In just a day or so, I’ll be on tour with the Body Heat: Queer Femme Porn tour. This is the fifth iteration of this tour, and the fourth one I’ve participated in.
It’s strange for me, to have this be a normal thing to say: “Yeah, I won’t be here for that event, I’ll be on tour.” On tour? Me? How did that happen?
What I love about being a performing writer/artist is coming to understand, over the last six years or so (since the inception of Dirty Ink, a fierce-and-fabulous dyke erotica collective, and then, after that, with Body Heat), that performances and shows happen because an artist/performer decides they want them to happen. I mean, we didn’t have to wait for someone to say they wanted to see us stand up and read dirty queer stories that were inflected with a history and experience of trauma — we decided we wanted to do this, to share these pieces with the world, and so we figured out how to do it: we found a venue/show to collaborate with or booked a space on our own, we sent out press releases and info to papers and online calendars and we told all our friends and sent out announcements to mailing lists and we wrote and rewrote and practiced and then we stood up in front of a room full of people and shared our work. What a wonderful way to publish!
The first time we accomplished this, I was moved beyond words — this experience of being a writer-artist collaborating with other writer-artists, first of all, meant that I was part of something much bigger than me, meant that I’d found kindred spirits. Then, too, there was the fact that people came out to hear our work. Strangers and friends wanted to sit on hard chairs on a Friday night, they parted with well-earned money, they gave us their hours, and we got to give them back our words. This exchange is delicious, it’s dangerous, it’s an extraordinary gift that cycles around and through audience and performer.
When Body Heat takes off from Atlanta on Monday and heads to Huntsville (and then to Nashville, the Planet Ida, then Asheville, then Durham, then back around to the ATL!), we’ll find community there, strangers who want connection, and with whom we want connection as well. We’ll find that same generosity that I’ve experienced every time I’ve performed my work, which has nothing in particular to do with my work and has more to do with the seeking out of shared experience, the desire to come together with others and share in a performance, the making live of art that otherwise one consumes alone and maybe in isolation. An open mic, a reading, a spoken word event: these are incarnations of the old old way of sharing and passing on information, when the bards came through town. It’s a tremendous thing, to get to join the circle of bards. And the other thing? People will share their beds and food with us, they will want us safe and comfortable. This continues to amaze me, and puts gratitude in parts of my body that I didn’t know needed un-wall-ing, and I walk around after tour always quite a bit softer and more exposed.
Here’s the sometime else I’ve learned — there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this stuff, the creating of shows and events, the sharing of your art and wisdom with others. Is there a show that you want to see? You can make that happen — you can book time or space at a gallery or cafe for an open mic, you can find people willing to open their living rooms for a house party. There are people who need what you envision, what you have to share. If you can imagine it, you’re not the only one who wants it — just hold that possibility for awhile.
(Thank you for your envisioning, the connections you want to create, how you shape that into reality with your creativity — thank you always for your words.)