01 December 2012

First Flame

As those of you who are familiar with my blog know, I have had a campaign on Startnext for my PJ's Pussies exhibition for the past 30-something days.  In order to launch my campaign, I had to record a video of myself explaining my project and asking for money.  I used the resources I had available, a tripod, camera and Final Cut.  Robert helped me subtitle it.  The video is below, and it is HORRIBLE! (If the youtube video doesn't play here and you want to watch it, follow this link)

I know it's bad, okay?  I'm aware that all of the vivaciousness that I have as a performing just does not come through.  My speech is halting and awkward, my movements mechanical.  I'm like some horrific broken robot.  The outfit?  I guess on the day I dressed that way, I thought it was cute, but I admit, I do look a little like a member of the airline stewardess rejects club.  The composition of the video is ok, I like the way the cats are arranged, but if one is just stumbling around youtube watching random things and sees this video out of context, I can see how it would seem extremely strange.

Evidently, my work IS strange, strange enough to get featured on Regretsy.  Regretsy is a flame site that features weird and somewhat regretable arts and crafts for sale on the interwebs.  They are, of course, based in America.  Even though Regretsy is a flame site, I welcome publicity and internet presence of my work.
Since getting listed on Regretsy a few days ago, the video posted above has gotten almost 6,000 hits.  This is good, right?  Well, maybe not.  The first string of comments on Regretsy is about the scar on my face. Maybe I don't want those 6,000 hits after all.
It's a cheapshot, picking on someone's physical appearance, but the internet (and the world) is full of people who do just that.  This comment about my appearance hurt me so much that I removed the video from my youtube channel for a few days. Unfortunately, I could not remove it from the Regretsy site.  As of today, I have made the video public again.

I've been dealing with people's rude behavior about my scar my whole life.  First I thought that the rude behavior and ridicule would end when I left high school.  Then I thought that maybe after college, folks would have something more important to focus on.  Eventually, when I left the US, I imagined that there might be more interesting questions to ask me, more immediate qualities to judge  my character by, than the scar on my forehead.   Boy, was I wrong!
People have flat out told my that they could not cast "my scar." I have had directors and performance coaches tell me I should cover my scar or somehow obscure it because it is distracting, that it detracted from other parts of my clown or another character that I was playing.  This was largely in my own work that I was devising!   Excuse me, but if I can't perform past my scar, I should really find a new career.  Audience members have said a lot of things to me over the years when I've walked off the stage, but not once has someone dared to rudely ask, "What happened to your face?"  Evidently, the otherwise qualified directors and coaches I've worked with don't have the same poise.
In October, I flew from Berlin to Amsterdam to work with a modelling agency.  I was surprised when they booked me.  Though I'm active in front of a camera and quite photogenic, a lot of photographers won't work with me because of my scar.  And that's fine.  Modelling is a shallow business, based only on visual imagery.  Most people who like to shoot pretty girls are looking for plastic conformity of some nature.  If someone doesn't like the way I look, they don't book me.  It's as simple as that.  But this agency did book me, and I thought, "Alright!  A modeling agency that thinks outside the box!"
When I got to their office in Amsterdam, their modeling coordinator took one look at me and told me, "Sorry, but the photos you sent us looked much different.  We can't shoot your scar."  And this after I had traveled to another country to work with them.
It was a financial (as well as an emotional) knife in the gut. But you know, I should be used to it.  I've had doctors latch onto questions and assumptions about my scars and how I might feel about them when I've gone to get a PAP smear, employers constantly "admiring" my ability to "work past my appearance," (talk about insulting!) and strangers on the S-Bahn come right out and ask me, "What's wrong with your forehead?"  They usually ask in German, so I pretend I don't understand.  I'm thinking that my new response might be to punch them in the forehead and say, "Nothing. What happened to yours?"
If you're reading this and you want to ask how I got it, don't.  It's none of your business.  I don't owe you any sort of medical validation.  It's just there. Deal with it.  

It is amazing how much we care about a uniformity of appearance, how if you don't have two legs or all of your fingers or have some visible scars, something is "wrong" with you.  The slightest variation makes one an easy target, a subject of ridicule.
I'm trying to work hard, deal with my life, not hide.  I'm trying to put myself out there, to open myself up to what might be small or large success.  I am willing to fail, to fall down and get back up again.  But what I am not willing to do is explain my appearance to people.  And I'm not willing to keep taking shit for my appearance either.  I've had 35 years of people judging me on my physical differences and I am sick of it.  People need to learn to behave themselves.  The next time someone over the age of 12 says something inappropriate to me, they better be appeared to deal with my wrath, which I'm capable of in English and German.

As far as this whole youtube thing goes, I'm upset that I've been putting actual quality videos online for quite a few years, but the only thing that seems to get hits and comments is my horrible crowdfunding video, and the focus it seems to draw is because of my scar.  It is really disheartening.  I lose faith in humanity jut a little bit more with every view that it receives.  I'm tired of dealing with discrimination, but that doesn't mean it goes away.

If you are reading this, the next time you feel like asking someone about their physical difference, don't.  Pick something else to focus on.  Remember that even if someone looks different then you, it doesn't mean they are any less human.  And it might save you from getting punched in the face.


  1. I saw your video on Regretsy and thought the comments went too far beyond being silly and turned right to downright bullying. I'm sorry people are so hurtful. My best friend has a large red birthmark on one eye and is asked every day if someone punched him in the face. When they say "what happened to your face?" he just says "I was born." and walks away leaving the rude person feeling uncomfortable. Keep doing what you're doing and I wish you much success!


  2. A friend of mine wrote me this in response to my "punch in the face" option:
    I think a better approach would be to point out something about them that
    might not be the norm. For instance if a bald man asked you about your scar
    you could say, "Oh it's unfortunate that your hair is gone. When did that
    happen? How? Does that mean you don't have hair anywhere?" Ask a question
    that would make them uncomfortable and self conscious. That would get your
    point across without using violence.
    I don't like this idea for one very specific reason. I see this as a "You're ugly."
    "Oh, yeah, well you're fat," situation. I don't like that. It doesn't do me any good (in fact it makes my feel horrible) to use these same lookistic views and slurs against a person who is using them against me. I'd like to switch up the game a bit by using a new response. I'm pretty much a pacifist. I don't even think I am capable of punching someone in the face. But I might be. And it's nice to fantasize about.

  3. Also, welcome to my etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/listing/116887139/pjs-pussies-adorable-and-weird