I haven’t heard from Andy lately, so I’m certain he’s busy learning his lines for the lead role in The Devils, UCLA’s major spring play. He’s also back playing basketball on campus at Pauley Pavilion, where he sometimes plays with Adam Sandler.
Andy had stopped playing basketball for awhile after injuring his right shoulder last fall. When he visited us at home over Winter Break, he injured his left shoulder at a local gym after a bigger basketball player smashed down on top of him. He couldn’t move his arms up, but at least he looked symmetrical. He also has plantar fasciitis, scar tissue from torn tendons on his legs, and permanently stiff trapezius muscles.
Adam Sandler doesn’t know Andy’s an aspiring actor who’d be perfect to play an assault victim. Even better, a corpse.
Andy somehow gets involved in hazardous undertakings. Last year, when he came home for summer vacation, his body was covered in permanent ink designs, particularly over his arms, legs, and abdomen. He resembled a kids’ skeleton costume at Halloween or a marked up piece of prime beef. Relieved to see these markings were not tattoos, I asked why he was imprinted all over his torso in dark blue ink.
“Performance Art,” he explained. I remembered Performance Art is a term for a theatrical performance where the artist’s personal expression of an idea takes place before a live audience. I knew performances could be offbeat, but Andy assured me his was a meaningful experience for himself and his audience. He showed me a YouTube video where he and an attractive, well-proportioned young female student, standing side-by-side, performed yoga, stretching, and a series of difficult postures.
“These markings on my body are designs of muscles,” Andy said. “Each drawing was inked directly over its counterpart muscle.” He explained that his partner was selected for her superior physical prowess, and that during the performance his task was to copy her moves exactly.
Then why in the video was he wearing rubber bands over most of the blue-inked skin muscles?
Andy explained that for the performance, his good friend Jack, also a theater student, was enlisted to snap the rubber bands forcefully over whatever muscles Andy was stressing if Jack determined Andy wasn’t as good as his female counterpart.
Talk about a blank check.
I remembered Jack was not exactly on the best terms with Andy last spring when the video was made. Silently I watched Andy in the video grunt and moan as he worked out while Jack snapped the various rubber bands repeatedly. Performance art or not, this seemed like a definite inequality of the parties. I got the feeling Jack was really into his role.
In the video the audience began to squirm and I heard a chorus of boos and hisses. Mercifully the video ended when Jack, anticipating more audience participation than usual for Performance Art— perhaps a lynching— rushed to remove Andy’s rubber bands before Andy was hauled off the stage.
Watching me view the YouTube video, Andy asked what I thought about it.
“I understand your intent was to evoke a strong reaction,” I said carefully, “so I did feel sympathy and revulsion watching you be tortured by Jack. As your mother, though, I hope you don’t do another one of these performances. And,” I added, “it also seemed kind of kinky.”
“You’re the only one who thought of that,” he replied with a sniff.
When I described the video to various friends, the consensus was that Andy’s Performance Art video absolutely had creepy overtones. That issue aside, they wished Andy would beat the crap out of Jack.
Because I’ve seen the video, I’m now certain I’ll cope well watching Andy perform naked and be tortured in The Devils. How often does a proud mother get to see that?