Friday, August 11, 2006

Stage Frights

You stared down at some crowd from your trapeze
And when you fell they fell down on their knees
And when you broke they scrambled for a piece
And when you spoke I felt their anger freeze

Back in Metropolis, circuses and elephants
Where the oranges grew
Back in Metropolis nothing can ever topple us
When I'm standing with you -The Church 'Metropolis'

Somewhere in the last four or five years I have shifted from a shy suburban girl who could barely dance in public and never went bare-legged or showed any tit to someone who is content prancing about on stage pretty much naked pulling needles out of my head while pretending to be a mermaid. Most of the time this seems like a perfectly reasonable outcome, a logical conclusion to years of longing and plotting to escape my cage. Then at other times Performing Seal Zoo comes as a complete surprise to me. Where did this creature come from? And why?

I went to a seminar a while back at Mac Uni, and a man presented a paper on vulnerability and performance. It really shook me to realise just how vulnerable I sometimes make myself by going out there. Much of what I do (in both the academic and the kink arenas) entails putting a large chunk of my psyche and my physicality out on display without much of a spit and polish, of pushing boundaries, not observing the conventions of being pretty or contained or professional, of showing the struggle and the accidental spillages and the sheer unadulterated fear... but something in me makes me want it not to be too sleek, too restrained, too in control. Maybe I want to surprise myself as much as my audience?

Like when I did the hook suspension at The Hole Re-Opens in May. I was absolutely terrified. It had been a very long time since I had done any major pain work, or any body mods or kinky play and I had serious doubts about my own strengths and stamina. It was a very intense process learning to trust my body again. I knew the rig was solid, I knew Rob could hook me up just fine and it was all technically perfect, but to just let go and believe that my flesh would carry me was almost more than I could manage. First hook in, and I am seeing stars. All four in, and I am just managing to stand. Attached by ropes from hooks to rig, I am sitting on a ladder trying to will myself to take that leap of faith. Start to sink down, let the ropes pull tighter, feel my skin stretching, can't let go though... breathe, breathe, breathe... sink further down, tell them to take the ladder away, suspended for a second or two, then open my eyes and panic... ladder back, R offers to cut me down, but I want to do this, I want to know what it is, I'm not quitting now... look up at the crowd waiting, I had almost forgotten they were there, so many friends/family... try again, make it longer this time, get R to gently push me so I spin around in circles... later a dear friend tells me I looked like an angel with wings just beginning to sprout... It was the rawest 'show' I have ever done. All of my emotions out in the open, written across my face, explicit. Is cathartic, exorcising demons (or exercising demons? unsure). A reclamation of space, a reinitiation into the community. An offering, a gift, a sacrifice. A statement of intention. A thankyou. A sharing of joy. Necessary. Vital.

I felt a rising in my throat
the girls a-saying grace
and the air the viscous air
pressed against my face
and it all got too damn much for me
just got too damn rough
and I pushed away my plate
and said boys I've had enough
and I laid upon the table
another piece of meat
and I opened up my veins to them
and said come on eat - Patti Smith 'Summer Cannibals'

The reactions of the crowd are always fascinating to me. Sometimes people assume that the blood I spill is fake. Sometimes people assume that the theory I talk is real. Sometimes people are too freaked to talk to me afterwards, sometimes they want to fuck me, sometimes they presume that I am submissive, or a Domme, sometimes they want to prove they can outdo me. Sometimes they don't know when/if/how to cheer, sometimes they are scared to laugh. Sometimes they presume me to be an expert on all manner of kinks and curiousities. Sometimes its just that beautiful feeling of connection that needs no other language.



Blogger mayhem said...

Hey zoo

Lovely description of your work at the hole...... and almost as moving as the performance itself.

you put it far better than I could - describe the wierd mixture of vulnerability, fragility and power that you seemed to be exuding that night.

I was chatting to J last night and we both send you

lots of tender cuddles


11:07 am  
Anonymous Tam said...

Wow... beautiful post... i wish i had seen your suspension, the words alone paint such an evocative picture the raw magic you must have experienced... I wish I could have witnessed it... thanks for sharing this much now though :)

1:24 pm  
Anonymous Hunter said...

Thankyou for posting this. I think people forget that the performers themselves are the vulnerable ones. *not that I am a performer in any way shape or form, but I am an envious and avid fan*

As for the suspension, Thankyou also for sharing the magic and even the other responses you felt. Always nice to hear the fuller story.

9:31 am  

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