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.
I can’t believe it’s been so many months since my last post. This is the slowest diary everrrr!
As always, I’ve got new performance art and short film projects in the works — and I’m thrilled to say my TV pilot script The Occultist was a semi-finalist in the 2021 L.A. Screenplay Awards, and also in the L.A. Crime and Horror Film Festival — yayyy! My insanely creative pardner KayDee is also crushing it on the Producing front, most recently on the set of Friday Night Vibes, with Tiffany Haddish.
But at the moment, the majority of my time is being devoted to getting my Parapsychology Ph.D. dissertation up and running. I’m super excited and don’t want to say too much yet, except that it involves an experiment to measure E.S.P. ability in cybernetic ways that cross into The Matrix and Johnny Mnemonic territories. Stay tuned — I’ll be posting here when the experiment website goes public this summer, and I’d love for you to participate!
I also quietly launched my shamanic practice. I’m limiting my number of clients at the moment, but I’m already receiving strong interest, which is encouraging. Part of my recent journey has been mapping my shamanic lineage, which I’ve managed to trace back to Norse and Sámi ancestors who worshipped Odin and nature near the Arctic Circle. I’m continuing to train at the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, and deepening my connections to magical ancestors I sense are still around (and who were likely responsible for initiating my shamanic calling that began when I was a kid).
On the running front, I’m training for another 50K (33mi) ultramarathon race in August, and last fall I qualified for the 2023 Boston Marathon, running my 26.2-mile qualifying race in Big Bear, California in 3 hours, 16 minutes, which beat the qualifying standard by 10 minutes — not bad. See you next Spring, Boston!
2021 has been a wild ride, and it’s not even halfway done.
Due to Covid, this year hasn’t exactly been rife with in-person performance art opportunities, but Ventura’s 5x5x5 series curated by John M. White marched bravely onward via video, thank God.
So, after workshopping pieces in my backyard with mannequin parts, dirt, ladders, invisible skateboards, and bananas, I finally came up with something crazy from my childhood called 1979 Norwegian Choreography for Skateboard & Banana — check out the pics & video! The piece is simple, but it took 3 bone-jarring days to choreograph and shoot, so by the end, my legs were DESTROYED from all of that faux-skateboard jumping.
I just finished writing THE OCCULTIST, a new streaming/TV series pilot about a failed archeologist who becomes an occult detective — I’m so so so excited about this one, because it combines my eternal love of Indiana Jones and my obsession with the occult that dates back to my childhood — and the script just became a finalist at the 2021 Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival — yesssss!
Plus, DARK SILO, the script I co-wrote with KayDee Kersten, was a finalist in ScreenCraft’s 2021 Action & Adventure contest after winning Best Original Screenplay at the Burbank International Film Festival. Agents & producers: I am so ready for youuu!
My preliminary schoolwork toward my Ph.D. in Parapsychology is finally done. It concluded with a thesis paper called The Liberating Power of Image in the New Thought Movement, which is a feminist take on how the concepts of image and seeing in the metaphysical “mental sciences” (Religious Science, Christian Science, etc.) can liberate one from the raging patriarchy in Western modes of being & seeing.
My doctoral dissertation is up next. I’m still plotting what to research — my list is crazy long and growing: metaphysical healing, shamanic & witchy practices, chaos, E.S.P., ghosts, even aliens…. There are too many topics I’m excited about to choose. Maybe I can incorporate them all? Hm….
I hope you found something fun and fulfilling over the past 6 months to keep you sustained & inspired through this pandemic horror show. For me, it was my wife, dog, friends, and a lot of margaritas, followed by tons of running. I’ve racked up the miles from Los Angeles to Sedona, dropped 10 pounds, ran a half-marathon virtual race, and just started training for my 5th full marathon, with hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon this year (assuming my legs ever recover from all that make-believe skateboarding…lolol).
So, if you drive past a pale, bony, dehydrated blonde dude who is tripping through the asphalt streets of Burbank like a loon, please don’t run him over! Wishing you a healthy & beautiful summer!
What a year. Coronavirus. Insane politics. Death of Justice Ruth Ginsburg. And still, in the hardest year in recent memory, so many dreamers continued making art. I’ve never been so exhausted, yet so inspired at the same time. I hope you found moments of inspiration too. Here are a few highlights for me:
Since coronavirus canceled most of my performance art shows, I decided to film all of the crazy ideas that I wanted to perform on stage in 2020. The surreal result is called It’s Almost Over, which one viewer called “David Lynch-esque” — the highest compliment for me, everrr.
Rattle Rattle, the short film I made with KayDee Kersten, made it into 9 film festivals in 2020, and our feature screenplay Dark Silo — which won Best Original Screenplay at the Burbank International Film Festival — moved us one step closer to landing an agent.
My award-winning, clown-comedian friend Natalie Palamides crushed 2020 with her new Amy Poehler-produced Netflix special, NATE. If you didn’t see the live show in Edinburgh, New York, or L.A. (or if you didn’t catch Nat back in her salad days), you’re in luck, because Netflix did an incredible job of capturing NATE’s insane and fearless magic. Don’t miss it!
2020 saw me finish a third of my Ph.D. work in parapsychology and metaphysics, with an emphasis on healing and occult practices. My studies inspired me to write a TV/streaming series pilot about a becoming-magician, with more historical realism than most other occult films or shows I’ve seen. Stay tuned!
Lastly, with my performances canceled, my primary stress release in 2020 was running up into the Verdugo Mountains that ring Burbank. I covered 1,050+ miles, with 120,000+ feet of vertical gain, which is like climbing Mt. Everest 4 times — not bad. I also did some running in the open desert around 29 Palms, where I accidentally stumbled onto a bombing range, and got chased off by a Marine helicopter ‐ see pic below. What an adventure. (P.S., if you’re a runner on Strava, come be my friend!)
Hi Friends! Oh man, my 2019 was a wild ride. First, Dark Silo, the screenplay I co-wrote with my creative partner in crime KayDee Kersten, was a semi-finalist at the NYC International Screenplay Contest — hopefully we’ll see it in theaters soon! We also wrapped production on Rattle Rattle, a surreal short film we shot in our Burbank garage that was a semi-finalist at both L.A.’s IndieX and Indie Short Fest film festivals—not bad!
There was plenty of performance art too. KayDee and I co-produced Not An Exit, a sold-out evening of performance art in downtown Los Angeles in July with an amazing lineup of artists. And, I performed a couple of pieces at 5×5, the monthly performance series at Ventura’s amazing Art City Gallery.
My favorite solo piece this year was John’s Arrow, which was both a performance and a magic spell designed to help heal my hospitalized mentor, John White.
Although I’ve been a practicing occultist since I was a kid (Norse magic, shamanism, chaos magic, you name it), this was my first public magical act that incorporated actual magical intention and charged tools, including crystals, sigils, magical movement, spirit water, and a felt blanket (the latter which was a nod to performance artist Joseph Beuys, who was obsessed with both felt and energy).
I’m indebted to film director and occultist Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose book Psychomagic really opened my eyes to the possibilities of overtly mixing public performance with magical practices. When I look back at my performances over the past decades, I see plenty of shamanic and witchy elements (both on stage and in my own internal approach to performance), but it was Jodorowsky’s book that convinced me to bring spooky+healing to the forefront. After the Arrow piece was over, several audience members approached to say that the space’s air had taken on a strange charge — and even better, my mentor’s recovery seemed to accelerate over the days that immediately followed. Really, who can ask for more than that? Thanks, Jodorowsky!
In 2020 I’m looking to finish 2 more scripts that are on deck, produce another performance art night in L.A., and explore psychomagic further with more public spells geared toward healing (which I hope will be useful in what is shaping up to be a truly insane election year). If you’d like to receive a note when these and other happenings are happening, join my mailing list — and above all, have an amazing New Year!
I had my most intense ghost experience in 1990 during my freshman year in college. My roommate and I were studying one night when our dorm room suddenly became freezing cold, even though the city was a sweltering 80 degrees and we had no air conditioning. The nerves in my skin started buzzing—like TV snow—as if I’d suddenly been draped by an invisible blanket of static electricity. I looked up from my book just in time to see a man standing in our room. Our room’s door was locked, yet somehow he’d gotten in without a sound, and now there he was, obscuring the entire door with his wide 6’5 frame. He was opaque and dark—a shadow man—with no discernible features except for two glowing yellow eyes. I glanced at my roommate, who was staring at the door with his mouth and eyes wide open, unable to speak. I looked back at the door again and the figure was gone. I asked, “Did you see that?” And my roommate replied, “The eyes!” Doubting myself, I glanced down at my book, and to my shock, saw an afterglow of the man on the white of the page—an after-image burned onto my retinas like a camera flash. I looked to the left, then the right, and the image moved with my gaze. How was that possible, if what we’d seen hadn’t emitted some kind of energy?
The man continued visiting us over the next two weeks with increasing frequency. Every time he appeared, my roommate and I would feel our room go abuzz with cold static and our hair would stand up. The static energy was so powerful that we could tell where the man was in our building—even if he was at the far end of the hall, we could feel where his energy was coming from in the same way you can feel the Sun’s heat with your eyes shut. The man visited at all hours, including the dead of night, until we started losing sleep. The cold static was rubbing my nerves raw to the point that I felt hypersensitive to the thoughts and emotions of others. When the static was around, I gained a measurable amount of psychic awareness, and my roommate was having the same experience. For fun, one of us would draw a picture, then focus on it intently, to see if the other could pick up on the thoughts and draw the same picture. The results were uncanny; again and again, with increasing accuracy, we were able to reach each other’s thoughts. The other students in the dorm thought we were possibly insane, but they couldn’t argue with the fact that our arm hair was standing up, and that we seemed able to know what the other was thinking in test after test.
I had my first out of body experience during this time of raw nervousness. One evening while walking up a path to our dorm building from class, I felt a surge of “jangly nerves”—an energy that seemed to come up from the ground and wash over me—and suddenly I was flying, like a Chinese dragon with a long tail that was still attached to my physical body. My dragon-spirit “body” flew up the path to the dorm, down the hall, and up the stairs to a small living room where I saw my friends sitting around talking. Then, in a flash, my spirit retracted, slamming back into my body. All of this had occurred in the blink of an eye. Not sure if what I’d experienced had been real, I ran to the dorm, down the hall, and up the stairs to the living room, where I found everyone—all the students I’d seen in my vision were there—except one woman, Laura, was standing, while in my vision I’d seen her sitting. I asked her, “Were you just sitting on that couch a second ago?” To which she answered, “Yes. Why?” So it was true: I’d visited the living room before I’d arrived.
After 2 weeks, my roommate and I couldn’t take it anymore. Our nerves were fried, and we were averaging 2-3 hours of sleep per night. Desperate, I researched everything I could find on exorcism, cleansing, repelling ghosts, you name it. I finally settled on a series of shamanic rituals that involved communicating with the ghost, and relocating him. I chose the ground outside of the dorm as his new intended home. Naked and alone in the dark of the dorm room, I carried out the exhausting ritual over several hours, during which the ghost communicated that he was lost. I reassured him that his new home in the earth would be comforting, and less disruptive to everyone around him. He agreed to be bound to his new home, which I sealed by burying a jar in the dirt right outside of our dorm building (which, appropriately, was called “the Shire” in the Middle Earth housing complex on the campus of U.C. Irvine). I walked back inside the dorm building, and felt a quiet sense of peace—the static energy was gone, and never returned while we lived there.
Several years later (around 1996, I think), a friend who knew the above story handed me a copy of the university’s newspaper, which included a news article about the incident. The reporter had written that the Shire was apparently experiencing a haunting, and that the ghost bore a resemblance to a ghost encountered several years earlier during which a “shaman had been brought in” to exorcise the building. The story detailed the exorcism—including the burying of the spirit in the dirt—and then said that recent building construction around the Shire had no doubt released the ghost back into the wild….
Come catch my new performance art work ICE, FISH, FUR at HIGHWAYS in Santa Monica Friday, September 14, where I’ll be doing unspeakable acts with ice, fish, and fur (how ever did you guess?) in a surreal, linguistically limber, and painfully autobiographical piece about murder, madness, ancestry, magic, and more….
This is part of Solo Dolo, an evening of new solo works that’ll also feature Philip Littell, Megan Therese Rippey, and Johnny Ray (who looks like he *might* be doing something wild with mud or some other amazing slop–I can’t quite tell from his photo, but I’m sure it’s going to kick ass!!!).
If (1) it’s been awhile since you’ve seen performance art, (2) you’ve never seen it, or (3) you never want to see it again (but you can’t help yourself because you crave it like an auto accident lookie loo), then this is for you, served fresh on a golden platter (or more likely, a honey-drenched hunk of leather plastered to the side of my face). Ah yes, I like to think of Highways as the West Coast’s Carnegie Hall of experimental live performance, so don’t miss this chance to see bloody fresh solo works for only $10 before they tour the 2013-2014 fringe festival circuit.
The Solo Dolo show at HIGHWAYS. 8:30PM. Tickets $10 online or at the door (show may sell out, so I’d recommend buying online). 1651 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA (1/2 block north of Olympic).