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- A Story of O’s
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This was the holiday in my family growing up. My single, working mother put the emphasis on gratitude and a good meal rather than the consumerism of Christmas. That stayed with me into adulthood, and my Orphans Thanksgiving meals have been going strong since back when I played den mother to a bunch of rock bands. Everybody who knows me, knows that if they don’t have somewhere to go, don’t want to cook, or have plans fall through, my door is open and there will be a delicious meal on the table. One of my great joys is cooking for my friends and family, so expressing my gratitude for their presence in my life by getting to feed them? Heaven. Of course, I recognize how lucky I am to have the means to do this every year.
So I’d like to invite you to join me in a personal holiday tradition. I portion out leftovers on paper plates, wrap them with tinfoil, and roll plastic silverware sets in napkin/paper towels. Then I go stand on the street somewhere there is a large concentration of homeless people and ask passersby if they’ve had a turkey dinner. Don’t take it personally if anyone declines. Remember, it’s not about you. But trust me when I say the genuine gratitude you will feel- from both the recipients, and from inside your own heart as you realize how blessed you are- is worth the little effort it takes. And don’t forget the pie! The best smile I saw last year was from a homeless teenager who declined the turkey but started crying happy tears when she saw the pie. (I wrap pie portions separately, so folks can take dinner, dessert, or both.)
I hope you all have delicious meals and good company in your immediate futures, but if not, there is an open door policy at my Orphan’s Thanksgiving. Feel free to message me for the address.
Many of you don’t even know I was ever married, but Halloween was our wedding anniversary. I found out last week that my ex-husband just passed away in Arizona. Those of you who knew him, know he was a profoundly damaged human being. Our relationship was inequitable, unhealthy, and abusive, albeit not physically. I was young and naive, but I loved him. Even after I left, I only ever wanted him to find the strength to be a good father to his daughter (with his first wife) and the courage to become the person he was capable of being. But I knew the chances of that happening were slim.
I was completely unprepared for how much the news of his death has affected me. I’m letting myself be sad. I’m letting myself miss the parts of that life that were good. Today, I’m choosing to focus on the sweet, happy memories.
RIP, Michael John Fisher. You’re finally free.
The amazing Eleanor O’Brien (aka, the person who introduced me to the fringe festival circuit thereby changing my life forever) and the good folks over at Sex-Positive Portland have put together the world’s very first theatre-festival dedicated to promoting sex-positivity, Come Inside: A Theatrical Orgy of Intimate Acts! And I am honored to be a part of it!
There are four shows in the festival, receptions, workshops, burlesque performances, play readings, and an open mic…Something for everyone! Individual show tickets are less than $14 including the service charge, plus you can get a two-show nightly pass for less than $22! And if you aren’t afraid to go all-in, a festival pass is under $53 and gets you into every performance and event in the entire festival (except for the intensive workshops)! That’s a pretty damn good deal, if I do say so myself…
A Story of O’s at Come Inside: A Theatrical Orgy of Intimate Acts
7:30p Friday 12 September
9:30p Saturday 13 September (Post-show talkback Q&A @ 10:45p)
7:30p Sunday 14 September
@ Milepost 5, Portland, OR
Single-show tickets $12 (+$1.41 service fee)
Two-show evening pass $20 (+$1.69 service fee)
Festival pass $50 (+$2.74 service fee)
Talking Dirty and Roleplay INTENSIVE
1:00p – 4:00p Saturday 13 September 2014
$40 (+$2.49 service fee)
When I was writing A Story of O’s, I was extremely mindful of honoring my clients and respecting their privacy. First, I used no identifying details about specific callers without asking their permission. Also, I wanted any of my phone sex clients to be able to come to the show and, if they recognized themselves in any way, feel celebrated as opposed to ridiculed. So I am absolutely overjoyed at this rave review from the Willamette Week and particularly proud of the following:
“But the show’s momentum relies not on mere erotic absurdity. Rather than reducing her clients to caricatures, Miller humanizes them.”
*deep sigh of relief* I hoped that’s what I was doing, but you just never know how people are going to interpret things. I have one more Portland performance left, this Friday, and it’s already almost sold out. Then I have a couple weeks off before heading to Edmonton. It’s going to be very interesting (read: terrifying), presenting A Story of O’s to an audience that isn’t comprised primarily of my friends, family, and the kink/poly/swinger/sex-positive communities. I mean, if people think she is a blasphemous slut, what are they going to say about me? Guess I’m going to find out. Heh.
(Sits at computer.)
Ok. Time to make a list of all the potential trigger warnings I should post at A Story of O’s.
(Goes through entire script and starts typing.)
(Reads list. Reads it again.)
Mhmm. Yep. That’s pretty much all of them.
(Breathes a little faster.)
It’s not really that bad. I mean, I barely touch on some of these topics. I certainly don’t act them out on stage. Well, not all of them…
(Gets anxious butterflies.)
(Pulse begins to race.)
I can’t get arrested for this, can I?
(Butterflies turn to full-blown nausea.)
Shit. Shit shit shit.
(Hands start to tremble uncontrollably.)
What are people going to think about me after seeing this? What if they think I’m a disgusting, awful person for even talking about these things? What if nobody ever loves me ever again?
Is it too late to cancel all my shows?
(Checks ticket sales.)
Fuck. I’ve sold advance tickets for every performance. I have to do this.
(Gets heart palpitations.)
I wonder how much it would cost to move to Belize and go off the grid.
(Thinks about lush rain forests. And unspoiled coastal waters. And not doing the show.)
Fuuuuuuck. I have to do this, don’t I? I have to do this show. I have to do this fucking show.
(Takes some deep breaths.)
Ok. Am I absolutely 100% sure I have to do this show, and how come?
(Reads the last few lines of the script.)
Oh. Yes. Right. That’s why.
Yeah, yeah I’m one of those annoying people on the salted caramel bandwagon. I will eat salted caramel cardboard, I’m not even joking. But I see these teeny jars of it for sale at gourmet stores or the Portland Farmers Market, and they’re freakin’ expensive. So finally a while ago I decided to try my hand at making some at home, and lo and behold it was super easy!
I do recommend doing a little online research on caramel-making tips and techniques, but it isn’t rocket science. The following salted caramel sauce recipe is adapted slightly (more butter and salt!) from the ones you will run across most often. I let the butter and cream reach room temperature before I begin melting the sugar.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
8 T butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 t. finishing salt
Melt the sugar in a sauce pan over med-high heat. As it begins to melt, stir it to keep the melting/browning even, but try not to incorporate too much oxygen. Watch the color- you dont want it to get too dark/burn. As soon as it reaches a light golden brown, add all of the butter and stir until it’s all evenly mixed in. (This will make the sauce bubble violently, so be prepared. Same when you add the cream.) Remove from heat, add cream, mix until smooth, add salt. VOILA!
I use Cyprus White Flake or Maldon salt and leave it in large flakes. I don’t mix it into the caramel sauce until it dissolves completely, because I like the little bit of crunch it retains for the first few days. Anyway, there you have it. My take on salted caramel sauce. You’re welcome, and I’m sorry.
Just got my venue assignment and show times for A Story of O’s at Edmonton Fringe! I have to confess I’m a little torn about my venue, #2, the Fringe Cabaret Lounge. “Lounge” is a bit of a misnomer, as the room is basically a big warehouse with tables and chairs in front of the stage and row seating on the sides. Cabaret-style, yes, but lacking the small, intimate vibe I prefer. The good news is they serve booze, and I really think a little lubrication will help the audience. Honestly, the show isn’t done yet. I keep adding and editing. But it’s already clear to me that pretty much anybody who comes to see it will have both a moment of “ewww, I really don’t get that” and “oh my god, that’s hot!” Which is of course intentional. Heh.
My show schedule is…not bad. You’re basically guaranteed to get a couple peak show times (i.e., Friday or Saturday night), a couple good times (weekday evening or weekend afternoon), and a couple crappy ones (anything after 9p Sunday-Thursday, weekday matinees). Some festivals will take your input on which non-peak times you prefer, so for example a kid-appropriate show can request an early afternoon slot over a late night one. With Threads, I always requested matinee times. Audiences for that show skewed older, as the subject matter resonated more immediately with people who lived through the Vietnam War era. But A Story of O’s is way more suited to a boozy, night-on-the-town crowd, and I have an awful lot of afternoon shows…
6:00p Saturday 16 August
8:45p Sunday 17 August
2:00p Monday 18 August
4:00p Tuesday 19 August
12:00p Friday 22 August
2:00p Saturday 23 August
6:00p Sunday 24 August
*shrug* Nothing to do about it. Such is the nature of the fringe. And I’m not particularly worried, because after all…Sex sells, right? Heh.
I also booked five shows of A Story of O’s in Portland as a warm-up for Edmonton. Details and ticket purchase link available here. Plus, I’m going to be teaching my Talking Dirty & Roleplay 101 workshop when I’m up in Edmonton. More info here.
I’m going to be a busy lady the next couple months!
It would be difficult for me to think of any two-week span in my lifetime that was more incredible and mind-blowing than my experience at the 2012 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. It really was like getting to be the star of my very own fairy tale.
Unless you want to make yourself crazy, you have to understand that once you present your art to the world, you have no control over how it is received and interpreted. I won’t lie; validation from audiences, critics, and (most importantly to me) one’s peers feels good. But if you depend on that for motivation, your creativity is subject to the whims of everyone save yourself. I tell stories because I have something to say that I believe needs to be heard. I don’t tell stories so people will pat me on the back and tell me how wonderful and talented I am. Sure, it’s nice to hear, and I appreciate positive feedback as much as anyone. But I tell stories to remind people that we are all connected.
More important to me than critical and financial success, those two weeks in Winnipeg gave me a sense of connectedness with my fellow human beings that I don’t think I’d ever felt before. Me telling my (mother’s) story gave people permission to tell theirs. Complete strangers walked up to me on the street to thank me, and to share their own similar experiences. Gratitude, appreciation, respect. Smiles, hugs, tears. It was simultaneously flattering and humbling.
Hands down, the most memorable of these interactions involved Walt and Jody. They were a charming couple who flagged me down at the King’s Head Pub one afternoon and insisted on buying me a drink. We chatted for a bit, and I was just struck by what delightful people they were. Threads really resonated with Walt, for personal reasons I don’t feel it’s my place to share. We crossed paths a couple of times over the course of the festival and ended up befriending each other on Facebook.
When I returned to Winnipeg in 2013, we made plans to catch up over a lovely dinner, which Jody and Walt, ever generous, insisted on treating me to. They talked up the show to tons of people, and it really kind of felt like they were my champions. They had become an integral part of my Winnipeg experience. They weren’t just a couple who had seen my show; they were my friends. When I didn’t get drawn in the Winnipeg lottery this year, I think they were as bummed out as I was. We were already looking forward to the possibility of 2015.
Last night, I logged into Facebook and was shocked and heart-broken to read the following post on Walt’s wall:
“Dear friends of Walt: Most of you don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I am his girlfriend and life partner of the past 6 years. Rather than have you wonder what happened to his online presence, I wanted to let you know that he passed away very suddenly sometime last night. He was not ill; in fact he was happily looking forward to breakfast with his son. I will keep his facebook page active for a while and check it from time to time in case anyone wishes to post a farewell message here. I hope that all of his family members have heard the news by now and that this is not a shock for you. For those of you who were personal friends and former co-workers, I know that Walt did not really keep in touch very much, but I believe that he valued each and every one of you in his understated way. I will check this page for the next little while. Peace and blessings to all. -Jody”
Sweet, wonderful Jody, my heart goes out to you. Words are not adequate at a time like this, but I am sending my love and sympathy to you across the miles.
And to Walt…Your smile and words of encouragement live on in some of my fondest memories. You are profoundly missed. Winnipeg will not be the same without you.
I did a podcast with my friend, Liam. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to talk to me for an hour and not pay $3/minute, it’s kind of like this…