The show was a success, in every way, even though things failed in all the wonderfully unexpected ways that things do. We almost got shut down by the fire department at the last minute — but we didn’t. Many machines died in rapid succession during the show — but they looked great as they expired and came to rest like obstinate housecats laying in the middle of right where you want to walk. After the show we got rowdy and drank beer and had fun with machines — until we were made to stop by fire trucks and a paddy wagon. No one got hurt. Unintentionally funny articles were written about us. Crew members hooked up, (with each other and outsiders, and a few machines even got kissed goodnight by drunken machine operators).
And me? After seven straight days of 10-14 hour work days with heavy machinery and a body now markedly a few sizes smaller covered with bruises, burns, scratches — and even a playful human bite or two — I feel like I’ve been taken apart and put back together again, whole. My feelings about everything couldn’t be clearer.
Final loadout day is documented beginning here; show day starts here; aftermath here. I didn’t take any pictures of the show but ever-sweet Scott Beale (photo via) did here, and the adorable Bre Pettis visited us the day of the show covering it for Make Magazine and documented his experience here. (Many of you will remember I did a walkthrough video tour of the SRL shop with Bre two months ago — watch it here. There will be a big feature on Mark Pauline in the next issue of Make, FYI.) Back to normal sex bloggery tomorrow; new video of the machine I ran for the show here; full writeup of the SRL show and *insanely contemplative* thoughts are after the jump.
* * * * * * *
The day of the show I got to the site at 9am — even though Mark called me at 7:45 asking me to come down right away. I was so beat from loading and transporting machines all day (all week) that I felt like I just needed rest before operating the Running Machine in the show that night. (I took a great video of the Running Machine in the SRL compound on thursday here.) But Mark is my combination father figure and best friend, so when he calls I come running. With gum to share (he relies on me for gum), a sense of humor, dedication to work and the understading that comes with it, and affection. That’s how we are.
The day before I’d had a scary moment with the Hovercraft after we’d set it on the flatbed truck and when I was getting the lifting straps off the machine and the forklift; something metal made a connection to batteries and started a battery fire — in my face. It melted metal. I’ve had a couple of intense moments like that on this show, but I’ve also done more dangerous work than usual — I think that’s what happens when you become the person who is really familiar with things in the machine shop. Coupled with that, I’ve had the usual few moments of sexist commentary from non-SRL volunteers. This stuff used to really unsettle me, and now I just laugh. It’s sort of like I know I escaped injury, and even if I didn’t it would make a great story — just like when some dude speaks to me diminutively and I tell him he’s made a big mistake with a smile on my face, I know it’ll be something to laugh about with friends, over beers later. It’s as if now I’m so fully within myself, occupying every sore inch of my skin, that I’m solidly who I am. More than ever before. It’s hard to explain.
Show day was magic — even though it was hot and way too sunny, and some people stressed out about things more than others. While loading over the past week, Dan and I spent hours driving (an hour each way, four times a day) and one of the topics we talked about was the desire to do things like this that are hard because you don’t *just* love them, but because you have to, in a way. The obsession that happens when you find that thing that you love to do, to make, to work on, that coworkers and lovers/girlfriends/boyfriends seldom understand — also like my inexplicable need for writing, and sharing sex culture and information. It doesn’t just have to happen, the need for work and expression and sharing of ideas becomes like breathing. And so is the intensity of working on these SRL shows, but only in the SRL context. (I’ve worked for other robot organizations/artists, and it’s not the same working for others. It’s lesser.) So when people stress about it, it’s really kind of funny, because what will be will be and you learn to let go of stuff you can’t control when you really love what you do. Or rather, it just falls away so you can move forward and do what you feel, unencumbered. I asked Dan about his girlfriend — does she understand? Can he explain it to her? No, he can’t explain it — but she understands, perhaps because she’s a musician. You see, it’s because of all this my theory of love is a really simple one, though easy to have go wrong: I think when you really love someone, you love what they do. And sex is sex, and creative work is work, and love is love. But it’s all connected.
Anyway, on friday I wasn’t stressed, though I was feeling the pressure of a big show and the usual worry about staying safe on the playing field with all those lethal machines out there. Especially with 2500 tickets sold, an article in the San Jose Mercury encouraging people to come even if they didn’t have tickets, and craziness on Craigslist with people offering $150 for tickets. I spent the day mostly doing a bit of work here and there, testing and operating the Running Machine, and spending time observing machine tests with Jonathon and Bre Pettis. (Jonathon is the one — my machine co-operator and spotter — who left after the show at 3am *very* cutely drunk with a soot-covered face after kissing the machines goodnight.) I asked Bre what he thought of SRL and he had the most apt reply I’ve ever heard. He said: “It’s a great combination of ‘let’s do something really cool’ and ‘oh shit — is that broken!?”
It was our apocalypse show — a theme we’d decided before all the apocalypse stuff started hitting media headlines a few weeks back. We’d just been inspired by the old Gustave Dore engravings and their iconic imagery in contrast to the machines and their particualy multifacted symbolism; their anthropomorphic characteristics would play nicely with the insanity of Descent Into Hell and the ease with which binary belief systems can be exploited for fear, punishment and spectacle. Machines and god, two great tastes.
But then there’s machines and sex. Which in my opinion, go way WAY better together. Machines lend themselves to inspire skin-on-skin friction far better than religion, unless you go for the whole denial thing. And like death, weddings, tragedies and funerals, SRL machines can be like strange aphrodisiacs for some of us. Yes, I’m in a mood. Doing that show has made me want to just sexually consume someone, to investigate, penetrate, get inside and destroy everything that was there before me and rebuild with lube and sex toys and orgasms and tears and pain and giggles and sweetness and tenderness and kisses. And in return for me, the same. It makes me want to kiss and fuck like I’ve never kissed or fucked anyone in my whole life. Needless to say, I have a nonfiction sex book deadline in a few months, and the research is going to rock the boy I make my test bunny. I’ve lost too much by being with partners who don’t want to try everything with me. I know now I won’t make that mistake again.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. When the show started I was with my machine, near the Flameblower which scared me with all its fuel, and the Boeing with all its fire. To get to the other end of the safe operator area, I’d have to run hugging the fence in front of the Tesla Coil and in the dark, rely on the operator seeing me and cutting power to the coil while I ran. It took what seemed like forever to get the Running Machine out of its spot stuck between machines — then when I got the machine free I had to get to where I could see it — Mark made me run in front of the Big Walker out into the fray to get around the machines and behind the Flameblower, losing my spotters who were there to keep me safe. I crouched down in front of the Tesla Coil and ran the machine, making it prance for the audience. And then… it got zapped by an accidental contact with another machine being arced by the coil, and that was it. The Running Machine stopped running — or rather, responding. About seven minutes had passed; there was no safe way to go out and power it down, then restart the Running Machine and power up to see if a reset would work. I felt despondent and the show was raging around me, coil buzzing and snapping blue lightning over my head, machines grinding and screaming and firing projectiles near me. Dan found me and yelled, smiling — now we get to just watch the show! So we did. And oddly, several other machines had unexpected failures right after mine, so within ten more minutes I stood with many operators without machines, just watching Nina kick ass operating the flaming V1 rocket engine and all the craziness with the Big Walker falling over while it dripped igniting fuel onto the ground in front of me (I gave the affirmative over my radio headset to extinguish the fire). The Bomb Loader got crunched by the Inchworm — so unusual, as our machines are not ‘robot wars’ and do not attack each other. It’s a common misconception, our machines do not fight each other. And they are made for pure love of the process and fucking with definitions of machine tech and human machine interaction, not for much else. (I hate it when people think we’re robot wars or — koff — burningman.) The Big Arm was taken out by a Pitching Machine round to an air line, as was The Shaker, whose (electronics) board got broken in half by a flying piece of Pitching Machine wood. Big Walker fell over and went up in pretty flames.
A great show, with a great party after that almost got us in a lot of trouble. Now I’m back to unpack machines, tinker with the Running Machine tomorrow, close up an erotic fiction anthology deadline, make that huge mainstream media deal final, and agree to (or turn down some of) the interviews about my porn book that keep coming in but I’ve been ignoring so I could surrender myself to machine grease and contemplation.
The post Re-entry, reluctantly appeared first on Violet Blue ® | Open Source Sex.