Tag Archives: thenakedtruth

Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.

The Monday Night Tease Adventure, Part Four.

And then it was simply time to start. The house lights went down, the stage lights came up, and we simply did our jobs. Some of the memories are faded, but there are some crystal-clear photographs in my mind.  I had the advantage of seeing the stage and the audience through the entire program. I won’t be able to fully capture the experience of being there, but I can give you my perspective, and my feelings. Here’s how the show looked to me, sitting up in the box, stage right.

Tuba Heatherton opened with the Monday Night Tease theme song, and Lili took her place in the MC spot. She’s funny, brash, offensive, and the best damned MC I’ve ever worked with. Bo Toxic got things going with leather and Joan Jett. All punk attitude and heavy-metal sexuality. Oh Olive reprises a Charlie Brown number, portraying Linus … I’ve never seen a ‘security blanket’ live up to its name quite like that. As she walked off stage, she screwed her thumb into her mouth and ruined my childhood.

Rob … Rob the Balloon Guy. I’m not going to describe this act, because you need to see it live, and i hope you’ll get the opportunity. I’ll just say that this creative use of folding chair and balloons will never be outdone. I’ve seen it three times now, and I laugh myself to tears every time. Caramel Knowledge portrayed Nick Fury like Samuel L. Jackson only wishes he could, and Egypt Black Knyle closed out the first half with ‘Question of U’, one of my favorite deep-cut Prince songs. (Christ, I miss him.) In the midst of all the awesome shenanigans, Patrick the Bank Robber ‘called’ Lili to wish her a fond farewell. It was funny .. but i could feel her holding back emotions.

Intermission and i got a few minutes with Andrea, which helped me focus. The show was reportedly going as well as I thought it was, and she seemed quite happy. I probably wasn’t good company, because … well, reasons.

My friend in atheism Heather Henderson opened set two with an unabashed act as a nun, using multimedia and ‘Dear God’ as her music. This was the point when the show really pulled me in. Eddie kept checking to make sure I was cool … love that clown. Nikita Bitch Project did her killer Godzilla act, Eddie owned the room in the way only he can, and Sheila Starr Siani put me in a spiritual mood with another powerful Prince song: ‘Thieves in the Temple’.

Interlude, only in my head. This is a room full of love. Everyone here is supportive and giving and SO enthusiastic about everyone else doing well. No thieves in this temple, Sir. It’s brimming with love and talent and beauty.

Matt Finish closed out the musical numbers with the most erotic version of ‘Dontcha’ I’ve ever witnessed. The attitude, the confidence, the magnificence of his performance made me almost wish I didn’t have to follow him. Seriously, people, do you see how beautiful he is? How flawless his body is? I’m supposed to go and be vulnerable and peel off my own shirt after that guy? I … can’t. I’ll do a few card tricks and pay tribute to Lili and get everyone really happy and use my skills as a speaker and magician and just … not do the Naked Truth. I’m ashamed.

Later, in a quiet moment, I asked Matt why he didn’t write anything on me. His reply was: “No one has ever said anything that could hurt me.” Damn, son.

I was introduced. I don’t remember walking on … I know I did card tricks and I remember realizing that I had to do ‘Naked Truth’. This room, this moment, was exactly the reason i created the thing in the first place. I need to give this to Them. I need it for me, and I’m the only one who can do this. I stripped. I stood, sweaty and nearly naked under unforgiving lights and my music played and I stretched out my arms and I let them come. And I felt fear in the mass of people around me. And sharpie ink stings my skin, so I felt each word burning. And they wept, adn i found my voice trying to comfort them. “It’s alright, I’ve got you. I see you.” And some couldn’t come, it was too much, too real, so they stayed in their place and lent me strength and some came after and told me their words. They were not ready to burden me fully with them, but I had helped in the simple act of helping the others, and they could bear their burden a little easier.

Maybe it sounds woo and new-age or silly. But I can just tell you it was real. To everyone in the room, and especially to me, with my shoulders heavy and my skin on fire, it was real. It was love.

They gave me their fear and they gave me their pain and, when they were done, I spoke and lifted the hearts back to celebration. Couldn’t tell you what I said, but the right words were there for me. (On stage, they always are.) Eddie unleashed a barrage of balloons and the music came up and there was dancing, and Lili was snapping selfies with everyone, tears in her eyes and that dangerous grin she has.

I said goodnight to my friend, and wished for a bit more time. So many things to talk about, but –

We danced, and then we feasted, and we bragged and we complimented and we took photos and made silver until the wee hours. The doors closed, and we solemnly walked toward new adventures.

I cannot imagine how she feels, I can only try to be a friend and a comfort. She’s not done, not by any means, just because this chapter is closed. Lili and i spent most of the next day discussing everything: the past, the future, how to survive the present … she recorded some of it. You can listen in here.

Monday Night Tease affected thousands, changed the world for the better, and we put her to bed right. I’ll carry this honor and tell this story for the rest of my life.

And I swear it’s all true.

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More Things in Heaven and Earth

The Monday Night Tease Adventure, Part Three.

Monday, September 4, 2017

I left my house in Charlotte early Monday morning; I was traveling from Charlotte to Phoenix, and from Phoenix on to LAX. There was a long layover in Phoenix, and it turns out it was a good thing that there was. The flight out of Charlotte was delayed, and then delayed again. I was starting to get nervous about the timing when the person in charge of the gate announced that the “mechanical issues had been fixed to satisfaction”, and we would be boarding right away.

A side note: if you happen to find yourself working the gate for a major airline, please do not announce that “mechanical issues have been fixed to satisfaction”. There’s really no need for the last two words of that sentence! Just tell us its “fixed” and don’t let our imaginations get away with us. Thank you.

The flight to Phoenix was fairly uneventful, which all good flights are, and I was able to nap for a good portion of the way. In Arizona, even though my layover have been cut short, I still had plenty of time to get from one end to the other. Phoenix has a nice, comfortable, small airport. Along the way to my gate, I came across a site that I had not seen before. Now, I’m all for being comfortable while traveling, and I’ve seen people traveling in pajamas, in shorts, etc. The young lady going from one gate to another in Phoenix, however, was wearing a bright blue string bikini. She had sandals on, she had her backpack on her side, and she was rocking her beachwear un-selfconsciously. Took me a second to reconcile what I was seeing. Hey … more power to you, miss.

I got to the gate I Just as they’re beginning the boarding process, and I settled into my seat. Quick hop over to LAX, without issue or mechanical problems … little blessings. I had only my carry-on, so I got straight out of the airport. The timing was great: Eddie and Lili were fairly close to the airport, and traffic was not horrible. (“Not Horrible” is about the best you can do around LAX.) It’s honestly like coming home when friends come to pick you up at this airport. Eddie and Lili have been big supporters of mine for years, and they are the essence of what Hollywood means to me. Artists living on their own terms, confident without arrogance, loving and supportive of others, respectful across a multitude of different scenes.

We went to grab some food (naturally at Shin Ramen), where we were joined by Tim, the owner, and his partner, Sarah. We relaxed, and we joked, we talked about the upcoming show and what was to be expected. Everything was sold out: all the standing room only spots were filled, and it looked like a great night was ahead.

While we were laughing there, Lili received a call from Brookledge. Erika was throwing a showcase for Puddles Pity Party, and we were invited to come and see the show. Lili explained that we were getting ready to prep the Three clubs for the Monday night show, and she just really couldn’t get away, but she offered the spots to Eddie and I … I’m thinking so that she could possibly have some time alone in her venue, after getting the basic setup done.

We  moved on to the Three Clubs, set the tables, lights and sound … Eddie inflated a few dozen balloons for the finale … and then left Lili to the final details. Eddie and I went over to Brookledge, said ‘hello’ to some friends, then settled in the back of the theater to watch Puddles’ show. If you’ve not seen his act, or only on YouTube or America’s Got Talent, you haven’t gotten the full effect. Seeing him live, with the heart that he pulls out, and everything about his character, from his body language and from his powerful voice and the rawness he puts into the songs he chooses … it is soul moving. He brought me close to tears several times during his act. Seriously, if you get the chance, take it. It’s a great show.

About three quarters of the way through Eddie gave me a nudge and pointed to his watch. We quietly left, arriving back at the Three Clubs to find the crowd was already moving in. I took my place over on the side of the stage and started talking myself into a good, peaceful spot for my own act. Lili was at times frantic, at times a bit sad, at times a bit gruff. She’s running the show, after all. It’s her baby, and this was its final public offering. Through all of this, there was not even a moment when she was not professional. She was in control, she had everyone’s spirits lifted, she had everyone exactly in their place and she guided the show as if she’s been doing it for 14 years.

Sitting there, watching the people, I thought about the journey of the day. I woke up on the East Coast, in my little house, and in just a few short hours i had packed in one adventure after another. And the show hadn’t yet started. Happiness is the Road, indeed. Life is funny, yo.

***

  Just before we got to places, Andrea came in and found a decent standing spot near the cameras. Having a friend there who was not in the show was comforting at a level I can’t express.

Here We Go

To be continued …

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The Naked Truth 5/5/16

Atlanta, Georgia.

I had an audience of about 40 people. A little above intoxicated, for the most part. Friends, loved ones, strangers.

The ‘Liar!’ portion of the show went beautifully .. new additions of ‘Rugby’ (a multiple card selection) and ring-linking were quite well received.

As I (kind of) expected, this audience had deeper-seeded issues. Some of the language in the photos below is pretty harsh.

For those new to this: I spoke to them about my own issues of body image and being in the middle of a crowd of people. I asked them to think of their own issues and one word or phrase that causes them shame or sorrow. A label unfairly placed on them that mutes their music or shames their spirit. I asked them to give their pain to me, for a little while. Write down their word or phrase on my skin and leave it behind for as long as they could. I took off my clothes and and let the crowd surround me, writing on my skin. I didn’t run or cower, though my mind was screaming at me to do so.

They wrote, they purged, they wept.
Two souls left me messages: one wrote, “You are love” and the other wrote “You are beautiful”. It humbled and renewed me.
The results are below. Probably NSFW.

Photographs by Megan sky.

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First Act

My first fully public show of 2016 was for the Lili VonSchtupp’s ‘Monday Night Tease show. Five fantastic dancers. one hilarious host and me … and I did card tricks.

That’s what I do, you know? The cards are my canvas.

And then, once again I took off my clothes and asked a big room of strangers to write their burdens on my skin. Way out of my comfort zone, far from home. (Of course, I had a fantastic support team, people that love me and care for me, but still …) If you are unfamiliar with this act of mine, here’s a description of a prior night: Blank Space

The results are powerful. Tears, thank yous … lots of personal stories. My art … my craft genuinely touched people. We bonded and I made some amazing new friends. I want to perform this again and again.

Brian C. Janes photographed the event, and the stories those pictures tell is outstanding. See more of his work at bcjmedia.com

Here is a small gallery of my portion of the show. I hope it speaks to you.
The Naked Truth

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Missing Peace

The Naked Truth
September 11, 2015

UpStage, Charlotte, NC

Aftermath

The pictures of most of the words are below. I’ve been struggling with what to say for weeks. Here it is, in all its muddled, ragged glory. On my body, the words literally burned. (This due to toxic reaction from marker ink, nothing woo) In my head … I hear these word yelled:

SLUT! WHORE! GARBAGE! WORTHLESS! COWARD! FAILURE!

These words, these feelings didn’t grow on their own. Someone placed them in someone else’s head. Two things go through my mind:
I hurt for the people who wrote on me. I became the coward, the slut … I felt shamed and humiliated. To carry such burdens daily and have them feed on you … well, honestly, I know that feel.

I hurt for the people who said these things in the first place. What must go through someone’s mind and soul that would cause them to plant such bitter fruit? What had they suffered through that led them to try and slough off some of it to someone new?

I stood like a Shaman and took on the burdens of my tribe. Backstage I had them photographed and read to me. Hateful words. Pointed words. Meaningless words. Meaningless words that have the potential to kill or lay ruin.

Women I love wrote whore and slut. Friends that I love wrote such words as DEBT, COWARD and Damaged. My son wrote MORON, and I knew where he heard it. Callous, unthinking gardeners sowing seeds of shame and hatred. It hurts and those written words have continued to weigh on me and hurt.

My friends, please stop. Stop cutting into your fellow travelers. Stop training them to dislike themselves. Stop judging, especially in your very limited experience. Heal, instead.

There was a kind, loving woman who met with me after. Her family told her growing up that she was inferior and not very smart because she was female. She would never, ever be equal to a man in task because: Women are stupid. Women are inferior. Her male relatives made bets about when she would become a teen mom.
Heinous, disgusting … but they themselves need care and understanding.

I wept. I watched the words fade daily and I wept, because these hurts were going back to their owners. Someone asked how I dealt with carrying these wounds. The answer is: I just did it. I surrounded myself with friends who love me and I poured myself out to them. I had a fall, a big one. They were there to make sure I could stand up again. I prayed. Not to a god, per se, but …

You know? Let me insert this right here. Believe how you want to believe. If religion is your drug of choice and it gets you through this insane, painful, beautiful world … I’m not going to shame you or disparage your choice. It’s right for you, and that’s perfect. BUT: if your religion prompts you to hate, hurt or demean another human being? You’re just plain wrong. Be the light. Be the love. Man … I’m dizzy up on this soapbox. Let me step down and wrap this up.

I can’t write any more right now. The pain is too great and my heart is breaking again. So, this (for now):

You can hurl words like spears, you can burn me and brand my pain onto my body. It’s still not me, this pain.

… or you could love.

Brace yourself. And please … let me hear your thoughts. Comment or email me (info@chrishannibal.com)
I really need to hear from you.

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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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River and sky

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

Part one.

River Nuri opened the show, which is to say she was the first performer. From my point of view the show begins shortly before the audience enters the venue. The building, the stairwell … even getting ready and driving over are part of the whole experience, so I tease them via social media. I post backstage pictures and short stories.

Anyway … River, cradling her viola, took the stage shortly after 10 PM. She chose ‘The Butterfly Slip Jig’ and she owned the audience from the first note. She plays with intensity, concentration and grace. She followed up with ‘Child’s Grove’ and finally ‘The Swallowtail Jig’. There’s a nostalgic feeling (to me, at least) in her art. I was raised with families playing instruments or singing or just tapping their feet and smiling in between the notes. Interspersed with the songs, she recited verses of her poem “I Speak in Two Languages”: a soul-fused narrative of the voices from her head and heart. Simply lovely. She radiates. Even backstage, where she loaned me the use of a hedgehog (shout-out to Rupert!) to ease my anxiety and worry.

Megan sky followed up with a stirring narrative. In spoken word, bordering on poetry, she relived the pain and hurt of one particular story from her teaching years. It was bleak, and cold and dark. She balanced this by relating her feelings for River and a special bond they shared that River was unaware of. To quote:
I’m sorry I haven’t told you this before, River, but it’s true – every weekend day, with his accusations still ringing in my mind and bruises on my arms, I would walk up the hill and see my friend the fiddler, and every time she saw me, no matter what time, no matter what else was going on, she would smile for me and play me Swallow Tail Jig. God, I love that tune. You have seen me, River, on some of the darkest days of my life. And you have shone the sun on me when I needed it most, with your music and your gentle friendship.
I’ll never lose that tune. It is a memory and a feeling I can recall no matter what, at the drop of a hat, embedded so deep into me that it’s a part of who I am.”

Dark heaviness and silver memories. Love and art and music and .. joy.

These amazing women, these incredible artists opened my show. They seeded joy and anticipation and shone bright lights on their hearts for us.

And the Magician is grateful for people like this in his life.

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