Tag Archives: improv

Becoming a Pillar of the Community

Friends,

I often talk about building a strong community; the kind of place with trust and reciprocity where I would feel comfortable raising a child. But as of late I haven’t been living that goal to an extent that satisfies me. So last week I decided to fill my schedule and do something that thrust me into the community every day. I started Saturday…

Saturday June 18/2016
After spending a day outdoors rediscovering the beauty of nearby Dundas Valley, I showered up, put on my best grey wife-beater and headed to a tantric sex seminar at local community hub, Avalon House. It was a small, intimate setting and the attendees were all quite friendly. My only qualm was the instructor; she wasn’t the greatest presenter of information and was someone who I got frustrated with just listening to. At one point she demonstrated synchronized breathing with me (I breathed out with my mouth while she inhaled with her nose, and vice versa, while staring into each other’s eyes) and it was really tough to make a spiritual connection cause her breath was really bad. Plus, she kept trying to overtly demonstrate mastery in extraneous ways -i.e. when she asked if anyone had ever been massaged I mentioned that a girl I dated used to give me massages. She was quick to point out that the girl probably didn’t really know what she was doing. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the girl was a licensed massage therapist who worked at the Renaissance Hotel where pro athletes stay when they visit to play the Jays. Plus, she kept implying that I was gay in spite of the fact that my interest in women had been established naturally in prior conversation. I wasn’t bothered by this, but it felt like a heavy-handed neg.
I had to depart early and head to the Summer Solstice ritual for the Wiccan Church of Canada, but alas when I got to the venue I discovered that they weren’t there which was kind of a bummer because I was looking forward to sacrificing a small mammal and then smearing its entrails all over my genitals before engaging in a ritualistic orgy.
PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY!

Sunday June 19/2016
Mostly took it easy, although later in the afternoon, Kelton, Kay and myself did go check out some open houses. Trying to make ACCESS as reality….
Later in the evening I headed back downtown for the SalsaSoul social. It was a lot of fun. There was a lesson in Zizomba (not Zumba) and then after basic steps were learned it transformed…degenerated….evolved maybe?… yeah, it evolved into a dance party with salsa in the main hall and Zizomba on the patio. Since I don’t know how to Salsa I spent most of my time on the patio but it was a great learning experience. I’ve never had much in the way of formal training in dancing but some older ladies there who were a lot more experienced and forgiving of my newness made for great partners as they knew how to follow and it made me better at leading.

QUICK TANGENT: Men and women have different roles to play in dancing, but noone is crying SEXISM! And why? I think it’s because even though the man “leads” (and he most certainly does), what is he without his partner? Nothing. They are not equal, insofar as equal implies sameness, because they are most assuredly different. But they are complementary (not complimentary….I hate when people mix these two up) and therefore both completely necessary, inextricable and beautiful in their paired completeness.
I know, I know, caveman misogynist thinking…..

BACK TO DANCING…. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the social -beautiful people (WOMEN!) of all different ages dressed casually and everyone was so warm and welcoming. It felt a lot more organic and conducive to making meaningful connections than being at a nightclub. This is good, because I do want to go out dancing more. In fact, dancing once a month is a resolution of mine and it seems a lot more attainable now that I’ve found not only a venue but a scene in which I feel I can thrive.

Monday June 20/2016
Today, I did some work for my friend, Amy. It’s nice working for her; she feeds me well, makes great espresso and she pays cash. I jetted home around 2:30, grabbing a bottle of Campari en route then drew a bath, smoked a little dope and indulged in the liquor while listening to a 70s funk classic playlist on youtube. Incidentally, this playlist gave me the idea for the title of my next post which will tentatively be called, “Whitey’s Goin’ to Mars” so look out for that -it’s gonna be hot. Also, I think I’m gonna start learning how to play bass…
What does this have to with community engagement? Well, not much except to point out that I was still kinda drunk and high when I went to my first Toastmasters meeting. Now I wasn’t killed or anything but I certainly felt…..expanded. Going in as a guest I figured I would be silent and observe but after I introduced myself during introductions, a longtime member, Nathalie, felt that I was ready for prime-time. When the chair indicated it was her time to relate a humorous story she passed the buck to me, feeling that I had the confidence and the chops to do so. Faced with no choice but to rise to the occasion I got up and reverted to this sort of default faux-bewildered posture I put on when I’m trying to come across as endearing to crowds. I’m not sure how it comes across to my audience but to me it feels Matthew McConaughey-ish. If you’ve ever seen me affect this persona and disagree as to the extent of its McConaughey-ishness please keep your opinions to yourself. IT’S MCCONAUGHEY-ISH DAMMIT!!
So I told a humorous story and then later during a portion called table topics I gave a riveting one-minute speech about play-doh. How do I know it was riveting? Because I got a shiny gold trophy, BITCH!!

 IMG_1459
“Best Table-Topic Speech.” -Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

So, basically I can retire from Toastmasters undefeated at this point. Ha, just kidding going back next week (blind, stinking sober) to give a speech of the
“life lessons” variety. So that should be fun.

So, What Does Tomorrow Have in Store?
Well, I have tentative plan to go to improv tomorrow, and after that a writer’s group I’ve been meaning to attend on Wednesday. But this feels cool and right to me and its amazing how quickly a “should” becomes a necessity when you put it into your phone’s daytimer.

Anyways gotta sleep now.

Annnnd maybe just one more Campari….

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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The Importance of Being Objectified

Friends,

I’m writing this post as a companion piece to a vlog I just recorded and am currently uploading which can be found here. In said vlog I discuss how being sought after and lusted after is a relatively new experience for me and it’s awesomeness wore off quick. Oftentimes, accentuating my physique with certain clothing choices has been more problematic than anything.

ANDRE GUANTANAMO 3
Woe is me.

This first occurred to me doing improv a couple summers ago while wearing an undershirt. Every scene became about my exposed muscles and I didn’t want that to be the crux of every onstage interaction. So, I started wearing baggier clothes for that specific purpose as well as fuller cut t-shirts. I find myself going through this again now that I have recently started doing standup: I’ve been advised that being fit and relatively good-looking should be de-emphasized so that I’m more relatable and people feel more comfortable laughing at my jokes. It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow because on some level I feel like how I dress shouldn’t matter, but I’m finding out it does. I feel like my options at this point are to completely de-emphasize my physique with my clothing choices or go balls to the wall and own it, wearing nothing but wife-beaters and tight leather pants, essentially making a caricature of myself. While that could lead to some great jokes it might make it difficult to touch on more serious issues in earnest. So while I might experiment with the latter, I think that going forward, the best option would be to dress more neutrally.

However, the objectification isn’t all bad either. I have often gotten acting roles that required a fit or physically imposing actor based at least partly on how I looked. More often than not these have been roles with great depth that afforded me the opportunity to cultivate a strong character who just happened to be fit (see above photo). I’m certainly not shy about “pimping” my physique for such roles but I acknowledge that the way I look has an expiration date and that I have to base not only my career choices but my sense of self-worth on something more substantial than my physical appearance.

All in all, I think the experience of being objectified has been an important one. Had I never had it, I might have falsely believed it was the key to lasting happiness. It is decidedly not.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
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Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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Six-Week "Adventure" Recap: Part 1

My Friends,
   It’s been a long time and no writing.  Well, at least no writing which I have shared with the world.  Lots been going on so I’l give you some broad-strokes.

“A Man is Rich in Proportion to the Number of Things he Can Afford to Let Alone”  – HDT
 
   I have managed to consolidate all of my worldly possessions into my apartment over the last month; no more shit in my Dad’s basement and no more shit in my grandparent’s shed.  Everything I own is either in my apartment or in my assigned storage unit in my building.  Better yet, this mass of shit keeps decreasing by the week.  See it always bothered me that I had so much stuff scattered about.  Certainly I don’t use most of it, but more than that it is burdensome to carry baggage about and it is a burden which I do not like to put on others.

A George Carlin video clip seems almost obligatory in each post now so might as well get it over with right up front.

Well, in the past month I have gotten rid of the metric shitload of clothing and accessories which constituted my army gear (oh yeah, I am getting out of the army – More on that at a later date).  On top of that I keep on doing the Kijiji thing and I slowly get rid of stuff that way too.  Other than that, anything I can afford to part with for free (books, clothes, etc) leaves my possession at a rate of about a box per week.  I can’t wait til the day when my modest amount of possessions are simply the things I use on a regular basis with nothing held in reserve so to speak.

Flexing My A-Bone

   I started taking improv classes about a month back and frankly I’m not sure why I didn’t start sooner.  I always loved being in plays in elementary school and I took drama throughout high school.  Then after high school I really didn’t do anything in that regard, but I always had this idea in my head that I would act again.  Alas, it was just a general idea so I never approached it in earnest.
   But over the years I have met a few actors and I have always admired their drive to pursue a passion. A little closer to home, my sister, a ham like me, has been taking improv and is starting a Second City course which totally convinced me that I should get my shit together and go do what I feel.  I looked for improv classes in Hamilton and found The Staircase.  I was amused to realize that it was a building which I had driven by a few years ago and which had piqued my curiosity.  I had always meant to inquire as to what went on in there and it is only years later that I serendipitously followed up on that past inclination.  A strong argument for intuition indeed.
   It has been going well thus far;

Top … Gun … Actor!

I go two nights a week and I’ve met some cool peeps.  I even attended the recent Halloween party where there were some seriously wacky costumes.  Among the wackiest was my very own…

BANE

   I’m not sure at what point it occurred to me that I wanted to be Bane for Halloween but it must have been sometime in the summer because I knew I would have to spend September and October bulking up my upper body to be even reminiscent of the top-heavy brawler.  While I certainly didn’t expect to get Tom Hardy big,

 I had no intention of going looking like…

So I started a regimen of push-ups to supplement my as-of-late chin-up-only routine, and I also activated the Goodlife membership my sister got me for my birthday which helped too.  All the while I started putting together the costume.  Working in a gas appliance warehouse was very helpful because the gas fittings and thermocouples on-site allowed me to craft a pretty cool mask using a paintball mask as the foundation.  That coupled with some gear I picked up from my friends at Hamilton Tactical (Shameless Plug) made for a pretty legit getup:

Given the amount of work I put into the costume and the overall menacing look of it, don’t be surprised if I rock it next Halloween.  At the very least I’l have to attend FanExpo this summer to floss it.

Squabbles

   I got into some altercations last week.  Two in two days actually.  The first was when a bus driver, who felt that I had recklessly jumped in front of his stopped bus to put my bike on the front rack, tried to lecture me in a condescending way about jumping in front of vehicles.  I reacted in a counter-productive way and gave him shit back.  Realizing perhaps that he had come at me the wrong way he tried to show me, without lowering his voice, how his condescension had come from a place of concern.  It was enough to defuse me.  I listened to what he had to say and we actually got to talking about mountain-biking, the army (he was a vet) and the sad state of the world.  Given the shitty start of our relationship it actually ended pretty well.  I should fight more bus drivers I suppose.
   The next day I took off work to get my costume ready for the upcoming Halloween parties that weekend.  Going into Toys R’ Us, one of the managers jumped on me right away asking me…telling me to take my backpack off.  I complied grudgingly and went to the bathroom.  On the way I noticed many women with purses and it occurred to me that on top of not liking being told what to do nor being presumed a criminal, I also don’t like being profiled.  I went back to the counter and explained that I was taking my bag and getting what I needed and that he could assign someone to escort me if he wished.  He said I would have to wait a few minutes because he was busy.  I said I wouldn’t wait and when I proceeded into the store (to purchase a Batman mask btw as an accessory for my costume).  He followed and we got into a spat which became, among other things, a discourse about the legitimacy of rules in general, with me quoting Henry David Thoreau much to this manager’s lack of interest:

“Any fool can make a rule and any fool will mind it.”

I told him that he might as well call the cops and when he left I bought my mask and as I was walking out I saw him on the phone.  I asked him if he wanted me to stick around for John Q. Law to show up and he said he just wanted me to leave.  
I peaced out, glad I had stood my ground and feeling justified for my disobedience, but still not altogether happy.  Somehow I felt I had to rectify the situation and I later did.  But alas, I must go to bed now so I will finish up this recap tomorry.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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