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- A Story of O’s
A week from today, I leave on tour. After only doing one festival last year, it feels good to be gearing up for a four festival run. Of course, I had to switch things up. So for the first time ever, I’m performing two different shows in one season. You can find show time and ticket purchase information for all A Story of O’s and Threads by clicking those links, but here’s a basic itinerary…
A Story of O’s at London (Ontario) Fringe Festival
Threads at Ottawa Fringe Festival
Threads at IndyFringe Festival
A Story of O’s at Vancouver Fringe Festival
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.
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!
Oh holy jesus fuck. This is happening…
100: A Story of O’s
written & performed by Tonya Jone Miller
8:30pm Friday 23 May 2014
10:00pm Saturday 31 May 2014
Minion Solo Festival (May 23 – May 31, 2014)
Seattle Creative Arts Center
2601 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107
When Tonya takes a job as a phone sex operator, she has no idea how much it will change her life. Play voyeur as she learns the ups and downs of an in-and-out industry. Meet some of her more memorable clients and be possibly aroused (and likely disturbed too) by their unique fetishes. It isn’t long before Tonya discovers there’s a lot more to phone sex than just talking dirty, and some of her callers’ fantasies have become her own. Ride along on her hilarious, hot, and heart-warming journey to find out there might just be a little pervert in all of us.
Tonya Jone Miller is a lifelong lover, performer, and creator of theatre from Portland, Oregon. She is best known for her work on Dance Naked Productions’ Inviting Desire with Eleanor O’Brien, and for her award-winning solo show, Threads, about her American mother’s experiences in Vietnam during the war. Tonya is a renowned phone sex operator and the owner of BayCityBlues.com, as well as being an openly kinky, sex-positive educator who teaches workshops on how to talk dirty and role-play. She has been featured in BUST Magazine, the upcoming full-length feature documentary Hotline, HBO’s Real Sex, Thrillist, Tits and Sass, and Forbes. Tonya is the proud owner of a dirty mind, a filthy mouth, and a clean conscience.
**Awards and Accolades for TJM’s previous work, Threads**
Best of Fest (Patron’s Pick)
2012 Winnipeg Fringe Festival
2013 London Fringe Festival
2013 Toronto Fringe Festival
2013 Winnipeg Fringe Festival
Outstanding Performance of 2013 – NOW Magazine Toronto
Outstanding Female Performance of 2012 – CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
#1, Top Ten Shows of 2012 – UMFM
“Subtle, smooth, sad and emotionally engrossing.” ~The Boston Globe
“Leaps off the stage with life…A consistently thrilling celebration of the places we go and the people we meet.” ~CBC
“A quietly engaging, understated performer with a thoroughly trustworthy air.” ~Edmonton Sun
“A true object of beauty – don’t miss….the best one-woman show of the fringe.” ~Winnipeg Free Press
“A wondrous ride…Miller is a charismatic, engaging storyteller.” ~Vue Weekly
“Miller’s understated performance is the perfect vehicle to tell this story.” ~London Free Press
“Quietly and effectively builds to a truly emotional conclusion.” ~Orlando Sentinel
I’ve been quite productive the past week! Somehow I found the motivation to tackle some tedious projects that have been on my plate for far too long. One of said tasks was organizing my various contacts so I can start actually using all the email addresses I’ve been collecting at appearances/performances over the past five years to promote my various business and creative endeavors. So if you’d like an easy way to keep tabs on what I’m doing, please email Tonya@TonyaJoneMiller.com to be added to my contact list, and don’t forget to specify which one or more of the following lists you wish to be included on:
Phone Sex News & Specials
Talking Dirty & Roleplay Workshops
I promise I won’t spam you incessantly (that’s what Twitter and Facebook are for- heh!) or sell your precious email addresses. I’ll only send out one email prior to each event, and I aim to send monthly Phone Sex News updates, but who knows if I’ll be disciplined enough to do them that frequently. Lol!
The next chore on my plate is going through every single post on this website with a dual purpose- editing them for SEO purposes, and re-living my phone sex journey over the past decade for inspiration. It’s monotonous work, the SEO stuff, but holy crap if the entire process isn’t akin to reading your junior high diary. Torturous, hilariously self-important, and somehow sweet at the same time. It reminds me what I love about phone sex work, and I’m pulling bits and pieces for my new show…
Which will officially have its first live audience at the end of May in Seattle! Two staged-reading/workshop performances with very limited tech. That’s all I know so far, but more details will follow. Including a title, once I have one. Oh fuck, I better get to work.
So, my show opens in about two weeks, and I’m officially out of my head. Finally…The culmination of a year and a half’s work! I am so proud of Threads, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
But I still have so much to do. Being the producer, playwright, and sole star is a fucking lot to deal with. I’m trying to maintain balance, but it’s hard. I’m stressed out. I’m nervous. I’m scared.
It really all boils down to fear. I’m terrified I’ll fuck up somehow. What if I’m deluding myself and the script is awful? What if I suck? What if no one shows up? What if no one cares? I feel a huge sense of responsibility to honor my mother and her stories. I want people to “get” the message, the point, the WHY of the play, but I know I can’t shove it down their throats.
I just have to trust that I’m doing my job as a writer and performer. Even in the deepest, darkest depths of my self-doubt and insecurity, I know the material is strong. I know I will do it justice on stage. I know there is no one better for the job.
But that doesn’t keep the enormity of the situation at bay. This is huge. What I’ve done, what I’m doing- it’s big. It’s my life’s work. And it both weighs heavy on my shoulders and buoys me up with joy.
There’s so much more I want to say- about the show, my director, the editing process, rehearsing- but I have work piling up. However, I feel a need to acknowledge publicly that I could never do all this without the support and encourage of my friends and family. And people who don’t even really know me, but who have offered their assistance nonetheless. Gratitude to all of you, and special thanks to Larissa for taking my promo photos, Mistress Tethra for designing my flyer and poster, and Mark & Cecily at the Jade Gate for hosting my opening night party. (Free food & bevs!)
Now I’m off to be productive and make Fear, my fickle mistress, quiver in her boots…
I’m finally getting used to being back home. Feels like I’ve been gone forever. Yet at the same time, now that it’s over, the entire Fringe tour seems like it could have been a dream. How to describe it?
I knew nothing about CAFF (Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals) when we embarked on this tour. Now that I’ve experienced it, I’m a convert. It has inspired me to get off my ass and DO. There are two projects I’ve “been planning” for a while- one based on my life as a phone sex operator, and one based on my mother’s experiences as an American civilian in Vietnam during the war. (Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to combine them into one show, as the brilliant Chris Gibbs suggested. “Phone Sex Vietnam” would be the fringe-iest Fringe show EVER! Lol!)
I actually have an interview session with my mom scheduled for Friday evening. It’s so weird to me that I don’t know much about her time in Vietnam. She just never talked about it. Vietnam was always this thing, this nebulous, mysterious far-off place. Vietnam was synonymous with my mother’s rare coldness. She would withdraw into herself anytime Vietnam came up in conversation- even as a young child I could sense it. Any war, violence of any kind, turned my normally strong, resilient, tough-as-nails mom into a shaking, crying mess. So I learned not to ask, not to prod, not to express the natural curiosity about one half of my heritage.
I don’t know how or why she, a farmer’s daughter from Spencer, Indiana, ended up in Saigon in the middle of a war. She’s my mother, for God’s sake, and I don’t know anything about a time in her life that surely made a tremendous impact on her personality. But she is finally ready to talk about Vietnam, and I’m going to hear her stories for the first time! To my knowledge, she has never spoken aloud the words she intends to tell me. She has never told anyone the whole story. I am so happy and honored that I get to hear it, and that she trusts me to turn her life into a piece of theatre.
At the same time, I know it’s going to be a very intense, emotional process for both of us. I believe Mom suffers from PTSD at some level, so “going back there” for the first time is going to be very hard for her. I am talking about a woman so honest and expressive, she makes me look stoic and reticent. But Vietnam is the one door in her heart-mind-soul that she closed long ago and hasn’t let herself revisit since. I cannot begin to imagine what I’m going to learn about my mother’s life.
And it’s going to be difficult for me, too. Vietnam equals my father. It is his blood that connects me to that country so strongly, I feel it in my gut every time I see it on tv or in a movie, each time I smell a bowl of steaming hot pho, whenever I even say the word. Vietnam. Yet I know next to nothing of my heritage. When my parents divorced I was two years old, and from that point on, I was mostly disconnected from his side of the family. He died over a decade ago, so my Vietnamese half remains starved, and the dangling carrot of my mom’s history looks pretty damn tantalizing to ravenous me.
Whew. That was a feckin’ mouthful. Or handful, given the medium. Whatever. Back to the Fringe…
It was also craziness. Pure, unadulterated insanity. Performance bootcamp. Shows at all hours of the day and night, self-promotion galore, prop/set breakdown before and after every show, speedy tech rehearsal, diplomacy lessons, flexibility and adaptability…I feel like I learned a million lessons in seven weeks. And I won’t pretend it wasn’t fun. It was basically a non-stop party. Well, except Calgary. Heh. But we managed to make our own fun there, so it was enjoyable.
I saw almost 50 (!) shows over the course of the three festivals and met so many incredible people. It was both humbling and inspiring beyond belief. My greatest lesson/overall impression of the summer? How fucking amazing it is to be immersed in theatre and performance, surrounded by such unique, creative, talented people. My muse has been roused, and I am so excited to have discovered this venue for expression!
Yes there’s more, but forgive me…I’m a little out of blog practice. Need frequent breaks for catching up on kitty cuddling, honey snuggling, and other delicious indulgences…
I’ve decided that Calgary is like if Seattle were in Texas. Strange town, a mix of artsy hipsters and cowboys. We got in last Tuesday and started up the promo carnival all over again. Postering, flyering, talking to random folks on the street…Anything to put butts in the seats. It worked too, because our first show was almost sold out- very enthusiastic audience, much moreso than we were expecting given what people had told us about how conservative Calgary is. We even got a preview on the front page of the Calgary Herald AND the front page of the arts section. So we were feeling pretty optimistic about our run here…And then the sky fell, literally…
Read the whole sordid saga as told by Adrienna on the Dance Naked Tour Blog. Yes, it really was that crazy. Amazing how fluorescent lights can change the course of a show so drastically- both our experience of it, and the audience’s reactions. Adrienna did a marvelous job of describing it, so I won’t retell the story here. But it certainly jolted us out of any sense of comfort and complacency we might have attained thus far. Suffice it to say…Scariest. Show. Ever. But hey, that’s the nature of touring, and Inviting Desire in particular. We’ll be in our regular venue again tonight, so I’m looking forward to diving back into the show and seeing how much fun we can have with it now that we’ve run the gauntlet, walked on fire, stared down the devil…
We’re halfway through the tour, and I am missing home and my honey and my friends pretty drastically. And no phone sex for weeks now! It’s so weird not having that outlet for my rampant sexuality. *grins* With one notable exception in Winnipeg (thanks, K!), the masochist in me is enduring an excruciating round of neglect. *sigh* I can’t complain though, because I’ve met a number of amazingly fun, talented, and engaging new creative/theatre-type friends. I think I’m addicted to this fringe festival circuit thing now- I’m already planning my show for next year! Heh. But it is cool to meet so many other DIY performers, truly inspiring. You might notice some new links in the “Friends & Folks” section of my blogroll- please check out my new friends and their creative endeavors!
Ok I better get my ass in gear. I will try to post more often, but I’m making no promises- trying to balance keeping in touch with a desire to immerse myself in this experience. *smooch* I am posting photos on my FaceBook profile though, so check them out when you have a chance…
Hugs & kisses,