Human Resources Re-Opens Performance Art Space with Daniela Sea, Staring Contests, Shoe on a Rope and Ryan Heffington's Disco Boys
Carol Cheh Asher Hartman's play The All Stars of Nonviolet Communication
Saturday night was the grand re-opening of Human Resources, an eclectic collective of artists, musicians and aficionados who organize one of the few spaces in L.A. dedicated to showcasing performative art practices (they also show exhibitions of visual art). After a brief hiatus during which they were without a space, Human Resources is now perfectly situated at the old Cottage Home gallery in Chinatown, a spacious former kung-fu movie theater. Here, the cavernous, open ground level provides a luxurious setting for performance events of every stripe, while the smaller upstairs rooms offer options for more object-based exhibitions.
The mood was festive during the well-curated evening, which was broken up into six acts. The dance collective Wife started things off with a piece done in tandem with video projections. Asher Hartman then gave us a performance of his experimental play, The All Stars of Nonviolet Communication. Dubbed "a blue vaudevillian poem in three parts," the play gave plaintive voice to the memories and unresolved feelings of four departed gay actors -- Paul Lynde, Waylon Flowers, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Barclay Shaw.
Carol Cheh Paul Waddell in performance
Totally Serious regaled us with a brief but very loud set of improvised guitar-and-drum noise. The assault on the audience continued when performance artist Paul Waddell took the floor. Waddell seemed to channel a warped Joseph Beuys as he exercised various ways of frightening, provoking and interacting with the audience. These included intense staring contests, swinging a shoe around on a rope in a huge arc that threatened to leave a footprint on someone's face and gargling and spitting up mouthwash, all while he took breaks to record his impressions on four wall drawings.
The program started winding to a close with a lovely set of pop ballads from a band consisting of Daniela Sea (of The L Word fame), Will Schwartz, Patty Schemel (of Hole fame), and Bo Boddie. A rousing finale was provided by the Ladyboys of Sweaty Sundays, choreographed by dance guru Ryan Heffington. These glammed-up disco boys from Heffington's wildly popular exercise class were unapologetically fabulous as they sashayed and stomped for an adoring audience, leaving them begging for more.
Carol Cheh Ladyboys of Sweaty Sundays, choreographed by Ryan Heffington
My only complaint was that this evening was too short -- starting around 8:30, it was over by 11:00, leaving a still energetic crowd (some having just arrived from other events around town) wondering what to do next. When I asked Dawn Kasper, an artist and member of the Human Resources collective, why this was the case, she replied that it was because they wanted to give people a teaser of what was to come, so that we'd all come flocking back to future events. Sounds good to me. This Friday evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., stop in for sound and performances by Jon Brumit and David Scott Stone; another dance performance from Wife; readings by Wolfboy, John Tottenham and Alexander Levin; and dancing with DJ Diner.
Carol Cheh blogs about performance art at Another Righteous Transfer.