16 Great things in the 2016 Cesspool: For me at Least.
December 24th, 2016 → 2 Comments
From “Sorority” curated by Gina Young at the Hammer Museum earlier this month.
2016 is the year that I wish I could take to the back of the barn and shoot dead. If I were to even begin to catalog the misery, I’d have to attach a suicide net to the side of my blog to catch you all. No joke, 2016 made George Orwell look like a journalist. But I’m going to do a rare thing and cheer you up with my annual CIRCLE JERK OF ONE!
Behold! 16 Victories in this thoroughly shitty year!
1. I took over the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco!
A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I love installation performance art. When I got out of college, I imagined myself a performance artist who would live in a gallery space for hours eating butter and crawling around while moaning about colonialism. Because of the economics involved with being a working artist (namely, performance art is a very hard way to make a living), I opted for the slightly more sustainable artist’s career that is a writing shows that can be performed again and again.
But my secret desire to make unreplicable performance art was unleashed when The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco asked me to TAKEOVER for one night. The museum is a multi-million dollar property with a collection worth millions of bucks! After my first idea was vetoed by museum security, I decided to restage the most “famous/infamous” works of performance art with artists of color from the Bay Area. It was a ton of work devising and coordinating artists (and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi) to perform but the night was really successful. We broke a museum attendance record! People left really impressed!
2. I met Bernie Sanders!
While on tour in Minneapolis in March, I got a call from the Bernie Sanders campaign that he was meeting with API leaders in Chicago in two days. I bought a same day in/ out flight to Chicago so I could fly back to MN and do the second show I was contracted to. It was insanely risky and super expensive (those $27 campaign contributions don’t fly people like me to meet him). It was a short meeting but so surreal to be in the same room as him. And when we took this pic, his hand on my back was HOT. I felt the Bern!!!
Here is a video of me recounting what happened:
I flew back that same day to perform in Minneapolis and I was so exhausted. I do not recommend flying out of state round trip the day of your one person show. But I am a fan of the Bern! He got me thinking if I should run for local office! (I know right?)
And to be fair: This was the group photo that I cropped everyone out of super fast to make it look like me and Bernie had a private moment. Note Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on the far right!
3. I did a huge tour of many cities!
Miami! Minneapolis! San Francisco! Philadelphia! Canada! Oregon Shakespeare Festival! Portland! LA! LA! LA!
I played for THOUSANDS of people this year all over North America. And I taught a ton of workshops and visited a lot of classrooms. Hell yeah it was exhausting! I’m really lucky that I get to meet so many people and share my work with them. I was not very good at touring when I first started out, but now, I sit back and think, “Wow, how many other people can say they pull life off like this?”
I also did a show at FACEBOOK HEADQUARTERS and was on a panel with KRISTI YAMAGUCHI HOLY SHIT.
And yes, I tried to stuff my pockets with as much free shit as possible while at Facebook, but the employee escorts follow you around, so all I got was a few markers and some cookies. But yo, if you are a sucker for free stuff, go work for Facebook.
Sabaa Tahir was also on the panel fangirling Kristi.
4. Hella Hella microloans going to Uganda!
In every city I tour Wong Street Journal to we collect donations and sell merchandise to benefit the microloans going to VAC-NET in Northern Uganda. This was an amazing year where thanks to my amazing audience members at Wong Street Journal we were able to send $3300 over to them! This is pretty significant considering that the average microloan is $57! Dozens of women are NOW off the waiting list for microloans and can start business!
5. I lost the Pulitzer Prize to Hamilton (and a few other plays)!
In a performance that can only be remembered as “The World’s Longest Inside Joke Dragged Out Between me and Brian Feldman” I was proud to be the most country’s most notorious Pulitzer Prize contender this year. And before you congratulate me, just remember that “contender” and “nominee” are different things. I happened to be in New York when they announced the winner and scored a Press pass from NBC to write about my fight to become the most notorious loser of the most coveted literary prize in America.
You can watch the video of me delivering my concession/ acceptance speech and read the transcripts of the speeches HERE.
And here is the piece I wrote for NBC Asian America about what crashing my own awards ceremony and losing.
6. I birthed a new show!
I was lucky to be one of the playwrights in residence at Ojai Playwrights Festival. I lived on a fancy ranch for two weeks, was in the company of fantastic playwrights and dramaturgs, I met the coolest theater patrons in the world, and cried my way into a new play manuscript called “Attention Please”.
I wrote it because I was struck about what the point of performance art (my genre) was in a world so increasingly surreal that any artfully manufactured spectacle is TRUMPED by reality.
After I wrote it, I thought, “There will be no market for this play once Hillary is elected and the threat of our country becoming a giant reality TV show is no longer.”
Oh young naive Kristina.
7. I officiated a wedding!
My friends Minna and Ken have been fans of my shows and floored me when they asked me to OFFICIATE THEIR WEDDING. They have been dating for nine years, so this was a big deal. They embrace feminism and nerd culture, and so I wrote an officiant speech worthy of a nerdy feminist couple. This meant a lot of reading reddit to learn what nerds like to talk about.
After contemplating all officiating outfit possibilities, I decided to make my own Pope outfit. I was going for a subtle Eye of Sauron effect with the Pope hat. It totally does not look like a vagina right? I took it off during the serious part of the ceremony to reveal a series of smaller but identical hats. And I sewed my gay bible cover and prayer shawl too! Yay sewing!
8. I was in a movie!
My dear friend Adelina Anthony who was my solo performance idol for many years made that elusive transition to film and invited me to audition for her movie “Bruising for Besos.”
You guys, I cried watching that movie. AND I AM IN IT. It’s that good! I’m going to be in more movies… just you watch baby.
9. I made some web goodness.
There’s a live action Mulan movie coming out and here I am on the streets talking about it…
I was also a few big panels this year. Here’s one that was live streamed for Zocalo Public Square.
10. I have two continents left!
I went to Australia for the first time in June! I also tried Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef! It was a two week trip that included Hawaii thanks to a $604 ticket my friend found online! I will say… after doing Uganda in 2013 and making a rap album, every trip abroad kinda pales in comparison. I’m spoiled like that.
No trips planned for 2017 yet, but I plan to hit a new country!
11. I made this Halloween Costume for $4. Then made Elle Magazine!
If you know my work well, you will recognize the pink gown from my wedding officiant outfit and the cats from my play CAT LADY. Only took $4 in safety pins to put it all together.
Getting into the UberPool that night was no easy feat, but I was the costume hit of Rodney’s 75th birthday (above), the Weho Halloween parade and I made #2 on this Elle Magazine list of women with “Grab Her By the Pussy” costumes!
12. I failed at voter suppression.
I attempted a few videos where I came out as a Trump supporter and urged people to vote for Trump on SUPER WEDNESDAY November 9. It worked because he came in with 2.5 million fewer votes. Except that old relic from slavery, the Electoral College (a college more stupid than Trump University) made this current horror show possible.
13. I didn’t marry anybody.
Certainly not Jeremy Lin. I did date fewer losers. Which meant I wasn’t dating much at all.
14. Breaking ground on this new play.
Unrelated to this highlight, I was in John Sinner’s “Invasion of Decency” as a holy roller this year (see above).
A play I started two summers ago about Vermont and China is getting a dust-off next month when I’m Artist-in-Residence at Lewis and Clark University in Portland. It was initially a silly play with deeper ruminations on “homeland” and cultural nostalgia. The current political climate has me thinking about the bigger stakes of the play. What does it mean to flee for America, and what does it mean to flee back for China?
15. I started learning Chinese… AGAIN.
There are so many goddamn tones in Cantonese that teachers tell you to just learn six of them. And I had to make this chart above using stills I screencapped from a Youtube Video so I could keep track of them.
Imagine that. The election results have kicked my ass to expand my linguistic horizons/ possible new countries I can live in. I could learn Mandarin which is more popular in China and spoken all over Taiwan, but why not go super old school real and learn the mother mother tongue tongue? So I went straight to Cantonese. AGAIN. And I can’t be too hard on myself that so little Cantonese from elementary school stuck, nor can I get mad that my attempts to learn Mandarin in college barely took… because that SHIT IS HARD.
I am using this app I found online to learn. And I am really surprising myself. I’m picking it up! And I practice every day. And rather than feel overwhelmed, I love the liberation of learning at my own pace and by myself. I think a trip to Hong Kong is definitely in my future! Maybe even to my grandfather’s village that he left as a boy!
16. A big crazy career thing happened TBA in 2017.
I know, I always allude to “some big thing is going to happen in the future” and don’t always deliver. But yo, something totally big is happening and I can’t say what. But basically, everything I’ve ever wanted my whole life is very close to happening. And hopefully I won’t be carted off to the camps before it happens… but homies, this one is HUGE. Stay tuned!
Anyway, as much of a nuclear holocaust as this year has snowballed into, I am grateful that I still make a living as a performance artist. My last part time job was in 2005. That means I’ve been a full time artist for 12 years. WOW. And as far as this goes, you’re going to have to pry this crazy career from my cold dead hands…..