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Smut Stand from the outside in: deconstructing a media encounter and destroying my dream

WHY do I always look constipated while I'm typing? I need to work on that look...

WHY do I always look constipated while I'm typing? I need to work on that look...

A week ago, a dream of mine came true: I was "discovered" out there on the Smut Stand! A journalist just happened to be walking by the Smut Stand in Manchester, was so intrigued that she came back the next day for an interview and a commissioned piece, and then wrote about the encounter with plenty of time (and links!) to possibly generate interest and ticket sales for my show in the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. You can read this piece right here. (Oh, and my show got a great review during that festival, BTW, you can read it right here.)

The difference between dream and reality, though, is that in my dreams, I am the one providing all the fantasy material. In reality, two or more people interact with each other, with their own biases and mis/preconceptions at play. Real life and "the dream" so rarely match up.

Thus it was with my dream of being discovered. I should have known better, having been a journalist in a past life, and having experienced enough other interviews as a performer. I know that journalists come into encounters with agendas, either their own or their publication's; I know they are not to be trusted, not like an evil malevolent force, just like a stone in a river that looks sturdy, but could end up being slippery or unstable or a large angry turtle. I was so excited by the dream, that I let my guard down. Silly me.

It was interesting, certainly, to read about the Smut Stand experience from the point of view of the customer. I only ever see still photographs of me doing work, and feedback about the experience normally comes in the form of post-smut tweets. The writer had seemed very excited and into Sidewalk Smut when she was out there talking to me, so I forgot to be cautious. Out there, I take people at face value. She was taking notes. I should have remembered from my own time in journalism that note-taking in the middle of an interview is uniformly bullshit. So her information about my shows, and the way that I talked about them, was of course RIDDLED WITH INACCURACIES, like

  • I never said that Phone Whore is emotionally violating. I am so so careful about how I tell people about that play, and I pretty much never vary that pitch. I say that it's thought-provoking and challenging and a lot of people find parts of it disturbing, but "emotionally violating", coming from the playwright, is a different kettle of fish, one that I would not touch.
  • 
I don't know where she got a play title called "slut fucker". That sounds boring.
  • No one "headlines" at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, or at most any other theatre festival.

And the bit about reading her smut very loudly? Not possible. She just suddenly felt on the spot and self-conscious, having something sexual, created especially for her, being even spoken out loud. I don't read finished pieces of smut to customers loudly, unless I have the express invitation of the customer to share it with the group that they're with. Otherwise, I am practically reading it into people's ears. I am fully aware of my volume out there. I don't want to get busted for public obscenities.

Also, I want to point out that I work with the specs that the customers give me. The journalist was the one who said, "Oh, hardcore. Go hardcore!" and asked about doing a threesome. If I had thought twice about the possibility that she would suddenly develop delicate sensibilities for the purposes of plausible deniability and her on-page persona, I would have scaled it back. A good immersive writer accepts responsibility for their own involvement.

I would like, someday soon, to be discovered by journalists who can actually handle the source material, that is, smut and sex and, well, me. As a friend said, "That's not going to happen. You're going to have to carve it out yourself." I know this already.

<sigh>

Excuse me while I put the edge back on my machete. If I've got to hack my own path to fame, I'm gonna have to stay sharp.

*****

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