What's behind Door Number One?


Often we look so long at the closed door, that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.

~Helen Keller

In my youth, I remember the first thing I wanted to do was to be a performance artist.  My brother wanted to be a doorman, I thought it would be bland as all-get-out. I wanted to be on stage, have all eyes on me for doing the wonderful thing I was certain I’d one day do. I have over the years danced in drag and burlesque groups, written and performed music in bands, played parts in films, and on stage.  But the performing I do these days is as much about the art - as it is about the people receiving it.  My intention is not as much that I perform, as how and what I perform. The message, to me, is as important as the messenger.  Thus, I teach. 

The occupation that has paid my bills for most of my life has been teaching English.  But it never felt entirely sincere because my goal is not to force memorization, to drill and quiz, to narrow voices with a red pen of critique.  Teaching is in a big way a performance too.  The difference is that the people who share space want to go home with a new idea, a new perspective, something that will improve their lives. I love the vehicle of story, of character, of theory to help this happen.  But it’s not the story as much as what that story does in the participant’s life. 

Here’s the thing, I am not really a performance artist.  I am a doorwoman.  My brother now works as an engineer with actors and athletes in LA, and I, ironically, open doors.

Where do you want to go? What do you want to see that you don’t? What wall do you keep running into that needs a little light? You are most likely a doorwoman too. I didn’t see this about myself until much later. Someone else had to show up and pull back the curtain on this invisible aspect of me. And seeing the door isn’t enough to actually walk through it. But I have.  And by virtue of having it done for me, I’m here to help you do the same thing.  

We all have an invisible ink pen, and draw doors on walls to help those we love. It’s metaphor, but true. It didn’t register that each time I open a door, I get to light up a new room, a new perspective. I get to do something valuable for each person walking towards the door. As doorwomen go, I am a ham, a creative impassioned one. But a doorwoman still. It’s humbling and empowering. I don’t make art for the sake of art, but for connection. The transformative process of making or seeing something new is magical.  But it’s something to be shared, and something that makes us uniquely human.