TRUTH DARE or

Madonna leads the charge in her sig­na­ture fear­less fash­ion.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Fashion -

That is a catch­phrase that’s of­ten as­so­ci­ated with me. I made a doc­u­men­tary film with this ti­tle, and it has stuck to me like fly­pa­per ever since. It’s a fun game to play if you’re in the mood to take risks, and usu­ally I am. How­ever, you have to play with a clever group of peo­ple. Oth­er­wise you’ll find your­self French-kiss­ing ev­ery­one in the room or giv­ing blow jobs to Evian bot­tles! Peo­ple usu­ally choose “truth” when it’s their turn be­cause you can tell a lie about your­self and no one will be the wiser, but when you are dared to do some­thing, you have to ac­tu­ally do it. And do­ing some­thing dar­ing is a rather scary propo­si­tion for most peo­ple. Yet for some strange rea­son, it has be­come my rai­son d’être.

If I can’t be dar­ing in my work or the way I live my life, then I don’t re­ally see the point of be­ing on this planet.

That may sound rather ex­trem­ist, but grow­ing up in a sub­urb in the Mid­west was all I needed to un­der­stand that the world was di­vided into two cat­e­gories: peo­ple who fol­lowed the sta­tus quo and played it safe, and peo­ple who threw con­ven­tion out the win­dow and danced to the beat of a dif­fer­ent drum. I hurled my­self into the sec­ond cat­e­gory, and soon dis­cov­ered that be­ing a rebel and not con­form­ing doesn’t make you very pop­u­lar. In fact, it does the op­po­site. You are viewed as a sus­pi­cious char­ac­ter. A trou­ble­maker. Some­one dan­ger­ous.

When you’re 15, this can feel a lit­tle un­com­fort­able. Teenagers want to fit in on one hand and be re­bel­lious on the other. Drink­ing beer and smok­ing weed in the park­ing lot of my high school was not my idea of be­ing re­bel­lious, be­cause that’s what everybody did. And I never wanted to do what everybody did. I thought it was cooler to not shave my legs or un­der my arms. I mean, why did God give us hair there any­ways? Why didn’t guys have to shave there? Why was it ac­cepted in Europe but not in Amer­ica? No one could an­swer my ques­tions in a sat­is­fac­tory man­ner, so I pushed the en­ve­lope even fur­ther. I re­fused to wear make-up and tied scarves around my head like a Rus­sian peas­ant. I did the op­po­site of what all the other girls were do­ing, and I turned my­self into a real man re­peller. I dared peo­ple to like me and my non­con­for­mity.

That didn’t go very well. Most peo­ple thought I was strange. I didn’t have many friends; I might not have had any friends. But it all turned out good in the end, be­cause when you aren’t pop­u­lar and you don’t have a so­cial life, it gives you more time to fo­cus on your fu­ture. And for me, that was go­ing to New York to be­come a real artist. To be able to ex­press my­self in a city of non­con­formists. To revel and shimmy and shake in a world and be sur­rounded by dar­ing peo­ple.

New York wasn’t ev­ery­thing I thought it would be. It did not wel­come me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gun­point. Raped on the roof of a build­ing I was dragged up to with a knife in my back, and had my apart­ment bro­ken into three times. I don’t know why; I had noth­ing of value af­ter they took my ra­dio the first time.

The tall build­ings and the mas­sive scale of New York took my breath away. The siz­zling-hot side­walks and the noise of the traf­fic and the elec­tric­ity of the peo­ple rush­ing by me on the streets was a shock to my neu­ro­trans­mit­ters. I felt like I had plugged into another uni­verse. I felt like a war­rior plung­ing my way through the crowds to sur­vive. Blood pump­ing through my veins, I was poised for sur­vival. I felt alive. But I was also scared shit­less and freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit ev­ery­where, es­pe­cially in the en­try­way of my third-floor walk-up. And all the home­less peo­ple on the street. This wasn’t any­thing I pre­pared for in Rochester, Michi­gan. Try­ing to be a pro­fes­sional dancer, pay­ing my rent by pos­ing nude for art classes, star­ing at peo­ple star­ing at me naked. Dar­ing them to think of me as any­thing but a form they were try­ing to cap­ture with their pen­cils and char­coal. I was de­fi­ant. Hell-bent on sur­viv­ing. On mak­ing it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare my­self ev­ery day to keep go­ing. Some­times I would play the vic­tim and cry in my shoe box of a bed­room with a win­dow that faced a wall, watch­ing the pi­geons shit on my win­dowsill. And I won­dered if it was all worth it, but then I would pull my­self

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