The Edison !!! Wednesday September 2nd. I’ll be in fur, latex, and fishnets, you?


The first installment of Fluid will be at The Edison, featuring Louise Wareham Leonard and MacGillivray, with appearances from Tom Janikowski, Kim Dower, and (me) Nicelle Davis.


The Edison

108 W. Second St.
Los Angeles, CA  90012


Red Hen Press will launch the first of what hopes to be a series of readings at the gorgeous Edison in LA. The series will be called Fluid as in the movement of water during a time of drought–poetry at a time of oppression and silencing.

Please come see the poetry show on September 2nd. Please be mindful that poetry was designed to be heard. By supporting this reading you will be supporting future readings at this location.

This opening show will prove that poetry is sexy and provocative–it is a show of heat and ice. It is Fluid.


The Edison is a steampunk themed nightclub located inside the Higgins Building basement in Los Angeles, California. The Edison opened in 2007. The Higgins Building basement was Los Angeles’ first ever power plant, built by Thomas Higgins. After spending several years derelict and underwater, it was rescued by entrepreneurs Andrew Meieran and Marc Smith, who made a post-industrial steampunk venue for Los Angeles nightclubbers. For more information visit:


Let me introduce you to my outfit for the event along with the designer behind this fishnet-latex-fur genius, Pavlina Janssen.

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What to Wear to The Poetry Circus: An Interview with Proto-Organic Artist

ND: Hello Pavi. I’m finding it oddly difficult to find a “normal” way to start a conversation about costumes and costuming—maybe we can begin with our beginning—talk about the first project we worked on together—or, the first costume you made for me.

PJ: Oh my goodness, do I even remember the first costume I made for you? Oh what was it? Was it the honey dress?

ND: Oh no, it was way before that. It was for the cover of Becoming Judas. Remember, I brought you a turkey carcass.

PJ: Oh. Yeah.

ND: In my defense that turkey sat in bleach for two weeks in my kitchen sink before I brought it to you, but…

PJ: I don’t think I used any of those bones at all.

ND: You said you wouldn’t take it because of salmonella and you would die.

PJ: But I did get sick, but I don’t think it was your fault.

(We giggle; I guess, because even illness is funny between girlfriends.)

ND: So, do you remember anything about making that costume?

PJ: I remember that you gave me some interesting piece to start with, things like bones, and feathers, and your negligee and said do what you do; and I did.


Honestly, I don’t really remember much about that time; in fact I don’t really remember much of when I’m making things. I just kind of put it together the way it feels it needs to go.

ND: So creating is an organic experience for you.  Which makes for a good transition into discussing your overall aesthetic –you refer to your work as being Proto-Organic Art—what is Proto-Organic?

PJ: Proto-Organic is a new way of looking and arranging things you’ve already seen before, like looking at the organic aspects of inorganic things or looking at things that make them seem organic or feel like they blend into our natural world because everything is technically homogenous when we get down to the core. I would try to make something

ND: Yeah, yeah. First of all, just to describe for those who haven’t seen your art yet—besides costumes you also make Proto-Organic canvases. These portraits, if you will, are made of dollies, but they are dollies that are made to look like flesh under a microscope—and on top of this you collage other organic materials.  Maybe to give a more common place comparison, your art is beautiful like a spider’s web.

I remember when I first saw it I was overwhelmed and couldn’t help but call it beautiful out loud. You responded by saying: yeah that is an exciting piece because whoever owns it will get to see it rot and decompose before their eyes. Do you want to expand on the joys of watching things come undone?

PV: Sure. I just think it’s really beautiful and fascinating to see things that are organically deteriorating; I’m interested by the visual of erosion or things that are naturally slowly rotting away or things that get deteriorating though bacteria—you know—those visually chaotic textures. Interesting enough, when I would experiment with inorganic materials it would still come out looking alive. I work to make a new type of organic image using inorganic materials, such as glitter or plastic, and depending on how you affect them they can end up looking organic and natural.

ND: Yes, organic and natural: I think most of the materials that we have worked on together have been teeth and latex, or teeth and condoms.  What do you think teeth and condoms have in common?

PJ: They either come from or go into your body.

(More giggling.)

ND: So for you, the making process is organic and it reflects organic materials. You named off all the properties of the organic that you find beautiful—words like decomposition, rot, and erosion; so for the person who all those words terrify, could you help them understand why Proto-Organic art is beautiful?

PJ: I don’t know if everyone is going to find it beautiful. I think that if I can make something that affects people—positively or negatively—then I’ve done something. There are a lot of organic textures that do bother people—a lot of people don’t like to see things like that—and I think that’s part of my fascination with creating Proto-Organic art; if I can create a texture or bring about an emotion that makes you feel the way something in nature would make you feel…then that’s good.

I think you and I think it is beautiful, but most people might say…ohhhh! That looks like a rotting carcassthat’s gross—I don’t want to touch that. But it is not a rotting carcass it is a piece of art or costume—and I’ve done my job.

(More giggling.)

ND: That brings us to costumes and costuming; you are an icon in our community.

PJ: No I’m not.

ND: You are—you are; because you spent most of your life walking around town in costumes—for example this is the most natural your hair color has ever been, and you spent a lot of time making and wearing Alice in Wonderland costumes for street clothes—I would say most of your teens and early 20s you were Alice, do you want to talk about that?

PJ: I always like wearing costumes. I’ve told you this story before—I’d be walking around L.A. wearing my Alice in Wonderland dress and people would stop me on the street and ask, Oh so why are you so dressed up?

If I told them I was in a play, they’d be perfectly okay with it. But it I gave them no reason they’d be really put off by it. There is a very fine line between clothing and costume.

I liked to challenge people’s perspectives on costumes—to play with that line. I mean clothes are clothes. I happen to be wearing a dress that represents a character people are familiar with, but that doesn’t mean that it means anything more than that being a dress to me.

Humans are trained to see a certain kind of clothing as normal and anything that goes outside those standards is a costume or not clothes. If it’s not jeans and a t-shirt, your dressing up.

ND: Do you think costume cover-up or amplify who a person is?

I think it is both. I think that people think that they are covering up by wearing what they wouldn’t normally wear.  There is an underlining peak into their psyche. Whether they choose to dress up as a pirate, or a president, or a dinosaur, why would you choose that? You can dress anything, so why that choice? What does choice reveal about us—I like that question.

ND: What new projects are you working on?

PJ: I’ve been working on translating my collage art into fabric prints.

AND you’ve been wearing my costumes; they will be showcased at The Edison on September 2nd!

Sarah Elizabeth Murphy


Sarah Murphy is a designer, photographer, writer, film maker and artist. This spring she was accepted to an exhibition Anima Mundi in Lithuania and Georgia. She needs our help to get there. 

I like her eye, how in her poetry and visuals she captures the intimacies that make life worth living. We have a chance to welcome her art into our homes (with the GoFundMe incentives)  

She is making powerful and intimate work. I find her brave. She was kind to let me interview her about her latest project.

You do an amazing job of bridging the arts—of blending different mediums. It seems like this merging is in keeping with your overall message, which centers on symbiotic structures and balance. How is Anima Mundi & The Mares of Diomedes in keeping with this?  

I really struggle with this, so I’m glad it doesn’t show! I used to think I should just be really great at one thing, rather than struggling to master so many mediums. However, know I think my multi-disciplinary nature is actually an asset, and I am finding as I become more skilled, the whole is becoming more than the sum of its parts. It’s more holistic in a way. Things seem to come in cycles and waves, where one avenue will pick up and another will lull. I never get bored at least! There seem to be a million things running around my mind at any given moment.

Anima Mundi is actually the art festival. ( I think as an artist when you’re submitting to things and facing both acceptance and rejection, you forget that there is someone out there looking for what you are doing. I think knowing what I know now about what anima mundi is both in language (Latin for soul) and philosophy my work actually fits pretty well within their mission. It almost becomes a symbiotic relationship on its own. The Mares of Diomedes actually was an extended exploration of a singular shoot for my circus freaks project. When I processed the 35 mm film in the darkroom, the negatives actually looked black and opaque, but when I scanned them in, these beautiful images appeared that were completely ethereal and unexpected. I firmly believe in the happy accidents, serendipity and allowing the work to flow through you, rather than trying to control every aspect. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for technicality, but I find my best work comes when I least expect it and trust in intuition. Perhaps that is the balance, that fine line between control and gut instinct.

Tell me about “Keepers Tale”?

I’m not exactly sure what “Keeper’s Tale” is yet. I know there is a story to be told, when I read about the flood, my heart was breaking for the human lives lost, but the loss of zoo animals lives seemed tragic. When we keep animals in captivity, they are at our mercy. Many couldn’t escape because of their closures, and many of those that did were predator animals that became threats to the general population during a time of chaos and uncertainty. Seeing the indignity of their muddy bodies strewn across the grass really pulled at my poet’s heart. I thought about the animals I’ve been fortunate to know in my life. When I was young, my dream job was to be a zoo keeper. When I rode Rob Roy from Kentucky to Virginia, I couldn’t believe how close we became. I would whistle for him in the night and he would come to me. I imagined these zoo keepers losing their charges, how close and intimate it must be to know them, their likes and dislikes, schedules and habits. I want to give voice to their experiences. This is the first time I’ve attempted a documentary style film. It just so happens that Pro 8mm, a company who specializes in Super 8 stock in Burbank, CA is offering a grant program. So I applied. Finger’s crossed!

You yourself went on a wild ride to better understand Anima Mundi. Could you tell me a little about this experience?

This is what I mean about my work fitting in with their mission. The ride from Virginia to Kentucky actually happened four years ago. I became involved with the mountaintop removal movement and I wanted to see for myself what it was about. I’d been to Appalachia Rising, in DC and met people who lived in the coalfields. I think there is a lot we don’t know about production in America. Where things come from and at what cost. The whole thing became this beautiful lesson in relenquishing to the Universe, trusting humankind to keep me safe, to give me a place to rest my head. Sometimes my life feels so far removed from that, but in some ways this journey to Lithuania and Georgia just becomes another journey to spread the message about our resources and the connectedness we all share.

Tell me about femininity.

Femininity is loaded. I used to be a part of an all-female talk radio show on WXJM called Dame Theory. We would choose current events from the news and spend a segment discussing them. Oftentimes they would deal with women’s rights, or social injustices against women. I was always surprised by people who didn’t want to be identified as a feminist. I do agree that it’s a word that has gotten a bad rap, but really it’s just equality. When I went on the horse back ride, a lot of men thought I should have a gun, or that I shouldn’t go at all. I was really resentful of that, sometimes I envy the ease with which men can go through the world, exploring and adventuring. Femininity is something a woman should be able to claim for herself, her own frontier that she can find, not something that is defined for her.

Tell me about power.

Power is also loaded. I think in current society it’s come to stand for oppression. For one group maintaining their position on top, at the expense of another. Really power should come from within, and move outward. Power can also be defined as force, which can also be abused. Force should also come from within, with confidence and self-motivation not through bullying or objectification.

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” – Lao Tzu

What do you need? At its core, what is this crowdfunding effort about? 

It’s important to me to know that those in my community support me, and believe in the value of what I am offering to the world. This is a huge step in my career and a giant leap outside my comfort zone. I want to know that I can trust the world to catch me.