2012.05.13 blog

BRAAAINS: the artist, divided, and a zombie wedding (NSFW – nekkid photos)

HOLA dear comrades,

a note about the blog for the next few weeks: i’m putting up production updates about the record, the tour, and the album on the kickstarter page, some for backers only.
i’m not going to drive everybody crazy and double-post all of those photos and stories on the blog. if you want to get in on it, go to the kickstarter and pay a dollar.
otherwise i’d feel like i was repeating myself over and over and over and over and over and over.


dividing my brain between business and art, between art and survival, between thinking like a flake-ass poet and thinking like a bad-ass business-person…forget about it, man, i’ve been doing it since day one.

and seriously…..every artist has been dealing with this hilarious conundrum from the dawn of time.

i’ve been imagining the earliest cave painters were like (in caveman language):
“URGH. DUDE, i’m TOTALLY on a roll here and i’m STARVING, can you do me a solid favor and go out and just grab, like, two handfuls of nuts and berries for me? please? one handful? just like, a couple of nuts?? one nut? listen, if you do i SWEAR i’ll give you a sneak peak of this SICK hunting scene before the rest of the cave gets to see it.”

and thus, direct artist support patronage was born.

crowdfunding kickstarter is hopping on long-standing bandwagon, it’s just giving us better tools.
artists are now getting to pass a light-speed hat of infinite depth.
that’s progress.





it’s been a crazy, crazy, crazy 13 days since i last blogged that the kickstarter was up.
this shit has gone MENTAL. and i gotta say….i’d hoped it would. i expected nothing less.

at the time i’m writing this it’s got over 12,00 backers and has topped $600k.

i could say i’m shocked but i’m not.
i’ve been waiting years, YEARS, YEEEEEAAAAAARS for this moment.
and it came, and you guys have not disappointed me.
you’ve made me so, so, so proud.

my mentor always used to tell me this thing his italian dad used to tell him (please imagine thick boston-italian accent):
“it’s one thing to believe in the horse, it’s another thing to buy the ticket.”

i’m the horse. you guys bought the ticket.
big time. lotsa tickets.

the whole world has been paying attention to what’s going on here.
this shit’s been all over the news, people are arguing left and right about all sorts of things relating to it…and i’m not even going to go into it. i’ll post some of the links below if you wanna read further.
but i’m not getting involved in the arguments on those blogs and stuff. i can’t. i don’t have the energy, not now. i’m so, so, so tired. all i’ve been doing (wait for it…) is WORKING ON THE FUCKING RECORD RELEASE. i’ve barely had time to stop and breathe. i’m not going to use the energy i could be spending on my record on some nitwits who think that using kickstarter is “shaking my fans up and down for change” or that kickstarter should be reserved “real struggling artists.” man alive. who are these people and where have they been? i’ve seen so many people in the last week MISS THE POINT COMPLETELY that i just have to turn away and hunker down – i can’t even look any more.

this is the fucking future.
the old label system is DYING.
artists are going to ASK YOU FOR DIRECT SUPPORT.
that’s the reality.

as bob dylan so clearly put it in a great song:

please get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand, motherfuckers.

the times, they are a-changing.


the nutso-est thing about the last few weeks has been that i’ve been fielding all of this kickstarter energy right alongside everything else careening into full speed: band photoshoots, video prep calls, packaging meetings, hiring crew for the upcoming year, dealing with all the things i’d be doing if the kickstarter hadn’t happened. my brain is exploding.

one of the first days of the kickstarter campaing (day 3 to be exact), i did two weird gigs in one night.

one was to sing as a guest at jherek bischoff (bassist of the grand theft orchestra)’s big deal show at BAM, the brooklyn academy of music, for the “crossing brooklyn ferry” festival. a bunch of other acts played, the walkmen, st. vincent, on and on. i missed most of it.

jherek’d given me a beautiful bitch of a song to learn, with tons and tons of lyrics.
it’s on his new album that comes out later this month (pre-order linkies can be found HERE). the song’s called ”counting” and the original features carla bozulich.

i’m usually pretty good at memorizing lyrics, but this was a barrage of gorgeous stream-of-consciousness that i had a really hard time with: a non-stop three minute art-poem that i had put off til the last minute to learn…thinking i could get it into my brain in an hour like any other song: WRONG. it’s been a long, long time since i’ve been that nervous to go on a stage. i didn’t want to fuck up jherek’s beautiful orchestra show by sucking. i literally stood there about to go onstage thinking: holy shit. i don’t actually know all these lyrics. i might really, truly fuck this up. by then it was too late to grab a lyric sheet. i raced for my phone and loaded the lyrics, to take onstage as a crutch – somehow forgetting that a phone requires scrolling and looks stupid and i’d honestly rather royally screw up than be a person scrolling an iphone in front of an orchestra. so i just had a strange glow emanating from my left hand throughout the song.

background: i spent the two days before the guest spot fielding kickstarter press, watching my inbox explode, sitting in meetings, answering the phone every five minutes…..and hiding in bathrooms practicing the song. my head really was overwhelmed those first few days. i can never learn a song in just one sitting. i need a dozen for something that complicated. but art and business had collided and i’d put it off until the last two days (i was a HOPELESS crammer in high school)….and then bam, voila, i had to undergo the ultimate 48-hour collision of song-brain and business-brain. it was hilarious.

the day of, kate came with me on the subway to the gig as i put on headphones and sang the song over and over again on the R subway from brooklyn, looking like a crazy person making wild memory-linking hand-gestures. she probably looked crazier than i did, because she was sitting with me as if nothing was amiss. god bless her.

and so…in the end…..it was fine. i pulled it off and only mumbled about five percent of the lyrics. david byrne was watching (he guested on jherek’s record) which totally bugged me out and made me even more nervous.

we made friends and we got pizza later. i think even making a million dollars on kickstarter is not as good as going out for pizza with david byrne (and his awesome daughter, who, it turns out, is an artist in her own right and forging her own creative path of joy).

here’s me on stage at BAM. that look? emotion, yes. also sheer terror that i’m going to forget the next line:

and for good measure, here’s david byrne & jherek a few moments later:
(photos via David Andrako for brooklyn vegan)

then, later that night, i went and played at my friend lance horne’s bizarre variety show at “the players club,” a private old-school anachronistic joint for broadway and new york theater people.
it was founded by edwin booth, used to house a drunken mark twain, and WAS very useful back in the day as a private club during prohibition when going to bars wasn’t really an option.
lance paid me one crisp $100 bill to do a set of three songs. bolstered by my new-found thrilling kickstarter success and my (breathe!) non-butchering of jherek’s song earlier in the night, i was in such a crazed mood by that point in the evening that i gave a totally I GIVE NO FUCK screaming-ukulele performance in this weird hunting lodge for old new york broadway theater people who had no idea who the fuck i was. it was awesome.

i mostly enjoyed the club members, most of them over 60, who approached me after my set, clapped me on the shoulder, gave me their business cards, and told me that i “really had talent and could make something of myself someday if i stuck with it.” i nodded and, in the bizarre mood i was in (and maybe because i was surrounded by strange, strange act-y broadway musical people) started playing this strange version of myself i’ve never seen before, saying things like “well, gosh darn it…shucks! i will stick with it! thanks!”

and i will, goddamit. that wasn’t no lie.

here’s me, at that thing (photo by lance horne):



then i went to a very very special fucking wedding.

the bride: julie atlas muz, reigning performance-art-burlesque-stunt queen of new york, old pal of mine.
the groom: mat fraser, long-time beau of julie’s, long-time coney island regular as “seal boy” (he has phocomelia of both arms).

here’s a notso-nekkid couple photos of them:
you know all you people who tweet “OMG neil and amanda are such an inspiring couple”…?
this is the most inspiring couple *I* know.

(photo via the age):

(photo by matt turner, via adelaide now):

and here they be, on all their nekkid glory:

that picture’s actually from an older performance, but could’ve been from their more recent show (i’ve seen it, it’s brilliant) “the freak and the showgirl.”
which was, when i think about it, kind of like “an evening with neil gaiman and amanda palmer” except with more nakedness and more circus stunts and less reading

their wedding was a colorful explosion of love and SERIOUSLY the most eclectic bunch of people you’ve ever seen in your life.
the combination of coney island freaks and buxom burlesque girls and new york circus composers and family and friends and children and people of all shapes and sizes and colors put even the boldest multi-cultrual benneton ads to fecking shame.
words can barely describe it. it was a fucking love gathering of epic scope.

we got there about 4 hours before the wedding for zombie-schoolgirl bridesmaid rehearsal….and rehearsed our zombie entrance with the wedding party.

julie wore a giant blue gown (here she is, getting ready)…

here’s a few shots of me, best-zombie assistant ever superkate (@_superkate_), and my good friend alina simone (@alinasimone) backstage just after zombie-ing ourselves:

the scene backstage before the wedding was EPIC:


(can you spot ex dresden dolls brigade wrangler jen gapay? hint: look for the one with the champagne)…

i want a Pulitzer for this one:

that 12-year old girl looking at herself in the mirror looks like the effing BAD SEED, no?

here’s me with burlesque grande dame and fellow zombie bridesmaid veronica varlow:

more post-wedding bliss….me with alt-porn queen stoya (on right) and her friend justine:

the bouquet catcher, who i was standing RIGHT NEXT TO:

and more awesome attendees:

the party (photo by larisa fuchs):

i have no idea who this is, but she is definitely an ALLY:

and this (from later in the night), because it fit in with the current crowd-funding theme so perfectly, is mat & julie’s old-school live & physical honeymoon Kickstarter box:


the ceremony itself:

julie entered to a SQUEALING & DEAFENING metal-guitar-solo version of the traditional wedding march.

the groomsmen did a SEXY swagger dance around mat. everyone got WELL INTO IT.

after everyone was seated, we, the assembled an costumed 30+ zombie schoolgirls, broke through a door into the theater, screaming BRAAAAAAAIIIINS while attacking and trying to eat the assembled guests. it was very beautiful. after about 3 minutes of this surreal spectacle, we took our seats with the rest of the congregation (quieting our brain-lust until we were unleashed at the end of the ceremony).

i wish i had footage from the front of all thirty oozing zombie-school-girls…out of character….WEEPING.

the best part of the wedding was the vows.

mat had a special formal scottish kilt made for him with custom-sleeves that fit his teeny, disfigured arms.
julie brushed back her giant mermaid-net veil.

as they exchanged their rings, mat and julie took turns saying “DO YOU ACCEPT ME?!?!” to each other, and as they accepted each other, saying “GOOBA GABBA,” the entire auditorium was led in the “freaks”-inspired chant of:







i’ve never cried so much at a wedding in my life. tears. buckets.

love is love.


i’m about to work on answering a shit-ton of kickstarter questions. brace yo-selves.


p.s. on friday, our summer tour WENT ON SALE and SOLD THE FUCK OUT for almost every single one of the shows. you can get the lowdown HERE on where we’ll be and how to get the remaining tickets. if you missed it, it’s because you’re not following the twitter, backing the kickstarter, or on the damn mailing list. if you’re not on the damn mailing list, GET ON IT, HERE

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