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stage fright flight w/minor lung contusions
video: . high . med . low

FEEL THE FEAR! ...and laugh at the rockin' Love and Rockets mullet haircut. In this video, I am performing The Tightrope Walker at the Fresh Meadows Poet's Poetry competion (where I won honorable mention). With no sleep the night before, the nerviousness made me look strung out and "cool." No drugs here, it was all nerves. NYC, 1990.


After seeing the movie Poetry In Motion (which featured a segment on Jim Carroll), I discovered live poetry performance. It was a major revelation and the performances in the film were amazing. Seeing my own writing published was exciting, but after getting on stage, nothing compared to the rush of performing it live. I abandoned all efforts to get published and focused my entire energy on performing.

Although I was very excited about performing, I was very nervous, and suffered from extreme stage fright. Extreme: I was shaking before, during, and after my performances. I could barely remember what I was supposed to say, let alone how I was supposed to say it. After the poem was finished, still shaking, I could barely remember what I had just done. It was no way to be. It was very difficult personal obstacle to overcome.

I forced myself to perform at every poetry reading and open mic in town. I would perform 3-4 times a week, it took me years to overcome my extreme stage fright.

psychedelic furs body language of richard butler
video: . high . med . low

There are some great front-men in the history of rock 'n' roll: Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Johnny Rotten, but the man who did it for me was Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs. Embarrassing but true, I learned a lot from watching this dude. Richard is a master of body language. This clip is The Psychedelic Furs performing Pretty In Pink at the MTV premier party for the movie of the same name in 1986. Yes, when I perform in bizarre cardboard costumes, in my mind I am really surrounded by new wave 80s pastel color lighting sporting a mullet haircut.

video: . high . med . low
Performing Any High School in the USA at The Coffeehouse, March 21, 1992. It took me years to figure out how to perform. My acting teacher would graciously say, "use your body as an instrument, try acting like a flowing willow tree, then try a human being." I couldn't learn anything until I tried acting like a mad labratory rat (while sporting a Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire early 90s ponytail), that was the breakthrough.

Eventually I became a featured reader at poetry readings in New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee, including The Nuyorican Poet's Cafe poetry slam in NYC. I liked the "rock'em, sock'em" feel of poetry slams, and the lyrical sophistication of academic readings, and performed continually at both to combine the styles. My mature spoken-word performances could be heard at venues ranging from the commercial Lollapooloza (1994, Milwaukee) to the academic The Detroit Writer's Project (1992), where I jumped, whispered, and screamed to communicate my muse. My body was my instrument, I had mastered my craft.

Once I gained confidence, I would become so engrossed in my performances I had difficulty remembering there was an "edge" to the stage. At the Empty Bottle in Chicago I fell off the stage, hitting my chest on the edge as I fell, and suffered a minor lung contusion. For me, the extreme sport poet, extreme stage fright had turned into extreme stage flight, YEA!


As an accomplished perfromance poet reciting SuBLIMINAL VIOLENCE at the Poet's Monday open mic, Cafe Melange, Milwaukee, 1991. Photo: Jen Benka.


>> work in progress <<



Losing nervousness performing Park Avenue Prostitute at the Y-Not II story.

Add Park Avenue Prostitute from Y-Not II show video.

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