I felt like shit before we went out to play. Hopeless, helpless. I can’t work on my play. I’m trying to think of ways for us to make more money, but there are none I can think of. No quick fixes. Patreon, but who would support us in the way we really needed? We’d need a significant amount of support to be able to support ourselves. I could ask people for help, my family for example, but don’t want to rely on them for help. I’m so scared and I don’t know what to do. We can’t survive on tips alone. It is barely enough to get by right now. It’s weighing heavily on my mind every day.
I got ready to play and did my makeup as always, but eventually I sat down wondering why I was even bothering. I’m worried about turning any lights on continuously, as it will add to the always unexpectedly ridiculous electricity bill we can’t afford at the end of each month. I snapped this one and only photo of the day. You can read my feelings on my face. What are we going to do? I just wanted to cry. I don’t know why I was putting makeup on. It doesn’t do anything for us. It doesn’t increase our money. It doesn’t help us. It can help my mood, but not today. My mind was elsewhere. I am preoccupied by money these days. I hate it. I need to pull myself out of it, but I can’t seem to. Usually I’m thinking about being creative and trying to write and draw and prayform beautifully. I have managed to keep my thoughts away from money since we got here. Just do my very best and things will get better, but two months of doing so badly it’s finally getting to me.
When we bike to the park to play, there is hope today will be different. There is hopefulness. Today was the same. Tori arrived all dressed up and so did Pascual. He had his hair slicked back and was wearing spats and a tie. Very nice. Both of them would help to sell CDs as best they could. While I was talking to Tori, a man and his wife bought two CDs and a download card from Thoth, That always lifts my mood and gives me hope to day will go similarly in terms of people’s generosity. I was more bubbly and full of good feelings as we started, but it didn’t last. We had a crowd for the first song, but it again was very slow. Crowds here and there, but not generous. I remember writing about these kinds of frustrations in Edinburgh in 2014.
I got more and more frustrated as we played. Same old same old. We were trying our best, people were watching us, but not coming forward. Every time I said we have our music available after a song, no one even inquired about it. The couple who’d bought two CDs came back to watch us for a while and bought another one. We told them they were making our day. The wife keeled next to me and I explained how hard it is for us not to sell CDs and we can’t survive on tips alone. “No, God no you can’t.” she said sympathetically. A sympathetic ear for once! So compassionate, and she didn’t really say much else than that. Just a little compassion goes a long way, especially right now when we’re struggling like this.
Bill couldn’t come today as he sprained his ankle on Monday slipping in the rain. Poor thing! We missed him. I hope he heals up soon so we can see him again. He is struggling too. Everyone struggles. When things are bad like this, the worst feeling is feeling alone, because no one can help us. Only we can figure it out. People could step forward and be especially generous all at once, but that doesn’t happen. We survive by a few people being generous for the many others who choose for whatever reason not to be. It’s been this way as long as I’ve been prayforming, almost 10 years. It hasn’t changed. People are greedy and ungenerous. That’s why I hesitate putting any of our music up for free online, as people would just listen to it and not give anything back, as most do in the park. I don’t trust people to surprise us by being generous.
I don’t know how we manage to keep things going. How do we manage to keep traveling and living in all these beautiful cities. NYC, San Diego, SF, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and London only from prayforming in public. I always fear that will end somehow. The only way it would end is if we stopped doing it. We’ve been to San Diego, San Francisco, Lisbon, Amsterdam, London, NYC, Malaga and Nashville just this year alone. I don’t want to stop traveling, no matter how hard it is, because it’s the only way we can keep playing. I hope things get better. I hope we can find another way, a way to fix this problem. We’ve been in worse experiences. When we finally find success, people will be wishing they supported us more. We need to figure it out. We will be stronger in the end. What won’t kill us will make us braver, stronger, more polished, more shiny and more beautiful. There has got to be a way. Please God make things better for us.
Wednesday March 1st 2017
I finally slept well last night. I fell asleep when I went to bed and slept until 10, just to get fully rested. I was able to work on my play again for the first time in a week. Writing is something that keeps my head straight and out of damaging thoughts. It was a really hard day for me. I have a lot of fear about our inability to sell CDs anymore. We used to sell a lot every day and people clamored for them, not anymore. People don’t even ask about them. It has had an impact on our income. Our albums are beautiful, but I know people don’t buy music anymore. They listen on Spotify and Youtube. When I was a teenage if you wanted to buy an album or rent a movie, you went to Tower Records or Blockbuster. Both stores have shut down and disappeared. The first time I listened to “Phantom of the Opera”, we went down to Tower Records to buy it. Now you just look it up on Youtube, as well as countless bootlegs of the show. When we wanted to watch a film version of Phantom, off we went to Amazon to buy a copy. Now it’s all on Youtube. Sure, it’s convenient as hell, but all artists and musicians are suffering because of it. Even though our music isn’t available anywhere but through our website and from us in person, there is no demand for it. We’re going to have six albums out after this new one is released, but it was our very first, the live version from the Angel Tunnel in 2009, that sold the most copies. It was the least good quality of all of our albums to date. It was live. People even complained about it. There is little motivation to release new albums when people rarely say anything about them and we don’t know how to sell them.
This is how I felt as I was doing my makeup. Scared and unsure how we will survive if the one thing that gives us any amount of stability is disappearing right before our eyes. We biked to the park and sadly it was really empty. My hope that the prayformance would cheer me up went right out the window. We played and gathered a crowd, despite that there weren’t many people around, but they just stood there when we finished, or walked away. I realize that a lot of my frustration comes from what other people do (or mostly don’t do.) I can’t control what people do. I can only control myself and my reactions to what people do. Today I felt like I’m wasting my voice singing outside for free for anyone to listen, yet I don’t know of any other way other than doing what we do to make a living and continue to perform and be creative on a daily basis. We should be performing indoors. Playing in public truly is beneath us, but the market is so clogged up with bull shit and untalented hacks fighting for fame and glory, there isn’t any room for our work to be seen other than in the street. We are pushed to the side. Our beautiful, unique and completely original music in the whole world is pushed into the street to be heard. I don’t know of any music or theater festivals that would touch us. We have so little to show for what we do. People have to see our gifts and hear our work for what it is and know in their own hearts we are gifted beyond measure. Is it our fate to be street performers until we die and struggle to be able to continue our lifestyle forever? We like to be able to do nice things for ourselves, but we can’t these days. We have to lay low. Work on our projects, go play in the park, make just enough to survive and lay low. We don’t like lean times. We’ve experience them before, much worse in fact. In Marrakech and Barcelona and Edinburgh and Berlin, even in NYC, and we were always OK eventually. It all balanced out in the end. The deep fear is that eventually we’ll hit such lean times we won’t be able to bounce back. If we were allowed to play our music freely without fear and sell our albums and travel to any city we wanted to, we can take care of ourselves. It’s when the limitations come upon us that we face fears of our work not existing anymore. Even if we were homeless and starving on the street, we would still prayform. People have their own problems. People just want to think we’re these magic fairies who play in parks all over the world and have no worries or woes. People think our life is a dream. News flash friends, it’s not. I am aware how blessed I am. I am. Thoth is here. He will never leave me. My family is here. They love me and will help if things get really bad. We have fans who care about us. Not many, but they do love us. I wish we knew people who had influence who could really help us and lift us out of the life of street performers. We know James Lapine, but even he can’t help us, even though he loves us and he loves what we do. Can anyone help us? People have over the years. Friends who have given us places to live in Barcelona, Porto, Marrakech, Amsterdam, London, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Francisco, even Portland and Eugene and Gold Beach. People have hired us for performances in Madeira and Malaga and Sao Paulo and ALMOST in Rio and Martha’s Vineyard, even one time in NYC. We keep ourselves alive through our public prayformance. It’s the only thing we know.
Since we didn’t have crowds today, we played four new pieces. One was the new 3/4 we’ve been playing for a while. The ending was beautiful. Just our two voices weaving in and out of each other, like making love with our voices. Afterwards people clapped, sort of, but they just stood there. Not wanting to show their support, but not wanting to leave. It’s as if they are in awe, yet unable to process what they just saw. Our voices are god dammed beautiful! You’d think people would be flocking forward to say something and thank us for what we do and show their support. No. They just stand there. People sometimes say I’m entitled to people’s support, but you know what? People are entitled to watching us and giving nothing back. Taking photos and videos, saying nothing supportive and walking away. The gall people have! Even if our fans can’t give us money, they hold space for us and talk to us and care about us and ask how we’re doing and spend time with us. That is something. There is so little people can do. The most our fans can do is come see us every day, which is amazing. We want to record albums with a band and a string quartet. We want to do shows with other artists, musicians and actors. We want to perform in beautiful venues with great acoustics. All of that requires money and lots of fans, neither of which we have and both of which we don’t know how to gain. This is the year of my Saturn Return. All of the feelings of wanting more success, wanting to be less invisible, wanting our talents to be recognized are coming forward strongly. I’m in a happy marriage, Thoth and I love each other. I am proud of what I do for a living. I am proud I am traveling around the world. I am proud to be working on creative projects like drawing and blogging and writing a play and a book and running two vlog channels. I’m doing the best I can. I get pessimistic because all the work I do seems to not matter. Things have got to get better. They do usually. We had a rough time last year at the same time, and then the documentary was made about us. Something good has got to happen. I don’t have it that bad. If I didn’t have Thoth I don’t know what I would do. He takes care of me. He’s watching out for me through this time. We know how to hunker down and lay low. We don’t like it, but we still have each other. We’re not going to starve or die or not be able to prayform. Everything is OK. I have to stay hopeful. Maybe this year will bring something incredible to us. Something I can’t even imagine. Maybe we’ll get a commission or a place to live and create new works, or maybe we’ll be given a beautiful place to prayform indoors, or maybe we’ll be given the opportunity to work with the people we want to work with. It’s so hard to be positive when the country is so f-ed up. I have to find a way. Thoth has been able to, so I can. I am blessed to be alive. Something amazing is coming. Amazing things have come, but something more amazing than anything before is coming. I know.
Tuesday February 28th 2017
I’ve been having trouble sleeping the last few nights. The night before last I got to sleep at 4am and got up around noon. Last night I got to sleep at around 2am. I woke up sometime when the sun was out and went back to sleep until noon. I finally feel rested. Finally, after three days. I need at least eight hours of sleep to be able to function normally. I wasn’t able to work on my play. I haven’t been able to write for a few days now. I’ve been too tired. I need to be fully alert to be able to write. It takes all of my brain power. Instead I painted my scary faces drawing with acrylic paints I’d been working on for a week. I painted all afternoon. Thoth took the bus to Sprouts to buy groceries. What a sweet husband he is. I started feeling really shitty eventually. Feeling like I’m immensely insignificant and that our work is illegitimate and unimportant. Fear starts to seep into my head. Fear that I’ll be forgotten, fear of Thoth dying, fear of being by myself and unable to cope with it, fear that no one will care, fear of how little anyone cares in general, fear of not accomplishing the things I want to in my life, fear of disappearing, and fear that none of it matters anyway. We have no stability. We have each other and we have our talents, but we have no consistency accept our will to go out and prayform in the park. We can’t be street performers forever. Being an artist for a living is so difficult, but it’s the only thing I know. I’ve never done anything else. I have to count my blessings. At least I can sing well enough to support myself. At least Bunny loves me. At least I have a family that loves me. I’m never going to be homeless or starve to death. All of that said, I want us to be recognized for what we’re doing with our life. We are worthy of more support and less fear doing what we do. All we can do is continue to do it and try to keep hope alive. By the time I’m 30 I will have been prayforming in the street for 10 years. That is the longest time I have done anything. It’s not that nothing has come of doing it either. We’ve made beautiful 6 albums, we will have traveled to Europe 5 (almost 6) times, we have performed in public spaces and rare private events all over the world, we have friends all over the world, we have created something that is incredibly unique, we’ve performed in front of thousands of people, we even have some dedicated fans who read this blog and the vlogs with open, nonjudgmental hearts. I want for us to be able to be so much more than be street performers. It’s hard to be grateful for what you have when you want so much more. I need to count my blessings and not give myself a hard time.