Thursday, August 23, 2012

Going Home

That was then, and this is now. I am going home.

Sometimes you need to release negative energies and complain, commiserate, wallow in your own excrement for a minute before you can let go and move on. It took me over a month to be able to write my last blog post - considering the gap between entries, I was so incredibly busy with all aspects of the show (planning, practicing, organizing, making gigantic elaborate costumes and headdresses) that the blow of not being able to perform hit me pretty hard and I could barely process the chain of events from June into July for awhile, much less write about them and show off my hard work (that was almost a complete bust.) Almost two months later, just a few days ago, I was able to post that last entry after many previous attempts at completing it. And I miss writing here in my Perfect World... but discouragement and despair are not emotions I can allow myself to dwell on for very long. Because baby, I am going HOME!

Just a few more days and I'll see you in the dust. Today, right now, packing is the last thing I want to do... I had a shitty night of sleep, my body aches, and my nose is stuffy. I am praying this will pass, quickly, and I can make my journey without any of the million issues that have already tested me. I had all these grand plans to make all these things (clothing, jewelry, hairpieces) before I left and pack super efficiently with all my daytime/nighttime outfits bagged up - the only way to do it, I guess - and all I can say right now is we'll see. We'll see how we actually get out there (travel buddies bailed last minute), we'll see how efficient I get with packing (considering how I feel today) and we'll see if I get around to making anything else (when I kinda just want to go back to bed.)

I'm performing with Aish Tamid, the only East coast conclave accepted this year, and we'll be performing with a group of the most talented performers from Philly around the man before it burns. I think this one was from last year, but to give you an idea how this looks....

I will be one of those tiny fiery dots, as the rest of the festival gathers around for the climax of a week of building, partying, getting extremely dirty and loving it. (Mostly.)

Just a few more days, and I'll be home.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Headdresses, freak weather & PEX Summer Festival

It has been too long, indeed - insanely busy for the month of June preparing for the annual show I perform in and help organize that debuts its newest work at PEX Summer Festival in Darlington, MD. This would have been the fourth year in a row of the festival and the fourth year our group of performers from Philly takes care of the Friday night entertainment. "Would have been," key words, because as it happened the show was cancelled.


Not by any fault of ours but rather the weather... a massive electrical storm with strong winds was tearing through the Mid-Atlantic and we were almost at call time, every performer psyching themselves up, all dressed up in their costumes and makeup and suddenly my right-hand (wo)man Jexi runs in with a look that I've seen before on her face - and I knew something was wrong. "There's a really bad storm heading straight for us," she tells us, "and the show has been delayed."

We were performing on a stage this time, rather than the uncomfortable concrete slab of the camps aging basketball courts (our "stage" in previous years), and most the performers were getting ready in the cabin directly across the road from the stage. Everyone's smartphones were tracking the weather, Jexi is checking her phone every five minutes for updates from the festival organizers and most of us are out on the cabin porch smoking cigarettes when we realize they are now taking apart the aforementioned stage.

Here we are, 50 miles north of Baltimore off of I-95, and the storm headed our way is a serious one. Serious lightning, high winds, and the threat of hail and flooding have placed the area under a severe storm warning and thousands of people across the Mid-Atlantic have lost their power. The stage is made up almost entirely of metal - so dismantling the super-lightning conductor we were supposed to be standing on was probably the safe thing to do. We waited for awhile, hoping for a near miss and only temporary delay... and it became apparent soon after that our show was not going to happen.

At some point before that I suspected as much and had given up on completing my makeup. What was the point? The rain hadn't started yet, but festival organizers and friends of all levels were racing around on golf carts, shouting into walkie-talkies and warning campers to secure their tents and seek a safe spot to weather the storm. Tons of people had set up their tents underneath the many giant pine trees all over the property. A tornado had ripped through the region not 2 weeks before that night, and the landscape still showed scars from its wrath - also probably why everyone there was taking this storm so seriously.

Just before it started to drizzle, my dance partner Laura dragged me outside to have Adam of Redlite Photos take a few shots of both of us in our headdresses. So here I am, makeup unassuming (normal, even, for me - not what I would have wanted to look like on stage), skin pale, nails raggedy, headdress barely finished and almost in tears because I'm starting to realize that I have lost sleep and sanity, dumping blood, sweat and tears LITERALLY into these fucking headdresses and we are not performing in them tonight. And maybe not at all that weekend. And this is a sad, sad realization for me. And here are the shots from Adam from that exact moment.

My animal-hybrid headdress - featuring real feathers, antlers, fur, and more and more and more.
 (Photo courtesy of RedLite Photos)
Laura and I (Loco & Coco) posing with our headdresses after learning our show has been cancelled.
Can you sense my lack of enthusiasm about posing for this picture?
(Photo courtesy of RedLite Photos)
My lack of posts in this blog can attest to the magnanimous amount of work I put into practicing, making costumes, and crafting my precious headdresses for The Penny Treats, I hope. The night of our cancelled show was the start of a weekend festival that became an unforgiving emotional rollercoaster.

Are we rescheduling the show? How can we make this work? What are we going to do? And WHY THE FUCK DID I BUST MY ASS for nothing??

Because you never know, because there was no rain plan -  because we are at the mercy of our mother earth and sometimes she messes with us. Sometimes she teaches us a lesson. Sometimes things happen for a reason that you will figure out later, but until then you will barely manage to survive this overwhelmingly emotional weekend, darting back and forth between interminable disappointment and crazed motivation, only made worse by the intense heat, sudden rainstorms and magnificent lightning. (Though the downpour on us that Friday night was expected, the lightning storm was like nothing I have ever seen, including lightning from a category 5 hurricane. It was non-stop, for several hours, with no thunder clap to remind us of the distance away and no break in flashes, often gigantic and reaching as far as the eye could see.)

I made the decision the next evening to wear my headdress in the opening ceremony for the effigy burn. Maybe I singed some feathers, and maybe I lost some bejewels along the way - but at least I got to wear it and perform. It took some convincing from friends and some blind trust in myself (that I wouldn't completely destroy the thing I had spent hours and hours creating.) Below are a few shots from my performance that night. I just happened to be RIGHT in front of a group of photographers. Lucky me. :)

Spinning fire fans before the burn wearing my headdress. Finally.
This shot and the black and white are used courtesy of Eraj Asadi.
(Thank you again for the fantastic pictures!)

Photo courtesy of Jemma Stember-Young

I have waited far too long to post this - so I'll end here and be back BEFORE the big beautiful burn in the desert with some pre-Playa musings.