Monthly Archives: July 2016

I Give My Art Away For Free

I give everything I do away for free. No one is required to give me anything in return for my art, be it by performing in public or by making vlogs or blogs. People can steal our energy, our image and our music as they please. There are no consequences, nor do they feel guilty for doing so. Why should they? I am in a public space. No one owes me a cent. Our art is free for anyone to listen to, a homeless person to a CEO. No one is responsible for giving us anything in return for the work we do to make our art what it is. It’s taken me 28 years to get where I am, 7 years of which I’ve been doing prayformance. Even as I become a better performer, people watching me in the street will still react the same. Amazed, moved, but confused, scared and unable to act. That is the world’s reaction to our music. If we did the same performances we give outdoors inside, people would be cheering and screaming their heads off, but in public they usually just stand there, put their hands together for a few seconds, and then continue to stand there gawking at us, or walk away. It maddens me, but there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it. If I could perform indoors as much as I can outdoors, I would. Our work would still be free, but people would be more responsive and more generous.

I don’t think people understand what the word underrated means. I work for four to five hours every day making a vlog for our channel. I spend hours on top of that making vlogs for my own channel, writing blog entries, doing makeup and prayforming. I give all my energy to doing these things and I get little back for that work. I rarely get compliments about my makeup, which I can sometimes work up to three hours on. Sometimes, like tonight, hardly anyone says a word about our music while we’re prayforming. People rarely comment on our or my vlogs or on this blog, which wouldn’t take even the smallest percentage of energy compared to the work I’m doing to put it out there.

I’m doing everything I possibly can. When I prayform I give %150 to the work. It takes all my concentration to sing and dance and play violin while people are walking by or talking. I’m entertaining hundreds of people for free every night. I go home and I share our life online for hundreds of people to watch and read for free. That’s what life is as a public performer. I have to give so much more than I get back. That is what being underrated means. We are two people alone doing our best to make our art and make a living. The least you can do is show your support. Leave a comment, come see us prayform when we’re in your town, share our music with your friends, throw us a dollar. It’s the damn near least you could do. It doesn’t require any energy. Just think of how much energy we are using to do this. Don’t just stand there. Don’t be a zombie. Participate! Our art can only survive by people’s participation. When we’re gone, people will wish they had. Don’t be afraid to stand up and support our work. We appreciate it and need it more than you will ever know.

The Price of Freedom and Independence

Wednesday July 27th 2016

We had a really fantastic two days off. We went to the beach on Monday and on Tuesday we had sushi. It was our last full two days off before we go to Amsterdam, but this morning I was pissed. There was no electricity in our apartment.

Thoth and I work incredibly hard to bring our music to different cities of the world, and yet more often than not we have to live in places that are uncomfortable.

The apartment we live in here in Lisbon is one of those places. It’s in a perfect location for us to play, but this summer we’ve gone without hot water for a week, gone without any water at all for a day and now the electricity is out (and who knows how long that will take to be fixed.) There is no air conditioning and it gets immensely hot, sometimes near 100 degrees. The bathtub is always full of other people’s grime and hair. I have to clean it out in order to take a shower. The water backs up to the point that I only sit on the edge and never put my feet in the tub. It’s disgusting.

We could go stay with our friends who live a half hour train ride from here, but then we’d have to take the train into the city every night to play and take the train home at midnight. (We get to bed late even when we live right down the street.) One thing we love about being in Lisbon is being close to our performance spot. It’s a 10 minute walk from here. We don’t have that anywhere else. In NYC it takes an hour to get to the Angel Tunnel from wherever we’re living by subway and in San Diego we’ve had to bike almost 5 miles to get to Balboa Park. The only other place we play that is near where we’re staying is Golden Gate Park, but we don’t play there much.

That’s the sacrifice we’ve had to make to be professional street performers. We have freedom to do what we want, but we lack stability. We have to find places where the rent is reasonable. The only times we’ve really been totally comfortable is the rare occasions when we stay with our close friends. We would love to have a place of our own, and we know that will never happen. We don’t own anything, and we’ll never buy a house or settle down as far as I can imagine. I don’t want to own a house, but at these times I do long for some kind of stability. It’s a sacrifice. We’re not going to stop living this way. We’ve learned to deal with it, but it still can be annoying as hell sometimes.

In a perfect world, we would always have a safe and comfortable place to lay our heads and have everything we need to feel safe and at home. Living this life requires the ability to problem solve. When it’s harder, I get stronger. Why is it hard? Because I’ve chosen a life that is hard. We’ve had to work for years and years to create some kind of stability in our lives, but if something happens in the place we’re living, we have to problem solve and sometimes it’s really maddening! I know, that’s life. Life sucks sometimes. Somehow we’ve made the majority of it manageable enough to be happy. There are plenty billions of people who have it much worse. I should count my blessings.

We have our prayformances, which gives us everything. We have a place to sleep. We have money to buy food. We have our beautiful voices. We have each other. We have our beautiful, happy marriage and our deeply caring love for each other. That is the only stability we have actually. Thank God for that at least! We stick together and work through any problem. We stand by each other when we get angry, bitchy and sad. No matter what mood we’re in. We are strong and vulnerable for each other. We are there for each other always. There is no way we could live like this without each other. Our audiences enjoy our music, but not one of them, as  individuals or as a whole, are responsible for us or our happiness or the continuation of our work. We are. It’s us who go out every day five days a week and play for 2 hours. No one is there to make us do it. We are free.

The price for freedom and independence is uncertainty, instability and peace of mind. I can’t have one without the others. When I get pissed off and angry, I am fighting against that truth. I will never have everything I want and be free. That’s not how life is. I’d have to sacrifice my independence for safety. Every human being on this planet wants both I think, but they can’t have it. The more I accept that, the happier I will be. I am happy to be free.

The electricity is back on. It took 8 hours. Not bad, and I feel a lot better, especially after writing this.

Second to Last Week in Lisbon (A Week Reviewed)

Sunday July 24th 2016

Another hot day. We have to be careful about what we eat on a prayformance day. I was exhausted by the time it was time to go out to play. It was so hot!

To my shock and surprise, there were three young amateur guitarists playing at our spot when we arrived. That never happens here. We didn’t hear them until we entered the spot they were so quiet. My heart started beating fast and I was ready for them to do anything. We began setting up as usual. When they stopped, I told them we are booked to play in this spot. “We’ve seen your show. You’re great.” they said and began to close up. “How long have you been performing together?” they asked. “7 years.” we said. “It shows.” they said.

I talked to Thoth about it when they left. “They said ‘The professionals are here’ when they saw us.” Thoth said. That surprised me. It’s so interesting to see amateurs playing in our spot and know they’re only playing there because they saw us play there. Nobody can make money in the spots we play because we play in spots that are suited for us. We also stand in a specific spot and when we see others standing in the same spot in a place we play, we always know they’re copying us. Buskers rarely stand in the center of a space or really choose their spaces for specific reasons. Most all buskers just set up where they see people and they don’t dress up or perform with passion or originality. It’s rare to non-existent to see buskers playing original music. When I see other buskers, it’s only then that I really understand how brave it is what we do. We stand in the center with a light on us in costumes and we play our own music to passers by. That could be seen as incredibly presumptuous. Who are we to think people will enjoy our music enough to gather and give us money? But that’s what happens, because we are incredibly talented and work really hard. I make no assumptions of our audiences, but I know we are giving something special to people.

We played for almost 2 hours and had big crowds all night. All of the chairs we full. Even though I was tired, I pushed through it. It ended up not being the best night, but I had fun anyway. We went back to Cultura for dinner.

Saturday July 23rd 2016

It was hot today. We went to Cultura do Hamburguers for lunch, but we didn’t need to stay there for hours. It’s much cooler in our new room. It’s painful to play in heat for me. It was a slow night at first, but it got better by the end. I was very tired. Literally I felt like I was falling asleep the entire time we played. I had trouble getting my breath, too. I guess it was because I had slept very badly the night before. We saw a girl who we met at the park last year. She had a friend with her who was also very moved by our music. People love our music here.

We went to Sacramento and had two salmons with pea puree. It’s delicious. I love that place. The waiters are kind. We go out to eat so much in this city. There’s no way we can cook in the kitchen where we live, so we take full advantage of going out to eat when we’re in Lisbon. I love going out to eat!

Friday July 22nd 2016

In the morning, Thoth made a loop on Reason and started to play his violin with it. He’s been making some cool loops. We’re gonna use them to make our new album. It’s a great tool for writing music. We can make loops that we can show to musicians to play, or just use the loops to play over. We can score our music this way. It’s exciting.

We went to FNAC to return the Bose speaker we’d bought to try our with the music loops. We’re going to buy one when we get back to New York. It’s too expensive here. We had some salmon sushi wraps for lunch and then rested at home until time to play.

It was a comfortable evening. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the upper 90’s. Ugh. It was a night of big crowds, and some irritating distractions. Three men stood behind us during our solos and were acting stupid. They started “singing” during Thoth’s solo. I filmed them. So rude! People mock us here more than other places, and yet we are more famous and successful here than anywhere else. Last night some drug dealers we passed on the way to dinner did the same thing. They started singing in this ugly, mocking falsetto as if to say “This is what I think you do.” or “See, I can do what you do too!” It’s so idiotic. People sometimes start singing when they walk away from watching us, but we can tell they’re just trying stuff out because they’re inspired. They’re not doing it to try and insult us. Why do people do that you think? I think it’s envy. The other night we had a big crowd and people across the street did it. They were envious of our big crowd. I guess they don’t understand what great singing is.

A man with a tambourine came into the space when we finished and were selling a CD to a newly engaged couple who was adoring us. The man started banging his tambourine and yelling, which at first scared me. A drunk man came in and started yelling too. That’s what happens when you’re a public performer. We’re lucky it doesn’t happen that much. I’m used to it. While we were packing up, a group of drunk men came in a stared at us. I stood up and they dramatically backed away as if I was scary or something. So stupid! I’m so used to it. A huge group of people can stare at me and I can just stare back. I don’t care. Someone can talk to me I don’t want to talk to or do something stupid and I don’t react. I’m fearless. People can start yelling or “singing” or dancing or acting like an idiot while we’re playing and I don’t react. That doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying, but I have the skills to deal with it. I’m strong and brave and fearless.

We had dinner at a place where the waiters knew us. One of them said they’d seen Thoth in Barrio Alto over 7 years. Yup. Three young people stopped in the street and waved at us. They’d seen us play several times. I love that. It was almost 1am when we got home.

Thursday July 21st 2016

We had a really nice day today. We moved into the cooler room next to ours. It was another incredibly cool and temperate day so we could stay in the house and relax. I acted a little and we went to get sandwiches at Ink Farm Food Cafe down the street from home. The manager is so nice to us. He asked where we’d been. We haven’t been there in over a week because it’s too hot. We like Cultura’s air conditioning. I got an apple and some fruit bars at the corner store. The owner doesn’t speak any English and has been teaching us Portuguese words over the years. He loves us because he saw us play once. We hung out and relaxed at home, working on our various projects and then got dressed to play. I’m only wearing white face these days.

It was a much better play tonight. Very cool and breezy. The couple that’s come so many times to see us came again. We were so tired that we finished early. The woman was sad (I’m sorry, I don’t know her name!) Two girls that were watching asked, “How did you get to where you are?” I love that question. We went to Cultura for din din. The waiters are so sweet! They made a fresh key lime pie for us.

Wednesday July 20th 2016

I acted a little today. I was so grateful for the cool temperatures! I HATE hot weather. It really makes me sluggish and tired and sad. We had sandwiches and juices at Ink Farm Foods Cafe for lunch around 2 and rested all day in the house. I was very happy and feeling good. We got dressed and went to play at 8pm, as we usually do. Our first day out after two very busy and fun days off is kinda weird.

A man and his friends came into the space with a strange, space-ship-looking thing and put it on the ground. He instantly recognized Thoth and said he’d seen the documentary. He asked if he could put his friends art piece in the space with us and see how people reacted. We were fine with that. It’s funny how people don’t think of putting their art with our music. I love when people draw us or make art around our work. It’s so rare though. I was flattered.

It was a Wednesday like the Wednesday’s of last year. Lots of people, no CD sales. I had fun anyway. The artists stayed the entire time and watched us. The couple who comes almost every night came to see us again. They always come halfway through and sit in the same seats. To the left of us. Neither of them can speak English, but they LOVE our music! I love it. We went to the Nepalese place and had a yummy, cheap din din.

Tuesday July 19th 2016

It was another fantastic day off for us. It was cool and comfortable out too, a blessing after it was so hot and uncomfortable all last week. We took a walk to Miss Jappa for our weekly sushi lunch. The chef, who’s made sushi for us several times now, made us a platter with brand new combinations we’d never tried before. It was delicious and made me very happy. We then walked to the park with a beautiful view of Lisbon and had drinks. We then went home and had a relaxing afternoon in our cozy room and went to Cultura do Hamburguers for dinner. There was a line, but it didn’t take long. I love their food! It took me a few years to accept the changes. It used to be a tea house, but now I love it. The staff is super friendly to us and I just love their key lime pie! We go there too much and we’ll miss it when we leave in less than 2 weeks! I wonder how they’d treat us if they knew what we did!

Monday July 18th 2016

We had the most wonderful day off today. We made a point to go to the Moorish castle after a lovely lunch together in Sintra. I’d gotten some motion sickness pills for the bus ride up there and a man knew us. He was very casual with Thoth at first, but when he talked to both of us he said we are amazing. He was really impressed how big our crowds are.

I love Sintra. It’s beautiful and quaint and just so cute! We’ve been there so many times since 2010, but it never gets old. Sintra is a world heritage sight, so it’s full of old castles and relics. We took the bus all the way up to the castle, and there was a castle BEHIND that castle that was all red and yellow, called the Pena Palace and was built in the 19th century. We’d never seen it before. The Moorish castle was built in 8th and 9th century. We walked up to the beautiful view at the castle and stood breathlessly watching the sky. It was truly breathtaking. The view of the Pena was stunning. A castle of yellow and red surrounded by green. The view from the Moorish castle down to Sintra and beyond was elegant. All the houses topped with orange roofs. You always know you’re in Lisbon when you seen those roofs. They’re specifically a Portuguese thing. Even the islands of Portugal are all dotted with orange capped houses. It’s cool to see from the air. I felt like we were in an airplane up there. We were so high up, at least a thousand feet. I will never forget it. It was completely and 100 percent worth it. We’d been eying that castle for years before we had the energy to go see it. Next year we’ll go to Pena and explore the park and palace.

God, I would love for us to live in a palace! Thoth and I and our music is perfect for palaces, don’t you think? We’d play music and prance around all day, having concerts and fancy dinner parties all year long. People would come from far and wide to see us. Not that we’d ever be able to afford to buy a palace, but I can dream, can’t I?

A woman recognized us at the castle. It’s always amazing when that happens. I filmed her. I’m always surprised. That happens more in this city than anywhere else. The best compliment people give is “I’ve never seen anything like it before.” That is the truest compliment anyone can give.

Hottest Days for the Year For Us

Sunday July 17th 2016

We stayed at Cultura through the hottest part of the day. It was 93 degrees today. Brutal. We went out to play at 9pm and it was still hot. We played only for an hour, both very tired from a long and tiring week. We took our things home and went back out for a lovely dinner at Sea Me.

Saturday July 16th 2016

Another broiler of a day. 90 degrees. Off to Cultura again for some relief and a lunch. I wasn’t looking forward to playing, even though Saturday is usually a great night. It was a hard night. Still 85 degrees while we were dancing around and singing. Thoth pushes us hard. It’s at these times I realize how much better shape he is in than me. 🙂 I don’t function well in heat. Thoth actually doesn’t as well as he used to, but he’s 62, so you gotta forgive ’em. I can see him still burning it up when he’s 80 and 90. He’s a fighter, a warrior. I’m more the delicate flower type (with a little parts brute.)

 

 

Pushing through the Heat

Friday July 15th 2016

It felt much hotter today. It was 90 degrees. Oppressive! Again, we escaped to the air conditioned sanctuary that is Cultura for a leisurely lunch and work on our computers until late afternoon. It was still sizzling at 6pm. When we played at 9pm, again sans makeup, it was about 85 degrees. It’s a horrific temperature to prayform in. Friday’s are notoriously and oddly slow, and it was again this time, but we pushed through it.

A group of four girls sat in the chairs before we started. I took it as a good sign, but they jumped up and screamed when Thoth did his classic yelp at the beginning of “Anya.” Thoth got me through it. He pushes hard on the more energetic songs, even when it’s as hot as it was tonight. We got through 2 hours, and had made our big circles around each other three times over all. I pushed hard for the final one, and was very proud of myself.

Thoth had gone earlier to make a reservation at Sacramento, where we had dinner tonight. We were both more tired than usual. We sat there depleted of energy and exhausted eating our yummy dinner. The manager is so nice to us. We’ve been there many times in 6 years.