Saturday, December 14, 2013

creating a/broad, December 14, 2013

Could it be me...?
by Cameryn Moore

I can’t take it personally. All of this went through my mind like a mantra last week, when I received two emails, bam bam, informing me that neither of my proposals went through for a sexuality conference that I had hoped to present at in March. 

I can’t take it personally, no. It’s not me. You can never say for sure why a presentation proposal gets rejected, and to try to figure out why is a sure spiral path downward. Could be the topic doesn’t fit well enough with an unspoken overarching theme or approach of the conference; could be I just hit the conference programmer on a bad day. I don’t send out enough of these to be really facile with the writing; it could have been that, too. And it could be me, I would have to be a completely delusional narcissist to not admit that as a possibility, it could be me…

No. No. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. My style is to get right back on the horse, as you know if you’ve been following along up in here, so the next day I found someone else’s calendar of sex and sexuality conferences, and I will be sifting through all of those carefully, thank you. I am revisiting one of those rejected proposals—the one about Sidewalk Smut as an unexpected vehicle for sex education—and rewriting it with the Edinburgh Book Festival in mind. I am meeting up with a couple of friends this coming week to spend some hours really confronting all of the projects that I do or am planning to do, with an eye toward properly channelling my creative energy and other resources into my chosen mission: catalyzing important conversations through performance. But in the back of my mind, a new seed of doubt and dismay had lodged itself. What if this is always going to happen, just because what I do and the projects I’m attracted to, they don’t fit very well, anywhere?

Sidewalk Smut has the same kind of problem, neither fish nor fowl, as the saying goes, something delicious in its own right, but really hard to “sell” in established cultural contexts.

I’ve been trying hard for the past couple of years to get into colleges and universities, because I feel like my shows dig into really salient issues for students, like, developmentally appropriate questions and themes. I’ve been buzzing around the edges of the sex-educator world almost from the beginning, trying to find a way to make the connection for others the way that it is for me, that is, REALLY OBVIOUS: people can find personal transformation, education, information, and empowerment through witnessing and talking about theatre.

At the same time I present work in theatrical environments and watch the reviewers who dismiss my work as pandering, and the theatregoers who lift one brow and wave a dismissive hand when I try to give them a flyer, no, that sort of thing is not for me, thank you, judging my work before seeing it, and therefore never really being exposed to the notion that authentic sex as a component of engagement can be a valuable part of theatre.

Sidewalk Smut has the same kind of problem, neither fish nor fowl, as the saying goes, something delicious in its own right, but really hard to “sell” in established cultural contexts. It’s not really busking, because only one person gets to experience the end product, but it’s somehow not real writing, because someone is getting it created to their spec, and it’s not exactly performance, except it is, and then there are the parts that end up being kinda marital counselling. And the Smut Slam, it’s not just an open mic, it’s modelling something else. And the Masturbate-a-thon, I swear it’s more than just a jerk-fest, there’s something else going on there…

This is what happens. I’m not trying to be in this space between worlds, not deliberately, that’s just where I land with my projects, over and over and over. I like that space, generally, because it’s a sly space. It’s a secret power position, where you can sneak shit in and people don’t notice. I can be doing a solo show about my sex life and if I’ve done it right, then suddenly, pow, four people in the house start squirming in their seats and wondering why and someone else thinks, hey, I should tell my mom that I’m seeing two girls at the same time, and someone else out of nowhere just gets this subtle unsettling feeling, like, why don’t my wife and I talk like this? I can interview a couple for a piece of smut, and give them grist for a much longer conversation between themselves, and then click-click-click-DING I’ve transformed what I saw in their reaction into literary art. I like being in a position where I can move back and forth between being a creator and being a catalyst. Both are good things to be, artistically speaking. Hell, it’s GREAT.

I guess I’ve been getting tired, though. It’s hard work clearing away paths that didn’t previously exist. I’ve been wishing that I could for once just step into someone else’s pre-existing infrastructure or organization or event. But fuck, this is the epiphany I just had. Okay, not even an epiphany, it’s just something I forgot. I can’t wait for someone to take a chance, for them to look up and see my worth. I didn’t get as far as I have waiting for someone else to make that space for me. I’m the only one who can do that.

If my work doesn’t fit, I just haven’t made the right spaces for it yet.

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