I’ve been asked by some important people to explain my plan to take my multimedia work and activism to the next level. It should convince influential businesswomen and businessmen that I’m serious about what I do, and that I’m worth their time. I have noticed something about non-important people that might be worth checking out – it’s just that we tend to end up at the bottom of everyone’s priority list, and thus not having any regular productive interactions from anyone because important people are being pulled-on and distracted by a lot of other important people and never get to the bottom of their lists. So, I thought I’d first be open and honest about my struggle, however guilt trips tend to get me less attention than my accomplishments, but here goes:
Before I got on social security disability, I made a living at music related stuff, although very little of it had to do with my dream, I did have times in my young life where others referred to me as a “professional”, and I was recognized and acknowledged for my skills, experience, and educational background in music and art. What I wasn’t prepared for was that living with the “disabled” label since 2009, somehow all my experience and accomplishments went from Professional to Hobbyist. I also ended up on everyone’s “non-important” list, in addition to the stigma this label carries – as if I am just an averagely functioning artist that decided to cheat the government out of some monthly funds while purposefully annoying everyone around me with “pretend” mental disorders.
Various services for those on disability are for entry level stressful dead-end jobs, and no legitimate support for my actual vocation; meanwhile, people in government, commercial, and non-profit organizations are making money at my failures to accomplish this. To follow my dream, I am expected to climb the tedious ladder that other struggling artists climb that might get them to a place where they barely make a living over several years of development. This process doesn’t work for people that are not privileged to have that kind of social and cognitive functioning, and if it does, it can be just about as risky to be successful at this as winning big at a casino. Thus, another dead end, where I have run out of choices.
When I worked at Alaska Music Center in the 1990’s at the beginning of my career, my boss joked about his instrument rental “scam sheet”. The music store he used to work at also called it that. I still find it amusing, so I thought I’d offer to those who need to see and hear my “scam” of how I can break out of obscurity. Most successful artists attribute their “big break” to those they serve, those they have connections with, and sometimes, who they sleep with. That’s all good, if someone influential is willing to take you to where they are at and share their power. They just tell me where the door is, and I’m not allowed in unless someone takes me into their world. In thirty years of trying and giving up, I have remained in obscurity.
My Scam is based mostly on publicity, and after years of trying and learning, there are some people that simply are not gifted in approaching people like this. So, my next scam was to direct a lot of funds to hire people to approach media outlets on behalf of my business, however I guess I needed special skills to approach them as well, and somehow, offering money to people doesn’t seem to work as well. Having connections also doesn’t work for people that are in a class of existence like I seem to be.
The big question about whether I am worthy to be considered as a public figure, is what I have to contribute. Besides my creative work (mostly recorded music) my story is valuable to many who have been touched by mental illness. It’s been clear to me and those familiar with my work that I have a lot to offer to the world of arts, entertainment, and comedy; in addition to my activism. My ultimate goal is to share what I’ve survived in order to encourage other men who have been stuck in the same places in life and thus indirectly undermining violent crime. If there’s one thing I hate more than gun violence is at how little is being done for these men who suffer to the point of committing these horrific acts.
Some artists who are not allowed to offer something valuable to the world often self-destruct, especially when there are debilitating disorders involved. At my age, I no longer have the ability to give up on my dream. People are afraid that this work will kill me, however, not being able to do my work, in my experience, puts me more at risk. I also have had to accept the fact that my motives are often questioned.
So, what’s my scam? I’m “supposed” to regularly perform locally, show my art, and market myself; and I’m exhausted to the point where I can’t keep up that lifestyle that has gotten me basically nowhere. I need institutional support, or whatever it takes me to reach the people I need to reach, in addition to the care my illness requires. This happens in this industry quite often where an unknown artist happens to fall into some kind of career “express elevator” – it’s just that when some artists do not get the mental health support they need, it often ends in forms of self-harm, especially substance abuse. Here’s what I need: enough publicity to get me where I need to be based on my activism (my story) and my multimedia work (my art and music) while having access to a therapeutic environment where I can survive this kind of life (my care).
If this continues to fail, I already have a Plan B, although it’s not really at B after all these different attempts. I’d say I’m close to Plan Z at this point in all my other scams. Reputable businesses that are successful enough to be choosy about who hires them have refused my money, which has made me vulnerable to disreputable businesses. Also, the professionals who do show an interest in me who want to volunteer their time also provide another dilemma: they seem determined to remain in a place of influence over me. This happened often when I was young and inexperienced, which is understandable. What makes this weird, is that having once been a recognized professional who was respected in the business world and treated as an equal, disability status has changed that. If I pay a professional what they are worth, that puts me in a place of influence, or if anything, a place of equality. The more exposure an artist gets, the more influence they have, thus more power. I’ve learned the hard way that money in itself, nor even a valuable product doesn’t necessarily cause doors to open and allow someone to have visibility, unless someone is lucky. Even well connected artists don’t have this privilege unless they are empowered by those connections.
I’ve also noticed that professionals who support the disabled and mentally ill seem to give their time and money to organizations, which is a good thing. However, if you see that time and money is one thing, and power and influence being another thing, I hate to ask myself, “what kind of thing are they actually giving?” It’s easy to throw money to the poor and needy, but to empower someone takes something else – and this something is something that I see less than 1% (of these powerful people) given to me: the ability to be as visible as those in places of influence.
When it comes to following my lifelong dream, I would have preferred to have a dream of being a hermit in the Canadian Rockies, or owning a sea ship. Unfortunately, my creative abilities put me in a category of careers that in order to be successful, as a byproduct, influence is unavoidable, even if I decide to be anonymous. Perhaps I’m wrong, but after years of trying as many strategies I have been given, and most of them I had to come up with myself, nobody who has the power to significantly boost my career is willing to allow me to have any power. There, I said it. (Phew.) I’ll say it this way: influential people aren’t afraid to share their influence with me, they’re terrified.
Think about it this way: there are only so many people on earth, and there are so many powerful people fighting for their attention that there’s only so much attention that can go around and that if I get some of that attention it could very well mean less attention for those who have a lot of attention already in addition to my theory that influential people that get more attention than they deserve often feel so insecure that they make a lot of effort getting more and more attention and they can’t handle losing attention because their lives are wrapped up in the amount of attention that they already have and they are scared of those who deserve more attention that they have, so they also make a lot of effort to make sure that those who need more attention get less attention and sadly I’ve seen a lot of powerful people actually succeed and get away with this quite often. (Also, the fact that I’m long winded doesn’t help.)
I’ve spent years supporting the careers of powerful people who either paid me what I’m worth (and if I’m working a wedding, more than I’m worth) or less than what I’m worth, and mostly nothing at all; and in return they did nothing, or nothing to significantly further my career. In addition to that, the stress related disorders and panic attacks that came as a result of trying to work in environments that were harmful to people at my functioning level. If that wasn’t bad enough, some of them felt so threatened by what I have to contribute, they succeeded at undermining my reputation. It seems to me that although most of these powerful and influential people seem quite sincere, I’d assume that even well meaning folks would be unaware of trying to overpower disadvantaged people. When people are afraid, another part of the brain takes over, and even good people can react with an unconscious response. Or some are simply assholes.
So, what’s my Plan Z? What’s my next scam? So far, the things that have worked best for me is to follow in the footsteps of those who have been successful, and one multimedia artist and activist in particular is Frank Zappa. He had so much to contribute to the sophisticated art world and being an outcast didn’t stop him. It shouldn’t stop me either. He went for the “novelty” market and actually got published on a jazz label, and the rest is history. He then proceeded to give a slew of very unique and influential products that many of them were a nice “fuck you” to the high minded art world. I grew up heavily influenced by over-educated progressive artsy-fartsy culture, and I simply am unable to behave like them.
When it comes to powerful people sharing their power, there are some who actually do seem to share their power with “underprivileged” talent. It’s just that I’ve made a sad observation about those situations: the talent are often gifted individuals who are either at such a low functioning level that they are vulnerable to being overpowered, or artists who simply give up their power. I wish I was still that way, but unfortunately I got kinda old, and I’ve got an ever-growing allergy to control freaks. I refuse to sell myself cheap like that. Therefore, my plan is to sell myself cheap, but in a that way puts me in the driver’s seat of my work.
I’ve mentioned this before, that I’ve actually fucked powerful guys with connections to the art and entertainment industries in the hopes that that kind of connection could actually further my career. Read history, it’s actually happened at times. That hasn’t worked for me, even if I actually was a good fuck. I don’t say that because I’m at all proud of my slutty gay history; it’s just an example of the fact that this career, my dream, is so important to me that I’m willing to literally prostitute myself. (Not to mention the fact that I’ve had to separate myself from everyone and everything that is determined to control me including friends, communities, colleagues, my hometown, and often most or all my family members; and that should explain why I’m writing this from the high desert away from everyone but my partner and our crazy pets.)
That’s why I decided to try some business strategies that reveal my utter desperation to be successful at this, and without me having to be a porn star. My first attempt at a Zappa-style body of comic filth is a little something I’m calling, “Stop Talking I’m About To Sing.” I decided to invest as little time and effort into this disgusting monstrosity of silly songs and offensive parodies, and see what happens. That’s one of my ultimate scams yet. If I have to do all this creative work alone, I shouldn’t let that stop me. If I don’t have the privilege to be treated with enough equality in the business world to hire reputable companies and freelancers, I’ll have no choice but to do all my own graphics, editing, writing, public relations, publicity, and marketing – all by my little old self. It will take a lot more time, and although I have time, as I’ve entered the forth decade of failed career attempts, I admit I’m running out of patience.
I have an official LLC business licensed with the State of Oregon. I have websites and business cards. I have a business account. I’ve taken small business training and consulting in addition to vocational programs. At least the bank treats me like a businessman, however, that’s not what I need to get recognition. At this point, I think it would be funny to sell out. The funniest thing about selling out is that it’s typically related to artists who are already somewhat recognized. The sad part is something I keep saying to myself whenever I am not allowed to get legitimate mental health and vocational support: “I shouldn’t have to be doing this.”