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Las Vegas: Satan Vacations Here
by Victoria Alexander
July 2, 2012
The Las Vegas Informer's two year anniversary, Marina Abramovic, The Artist Is Present, FOX's MasterChef Season 3's Super-Villain, TLC's America's Worst Tattoos, and more...
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Yes, Abramovic is a seductress.
The Artist Is Present will be shown tonight, July 2, 2012 on HBO.
Several years ago in New York, Chuck Walker and I attended a White Tantric Yoga® meditation. White Tantric Yoga® is done in pairs as a group meditation. You sit cross-legged directly across and facing a partner and follow instructions for meditation given on video by the Mahan Tantric, Yogi Bhajan. Yogi Bhajan became Master of Kundalini Yoga® at the age of 16 in his native India. The authority to be the Mahan Tantric, Master of White Tantric Yoga®, was bestowed on him in 1970.
White Tantric Yoga® meditation is very difficult and performance artist, Serbian-born Abramovic did this type of meditation for three months in 2010 in a gallery at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She sat for seven hours a day, six days a week, without eating or drinking. (Well, fasting has been a huge part of Abramovic's famous performance pieces.)
People were lined up for hours, even days, to sit across from her. It turned into pandemonium.
Astonishingly, the title says everything and in itself is a challenge to artists everywhere – the renowned artist is present to give and to receive. The three-month event was an astonishing success and Abramovic became the very public face of performance art. At age 66, Abramovic is a true star still getting naked and has transformed herself into a fashion icon.
I was fascinated by her custom-made costumes for her performances. Medieval in structure, they also represented a nun-like, religious image.
Marina Abramovic merits all the acclaim bestowed on her.
It must have been exhausting for Abramovic because regardless of what she was thinking of as she faced each sitter, she was open to their positive or negative emotions. And staring at them meant she could not block their thoughts from affecting her psyche.
Eventually, Abramovic has the table separating her from her visitor taken away. Removing the table does not close the gap but takes away the barrier between the sitters. This was absolutely a necessary correction to her work.
It is labeled "performance art", but it is really Marina's darshan.
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, the so-called "hugging saint" of Kerala, is known as "Amma" or mother. Members of Amritanandamayi's following use the term "darshan" specifically in reference to receiving a hug from Amritanandamayi. There are times when Amritanandamayi gives darshan continuously for more than 20 hours (without a pee chair like MoMA provided for Abramovic).
Amritanandamayi has embraced more than 31 million people throughout the world.
Darshan means "to see" in Sanskrit. In the Hindu ritual tradition, it refers to seeing the sacred. It is believed that, in beholding the image of a deity, onlookers absorb through their eyes the powers of that deity. Darshan hence is believed to have the capacity to bring good fortune, well-being, and grace to those who participate in the act.
Matthew Aker's film follows the enormous preparations and execution of the show. Five iconic performance pieces by Abramovic and those performed by her and former collaborator-partner Ulay (Frank Uwe Laysiepen) were performed by 30 artists hand-picked by her. For re-creating these pieces, they were required to be naked.
In archival footage, we learn much about the 12 years Marina and Ulay lived together and designed their pieces. Their small van, that they lived in for 5 years, is on display. Ulay is interviewed for the documentary and he tells us they broke up when he got a Chinese translator pregnant. In their final collaboration, The Lovers, they walked toward each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China over a period of three months. (I've walked a mere part of it and it is tough. I wonder, who had the harder route?) They then broke up and did not see each other again for 23 years. Ulay has a very interesting view on Abramovic's meteoric success and was the first person to sit across from her.
The question arises – would you do the mortification pieces that Abramovic has done throughout her public career for the fame, the Hudson Valley estate, huge SOHO loft, business empire, and mammoth MoMA show? She set herself on fire!
Abramovic and Ulay's Imponderabilia is one of the five pieces re-staged. Here is the YouTude description of the video of the original piece:
Abramovic, Marina; Ulay. Performance piece: Imponderabilia. In a selected space. Naked we stand opposite each other in the museum entrance. The public entering the museum has to turn sideways to move through the limited space between us. Everyone wanting to get past has to choose one of us. http://www.youtube.com
The Artist Is Present is evocative and Abramovic, who has sanitized her biography to ditch several marriages, is a modern mystic – the naked mystic. What one comes away with is the necessity to sit still and do nothing – a challenge today.
FOX's MasterChef Season 3. As you may know, the Alexanders are big Gordon Ramsay fans. I go to restaurants now and ask for a tour of the kitchen. I want to see "the line". We're terrified of under-cooked beef wellingtons and risotto. Why are scallops so damn hard to cook?
MasterChef's three judges, chef Gordon Ramsey, restaurateur Joe Bastianich, and chef Graham Elliot, give contestants tough cooking tasks and then critique the result – often with colorful comments.
The golden ticket to being named season three's MasterChef? Executive chef at Ramsay's Steak at Paris Hotel and Casino here in Las Vegas. The salary is $250,000 a year.
Ariel Cohen of DKC News put me in contact with contestant Ryan Umane, unfairly named by viewers "Super-Villian". Self-named as "Flavor Elevator", self-taught Umane's controversial strategic decisions caused a social media uproar. More important is why hasn't judge Graham Elliot lost some weight?
I had a few questions for Ryan that he was generous enough to answer.
TDH: How much pre-taping rehearsal of the recipes is there?
Ryan: There was no pre-taping rehearsal of any recipes specifically, but we did have free time in the MasterChef test kitchen to experiment and try new things with lots of amazing ingredients.
TDH: Ryan - you are not a super-villain.
With the exception of some fancy camera tricks, I don't know exactly how I got this super-villain reputation. I was given kudos by the judges for my savvy decisions regarding which contestants would cook with Fresh vs. Canned Crab. The judges were encouraging me to be as devious as possible. Only one person can win MasterChef, so my objective was to throw out as many curveballs to the competition as possible, as any strong player would do!
TDH: Why is there so much crying. It's a TV show, not a firing squad.
I'd be lying if I said that the amount of crying on the show didn't drive me crazy. Especially when I see contestants trying to coast on tears and gain sympathy from the judges by shedding a few drops. The dichotomy appears even more glaring when you have so many emotional contestants competing against someone as ultra-competitive as myself. It almost made it too easy for the show to highlight the emotional players versus the aggressive and driven contestant.
Personally, I look at crying as a sign of weakness from the girls on the show, especially Monti [Carlo], who was a blubbering emotional wreck 90% of the time. Either she would be handing out fake hugs, or drowning her food in tears. Any way you look at it, she was disingenuous and certainly lacked the killer instinct.
TDH: Thank you Ryan!
MasterChef is currently on Fox on Monday & Tuesday nights at 9pm EST. Follow the wonderfully outspoken Ryan Umane @MC3Ryan or visit www.flavorelevator.com.
Postscript: Ryan was unfairly eliminated from Tuesday night's show leaving all the crybabies still competing and "drowning their food in tears."
Gordon Ramsay's new Fox reality series is called Hotel Hell. Ramsay will attempt to fix troubled hotels with his usual high-strung demand for perfection. Hotel Hell will debut with a two-night series premiere Monday, August 13 and Tuesday, August 14 from 8-9 PM. It will continue airing in its Monday 8-9 PM slot beginning August 20.
The Las Vegas Informer's two year anniversary. The Las Vegas Informer's two year anniversary was celebrated at the Hard Rock's Breathe Pool on June 22, 2012. Yvette Brown's Cosmopolitan Connections presented "The Las Vegas Informer 2 Year Anniversary & White Party!" Yvette worked with Lola Rose on the coordination of the event. There was a big turnout with gorgeous models and Yvette, in perfect hostess mode, was introducing everyone around. For upcoming Cosmopolitan Connections events, please visit their Facebook page: Cosmopolitan Connections Facebook.
The LVI writing staff met for the first time. From left to right: Rob Goald, Mitzi Reed, Rev. Thabiti, Nikki Artale, Joe Buda, Cat Savello, Iyan Breese, Denise Savello, Sue Rodrigues, Alex Kosmach, Victoria Alexander (Photo by Roger Bennett)
America's Worst Tattoos premiered on Thursday, June 21 at 10:00 pm. on TLC. I watched the first two episodes and I am hooked! I am continually shocked at how many people I see who have decorated their bodies with very bad tattoos. At 20 the tattoos look okay, but what happens when they are 40 years old, 30 pounds overweight, and the tattoos are faded and all stretched out?
Pictured: Kat von D full body tattoos.
I learned a lot about tattooing watching Season 1 of Ink Masters.
From a June 27, 2012 New York Times article: "A report by the Food and Drug Administration estimated that as many as 45 million Americans have tattoos. The report based the number on the finding by a Harris Interactive Poll in 2003 that 16 percent of all adults and 36 percent of people 25 to 29 had at least one tattoo. The poll also found that 17 percent of tattooed Americans regretted it. And a tattoo that cost several hundred dollars could require several thousand dollars and many laser sessions to remove."
Well, TLC's America's Worst Tattoos tries to save some of the worst tattoos out there by covering up the lousy tattoo with a new one by a famed tattoo artist.
After several people show off their "worst tattoos", in each episode, a few lucky participants are chosen to transform their interesting works of art into tattoo masterpieces. Working with famous artists like NY INK's Megan Massacre (pictured), America's Worst Tattoos will highlight the unfortunate tattoo's backstory, the process of covering it up and the big reveal.
A tubby guy regrets his huge "WELL FED" tummy tattoo in addition to his Post-it note tattoo he got later to fill in the gap between "WELL" and "FED" with the hand-written message, "Put food in me."
And then there is John. He loves his parents so much that he decided to have portraits of them tattooed onto his body. On his buttocks, to be precise. "For Mother's Day, I decided to get my mom's face tattooed on my butt cheek," said John, showing off his mom's face on his posterior. "My mom cried when she first saw it."
Victoria Alexander is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org. Victoria's weekly column, "The Devil's Hammer," is posted every Monday. http://www.fromthebalcony.com/editorials.php.
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