Abe Rybeck, Founding Director of The Theater Offensive has been pushing the boundaries of LGBTQ activism for over 30 years and I am so fortunate to have been able to interact with him over the years. We met at the National Performance Network – Annual meeting on Miami Beach at the Deauville Hotel. It was during an after party, when suddenly, hardcore Cuban salsa music started to blast into the Grand Ballroom and before I knew it we where on the dance floor “salsaing” our brains out.
Since then I have considered him a mentor, confident and source of inspiration. Here are scenes from CLIMACTS – WET! 2015. An immersive performance installation I collaborated on with The Theater Offensive staff under the Artistic/Executive leadership of Nick Bazzo, Adrian Budhu and Evelyn Francis with the super generous support of the NPN.
Here is a little excerpt of the video I created during my residency in Boston that played on the most gorgeous LED Flat screen.
It has been almost one week since my first showing of Raw Coffee @FilmGate Interactive and the feedback has been more than positive. I believe now more than ever that the relevance of Freedom and how we obtain it is key to a healthy and balanced existence. Everyone craves for understanding, to “get it”, to know what’s going on or at least find out where to it is. Change is inevitable. The cells of our body change minute by minute. The skins gets rougher. The bones get weaker. The eyes get heavier. The mind goes deeper. Freedom is a privilege. The work I am doing now is fusing together a lifetime of experience and misunderstandings. Failing to authentically connect to the out of control train I am currently on. Alone! with my nostalgia of my heritage, my languages and my stories.
Thank you Neil de la Flor for this really mindful review of the work, it says it way better than I can. I just always seems to get lost inside of the performance arena. A haze of delights envelops my consciousness and I begin to breathe out of every pour in my body. The charge that fuels me, ricochets like a dart right into my heart. The exchange I feel with the space, the audience and the circumstance creates a purpose for my precarious situation. I thank all of you who have supported me throughout this process and I apologize to those that I am hurting right now.
TRPL Quince and The Pig Show, my last two solo projects were both works that made me look deeply at my Cuban American roots. I finally made it to Cuba this past August and September. Thanks to collaborator and dear friend, Natasha Tsakos, (Artistic Director and Visual Artist), the pioneering powerhouse Debbie Ohanian (Producer), a life long dream of mine has come true. To create a devised-music-theater project in Havana, Cuba, alongside incredible collaborators, the founder of Dansa Contemporanea and former director of the Tropicana NightClub, Santiago Alfonso and the Cuban music master, Issac Delgado. Enjoy this Research and Inspiration video for the new project “Salsa Mambo Cha Cha Cha”, bound for Broadway. Stay tuned or for an invitation to the work in progress contact me.
A performance and video installation in memory of queer academic José Esteban Muñoz by DIGITAL HOSTAGE COLLECTIVE. —————– The Miami Beach Botanical Garden will be transformed into a space of queer utopian longing. “Cruisers” like dance theater provocateur Octavio Campos and choreographer Pioneer Winter will interact with visitors, soliciting them to listen to oral histories of the queer Miami and Hialeah of the 1980s—the time of José Esteban Muñoz coming-of-age as a gay man—while soprano Celeste Fraser Delgado and tenor José Vilanova circulate the grounds, evoking the devastating impact of the AIDS pandemic with haunting arias.
The intrepid may choose to enter the Garden’s Butterfly Room, transformed by visual artist and videographer Damian Rojo into a symbolic “back room,” where an installation culled from archival film and new video evokes what Muñoz calls the “utopian longing” of the public sex scene in the 1980s. “Cruising Hialeah” and “Ghosts of Public Sex” inaugurate “Cruising Miami,” a long-term project to develop an archive of Miami’s queer lifeworld and of performance by queers of color in South Florida.
The Cruising Miami project aims to bring José home to South Florida’s queer community through a salon dedicated to his work and a performance coupled with a video installation recreating the cruising scene he missed out on in his youth, and a mural visible to young queers proclaiming the most famous quote from Cruising Utopia:
“Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of the moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds” – José E. Muñoz, Cruising Utopia —————– Born in Havana and raised in Hialeah, JOSÉ ESTEBAN MUÑOZ grounded his theoretical work in a performance and public sex archive derived mainly from New York City and Los Angeles. Also born in Cuba and raised in Hialeah at roughly the same time, DAMIAN ROJO immersed himself from an early age in the suburb’s queer culture, unknown to Muñoz, documenting much of his experience first on Super 8 film, and later on video. Though they never met, Muñoz as scholar and Rojo as artist separately explored parallel queer worlds of punk music and public sex throughout their careers.
While growing up in Hialeah, Muñoz was largely unaware of the queer culture flourishing at that time in South Florida. Although he regularly returned home to visit his Evangelical Christian parents, he never wrote about or appears to have even seen any queer performers in Miami. Likewise, the queer community in South Florida is largely unaware of his work.
ABOUT DIGITAL HOSTAGE COLLECTIVE: The Collective negotiates life, death, and sexuality in the digital age through interdisciplinary works that fuse the carnal with the virtual. Long-time collaborators singer/writer Celeste Fraser Delgado and visual artist/videographer Damian Rojo work with a shifting roster of consorts, which for Cruising Miami includes dance theater provocateur Octavio Campos, poet Neil de la Flor, dramatic tenor José Vilanova, and [choreographer Pioneer Winter.
*This performance is not suitable for minors under 18*
The Pig Show is a 45 minute subversive cabaret solo show. Associative story telling meets interactive queer stand up performed by Miami’s own performance provocateur, Cuban- American Octavio Campos. The piece looks at the passing of pop culture icons, Weimar republic sex workers and dead dancers like Michael Jackson & Pina Bausch inside of a naive retelling of the story of the invasion at the Bay of Pigs in Havanna, Cuba.
Conceived and performed by Octavio Campos
Music Juan Carlos Espinosa, George Gerschwin, Spolinski
Costumes Slick it Up
Lighting Kevin Roman
Production Camposition Inc.
This video sample of THE PIG SHOW is from the section called: PIG BURLESQUE
the full performance of a work in progress showing was done at WinterFest – Miami Dances 2011 in Miami Beach, FL January of 2011, World Premiere at Revolt, Melbourne, Australia part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival and lastly at Hot Festival – Dixon Place – NYC 2013.
The Synapse Performance Project facilitates and supports dance think tanks; concentrated periods of creative work, where a Miami-based choreographer brings in collaborators from other parts of the country. Thought Loom is proud to work with seasoned choreographer, Octavio Campos as its first lead artist with his new transmedia solo performance TRPL Qunice. A very special thanks to the directors of Thought Loom, Letty Basart, Elana Reynolds and the incredible and generous Lydia Bittner Baird.
Watch the interview with collaborators, David Fishel (Video) and Robert Flynt (Photography).
Octavio Campos, a.k.a. Dr. O., is on an anthropological quest to save the lost art of performance. Imagining a heartbreaking world without cabaret, he investigates the dying profession before attempting to breathe new life into its parts. At the intersection between truth and performance, Experiment #1 will expose the audience to Campos’ acute transformation of a real-life actress into a showgirl.