Posted by: maxvoltage | May 2, 2013

Intent

photo by Wayne Bund

photo by Wayne Bund

This week, I applied to a summer theatre intensive, which offered me the open-ended task of writing my “letter of intent.”  The last year and a half of my life has been completely insane, full of major  challenges and transitions, and this application process forced me to really articulate who i am, where i’ve been, and where I’m going.  I feel really proud of the piece I wrote, and wanted to share it with you all!

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Posted by: maxvoltage | January 12, 2013

End of an Era

A few years ago I set a few rules for myself; that I must take breaks in my event-production schedule, and before jumping back in, I must ask myself, do you want to do this again?  When you’re a workaholic perfectionist who has a hard time quitting things, it’s important to have some systems of checks and balance in place, turns out.

For the last 12 years of my life, the answer has been emphatically, YES!  I came into this art form through activism, and found my calling…. through drag, through dance, through camp.  And as I learned and grew as an artist, I created stages that could hold my art, and in doing so, created space for others, too.  Found community and inspiration.  Realized I wasn’t the only artist-in-hiding.

This summer, I asked myself if I wanted to produce another cabaret series, and for the first time, the answer was no.  I plan to continue producing Homo’s Got Talent annually, but I will not be re-starting the Homomentum cabaret.  I will instead be focusing my creative & event-production attention on writing and creating Homomentum the musical, and all the adventures it is sure to inspire.

I know some of you will be sad and disappointed about the end of the Homomentum cabaret series.  But think of it this way; we had 3 gaymazing seasons full of some of the most fabulous queer-ass art I have ever seen.  And I will be honest, I have seen a LOT of cabaret/drag/ dance/performance-art in my life, so I know what I’m talking about, and YOU, queer community, YOU are crazy talented.  More than you even realized.  So don’t stop there.  Keep going.  Find a stage.  And if you want to see something happen, make it happen!  Create the stages and spaces you want to see in the world.  That’s how we’ll change the world, after all.

I will miss the magic of the space we’ve created together!  But I’m so excited to see what amazing art and adventures will come next!

Posted by: maxvoltage | April 9, 2012

policy change follow-up

At Friday’s Homomentum, I announced a policy change for Pants-Off Productions, around the screening process of performance pieces coming to the stage.  I had received feedback from audience members about past content that hadn’t met our anti-oppression standards, and thus want to be as transparent as possible about changes moving forward.

But really, this is the tip of the iceburg.  This shift has been one of the many catalysts in my life, toward continually upping the bar for the work I put on stage.  Most shows, we get to bask in the sweet glitter magic of queer performances, and leave the fucked up world outside.  But it’s not always so simple, and the work that goes into making sure the performance experience is radical magic, has been a life-long pursuit.

I wanted to spend some time elaborating, on where I’m coming from, and let you in on the vision I have for this creative space we share together.  The decisions I make effect what acts you see on-stage.  Performers and communities members, you decide whether or not to opt-in, to participate, to attend Pants-Off events, and in doing so, are all part of this space we are creating together.  So I want to let you in, and tell you what I vision and why.

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Posted by: maxvoltage | October 4, 2011

Adventures of Rubyfruit

Sunday night, I went to the CSS & MEN show at the Wonder Ballroom.  I had a feeling that my friends from the Drag Mansion were up to some kind of outlandish shenanigans, so I sent a text volunteering myself for any type of ridiculous dress-up situation.  Sure enough, they were planning to dress up in Vagina Costumes.

Yes, Vagina Costumes.  Korin (aka Little Tommy Bang Bang) had made these beautiful costumes by hand, for a previous performance.  Apparently a group of them had worn the costumes for San Francisco Pride!  So they were all experienced Vagina wearers.  Me on the other hand, this was my first time.

I thought long and hard about what type of Vagina I would be.  Should I wear my glasses?  What foot-wear would my Vagina wear?  Ultimately, I decided to be my usual boy-ish dyky nerdy gender (tennis shoes, short shorts, leg warmers, glasses.)  Partly to balance out the others’ femme/queen gendered Vaginas, and also because I thought it was important to create visibility for Genderqueer Vaginas.

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Posted by: maxvoltage | August 23, 2011

stage magic

The stage is a magical place, and has been my entire life.  My first memories were of playing with costumes, and putting on performances for my parents & their friends.  Then, when I started playing violin, every quarter we would have a recital, and I remember vividly the feeling of waiting, the little butterflies that before the show made me simultaneously anxious and excited, and during the performance would fuel me, make my vibrato stronger, my double stops sing-out with the adrenaline.  This soaring high of being in the spotlight, all eyes focused on me, playing at my best.  And afterwords, luxuriating in it, getting compliments and acknowledgement.  Feeling so very seen.

I was a crazy-shy kid growing up.  I had a really hard time interacting with strangers, meeting people, being social.  Once I knew people, I would open up.  But first, i would hide behind my parents legs.  When we had to order food at a restaurant, I would always have my little brother do it for me, so I wouldn’t have to talk to the intimidating waiter.  In school, I wouldn’t dare talk to the teachers.  Even when I knew the answers, I was too shy to even raise my hand.

The one thing people knew about me was that I played violin.  I would take any opportunity to play.  Talent show, school project, I would seize any opportunity to get on-stage in front of my peers & teachers.  In 3rd grade, we staged “The Wizard of Oz.”  Hilariously, I played a munchkin (and stood a good foot taller than Dorothy).  The extroverted drama of the theater wasn’t really my thing.  But before the show started, I was the opening act, and performed a solo violin piece.  THAT was my stage.

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Posted by: maxvoltage | July 13, 2011

coming-out as an artist

This month, I’m working on my first-ever original Theatrical Piece, and I’ve been reflecting on my path as an artist, and the road to owning my artistic self.

Growing up, my brother and I would put on elaborate performances for our parents and their friends.  We would round up neighbor kids, and often my mom would have to remind us “every performance has a beginning, a middle, and an END.”

Early on, music was a huge draw for me.  When I was three, I saw Itzak Perlman on Sesame Street, and told my parents I wanted to play violin.  They were super supportive, and at age five, I started taking violin lessons.  Soon after my brother started taking piano lessons, and music was incorporated into our performances.

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Posted by: maxvoltage | May 25, 2011

f-holes

I have produced queer events in Portland, OR for 10 years now.  Mostly I have focused on drag/dance/cabaret shows, because I’ve always had an affinity for creating space for radical queer art-forms that don’t have a stage.  I am also a life-long musician (have played violin classically since i was 5), and recently, I have had the opportunity to play, tour and collaborate with some fucking fabulous queer musicians.  I’ve also begun helping book/promote/produce queer music shows in Portland, including the recent Rae Spoon/Tender Forever show, which was amazing & a really positive experience.

My next project brings together all these passions of mine… music and creating space for radical queer art: F-holes: a queer music series.

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Posted by: maxvoltage | May 17, 2011

queer aging

Max & Devan as kids

Yesterday at work I was waxing poetic over my upcoming 30th birthday this fall (mostly just trying to fathom what I will do to celebrate such a milestone).  My co-workers seemed shocked and in complete disbelief that I was 29.  One of them literally didn’t believe me.  “No way you are 29” she exclaimed.  And this seems to be happening to me a lot lately.  The older I get, the more people seem confused by my age.

I’m trying not to take it personally.  Reading into it that somehow it means the way I’m walking through the world is emotionally and intellectually immature.  That I don’t seem wise, that I haven’t accomplished enough yet to already be almost 30.  Age is such a relative and weird mile-stone.  Especially as a radical queer artist not engaging in the largely accepted rights of passage of mainstream society (home ownership, marriage, capitalistic career advancement, children, etc.)  Age becomes this weird nebulous thing.  I definitely feel older and wiser (particularly after getting to the other side of my Saturn Return with lessons learned and a clear understanding of who I am in the world and what I’m working toward).  And yet, somehow the people around me can’t sense all this wisdom i’ve gained in my 29 years on this planet.  But i suspect people’s confusion over my age has little to do with wisdom, gained or perceived.

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Posted by: maxvoltage | December 20, 2010

the pronoun question

People often ask me which pronoun i prefer.  I have answered this question in pretty much every way one could answer, to varying degrees of effectiveness.  There are different struggles for me, challenges in each answer I give.  Here’s a rundown:

“She”
In our binary world, I am usually perceived as female (except for in airports, the only place I consistently get called “He”).  Perhaps because Portland is a relatively queer & gender-deviant place, and thus folks are used to more masculine-presenting women, and I don’t throw them off, and get called “She” without a missed beat.  The occasional grocery store clerk will “He” me, but then just gets confused & embarrassed once we actually begin speaking.  Just the other day I was walking to work in the Pearl District and a Greenpeace person yelled at me “Hey there guy, you like the kind of Man who wants to save the world.”  I was amused, and kept walking (less ‘cause of the gender situation and more ‘cause I avoid the clipboard carrying folk at all cost.)

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Posted by: maxvoltage | October 31, 2010

halloween costumery

Happy Halloween!

The pros of this holiday for me are often that I go about my usual performance-costume scavenger hunts, and everyone suddenly carries all the random crap i need, and looks at me less strangely for wanting it in the first place.  For my Halloween costume?  Sure.  If by Halloween costume you mean genderfuck performance-art dance piece!

The flip side of spending much of my life conceptualizing/searching/constructing costumes, is that it takes the novelty out of Halloween for me.   I have millions of costumes to choose from, just walking into my basement (a fact that was NOT lost on my Housemates, who were thrilled to do their Halloween shopping in my costume closet).

Halloween is an intriguing holiday.  Its the one day of the year when it’s socially acceptable to dress however the fuck you want.  Straight dudes dress in drag, women find ways to wear the least amount of clothes possible.  I think Halloween is the day when you’re socially allowed to explore your inner-fantasies.  Women’s sexuality is a double-edged sword in our society, and while women are expected to be sexy and available to men, they are also judged if they cross some “too slutty” line.  Halloween allows space for women to be sexy and scandalous and not judged as “sluts.”  For straight men, dressing in drag, stepping away from male privilege and embracing the stigmatized “other” of femininity, is a compelling momentary freedom.

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