How did you fall in love with fire art?
I used to backpack a lot and fire arts are more popular overseas than they are here. When I was in Australia, I randomly happened upon a class in my hostel, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Then, I was in Southeast Asia, and I saw a lot of performers doing it on the beach.
What inspired you to found F.I.R.E, the online magazine for fire arts?
There was a print magazine for fire arts, but it fell off after three issues because it was too much work and too much money and not enough return, so I thought the web format could solve a lot of those problems.
Do you find that being a fire artist is an asset or a burden in the dating world?
Definitely an asset, because it’s really hard not to come off as sexy when you tell someone you spin fire. If I am at a party and I am flirting with a guy, it’s an instant, “Oh really!” If I am interested, I can always invite someone to a fire show. How many people are going to say no to a free fire show?
What’s the best reason to date a fire artist?
[Muttering to herself]: Don’t say, “Cause we’re hot;” don’t say, “Cause we’re hot.”
Look, there’s really no reason not to.
“I am a traveling circus performer. My boyfriend and I have a look-the-other-way rule for the six months when I am on tour (which goes for him as well). He wants to rescind it next season. He says we are too old and need to get serious. I love my boyfriend, but a big part of the reason why I love him is the freedom he gave me to hook up with circus groupies. I might break up with him. Does that make me a floozy or a bad person?”
Look, we performers are younger than what our driver’s license says because we’re active and push the envelope, but it might also mean we take longer to tame. A relationship is an amazing, fruitful, and inspiring thing and when you really want it, you want little else. Sounds like you don’t really want it. Just be considerate and give him some circus groupies’ numbers to soften the blow.
“I am a guy and have an intense interest in getting married and having kids, within the next five years. I don’t have time for any non-serious relationships. How do I advertise this without seeming clingy and overbearing?”
No worries, there are countless clingy and overbearing women out there to match your needs. There’s nothing wrong with letting your intentions be known. They will come out eventually and they will turn women away until you find one who shares those intentions.
“Whenever I meet up with my boyfriend all he wants to do is sit at home and watch Netflix. We live in a decent-sized city. How do I convince him It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia can wait and he should go out and do stuff with me?”
How much does he weigh and how much can you carry? Nothing strengthens a relationship better than the words “Does this smell like chloroform? … Surprise! We’re outside!”
But seriously, there’s always the classic “I’m kind of unhappy.” He’ll ask why. Say, “You know I love hanging out with you anywhere, but I’d love a change of scenery now and again.” Or you can say, “I wanna go out so I can show you off.” Just continue calmly and don’t accuse.
Photograph by Mike Thue
How did you become interested in fire art?
I have always been a bit of a pyromaniac and this is a healthy way to channel those interests. I really got interested in fire performing [after] going out to Burning Man. I came back and found some folks locally who were doing it and started from there.
What kinds of venues are there for a fire artist in Minneapolis?
We perform everywhere from house parties to rock concerts to church picnics to street fairs.
Do you have a signature tool?
The thing I am most known for are giant fire props on stilts. When you are on the ground there is a limit to how big you can make the fire props because you end up hitting the ground with them. When you elevate yourself on stilts, you can make the props bigger. I’ve got giant fire snakes, which are pois that coil up. I have a giant fire staff and a couple of other interesting things.
In the dating world, when you say you are a fire artist, what kind of response do you get?
Generally pretty positive. I have met a number of partners through fire performing and I get a lot of interest because I am a fire performer. It’s exciting and dangerous. It definitely attracts a certain kind of personality. And if you are doing a fire performance everyone is looking at you; you’re the center of attention, so by default you get more people interested in you.
What’s the best reason to date a fire artist?
There's nothing sexier than the smell of burnt hair and petroleum.
Photograph by Mattheas D.G.
“I am a performance artist in a small city. I keep dating people in the arts scene because that is who I am around and who I connect with. After three years here, I can’t go to an event without getting nasty or lusty looks from half the room. Should I stop dating artists? They’re the only people around here I have anything in common with!”
Maybe you should start dating people on the other half of the room. Even in a large city, art scenes tend to be small and tight-knit, and people love to gossip. People are talking about you because you are interesting. Take it as a compliment, and then ignore those people. If half the room isn't leering or scowling at you, pay attention to those people. Chances are there are at least a few of them who will be interested in you for who you are, and not for your reputation. If not, consider moving.
“I dated a woman for two months before she told me she is active in our city's fetish scene. She apparently goes to ‘play parties’ where she gets undressed and lets men tie her up and spank her, though there is no sex involved. She still wants to go to these events. I don't want to go and I don't want her to go either. I'll try anything she asks in the bedroom but I think our sex life should be private. She says as long as she doesn’t have sex, I should be OK with her participating. Who is right?”
No one is right. People are entitled to their own sexual boundaries and to be in a relationship with someone who shares those boundaries. The boundaries of your relationship are whatever the two of you agree they are. If you can't agree, you probably aren't well matched. If you can't live with her going to "play parties" and she can't be in a relationship with someone who is not OK with her going to them, you're at an impasse — not because one of you is right and the other is wrong, but because you want different things. Fortunately for both of you, there are plenty of people in the world with all kinds of sexual boundaries.
That said, I'd challenge you to go to a "play party." Let her know what she can do to make you more comfortable. Maybe you could go and she could not participate or only get spanked by you. With sexuality, often things that seem unappealing at first end up being the most gratifying. Or maybe you'll hate it; at least you can say you gave it an honest try (but if you go, you really do have to give it an honest try).
"I am getting married. My dad is a hardcore Christian but my future husband and I are agnostic. We’ve decided to have a nonreligious wedding officiated by a Justice of the Peace. My dad refuses to give us any money for it and isn’t even coming because we’re not "really getting married," though he said he will go to the reception. How do I explain his absence to the other guests? Should I even invite him to the reception?"
You don't have to explain anything. Likely, no one will be forward enough to ask. If they do, you can tell them the truth (which will almost certainly shut them up), avoid the question or make something up. Try these: "He chose not to come." "He couldn't make it to the ceremony, but he'll be at the reception." "He's on a top secret mission to … I've said too much." Or just put on a horrified look and say, "What? He's not here?" It's your day. Do what you want to do.
Same goes for the reception. Invite him if you want him there. Don't if you don't. Everyone's family is complicated. No one has any room to judge you because you have a conflict with your father about your wedding. Good luck with your dad. I hope he comes around. And congratulations on your wedding. If you need some entertainment for the reception, I may know some people…
Photograph by Phyllis B. Dooney
How did you get turned on to fire art?
I first saw fire spinning at Burning Man, but never particularly thought I wanted to do it until later that year. I went to see some people practicing in a park, and someone handed me their practice poi and I was hooked by the sensation. Once I tried it, I didn't want to put it down. People don't realize how fun spinning is. I added hoop into the mix, and slowly started exploring other props, from stilts to fans to wearable fire.
You teach a class in Williamsburg. Is it mostly people who have a performance background or people with regular jobs doing it in their free time?
It’s more b. There is a few people who are trained and are doing it on its own. There are also a few who are performers of other types who want to add fire into their repertoire. But most are people who have heard about it and they want to give it a try. So I have everybody from students to lawyers.
You’ve performed in front of Miranda Kerr, Michael Bloomberg and Jay-Z. Which was the most memorable?
Performing for Jay-Z was awesome. He threw a carnival for his Shawn Carter Foundation at Pier 54, and the whole pier was filled with rides, performers, little people, contortionists — a whole circus. Jay was always surrounded by a crowd of folks, but I'm pretty sure I caught his eye at one point!
What’s the best reason to date a fire artist?
You’ll be dating someone passionate, adventurous and spirited. You’ll be inspired to pursue your own unconventional dreams. And even if you have a really boring job, you can gloss right over that at parties and talk about your smokin’ hot babe’s wild and crazy life as a fire spinner!
Photograph by Phyllis B. Dooney
“I am a traveling circus performer. My boyfriend and I have a look-the-other-way rule for the six months when I am on tour (which goes for him as well). He wants to rescind it next season. He says we are too old and need to get serious. I love my boyfriend but a big part of the reason why I love him is the freedom he gave me to hook up with circus groupies. I might break up with him. Does that make me a floozy or a bad person?”
If one of the main reasons you’re together is that you get to be with other people half the year, what is the point of being together in the first place? Just to not be alone for the six months you’re home? If that’s the case, then, yes, you need to examine this relationship. While you’re at it, you might ponder what making more notches on your belt each season really does for you. Is it the adulation of the fans? The simple scratching of an itch? When you dig to the bottom of it, see if it’s really worth giving up someone who cares enough about you to make a commitment. If it is, then go for it; it’s your life and there’s no need to label yourself or feel bad about it — although floozy is kind of a fun word.
“I dated a woman for two months before she told me she is active in our city's fetish scene. She apparently goes to ‘play parties’ where she gets undressed and lets men tie her up and spank her, though there is no sex involved. She still wants to go to these events. I don't want to go and I don't want her to go either. I'll try anything she asks in the bedroom, but I think our sex life should be private. She says as long as she doesn’t have sex, I should be OK with her participating. Who is right?"
Right and wrong are perspectives we adopt, so there’s no one answer that will satisfy you. But relationships thrive on flexibility, not rigidity, so ask yourself what it’s worth to you to keep exploring this one. See if she’ll take you with her with you as the only partner she interacts with. At best you’ll gain the insight to deepen your relationship both in the bedroom and out. At worst you’ll have a ridiculous story about “this one time I wore ass-less chaps with a straight face.”
“My girlfriend is skilled at blowjobs and loves giving them. She knows right when I am ready to finish and then slows down to stretch out the process for as long as 45 minutes. While this is heaven on a Sunday morning, she gets insulted when I pass on oral sex on a weeknight because I just don’t have the time. She says I don’t appreciate her skill and dedication. How do I explain that some nights I just can’t sit around and get blown for as long as it takes to listen to Dark Side of the Moon?”
Tell her that you like variety and sometimes a quickie is a nice surprise. Challenge her by playing “Kashmir” and saying how hot it would be to finish as the song culminates. Work your way down to “Paperback Writer” and she’ll really have skills to be proud of.
“I am getting married. My dad is a hardcore Christian but my future husband and I are agnostic. We’ve decided to have a nonreligious wedding officiated by a Justice of the Peace. My dad refuses to give us any money for it (even though he pitched in when my pious sister got married) and isn’t even coming because we’re not ‘really getting married,’ though he said he will go to the reception. How do I explain his absence to all the other guests? Should I even invite him to the reception?”
Although you may think it’s unfair, it’s your dad’s prerogative to spend his money as he chooses, and it really doesn’t serve you to gripe about it. Learning to gracefully accept the consequences of your own choices will make you a lot happier in the long run.
As for your wedding, let the joy of this occasion spill over and wash out the hurt of your dad not being there. You don’t need to explain his absence unless someone asks. Your acceptance of the matter will set the tone for others to do the same. If you’re not up for all of that, then just have your DJ play a varied selection of maudlin daddy and/or wedding songs. Your guests will fill in the blank.