Video Pick: Five Pick-Up Artists Explain the Meaning of Life

Kristina Wong is a performance artist who sheds humorous light on topics she knows from first-hand experience. Rather than fixing wrongs with easy answers, she aims to "further complicate the question by making the invisible visible, and hopefully, creating some space for public discourse."

In 2006, she created Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to address depression and suicide among Asian-American women. Then she got depressed herself from performing on the road for so long and decided to create a new work about isolation. Cat Lady premiered at REDCAT's NOW Festival in 2008 as a solo work with two dancers in silhouettes, but it has since grown into a full-length narrative work with three other actors (its Houston debut is tonight at DiverseWorks).

How did the change come about? Wong got hooked on the VH1 reality-TV show The Pick-Up Artist.

She became interested in the subculture of male pick-up artists--their trainings, conferences, terminology and the hierarchy of respect among them. She found many parallels between her life as a lonely solo performer and that of pick-up artist. Like Wong, they used their "scripts" on audiences to escape the reality of their loneliness.

Realizing that pick-up-artist culture and infrastructure was as bizarrely idiosyncratic as her world, she decided to evolve Cat Lady, incorporating interview footage with professional pick-up artists (today's video). She juxtaposed "two pathetically lonely personas living at the margins of gender and society--musty cat ladies and fast-talking male pick-up artists." Cat Lady has been described as "Ed Hardy meets Lord of the Flies meets cat pee."

Cat Lady opens tonight and runs through Saturday, March 26 at DiverseWorks. Tickets here.

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Vernon Caldera