There’s no curtain to go up–just a mix of wide-eyed art lovers, bitter contrarians, bar-flies, and burlesque fans gathered in a seedy Bushwick venue. The thoughts silence as I step up the make-shift stairs. Two lazy yellow beams of light capture the dusty surroundings, the ramshackle stage. I hear the licks of an electric guitar, the cymbals hiss, and with the wail of a saxophone it begins.
I–am–giving it! Bump’n grinding, slipping off my glitzy ultramarine dress, swirling my inky-feathered boa, peeling off my rhinestoned gloves–all with a wink’n a smile–in full showgirl fashion. My body so electric the air buzzes. My brain pitch black–all I can hear are weeping gasps for breath.
I can hear myself sniveling through “Harlem Nocturne.” These increasingly loud sobs blare not just in my mind, but meld with the music. Elton John’s “I Need You To Turn To” creeps in, tangling tones, creating a morass of music and conflicting sound. Through this chaos, my golden tassels twirl and I’m all smiles. The act is over. I take a bow.
The vaseline-like haze of the plastic tarp filtering my performance drops. I confront the gazes. A new strip begins. Removing the glitter of burlesque accouterments, I stand wig-less and naked leaving my personage in only heels and a bandage to cover my vagina. With the strike of a match, a candle is lit. I am present with the room. I am in love with every face I behold–my misery begins to melt.
In the glow of a single white candle, I peel away the gauze and pull a double-edged razor from my slit.
Satie’s Troisième Gymnopédie glides through the ether. I crouch to meet my audience, my lovers. In ode to the moment, I cut a lock of hair tossing it into the flame. Nothing left to give, I trace the Wilkinson Sword over my heart. Wet, hot, crimson life releases from my skin. The room still, the air heavy, every breath is held.
Traveling this new terrain together, we look down seeing how deep I went. To my surprise, my torso glistens with rivers of blood. My heart emptying, my soul sits quiet, I am stripped bare.
Rising above the room’s silent stares, I stride to my right collecting a dish of water and splash it on the audience. With the essence of life in my right hand, I gather its antithesis set to my left. Centered, grounded, I baptize my newly opened heart. With equal gravitas, I sprinkle salt onto the flesh wound. Blood trickling down my stomach, grazing my labia, I step off of the stage up onto a pillar. I remain statuesque for the duration of twenty minutes.
Without words, my lovers worship me taking water from my bowl washing me clean. Simultaneously, other lovers prod at me, salting my gash in disbelief–one so cruel as to lick her finger and grind the salt into each bleeding section. I stood still gazing out serenely smiling. My lovers quarreled over my care–one unknown man standing vigil until it was all over.
The night closed, leaving me with nothing but a fleeting experiment and a piece of card stock on which someone wrote, “This is not Art.” You are right dear friend, this is not art–this is an act of Confrontational Vulnerability.