Featured THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED Artist: Oliver Schminkey

In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: SELF DEFINED? 

I’m the writer and performer of the piece “Misgendered, by a Friend, June 21st.”  I was also an intern this past summer for 20%, so I was responsible for creating the promo materials for the call for submissions and really getting the word out there about this show.

Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I?

It’s vital to tell the stories in THE NAKED I because trans and queer people are so often denied the fundamental act of telling our own stories and creating our own representations for ourselves, especially along lines of intersecting marginalized identities.  It’s important that we have spaces for us, by us, and about us; trans justice can only happen when trans people are in control of our movements, our art, and our representations.

What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I?

For this piece, I tried really hard to focus on a really small moment, that of being misgendered.  I think there’s a tendency to feel pressured to talk about murder and homelessness and other “big” issues whenever we talk about oppression facing trans people; and I think all of those things are vitally important.  They need to be said, and I’ve said them many, many times.  However, it was my challenge to myself this time to write a piece that focused on the small things that tend to grind us down, like microaggressions and misgendering, which work in tandem with the same systems of oppression that target and police trans bodies.  This isn’t to say that microaggressions operate on the same scale as hate crimes which disproportionately harm trans women of color; it’s just to say that there are a million moments, small and large, that make up the varied lived experiences of trans people.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? 

I’m a nationally touring slam poet, and I’ve competed and performed in over 15 states.  I’m also a musician and a visual artist, with numerous years of theatre experience under my belt as well.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?

This is a huge question.  I’m dedicated to putting out ethical work; this means constantly questioning the ways in which I, as a white person, have a stake in white supremacy (and actively trying to dismantle white supremacist ideology in both myself and others), although I don’t perform much work written explicitly about race.  Like I said before, I believe in letting people tell their own stories, and I would never want to take up space/take space away from people of color in order to whitesplain about race.  I’m also hugely dedicated to trans justice and queer justice, as well as disability justice.  I’m not interested in assimilationist politics; rather, I try to envision and work toward radical spaces in which we can find authenticity.  In shorter, less pretentious words, I don’t care much about “gay” marriage, but I do care about systematic reform that supports those most affected in our communities, largely disabled, working-class trans and queer people of color.  This means that my politics can never be separated from having conversations about interwoven relationships between colonialism, white supremacy, and the gender binary—even as I look toward a world in which non-binary people like myself can live sustainably. This informs my work so much because it informs my life—although I definitely don’t always succeed, in my work and my life, I try to actively fight against oppression.

What other artists or shows have inspired you?

DarkMatter, Venus DeMars, Cam Awkward-Rich, Rosanonymous, Jane Doe and the Misery Loves Co, Danez Smith, Patrick’s Cabaret, The Exchange (and everything they do), Miss Major <3 <3  the list goes on and on.

What’s your favorite hangout spot and why?

The Fox Egg Gallery! A ton of great events are held there, and it’s such a phenomenal 3rd space for me.

What other projects are you working on or hope to work on? 

I’m very busy!!

Right now I’m the guest curator at the Fox Egg; in addition to the show that’s going up in mid-January featuring the Tantrum Art Collective, I’m also curating a show called “Stare Back: Queer and Trans Artists Reclaim the Gayze,” which will open for submissions shortly.  The show is going to be a space for radical redefinition as all types of queer and trans artists represent ourselves visually, fighting against the ways in which largely cis, white, gay people are the face of queer communities in mainstream media.

I’m also finishing up my first full-length book, which will include both my poetry and my visual art.  It’s called “Spoiler: The Trans Kid Dies,” and it’s about my experiences as a specifically non-binary transgender sexual assault survivor.

In addition to those things, I founded and run a weekly poetry workshop on Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. at the Fox Egg Gallery called Well-Placed Commas.  WPC is a 16+ space for writers of all levels to come write together and build community.  We just produced our first chapbook, which is available for purchase on my Etsy page, OllieSchminks.

I also co-host the Twin Cities finest queer open mic, OUTspoken! with my lovely friends Nik Martell and Paul Canada, which happens every second Wednesday at the Fox Egg Gallery.

As one of my other loves, I run the Macalester Poetry Slam and tour nationally with my poetry at colleges and other venues.  You can check out all of this and more at my website.

The Naked I: Insides Out – Get to Know Manitou Love

This winter, 20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere of The Naked I: Insides Out – the 3rd in a series of Naked I plays that explore queer and trans* experiences through monologues, short scenes, and spoken word poems. The show was created over the past year by selecting 25 of 119 stories submitted by community members. This newest installment of The Naked I will involve over 75 LGBTQ artists and allies – including contributing writers, directors, performers, designers, technicians and supporting staff.

You can see The Naked I: Insides Out February 13-23, 2014 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. Purchase tickets now!

Over the past couple of months we have conducted interviews with a variety of The Naked I: Insides Out artists.  Last but not least in this series, we asked Manitou Love what he had to say about The Naked I: Insides Out.


What attracted you to audition for The Naked I: Insides Out?

I have wanted to get back into acting for a long time, and it goes concurrently with my desire to explore the aspects of my soul that are masculine and to reclaim masculinity as something beautiful. My name, Manitou Love, reflects this.

Have you ever acted before? If so, in what? When?

Lots of acting as a teenager (I was groomed by Central Touring Theatre in high school), and when I was 18, I was one of two leads in a film about gay youth. It’s now kind of a cult classic, and there are even bits of it on YouTube.

What is your role with the The Naked I: Insides Out? What do you like most about the piece(s) you are working on and your relationship to them (as performer)?

My role is in Body Unfolding by Charles Ely, directed by Brianna Olson-Carr. I identify with the piece, with its passion, anger, and truth.

Had you ever seen any version of The Naked I before?

Nope. I wish I had!

What about this production excites you most?

I’m amazed at the depth of trans/queer beauty, community, and talent associated with this production and am honored to be a part of it. One of the primary reasons I am an artist is because art builds community, and has the potential to change the world.

What do you hope/think audiences will take away from seeing your piece in The Naked I: Insides Out?

I hope they will understand that we are real people. As for my piece, it is our intention that we do justice to the power of Charles’ writing.

More about Manitou, the person…

What is your personal pronoun preference?

He or she.

What is your first memory of gender?

My first memory was of acting out my gender in ways that were non-conforming as a child, and wondering why it mattered.

If your gender identity was a food, what would it be?

A creamy, delicious (and healthy) organic vegan fruit smoothie.

You feel the most naked when…

I’m expressing myself on stage in front of people. (But I like being naked.)

What do you do in the world, outside of working on this production? (job/hobbies, etc.)

I am a freelance radio producer, I am outside a lot (nature is my church), I’m in the process of finishing college, and I perform as a drag queen named Delilah Lightful a/k/a Rainbow Spirit Woman, through which I radiate the light of my heart in honor of the divine feminine. I am constantly writing and I hope to publish my work as a semi-autobiography/collection of poetry and prose. My second home is in the land of father, off the southern shores of Lake Superior.

What if the concept of gender didn’t exist? How would that change your life?

Wow, if the binary gender system didn’t exist, I would have never felt the need to fit completely into one gender or another. In an old way traditional Native North American society, for example, I would have been identified as a winkte (a two-spirit medicine man), and groomed as such, with a special place of honor within my tribe. But as someone raised white middle class in a Western society, the binary is pretty solidly defined, so I had some very difficult choices to make. My journey has definitely not been easy, but it has been worth it every step of the way because my soul has embraced the lessons learned.

What is your most favorite accessory or article of clothing?

My winter coat. It is masculine and warm!

Name one of your favorite songs right now.

Every single song by Emeli Sande! She is the most amazing singer/songwriter
perhaps ever, and her music is healing the world right now. Of course, she struggles
to receive airplay in the U.S., despite having the #1 album of 2012 and 2013 in
the U.K. Choice cuts: Heaven, Wonder, Mountains, More Than Anything,
My Kind Of Love, Lifted.