Monthly Archives: July 2017

lily goes to plymouth

i’m trying not to fall behind on my blogging, but the wedding is rapidly approaching and is consuming my non-work time. i now have two excursions to write about – plymouth and waterfire. for the sake of doing things in order, today is a little recap on my return to plymouth. next week, i’ll do a waterfire recap.

it’s been about six years since the last time i busked in plymouth. i got too busy, and it didn’t feel financially worthy of cramming into my schedule. now my life is shifting again, and i’m revisiting options like the plymouth waterfront, busking/working at festivals besides waterfire, and working at private events. [on that note: if you are interested in booking me for a public or private event, for tips or for a flat rate fee, email me at asilentsoapbox@gmail.com to work out details.]

i was feeling pretty meh about everything that sunday, but i was determined to get out and do something, especially since i found out there was a festival happening on the waterfront so i’d have better luck with foot traffic. we arrived in plymouth around 4:30, which turned out to be too late in the day for my spot on the corner of main street and north street to be worthwhile, so i moved to my old spot on the waterfront. i was annoyed to find one of the lobster statues [there are several scattered around plymouth] was right smack in the middle of my little circle.

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i came to accept my new crustacean friend, Sir-Loin, and appreciated his help in attracting passersby to my pitch. the thing about busking in plymouth on non-holidays is that it’s a total grind. the pace and the vibe is very different than waterfire, where everything is so easy and i’ve become so spoiled. even on a busy day, it can be hard to draw people in, especially since i can’t busk in the park directly along the water where most people are walking. i may need to adjust my performance style to draw more people in from a distance. i also remembered why i used to perform with a parasol – the sun can be brutal on a warm summer day, even when my pitch is mostly shaded. i ended up stepping down and going home after a couple hours because i was feeling nauseous from the heat.

on the bright side, i had some really enthusiastic admirers, and when i got home i discovered my hourly average is the same as it used to be. it was the little boost i needed to reinforce the idea that the waterfront [and downtown, if i get out there earlier] are still good opportunities for my free weekend days. i do need to get a new parasol/umbrella, and i should probably make myself a new base that’s easy to transport so i’m less limited to performing on existing surfaces.

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regrets, pity parties, and moving on.

instead of writing a waterfire recap, i’m writing about the thing i was so determined to not be doing this season. the forecast looked so grim for saturday evening. warnings of thunderstorms with heavy rain, high winds, and hail. i agonized about it all day, and in the end i decided to stay home. so, of course, the weather was apparently fine in providence aside from a few scattered showers early on. i spent the entire weekend beating myself up about it. someday i’ll learn the lesson of “it’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t.” running for shelter in a storm is always better than not trying at all.

in an effort to not get stuck in a pity party, i did a little Q&A on facebook and instagram. since i don’t have a recap to write, here are some of those questions instead.

How did you get started?

my first two performances were at dresden dolls concerts in october 2004. i had seen living statues a few times, and those concerts were the perfect place to try it out myself. i immediately fell in love and started busking in my hometown. the following summer was my first season at waterfire.

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my first performance. photo by sheri hausey

How long does it take you to get into costume?

now that i’m not wrestling with my hair to get it under a wig, it takes about twenty minutes to get into costume for lily. fifteen of those minutes are spent on makeup. i could probably do it in half the time, but i can be a little obsessive about my makeup, so i

of course, there’s also prep work that happens before it’s time to get into costume. all the clothing components need to be washed, then my top and two skirts get de-wrinkled [i prefer steamers over irons]. if my shoes are a mess [like having gum stuck to the sole] i’ll clean them up. i check the batteries for the tip jar lights and change them if i don’t think they’ll last at least another six hours. i make sure my supply box has enough white tape to mark my space on the garden ledge for waterfire nights, extra batteries for the lights, extra business cards, a bottle of water, and my makeup. then i need to get justin set up to take photos and videos. i gather up helpful things like an external battery and a monopod for my phone, clear out storage space on my phone, and check with him to make sure his camera battery is charged. if i’m dumb and leave most of this work for the day of busking, it can take me a couple hours to get my shit together.

Have you ever used any other props…. or just your parasol?

many, many years ago, i handed out flowers. by default, the flowers and the vase used to contain them became props. the same goes for the few attempts i made at handing out candy, or little trinkets like marbles and seashells. if something is in my hands, i have to incorporate it into my poses and movements somehow.

then i decided i couldn’t deal with the greediness of people when i handed out tangible objects. so ditched the vases and baskets, and picked up a parasol instead. i stuck with that for a few years.

then i decided i preferred the physical freedom of not using props. the range of poses and movements i can do when my hands are empty is so much more enjoyable than trying to incorporate props into everything i do. now i only have a little white umbrella as an “in case of sudden showers” back up plan. i perform with props at work with ten31 productions sometimes, but i generally don’t enjoy it.

have you ever performed as other characters? if not, would you like to try?

i’ve had a few other living statue and living doll type characters, though lily has dominated my busking career for quite a few years now. before lily there was jasmine, and cloud [my silver statue], and victoria, and the lonely bride, and masquerade, and a few others who were more for concerts than regular busking. i’ve done a few non-statue characters, such as a raven at some edgar alan poe events, a ghost at some slater mill ghost tours, fairies at some concerts [many, many years ago]… currently, i have twin characters that i will probably debut via photoshoots before using them for performances, and i have a crazy project of putting together a quad stilt animal costume for something completely different. in the longer term, i’m also planning on adding more variety to my living statue arsenal by getting back into metallics as well as more complex finishes.

 

When will we be seeing you in the Plymouth area again?

i’ve actually been thinking about busking in plymouth again. i stopped a few years ago because it reached a point of no longer feeling worthwhile financially, and i didn’t have as much time for it. but my life is taking some turns, and i may need that kind of supplement for my income again. i might test the foot traffic in my old main street spot next time i have a free sunday afternoon.

…and this is the perfect segue into announcing my plan to busk this sunday in downtown plymouth. i will probably aim for mid-day at the corner of main street and north street. the pity party is over, it’s time to get back out there.


easy days are never that easy.

while this last waterfire was blessed with beautiful weather and wonderful crowds, there’s never such a thing as a perfect busking day. but let’s start with some fun things before we get to ranting.

part of the great social media resurrection is trying to come up with content besides my usual busking videos. i decided to record my makeup process [and post the video at triple the speed, because no one is interested in watching fifteen minutes of me putting makeup on my face]. i plan to record a better video, maybe this saturday if i have my shit together enough for any extra stuff between riding and busking. but i think this one is still a fun glimpse at my person-to-statue transformation.

now that i’m not wrestling with my hair and a wig anymore, i severely overestimate the amount of time it takes me to get ready. with my delightfully simple headscarves, i can go from pajamas to full costume in less than half an hour. this has resulted in me arriving in providence a bit earlier than necessary, which isn’t the worst thing, but those first 30-45 minutes can be slow. i need to work on my timing so i’m in place no earlier than 6:30, maybe even closer to 7:00 for these summery late sunset times.

but at least justin is able to use those slow times to get lots of photos and videos [if you’re following me on instagram, you’ve seen a lot of those pre-sunset video clips]. it’s also the ideal time for my new artist fan, julia, to sketch me. i was lucky enough to cross paths with her and chat for a bit at the basin lighting last, where i was producing two of TEN31 productions’ gargoyles for the private event. she is as sweet as she is talented, and i’m excited to share her sketches with y’all. i rarely get to see peoples’ drawing/paintings of me, so this is such a treat for me.

 

as i so often do, i brought some aches and pains with me to this waterfire. i performed with a sprained ankle, and a thoroughly fucked up neck/shoulder from a muscle i pulled a week prior. to add insult to injury, i managed to step in some chewed gum while walking to my pitch, and i was dealing with my skirt sticking to my shoe the entire night. and, of course, the persistent wind was making my eyes tear up and tickling my nose, so i spent the entire evening stifling sneezes and wondering how bad my makeup looked. when you see a living statue struggling to hold a pose, i want you to think about the difficulties they might be experiencing in that moment. none of us are going to be perfect at all times, especially as outdoor buskers. but all these troubles fade away when i’m getting hugs from children, or when people are amused by my mischievous approach to posing with people for photos, or when i accidentally scare the shit out of someone when they realize i’m not actually a statue.

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now, i have two mini rants from this waterfire. one is about animals. i swear i don’t mean to keep babbling on about pets, but damn it, these things just keep happening. this one’s not about snakes [i’m happy to say i didn’t see that guy the entire time i was up], but about dogs.

i love dogs. i’ve owned dogs most of my life. dog training is a hobby i’ve enjoyed since i was in elementary school. i love seeing dogs at waterfire. lily wants to pose with all your dogs for photos. but what i don’t love is seeing reactive dogs at waterfire. before sunset, there was a family with a yellow lab who camped out to my right for a long time. this poor dog was barking and lunging at every other dog who passed by, regardless of whether or not they even paid attention to the lab. this kind of reactivity is very common in the modern dog population of america. my own dog has reactivity issues, and we’ve been actively working on correcting these issues for years. i would never even consider bringing shorty to waterfire. this is a crowded place with lots of people, lots of dogs, lots of noise, just general terrifying chaos for a nervous animal. it’s stressful for the dog, and it’s irritating as hell for anyone who has to listen to the dog bark. and let me tell you, labs have big booming barks. every time another dog walked by, i’d be jumping out of my skin from the lab barking behind me. it boggles my mind that this dog’s owners would bring him there in the first place, let alone allow him to bark and lunge with barely any attempts to redirect him or calm him down. i was relieved [and also felt bad] when the lab eventually noticed me and started totally freaking out about the moving statue, forcing the family to leave. folks, please just leave your reactive dog at home. you aren’t doing them any favors by bringing them into these kinds of situations.

on a completely different note, i want to talk a bit about other buskers. in the hours before sunset, it’s not unusual to see lots of musicians along the canal. and that’s awesome. i enjoy these buskers, especially when they set up in the area of my pitch so i can listen to them play before the waterfire music starts. what i don’t understand is when musicians try to busk in the vicinity of the canal after sunset. do you guys not realize how much your music is competing with the canal’s speaker system? at this lighting, there was a small band directly across from me on canal street, arriving way after sunset. they were playing music i might have enjoyed if my ears weren’t being assaulted by the battle of sound. justin said they weren’t even playing consistently, they’d play a song, stop for quite a while, play another song, take another long break… why? if you want to busk, go find a pitch suitable for your performance. if you just want to show off a song or two, do so where people might actually be able to enjoy it. otherwise, what’s the point?