In a brief sudden explosion of inhalations and exhalations – breathing in and out of plastic bag… a sinister, sexually ambiguous masked being erupts with desperate almost dangerous energy. A highly performative tape “of that character, whoever he was”, Porky seems to find a subterranean source of expression from deep within the psyche.
For the most part, yes, with the exception of when Nina and I were living together, and we would occasionally be camera person for the other. She’s the camera person in Porky, and that piece is a real tribute to Nina for her camera work and editing, because she really took that on as a special project. For a work like Porky, I needed to get sort of psyched up to do it. I had no theater background, and I didn’t have any other means of achieving that kind of experience. This was a highly performative tape that was really about the performance of that character, whoever he was or is. I remember that Nina and I set up the whole set, and then we broke and I went out on the beach for a fairly long time. I might have been gone for several hours, just getting into the mood to be “Porky.” And we walked in and—boom—we were ready and shot that thing, and that crazy being came out of me.
It’s hard for me to imagine that that tape could have been made anywhere else but in California at that moment in time. 1974 in Venice was a really unique period. It was the period when all of us residents discovered that Los Angeles didn’t own the beach; the state of California owned the beach, and in the state of California you could go nude on any of the beaches. So even though we were in an urban space, the state of California actually governed the beach itself, so we could all go in whatever various forms of clothing we wanted. This led to a very crazy period which really peaked in ‘the summer of ’74, which is when Porky was made. Anybody could wear anything on the beach. I don’t know what that meant to others, but what it meant to me was—I was a person that came out of an East Coast education who had been drinking like ten cups of coffee a day and smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, and I moved to California and rid myself of all that unhealthy stuff, and also began to understand what it was to live in the body. California was a Mecca for that kind of dialog. But for me it was really, really healthful. I became not only physically healthy in California, but I became psychically healthy, and gained the ability to say “This is my body. This is my tool, and I live in this; you’ve got one too, and that’s your tool and you live in it.” So the kind of honesty and integrity of that moment in time for me was really wonderful, and I have been indebted to those experiences for the rest of my life, because it made me a much more comfortable person with who I am. It allowed me to have a kind of control over my life that I never dreamed I could have as a younger person, not really feeling comfortable in the body, and having no vocabulary to even know that that was part of the problem. So that particular summer and that particular time in California was magnificent for that. And Porky is an expression of the kind of freedom that comes from living in that space during that period of time.