What an unusual several months I’ve spent! In May I had my [personally] triumphant performance, Loving You is Easier (more on that below), which represented to me the successful melding of so much of what I do—visual art, songwriting, costume, performance, writing, design, being angsty, looking—into one “piece”. Then, I immediately decided to try something brand new and totally focused: real life actual fashion. And, my friends, it was a lot of work. It took over my life, and left me with about zero time or energy to work on my book or any other kind of art. I think it was worth it, though! I learned a lot, and I designed, sewed, and embroidered a 22-piece collection (which drops TODAY!) that includes THIS:
And even THIS:
What we are talking about here is my contribution to my friend and hero Todd Oldham’s new project Todd Oldham Maker Shop. With Maker Shop, Todd has decided to dig into his reserve of all of the remaining custom designed, printed, and produced fabric, hand-carved, cast, plated, painted, and bejeweled buttons & hardware, and experimental printed, embroidered, dyed, appliqued, and sequined test samples from his spectacularly acclaimed fashion work in the 1990’s to produce brand new clothing and home products in limited editions for the consumers of today! Todd invited a few artist friends of his—Amy Sedaris, Daniele Frazier, Christeene, Nora MacLeod, and ME among them—to use some of his supplies to create our own stuff. One day I received a package in the mail with things like this in it…
So, I stared for a second, fondled everything briefly, and then I immediately went berserk designing cutting, sewing, beading, and embroidering, rarely coming up for air until it was all finished about three months later. That’s when I stood back and realized that what I had made was crazy. But crazy works in Todd’s world, so here we go! I hope you enjoy it and feel included in the fun. The clothes were designed to fit a broad range of sizes and body types—genders, too! We (Todd) photographed three different looking models wearing the exact same garments, so people can see the different ways the clothes can look depending on a person’s shape. I think you will agree that our gorgeous and charismatic models Skye Tyson, Sacha Wynne, and—a new friend—Jim Andralis wear these clothes well! I would be honored if you would go have a look in the Todd Oldham Maker Shop site in the FEATURED section, and see what I did!
A side note: If you are here at my site because you first heard about me from Todd Oldham and/or Maker Shop and you are looking for more things to buy, then may I direct you to my SHOP where I have T-shirts, editions, winter scarves & hats and neckties, and for the first time, ORIGINAL ART for sale. For example, there is this item…
…for a cool $800 and several other items specially curated by me for their accessibility in size and price, ease in shipping, and high artistic quality.
Back to my summer and early Fall: well, I lied. I did do a couple other things, but the not-lying part is that it was also design-oriented. My favorite person, Joe’s Pub approached me to come up with some new designs incorporating their logo that they could use for t-shirts and other merch. I came up with 3 high design/low taste drawings and graphics with the goal of creating things that would make me jump for joy at the merch stand if I saw them, and I think I succeeded! Everything has not officially dropped yet, so please look out for Joe’s Pub’s big reveal. BUT there has been a soft roll-out using my favorite of the 3, at least in the offices and dressing rooms, where I have seen this particular design of mine on binders, notecards, and dressing room pillows, so I feel comfortable sharing it here:
It’s an ink drawing of the Joe’s Pub logo mixed with my interpretation of their iconic foam sound-absorbing tiles behind the stage, creating a repeating checkerboard pattern for the gods! Wait till you see how we have used this pattern on merch that you can BUY along with 2 other graphics that are equally fun and fashionable!
And, probably because of my status as Best Album Art Design nominee of the 2016 15th Annual Independent Artist Awards, my client Jim Andralis (purely a business relationship) asked me to design the cover of his fourth album I Can’t Stop Trying, which is released October 21 and CELEBRATED in concert at New York City’s Mercury Lounge Sunday November 6th with Jim Andralis & the Syntonics with opening act Larry Krone, whoever she is! Buy tickets HERE!
The album art was easy, because the main part of it was gorgeous black & white beauty shots of Jim and our dog Dory taken by Gregory Kramer. I just composed them, scribble scrabbled some writing on the back, and voila!
You can preorder the vinyl album HERE and while you’re waiting for it to arrive, listen to the singles that are already released on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud, or what have you. You won’t be sorry, as these new songs are truly spectacular and will help you understand the world and enjoy your life a little bit more if you let them.
Bonus perk: the backup vocals. They’re divine.
OK, so I took some breaks from my one-man human patchwork factory and embroidery mill to do my ziggies and hit the stage a couple times recently, too. Quite excitingly and of note, on July 9, Jim Andralis & the Syntonics (with Julie DeLano, Leslie Graves, Susan Hwang, Jessie Kilguss, and me as Syntonics, plus Josh Lattanzi on Bass) opened for Bikini Kill at NYC’s Irving Plaza! It was pretty glorious.
The night before Irving Plaza, Jim and I saw Bikini Kill perform at Pier 17, and if it wasn’t a wonderful surprise to see our friend Kathleen Hanna performing in the House of Larréon dress I made for her! “Battlestar Attractica/Feminist From the Future,” made from silk shantung, glittered canvas, and pink plastic reflectors, still delivers!!
Sparing you some details of my other activities between my last letter and this, that brings us to the present! Which has me getting ready to write and make art again! Which has me—sorry!—wistfully reflecting upon the past and my performance at The 8th Floor May 14th, Loving You is Easier. For me, it was dreamy and the perfect blend of my work and my life. I spoke and sang about chosen family and the point in our lives where we all may choose to surround ourselves with those among our blood relatives and friends who offer us love and support rather than subjecting ourselves to the torture we get from those in our traditional families who are supposedly closest to us but treat us the worst of anybody. I also wore lots of my handmade costumes, including a jaw-dropping tearaway moment, the ruggedly masculine “Daddy’s Bra,” and a new pair of patchwork prison-striped pants that have been setting the world on fire ever since that debut!
Here’s the program for the show:
And here are a few pictures taken by Johanna Wilson:
Really, as far as I’m concerned, that show could have been me messing up all over the place singing Swing out Sister songs in a series of Dress Barn blazers, and I still would have been walking on air afterwards as long as I had the big finish come off the way it did: a segment of my chosen family formed a small choir who came out of the audience wearing my costumes, ooo-ing and aaah-ing soaringly behind Jim and me as we sang Kris Kristofferson’s “Loving you is Easier”. This fulfilled a lot of fantasies of mine; among them to form a real, gorgeous-sounding choir for a big final production number—just like on the Kennedy Center Honors, to have my family all dress alike in the manner of the Jackson Five or the Brady Kids, and to sing that song with the man I love in a way that feels as romantic as when Willie Nelson and Dyan Cannon sing it in Honeysuckle Rose.
Coming up (I hope!): me making more things that feel like that. Just as soon as I’m finished counting all that Maker Shop money I’m about to get! Right??
Here’s some of Loving You is Easier. Actually, the real song is Loving Her is Easier, but I changed that word like they did in Honeysuckle Rose (plus I changed woman to person and a couple other little things – don’t come after me, Kris!).
When you read these lyrics, try to think about it in terms of singing it to a group of friends that have saved your life by becoming your family:
Coming close together with a feeling that I’d never known before in my time
You’re not afraid to be just a person
You know how to be a friend
I don’t know the answer to the easy way you’ve opened every door in my mind
But dreaming is as easy as believing it’s never gonna end
Loving you is easier than anything I’ll ever do again
*P.S. and by the way, Gregory Kramer is also a wizard when it comes to solving website problems & stuff. He helped me spruce up and unkink this old dinosaur, and I could not be happier with the results! Contact Greg thru his website if you’re interested in hiring him for your website needs!
Thank you, and good night.