Getting to Know Felicity
The tapestry of my relationship with Felicity began to take shape, creating its own unique blend of lively patterns and colors. There were dinners together. I met Matthew and Luther, their dog, in their new digs. A plan was formed: Matthew and Felicity would come live with us in Arcata in July so that Felicity could participate in Dell'Arte's Summer Physical Theatre Institute with a Brazilian street theatre group called Lume. We went to Dana's son's Impact! Theatre production together; Jaron and Felicity discovered they were attending classes at the same place and knew people in common. When I picked Felicity up at BART before the play and we drove through the streets of Berkeley, she quipped: "So this is how you people in the country live." After dinner at Dana and Bruce's, Bruce took her on a quick tour of Dana's costumes. One day when Felicity was at The Body Gallery for her Pilates session, the owner of the studio mentioned she wanted to exhibit art there. Felicity made the connection for me; the exhibit, Bridgit In Context, was at The Body Gallery February through April (2000). Felicity was among my friends who came to a special reception there.
Felicity became interested in staging a burlesque show. Toward that end, she constructed a gigantic Botticelli style clam shell, created costumes, recruited dancers (primarily from Lusty Lady), choreographed the dance pieces, and scripted her Mistress of Ceremonies persona. The event was scheduled at an alternative performance space, a.k.a. a warehouse called Cyclone, and it received top billing in the alternative media for that particular week end.
I went with Bruce, the very one who dared me to go into Lusty Lady that first time. The place was jam packed to the rafters with young people. My claustrophobia, usually extreme, was somewhat tempered by my high anxiety about what could happen in case of fire. I got highly distracted when I saw Felicity emerging from the clam shell.
By the time she was eating fire, I forgot to be worried.
The show was a lot of fun for performers and audience alike. Felicity started thinking about taking it on the road.
In the meantime, Matthew landed a six-month job with The World of Wonders, the oldest traveling side show in the United States. Once his own job was secured, he pitched Felicity to Ward Hall and Chris Christ. Hall and Christ decided to hire the pair, asking them to meet up with the show in Yonkers, New York at the end of May. Felicity quit her job, they sublet their place, and friends took in Luther, the dog.
I wanted to do one more session before Felicity headed east, knowing it would be at least six months before our trio would be reunited. It's odd because it does feel like a trio: Felicity, Bridgit, Pam. We got together on a Saturday afternoon, and I told Felicity she should think about how she wanted to be viewed with Bridgit as the old chapter was closing and the new was yet to open.
Felicity showed me a book called In Search of the Monkey Girl, with stories by Spalding Gray and photographs by Randal Levenson. Published in 1982, it is a photo-essay on carnivals and sideshows and the characters who work them. Ward and Chris, now probably in their late 60's, are in the book. Felicity explained that she and Matthew would be living in a tent. Matthew would be doing his fire-eating act and God knows what with the various rings piercing his body. Felicity would be doing some fire eating and her walking on glass routine.
We sat around for a couple of hours talking. Felicity said she had been thinking she wanted to work with Bridgit on the issue of body image. She said she wanted to interact with Bridgit in ways that would help her to explore her body image.
We stashed Bridgit in the back seat of my car and took off for Cyclone. Her clam shell is still stored there. Cyclone is at the base of Cesar Chavez Street in San Francisco, basically at land's end. Some young men who were working there helped us drag the shell out into a sunlit spot. Sun and shadows. Felicity propped the clam shell open and climbed in with Bridgit.
Once again, she drove the imagery so skillfully -- connecting her emotions and determination to the ideas that had been forming in her head. I watched as she transformed from heavy set beautiful grown up woman far beyond her 28 years to innocent exquisite child of eight to confident teen whose whole life was ahead of her. Her interactions with Bridgit -- if I had to sum them up in a word -- were tender.
We headed outside, climbed over a fence, and there we were: at land's end among the shrubs, seaweed, and rocks by the water.
At one point we had Bridgit laying on the rocks, beautiful green seaweed, Felicity kneeling. I walked over and showed her the shadows she could make with her hands on Bridgit.
She formed a perfect diamond around Bridgit's belly button.
I asked Felicity if she could explain why it is that she can interact with Bridgit so easily in front of a camera, obviously working through unspoken issues.
She said that some of it had to do with trust. She also said: "Bridgit is a toy. I feel comfortable letting my imagination go like this with a toy." She commented that Matthew has a great imagination, but he would never be able to let it go with an inanimate object when it comes to working out emotional issues. She thinks this is the case with most men.
I made her promise to get a cell phone and an email address, and she called a few days later to say that she had.
Getting to Know Felicity
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Bridgit in Malta
Bridgit at St. Brigid's
High Light: The Winter Solstice
Excursion to Primal Decor
Getting to Know Felicity
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