|1. A Lucky Guy!
I always have a problem when someone who has not experienced one of our performances asks, "Well, what was your performance about?". Within this question, there are a number of concepts about performance which are undermining limitations.
I became sucked into performance not to tell stories, not to paint pictures for others to look at, not even to reveal something about myself or about the state of things, and certainly not for fame or fortune. It was simply the best way that I saw to create the intimate community which I as a person needed and that I thought society needed as an alternative to the personal isolation....
I have always wanted to bring dreams into reality.
My first stroke of good luck was I was born spastic, unable to walk or talk. Add to this good fortune the fact that my formative years were in the sixties -- my fate was assured!
When I was born, doctors told my parents that I had no intelligence, that I had no future, that I would be best put into an institution and be forgotten. This was a powerful expectation with all the force of western science and medicine, as well as social influences, behind it. It would have been easy for my parents to be swept up into this expectation. Then that expectation would have created my reality. I would have long ago died without any other possibilities.
Instead, my parents rejected this expectation for the possibility they saw in my eyes, for what for them should have been true. This rejection of the cultural expectation of reality could not be a one-time choice. They had to passionately live their choice every day, every minute, or the cultural expectation would have sucked them and me into it. It fought them at every new possibility they opened to me. Their passionate commitment to how they thought things should be attracted people to me who kept opening new possibilities for me. Of course, these were in the minority. But I focused on them, making them how people should be, how I wanted to be. So I expected people and myself to be like that. So people were for the most part that way...at least I saw them that way. This opened up to me what is called luck. It also gave me the ability to trust and the ability to use opportunities.
This is the level that saved me, protected me, guided me. On this level, my parents won over the cultural expectation. By their winning, I won. By my winning, you win.
Yes, I always have been lucky. I have a body that is ideal for a performance artist. And I have always wanted to be a performer. When I was a kid, my younger brother used to get mad when people looked at me when he pushed me to the movies or to the teen club. He cried. But I liked people looking at me. That is what I mean by 'I am lucky'. I am lucky I am an exhibitionist in this body. One time, I was working out on the jungle gym outside of our house -- a kid came by and asked if I was a monster. I just roared like a monster. It was fun.
But on another level, the cultural expectation had won by shaping reality, making me into a physically ugly cripple, a burden that no woman would want. No matter what I accomplished, no matter how smart or warm or giving I was, I would still be an ugly black hole always taking more than I gave. I was stuck in that piece of the cultural frame that I had accepted. The cultural expectation had won. I and everyone had lost because I bought into it. But there was a point when I was around 28 when one day I decided that I did not want to be in a reality where I was ugly, where I could not give all I needed to give. It simply was not how things should be, not just for me, but for everyone. So I decided to act and think as if I were beautiful. I did not tell anyone of my decision. But within two weeks people started telling me that I had physically changed. I used this feedback, this sign, to deepen the reality shaping. This new reality opened up new possibilities for everyone.
I was lucky. I was never under pressure to be good at anything, to make money, to make it in "the real world", to be polished -- and the other distractions that other modern artists have to, or think they have to, deal with. So I could focus on having fun, on going into taboo areas where magical change can be evoked.
In fact, a major reason why I am writing this is to encourage artists, who have not been so blessed with bodies that mark them as misfits, to aspire to be misfits anyway, to do misfit art anyway -- even if you are handicapped by your normal body. Your road is definitely harder than my road. But that's life.
Photos (from top to bottom): Debbie Moore, Linda Mac, (Bubblehead Por.trit) Lee Kay