Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Art of Recapturing the Soul

“Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all” - Whitney Houston

This particular blog has been in development for a long while.  Even as early as a year ago.  I finally felt ready to put the formula on paper and untangle the thoughts, ideas, and experiences that had led me to this point. 

The recent death of singer Whitney Houston this week touched me deeply.  I guess I could have looked at it as a “typical” finale to any “text book” Hollywood story littered with too much money, passion, excess, and substance abuse, but it stuck with me.  I kept thinking about this ethereal, mahogany beauty who had the voice of an angel and all the notoriety Faust himself would envy.  What had gone wrong?  I dug deep and watched old interviews and put pieces together.  The unfortunate demise had come from feelings of insecurity and emotional abuse.  There was a desire to please and to destroy even herself to gain the approval and love of her husband who lashed out due to never reconciling those feelings within himself.  In the end the substance abuse that was originally a couples “activity” became a way to numb and escape the increasing pain of not finding the worth within.   The world lost a great talent and we all MOURNED.    

It brought me back to my own weaknesses and the price I had to pay for making wrong decisions and how about a year ago I nearly lost EVERYTHING.  I started to go over the events in my head and the timeline of loss, pain, recovery, understanding, and reckoning I traveled.  I realized I had survived the worst and that there is REALLY could be truth in the phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!"  So now what? After winning the battle where do you start to move forward?

I started to think about the peace and clarity I now carried with me and how I wanted to use them in a positive way, both personally and in my work.  I realized after almost 10 years in a field of inspiring others artistically I had done some pretty damn good work.  I started to allow myself to feel proud and purposeful in the roll of "Muse".  That maybe there was substance and depth to a world that can appear to some to be so shallow.  I realized a lot of my past programming (that comes from upbringing, self esteem, and the relationships we surround ourselves with) came from a deep lack of belief in my self.  I was able to function, live, and even carve out an impressive reputation in my profession, but I was not ever really able to say I ENJOYED it.  My mind was always spinning like a rat on a treadmill with chaotic statements about failure and rejection.  Surprising, but true.  This type of  toxic thought process can destroy even the strongest individual.  We can set ourselves up for a painful demise down the rabbit hole unless we learn to re-program and uplift ourselves.

I started the process of undoing all this damage by learning to control and abstain from destructive behavior.  This took some time and was really painful.  We become creatures of habit and become addicted to the familiar, however negative the situation is.  Terror of the unknown is a feeling most people carry within.  That is why so many people numb with substance abuse or stay in long term abusive relationships.  We think we can fix a situation and that in turn will FIX us.  I started to think about Whitney Houston again and how her inability to overcome this destroyed her.  

My own journey was not that epic or large, but there were similar parallels.  It made me realize the work I was doing was making a difference and that the chance of ending up losing everything, including a life, had passed.  The only way to go was forward.  I gave myself permission to let go of the past and started working on moving into a place of positivity, self love, and GRACE.

My relationships that held me back didn't seem to fit into this new perspective.  Old habits and people went by the wayside and despite being lonely at first, I realized it got BETTER.  One must have enough faith that the Universe (or whatever your Higher Power is to you) will not leave you empty for long.  The more you grow and change, the more things that fit your new, whole, and harmonious existence will fill you up.  I am AMAZED at the changes that are happening, however subtle or epic, they are working for me in a positive way.  I  have just started, but the results that are manifesting are filling me with awe and wonder.  I am able to sit still and have mastered the art of "letting go" completely.  Communication and expression are flowing freely and I can say honestly that I am doing some of the BEST work of my career.

I am sure there is much more to come, but for now, I am content.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

TMC Original quotes and thoughts 2/14/2012

''Today something occurred that has only happened one other time in my 10 yr career. After a heartfelt lecture and introduction from me to a class about the honor I feel it is to be called as a muse, I patiently explained that cameras, phones going off, open doors, and talking are disrespectful to me as well as their fellow artists. 40 pairs of eyes and nodding heads confirmed to me we could proceed. Mid pose the door opened 3 times, 2 phones went off and were answered, and a peeping Tom entered class. I broke pose, got dressed, apologized and walked out. If you are not mature enough to show some respect, then your damn sure not adult enough to have the privilege of seeing me without my clothes on!'

''After 10 yrs in the business, it STILL shocks me when I run across artists who have COLOSSAL egos and take themselves WAY TO SERIOUSLY. Perhaps when you get over yourself, you will find a masterpiece is lovely to look at and talent is a blessing, but when it is coupled with empathy, humility, and a SENSE OF HUMOR, then you have enough bountiful gifts to last a DOZEN lifetimes.''

"Already SO OVER Lana Del Rey........pretty for sure, but mediocre voice and SNL BOMB, she has sent the overexposure machine on overdrive. I'm discovering the people who think she is "amazing" or hypnotic" are mostly vapid 20 somethings who have all the emotality and passion of a thimble full of water. If you want to be "moved" listen to the mothers of avant garde, Kate Bush or Patti Smith. The only new artist who even comes CLOSE is Florence and the Machine. Enough of this tripe, PLEASE!!!"

"Am I considered ''abnormal'' because I think it accinine that middle aged women ''text'' their daughters rather then ''speak'' to them, get as excited as they due at the newest episode of ''Glee'', and swoon the same way at the pre-pubescent, pasty faced, metro-sexual male cast of ''Twilight''? Sorry folks, give me intellegent CONVERSATION, Fox News, and Sam Elliott any day!"

‎"And when they ask her about the men in her life (and they always ask her about the men in her life), she says, "Well, they were Poets, Mages, and Warriors, and yet, they were priests of nothing, but they were Legends" 

"all of my recent frog kissing endeavers are sadly morphing into a rather vast library of "Fractured Fairytails"......"

"Sometimes the most sobering thing in the world is to be drunk on your own potential and clarity......."

"I have a date this weekend......and he is gainfully employed. Hell has OFFICIALLY frozen over."

‎"Count your blessings, you THICK HEADED SAP!" - what my inner voice reminds me on days I am less then stellar or blue about life. How many people (in the worst economy in 80 years) can say that they made a living today working with the GREAT Bill Perkins sitting still for 3 hrs in a Princess Leia costume...."

‎"**DEAR FB FOLK**- stop "GROUPING, POKING, AND FARMVILLING" ME - Mercury is in retrograde FULL SWING and I have no time for f*ck*&g mindless rubbish....I will burn all your crops, kill all your farm animals, stake all your vampires, and gun down all your thugs in your stupid "Mafia Wars".....and don't send me any damn hearts, flowers, or good tidings on my wall....I will get "Snidely Whiplash" on your ass and tie you to the railroad track alongside "Sweet Nell"....."

"Caffine and yoga will not will be a hemlock and deuling pistol kind of day......with a unibomber twist......"

"I TRULY ABHOR Valentine's Day. Thanks to all the dim-witted souls of my gender for this ''celebratory'' day of bullshit and ballbusting. My heart BLEEDS to the men who love you & show you 364 days of the year, but TODAY no gesture will be appreciated because you will be busy bitching about what he DOES NOT do for you & any words of love from him will drown in your estrogen war-cry of "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY!" - BAH-HEART-BUG!!!!!!"
ur nature painting sojurn?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The "Dear Series" - Part 1

Some musings about the various array of, er, "colorful personalities" I encounter whilst on the job. I fondly dubbed them the "Dear Series":

Dear ''ghetto, badass art kid', please do not assume all models want to ''hang out'' with you at the end of class. Mrs. Robinson advises you to trade your cheeky behavior and saggy drawers in for some old fashioned manners and a sturdy belt. Take that kiddo and a ''coo coo ka choo'' to you!!!!

Dear ''self involved, moronic artist'' - no it is NOT ok to let your cell phone (w/the obnoxious Justin Bieber holiday ring tone) go off incessantly in art class, let alone you answering it at your easel as you noodle away barking orders to your cable guy for 5 min at the top of your voice (much to the chagrin and annoyance of the rest of the 10 people trying to create in the zone) only to finish with ''I'm in art class now I have to call you back!''. And no you CANNOT take my pix w/o asking or paying me!!!

Dear ''crochety, of mature age hobbyist artist''- I know you are newly retired and can devote yourself to your art full time, but I must gently remind you there is no similarity between breakfast sausage and my lower limbs. One belongs on your plate during your morning repast, and the other is attached to the torso I plan on voraciously exiting stage left unless you curb your crabby, frustrated tantrum. Anatomy class is a good solution, otherwise some prozac with a mineral spirit chaser is what I recommend.

Your Life: Your Canvas

Has it been a year?

I took a much needed year off to focus, process, and grow. Shit and life happens and you change. This is the case for me. I spent the last year dealing with some deep pain and conflicts. Believe me, I was not jumping through hoops to begin this process......the Universe just sort of let me know it was time.

I look back at the last 10 yrs and the career that I believe called me, rather then I it, and reflect. It seems odd to have the honor and responsibility to inspire and carry a time honored tradition that has remained a mystery for over 500 years. It is as elusive as the "Master Painter's" brushwork or the last 10 pounds a woman cannot seem to shed. This is the first foray into channeling my thoughts again in over a year. I come to it the way the people I collaborate with and RESPECT approach a blank canvas prior to creating a work of art. Will it be a masterpiece or just another exercise in the articulation of time to "walk away from the canvas?" If the latter occurs will there be a multi-layer of creation on the surface consisting of oils, medium, and bootprints? Life can be similar........and may we all approach our calling and responsibilities with such reverence and purpose. There can be a beauty in all that reverie......or perhaps just a nervous breakdown in the making.......

It is my goal from here on out to bring some sense to the mantle I take up and the calling I try to avoid. I hope to be interesting.....or at least to calm the restless demons that run rampant in my mind. Most of those voices are conjured up from the past. The dark and painful voices that echo from a childhood filled with a lack of love, praise, and stability. It seems a GROSS error to me to have found a niche in a world of light, beauty, and inspiration while all the while carrying the scars of pain and crippling insecurity I had. This kind of pain can eat you alive. It can deaden the spirit of strength and creation in each of us if we do not find the tools and space to confront and heal. It was the driving force for me of many years of bitterness, fear, and substance abuse. I tried everything to escape both the negative voices and destiny. It was a hairs breath away from madness.

It is only now I can take it all in and realize the next half of my life is in my own hands. The deliberate task of puting purpose on my "canvas" stroke by diligent stroke is awe-inspiring. I think the resurection of this blog forum and the process of sharing thoughts is a start. It is both exciting and terrifying all at once. The words that heal me can be as raw and stark as the harsh burn of the alcohol that used to pour down my throat and fill me with numbness bliss in moments of escape......Only time will tell.

It is a sobering and powerful turn of the tide. As I stare at the blank canvas ahead of me, I am scared, yet comforted by the knowledge that it is my hand alone that controls the medium, rhythem, and PURPOSE of the movement that creates the image that will materialize on the is my work of Life......

And that bit of scintillating thought has given me the shot of courage I needed to make that first stroke.........

Recent Discussion on Comic Con With Fellow Artist Dan Gonzales

TC: My esteemed colleagues: I must decline your generous invitation to COMICCON. Watching millions of socially inept nerds regress back to theirpre-pubescence at the sight of Dork-dom's every wet dream within a 10 feet reach, not to mention, rotund species of the female gender prancing around in dental floss, makes me want shove an icepick up my urethra. Let the madness ensue and may the Force be with you all!:)

Dan Gonzales: Toni, I am surprised at your words regarding the San Diego Comic Con, in relation to what you do for a living: model. You are celebrated by artists. The Con affords people to meet many talented artists, many with fine art backgrounds. The Los Angeles Figurative Academy had a booth there, along with other art institutio...ns. Several artists were doing live demos. I myself, wound up buying several booklets on Jeremy Lipking and Malcolm Liepke in addition to some comics. I would hope you would reconsider your stance on a wonderful gathering of art, and creative indulgence. All the best to you, one of your many artistic admirers

TC: Hi Dan! I will elaborate. First of all thank you for your kind comments about my work, your esteem, and detailed highlights of a rather commercial, crazy event. I concur with all of your opinions and praise on what Comic Con STANDS FOR. It an amazing industry event featuring talent in many artistic genre's that we are so honored to work in. Video games, comics, movies, fine art, individual artists in their respective mediums using this artistic baazar as a way to show off their work, etc. It is the CIRCUS and the HOLLYWOOD NARCISSIM factors that have creeped into this great event that I abhor. It adds an element of superficiallity, chaos, and mayhem to an otherwise pure event. Ticket prices go sky high, sell out, and are hard to come by due to the mediocre laymen who want to prance around in their Jack Sparrow costumes. Too many people not affiliated to this event have made it harder for the LEGITIMATE fans and industry folk to participate as spectators. It also adds to the traffic factor, the high prices for lodging and meals, and lastly, the ungodly horror of seeing rotund women and drag queens prancing around in unflattering duds. I guess in the end we all wanted to be Ballerinas, Cowboys, and Superheros when we were small. If these people want to pay through their ass to feel like (insert character of individual childhood fantasy here), it is their perogative. It just makes it all the more unappealing to me when I am asked to participate (this yr as a booth babe and also Laura Croft and Wonder Woman) so I decline to avoid the craziness. I am fortunate as you say to be "celebrated by artists", indeed, that is why it makes it HARDER to say no. I have had the luck to be a Ballerina and a Cowboy in this lifetime, but I guess Superhero will have to be shelved until the Con becomes a more orderly, hassle-free place to dwell. And I do not see that happening in this lifetime. I hope you had fun and were inspired!

Dan Gonzales: Thank you Toni for clarifying your stance. I whole heartedly agree as to the commercialization of the Con. Sadly, in the last few years, Comic Con's attendees have grown exponentially due to the popularity of the superhero movies. This is w...hy San Diego will no longer be hosting it; it's gotten too big & unmanageable. With all the amazing modeling and other events that you participate in, you are a REAL WONDER WOMAN! You are all the superwomen rolled into one! You are a work of art. I remain a TONI C. fan, always. I look forward to seeing you in the near future. All the best, Dan

Facing Demons, Slaying Dragons, and Building Bridges

I have had the good fortune to really take a long look at myself lately. Going deep is not always pleasant or easy. I was grateful for a deep moment of clarity about a month ago that helped me see what I needed to work on. I was dealing with alot of issues of the "abandoned child". There are symptoms of this. The need for approval, acceptance, security, and love can trigger behaviors and patterns that are not always going to put us in the best light or present our best selves. I was grateful to begin to work on what the deep issues were (and are continuing to work on all of these things) and discover many things about myself I was ready to face and change. I felt immenseley vulnerable and actually for a period of time felt like I was constantly saying "I am sorry" for everything I did. I was hyper sensitive and insecure due to this discovery and also losing my feline and Familiar, Ava, at the same time this was happening. I always thought it was strange that people became so attached to their animals and mourned them like family members till it happened to me. I had her for 10 yrs of my life and she was a magnificent creature. It is hard to imagine that an animal can teach you so much about behavior and compassion and other things. It was a difficult time. As I started to dismantle the heartspace, I got some clarity and strength again and realized that I welcomed the challenge of change, but at the same time, sometimes people who call you out on your faults, have many deep seated fears or challenges of their own. I had been inspired by certain friends in my life and am grateful for their example, but perhaps was a bit too rosy-eyed with my assumptions of them being perfect people or capable of possesing the maturity for true friendships. You can tell someone is a real friend by the support or consistency they show you during the rough times. By the actions they display when you are down or need support. I have learned alot about the people I used to put my faith in recently. The only person one can truly put their faith in is oneself. I believe it is best to deal with these types of problems (I always say problems are opportunities with thorns in them) head on to grow and become your best, most valuable self. There is a beauty in humility and surrender. I am finding my self more inspired and the level of creativity in my work has been at an all time high. Perhaps it is because I am just trying to experience "being" these days and not trying to control the outcome of things.

I have embraced the art of censoring, having learned the lesson very recently. Sometimes people come into your life for a "reason, a season, or a lifetime". We must be clear and have no expectation when the path divides, merely take what we learn with good cheer and improve ourselves. I have learned a valuable lesson the last few mos about the risks of having too open a heart. People are unsure of what to make of you if you take risks, are deep, or try to challenge them. They can either use it to grow, learn, and attain wisdom, or they can feel trapped and turn their original offer of friendship into a trip to asshole island. Or worse yet, disappear down the rabbit hole if you show any signs of *gasp* being human or making error. Perhaps, these people were never really your friends to begin with, just ships passing in the night to get what they can for their own gain. Once it is over, they move on to the next, never delving into real friendship or relationship because they are weak, scared, immature, or narcissistic. Or maybe they are just to afraid to deal with deep issues. If you appear troubled or "weak" in front of them it triggers their own need to see and deal with THEIR issues. Some people are just not ready for that. I have learned to not be hurt or angry if this occurs, just aware of it. It is easier to bury one's head in the sand and ignore the elephant in the room. It is they who are the ones to shake your head at and wish well, for they are always looking for the next fix, rather then face the real challenge of changing the heart space, growing, or attaining REAL adult relationships. The others who are threatened or simply decide they do not like you and judge, simply do not know what to make of you. Or, perhaps, your ability to speak your truth openly is something that sets off a trigger in them that they are not comfortable with. It is the mirror theory again. All you can do is know who you are and be happy for the experience and what you learned. It is the person who shape shifts and transcends to the next level who truly wins

To sum it all up - Life simply ebbs and flows. One must make sure they have a sturdy lifeboat and a thick skin to withstand the current and cold. Being flexible and having a SENSE OF HUMOR is vital. The beauty of life is that it is constantly changing. We write the rules and create the next step of our journey with our choices, actions, and desires. That is it in a nutshell.

"You must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: The stupid and the envious. The stupid will like you in five years time.The envious, never." - Duke of Rochester
"Every choice we make and who we effect has great impact, movement, and consequences. It is imperative to live with honor, integrity, and decency in our daily lives. No matter where you came from, who your family is, or what the odds were, each day we have the opportunity to CHOOSE what we want to CREATE and what the legacy is we will leave behind. What will you decide?" - TC

Those thoughts came to me as I celebrated my birthday at the end of June and then the 4th of July just days later. As I took a moment to reflect and give deep thanks to the Universe for the great Nation we live in and the freedom and choices we have as Americans, I started to apply those same thoughts to my personal life. The last two months have not been easy, in fact they have been some of the hardest, most challenging of my life. I have done my work (am still doing my work) and am realizing some things about myself. I realized my inability to conquer goals and also to reach higher was the root of a deep-seated doubt I had in my achieving success. It was a painful, yet startling discovery. I went through a show down a few months ago with DR and the result was a not so pleasent hr long conversation of us calling one another out on our faults in a rather hostle, defensive environment. After I calmed down, I started to process some of the things he was telling me. I had a moment of clarity and I realized that I could either take this moment as an opportunity to process, learn about myself, and grow and change or ignore it and feel sorry for myself. People do that. They become enamored with another person who has qualities and traits they lack and tend to shadow them. We think that the other person's persona might "magicaly rub off" on us. Like Tinkerbell's pixie dust. And when it does, we can fly and live happily ever after with our "perfect" self. Not so. It is a painful road to change patterns. Most of the time instead of flying through the air with the greatest of ease, we crash and burn and have nary a colorful bruise to show for it along the way. Most of the bruises are internal....perhaps on the heart, the soul, or the ego. I took two months to really work on things, try to change, and reach out. I have come to realize that this needed to happen, and also had to admit that it came in a way that few people could have conveyed it to me. Maybe it was a karmatic lesson two people needed to learn from one another? Who knows. Either way, I was grateful. I realized the time now was for me to be on my own completely. I started to think about why I did some of the things I did or patterns I had that kept me from being soley responsible for aquiring big goals, dreams, or desires. In a nutshell, I was AFRAID.

Being alone is not a bad thing. I used to think people were selfish cause they "wanted to be alone", like Garbo, until I tried it myself. I started to invest my time in my work. I got re-inspired and went back to the core. The Art community is my home and a great source of creativity and inspiration for me. In all aspects of my life I started to feel inspired. I realized this is the only time I will have to be completely selfish and that perhaps I was alone now to go after these things. Wasted talent and ability is like wasted life. You have to have a plan and execute it. I made a two year plan right after my birthday. For the next two years I promised my self I would do EVERYTHING I ever was afraid of and see where it got me. Writing, dancing, singing, acting, drawing, etc. All of it was there, at my disposal to try, if I just worked at it. I decided to start the book this week. I needed to get this particlular blog out of the way to sort these thoughts out, but knew after that it was time. Time to write about the artists and the collaborations and to tell stories and try to inspire from my point of view. I am very honored to be called and I need to document it while it is happneing so I do not lose a moment.

It is ironic to me that while I feel the surge to move forward, my past is all around me to breathe life into this movement. My first great love, EW, has appeared again after 3 yrs of silence. He was out of my life because of a relationship he had begun and did not feel the desire to create our on/off romantic past into a friendship at the time. Time went on, and we re-connected in a purely organic way 6 months ago. Then last week found him sitting in my home puring out the details of his break-up with his ex of 3.5 yrs and self discovery about himself and his role in the demise. It was like looking into a mirrior. We were in the same place. We decided to work on the friendship and I am happy to welcome him back into my life. I feel that his own journey will inspire and parallell mine. I'm starting to re-read the years of e-mails RW has sent me. They tell a whole different story now that I have grown and am in this mindset. I am seeing a kind, patient, insightful friend in RW, where I once saw only rejection and an enemy. Funny how words can shapeshift in time, just like relationships. I am also taking into consideration what a certain fatherly mentor is saying and learning to censure myself and take pride and value in my self (esp as a woman) then ever before. I am feeling empowered and also finding a deep passion to go after things. I am taking time for ME, but that does not mean that I can give up the things that make me who I am. I will always try to connect, seek action, go to the very core and heart of things, delve deep, take chances, and not be afraid to be vulnerable. That is just ME. I have been accused of not being sincere or needing to over acheive to be approved of. In some cases that might be true due to family issues, but for the most part I have always lead with my heart. It is the root of all I do and stand for. I am FINALLY understanding why people I admire for tenacity and magnificent personas say, "I need to be alone". Now that I understand and have adapted a similar plan for myself, I am not finding enough time in the day to be disciplined for ballet, writing, hussling, working for artists, delving into life, and creating. Finding passion and purpose in everything I touch has become as much of an obbsession as being able to say I did it on my own.

The next time I write it will be to focus on the book, not myself and my growth. There have been many people, publications, experiences, and situations that have led me to this point in the last few months that need to be accounted for. I think I understand and am moved to take action, but I cannot be dormant. I have this voracious desire to create something of value. For me and for my community. But I need to be SOLEY on my own to do so.

It is time. Time to just "Be".

Original Quotes and Musings 2010

"I will never feign to deny that "Spring cleaning of the Soul" is a fragile place to dwell in. It is a vast responsibility for one to own their errors, and an even more epic accomplishment to overcome them" - TC

"In the descent down the Rabbit Hole of Life, a TRUE FRIEND is not the one who dashes ahead, ensuring his grand arrival at the Tea Party. He is the one who stays behind, helps you out, brushes you off, and holds your hand tightly as you pass through the Looking Glass side by side" - TC

"Delving deep into soul and core deconstuction. A truly humbling and difficult process, yet there is pure beauty in vulnerability. With clarity comes honesty, with honesty comes truth, and with truth comes re-birth of one's highest self". - TC'

"I am grateful for yoga and caffine. Otherwise today would have climaxed with the unleashing of the flying monkeys and all sorts of Snidely Whiplash moustache twirling dastardly deeds of epic proportions ensuing based on the ominous mood I am in. Please stay out of my way until I have had my 1st cup of coffee and a down d...og, unless you would like to be tied to a railroad track alongside Sweet Nell." - TC

"I am amazed at the imaturity and hard heartedness of some people. The words "I'm sorry" are cathartic and healing. It takes maturity and humility to take responsibility for your own actions and change the dynamic. If you end up walking the path alone, at least you know you walk the way of the BIGGER person. I have won. So mote it be." - TC

"And when they ask her about the men in her life (and they always ask her about the men in her life), she says, "Well, they were Poets, Mages, and Warriors, and yet, they were priests of nothing, but they were Legends" - TC

"Laura Croft, can I be you when I grow up? I find it inspiring, empowering, and SEXY AS HELL that a woman can save a planet, wield a sword or a gun, perform all sorts of martial arts, and still maintain a fabulous mane of hair and perfect make up whilst KICKING SOME SERIOUS ASS!" - TC

"I am WOMAN, hear me roar.......or at least watch me flex:)" - TC

"I love it when we let go of something and all the space and energy we were holding is released and the Universe comes along in the most BEAUTIFUL ways to open new doors for us! Thank you FB for some great new friendships I am forging today! Met the lovely Gail and Ali, from FROU FROU FROU today! Cannot wait to collabor...ate with you! Tonight, off to the Magic Castle for "Broads night out" with sexy magician and new FB friend Eden Draven! Thank you all for honoring me with your wonderful spirits!" - TC

"This weekend: a journey to "The Dork-side - Historical Style". ComicCon, E3, and BlizzCon ain't got NOTHIN' on the Estrogen POWER-PACKED epic weekend that is COSTUME COLLEGE! The ULTIMATE summit of all things corset, crinoline, and costume packed into 3 days! Ladies see you all there!" - TC

‎"DORK-SIDE DOMINATION", NINJA STYLE:), in stilletto's and scarlett lipstick of course!" - TC

"My esteemed colleagues: I must decline your generous invitation to COMICCON. Watching millions of socially inept nerds regress back to theirpre-pubescence at the sight of Dork-dom's every wet dream within a 10 feet reach, not to mention, rotund species of the female gender prancing
around in dental floss, makes me want shove an icepick up my
urethra. Let the madness ensue and may the Force be with you all!" - TC

"Yoga body, Jedi mind:) Thank you Universe for directing me to the best kept
secret in Los Feliz, Shakti Box. I have been reminded that the Villiage
is where I belong, not on the West Side. It is a treasure as I embark
on a new path of healing, transition, and strength. And so the journey begins............" - TC

Fear, Flexibility, Focus, and the Future

I had an opportunity to look DEEP within recently.

I have been transitioning at such a RAPID pace it has been hard to document. It is more a living minute to minute and learning to "BE" and not think ahead. Being in the moment has been such a challenge. It started years ago with RW always beating into me to "Just be in the moment" or to "Let go". I never fully understood that till now. There is a GREAT difference in "non-attachment" as opposed to "de-tattchment". It has taken flying solo and having to come to the realization of certain things I have tried to manipulate or create not materializing to realize this. It is not an easy thing to admit, this trying to control what CANNOT be controlled. It is like trying to DICTATE the Universe. I am sure the "folks upstairs" are laughing their cabooses off at that one.

I spoke to a mystic today. A woman who I know possesses a gift for "clarity" and "second sight". She has been a friend and a person of awe for me in many fields: dancing, composure, dedication to the Craft, etc. It was finally time to meet with her and look realistically into what the universe was guiding me to do. I have been feeling many stirrings and vibrations the last few months, felt something happening, and wanting to solve puzzles, but I could not put it into words. She did a reading that spoke wonders and we vibrated on a shared frequency. I think I might just have finally been ready to cross the threshold. We touched base on fear and why so many people choose to live a mundane or "checked out" existence. Because it is HARD to reach for the long term goals and live OUT OF THE WORLD.

Our fear is the most crippling demon we can create. "I can't" or "I'm not good enough" or "I do not deserve" are mantras of negativity we replay in our heads like broken records. We uncovered a huge challenge for me. One of my karmactic goals was to learn to focus on ME and not be afraid to be a bit selfish and work on the abilities and talents to find MY SOLO VOICE. I have been so fixated on role models to solve problems and had an idea of what life was SUPPOSED to be like. I realized recently it was this BLIND SPOT that kept me from being flexible to the path I was on. I was willing to kill blessings that are clear to me cause they did not manifest the way I thought they ought. In the world of "relationship" it is not always black or white and tied up with a bow. The word "RELATIONSHIP" is so vast. It is not always about romance, friendship, family, etc. Sometimes we are blessed with a presence or a special spirit that comes to teach us and help us grow and rather then speculate or manipulate, we need to simply HONOR it and let it's magic permeate our being. I was fortunate to be enlightened recently about this. I almost lost something precious to me cause I failed to be flexible and see things in a way other then my own ambition. I am fortunate I was able to see and learn that lesson before it was too late.

There is a freedom in reaching a higher level and also in simply accepting TRUTH. It opens up a whole new realm of space we can fine tune and be akin to. We can FOCUS on the journey and be content to be a passenger in the ride the Universe wants us to take. With out all of these contradictions and conflicts our focus can move us leaps and bounds to learn what our next move and purpose is as we work and shape toward our hearts desire. It is different for us all. What moves and stimulates each of us is precious and sacred in the deepest, most secret reaches of our hearts. It is what drives us to strive for what has heart, integrity, and meaning in an otherwise pedestrian world.

All of this is at a budding state. It is fresh and new, and a bit scary. I am not sure what the out come will be be, but it is a start. The future looks and feels alive and full of promise. One thing I know for certain. I must learn to think of the "I" and not the "We" in my journey right now. I must revel and humbly thank and give equal energy to the ones who are sent to inspire and help me, but never settle to think it is one of them who will or should walk the path for me. The Warrior must always be ready to act. To be in control and flexible to handle the unknown. There is no place for rigidity and control. This is not to be confused with DISCIPLINE and FOCUS. With focus comes knowledge. And with knowledge comes power. And power, coupled with a reverence at all times, can be used so majestically and beautifully it is an honor and mission to rise to the challenge when one is CALLED.

The future will unravel and what will be will be. But one thing is for certain. I NEVER want anyone to speak of me and say that I did not put up a GOOD FIGHT.

"Spring" Into Action

"Spring has sprung." Springs arrival and its sense of renewal have been marked in many ways over the millenniums. Since the Spring Equinox represents new life and growth, this is the perfect holiday for planting seeds of your own on the path of your life. It is this time of the season the wheel of the year turns to the bringing forth the "crops" we sow. In olden times, it was the time of fertility in all things. Harvest, ideas, love, family, etc. A time to experience the efforts we work so hard to achieve come into full bloom. Like a beautiful flower or ripe vegetation, our creative endeavors can come full circle as well.

It has been difficult for me to do all the mentioned above. I've been challenged as of late. Some things have blocked me and some focus has not been clear. Recently, I had to face a challenging family situation that truly made me realize soberly that we are all responsible for our journeys and choices. I needed to spend some time time re-grouping and using some very helpful tools I am honored to have received to overcome this. I used to think that the "ultimate" was so simple. We all had to be in a box with a checklist and accomplish certain goals and or status to make it in the world. I cannot stress how abnormal my life has become to many of my friends. This living and working in LA as an art model, the hobbies or activities we are lucky to be a part of, the level of art and socializing are abundant to me. I am almost ashamed to say I lost track of counting those "oddities" as blessings and not curses.

I have had to come to terms with brutal honesty and clarity in the last few months. While it might have hurt initially, it was a gift. What it has done is make me really SEE MYSELF and APPRECIATE some of the things I was blind to before. Sometimes the path we must walk on is to push ourselves creatively and use the abilities and talents we are blessed with. I have had to come to terms with my fears and my weaknesses in order to move past it. It is humbling and amazing all in one.

I have never felt so empowered, yet so vulnerable. In the recent weeks I have been dealing with how to handle stress and disappointment with grace and awareness. Such as not seeing something come to fruition that might SEEM like a good idea to me, but not be the plan or the road to take. You cannot bend people or situations to your will. You simply get tired, worn out, and dismayed. I found a great freedom in surrender and being open to what the new course of action is.

I keep hearing about the "warrior" and the path of he. Who is he? This "warrior" and could I emulate him? I went on a quest to try to find the way. I have been reading books, taking in information, listening to people I admire and am inspired by and am amazed at how many OTHER doors have opened as a result. Being flexible is the key I think. I am certain as we develop awareness and flexibility, we will soon be better travelers down our individual roads. Once I got this, I wanted ACTION I wanted to jump into the role of achieving whole hearted-ly and not waste a single moment more. I realized that I am the person who has the power alone to CHANGE AND SHAPE ANYTHING I WISH. It was awesome to start to try to utilize this and see small results...then I went a bit is manifesting as we speak. I have a long way to go and have made (and will make) mistakes...but I am thrilled at the prospect of FINALLY having the desire to MOVE AND CHANGE AND FIGHT for what it is I believe in. If it is not the path I might think, I am better for the experience and a stronger warrior for the battle I undertook to achieve a certain goal.

My prayers are with my loved ones. I must keep them at arms length to maintain the serenity and order I NEED to move on this path I am discovering. It is hard to admit they are not there, nor do they have the desire or faculties to go there right now. Not to judge by any means, but it is time to move forward, to spring into action. Sometimes the journey is a lonely one, but if you keep your desire for renewal and change in acquiring your heart's desire close to your soul, anything is possible, and your wildest dreams just might come true.

Study: A "Broad"

"Sometimes they just want us to SHUT UP"... (my lovely friend Del R talking about men)

I was thinking about my roles as a model and as a WOMAN (author's note: "woman" is not to be confused with being a "girl") the other day. I was listening to an artist friend who was talking about the politics and competition amongst the various art clubs and groups that he was submitting and trying to break into. I told him though I can empathize, I was not dwelling in the same place as he. I explained that as a model, I was seen as a submissive. A feminine role amongst a sea of competitive people who are the artists. Sort of like a traditional husband and wife roll. As a submissive or in a model capacity, I was expected to bring beauty, softness, and inspiration to the table. In fulfilling my role as a "muse", I would hopefully inspire their inner soul to create and provide the pieces to fit into what I was offering in the form of a completed canvas or a solution to the offering I was creating. Sort of a "yin" to my "yang". In other words, to unleash their inner power to create a journey or direction as a "CREATOR" to "capture" the essence of what I would be offering in front of them. In this union, done right, the end result would be an inspiring or beautiful piece of artwork. That is what the word "Collaboration" means. Two forces moving in perfect balance to create a harmonious end result.

I wish that in my personal life I could create a "masterpiece" that easily. It has been a terrific study of late for me to delve into my deep place as a WOMAN and decide what roles I would like to create in the world. There are two kinds of personalities - "Masculine" and "Feminine". Once we decide what role we want to undertake, there is a series of behavioral and social actions that must follow. For some reason, I have been shown by many people and situations around me that I must pay attention and do some work on my "role". It is so simple for me as a model to "be present" and create a role of vulnerability and, hopefully, inspire with great humility. Being "still" is a big part of the role. I have learned after a number of years to hone my craft and go somewhere in my mind to click into the energy and vibration that needs to be present to testify to a "true" session. I wondered as I thought about this why it was so difficult as a WOMAN to figure this out.....

Lately, I have been challenged to really think about what I want and who I want to be and attract. It is all about choices and the ability to be absolute in the role you wish to be perceived. I decided along time ago I was a feminine woman. A "girly girl" who gravitated to all things romantic, lovely, and sweet. I was determined to create a world around me full or beauty and live graciously. I have been blind to the fact that though one person wants something, we must also attain it and call it to us by sending it out with our words, deeds, and behavior. This came to me in many lessons lately. The most poignant one was a few weeks ago when a particularly "MALE" friend of mine (who I esteem and respect) simply needed me to listen. That is all. Keeping ones mouth shut and giving them the forum to vent or share. He chastened me for not "being present". I was really humbled and thought for a few days about his words and some other things that coincided with that event. A break through happened. I was ready to start looking at my responsibility to start behaving in the manner that I needed to to acquire the things I truly wanted.

It has been a series of daily prepared restraint as opposed to prepared speeches. Slowing down, thinking, meditating, breathing, etc. Tying to understand the responsibility of "being present". It is interesting. I am realizing that by slowing down, I am making less mistakes, connecting more, and actually gaining more power as a "feminine" then always feeling I needed to have something pertinent to say. I am really only in the baby stages of this, but it is a thrilling and humbling exercise in self-control and awareness.

I cannot beat myself up for the past or be frozen by fear or disappointment. It is simply a choice to be gentle with oneself and use the past as building blocks rather then restraints. I read a quote from one of my "old friends" that I turn to for wisdom from time to time that said:

"Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good stuff and a nice reminder that we alone have the power to change and create whatever role or experience we aspire to have in life. I have alot to learn, but I think I am off to a good start.

"Figure"-ing It Out

It has been a while since I have written. Realized I got distracted by many things of a complex nature lately....

I worked with RW for a few weeks and was relieved there was not a paint to cuff blow out. Realized where he was at and appreciated his energy, strength in his craft, and what he was teaching. He was so seasoned and ready to focus on sharing his gifts and had a rapt class, that the model was an afterthought. I always knew he was a wonderful painter and visionary, but really got a taste of it as I worked. I never believe it is about the model, it is about the journey. The collaboration, the vibration that passes from one artist to another. In this element, I was able to let go of my own ego to realize the past was gone and not only were we actually showing growth as adults, but as friends who respect one another as well professionally. Personally, there might be some road to hoe. I feel that space is key. My change and growth has happened at a rate of light yrs that I cannot keep up with it on this blog forum. I must try, to accomplish horrid over-achiever goal of finishing book in one year. I miss him, but it is necessary for our growth as peers and friends to focus on our own way. Perhaps in time we can break bread and learn to share and appreciate each other. The growing pains are still apparent. But there is a level of respect and awareness I feel. That is perhaps enough for now.

Met someone a few months ago who blew my mind. DR is one of a kind....sort of a modern day superhero, old school gentleman, and comic book geek wrapped in a very pleasing aesthetic, albeit DIRECT, exterior. Crashed into him (literally) at one of the places I work. The very exciting and fanciful BLUR studios in Venice (by Santa Monica), CA (all of the wonderful family there including DR, Sze, Jon, Nathan, John C, Todd, Rocky, Sean, and owners Jen and Tim are gracious and inspiring. Knowing all of them has been a tremendous experience). I would have to say BLUR is a veritable geek's Disneyland....all sorts of toys, gadgets, plans, games, shenanigans, blinking winking computer gadgets to appeal to the man-children they hire who secretly harbor a childhood lust for Princess Leah (a very young, hot Carrie Fisher in 77) as the perfect woman. I can honestly say DR is one of the most beautiful people I have been fortunate to come into contact with. He truly inspires and delights, as well as irritates and challenges too. A wonderful friend who will call you out on things and make you both annoyed and anxious to change the bad and be a better person. I am learning much about myself from this friendship. It is a new thing for me. It has been an interesting journey filled with lots of laughs, deep connections, and reminders of respecting who people really are and what they need to do....I wonder where it will go...

Sometimes from one enchanted encounter, you meet others as well. I found that 6 mos ago I had the sensation I was "purging" alot of the old ways....I was moving into a realm of higher being, a place to finally purge some of the old demons of past and move on. In addition to this friendship, other amazing people have materialized....some beautiful women have come into play....lovely Del R who makes me think of old Hollywood beauties with the heart and soul of Melanie from GWTW and has been a sacrosanct for all things true and good in my feminine struggles and Sze J who is so talented and lovely and melts my heart with her offers of friendship and open heartiness that touch me to the core....My "old guard" is working wonders in the realms of growing up, going out, and being true in a timeless way (Thanks Gina, Lana, Chantal, Cat, Kirk, Chris, Heath, Ashton, etc). Chantal has been an ear and comfort in my insecure moments and takes me to a higher level in my creative process. She very graciously offered to "baby-sew" me on a daring new project. I had the nerve to start a Victorian Ball gown last week and she is bravely being my Tonto tomorrow to watch costume movies and finish the difficult skirt creation process. She is a true technician. Her artistry in her corset work is the best I have ever seen. She is a Master.

I have been re-visiting a book I shelved 3 yrs ago when I worked with a Shaman on a series of "higher power" rites and blessings. It is called "The Four Fold Way - Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary" by Angeles Arrien, PH. D." and it is about discovering balance in the roles of the four roles Healer, Visionary, Teacher, and Warrior The winds of change are about and I felt inspired to delve into this again. It was the right time cause there is a vibrational sensor that resonates in my core when I am reading it. I have come to face with some things this week and it helped me to work through some of my current difficulties.

I am reminded of the time I was first asked to model. I remember being lured into the prospect by the fascination with the sensuality, romance and timelessness with art modeling. I will write more about that another time. I understood the artist side already. I was always drawing growing up. I was always told I would go to art school or be a fashion designer. I was in advanced art in HS and then remember when I was 16 I had passed through some adolescent angst or another and then DISTINCTLY walked into the class, picked up the pen, looked at the paper and COULD NOT CREATE. I could not draw...that was one of the most haunting moments of my life. I always remember the choking feeling of not being able to create. I left it for over 10 yrs. Only in the last 2 yrs have I been able to TRY to draw again. The skills are rusty, the desire is there. I SEE clearly, but I wonder if I need more time to deal with the emotional issues that surround it. I went to a figure drawing session Wed night (with friends at BLUR who graciously extended an invitation for their monthly drawing session) and was so nervous, I woke up at 3:30 AM and stressed myself into a migraine all day, so when I showed up, I was an utter wreck trying to keep up a good front. I almost cancelled but felt the need to follow through. I have been trying to mentor a wonderful student I feel a kinship with from Art Center, JH, who I did not want to let down. I realized I needed to do alot of work to deal with that fear...needless to say I did not have a good night as a result...I was not my best self. I need to take better awareness of when I am fit to be social or not. It was a challenging night that ended with a frank talk and a rekindled awareness on my part on patience and clarity being lessons to work on. In many, many areas.

I took yesterday off and re-affirmed. Spent the latter part of the evening continuing to repair the past family issues of dysfunction with my older sister Amy. She is 2 yrs older then I and brilliant. MENSA brilliant as a matter of fact. She and I are night and day, but lately have come together as I am showing her how to train and eat right and de-stress. She is facing some challenging times and we are starting to bond over hr or hr and a half long walks or runs in the twilight of the Los Feliz hills. After that is coming the sisterly advice and knowledge I dismissed due to the wounds and chips on my shoulder. It is a process, but she helped me put alot of my immeadiate conflicts of the week in order. I am honored and grateful. I spoke to friends who are motivating me to look into maybe exploring acting or theater. And writing is helping. Another friend I used to sing with asked why I never do any music work anymore....all I could say is "I do not have a need". I wonder if it is an excuse. Someone pointed out to me lately that all our talents and abilities are gifts from the Creator. I pondered that and then he told me it is a sin as much to let them lie dormant as it is to have an ego about them. The sewing and creating timeless things is helping as much as my deeper training at the ballet studio. Those are always great comforts, but lately, as I am changing, there is a deeper intensity and peace I am feeling which ironicaly is making me push harder. I am seeing results so I contacted a ballet teacher about working on a number for our studio show in April.

I used to think everything I wanted was simple, orderly, and normal. None of those things seem to be manifesting lately. All avenues are pointing to paths of art, strength, and risks. Not the safest route, but I am feeling instinctively to prepare to rise to the challenge. For I have a feeling it will not be long before I will be called.

TMC - Orig Quote of the week

"One knows they have MASTERED the art of GRACE and CLASS when they can elegantly sashay through all the feces and dung life and negative degenerates have flung at them, whilst still keeping thier sex appeal and poise in those rubber hip boots you have HAD to strap on for the journey"

Beauty Is Only "Kin" Deep

I have had this particular topic on my mind lately. I was inspired to finally write it down after a particularly wondrous workshop last weekend with dear friend and mentor Randy Higbee. We collaborated on a wonderful event that featured a series of gesture poses and one long pose. I was incredibly humbled and surprised to be met with such a unanimous outpouring of support and praise from the OC artist. It was a feeling of utter euphoria to be accepted completely as an artist and collaborator. We have planned another event for Feb 13th. This one will be focusing on John Singer Sargent's exquisite portrait work around the turn of the century. I am really looking forward to bringing something to the table at this workshop in the form of my passion and love for the elegance of a bygone era. That would encompass fashion, history and a time when people were just alot more gracious. Perhaps I am an old fashioned romantic or a lover of things once held dear. Seems there is not alot of areas one can find grace and charm these days. We live in such a society of technology, social networking sites, text messaging replacing the simple beauty of hearing the energy of a loved ones voice when they make a simple phone call, etc, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of alot of these means to communicate in some ways because my work contacts and bookings flow or I can see the pictures and activities of long lost family and friends on Facebook. It is also a great place to keep my work portfolio and pictures of the fun times. But, I got to thinking about the desire to sometimes retreat into that romantic, far-away place of days gone by, and I had to be really honest about the reasons I might go there...

I used to be a fan of romantic movies, old fashioned gowns, music, ballet and anything that would inspire beauty and creativity because I simply did not want to exist in the world. It is painful and a bit vulnerable to write these things, but I think somewhere along the way it will deepen within myself the courage and humility I feel is vital to living an honorable life. Working within a profession that is so based on beauty and whimsy sometimes can be a bit challenging. I heard about a dozen times after my workshop last weekend "You are so beautiful" or "Your face was really perfect for my painting. You have a timeless look about you". All of this is graciously appreciated, but it always takes some digesting and as I work on it, the knot in my stomach diminishes a little. My 1st reaction is to wonder "Can I handle this?" or "Yes, but do they know who I REALLY am inside?" I know one should simply say "Thank you" and leave it alone, but my childhood memories come back to haunt me and I have to remember I am not the 5 yr old little girl waiting for her parents to approve or aknowledge her. Unfortunately, as with alot of folks, my family situation was not ideal. I was born to a set of parents who had neither the selflessness or the desire to be a constant to their children. This happens, as we get older we need to find within us the heart and soul to simply let go of our demons and realize holding onto negativity or anger can only hold us back and keep us dwelling in a dark place that will cripple us as adults from living up to our full potential. I have struggled with this for so many years and I can honestly say that a few years ago I was strong enough to finally shed the shackles of my childhood that made me doubt the spirit and soul I felt rising from within. Some might say that it would be a result of working as an object of creativity or inspiration for artists. It was the opposite, I was not able to fully inspire and feel like I was called, until I learned to rise up to that calling or station I was delivered to, not hide or sit back.

My physical appearance is a result of the genetic make up of my parents. I am fortunate to have had a physically beautiful mother, yet as with all packages, this is not the asset that will allow me to attain the highest level of bliss in my path on earth. The universe delivers us exactly where we are supposed to be at all times. Balance and courage are the tools we must master to walk honorably. To stand tall, I suppose. I started to look inward about a year ago and let go of some of the pain that had been hampering me for so many years. It was only after acknowledging my desires and going for the integrity and honor I strive to leave each day with, both in my career and personal relationships, was when things started to open up and make sense.

The beauty we each manifest as creatures of this planet is within our souls, not in the faces or physical presence we have been born with due to genetics, kin, or lineage. We must look into our hearts and develop a candid, honest relationship with ourselves in order to bring to fruition our destinies. I have learned slowly that it is not what the world holds for you, it is what you bring to it. True beauty is living your truth and not being afraid to be vulnerable or honest. Sometimes we are our own saboteurs and without the working through of our obstacles, we are doing ourselves and our brothers the greatest sin by not bringing our abilities out and contributing to the journey.

As a muse I am learning to apply this and forge my own meaning of "Beauty". Every artist I work with, every opportunity to manifest MY truth (and I am still on a long journey to discovering what that is) with others and collaborate is like a beautiful bouquet of truth. I aspire to look over all the wonderful drawings, paintings, and photos I had the good fortune to create and one day see a garden.

To you the artists, remember to live and breath PASSION and COURAGE in all the work you create. For if you do this, the beauty of your creation will be a living testament to what is WITHIN, not just on the surface.

And what you have created will forever live on. For truth, once declared, does not go out of style, even if the world is ever changing.

TMC - Projects and Happenings 2009

Greetings family, friends, artists, and peers:

I usually do not send out a mass mail about the work or projects I am involved with currently, but it is that time of the year to re-group, release, and reload, so , I figured "Why not?". I have had the good fortune to be involved with several wonderful projects lately.

The 1st was an article in the November issue of "American Art Collector" magazine. The painting I collaborated on with artist Adrian Gottlieb( entitled "Nimbus" (attached) was recently featured in an article showcasing the annual Waterhouse Gallery show "Great American Figurative Artists" in November.

The painting is currently on display at the Waterhouse Gallery and featured online at:

To view the entire exhibit click here:

Second project was the release of the film "The Maiden Heist" starring Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and Marcia Gay Harden on DVD this month. The movie features a painting done by artist Jeremy Lipking ( that I posed for in Fall 07 (see attached graphic of Christopher Walken holding the painting). Due to funding the movie was never released commercially but is on DVD. Here is the trailer for the movie:

Here is a review:

Lastly, I had the fun opportunity to be featured (as classic actress Jean Harlow) in a short B&W film "Night at the Cicada" about the vintage nightclub Cicada Club. It was filmed in Oct at their "Hollywood Halloween Party". I was used in the opening and closing spots on the film. Very delightful project! Can be viewed here:

There is alot brewing and I am starting a blog to create the foundations of the book I am writing about being a modern day muse.
It will be officially titled "Figuratively Speaking: Musinfgs of a Modern Poser (TM)

Velvet Hammer Burlesque Book - "Giselle"

I am honored to be included in this fabulous book of beauties:)

By Michelle Carr

The Velvet Hammer Burlesque
Based in Los Angeles and founded in 1995 by Michelle Carr, Velvet Hammer kick-started the current era of Neo-Burlesque and caused a furor on stages worldwide. The infamous troupe's shows were a potent cocktail that mixed elements from traditional American Burlesque revues with a post-feminist punk attitude. Their intricately choreographed and elaborately costumed extravaganzas had much more in common with the theatricality and humor of Vaudeville than with the sleazy pole dancers of today. The Velvet Hammer's ever changing crew of male and female performers, acrobats, dancers, comedians and musicians included a wide range of talent including entertainer extraordinaire Ann Magnuson, "Will and Grace" producer and comedian Laura Kightlinger, comedian/actress Mary Lynn Rajskob, comedian Craig Anton, chanteuse Rebecca Del Rio of "Mulholland Drive" fame, musical director The Millionaire of Combustible Edison, writer, poet, belly-dancer and LA punkrock queen
Pleasant Gehman, performer and "Beat The Geeks" host Blaine Capatch, the prolific Dr. Vaginal Davis, performance artists Kerri French, Ron Athey and many others. Pioneering legends Tura Satana, Mamie Van Doren, and Kitten Natavidad also performed with the troupe.

"The Velvet Hammer Burlesque" book presents photographs of the group's voluptuous ensemble of dancers and performers – from their savvy on-stage performances to an intimate glimpse behind the curtain. Vivacious women of all shapes and sizes (the Velvet Hammer troupe welcomed organic individuality) radiated an authentic, raw energy in their routines that mesmerized the audience until (almost) the last shred of clothing was stripped away. Every page of "The Velvet Hammer Burlesque" serves up true rebellious American beauty fueled by a passion for the wilder side of life. "The Velvet Hammer Burlesque:" Published by Die Gestalten Verlag, Germany, 144 pages, hardcover, $60.00, ISBN: 978-3-89955-202-7. Publisher contact:

Velvet Hammer Burlesque photographic exhibition
The Velvet Hammer Burlesque photographic exhibition will feature images spanning the entirety of the Burlesque troupe's existence and features works by Richard Edson, Jody Ake, Manuel Vason, Andrea Oliviera, Hussein Katz, Marie Astrid Gonzalez, Austin Young, Victoria Renard, Susan Anderson, Deborah Samantha, Annie Sperling, Don Spiro, Valerie Davis, Patrick Morrisson, Kevin Merrill, W.T. Nelson, Charchi Stinson, Carmen Luceno and Scott Lindgren. The exhibition remains open until March 2

Lust in L.A.: Hot, Sticky & Bothered

Is this what we are reduced to, being single...ESP in LA?

MY GOODNESS...this ANGERED AND TERRIFIED me on SO MANY LEVELS, but also got me thinking about alot of things...Is this the FRIGHTFUL reality most people aspire to attain....???? How many others out there SPIT on commitment, disrespect the vows THEY or their FRIENDS CHOOSE to take, and just plain old fashioned romance? And people have the GAUL to speculate about me and wonder why I've remained on my own for 36 yrs. I've dated several folk in my time. I have even had a chance or two to end up at the alter, but in the end I decided I was not ready or could not commit to it. It was due to me being too young or, in another case, the other person's lack of strength to commit to marriage the way I believe it to be. My grandmother always taught me a COMMITMENT is something you WORK OUT. You do not walk away from or disrespect YOUR private intimacy by inviting another person inside to partke selfeshly of what two people agreed to keep SACRED by taking
VOWS. My granny always said that in her time folks went into the marriage with the idea that you WORK IT OUT and try to GROW together. Divorce was never an option as an "out" when things got rough. There are always exceptions, no one is perfect and unforseen things happen (I said the following to a cranky friend recently which I will apply here. I said, "Trying to have a relationship with you, is like being on the decks of the Titanic as it is sinking and suggesting songs to the band!"). But, I truly believe the rate of split ups in todays world are due to the lax attitude society has about commitment today. That and people putting their own vanity or selfish needs first and not thinking of "ME" as an "US". I never met someone that I could "go the distance" with and did not want a divorce on my record. Hell, I've never even shacked up with a man in my entire life. If you want to live with me, make a commitment. I will not allow myself to live
in the role of an "unpaid whore" as the controversial Dr. L would say (OUCH that is a harsh one!). It might suit others, it would never do for me. Someone once said: "You can tell a real MAN by the commitments he is willing to MAKE and KEEP". I know a few lucky broads who have found these guys (and you do NOT always need that piece of formal paper to recognize them). You can tell by the way they stick around and keep it going, even when every 28 days we gals act out a scene comparable to "The Taming of the Shrew!"

If you are looking for a man "Find a cock outside the box"........go to Alaska where the ratio of men to woman is 10-1, don't screw your best friend and her husband and call it a day.




Lust in L.A.: Hot, Sticky & Bothered
Wondering why guys don't make the first move anymore, and notes on the pains and pleasures of threesomes
By Dani Katz
Published on July 03, 2008

It was the longest I'd gone without sex in more than a decade — six months. Having spent the past year trying not to die while recovering from an herbal abortion gone awry, I'd hardly noticed — I had barely enough energy to bathe, clothe and feed myself, let alone ponder getting off. I saw no larger repercussions to this extended sexual drought until my doctor issued an otherwise unorthodox prescription.

Head cocked to one side, Dr. Habib Sadeghi, my hero and a brilliant healer/physician — trained not only in traditional Western medicine but in alternative therapies as well — held onto my wrists, retrieving information from various organs, channels and neurotransmitters through his fingertips. He smiled and told me that the worst was behind me. I was finally strong enough to start rebuilding my system. He inserted acupuncture needles into my head, chest and ankles, slipped a pair of purple color-therapy glasses over my eyes and began digging his fingers into the backside of my pelvis by way of my bellybutton, massaging out the bad karma, the trauma and a year's worth of pain and lonely despair. The treatment, integrated neuromyofascial release, while excruciating, was a triumph, and I laughed my way through the pain, taking solace in my progress, and in the slow but certain return of my life force. He told me to expect a sudden surge in my libido.
And then he gave me some instructions: I needed to make sure I had "at least three to four releases a week."

He wasn't talking about massage treatments. Releaseswasshy-young-doctor speak for orgasms, which would, according to Dr. Sadeghi, unleash a flurry of oxytocin into my system, restore my ravaged uterus and induce whole-body healing feelings of love, warmth and tenderness — all abstract concepts that I only vaguely recollected in light of this past year of heartache, body break and isolation.

As a lifelong serial monogamist, flitting from one co-dependent commitment to the next as a means to work through the baggage I'd accumulated throughout my formative years, I'd never had occasion to dally with sex for sex's sake outside the confines of a "relationship." After finally getting over the boyfriend whom I affectionately refer to as "the guy who knocked me up and ditched me," I'd opted to fly solo, not wanting to take on anyone else's issues, personality defects or mood disorders while I healed and focused on my career. The medical mandate to "release" inspired fantasies of hot, sweaty nights of frivolous, freewheeling passion — unbound by the constraints of commitment and compromise and heavy "Where is this going?" conversations, with the excuse that my doctor told me to.

But there was a problem. All my single-guy friends who railed on and on about what a catch I was when I was dangling off the arm of emotionally unavailable Boyfriend X wanted nothing to do with my prescription.

"It would be weird," said a newly divorced friend, valiantly trying to figure out how to be alone.

"I can't," lamented the best friend of yet another ex-boyfriend. "It would kill Ole."

"Um ... I guess so," said the snack from the health-food store, 26, with the model-perfect body and neurotic disposition, just before he boarded a plane to New York and never called me again.

I was zero-for-three and confused. I thought no-strings-attached sex with a beautiful woman was a no-brainer. Was it me?

"You've got no game!" shrieked my friend Dave, artist and fellow celibate by default at the tender and virile age of 26. It was true, my hard-hitting propositions leaned toward the spastic, but I had no time for coquettish subtleties, or clever seduction scenarios; I had a quota to meet. Plus, the pelvic treatment had unleashed the sudden return of my libido with a vengeance, and I was in an exaggerated state of frisky 24/7.

At the same time, I noticed girlfriends with no medical-orgasm mandate complaining of the same problem — an oddly urgent need for sex, and no willing participants with whom to have it.

"I don't know if I'm coming or going, but I'm definitely not coming," lamented Bryony, of the sun-streaked blond waves, the plump, kissable lips and sexy British accent into my voicemail. "I need to have sex and, yes, this is the kind of message I'm leaving these days."

Michelle, a slim clothing designer with flaming red hair and serious brown eyes, whimpered into the phone, "I'm having the worst case of hives, and I'm pretty sure it's linked to sexual repression."

Venturing out of solitude and into the city by way of gallery openings, intimate gatherings and a few extraneous New Age hippie events, I saw beautiful people in beautiful clothes standing awkwardly apart from one another, not dialoguing, not smiling, not engaging. Gone were the furtive glances and flirty exchanges I was used to experiencing in the social sphere. A profound sense of alienation had taken their place. It seemed as if no one in L.A. was having sex, at least no one that I could see. I started sniffing around, testing the waters to see if my theory checked out.

Jason Levesque

"All of my friends are fucking celibate, and notby choice," lamented J., a 26-year-old actress, yogi, teacher and Scorpio (the infamous sex sign) with high cheekbones and smooth, caramel-colored skin, while fiddling with a rubbery purple dildo in front of her altar.

While the men around me seemed unfazed by the drought, my girlfriends and I were crawling up our proverbial walls and bouncing off glass ceilings, needing to connect, release, express. Sure, I could self-administer my weekly three to four with far less time and effort than it was taking to find a willing participant, but it wasn't just the orgasm I wanted, it was the holistic, sensual experience of being touched, of tasting and smelling and exploring another body. I wanted unattached intimacy, an interim profundity that included soft caresses and sweet kisses and would ultimately take care of my quota, without compromise or drama. Feeling like a cross between a lecherous 18-year-old boy and a leprous Scorpio, I was hot, I was bothered, I was inappropriately propositioning all the cute boys I knew, and getting rejected from every possible angle. It was humiliating to be on the receiving end of so many shades of no. I may be strong and I'm certainly
direct, but I'm no hunter. I like a man who knows what he wants and goes after it, especially when it's me. Still, I pressed on — in my mission to release, as well as my inquiry into why it was so fucking hard to find someone to help me to do it.

I turned to Cindy Guidry, author of The Last Single Woman in L.A. She has a hot Pilates bod, a raspy voice, strong opinions — and she wasn't getting any either.

"I think the fact that women have become more predatory is part of it," she said over a bowl of steaming-hot miso soup at M Café, "because now men are confused as to whether they're predator or prey. Traditionally, men are the hunters, and the hunt no longer exists, so I think if you're talking about someone's biological drive to pursue something, and that thing is now being thrown in their laps, I think that thing, all of a sudden, becomes less interesting."

This role reversal hasn't been working out so well for some of us. "If a guy's sitting there thinking, 'If a girl really liked me, she'd do something' — because that's what women do now, they make the move — and if I'm sitting there waiting for a man to make the move," Guidry said, "there's not really anywhere for things to come together."

"There is identity chaos going on," confirmed sex lecturer, author and artist Eric Francis by phone from New York, where, he assures, people are still having sex. "The guys have become the sappy romantics, and the women have become the shameless hussies."

Antiquated idioms aside, it was true that the men in my life all seemed to want deep, meaningful, monogamous relationships, and were willing to hold off on any sort of co-creative erotic interplay until finding 'em, while the women around me just wanted to have drama-free, no-strings-attached sex. It's not that we don't want those same romantic, profound connections — we do. It's just that we want to be having erotic exploits in the interim. I know too much to think that every pretty face is a potential Prince Charming with an amazing sense of humor and a bone-deep desire to grow and expand and evolve, which outweighs his ego's urge to be right, look cool or play it safe. Still, I love men, especially the cute, dark, creative ones, and these days, when I see one, I'm not thinking about taking long walks on the beach or growing old together; I'm wondering what he smells like and how he looks with his shirt off.

"U up?"

It was around midnight, a full moon was out, and a 25-year-old pro-poly cutie I'll call "Ben" was texting me. He has twinkling Nepalese eyes and a million-watt smile, so I leapt out of character once more and drove east to his hilltop hideaway to rattle my status quo and possibly check off one of my weekly three to four. Curled up on opposite ends of the couch, egos and urges tucked safely beneath us, we talked ... and talked ... and talked some more.

"I never make the first move," he suddenly announced.

I thought my midnight trek to Silver Lake wasthe first move.

A standoff ensued. No spit was swapped, no bodily fluids of any kind exchanged.

I couldn't help but wonder if there was something bigger going on. Between processed food, pharmaceuticals and even reports of chem-trails wreaking havoc on what we eat and drink, it's no wonder our bodies are more toxic than ever. Studies abound about rising dioxin levels leading to lower testosterone counts — could some kind of feminizing effect on men have brought us not just metrosexuals but guys who refuse to make the first move?

Hyperintense tonic herbalist and local optimal-health guru Truth Calkins, 38, himself celibate for the past eight years despite his taut, toned physique and his pretty blue eyes, blames the sexual drought on skyrocketing stress levels. "Stress levels are so high to keep up with all the stimuli in the modern world," he said. "People's adrenals, pituitaries, ovaries get more depleted. There's so much pressure in so many areas. They don't have the kind of drive, like hormonal energy, to get through their life with a lot of vigor, let alone have sex."

Under a shade tree in Venice, beneath a straw fedora and a dusty ray of setting sunlight, James Mathers, 44, an artist/poet/philosopher and keen observer of human relations, told me that he's witnessing "a lot more holdy-holdy, a lot more support, a lot more nutritious man love" among his otherwise hetero peers. "I'm content with my gender confusion," he said.

"People seem very alienated and very isolated," said Bay Area–based relationship therapist Kathy Labriola. "[They're spending] more time in front of the television, in front of the computer, [forging] fewer community ties and less interaction."

Technology may be folding the world into one neat global culture of commerce, activism, awareness and distraction, but it's wreaking havoc on our sex lives. We've effectively removed the sensory experience from our exchanges, relegating them entirely to the realm of so much sterile brain stuff. The telephone was never great, but there were still lilts, giggles and telling pauses to color conversation, even if visual cues, smells and — dare to dream — tactile components were removed. Today, relationships are forged via so many square screens, with LOL replacing the holy, healing act of laughter, and abbreviated text messages passed off as courtship. When we are face-to-face, or even just voice-to-voice, we're rusty, awkward and out of shape.

"You in town?" I messaged a sexy little alternative-medicine doctor with whom I'd been having a sexy little e-mail exchange.


The single-syllable reply was out of character for the otherwise long-winded and flirty e-mailer.

"Dr. Sadeghi just prescribed me at least three orgasms per week, and all you have for me is 'nope'" I typed, annoyed, but hopeful.

"You have to strike when the libido is hot."

I thought I had. And so ended my brief and disappointing relationship with Dr. D. We probably could have gone on for months, e-mailing thinly veiled innuendos punctuated with flirty emoticons, but as soon as I tried to bring our technological fantasy into the realm of eye contact and intonation, it crumbled.

Abstinent by default, doctor's orders swirling around my newly unblocked second chakra, I tried the online porn scene, hot-pink Babeland vibrator in hand. Here, everyone's having sex — bronzed, hairless, dry, overacted, self-conscious, stupid sex. But it seems that the gender shift hasn't yet infiltrated our neural receptors as they relate to receiving visual erotic stimuli — at least not mine. Ew.

As for Internet dating, with its lengthy questionnaires and airbrushed headshots, it removes faith and fate from the equation, relying on résumé points, laundry lists and acronyms to define the perfect life partner. Social-networking sites like MySpace, Facebook and Tribe seem to work for bands wanting to share their music, but as far as the forging of true intimacy, I wasn't convinced.

A week after our standoff on his couch, Ben and I ended up having sex. I not only made the first move, I made all the moves, including paying for foreplay ... I mean lunch. He was adorable and eager to please, and generously knocked out two of my weekly three to four. I left with a rosy glow and tousled hair and the realization that I didn't want casual sex after all, even with a gorgeous witchy boy who was open and conscious and aware well beyond his scant 25 years. Yes, he threw me on the bed and we laughed and I came, but there wasn't enough ... I don't know — time? trust? connection? life? ... love? — between us to make it much more than two bodies using each other to get off.

But if I didn't want casual sex and I didn't want a relationship, what did I want? I wondered if there wasn't some sort of magical in-between place where I could engage erotically with someone I actually loved and trusted, a (beautiful, fit, sweet) friend who wanted to share an erotic experience without the drama, compromise or extra conversations that came along with commitment, who happened to live within a four-block radius.
Confused, frustrated and still terrifically frisky, I crawled into bed with my best girlfriend, snuggled up close and held on tight while dreaming of a magical man with soft skin, big hands and a brilliant sense of humor. She nudged me awake to massage coconut oil onto her back, which was the most fulfilling action I'd experienced in months.

"Nicki," as I'll call her here, came into my life at a meditation retreat up north. I'd spent 10 days delving inward in silence — no reading, no writing, no eye contact — observing various bodily sensations, and found myself seated behind a tall, bookish woman with blood-red streaks in her curly black hair. We broke the silence with giggles and mischief-making, and discovered that we were both writers, me of fluff and art and magic, and she of a critically acclaimed seminal guide to three-way love.

Back in Los Angeles, calm and clear, I devoured Nicki's how-to book in one sitting. While I wasn't jonesing for a three-way myself, I grooved on the alternative it proposed to the mythical dinosaur of monogamy. According to Nicki, a veritable expert on the subject, polyamorous relationships, while mostly closeted, are rapidly spreading into the mainstream.

The Judeo-Christian fundamentalist fable of human relations would have us believe that boy meets girl well before 30, then they marry, breed and supposedly live a perfectly fulfilled happily-ever-after without ever flirting with, fantasizing about or, God forbid, tasting anyone else. The primary partner will satisfy every possible need — sexual, intimate or otherwise. Attraction to others is a sign of deviance, as are homosexuality, masturbation and staying single. Lying and cheating are to be expected but never acknowledged.

Why we continue to buy into this model is beyond me, but every mythology in our culture has been shoving it down our collective throat since the moment this machine that is our consumptive empire started running.

"Marriage is big business, the central fairy tale, and, as a narrative-based culture, we don't have any alternate mythologies," Francis patiently explained by phone. "A culture is dependent upon its mythologies."

In her book, Nicki not only proposed an alternate mythology of three-way love, she encouraged her readers to throw rote social convention aside and to engage critical thinking and radical honesty in creating relationship models designed specifically for themselves, by themselves. The idea of custom-crafting a relationship with boundaries of my own choosing blew my mind wide open.

"It's important to me to design a relationship that isn't about what society dictates," Nicki said, contemplative and interview-shy, though firm in her beliefs, over tea following an afternoon MOCA outing. "There are so many ways to have relationships ... there are so many different sets of rules that work for different people."

Nicki and I forged a friendship based on self-inquiry, adventure and a love-hate relationship with the local Burner community. She advised me on writing residencies; I took her with me to see Dave Cooper's muted, maniacal oil renderings of strange and silly girl-on-girl action. Nicki was a subdued combination of accomplished and worldly, humble and innocent, full of long pauses of thoughtful reflection and effusive outbursts of cheeky enthusiasm. She was a doer and an explorer, always dipping her purple-painted toe into something new and exciting — from impromptu road trips to building igloos on snowy mountaintops. When she brought her husband, "Sasha," along on a weekend wildflower excursion, I wondered if they were scoping me out.

Sasha is classically gorgeous with a dazzling smile, complicated blue eyes and a chiseled physique. We had an immediate rapport based on wit and wordplay, and an unspoken something that ignited in the space between our gazes. He swigged from my water bottle as if he'd known me for lifetimes, and by the end of the day, we were finishing each other's sentences and sharing mutual fantasies of living sustainably, somewhere lush and lovely and communal, while making art and whittling.

Back at the home that Sasha built himself, we dined on raw food specially prepared with me — the high-maintenance vegan geek — in mind, and then talked into the wee hours of the morning.

We started spending weekends together. Our daytime outings effortlessly spilled into evenings. Time slipped away in the wake of laughter, wild, creative conspiracy and a down-deep-'n'-dirty sort of honest inquiry into ourselves and each other that left all of us wanting more. The chemistry between the three of us was electric.

I wondered if I had the balls to take it all the way. It was easy to talk a good game from the sidelines of celibacy, but to step into someone else's marriage for the sake of their fantasy and my oxytocin was another story. I'd been railing on and on about wanting uncommitted sex with someone beautiful and brilliant and on my wavelength for months, and now here I was, faced with not one, but two gorgeous, aware, awake, artsy, progressive possibilities, and I was wavering. Was it fear of the unknown? Sure. Was I afraid of getting attached? Probably.

"It's a gift," enthused Ben. "You don't turn down a gift. You take it, and say thank you ... most people don't get opportunities like this."

Experiencing Nicki and Sasha's marriage from the inside was palpably shifting my attitude toward love and commitment. They were deeply, respectfully in love with each other, and it was beautiful to witness. What I'd judged as a barbed-wire cop-out, I was now seeing as a supportive structure for conscious partnership, especially in light of the space they held for each other's individual expression and exploration. I'd never seen a relationship, let alone a contractually bound marriage, that looked even vaguely appealing; theirs seemed ideal.

I was starting to soften. Sasha's e-mails weren't making it any easier — playful, flirtatious and, sigh, really well written. I was saying yes to openings and events that I had no time for just so I could spend more time with Nicki, who dug deep, asked hard questions and lived big and bold in her own way. It was all flowing so easily, and since a little loving was precisely what the doctor had ordered, what harm could come from a light-hearted tryst that was safely confined to the realms of uncommitted experimentation with two people I genuinely cared for?

"I'd like to have one more night of you before you leave town," Sasha e-mailed me as I was scrambling to get ready for a trip that I never ended up taking.

I groomed and moisturized before they came to fetch me ("Kidnapping you is half the fun," texted Sasha). I was nervous.

"It's weird enough getting naked in front of one person," I vented to my best girlfriend. "But two? Just think of the ensuing dialogues comparing notes about my flaws and my scars and my bungling technique."

She laughed away my doubts as textbook threshold anxiety, while I lamented my regrettably hetero track record. "I've never licked pussy before, and he went to a weeklong intensive to perfect his skills! How can I possibly measure up?"

At Nicki and Sasha's, the three of us chopped vegetables together, and ate outside under the stars. Sasha admitted he had a crush on me, and I fessed up to the one I'd been harboring for him.

"Oooh ..." gushed Nicki, smiling at this latest development. Our first awkward silence ensued. I wondered if they'd discussed this but was suddenly too shy to ask.

"C'mon," Sasha said, leading us both inside.

My threshold anxiety turned out to be a nonissue. Take three beautiful bodies, add immeasurable amounts of chemistry, attraction, affection, creativity and intrigue, and let the sparks fly. It was amazing: finally consummating weeks of pent-up passion while kissing Sasha, and then turning my head to kiss Nicki's sweet, smooth lips, her killer hips, her soft skin, the adorable freckles dotting her world-class shoulders. I languished in the surplus of skin and limbs. There was always something to hold, someone to kiss, somewhere to touch. Nicki was shy; Sasha was strong. I stayed out of my head and open to the love, the affection, the sensations and the sweetness that abounded in the unmodeled space we were creating. The balance of masculine and feminine was comforting, exciting, amazing — and, as the guest of honor, I received more than my share of attention, effectively taking care of my weekly dose, and then some.

The days following our first night together were marked by subtle energetic shifts in our triangular dynamic. I awakened in Sasha's arms the morning after, and after sharing a potential boundary-crossing two-minute snooze entwined, Sasha appropriately refocused his affections on his wife, distancing himself from me, ever so slightly. As usual, we had a splendid time together — driving out to the old Manson family ranch for a workshop on how to become a sovereign citizen versus a federal slave. But the palpable pulling away left a shallow bruise on my otherwise rapidly opening heart. I came home from our excursion feeling somewhat crummy — left alone to observe the insecurity, the flitters of jealousy, the longing for more. There was no ambiguity in this situation, and I was left only with what was real. With eyes and heart wide open, I chose to walk my talk — to take what I was being offered with gratitude and humility, and to let the hang-ups
about what I wasn't getting drift away. By Saturday, when we came together in a Chumash sweat lodge in Moorpark, I had gained a significant distance from the emotions, and a stronger foothold on my role in the triad. Sitting next to Sasha in the pitch black of the sweat lodge, I felt my petty insecurities burn up in the volcanic rocks, leaving my body in the streams of sweat pouring down my spine, soaking my sundress and the earth beneath me. I exited the lodge, purified, just in time to see Sasha faint into Nicki's arms.

Yet another weekend spent hiking, laughing and making love did wonders for my disposition. My heart was wide open and, with no illusions of forever or tomorrow or "mine" to filter it into, I spread it far and wide, showering affection and gratitude and compliments and appreciation among my friends and my community and everyone who crossed my path.

"The more you love," said writer Robert A. Heinlein, "the more you can love — and the more intensely you love. Nor is there any limit on how many you can love."

Our triad was quickly expanding beyond the confines of reductive ideas like heterosexual and commitment. The growth was exponential, and I found myself processing at lightning speed and stepping up, again and again, into new realms of expression, experience and expansion, getting out of my head, acting from an ever-opening heart, in a constant practice of surrender. I checked in daily: Does this feel good? Is this serving me?

"It's not the kind of thing that a complacent person should do," said Sasha, pensive on the patio of the Alcove on a sunny afternoon. "I have friends who say they want to be comfortable in life, and that they want things to be easy, and I don't think it's necessarily comfortable or easy, but I think it makes you better."

My friends dubbed them "The Couple."

"How's it going with The Couple?" they'd ask.

"Amazing," I'd beam.

It was great having another woman around for those especially girlie moments like primping, teasing and tag-team flirting. The extra dose of feminine energy lent itself to extra giggles and late-morning bedroom lingering.

Sweaty and tingly, we scuttled into bed, just as the sun was coming up. Sasha stood naked before the window in front of us, fiddling with a swath of fabric, trying to block out the onslaught of daylight while Nicki and I oohed and aahed over his magnificent tush from under the covers. Fabric finally secured, Nicki leapt up and yanked it loose, forcing Sasha to start over again, and giving us another extended look at his beautiful backside. Nicki slipped back under the covers and into my arms, while we giggled wildly. Three was working out wonderfully.

Of course, it had its share of weirdness: Unspoken rules Nicki and Sasha had set up between themselves trickled down to me, experientially. After a carefully avoided rendezvous and a few subtle logistical reconfigurations, I figured out that Sasha wasn't allowed to be alone with me. And it was a couple of weeks before Nicki felt comfortable with Sasha and me moving from foreplay to coitus. Taking Sasha inside me while holding tightly to Nicki's hand was deeply erotic and amazing. The six orgasms it inspired were less about fetish or perversion, and more an expression of a rapidly expanding affection, as well as the truly overwhelming gratitude and respect I felt for Nicki's courage and generosity.

"It won't work," said my friend Frank, a young Dominican ayahuascero steeped in esoteric mysteries, celestial secrets and the sanctity of his own traditional marriage.

"What do you mean by 'work'?" I asked, genuinely unclear. I was loving and receiving love, and growing. Oxytocin was flowing freely throughout my happy, healing body. It was already working.

"It won't last," he said. "It's not sustainable."

One of the fundamental problems with the old model of intimacy is that we project permanence onto love. The feeling arises, and it's magical and monumental and, instead of savoring it in the moment with gratitude and presence, we cling onto it with outstretched claws and lay claim to it forever.

Jason Levesque

"A lot of experiences can be missed if we're always focused on the long-term," my friend the photographer/philosopher Herwig Maurer said over the phone from his Pacific Nexus Gallery in Venice. "The moment is all we have."

I've never thought that because a relationship ends, it fails. Everything ends — relationships, systems of thought, life, all of it. All we can ever truly count on is change, and that includes endings.

Besides, there are plenty of long-term polyrelationships that challenge the notion that multiple partnerships are doomed to the short-term. As a means of child-rearing, it's actually ideal, with extra hands to diaper and dry dishes, and additional perspectives to enrich a developing human's worldview.

"I have no reason to believe it's not sustainable," defended Sasha, curled up like a cat on his purple L-shaped couch, still wearing his kundalini damp yoga clothes. "People always think that because they don't see a lot of people doing something that it doesn't work, and that's total horseshit. Right? Everyone thought that a horseless carriage was a fantasy, and now everyone's driving around in cars."

"Did everyone think it was a fantasy?" I teased

"No," he said, smiling his way into the center of my heart. "There were a few forward-thinking maverick geniuses who knew it was possible."

"Do you want to make out with me?" I asked.

He laughed that sparkling, lovely Sasha laugh: "Yes."

There were poems and flowers and long lingering eye locks. There was talk of road trips and introductions to families and friends. I found myself thinking about Sasha more and more and more, and what I'd never considered, and what I didn't see coming, was my falling hard and fast and stupid for my friend's husband. All at once, weekends weren't enough and holding back wouldn't do, and maintaining the balance of affection and attention between two autonomous individuals — one with whom I was suddenly, surprisingly in love, the other, a friend whom I admired and adored and yet didn't dream about or pine over or long for, though her body was slammin' and her kisses were sweet.

Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The wordsmake andstay become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.

—Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker

After a long weekend spent art-hopping, adventuring and experiencing a handful of mind-blowing orgasms, Sasha and I vibed high and huge, but Nicki seemed to be slipping away. I found myself crouched inside a crooked head space, wondering how much longer I could dangle on the outside of this relationship, clamping down on my emotions, holding my tongue and my feelings, trying to fit my heart into a tiny box on the periphery of someone else's marriage, and pretending I could keep my shit together in light of this unforeseen onslaught of intense emotion and all that wasn't being said. It felt like we were moving into real relationship territory, and, for the first time, I really was getting the short end of the stick. I went home Sunday night, exhausted from the delicate dance we were performing, depleted for my own week, with no one to rub my back or to whisper sweet nothings in my ear or to reassure me that I was his favorite.

Aside from my feelings for Sasha, or perhaps because of them, I became suddenly aware of my inherent primal nature — the alpha in me who wasn't okay with second place, who couldn't make herself smaller to make Nicki feel better. I was annoyed with her, not for doubting, but for pretending, for not walking her talk, and in being annoyed, I was out of integrity. It no longer felt good. It was no longer serving me. Our experiment had reached its logical conclusion.

The breakup was bumpier than I'd expected. Several weeks of tiptoeing around the edges of definition, without creating visible boundaries or revealing our true feelings or talking about just what it was we were really getting into backed up on us, bigtime. Insecurities were triggered, reactions had and harsh words recklessly strewn about. We all said stupid things, rationalizing our agendas, protecting our egos, trying to backtrack through the mess of silence and innuendo and overwhelming emotion and energies that had intensified faster, bigger and brighter than any of us had imagined possible.

"No one's that evolved when it comes to matters of the heart," consoled my writing partner, Nina, a tiny, ageless beauty who's talked me through many a broken heart.

"I have no illusions about how much fear there is, and how difficult it is for people to change from what they were taught as children," e-mailed Eric Francis, who himself struggles to navigate his way through the wild frontier of polyamory. "The issue behind the issue is not the supposed immorality of having more than one partner, nor a lack of the ability to love more than one person. The issue is jealousy. Do we really need it? Well, it's a good cover-up for our own insecurity."

My feelings for Sasha only intensified in the days following our breakup. All that I had been holding back came rushing in. I vacillated between despair over the cruel irony of meeting the man of my dreams, had I ever been bold enough to dream so big and so beautiful, and gratitude for a healed heart, for regaining my faith in love and partnership, for experiencing a profound level of intense connection that I never knew was possible — and for the trust that both Sasha and Nicki, especially Nicki, extended to me in bringing me into their hearts and their marriage. The sadness is attachment and temporality, and still very, very real. It's all those things I judge as old-model and unevolved and beneath me. It's me wanting more Sasha, wanting a shared future, a longer now, a liminal loophole in which we could slip away for a 24-hour infinity and put it all out there, without hurting anyone, an imaginary space wherein he kisses me freely and touches me
forever and never has to tear his eyes away to check in with his wife.

From this end of it, gratitude prevails. The anger has dissipated. The hurt is subsiding. I miss him; I miss her — as my friend, as my plus-one, as my lover and, selfishly, as my admirer. I burst into tears last week while making dinner for myself, wishing I'd had a chance to cook for them, wishing I'd felt less so that we could have shared more, wishing there was some way to make it work, wanting to believe that three is indeed sustainable, which it very well may be under different circumstances. I just don't know.

Still, I stand by the success of my threesome.

"It's shifted you, massively, in the best of ways," remarked my best friend, who said she's never experienced my heart so open.

So many knots were untangled, so much love was shared, so much healing was had, that the structure can't simply be cast aside. As a long-term solution to our crumbling model of happily-ever-after, I'm not so sure, but as a haven for experimentation, and for the untangling of so much socialized angst around eroticism, intimacy and partnership, I dare say the multipartnered relationship experience is a must.

"Polyamory is a tool ...," maintained my philosopher friend Maurer even before I stepped inside my own triad, "... a way to reprogram the human relational condition."

"The revolution is not going to be polyamory," predicted Francis. "It's going to be redefining monogamy, wherein we give our partners more freedom ... the freedom not to lie."

I'm still not quite sure what's going on between the sexes, or where we're headed. Something is amiss, this much I know. I spent months trying to get laid and the only way I was able to find real satisfaction was with a married couple. Clearly, the myth of old-model monogamy is broken, and without an alternate template to show us how to come together authentically, we Los Angelenos are more isolated than ever. The answer may be as simple as honesty. More truth certainly couldn't hurt.

On the back end of my triad, once I'd dipped my toe in the soft, sweet waters of connection and affection, loneliness crept in during the dullest of moments. Ever and always independent, I found that being alone suddenly sucked in the wake of three hearts and six arms. But I've moved through it and found my way to a new faith in love and connection, knowing that now that I've tasted it, it will be that much easier to call in again, when I'm ready, and the stars align and I have the energy to be a partner and to dive into a relationship.

In the meantime, I'm back to self-administering my weekly three-to-four, one-dimensionally taking care of myself while I continue to heal, no longer yearning for that imaginary in-between sex friend, having tasted something so much sweeter. Rather, I'm holding space for what James Mathers calls "that really powerful, really grounded and beautiful intimacy [that] is a service to the whole world and to every world," whatever that may look like, and however it decides to meet me.

Back Talk on "Hot, Sticky & Bothered"
Propositions, recrimination and helpful hints from polyamory detractors and defenders
By L.A. Weekly readers
Published on July 17, 2008

Bothered and Bewildered

Comments on "Hot, Sticky & Bothered" [July 4–10], by Dani Katz.

Thanks, Dani. Yours is one of the very few LAW cover stories I have read all the way through. (I get LAW for Marc Cooper and Scott Foundas.) Be sure to do a follow-up on the thousands of e-mails you get from men wishing to sleep with you! Add me to your list or maybe pass me on to your older friends as I'm in my 50s.

Posted July 4 by Bruce Dickson

The sensuous men you seek elude you, because you, as do most women, bring to every relation a scorecard — complex, emotional, extensive — and yours is compounded by a predatory desire to possess perfection. Bound by that, you will never be open — as you claim to be — to a genuinely erotic experience ...

Posted July 4 by Mark

Why don't guys make the first move any more? ... They're tired and beaten down. Not to say it's totally women's fault. Men are mostly to blame for the societal expectations of women. The answer is less judgment, more respect and consideration, and much more playful flirting. I think your story was touching and beautifully written. Lastly, many of us struggle with the ideal form for romantic love. We all want that special someone, but don't want to lock someone in a prison of our own insecurities and demands, nor be locked in one ourselves. Jealousy truly is the biggest obstacle.

Posted July 4 by Robert Szeles

Six pages of BS to admit that conventional wisdom is right: Screwing your best friend and her husband is fun for a while, but when she notices you starting to have real feelings for him — and that you're not just a "beautiful body" — she dumps you, so he dumps you, and now you've lost your friends as friends. You obviously fulfilled some sort of curiosity or hole in their lives, and then they couldn't stand to look at you. Any sex therapist could have predicted this outcome, or you could have watched Oxygen's Sue Johanson for free.

Posted July 7 by Susan

Thank you for an extremely insightful and powerful article. I'm always impressed by people willing to "own their own stuff" and do the internal searching necessary to deal with relationship issues maturely. As a poly person, I'm saddened by the fact your triad didn't last, but not everyone is wired for this lifestyle. It's better to be true to yourself than to attempt to "prove" something can work. Happily, my triad continues to thrive a year in. Blessings on your journey!

Posted July 8 by Euphrates

Intimacy, shmintimacy. When you get horny again, give me a call.