keep the fires burning

words cannot describe how significant waterfire is in my life. i earn a living there, but more importantly, i play there. waterfire gives me such an incredible opportunity to create, to experiment, to figure out who i am as an artist. considering how much awesomeness this event has brought into my life, and it is funded entirely by donations, the least i can do is help keep the fires burning, and encourage others to do the same.

if you’ve ever attended and enjoyed waterfire, if you think this sort of event is a valuable contribution to society, consider doing some of your christmas shopping at waterfire’s online store [they have some beautiful necklaces, nifty t-shirts, and other goodies] and/or making a direct donation. contributions are tax deductable, if that sort of thing matters to you.


talking to a statue.

Anyone ever drop their phone number in your tip jar?

i’ve pulled hundreds of phone numbers out of my tip jar. i’m baffled by it every time. exactly what do you want me to do with that? call you up and say “hi, i have no idea who you are, but i perform as a living statue and this number was left in my tip jar”? will i be what you imagined a living statue performer to be? would you even recognize me out of costume? probably not. if you really want to talk to me, wait a while…

I’ve never seen a living statue “set up” or stop their performance. Do you try to be sneaky about it or have I just not witnessed it yet?

i’m not sneaky about it at all. all one has to do to see me set up or break down is be there at the right time. i also do not make any effort to stay in character when i am not actually performing. if you see me setting up or getting down, that’s a good time to chat with me if you so desire.

Do people ever just sit near and spend a while chatting to you, knowing that you’ll be a good listener because you can’t move or reply?

occasionally, yes, i get people who just want to talk at the statue, like i’m the new postsecret. as long as the person maintains an appropriate distance while talking to me and doesn’t do anything to interfere with my performance, i’m perfectly happy to listen.


happy halloween, friends!

yesterday was the seventh anniversary of my first performance. seven years ago, i had no idea that living statuary would become such an integral part of my life. my art has evolved so much over the years. i’ve come a long way, and i’m very happy with where i am now.

photo by justinblau.com


the redditor – diy online magazine

http://theredditorissues.blogspot.com/2011/10/issue-4-october-2011-halloween-special.html

my IAmA was featured in this month’s issue of the redditor. they used a photo i’m not in love with, and they kind of broke up the very thoughtful set of questions from my last blog post. but overall, i’m pleased.


the social life of a statue.

What do your friends/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents feel about this? Does it have an impact on your social life? Additionally, what type of social life did you have before/after getting in to this? Are you otherwise outgoing, or normally a shy person?

my boyfriend and friends have always been extremely interested in and supportive of my art. it works out really well for me, it means i almost always have volunteer bodyguards to hang out in the crowd and step in to deal with douchebags if i need them to. my parents, well, they would have preferred a college degree and a “real job”, but that’s just not who i am, and they’ve accepted that. their attitudes definitely changed for the better after they finally came to see me perform at waterfire. they saw that i have a talent for it, i can make money doing it, and it makes a lot of people happy. before that, they pretty much just saw me as a glorified beggar.

it does impact my social life on occasion. my best busking opportunities are on weekends, and my ten31 schedule is all over the place. it helps to have friends who have similarly weird schedules.

when i started performing at nineteen years old, i had a very small group of friends and was a bundle of social anxiety in groups of strangers. living statuary was unexpectedly helpful in easing my anxieties. my group of friends is still small and cozy, but i’m a thousand times more comfortable chatting with total strangers now than i was seven years ago. it’s hard to be shy when i have dozens of people approaching me, wanting to compliment/ask about what i’m doing. my art is a wonderful icebreaker.


remember to experience waterfire.

on september 24th, i attended waterfire. i did not busk. the weather forecast had been ominous all week, so i decided to go see my brother’s play that day and forget about waterfire. the weather, of course, turned out to be warm and dry and lovely. there was just no way i was going from worcester to middleboro, getting into makeup/costume and gather up all my gear, and arriving in providence at a reasonable time to start busking. instead, wyatt and i decided to go see waterfire with our friend justin. i need to remember to go to waterfire once in a while, not perform, just enjoy.

i parked in my usual spot, the corner of dyer street and peck street, where i have been parking free of charge for a few seasons thanks to the very sweet and very kind gentleman who owns the lot. wyatt and i met up with justin in ten31’s area. i talked to joe about my upcoming gigs, and asked how the night was going for them. he said the crowds were good, but sparse, and he was glad to have only three of the four originally scheduled performers. i felt a little better about not busking. returning to wyatt and justin, i saw my aunt and uncle. talked to them briefly before wandering down to visit andrew. happened to catch him on a break, got to chat with him, stuck around for a bit after he got back up. i’m always mesmerized by his origami talents.

we wandered further down. my pitch looked so lonely. we got some food, met some of justin’s relatives, talked by the river, watched the koi boats go by. i gave everyone suggestions on what to do, as it was their first time at waterfire. and of course i wasn’t performing. son of a bitch. oh well. there’s always next season.

the three of us left the families to do their own thing while we explored. i wanted to see everything. we walked along the river to the basin. i hate walking in crowds, but it’s significantly less stressful when i’m not carrying my tip jar and box. we walked through the peace tunnel. apparently inca son doesn’t perform down there anymore. disappointing. we searched for a tile in the peace tunnel that wyatt and i saw years ago that simply said “WTC”, which happen to be wyatt’s initials. we have not been able to find that damn tile since the first time we saw it.

back to the basin, walking the perimeter, we ran into ben, from roger williams zoo, who was there for a little sneak peak display of the jack-o-lantern spectacular. a delightful surprise, indeed. wyatt and i talked to ben while justin disappeared to take some photos. the topic was, mostly, wyatt’s presidential campaign. ben said wyatt had his vote, and he offered to make buttons for us. i love how enthusiastic people are about my beau’s performance art.

eventually we said goodbye to ben and continued toward the mall. i was curious if any other freelance performers were around. we went up to the mall, around the entire basin, to the ballroom. hung out at the ballroom for a while, watching the crowded dancefloor, not feeling particularly inspired to dance myself. salsa music just ain’t my thing. back to ten31’s area. never saw any sign of sarah paterson or any other statues. has the flood of living statuary finally subsided? or is this the calm before the next storm?

after walking all over the fucking place, the three of us sat on the wall along the river to watch the fires and relax. i remembered what waterfire is supposed to be all about. we sat there until no more wood was being added to the fires. the streetlamps in the park turned on. eventually, things were getting too noisy with the cleanup, and it was getting late, so we said goodnight and went home.

of all the non-busking waterfire nights i’ve had [there have not been very many], this was, by far, the most pleasant.


a note to my new followers from reddit.

i created an account and posted my IAmA on a whim. after reading an interesting AMA a friend linked me to, i did a search for ‘living statue’, as i am prone to doing anytime i find myself on a new social website. the only result i found for IAmA was a living statue request. surely, it was fate.

i was not expecting such an immediate flood of questions and comments. i was surprised by the overwhelming positivity. i was delighted to have been asked questions i’ve never been asked before.

i want you all to know that i genuinely appreciate your interest and kindness. you are the reason i do what i do.


october warmth

usually, october waterfires are cold and miserable. if i’m dumb enough to try to busk, i’m forced to step down after an hour or two at most, muscles shivering and joints locking up. but not this year. i’d bought a warm underlayer and a scarf, brought extra gloves and shirts, and didn’t need them at all. i performed for four hours without breaks. i don’t know where all this stamina is coming from, but i’m grateful to have had it this season.

– from the start, i was plagued by vendors who sell plastic crap that lights up and blinks and costs eight cents to make and eight dollars to purchase.  they were all over my area, much more persistent than usual, using the glora gemma breast cancer awareness theme of waterfire to sell pink shit to anyone dumb enough to buy it. i sent wyatt to chase a couple away because they were unreasonably close to me. i stepped down to tell one to stay away from my pitch. but whenever one left, another came in to take their place. it amazes me that there are so many at waterfire, considering how much barnaby and the entire waterfire staff hates them, and the cops hate them, and most of the non-parent people who attend waterfire hate them. can’t you leeches go make a buck elsewhere? how can you care so little about the vibe of an event? i want to grab each one of them by the shoulders and shake them.

+ PUPPY IN PINK!

there was another dog that walked towards me earlier in the evening, but as i knelt down to see if he’d let me pet him, he gave me a rather dramatic “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU?!” look and promptly backed away from me. sorry, puppy! i did not mean to scare you. i just wanted to say hi.

– a few people, when talking about me to their companions, referred to me as male. one guy was particularly persistent about it. i know i don’t have D cups or anything, but, seriously?

+ one of my favorite things that happens within my crowds is adults giving money to children they don’t know so they can make the statue come to life. i see this happen a handful of times every busking season. it’s refreshing and heartwarming to see that kind of spontaneous generosity, to see grownups understanding and appreciating the importance of the magic between a child and the statue.

+ love this little girl.

+ i ended the night perfectly. there was a little boy, as tall as my tip jar and just old enough to be able to walk independently, staring with the slightest hint of awe in his eyes. i knelt down and extended my hand. he ran to his father. i waited patiently. his father very gently encouraged him to approach me. there was no force, no pressure, only reassurance. i watched the boy as he made his decision. holding his father’s hand, the anchor that would keep him safe, he stepped toward me. as he moved closer, he forgot all about his anchor, and put his little hand in mine. he and his slightly older sister were each given some money to put in my tip jar. their faces lit up as i blew them kisses. their father thanked me, quietly, sweetly, repeatedly. i want to extend my most heartfelt thanks to you, sir, for being the kind of person that helps make street performance the anchor for my soul.


lily and the creep

real post and videos coming on wednesday. for now, i’ll leave you with this year’s #1 douchebag. his first approach was a threat to tickle me. his second comment, which you can sort of hear if you crank up the volume, was “i’m gonna be the first one to grab your butt.”

he came back a second time later in the evening, knelt down in front of me for a couple minutes, mumbling what was probably quite a string of lewd comments, but he was too quiet and slurry for me to understand 90% of what he said. i desperately wanted to kick him in the face.


last waterfire of the season is tomorrow! lookin’ at 5pm to 9pm in my usual spot at the end of the washington street bridge. come bid lily farewell before she goes into hibernation!

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