creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

creative consulting for the art of life by Jason Jenn

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Roast the Hostess with the Mostess: R. SKY Palkowitz, The Delusional Diva

This week’s blog makes me feel a bit like someone who's just been told, "You have a lot of explaining to do!" Indeed I plan to do my best, as I spend multiple posts to pay tribute to (and roast) the weird and wonderful woman with whom I've shared a very unorthodox artistic relationship with for many years,  the one and only R. SKY Palkowitz, The Delusional Diva! All year long we are celebrating PGX, the 10th anniversary of collaborations at our first Los Angeles venue, an intimate and magical place called Phyllis' Garage. This month she also celebrates freezing time for her 2nd 39th birthday. She’ll be hosting a party where she expects people to roast her, and while I shall do my part here in the blogosphere, this video invite to the party reveals she can do a perfectly good job of roasting herself (with my editing help).

I’ve actually known Sky since 1994 and our days in the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Iowa. I was an undergraduate in my second year when she arrived as a grad student working on her MFA. My first reaction to meeting her was, "Who is this wild gypsy?" At that time her long dark hair flowed like her dresses and her Eastern European ancestry stood out decorated by all the ear and nose piercings. She liked to party — and was good at finding her way into one! She enjoyed meeting people — even if it was more so she could talk about herself! She had chutzpah and said what she thought — often sharing too much information while at it! To say she made an impression on everyone in the Theatre Arts Department or the entire campus for that matter is an understatement!  People either loved her and looked forward to a visit as she entertained you with the zany impressions of her parents and many accented characters or avoided her at all costs because she could be like nails on a chalkboard to the sensitive.

There be gypsy in her blood.
We first worked together in the production of HAIR, a perfect vehicle to let the freak flag fly. When she did several of her own multimedia shows I was contacted to help with or create the video design. One of my all-time favorite collaborations with her was for Alien Rhoda, her one-woman show about how her family might react if she were abducted by aliens.  I shot video clips of Sky acting as her parents to be shown on a screen between segments of the show. She would crack me up behind the camera, forcing us to reshoot several times. Teeters of laughter from the unseen cameraman are to be found in practically every video shoot since (and we have since shots hundreds of hours of life-documentation in addition to the numerous other friends who have served as videographers for her over the years). While we have different perspectives and approaches toward life, we share the common admiration for art and aliens.

Sky & Jay out on the town in 2011
But the question remains, "How and why did you come to live in LA together?" put it simply: the aliens made me do it! I hadn't seen Sky since she graduated, but we reconnected via the internet. I was living in LA at the time and she was touring with the National Theatre for Children in San Francisco. I hadn't ever been to the magnificent city, so I drove up to visit with her. The reunion was infectious, and started me rethinking things when I returned to LA. While I had moved to Los Angeles to make my fortune writing mainstream movies, my heart was yearning for something a bit more experimental, a bit more edgy, a bit more off the beaten path — a writer needs experiences to write about.

I recognized that Sky had a fascinating energy about her, while tough for some people to handle, it was definitely palpable and for better or worse, quite memorable. She knows she’s an artist and she knows she’s a star. And I gravitated toward her to not only understand what made her so different and fascinating, but also to discover the unknown aspects of myself that hadn’t yet dared to crawl out of hiding. Against some of the advice of my peers (which was good advice by the way), I stepped aboard the UFO with Sky for a most unusual journey. I would indeed stray far from the original goals and aspirations that glimmered for me in LA-LA Land, but after 10 years of ups, downs, zig-zags, and loop-de-loops, I’m beginning to make sense of it all in wonderful ways and am very grateful for it!

Jay & Sky Circa 2001 at Phyllis Garage
Jay & Sky returning to Phyllis' Garage in 2011
PGX Fun Fact: When in collaboration with Sky, I often shorten my name to Jay so it has the same number of letters and a "y" at the end or I use the initial of my middle name (Robert) and go by Jason R. Jenn to echo the "r" in R. SKY - all to emphasize greater connection 

So come join me on this crazy ride with R. SKY Palkowitz -- several more posts in tribute/roast of the Delusional Diva to come with videos and pictures of our fabulous history together!

For party invite info:

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