paths.


in the beginning…

What was your first statue? How was the experience?

the first time i ever statued was for the dresden dolls boston halloween concert in 2004. my costume was a gothy outfit, and my makeup was very basic. i had a couple dozen white roses that i handed out to random people throughout the evening. even though i had no tip jar, i was still given a few dollar bills, and a pack of candy cigarettes. but more importantly, i was given a lot of love and enthusiastic compliments. this was the first time i’d ever tried doing anything even remotely theatrical and i had a nasty case of social anxiety. it was terrifying and exhilarating. i had set myself up near the merch tables, and at the end of the night the lovely merch folk had constructive things to say. one woman said i was very smart about choosing poses that were easy for a beginner to hold, i didn’t push myself beyond my limits, and i did very well overall. at that point, i was hooked.

When did you decide to do statue-ing for a living?

i don’t think i could pinpoint a specific “this is how i want to make a living” moment. living statuary started off as just a hobby, something i did in my little hometown, and sometimes i made a few dollars in the process. even when i ventured out and busked in more touristy hotspots such downtown plymouth and the waterfire festivals in providence, and had a few freelance jobs under my belt, i never really thought of it as a potential career path. it didn’t truly hit me that i could get somewhere as a professional performer until after i’d been working for ten31 productions for about a year. once i found my niche in the company and started getting gigs through them on a fairly regular basis, it slowly started to sink in. whoa, i could do this for real.

the luxury of having a supportive partner that takes the brunt of the bill-paying definitely helps a lot. if i had to financially support myself, i never would have gotten so heavily into performing arts. in order for that to be even semi-realistic, i would have to really step up and whore myself out as much as possible. the moment you switch gears from having fun to paying rent, it starts becoming a chore. and i never want art to become a chore.


greetings & introductions

hello friends! i’d like to take a moment to tell you a bit about myself. my name is tara. i’m a thirty-two year old gal from southeastern massachusetts. at the age of nineteen, i stumbled into the art of living statuary. performance has been a significant part of my life ever since.

i want to share my adventures with you. now, some of you might be thinking this will surely be a bunch of artsy fluff. i promise this is not that kind of blog. there will, of course, inevitably be lots of positive things to say. but there will also be lots of not-so-positive things to say. the performance experience is not always made of sunshine and rainbows, especially as a street performer, and i love to rant.

this blog contains profanities, ’cause that’s how i roll. consider this your parental advisory.

my goal is to be open, honest, and uncensored. you will see the person behind the art, not just the characters i play. i will announce when and where i plan to perform, write recaps of performances, share tips on how to be a good living statue… and, to make this fun and interactive, answer your questions. see that “talk to the statue” tab up ^ there? give it a click and ask me absolutely anything, basic or complex, technical or philosophical, serious or silly, about my art or about me personally.

before we get started, let’s go over some of the terms and names that will pop up frequently here.

  • busking – performing in a public space, typically in a park or on a sidewalk, and accepting tips from kind passersby.
  • pitch – the specific location in a public space where a performer busks. there can be numerous pitches in any given space.
  • waterfire – a festival/art installation in downtown providence, rhode island, which occurs throughout the spring, summer, and fall. this is one of my favorite busking opportunities. my usual pitch is on the corner of washington street and canal walk. check out waterfire.org to learn more about the event.
  • ten31 – ten31 productions is the living art company i worked for from 2006 to 2017.
  • justin – my fiance, photographer, videographer, social media helper, sounding board, overall pillar of support.
  • wyatt – my ex, who assisted me during hundreds of performance adventures.

and here are a couple of fun things for you:

  • youtube – see videos of me in action, so to speak.
  • facebook – notifications regarding when and where i will be performing, blog and youtube updates, photos, little blurbs not worthy of their own blog post, etc.
  • instagram – photos from performances, behind the scenes, etc.
  • asilentsoapbox@gmail.com – email me! send me your questions, comments, photos, videos, songs, poems, etc.

this, dear readers, is my life as a living art performer.