I visited students at Kingsborough College today and talked to them about my art and my journey. (I don't like using the word "career")
I realize that I get invited to visit schools to talk to students because I'm at a place in my life where I'm a full-time artist and have been for the past 4 years. And for this I am great full. Grateful. And feeling great. And full about it.
I'm happy and floored that I've figured out a way to be supported through obscurity.
I make parties and installations and music and concert and spiritual reckoning and performance. My music is not yet recorded, though there's tons of footage.
Sometimes when I listen to Ariana Grande or watch her music videos I feel terrible. And I question all of me. My worth. My art. Whether every year I will continue making my living as an artist. Whether I will ever record my music and release an album for everyone to listen to. Whether people will come to my concerts. Whether I'm on the right path. I watch her music producers talk about the making of thank u, next and I feel equally floored, impressed, inspired, intimidated, stunned.
BUT OF COURSE I'm on the right path. Because for the most part, 80% of the time I've been following my gut. And there's something so fulfilling about that.
Sometimes I shoot up awake in the middle in the night.
I don't have a perfume line.
I don't have a music video.
My paychecks are obscure.
When is that going to get old?
I'm getting old.
What if I can't pay rent next month (I haven't had this problem for years)
What if I have to work a desk job (can you imagine Ariana Grande working a desk job?)
I'm freaking out.
I'm not a God parent.
What's going to happen to me after July?
Revenue, income, instagram, YouTube, i'm freaking i'm freaking out i'm freaking out.
I've turned into myself since getting back from Boston.
Theatre burns me out. I don't know if I believe in it. I believe in me. I don't think I'm a theatre artist though. I kind of want to be ... undefinable. Theatre sometimes makes me feel small and I think it's my job as an artist to stretch beyond what theatre thinks I will do. And I think that's what I do. And I think that is my art. And I really hope and I pray that people will continue to support my voice being undefinable. I love making shit up. I really really do. I do believe in performance. I do believe in my music. I do believe I'll find my way to get my music out there. Find the people who will become my team members. Find my music producers who will help me get down in a recording so deeply what's brewing.
I am so terrified of being poor. I am so terrified of it. Terrified to the point that I'm terrified of writing this sentence down. May it be magic spell to disseminate it.
Self-care costs money. And I think that's what half of my salary goes to.
I want to own a house someday -- I don't even know where the ef to begin.
So in Part II, I write to you my self-help recs. Because without it, I'm a mess. With it, I feel unstoppable.
I really pray, I truly truly pray that everything will be okay.
I literally interrupt my evening at 2:03am to write about a hot sauce.
So here I am at home, drinking Magnesium to calm me down because I'm an anxious Asian.
When it dawns on me that I had Greek Yogurt for dinner.
Greek Yogurt is not a meal.
Fuq that noise.
I go out searching for a meal: Something with a meat and a carb.
I make it to the taco truck parked outside the door of the apartment.
I GET A TORTA.
Because guilt and shame are so 2018.
I only eat tortas like twice a year.
Because I'm working on my guilt and shame leftover from 2017.
I go back inside and I'm like: you know what would really next level this shit? HOT SAUCE.
So there I go pokey pokey in the fridge and come across this fine ass-ho ho ho Merry Christmas of a sauce.
I DJABLO SAUCE?????!?!?!?!??! EXCUSE ME WAIT, FILIPINO DJABLO SAUCE. OH DAMN THIS TORTA IS ABOUT TO BE LIT.
I do Torta with Djablo and I just start swearing.
I start swearing.
Because it is that good.
Like I'm about to bring this with me to Brunch good.
Like I regret every meal I ever ate without it good.
Like I'm drinking Beyonce's blood good.
Like, guilt and shame aren't even in my encyclopedia brittanica good.
Like this Torta is my best friend, and this Djablo is my ecstasy lover good.
Like I was put on this earth to enjoy this hot sauce good.
Like I can't stop talking about how good it is good.
"Are you responsible for this hot sauce?"
I say to Mei Ann (my flat mate) (I used flat mate because this hot sauce makes me feel gotdamn fancy.)
And then she tells me Laura Dadap gave it to her.
And I'm like "Is Laura Dadap trying to go heaven? Because she is definitely going to get in."
Y'all cancel my plans. I need to spend more time with this hot sauce. This hot sauce and I need to get acquainted.
I'm about to be mad at every restaurant that doesn't have it.
Laura Dadap, I'm pretty sure you're royalty because this Hot Sauce is obviously like a monarchy or whatever and your father is definitely pulling some like Sword in the Stone sorcery with this mess right here.
Filipino Djablo Hot Sauce and Dadap Family, thank you for gifting our unworthy mouths. We'll do better as a society to meet you, we promise.
It's 2:25am now. Thank you for this amazing night. I'm ready to turn this hot sauce into a religion.
(Video of my best friend and ecstasy lover being there for me)
Photos by my flatmate, Mei Ann.
Because I am no one's role model but my own.
Because I do not believe in the worship of institution but the worship of the artist.
Because I do believe artists are that powerful.
Because creating art is an act to become closer to God.
Because my God is a Higher Power and is not a He.
Because art is a deadline.
Where you present your soul's truth on a deadline and you present yourself exactly where you are.
Because no one understood Grace Jones either.
Because I am no longer frustrated by being undefinable.
Because Prince was undefinable.
And was reduced his whole life.
Because I have watched white people take credit for the labor of visionaries of color. Because I envision and I no longer want to live in shame about my sight.
Because I no longer want to live in shame.
Because every time I make art, I feel myself growing downwards and feel the poison of shame getting sucked out.
And it is replaced with light.
Like literally I feel lighter.
Because I don't like being told what to do.
Because it is from my soul. It is from my heart.
And sometimes the most effective thing one can do is to support and then get out of the way and let a bitch breathe.
Because the bitch breathing will let you breathe better too. Because financial support does not mean an automatic buy-in of an artistic say.
Because that is what healthy boundary-setting is as an artist.
Because I am interested in celebrating and this includes being celebrated.
I am here to take care and nurture my soul. And my heart.
And if I am not nurturing my soul or my heart in my art then it is not true.
Because I am interested in the truth.
Because a well-made anything bores me. Unless I'm going out to dinner.
Because art is not a meal or a croissant.
It gives me something to believe in.
I want to give me something to believe in.
Because in taking care of me, I hope to take care of others. But not until I take care of me, can I take care of others.
Because I'm excavating pain. Because I make for my pleasure. Because everything I make is a relationship.
Because I will be an artist no matter what and nothing and no one will ever take that power away from me. Ever. And that is true power.
Because money is energy.
Because my body is a universe that sets the rules that I want to be governed by.
Because admitting to being afraid is vulnerable. And vulnerability is power.
Because I'm interested in being a visionary. That means someone who envisions.
Because I am the chef. Of the 7 course meal. And I choose the cooks in the kitchen wisely. Because the real revolution is when artists are in charge of the resources they are given.