by Eve Minax
This is an article reprinted from Dance Theatre Journal: Special Edition on Sex and Performance, an academic but user friendly publication by the Laban Centre in London, which Tessa Wills co-edited with Doran George in 2013. We used the festival THIS IS WHAT I WANT as a lens through which to reveal the field of the intersection between radical sexual practice and radical performance practice in the Bay Area, and our work. Read the other articles here.
Integral Domina; BDSM educator and pleasure artist Eve Minax delights in proliferating carnal knowledge by presenting at numerous sex shops, academic forums, and alternative sexuality conferences around the globe. Minax has studied and presented Urban Tantra with Barbara Carellas and is a certified Bondassage practitioner and trainer. She produces her own videos and shoots frequently with www.seriousbondage.com. Minax currently serves as an advisor for CARAS (Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities) assisting post-graduates with their thesis work. She is the former production assistant for CineKink:Chicago, and the West Coast Coordinator for the Leather Archives and Museum. Minax acts as the Lead Staff Instructor for the Cleo Dubois Academy of SM Arts. Her piece here is excerpted from the book Spirit of Desire and modified for this journal. She recently published a book on Bondassage with Jaeleen Bennis.
Eve Minax participated in the festival in 2012 as a performer in This is What [YOU] Want; a performance piece about the intersections of economies of desire by Tessa Wills as part of the festival in 2012 . We asked Minax about the role of performance in BDSM, what it was like for her performing in the piece, and what place her professional work has in our culture. This is what she told us:
A Two Part Homage to Desire: This is What You Want
[pullquote align=”left”]I am a Psychic Waste Manager. I help people reduce, reuse, and recycle the psychic waste that accumulates with our ‘modern condition’.[/pullquote] This is my calling. It is part of a spiritual quest that brought me to this path over ten years ago. I simply wanted to ‘do’ what I do well in this world, to have it matter in a way that would make my life meaningful, and to help others along the way. I knew I would teach, but academia stifled my creativity and my libido (well, except masturbating between the stacks at the library). I never aspired to be a dominatrix per se, but I knew from the dawn of my BDSM explorations that this calling was bigger, deeper, and more powerful than any mainstream view could represent it.
Focused intention is everything in the arts of healing and magic. You can strip away someone’s ego, but if you do it half assed, without clarity of vision, you could not only ruin a good scene, you could also defragment a soul. Every day in life our souls are battered. Each time we confront bosses, kids, partners, and strangers, we run the risk of losing bits of our selves. Worse still, we run the risk of forming too-solid ideas what the self is, what our identity is. We risk thinking that we can actually explain away our desires and fears with logic and reason. The Psychic Waste Manager must peel away the extraneous layers of self to reveal a gleaming core.
[pullquote align=”left”]Humiliation peels back the layers of civility.[/pullquote] If you keep rubbing, keep digging, keep searching through the muck and grime of ‘what should be,’ you will find the rawness underneath. That rawness is where you find the goodness. It’s all there, mixed in together in the shadow, in the dark places we aren’t supposed to look. So perhaps I am a bit of an excavator also, a trash picker, if you will. I pick out the extraneous matter, the layers of conventionality and civility, and give you back your id. [pullquote align=”right”]The experience of having sexual psychic waste excavated, recycled, and returned all shiny, renewed, and loved, makes another person’s trash this person’s treasure.[/pullquote]
I am a multi level performer and activist. If I am performing, I am illuminating the actions within the work. In This is What [You] Want I was active and I performed. I was fully engaged and connected with my immediate audience, the charger, and oblivious of anyone observing who might’ve been considered and audience.
[pullquote align=”left”]People often take temporary fantasy roles in BDSM play, (sometimes living them 24/7) that I would call performance. These private ‘performances’ can facilitate psychic waste management.[/pullquote] For clarification, there are many scenarios, but here is one: perhaps a straight woman wants to be ‘taken’ by a man, but does not trust a man to do it. I perform as the man, the perpetrator, and she as the hapless helpless ‘victim’. [pullquote align=”right”]Thus, in realising her desire, we can help restore or “recycle” the complexity of her being and allow for a more actualized self to emerge.[/pullquote] Ideally, this occurs with all of my clients, whether they be cognizant of it or not. In the end, if the fantasy is realized safely and without judgement then the client is released of their psychic waste, (this uncomfortable desire), in order to return to so called “civilization”.
When I see clients privately, obviously no one is watching, (unless pre arranged), but I still have an audience, the client, (who also acts as talent, as I bid their doing, recipient, as I serve their needs, and as a receptacle for “waste”, as I help recycle their unwanted psyche). [pullquote align=”right”]My role is always performative, and always active, but never a false construct.[/pullquote]
Sometimes fantasy is a “false” reality, but it is never fake. This Is What [YOU] Want was not fake either.
That said, my work is not generally performance, I’m not sure to what extent I would say my participation in This Is What [YOU] Want was a performance. In my “pod” alone, I would say perhaps not, but together, with all its fantastic layers, “This Is What You Want” made theatrical history. I can unequivocally say that the piece was “performance” as it had a veritable show of multiple layers, theatrics, heart, performers, audience, narrative, non linear art show, and desire. Perhaps my little fragment did also.
Republished with permission. Originally published in George, Doran, Hargreaves, Martin, Shaw, Thom and Wills, Tessa eds. Dance Theatre Journal 25.2. London: Laban, 2013. Print.