Life as a performer can be challenging. But to an artist, the alternative life, or rather, the traditional career path can be a greater challenge.
Athena and Phelyx continue the conversation about living life as performers. In this episode, they discuss how important it was to them to “hoe their own roads” and choose the less conventional approach to a career path. Athena shares a Juicy Bit about getting a regular job “just because I was a Showgirl,” and more about societal pressures to choose a path that doesn’t align with the arts. They wrap up the episode by comparing performer life to entrepreneurship. Listen in to hear more about how living as a performer is an unconventional approach to life.
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Mentioned on the Show
In the beginning, Athena asks Phelyx to explain something he said on his Coffee Club page. If you want to read more intimate stories from him, join Professor Phelyx’s Coffee Club
If you are curious about the conversation Athena mentioned about Art versus Selling Out, listen here.
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Learn more about the work Athena is doing in this world here
Discover more about the magical world of Phelyx here
We are a team. As storytellers and dreamers there is always magic to discover. Once upon a time, A Las Vegas Showgirl and a comedian magician figured out that, even with different perspectives, our adventures, and experiences together are really just One Big Caper! plane hold your own. You’re holding your own. Yes. I look like I hold my own road and onesie makes me laugh but here’s what I kind of created a path of my own. It’s not this alternative. It’s just kind of unprecedented the way I’ve lived my life. And I don’t know if that is the revel in the if it was punk rock, if it was survival and just going where the wind blew. There’s I bring all those up because I’m sure that they played a role, like those elements of my personality kind of influenced my decisions. And my decisions. Were not always the right decisions. I did not graduate high school. Anyway, I did not graduate high school. I was asked very politely to move on with my life politely. Well, yeah, the second time, the first time was on. So I got a lot of trouble. And it was kind of the pastor’s daughter routine, in that my father was an enforcement and I was rebellious and punk rock ins made a lot of decisions that were not good decisions, but they were in defiance of what my father was. And I don’t have any regrets. But I suppose if I were to identify a regret that would be just because of what it did to my relationship with my dad, and I accepted absolute fault. Nevertheless, right. On leaving high school, I was presented with an opportunity that inflated my ego a little bit, and it was an enjoyable experience. Essentially, I was offered an opportunity to in exchange for what would be credited as university credits or college credit. I was asked to teach as a guest instructor at an art school to teach finger studies. And that’s where you go a little bit later on. I ended up actually doing that at my own art studio. I had a partner in that affair and not a romantic partner, just a business partner who was also an artist. And I didn’t meet in high school, and we reconnected with one another. Well, after high school, we ended up running a studio and glasses and doing all of those things. So that just kind of happened to me. And it wasn’t until sometime later that I made a decision that every job opportunity that I would accept would have to meet certain criteria, namely being arts related. And so that’s skipping a lot of years of waiting tables and working in call centers and waiting retail and doing all kinds of things to survive. So as a career as a entrepreneurial entertainer. I had to discover what I was good at, and then discover the best way to sell it. And didn’t really have a mentor if there wasn’t any formal education and learning how to do that. There weren’t really resources, like books about how to how to do it, but I probably wouldn’t read them anyway. Because of that little rebel in me. So kind of created my own way of doing things. And this was all my new pre internet. So that wasn’t a resource. Didn’t realize this rebel was so strong. I don’t see it as a rebellion. Okay. It was an unconventional approach to life. So we did that show, money brigade. And while we were doing research for the show now, I don’t know how many or less producers are allowed to sleep or less producers actually do research for their shows, but they were deep in research. I mean, we contacted some actually many girls like there’s a whole lot of work that we put into that show little just a little bit of setup here. We’ve CO produced a number of shows that was one of them. That was certainly the one that we worked the hardest on Yes. And it was a tribute to the women of Playboy magazine. Both the bunnies but also tigers and certainly you know, whatever the models, you know, if I need so out of respect for those people we certainly did our homework. And so the reason I bring this up is definitely not out of left field. There was a quote by Hugh Hefner Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream. And that really stuck with me like I just I was coming out of a time in my life where I had lived according to someone else’s dream, and I think that a lot of people performers are not or living somebody else’s dream, whether it’s they wish they were performers, or they wish they were this other thing. I don’t know what’s better than being a performer, honestly, but I feel like we are kind of funneled into this system. If you will. And it’s all about somebody else’s dream. I mean, what is the American dream and who, who came up with that and why is it the thing and then why you someone like Felix decided that’s just not for you. And then you chose to hold your own road rather than take the road. More traveled. I think I identified you know, going back to those fresh out of high school years identified one trait of mine which is a little hubris, not necessarily academic hubris, but certainly maybe ego centric. Isn’t that the definition of hubris is Yeah, well, there’s I’ve explored that quite a bit. But I recognize a trait of myself about myself. That would have made it very difficult for me to go to higher education on a traditional path. It would have been I would set be setting myself up for failure or something that would consider to be a failure. If I had gone with the conventional postgraduate path, this is really making a lot of sense now of some of the things that even that we talked about today. All right, this revelation that you’ve heard here is breaking. Hopefully, yeah. Okay. I totally get that because I was also not one that wanted to go the traditional path of course, I became a professional dancer at the age of 18. Yet so 17 When I was paid for my first gig with La so and that was awesome. That was a treat to my first time I ever got to perform, abolishing belly, so ever again. Done, no offense to anyone who was a huge fan of that machine for the style or the it just was not good for my body. I did I started to develop in six weeks, in six weeks, tendinitis and the wheel, so I chose to move on from that and go join another Ballet Company, which was not Balanchine, not Russian just pretty contemporary kind of ballet company. Not as contemporary as wonderboom. At all, like not even close. I only wish we only didn’t ever have to work with us, I bet would have been further what about as a valet centric, contemporary dance company that I have experienced working with producing and performing a show. I don’t think you dance he dances and one day I’m gonna catch him on camera. Yeah. We do actually. We move a lot in the family that lots of stuff. But I yeah, I didn’t. When I was growing up, it was expected that I would be a lawyer or a doctor. Engineer wasn’t even on the table. Because at the time, the world was not looking at engineers, whether there were software or mechanical or my dad before that. Yes, it was right before that. My dad was a civil engineer. And he actually retired early, sadly, because of discrimination in the workplace. I didn’t know that. Yeah, yeah. So he just needed like, Okay, I’m out, you know about out and so engineering was one of the big things it was Doctor lawyer. And so I tried my best in school and actually did pretty well. I always had at least a 3.5 I was expected to have a 4.0 and dance, you know, 30 plus hours a week. I don’t know how I did it, but I did. But then, you know, at 14 I was like, No, this is a pragmatic. I want to be a professional ballerina. And when I was a ballerina, I was exhausted physically and mentally it was it was just a hard time. I didn’t think to go to school. Like it wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t like I knew someday eventually I would have to have a backup plan. Because again, there’s no audience wherever you can get injured immediately, like within the first six months and then you’re you’re kind of in trouble. So I was like, okay, okay, I’ll get there. I’ll get there. I’m only 20 I don’t need to deal. I don’t even have to think about it. But then I got to the show, and was shocked at how many girls, it wasn’t just the girls. How many of the performers were going to school full time, in addition to performing full time, and I was like, wow, they’re getting full on degrees and getting paid really well to do what they love. They train their whole life for and then when when they’re done, they retire and then they go on to their next career. Like I was like, wow, this is cool. So I kind of followed someone else’s dream. But I also chose art, like I was like, Oh no, maybe I should go with art. So I went to an art school and got an Associate’s I was definitely not gonna spend another whatever $40,000 80,000 I don’t know whatever. To go to this art school that still isn’t accredited. 20 years later, retrospective wise choice. Yes. And my juicy bed this for this episode. It was juicy but not sponsored. Yeah, that’s so okay, I’ll just I’ll just jump right into my juicy bit then we’ll just edit it. Go ahead. Okay. So, I was performing full time as a Las Vegas showgirl. Or at the time I was already a pencil dancer. I was one of the dancers in the show. There are four of us. Even three or four men are there before and I graduated with my associates from the school and I was like, Well, I guess I could start looking for a job. I do already have a job that maybe I’ll start as an intern or something. And my boyfriend at the time was a sushi chef and he is a very social person and made friends with everyone who came to sit in a sushi bar. And it just so happened that the sushi bar he worked at was very close to an ad agency a big agency in Las Vegas. And a lot of the people would go there and have sushi. So one of them happened to be a junior art director at the agency and she was like, why don’t you give me her resume? I’ll pass it along. They’re hiring right now. And so I got an interview. It was my very first interview out of the school. And was it me first? No, it was I just like, sorry, no, it was my first interview. Anyway, it was my first real interview. Because the other things I had interviewed for were like freelance stuff. They weren’t like full time things. And so I went for this interview and I’m sitting there with a hiring manager and he’s telling me about the job, you know, typical interview stuff. We’re in an office, all of a sudden, a guy walks into the office, opens the door. He knocks Of course, comes in. And he’s like, so here your show girl. And I was like, Yeah, I’m in Jubilee. I’m one of the lead dancers. He’s like, Oh, so what’s it like? Just like, it’s fun. I love it. Well, small talk, you know, whatever, whatever. I don’t even remember all the things of the second interview I was in. And he did introduce himself to me as one of the owners of the agency. If you’ve ever seen madmen, he was Roger Sterling. That was this man. He was totally Roger Sterling. He was not in the 50s of course keyword. Aloha shirts everyday Hawaiian shirt, everyday work. Yeah, he was definitely more of the that was like just after the 90s where everything was casual and at some very big accounts there. Ad Agency. And so he said, Okay, great. Nice to meet you. And then just walked out as quickly as he came in. It was just like, Okay. And the hiring manager looked at me said, you know, you’re going to get this job next year. She’ll go right. I was like, Fine by me. And I got it. I was a production artist at shadow creamer group advertising for a couple years. actually quit dancing when I was doing that because dancing full time and working full time. You know, when the show gets done at 1212 1210. The show finished, final curtain came down. I would run downstairs, take my face off, jump in the car, run to the car, jump in the car, go home and go to bed. After a show. You know you’re not Yeah. So get to sleep maybe by two. Got to be at work by 730. So I can leave by 430 to be to work. Yeah. So it was rough. It was a Yeah, but I was young. And I could do it. So that’s it for today’s episode about holding your own road. I get to be with you. I’m just making it a one day paper to invite you to learn a little bit more about what I do. I’m sure at this point, you know a bit but I have been doing what I do since 1978 as a result of having a release building was able to buy the URL just oh, I don’t know 30 years ago. P HD lyx.com. It makes me think about like I was on a different track in my brain. But I interrupted my own brain. Because I think it’s worth addressing how taxing a show can be. But it’s difficult to explain. You know, this is something that’s certainly could fit in with our love and family episode some of the things that were brought up there in that the non performer does not have any of the experience data to understand how taxing show can be. They just can’t wrap their heads around it and it’s understandable. But it’s it’s akin to something I’ve heard in my career. When somebody learns what my rates are. And they’re like, well, you’re only working for an hour. Oh, no, no, I’m not gonna be working for an hour. That’s good. It’s it’s so much more than that. We don’t have to go to that. That’s a whole episode five episodes, but it’s worth noting certainly related to our episode that is called love and family. But you’ve made me think of all kinds of things just you know, hearing that story that is a story that I’ve heard before. But something I don’t think you know, is that I did give heavy consideration to a more traditional life in that I considered law enforcement as a career. I consider that for a little while. And part of that happened. Oh, explain. Part of that was me reconciling how much I may have disappointed my parents with my choice. My path. I reconsidered understanding a few things about my own psychology. And I also found alternatives that says like, we’re going to do So had I made the decision to go to law enforcement where they would have to go back to school and get a few things done in order to qualify and then go to the Academy. And it was going to be a long path. But the alternative that I found was interesting Lee something that was also an education that I could apply to what I now do and have for the last 20 plus years, full time, but I worked as a part of estimator for a while you didn’t know that. Having worked as a private investigator, especially before the internet was really a tool. Give me a lot of interesting life experience. It was satisfying, it was disappointing. All of those things, but I did learn a lot of tools that I still use. But yeah, I think that’s one thing I’m learning now in that previous generation. So you’re not quite a boomer you are more of a Gen Xer for sure. But I think previous generations really an because we were brought up he was brought up by the great the great Greatest Generation or whatever what’s right. Yeah, the early boomers. Okay, so mine were later boomers. My Mira late 50s Yeah, so that generation was like, you get a job and you go the whole way till you retire, like an old retirement only came about in the 80s. Anyway, having that plan set up and all that, but they were like, you just you pick something and you stick with it. And I’m like, really? Like I picked what I what I was gonna do and I’m 14 years old. And that’s what you do when you’re you want to be a professional dancer. You have to start early. But very few people. You’re one exception that very few people know what they’re going to do for the rest of their life. Any earlier than I would say 25 Like how we’re how are people supposed to choose these things? How many people get into college? How many people change their? Yes, well, I when I was driving for Lyft I found out I had a lot of Star Citizen Service people excuse me sort of people in my car and they threw away their degrees because they were forced to choose one and you cannot ship you cannot switch and this like the worst part is like even don’t even know who you are at that age. It is just it’s incredibly easy thing to do. That’s the problem. So you can’t and nobody’s gonna listen to you, especially as a person that nobody’s we’ve all heard it when we were that age. Both were that age now. We can talk to them. We can reason with them. It’s it’s part of it, I guess. But yeah, neither one of us are knocking conventional or traditional. I feel like conventional is insulting at that point. It’s not meant to be a topic. It’s just that there’s certain brains and hearts that required something different out of life and right. Well, that’s what I wanted to kind of talk about the skills that you have acquired. You acquired a huge toolbox. Like there’s like a couple of warehouses of tools that you have, that you can pull from I have a few tackle boxes. No, I do have I do have a lot of skills and things that I’ve learned along the way. You know, I’m an awesome mother are transferable skills. And virtually any life experience, I suppose. relationships that we’ve had, whether they persist or not. we glean some useful. Absolutely. Who wants to go through those again? I know but there are people that repeat relationships over and over and over again, and I just prefer to learn the lessons and just Okay, next. No, but I was gonna say because I think that there is a stigma in our society, that performers are less than for whatever reason, whether and I’m just gonna say our society, I grew up in America, I am an American, and I suburban America, no less. I have certain things that have been drilled into me because of the way our society works here. And the arts are not valued as much as a sports. It’s the odds of making it Oh, God, are more brutal in sports. So to encourage somebody to also not knocking this I have friends who are professional athletes, but encouraging, being so supportive of a potential professional athlete, and then encountering an artist who has promised in being like, Well, you better have some to fall back on what are you gonna fall back on? I don’t know. How many times I’ve heard that going up. And that was you know, certainly for my own family. They were they were supportive. But my father is very words I can remember where that you have to start mopping the floor before you can stand on the building. And he was really starting to have that mindset that you you work your way up in rank and you and you go for the promotion and it’s not working that way. I can function that way I never have. So that was kind of part of what cause the written relationship was opposed, but definitely hold my own road when it comes to this alternative that we’re talking about. Again, not knocking. It works very well for many people. In fact, in the loving family, I’m talking about a very famous person in the legal world, who is astoundingly wealthy. And so certainly traditions work in favor of that person. Yeah, yeah, that and that’s the legal realm, as I learned, because they were that that law school was client, and I learned just how much tradition is this is how he goes. So when you watch the movie, on the basis of sex, and I watched it from my perspective and woman, but also knowing how traditional the legal field is, like, she pushed hard and you know, she was able to have her own road in her way too. So this whole thing is not talking about that, but I don’t feel like it is I hope you guys I hope you don’t feel like it is I think that some of the qualities that we’re talking about are and you just put it up yourself are how even in the traditional path, traditional trajectory say that Friedrich says you kind of have to have that spirit about you anyway, that kind of willing to gamble in order to be as successful as people were talking about you you have to have a little more adventure about your approach, even within the confines of tradition. Absolutely. You have to take a risk now and then well, you’re not going to be launched into that completely different path. True. So what I’m learning about life in general and everything is everything is on my dial. I put everything on a dial and for performers being a performer. It’s a high risk career. But that’s not the only high risk career out there. And I wouldn’t call it a career either. It’s not a career. Being a performer is not a career. I think it’s like a lifestyle. And I’ll say that because I feel like it parallels entrepreneurship. In your case, absolutely. It does, because you have to be an entrepreneur in order to keep working whereas I as a performer, had a 401k I had a weekly paycheck and that was my salary to perform the shows, but that’s not the case so much anymore. I think that valleys was paying my paychecks or when it was helping me it was all the things but valleys was paying my paychecks. For five years. That was my thing and I had the 401k that 100% match up to 4% all of the benefits. That’s not a typical performer job. So there wasn’t I didn’t have that entrepreneurial I had I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Because my parents either yesterday or they had a costume shop at the comic toy shop. I’ve always been around entrepreneurs, but you took you know, like you said you took risks. I took risks. And like that’s like I think the biggest thing for anything is like taking risks. But there’s a lot of other skills from when you’re on road, whether you’re some of them have to be learned in order to so it is it is skill. I’m recognizing the delicate balance that has to be achieved in order to be successful. As a performer. You can’t be too academic and formulaic about your approach, because in my opinion, it steals from your art and I know performers. And I’m doing this for a reason. Who are it’s a piece of business and it’s strictly business and I think that their art is suffers from that. They are not delivering as much value in their performance. If that makes any sense. And then there are the more artsy aloof types who don’t have the mind or stomach for the business part. And we lose a lot of amazing talents to the fact that it’s hard. If this is hard work. Yeah, but the hard hard work is not the thing of performer finding the work. Yeah. Basic like Business Admin. You don’t you think you when you have no money, it’s easy to count. See, we’re gonna do a mini boot camp with me, I don’t know, one of these days. So you know what I’m getting at is that we’ve we’ve lost potential performers from teetering off of this balance being one side to the other. Until there kind of has to be not just a dedication, not just a lifestyle, but interesting to achieve balance that kind of sorts. I don’t I don’t know. I don’t ever do that. Yes. We still live my show. I think you know what I’m getting. It’s just it’s interesting, and that might merit discussion all on its own. Who, who makes it through all these societal filters and barriers and challenges? And well, I think that I’m going to try to wrap this up at 10 Sorry, I think that’s I think it comes down to what people value. So when we’re brought up we’re, we’re brought up our parents tried to teach us their values. And as we live life, we realize we don’t value the same things they do. And it’s mostly because of the way they brought us up. So family is one of my parents strongest values and it is actually not mine. Even though I do spend a lot of time with my family I have crafted structured my life around this family unit. Right? The connection between me and my daughter is the connection between the love here. That’s really important to me, and I will say no to certain work, because it might take away from those things that I value so much. But as a performer, you also have to make those choices. I did a whole episode with my former dance partner, Andrew O’Shea where we talked about art versus selling. And you’re talking about a certain performer who there’s less art and it’s more, someone say something out because they’re following a form formula or doing things very regimented and there’s no authenticity and art and flow and creativity which we value very much in our family. Like it’s important to the authenticity and then putting it all together in create in a creative way. If there’s one thing that we agree on is authenticity. Yes, huge, huge in our life, in our relationship, in our connections with the children. Definitely not the lesson you’re gonna hear. You’re probably gonna get sick of it. But yeah, that’s my soapbox. Yeah. So I think I don’t know if I wrapped that up. All of these conversations, they are open ended, which is designed also to encourage you to send us comments or questions or observations so that we can we can add to this conversation. We’ll continue to have this conversation with each other and with you but I think that’s a fine way to Yeah, okay. I think so except one thing. Why was it important to to hold your own road? Proving to myself that I was able to or capable. might have something. You have to ask the question. Now I have to answer my own question. It’s important to me to continue to hold my own road so that I don’t lose myself as I had before. Yeah, that makes sense. That’s enough so to know, yeah, that’s good one. Good one. Thanks, everybody. We can keep doing this without you. It was just a little bit of your time by subscribing, sharing rating for talking about one big paper for someone else. We truly appreciate your support. We want to hear your stories visit one big cable.com to get to know us even more. This episode of one big paper was published in 2022. All rights to broadcast in whole or in part are the property of the zealous Productions, LLC.