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Two Performance Artists book by Scotch Wichmann
Two Performance Artists Kidnap Their Boss And Do Things With Him
Inspired by my crazy adventures as a performer on the road, this is the story of two performance artists who cook up the ultimate performance: to kidnap their billionaire boss...and turn him into the wildest performance artist the world's ever seen.

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Kicking Book Tour Ass From LA to Washington DC

The book tour has been racing ahead full steam, with exciting stops in LA, Fresno, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and this week, Washington D.C.

Though I’ve said it before, I’m still shocked at just how few indie bookstores remain compared to 10 or 20 years ago, with so many replaced by soulless stucco-and-glass monoliths. Thank the gods for indies—or better, go buy some books from them!

With so few non-chain bookstores remaining, and their calendars so packed with authors hungry for stage time, and their budgets continuing to thin (some have elminated book readings altogether because they can no longer afford event & marketing costs), traditional book tours are becoming a rarity. Even Barnes and Noble stores were an impassable challenge, which we tried to book in towns where there wasn’t a single indie bookstore left. Some B&Ns no longer hosted readings at all, it turned out, while the others were just too disorganized to recall a conversation from one phone call to the next, until time finally ran out.

But that doesn’t mean Book Tours are dead. Far from it. The thriving indie bookstores we booked were a dream. Skylight Books & Book Soup in LA—and my San Francisco favorite, Green Apple Books, with its old creaky floors & eclectic selection—pulled out all the stops, with mobs showing up crazy-excited for a performance art novel. (Full disclosure: though I’d like to think it was all due to my book’s appeal, part of the draw might’ve been rumors preceding me that I do wild things with a fish during my readings, but I’ll take crowds however I can get them!!!)
Two Performance Artists Do It With Duct Tape
Scotch Wichmann signing Two Performance Artists in San Francisco
Scotch Wichmann signing Two Performance Artists in San Francisco

With the novel being about art & performance, we were also able to book some killer art, gallery, and alternative theater spaces, thanks to curators who were game.  SoapCo. Gallery & Theater in Fresno’s Tower District, Mermaids Tattoo in SF, the Show & Tell Gallery in Portland, and Seattle’s The Project Room were not only white hot creative collaborators up for anything, but also fitting for a novel about two subversives who unleash peformances in sweaty underground galleries where art spectators go increasingly mad for performances that shred convention. Finding a way, hell or high water, to still get the book out felt like dancing amid the publishing industry’s ruins—and fucking punk rock performance art.

One of my favorite events was the tattoo happening at Mermaids Tattoo in SF. The evening began with a hilarious standup comedy set by SF favorite Loren Kraut, then a performance art piece by yours truly. Then came the finale: with the audience watching, Mermaids’ owner-and-tattoo-artist Anne Williams inked a tattoo that’s described in my novel onto my torso while my wife read the chapter aloud. It was surreal, grimacing under the buzzing needle while hearing my words echoed back to me. In the novel, protagonist Hank tries to tattoo himself while wearing a vest made of meat that’s being attacked by a massive dog; in the interests of public safety and my needle’s sterility, I forewent the meat and mutt.
The Project Room features Scotch Wichmann doing performance art

You can catch more photos on the book tour’s web page.

2 Responses to “Kicking Book Tour Ass From LA to Washington DC”

  1. Mary Jane Ross Says:

    I don’t know Steve.

    Your point is well taken about how you can open up to the middle of a book in a bookstore, while at the same time you don’t get the luxury from your e-reader. But all the same, I think things change and businesses get absorbed and integrated into other forms and platforms over time and there is nothing we can do about it. And when you think about it – should we want to if we could do something about it. I mean this: do we want to change the processes of how things, thoughts, processes, and businesses morph in and out of our lives within the larger time line of perpetuity (or life beyond our own life time if I can put it in a clearer fashion).

    Change wills out in the end. Logic and consumer choice ultimately decides what will live and die in the market place – and I’m not being political about it. I’m just stating what I see happening in all businesses from my birth until my death. For instance: we get romantic about book stores because they have been around – as Steve has said – for at least a few centuries in the US and maybe a century or two longer in Europe. But other commodity stores were around also for a long time before other business models morphed and took them over.

    Yeah, we always rue the day when something like the candle stick maker and his shoppe goes down because a hard ware store puts that romantic and centuries old craft/store out of business, and then we rue when the day comes when the local hard ware store, which was started in the 1950′s closes because Lowes and Home Depot came into town in the 1990′s. We hated that Bob’s hardware absconded and absorbed the retail items of candles from Ye Old Candle store of the 1850′s, but we soon forget and cry when Bob gets shoved out of town because Home Depot gave greater value, ease, and less risk to the buyer (easy return of a shovel after I use it to shovel my walk). We cry for him but our wallets are happier. We weren’t around when Bob kicked the centuries old concept of Ye Olde Candle Stick shoppe’s ass out of business in 1950. No, we remember Bob because we aren’t dead yet and we remember walking with our grandfather to Bob’s Hard Ware to get a ladder, some nails and a shovel – and then afterwards grand dad got us a milk shake from the local ice cream shoppe before going home. I didn’t cry for the candle shoppe that Bob kicked away, because I wasn’t born yet; maybe my grand dad was and maybe he rued the day, but I didn’t see him cry when we walked past some candles within Bob’s Hard Ware store on our way to getting nails and a shovel. So, why should I cry for Bob when Home Depot absorbs and integrates his business into a super store that can give me what Bob gave me at a better price and then I can get other stuff too, which Bob didn’t have the space to carry? Time and systems get more refined because it happens that way. That’s all. Time wills out and things and the way we do things get more refined.

    This same analogy goes to the book store scenario. We see the local book store scenario that lasts from 1625 through its death rattle vestigial days of today; simultaneously, we see that from the 1990s until now Barnes and Nobles kicked the local bookstore out of business because they had the foot print to have toys, little young children reading areas, other tchotchkes, and a HUGE selection of books and the opportunity to return any of those items without risk (I have bought 65.00 technology books from a B n’ N and returned them 3 weeks hence without an eyebrow a twitchin’ – we all have. Come on…come on now, admit it you cheeky little devil. Yeah, OK. I thought so).

    The weird and ironical thing is this: we now feel sorry for Barnes and Nobles along with the mom and pop (or Indy) bookstores that are both being killed by e-readers. (Funny how the movie “You’ve Got Mail” is now becoming a still living anachronistic and cautionary tale of Big Fish eating small fish, but Big getting eaten by an e-reader.)

    This is what it is. You don’t escape it, and you can’t escape it. We can be sad about it and we will miss the opportunity of feel and opening up to the middle of a book like Stephen states above, but in reality more trees will live and ideas can get to me faster right from my bed.

    I do say, though, that ratings of a book by fellow Kindle e-book buyers on my Kindle aren’t the same as the luxury of me weeding through a tangible book, but I can live without that luxury of Steve’s Dough Boy analogy. My wallet is happier and I’m happier that my mommy weight and three children mommy stomach doesn’t have to get out of bed to buy the latest Grisham novel or Indy book. I just press a button and my credit card gives me instant access to John Grisham’s run of the mill swill or to Scotch Wichman’s caper comedy of two sophomoric schmucks that Forest Gump their asses into and out of Bill Gate’s life in which they change Bill and Bill changes them.

    Hey, the good news is this – whether it’s a Grisham cookie cutter novel or a Scotch Wichmann Indy book on performance artists sadistically giving a comeuppance to a Bill Gates creep, we still get to escape into the words and ideas of an author. The author’s ideas aren’t dead. The e-reader and amazon keeps them alive! Yes, the tangible form of the hard copy or soft copy book may be gone or slowly dying along with book stores which carry them, but at least another tree can live – so it can be cut down for land developers rather than book stores.

  2. Stephen "Tenafly" Taylor Says:

    I liked this article.

    I like eating meat and I can’t imagine picking out a piece of meat from my tab or computer or Kindle.

    I liked playing with GI Joe action fiction figures when I was five and I couldn’t imagine buying one from my tab through Amazon back in the 70s even if I had the power to do so.

    I like books and I have purchased them site unseen through the electronic process of purchasing them on my Kindle or Kindle App on my tab. However – I do miss going to book stores.

    I like treating a book like I would treat an action hero at a toy store. I want to touch the book and see the middle as much as I would want to bend the joints of a GI Joe arm and to check if the Kung Fu grip was everything the commercial said it would be like. I could only really experience the Kung Fu grip of my GI Joe if I got to mess around n’ toggle it for a bit. Only a toy store could have given me that experience – not the TV store that enticed me and not a tabular device that showed me a 360 degree photo-view of our famous Mr. Joe.

    And, as importantly – I want to be able to turn to any page inside the book and see if the book’s middle and middle-end are as good as the the first few pages of chapter one. I can’t get this pleasure from my Kindle or Kindle App, but a bookstore allows me to browse the whole book and to see if the story holds more than just a great hook. Our Kindles can only go so far when it comes to the pre-purchase of a great book or a new book. In fact, I think it only wants us, at times, to see the hook chapter, only, of a book because they may know that the book may not have much substance beyond the hook chapter. Well, only the subjective perception of the purchaser can really do that anyway. So, the reader really needs to see that middle, right? Yes. Only the book store can give us that option of “open me up from the middle Mr. Book Reader – so I can get a little giggle and come to life in your hands. Go ahead and pleasure yourself as you open me from the middle, first”. Sometimes, I like to imagine that my book is the Pillsbury Dough Boy who wants me to touch his belly so he can giggle. If I had to listen my 10th grade English teacher drone on about the literary element of personification, I want to show her, now, that I finally got the point in a genuine way even if it makes me and the Pillsbury Doe Boy look like little Adam and Stevie.

    A book store gives tangibility to a book. It really has for a few centuries given literal and figurative life to books and the written word. Book stores, in my mind, give perpetual personification to a book because they seem to summon the author from their new paper smell and their prosaic rectangular shape.

    And pleasantly stated, that tangibility goes beyond that fatuous hippie liberal hype of just wanting to help out the small business book store owner and to fatuously snub progress. No: a book store like a piece of a fine NY, Rib eye, or Filet Mignon needs to be looked at from side to side, top to bottom, and from front to back before I purchase it for my taste buds, gullet and daddy belly.

    I see books like meat, also: just like I want to purchase my USDA Prime on site, (so I may see if there is too much oxidation hidden on the back side of the cut and to see if the marble is not just grizzle) so do I want to go to a book store and see if the middle of the book reads as good as the beginning hook of the book.

    I like book stores because you get to see the middle of the book, and no electronic reader will give me that option. My Kindle will also not give me the opportunity to get off my fat daddy ass and catch the sight and sounds, of a good walk, on the way to a store in which I get to see and experience a reading. (A little secret: when I was 17 in 1986 I loved just taking a walk from my house to the local mom n’ pop video store. In the back of the store there was a room that had a slim purple cloth as its easy makeshift door way. And inside there were those wonderful jackets that had sexy 80′s porn stars in wanton sex poses with sexy lip gloss a shinin’ and too much make up with teased up Bon Jovi style hair. Just walking inside that 7′ by 7′ foot area gave me enough masturbation fodder for a week. And: I really loved reading the jacket covers. Yes, I got into reading because of porn, and not because of the systematic explicit phonics readers that were shoved down my throat when I was seven. Thank you Mrs. Stone! But, I continued to read because a few years later I would saunter past the video store and gander into my local book store where I saw that Twain had written Puddin’ Head Wilson and not just Huckleberry Finn and that Hawthorne had a compilation of short stories which was bounded into the title publication of Twice Told Tales in proximity to the Scarlet Letter. And it was there, also, that I fell in love with my favorite short story of them all – Young Goodman Brown. I opened him up – in the middle – and saw the devil encouraging the good people to whip that Injun down the road and to take pride that what they were doing was good! Oh: and Phoebe! – how she became corrupt as our protagonist left to go about his responsibilities with which the world imposed upon him and how sadly I read him to sleep as he – Young Goodman – had to rest in the bed he unwittingly made which was plotted for him, from the world, before he was even born . – Whew, that was a long tangent. But alas: I could only have received the luxury of the middle of Young Goodman Brown because he was in that tangible rectangular form found in my town’s local bookstore.)

    Oh: And how great it is to see an author read her/his own words after you have either walked or driven to your local book store. No porn necessary to get one excited about that prospect – and only your local book store can give you that now a days – unless the author’s name is Jenna Jameson and she has written a book. Which I think she did. So, get on that one local book stores because it may be those authors whom can’t write (but can f***) who may end up saving your asses.

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