LESPHINXX interview

Had the wonderful opportunity to interview LESPHINXX!!! Really into their Lp right now… ENJOY!!!!

M.P. I was blasting your album as I road a bus through the Catskills today and I remembered we agreed to do an interview and as the trees changing leaves blurred your music took me over and I felt like today is the day! First, I just gotta say the reason I am so into your music is its energy. For me whenever I listen to your album I feel like I’m transforming into a teenage girl bursting with happiness and raving her life away and that’s like the greatest feeling ever. Is that intentional or am I just crazy?!

D.L.S. Thank you for listening to LESPHINXX while driving through the forest, especially during this time of year when nature makes it’s decent into the under world. The veil gets thinner and thinner this time of year, so this is the season for Lesphinxx music for sure. And yes many of our songs possess teenager vibes. I believe I am in a perpetual state of teenager but while deeply rooted in the wisdom of the crone.

I am really really excited that we are releasing our second Lp Ħaġar Qim later this Fall 2013 though Sisterjams. Ħaġar Qim (“Standing/Worshipping Stones”) is a megalithic goddess temple complex found on the Mediterranean island of Malta, dating from the Ġgantija phase (3600-3200 BC). My family on my father’s side is from Malta originally so this is like an homage to my roots and also to the cosmic mother.

M.P. Your album rides this fine line, for me, of complete accessibility and then I hear you in the background screaming, “harder, faster, more more more” and the tempo picks up and goes in really absurdly wonderful directions that I feel like so many people would love to dance to. Like “THZ DMZ” is just completely wonderful. Thank you! What’s “THZ DMZ” stand for? And how do you go about titling tracks? Where does Le Sphinxxx come from?

D.L.S. I’m really really happy that you love our music, thank you. “THZ DRMZ” stands for “These Dreams”. Danny remixed the vocals on “These Dreams” by Heart. Danny re-created the sensation/sound of going up and down on a roller coaster on the beat of this remix. This song is dedicated to his mother, Debbie.

When titling songs we usually will just take one or two words from the lyrics of a track. I’d like to say something more interesting like we use a baby name book or something. When it comes to writing lyrics I listen to the subconscious. I’ll quiet my waking thoughts and let things arise from the void. This isn’t always easy, flow really depends on a lot of things. Like astrological phenomenon , whether i feel energetically full or not. I really try to throw myself to a higher plane/dimension to receive melodies. Even if it’s just for a moment when i see a vision of some sorts and i feel like I’m soaring. In that moment I will find a melody and pull it down into a song.

I chose the name LESPHINXX because of the legend/symbolism surrounding the sphinx is to choose one’s own destiny. I happen to read about this in one of my favorite Joseph Campbell books, “The Power of the Myth”.

M.P. When I’ve explained to friends what your music is like I’ve said, “it’s like what I always wanted out of Grimes!” Does that seem like a fair way of describing you? I feel like you’re what Grimes wishes she sounded like, Grimes with some soul…. Since you go by Doorways I feel like you’re completely tapped into this, a psychic person ready to channel and help people do so too. Does that seem accurate? What else?!

Q5) Well I love Grimes but we are different creatures. She is like a dolphin and I’m more like a bat. Although we have similar sounding voices at times, LESPHINXX has a tendency to be a lot heavier and darker. Being that I go by Doorways well yes that is for a reason. I can’t remember where I was when I decided to change my name. But I do know that something gave me the name, it just appeared in my mind out of nowhere. That’s usually a good indicator that you are receiving information out side of your self. I can not say that I am a fully open & trained psychic. I often do have supernatural experiences though and this is a huge source of inspiration for my art and music. So it’s only natural for LESPHINXX fans to become inspired in such a way when they hear our songs or see us play live. It is my deepest intent to unlock and usher in sacred divine feminine energies we perform live or create art.

M.P. The first time I saw you perform you showed up an hour early and completely transformed the room you were playing it. It was Robot Moon Juice’s boyfriends last night in his old apartment and everyone came out in support of their eviction. I was exhausted as it was the end of gay pride weekend but still I went and I’m so glad for it! The times I’ve seen you live I’ve been blown away by your live presence. It manages to be casual and welcoming but you also really get people dancing. What is the motivation for your back up dancers wearing those masks?

D.L.S. Oh yeah ! I love Robot Moonjuice he is a good friend of mine lots of Love to him and his music career. He is actually on the cover of our first LP Athame, running in the nude through Cypress Hills Cemetery. The photograph was taken by our great friend photographer Ishmail Thoth Ra. When we play live we usually play through out the DIY circuit and bring along a pop up installation. Our current installation is a sort of a neo – ancient Egyptian temple which I created out of spray paint and dollar store goods. We are more of an art group then just a band. Lyfty Sirena and Uniska Wahala Kano are the dancers / performance artists in LESPHINXX whom are actual permanent members of this group. When they perform they are more like channels for other-worldy expression. We are like a band of mythological entities. Moon girl is going to haunt you !

M.P. Also, what is the process of making music versus performing music like for you? Is one side of the process more enjoyable or more of the focus for you?

D.L.S. song writing vs playing live …. There is a huge difference between writing songs and performing live. I enjoy both art forms but playing live and being on tour is definitely more fun. If I’m lucky I’ll write a song in a day. Sometimes a song will come through a telephone or through a window. Just like that it will show up in a connection with a person or even the wind will give me a song. But usually I’ll start with a beat and a bass line and sort of chant over it for a few hours. I will play synths / guitars over it for another few hours. Lurking for the right sounds / mix etc etc. Finally I will listen back to about 20 – ish different melodies per instrument and pick out what sounds most moving . My ears will not settle for anything too easy or boring. It’s like mining for crystals. I have to get through all this dead-ness in my aura, tear it open, jump off the high dive. When I hit a wall with a song that I’m really into is when I’ll hand it over to Danny. He ends up adding really dope beats sounds etc. It’s kind of like writing music would be baking the cake and then playing live is eating it up and having a food fight. Playing live is very ceremonial for us. We always burn sage at shows, transform a space with all of our weird art. We bring a portal with us in a suitcase along with strobe lights fog machine incense. We never know what’s going to come through. It could be anything from spirits, to fairies. This may sound ridiculous but the portal is alive and well. This is our deepest intent there for it is.

M.P. Your music has this very ethereal, almost supernatural quality, as it also taps into a range of emotions and drives. A lot of the songs are so simple but also seemingly reach so far, which is everything. Songs like “Is He It” completely transcends me and bring a smile to my face every time. What is the story behind the song and whose the guy singing with you? Is he it?! I guess what I’m asking you is, how personal are these songs? They seem really personal. And if they are, I feel like that’s why they’re so charged.

D.L.S. About “is He it ?” Well that’s me and Danny singing. This track is about questioning & destroying self-doubt. It’s about him literally writing a song to prove that he can write a song. I believe all of our songs are very personal.

M.P. Can you tell us a little about where you come from, what music has inspired your craft, why you started making music?

We are all from NY. My family is from Queens, Jackson Heights and Astoria. I lived in queens as a kid and then we moved to Nassau on Long Island where I grew up in West Hempstead. Lyfty is also from Long Island / Wantagh and her family is from Guatamala. Danny’s family is from Brooklyn/Manhattan/L.I. And finally Uniska is from Jamaica Queens. On both sides of my family there are a tons of artists and musicians, My grandparents play music, my great grand parents, my parents, my uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings. It’s in my blood for sure, i am very blessed. Music really would seize my entire being even when i was a little girl. Finally when i was a teenager I picked up a guitar and stared to play like mostly punk stuff. And just continued to pay attention to this really bright and burning feeling that music gave me. I basically answered the call.

D.L.S. My favorite bands would be Siouxsie and the Banshees, Crystal Castles, Blonde Redhead. I love a lot of goth music like VNV Nation, BlutEngel. I grew up listening to tons of riot grrrl like Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy, Sleater KInney, L7, Hole, Lunachicks. I’m also totally in love with many of the current girl groups here in Bushwick, BK wear I live; like Gluuu, Dark Sister, Culttastic, Oriana Gold just to name a few. We are going to start up a monthly festival called Temple of Kali, featuring all music + art by woman. We are aiming to make it as big as Lollapalooza.

Now go buy the Lp!

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Tony Torn Interview!!!

Benefit Party for Marc Arthur's "Mascot"

Tony Torn talks about going from downtown NYC to Broadway, his time in Reza Abdoh’s troupe, and I tried my best to probe him for as many family secrets as I could! His blood runs deep: Rip Torn, Geraldine Page, Sissy Spacek and even Edgar Allen Poe! When Tony isn’t acting or directing, he’s usually running around Page 22, a performance/literary/theater salon and acting space in Chelsea. They just launched a new website, so be sure to check out all the goings-on taking place at Page 22.

***NOW FOR THE INTERVIEW***

SB: Tony, you and most your family have spent most of your lives on stage, how are you feeling about the one you’re on now and what’s it like to share the spotlight with a cat?

TT: Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my first Broadway show. I went into it expecting it to be a wildly different experience but in most ways ways it isn’t. The Cort Theater is not the biggest theater I’ve performed in (That would be the Amsterdam Opera House while touring with Richard Foreman), and the eight shows a week schedule is heavy, but I’ve done that before too (even in a Reza Abdoh show, Bogeyman at LATC…doing 8 shows a week of Abdoh is CRAZY!).

The big difference is the intangible sense of importance that fills a Broadway gig because of the money and cultural capital involved. And for me, the intense legacy emotions it brings up…both my parents (Rip Torn and Geraldine Page) played Broadway many times when I was growing up, they actually met doing Sweet Bird Of Youth on Broadway.

As for the cats, I love working with them, but I am intensely jealous of the press attention they are getting. Divas!

Cats on Stge

SB: You and your family have an extensive history with Broadway and flamboyant men, is this the reason you’ve stepped away from the more experimental theater communities to spend some time with a Truman Capote story. Did you ever meet Capote as a young person? Was he a friend of your families? Was Capote influential on Reza Abdoh and your time with his acting collective?

TT: Despite the fact that my mother was well known for her role in Capote’s A Christmas Memory (she won an Emmy for it in 1966), I really made no connection between her and the family and never met him. I only knew him as the weird-frog like man in a film spoof I liked as a kid, Murder By Death. By the time I made the connection, and discovered that I loved Capote’s writing, both he and my mother were gone. Capote was never mentioned as an influence by Reza Abdoh either.

The main reason it makes sense for me to do this play is because if there is one character in Breakfast At Tiffany’s that can be best served up by a downtown weirdo, it’s Rusty Trawler, who is a multi-millionare, sexually infantile, Nazi sympathizing uptown weirdo. My daughter Miranda said when she saw me in it, “Dad, you’re really good at playing weirdos!” with a charming mix of pride and mortification. If the shoe fits….

Continue reading

Interview with Rami Shamir on the passing of his dear friend Barney Rosset and his new book TRAIN TO POKIPSE

Beautiful, tender, very personal interview with Rami Shamir about his new book TRAIN TO POKIPSE and the recent passing of his dear friend, mentor, and the great American publisher, Barney Rosset, creator of Grove Press and champion of Free Speech. If you’re in New York City, Rami suggests you pick up a copy from and always support, St Mark’s Bookshop. You can also buy it directly from the publisher, Underground Editions.

“TRAIN TO POKIPSE is a Catcher in the Rye for the new century, and Rami Shamir is an authentic literary voice for a new lost generation. POKIPSE, much like The Catcher in the Rye , will be a powwow of the alienated (elite), where America’s outsider youth can gather to infuse the vitality of their life for decades to come.”
Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press and legendary publisher of Henry Miller, William S. Burroughs, and Samuel Beckett

“I love TRAIN TO POKIPSE.”
Gary Indiana, author of The Shanghai Gesture, Rent Boy, and Do Everything in the Dark

“Sensitivity does not come easy, but when it arrives it surrounds you entirely. When you finish this book you will be surrounded by love, sensitivity, and hopefully a little bit of wisdom. Live on! I did. Thank you, Rami.”
Holly Woodlawn, Andy Warhol Superstar and author of Low Life in High Heels

“Reading TRAIN TO POKIPSE is like reading Dickens. Underneath this contemporary coming of age story is the same social analysis, the same investigation of lives lived and being lived, and the same kind of empathetic heart that listens to the world and reflects it in crisp and unexpected prose. Here we find the cracked lyricism of the street: the voice of the outsider reporting on the dispossessed. Rami Shamir has a beautiful and distinctive voice, and he is just starting.”
Penny Arcade, playwright, performance artist, and author of Bad Reputation: Performances, Essays, Interviews

“Rami Shamir is rapidly becoming the conscience of the No Generation. He is a master of that frozen moment when the eaters see what they are really eating. Gayer than Ginsberg, blacker than Kerouac, itchier than Whitman, slithering darkly toward the Billyberg Omphalos, Rami Shamir loads his pen with jizz, blood and drugs. A Nantucket sleigh ride up the rosy rectum of Generation N. Keep an eye on Rami Shamir.”
Phoebe Legere, composer and performer

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Rose Wood MP3 Interview File

A while back we interviewed Rose Wood and I transcribed the interview and posted it here, well I finally found the chord I need to put the files online as an MP3 (yay!), so for all of you that don’t like to read, now you can just hit play and listen.

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MASHA TUPITSYN: VIA THE SCREEN

Interview with Masha Tupitsyn on her new book LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film.

How do you prefer to watch movies? Do you think the way in which you watch a film contributes to your reaction to it?

The film critic Pauline Kael wrote: “When one considers the different rates at which people read, it’s miraculous that films can ever solve the problem of a pace at which audiences can ‘read’ a film together.’” It’s funny, a lot of people react to that line in LACONIA—where I write about watching movies alone. It’s like blasphemy when it comes to cinema. But it’s true. I do prefer to watch movies alone, for a lot of different reasons. I think they come in a different way when you watch them alone. When you do anything alone. I also started watching movies that way as a kid, and the way you start is maybe the way you always stay. I am really selective about who I watch movies with, so I had like movie friendships. Friendships that were based on watching movies together and talking about them. But I’ve moved away from that more and more, and DVDs and streamed movies only exacerbate my tendency. And since I’m also someone who writes about movies, I have particular tics and ways of watching them that would irritate someone who’s just trying to watch a movie for (uninterrupted) “pleasure,” because I’m constantly interrupting the cinematic fold, so to speak. Or maybe I’m never even in it in the way that a traditional viewer is supposed to be, which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it intensely. Where you don’t talk while a movie is playing. You don’t stop and start a movie. Go back, go forwards. Re-watch. Watch a movie too late or over a period of 2 days. But for me it’s less about watching and more about working through a film: what it’s doing, what it’s trying to do, what it’s showing, what it’s not showing. What it does to me. What it does to the world it’s in as well the world that’s in a film. The world it makes and that makes a film possible.

There are two quotes about cinema from Steve Erickson‘s novel Zeroville that I always think about. The first is: “Last night, the movie became mine and no one else’s.” Which is the idea that there is a kind of alchemy between a film (the true or secret film that is underneath the false film, as Erickson says repeatedly, which is the one everyone watches together—the “official film—at the same time. The film you’re meant to read in a certain way) and a viewer, so that cinema is also about who’s watching it—the chemistry between a particular film and a particular viewer, at a particular time, and that, like a book, has an ideal reader that contributes to the meaning and existence of that book, and the writer who writes it—a film needs the right pair of eyes to really see it.

The second quote from Zeroville that applies to what we’re talking about is: “The thing is, that movie last night is a completely different movie when you watch it by yourself. Why is that? Movies are supposed to be watched with other people, aren’t they? Isn’t that part of the point of movies—you know, one of those social ritual things, with everyone watching? It never occurred to me that a movie might be different when you don’t watch it with anyone else.” Having said this, it’s important to distinguish the critical, discerning, and radical intimacy between a viewer and a film from a kind of purely fetishistic and possessive relationship to images that is dangerous and titillating and alienating, and which Michael Haneke so brilliantly conjures in Benny’s Video, for example. And with Pablo Larraín’s Tony Manero. Where images are used to feel less, not more. Where images are used to cut us off from knowing what things really even feel like in the real world—off the screen. To engage with the real world less, or only via the screen. So that Benny thinks killing a pig, or watching a pig get killed, is the same thing as killing a girl in real life, in his house.

What I’m interested in now is an evolution of what I’ve always been interested in when it comes to film: The cinematic subjunctive. That is, the relationship between what’s possible in the cinema (how the cinema influences and/or hijacks our idea of possibility and potentiality) and what’s possible or not possible in real life—the gap(s) in between and what those gaps do to and mean for us—for our hopes, desires, and dreams; whether they limit and expand them, whether they hold them hostage in cinematic space, and how one—offscreen vs. onscreen—affects, shapes, and confuses the other. How they overlap and blur. Rub up against each other and clash. Sometimes even cancel each other out. Which is, in many ways, what I’ve been looking at all along—in LACONIA, Beauty Talk & Monsters, and Life As We Show It. For me, the real question is always: What do images want and what do we want from images? But not just from images when we look at them, but what wants of ours are stored in and reflected back to us (often unconsciously) by/through images—films? And can we access and live those wants and desires unless they are mediated and contained by images? How do images mediate and contain us? And more, how do we live because of movies? For as Geoffrey O’Brien writes in his book about movies, Phantom Empire: “If only it had been possible to live like this.” This is what every movie is always engaging with and putting us in touch with—if only it were possible to have this, to want this, to be this. Because as O’Brien also points out: “It wasn’t narrative that drew them but the spaces that the narratives permitted to exist.”

What is your favorite period in film history?

It varies culturally, of course. Whether it’s European cinema or Third World Cinema or avant-garde cinema. But in American cinema, it’s the 1930s and 1970s. With the 1930s, you have this athletic, dexterous, and energetic attention to language. To the elliptical way people talk and feel. Their rigorous back and forth—a sign of tenacity—of not being able to let something or someone go. I think one of the great things about the screwball comedies of yesteryear (and there are many) is their velocity, because that speed and energy and attention have to do with the quantity and quality and intensity of feeling and interaction and desire. In the 1930s, as Geoffrey O’Brien writes, “a movie was a completed destiny,” which has so much to do with the motif of time and memory; the way the characters live in and through and for time. So there’s this wonderful cadence and rhythm to everything. To the way things are felt and said and done. And in the 70s, you had the recognition of social reality and what it does to people’s lives. You had incredible doubt and skepticism and suspicion of dominant power structures, so that for a moment there was a sense that things could change politically and socially.

What’s your biggest critique of the industry?

Exactly that—industry. The way everything gets turned into industry these days, including people. I think Beauty Talk & Monsters really answers that question though. Continue reading

Rosewood: Gender Terrorist

The first time I saw Rosewood perform I felt like I was watching a long lost cousin perform. As Lou Reed sang, “Take a walk on the wild side”, Rosewood dazzled the crowd with the countless ways one can stuff drugs in orifices and managed to turn a pair of high heels into a crack pipe. Rosewood bends gender and uses the body unlike any other I’ve ever seen. And it brings me great pleasure to announce, a few months ago, my friend Jordan Schimmetti and I sat down with Rosewood for an interview.

We met up with Rosewood at the studio wherein s/he produces woodworking and stores the numerous persona’s neatly stashed away in boxes with the name of the outfit written on the front of them. As Rosewood showed us around s/he explained that often s/he will be busy refurbishing a vintage antique when the time comes to whisk off to a performance so it’s best to have everything always ready to go. And all over the walls of the studio are pictures of Shamans Rosewood finds inspirational. One of her favorites lived in India and was famous for turning shit into food or other precious items for the poor and downtrodden.

Lately Rosewood has been causing a scene in both London and NYC, performing her decadent show at The Box and other venues. For those familiar and unfamiliar with Rosewood I suggest you take a walk on the wild side and read on:

SB: You’ve told me that you went to school with Keith Haring in the late seventies. Were you performing then? What was your relationship like?

RW: We intersected at a funny time because I was hitting the curb at that point. Sex, drugs and rock n roll. I had hit the wall. By 1980 I was wrecked. Bleeding from every hole. Drug burnt and sex burnt. And I couldn’t keep going so I had to abandon all that stuff and focus on repair. I did a lot of artwork but it changed from being sociable and relational to private. I went to the woods, the country.

SB: So you completely left the city at that point?

RW: I was in and out of the city. I spent 3 months living in Morocco. Then I moved to New Jersey for a while, then here (NYC), then Connecticut for a while. I really needed to be outside and to keep it simple. I wasn’t sociable at all. I stayed away from people for quite a number of years.

JS: So by 1980, how long had you been in New York for?

RW: Five years.

JS: You are originally from New Jersey, right? So what was that first transition like? Had you always planned on moving to New York?

RW: Well, you know, I got into a lot of different schools, but I was such a freak, I just couldn’t wait to get out of my hometown and New York sounded perfect! Once I got here, I felt liberated. However, with that kind of liberation came all the pitfalls. And I fell into every one of them.

JS: Did you have a decent relationship with your parents as a young person? Were you running from something or trying to expand? Was there an antagonism back in Jersey you were running from?

RW: I had identity issues. Even then and now I fit more into the gay world of my town, which was small. I wasn’t as easy to categorize because everyone else was hiding and I wasn’t hiding in any way and I received a lot of antagonism for that.

JS: So you were never closeted in anyway?

RW: Never. I’ve never spent one moment in a closet.

SB: Were you doing drag then?

RW: Not full drag, then. I wasn’t doing female impersonation. It was the time of hair bands and glam rock, so I had big hair and wore makeup and it was always hard to say because there was Queen and a few of their members were reasonably known as gay but it wasn’t talked about quite the same way is it now. So, I just looked like I had stepped off a stage.

JS: So you’ve been performing your entire life?

RW: I went in and out of it. Everything started at the age of ten, at my local Jewish Community Center. I took woodworking and theater (lifts hands in the air, as we’re in Rosewood’s workshop which consists of drag and woodworking tools, showing that to this day that is Rosewood’s reality). Theater for us was Vaudeville. My teacher was a New Yorker – she was a hardcore, jaded lady who was interested in doing Vaudeville shows in the middle of New Jersey. So I was doing Vaudeville, mostly magic and comedy. And then, when I came to New York, everything shifted, I studied to be a spotter in gambling casinos. I had learned all sorts of card cheating. My Grandfather had been a kind of hustler. He taught me card stuff and referred me to people and I wound up spotting card games to make sure things were legal.

SB: So gambling was legal in New York City then?

RW: There was so much gambling.

SB: And it was legal?

RW: Oh no. They were shady, backroom, gambling games. They had me there in case someone was cheating; I was supposed to point them out. But what I came to realize, very quickly, was, “now what?” If I say something, someone is going to get shot and there’s a good chance that someone would’ve been me. Finally I asked myself, if I wanted to be around the gambling world and after all that study and training I realized I had made the wrong turn. Continue reading