I just finished your dvd. First, I loved it. That is far too general to mean anything, but it evoked so many thoughts and emotions in me that it is hard to know where to begin. You and I talked once about how we all use clothes, titles, status, and “stuff” to help mask to the world all our insecurities and fears. However, one audience member noted that vulnerability brings people together and I think he really nailed it. But what was so profound, really, was that everyone (or almost everyone) in that room did initially feel uncomfortable and awkward, yet as the show progressed, people really opened up and that awkwardness seemed to shrink away, or at least shrink back a bit. I guess what struck me is that maybe it isn’t so hard to shed at least some of our culturally programmed vulnerability after all; maybe it’s just a question of us all recognizing and acknowledging that we are all the same in that respect.
I loved some of the finer details that you included: the little girl (Lily?), your two girls, Dave’s supportive presence. One of my favourite and I think one of the most touching moments was right at the beginning when you said you needed a hug from Dave – perfect. I don’t know if that was spontaneous or planned or what, but it was such a perfect opening for a visual statement about vulnerability: taking strength from those sure sources, the safe sources. It was really beautiful.
The stories you told of your journeys – mental and physical – were so beautifully told (you are, as well as having many other fine talents, a captivating story teller). I learned a lot about you, my friend. I never knew you’d lived in Australia for a year!! Your experience at Maclean's was very thought provoking. How many of us live through jobs we hate without ever analyzing why? We say “That was such a shitty job” and dismiss it from our experiences and in doing so never learn anything from it and so fail to grow. I was in tears throughout your show, and many times it was the raw honesty of your thoughts and your willingness to share them so freely that did it. I so much admire your strength!
I was fascinated by the comments that came from the viewers/participants. I’m glad you included the comments by the woman who thought the show was “subversive” as I think she articulated what many of the more conservative public would feel, but in doing so, I think she inadvertently emphasized the very point that you were standing up there making: we all feel vulnerable! The “subversive” comment was, I think, more defensive on her part, but it was interesting to hear her views. Although I think I understand why you didn’t respond in length to any of the comments, I’d love to know what was going through your head at that point. I think that by not responding in length, it allowed the audience to express their views more honestly without fear of being engaged in a debate or discussion which they may or may not have wanted. Just simply to share their reactions. I was very touched by the woman who had grown up with a father who ran an adult video store and how that affected her. Also interesting how, as you noted, most of the audience was male, and many of them older. It was interesting to see how they easily adapted to the situation and were able to offer their insights so honestly.
So here’s the only part I didn’t like: At the end when the girls each had a little say (very cute and a little comedic relief), and you talked about the decision to bring/not to bring them, you said it made sense that they were there because you are doing this largely because of them…and then it just ends. It seemed to me that that was a good segue into an elaboration of this – something that would be really interesting to many. That fact that both your loving and lovely daughters were there and they were completely nonplussed by your nakedness, even in front of a group of people, would, I think, but of great interest to the audience. Our culture dictates that nakedness in the presence of others is wrong, not normal etc. What a damaging message! I’d like to have heard you address this. Teaching kids at a young age that nakedness is not shameful or dirty or wrong goes a hell of a long was to building (or perhaps more accurately, not eroding) self-confidence which is a great defense against vulnerability. Anyway, in short, I just thought it ended too abruptly; I wanted more. But that criticism is minor. I know I have to give the dvd back, but I wish I didn’t have to: so many important messages here.