SATISFACTION (YOU'RE MATCHED, SAY HELLO) (2022) LIVE ZOOM PERFORMANCE
Really compelling to me as someone interested about repetitive energies in queer life and digital space…..top... middle... bottom...… your work is definitely getting me thinking more about the contradictions of queerness under capitalism’
'How I seemingly switch between all those characters. About creating distance, makes it safe to do - based on reality but embellished’
‘Nailed the corporate office environment and slogans #DoubleMeanings #DoubleLives’
'Imaginative and disturbing' 'Super graphics. Very disturbing with a reflective mood' 'U2's ZooTV meets an 80's David Lynch and your words are hypnotic' 'Awesome and powerful'
‘I enjoyed this because as a gay man I can relate to the situation of men living double lives. Your poem, with humour, exposes this sad fact of people in years past being fearful of acknowledging their sexuality'
Juxtaposing the politics and practices of cruising and spaces of production, this live Zoom performance explores gay cruising in terms of men looking for men but not going around looking for men in cruising spots like in the woods or public toilets but looking for men on the internet and telephone chat lines, and specifically cruising for men whilst at work. Trapped in military like repetitions at work where you see the same people day in day out, everything in these hyper regulated spaces accentuates the desire and need for ‘satisfaction’.
The performance is based in the office where I did work experience in 1993. I introduce four fictional characters Bobby, Andrew, John and Mr Bellingham-Jones, the manager. Whilst fictional, these characters are based on real-life people that I used to work with. Using the language of consumerism (bargain basement, reduced, top value, sale, blue X) during this section of the performance, the character Bobby spends all day cruising gay dating websites. His character refers to how many gay men put themselves on sale, the nasty side of cruising: cheapening/ 'reducing’ yourself/selling yourself cheap. The fictional characters in this performance were developed around ideas of how the dynamics of cruising produces and constantly reproduces relations. Shannon Philip writes:
‘Cruising is a political act …it’s not just about desire… there is a social and political dynamic there too. In the case of ****, he only cruises from a particular class, gender and sexualised-abled body position so for him desire is constructed in a particular way which then shapes cruising. Men like him don’t desire poorer looking bodies, hairy bodies, non-muscular bodies – there is a particular kind of aesthetic/structure that is being normalised through neoliberalism – manifesting a very unequal society. Caste. The encasted body. Caste and class have a lot of co-relations. Men want to be neoliberal and say they don’t believe in caste when actually they only date men from the upper class/caste, looking at those with lower-class bodies with disgust and distrust.’
Trapped in military like repetitions at work where you see the same people day in day out, everything in these hyper regulated spaces accentuates the desire and need for ‘satisfaction’. Customers always want customer satisfaction, guys cruising always want satisfaction. There are two sides to cruising, two sides to ‘you’ve been matched’: It’s not just about stalking but wanting to be seen - you want to look/be the voyeur and you also want to be seen: the word ‘SEE ME’ written in a font that looks like old computer writing from the 1980s - on repeat reminds us of this. There is also a certain amount of lying: the cruiser as listener and voyeur and the guys the cruiser is cruising as in listening to or looking at both embellish the truth to make themselves more desirable to each other in a bid to get that all important hook-up/have sex. But cruising, like shopping, is a totally unsatisfying experience: we are never satisfied at any point in the process. This section of the performance has the message ‘you’re matched, say hello’ on repeat, what exactly are you ‘matched’ for? Both Andrew and Mr ‘BJ’ Bellingham Jones are closeted homosexuals until BJ (in British slang, BJ stands for ‘blow-job’, oral sex) is discovered having sex with John. But the most complex character here is Andrew, ‘a timid man’, who leads a double life. He is married to a woman and has children but enjoys being the submissive ‘cub’ of an older man, his ‘daddy’, whenever he is able to. As I suggest:
‘He couldn’t wait to work late then come a quarter to eight he was out on his date With his muscular daddy at the Kings Arms pub Where Andrew loved being daddy’s little boy cub Spending the hours before, on the draw Andrew’s fantasies of Daddy in pencil drawing Hoping that as he was doodling, the manager ignoring’
The fictional character Andrew, in many ways embodies how we (gay people) must learn survival tactics once we have discovered our sexuality, to often hide our ‘true’ identity by playing different characters/roles. Andrew’s character represents how some men are forced to lead a 'double life', in heterosexual relationships whilst knowing they are gay.
Between 1999-2005, I worked with the tradition of the adapted readymade via the supermarket price sticker and the anti-spectacle whilst at the same time looking at the spectacle of advertising and how it links into the production of subjectivity …. a social commentary on consumerism at that moment in time - shopping before the Internet and the commodity of buying. This performance is still about buying but about buying people - you are a commodity when you put yourself on the Internet - you do not have to sell yourself for money but people have to sell/market themselves on dating websites.
The performance was made using my drawings, paintings and sound and moving image spanning more than 20 years since 1999. For example, moving image recordings made on a Sony Ericsson Cybershoot K800i mobile phone between 2005-2006, mixed media paintings on canvases including office planner sticky dots, mapping pins, supermarket reduced price stickers made between 1999-2005, pencil drawings made in 2019, recordings made on an iPhone between 2019-2020. and images from the employee handbook from the department store that I worked in between 1995-2000.
Runtime:8 minutes 47 seconds