Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Glitter Emergency Part I: How to glitterbomb a violin

Sorry for vanishing - I've been in preproduction for a new film. It's called The Glitter Emergency and it combines elements of silent film, music video, dance film and drag number, set to the second and third movements of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto performed by yours truly, live or canned. The video storyboard, which describes what happens in every measure, is posted to the Glitter Emergency Website.

There's much to write about the film but this first post is reserved for a photo series on how to decorate the violin of a mephistophelean superhero, in this case named Stringendo.

Step #1: Hit pawn shop on Mission and plunk down $80 for Chinese violin, bow, case, crumbling cheap-ass rosin, Suzuki Method Vol. 1 and pad of manuscript paper.

If violin is cheap enough, you should be able to do your make-up in reflection.

Step #2: Strip violin of pegs, strings, bridge, tailpiece, fine-tuners, and tailpiece. Get your sandpaper ready.

Step #3: Summon all the frustration you ever felt learning the instrument, and sand.

Step #4: If you intend to play the violin after makeover, protect the fingerboard and neck with painting tape.

Step #5: Hang the violin in a well-ventilated area.

Step #6: Blast Prince in well ventilated area, shaking paint can for two minutes after rattle engages.

Step #7: Spray away.

Numerous light coats work best and prevent unsightly drips.

Step #8: Figure out something fancy for the ribs. Decide on a piece of holographic contact paper you have not quite enough of, and turn San Francisco upside-down in search of comparable replacement. Six hours later, give up.

Step #9: Consider alternatives.

Step #10: Despair.

Step #11: Put violin aside in frustration and paint bow. Protect horsehair in Ziplock baggie.

Step #12: Remembering theme of your movie, drizzle fine glitter onto wet silver-glitter acrylic paint.

Step #13: Repeat for bow.

Step #14: Repeat for scroll.

Step #15: Repeat for bridge.

Step #16: Glue rhinestones to purfling.

Step #17: Replace parts and have a photo shoot.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Suppervision Pride

With the beautiful and talented Gary Lutes before our June 26th Suppervision performance of the last movement of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time

Suppervision Pride was my third and final gig this past weekend, and the only one I got any pictures from, which is a shame because I raided my middle-school classmate Eric Glaser's drag closet, and Jupiter rearranged my drag and make-up for my second show Thursday night. Where are the paparazzi when you need them? In any case the first show at Supperclub was a success - I was the first dinner-theater act in history to perform Schnittke, and the dining room went gratifyingly silent for eight minutes. The second was at Tingel Tangel where I played the same music and it was a fiasco. I knew, walking into the jampacked bar, that the Schnittke wouldn't register, but decided to muscle through. It was much worse than I'd thought, thanks to amplification ugliness and a persistent non-drug-related hallucination I had that someone was walking around the stage behind me fucking with the mikes. Oh well! The reason I muscled through was for the boot camp concentration exercise (did I really just write the words camp concentration?), and in that sense it was a success, as I got through the piece, which I'd only committed to memory that week.

backstage at Suppervision with a friendly neighborhood little slut and $50 worth of Kryolan make-up, which I just remembered I still haven't gotten off my chin rest

dance party in the dressing room

I love this picture by Tom Schmidt despite the fact that it doesn't convey the extreme precariousness of the stage. I was on a three and a half foot ledge above a 15-foot drop and was so nervous walking out at the beginning that my knees almost knocked and I let my elbow scrape the wall for support. The keyhole-shaped projection is video of clouds passing over me. Gary played piano on the stage below.

In honor of our impresario I glued this rhinestone "III" to my head for the bow. After performances, there was dancing, and after dancing, there was the after party, and after the after party was the after-after party, and after that I walked home and was in bed by 8 a.m. Saturday morning and managed not to lose my violin or anybody's drag.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

three SF performances in the next two days

Thursday, 25 June 2009
Supperclub - I'm dinner theater, playing Schnittke around 8:30 or 9
657 Harrison St between 2nd an 3rd (415) 348-0900

Thursday, 25 June 2009
Tingel Tangel - Pride Edition - again Schnittke, guessing I'll go on around 10
2565 Mission St btwn. 21ST AND 22ND

Friday, 26 June 2009
Suppervision Pride - again at the Supperclub - show starts at midnight
Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time last movement, with Gary Lutes, piano
657 Harrison St between 2nd an 3rd (415) 348-0900


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kunst-Stoff rehearsal pix by Spatial K - show this weekend!

Some pictures from my recent rehearsal with Kunst-Stoff by Keira Heu-Jwyn Chang. a.k.a. Spatial K. These pictures are taken at the San Francisco Dance Center, housed on the fifth floor of the old Odd Fellows Building at 7th and Market.

Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 7, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Tickets are on sale now!

Yannis Adoniou, our fearless leader.

With the luminous Suzanne Lappas...

and the preposterously graceful Spencer Dickhaus...

Me with my Lowell High School classmate Nat Stookey, who has arranged a movement of Alfred Schnittke's choir concerto for solo violin. The piece is famous for another transcription, by the Kronos Quartet, which is on a few of their albums. Both transcriptions take their title from the text, in this case "(Where) Every Verse is Filled with Grief." This will be the world premiere of Nat's beautifully violinistic rendering.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008: Annus ambivalence

January 5 New Yorker cover Among so many other embarrassments that go with the territory of being me, I discovered a new one at holiday parties this year - having had such a kick-ass year when everyone around me was losing their health, boyfriends, homes, jobs, retirements, shirts, etc. I had my share of year-end mortifications and am far deeper into penury than most people I know, but 2008 in sum was truly an annus mirabilis both creatively (OH MY GOD, Cal Performances, Southern Circuit, St. Bart's, Grace Cathedral, Jacaranda-LA, Stephen Pelton Dance Theater, Orchestra Hall-Minneapolis, the three Chicago screenings and Christopher Taylor's shattering performance of the Vingt Regards, Library of Congress and the Betts Stradivarius, the rest of the fall tour, an unexpected anthology publication), politically (Obama, the George Bush sewage plant) and personally (married, again!). I was so convinced I was going to blog about other highlights, specifically three ecstatic gatherings of the Radical Faeries (July above Cazadero, September in Tennessee, December at Cell Space), the annual Trannyshack Reno boozestravaganza, and a bizarrely fun 20th high-school reunion, that I never did it, and now I add embarrassment to procrastination in deciding not to - 2008 provided a literal embarrassment of riches. As George Dusheck used to say, if I had blood I'd be blushing.

Still, false modesty has it limits and I have to close out 2008 with two new pieces of great press and one piece of news I haven't blogged about. Alex Ross, a longtime friend of Apparition of the Eternal Church, made a lovely mention of the film in his Jan 5th Carter-Messiaen essay in The New Yorker. And Chicago Sun-Times critic Andrew Patner included the film in his year-ender on the best of the Chicago music scene with one of my favorite quotes in the film's whole press packet, calling it "Paul Festa’s knock-out Messiaen-on-acid documentary."

For the record, nobody in the film was on acid at the time of the interview and Messiaen never tried it. At least as far as I know.

The news is that in less than a week I depart for a three-month filmmaking residency in Paris at the Centre des Recollets, on the banks of the Canal St. Martin, right by the Gare de l'Est. James will join me for a couple of weeks when the residency is through -
so if you know anyone who wants to swap an apartment pretty much anywhere in Europe for a darling Mission/Noe flat just over the hill from Dolores Park March 24 to April 7, hook us up!
Then I leave for Israel, or what's left of it, for two weeks with my sister and her six kids, one of whom was born since my last visit in June 2007. Then I return to Tennessee for the spring gathering of the Radical Faeries, and after two weeks there I stop overnight in Oberlin, OH, where my film will close out the conservatory's six-month Messiaen centenary celebration May 5th.

I have mixed feelings about the upcoming tour. Obviously I'm thrilled with every destination and opportunity and reunion, but four months is a serious slice of the year to spend away from loved ones, especially one just diagnosed with a terminal illness and another who has proved incapable of responding to video chat even when his snout is pressed up against the computer monitor. James is midway through a job search that will most likely result in our leaving San Francisco at some point in the summer - which means that my time remaining in my hometown can probably be counted in weeks or months at the most. I haven't decided whether the three months of creative seclusion (such as it will be in the heart of Paris) will result in my becoming a dedicated blogger or an even flakier one - for the answer to this question, check this space.

Here are some photos from the year, in no particular order, to fill in where blogging failed:

Trannyshack Reno - Auburn pitstop - Metal Patricia

Auburn, with Space

In Tempe with organist Kimberly Marshall and music critic Alex Ross (above) after Alex and I spoke on an ASU Messiaen panel with composer Bill Bolcom (below)

With Miranda Barry and Charlotte Sheedy after the DC premiere of my film on Halloween at the Library of Congress's Pickford Theatre

Self-portrait on a Frank Lloyd Wright carpet (Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, Tempe, AZ)

With Wolfie Silver-Fang at the November Faeposium in San Francisco, where she apparently won some sort of Oscar for her performance

Eisa Davis onscreen, accompanied by ASU student organist, Gammage Auditorium, Nov. 11th

Last Trannyshack at the Stud, August 19th - Heklina yuks it up with Bevan Dufty

After Eisa's Passing Strange Broadway opening, with her mom Fania and Manoel Felciano

With James, listening to toasts at our wedding reception in June. My cousin Lynn Rothman is behind us.

Six men stood around while the sole woman in the group fixed a flat on that nasty road above Cazadero.

Enough film coiled up at the Library of Congress archive to circle the earth

Justin Bond responds to Messiaen in St. James Cathedral in Chicago, October 8th

I made rubbery ravioli for my mom's birthday party. Party theme: 67 is the new 50.

Pianist Jerry Lowenthal, after New York rehearsals for our DC concert, shown here with his Liszt and Wagner manuscripts

Minneapolis's stylish and vast Orchestra Hall before the Minnesota premiere there of Apparition of the Eternal Church

One of a few high-school reunions this year - this one at Medjool, with the lovely and talented Ocean Berg

Another Reno bus photo - the fashion show, which I lost despite three arduous days of crash-dieting

Easter Sunday in Auburn

In the kitchen on Navarro Ridge with Arty, iii and James

Above Cazadero: Chris, iii and Arty

Chris climbs out of the water...

...and plays with fire

At the Passing Strange party - Marian Seldes reads aloud the Times rave review

"Saint Paul" etched into the Washington National Cathedral with my birth year

Fall gathering with Christopher and Sister Mish

Jewish Christmas party with Sister Dana and high school classmate Daria Pennington

Rehearsal for Heklina's final number at the Trannyshack Kiss-Off Party

Ziggy with the yellow plums at Buena Vista Park that I would turn into a souffle for Heklina's farewell dinner

Photo by pool wizard Bob Byrne of me in front of a house in Dubuque, IA

Bob and an unidentified sister. It's really quite amazing to me how much of my year was spent in churches and with nuns.

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