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Tagged touring

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A brief overview of hustling for too-weird artists

I’m in the middle of doing and booking and prepping for shows right now, looking ahead for a few months, six months, next summer, okay, what do I have for Edinburgh Fringe 2019 (yes, of course I am thinking about that, I’ve been thinking about that since before the last Fringe was over, it’s part of the reasons why I’ve been away from here for so long).

I’ve been whirling around like a dervish for weeks and weeks, doing shows and traveling and doing more shows, and that pattern will continue for some time, it looks like, which is hilarious because one of the feelings I carried with me from EdFringe 2018 was that no one was ever going to book me in any normal way because I am Too Damn Weird.

"Too Weird" is a hell of a load as an artist. On the one hand, I think most artists with any background in fringe would feel a little proud of that, or at least pretend to be proud, like, yeah, motherfuckers, I’m punk rock, I’m so fucking edgy, bookers don’t know what to do with me.

From a practical point of view, though, "Too Weird" does make it a lot harder to make a living. I mean, you can’t live off radio silence from venues, and you sure can’t make a pull quote out of it for your marketing materials.

In terms of emotion, too, it is hard and confusing as hell, because here’s the thing: I feel totally reasonable and normal in my performances. Of course I do. This is my world. The audiences respond well, and in the case of Smut Slams, we are creating a good and exciting experience together. How is this weird?! I think. This is the way the world should be! But righteous indignation is not a sustainable state of being.

So I’ve been wrestling my way through all of that—processing, some people call it, I just call it bulldozing—and in the meantime, SHOWBIZ. I send emails and meet up with potential collaborators and make Smut Slams happen and book spaces for this next thing, and things just tick on ahead. A couple of months ago I looked at my calendar and realized, hey, it sucks that no one else is willing to produce me yet, but I think I’m doing okay, kinda, hanging in there and producing my own damn self. I have to. If I want to keep doing it, I have to DIY it.

Take Smut Slam, for example, because that is a lot of what I’m doing these days and making it happen is hard work, especially when I’m going someplace new. Gotta find the right co-producer for a new city, someone who is not doing it as a favor to me or because they’ve got a blank spot on the calendar, but because they see the radical potential of the event and they want to be a part of it.

Judges, can that co-producer find the right judges? What about prizes? What communities do they know there? What communities do I know there? What about a venue, can we find the right one, the right size with the matching vibe? Is it private enough for the vulnerable intimacy of sex stories? Do they have booze? Do they have good chairs?

Some things I can only really assess once I’m in the performance space, but in the meantime, the show must go on and it takes at least 4-6 weeks to get a show up and running. So I squint at bad photos of the event space, and ask my performer friends for recommendations, and listen at length to these co-producing partners. I send the thank-you notes, and schedule in follow-up dates and set up skype calls. I listen to my gut, and then back it up with spreadsheets.

This is just Smut Slam, mind. It’s a different set of considerations for every other show that I do, if I’m traveling with it or not, if I’m doing it solo or working with other performers, if I’m working with a university or with a scrappy feminist festival run on a shoestring and chili cooked by the co-op. Every single performance possibility, I’m checking through the logistics, running the numbers, and ultimately seeing how well the event answers two questions:

  • Does it help me make a living?
  • Is it an event or experience that shapes the world for the better?

Producers and bookers would help me with the first question. But they wouldn’t have anything to say about the second, and they certainly can’t help me figure out where the balance must be struck between the two.

So yeah, as much as I wish someone else would produce me, as much as I know my work is worth picking up, I know it’s a long shot. The great part is, though: I don’t have to wait. I can keep doing it for myself.

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The shifting shape of home

I have written about the concept of “home” frequently and at length. As a touring artist, I am understandably a little obsessed, while at the same time trying to be chill about it. I’ve tried to be all, you know, I’m tough, I only need a couple of suitcases to get around. If I can make theatre out of a toaster oven and a cordless phone handset, surely I can make home out of my old Pike Place Market apron and a mini-screwdriver in my makeup bag.

This has worked. For the past seven years this has worked. Less well over time, I mean, I regularly have to fight off the undeniable appeal of knowing where one’s container of flour is, but mostly, I have been able to stay light on my feet, and have felt that to be an important part of my M.O., if not to say my actual identity.

Home was always the hardest thing to shake when I needed to travel: boxing the stuff, transferring the utilities, packing up the room, arranging the sublet, forwarding the mail, finding a foster home for my cat… it was all a source of additional gravity, holding me down, pulling me back. In many ways it was a relief to let those things go, bit by bit.

But all of this was predicated on being a solo agent, a person who, of necessity, had to move through the world and launch myself in various directions on my own. I talked like I wanted to, but the reality was, I had to, or so I thought. I had to hold my relationships lightly because I was never going to be there. What kind of lover would want to sign up for that? I had to learn how to be strong on my own, because no one would ever be there for me in the bad times. Yes, I found support among friends and a few lovers, both on- and offline, but for the deep-down core moments of both pain and joy, I did not think I could not expect anything more than that.

Sometimes I wondered if I was afraid to ask for anything more than that, if I was afraid that my new life was just too full of drama and complications for anyone else to really want to share it. I didn’t have much luggage, but I had a lot of baggage around my desire for home.

And now that all is changing again. I still have the baggage, but I’ve found someone to share it with. I still have the touring, but I am in a long-term, core-deep relationship with a man who thinks I’m a joy, not an inconvenient weirdo. I have met my match and my muse, who proofreads my posts and asks if I am drinking enough water and knows exactly when I am going on stage without having to ask more than once.

More of my stuff is in storage near him than is with me in Berlin. What if I need to get at that stuff, I asked when we moved it there. “I’ll figure out a way to get it to you,” he said, and I exhaled a sigh that felt like it had been held in for years.

What I call home of course includes logistics: it’s the boxes and the insurance source and whatever visa I posses that gives me access to being in a place. But “home” is so much more than stuff. It is where I want to come back to, at the end of a late-night, exhausting show, or a far-traveling tour. It is the cup of tea he will make for me. It is the joy in his eyes to hear my triumphs, and the strength in his hand holding mine when he listens to my frustrations and fears, and knowing that I can do the same for him. Home is, in short, everything that I already know how to do for myself, but I don’t have to do it by myself anymore.

The only shadow is we don’t have our physical home space yet. But the feeling is already here; that, at least, doesn’t take up any room in a suitcase at all.

*****

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I want to sell out

“Sold out” is supposedly a neutral term, in a box-office sense: your performance venue has sold all the possible seating it has available that doesn’t violate fire code. Some festivals have different and more precise parameters for this; for example, I think in Edinburgh Fringe if you sell 95% capacity, the show qualifies as “sold out” for slapping the designation on your marketing materials. Either way, these are easy enough to define.

Hang out with any group of Fringe performers long enough, though, especially when they have had a few and they’re talking about their Fringe run, and you will quickly sense the second meaning of “selling out/sold out,“ which is quick to plant itself in the conversation. Selling out your venue is a good thing, but underneath that is the faint echo of “sold out”: made artistic or ethical compromises, greased the wheels with an unseemly amount of money or networking or something other than artistic input, committed to working with other folks who are not interested in the art but only making money or some other tradable commodity.

I don't think that this is an actual, inevitable part of selling lots of seats, and making lots of money. But I think many artists are afraid that it is. I know that I’ve been carrying that second meaning around as the primary meaning for a while. It’s certainly a less humiliating view on the problem of not making enough money on one’s art, if one posits that the art that does make money is less artful in some way.

But this year at Edinburgh Fringe has pulled me up short around this subject, when what I think is my best work to date, nerdfucker, has been a serious box office underperformer. I’ve been wrestling with this, and my urgent need to make money, for weeks, months, maybe a couple of years now, and it kinda came to a head last night after Smut Slam, when I was hanging out with a couple of artist friends and I half-jokingly said that next year at Edinburgh Fringe I wanted to sell out. I think I made a smile or a wink that indicated clearly I meant making money and probably doing something that was not a purely artistic effort.

One of those artists, who had been nose-deep in a pint of beer, sat up and set the glass down on the table with a snap. “I’m tired of that phrase, ‘selling out,’” she said. “It makes it sound like there is something wrong with making money, with creating works with an eye toward making money. Artists need to eat.”

You’re right, I said, of course you’re right. I guess I mean commercially viable.

“Okay,” she said, settling back down into the hotel lobby chair. “That’s fine.”

Theatre companies of a certain size have followed this pattern for a long time: produced guaranteed money makers—usually around Christmas, like A Christmas Carol—as well as more surefire productions (what I would consider conservative offerings), then occasionally something that is a little more groundbreaking or confrontational for their audience.

Solo performers and tiny companies maybe don’t do that so well. Not as a matter of course. And I'm going to change that for myself.

Previously I had written works that “felt like they needed to be written”; none of these works have yet gone on to more than moderate festival success, even including Phone Whore, which is the most visible and “popular” of my plays. So, next year I am going to turn my hand to a work that “needs to make money.”

I don’t know how this is going to go yet; I’ve never approached this issue from the start of a project before. It will be fine, eventually. I am just not quite sure, right now, how to do it. I’m already finding myself second-guessing working titles and content and outreach. But I’m hoping I can push beyond that quickly and get to the nitty-gritty of the work, which is writing what I want to write and what I feel the world needs to know, while giving it to people in a way that they can handle. When selling out, the second part of that equation has to take precedence.

I’ll be honest, gentle readers: I don’t know what to do otherwise. As my friend said, artists need to eat. That is to say, I want to feel comfortable in my life, be able to plan ahead, not always scramble and fight to keep the wolf away from the door. Just as importantly, I want to be able to give myself room to create the less financially viable stuff and not have to worry about whether those will survive.

Because nerdfucker and Phone Whore and Hearthcore (my next non-commercially viable serious play, don’t worry, you didn’t miss it) are good plays. In my mind, these plays do need to be done. But I don't have family money; I never had a great job. So until such time as I get the commissions and grants and government subsidies, I need to learn how to subsidize myself, with things like Smut Slam and Sidewalk Smut and next year’s sell-out commercially viable comedy show (announcement coming shortly).

I have to reassure you, and also myself: my sell-out work will still be my stuff. It’ll still be about opening up space to talk about sex and other awkward shit in a really authentic way. It just won’t have a title that has to be censored just about everywhere; it’ll be a little more accessible to more mainstream audiences.

Selling out can mean lots of people are seeing what I want to share, and paying money for that privilege. Lemme see if I can wrap my head around that for a while.

*****

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“Did you get the invitation?” and other Fringe-season faux pas

I’m finally getting to the point where I know other artists in my stop-over cities, and by “know” I mean they’ve been a Smut Slam judge or I appeared in one of their gigs and at the very least we’re friends on Facebook. It’s also coming up on Fringe touring season, has been for a month already, actually. This means that the steady trickle of event invitations on FB is starting to become a stream, and when Brighton Fringe hits in three weeks, we’ll all be drowning in the stressful convergence of two vast rivers of theatrical output and social expectations.

In the interest of managing expectations, avoiding hurt feelings, and generally being transparent about how I integrate the arts with my personal network, I would like to share my personal etiquette around EVENT INVITATIONS.

When I have an event…

I will invite you, if you’re in the area. This invitation carries no expectations with it at all. You can decline, mark “interested”, mark “attending” and then not attend, or show up and that’s okay.

If we are friends and I know that you’ve seen my work, I may drop you a private message and ask you to share with your people in the area. I try to ask selectively, making sure that we’re in the same wheelhouse, you know, you’re not a kids’ clown or choral singer.

If we are really good friends and we’ve talked about my show or event before, I may drop you a private message and ask you to come to opening night for moral support, or whatever, and I will offer you a comp. But I will not take it personally if you can’t.

If we are reasonably well acquainted and I know you have an event going on too sometime soon, I may suggest a comp swap. I firmly believe that artists are not each other’s target demographic, and I don’t expect other artists to buy tickets to my shows. We are all broke. I do not expect comps—so please feel free to turn me down!—but I appreciate them.

If I ask to swap comps with you, and you agree, I will make every effort to attend. If you ask to swap comps with me, there is a possibility I may not be able to attend your show. Whoever initiates the comp swap convo needs to be really committed to coming.

When you have an event …

I do read the event listing. I am very assiduous in my attention to invites that come in through Facebook. I will mark “interested” if I’m interested, and will only mark “attending” if I am really planning to attend OR if it’s part of a festival-wide campaign to attend each other’s events and boost the FB algorithm.

If you direct message me with an invite that does not mention a comp, I will politely decline. I may have had other valid reasons, but the sales pitch is one of them. (See the bit about not being each other’s target demographic.)

If you really want me to attend for some particular reason, DM with that comp offer and explain that you really want me there.

I only recommend shows that I have seen, if not the actual show, then something by the performer. Keep that in mind when you’re asking me to promote your show. I’ll need to see it or you in action first.

Out on the Fringe…

I will never knowingly flyer another artist, with the purpose of getting them to buy a ticket to my show. (I may hand them a flyer as a sort of business card, though, if they ask for one.) If I find out mid-pitch that you are a fellow fringe artist, I will hurriedly take my flyer back and apologize, saying something like “let’s save our paper for the punters.” You are welcome to keep an accidentally bestowed flyer if you like it, or you really want a reminder, but please don’t then favour-shark me into taking one of yours. I don’t want it. Tell me the name of your show, and if I want to know more, I will ask. I expect the same in return.

In person…

If I ask, “have you seen my show?” it is NEVER meant as pressure to see it. Usually that is me trying to either avoid spoilers OR figuring out what background information you need, if we are talking about our shows or audience responses or whatever.

In general…

My hierarchy of interest, separate from any personally connection I may have to anyone involved in the show is as follows:

Solo theatre > storytelling > variety shows with a strong MC > everything else

Fringe festivals are and have always been my chance to study up on my craft informally. I want to see shows that are close to my wheelhouse first. These are my classrooms.

AND

I have given myself permission to not see any shows at festivals, if that’s what I need to stay balanced. My fellow EdFringers know what it is to run a show back to back to fucking back, for a few weeks at a time; even smaller festivals and shorter runs can take their toll. We all have promo to do, and I personally can’t really see a show for two hours before I’m on or for one hour afterward.

Take into account recovering from travels, getting some groceries in, and trying to get some sleep, and you can see that sometimes… we run out of time. That has to be okay: show first, self-care second, then everything else.

*****

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My truth is a weapon, and it cuts both ways

I have spent the last eight years peeling my life open for public scrutiny, through my blogging and the plays and the Smut Slam and the Facebooking… you’d think I’d have no boundaries left, if I had any to begin with.

You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. I’m finding boundaries I didn’t even know existed, thanks to my efforts at relocating to the UK. People who are stuck in the visa and immigration pipeline don’t get to keep boundaries, not in the UK, certainly, and nowhere in the world. You learn right away to set those aside, because you have to answer those questions and you cannot hedge or hesitate.

I keep thinking this shouldn't be a problem for me; I strive for transparency and honesty in my work and personal life. A lot of what I’m doing is building a bridge out in front of me, hacking through the underbrush and not knowing where that path goes. But being honest about not knowing, being real about not having my ducks in a row, that is not the kind of honesty that wins me friends at the borders to countries. They want to know my path, and they will push me right out onto it, onto some path, even if I’m not ready.

They precipitate decisions, these moments in the queue at the airport, and when I still don’t have clarity and still manage to get through, I am left trembling in front of the baggage conveyor, wondering what I am doing with my life.

How did I end up here being lectured by someone whose uniform includes a jumper with epaulets, who in spite of that still has the arbitrary right—which they reminded me of at least seven times during a 20-minute conversation—to restrict my global movement, event though my paperwork matches up?

I guess that’s what makes these people perfect border guards: they see staying-in-placeness as a thing to strive for. They question fluidity and shifting and change. They don’t understand how I could have been married and still fallen in love with someone else (don’t even try talking about polyamory), or if they do understand, they call it something else with a sleazy, disbelieving sneer. They don’t really believe that I make enough on my theatre and emceeing to get by over here; “that’s not a real job,” I can see it in their eyes.

Most challenging of all, in terms of my path, is that they don’t believe that it’s possible to have more than one purpose in being in a place; my being in the UK is suspect because I dare to both have professional ambition AND the love of my life here. I must be using the first to avoid going the marriage-visa route. I am skirting the spirit of law, they said as much, and I have to stand there and flush hot under their scrutiny.

I told them about UK Muse because one doesn’t lie at the border, and I thought for one wild minute, maybe radical honesty is the way through. Yes, I want to be with him, and yes, I am working toward that. At the same time, yes, I want to make it with my performance work, here in the UK, where it’s actually possible. But this transparency of dual purpose becomes a weapon in their hands, and now I am left thinking, why is this not enough for you people? I am bringing you the best I have to offer. I am bringing you whatever skills and passion I have for the work that I do and the life that I live.

I am telling the truth, the whole truth, but it’s messy. Sorry, visa and immigration folks—and you might be reading this—but at this stage in my life there’s no way of making this tidier. My life and my love are sprawling and grand, and there are always going to be some glorious bits that end up straying outside the box.

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“Not like other open mics”: thoughts on creating Smut Slam space

Open mics notoriously happen anywhere that the host can fit them. I’m not even talking about the alcoves and broom closets of Edinburgh Fringe. I have been on multiple open mic shows—comedy, music, variety, whatever—that just unroll in the front room of a bar, dropping crackly static and sweaty punchlines on whatever poor lushes happen to be hunched over their drinks.

I never heard anyone protest this too strenuously, because no one wants to be the squeaky wheel in a scene where performers are a dime a dozen. The venue doesn’t want to alienate its bar flies, er, regulars, and the organizers know that any venue at all is priceless, and because it is generally understood that comedians and musicians and magicians are performers who are going to be playing to drunk and/or hostile crowds for a good chunk of their performing career, it is also generally understood that they might as well get used to weirdness and interruptions and anger and side conversations and possibly thrown beer cans as early and often as possible. Performers just need to toughen up, is the conventional wisdom. It’s part of our training.

Given all this, I think that venues don’t always understand my extreme care when it comes to selecting spaces for Smut Slams. In particular, they don’t always get the privacy factor. I have gotten people saying, “yes, it’s all private space,” or “it’s all yours, we’ll just have a couple of regulars in during that time.” And then when I show up, it’s, you know, it’s the front room of a bar. Or it’s a side room that looks private but isn’t, a fact that everyone becomes acutely aware of when those two regulars break out into an argument during an especially moving story.

Smut Slam space needs to be … I was going to say sacred space. It’s not that exactly, but almost. Smut Slammers aren’t performers; they don’t need to toughen up or get used to bad performing conditions. I don’t want them to have to be tough; that just gets in the way of good, real stuff. Smut Slammers are delicate fucking flowers, and they need a space to bloom, someplace where people feel supported and encouraged in sharing some deeply personal shit. We Smut Slam hosts expend a lot of energy, trying to lay down this foundation, to create the comfortable feel. But we can’t create that feel in a physical space that just isn’t designed to hold it.

Smut Slam venues have to be private. In my tech rider for Smut Slam, I phrase it as “we must control access to the space,” because we are going to sell tickets to everyone going into the room. Almost always, if someone pays for a ticket, they are going to take the show more seriously; after all, they have something invested now. Also, with that single, controlled entry point, we can check everyone who goes into the space: how much have they had to drink, what’s their general attitude, how do they interact with staff/crew? Do we have to assign someone to keep an eye on the person in question over the course of the night? These are the literal security issues that having private, ticketed spaces helps address.

Controlling access to the space is as much about noise as it is about bodies. When audiences in a Smut Slam space can hear external chatter and noise and espresso machines, they understand that Smut Slam noise can travel outward too. Comedians and other professional performer types usually develop a second layer of skin over their eardrums, to help filter out that ambient noise. “Civilians,” as I call them… they don’t have those mental-auditory buffers. Most of them are sensitive, and rightly so.

And then, well, let’s go back to that ineffable quality of space. After a certain point in the proceedings, we have to shut the door on the space. No more folks; catch us the next time around. We guard the perimeter because goddammit, every Smut Slam is basically a roomful of strangers weaving a delicate web of shared vulnerability and trust. We stake out the space to make that web. We are holding some turf where the room can bloom. I don’t want just any randos stomping through that beautiful smutty garden.

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Visa delays and situational sadness, aka Bereft in Berlin

There are many good things about Starbucks: their coffee is pretty much always the same over-roasted blend everywhere (at least you know what you’re getting?), and you can always get free Internet, which is a boon when you’re out and about in a strange city. There are usually power outlets somewhere in the walls, though you might have to hover a bit. And the typical Starbucks is busy enough that nobody will notice you sitting in the corner crying.

I’m doing that right now. I'm totally happy with people ignoring me; I don’t think I could really handle a well-meaning stranger asking me if I’m okay. I’m sure I am okay, intellectually I know I am, but the reasons why I don’t feel okay would take too long to explain.

It’s just international bureaucracy in the end, a mismatch between what the visa processing web site says and what the harried but polite people in the visa-processing office said in person. I had planned to get back into the UK on Monday—with the 3-to-5 day processing window, that was optimistic, but hope thrives like a cactus on very little. But in the office this morning, after waiting an extra half-hour beyond when my appointment was scheduled, they informed me that it was actually five to seven business days for processing, and that did not include the amount of time it would take to courier the passport back to me.

So I will almost certainly be missing both the London and Bristol Smut Slams this month, and maybe even the one in Brighton, and I am a little taken aback by how much that upsets me. I think my co-producers can pull together the show just fine—they’ve been watching my shenanigans for three months now, and the structure is of course easy enough to follow—but I hate being away from the slams at this critical point in their development.

We’re starting to getting regulars at those events, and I think they want to see me, in part, and I know I like seeing those people and knowing that I know people. This is where it starts feeling personal. Do you know how hard it is for me to get to know people? Everyone knows me but I don’t know anyone, and that was just starting to change, in all those different cities, but now there’s this fucking glitch and I have to wait until May.

And then, I didn’t plan to be here in Berlin past April 9, so obviously I didn’t plan anything to DO. I don’t do tourist stuff; I don’t care about architecture. Maybe I’ll try out some baked goods and Turkish kebabs. But really, the thing that I enjoy the most about touring, besides the performing aspect, is meeting people, and I don’t mean in bars. I mean, I want to do the things that I know how to do—performances, Smut Slams, Sidewalk Smut—and then start conversations with people that way, and then we get to talk. My performances are this week, and that’s it, and then I have at least four days hanging empty in front me.

It's not that I have nothing to do. Patreon. Videos. Catching up on social media and all the assorted admin. Sidewalk Smut, I guess, if I can find a useable typewriter and table/chair combo to borrow. It’s still a bit chilly here, but I can wear my Lumberjack Lingerie ™ and find some fingerless gloves and do a few evenings. Hell, I could be really decadent and spend a few hours a day working on my next show ("Cameryn Moore Is HEARTH-CORE").

I’ve got lots of stuff to do, I guess, but it’s not what I had planned, and I was just starting to find my feet, get my routine in the UK. Now I just feel lost and terrified all over again.

*****

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When my one real/fake home doesn’t even feel right…

I don’t consider myself a diva. I suppose every diva probably thinks that they’re being reasonable, but I honestly try to be chill. I have to be, with all the traveling and fast load-ins and being my own roadie most of the time. Last night, though, after my second night of a three-night run, I found myself wracked with tears about my set furniture.

“IT’S NOT MY HOME ANYMORE,” I sobbed over the phone to UK Muse. “it’s not right.”

I didn’t expect this intensity of feeling, even though I knew things would be different. This is new furniture, see. I had commissioned it to live here in the UK, to be available for European performances of Phone Whore. The original pieces are still back in Montreal; I left them there because I just couldn’t justify bringing them all the way over, paying huge sums in extra baggage fees. In retrospect, I see that I could have paid slightly less than the cost of construction and skipped the heartache, but at the time it just seemed like the logical next step towards establishing my performance work on two continents. I needed two sets.

The carpenter who I had found through a friend of a friend seemed prompt and responsive; when I emailed to him that the chair, for example, really needed to be fattie-friendly, he didn’t even (metaphorically) blink. Tanner, the director of my fifth show nerdfucker, had been able to reverse-engineer construction plans for the pieces (the original carpenter had gone off the grid, so I couldn’t find her).

Now, Tanner had mentioned to me, early on in the process, that he tried to streamline construction a little bit, because there was lots in the chair that seemed like overkill, etc, and I didn’t object because I knew that the original pieces had been kludged together with no plan, only a directive: both pieces need to pack down and be able to fit in the trunk of a 1991 Toyota Corolla. So yeah, maybe there was a way to make them lighter weight, without compromising the structural integrity. I didn’t want to get in the way of that.

So I knew that it would be new furniture; everything was going to feel different. But at tech, when I started handling the separate components and feeling the splinters, it began grinding home to me. These are really new. The edges are rough, and catch at the bedspread I use to cover the chair frame. I couldn’t find the right foam for padding the chair, and so I am sitting on a whole new assortment of lumps and bumps and none of the positions that I normally hold during the show are comfortable or even work. I did not realize how much choreography for sitting and shifting had gotten burned into my muscle memory over six years of doing this show!

Wait, there’s more! One of the arm assemblages malfunctioned in two different ways at tech and during the show itself. Three of the four chair legs fell out of their slots when I lifted the chair up after the show last night to move it, in spite of latches on each leg that were supposed to prevent that.

And to top it all off, the two tables don’t stack up over/around the assembled chair anymore. That wasn’t ever specified in the design; that was just the way the original set worked out, and then I never thought to tell this new carpenter about it, because that’s the way the originals were. But when the dimensions and measurements got changed and streamlined, something got buggered, and now they don’t stack up right.

I know I’ll get used to it. I have to. The carpenter is going to make good on the malfunctions and the structural reinforcements. He’ll sand down the rough edges. I think I can stack up the furniture if I take the arms out after each show. I will eventually find the correct foam.

But last night it hit me, hard: this set, this stupid, simple set for a show that is supposed to be taking place in my living room, this set really WAS my living room. It is the place where I knew exactly what was going on, and I knew how far back I could lean, and in which directions. I knew what was safe and what was probably a bad idea. I knew how to slam all the furniture and props into place in under 12 minutes, and I knew that at the end of that frenzied 12 minutes, I could sit down in the chair and lean back, and Phone Whore would be home. And now I don’t even have that stability anymore. It’s all changed.

I will deal with it. Hell, I made this move of my own free will. I knew. But I didn’t really know until last night, after two shows of not being comfortable and breaking my own chair with positions that the OTHER chair, the REAL chair could take, I didn’t know how it would feel to my body.

Right now, it feels all wrong. And I am tired of not having a home, not even a fake one.

*******

You can help me bring it all home, by becoming a patron of mine over on Patreon. Your per-piece contribution puts one more brick into the foundation under me. Thank you.

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