Monthly Archives: October 2005

on stage with the Flaming Lips

i run over to the stage to shoot ‘the meters’. i walk into the photo pit with pushy photographers with such unneccessarily huge lenses. i half-heartedly take a few shots and get ready to leave when a woman approaches me and asks to escort me over to the flaming lips stage… i had no idea the flaming lips were even playing… i had no photo pass… and i had no idea how she knew me… but i went along with it and she took me to the flaming lips stage across the festival asking me photoshop questions. she left me with a warning to stay in the photo pit. i waited til she left and climbed on stage, hiding quickly behind a speaker. a dozen people in furry animal costumes and flood lights stood around excited as stage hands laid out hand puppets and confetti bombs. balloons were being blown up. no one stopped me but the drummer spotted me and smiled.

as he taped some ear monitor contraption to his ear he called me over…
“YOU…. you took that shot of me at xingolati that dozens of people keep emailing to me!”
“ya!” i said, “remember how i stood in front of you and you made that face? i got yanked off the stage after that shot!” i told him laughing.
he laughed too and looked at my camera.
“wanna top it?!” i asked wickedly.
“sure!” he said… and sure enough within the first two songs he was hamming it up in front of my lens as i was practically inside his bass drum.

i got every shot i intended to get and jumped off stage… but not before making a bee line straight to the band’s manager to ask permission to sell my images of the band from the cruise to entertainment weekly. he told me he’d seen my images, gave me his phone # and his permission. giddy and satiated, i ate dinner in the VIP tent with angelo, with some lucent friends and with jesse from the do lab… we spoke about how to break out of the burning man scene…

i sit now waiting for the finale… the twisted cabaret, the vau de vire versus lucent dossier dance off that will surely end in one heap of meow…. i am longing for a bed… for a few hours of sleep… curious how many images i must have shot this weekend so far… thousands maybe… two more events to shoot…

it’s official… i’ve run away with the circus…

day after day of circus life… i have a banana and an apple in my bag and one of each in my tummy that says i am nourished. i have 1,600 images downloaded to my laptop that says i’m inspired. i am adorned with pumpkins hanging from my belt, candy wrapped in clear pouches as gifts that says i am loved… credentials that say ‘artist’ hanging from my neck and wrist that say i am a part of something…

vau de vire society proceeds to blow my mind every hour under a circus tent that they erected as a part of this music festival, vegoose~ under their big top, debaucherous things do occur and people leave laughing or traumatized… i am of the former persuasion… watching my giddy talented contortionist friends perform circus feats and throw kisses from the stage at my camera… they created an entire world amassing not just themselves, but incorporating the other performers that i shoot often… lucent dossier, kid beyond and many others… from flesh scary things at yesterday’s event to a warm blanket of home… i’ll take it! they all shower me with hugs and candy~ there is no where else i’d rather be than here in this circus tent as shrine hangs from the entrance rafters in full tribal shipwrecked make-up, as angelo from fishbone exercises his alter ego, dr. madd vibe, spewing out high energy spoken word wearing a top hat, a saxophone and a kilt, as contortionists improv on a lowered trapeze and thin girls in patent leather and clown faces prostrate in front of him. the rotating audience continues to grow, some curious and some horrified, much the way they would be at any other circus.

i lay my head down on a coat over grass in the corner of the adjacent tent as girls spray white paint onto their faces and unearth traveling accessory cases containing the most obscure of accoutrements. the cabaret tent feels worlds away from the various other stages, the people of the college variety… fans of hippy jam bands and a disdainful beverage called BEER… a world where wearing devil horns is considered a proper halloween costume…

i watched the normals twirl in line entering the festival in sundresses with expensive tickets in hand. they had their bags checked, cameras questioned, beer confiscated… i dragged my gear on wheels past them flashing my credentials and entered the other side of the festival attendees… joining the people that make something from nothing.. privy to the madness previously hidden from me as a former concert-goer, privy to the stress the promoters go thru from setting up a show to the broad pride they exude watching their first acts take the stage.. i strive to capture all of it with my camera, every personal tickle of an event like this… i twirl in the freak parade with my friends at 1pm daily… i throw myself on the ground conjuring that shot about to happen… the freaks see me and make it happen… they say they seek out my camera in a sea of photographers… they let me assemble them en masse and scream direction at them… emotions and posturing… i call them by name because i’ve shot them so often… they enjoy the result, we enjoy the process.

i love being a photographer… i love this life… it’s official… i’ve run away with the circus…

on the xingolati cruise

sipping a bloody mary poolside on the lido deck on the xingolati cruise wearing a bright blue kimono next to my mutaynts. karis in b&w striped arms and legs. bryan with a mimosa in each hand. kj almost acquiring a much-coveted lounge chair. brady and suze q topless with fractured feet. brady in his pajamas that say ‘knock his block off’. most of us with bandaids covering our now-healing ringworm contracted by hugging each other. matty announced last night that this deck is clothing optional and from the naked people jumping in the pool, i’d say it was an effective announcement. a man with a skirt of balloons makes balloon animals for drunk people. a guy in an elvis suit jumps up on the hot tub deck and serenades the noonday hottubbers with ‘hound dog’ and they cheer him on with monkey masks. impromptu jam sessions break out… everything is used as a nautical musical instrument…

highlight of the cruise was laying on the floor in one of the lounges as wayne from the flaming lips stood 3 feet from me telling us all about this musical experiment. he played 4 cds at once in that room as our bodies tilted with the boat… the most maddening sounds at all corners of the perfectly equalized room and a surreal mirror above us… surrounded by my friends smiling and lost in dimensions…

“Zaireeka, the Lips’ experimental album, is a four-disc single album designed to be played simultaneously on four CD players. Described by lead singer Wayne Coyne as an album with far too many parts for one cohesive disc, the creation was broken into four separate albums. Coordinating a four-player listening party, while an excellent bonding experience, is not always easy. The Queen Mary Lounge on the ship, “Paradise,” was packed by fans within five minutes of opening, filling the room for a guided tour through the experience.”

i officially am not a fan of cruises though… i wasn’t sure the first time but now i’m sure… and the fact that most everyone was so faded made it a hassle to enjoy myself after 10pm…. i found myself wandering looking for intelligent conversation and instead communing with moonlight on water, taking in the calm to deal with the crazies inside. the more messed up people around me seem to get, the more sober i become. for others this is an opportunity to let go, act rediculous, test reality… for me, these events are becoming more and more my norm and the clarity of my lens is becoming my livlihood. i had to move out of my first roommate situation on the cruise because my roommates got so messed up that they went thru all my belongings and left my journal out… when i walked into the room and saw my stuff strewn about and my journal left out, i gasped so loud and set about packing my stuff up and moving into brady, bryan, and john avila’s room, safe once again with my mutaynt family…

the serenade

a photo shoot with john avila, bassist for oingo boingo, and his family… inside the studio his teenage daughters fuss over hair and wardrobe, pick on each other… i stop shooting waiting for the energy to settle… i slip outside into the garden dragging a wrought iron chair… john and his wife, angie, follow me smiling… i bring them under my tree in the garden, sit him in the chair, her on the grass, hand him a guitar and whisper to him suggesting he serenade his wife… he obliges and a slow cover of the rolling stones’ ‘angie’ comes from his hands and voice~ she beams love at him, autumn leaves fall like timeless feathers… i climb the horse stable quietly… the girls come out like cats and fall at his feet, bickering no more…

in this moment i might cry… instead i press the shutter release…

“Angie, Angie
When will those clouds all disappear?
Angie, Angie
Where will it lead us from here?
Angie, I still love you
Everywhere I look I see your eyes
There ain’t a woman that comes close to you
Ain’t it good to be alive?”