Two weeks ago I performed at an informal event here in New York. My plan for the performance was that I would not prepare anything in advance. Other rules: no words, no accompanying music. I wanted to see what would happen if all I had to work with was a raw serving of me. My other rule was not to care whether anyone paid attention or whether they liked what I did.
I will admit that I broke my own rules slightly in preparation for the night of no preparation. For several nights before the performance, I moved around in the bathroom while watching myself in the mirror. I flipped my hair in a gentle and girlish way, and I flipped my hair in a violent and disconcerting way. I practiced moving seamlessly between these two styles of flipping. I made up some rhythmic melodies with my voice. I tried making the sounds feel poppy and friendly and congenial and then increased in volume and intensity until the melodies felt wild and wilder and right on the edge of scary.
I don’t remember whether I ended up flipping my hair at all during the performance. I remember that people watched, and that I basically exploded, and that it was, for me, completely exhillarating. It felt like throwing myself through a window and landing well. The event that I performed at was a night called Friends and Family that happens at the Hotel Chantelle every Monday. It always feels like the crowd there is pretty much ready for anything and everything, and being in a room like this, where there is a collective sense of no particular limit to what might be possible, makes me feel like an astronaut heading out into boundless space. I pass through the atmosphere of earth, I look down at the planets, I return to the planet and do mime shapes to recreate what I have seen.