Tag Archives: Buoj iz Jeb

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.

Tech:

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.”

Performance:

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):

Images:


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.

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Big Mouth Body Paint Costume:

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

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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

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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

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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’.

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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/.

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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.

 

IMAGE LINKS:

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)

Buoj iz Jeb hosts the Water Show

Well, the Performance Laboratory had another great monthly event last night. What was fabulous about this time around was that we staged it mostly outside in the backyard of the CAID, with each performance in a different area of the yard. I’m becoming more and more drawn to site-specific performance as opposed to performing on a standard stage setting, and having the Performance Lab outside added a new exciting dynamic to the performances and event. Besides the fact that we had to mow a completely overgrown lawn a day ahead of time, and that there were mosquitoes nipping at everyone’s skin for the entire event, it was AWESOME. Great performances, nice theme of ‘water’ to tie it all together and a fabulous audience. The Performance Laboratory really does just get better and better. The more we learn from each month’s event, the more we grow as organizers, performers and a solid community.

As for my own performance, well, I went kinda crazy. And it was so much fun. See, I’ve been performing this character since approximately November 2010 named Buoj iz Jeb. Buoj iz Jeb is an old man with a dirty mouth and a foul sense of humor. He’s not afraid to talk, and despite his raunchiness, he’s a pretty likable guy. The thing about Buoj iz Jeb is that he likes to take his clothes off. That’s what he does for a living. He’s a professional figure model, and more recently, a stripper and swimsuit model as well. His first big break took place at the Work: Ann Arbor Gallery in downtown Ann Arbor on November 19, 2010. He showed up with an easel, some props and his own body to be drawn by the art show attendees in an interactive performance, which took place in the front window of the gallery, exposing itself both to those on the inside of the gallery, as well as those on the street passing by. Each time an ‘audience member’ drew Buoj iz Jeb, he taped it to the window facing out to the street to display. By the end of the night, the window was full of drawings of his naked, old man body.

This time around, Buoj iz Jeb was the host of the Performance Laboratory. Going with the theme of water, Buoj modeled a different swimsuit between each performance. Each swimsuit was peeled off to reveal the next, until by the end of the night he was completely naked, transforming into a nudist swimmer. Each swimsuit had a theme, and music that he played out of his boombox to go along with it. There was lots of audience interaction, and in the end Buoj collected money in his socks for the show. It was a big success! For this performance I hadn’t had a lot of time to plan ahead, as I didn’t commit to performing until a week before when we realized we needed more performers to fill the show. Slowly over the week my ideas developed, but nothing was ever set into stone. Even though the performance wasn’t completely planned, I had a structure and idea of where it was going from one point to the next. I also had a lot of thoughts in my head about what I might do, which naturally came out in the moment. The majority of the performance was improvisational- responding to the audience and situation. What I love about playing Buoj iz Jeb is that all the things I am unsure about or question ahead of time naturally come out in his dialogue- he has the ability to communicate what’s working and what’s not, and make that a part of the show. Basically, his character gives permission to be completely chaotic while still having a throughline and end point, which most of the time is to take his clothes off. What’s the point? Well, to make the audience uncomfortable, and yet completely enjoy the absurdity of something that would not usually happen in most cases. There’s something about Buoj taking his clothes off that people totally get a kick out of, in many ways because it’s pretend- it’s not real. Buoj’s body is not a real naked old man body, it’s my female body dressed in a nude unitard that I have designed to appear realistically as a male body. However, it’s still obvious that it’s not real. Therefore, the removal from reality makes a generally grotesque and disturbing action turn into a fun, still grotesque, but raucous and hilariously disturbing event. If we were gonna talk concept and theory, we could say that the performance plays on the stigma of male sexuality and body image, in particular that of an old man, in society. It challenges the audience to view something that normally they would feel extremely uncomfortable viewing in a completely different context. It also challenges gender ideas: me playing drag in reverse.

To view Buoj iz Jeb’s figure modeling performance, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJGQjEkMarM (3-minute excerpt), and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8volCSH8STU (9-minute excerpt)

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