Monday, December 27, 2010

Begging for an Audience

I have a strong emotional reaction to begging. I always feel like I'm being manipulated and conned. And that's basically what begging is. It's a guilt trip to play on your natural sense of selflessness. I don't like being manipulated. Or, more specifically, I don't like noticing that I'm being manipulated. If someone can manipulate me without me noticing, it probably means I'm having a great time.

I don't have a 'great time' when I find people begging me to 'show support' for my local amateur theatre. It seems to me that if you're relying on charity then maybe you need to revisit your product. Maybe if I don't want to come along and you're begging me to 'do the theatre a favour' you need to ask why I don't want to come along in the first place.

It's a weird situation when part of your hobby involves needing an audience for it to go well and be satisfying. You don't have this sort of problem with RC aeroplane pilots or stamp collectors. You do need it for ballet, and theatre, and music. It's also somewhat helpful for sports. It lives in that strange twilight of something you do for fun and something that is done to create a product. In the case of theatre it also needs quite a bit of money to get started. Theatre space isn't cheap to maintain. A couple of dud shows in a row and you're in real trouble.

And of course a "dud" show isn't necessarily a bad one. It's just one that didn't get a decent audience. It may be extremely good and extremely well reviewed but if it's not getting bums on seats then what do you do? In your frustration, and with your faith in the product, what do you resort to?

Well, you beg.

Please come and see my Brechtian re-imagining of 'Milo and Otis'.

You get down on your hands and knees and scream "WHY WON'T YOU COME?"

But the problem is that this comes across as more than just a little bit selfish and pretty darn insincere to boot. 'Please give me charity so that I can enjoy my hobby'.

You wouldn't do that for your stamp collecting or your rock climbing. 'Hey! I'm trying to raise money for a set of ropes.'

But then, people do try it. People who love slouch biking or rowing or motor-cross, go on massive tours. They get charities involved and raise money for the ride. They get their trip sponsored by charity and get to ride until they're sick of riding. All on the dime of people's selflessness and with the promise that all the left over cash goes to the charity in question.

The squeaky wheel always gets the grease.

The selfish, manipulative thing that it is.

Me personally? Well you can't pander to my sense of responsibly to supporting the arts. I don't have one. Instead, excite me about the prospect of getting value for money. Enthuse me about the product. I had the director of a play take me aside and tell me that even though I didn't enjoy the last play she'd directed the sequel was, she imagined, right up my alley and that I'd be missing out if I skipped out on it and that worked so much better than any amount of appealing to my charitable side.

Plus I laughed more at her play than anything else I saw all year.

Image by Minassian Livingston

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Look at me

Everyone wants to be loved.

And most everyone is loved from the get-go. There's something about a tiny screaming lump of squished, purple human being that makes parents go shaky. Perhaps it's that the kid has selflessly taken on the screaming part of the process after a very difficult few hours on the part of the mother.

From that point on, we revolve around love. Being loved is what keeps us dry and fed. Eventually though, we hit puberty and start looking for another kind of love. Romantic love. This is the cause of most of life's frustrations. Unwanted, unrequited and unlasting. There's a plethora of pit traps to avoid. We're hard-wired to want new and exciting love rather than old and comfortable love. That rush of adrenalin, serotonin and a cocktail of other fun drugs flood our systems making us feel like Greek gods. All swanned up and ready to go.

But there's one sort of love that I've become addicted to. It doesn't last for long, but then it doesn't have to. It's the love you get when you step out on stage in front of sixty people and they all want to see you succeed. You make them scream with laughter and it's only for a second but it's pure and it's multiplied by the amount of people in the room. It's the thrill of knowing that everyone in that room, if only for an instant, wants to take you home and be your best friend forever.

One way to get that acclaim is to remove clothing. I've done it dozens of times and people lap it up. It's said that when a girl takes off clothing it's sexy and when a boy takes of clothing it's comedy. I can attest that in the boy's case this is true. Having a room full of people laughing at your semi-naked form is pretty darn intoxicating, and yet, it is tinged with sense of rejection.

Female performers have moaned that they feel over sexualised trying the same joke and that the double standards leave them feeling hard done by. Myself, I feel the same frustration at not being considered a piece of meat. I'd like to think that I have an attractive form but the old ego can take a hit when it hears how terrifying and comical an ordeal it is for people to witness me in my underpants.

Then I found something better.

I posed as an artist's model. It was intoxicating. For an hour and a half I stood or sat naked as an artist friend of mine made me feel like I was the most important object in the room. And not because I was clever. Not because I was funny. Purely because I was a beautiful object.

I read some rules about posing that stated that you're not supposed to look at the artist when they draw you but I stared at her as she looked at me and there is something extremely affirming about being glanced at 60 times a minute. It made me feel important and it made me feel beautiful and it made me feel cultured.

And now a picture of my cock.
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