Tag Archives: texas

Back in the Saddle…and on the road to riches!

While “riches” may not be the most robust fit of a word for a shoestring queer DIY performance art project, I have had a fabulous initial outpouring of support for this research project and show over the last few days. Thanks so much to everyone who has pledged their support, and/or passed the project link on, and thanks in advance to those of you who are reading this and thinking–hmmm, I do like that beef print…maybe I’ll donate a few bucks.

I am back in Seattle after a raucous week of California travel (San Diego, Palm Springs, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco with varying doses of academia, lesbian spring break/Dinah Shore, and my mother in each locale), and am entering into an intensive ten days of rehearsal. I promise to pull out of it to post more interviews, images, and clips from the Texas adventure, and to post show content as I begin to document it!

xoxox, and thank you again for your support!

Honeysuckle.

The first photo of a truly naked animal, “Original Size”

Two days later, I am still eating meat.  I finished all but one bite of my steak and eggs (Niman Ranch) at Counter Cafe, but the final piece just stared at me, bloodier, like the outside of it was meat and the inside of it was animal.

While it was happening I was in it like a fascinated tourist, like a biology student on an awesome field trip: the first pig I just watched, from entrance to airgun to bleeding to feet off to skinning to eviscerating to halving to cold room.  The second pig got to “airgun” as the first pig got to “feet and skin”.  The second pig I captured with photos and videos like a proud aunt at a birth or a soccer game.  In retrospect, my behavior seems bizarre.  I spent some time in the cold storage room, and though I didn’t feel it yet, those pictures reveal that something had shifted–I can’t smile in them, whether out or respect for the cows next to me or because of the goat head installation art against the wall.

Or are they cows?  Cows would make much more sense, and would match the bodies hanging in the cold storage room.

So it has been two days and I have eaten meat several times (chicken enchiladas mole & fish tacos at guero’s in SOCO, that steak at counter cafe, chicken tortilla soup at Chuy’s) and I have not yet looked at any of the photos past the airgun at any size larger than the requisite thumbnail on an iphoto scroll-through.  Except for these.  The heads.

I’m not sure how to write about this, how to post these images, or how to tell the story, even how to document my own processing of the experience without sensationalizing the moment the bolt hits, the killing of the animals, without pimping them to get a reaction, because the airgun was not the climax, or at least it did not seem to be the climax until much later.  So for now, desensitization through hanging heads, and later, an actual engagement with the process.

Slaughter: Slides 8-12

Slide 8: In Austin, Texas I saw my first slaughter.

Slide 9: I didn’t know what to expect.

Slide 10: I put on a lab coat and hair net over my yellow dress.

Slide 11: I was on the inside looking out.

Slide 12: The slaughterhouse was beautiful.

Slaughter post-game report: part one

The truth is, the slaughter was beautiful.  yellow tile, bare rafters, simple, well-handled tools, a photo spread of a room laid out for working.

I promised Jo Sugar, my semi-permanent home in East Austin, to show her only the architecture first.  The images I need to close my eyes to (just in case) are these:

Not so solo

Up until sundown of the night before the slaughter, I imagined I would be going alone. Waking up early, putting on a version of drag that is in between suburban Texas day wear and stage-ready Honeysuckle, listening to the same five hip hop songs on loop on the local station, and driving my little rental car up to the slaughterhouse. That all changed, as things do in East Texas, in a backyard over a six pack. Stephanie Scherzer of Rain Lily Farm and Farmhouse Delivery in Austin sat next to me, and the moment she started talking, I started taking notes. It was the first of what I hope will be many interviews with local farmers, cooks, and lovers of food on this adventure.

I’ve spent the last few days thinking a lot about death, the grit of raw, clawing living, and what it means to have people to lean on, to process with, to take care of you, or just to be beside you. It now seems foolish to have planned something that could be so emotionally intense without plans to have another human there, and I am so glad to get to have Stephanie’s company on the trip tomorrow. Even if the process just makes me crave steak even more, or feel instantly more connected to and more appreciative of the beef jerky backup stash in my glove box, it will be wonderful to experience it with another person, and with someone who is phenomenally passionate about meat and change.

I’ll plan to complete and post the interview with Stephanie promptly, and of course to report out on tomorrow’s fieldtrips as soon as humanly possible. And then, at the request of a reader, to try to document the aftermath over the next several days.

There is something about writing and posting the experience though, I am realizing, that makes it all feel not so solo. Thanks for following along, and please do share your thoughts if you’ve made it all this way.

1. Anticipate the Slaughter

Slide 8: In Austin, Texas I saw my first slaughter.

What’s funny is I haven’t seen it yet. I am writing down a future imaginary, I am committing it to real.

I have no idea how I will respond to the experience. It could be incredible: uplifting, transcendent, or terrifying.  I might run, vomit, cry, shit my pants.

I might gasp out loud, make some sounds involuntarily, and only realize afterward that I was the one who made them.

I might not be able to watch.

Will the animal look at me? Will I be looking in its eyes at the exact moment of death?

Will I ask to take a cut of that meat, of that animal, will I be able to fathom the connection, life to mouth, to actually walk the whole path?  Shit.

Will I be able to watch hanger steak ground up to become a burger? Will taking the steak as a Steak feel more respectful?

What if there is still meat in the grinder, what if the burger isn’t just my animal anymore? What if it is tainted, disrespectfully mashed together with some other meat from some other animal, what if the meat becomes JUST MEAT?

And maybe that moment, the moment of death, won’t be the climax at all. Maybe it will be the sound of the door as I leave, or words spoken by another human, living. The thing about trying to imagine and predict what will come is that we can’t know. Which has not yet stopped me from trying, ever, or from making up stories, or spending days at a time living in them.

In five days the infinite possible imaginary moments will all be killed. I will wake up that morning with a knife in my hand and run around killing all the ways that I THOUGHT the day might go. Then I will do what we always do: take it step by step, drive a mile at a time, and wait, and see.

cow/blood

(excerpted from our Passover Haggadah-2009)