Well friends, after what has been a whirlwind of a run, I find myself here in New Orleans, with two feet planted firmly on the ground. But this ground is made of swamp, and I can't pull them out. Or maybe it's just that I don't want to.
Yes, that's more like it. From it's Jackson square gypsies who wink at me in the light of their LED lamps shaped like skulls, to the audiences who are willing to lean in and give 110% of their attention, and these "brisk" 60 degree winter days- New Orleans have given me more than enough reason to stay. Maybe on a deeper level, it's been my plan all along. To get "stuck in the mud".
But before I explain A: why there's a photo of my hand in pink mud (a product of B: my self-proclaimed "Artist incubation period in the South to skip out on Chicago winter" -a phrasing I'd hesitate to use, since many a local New Orleanian 'twould roll their eyes at a "hipster" such as I coming in and terrorizing the land with my crappy bicycle and gentrifying organic food purchases, though I'd prefer to think I've already found a way to contribute to the community-- I've joined a choir. I've made new friends. I've picked up a volunteer shift at the Hollygrove CSA in uptown.) I would like to wrap up this run-on sentence of a paragraph and tell you about C: a re-cap on this last leg of the 10 Cent Whore journey.
Ha-hum. Here we go:
It began in November, when the first 10¢ Whore educational workshop took place in partnership with the Chicago Women’s Health Center at The Excel Academy of Englewood. This Chicago Public School is for under-credited students ages 16-21 who want to accelerate their studies. The experience as a whole was exciting, intimate, and vulnerable.
After a curated excerpt of the performance, we opened up to a group discussion exploring the themes of sexual trauma, objectification, and finding sovereignty through self love. The safe environment co-created by the teachers and CWHC representative Scout Bratt, encouraged students to share their opinions openly.
We explored the idea of what it means to be called a certain name for what appears on the surface. The students entered a heated debate over the idea of dressing up "sexy" for yourself, versus for another person, and whether or not hat gave anyone a right to call you a derogatory name, like a ho. Time was coming to an end and with no sound resolution in sight, I asked the group this- " Can two different women be wearing the same outfit, in the same environment, and be treated differently?" The unanimous response: Yes. We tread the tip of this iceberg and begged for it to melt as the bell began to ring. I learned so much from this group, and was struck by their fearlessness and passion with which they vocalized their truths. This was a strong group of women.
With the wind of the workshop under our sails, my fabulous stage manager and I flew into New Orleans ready to put a show together.
What made this run a success were the people who came out to see it. To my delight, my Chicago director, Mookie, flew to see this iteration of the show and also do some research on her upcoming AROTC performance in The Mutilated by Tennessee Williams. Her presence meant the world to me and filled my heart with all sorts of warm fuzzy art love. As did the locals- New Orleans makes one heck of a supportive audience:
"This town needs more people like you"- said Gail, a New Orleanian audience member with a PHD in Psychology. Something I was at first terrified to hear. For those unfamiliar with the show- one of the characters is a Group Therapist with a self-proclaimed PHD in Gender Metaphysics. So when Gail told me she had a PHD, and wanted to ask questions, I felt like I was on the line. She sat down in one of the red cushioned chairs at MAGs 940's, handing me Gin&Tonic, and asked what has been the most popular question of all- how much of this show is autobiographical, and what made me want to write it in the first place. I explained that I wanted to give a voice to the younger version of myself who had been told she had none. To portray the journey of midwifing the inner self to a higher ground of sexual expression, self-love and ultimately, freedom.
According to some of the responses, I think I may have done some of that:
As if these words alone aren't enough to make everything work the it, this last jaunt has been riddled with so much growth, adventure and learning that I'm teeming to the brim with gratitude.
I've decided to stay in New Orleans and continue down this path of writing, creating, meditating in city swamps and accidentally sitting on fire ant hills (a story for another time--perhaps my memoirs one day...), playing with naturally occurring pink clay because it reminds me of mother earth's feminine essences (see above...), and art-ing and ca-varting with all the #badwitches I know, from near and afar.
(...speaking of far away #witchez,I'm super excited to follow the Good Night Ladies' La Lune de Femme remount with Winnifred Coombe at the Asheville Fringe Festival later this January!)
If you've read this far, thank you for following the ins and outs of the 10¢ Whore journey. Stay posted for more updates on the next appearance of 10¢ Whore!
Some of us know him as Chin. Others call him Chinny. He came to the Whore Soiree in September and took some classy photos.
Peep those floral walls that Heinrich Haley and Greta White constructed out of clothing racks. It was this sort of brilliance and ingenuity that contributed to making this evening really come together.
Looking these pictures over, I was delightfully reminded of the swanky, intimate and sophisticated atmosphere we all created at The Firehaus back in September. There were so many beautiful performances, I couldn't name a favorite if I tried. Each artist brought something to the stage that spoke deeply to the heart of this project. Mookie and I shared glances of eerie delight as my long time poet-crush Emma Casey recited line that echoed the last line of the play. Or as Sima Cunningham and Vivian McConnell sang songs that re-ignited all my lost stores of teenage angst and grown up heartache.
However, I can't get magician Brett Schneider's needle-swallowing-act out of my head. This charmer somehow guzzled a dozen or so sharp needles, then had audience member Cassidy Slaughter-Mason pull them out of his mouth on a string, to the audiences delight. And all with out a wince or speck of blood.
Then you guys, he made the needles into a necklace. Yup- not a dozen roses but rather a dozen or so spit covered metal prongs garnish your neck dear.
Don't forget to check out the rest of Christain's photography.
Last November, I went to New Orleans for the first time to participate in their Fringe festival with La Lune de Femme, and had the time of my life. The energies I met in that city and the experiences I had there set me on path to take my own show to another level. 10 months later, I found myself with six consecutive houses filled with supporting, loving audiences ready to take in 10¢ Whore! Now, I’m pleased to announce I’ll be taking 10¢ Whore to New Orleans as a part of their Faux/Real festival this November! Thank you to all the amazing artists who by shining example, have set down the yellow bricks for me to follow. Or something like that.