Tag Archives: waterfire

the show must go on

my poor little blog, i apologize for neglecting you. the summer was such a whirlwind of riding and gigs and busking that i fell behind on my writing, and now i just stare blankly at the little blurbs i managed to jot down before details of individual busking adventures began to fade. i’ll have to attempt filling in the blanks soon, before the halloween rush begins. but, for now, i need to skip all of that and talk about the labor day weekend waterfire.

i left my apartment feeling wonderful. i wore my new wig, which is now absolutely fabulous and functional thanks to tom st. germain at suite tart. my makeup was flawless. the weather was perfect.

the drive to providence was a battle, as it so often is, when the sun proved to be too bright for my night owl eyes. being stark white from head to toe tends to make the glare of sunshine unbearable. my left eye began to water. but that’s happened dozens of times before. normally by the time i get to providence it settles down and with a quick makeup fix i’m good to go. this time, i had no such luck. i give up on my parking lot makeup fix and head to my pitch, hoping that the shade of the tree behind me will be enough to calm down my tear ducts. but no. still watering. i spend forty minutes trying to keep makeup out of my eye, waiting and waiting and waiting for it to stop gushing. eventually i decide i have to give up on it. busk or go home. i have to busk.

finally, at 5:40, i took to my pitch and tried so hard to forget about my eye and the fact that the makeup around it was washing away. i stepped down twice within the first hour to do quick fixes. it still wouldn’t let up. after that, though, it was too consistently busy to justify stepping down to deal with the makeup issues that nobody seemed to be noticing anyway, so i accepted my fate of imperfection and soldiered on.

shortly after 7:00, a teenage boy snuck up behind me, grabbed my shoulders, and shook me as he shouted in my ear. by the time i turned to face him, he was already out of reach. i watched him as he walked briskly around the garden and returned to the sidewalk, heading toward steeple street. i hesitated. none of my beloved bodyguards were there to chase him down for me. i grabbed my tip jar and gear box and went after him. but, of course, he is now on his skateboard, and there’s no way i’m ever going to catch up with him. feeling defeated, i return to my pitch. i notice a cop walking toward me. exasperated, i say “please tell me you saw that.” he did, as did at least one other cop. he goes after the kid, and moments later i have a slew of people coming over to express their sympathies and inform me that the kid has been arrested. soon enough, the cop returns, and points out that his handcuffs are currently on the wrists of my harasser. we step over to one of the vendor tents where there’s a table so i can fill out a report. at one point he said he and the other officer who witnessed the incident thought maybe it was a friend of mine just trying to be funny, which they realized was not the case when he ran off and i attempted to follow. i told him that no friend of a living statue would do something like that. planting seeds for the future.

upon returning to my pitch, i called wyatt and told him what happened, said i was having a shit night all around, and i might ditch waterfire and go home early. but after taking some time to calm down, tending to my makeup-destroying eye, and chatting with some of the folks who stopped to express their sympathies, i realized i needed to stick it out. i returned to my performance and was immediately showered with love from pretty much the best audience i’ve ever had in nearly eight years of busking.

well, it wasn’t entirely rainbows and happiness after that shithead got arrested. there were two other noteworthy assholes. i first encountered the guy when he walked by and decided it’d be funny to lean in and yell BOO as he passed me. already being so rattled by the earlier incident, i jumped down, grabbed his arm, and told him to not do that shit again. i thought i got my point across, but no. he returned much later in the evening, this time with his girlfriend who greeted me with a full force ass slap. i hit the back of her head, and for a split second thought she was drunk and unbalanced enough for that hit to send her face into the concrete ledge. i was not so lucky. she starts going on and on about how much she loves me and how awesome i am and she keeps reaching out to put her hands on me and all i want to do is kick her in the teeth. i try to carry on, but i’m watching the pair out of the corner of my eye because i absolutely don’t trust them at all. sure enough, she was determined to let me know exactly how intoxicatedly grabby she was, and she keeps trying to put her hands on me. i lost my cool. i grabbed her fingers, firmly bending them backward [which she didn’t even notice], and i bent down to inform her that if she didn’t knock this shit off i’d have her arrested. a nearby cop saw that i was distressed, and he came over to talk to her. i don’t know what came of it, as i only heard “excuse me, miss” before the three of them wandered out of earshot. i hate that i got so flustered. i hate that they made me break.

not too long after, a woman loudly stated that i deserve respect as she dropped a tip in my jar. thank you. i do deserve respect. i just wish people were as likely to actually confront the people who disrespect me as they are to say something about it. i wonder how far a person would need to cross the line before a stranger would step in to defend me.

it’s not all bad, though. four people gave me carnations. i received hugs from as many children, and one from a teenage girl who asked if she could have a hug and as i extended my arms i heard her friend say something about all she had to do was ask. i guess she’d been fussing about how to approach me for a while. there were a few dog encounters, but more importantly, there was the girl with the african grey parrot. i love birds, and i particularly admire the personality and intelligence of african greys. i knelt down and put my hand out to pet her, and before i knew it, the girl gave the command – “up!” oh my jesus i get to hold a parrot while i’m performing this is awesome. she was a little unsteady on my hand, what with my two pairs of gloves made with slick materials, and the girl said she’d probably be more comfortable on my shoulder. i brought my hand up, and sure enough, my little feathered friend stepped onto my shoulder. i was in heaven. i wish i had a picture.

i was also visited by corvus, who had been absent from waterfire for the last couple of seasons. he dresses all in black a venetian style bird mask. he wanders from garden to garden, reciting poetry and giving feathers to curious strangers. mostly he just creeps people out. i think he is absolutely delightful. he’s been visiting me for almost as long as i’ve been busking at waterfire. i know he’s approaching when i start hearing “LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU” from my concerned crowd. fear not, for the masked man is a friend. he’ll hop down from the garden behind me and come ’round to greet me, and a mix of relief and confusion inevitably washes over my crowd as corvus and i bow to eachother. he would usually drop a colored feather in my tip jar before vanishing into the darkness of the garden across the street. i still have most of those feathers – the ones that didn’t get destroyed before i pulled them out of the jar at the end of the night – and i keep them on display in my living room. i was thrilled to see my old friend again, and such a reunion could not have come at a more perfect time. i needed that.


murphy’s law – the waterfire edition

the last waterfire was definitely my most stressful ever. it started with the weather. more threats of thunderstorms, to which i said, “FUCK YOU NATURE, I’M BUSKING TONIGHT.”

i arrived in providence just after 5:00, aiming to begin at 5:30. that didn’t happen. despite taking my usual precautionary claritin, my eyes caught enough glare from the sun and enough wind to start watering as i was doing my final preparations in the parking lot. i gave up on trying to fix my makeup and figured if i left my eye alone it’d be fine by the time i arrived at my pitch. but the wind was picking up, my eye was gushing, makeup streaming down my face refusing to be fixed. ducked behind the building across the street to try finding some relief from the wind, waiting it out. tents and trash bins were beginning to get tossed around. mike, one of the waterfire staff folks, is bouncing between chatting with us and chasing down the stuff being tossed around in the wind. shit was looking pretty grim.

it wasn’t until 7:00 or so that i returned to my pitch. my eye was still watering some, but it had settled down enough, and it was late enough, that i didn’t care much anymore about whether or not my makeup was pristine. i just needed to get out there and perform. i was hoping it would be one of those awesome waterfire nights filled with cool people. alas, ’twas not one of those nights. by the time i settled into statue mode, i was in a pretty foul mood. i had a decent start, but the downward spiral of jackassery was in full swing in by the time the fires were being lit.

the most noteworthy douchebag of the evening, i’m sad to say, was a little boy who couldn’t have been more than four years old. i went three rounds with this kid over the course of my four hour performance. round one, he ran up to grab at my legs. instinctively, i shot down to grab both of his arms and held on tight. he’s laughing and cackling, “HA! YOU’RE NOT A STATUE! YOU’RE A GIRL!” i let go, hoping that momentum would take over and the force of him trying to pull away from me would send him flying backwards to fall on his ass as soon as i released him. unfortunately, someone was standing behind him, blocking his path to blood spatter. he did not hit the pavement. he continued taunting me for a while. i chose to ignore him and return my focus to the rest of the crowd. he disappeared, but not for long. he was back about an hour later, shrieking a steady stream of “I’M ON TO YOU” exclamations sprinkled with laughter, lunging toward me threatening to grab me again. his fat fuck of a father had plopped his ass down on the wall just off to my right. i glared at him, pointed at the boy, and gestured to get him the fuck out of my face. no response. i turned toward him more, folded my arms, and stared into his eyes with the burning hatred of a thousand suns. he got the message eventually and pulled the boy away. he returned soon after, with his fat fuck of a father nowhere to be seen. i was reaching my breaking point. never in my life have i so badly wanted to kick a child full force square in the face. if he’d been fourteen, or forty, this all would have ended after the first grab. i would have been able to properly defend myself and ensure no return visits. but how am i supposed to defend myself against a child? i can’t use physical force. that sort of thing is frowned upon. what would i tell a cop? “this tiny creature is harrassing me and i’d like you to arrest him.” yea, right. all i can realistically do is pray that this boy dies in a fire before he has the opportunity to become a true menace to society.

on top of the trials and tribulations of dealing with the epitomy of brattiness, i had costuming issues, which is something i shouldn’t still be dealing with after eight years of busking. i wore the wig i’d just bought, which turned out to be a mistake. it’s too long, too straight and thick, the fibers too soft and prone to tangling in the slightest breeze. i’ve ordered another wig, much more like the old one, feathered and messy in style, but longer over the back of the neck where caked makeup tends to tangle the fibers and makes the shorter styles stick out in a funky unpretty flip. but the one i wore that night, ugh. in addition to being a hot mess from all the wind, it gave me a blinders effect – my peripheral vision was so limited. i’m grateful that no one snuck up on my side. lessons learned.

overall, though, i have to say that my performance time was decent enough. i had lots of hand-holding moments with sweet doe-eyed children. i startled some folks coming up to pose for photos with me. i’ll never tire of the jumps and shrieks. i got to hold a toy pomeranian who was fully grown and approximately the same size as my chinchilla. the cute was overwhelming. andrew anselmo came to visit me late in the evening with a dollar bill origami pinwheel and a sign he held up to my crowd that said “best statue ever”. aw, shucks. wyatt and his daughter came with me, and there were unexpected visits from my brother and some friends. thank baby jesus for the friendly faces in my crowd. i might not have survived the evening without them.

we won’t talk about the world’s most obnoxious drunks who absolutely would not leave me alone post-performance while wyatt’s daughter and i were chatting, waiting for him to bring us some indian food. i think i’ve ranted enough for one post.

a slave to meteorologists

lily did not go to waterfire tonight.

i was up early this morning. the first thing i did, still bleary-eyed, was check the weather forecast. small chance of showers in the evening. okay, i’ll keep an eye on it and if it doesn’t get any worse then i’ll go and pray that i don’t get rained on. getting rained on is a serious problem with paradise makeup. the second it gets wet, it’s done.

i check the forecast obsessively. being a street performer and an equestrienne who rides in an open field, obsessively checking the forecast is something i’m very used to doing. weather.com starts frustrating me, chances of showers moving up in percentages, then the next update says it’ll be nice and sunny, then they throw some thunderstorms right in the middle of my usual 5:00-10:00 timeframe. okay, clearly they don’t know what they’re talking about, they can’t make up their minds. i pry myself away from the computer and do some bellydance drills, hoping a little exercise will take my mind off the weather. it doesn’t work. soon enough i am glued to my desk, again, and i begin check noaa.gov obsessively. but they start giving me an increasing chance of showers, too.

living an hour away from providence and needing about an hour to get into makeup/costume means i have to start getting ready at 3:00 if i’m going to start performing around 5:00. it is now 2:00. i have to make a decision soon. continue the frenzy of refreshing the pages and hoping, hoping, hoping for better weather. 3:00, and the forecast says 55% chance of scattered thundershowers at 7:00, 65% chance of thunderstorms at 8:00. 7:00-9:00 is prime busking time for me. i make my decision. i won’t go to waterfire.

at first, it all seemed to work out okay. almost immediately upon opting out of waterfire thunderstorms, i received a text, two longtime friends who i rarely see are in the area and want to hang out. awesome! but as the evening goes on, i discover that the rain passed through providence and finished by the time my friends arrived at my apartment, and the forecast was suddenly beautiful again. the night was clear. waterfire was busy.

and now i’m pissed off. i wanted to busk. this time of year, i’m so excited to perform. i also needed the income. money’s going to be very tight for the next week because i chose to take the meteorologists seriously and stay home. fucking fuck motherfucker. it’s a stressful thing sometimes, being a busker, not living conveniently close to my busking territory, being so dependent on a science that’s really just a crapshoot.

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.

the redditor – diy online magazine


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.

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.

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.


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.

“i’ve seen 26 mimes in my life, and you’re the best!”

i’m not a mime. regardless, thank you.

overall, waterfire was pretty meh. i put in three breakless hours before shivering off my ledge. under armour does NOT work so well when you’re stationary for long periods of time. need to find a non-bulky fleecey underlayer for the next waterfire. to make matters worse, attendance seemed to be very low. i remember scanning my area sometime around 8:00 and thinking it was much later than it could have possibly been, the crowds were so sparse, it seemed more like 10:00. aaand the music for most of the evening was very funeralish. such a downer.

+ the highlight of the evening was very early in my shift. i had a very hard time not giggling.

+ one of my favorite things ever is when i blow a kiss to a small child, and they blow a kiss back. especially when they were not encouraged to do so by the adults with them. it melts my heart.

– one of my least favorite things is people grabbing or poking me. i had more douchebags trying to touch me in those three hours than i’ve had the rest of the season total. at least i’ve honed in my ninja skills and can successfully slap a hand away before it touches me and i can’t even see said hand.

+ another bouquet of flowers from george, and a red carnation from a young lady. i also received a $2 bill other than the one andrew anselmo folded into an arrow for me.

– i also had, according to wyatt, four fake tippers. all adults. seriously, what the fuck? if you want the statue to blow you a kiss that fucking badly, surely you can find a penny or two to drop in the tip jar. fucking douchebags.

+ at least there was no trash or religious crap in my tip jar.

+ no one called me lady gaga the whole night! not that i or wyatt heard, anyway.

+ children do strange and silly things sometimes.

photo by justinblau.com

waterfire has gone bananas.

the bananagram bananaganza. quite possibly the most interesting waterfire i’ve ever busked. kids walking around in bananagram suits, banana-themed music [i was very happy to hear day-o], the bananagrams car [which i was given a ride in, hopefully photos will be coming soon], all kinds of craziness.

– people are never, ever, ever funny when they think they’re being funny.

+ overwhelmingly adorable kids. i held two little ones for photos, and they did not cry! others played with my outstretched hand, some tried to touch my face [which i had to intercept just for the safety of my makeup and wig, but damn, so cute], and i got some hugs. i was also visited by my #1 fan. the last time i saw her was… september? the first time she came over, i almost didn’t recognize her with my wig all up in my face, but i realized who i was looking at when i bent down to blow a kiss. second time around, i made up for it, and gave her a kiss on the nose. i remember you. i’ve been watching you get taller, look older, but your eyes never change. i hope to see that same sparkle of magic in your eyes for many years to come.

– i started having some problems maintaining my space. i’ll invite kids to come up onto my ledge for photos, but if you’re over the age of ten, please keep your feet on the ground. you’re plenty tall enough to be seen in the picture with me. there is absolutely no reason for you to be up on my ledge. it’s amazing that people are so slow get the message when my hand is planted firmly on their shoulder the second i see them thinking about climbing up next to me. they keep pushing against my hand for a few seconds before realizing they’re supposed to stay on the ground. or, if i can’t catch them before they lift a foot, they’ll get all indignant about me shoving them back down. don’t give me a fucking attitude when i defend my personal space, you self-centered twat. i will slap the stupid right out of you.

+ MORE PUPPIES! two were brought up to me. i don’t know if y’all are bringing your dogs to me because you read my blog, or you see my reactions to dogs while i’m performing, or if it’s just a big awesome coincidence. either way, i’m lovin’ it.

+ gifts! george brought me another bouquet of carnations, as well as photo prints. sir turner gave me a print of one of the photos he emailed me a while back. of course, andrew anselmo [who had a terrible terrible night, poor dear, so you should go show him some serious love at the next waterfire] gave me a $2 bill folded into a little bowtie. and long after i’d finished busking for the night, while i was hanging out at my pitch with some friends who had come to visit me, a teenage boy gave me a carnation. so sweet.

– james stopped by to say hello. james is one of the most irritating fans i’ve ever had. very clingy, very tedious. after an inappropriate conversation he had with my mother the first time she ever came out to see me perform, i lost all patience for him, and let him know it. i hadn’t seen him since. until saturday. i hope this is not the sign of a triumphant return, because i really don’t need to deal with such dolts anymore. it’s such a difficult line to walk, the line between being friendly to my audience without trapping myself into polite-but-unwanted interactions.

-/+ while i was gobbling up some indian food and hanging out with my friends, this woman started barking at me to get up and do my thing so she could see it and get a picture. i kept telling her no, i’d performed for four hours, i was done for the night, come back next waterfire, take pictures when i’m performing. but she kept holding up her camera. so i held up my hand to block the view. she kept barking at me. i don’t even know how many times i told her that i was not going to pose for a photo and she should just come back next waterfire. finally she accepted the fact that she was not going to get her picture. but before she left, she said i should stop eating so i don’t get fat. wtf? so rude, so baffling, so oddly hilarious.