No, the illness which was afflicting me earlier this month didn’t eat me alive- SEAF did. What’s SEAF? That would be the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival. It’s an annual event, going on ten years next year, which showcases erotic art in various forms. Last year a few folk I knew, and a number of folk I didn’t know but wanted to, were working with SEAF and so I figured why the hell not and signed up to volunteer. I had such a blast helping out unpack and hang art that I decided to help out again this year.
Oh boy did I help out. Unlike last year where I drove 30 minutes into the city after I got out of some classes I was taking, helped out for a few hours, then did it all again the next day, this year I decided to dedicate myself fully to SEAF for the whole pre-show insanity and the full weekend of the event. Yeah, I’m crazy. I took the week off work, and spent my time checking in artwork being dropped off for the exhibition, wrangling spreadsheets, and waking up far FAR earlier than I think anyone should. As luck would have it, not only did I get to do art-handling and installing (and somehow becoming the queen of all knowledge related to the spreadsheets), I got asked to assistant stage-manage the mainstage production. I have a delightful history of getting added to the production team for shows the day before opening night so I put on my headset, hopped onto the com, and away we went! Being backstage and in my element again awoke some parts of me which have too long been dormant, and it felt absolutely amazing.
My techie self wasn’t the only thing that SEAF awoke, and while I’d love to wank on about what a wonderful time I had ASMing and all that rot, you’re probably wondering what the “and all I got was one less hard limit” is all about. That’s fair, it’s really my favourite part of my SEAF experience this year.
My favourite piece in the entire show was a delightfully interactive installation work by Dana Ollestad called the Electro-Bike. The catalog description of the Electro-Bike says you can “Control your own experience with this everyday object newly subverted into an electrical device that rides the thrilling line between pleasure and pain.” I’d say that’s a spot-on explanation of what the bike was all about. I’ll admit- the entire first day of SEAF I walked past the bike over and over never even looking at it twice. “Eh, it’s a bike” I thought. I didn’t feel a draw to look at it further really. Afterall, what was so exciting or erotic about a bike on a static-training stand? What I’d failed to notice initially was the little generator tucked into the frame. It wasn’t until a couple of folk were geeking over the construction and wiring of the bike that I got interested.
Shortly thereafter I got a chance to climb onto the bike. It was then that I learned that it wasn’t what I (and many patrons I soon learned) had thought it was. Everyone assumed that the saddle would vibrate or electrify. Oh no. The saddle was just a normal bike saddle. What wasn’t so normal were the handles- they were exposed metal wired to that tiny little generator under the frame. Just the tiniest movement of the pedals and BZZZZT! the electrical tingle shot up my arms. I jumped off the bike, displeased at how it felt, and went back about my SEAFly duties. It wasn’t long before I was back on the bike again. And again. And again. And “Are you on the bike again? Really? You’re such a pig!” comments began to come from friends and staff. Yup, I loved that bike. Anyone who was there Saturday afternoon and evening heard my love of the bike resonating down the corridors of the festival too.
Not only did I love the bike, not only was I back on it every time my muscles stopped tingling from the previous ride, but before the bike electrical play was firmly on my hard limit list. I’ve licked my fair share of 9v batteries backstage to discern the live from the dead ones to put into mic-packs. I’ve been electrocuted (mildly) twice. I am freaked out by the high-frequency machine we use in spas to zap zit-forming bacteria (it feels like a needle poke!). The bike changed my mind about electricity, and now I can’t WAIT to get to play more with it. What did it feel like to face a hard limit, and crash through it like the Kool-Aid man? “Oh Yeah!” is about right if you ask me, but I’ll let you see for yourself… (and if you need more, I’ve got a second video up too)