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Where Was Our Audience?

Wednesday October 26th 2016

I got up excited to try a new darker makeup look today, which I did. Thoth said I looked Gothic.

14877626_1304611286240179_1965718109_n 14825828_1304610189573622_432961630_n 14874836_1304610779573563_241804225_n 14877010_1304610616240246_599710624_nWe got to Central Park in the cold and to our surprise the Conservancy was setting up for their big fundraiser (which blocks the back of the Angel Tunnel where we play.) We knew that would negatively affect our week as the break dancers would come do their thing downstairs. Annoying, as always.

Cover Story finished as we got ready and Herman, one of the singers, came over to hug us and say hello. While we stretched he said, “Your eyes are mesmerizing.” It’s nice that someone at the tunnel likes us. Once we began, the Afrobats started up, playing their boom box quietly. I was sure our day was ruined, and I was right! It wasn’t just them, people didn’t clap while we played really at all or gathered– or tip us or anything. It was as if everyone was ignoring us, or worse, they were just deaf and blind to the beauty that was right in front of them.

On these days it’s especially hard because no one points out or even openly recognizes what’s going on. No one says, “Hey I’m sorry no one is clapping for you guys, you’re amazing, and to play while those assholes are doing their stupid show is incredible! They’re hacks. You guys are original and unique, and you don’t give up! Inspiring! Thank you!” No one says that. They don’t even notice, even though it’s happening right in front of them. A woman said something like that to us back in the summer of 2013 when the Afrobats were doing show after show and we weren’t stopping.

Not only didn’t most anyone clap or tip us today, they didn’t even watch us. It was pretty shitty. We’re doing the best we can and no one was even watching us. I know within myself that we’re doing something the world has never seen and when we’re dead everyone will wish they had supported us, the same as they wished they supported all the other great artists of the past. It actually felt amazing to sing full voice over the Afrobats show. We’re not trying to bother them, but we know how much it irritates them to hear us. They really do hate us for some reason. The other day Ravon (one of the two Afrobats) said “Hey homo!” to Thoth as we were passing by into the Angel Tunnel. They have a deep seated fear and disdain for us, and there is no way to talk to them. Maybe if someone else did, but they don’t listen to conflicting opinions. Well, no, they don’t hate us. What am I saying. They don’t even know us. How can they hate two people they don’t know. They hate something in themselves, their inability to be more free and open, and we threaten and frighten their masculine, ghetto street cred or something like that.

We played through it though, and got through it. Glad when it was over. Yuck. Tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so we can take a day off to recuperate. When we finished, Marcela set up her stuff and her boom box literally right on top of us. So rude. We had to drag all our stuff out of the way it was so loud. People clapped louder for her than they did for us all day. It was too painfully ironic for us. “We’re doing the best we can. Society is the way it is and we can’t change it. It’s just going to get worse. We can only change ourselves. We succeed by doing our work. Fuck everyone else. When we’re dead no one will care we did this work, but it will be great benefit to us karmically, spiritually, emotionally, and in every other way.” I said. It’s true.14800912_1304611506240157_1592994180_nThe thing that’s hard about a first prayformance day being bad is that I was so creative this weekend. I was in my own little world creating this headdress, and then having that lovely lunch with Marianne made me feel that much better. But then to go out in the world and see how little anyone cares what we do creatively is so hurtful. I won’t forget Marianne saying me writing about the bad days is even more inspiring than the good days, because it shows me as very human. I am human. I know everyone has problems and frustrations, but mine are just as important as anyone else’s. I’m so glad I have this blog and the vlog to get things out there.

At home Meli, Amy and the guests from France were hanging out. It felt so homey and sweet. I love coming home to Meli’s place. It’s the best place we’ve ever stayed in NYC. Going home actually cheers me up. I’m going to miss it here so much. I cleaned my face and went to get chicken for our dinner. I watched the people making our food and thought how lucky I am to have my life. Amy was in love with my new wire headdress and wants me to make her one. “You could be a costume designer.” she said. She’s so sweet and enthusiastic. It made my day. She told our other roommate J.P. about it. “She made this headdress that you would see at the Met.” I heard her say. So sweet. We ate our dinner and went upstairs to work until bedtime.

Tuesday October 25th 2016

Again, Thoth was in a bad mood when I got up. Poor baby. Depression sucks a**, doesn’t it? We got dressed up (I wore my new crown) and we went to 81st Street for lunch with Marianne, one of our biggest fans. She was waiting for us when we arrived. We talked and ate and she gave us designer clothes she didn’t want anymore. She’s been reading my blog for three years and watching the vlog since I started it in 2014. She loves our honesty and bravery going out every day and being ourselves. It inspires her. She says the vlog is more interesting than most things and deserves more attention, as well as us. It completely cheered us up. Thoth had gone to lunch feeling sad, and left laughing and smiling, all because of Marianne. I went to 23rd Street to get more things to make another crown at Michaels and went home. I edited the vlog and blog and sewed hair clips into my tiara until 1am. Being creative is my reason to keep going.

We Do What No One Else Does

Friday October 14th 2016

I woke up around 9:30am and took an hour to act in private. Sometimes the need is so strong, I can’t deny myself or I’ll be too distracted throughout the day. I did my makeup for 2 hours and we took the train to the park. I love looking outrageous. No one cares, especially in NYC. It’s rare anyone will even stare at me or say something.  We got off at the wrong stop. Oops. We both weren’t paying attention. A few stops before our usual shop. Instead of going back, we got off at 53rd Street and walked to the center of Central Park, probably a mile. I was hot.

We got ready and when Cover Story was finished, we pulled our stuff into the center and got ready to play. We had a great day! We’re not selling many CDs these days. I wish there was another way. Maybe pretty download booklets. I don’t know. People ask about DVDs, but won’t buy them. I know people don’t buy CDs anymore. I don’t. We sold three. A record in the last week. Strange. When Thoth was first performing in the Angel Tunnel in 1999 and 2000 he’d sell tons of CDs, and people wouldn’t be standing there filming him or taking pictures, they would be watching with their own eyes. It’ll just get worse. I don’t know how street performers will continue even by the end of my lifetime, 50 or 60 years from now, let alone in 100, 200 or 1000 years. We’re keeping something alive that is rare and doing something that literally no one else does. That’s why people always say, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” because they haven’t. Who goes around the world in creative makeup and headdresses singing and playing violin and doing theater in public places. In years to come, people will wish they could have been there to see our public shows and support us. They’ll be shocked how little support we had in our lifetimes and be amazed we managed to continue and find success despite that. A world where a lying, thieving, racist pig could be our next president is no place where people can appreciate true beauty.

People didn’t clap at the last song. That always makes us sad. We gave everything for our last song especially and people are watching. They just don’t really know how lucky they are to be watching us. If the world knew what we are really capable of when we have %100 focus and enthusiasm from an audience, we’d be performing for big crowds every day for the rest of our lives. As long as we are street performers doing our art for free in public, people will look down on us and pass us over. We’re blessed we have something to express ourselves and touch people that cross us and have their eyes and ears open. Not many people do these days.

Thursday October 13th 2016

I did a vlog of my makeup.

Another day of rain. Not when we arrived at the tunnel, but soon after we began setting up it started pouring. The tunnel became full of people. So annoying. The floor gets wet and it gets loud. They all left once the rain stopped, thankfully. Dan came with flowers. He’s the only person in the world who knows we have our anniversary of our first meeting on October 11th. He always brings us flowers. He was there on our first anniversary to celebrate with us, and he’s here still. We have a few friends like that. Friends who have stuck with us through thick and thin since the beginning. Friends who have loved us from the moment they saw us and never stopped loving us.

The rain came in spurts, but eventually it cleared. We had a lot of fun today. I was as expressive as possible. I didn’t really like my makeup look, but I loved my big headdress. Dan took lots of pictures. We played a beautiful improvisation.

Three (Very Different) Prayformances in the Angel Tunnel, Central Park!

Friday September 9th 2016
It was boiling hot today. The CDs were supposed to arrive today, but they didn’t before we left. We only had 5 left to sell today. I dressed up more than the last few days. When we left the apartment, a man walking by said, “You look stunning. Like a magical apparition,” he said. “You’ve already made my day.” That was lovely. I’d already accomplished something and we hadn’t even played yet.
I was barely wearing anything and I was still so f’ing hot. It was 90, feels like 100! The air conditioning on the subway was a blessing. When people say something like that, I know that’s what everyone who looks at me is thinking, but they’re not as brave to say something. It gives me a lot of strength and confidence!
The doo-woppers were taking a break from singing. It was too hot! They work as hard as we do. Good energy! That’s what the tunnel needs. They’re too focused on money though. We never talk about money. We got our bells on and clapped along with them.
Just as we pulled our things into the center to set up, I got an exciting email about something I still can’t tell you about yet! It was so wonderful I started jumping up and down and screaming. I was hoping it would happen!! OMG! What a WONDERFUL thing to read just before we started to play, and on such a hot day! WEEE!
We thought it would be a sluggish day, but it was great for us! The best this week! Quiet, peaceful and nice crowds. We only played an hour and 40 minutes, but we were truly exhausted! It was like performing in a oven turned on high. I’m so proud of us when we play through days like that. Not many people could. I’ve learned a lot.
We went home and low-and-behold, our CDs had arrived! Yay! Thank you Forrest!! We’d just sold out of CDs, so everything worked out perfectly!! Yay! Things are going so well for us!

Thursday September 8th 2016
I woke at 10am. Michael C., our drummer friend from Cali, called us. I was glad. He’d tried to call yesterday but we were on the subway. We talked for an hour. Told him about our trip to Europe and he told us some good news about his life. It doesn’t seem like good news to him now, but it is. Thoth got notice my computer would arrive soon, and just as we got off with Michael the doorbell rang. Thoth ran out to get my package. I was so thrilled! It only took 2 days for my computer to arrive! I was relieved. Now I could get back to my vlog and blog. I had 5 days of catching up to do. We discovered we only had three CDs left so I immediately called Forrest, who had them with him in CA. He said he would overnight them to us. He’s been working like crazy and not sleeping enough. Poor baby. He’s such an angel to us.
I was able to do my makeup and we got out of the house on time to get to the park. There wasn’t anyone playing there when we arrived, though there was a group of guys standing around in front of the tunnel. “It’s a film crew.” Thoth said. I was worried our play would be ruined again. He asked what they were up to. They said they’re planning for a night shoot. Whew. No disruptions today. A man said hi to me. He was the guy we were going to live with if we hadn’t stayed at Meli’s place. He was very sweet. “I hope you found a comfortable place.” he said. I’m glad we did. Dan came again to take photos and hang out with us. We got to play in (relative) peace. The group of about 15 to 20 men came into the tunnel and were talking loudly for a song or 2, but then left. It was a slow day, but we had fun. It was too hot though. Thoth was sweating profusely. We played an hour and 40 minutes. Though we had a crowd for our last song, no one clapped. That happens more here in NYC than anywhere else.
Dan took the subway to 42nd street with us and we went on to 23rd to grab a power converter for my new computer. After that, we went to Olive Garden for a big dinner. We were both very hungry. Our meal last night was so bad. I don’t think we eat enough calories in one day.

Wednesday September 7th 2016
Got up at 10am. Talked to our friend Dave R. on the phone. We’re going to stay with him in San Diego this January through April. He lives in a loft downtown. That’s exciting, and a relief. Dave is a great guy. He’s always been a fan and supporter of our work, even over the years we haven’t seen him as much.
We got to the park an hour before time to play. Dan Rubin arrived to take pictures. I felt under-dressed. My hair was down. I want to be all dressed up when Dan is here because he takes such beautiful pictures. It was only Wednesday and we had 5 days to play, so the first day is usually very casual.
There was a film crew outside the tunnel. They kept the doo-wop group from singing. I could tell it was irritating to them. We talked to them about it when we set up. “They say 5 minutes and then they take an hour.” one said. That’s how it is. They have no respect for the people trying to play music and make a living in the tunnel. No respect at all. That’s what irritates me about the park. It’s very cut throat and dog-eat-dog. We’re lucky we get to play there at all. Even though the doo-wop groups show was cut short, they finished on time anyway.
The film crew stood outside the tunnel an hour through our set and filmed the same shot over and over. It was some famous Bollywood singer. They had a bunch of extras with their backs to us pretending to clap. I was annoyed and pissed. It was fake. Film shoots are fake. “I give up.” I said putting my violin down and sitting on the pillar. Thoth sang a piece by himself. I felt it was no use. The crew was blocking anyone from watching us and taking away our crowds. I know the tunnel is public space, but why can’t people have a little compassion and respect? I would never treat people the way some people have treated us, no matter how powerful I might get. Power, fame, etc. doesn’t give you the right to behave badly. The more power you has, the more humble, giving and gentle you should be. That’s what Thoth has taught me. It’s a hard lesson to learn.
He talked to me about the Bethesda Angel. “We are not singing to them, we are singing to her. She is always reaching out a helping hand. They are based in the ego (the film crew and the people being filmed) but she is based on giving. They will always win in the ego, but we win in giving.” he said. “You may not understand it yet, but you are with me.” he said. When we sang “Plucking Song” and I was gazing out at the Angel, I could understand what he was saying. I wanted to cry. It’s so hard. I looked at Thoth and sang, “I love you, I love you, I love you.” over and over. He is my stronghold and my protector. He helps me to never give up and always keep going. That’s the most important thing. Perseverance. Not giving up no matter what happens.
It was actually amazing because we sold two CDs while the film crew was making the biggest racket during our most quiet song. We got an hour to play in peace and quiet. I was so grateful! A fashion designer named Patricia stopped and interviewed us. She watched a bit of a song and left. She looked amazing, and was very blunt. A true New Yorker. It was a nice ending to the play. We were very tired.
We went home and then went back out to a burger place. It was horrible, and shockingly overpriced. I hate having a bad meal after a hard day. We work hard and it a slap in the face feeling like we throw the money down the drain. Boo!

Our First Play At the Angel Tunnel for 2016!!

Friday September 2nd 2016

Our first play at the Angel Tunnel today!

Thoth was in a bad mood when I woke up around 8:40am. He lay down and snuggled with me. He gets crazy when we don’t play in a few days. We hadn’t played since Monday. He said he feels old, like a has been. “Just as long as you are living a life you love, which you are, fuck everything else.” I said.

We went to the grocery store to get breakfast stuff and got ready to go to the park to play. It’s always weirdly nerve wracking playing in the Angel Tunnel for the first time in a year. We never know what’s going to happen, but things always seem to work out for us.

We got to Central Park in an hour, door to door. Amazing. The fastest we’ve gotten there in years. We passed the Boyd kids coming from playing in the tunnel. The doo-wop group was there, just as John said yesterday. They were pretty great and didn’t repeat a song. Unusual! Totally acoustic and very loud too. They finished at 3, just like John said they would. One of them waited and watched our first song. The break dancers were there, too, but not too loud.

I find if I just stay calm, everything always works out. It was loud and distracting when we arrived, but once we played, it all got better. Always does. I never assume it will, but it always does. Vlad even came to see us. He’s a young musician. Very talented. Always jams out to our music. I appreciate that. Discovered us last year. He stayed for our prayformance. We were on point today. It’s amazing to first play in that tunnel again. Amazing we get to every Fall. We have the right connections.

It was a very fun, energetic and tiring play. Vlad walked with us. We saw our friends Kishan and Lei the ballerina. Vlad took the train with us a little ways home then said goodbye. We got salads and went home. There was a cute guy in heels and a cool looking top that came out of our building. The building we live in is full of artists and musicians. I love it. Thoth felt better.