Excerpts from a dialogue with Stevie Jay, Wisecracking Prophet
Interview by Lincoln Barbour/fluxstate.com
Q: There's so much to talk about with you, Stevie Jay. It's hard to know where to begin.
SJ: Let's talk about all of it!
Q: Okay. Your show has been hailed as a ground-breaking piece of theatre; the Tashbain Chronicle called it "advanced theatre never seen beforeriding the wave of an emerging consciousness." You've been named a "Wisecracking Prophet," a "Latter-day Lenny Bruce," and a "Buddha for the New Millennium." And Greig Coetzee, who won Best Actor at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, said that along with the award, your show ranks as the most exciting experience he had in Edinburgh."
SJ: I paid Greig A LOT of money to say that.
Q: What is it about your show that has audiences so amazed?
people have returned to see your show up to 10 timesyou've almost got yourself a "cult" following.
SJ: Oh, Godreally? How scary. I was in a cult once.
Q: You're kidding.
SJ: Wella consciousness-raising groupsame thing, I guess. It was one of those "intentional" communities of the 80's. We were essentially hypnotized into believing we were the scum of the Earth simply because we were human beings. It was non-denominational, but it preyed upon our Judeo-Christian beliefs that we were all inherently BAD. Doesn't it sound like Catholic School in the worst way?
Q: It sounds like prison.
SJ: Is there a difference, Lincoln?
Q: How did you get into something like that, Stevie Jay?
SJ: How does anyone get into ANY kind of abusive relationship, Lincoln? Low self-esteem is an epidemic, you know.
Q: Will you say more about that?
SJ: Well...we're all so programmed to believe that we do not count. We are not taught how to discover ourselveswe are taught to be puppets of our parents, and even worse, we're manipulated and pressured to remain attached at the umbilical cord. As a result, even as adults, we continue looking outside ourselves for the truth...like three year olds who have yet to develop their own mental processes, we look to others to tell us how to think and live. Everyone's going about their relationships totally confused as to where "I" end and "YOU" begin! And until one obtains a stronger sense of oneself, getting close to another person becomes a power struggle—not a support, but a threat. Relationships are so often pursued as a game of chesstrying to figure out one's next move so as to not be conquered. It's a mess.
And for people who’ve had their boundaries messed with as childrenand unfortunately, that’s more people than notit’s easy enough to end up in some kind of disempowering relationship. But we’d better go back to talking about the Stevie Jay show, or I’m just gonna ramble on about this.
Q: Okay. What is it that has audiences returning to your show over and over again?
SJ: There's something about this show that's hitting a nerve in people, cutting through the shame and guilt crap. In ninety minutes, you see one person be funny, smart, awkward, sexy, insecure, angry, scared, beautiful, jerky, wacky, embarrassedand embarrassing! A multitude of human qualities, displayed in full viewcelebrated, even. And most of these qualities are the things people would love to eradicate from their livesif that were possible.
So by the end of the show, something has been remembered...something deep...something precious...is recoveredsomething in one's life that was misplaced.
Q: What is it that people are remembering?
SJ: Where they left their car keys.
Q: I'm ignoring you.
SJ: Oh, don't ignore me, Lincoln. It hurts my feelings.
Q: What are people remembering, Stevie Jay?
SJ: A lot of things...but mostlytheir hearts. They're remembering the love inside their broken hearts.
Q: Where does your former life in that group play in to all of this.
SJ: Oh, Lincoln. You're so smart.
Q: Thank you.
SJ: Our society has stamped the word BAD on every aspect of our livesespecially the good stuff: Sex is bad. Eating is bad. Having fun is bad. Your naughty thoughts are bad. Your feelings are bad. So many imperfections you haveand they're all BAD, BAD, BAD!! This is the hell we go through.
In my life, I had the extraordinary experience of living in a group that was based on perfection. It might as well have been a concentration camp. But as horrific as my experience in this group was, it was really nothing more than an exaggeration of the human horror that everyone goes through, with all the Nazis inside our heads, terrorizing us...torturing uskilling us. Having spent so much time with that group, I gained a deeper understanding of human sufferingspecifically the suffering caused by rejecting oneself for being less than perfectfor being human. And that is what the Holocaust was about, wasn't it? The idea was to create a superior race by annihilating those who were supposedly less than perfect. Is this not what we're all doing to ourselves and to each other on a daily basis? Of course it is. So I have something to share about the horrors of disconnecting from one's heart and attempting to cleanse oneself of so-called imperfections.
By the end of the show, perhaps without even realizing it, the audience has actually pieced all this together for themselves.
Ultimately, my autobiographical narrative is not only about myself; it's about all of us.
Q: The audience members see themselves in you.
SJ: Exactly. And I am acceptable and loveable to them. So to answer your question, Lincolnpeople return to the show so they can experience their long-lost love for themselves.
Q: I would imagine it's this multi-faceted connection you share with the audience that allows you to continue performing the show over and over.
SJ: Oh, absolutely! It's that psycho-dynamic thing that makes this whole endeavor possible. Night after night, we transcend the audience/performer relationship. And that's a good thing, let me tell you. 'Cause otherwise, I'd just feel like Mary Martin trapped in a never-ending run of South Pacific on Broadway: If I have to wash that man right outta my fucking hair one more time, I'll shoot myself in the head!