Monthly Archives: March 2012

Not The Marrying Type: How to Take Advantage of My Wedding

Lately, I’ve been receiving quite a bit of wedding advice in the form of lists (those sending them shall remain nameless (Anna Pulley)).  Normally, I abhor any attempts at advice giving, because I already know everything, obviously. Furthermore, I generally dislike wedding enthusiasm, even when disguised as “practical tips”. And while I’ve come across a multitude of lists for pregnant brides (hide your discomfort between two pairs of shoes and a glass of sparkling grape juice!), 2nd marriage (shameful whore) brides, bridezillas (we have to remind you to treat your loved ones with respect because you’re being a douchecanoe), I don’t necessarily find a lot of advice for wedding guests- or if I do, these nuggets of wisdom answer somewhat adolescent questions like “I’ve been invited to a wedding- do I have to attend?” or tips on how not to act like a drunk asshole  (the secret: don’t binge drink. Or just hide your vomit behind the wedding cake table). But where are the tips for the non-traditional, slightly narcissistic, but amicable wedding guest? Don’t you deserve some hints tailored to your needs, resting generously outside the realm of what not to wear during a summer wedding? I think yes. So, here are 5 tips on how to use my wedding to fulfill your wildest fantasies, most of which I definitely did not glean from GQ articles.

1. ACQUIRE AN ENTOURAGE

Listen, we all know there’s a hierarchy to wedding guests, and when you get your table number, you’re faced with the unadulterated truth of your ranking in the hearts of the bride and groom.  How do you combat the feelings of self-hatred and regret for not sending that “Congratulations on Your Engagement” card? Rile the troops, dear friend. There are other lowlies out there just like you, waiting for a way to rise to the top of any table, a.k.a., your ticket to a night of one-time-only popularity. The difference between you and other wedding cake crumbles? Ambition and a great fuckin’ smile.

2. BECOME A WEDDING PARTY GROUPIE

This may require some pre-planning/spying/ass-kissing on your part in order to acquire an outfit that will “accidentally” look like the wedding party get up, and insider knowledge of their pre-wedding whereabouts. It’s so funny that you just happen to show up at the hotel where everyone’s about to ride in the rimmed-out stretch limo filled with bottles of champ and Hennessy (bad combination)! If you act casually and dress appropriately, no one will ever know, especially if you’re the one poppin’ tops on bottles and starting rounds of “For he’s a jolly good fellow”.

(PRO-TIP: Works great with large wedding parties.)

3. USE THE WEDDING TRIP AS A TAX WRITE-OFF

You may have to get a tad creative with this one, but with the help of business cards and your Google calendar, you can at least write off cab fare to and from a business meeting consulting 5 drunk party guests on stock portfolios, marketing their new chihuahuas-only grooming service or…whatever it is you corporate people do for a living. Who knows, maybe you’ll get some new clients you could later sleep with after an awkward dinner. Originally, my best example of this was for my sex-pert friend to whom I suggested sacking a bridesmaid with a new sex toy she had to review.

4. SHAG THE WEDDING PARTY

Ok, ok. I know this is like, THE ONE TIP, every wedding guest knows coming out of the womb. But I’m not suggesting you sleep with merely one of the wedding party, I’m saying: SLEEP WITH EVERYONE. How rad would you be at the office cooler the next morning? No, you didn’t sleep with that hot bridesmaid/groomsman, you slept with ALL those hot bridesmaids/groomsmen. And believe me, my wedding party is SUPER FINE, so you’ll pretty much want to hit it like Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer.

(PRO TIP: Combine #4 with #2 for maximum shaggage, and help in avoiding those pesky significant others.)

5. RE-INVENT YOURSELF

You remember Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, and how it catapulted itself into my top 5 movies of all time? You know why? It was about the power of reinvention, and contained the greatest mini-monologue about Post-its ever.  Think of it this way: at my wedding, you’ll know basically no one, so why not be someone totally different than your normally “meh” self? Even if your normal self is better than “meh”, take the opportunity to try on a different pair of shoes. Preferably the neon platforms with sparkles.

Live it up, people.  I only plan to get married once.

Appropriate wedding attire

ScreamCoach: An Inward Review of Outward Release

Whilst in London, I devised a performance piece for a friend’s show.  I was heading towards the end of my year in London, starting my dissertation and generally freaking out about what I was going to do with my life after grad school. As I was thinking about what to perform, I imagined how great it would be to have a coach that would help me scream.  Screaming, venting, showing anger– these were things I normally didn’t do very well, if at all.  I knew I had a lot of pent up rage keeping me up at night, but for some reason, I felt powerless to express it.  I just wanted a release of some kind, and it seemed I needed permission to do so.

Hence the ScreamCoach.

Originally, I had thought of ScreamCoach as a cross between Sue Sylvester and a Marine drill sergeant…which I guess is basically the same thing. ScreamCoach was tough, she wouldn’t let you whimper away your reservations, and most importantly, she didn’t give a crap about you or your problems:

…we don’t really care about the personal details of your everyday life.  We want the wordless part of you, the pent-up, emotional baby you keep hidden deep under your belly fat.  Just to clarify, if it wasn’t clear already, we’re not “life coaches”. We don’t want to hear about your lame life goal of opening your own organic, gluten-free, vegan bakery that uses recyclable plastics to make its brownies. We’re not going to hold your hand and tell you that boozing and fucking a bunch of random strangers on your weekend ragers are just a “learning experience” to build your future on.

We know how you really feel, and that you don’t want to talk anymore.  You want the same thing we do: ACTION.  We don’t mean that pathetic excuse for a sex life you call your boyfriend/girlfriend or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.  You need something that will take away your problems away NOW and leave you feeling peaceful even though your world continues to crumble around you. (Excerpt from ScreamCoach monologue)

After ScreamCoach ranted at the participant, she directed the individual through 3 activities done in rapid fire succession. First, the participant quickly threw 10 foam balls at an assistant coach; second, the participant shoved their face into a pillow and screamed as loudly as possible; last, the participant received a head massage with an apparatus called a “Brain Teaser” or, the better name for it, “The Orgasmatron”:

THE ORGASMATRON

My partner, Kevin Corbett, helped me choose the particular activities and their sequence.  As we discussed the performance, we decided that a focus on the release of anger was too limiting a choice when considering the range and complexity of human emotions. Furthermore, we didn’t want to assume that participants A) wanted to release or connect to their anger and B) would only experience anger during the performance.  We also didn’t want to leave the participant feeling upset, hence the addition of The Orgasmatron, which was a purposefully soothing component of the trio.  As suggested in the ScreamCoach monologue, we weren’t interested in dissecting the root cause of emotional baggage, or getting someone to think deeply about their pent up emotions; we simply wanted to create a space for a brief expression and release of those emotions.

The first performance of ScreamCoach was done as part of Brian Lobel’s “Cruisin’ for Art” festival at Latitude. There were several factors that played a part in this manifestation of ScreamCoach: we were in an outdoor space at night, and we were able to choose the participants from a wandering crowd of “cruisers”.  This helped us control our participant choice and gave us room for a more intimate performance.

Even though I had spent time writing and rehearsing the ScreamCoach monologue, I immediately dropped it upon interacting with our first participant.  To a large extent, curiously, it wasn’t a conscious decision, but rather an impulse. I wanted to make our participant feel welcome because they looked anxious about the unknown performance in which they were to partake. I already knew the activities would be challenging for some participants; there was no reason to turn them off even further with a barrage of insults. In retrospect, if I had used the monologue, I feel that the performance would have been stilted, and the participant so on edge that they wouldn’t have been able to release anything.  They had to trust us.

This didn’t mean talking to them about their life- in that respect, the performance kept true to the initial intent.  As the ScreamCoach, I asked for their name, where they were from, and what they did for a living, which, in most cases, was enough to get the participant to relax. After explaining the instructions, I would coach them through the activities, encouraging participation in a positive manner. I became the complete opposite of the original ScreamCoach I had envisioned.

We coached close to 70 people in our first performance.  Towards the second half of the night, people began coming up to us, wanting to take part.  Obviously, it was difficult to watch someone screaming into a pillow and not be somewhat interested. We received a variety of reactions that night, the majority of them positive.  A comment frequently made was that participants wanted “to do this everyday” or were imagining a certain person when they threw the balls at Coach Kevin.

The latter brought up an interesting point within the performance as well.  With the inclusion of a human interaction element, i.e. the assistant coach, participants had a more authentic target upon which to direct their emotional release. Because of this, some participants were reluctant at first, afraid of “hurting” Coach Kevin; for these participants, assurance from Coach Kevin himself was necessary, as was noting the distance at which Coach Kevin stood from the participant. Other participants, particularly older men, seemed to relish to idea of throwing objects at another human, and had no hesitancy in whipping the balls full speed.  From these observations, we wondered what would have happened if the target had been an inanimate object (such as a dummy) or a woman (not a dummy).

The first activity seemed to be the element of the piece with which to experiment.  In a second performance of ScreamCoach, done at the Young Vic in London for the Getinthebackofthevan theatre company’s “Show Us Yer Guerilla Bits” festival, Coach Kevin was hit at close range with foam pool noodles.  The object was changed from foam balls because we were in an indoor venue with a more confined space. At first, we had participants hit Coach Kevin 10 times, but quickly realized this was too much as it actually did begin to hurt him, and therefore only had participants strike him 5 times.

As part of the second performance, participants were also invited to give feedback into a recorder after their involvement. Almost all the commentary included some reaction to beating Coach Kevin. Many expressed guilt, both for doing it and for feeling good while doing it.  Some questioned it in terms of a public display of punishment. Everyone called him a saint for agreeing to the role in the first place.

Overall, I found the public interest in ScreamCoach noteworthy in itself.  My primary impulse to create this piece seemed to resonate with the larger needs of the participants: the desire to express suppressed feelings, to experience them on a visceral and tangible level, and to have those feelings validated through actions that others witness.

I’ve created a video documenting ScreamCoach during its second performance.  Have a look and see what you think!

Five Favourite Things Friday

There are just some things I find around the internet throughout the week that I like so very much.  Here is a small collection of them (which do include shameless plugs for my friends who are creative and awesome and you should be following them too.)

5.  MAIDENHOUSEFLY COMICS

My friend and former roommate Corinne Mucha is a super talented, quirky and hilarious comic artist here in Chicago.  She just posted a new comic on her blog about the evolution of break ups throughout the years (though I believe she left out Carrie’s infamous “post-it” break up from Sex and the City): Maidenhousefly Comics

4. NERD ALPACAS

For some unexplainable reason, I love llamas.  I have a t-shirt of a cartoon llama and I have a llama impression as well.  When I can’t get llamas, I’ll take alpacas.  Especially alpacas underscored by the Imperial March from Star Wars. I have literally watched this 30 times.

3. SHITTING IN INDIA

My friend Anna Pulley spent some time in Mysore, India for a long-ass yoga retreat and, in the process, underwent a cleanse which may or may not have included multiple enemas.  But on the bright side, the healthcare was like, WAY cheaper: Are you shitting me?

4….wait no,

2. SUNNY SKIES WITH A SPRINKLE OF CUNT

A British weatherman makes a hilarious mistake on the T-V! Why do dey allways talk wit’ dem funny ackcents?

1. THE BEST PHOTO EVER: DANCING CATS

I am, remotely, preoccupied with the feline species.  So when I saw this little gem, which is in no way photoshopped and if you tell me it is we’re not friends anymore, I couldn’t help but post it repeatedly, including here.  And with that, have a great weekend!

WE ARE THE COOLEST THING EVER