Well, I was trying to untrite a comment about Amanda Palmer seeming to be a one woman series of creative tsunamis, but having seen part of a video of her in performance (via the A.R.T., theatre host of her upcoming Caberet collaboration -- Palmer is playing The Emcee), Twitpics taken at a Cabaret poster photo shoot and en route to a Lady GaGa concert, I've decided Amanda Palmer may be Oberon, Puck and Titania forcefully merged by mad and not necessarily random accidents of Fortuna, traffic and destiny.
You can see recent photos of whatever @amandapalmer is up to if you follow her on Twitter or her blog or have a tangential meeting with any of the people she interacts with. She leads an astonishingly open, public life with energy that could power...hmmm, 17 kittens maybe. It's astonishing to watch as she blows through music, creativity, passerbys, venues, costumes and eye makeup. Add in a madly loyal fan flotilla...sounds too small, fan universe and we have me, fascinated by the Palmer phenomenon.
I've been following her on behalf of Blink Kitty Love, my crazy crushing cartoon band, after a segue stream that started with @joanjett's official Twitter, in my early Runaways period, which is when I started this blog. So it is right and meet that we should now fully turn the spotlight on Amanda Fucking Palmer, who seems to exist in a state of art eternal, dead or alive, depending on her mood. Really, depending on her mood. One of her albums is "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" and she proudly claims to be the coiner and inspiration of the word "Palmeresque." The quote that follows is found on The Amanda Palmer Trust site, "founded in 2006 in memory of Amanda Palmer":
The OED defines a eulogy as “a speech or writing in commendation of the qualities, etc., of a person or thing”. The Palmeresque steers clear of praise, focussing instead upon more imaginative responses to Miss Palmer’s death. Where a eulogy explicitly looks back over the life of the deceased, the Palmeresque looks forward from the point of death to contemplate either the nature, or further ramifications of her demise.
As I mentioned in the previous catch all post, I'm developing a theory that musicians are wired differently. The Todd Oldham Joan Jett book is full of interviews with Jett where she explains her drive to perform and play music, her relationship with her fans. It's very proudly, intensely personal. Joan Jett on stage is running on the fire of music inside and the adoration of screaming rock fans. If you're not jumping up and down and screaming, trying to touch her and rocked to your core, you don't get the full amount of fan fervour points.
But back to @amandapalmer. She lives on Twitter, especially when she's on the road as she was during her recent Evelyn Evelyn tour and other travels (taken from Palmer's latest blog post):
so i twittered to the people of london that i had a surprise for them, and gave a meeting spot (seven dials, in soho) for 30 minutes later.
here’s who showed up to take the flowers:
and it was quite awesome.
twitter makes life beautiful.
and we love the woman on the right, who has no idea who i am/what the fuck we’re doing.
yes, bob, we are a niche society.
one of the funnest things of the day was watching people twitter in pictures of where their flowers wound up.
Apparently, she also makes more money on Twitter than she does from record sales (quote from Palmer's guest post on Mike King's Music Business and Trend-Mongering blog (I love almost anything that can work in "mongering"):
how do you “hang out” on the internet? well, we collectively came up with a list of things that the government should do for us (free government-issued sweatpants, pizza and ponies, no tax on coffee), AND created a t-shirt.
thank god my web guy sean was awake and being a loser with me on friday night because he throw up the webpage WHILE we were having our twitter party and people started ordering the shirts – that i designed in SHARPIE in realtime) and a slogan that someone suggested: “DON’T STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT, STAY IN FOR WHAT’S WRONG”. neil gaiman and wil wheaton joined our party. the fdnas felt super-special.
by the end of the night, we’d sold 200 shirts off the quickie site (paypal only) that sean had set up.
i blogged the whole story the next day and in total, in the matter of a few days, we sold over 400 shirts, for $25/ea.
we ended up grossing OVER $11,000 on the shirts.
my assistant beth had the shirts printed up ASAP and mailed them from her apartment.
total made on twitter in two hours = $11,000.
total made from my huge-ass ben-folds produced-major-label solo album this year = $0
She finally got dropped by her record label and is releasing Radiohead ukelele covers, starting with Idioteque. And this sort of thing is driving me into recent conversations about the awfulness of late 90's rock and triggering my (or TK's, I tend to blame him) need for a ukelele...I've actually bought 2 at various points over the past 5 years or so, one for a show that we ended up not using it in and another because I couldn't afford a trip to Hawaii and thought a moderately expensive ukelele might make up for it. Both were returned by the practical side of my being. We don't get along sometimes. That's why I invented the band. They don't really have a practical side.
Amanda Palmer has people house her, feed her, draw her, sculpt her, give her grants, pay for postcards she's chewed on, buy out concert venues, show up on half an hour's notice to meet her/be part of the madness and it's fascinating in the fey, don't eat the fairy food and when (and if) you end up back in front of your own fire, the world will have aged 100 years way.
So, I sit here and wonder what drives the loyalty, the passion and the love. And weigh the ratios of openness and privacy and wonder about the costs of so public a life. Palmer seems to have a map to success and I wonder if it's a performer only map.
I direct plays, mostly Shakespeare, and I also act occasionally, sometimes to get out of my own head, other times to remember what it's like to be an actor. And I've seen so many performers who get in front of a crowd, draw energy from the audience and love nothing else like that sensation. It's amazing. And a little off putting. But in that zone, they are amazing. There's a glow, especially when someone rushes off stage, revved on adrenalin, accomplishment and applause. Existing in and for that very glorious moment, all their own. Not only could they reach the moon, they could survive touching the sun. And I love them for it, because directing is for those of us who love actors.
And who love completing difficult seven dimensional constantly moving puzzles with that final surge that happens when everything clicks into place. I get fist pumping heart racing goal scoring game winning soaring satisfaction from putting the right people in the right play and standing behind an audience totally involved in the combination.
So, I'm not an actor, a musician or a performer. But this is the public, social media age that calls for these talents. @amandapalmer currently has 422,214 or so people following her, many willing to do nearly anything she bids them and that allows her to create/live her art. She lets people touch it, own it, participate in it. And in this interactive age, that seems to be the ticket. Rock royalty. People choose Nation Gagastia or The Country of Palmerton or The Land of the Joni and happily throw their loyalty and resources that way.
So time to design a flag and offer a limited edition set of inaugural A Little Stage Left of East Territory of Norton Vampire Pinecone (they drop from trees all the time in this neighborhood) t-shirts and/or non chewed postcards.
Follow me or the band on Twitter, drop a comment here, read my novel, read my other blog or contribute to the ukelele fund. It's easy to become a citizen explorer. You don't even need a badge. Maybe then the nightmares will stop (at least TK's).
And while the world dances around me, following the pied pipes of Pan and Palmer, I'll continue to mull on musicians, success and access. And try to decide if scoring tickets to see Palmer in Cabaret verges dangerously on eating the fairy food.
All while directing a kickass Merchant of Venice, the better to balance the universe.
Thanks for stopping by. Dance (or play) on.