Tag Archives: body

Brutally Honest Stories About Being Human

There are those times when you feel alone. Even if you’re surrounded by people, you are alone. And you alone love the people around you so much that you fear losing them. I will not lose my life and I don’t want you to lose yours either. We are humans. We breathe & fart. We have air coming out through all sorts of holes. We thrive on routine and live for play. We are nice to each other, or we should be.

Life is too complicated. We are too driven by our brains. And fear.

I fear death as much as I fear being humiliated in front of tons of people. And yet I humiliate myself and call it art. For some reason that’s okay. I allow my creative juices to interpret and embellish on my everyday experiences.


I’m reading a book, What’s Not to Love by Jonathan Ames. It is the most honestly grotesque book about male puberty and bodily dysfunction. The chapters have titles such as “An Erection is a Felony”, and “I Shit My Pants in the South of France”, and “Insomni-Whack”. The titles say it all. I am in love. With honesty that exposes the inherent imperfections of human nature, Ames has a witty sense of humor and wonderful knack for autobiographical storytelling.


One summer during my teenage years, when I was waiting for my Godotish puberty, I went away to a Jewish Camp in Upstate New York. I was in the Levi division (Levi was the name of one of the original Hebrew tribes before it became a pair of jeans) of newly christened teenagers, and to my horror I discovered that I was the only boy who still had a small, undeveloped penis and no pubic hair! So I had to hide myself the whole summer. I would quickly change my clothes with my back to my tentmates, and only showered early in the morning when no one else was around. It was nerve-racking. (Ames, pg. 8)

Several weeks went by and I didn’t hear from them and I forgot about the whole thing. In the meantime, I was busy regrowing my hair. I had done some research on the subject and I was taking certain actions. I was trying to quit coffee since it robbed my body of hair-related vitamins, and I was avoiding masturbation because I read a book on Eastern practices of semen-retention, which told me that masturbation dried up my spinal fluid and made my hair fall out. I’ve now come to see my bald spot and the bald spots of other men as the mark of Cain for excessive self-abuse.
I also purchased rosemary oil, which is very good for the health, and a rubber scalp invigorator. And I started eating lots of sea vegetables because I read that people in Asian cultures had very good hair and that their diet was rich in seaweed. (Ames, pg. 20)

These are the stories I want to hear, and want to tell. Stories that capture universal human experiences and humorously assure the reader that he or she is, indeed, not alone.

Image Sources:

Ames, Jonathan. What’s Not to Love? New York: Crown Publishers, 2000.

Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, 2012

Love women? Love comedy? Then what better place to see both than at the first annual Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, which took place from June 6-10, 2012 at Stage 773 in Chicago, IL.

The female version of the long-running Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, CWFF was started by Jill Valentine, Stacey Smith and an awesome crew of mostly other females. Broadened to encompass a wide range of comedy styles, including sketch comedy, stand-up, musicals, one-woman shows and improv, the festival packed in 400 female performers from all over the U.S. for days of solid, bitch-talking, knee slapping, crazy female hilarity at its best.

The following account is my own experience as an out-of-town solo female performer, for which I performed as my alter-ego old man character Buoj iz Jeb, who has a knack for taking his clothes off in: Buoj iz Jeb Summer Swimsuit Edition 2012. Ahem, more about that in a bit.


I arrive at the theater after a walk from the red line Belmont stop on a sizzling hot Chicago Saturday morning with a suitcase full of bathing suit props and a homemade man-suit.

Stage 773 is an impressive local theater joint, just down the street from the center of Belmont with its hip vintage clothing stores, funky bagel shops and fancy supplement joints.

Stage 773 breathes the sketch comedy scene that Chicago is famous for. Upon entering the theater, the first thing you come upon is a bar: something that all theaters should strive for if they haven’t already.

Audience + Alcohol = good, fun theater.

Brimming with three unique performance spaces, Stage 773 seems to have it all.

I leave my suitcase and man-suit in the green room of the Cabaret space, an intimate, small-stage performance space with glossy red theater couches and chairs at mini-tables. I am in love. What better place to peel off one swimsuit after another than for a beer-and-cocktail toting audience, to the beat of woozy Hawaiian music and sexy techno? Chicago, I have arrived. Or, better yet, Buoj iz Jeb has arrived.

Pre-audience. The place was packed later in the day!!

Panel: “Being Funny is Serious Business: A 360* Perspective of Women Doing It”

Sitting out in the lobby waiting for the Saturday, 2pm panel to start, I observe the crowd. A small group of mostly beautiful women, I’m impressed by the laid-back, friendly vibe. Jill Valentine greets me like an old friend: I admire her adorable bleach-blonde hair and pink-and-black striped tights. The ladies filter in wearing summer dresses and their free performer passes, along with a few men in jeans and t-shirts. The theater is a cool, welcoming environment off the sweltering Chicago concrete street.

The general style/air of most of the women present is creative, expressive and confident. One group of four practices a cheesy Chicago song while taking candid shots of themselves, while others participate in animated conversations. This much is clear: To be a funny woman requires confidence. And the willingness to fail.

In the Cabaret space the panel discussion begins. A group of successful and inspiring women sit at a table on the stage. They include (from left to right): Panel host Brian Posen (Executive Producer – The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival), Susan Messing (co-founder of Annoyance Theater and Improv Master), Ana Belaval (WGN News), Beth Kligerman (Director of Talent – The Second City), Marisa Paonessa (President/Agent), and Charna Halpern (co-founder of iO) . The panel discussion put the entire CWFF into context, and offered a unique perspective Chicago comedy scene.

 Here are some of my favorite quotes from the panel:

Question: What is comedy?
Answers: “Everything you relate to that makes you laugh.”
“You know it when you see it.
“It doesn’t have to be cruel, but risk-taking.”
“Throw it in the middle of a room and paint it red. If you fail, you fail.”
“Dealing with pain: humor & sarcasm (i.e., it’s personal).”

Question: Why now an emphasis on whether or not women are funny?
Answers: “It fluctuates.”
“We here in Chicago don’t talk about it that much.”
People are funny.”
“People just need something to fucking focus on again.”
“There are women in comedy, stop saying there aren’t.”
“They want funny women, Chicago’s where it’s at.”
“Women are dominating now (i.e. women are smarter).”
“In general, there is a bigger variety of people/colors onstage. Which is good.”
“We can play just as dirty as they can.”

Question: Is there a different between women & men funny?
Answers: “No.”
“Men laugh at men things (i.e. peeing in the bathroom). 

Question: How do you judge funny?
Answers: “It’s instinct, taking risks. You just know. Some are just natural.”
“A good team player, a wild one.
“Is it good writing, is it timely..”
“There’s so much talent.”
“How are they improvising, writing, acting, are you funny? (i.e. was there laughter in the room?)”

Question: How do you stay successful?
Answers: “What is success?”
“Go with the flow. Embrace different opportunities and enjoy it.”
“We get to make up shit. That’s successful.”
“There’s never a 3-year plan, just keep loving what you’re doing.”
“It keeps feeding itself.”
“In Chicago, it’s one big community.”

Question: Words of the wise?
Answers: “It’s Chicago, they don’t come here for stick-figure models.”
“They want you to succeed (i.e. are desperate for someone to go onstage and have a good time).”
“Try it all, go with your gut.”
“Put it out there in any shape or form (youtube, etc.- not tv or stage only).
“The more you relax yourself in the moment (as opposed to tensed up and ‘ready’), the better.”
“Failure: something better could happen (one door closes, something else opens).”
“Be nice!”
“Don’t look to your right or left (i.e. put your blinders on); don’t compare yourself to others.”


I got so wrapped up in my own performance after that, that I didn’t write anything about it, and in fact would prefer instead just to show you the pictures and video clip below and let you judge for yourselves. The performance took place at 6pm in the Cabaret Space on Sunday, June 10. There was an audience of approximately 20 people, and the bill was shared with Chicago performance artist, Becky Poole. My performance lasted approximately 28 minutes. I will say that it was a LOT of fun:

Buoj iz Jeb Summer Swimsuit Edition 2012:

Video Excerpt (5 minutes of a 28-minute performance):


A Few Final Thoughts:

I’m so glad I participated in this event. It was fun, laid-back, and full of great women and amazing performers. Furthermore, in addition to performing and watching other performances, I also had a great time people-watching at the Chicago beach 🙂

The Accentuated Body: artistic creations of another self

Some of my faves:

Lucy McRae & Bart Hess: 

I would include every single one of Lucy McRae and Bart Hess’ amazingly fabulous body sculptures, but instead you should most definitely visit Lucy McRae’s website here: http://www.lucymcrae.net/home/. The image link below also has many other fantastic examples of impressive body architecture.


Big Mouth Body Paint Costume:

A brilliant example of the body accentuated with a little bit of body paint.


Hyungkoo Lee, Objectuals Series:

Hyungkoo Lee is an artist who lives and works in Seoul, Korea. More info and examples of his work can be viewed here: http://www.minch.org/hklee/objectuals/objectuals.html


Clarina Bezzola: 

As described in Stamp Gallery, where Clarina’s work was exhibited in a solo exhibition titled Structure: Clarina’s unconventional garments, in her own words, “question and redefine the role of the garment. Wrapping the body to reveal instead of conceal.” A Swiss performance artist, Clarina Bezzola currently resides in New York. View her impressive website here: http://www.clarinabezzola.com/index.html


Louise Bourgeois:

While most of Louise Bourgeois’ amazing sculptures were not wearable sculptures, nearly all of them captured elements of the the body in various ways, many of them grotesque. This is a picture of the artist in the ’70s in her ‘performance costume’.


Mette Sterre, Long Tongue Sally:

Mette Sterre is a performance artist I recently became acquainted with who creates astonishing costumes and installations. For her piece “Long Tongue Sally”, Mette strapped a real cow tongue to her face- an amazing accomplishment for a vegetarian. To see Long Tongue Sally in action, view it on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/24221381. Also do be sure to visit her website: http://www.mettesterre.com/.


Emilia Javanica (me!), Buoj iz Jeb:

A character I often play, named Buoj iz Jeb, has a naked body that he flaunts for various occasions- particularly through is work as a Professional Figure Model, and in other occasional escapades including a Swimsuit Modeling session. His body is made out of a nude bodysuit, cotton, foam, steel wool, nylon and a couple of golf balls. To view a video of this particular performance, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJGQjEkMarM. You can view more pictures of his activities on my website here: http://emiliajavanica.com/section/206765_Buoj_iz_Jeb_Professional_Figure_Model.html, and here: http://emiliajavanica.com/section/264998_Buoj_iz_Jeb_Professional_Swimsuit_Model.html.



http://www.creativetempest.com/installation-conceptual/lucy-mcrae-and-bart-hess/ (Lucy McRae and Bart Hess)

http://costumefail.com/2012/02/02/big-mouth-body-paint-costume-win/ (Costume Fail)

http://www.ignant.de/2010/12/03/blog-kunst-hyungkoo-lee/ (Hyungkoo Lee)

http://stampgallery.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/clarina-bezzolas-structure/ (Clarina Bezzola’s Structure)

http://andytoad.wordpress.com/tag/louise-bourgeois/ (Farewell My Lady)

http://www.galerie10.nl/exhibitions/coming-exhibition-title/ (Mette Sterre & Inge Aanstoot)

Fake teeth baby pacifiers: PURE ART.

When I have a kid, he/she will definitely be wearing one of these:


Image Links

http://unapologeticallymundane.com/2011/02/04/donut-hole-babies/ (Donut Hole Babies)

http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=print_topic;f=109;t=000460 (Baby teeth!)

http://www.incrediblethings.com/lists/18-weird-products-for-kids/ (18 Weird Products for Kids)

http://aprilleflye.blogspot.com/2011/03/top-15-craziest-weirdest-baby-pacifiers.html (April Leflye)

http://superpunch.blogspot.com/2011/01/lil-vampire-baby-pacifier.html (Super Punch)

http://whiteningforteeth.net/billy-bob-teeth-pacifier (billy bob teeth pacifier)