Street Performance Notes
South Congress, Austin, Texas, Sunday, August 13, 2017
I was sitting on the street corner, singing incoherently and spreading mashed potatoes all over my body as people passed during brunch hour.
Wearing a white tutu, white face paint, and bright red lipstick, I park my bike and look for a place to perform. Half of my hair is missing because my razor broke midway through my self-serviced buzzcut that morning. After walking down a block or two, I realize I’m avoiding the thing I came here to do. To go from walking normally to stopping on a street corner and behaving with intentional ridiculousness is an uncomfortable transition. In that moment before I’ve started, something inside me is recoiling, saying, “Don’t do that! Stop! Go home. Don’t be silly. Remember to remember all your fears, your self-indulgent woes, and your existential booboos.”
Before I start performing, it feels as though I am about to jump off a ledge. Before I jump, I’m scared. I put it off. I keep walking, telling myself, “No, this spot isn’t right. Let’s walk a little further.” Then I notice I’m putting it off. I say “fuck it” and jump. I start the singing, the dancing, or in this case, the mashed potato-spreading. After a few minutes, that internal voice of fear realizes that we’ve jumped and we’re not going back. The fear dissipates.
After the fear shrinks or goes away, I start to enjoy myself. I feel like a fool but that is why I do it and that is why I feel so great doing it. When I allow myself to behave at a level of silliness that is not publicly permitted after childhood, I feel utterly free.
Because I am already behaving absurdly, I stop worrying about what I’m doing. Since I’m no longer worrying about what I’m doing, I am able to simply play. I’m able to let myself be myself and enjoy myself as I am. I stop thinking about past pains and future anxieties. I stop worrying about what I’m supposed to do or not supposed to do. I just play.
The performance is primarily for me. I do it because it helps me feel good. It helps me shake loose from the patterns of thought and feeling that give me pain. It opens me up to feeling joy, love, and all of the other feelings that make life worthwhile. Once I am feeling that playful freedom, I try to imbue my actions and my voice with that carefree feeling so that it becomes infectious. When I connect eyes with a stranger, I imagine that that feeling is being transmitted along an invisible wire of emotion that extends from me to them. Emotional telepathy.
Wearing a tiny dress, painting my face, singing absurdly, and picking my nose with potato-covered fingers on a street corner isn’t the only way to feel that sense of freedom without inhibition--but it seems to help.
If you enjoyed this post, please stay tuned for regular updates to my blog. Writings about art, dreams, tarot, and the joys and frustrations of psychological constipation and liberation. If you have questions or thoughts, leave a comment below or message me here.
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