There was a time in my life when I transitioned from being a ball of fire on the loose and hurdling through Greenwich Village to a ball of fire with more of a sense of belonging due to the opportunities I took or created for myself. I’m in the midst of a new kind of transition now, and it is forcing me to reflect back on those times when I was more of a projectile. Back then I also realized that toxic relationships, no matter how intense the passion is that draws two particular ill-suited people together, are just not worth it. This goes for friends, lovers, family, bank tellers, doctors, neighbors and anyone else you regularly interact with. It’s great to learn these things on the first go (usually in our 20s) and remember them; somehow these “tests” of our maturity and evolution seem to continue, according to my living grandmother, at least into our 90s.
I had a boyfriend during this time who worked in advertising and had a penchant for late nights out drinking and partaking in what we New Yorkers refer to as “booger sugar”. Needless to say, my patience regarding our “lifestyle differences” wore incredibly thin toward the end of our three-plus year on again, off again relationship. The final straw was him phoning a prostitute from the Yellow Pages one night with friends after a bachelor party. This brings up two interesting notions, one that in New York City you can order a hooker much like ordering a Dominos pizza even though it is illegal (the girl not the pie), and two, that a person would typically think the bachelor party itself is what a girlfriend has to worry about. Not the case. Unless we’re talking about a very wealthy and generous best man or a bachelor party of creeps, most Joe Schmoe stags almost never end with anyone but the groom getting some sort of special attention, although for some especially brazen douchebags, the otherwise innocent excitement of the groom’s “last night out” only fuels their bad decision making after the party bus is in park and the good little boys have turned in for the night. (How I came to find out about this incident includes a dream that morning of my deceased grandmother screaming at me in Italian about him, but that’s another story for another time.)
To his credit, said bad boyfriend – and although a bad partner he is not a bad person, just not the person for wonderful me – supported my, at that time, burgeoning transition from producer to performer and the explorations in combating my crippling stage fright which ensued. While his spiritual epiphany included LCD Soundsystem, CB2, the Chicago Cubs and “deliverables”, mine were more public, visual and artistic. I had organically evolved from years of being a writer to being a producer, and was blindly careening into uncharted territory that I was terrified of, but very good at. I can’t say that he understood the gravity of what I was doing, and he definitely didn’t talk to me in “artist speak” about any of it. He had no feedback and just went along with my stream of consciousness much like a dead fish but with more smiles and nods. The more I evolved, the less I could tolerate our increasingly banal discussions, and a constant argument was that he was “creative” in his field but not an “artist” and this was a fundamental difference that was unable to be resolved. However that misplaced passion between us didn’t allow for this rational understanding of our incompatibility to prevail, and instead of ending it, he instead consistently failed to measure up to my level of standard and passion as well as making the most of out this life, exploring one’s Self, taking healthy risks, following through on one’s word and not staying out Friday night until 11am Saturday partying with other people in advertising when we had a bike ride scheduled for noon…all very predictable and boring. But I do give him credit for being incredibly patient with me, too.
When I first became a character every day with Alice Cooper on his radio show, “Mistress Kitty” the celebrity dominatrix who wanted to be taken seriously as a broadcast journalist, there were times when she would pretty basically leak out unexpectedly. And no, not in the bedroom, more like while cooking dinner; a lacerating wit from over the counter, crossing a street, passing the butter. In time I learned how to effortlessly step into and out of that character without her taking over my life or getting me arrested, and it was during these years Alice really taught me the difference between character and persona. Not many people can coach you on persona like the King of Shock Rock. I am so grateful, and I am sure that most of the people I know and love are thrilled that I’m not wielding a riding crop at brunch in 2011.
Eventually, bad boyfriend started ribbing me about the publicity I was getting. I learned from him that unabridged sarcasm is often a defense mechanism and protects people from actually opening up (this was also predictable and boring). But people liked my work, and better yet, they liked talking about it. I was finally getting some of the feedback I was so hungry for outside of Kitty fan mail from those who were incarcerated or driving a rig and listening to the show. So I developed a routine (which I still do) of coming home and seeing what is new out there in the world reflecting what I am putting all of this heart into. Eventually the “what are you doing, looking up pictures of yourself on the Internet again?” got more and more frequent. More and more snarky. And I came to realize that what this person was doing was destructive to who I am and my purpose on this planet. He was making me feel badly about what I do as – even today – an undefined artist. It isn’t easy or safe to try new things and challenge oneself, but if a person is so inclined, New York City is probably one of the only places where the magic of chance and opportunity still breeds; where you can fail miserably and think about leaping off the Brooklyn Bridge one day and get on a subway and meet your soul mate the next. It is crucial that we surround ourselves with those who share a vision and values about “live and let live”, who totally believe in what we are doing with our lives and who appreciate the way that our lives complement the lives of those around us like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Even though two corners are extremely opposite, they are still connected by all of the pieces in between them.
All I can say is that I am happy to report bad boyfriend has been in a relationship for a while now (and for the record I think it’s fine not to be friends with all of our exes) and more importantly that I was absolutely thrilled to come home tonight and check out the world premiere of the Art Brut video director Alex De Campi asked me to be without some guy giving me a hard time about looking myself up on the Internet. It could be due to my upcoming birthday and that I have been reflecting on the path I took to get where I am today, how lucky I am to still be up and running around and taking calculated risks when and where I can, avoiding toxicity when and where I can and that I am so grateful for realizing the precious value of my uniqueness and abilities before I let another “Eeyore” take a leak in my Cheerios.
Every person on this video shoot was an important part of the puzzle Alex De Campi saw in her vision of the piece. And I am so thrilled to be in a music video with a unicorn! The nine-year-old girl who lives inside of me is beaming. But most importantly, to those of you who believe in me and my work, in all of its uncategorized glory, thank you. I think it is law that “you’re only as good as the people you work with”, and I hope my next year of existence brings even more electric collaborations and captivating experiences.