This blog is a copy of an entry from my super secret blog (which is more emotional and political than this one). Look it up if you like, comment if you're moved to: Whisky Doll***** Photo by Caleb Cole
I wrote the following piece in 2010 for a burlesque show produced by the Bitches of Destiny entitled “Show”. It was an event at the Coolidge Corner Theater to promote Henry Hornstein’s newly published book by that title. I’ve performed the piece a few times since, maybe it’ll make a comeback sometime soon… This piece of writing keeps popping into my mind recently, so here it is – I hope you enjoy.
TO SURVIVE THE LAWS THAT KEEP US SILENT AND IN PLACE: A BURLESQUE
She sits looking out at the audience from a chair center stage…
She takes a moment to adjust her skirt. Runs a hand up her stockings… plays with the audience’s expectations.
She picks up the mic and says hello to a person or 2 in the audience… She flirts a little.
She picks a volunteer from the audience and brings them onto the stage.
Her new companion receives a laundry basket…
“I could be anyone. Photo by Caleb Cole
What turns you on? (she touches herself)
My glasses? My skin? My hair? My breasts? My mind? My mouth? My questions? My movement? (stands) My shoes? My hips? My down below? (she moves into the audience and begins removing clothing, motioning for her volunteer to follow)
Would you fuck me because of the dress I wear?
The tie I wind around my neck? The cut of my shirt? The cigar I smoke? The way I sit?
Do you assume I want your touch and attention because I am listening to you?
If I flirt do I owe you something?
At what point in our relationship do you own me? (motions for audience member to help get undressed)
Halfway through dinner? After kiss? After sex? After drink? After smile? Half way in? After marriage? After I show mine? After touch? After consent? After payment?
If I say stop will you respect that?
No matter. How. Far. In. We. Are?
Will you ask me for what you want?
In life? In bed? In another partner? In relationship? In me?
Do you act needy? Do you assume? Do you use others against me? Do you negotiate respectfully or do you manipulate? What if one day I want him or her or them? (she directly references people in the audience)
Am I a bitch/cunt/whore for being separate from you? For being me – fully and honestly? For having a voice outside of your comfort or fantasy? (she moves back toward the stage)
After that fight how do you keep me? Through co-dependence? Through negotiation? Manipulation? Therapy? Through “I love you” or money? Through family? Abuse? Depression, dependence, lies? Communication? Depravity? Begging? Time? Through physical power? Through sex? Blackmail? Through space? (she is back on stage)
1. 2. 3.
Are you ready?”
(She finishes stripping, turns, and exits)
This email from got me thinking about how to successfully transition from "someone with a dayjob who likes the arts" into "an artist with a dayjob", and then hopefully one day just "an artist"... thought I'd share:
Hey Performer Friends!
I can't believe how long it's been since I've seen either one of you. I miss you both as friends and awesome collaborators. I've been in chicago for a year now, and looks like I'll be here for at least a few years longer. As I'm settling here, I'm really torn about how I want to go about as an artist. Actually that's not true. The problem is this: I want to be creating art and working on my art 100% of the time, and not working somewhere else. I'm acting in shows in the city, but the paycheck isn't huge so I have a lot of daytime to be filled.
The two of you have been consistently working artists that I admire, have incredible integrity and are just crazy awesome and talented. If you have any advice about how to go about making my art a full time gig, I would so so so appreciate it. I'm especially interested in your experience working and performing at colleges etc.
Sending so much love to the both of you.
-Awesome Old Friend
I still haven't figured that one out completely. BUT, I do feel as though I get closer as time passes...
Here's what I would say, (though I'm sure you already know all of it being a rocking person of epic talent yourself):
~ SAY YES to performance opportunities... If you can do something you would like to do, do it
~ Ask for what you need from the community, and give back what you can
~ Find auditions that are meaningful to you, and tell friends who cast to call you for auditions
~ Be an awesome, PROFESSIONAL, great-at-what-you-do person around town
~ Work with people in communities other than your own (cross-polinate with other types of artists)
~ HAVE GOALS and go after them
~ Be a workaholic
~ Take challenges seriously (and give them when appropriate)
~ Be seriously good at being seriously poor
~ Brainstorm when you feel the most desperate about what the best possible solution to your problem could be
~ Don't forget the point is to be 100% an artist type - meaning when you think you need another day job, figure out how to get monies by making art instead of gaining random craigslist day-job employment...
~ DARE your other artist friends to create with you, and then FOLLOW THROUGH
~ Do free shows, but always ask about pay if it isn't mentioned up front (someday you'll do less free shows - and/or more paid ones)
~ PRODUCE if you have the stomach for it - DON'T if you don't
~ Socialize, show up to other people's events/parties/outings and let people know you're always available to play/collaborate/make new ideas come to life...
I don't think there's a real solution other than the one you find for yourself - pieced together over time... You can! You can you can you can...
Love your face! Luck and Love,-K
Now Registering for Workshops: "Finding Your Artistic Process
" and "Drag King 101 +Performance
recognizes me. After performances I often have the experience of standing next to my fellow performers, not being given a second glance as everyone chats away about the show and how good so and so was. More than once I've been standing there as my fellow performer is asked "who did that ____ number?", only to be turned to and told "Karin did!". This is generally met with a confused look and awkward smile as they tell me how much they enjoyed the piece. Demoralizing at times? Yes. Secretly a compliment? Maybe.
Understandable in my professional reality; it also occurs in real life. My un-costumed existence thwarts familiarity as well (though in full disclosure, being horrible at remembering names, I sometimes use this to advantage and allow people to introduce themselves multiple times)... Today is the first time a new friend has written me anticipating this reality, so I am breaking the rules and publishing this sweet note I received this morning from someone else. It tickles me, enjoy!
Given that you're such a protean creature, would you mind looking for me at Saloon rather than the other way around? I plan to get there a bit early and seat myself at the bar. I'm mainly thinking of saving us a little awkwardness if you've taken a form different than the one I met at the party and I fail to recognize you right away. Thanks and looking forward to talking with you more.
Best,Your New Very Honest Friend
Now Registering for Workshops: "Finding Your Artistic Process
" and "Drag King 101 +Performance
This is a copy of a blog I submitted to the Medford and Somerville Patch news sources as a way to promote my workshops and engender community discussion about art and artists... at the end of the day though, I like what I have to say, so here it is for you to read too. Enjoy!
Photo by David Aquilina
I have been creating performances and art in the Greater Boston area for almost 15 years now. From the city proper to Jamaica Plain, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, and cities beyond. There is an amazing and rich source of artists and creators around our parts who constantly combine efforts and make things happen because of their drive to make, their drive to do. Spectacular events and visions issue forth from the minds and efforts of the artists I have met and worked with here. The taste of this city, more than any other one I have lived in; the work I see created around the Boston area is personal and gritty and takes risks. I want to talk here a bit about the reality of an artist sustaining their career.
Often we are paid very little or nothing for our efforts, often we invest heavily into making the work as well - it is not an easy life, the one of the consummate creator! We have day jobs, and the responsibilities of living in community, and rehearsals, classes, costume/prop/set construction, it takes time to choreograph, write material, learn lines, plan tech, and produce... And that can take a toll.
Like any occupation, being paid below your worth can over time disintegrate your feelings of worth. But unlike many occupations, art comes from the self. It is a reflection of the artist's point of view as a human being, an exterior conversation with the world about what happens in the brain and heart; what the body wants to express. It is very personal. Feelings of worthlessness as an artist can translate to feelings of failure as a human being.
Artistry is a conversation with the self. Artistic impulse is a relationship; it needs to be nurtured, disciplined, worked on, and to evolve to survive. Over time we get better; we say more clearly what we intend, we find more worth and confidence in our work, in our ability to create at all, we become artists who can support ourselves on more than one level.
I work as a puppeteer, dancer, character actor, mask performer, writer, burlesquer, drag performer, director, and whatever else comes my way. I piece together my life in a way that supports my ability to create something each day, and to perform new works constantly. My relationship with my muse - my inner artistic voice - is one I work on every day, and over time I am getting better, stronger, more convinced that there is no other path I could follow and be happy.
Karin as her character "Rico". Photo by Audrey Hotchkiss
I want to share my experiences and methods with other creative people, and I want to live a life supported from my creative works. This is a major reason why I am offering two classes this summer:
"Finding Your Artistic Process: A Course in Creativity
"Drag King 101 +Performance
Both of these classes serve to help the workshop participant find their own voice in their creations, but they explore the material differently. The Artistic Process series is more of a paractice and tool-based approach to your relationship with the muse (all mediums welcome), where the Drag King series will step everyone through creating a unique character and their own performance piece (a bit more specific). Both workshops center around the question: "What do I have to say to the world?". Through our 6 weeks of exploration, we find ourselves with one (or 6 or 20) of the answers to that question. More importantly though, we leave with a sense that we know how to ask it again and again with the confidence that answering it makes our lives and the lives of our audience - our community - a better place.
I hope to see some of you in my workshops this summer, registration is open, and the classes will fill fast: www.UnAmerikasSweetheart.com
for more information.Vive la Liberté dans l'Art,-Karin Webb
Down a dark corridor, I limp towards the safety of my bed. She is gone. Dust and memories, parchment dry, I ache for touch – to be reached, to be seen. Through a window of time and maturity I view her there – a ghost without words. Sitting. Angry. Stewing in fear and hissing, striking out. There is no where to move… except on.
I sit back and close my eyes. Practice shutting down, finding quiet, self-sufficience, and reminding me that I have always been here. I can lift the world up with crazy ideas and endless drive, so too can I be alone and function, I can breathe, I can step forward one more step, I can chew through cotton mouthed sadness, I can cry for us both, I can write it all down, I can make it – tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow – without.
This great experiment of married together… in it I am learning the importance of alone. The self never leaves. The fantasy of easy-lonely, vibrator and journal in hand, stick and handkerchief, bread and water, sturdy shoes and imagination, sorrow and forward momentum, seeds and tears… Those steps are heavy in my mind; my shoes are cement. Unmoving and impossible.
One year became two became five will become fifteen if I don’t stop this ride at some point…
But hope and burning desire. But catatonic compliance. But love. But fairy tale, but resistance from failure, but I was gonna do it better than my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents… But thank god I’m not in the position to do it for the kids. But safety and insurance and arms at night. But unhappiness and depression and fear. But so many layers and so many fights to match – we are a rotten onion, always peeling back the layers, always looking for a sweet center and disappointed when we find it so small… But care for the little things. But too many things already thrown under the 16-wheeler of our emotions filled to the brim with personal baggage and trauma and distorted vision (it is one funny joke that we are both near-sighted to a fault).
My eyes open and I see nothing. My eyes open on a good day and I see I am still here with you with time piling on and the closet never cleaned out… Maybe you are right, maybe you don’t want to love me anymore and I should let you go with grace. But my sense of dignity argues tendencies towards hypocritical manipulation to make us both. stay. put.
Tonight I sleep alone. Tonight I weep and write. Tonight becomes tomorrow, a new day, and ghost or no ghost we will sustain or break down. We will tempest to the end.
We will love and fight.
I perform this piece as part of a one hour show with my troupe, "All The Kings Men" (www.ATKM.com). Breasts bound, packing, ripped jeans, t-shirt, bandana, and hair down; reading from my journal and standing before a mic, I perform this piece appearing as myself - the more androgynous, slightly masculine form of me.
*****Her thighs were impressive.
Strong, broad, reaching up to meet a round, desperately sexy ass. I skip a beat when it spreads as her thighs wrap powerfully around my torso. She squeezes and I die a small death at the smell of her sweat, greedily burrow in the curve of her pit, and fall backwards. It is a Thursday evening in early September and we are up against a huge night-blackened arch window, high above the New York City sidewalk. I imagine crowds gathering below to view our struggle, breathing in unison as we build, and exhaling at the raw splendor of our fucking. I am slowly sinking down the glass wall under the weight and thrust of my ravenous lover. Her scarlet lips and full chest pressing into my own are more than enough to awaken the animal in me. I push against her will, and act the part of a seventeen year old boy, growling against her strength and fullness, biting back and driving forward. Holding her wrists with one hand I kiss her face a hundred times. My lips travel to her chin and below, arching the small of her back. I know the quickening of her heart is the beat I will follow until it explodes, flying in a million directions leaving her wet and wasted on the floor.
There is a freedom to a woman's body in heat. The squirming and grunts are an aphrodisiac all their own, and I need nothing more from her tonight.
My starving fingers linger at the V-shaped neckline, slipping beneath their elastic boundaries, and grazing the softer skin below. I am in. Barely and victoriously, as they hover, her nipples expand and a gasp guides me even slower down over handfuls of curves. The lower, more sensitive parts are new to my mouth. Ribs, stomach, hip, shaved bits. As my lips and tongue take over both hands scratch urgently over her full stomach and hard hips. I can
rest my palms on either side of her, push, squeeze, or pull down, but I choose none. I let my hands slide around and under. I want this lower half hard against me.
I breathe steady and focus now...
I will earn this woman tonight.
I wrote this piece a couple years ago and have been performing it across the country to various audiences as a soloist and with my troupe, All The Kings Men. The best audience I ever had was at "If You Can Feel It You Can Speak It", an open mike at the Milky Way (still going on monthly)... The original host, Jha D is brilliant, and D Ruff who's keeping the show happening these days, is equally electric as a performer and warm as a host. Check them out – this is not a suggestion.
The Mayans have spoken.
God is on His way
In a private jet
Bought with his year-end bonus
Which rivals the sum amount I’ve made in a lifetime of work.
I sure hope that great big C.E.O. in the sky
Doesn’t forget a face
‘Cause at the pearly gates
My mortgage has foreclosed
And I’m banking on some kind of handout from him.
But back in the U.S.
It’s 9am and I’m hungry.
Pick a line.
Stare at the floor,
1. Corpulent Corpses saluting the stiff shaft of war.
Shove that tip in harder,
Ooh, Baby, I wanna feel you shoot right in…
I choke on your mettle, Liberty –
That’s M.E.T.T.L.E. –
Honorable character my ass.
Since when did peace equate a serious need for Viagra
And Trigger Finger start smelling like one pussy too many?
I’m sick of your name.
Like I’m sick of the blame we put on it.
Just to terrorize
YOU bad guys,
In lieu of fixing the problem.
Saddam my face, Foreign Policy –
Obama will show you what a cunning linguist is good for.
3. 2, Darfur, 6, 8,
Hold your breath while they castrate
Millions of fucking Women, Bitches.
AIDS, rape, third world red tape,
And we administrate
Rather than act.
Are you aware?
Do you even care?
That we are all implicit,
And explicitly responsible
For the things we can do to stop?
How do you sleep
'Magnetic Yellow Ribbon'
On your S.U.V.,
City driving gas guzzler?
You’re a fucking problem.
Yes or no:
Do you change your behavior to reflect
The realization this is all connected
To your frat-ass consumption?
5. If you find these words too abrupt,
Look around and think,
Wipe the stink of swallowing it
Off of you.
A serious question to be contemplating America:
What kind of fucked up, shithole, mother-sucking, whore-of-a-rating
Would you give
Built off of war plagued nations
Especially with consideration
For the private sector
Leading to a complete