Naked on Stage
My Friend Hannibal prompted me to dig out this essay and I thought I’d post it here…
Naked On Stage
What does that mean?
Besides the literal?
I always joke with friends and colleques that I am more comfortable being naked in front of 1,000 people than talking to someone 1 on 1.
I think I know why. I have a few different performance theories that I am still working on connecting into a cohesive theory of performance.
Basically, my hypothesis is that to be a successful performer you must first be naked in front of an audience.
Here’s my line of thought. Follow me on this.
In high school, I was thrust into a scenario that caused me to be naked on stage. As a freshmen I was pushed on stage to serve as a fill-in for an awol senior. I didn’t know the song, I didn’t know the dance, and my only choice was to hold on to my partner for dear life and follow her instructions. Two days later, I watched the video and was amazed. You literally could not tell that I didn’t know what I was doing! I had been totally exposed, “naked,” and survived without a scratch. If I could do that, I could do anything! From that moment I became invincible on stage! This was my traumatic event.
A few years ago I was watching an episode of Fear Factor. One of the top 3 fears people have is the fear of public nudity. So, the first challenge was a naked fashion show. The contestants had to strip completely naked and walk the catwalk in front of an audience of roughly 300 people, with cameras popping, and pose at the end of the catwalk for 3 minutes. They all did it. No body chickened out. Guess what? Every last one of those contestants stayed in the competition until the final challenge. Nobody was eliminated until the final. Why? They had been naked on stage and were now invincible. This was their traumatic event.
More recently, Hillary Clinton exposed herself in front of an audience. She let her guard down and began to cry during a response to an emotionally charged question. She was naked on stage, and so far has been invincible.
So my theory is that to be an effective performer, one must become invincible onstage. Experience can do it, but the best and quickest way is to have a traumatic event, or literally be naked on stage. This is my traumatic event theory. And it ties directly into my next observation.
You’ve seen these people onstage that have “it.” While the jury is still out on what “it” is, a friend of mine who has spent a lot of time in Europe believes that “it” is a form sexual confidence. For some reason or another, those performers with “it” exude a sexuality in front of an audience that is unique in origin. I believe that they feel invincible, largely due to their sexual nature. My friend calls this the sexual shadow, and believes in large part that we as Americans hide this shadow for others. Those with “it” do not hide it. They flaunt it.
So how do these two theories connect? I’m not sure yet, but I’m sure they do. Stay tuned for more…