We first heard about Gabe Boyer in 2001, when the then-24-year-old gave a series of lectures — at Boston’s Berwick Research Institute performance lab — on romantic love, utopian thought, and causal reasoning, punctuated by his Wurlitzer noodling. In 2002, Boyer founded Bedroom Theater, a weekly happening in his apartment’s bedroom; in 2003, he took his show on a bedroom-to-bedroom tour across America. This series recounts what happened.
San Francisco had been washed out by the fog, and the pedestrians had been transformed along with it, into amoebic gargoyles, something vaguely humanoid but blurred at the edges. I wanted to shout obscenities directly at my father’s face like your everyday adolescent but instead got all calm and focused my attention. If a thing is not immediately obvious then it is not true, I said. If it is true then it is banal. If it is banal then it has already been revealed. We’d arrived.
The place was truly adorned in magical creatures from the forest deep. The front door was open and the screen door went shut behind us with an angry snap. Marc came from somewhere and held out a hand, and I stole a glance around the room. There was a unicorn tapestry behind the couch, unicorn decals all over the walls, and unicorn statuettes. Marc’s hair was very very red.
Hello, he said, then vigorously shook my hand. I been hearing about you for I don’t know, but. Then he’s leaned back and is smiling while he surveys my father and me. Then his look got mischievous, and he took us into the kitchen. But today all it’s all been is cooking cooking cooking since morning. Not all that bad either, here. Try. Good, right? This stuff DOES taste good, and it’s good for you. I love stuffed artichokes. He put an artichoke leaf in his mouth and spent a full minute methodically chewing with his eyes closed in either concentration or a subdued ecstasy before continuing. Come. See my chickens. We climbed down the stairs that led around back to where he kept his chickens in a thin concrete lot. Fresh eggs every day, I love that. Been in cooking school for a while now. It’s great because I eat my homework every day. But. I was a programmer before. This just as we were returning to the kitchen back up those creaking wooden steps. I got really depressed one day and it hit me.Sometimes it takes a really destructive love affair to make you realize this’s no way to spend your life.
(Years later, while eating Faluda ice cream at Bombay Ice Creamery, Marc would educate me concerning his Food Hacking Supper Club, and his more daring experiments, such as toe cheese, in which a toenail is used as cheese rind and flavoring, or ant venom gumdrops. Their avocado ice cream makes the most amazing absinthe smoothie, he said then.)
Then people started arriving from various corners both of the house and the city. Justin, Marc’s roommate, came stumbling in from his bedroom in the manner of a very light-hearted but also strangely porous fellow. Why porous, you might ask? Because it’s the first adjective that came to mind, and because there was definitely something strange about him that might have been porous, and because when I think of Justin, mostly what I remember is this sense I got that his bedroom was a very private place full of potentially disturbing things. Is it time yet? I’m ready whenever it’s time. He shook his head with a sleepy and knowing grin. Time just keeps on following me around wherever I go, he said, immediately explaining to everyone in the room that he was almost in a position where he could be unemployed all over again. I love being unemployed, he said, turning to me abruptly just as he was finishing this sentence. Then this young neuortic name of Julian entered and immediately walked over to the corner and sat down to adjust his spectacles dramatically with his eyes firmly planted on the floor. He was followed by a silent goth girl, concealing her impure intentions behind her hair with a sinister smile peaking through when she caught you by the eye. I felt like I was sitting in on a meeting of aspiring supervillains.
In the end it was six. I used to say that if less than two persons showed up for Bedroom Theater (back when it was a weekly event held in my bedroom) then the show couldn’t go on. Just above that number is perfection, intimate and profound. They had ordered indian pizza. We each had a slice in the kitchen. Standing with cheese hanging from my lip I made the announcement, Let’s get this ball rolling. If we didn’t begin soon I’d gnaw a hole right through my stomach.
I decided that tonight what we should do is perform a musical written by yours truly, Free-Thinking Man as Commodity, a musical without music, in which part of the humor was having not only unskilled actors, but unskilled singers, composing their own melodies right there on the fly, as the words escaped from their reedy throats, and Julian, the painfully shy one, kept stealing parts from the other persons, jumping from the couch to sing Miss Peachy’s Soliloquy for example and hopping around the room as if he were a frog, one arm in the air and his eyes glued to the page. We were just doing a little dance to pay our respects to this nondescript apocalypse we call the present tense, but all our moves were wrong.
Because we were just the begrudged losers of yet another stadium game for the criminally insane, and everything we said was just another way of being coy, like a supposed virgin found burying her baby in the back yard or a family man loitering in the dildo section. Because who we are will never be as present as crumpled sheets, but more a problem of our internal horizon become unhoused to instead be floating and uncertain. People who end up being nothing more than bank accounts with mouths, are beaten down until there’s nothing left but the sort of luscious introspection that comes with everyone been made a dot.