I'm blessed to have a regular gig at Fellow Barber on Horatio in the West Village. It's right by artbar and a lot of other cool spots, right up the street from my fav West Village resto, Caffe Danté. I went there with Ray and his crew for Pride this year. We had a late dinner - I split a burger and had a beer (an Italian one, if memory serves - the only one they had on tap) - and blissed out with my gay boy group of friends. The waiter was adorable, Italian, and sexually ambiguous...the best kind of waiter, because you never know if he's flirting or not!
I'm here Wed-Fri closing shift (2:30-10:30pm) and all day Saturday. Come through for a sharp cut!
I've been playing in a duo with violinist Adam Von Housen since August. We jammed on Baroque tunes at Jay Street for our first busking gig, and continued to Atlantic Ave, Broadway/Lafayette, Madison Square Park, West 4th, and more. We take time off for gigs and work shifts, but mainly we're on Wednesday at 11am (rush hour, more or less). We make enough for a cup of Dunkin coffee or a subway ride, and people take photos and videos of us. It's incredible for my sightreading and intonation (Adam has perfect pitch), and good practice with the iPad.
We met back in 2013 in Whitney George's project Curiosity Cabinet, and didn't see eachother for a few years (Adam lives more in the classical/opera world, I live in the solo/ensemble contemporary sphere). I reconnected with him on Instagram, and the rest is history!
#duopower #truelove #instagay #queer #friendlies
I worked in the bookstore-café of an acupuncture school, then known as Tai Sophia Institute, near my hometown of Columbia, MD. It was the summer after my sophomore year, and I needed a job. My manager David was a former bassonist and was obsessed with Mahler - when we were closed he would put his complete collection of symphonies on, I can’t remember the orchestra. He also loved Harry Potter - he got me a pre-release copy the Friday before it came out, and I opened the paper to look at the cover that night. I read it in one sitting on Saturday, the official release date - I didn’t want to cheat.
I learned POS, how to open boxes with a box cutter (quickly and carefully), enter inventory, and stock shelves. I cleaned the café area before closing, straightened the shop, watered the bamboo. It was a beautiful community, for those two summers (I returned the next); a good hourly job, a 15-20 minute drive from my house. I haven’t worked retail since. At least I could sit at the register at that store - often part-timers, particularly post-COVID, are expected to work overtime until late at night, without a dinner break. It’s exhausting! Particularly floor work in a clothing or shoe store, where you never get off your feet and take stairs and carry heavy boxes frequently. Register isn’t as bad, because you’re customer facing, but often the staff floats. Target looks like a half-decent place, as does Starbucks - decent benefits, flexible hours, good for freelancers and those with another career.
I now seek office jobs, where I answer phones and schedule appointments/meetings. Something local, Brooklyn or Manhattan, where I can work from home (by that I mean outside, on my iPad with my wireless keyboard, as I’m doing now from the steps of the Brooklyn Museum), or remote. Ideally I can make my own hours, still play with Duo Phoenix on Wednesday mornings in the subway, do therapy on Thursday afternoons. It’s important to maintain these things. Maintenance - a key word in our post (post?) COVID world.
I moved to New York City just after my 25th birthday. I found an apartment share in South Slope near Greenwood Cemetery; I worked full time as a receptionist (ish) for a boutique tutoring company. The CEO was my mentor for that short year; she would meet with me once a month or so to see where I was headed. She remained a close friend until I transitioned into my full-time arts admin role at Americas Society in 2014. I have been front of house in several respects over the last 10 years or so: coat check at Rebecca’s Restaurant, at the tutoring company, at BUILT NY in Soho, and at Lance Lappin Salon in TriBeCa. I’m a friendly face, a warm voice on the phone, an open smile. As a kid, I answered the phone “Hello, Cargo residence.” I still do it, as a reflex, when I visit my childhood home. Friends and family always know it’s me. As a marketer and networker, I am the introducer, the first look, that first email. It’s important in the arts, particularly because people hire you based on your personality - and I have a strong one. I take good photos, good design instincts, and a good brand in my own right (took 10 years to build it, I should note!). I have a brilliant community of creators that jump at the chance to barter, have a long phone call, or have coffee on a slow NYC afternoon. Such is the life that I lead now, and I cherish it.
Indeed. LinkedIn. Monster. All of these sites are so easy to use; they have apps, resume storage, and endless possibilities. I was once cold called on one site to be the tastemaker for the president of Carnegie Hall; I thought it was fake, turned out it was real! Then he resigned.
I’m cultured. It’s my parents’ fault. I was raised on the Smithsonian, the Hirschorn, the Freer and the Sackler. I lived in Cheltenham, England for a summer. I toured Europe with a children’s chorus. I went to musical theater camp for 6 years. I sang “La bohème” with Baltimore Opera at the Lyric. I went to the Baltimore Symphony in school field trips. I learned French.
And, at 22, I studied in Paris at the Sorbonne. I traveled to Stockholm in winter, Barcelona, Granada, Seville, Fez in spring. I fell in love, went to concerts, saw Bobby McFerrin live. Josh Bell and Jeremy Denk at Chatelet. Bluebeard’s Castle at the Bastille. Boulez Sonatine with Pierre Laurent Aimard and Cathérine Cantin at the opera (my then teacher). Took lessons at the artists studios at the Bastille. What was this young life?
At 25, I moved to New York. The rest, as they say, is history.
50 hours a week with freelancing was unsustainable for me after 4 years, and I crashed. 25-30 hours a week at minimum wage with Medicaid is survivable. You can pay rent, sneak a visit to the food bank twice a month, and rely on credit cards and freelance payments on Vimeo. These are the harsh realities of artistic life in New York. If you’re not gigging and hustling every day, you’re not doing it right. This is a city of fighters. I’ve survived 11 years, just barely came out alive halfway through pandemic with the help of therapy and copious meds. I’m looking for a part-time salon/barbershop gig now, something that will exploit my people skills and goodness with numbers. I like the work. The hours can be long, but the environment is chill. We’re making everyone’s life better. Self-care is critical in these COVID times. I do my own nails, get a pedicure once a month, dream about Chinese bodywork with Sharon after church on Sundays, chased by dim sum at Red Egg on Hester (now closed). This is the moment to check in with ourselves, breathe, let go.
I just met a neighbor who works for the city advocating for resources for veterans. We talked about the lack of support for mental health in not only the military community, but also for the homeless. A few years ago, when I was released from the hospital, I hoped to volunteer with the women’s shelter on the 7th floor of the Park Avenue Armory. I’m an advocate in a small way: a business owner, a freelancer, a mental patient. My compassion extends to these communities, and perhaps now is the moment to volunteer and take action.
Rebecca's Restaurant. I was desperate for work in the winter of my first year of grad school at SUNY-Purchase, and I walked into her place, not a lick of experience, with blue sparkly nailpolish. She gazed at me critically and said, "Lose the nailpolish. Wear all black. We'll see you Friday." And so began a working relationship that would last until this very day. I worked coat check through the winter, and as the weather warmed up I started to bus. It's really hard, actually, being on your feet from 3PM to often 1AM, Fridays and Saturdays, while going to school full time.
After I graduated, I moved to Brooklyn. Rebecca would call me to work catering for private parties (I still had a car) and I would politely decline, as I was working 40-hour weeks and cooking for myself every night. Weekends were sacred. Once I got my Masters at Manhattan School of Music, I started booking musicians from the city to play these private parties for special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Good money, good food, good company. A dream gig!
I now teach Rebecca's mom the piano every Saturday morning in Stamford, CT. We practice scales, sing along with Cole Porter tunes from "Anything Goes" and watch videos on YouTube: Lenny conducting the NY Phil in West Side Story Suite, Argerich performing Ravel's Concerto in G with Detroit, Satie's Gymnopédie no. 1, Debussy's "Snow is dancing" from the Children's Corner. We love Bernstein's conductorless rendition of Rhapsody in Blue and American in Paris. Her mom is a classic, full of stories that I can only dream about: Sinatra at Newport Jazz Festival, Ella Fitzgerald live, Bernstein conducting the New York Phil. We learn from eachother.
Urban Decay. Kat Von D. Sephora. Marciano. Nasty Gal. Zara.
These are my brands, and I am loyal. What does that mean?
I tour with this stuff: glittery eyeshadow, matte lips, black bustiers, silver floor-length gowns, basic black garments, coats, flats, platforms, good heels. I can deduct it on my taxes. I shop sales and clearance, finding steals wherever I can with a meager budget. Have questions? Karjaka will be taking some shots of me in 2021, rest assured. You'll see me all over the 'gram.
They say "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas..."
But does that apply to me? I'll be flying there on Christmas Eve this year, staying at a hotel off the strip (pictured above). We'll be eating at a French place for brunch on Christmas Day (Mon Ami Gabi), at La Cave - a wine bar with small plates - that night, and the trip goes on. It will be a holiday getaway to the desert, to the valley, to an insane city with all the glitz and glamor I've been missing. I want to go see Cirque du Soleil's water show "O", get tickets for Celine Dion (she has a show there) and go walking on the strip at early evening. Maybe a strip club too. When in Rome...?
Photo from Trip Advisor.