Monthly Archives: June 2014

Underground Community of Buskers

Sunday June 29th 2014

Another really nice day! It was again very cold. Pockets was playing in front of the church steps. Zahara looked like she was going to play after him, but she wasn’t. She brought her erhu, a chinese instrument kind of like a violin, over to show us.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA “I thought you’d be able to play it.” she said. She demonstrated for us. “The sound reminds me of Cirque Du Soleil.” I said. I asked if I could take a picture of her playing. “I’m finished.” Pockets said. Paul came to say hello. He loves us. There was a group of five young string players performing near us. I went over to film them. SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThey were great. Very into the music, and played really fast. None of them were over 20. Probably in their teens. We slowly set up and I ran to the bathroom to fill our water bottle. I said hello to Edgar. Two little girls were trying to sell bracelets. It was cute, but I didn’t want one. I ran back and we started. “It looks like they’re finished.” Pockets said indicating the kids. Not that we minded. On the whole, the performers here are some the nicest, friendliest we’ve met in the world. They’re not competitive, they share space well and work together. It’s wonderful. We are here to bring something to the public. We should support each other.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWe played and Paul stayed and watched. He was writing as we performed. He came up when we finished and asked to read what he wrote to us. It was a beautiful, magical dreamscape. I wish I could of filmed it. “It’s like two angels have come down from heaven.” he said. He gave us a parchment with burned edges. Inside was an unknown language and on the back a blessing for our safe travels.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we finished, he and Mina stayed and talked with us. We packed up and Voiteck came over. We offered to watch his bass while he went to grab his amplifier. He came back and we said goodbye and walked to the grocery store. We got chicken and went home. We made dinner and some sandwiches for the long bus ride to London tomorrow. We have to be up at 4am to catch the bus at 5:15. It’s a 10 hour ride, but we’ll be in London by 3:30pm. We’re going to see my friend James in his show tomorrow night and I’m going to finally meet him!

Prayformance Power Tools Part 2

Saturday June 28th 2014

Thoth has taught me a lot of tools that keep me healthy. He never forces me to do anything, he just sets a good example and encourages me to try new things.

Smoothies were one of the first things he recommended me trying. I used to buy whole pineapples and strawberries, cut them up and put them in the freezer.  I’d use a knife and stab at them until they were manageable enough to put in the blender. It was a mess and a @*%$# to blend. Not such a good technique! It took me a few years to discover the miracle of prepackaged frozen fruit. We all learn in our own time. Smoothies gives me enough nutrients to get me through the day. I’ve found three meals a days is unneeded. Just a smoothie for breakfast (and maybe a scone sometimes) and a nice big dinner.

Fasting is another element to prayformance. I used to go to the diner and have a hamburger and fries before going to dance with Thoth. It took a while for me to get used to not eating much in the day. At first, I’d only have a kombucha before prayformance. That left me all tingly and kind weird feeling. It didn’t work so well. And my stomach would be gnawing with hunger. Now I can go all day with just a light breakfast. Anything else makes me bloated and tired. Food is one of the greatest rewards after prayformance. I can eat anything I want. It has been a great thing to keep me at a healthy weight. Fasting also teaches me good discipline.

Nasal cleansing is one of the most helpful things Thoth has taught me health wise. It took me years to learn to do it regularly. The first time I tried it, I put too much salt in the water and it burned like hell. I couldn’t do it again for a long time. After I got sick three times in 6 months, I started doing in every day without fail. Thoth is a fantastic teacher. He has so much patience. When I met him I was a very talented, egotistical, unbalanced, unhealthy child with too much unfocused energy. With his love and guidance, I have grown into a gifted, humble, balanced, healthy young woman. Thank you sweet husband for all your great lessons.

It was a dark, cold, rainy day today. We walked to the Royal Mile expecting rain. We were correct in that assumption. Zahah (is that how you spell her name?), the mandolinist, was set up at our usual spot. When she saw us, she gave the spot to us. “I’ve been here a while and you only play 45 minutes.” she said. She had a friend with her, Paul. We introduced ourselves. Because of the way he pronounced his name, Thoth thought he said, “Poo.” Oops! He thought it was funny, though. Zahah moved to another spot. “I think Paul told her to give us the spot.” Thoth said.

As we started getting ready, we heard loud drums and saw police vehicles. It was a parade. They walked right past us. Something about the Protestants. Ian, the deacon(?) of St Giles Cathedral came out and said hello. We asked him what was going on. “It’s a Protestant march. It’s always peaceful here, but in Ireland it gets very violent. The Catholics will throw things at the parade and there have been murders.” he said. He told us again how much he loves our music. “I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t.” he said. He said again how they usually kick people off the stairs from performing “But you’re welcome anytime.” he said. “I hope Edinburgh embraces you and things are going well for you.” he said. The people in the church embrace us! Who’da thunk?

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASANYO DIGITAL CAMERAIt drizzled throughout our prayformance. I am so happy we got to play, though. During our third set, a group of very happy (and possibly very drunk) women started dancing and singing with us. It felt weird, like they were mocking us. I realized at that moment that it doesn’t matter what other people do. It has nothing to do with us. If someone is making fun of us, it makes them look bad, not us. We just need to continue doing our work. Elaine, the pierced lady, was across the street. It seemed like she was complaining about us. Most of the buskers here are very kind and friendly, but there’s always a few bad apples in the bunch. If someone’s talking bad about us, we just need to continue being good, loving people. It doesn’t matter what others say. They’re just envious. Someone is going to be envious of our crowds and our success. Someone is going to wish people didn’t like us so much. Someone isn’t going to be thrilled we’re attracting so much attention. That will happen everywhere, always. When one is very talented, it is even more important to be a good, kind person. People are going to be envious no matter what you do. Zahah was going to play when we finished, but she was leaving. Thoth called to her and she and Paul came over. “I just want to say I love you guys. It’s so raw and real. I love that.” Paul said. Ian came out to lock up and asked for our CD. We gave him two. He didn’t have enough money. “I’ll bring the rest later.” he said. He ran to his car and ran back to give us some more money before going home. How sweet!

We went to our favorite Indian place on the way home. It started getting very windy and rainy. Our waiter was very impressed with us. “I wish I could do what you do.” he said. I’m feeling very happy about Edinburgh. London in one day!

A Special Day in Edinburgh

Friday June 207th 2014

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAnother awesome day! Things are getting better all the time! We got our passports back with the Brazilian visas!

I wore my hair down. Ever since I was 24 I had short hair. What if in 10-20 years I’m famous for my long pink hair? People would be shocked for 24 years I looked like a boy. I love my hair when it’s freshly dyed, but I want to cut it off when the roots start to show.

Our housemate Rachael popped in for a minute to grab some things. She’s been in Glasgow for most of the month. She graduating from university tomorrow. She brought us some scones. She’s a really sweet girl. I’m so glad she found us and we’re staying here.

It was so much colder today, but there was no one at our spot on the steps of St. Giles. A guy was setting up to be a statue next to us when we arrived. He didn’t care if we performed. “We can work together.” he said. I really don’t understand why we stop so many people and others don’t. This guys was sitting in a way that made him look like he was floating in the air. (I’ve seen it many times before, though. That’s just because I’m a world weary, jaded street performer.) But really, why do people stop to watch us and not others? Even if there are a lot of performers around, tons of people stop to watch us. It happens everywhere in the world. We’re doing something right I guess.

My voice had gotten very strong playing in this space. I’m getting better at my theatricality, too. Every spot teaches us something new. It’s harder without a resonant space. Usually our voices attract people. Well, that happens here. People can hear us from far away. But it’s not like Balboa Park or the Angel Tunnel or Chiado. We have to use a lot of energy. That’s why we don’t play as long. 45 minutes to an hour here is like 2 hours anywhere else. And we have to be wary of unlevel pavement and other things. We don’t have to worry about people bumping into us, though. We usually don’t perform above our audiences, usually we’re eye to eye with them. I kind of like it, though. People really enjoy us here. I’m happy we can bring our music to people all over the world for free. We’re one of the only performances that is really engaging and beautiful, yet free to anyone who wants to listen. No one is shut out. I want it always to be that way. Broadway charges too much. $100 is ridiculous for a ticket price. Why not give people a suggestion and let then pay what they can? That’s what we do. Usually people pay equal or even more then we suggest. We have to trust people are generous and goodhearted.

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 1.37.41 AMScreen Shot 2014-06-28 at 1.36.43 AMI got a big surprise when we finished. My friend Amy came to see us prayform! I was completely thrown for a loop when I saw her. It’s been 5 years! She went to Circle in the Square Theatre School with me in NYC in 2009. She wrote to me yesterday and asked if we’ll be performing today. I told her the location and time but didn’t think anything else of it. I never expect people to come see us when they say they will, but she did! She was my mama hen at Circle. She watched out for me and helped me get through a lot of hard times. She got teary eyed when I talked about it. She was very happy to see me and complimented me on my singing. “You have an amazing voice I always knew that, but I’d never heard you sing in this style.” she said. Thank you Amy!

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERALaurence came out of the church with our CDs. We signed them for him and I asked to take his picture. I’ve talked about him so much, now you know what he looks like! He has the most lovely Scottish accent of anyone we’ve met so far. My sister wants to hear what he sounds like. She loves British accents. We were planning on going to our favorite Indian place for dinner, but I remembered I had some leftover food at home I needed to eat. We went to the grocery store instead. I’m really loving life now. Things are going well. I don’t wake up in a panic. I’m calm, excited even. We’re going to London in 2 days!

Prayformance Power Tools: Stillness

Thursday June 26th 2014

The woman from London sent us an email this morning. She will send our passports (with Brazilian visas) today and they will arrive tomorrow before 1pm! Yay! Now all we need are our plane tickets to Rio and we’re ready to go! I took my time getting ready, doing a pretty makeup look that I love. I think it makes me look Cirque Du Soleil-ish.

I found an interesting article about female buskers on The Busking Project. I should write more about what it’s like to be a busker. But wait, my blog is a journal about my daily experiences, and I happen to be busking as a living. So that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe I can write about the tools we use during prayformance.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve never had to worry about the problems solo female buskers face. I can imagine how hard it would be, though. When I was in New York I wore (and still do wear) skimpy outfits in the summer. It’s hot! And you can actually go topless in NYC, (which I still do regularly.) I was really scared when I first moved to New York in 2008. I lived alone (before Thoth and I got together) and was always bothered by men. One time, on 59th Street, a man stopped me and said, “Can I have your number?” He wouldn’t leave me alone. In order to get away, I had to pretend I was going to lunch with my cousin. Another time, when I was walking to the Angel Tunnel, a boy asked, “Can I come with you?” It wasn’t friendly, it was too forward. I said, “No.” and moved on. You have to be bold and brassy to be a female street performer. If you’re going to draw attention to yourself, make it loud! I no longer have issues with unwanted attention. One of the first things Thoth recommend me doing was to wear bells everywhere. I bought some jingle bells at a craft store and strung them together. I wore them around my neck like a scarf. Part self defense tool, part noisemaker. I bonked around everywhere. That first year in New York taught me so much.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERANo one gathers a crowd like we do (unless they’re yelling at people to look at them.) We are the only buskers I’ve ever seen who gather a crowd by standing still. Clad with our bells and violins, people gather, wondering what we will do. We’re not just still, we’re full of intention and focus. In 2009 in New York, Thoth took me to a park in his neighborhood and had me stand in front of a tree facing outward. He had me focus on something in front of me. “When you are still, you can see energy flowing through the universe.” he said. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. I started using stillness all the time. I stopped in front of restaurant windows and stared at people in my costume. It was amazing. Stillness is a very powerful power tool. That’s what Thoth calls them, Power Tools. When I stand still, I get into position and focus on a certain thing. This regularly makes people look behind them to see what I’m looking at. People are rarely completely still. You can feel the vibrations of everything. It’s a bit scary at first. Everything I learned from Thoth was scary at first.

I wonder why other street musicians don’t dress up and make a show. Most just stand there staring at their feet strumming an instrument. Busking is all about attracting attention and creating something people want to watch. If someone hear’s our music down the street, they have to know what it is. I was completely flabbergasted when I first heard Thoth sing. People can sometimes have a strong negative reaction to how we’re dressed at first, yet really love us once they hear us. Why do we stop people in their tracks and others don’t? We’re not forcing them to stop. Thoth thinks it’s because we have strong fine energy. I think it’s because most people don’t understand what we’re doing, yet it’s captivating and beautiful at the same time. Why do you think?

Anyway, we had a really great day, despite the cold. We gathered a big crowds. I’m so spoiled! Our friend who played after us barely gathered anyone. I felt bad for him. I’m looking forward to our upcoming travels!

Some upcoming travel dates:

June 30th-July 2nd London!  We will not be prayforming. You cannot legally perform in London without a permit. We’re going to see my friend James in In the Penal Colony. I’m very excited!

July 2nd-17th Back to Edinburgh! We’ll be prayforming Thursday-Sunday from around 5pm on the steps of St. Giles Cathedral on The Royal Mile.

July 17th-31st Amsterdam! Prayformance TBA. (Thanks to Richard Simoes for sponsoring this trip!)

August 1st-10th Back to Edinburgh! The Fringe Festival starts! Prayformances TBA.

August 10th-17th Rio! For the Redbull Sounderground Metro Musician’s Festival!

August 17th-28th Edinburgh! Final week of the Fringe, prayformances TBA.

August 29th-September 1st Martha’s Vineyard! Prayformance at Union Chapel on Sunday August 31st at 6pm! (Thank you Wendy Taucher and Sarah Kernochan for sponsoring this trip!)

And the Future….

September-November New York City! Prayformances TBA at the Angel Tunnel! We’re looking for hosts and sponsors to help us with housing.

December Oakland! Vacation time to visit my sister and our family for Christmas!

January-April San Diego! Prayformces TBA in Balboa Park! Can’t wait to see all our friends, especially Forrest! Miss him!

May?-August? Lisbon? Travel dates and prayformances TBD.

Days Off

Monday June 23rd 2014

This morning, Thoth sent an email to the woman in London who is getting our Brazillian visas. We sent our passports to her weeks ago and have heard nothing back. We got a reply pretty quickly. She said she has the visas done, she’s just waiting for proof of payment from Karol in Rio. We were both annoyed with Karol, but relieved the passports weren’t stolen, or lost, or worse. One week until we got to London and two weeks after that, Amsterdam! Woohoo!

We went next door and got breakfast foods to make at home. After eating, I got to work bleaching my roots. It’s a tedious, 5 hour process, but worth it in the end. Thoth helped me. I’m kind of spoiled by Mel doing it for me all those months in San Diego. She takes less then an hour to do it. I read “The Long Walk” all day while bleaching. When I finally finished, I put the pink in and continued reading. I haven’t felt so relaxed on a day off since we were in San Diego. I have no worries. We’ve already made our rent for this month. We can have a good time now.

After 2 hours. I washed the pink out and we went to the grocery store. Thoth was very dizzy as we picked out things to make orange salmon for dinner. We went home and he cooked while I read in the kitchen with him. Dinner was delicious. I cleaned up and got in bed with the intention finishing my book. It was 1 am when I finally did. What an incredible story. I read it 2 years ago when we were trapped in Berlin. Thoth got the Kindle for me for Valentine’s Day and I haven’t used it until now. It’s a fantastic device. Really easy to hold and read from. He got one for himself, too. He’s been using it for months to read “Game of Thrones.” He’s almost finished with the series. My trouble with books is I read so fast I can’t find another one quick enough. I love disturbing, dark, depressing books, like dystopian, science fiction horror stories. Anyone have a book recommendation along those lines? I think I’ll read “1984” again. I also have “Room” and “Pure” to read.

Tuesday June 24th 2014

We had another really relaxing day off. I watched The Gregory Brothers on Youtube. They are very funny. It kind of made me want to make Youtube videos. Not like the ones we made in New York, but music videos that have good lighting and sound and editing. I don’t know how we’d do that when we’re traveling all the time. I think we’d need a stable place to live and perform. Anyway, The Gregory Brothers make songs of people talking by auto-tuning them. I’m against auto-tune as a rule, but I really like The Gregory Brothers. I started reading “1984” again. We had homemade cheeseburgers for dinner. I don’t eat meat so much anymore, but once in a while it’s OK. Everything in moderation.

Wednesday June 25th 2014

Thoth left the room and let me act this morning. Sometimes I can’t think of anything else but acting. It always happens when I watch Phantom videos. I acted four 2 and 1/2 hours. Thoth was in the kitchen making lunch when I came out. “I’m sad.” he said. “What’s wrong?” I said. “i can’t explain why.” he said. I made something to eat and listened to music the rest of the day. The woman from London finally got the proof of payment from Karol in Rio. She said she could send us out passports tomorrow, but she needed out postal code. We send it to her. She’ll get back to us tomorrow. I took a walk to the grocery store by myself. I got pretty self conscious for some reason, thinking everyone was staring at me. I got a chicken for dinner and Thoth cooked it. Even when we have days off, I only eat a light breakfast and a nice dinner. I’m so used to not eating very much, I just do it instinctively now.