Archive for Creating A/Broad
I am getting on that jet plane four days from today, heading over to the UK to try my hand at my particular brand of showbiz on that fair isle, to place my heart finally, firmly in the keeping of the love of my life, who I stumbled across 2+ years ago when I didn’t even know I was looking for anyone. And my feeling about this right now can be summarized as follows:
Four days is simultaneously NEVER GOING TO BE OVER and JESUS CHRIST THAT’S NEXT WEEK.
This confusing feeling of stretch-of-time and imminent explosion of everything I know, it makes sense, considering how major changes have always happened in my life: either there are slow, unnoticed shifts or there's a sudden eruption of consciousness-altering intensity. I highlight this with regards to my sexuality with my play slut (r)evolution. Hell, it’s right there in the punctuation of the title: is it evolution or revolution? The answer, of course, is yes.
This time around, at this particular point in my life, the same idea of gradual change versus sudden upheaval feels more… tectonic. I'm changing my location on the earth, the ground under my actual feet. People who study plate tectonics know how it goes. Sometimes pieces of the earth grind past each other. Sometimes they catch and stick, and the pressure builds and builds until suddenly one day they jerk past each other, destroying buildings and altering lives over head.
What's true is this: a life doesn’t happen all at once, and a seemingly sudden breakthrough is rarely that sudden. I’ve been building my performing skill set, my packet of offerings, for… well, not for decades, but definitely for years. I’ve been grinding through lines, and rehearsing for hours, and debating fine points of punctuation and delivery with my directors for probably the equivalent of DAYS. That is just the grind of the work. I will never bust through into stardom on Oprah's show. My accomplishments here are slow and uphill.
Ditto for my love life. I mean, not that it’s a grind, but where it is now is very much a function of all the little lists and humble presents and tense discussions and weekly skype-sex dates and pictures swapped. It is a relationship that has been sliding along nicely for a long time, but there was that sticking place, right? The same one that everyone in a long-distance relationship has to wrestle with at some point or another: when are we going to be able to stop this bullshit and move closer to each other, because we are agreed, yes? THIS LONG-DISTANCE STUFF IS BULLSHIT.
For the past year and a half, my own version of that sticking point—maybe it's everyone's, who am I kidding—has really been about just money and timing. Oh, yeah, and fear. Fear of not having my car, of not having any car, of losing some of the personal mobility that I value so much. Fear of not having enough money, for moving and staying and health care and everything. Fear of not being talented enough of a performer to drop the phone sex for good and be able to count on my wits and performance skills and goddamn teeth-gritting hustle. Fear of throwing in my lot with one lover, face to face, real time, because what if I had forgotten how to sail a relationship?
Thankfully, in the last few months those fears have started to resolve, or dissolve. I asked people to remind me—frequently—that I had made and survived big leaps before. I laid the groundwork, and started pounding the pavement for gigs way back in February and March. I talk with UK Muse multiple times a day, in silliness and in seriousness, and rejoice in knowing that it’s all there.
These have been the slow, gentle workings of my plans and dreams. The sudden shift, that comes next week. It’s still going to be an emotional earthquake of epic proportions, but I’m a decent psychological seismologist by now. I know it’s coming, and I’ve done everything I can to be ready for it.
I could not be taking this leap of faith without the love and support of a lot of people. Become a patron of mine over on Patreon and become part of that special group!
I normally write two blog posts a week, but I just couldn’t this week. The US elections got me seriously strung out. The day after hit me like a hangover, and I hadn’t even been drinking. I went to bed early with a sinking heart, tried to sleep for over an hour, and woke up at 3:30am knowing without even looking that the world had direly shifted.
For a few minutes, as I thought about what I needed to do next, what I could do next, I felt acute despair, and I really just wanted to, you know, clock out for a while. I could just cancel all of my remaining shows for this tour, I thought, and get out of the States as soon as possible, hunker down in Montreal for a month before catching my plane to the UK. I wrestled with the weight of this choice, knowing that audiences were going to be a tough sell, and wouldn’t it look a little, I don’t know, callous to put on dirty storytelling shows in the middle of this?
Underneath that was the tiny little shame of an artist: what good is art at a time like this? Especially art about sex? Who cares? This is a luxury, all of this swanning about around sex stuff. The apocalypse is upon us! No one has time for a dirty storytelling open mic, no one has time for silliness. What is theatre but self-indulgence?
I think most performers, most artists of all stripes, feel this at some point or another, this internalized illegitimacy. Mine is not real art. Real art can start revolutions! My art just gets people squirming in the back rooms of bars and maybe feeling a little horny afterward.
Fortunately, I recognize this barely breathed thought for what it is: the internal critic, the voice that has and will take the same tone with any art I try to create. It’s the internalized skeptic: art doesn’t change anything, never mind sex art, never mind hosting open mics. This is all helped along by my activist side, which learned and still believes that the only real activism is on the front line, chaining oneself to the gates of the nuclear power plant and blocking freeways, or at the very least going to rallies and being loud. That’s the stuff I should be focusing on that, my activist mind keeps saying. That is the only way to effect real change.
But this is not true, I was reminded today. Change can come from many directions. Art can change things. In addition to bringing the message—whatever message, I know what mine tends to be, but there are many others—doing art, if that’s what we need to do, contributes to a world in which we are all doing the thing that feeds our soul. That can't be the only thing—there are petitions and signs and money to be donated—but in a world that feels soulless, it needs to be top priority to put our souls back out harder than ever.
If you agree and you have the cash, swing by Patreon and become a patron!
People ask me sometimes, when they see all the shows I do, the vast sprawling itineraries and the multiple cities and the boom-boom-boom schedule, they say, “Wow! Do you have an agent?” it’s inconceivable to them that I could get all of those dates without one.
And then I say, no, I’m almost entirely self-produced. I set those up myself. I can tell from the awkward pause and blink that they were really thinking that I must have had an agent, and it would confirm all the glamorous notions that they have about touring performers, I dunno, hotels all the time and no green M&Ms in the dressing room.
Whereas when you take a good look at my tour stops, at the venues where I go and the gigs, it should be obvious that agents just wouldn’t bother. It wouldn’t be worth their time. Smut Slams in the back rooms of bohemian vegetarian cafes or the upstairs of a pub. A solo play in a dungeon in the Midwest where I can run the address, but can’t mention the name of the place, because they can’t risk being outed. A house show with 15 people in attendance and a spaghetti dinner beforehand that I cooked. Fringe festivals where I am solely responsible for my expenses and income, and spend 12 days flyering for my own show like a hyperdrive flyering beast.
These are not winning propositions for an agent. But they are winning for me. I’ve come to terms with the idea that I am not ever going to create a blockbuster show; it’s not in me to write the comedy that sells, nor am I a young, conventionally attractive person. But I also believe, more strongly than ever, in my own mandate: to make space for awkward but essential conversations about sex and sexuality and relationships. I believe in that … zealously, might be the right word.
In that mandate, there must be room for smaller audiences in unconventional and intimate spaces. So then, the challenge for me becomes finding the audiences. This too is not something that most agents would truck with. I hunt around for my people like a trained pig in a vast orchard that has truffles in there somewhere, but scattered about and only under every sixth or seventh tree.
I follow countless leads on the strength of “please, can you come to my town?” (I’ve stopped doing that recently, because most people don’t have experience producing performance, or the connections for doing so.) I look to see where other alternative performers go. I sign up for emails from countless festivals, waiting for application forms and deadlines, knowing that, most of the time, my stuff will be considered “too edgy” for their existing audiences. I talk with other performers and talk and talk: where have they been, what have they done, what have they heard?
I look for leaders in storytelling groups and Fringe theatre groups. I approach feminist organizations and kink organizations and student sexuality organizations, waiting weeks and weeks to get the right contact to pitch that yes, my stuff would fit into their mission. Sometimes the right contact is going on maternity leave or they’ve graduated, and I have to wait some more.
I won’t even bother going into the minutiae of production logistics, the reams and wads of administrivia that go into making the performance go, once we’ve agreed that the performance should go. Just making things fit into a calendar to make sense from a travel point of view, that is its own post. Ditto for promotions (I’ve already written at length about that), and billeting and driving and grocery shopping. Yes. This is a book. (Yes, I'm thinking about writing it.)
Here I am only talking about finding my audience, the one that really wants what I have to offer and that has the ability to make space for it and pay something reasonable for it. (I suspect that my reasonable and an agent’s reasonable are miles apart as well.) It’s not glamorous, this part of the work. This is pounding the virtual pavement and sweating virtual sweat that sometimes trickles out into real sweat, and frankly I get tired of it, All the Fucking Time.
But if this is the only way that my work, the work that I want to do, will get out there, then this is what I’ll do. I will pick the green M&Ms out of the bowl myself. I will beg for pictures of the performance space, and if there is actually a green room, I will consider myself even luckier than normal.
If you have a bit of money and you think this is important, getting my work out into the small and intimate spaces, "going where no (agent) has gone before," then consider putting some of that money where it counts: become a patron of mine over on Patreon!
First of all, the writer’s name is Nick Hardwick. That sort of name hasn’t really been in play since Chaucer, and for good reason: it makes you look like a twit. It also completely removes you from the field of people who should be giving anyone any serious advice about sex. Sorry, Nick, your sex tips in this article are invalid. No, actually, they’re Terrible!
For starters, I firmly believe that, when assessing sex tips, we need to start at the very beginning. The writer presumably considers the first paragraph to be the important point of the article. With this piece, we have the following:
Stringing together a series of intense multiple orgasms that keep your woman coming all night long is one of the most entertaining and empowering ways to make her sexually addicted to you.
When I make this blog post into a Terrible Sex Tips video—and I most certainly will—I will ask the editor to add an ominous echoing effect right there. Being stuck in text format for now, I’ll just repeat it for emphasis:
“… make her sexually addicted to you.”
“… sexually addicted to you.”
“… addicted to you.”
Creepy, right? Never mind that the author thinks it’s entertaining to get someone dependent on you for sexual satisfaction—ha ha, look at that slut, slobbering and begging for all those multiple orgasms!—but they also picture physical compulsion as the only way to keep someone coming back. This is someone who doubts the attractiveness of their own personality, is what I’m saying. It smacks of PUA (pick-up artistry), and at the very least it is a shitty fucking conceptual framework for sexual chemistry.
This article also promotes overriding your partner’s verbal, conscious participation in sexual pleasure. I’m not overstating this.
If your girl believes she can’t have multiples, and she thinks you’re trying to give them to her, her subconscious brain will team up with her body and work together to keep it from happening.
But, like, what if she notices that you are in fact forging forward over her recovery time? She’s just trying to catch her breath, and you keep going and she just, like, shuts down. Maybe this is not her being afraid of her own majestic orgasmic power. Maybe she just needs a rest! Eh, who cares, right? Clearly you know her body better than she does, so go on ahead!
This attitude is also very aggressive and narcissistic; her orgasms are all about proving how “skilled” you are, presumably
to keep her from ever wondering if anyone else could do it better to show her what a prime catch you are!
Here, and look at this:
Let’s say you just finished using your favorite fingering technique to give her a glorious g-spot orgasm that sent her out of orbit… but you’re just getting warmed up. You still want to make her come some more, you stud.
You. STUD. Don’t ask her what she wants. Make her come!
The advice that follows? It’s not problematic in any way, except that it reads like a very specific road map to one woman’s very specific pleasure points. It reads like a checklist, right down to when to kiss her and when to “tell her how sexy she looks.” (After she comes, apparently, is the prime time.) This article reads like the perfect sex storm—and I mean that in the negative sense—a nightmarish convergence of pick-up artistry and overachiever and hipsterism and egotistical asshattery. It is the brash confessional of a writer who made it big with one girl and thinks that means he is qualified to dole out the step-by-step manual.
Or do a video of 67 ways to make her come. That’s what Nick Hardwick is doing with his terrible sex tips. Don’t buy that video. It may have some useful sex tips, but it’ll leave you feeling so battered by his attitude you won’t be able to get it up again for months.
I write these Terrible Sex Tips posts because I love you and I want you to have the fullest, least physically and/or emotionally damaged sex life that you can have. If you appreciate my work and have some spare cash, now is a great time to become a patron of mine over on Patreon. Put down a small amount per piece and help keep the Cameryn Moore Sexy-Time Machine chugging away!
I’ve been a full-time broke-ass artist for nearly 10 years, and yet somehow I never put it together in one sentence: poor people aren’t supposed to enjoy anything. We’re either arting and starving, or we’re scrambling through three part-time jobs and not arting. If you are not suffering, if you have time for anything else, you are not trying hard enough, either at being an artist or at not being poor. You should not have the time or the resources to be doing something that you love.
I catch a bit of this blowback any time I have to argue with someone over the phone about, say, why I can’t pay back my student loans in the amounts that they want, or why my taxes are so damn weird. The people on the other end ask, like it’s the natural question, why I’m not making hand-over-fist money if I’m touring. Surely touring artists must be rich, right? And if I’m not, then I need to get a different job. I need to give up. Poor people shouldn’t be trying to do this stuff; we shouldn’t be trying to do anything other than struggling and striving for more money. Talent and vision and desires and joy are not for the likes of us.
I shouldn't be out here doing this, I said to UK Muse, when I realized--within the last week, why did it take me so long to realize this?--how very much my desires clashed with my economic footing. Who do I think I am? I shouldn't be performing. I shouldn't be traveling. I shouldn't have met you. Clearly we shouldn't be together, I said to him, otherwise it wouldn't cost so damn much to get residency there.
UK Muse is also poor, and his committing to bringing me to the UK is going to cost. "I should have married a nice English girl," he agreed quietly, "and be doing DIY improvements around the flat on the weekends." But he has other dreams, bigger dreams than what he was born into, dreams of succeeding in his own solo-preneurial work, and now making the minimum income to buy my residency requirements and then take a vacation to an ocean-front cottage in Wales, because we both want some time away. What do people call that? A vacation. Holidays, in the UK. They call them holidays, I think.
Anyway, as poor people, we are not entitled to holidays, we are not allowed to do that, to take time for what will basically be a honeymoon. Poor people don’t take honeymoons or holidays. They maybe go sit in the park on a blanket and eat sandwiches they made at home and think about when the next bill is not going to be paid.
I have nothing against sandwiches in the park. But I want more than that. In spite of it all, I want to tour and create, and I want that goddamned vacation to that cottage in Wales.
Under the current rules of the game, we aren’t supposed to have room for holidays or working on one’s art and not starving. It’s unseemly, it’s debauched, it’s inappropriate, they say. Suffer for your art, or give it up and slog away in the trenches of capitalism. You are of the suffering class. You do not get to choose anything else.
I say fuck that noise. Monkey-wrench that machine. This is the original “life hack”: when you are jumping off the grid in pursuit of Someone or Something You Want/Need, well outside the bounds of what you are expected to do in your life. This is not finding a new use for an empty 2-litre bottle; this is not learning the fastest way to fold a fucking tee shirt. This is actually hacking your life, tenaciously shaping it into something that this world never meant it to be, something that perhaps the world is actively taking steps to keep you from doing.
The great part is, it’s the poor people who life hack the best. We have lifetimes of making do, and jerry-rigging, and scraping together, and pushing through. Putting all of that in service of creating, or going to the person you love, or both? That’s easy. I will totally hack the fuck out of that.
Something that helps me hack through this creative jungle is Patreon. Your small per-piece financial pledge becomes part of something larger, which enables me to keep making the good stuff. If you read my stuff and like it, consider becoming a patron!
Compersion, in poly terms, is the happiness one experiences watching their partner being happy in love/sex with another person(s). I feel like there must be a parallel concept/word in the performing arts, for when one is genuinely happy watching other artists succeed. What we call it doesn’t really matter, I guess, because I usually experience the opposite: I wrestle with professional envy, all the time.
Don’t get me wrong! I am also happy for my successful friends, I am! People are fucking talented and giving, and I am fortunate to have these folks in my life. I also intellectually know that success is not a finite thing. Success is actually an infinitely replenishing pie, and in theory it is possible for everyone to have a slice. But lurking right there in the background of my happiness and my intellectual understanding, there it is: envy.
I get it looking at people’s line-ups at Fringes, or media coverage, or Facebook photos of audiences, even though I know full well that what goes on Facebook is slanted heavily to sunshine and rainbows. For me, envy is like depression, in some ways. It’s a jerk, and it makes me think jerky thoughts, and it’s just there.
I used to feel really bad about it, like, not only was I a shitty colleague, but I was also a shitty friend. When my envy crept in, an oily dark stain on my soul, I could feel myself retreating further and further into a shadowy corner. I peeked around at all of the happy faces—some happy because they were having big successes and others I guess happy because they did possess that ability that I lacked—and I felt even shittier. I forced my face into an expression more friendly and welcoming and happy, because otherwise I was in danger of turning into a malevolent troll. Or I just went home and got my grump on in private.
This is not ever a good space for me to be in, but given how financially rough this past summer’s tour was, I was in it all the time and it was eating my heart out from the inside. Fortunately, I recently found a mantra that will hopefully—over time, as I get better at it—lead me out.
“My world has many paths.”
It’s a short sentence, but I really thought it through. It involves three concepts or beliefs that feel important to me:
- I own this world that I move through. I don’t mean literally, just… it’s mine, the way that I perceive it is uniquely mine, and I have some power—often more than I think— to change it.
- There are many ways through that world. Sometimes I just have to clear away some of the underbrush, and sometimes the paths don’t even exist until I lay down the cobble stones, and sometimes I’m trotting along on someone else’s path for a while, but I get to choose the ways that I go. There’s no judgment attached to any of these paths, either; they are all just ways and means to get to where I want to be.
- Success means many different things, and I get to decide the metrics.
I say this mantra now, when I’m feeling fragile and envious, to remind myself that I am actively creating my life, and it will be different from other people’s lives. The way that they are working is not going to be the way that I work.
Our successes will look different, because surely our visions are different too. I am aiming for different goals, some of which may not come to fruition for a while, slow-burn projects. I am diversifying my income streams, a literal application of the “many paths” philosophy.
I don’t think this is me making the best out of sour grapes. (I mean, maybe it is, but if that’s what I’ve got, I’d rather make some nice balsamic vinegar, you know?) I choose to think of it rather as reframing my place in the spaces where I thought I had to live. If I do not succeed in that particular way, it is not the end of the world. I have other ways of surviving and thriving.
It also helps me remember that the work I bring to the world is unique and needed. I will probably not ever have a blockbuster hit in indie theatre, or be running an intense route of workshops and sex-ed conferences, or whatever. But that’s okay. I know how to write the work that sings for me, and teach the workshops that feel important. I write blog posts that resonate for some, and create erotica that makes people jump for joy, and host Smut Slams that are rowdy and replenishing at the same time, and I do many other things that no one else can do.
My world has many paths.
One of those paths, darlings, is Patreon. If you agree that what I do are important things to bring to life in this world, you can show your enthusiasm by becoming a patron of mine. Your small per-piece pledge merges together with other people's pledges, and then it winds up making it possible for me to, say, concentrate on my book projects or move the 2017 tour up to a higher level. Go on! Put your money where your heart is!