The LUMA Story: How it All Began

After leaving our show in Roanoke, VA and heading to our next show in Storrs, CT, the LUMA cast is staying at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City, where I found rooms for $20 a night. Yes, that’s right twenty dollars a night to stay at a massive casino resort with a Thunder Dome that is covering the pool area and keeps it warm no matter what time of year. My room overlooks another roof with numerous vents, pipes, duct- works, air conditioners and other stored mechanical devices that lay between my window and the water. But at $20 a night, I am not complaining. And if you’re in Atlantic City and want to come by and say hi to me, please do.

Almost 20 Years Ago Today

In 1985 I took some classes from Rachel Rosenthal, an iconic figure in the world of performance art.  A holocaust survivor, Rachel was doing this kind of stuff in the 50’s when they were called happenings, a term I like much better than performance art. It was there I had the freedom to do experimental works.

The very first LUMA anything was a mini-mag flashlight, covered in red gel, a bundle of sage, cedar and sweet grass that I burned and when I shook it, the red points of the embers would float about the stage like they did around the fire in the desert. I would blow on the embers and the glow from it would like my face for a moment and then disappear. Holding the light and red gel under my face and turning it off and on slowly while I moved about the stage. My face showing up in a different spot each time and I would speak:

“Do you know another star besides the sun? The Milky Way Galaxy is hundreds of billions of stars and it goes by unnoticed every night because our lights are on. Starlight that takes millions of light years to reach my eyes is shouted out at the finish line by our streetlights. When I don’t see the heavens that I belong to I feel disconnected from eternity and afraid of death. So come with me, far away from the city, where the universe surrounds us and I will show you where you came from and where you will go to and you won’t be afraid anymore.” Circa 1985

Milkyway_pan1

Madmen in Hawaii

I was 29 years old and hitting my Saturn’s return, and like many people at that age, my life ended and began anew. I walked away from my career and life, committing professional seppuku. I hit the ‘rubber ceiling’ as a juggler and could go no further.

I landed in Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii with a bunch of street performing jugglers, clowns, misfits and madmen who were all buying land together. For close to six years I broke jungle and planted food, lived in a tree house with no electricity or running water and living an experience that could be described at “Lord of the Flies meets Gilligan’s Island, with a circus twist.”

In all honesty, I ran an extension cord to my truck’s battery that provided some DC current to run a light bulb and play a CD for a little while at night. But that was all. My body/mind fell into the rhythm of the moon waxing and waning, the sun’s rise and setting and the ever-present glow on the horizon of the lava from Kilauea volcano. This went on from 1987 to 1992 and, in 1989 after a spiritual awakening and finding hope in a world that existed outside the conclave of dysfunctional community experiment; I would have an epiphany that would forever alter my life.

My Epiphany

kilauea

For adventure and entertainment many of us would venture onto the lava fields and walk up to a surface flow of lava. People always ask, “How close can you get to the lava?” My answer: “How far can you stick your head in an oven?” How much heat you can handle will determine how close you can get.

It was there, watching people’s faces bathed in that red glow from the lava, hypnotized by the light they were looking at, that I had the realization that they looked like deer in the headlights. They are as attracted to this as a moth to a flame. Like the leaves of a plant, they too are turning to face the light to which all life is drawn.

I thought to myself, “The whole world would want to see a show about light!!! Oh Shit!!! I am going back into show business.”

There are plenty of other details to which I will not bore you with at this time, dear reader.

Stay light and turn them off when you leave the room

Marlin

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