Category Archives: NYC

Unblocking and Creating For Myself.

Something I long for is privacy, however it is a luxury we can not afford. We are able to save money and travel because we always live with other people. We’d need to make a huge amount more money to be able to live alone. It terrifies me to imagine settling down. It seems to involve so many horrid responsibilities. I can’t even imagine what city we would settle down in. I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do now, like be creative all the time. We’d have to find a way to make more money, which would take time away from our creative projects. We always find a way to make due with what we have. We are flexible. We must be. I worried like hell about NYC when we were in Amsterdam, and everything was fine. We never can know what will happen. I need to not worry. Worry about things I can’t control is the only thing that can destroy my peace of mind. Thoth’s too. My friend James would say to be patient and wait for our time to come. It will come, he says. That is comforting. I tend to be immensely impatient. I’m scared of leaving here. I’m used to the luxury of privacy. We still have two more weeks. I need to be in the present and enjoy it while we’re here. Who knows if we’ll ever get to experience it again. I already know this time will be like a crystal due drop in my memory. One month of blissful quiet time to do whatever I’d like, with not one responsibility but to myself to be creative.

I could never give up our lifestyle. I was feeling like vlogging and blogging is really a waste of time, but it’s not. It’s for me to look at. It doesn’t matter if people don’t watch or read. It’s special for me to have, for posterity’s sake. It’s important for my own feelings and memories to be encapsulated. It’s hard a lot of the time to keep doing it, but I just need to keep it in perspective. It’s for me, not for you.

I started drawing from my own imagination on Christmas day and writing, two things I’ve been longing to do. I’m trying to focus on getting the more difficult-to-start creative things out of the way in the early mornings. I write three or four morning pages (as many as is necessary to get all the fretful/distracting gunk out of my head) starting at 8am and then I write for an hour starting around 9am. Morning pages is causing me to be more creative. Hopefully I can lengthen that time eventually. I then draw and listen to music until noon. This way I get the two writing things out of the way before the double digits. The only way to find my own voice, my own images, my own story is just to do it a little bit every day. Eventually something will come out of it. The internet, when used in an unfocused manner, will kill creativity. Social media is a creativity killer.

A woman across from us at Christmas dinner sat there stunned as I sang Christmas carols after dinner. Our first real Christmas dinner in 6 years. For some reason I decided to dance dramatically in my room that night, after so much food. I wore off some pounds! It was such fun. When was the last time I could dance unheeded in front of a mirror?

Making these acting videos is helping me to break free from a creative block. I am trying to focus more on myself and what I need to do to be the most creative and happy. I always thought I couldn’t act, but making acting videos, watching, editing and posting them has given me a lot of confidence. If I like the way I look, then I’m happy.

From my last post, I can see how few people read my blog. It really gave me perspective, but also made me a bit sad. I take solace in my friend James’ blog. A man of immense talents whose musings on art go unseen and un-commented on, yet he writes with such depth and style. He write play upon play too, and yet they are rarely produced or have audiences. One can only hope to attain that level of prose in writing and commitment to his craft as he has achieved. The truth of the matter is that I am writing only for myself, which is difficult, to put it plainly. God knows if there is any other reasons. For posterity I guess. If I think on it too much, depression and disillusion sets in all too quickly. It did show me I don’t need to post every day. I’d be better just keeping a private journal. That’s what my friend does, gives one more time to work on personal creative projects. This takes a shit a lot of time to do!

For some reason I feel like people are expecting me to share something every day. Like I owe it to people to share videos and blogs, or I feel that the more I share the more possible it is for us to get the attention we need to become more successful. The truth is no one is expecting anything of me. I am putting this pressure on myself. I’ve been sharing our life and our work for years, and yet there is no more attention to our work because of it. It’s like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. Doing the same thing over and over again thinking something will change. I need to focus on my own creative projects!

And yet here I am, sharing my thoughts with you again. When I was younger and I didn’t have a computer I didn’t need to always share. I didn’t have any way to. I would draw and write for hours and show my friend Will and my mom and dad and sister and that was pretty much it. I put all my energies into being creative for myself. I didn’t need to show a bunch of people to feel validated or seen. Social media is a deep, dangerous well can all fall into too easily. It takes away too much from my own creative projects. Hard, focused work on my own creativity and not looking at other people’s work is the most productive and powerful thing I can do to improve myself. Getting a bunch of “like” on social media is false, trivial and means absolutely nothing. All my favorite creative people know that. Now finally I do too. What a concept.

I would suggest to follow my vlog channel. I post at random intervals. If I’m inspired, I’ll post every day. If not, I’ll post once a week. Always something there. I also always like videos of songs I’m digging, so if you’re interested to know what music I’m listening to at any current time, it’s in my playlists.

https://www.youtube.com/lilaangelique

I’m not going to post this blog on social media. It will just sit here and if you pass by it, well then drop a line and say hello and tell me what you think.

Leaving NYC for Nashville.

Tuesday November 28th 2016

Thoth and I spent the whole day organizing our finances. I went to the bank and he went out to get our change changed into bills. It took him 3 hours to find a place that would do it for him. He was exhausted when he came home. Later we went out to dinner at the make-your-own-burger place on 42nd Street. It was delicious. We won’t miss NYC, but we’ll miss those burgers!

Last day in NYC. Moving out. I got up at 9am. Thoth went to clean our sheets and pillowcases. Once everything was out of the room, we swept up all the dust and glitter. Meli had offered to drive us to the airport in her van at 12:30. Thoth was still in the shower by then and had to rush to get everything out and in the van. It was pouring with rain, too.

We got to the airport with enough time to get our boarding passes and get through security. It was painless. The most painless flight we’ll take all year. It was only a 2 1/2 flight. We had a little confusion getting an Uber to mom’s house and Thoth almost forgot his backpack, but we got to Mom’s house with no trouble. It was so weird to be in my old house. Everything has a memory to it. Every photo on the wall. Everything. I went up into my old bedroom and instantly saw things that brought back memories. I have to clean out and organize that room while we’re here. We’ll be here until January 10th. I’m happy to be back.

Monday November 28th 2016

Thoth and I spent the whole day organizing our finances. I went to the bank and he went out to get our change changed into bills. It took him 3 hours to find a place that would do it for him. He was exhausted when he came home. Later we went out to dinner at the make-your-own-burger place on 42nd Street. It was delicious. We won’t miss NYC, but we’ll miss those burgers!

A Week of Creative Expansion and Creativity (Last Week in NYC)

Sunday November 27th 2016

Our last prayformance at the Angel Tunnel is always bittersweet. We don’t miss New York when we’re not here, but we do love the Angel Tunnel. It’s the most beautiful venue we play in in the world. It’s like a church for us. We dress up for it and we always expand a lot when we’re here. I never know how I will grow when I’m here, and I always feel a need for a big change when I’m here. This year I expanded into a darker realm. I’m very happy with what it’s been doing for my acting in prayformance.

Paul talked to us at the tunnel as we waited to play. Cover Story was there. We were glad that we’d be able to say goodbye to them. I hugged each of them and thanked them for their professionalism and kindness. We’re going to miss them. I never got tired of their performance. They were a pleasure to listen to as we got ready to play this Fall. Great group of guys. They know how to put on a show and they’re acoustic, which we highly appreciate. Our friend Chris and his daughter Owen came to see us play. Paul and another gentleman who’d watched us a bit last Sunday talked to us as we got ready. We had a nice pre-audience for our last day. I like when that happens.

It was a brilliant prayformance for us again. This whole week I’ve been giving %110 of my energy and expression into the prayformance. After today we get an entire month to rest our bodies and voices. We need it. I don’t know how actors perform 8 days a week on Broadway. 5 days a week at full speed is too much for us. It’s like singing an opera 5 days a week for 2 hours a day. Playing the Phantom is hard, but he’s only onstage for 30 minutes of the show.

I made another vlog outside the tunnel while Paul talked to Thoth for the last time. We’ll miss Paul. We’ll miss the tunnel. We won’t miss the grind and the people and the city though. This city is too hard and rough and uncaring for us. Paul complimented me on how much better I’ve become in prayformance. I appreciate that he recognizes that. We went home and Meli made dinner for us.

Saturday November 26th 2016

I have a routine I get into in every city we travel to. I’m ready, and have been ready for weeks, for that routine to change. I’m an artist. A certain amount of routine is important in order to maintain focused creativity, but too much can kill it.

Dan Rubin came to see us for the last time. Tomorrow is our last prayformance at the Angel Tunnel for this year. We never know if we’ll be able to come back. It gets harder every year. Dan and I took some pictures outside of the tunnel before prayformance. Photo by Dan Rubin. Photo by Dan Rubin. Photo by Dan Rubin. Photo by Dan Rubin. ALL PHOTOS BY THE INCOMPARABLE DAN RUBIN.

Paul was there to lead the applause again. What a big help that is for us! Having both Paul and Dan there is so nice. We have very few fans in New York, but the few we do have are more priceless to us and our work. They keep us going. We both sang and acted and danced and violin’d our asses off. Our friend Marianne surprised us at the end. She got to see “Wet Tango.” “That was the most amazing Tango I’ve ever seen.” she said. She is so supportive and enthusiastic. I made another acting vlog outside of the tunnel and Dan went with us to have dinner. I took crazy pictures on the subway home.

Friday November 25th 2016

I worked for hours on my makeup, despite how little it matters to the prayformance. Doing this little complex wispy looks has to be done only because I want to do it. Nobody cares if I do. People don’t even look or say anything about it. The challenge in prayformance is to challenge ourselves every day. Most street performers don’t. They don’t have to. They get complacent and do the same thing over and over just to make money. It has nothing to do with being creative or being self expressive. Our work has everything to do with that. I do it because I need to.

15239405_1336986026336038_747752881_n15218391_1336942759673698_1914271148_nWe went to the park both feeling depressed and uninspired. Yesterday’s very bad Thanksgiving prayformance was a big let down for both of us. We expected nothing for the rest of the weekend, and this is our last week in NYC before we take a month and a week off in Nashville.

We talked about me learning how to be a soloist. That is something that truly terrifies me, the idea of going out and prayforming by myself. Imagine though how empowering it would be for me to be able do that? I’d have to create a repertoire of my own first. Just in the past year creating my solo has giving me incredible confidence. I couldn’t (nor would I dare to) perform solos 8 years ago. It takes so long to learn! It’s taken me years to become the person I am today. Confident and independent, and I will become more so as years continue to pass.

We didn’t rush to the park to be on time, even though we were anyway. No reason to sit there waiting to play and get cold. Paul was there. He knew it was our last weekend here. “I’ll be here all weekend for you.” he said. He is our biggest fan and dearest friend in the park, besides Dan. Paul helped us have a better day today. He stands hidden in the corner and leads the applause. It helps more than he knows. He is such a big fan. Not just of ours but of Thoth’s. He’s known Thoth for years. A young man sat and watch half of our prayformance. I had to see if he knew us before he ran off. Of course he did know us, and said we are inspiring. I felt inspiring today. I can only hope I am. I really sang and acted and expressed myself more deeply today. More than I usually do. I was very proud of what I did today with the prayformance. I just went for it. I grit my teeth and just f**king went for it.

I made an acting vlog outside of the tunnel with my back to a carved sandstone pillar. Today’s was more emotionally devastating and I used more emotive sounds and gestures. I thought as if I was in emotional pain that became physical. Using this deeply emotional acting side of me has brought out some amazing things in the work we do. It’s incredible how I can constantly grow and expand.

We had burgers on 42nd Street for dinner. So lovely!

Thursday November 24th 2016

Today, which is supposed to be the best day of the year for us, I did myself up. I’m going to do dark makeup all week, just to see what difference it makes for me. My sister said she loved the vlog I posted last night. “I couldn’t tell if it was real or not.” she said. I decided I would post one every night this week, just as a challenge for myself.

I was continuing to feel incredibly inspired and turned on. I’ve been watching a lot of “Phantom” clips. 🙂 It always does that to me. (Turns me on I mean.) On the train I was taking pictures of myself making crazy faces. I feel changed, different.

15207938_1336240776410563_1995833725_nIt was busy at the park. Only Kishan was outside of the Angel Tunnel doing bubbles. No other performers or noisemakers. It looked like it would be a great day for us. As we started though, the audiences fell flat. Both of us felt it. For three or four pieces people didn’t clap at all. It got a little better when the darkness came and we turned our light on. A group of people watching the solo section of our opera clapped really enthusiastically, but that was the only enthusiasm we had for the day. Also Lee, the ballerina, decided to perform right outside of the tunnel just when we started. She is using a boom box now, which just ruined our day. I hate asking people with boom boxes to move. I never know what they’ll do or how they’ll behave. I hate confrontation. When we had 20 minutes left, and Lee seemed to be taking a break, I went over to Lee. When she saw me, she turned the boom box off. “I thought you guys were finished. I’m sorry.” she said. Just then it started raining. Great. We finished our prayformance to no audience and no applause. How depressing.

 

We went home and had another simple dinner. I made another “acting” vlog in the bathroom. This one was more emotive. It’s a mixture of real feeling and acting. This character is someone I’ve been playing in private since I was around 10 or 11 years old. I’ve never filmed myself doing it or shared it with anyone. A lot of the scenes I’ll do in private are much more erotic than the ones I post online, but it is the character. He’s a man who’s lived his entire life alone and has never known love or acceptance. He struggles with his suppressed emotions and his ability to feel. He hates everyone and everything because everyone hates him, but deep down he just wants to be loved for himself. He was abused and unloved in childhood. The only thing that brings him joy is his music.

Wednesday November 23rd 2016

I was so inspired today. Inspired by Michael Crawford and Phantom and darkness and morbid fancy. I did another dark look using only black eye shadow and glitter. This type of look changes how I perform.

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It wasn’t the best day, but I was extremely inspired. I literally cried during “Plucking Song.” There were tears pricking my eyes. I watched a clip of Michael last night talking about when he had to sneeze at the organ during “Phantom”. Instead of sneezing, he stayed in character and made this gruff, growling sound. People loved it. He used what he was feeling for the character. I can use everything I am feeling and experiencing for the prayformance. Just as long as it is coming from a genuine place within me, all the better. That’s the beauty of what we do. I can do whatever I want in the context of the work. Whatever I’m feeling, experiencing, or am inspired by can be used to increase and expand the work for me.

We went home and had a simple dinner. I was inspired to make an “acting” vlog. I’ve never done that before. It was amazing to try, and took everything for me to watch and edit. I felt vulnerable posting it to the wide world. Acting is very specific and personal to me.

Obsessing on Phantom, Plus Our Weekend Prayformance

Monday November 21st and Tuesday November 22nd 2016

I know our work is meant to be performed indoors. I know we’re meant to be “discovered” and thrust into a world unlike the one we live now, but I don’t know if that will happen in our lifetimes (or even if I want it to.) The idea of traveling to a new city every day to do a performance every night is overwhelming to me. To be cramped on a bus or a plane every day to sing for thousands of adoring fans that we couldn’t really talk to feels lonely. Though we’re coming from the very humble place of street art, we do have very genuine interactions with people who see us. I know when we’re gone, people will be amazed we did this in public, even if we continue doing it in public for the rest of our lives. So often people say to us “This is the most talent I’ve ever seen. Why haven’t you guys discovered?” It’s amazing that even on a day like Sunday when we were both freezing, we made the most beautiful music anyway. Our voices blend like two sounds coming out of a dream.  We sound like two little angels singing together. The thing is, if we ever become successful, I want it to be because of our own music and creations. I don’t want to be famous or highly regarded for singing someone else’s music. Despite how hard that is, it’s easier than the possibility of us becoming well regarded for our own music.

I think about Michael Crawford, a man who originated the role of the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. He was the toast of the town back in the day. The biggest star on Broadway. He won a Tony award against Howard McGillin (the man who ended up being the longest running Phantom in B’Way history) back 1988 when I was born. I mean, how high can you go in a career? Not much higher than that. He had a starring role in a Las Vegas production after that. Pretty incredible. Yet, he was never hired to play the role of the character he originated in the film. He has no lasting pay off from his biggest success, and there’s nothing he could do about it. It wasn’t his music or his role. He didn’t own it.

I personally love Michael’s voice. He really embodied Erik (the Phantom). His voice changes. He doesn’t even sound like himself. He’s not the best singer in the world, but he does become Erik. He’s still highly regarded in the musical theater world as a great artist, but I don’t believe he was given the credit he deserved. There are only a few grainy bootleg videos on Youtube of his role as the Phantom, but it is giving nothing to the people who created it.  Maybe there is a great video of Michael in the Broadway vaults somewhere that will be released when the show closes.  I doubt the show will ever close though, and Michael will probably be dead by the time it ever did. It really is amazing that an actor of that caliber doesn’t have a great recording of his best work that can be seen by many people. It’s all relative. I’m saying all this because being in the main stream of theater doesn’t mean you’re going to get all the credit you deserve. There are many performers, singers and musicians who are great and will always be underrated. Usually it’s those who cater to popular taste that get more credit.

Ever since I went to see Phantom two weeks ago with my sister (for the 7th or 8th time) I’ve been obsessing on it again. Acting every chance I get, watching scenes from the show and looking for drawings of Erik. I love this character. He is the reason I am the person I am today. Namely, the way Michael played him. I love Michael. It was so incredible I got to meet him. I wish I hadn’t been so shy and embarrassed and he had more time to talk. What I wouldn’t give to be able to sit down and talk to him. Ask him every question I can think of. I had wanted to ask how he cries every night. He did it in “The Go-Between” and from interviews about “Phantom”, I know he cried every night in Phantom too. He laughed every night too! How do you laugh and cry every night on command? How do you transform yourself into a creature of evil sensuality when that is not your personality? I myself am working on expressing my darker side for a new character in prayformance, but having such a naturally high and feminine voice makes it more difficult. I will always love “Phantom.”

Sunday November 20th 2016

Thoth did NOT want to go out to play today. I did. That’s unusual. The wind chill supposedly would be 20 miles per hour, making it feel like it was in the 30s. That would kill us. I knew if we didn’t go out I’d get depressed, feel guilty and just go nuts.

I wore no makeup and put on four layers of clothes, top and bottom. Plus my coat, scarf, two pairs of socks and two packs of hand warmers in each pocket. It was a long trip to the park. The train we got on was stalled for almost 40 minutes. Yuck. I felt like we were imprisoned. (I’m claustrophobic.) Turns out the park, the tunnel more specifically, wasn’t so cold. I could take off my coat when we began playing and I wasn’t cold. There wasn’t a major breeze as we had been worried about.

Paul was there. He watched us play, hidden in the corner near a pillar. Funny he hates being photographed and we are the most photographed people in the park. After the first song we played, I was ready to pack it in. Not because of the cold, I could handle that, but the audience was so dull. As we kept playing, I was amazed that it got better. We sold two CDs after the second song. Amazing on such a cold day, and the audiences got better too. It was a great day. We only played a little over an hour, but we felt so successful. I knew we would. Our friend, and huge fan, Marianne came to see us and give us some clothes! We were so thrilled to see her. So sweet of her to come into the park in the dark and cold to see us. Amazing. Thank you dear. She walked with us to the subway. Hopefully we’ll see her once more before we leave NYC. One more week. We had dinner at the make-your-own-burger place on 42nd Street. I had been hoping we’d have a good day and feel the way we did and could go out to dinner, and we did! YAY!

Saturday November 19th 2016

I splattered colors all over my face, added glitter and jewels, put my hair up and out we went to the park to play. It was a lovely day, and super busy at the park. It was a wonderful Saturday. Really. Usually Saturdays aren’t as good. We were glad, as tomorrow is supposed to be brutally cold and would ruin the day for us. Playing in the cold sucks. We were very theatrical, and I am very proud of today (and Sunday’s vlog.) I got some great footage of our prayformances. I’m just putting the GoPro on the floor in front of us tilted up a little and you can see us and the ceiling. The Angel Tunnel really is the most aesthetically beautiful place we prayform in the world. We’re very lucky we get to play there.

PLEASE WATCH THIS WEEKEND’S VLOG. I’VE VERY PROUD OF IT. THERE ARE SOME BEAUTIFUL SNIPPETS OF OUR PRAYFORMANCES IN THERE.

Being Mocked, and Being Supported

Friday November 18th 2016

I wasn’t up when Thoth was making our smoothies. I didn’t get dressed until an hour before time to leave for the park. I was really uninspired! Thankfully, it was a wonderful prayformance for us today! Dan’s brother Josh came to see us play. People clapped and cheered after every song. At least two or three people from every crowd said something as they left. “Amazing.” “Beautiful.” “Lovely.” That’s more like it! We put much more into the prayformance today. A little girl asked, “Why do you dress up like that?” I like dressing up for the prayformance. It’s theater, so I have an opportunity to express myself however I want. Why not? Having Josh there leading the applause helped so much. We got a lot of “bravos” too. People were really there for us today. Completely present. A man gave us a loving, generous donation for a CD. We gave him two. “It’s an honor.” he said. We were full of energy when we finished, unlike the last two days. We had salads for din din.

Thursday November 17th 2016

Oh man. I’ve been feeling low the last three days. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with writing and vlogging about every aspect of my life. Sometimes it gets really hard and tiring and feels very pointless!

Today was another rough day. It was lovely out, and Dan came to take pictures, but the audiences were just… UGH. Bored, it seems, or worse, confused and unable to appreciate what they’re seeing in front of them. It’s not us. It’s the day. I don’t get it. I document our lives to show people easy it is not. While we were knelt to sing, some young boys came though the tunnel. I didn’t see them, but they started, what can be incredibly loosely termed as “singing” and very loudly as they walked through the tunnel. Not in harmony or inspiration, but with mockery and a desire to stop what we were doing. I was furious, and I knew Thoth was too. They stood in our crowd for a few moments. I thought I heard one say, “Hey we stopped them!” as we had stopped singing for that section of the piece. They walked out and away from the tunnel. That was the biggest applause we got that day. Our housemates Meli and Nina had come to see us. I could feel people were applauding for how we held our composure. “I wish I had been on my feet. I would have sung them out of the tunnel.” Thoth said. That’s something that happens when we perform in public.

Meli, Nina and Dan hung with us while we packed up. It was so nice to have had them there. Friends always make the day better. We got doughnuts to cheer us up at Doughnut Plant and got dinner at home.