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I’ve Got a Blank Space

The Naked Truth
September 11, 2015
UpStage, Charlotte. NC

Part three

The Naked Truth
I stood in my bare feet, facing the crowd. They were with me, and behind my message. I placed a handful of colored markers and a couple of bar towels on the table. Here’s what I told them:

“All of us are carrying baggage. Some of it is light and some … are crushingly heavy. We have problems with our self image. Sometime, somewhere in our past, someone gave us a burden. Maybe we were made to feel stupid, or less than acceptable. For me, specifically, it’s two things: My body image and crowds. I’ve been made to feel self conscious of my size for years. And as for crowds, I can’t stand to be in the midst of a group. I can entertain thousands from a stage, I can have a great time with four or five friends in a group. More than that? I get anxious, edgy. I get quiet and remove myself. I always feel like the fifth wheel or the dumbest person in the room. Tonight I’m going to embrace both of those burdens for you. I’m going to remove my clothes and invite you all to come close.

But there’s more: I want you to think of your own burden, reduce it to one word or phrase. One word that sums up your fear, your frustration, your self deprecation. Choose a marker and write that word on my skin. Dry me with a towel first, if you need to. Write the word and agree to leave that burden with me for a short time. Don’t take it back with you. Let me carry it for a day or two. I can’t take it forever, but I can bear it for a few days.”

I played “Neverland” by Marillion during the final part.

I stripped down. Nervous and shaking. I could barely breathe. I was suddenly cold and embarrassed. The crowd … all stood and moved at once forward onto the stage. They took their pens and wrote on me. All over me. Moving my limbs and turning me slightly to reach. The audience, the bartenders, the servers … all joined in. Someone was in my face, writing on my forehead. They used the towels. They wrote. They cried, a few of them.

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It took roughly ten minutes. After about four, I had to close my eyes, because I was beginning to feel panic. I could still feel the hands on me, I could feel the claustrophobic press of the people. I felt the shame in my nudity. I was acutely aware of my flab and girth and … and more importantly I could feel them writing. I could feel, literally feel my body growing heavier as they unloaded their shames and pains onto me. So I stood. I didn’t run off the stage. The last author was my own son. He took a marker, put an x on my right nipple and wrote a word I couldn’t see on my belly.

I stood as everyone left the stage. I stood as they started clapping. I stood (dizzy) on my feet and absorbed the weights. I reached out for River and sky and we took our curtain call.  That was the end of the show, but there’s lots more that happened that night and in the days following. The story continues soon. Writing about how this makes me feel is far harder than I thought. I’m going to wrap it up in the next chapter, which I’m starting immediately. Please … I want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment, positive or otherwise. Let me know what you’re thinking or feeling right now.

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#thenakedtruth

“Bakers gonna bake, bake, bake …”

Not everyone is going to like your art. Honestly, not everyone is going to like the really cool shoes you just adore …

So I’ve been getting some emails and texts and such from (well meaning?) people who want to discourage me from doing tonight’s finale’. Most of the reasons hover around ‘you’re just doing this for attention’. Now, this is a fair point and it is the truth. I am doing this for attention. I want your attention and I’m going to try to earn it during the first two thirds of the night.Once I have it, I want to give you my opinion. Then, I want you to take your pains or fears or whatever and write it on me. Symbolically GIVE IT UP for a little while. Be happy and unashamed. Be restful and relaxed. Realize how beautiful you really are.

That’s the idea. The entire agenda. And I’m going to do it again and again as long as I feel it helps even one person: It’s on.

Earlier today I got a text from a long time friend.It was the harshest plea of all. Unedited: “I don’t approve or appreciate the act you’re doing tonight. It’s all for attention and you’re being a pig. A whore about it. Nobody wants to see your flabby, pasty body. They are there because it’s a fucking freak show.”

It stings and my mind tells me there’s a lot of truth there, between the words. And if you are genuinely coming for the ‘freak show’? Come on ahead, there’s plenty of room for everyone. The point is: I dislike my body. Society dislikes my body. I’m fat. Big and fat. I get very uncomfortable in groups of people. Stand up in front of them and act, speak or do card tricks? Oh, yeah.Here I am. But … socialize? Hang inside of a group? I get very anxious.
So I’m embracing both of those fears head on and inviting others to cast theirs off.

That’s what I’m doing. Make up your own mind about how that makes you feel and SHARE it with me. Public or private. I won’t ‘out’ you for whatever your view is. I love you, and I want your unedited feelings. If you feel moved to write your insult on me: COOL. Do it. Get the bad feeling OUT and let me carry it away.

I do this out of love and hope. THAT is the naked truth.C__Data_Users_DefApps_AppData_INTERNETEXPLORER_Temp_Saved Images_tumblr_ns7hgkuD5z1sk87juo1_400

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“It’s just a magic show”

I have some incredible fans. I have a bunch of friends who visit my little show again and again, and bring new people to see it. In almost every public show I do someone will say to me: “I didn’t want to come. I was forced or coerced to come. I don’t like magic shows, but this …”

In all humbleness, yes. Yes I have something different and it’s not like anyone else. Sure, there are card tricks, but there’s also heart and soul and pain and love in every second of this piece I’ve created.

Created with tears and heart and joy.

Last year I débuted an act after the main one. “The Naked Truth”. I talked truth to my audience and then stripped. I asked Them to write their own pains: Their body issues, fears … whatever They wanted on my skin and let me hold it for a while. The response was astounding. I wrote about it in detail here. There was a follow up on that post here. It touched people, it uplifted people.
It changed my own viewpoint about what and where my art should travel.

I’m doing it again. 10PM Friday, September 11 at UpStage in Charlotte, NC. I’m going to take you a little further down the road I’m travelling, then I’m going to invite you to hang your grief, your views, your love (if you want) on my canvas. This act is … extremely difficult for me. I’ve wrestled with it for a long time, but it is right, and I’m ready. I think.

This will be a magic show. And it will be much more. My friends River Nuri and Megan Sky will be presenting some powerful art as openers.

Please come. Please bring friends. The show is ‘Pay what you want’, and reservations can be made at

http://www.upstagenoda.com/events/the-magic-of-hannibal-with-special-guest-river-Nuri/

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