Friday March 3rd 2017
I had another difficult sleep last night. Tried to take less Meletonin than the nights before, but the panic and fear about sleeping is so strong, I had to take my usual dose. It feels unnatural to take anything to sleep. Last year I had to as well and it messed me up for months. The fear of sustaining our lifestyle plagues me most at night. Two specific things fill me with worry. Lack of CD sales and park rangers bothering us. I try to think of ways to fix the problems, but I can’t. The park rangers may always bother us and we may never be able to sell CDs like we did before. We may also never have stability. It’s terrifying to me. Selling CDs is a major factor to our lives being sustainable. I wish we had somewhere else to play in the winter, but we don’t. These months have always been bleak, but right now it’s worse than ever before. It’s not like we sell lots of CDs elsewhere. People don’t buy them much anymore, and there is nothing to replace them. I don’t know what to do about it either. It’s not just something that sustains us, selling our music puts it into people’s lives and minds and hearts when they don’t see us live. It keeps us with them. Without taking away our music on CD, people won’t hear it again (unless they film it, but that isn’t the same as listening to our professionally recorded albums.) Our yet-to-be-released album has music on it no one has ever heard, but why release it if we can’t find a way to make money off it? Why does everything have to be so frighteningly unstable? Sometimes I just can’t take it anymore. I didn’t work on anything creative this morning. No play writing or drawing. Just fear.
I talked to someone close to me about how I was feeling and got to feeling even worse. I felt like it was our fault that things aren’t going well for us right now. That it’s because we don’t sing in English or because our music is simplistic. That’s not why, I know. It can’t be. We’re not going to change the core of what we do; singing in a made up language with our two voices, two violins and foot percussion with magical makeup and costumes. We change every day, as our most dedicated fans know. Lots of artists have had success not singing in English or their music being simple. Cirque Du Soleil and Philippe Glass are the first things that come to mind, two very successful, famous and well respected groups/people. We haven’t gotten worse either. We’ve gotten so much better. Our albums have gotten better too. It’s easy for someone to blame how we make our music for our lack of success when we’re not successful. If we were successful and had something to show for what we’ve done, no one would say that. People love our music and used to buy it in droves. If everyone who was uniquely making art/music/theater in their own unique way changed in order to possibly find more success we wouldn’t have all the great unique artists in the world. Somehow feeling like I did I managed to do some really beautiful makeup for today’s prayfomance. It helps my mood to feel pretty. I put together a really beautiful outfit, too. I don’t call it a costume, costume implies falseness and fakery to me. I am always me when I prayform, the heightened, expanded and outrageous me, even if I’m feeling sad, like today.
As we biked to the park, I started saying positive things to myself. “I’m lucky. I have Thoth. He’s never going to abandon me. I have my sister and my mom and dad who love me. I’m never going to starve or be homeless. I have my voice and all my talents… Drawing, acting, makeup, costuming, writing… I’m so lucky to be able to support myself by playing music. Things will get better. Everything will balance out. We’ve been through much worse. I need to stay positive. I have a dream, a very specific goal. Who at my age knows exactly what they want? I know exactly what I want. I want to perform our operas with Michael Chiaravelotti, our hand drummer friend and James Swanton, my brilliant young British actor friend. We have this beautiful work we’re doing. Something could happen at any moment. We just can’t stop prayforming. We have to keep the dream alive.” Last night while Thoth was making dinner, we were talking excitedly about this goal, how we could make it happen. It seems impossible. We’d need money and a venue and an audience. All things we don’t yet have. It’s got to happen. I’m chomping at the bit these days, raring to go. I’m not going to be 29 forever. I’m in my prime.
As we were getting ready to play, a police officer on a motorcycle stopped by every street performer on the Prado and asked them to produce a permit. He didn’t see us as we didn’t have a crowd. We watched, feeling very scared as we have never seen police officers bother the street performers before. Officer Morales is our friend and I think he is head. As we played, I began feeling like sh*t again. We had nice crowds and the weather was amazing, but the interest in CDs or in any interaction with us at all was almost non existent, as it has been for months. We need a patron, or patrons. We can’t survive off tips alone. We’ve had dry spells in the past, but not like this, and it’s just getting worse. Thank God we’re healthy enough of body and mind to keep trying, despite it feeling sometimes like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. Today I did. I felt so alone today. Even though people were watching us and clapping, I felt like we are completely alone and people could care less about us. No one in our audiences can help us other than saying a kind word or throwing in a few bucks. I have this feeling that I wish our audience would step forward and do something. Our friends do that just by being there. Tori was there. She cared. I knew she did. We were terrified of the officer coming back and bothering us. He went by again, but we were taking a break and again he didn’t see us. Lucky, but we’re not safe. What a horrible feeling. No safety net. My armpits were sweating as we continued, the thought at the back of our mind we’d be arrested or harassed at any moment. I don’t want to talk to police ever again. It makes me feel helpless and horrible. We’re not doing anything wrong. We shouldn’t be afraid of police. They should be protecting us, not threatening us.
As the play continued, I got more and more sad. Same thing. No CD sales. I said we have CDs and download cards after every song. No inquiries. It gets old. I don’t know what else to say. I feel like I’m giving away my very soul when I sing and people don’t even bother to say anything. At least we had an audience, unlike on Wednesday. We played a beautiful improvisation. We’ve been coming up with a lot of new music on these very dark, difficult days. I don’t know how or why. I hope things get better somehow. I do like the honest, eye to eye, hand to hand way we live our lives. It’s genuine and raw and honest and beautiful. We’re one of the last artists to be bringing something so unique to the public and only a few people understand how lucky they are. Our friends do. I’d like to be surprised by our audience for once. Surprised by their generosity and kindness and going the extra mile. We need it so much right now. We need some help.
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Saturday November 5th 2016
No makeup again today. I wish I could, but I’m still stuffy. That’s the worst part of getting sick. The nasal congestion lingers, making singing and doing makeup difficult. I beat this cold’s butt faster than I ever have before, though!
The Boyd family was singing at the tunnel when we arrived. John Boyd is one of our best allies at the park. He makes it possible for us to play there. He moves everyone to give us our time slot back. I don’t know what we’d do if he and his family weren’t there holding the tunnel while we’re gone. I know they’re looking out for themselves, but so are we. We all have to. No one is doing it for us. A man asked “Are you Tribal Baroque?” and said he loved what we do. “Keep going and keep making those vlogs!” he said. People are starting to pay attention!
We actually had a great play. The break dancers whistled and set up their cones to try and do a show during “Anya” right outside the tunnel, but they couldn’t gather a crowd. If only they were nice to us and everyone else we would try to work with them, but they harass us and ignore us. The best we can do is ignore them. It was so pleasing when they couldn’t start their show. So satisfying. How dare they try to do a show in the middle of our song. How dare they. They should be ashamed of themselves! Such hubris!
We had two beautiful hours of relative silence while we prayformed. We sold CDs and people said amazing things to us. Hannah and a friend of hers came to see us. She saw us a few years ago and brought friends. She’s trying to get us to perform at “Sleep No More” before we leave at the end of this month. I don’t believe it will happen until it happens! Hannah invited us to dinner when we finished. We went to a sushi place on Columbus and 73rd. It was delicious. We laughed a lot too. Fun! Such a great way to end our week!
Friday November 4th 2016
Hard day. No makeup again. Still sick. Cover Story was singing at the tunnel when we arrived. The break dancers started up when we started. Ass holes. They didn’t try starting another show after that. The amplified trio started up, but further away from us at the other side of the Angel Fountain. Good. Still loud, but we could handle it. They looked into the tunnel at us as they passed to leave over an hour later. They’re ass holes and liars too. We can’t talk to them either. We’ve tried with both of those groups. They neither care nor listen!
I was so over it today. So sick of it all. So tired of people’s rudeness and uncaring behavior. It will always be that way. Can I deal with it for the rest of my life? I don’t know. The prayformance was hard, again. I was still sick and sang gently on my chords. A woman gave us a 20. I thought she wanted a CD (we haven’t been selling many of them lately) but she just want to give us a one dollar tip. I mean, I get it. She probably needed to use the money for something else, but why not support art? I understand why people don’t support art as much anymore. They don’t have to. They just take pictures and videos of us with their phones and walk away. Easy. No shame, no guilt, no hesitation. It’s just what people do these days. It takes consciousness, kindness and care to support artists these days.
I always struggle with the balance between the financial side of our work and the creative/spiritual side. We have to make a living and pay for the things we need to pay for to continue doing this work, but we are also trying to get in touch with our higher, more spiritual and creative selves. I wish we didn’t have to sell CDs and concern ourselves with all of that. I find that when I just sing and don’t worry, everything falls into place.
It ended up being a great play after an hour or so. People bought CDs and were very complimentary. It really does help me so much! It isn’t all about selling CDs and making nice tips, it’s about self expression and connecting with people more for us. It was peaceful and quiet in the tunnel as we packed us. So sweet and blissful. Just gotta push through it. I am so lucky to have my little Bunny boo.