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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 ‘Writing’ Category

Publisher’s Weekly Reviews Two Performance Artists

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Oh. My. God. Industry heavyweight Publisher’s Weekly just reviewed Two Performance Artists!

“Bright and capacious fiction… madcap… the chaos, danger, absurdity, and insanity keep ratcheting up.”

I wouldn’t change a word! Read the whole review here.

Preparing To Remember The Future

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

When I look back on 2014, all I see is a blur.

My wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. My novel Two Performance Artists was finally published, closing a chapter on a surreal 15-year journey. Our cross-country book tour from LA to NY was a success, with encouraging bookstore turnouts, performances in 18 cities, and 2 book awards along the way. “Kidnapping As Art,” my survey of artists who’ve kidnapped audiences as performance art, was picked up by MIT Press’s Journal of Performance And Art for publication in January of 2015. Headlining the final 5x5x5 show at the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura—one of California’s longest-running performance art series in recent memory—was a humbling honor. And of course, learning I’d been plagiarized by Shia LaBeouf—and then having my revenge—was the most wild ride of all.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been more busy—and yet, somehow I’ve still got that nagging feeling that this train is only just starting to pick up speed—that all of the dreams that came true in 2014 are the wood I now need to be shoveling like crazy into the firebox, stoking the flames even harder than before to maintain momentum. But with the past year feeling ephemeral and so long ago already, the wood vanishes like smoke on my shovel, and fear sets in that the engine could start to slow.

Feeling Like Writing, Feeling Like Performance Art

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

While on the book tour, I had the chance to chat with Heather Kapplow, a journalist and artist writing for the Boston art journal Big Red & Shiny. She asked: how are my modes of writing and performance different from each other? Does writing feel different from making performance? Do these modes ever interact?

I’d never considered these questions before. My partial answer:

I feel like a writer when writing articles, short stories and the like, with a focus on delivering clear throughlines of thought on the page with the typical grammar, syntax, and structures expected by readers.  When I’m working on a performance art piece, by contrast, I don’t ‘feel’ like a writer; I don’t really think of the writing as separate from the other elements in the performance—the use of objects, sound, physical movement, etc.  Words are used for their literal meaning, but also for their formal qualities.  In that mode, I see myself as ‘generating’ text (as opposed to crafting it), which feels no different than, say, choreographing how I might drag a fish across the floor. I don’t hold myself to any strict grammatical, syntactical, or stylistic rules, except for whatever is appropriate for the piece, freeing me up to allow the elements to inform each other, and hold dialogs with my subconscious.  The hissssss of a fish being dragged across concrete might suddenly seem to contrast best with text that’s heavily assonant—that is, the physical action helps ‘write’ what text should accompany it.

Heather’s piece breaks new ground in the liminal realm where feeling, intuition, writing, and performance intersect. For the whole article, plus more of her interview with me, head over to Big Red & Shiny.

Finally, I had the chance to perform Ouroboros, a new work at the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura before the gallery shuts its doors for good this summer. The space has been home to the 5x5x5, an incredible performance series that’s featured diverse performance artists and others from around the world for the past 5 years, all curated by performance art luminary John M. White. The game-for-anything Ventura audiences always came out in force—sometimes 50, 100, 150 at a time, packing the gallery to the gills—with many spectators being artists, musicians, writers, poets, critics, or curators themselves. The 5x5x5′s final show was a real marathon, featuring almost 20 performers with a record turnout, proving handily that performance art ain’t dead.

. . . Which is why I’m excited to write that John has found a new home for the 5x5x5! It’ll start up again in September, 2014 at a new Ventura art space. If you’re a performance artist and would like to apply for a 5-minute slot, contact me with your info!

Performance artist Scotch Wichmann performing 'Ouroboros' at the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura
Performance artist Scotch Wichmann with John White and Pete Ippel at the 5x5x5 performance series in Ventura

NYC to Chicago…and Beyond

Friday, June 13th, 2014

WHAT A TOUR! Even though we have more dates planned for later this year, it’s hard to believe this leg’s really over. Where’d it all go?? 17 appearances in 14 cities flew by. And though the hotels began to all look the same (by the third Holiday Inn in a row, I could no longer remember where my room was), the people we met were unforgettable. To all of the artists, bibliophiles, writers, booksellers, publishers, promoters, librarians, friends, and fans: thank you for making this trip so incredible!!!

Freakshow Books’ booth at the BookExpo America show in NYC was a madhouse. By the time we arrived, word had already spread that Two Performance Artists had won a bronze medal at the Independent Publisher Book Awards, so there was a steady stream of reporters, booksellers, librarians, and film scouts running up and grabbing copies. Here’s a view from our booth in the calm just minutes before the doors opened and we were (lovingly) mobbed—gotta love that sea of blue and purple tradeshow carpet, eh?
Freakshow Books booth in NYC, 2014

From NY we drove 535 miles to Columbus for a reading at Kafe Kerouac, an ironic venue because in the novel’s first chapter, protagonist Larry attacks a poet who tries to pass off his reading of a Kerouac poem as performance art. Kafe’s bartender, who was pouring drinks right next to a big-ass Kerouac poster, gave me a scowl when I read the chapter aloud, but I just grinned at him and read on.

Cleveland was next, where a raucous crowd showed up at the city’s hip & edgy Visible Voice bookstore to see what crazy stunts I’d pull with my fish:
Scotch Wichmann performing in Cleveland, OHScotch Wichmann performance art with fish in Cleveland, 2014

And oh man, SO MANY FISH! I don’t want to give away too much, but most of the readings involved my manipulating a real fish—usually a 1-pound Branzino or trout—which meant the moment we arrived in a new city, we had to scramble to hunt down a fish of just the right proportions, which turned out to be harder than it sounds.
Scotch Wichmann searching for performance art fish in Cleveland, OH, 2014

Some cities just don’t carry whole fish—and for some reason, a few markets (looking at you, Portland) think “whole” means a fish with the bones still in and the head chopped off. What are they doing with all those heads??

And here’s a pro tip: if you’re gonna keep a fish in your underwear, the razor-sharp fins will shred your panties (manties?) to ribbons after 17 performances, so take precautions to protect your junk:
Scotch Wichmann's black manties shredded by 17 performances with fish

Our next and final stop was at Chicago’s Printers Row lit festival, where mayor Rahm Emanuel was kind enough to stop by:
Scotch Wichmann's Two Performance Artists with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel

But even better, we got to hug Rose Laws, Chicago’s oldest and most notorious madam (she’s retired, though you wouldn’t know it by the way she flirted and tried to slip me some of the Popov she was nursing):
Two Performance Artists author Scotch Wichmann with Chicago's notorious madam Rose Laws

The festival was packed, we sold tons of books, met fans who were already devouring the novel, and were surprised by all of the performance artists who said hello—many had just graduated from Chicago’s Art Institute. I loved hearing their dreams of what might lie ahead, and offered encouragement and advice where I could.
The Freakshow Books booth at Chicago's Printers Row literary festival
Two Performance Artists author Scotch Wichmann signs for fans at Chicago's Printers Row literary Festival

What an insanely fun adventure—but it ain’t over! We’ve already begun planning the next leg, so let me know if you represent a bookstore, gallery, college, or other space that might be interested in hosting a reading or performance!

Also, we’ve already started getting some interest over the novel’s film rights, so if you know an executive producer, director, or celeb who might be interested, please have him/her contact me or the publisher. (JAMES FRANCO: THIS NOVEL WAS MADE FOR YOU!)

And yes, thanks for all the fish.

Kicking Book Tour Ass From LA to Washington DC

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

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.

Two Performance Artists Wins Bronze Medal in 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards!

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Two Performance Artists by Scotch Wichmann wins Bronze Medal at 2014 Independent Publisher Book AwardsOMG, WE JUST HEARD THE NEWS: Two Performance Artists just won a Bronze Medal for Best Regional Fiction in the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards!

The novel is set in San Francisco’s rough Tenderloin neighborhood, which is where I started writing the book in 1999. In the four-block walk between my apartment and Polk Street, I’d pass liquor stores, pan handlers, people of every color, a blowjob in progress, art galleries, a vet in a wheelchair, mom-and-pop restaurants with flies buzzing in the windows, psych ward escapees, a gay salon, the rich, the destitute, software geeks on kick scooters, a gaggle of transvestite prostitutes checking their hair, drug hustlers and drunks…it was beautiful.

The awards ceremony will be held May 28 in NYC just a day before the kickoff of the BookExpo book convention. I can’t wait! Thanks so much to everyone who helped make this little dream come true!

***UPDATE: The ceremony was a blast! Held at NYC’s historic Providence space—it was once a church, then became a lavish recording studio where Sinatra, Hendrix, Streisand and Stevie Wonder all recorded—seeing my name in lights was surreal. There were two floors with views of the stage, but not enough guest tables, so a lot of attendees had to stand around with their plates of food, including the people on the second floor, who thought it was a good idea to balance their plates on the balcony railing. Every few minutes I’d see a cracker or piece of cheese fall onto the head or plate of a guest below. That—and being there with my hilarious & gorgeous wife—were my favorite parts of the night (you can see where my priorities are, I guess—haha).
Scotch Wichmann wins Bronze Medal in 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards

KISS Was My First Hero

Monday, May 5th, 2014

KISS Scotch WichmannOff Paper, the literary journal for the cutting-edge Project Room gallery in Seattle, asked me to write about my very first hero.  Picking a superhero seemed too easy, although I was willing to make an exception for Isis—it doesn’t get much cooler than a goddess who uses Egyptian magick to conjure a replacement dong out of gold for her drawn-and-quartered husband. A skill like that could come in handy.
     In the end, the band KISS won out. A phallus made from Gene Simmons’ tongue was just too hard to beat.

Long Beach and Ventura This Week!

Monday, April 14th, 2014

This week I’ll be reading at Long Beach’s Gatsby Books, and Ventura’s Bank of Books!  Check the book tour schedule and come on out! I’d love to read and perform for you!

This past week was crazy-busy in Freakshow Books’ booth at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on the USC campus. Publishers, PR reps, agents, bookstores, and writers seemed seriously excited by Two Performance Artists, and it was a great chance to take the grassroots pulse on what’s happening across the literary scene.

One downer: the main L.A. Times stage was right across from us—and we were shocked when a string of famous people serving as interviewers (Maria Shriver, for example) went on to interview some of the most flat-lined personalities ever to take the mic. We listened to one woman drone on about her new (albeit, well-written) “What should I do with my life after college?” pablum, then a 60-year-old grandpa wearing a toupee mumble from his “What if pets could talk?” pulp—I could hear Dr. Seuss crying in heaven. THIS, ON THE MAIN STAGE. Where were the edgy radicals, rebels, and raconteurs? The rock-and-roll writers? The pissed-off poets? The literary terrorists? Part of literary fame really must be whom you know. The audience couldn’t figure out how these scribes had managed to land plum spots up there for an hour each. Were they friends of Shriver’s? Did their PR reps blow a roadie? If this is what book show producers believe are going to get readers excited about books, then no wonder publishing’s got big problems.

Scotch Wichmann book tour
Scotch Wichmann book tour

My Novel Hits Bookstores TODAY!

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

OMGGGGG! I started it in 1999—and now it’s finally here! Or rather, there! Near you! In bookstores! And on Amazon! And Barnes & Noble! And iTunes! In paperback! And E-Book formats! I’ll admit it: I’m proud of it; it’s the best thing I’ve ever made. So if you’re moved, get it! Read it! Love it! Thank you *so much* to everyone who supported this dream, who believed, and who helped keep me sane (as much as that’s possible—hahaha). Here’s a kung fu present just for you….

The Book Tour Has Begun!

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

The standing-room-only book tour’s reading & performance launch party at gorgeous Skylight Books in L.A. was a smash! I’ve gotta admit, it felt a little surreal (and terrifying) to hold the book in my hands and talk openly about something I’ve been working on like a hermit behind closed doors since 1999—but there’s no denying that the excitement, anticipation, and support in the room were real, and I couldn’t be more grateful—it’s my childhood dream coming true. Thank you *so much* to everyone who came out!
Scotch Wichmann book tour

After catching a few hours of sleep, we drove up to the Sylvia White Gallery in Ventura, where I unveiled a new piece called Your Name Is Magic for the monthly live 5x5x5 show curated by my performance art mentor, the certifiable art genius John M. White.
Performance artists Scotch Wichmann & John M. White
The gallery was packed, and the crowd absolutely on fire. I can’t be 100% sure, but I *think* I received my first standing ovation (except that the crowd was already standing, so I don’t know if that really counts??—haha).
Scotch Wichmann performance art fish magic

You can get all of the book tour information here—we’ve got a ton of stops from L.A. to NYC, with more cities coming soon! I can’t wait to read and perform for you!