Amanda Palmer Interviews Erika Moen & Storm Largeon 11/24/2014 at 4:10 pm
Last week, November 19th, I had the pleasure of being a fellow guest with Storm Large for the Portland stop of Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking book tour.
It all came together a couple days before the show– first her tour assistant, the kind and talented Whitney Moses, invited me to just attend the show as a spectator and then the day before the event she asked if I’d maybe wanna talk with Amanda and Storm on stage.
How do you say no to that?
I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the years, but always in the context of comic convention panels or university lectures on my work. You know, talking about comics with cartoonists to audiences of comics enthusiasts. In the last couple years, however, my anxiety and depression have become harder to manage and several weeks to a month before any speaking or teaching engagements, I’d start dry-heaving every morning leading up to the Big Day. When regular old dry heaving would start to become too mundane, my body would liven things up like heaving with such force that I’d have to fall to the ground on my hands and knees or sometimes I’d even throw up some bile for good measure. It was hard on my brain and my body, so I’ve really reduced how many public speaking events I’ll do each year.
But then this invitation came. My gut reaction was to politely decline, but… But I didn’t. I don’t know how to explain it, but my gut told me this was the right thing to do. I don’t think I’d be able to forgive myself if I’d have turned it down.
Being a guest meant showing up early for the stage’s sound check and having dinner with everyone beforehand. These are the drawings I did behind the scenes. (All from my Instagram account, where I’m fuckyeaherikamoen)
As we’ve alluded to in our comics, Matthew and I don’t get out much. We don’t go to bars, we don’t go to parties, and we don’t go to concerts. We’re homebodies who like to be in bed by 10pm and I’m up at 8am. But watching Amanda Palmer read passages from her book and sing for us?
Amanda is powerful. She is moving, with empathy emanating from her pores. She’s very, very human.
If you watch the video above, you’ll notice I missed my entrance cue.
You see, when I’d gone backstage to get ready, Whitney noticed I looked a bit fragile. Amanda had just read a passage from her book that hit home with me and I was trying to keep my watery eyes from turning into actual tears. I wasn’t expecting that, when I sat down to watch her perform. I’m generally familiar with her work and I’ve enjoyed her writing well enough, but I’m not, like, The Super Fan who’s had her life changed by the work of Amanda Palmer, you know? But here she was, reaching through my rib cage and piercing my heart and making me raw and weepy before I’m supposed to go on stage in front of hundreds of people. Fuck.
Whitney was a saint with hugs and sincerity and successfully distracted me enough to get my pre-cry blush to go down, but we both became so engrossed in our conversation in the wings of the stage that we missed Amanda’s summons and another stage hand had to come remind us that, PSST, HEY, YOU’RE ON. Don’t forget the bowl of fruit.
The rest of the talk you can watch in the video and I hope that you do because that was a genuinely enjoyable evening I spent talking with these professional performers. As if I weren’t a weak, vulnerable girl who cries too easily and struggles to take care of myself. As if I belonged up there with those smart, powerful women. Because maybe I can perform, maybe I can be strong, maybe I can hold my own with Storm Large and Amanda Fucking Palmer like equals.
That is the power of Amanda Palmer. She makes you feel seen, she makes you feel heard, she makes you feel like you matter.
That’s a special kind of magic and I’m glad this human exists.