SEAF 2013

Disclaimer: After a long week on my feet, I am a bit fried mentally, more than a bit exhausted physically, and yet still rather awake and energetic. My creativity is in the shitter, though, so if you’re hoping for poetry unfortunately I doubt you’ll find much this time. You will, however, find a blog entry about my experience performance directing for the Seattle Erotic Art Festival this year, and a little bit of a backstory as to why that’s kind of a Big Deal for me. Also; I speak only for myself on this blog, and do not represent any official stance of the FSPC or SEAF directorial committee here. Enjoy.

Well, that was really something!

This year’s Seattle Erotic Art Festival had us returning to one of my favorite festival venues – the Showbox Sodo – which, at the time of our last occupation in 2007, was the Fenix. The Showbox had the best facilities and friendliest staff of any venue I’ve worked in, ever. They were wonderful and contributed highly to my enjoyment this weekend.

After many years of vastness and what became a disproportionate focus on spectacle performance art and dance parties, it feels to me now that SEAF has again embraced its roots as an *ART* festival. Though the event wasn’t perfect (um, we seriously need to strike those walkway tables after 10pm next year – great when there’s 100 people, not so much when there’s more.), I would be hard pressed to be more pleased with the results of our hard work this year.

Up until 11pm, patrons could browse, hold a conversation, ask about the artwork and purchase pieces without being interrupted, or having to scream over loud thumping music. During our after-parties when we’d raised the volume some, patrons never had the lights illuminating the artwork shut off on them and were still capable of browsing and buying, and were never forced to pay attention to anything they didn’t want to.

The artwork was the best I’ve ever seen at the festival, which is including the catalogues from previous years in which I did not attend. Most of the pieces that weren’t really my style had a clear validity and seemed to belong in the festival regardless of my personal preferences. I think I only truly disliked perhaps two. The film exhibition, which I unfortunately had absolutely no personal experience with due to it being offsite (I’d like to see the films onsite, or staggered next year with the visual art festival on another weekend), was spoken of incredibly highly and sold very well.

My absolute favorite parts?

In addition to this, I directed a suite of beautifully organic and diverse performances that included many shapes, sizes, and colors that complimented the art, captivated our audience and helped maintain a dignified, elegant and erotic atmosphere.

My team was impressive, I had an excellent stage manager, and every single one of my performers made me look really fucking good.

In addition to that, my workload was reasonable enough that I got to have a lot of fun at the festival, both during my tenor as a director and after my performances were finished. The vibe in the venue was positive, and everywhere I looked patrons were smiling and happily chatting. I even spent a bit of time at the bootblacking station overseeing most of the venue, smiling, watching people slowly pour in through the cash doors.

And boy do I fucking love being on a headset!

These are only my vanity pictures. To see the other amazing pictures of the festival check out SEAF’s flickr stream and be sure to log in to see the ‘adult’ ones with buttcrack and boob.

SEAF for me carries a long backstory with many deep layers, in regards to my individual growth in sexuality, as an event director/performer, and in terms of healing from an abusive relationship. I was first involved in the festival as a model in an accepted piece in 2003, and nearly every year since then.

From 2005-2008 I contributed to SEAF directly as a performer, patron and director. After the 2008 festival, in which I had directed aerial performances and performed, I stepped away from SEAF during a bad breakup with the Performance Director at the time, who had eyes on directing the Festival.

When we split up, we were both heavily involved in SEAF and the Little Red Studio together. In the separation, though we never officially divided things, I basically got LRS, and in turn got Obsidian (If you don’t know about that show, you probably should.), and he got SEAF, and with that, the Director title he’d wanted, eventually.

I was angry, hurting, mentally dismantled, and felt left out by cutting myself off. I was also busy with my own creative endeavors, and really, I had no choice but to leave given the circumstances.

Over the years, I heard through the grapevine of the changes being made to the festival, how it had become bigger, more glitzy, more stage show, bigger, bigger, bigger, and less focused on the artwork or feeling like an art festival.

In 2011, I submitted artwork, a performance proposal and returned in a limited capacity under the direction of Eva Luna as an ambient performance artist, with my most estranged year away being 2012 in which I strenuously returned to having no involvement.

I had no idea how much I missed SEAF, in part due to these changes I didn’t agree with and my bitterness toward the person making them, until I was capable of returning in a directorial capacity when my ex left on bad terms in December. I wrote after being invited to the first planning meeting I’d been to in 5 years;

It’s funny, when something is simply off the table, how disconnected with missing being involved in it you can be. – http://blog.neevita.net/archives/13498

I had forgotten that SEAF, when available to me, is one of the few places I absolutely, without doubt or apology, belong.

My reentry has been validating, satisfying and very fruitful after a rough start in preproduction earlier this year. I can attest with no hesitation that we pulled off a miracle given the circumstances and logistical/administrative turbulence we all went through.

One of my favorite things to do right now is marvel at how impressively all the people who remained involved stepped up and gave this event everything they had. We worked together naturally and without any pettiness, arguments or personal difficulty that I could see. Everyone was amazing at their jobs and awesome to work with.

I am so thrilled that I stuck with this through my storm of concerns over the last few months. I have learned a lot in the past 6 weeks and grown as an event director as well as personally through this experience. I really just can’t express in words how lovely it is to be back, or how proud I am of what the festival has become/returned to being.

As the smoke clears I can see that the occurrences which lead me away for a while had also saved me from the corrosive aspect of the learning experiences the org went through during the time my ex was in charge, and for that I’m thankful. Had I still been working on SEAF since 2009, regardless of my personal feelings regarding him, knowing myself as I do, I suspect I would have been worn of it and have moved on by now, just as it’s getting good again.

Instead, I get the best of both worlds – I didn’t have to continue working with him, didn’t have to be around him, I got to take a break and focus on my own work and artistry, put on some amazing shows, created an arts nonprofit, nurtured my massage and gallery business, and now I have the ability to reap the benefits of his work and what was learned from his mistakes regardless. Thanks, dude!

Now Extrovert Entertainer Whip-cracking Chatty Me fades into the background, and Tender Introverted Drained Me begins her recovery from intense connection fatigue and activity of the last few days. I connected with a LOT of people in profound and significant ways, my feet are killing me, and I am very, very tired.

For now, I will be behind the scenes again for a while, tending to myself, my personal creative work, and processing through the emotional impact of a very big few days – which includes being rather elated and prideful of my accomplishments, and planning my strategy for next year.

It feels good to be back to what was my element for a long time, and to again embrace it as a keen expression of who I am and who I want to be in the world.



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