Monthly Archives: August 2017

weather: 0, lily: 2

sorry this has taken so long, friends. as expected, the wedding took over my life for a bit, but it’s done! we did the thing! now i’m dealing with other life changes [actual changes, because getting married wasn’t really a change for me, it was just the event that brought chaos to my world]. i quit my job at ten31 productions, and now i’m teaming up with other performers to start doing bigger and better things with my art. we’ll talk more about that later.

for now, let’s talk about the last waterfire. once again, i was nervous about the forecast. rightfully so this time, since it was actually raining pretty heavily as we were driving to providence. when we drove into a wall of water i said to justin “nope, i’ve got makeup on my face, so i’m going, damnit!” and i successfully resisted every temptation to turn around and go home, fortunately, by the time we arrived in the city the rain had passed and it didn’t come back. the pavement was wet when i arrived at my pitch, so justin had some challenges getting my tape down [to mark out my personal space], but that was the extent of the weather woes. i still brought my teeny umbrella, just in case, and i’m happy to say i didn’t actually need it.

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overall, it was a pretty good night. there were a few wary children who i managed to win over with some gentle persistence. an unusually high number of boys/young men turn their head and point to their cheek as i leaned down to blow them a kiss. i was visited by a fan from plymouth [hi, kim!] and my littlest big fan of this season, as well as my busker friends andrew and carl. i was also visited by more police officers than the last five years combined, which i don’t mind at all, as i miss the days when they were regular fixtures in my crowd.

i talk about this a lot, but i feel like i can’t stress it enough. in the last few seasons, i’ve really started to embrace silliness in my performances. i love stealing peoples’ hats, sunglasses, glow necklaces, scarves, whatever i can grab, and wearing them for photos. i love “leaning” on people for photos, and if they stand too far away for me to do that, i grab them and pull them in closer. the reactions are always great, even if they’re not overly positive [i do scare the shit out of some people when i reach out to grab their shirt/arm]. but, usually, the response is overwhelmingly positive. these quirks make the statue more approachable. i really want my characters to appeal to a wide range of ages, cultures, socioeconomic statuses… and this is one of the ways i can do that. playfulness is a pretty universal language. and when the stoic living statue does something unexpectedly silly, like pulling someone in to pose for a close-up selfie, it catches people off guard in the best ways.

i did have a particularly disheartening experience with a mother and daughter. this little girl was so intrigued by the living statue. all she wanted to do was watch me, and maybe give me a dollar to make the statue come to life. her mother was very dismissive and redirected the girl’s attention to a tri-color newfoundland nearby [but the mother called it a bernese, which is a big dog pet peeve of mine, no puns intended]. the whole time i was thinking… why? why can’t you let her be interested in me for a minute? you’re clearly not in a hurry to go anywhere else, yet it seems you can’t get away from me fast enough. i see this frequently, and it’s depressing every time. i don’t care if you like me, but if your kids are interested, please just let them be interested. please don’t make me watch you quash their excitement, their curiosity, and their imagination.

i often encounter the opposite problem, which is just as painful to watch. kids who are totally creeped out by this whole living statue thing, shying away from me, then being dragged closer because the parents think forcing it is a good idea. when a parent is really persistent about that, i do what i can to be less scary; i kneel down, i wave, i blow extra kisses, maybe i reach out so they can touch my hand if they seem like they’re warming up to me. sometimes the interaction ends up being okay, but the kid still isn’t exactly thrilled about me. usually, though, the kid just gets more freaked and now they’re legitimately scared.

i’d much rather see this:

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that moment, right there. a kid is curious, his/her parents step back and allow him/her to come up and check me out. no pushing or forcing one way or another. just letting kids follow their guts and explore the world on their own terms. that’s my favorite.

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busking in the rain

this blog post is coming to you from sean michaels salon in pembroke MA. i brought my laptop so i could write while my hair gets bleached and dyed. [my beloved blue returns!] trying to juggle wedding stuff and normal life. i’ll have more time to dedicate to art stuff after the wedding, there’s going to be a flood of big posts, so stay tuned!

first thing’s first: i took a better video of my makeup application! someday i’ll do a full person-to-statue transformation video. i also have plans for a cute little intro video. but for now, y’all just get me painting my face.

 

my battle with the weather forecast took a different turn than it usually does. i saw rain in the forecast, right in the middle of my waterfire time. this time, for the first time, i did not let it deter me. i packed my child-size white umbrella, went over our “in case of heavy rain” escape plan, and just hoped it wouldn’t be too bad.

my real struggle this season has been my start time. if i get there too early, i’m bored for the first hour, which is a terrible feeling. for this lighting, i arrived around 6:30, which turned out to be its own nightmare. as we approach my pitch, the whole corner wall is packed with people. this happens sometimes, even earlier in the day. usually, justin politely asks them to scoot down and we get a chorus of “oh, of course! no problem! this is so cool!” but such was not the case this time. justin asked if they could scoot down a bit so i could perform on the corner, and while some people in the group started saying “sure!” the woman who was directly on the corner gave us a nasty look and said no, they all needed to sit, they weren’t moving, i could go somewhere else. i try not to speak when i’m at waterfire, because i spent too many years getting trapped in too many conversations when i really just needed to set up/break down and get on with my day. but this bitch pissed me off. i got in her face and said, quietly but firmly, “i’ve been performing in this spot for ten years. could you please move.” and i guess the talking statue is more effective than the statue’s assistant, because she shut her fucking mouth and moved to a spot further down the wall.

unfortunately, the theme of rudeness continued throughout the evening. i had people touching me left and right. i had a guy jump up behind me while his parents were posing for a photo with me, and i would have at least elbowed him in the guy if i hadn’t been concerned about accidentally hitting his parents. if you’re following me on instagram, you’ve seen one of my multiple flip-offs of the evening, as well as the woman who touched my foot in an apparent attempt to “fix” my costume [???] and didn’t seem to understand why i almost stomped on her hand before reaching down to grab her wrist. then there was the young-ish boy who initiated a staring contest by hovering over my tip jar and not going the fuck away, and he still refused to fuck off even after he lost the staring contest. i was visibly exasperated by the time a guy put his hand on my tip jar as he walked around the corner, twisting it and almost knocking it off my gear box in the process. in a pose with my arms outstretched, i instinctively glared at the guy, rolled my eyes, and turned my hands in a “really!?” gesture, which at least some of my audience definitely noticed. it’s never all bad, but some nights are much worse than others in regards to how people behave towards me.

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and then the rain came. it was shortly after sunset when the first drops hit my arms and justin stepped in to say i’d need my umbrella, which was hooked on the back of my tip jar for easy access. i grabbed it just in time to protect my makeup. i powered through and continued performing through the next hour or so of intermittent showers. surprisingly, aside from my skirt getting weighed down by the water, and the mild annoyance of trying to pose gracefully with a tiny umbrella, everything went very well. i continued getting tips and photo ops and love and hugs. actually, the rain seemed to wash away the shittiness of people that i had been dealing with up until that point. i ended up having a perfectly average tip total at the end of the night. most importantly, i did it! i didn’t let mildly shitty weather stop me from busking. that’s a huge personal victory.

the best tip i pulled out of my jar at the end of the night, though, was an instant photo. there’s a lovely young woman who occasionally visits me with her instax camera, and she always leaves a photo of me in my tip jar. i’ve received a lot of little gifts over the years, notes and trinkets and photos, but these instant photos are the ones i carry with me everywhere. literally. they live in my wallet.

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