“I pledge allegiance to this journey that leads to a higher state of consciousness and to this life, for which it stands, with patience and compassion for all.”
Those were the words that I wrote/agreed to during a journal entry at the Naked Camp in March. They resonated with me so strongly that I asked Micah Riot to tattoo them on my chest, shoulder, and back. [Sorry, WordPress is giving me an error when I try to upload pictures this week.] I’ve always believed in challenging myself to be a better person and I don’t take words tattooed on my body flippantly. This has been my most challenging tattoo to date. When I read it aloud to a colleague, she immediately repeated the last two words to me, “for all“? She asked. Aware of her drift, I immediately conceded that some people are easier than others when it comes to having patience and compassion. It’s not headline news that some people are unkind (read: assholes). This pledge challenges me to answer the questions how and why, daily. How can I be patient for the person that walks down (not across) the middle of the street and flips me off when I choose not to change my speed? Why does the person that beats a child deserve patience or compassion? That muthafucka deserves a boot to the face, right? That would be the easy answer and it would certainly make me feel good. But, there’s an important rule that must be highlighted in our daily dealings with assholes.
The Asshole Rule The anus has one job. Because of that job, the anus smells like shit all day. Even if you spend 15 minutes detailing it in the shower, soon after it will go back to smelling like an anus. The unfortunate truth about an asshole personality is that they have one job. Because of that job, the asshole human does shitty things all day. Even if you spend 15 minutes beating the shit out of the asshole human, soon after they will go back to being an asshole. Think about that for a minute. I’m sure you’ve noticed that our society tends to overlook provocation. Someone can spit in your face and kick your dog. When you beat them and put them into the hospital, you’re the one facing charges. Weird! No wonder we always shouted, “THEY STARTED IT!”, when we were kids. No one considers the provocation. Assholes provoke in hopes of getting high off of their drug which is our response/reaction. I won’t feed their ego. I won’t be their pusher. Instead, I choose patience.
It’s worth mentioning… I’m not suggesting that anyone turn the other cheek. I don’t believe in that. I’m suggesting that the right balance of patience and compassion won’t place me in a situation for the first cheek to get slapped. You dig?
Anger is so much easier. It’s so easy to just flip out, be impatient, and start cussing people out. But, then I become the asshole. No one considers the provocation. Everyone just sees me cussing people out. No thanks, I’d like to be invited back to this house party. I’m not going to amp on that dude committing party fouls. I’m going to stay cool. The tattoo is still a work in progress. Micah will be adding some custom artwork over two more sessions and some of that work will cover my first tattoo. When I was 18, I walked into a shop in Atlanta, chose a Chinese symbol that translated into “cool”, and had the dude put it on my left shoulder. It was my first tattoo challenge. I was going through Anger Management at the time and I would reach up and touch the tattoo whenever I need to cool down. Over the years, I’ve reached for it less and less. People often compliment me on how calmly I handle certain situations. I hold those compliments in high regard. I no longer need the cool tattoo challenge and also, I don’t speak/read Chinese. A Chinese woman once confirmed (while laughing at me) that the translation was correct. “Ha ha ha, you think you’re cool! Ha ha ha!”
Why challenge myself in this way? If my pledge didn’t challenge me, what would be the point? As a young dude, I stared at the flag and said the pledge of allegiance but, I was never challenged to conduct myself as a patient and compassionate human being because of it. The pledge of allegiance was a rote morning routine in grade school that involved more lip moving than recitation. I don’t want to turn this into a political post, but out of curiosity… Does anyone else find it interesting that this indivisible one nation still has states in the South that celebrate the Civil War (e.g., confederate flags, confederate soldier monuments, and confederate parks) and their former desire to secede from the union? Anyone calling America one nation hasn’t lived in many parts of it.
It’s worth mentioning… Before any overly patriotic mouth breather begins typing a rebel yell of a reply, understand that everyone has had a very different experience in this country. If our demographics don’t match, keep your opinion in your back pocket.
Do I regret getting these words tattooed on my body? Not at all. I may never accomplish the goal/pledge of having compassion for all. But, as long as I’m challenging myself to be patient and compassionate as a first response, I see this as a righteous path. Will I ever write a new challenge and use that tattoo to cover this ink in 18 years? W(ho)TF knows? Ask me in 18 years.
Please note: I did not write this blog to suggest that any reader do anything remotely similar. Write your own pledges and create your own challenges. I am asking you to be a better person. But, how you define better and how you manage your societal interactions is entirely up to you. Enjoy your journey and honor the gift of life by living it.
I Am A Burlesque Performer
A Bay Area news group recently, did a piece on burlesque in the bay. Here’s the link to that story! You may recognize the picture of me from my Black Dynamite act. Sometimes I get the question, why, in regards to performing burlesque. Why have I chosen burlesque as a creative outlet? Much like any creative outlet, burlesque found me it wasn’t the other way round. While burlesque by definition is not a gender-specific word, some people make up words like “boylesque” or even worse “brolesque”. I am a burlesque performer. I concede that this is and always has been a female-dominant environment, so I understand the desire some may have to distinguish between crotches. But, I am a burlesque performer. I try my best to bring drama, absurdity, and tease to every strip I choreograph. My costumes have included handcuffs, suspenders, multiple bowties, monocles, wigs, nunchucks, and straight jackets. I’ve dressed up as Gumby, Venom, Black Dynamite, Steve Urkel, the American Flag, and a shadow of pain. I’ve danced to Chemical Brothers, Marilyn Manson, Goapele, Van Hunt, Prince, Deftones, Portishead, and many others. I’m sure that people classify me as neo-burlesque or some other such label. I am a burlesque performer. I’ve never identified with the label of “classic”. In the golden age of burlesque, there were no black male performers. If there were, I doubt they wore a mohawk or covered there body in pledge/reminder tattoos a la Memento. Why do I wear pasties when I perform? As I mentioned, burlesque is a female-dominant environment. In many venues (at least in California) it’s illegal for a woman to expose her nipples in an environment that serves alcohol. I believe it to be a stupid, sexist, and archaic law. So, as long as women have to legally wear pasties, I’ll wear them in solidarity. I’m a burlesque performer and I hope to continue bringing memorable performances to the stage until the day it feels like work.
Come see me perform a new number in our Post-Apocalyptic themed show!
Friday, August 14 – Hubba Hubba Revue @ DNA Lounge in San Francisco