meeting feedees

A few weeks back, Aaron Gell from the New York Observer called to interview me about my play Feeder: A Love Story. The conversation was casual and focused on the play’s development. It was similar to other interviews I gave over the past month to Tom Murrin, Adam Szymkowicz and Zack Calhoon.

Then, our conversation turned to my research. Specifically, Mr. Gell wanted to know if I spoke to anyone in the feederism community. Being very private people, I wasn’t compelled to share many details. I did mention that the feederism blog, FeedeeWorld, picked up our press release about the play, discovered the play’s character blog, and organized a group to see the play’s first preview performance. Mr. Gell thanked me for my time, and proceeded to find FeedeeWorld and Fantasy Feeder. He posted requests for interviews at both sites. He planned to attend the same preview performance with the feederism group and hoped to ask them questions.

Because this play examines the media’s exploitation of sub-cultures and fringe groups, I have a few opinions and reservations about the media, and when one of the bloggers at FeedeeWorld told me Mr. Gell reached out to her, I encouraged her to be cautious. Though Mr. Gell reassured me his article would maintain participants’ anonymity and respect their lifestyles, I was still skeptical.

To my surprise, Mr. Gell did not attend the first preview of the play, but the group organized on FeedeeWorld did.

The original version of Feeder: A Love Story, written in 2006, was a solo play. I shared an experience here about two audience members confronting me after a performance about my intentions. Needless to say, when I discovered a group from the online community Fantasy Feeder was attending this new production, my heart jumped a little. Would they be angry? Would they be satisfied with the work I’ve done to depict this lifestyle honestly?

Happily, the group was open, responsive and generally pleased with the play. We had a wonderful discussion about their concerns, and they even offered some dramaturgical suggestions, which I implemented. It was a very different experience from my original post show discussion in 2006. Amanda, the woman with whom I’ve been corresponding, posted her review of the play today.

Mr. Gell contacted me a couple days after the group’s visit to the show, asking again if I could connect him to this group. I explained I respected the group’s privacy, and he would have to break the ice on his own. He returned to Fantasy Feeder, and with persistence persuaded one of the attendees to chat with him about their experience of the play. You may read Mr. Gell article at the New York Observer website.

Again, Mr. Gell surprised me. His intentions were indeed respectable, and his portrayal of the group was sweet, fun and objective. It wasn’t a hard piece of journalism, but that was never his intention as he so often insisted. In this exploitative and fast-paced 24 hour news cycle, we see innocent people vilified and judged for lifestyles. It’s refreshing to see a reporter do the work and stick to his word. One may disagree with how others live their lives; however, we’re all human beings seeking happiness and understanding.

Thanks, Mr. Gell, for staying true to your word and sharing a moment in which people tried to understand each other just a bit better.

it’s about engaging

Last night, I met some great people with whom I’ve corresponded in the social worlds for quite a while, and we put faces to names (not just screen names to avatars) for the first time. We had a quick chat about our upcoming projects, and I told them about the blog I’m creating for Feeder: A Love Story. One suggested it was about marketing and hooking an audience, and I tried to explain that it’s not just about putting butts in seats but about telling the story.

This is a common misunderstanding when it comes to transmedia storytelling. Certainly, it’s a way to “hook” people, but I prefer the word “engage.” When I first thought about creating the problog for Noel and Jesse, I hadn’t heard of transmedia storytelling. I just wanted to find a unique and interesting way of telling and expanding their story. Eventually, after working on it for a while, I discovered the world of transmedia storytelling, or deep media storytelling. There are stories in the problog that are only briefly mentioned in the play, and the play has stories not even referenced in the problog. The pieces are meant to work together to give the audience a richer experience of the tale.

Theatre is a unique and special experience. Like any live performance, it allows the audience to congregate and trek through events and emotions of the characters. It should make the audience curious to know more. I don’t know how many times (especially with this play) people remark, “I wish I knew more about that character.” To put everything in the play, however, doesn’t make sense. There’s subtext. Human behavior. Uniquely theatrical journeys. As a dramatist, I don’t want to tell everything in the play. That’s where mystery and magic lives.

So, why tell back stories on another platform at all? I dislike dramaturgical notes.

With Feeder: A Love Story, one of the first questions audience members ask is: “Is this real?”

Yes, it is. Do I want to put that in a paper program people read before the play begins, detailing out what the fetish is, how people live it, or how I found it? Not really. That takes people out of the play. Generally, theatre could do a better job of pointing the audience in the right direction to discover these answers for themselves.

As theatre-makers, our job is to create worlds that entertain, enlighten and excite. If we have to explain why we wrote something in a dramatugical program note, aren’t we falling short somehow as storytellers?

Of course, sometimes audience needs explanation. Pieces may be completely avant-garde or experimental with no story at all, or perhaps a company re-envisions a classic play in a new setting or time period. There are ways of giving context without writing a four paragraph manifesto on why this piece exists. I don’t care. I don’t usually read them. If I am not moved to laugh, cry or dance, the performance doesn’t succeed.

If and when audience requires context, why not share it in other mediums? There are loads of ways to achieve this. Direct an audience to source material on the internet, tell a classic story in a two minute video with puppets, or create an interactive game that reveals more about the live performance experience. Make dramaturgy a fun discovery, not a return to the classroom. No body wants to feel like they must learn something to enjoy art. But, if art spurs people to learn because it engages, a dual benefit manifests.

We aren’t printing a program for Feeder: A Love Story. We’re going green. Our program will live online at the terraNOVA Website. But, we’re not going green just to “go green.” We’re doing it because we want to direct people to the back story. Back to the problog. If an audience member hasn’t discovered the problog before the play, she or he can dig deeper on their own.

Hopefully, it engages in a fun and fantastic way.

i’m back

Two years ago, I stopped writing on this blog. A lot’s changed in the past two years. I got a girlfriend, I got a second cat, my girlfriend moved in with me, I quit my job, I got another job that consumed all my time (I learned a lot in that year), I returned to what I love doing, and I started another job that will afford me to continue doing what I love doing.

I’ve decided to start blogging again because:

a) I have the time again.

b) I think I was taking the wrong approach to this a couple years back – namely, I was over thinking what I wrote here and taking too much time publishing.

c) Now, I’m interested in how the social interaction of the internet affects my work as an artist.

Since this is the first time I’ve jumped on to this account after such a long time, I’m noticing some changes Blogger has enabled, namely the video feature seems much easier to use, so I’ll probably try that out someday. Too, I’m finding that a couple people have posted comments that I’ve recently discovered. Good comments, too. So, I’ve approved them.

The main comment that deserves attention is one from He wrote: “Hi there. I’m a feeder, and I feel moved to point out to you that feedism is >not<>FEEDER: A Love Story, the story has undergone quite a massive overhaul. It use to be a solo monologue that I performed at the 2005 soloNOVA Arts Festival, and then I met some women who asked me some tough questions.

This post will explain what I chose to do next.

Luckily, one of those women, Janie Martinez, was gracious enough after a mutual friend of ours, David Anzuelo, signed on to direct the new version of the play, to give great notes on the ins and outs of feederism and the play. Thanks to these amazing people, I’m viewing the story from a very different angle. Most importantly, the new character of Jesse, Noel’s wife, now tells her side of the story, and the two of them have multiple scenes in which they interact with each other. The other major change is that Noel does not journey with Judith Angel, the play’s antagonist, across the country in a van after kidnapping her to teach her a lesson. It’s a very different direction, and I’m planning on having a public showing of it in the New Year. I hope you’ll join me for the next incarnation of FEEDER: A Love Story in 2009.


On another note – I also want to share a few fun links every day. They may or may not be associated with the subject at hand, but they are things that I find interesting and fun. I hope you’ll find them fun, too.

Today, I’m posting some links to Jessica Hische’s work. She’s a young illustrator/graphic designer/typographer based here in NYC. She just did a huge spread in the NY Times highlighting 2008 Buzzwords. Her website is very cool as is her blog.

what a week

It’s taken me over a week to process all that happened last week, for it was wild, teaching me not only about human nature, but the impact one has with one’s words (namely, my own).

Three days after the first woman who told me I was “remarkably accurate” in my portrayal of feederism and posted a link to the show from the Dimensions Magazine website (if you go to this site, there will be plot spoilers from my play…so, if you plan on seeing it in the future, you may want to avoid), two woman showed up and sat in the front row, indignant and scowling during the entire play. After the show, they stopped me, asking all sorts of questions about the show: “What was my point?” “What research did I do?” “Did I talk to any feeders or feedees?” After 45 minutes of their grilling and my friends leaving one by one without my getting to hang with a them, I realized I handled the situation very poorly. Not only was I starving and out of my mind with hunger, I was “post-show” head space, which is not very coherent. As a result, I wasn’t as articulate as I would have liked. Disappointed, I chalked it up to a bad experience, one which if given an opportunity, I would’ve handled differently.

Kicking myself for having done such a poor job explaining my show, I went to the Dimensions Magazine website, and I checked out the chat thread that started after the woman on Saturday night. Sure enough, one of the women disgruntled with the show went on and posted a scathing review of the play. Then, she talked about how, after the show, I described my play as “bad art” and misquoted me on a few facts. Basically, she asked me what the show meant. Did I want people talking about my show after they went home from the theater? I told her I believe “good art” should resonate. People should continue talking about it when they go home. I don’t propose to tell people what they should think – “good art” should just provoke people to conversation. Then, I qualified and said, “Not that I’m saying this is “good art…I’m just saying that’s what good art is, and if people keep talking about it once they get home, that’s great.” Trying to be humble. Didn’t work.

As a result, I figured I’d revise my previous post and “thesis” regarding the show and post it here:

A van speeds across country. Inside, a man tells a tale of a relationship with a woman named Jesse. To whom does he speak? Where is he going? And what will happen when he reaches his destination? FEEDER: A Love Story is an oddly touching, surprisingly funny, dark and twisted tale of passion, revenge and dessert. The play delves into a fringe fragment of the BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Submission & Masochism) world of feederism, where feeding and “growing” ones partner to enormous sizes is considered beautiful.

Living in a country where “thin is in” and plastic surgery is the norm, FEEDER: A Love Story holds a fun house mirror up to society and forces the audience to question the absurdity of typical beautification tactics. Additionally, it questions the fetish of feederism, imagining what would happen if said feeder became obsessed with the fetish, knowing no boundaries, and broke all the rules.

We are obsessed in this country with beauty. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The point of the play is not to say that if someone finds a fat person beautiful that they are crazy (as the third woman who posts on the Dimensions site suggests I am saying), it suggests, as with any relationship, it can move to obsession when one refuses to accept the change in that relationship.

Too, one last point, the ladies who disliked my show were very polite (while obviously unhappy) to me, and I’d like to thank them for challenging me. The anger they show in their posts are not to be mistaken for how they treated me in person, which was with respect. I don’t want to disrespect them either, but it seems I have, which brings me back to my original point. You can’t please all the people all the time. And, the challenges these women presented me have forced me to rethink the mission of this play. I am writing a second act. I am going to try and sit down with either a feeder or a feedee and interview him or her…and I the second act will be from the feedee’s point of view (while the monologue I presented was from the feeder’s point of view). It’s a love story. And there’s always two sides to every love story. So, why not tell it?

Thanks to everyone who came out last week and supported. Your thoughts and comments have been invaluable and have also been instrumental in bringing me to the decision to expand the play. And, for those of you who couldn’t make it, it will return soon.

meeting a feedee…i think

Wow, it’s been a whole month since I’ve posted here, and with good reason. terraNOVA’s 3rd Annual Solo Arts Festival has been taking up all my time. It’s been a wild ride this year for more reasons than one, but I suppose that’s all part of producing a festival.

The best thing about it for me, quite frankly, has been acting in a play I wrote, FEEDER: A Love Story. It’s the first time I’ve done this, and it’s the first time I’ve acted in a play in about 5 years. I’d really forgotten the jazz one gets being on stage in front of strangers…and, I think, the craziest part, was walking out from backstage afterwards, receiving congratulations from friends, family and strangers. I’d anticipated enjoying the performing, but I’d forgotten that people come up and give props after the show. It was a funny and great experience.

The craziest part of the after show “meet and greet” was an introduction to a very pretty, overweight woman who approached me with a beaming smile. She introduced herself and told me what a great job I’d done. Turns out, she attended the show because her “friend” got the email from PS122 and he brought her. Then, I did it. I asked…

“So…do you know about this?” (‘This’ meaning ‘feederism,’ a fringe fragment of the BDS&M world where one feeds one’s sexual partner and ‘grows’ him/her to great sizes. – for those of you who don’t know, that’s what my play is about.)

“Yes…I do.”

“Well…what did you think?”

“You know when you see something on the news or on T.V., you know a lot about it, and you say, ‘That’s not quite right?'”


“You got it right. Remarkably accurate.”

OH MY GOD! She was very sweet, gracious and, I’m guessing, a feedee (one who gets fed). The first night I do the show, and I had a feedee in the audience! And, if she wasn’t a feedee, she knew a lot about the world. Interestingly, it was the greatest compliment I received all night, and I got a lot praise from a lot of wonderful people I love and respect.

I also received a lot of people turned off by the show (too, from people I love and respect) which I expected. This is what fascinates me so much about this subject and other people living on the fringe. They are polarizing. They are ostracize. And people are judgmental. Nothing new on this front. People have watched Geek/Freak Shows for centuries, engaged because of the differences between them.

At the same time, much of the message of FEEDER is about accepting who one is – we shouldn’t have to augment bodies, making them beautiful for someone else’s ideal. We, then, do become a slave to our need to be accepted by others. It’s only in the acceptance of one’s self that we can truly be happy, and I believe that’s the major message I want to convey in my work. It’s about loving one’s self, not augmenting one’s body into something else in order to be adored.

PS: I do believe in augmenting one’s body for the sheer fun and joy of it. And, as long as it doesn’t damage your health physically or mentally, go for it!

One more thing: In discussion, someone brought up the question of what is a fetish. And my sister relayed a bit of information from a friend of hers, a fetish photographer:

“If you are in to fetishes…and you enjoy it…but it’s just something you enjoy…that’s healthy. If you cannot enjoy sex without the fetish, it’s an obsession…which isn’t healthy.” My play explores the unhealthy side of fetishism, and when it goes truly wrong.

As Calvin Klein said: “Between Love and Madness lies Obsession.” I believe obsession and madness are closer cousins than Love and obsession. And in the case of fetishes, when one obsesses over his/her fetish, madness is just around the corner, as with anything in life.