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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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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Muses, Burgers, and Books

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Scotch Wichmann, performance artist, with  hamburger

The pattern’s been the same for as long as I can remember: the day I start a new paying job, it sucks the life out of me. A death vacuum. Zero creative breath for months on end. Energy, gone. Muse, vanished. Internal magic, nowhere. Reeling into the grind/er. The petty new minutiae, new co-workers, endless meetings, all-consuming. Brain, trailing impotent webs that ensnare nothing. I’m listless inside. Dry leaves. Grinning on empty. I wrote about this kind of torture once. Toiling away in a post office mail room in his late forties, fingers blistered and inky, Bukowski understood:

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

After six months at my new job, my mothy cocoon has finally cracked & I’m sliming out onto the jungle floor, sunlight above, just now taking in everything that shot over my decaying corpse like angels of death during the past half year: turgid politics, environmental disasters, horrors in Vegas, fucking Weinsteins . . . . It wasn’t that I didn’t care when these things flew by; it was more that I was already numb, brains empty, with zero to utter of value.

This is my version of depression. (And maybe yours). People face much worse, I know. But an anchor’s still an anchor. You’ll die drifting to the bottom if you can’t steal some air.

What saves me are magic performance art spells. Art shamanism. What Jodorowsky calls Psychomagic. Little symbolic acts that break mental patterns, current ways of feeling, and reorder reality’s illusions. Slump to the floor and roll around on a pile of silverware with an apple in your mouth. Pull voodoo bones from a piece of chicken and make a wish while you march in place. Commit misdemeanor acts of surreal sabotage in your enemy’s bathroom. Somehow I have the energy for these, even when I can’t muster it for anything else. Maybe I’m just curious how they’ll turn out, and they always do. It’s intuitive. My subconscious knows what medicine I need. And it always involves some ritual, some symbolic message to my subconscious that hey, I’m still here, still wanting to live, even if I don’t know how right now.

Eventually the light’s bright again, searing out the rest in electric white. The leaves go green. The muse reappears, sometimes in the form of a purple stray cat who wanders into my yard.

I don’t usually yap about my creative process & weirdo internal states, but maybe this’ll help someone somehow. (Maybe you).

In other news, the photo above [taken by KayDee Kersten] was from an October performance in Ventura where the message was this: High Culture is sneakily arbitrary. So, why not make up your own? If you wear a hamburger bun instead of a Rolex, you’ll always beat the Joneses (unless they have really bitchin hamburgers).

P.S. — Thanks to everyone who came out to Burbank’s Author Day at the Buena Vista Library! I signed copies of Two Performance Artists, and so much more! Arm casts! Pets! Even books by Shia LaBeouf! You’re the best! xoxo
Scotch Wichmann Two Performance Artists signing in Los Angeles

Death to Performance Art Manifestos

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Last year I traveled to watch an evening of Performance Art in Los Angeles. A man climbed onto the stage and sang Glenn Fry’s The Heat is On from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. It was pitch-perfect. And I was pissed. This was the man’s idea of Performance Art? I was so disappointed.

But I wasn’t surprised. The Performance Art moniker has been endlessly appropriated by mainstream American artists who either aren’t aware that Performance Art has its own history that’s distinct from the histories of other arts, or else they just don’t give a damn and are looking for a cheap way to make bland poetry, music, dance, circus acts, and other “performing arts” sound more sexy.

Take this example—a flatulent work entitled ‘Performance Art Dance Piece’ in which three “dancers” attempt tired choreography that employs the same uninspired modern and contemporary dance vocabulary we’ve seen again and again. The men have little dance training, judging from their rickety turns, sloppy footing, poor spotting, lack of centers, Oompa Loompa groundwork, and newborn balance. But here’s the thing: if these unfortunate negatives had been taken to their extremes—if the dancers’ bad technique had been pushed to the forefront until the trio became abstract drunks trying to find their footing, or mentally challenged monks doing bizarre kung fu, or gods making an obvious attempt at reordering the dirt universe that the artists were mindlessly kicking up—this piece could’ve been transformed from bad dance into a unique Performance Art piece with its own internal structure and logic that demanded the audience “figure out” the spatial-movement-narrative language of the artists. But the movement, being so clearly Dance with a capital D, and choreographed with so many of the dance clichés we’ve all seen before, has left the “figuring out” pre-figured for us; we see the recognizable, codified movements and know instantly that this is Dance—which means the only mystery remaining for us is why anyone bothered to film the piece at all. There’s a fine line between bad art and good Performance Art, but this piece is simply proof again that the lazy fix for shitty art has become to label it Performance Art, then wait for someone to show up and clap.

Given its Dadaist, Anarchist, and anti-consumerist roots, I am all for Performance Art defying/defiling its own definitions and conventions, as it should—which is why the dilution of its name by arts that appear to be dying slow, painful deaths thanks to predictable, self-referential, and uninspired works makes me queasy.

I view definitions of Performance Art with suspicion—which is why it’s with a little self-loathing that I give you the Scotch Wichmann Performance Art manifesto, previously unpublished—and maybe it should’ve stayed that way.

Pentagon Brownies and Playing Glass

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

I just couldn’t wait to show you these links:

Columbia University valedictorian admits stealing jokes from Patton Oswalt for his commencement speech. LOSER.

Official recipe for making brownies from the Pentagon. Section 3.2.8: “Dextrose shall be anhydrous or dextrose hydrate.” YES SIR!

And I just can’t get enough of Justice Yeldham playing the edge of a sheet of glass. Holy shit this one’s amazing.

Wanted: one muzzle

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I work a day job in a gross carpeted cubical.

A woman with stinky perfume who works on the other side of my wall is constantly complaining. Loudly. She bitches and moans all day about her job and the coffee and the lighting and her daughter and the customers and the people in other departments with snark and venom, interrupting co-workers to yell, “IS IT ME, OR IS SO-AND-SO JUST A STUPID FUCKING IDIOT?”

Day after day after day after day after day. And so loudly my noise-cancelling headphones don’t do shit. Please lady, o please let me suffer in silence. I live for her sick days, I really do. Asthma. Poison ivy. A broken hip. Anything.

Today during her rants I couldn’t help but think: “My god, this woman sounds hysterical, and I mean that in the most politically incorrect and historical sense of the term.”

And then, right on cue:


Somebody just fuck her already. Anyone.

My first drive-by shooting

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

I went to dinner at Farina, a Ligurian joint in the Mission district last night. Being only 10:30, the place was filled with diners, clinking wine glasses, and chefs’ lively Spanish and Italian banter.

Suddenly I heard the high-pitched pops of Chinese firecrackers right outside the restaurant’s front window—one, then two more, then yelling, then something in my gut screamed, “Get down!” and I hit the concrete floor about the same moment as everyone else around me. We heard more bullets popping and people running outside. I glanced up and saw women in dresses sprawled flat, men in suits, busboys, waiters, napkins, bits of food . . . anybody looking in from outside would’ve seen a desolate restaurant full of empty chairs. A woman next to us started having violent muscle cramps in her hamstring with her back arched—looked like a grand mal seizure. A few of us asked another woman who was face down if she was ok, but she just shook her head and refused to lift her face from the concrete—too scared. I crawled to my cellphone as the manager dashed for the restaurant phone. Gangbangers in black hoods were scattering in all directions outside, then police car lights, then a dozen cops darting past on foot—it was like being on the sideline of an insane foot race.

It’s hard to describe how surreal it is to suddenly receive a gut message to violate social norms and throw yourself to the ground without knowing for sure if your gut is correct or not, and at the risk of looking like a freak if it only turns out to be some crazy outside with crackers and a lighter. It’s not the same as your nervous system automatically throwing you out of harm’s way; with gunfire it takes a second to register if you haven’t heard it before—it sounds higher-pitched in person than it does in movies—and to overcome the sheer disbelief that this shit is happening right now. I still feel wobbly. My thoughts go out to anyone who has to face that regularly—in Iraq or on the street—developing that awkward reflex to dive. Oh my god, I’d have to wear a diaper. 

Lisa Madigan is mad again

Monday, August 4th, 2008
Lisa Madigan
Lisa Madigan. Photo © 2007 by blahedo

In her latest attack on freedom, last week Attorney General Lisa Madigan banned the sale of super caffeinated Meth Coffee from the good state of Illinois, saying the product is “glorifying drugs.”

Her claim is ridiculous. Look at Meth’s web site. The product’s whole spin is blatant satire—bad taste to some, maybe, but obviously a joke—and therefore protected speech. Right from the very first word on Meth’s home page, the paranoid first-person narrator talks about his new “volatitherapeutic beverage” that “straightens drunks” and “wakes zombies”—and if that’s not enough, click on the ‘About’ page for a look at the madcap disclaimer: “CONTAINS NO ACTUAL METHAMPHETAMINES, I.E., CRANK, GLASS, SPEED, CRYSTAL, BATU, SHABU, MABU, CRACKHOO, ETC. PRODUCT NOT WARRANTED TO CURE ECZEMA, EDEMA, ACNE, CONSTIPATION, TOURETTE’S, OR GUM DISEASE.” It’s hyperbole at every turn, and carries no believable danger. What’s next, banning exploding gum because it might encourage terrorism?

Meth issued a response outlining Madigan’s poorly researched claims against the beverage, that Meth is clearly a joke for an adult audience, that its founding members include recovering drug addicts, and that the company is a good faith co-sponsor of the hilarious 2008 Comedy Addiction Tour for addicts in recovery. Meth also makes the great point that “Richard Pryor, Mad Magazine, and other comedy geniuses have unleashed dark, satiric comedy about drugs for years, and to positive effect.”

The point here is that Madigan is using taxpayer money to trample her own constituents’ freedom to see, hear, and consume what they choose. Other totalitarians have made this mistake. The people of Illinois are no doubt pissed off; read the Chicago Sun-Times comments sections and you’ll see more than one reference to “Nanny Madigan” and her compulsive need to diaper everyone in sight. Slapping an “explicit lyrics” sticker onto a Richard Pryor CD isn’t enough; apparently any product that references drugs, even with funny over-the-top satire that appeals to thousands, must be censored even if raises awareness, promotes discussion, and makes its target adult audience laugh. Madigan is waging a disingenuous fake war against fake drugs in the worst kind of political grandstanding, with Meth Coffee as her straw man. And just watch: if she really does run for IL governor in 2010, or, god forbid, President, her handlers will be sure to misrepresent her soundbites to their fullest: “Remember how tough Madigan was on drugs in 2008? She fought meth!”

We’ve all heard the criticism of the Right over wiretapping without warrants and torture at Guantanamo; this time it’s a reactionary Democrat intent on trampling the Constitution for political gain. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given how hard Madigan has fought against gun ownership and death row prisoner rights. Maybe she earned her law degree in China?

I recently heard of a coffee brand called ‘Bad Ass’. I’m surprised Madigan hasn’t sued it for giving donkeys a bad name.

Watch your ass, Illinois, if you value your freedom.

Spermless portfolio-puller putzes

Friday, August 1st, 2008

try walking san francisco’s financial center downtown at 8 a.m. and see if you don’t get run over by 300-pound corn-fed businessmen pulling their briefcases behind them on little luggage carts.  it’s no wonder america’s gotten soft—its men can’t even carry their junk. you’d think they were hauling forty bricks or hiking a hundred miles or suffering a broken arm, but noooo.  these paunchy lady men may look fairly robust.  they stop to buy snacks. they wave to fellow financiers. they puff on cigars. but then they put their bald heads down like bulls and charge with their little effete dollies rattling behind them over curbs, cigarette butts, passed-out bums….  

“sure,” they grunt. “we can put down half a pig and a bottle of chateauneuf while grabbing the lunchtime waitress’s ass, but sometimes that 2-pound briefcase gets a little heavy.  it’s the working man’s burden.  our cross to bear.  hell yes it is.  heh heh.  suck my balls.  grrr.  now. where did i put my hanky?”

maybe they just like the feel of pulling something behind—it adds length to their girth on the sidewalk. fuck viagra.  or maybe the act of folding up the cart when they get to the office makes them feel important: “hold on, larry, i’ll ride up in the elevator with you right after i fold up my big-ass samsonite all-steel roller here.  yessir, she’s a nice one.  almost as big as my cock, heh heh.  wait, hold on, i’ve gotta spit.”  

and i’m sure it’ll get worse.  next it’ll be their wallets.  then coinpurses.  ”hallo, mr. homeless person. i am a big spätzle-eating german businessman.  you want to touchen mine frankenfurter?  it iz quite large!  ha ha ha. no i only kid you.  vut iz dat? you vant a quarter? sure, let me bend down here and go into my little four-ounze coin purse i am pulling back here on my gertzheimerlund all-aluminum pully pully. oh! i am out of quarters. you vill take a euro, yah?”