Thursday, April 26, 2012

Adventures in Hedonism - Clowning Around in the Desert

Venus sets above the Studio

As a self-described hedonist, it’s important for me to continue to explore, challenge, and discover the things that bring me pleasure in life. It seems lately the desert has been calling. It’s odd to think back on my childhood memories of tortured boredom when my parents would take long drives to Palm Springs, the Boulder Canyon, and the Salton Sea - but something changed. Maybe it was Coachella, or taking the Palm Springs tram up San Jacinto, but the mid-century modern poolside cocktail aesthetic fed well into my particular hedonistic inclinations.

Recently though, I’ve been enjoying a different desert scene – one rising above the Coachella Valley and into the Little San Bernardino’s to Joshua Tree and Pioneer Town. Here the aesthetic includes outside artists playing with found objects, living off-grid, and the flora and fauna of the National Park. I once regarded this place as desolation and couldn’t imagine that anyone would actually choose to live here. That has changed as well.

The Wildflowers are in bloom
We’ve been to Joshua Tree three times already this year, a getaway, a wild flower tour, and this last one – a creative adventure. We returned the place we stayed in January that was once owned by artist FrancetteMace, this time choosing to stay in her studio which so captivated me on ourfirst trip.

World Famous...
The weekend was a delight, and included spontaneous trips to visit the Art Queen Gallery (including the World Famous Crochet Museum) and Randy Polumbo’s other property which he built out of found and repurposed materials. We ourselves we’re visited by a variety of desert wild life including quail, bobcats, and bats. However, the highlight of this weekend for me was a clowning workshop that my wife Lisa arranged with Roger Fojas, AKA Ringmaster Roger of Lucent Dossier.

I always said Lucent Dossier is the circus I want to run away and join – who knew I could have part of the circus come join me for a weekend? We had met Roger before at another Lucent workshop and have been longtime fans. We were lucky that Roger was available, luckier still that we coaxed him up to joining us in Joshua Tree.

We heard that Francette would hand
feed the bobcats hot dogs
We had a great time, got our clown names (you can call me Giddy), told stories, expressed emotions, and learned a little bit more about ourselves and each other. For me, as a generally quiet and reserved man, it was an opportunity to express myself physically and spontaneously without the usual internal censor. I’m an over-thinker – which means as a rational hedonist, I sometimes spend too much time being rational and forgetting about indulging my hedonism. Thankfully Roger's exercises in clowning left little room for self-doubt or second guesses.

Bar stools around a desert tableaux
Better still was the retention of these lessons the next day. As our 11:00 AM checkout time loomed ahead, Roger asked us to join him in creating a ScavenJester video. There was a tense silence as my rational brain  tried to reason an excuse that we didn't have time. Meanwhile, my hedonist brain knew I’d forever regret giving up this opportunity and ultimately stepped in and said, “yes - of course.” Within moments, I pulled the one thing we had packed out of the car – a container full of props and costumes – and let Roger, Poe Jester, work his magic.

I’m sure we were a site – trying on costumes while simultaneously packing and loading the car. The cleaning crew arrived before we even finished the first scene, but let us continue to play and take advantage of the property’s Martian landscape. Thus Lisa and I became ScavenJesters, and I couldn’t be more proud (or Giddy).