A Transgender Eulogy in Dance to the Noble Twinkie

Thursday.

I received an email today from the Artist Foundation, a local funding organization. They decided NOT to shower me with money. They’ve been around for 7 years, I think. I’m pretty sure I’ve submitted proposals for five of those years. All were turned down. This year I really thought I had a chance. The project (a larger version of Night Bloom, with ST Shimi) seemed solid, and, humility aside, my support material was killer. Well, fuck. Anyway, congratulations to those who were showered with money. I hope you choke on it!

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It’s just a little bit past noon. Thursday. After this second cup of coffee perhaps I should consider making breakfast. But, I’m thinking I should get out of the house and take a five mile run, and therefore a light banana smoothy might be the proper choice. I haven’t been running for over a month. And all the holiday food I’ve been scarfing has obviously taken its toll (I will avoid the scales for awhile, I believe). I can’t use the weather as an excuse to loaf. Sure, it’s a bit chilly. But the sun’s out and it’s a beautiful day. Also, that cold which had been bedeviling me for a couple of weeks is long gone. Can’t use that excuse either. So, that’s the plan. After, of course, I procrastinate some more with this business of typing.

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The Performance Party at Jump-Start went very smoothly. I’ve been involved in some of the previous years, but mainly as a contributing artist — the last four years I’ve made short films, and, also, the year before last, I was roped into a performance piece where I was expected to “act.” This year I made a short film. But because I’m now an official company member, I can’t really say no when I’m asked to get up on stage and perform. So, I appeared in the opening performance piece which Sandy Dunn put together. I also participated in the closing piece where I got to eat fire and play with flash paper.

During all this I was also up in the booth with Billy and Cezanne (running the video projection and helping out on the sound board). Controlled chaos defines the performance parties. There’s usually about 25 performances. Music, dance, theater, film, performance art, and the like. Each bit averages maybe 7 minutes. No one gets a chance to rehearse on the stage. The lighting choices are made on the fly. Music, video, lines-in for instruments and microphones … all this is sorted out as best as the crew can manage at the time the show is in progress.

One of the technical glitches that happened on my watch was when Aaron began his transgender eulogy in dance to the noble Twinkie. He’d given me a QuickTime file which had both the video and music for his piece. I had decided to play all the video clips of the evening off my computer using (don’t laugh) FinalCut as the presentation software. All went great for the other video projections. But for Aaron, all he got was the music — no video. (I’m still not sure how I managed to fuck things up.)  I don’t think it made a huge difference. Aaron’s damn charismatic, and he looks both hilarious and very sexy in drag. The audience definitely enjoyed it, especially when he got some people from the audience to join him and his friend (who was wearing a huge foam Twinkie outfit) on stage for some spirited line dancing. Sorry for ruining your video, Aaron.

Click here for a link to a snippet of the Twinkie performance.

I feel I redeemed myself when burlesque dancer Miss Pystol Whips took to the stage. For some reason her CD wasn’t working. She had come out during blackout, and was crouched under a white cape, waiting for the music. Billy kept pushing play. Opening and closing the CD player’s tray. Nothing. A stagehand crept out and led the poor woman off stage. The next performance began. A few seconds later, a breathless Pystol entered the booth and handed Billy her smart phone, with her music cued. She was then re-introduced by the MC and the music played. All was well. For maybe fifteen seconds. The music cut off as her phone began ringing. Billy couldn’t figure out how to hang up on the caller and get the music playing again. But Pystol, the undaunted professional, continued to dance sans music. Fortuitously, I had been curious about Pystol’s choice of music (I’d seen the track listing on her phone over Billy’s shoulder) and had Googled it and found a YouTube version. “Hey, Billy,” I said. “You want me to play this?” He said yes. So I did. I love these happy accidents of having an un-planned Plan B on hand.

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I did it. Finally, after a month of aimless sloth, I got back on the running trail. I ran from Brackenridge High School down the river trail to Mission Road this afternoon. That’s about three miles. I wimped out on the return leg and took it down to a walk at my four mile mark. When I checked my running app, I noticed I’m down from my 9.5 minute mile average to 10 minutes. Oh, well, it’s a start.

Here I am at the flood control station across from Roosevelt Park. And then there’s the very photogenic smokestack of the old CPS complex.

rebflood

rebstack

It was a beautiful, sunny day. I’d forgotten how good it feels to exercise. As I was walking under the trestles of the Union Pacific tracks I noticed I’d received a text from a friend that artist Anne Wallace was looking for me. I gave her a call and we chatted as I walked back home. It seems I might be able to help out on one of her current projects. I’m excited to see what she’s up to. Her work is very diverse and always rewarding. In fact, I’d just crossed, twice, a footbridge embellished with her artwork on my run. And she’s the artist whose film I worked on some years back where we spent a wonderful couple of days shooting in the drowned and abandoned Mexican city of Guerrero Viejo, before the Zetas took it over.

I’m looking forward to what interesting possibilities 2013 might bring my way.

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