Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I am now married to the sea.
I have recently returned from going to Europe for my first time (without parental guidance, that is).
First stop Zurich. I performed at the Museum of Porn in Art, which is attached to Edi's Weinstube right in old town Zurich.
On Friday, August 21st - the Alchemical Transsexual art exhibit for Steven Johnson Leyba opened, and I performed as part of the opening. I twirled fire tassels with two different routines. In between the acts, the lovely attendees were viewing some of the porn featured at the cinema. Then, I jumped back on stage, blue screen behind me to light 'em up again. There was one helluva heat wave going on - inside and outside of the venue too.
Thanks to my hostess Zoe Staehli for treating me like an absolute queen. I definitely want to return to Zurich for another slice of heaven. Thanks to Steven for introducing me to Zoe, and asking me to entertain at his opening.
A few days later, I took the train down to Florence, Italy right through the Swiss Alps, briefly stopping in Milan. I found a very cheap hostel (about $25 US a night) that provided dinner, dessert, breakfast, wine and free wi-fi (not to mention has the cutest white boxer puppy, Fiona - and excellent company and information from the hosts).
Because I went on a Monday (when all the museums are closed), I only had enough time to see one gallery - The Uffizi. This extraordinary museum has hosted timeless and iconic images for hundreds of years (open to the public in 1765) . Once I got past feeling honored at being able to stand in the same place in front of Botticelli's Birth of Venus for the past 245 years (painted in 1485), I was speechless at the beauty (and enormity). It is no wonder it is such a well-known painting.
Then, I zipped on over to Venice on a train.
When people say that Venice is the most beautiful city in the world, they aren't kidding. Despite being there during the high season, when everyone in Europe is on vacation, and during the same heat wave that passed through Zurich and Florence (did I mention that it was over 100F in Florence?), I was slack-jawed at the image of the canals, boats, and old buildings. And, there was a rainbow in the sky as my vaporetto propelled from the train station, around to my stop.
Trying to schlep my luggage over hill and dale (or rather bridges and canals) over and over again to find the correct tiny street to my hostel was a bit much, but I was soon rewarded for my efforts by being placed in The Wedding Room. My very own king size bed with two windows, an oscillating floor fan and I think I was the only one staying in that building. I had the whole little cottage to myself for less than $40 US a night!
Next door to my room was the most amazing trattoria. I dined at the terrace on black pasta with poached sea bass, and I was given the LOCAL price (rather than the tourist price posted on the menu). One of the best meals of my life!
Falling asleep @ 11:30, I awoke ready to go hit the town at 5:30am! An absolute first for this night owl. Wanting to find my friends, I went to Sadie and Lian's hotel at 7am to leave a note (I wouldn't dare wake another night owl at such a ghastly hour), then to a cafe and over to find Annie and Beth. I went back and forth between the Giardini district and San Marco Square a few times that day, my place in the middle near the Arsenale district.
Finally all connections were made, and the searing sense of loneliness left me. I felt like I was floundering a bit those first few hours, wanting familiar contacts. I ended up staying up very late that night working on the program with Annie Sprinkle for her and Beth's An EcoSexual Blue Wedding To The Sea. A Love Art Laboratory performance art wedding that took place on Friday, August 28th outside between the Fear Society and Unconditional Love Pavilions (These pavilions are part of the Venice Biennale, and contained art exhibits for the event).
On Thursday before the wedding all collaborators gathered for first a rehearsal, then a photo session. It was lovely walking through the streets of Venice in my blue costume (thanks again to Miss Honey Penny for making the outer skirt). Waiters stopped serving dinners to walk towards me and say, "Buona Sera". The sun began to set, and the light in the sky was absolutely amazing. All of the shades of blue of our costumes reflecting the hues of the sky and sea. We were art in motion.
Here are some photos by the following photographers:
Mark J. Snyder
I became friends with so many of the other collaborators. Meeting these lovely performance artists from all over the US, Europe and outside was incredible - especially since we would all end up married to the sea - together.
The wedding was exactly as I had imagined it. We were on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, sitting next to a historic pissoir. This particular public urinal has been declared historical because of the sailors that would have sex with prostitutes inside the urinal. Arriving in Venice after being at sea, they would disembark at this site and go inside the pissoir with the courtesans. How appropriate that Annie Sprinkle would have an ecosexual wedding and get married to Elizabeth Stephens and the sea, her lovers, at this very sight.
After the wedding we had a lengthy procession through the city, singing, all decked out in our wedding costumes, bringing attention from tourists and locals, and dined under the stars until Annie and Beth and members of the wedding party were whisked away in a gondola.
I met up with them later (along with many of the other collaborators) for the final vows and throwing the rings into the sea. Annie's emotional speech about her personal connection to the water (where she saw her first penis - and then gave her first blowjob), how much it meant to her to be married to it, and then talking about how much we need to help the sea - was deeply moving.
The purpose of the wedding has several parts to it:
1. Be Sex-Ecologists. Consider the Earth your lover. She is no longer Mother Earth taking care of each of us, she is now our lover, one that we should also be taking care of, giving our love and support to. She is in need, and needs us to stop and do what we can to continue her survival.
2. We are Water. Every form of life is mostly made of water. We would not exist without its basic chemical composition. For a healthy existence, to sustain life, we must be accountable and do what we can to assure it continues to create life.
3. The Sea Needs You. All of the water on the earth is in desperate need for our attention and affection. Inland waterways, ground water and the oceans. Islands of plastic the size of Texas, toxicity deforming and changing aquatic life, global warming devouring species and changing landscapes, etc. are just some of the reasons that a lifestyle change must take place with all of us.
4. The Throat Chakra: This is one of the aspects that the wedding celebrated. This chakra also represents the color blue and communication, thus the Blue Wedding. Earlier in June, Annie and Beth married the Sky in a ceremony in Oxford, England.
5. Devote yourself to making a change. We made vows that included "'til death do us part". This includes returning from the wedding with that love and earnest devotion to spread a message to have others help.
Saturday, September 19th is International Coastal Clean Up Day. You can sign up here to find out where you can go to make a change for our future. Even if you are in a landlocked area, you can spend an hour or two cleaning up debris on any water's edge, it makes a difference.
For more information about the various weddings that Annie and Beth have created, and to be a collaborator on future weddings, go to their Love Art Laboratory site.
On Saturday, after the wedding I went through many of the exhibits of the Biennale with Annie and Beth. We were treated to rain showers and some eclectic art (in other words some was VERY good, some was VERY bad) that afternoon. Afterwards, we met with Jane, Cynthia and Rolf for a snack and a Spritz (a Venetian cocktail).
Beth, Annie, Rolf and I continued to walk along the Grande Canal, stopping short of San Marco Square, in fact, right at the San Zaccaria stop.
We ordered pizzas and watched the sky turn dark. The waiters were wary of the weather and began to clear off all the other tables, fearing the rain was coming back. Then more friends began to arrive. Timi and Margarita joined us during dessert. We were still hoping for more to arrive, but they got lost, which IS what happens in Venice. The residents of Venice are very sweet, they keep telling you, "You're almost there, you're so close, just turn left and then right (or vice versa) and then you'll be there". If I had a Euro for every time I heard that...
Despite having to go back to very primitive means of communication throughout my journey (thank you T-Mobile CSRs, you are absolute dimwits about international connectivity), I still had an amazing time.
There were many things that I missed out on during my journey because of no cellphone service (getting to meet the legendary artist HR Giger at his home, getting to see hordes of Italian men parading into San Marco Square looking to get some after the bars closed, etc.), but as Annie, Beth and Company kept saying, "This is a pilgrimage, a labor of love.". And, the love was palpable. We were all in a state of utter bliss along with the thrills and challenges of communication.
I did make a lot of sacrifices to be part of the wedding, I also received a lot of gifts to make that journey take place, and I reaped spiritual rewards. I felt many ghosts and saw some supernatural activity while in Venice too. I definitely want to return some day, but next time will bring several pairs of comfortable shoes. I highly recommend traveling there, but be prepared for the great physical toll of strolling along the bridges and canals.
Thank you to all that helped make this journey happen.
Thank you especially to Annie and Beth for your generous nature in having us be part of your wedding ceremony.
An ocean of love and waves of gratitude,