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one more Spalding Gray...

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
from an interview...

io: You seem to form your monologues around your compulsions. A couple years ago, at age 51, you took up downhill skiing. Is this the new compulsion in your life?

SG: [My new monologue about skiing] is the first one where I've had a relationship to something other than people. The monologue about skiing is about the balance between body and mind. The greatest thing that happens to me when I'm skiing is the harmony. The only time I was ever present in my body before was in sex, performing, drugs and with the sea. Skiing became the new and healthy way of being present -- although I don't know if it's healthy, I could sever my spinal cord. If I'm not present in the act of skiing, or if I think, "Hey, I'm skiing," that's when I go down.
In my life, when I'm not performing or working on something new, all I'm doing is walking and thinking. In skiing, I have no room for thought, I'm too busy doing. It terrified me because I love skiing so much, but I didn't know how to make a living at it and I'd always prided myself on making a living at what I loved. I was very influenced by Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown -- reading them and the neo-Freudians in the early '70s, and their ideas about eroticizing work and loving what you do.


from another...

by Jeanne Carstensen, The Gate Spalding Gray

America's "talking man" dropped by The Gate's offices recently to, well, talk. Spalding Gray was in town to perform his acclaimed monologue about learning to ski in the midst of an emotional meltdown -- "It's a Slippery Slope" (reviewed by the Chronicle and Examiner). He looked exactly as he looks on stage: neat checkered shirt, billowy silver hair, playful eyes. Over the last two decades the motor-mouthed New Englander has chronicled his life in 15 monologues (Including "Swimming to Cambodia," "Monster in a Box," and "Gray's Anatomy") and elevated autobiographical storytelling to a high art. He is already at work on monologue number 16 about one day in his life in Sag Harbor, Long Island where he currently lives with his sons Forrest and Theo and their mother Kathie.

Jeanne Carstensen: Is it true that you're claustrophobic? I've heard that. So I thought, my god, I'm going to put him in this little room...

Spalding Gray: I've had attacks of claustrophobia, but this room wouldn't bring one on. This is still a big room to me. I've probably had two or three of them in my life.

JC: Are you planning on going skiing while you're here?

SG: I'm leaving from here for Aspen, Colorado, to do a workshop called "The Magic of Skiing." I'm being sent there by Snow Country Magazine to write an article about it. I'm very pleased because I'm being hired as a writer to write about skiing as a result of this monologue, "It's a Slippery Slope." We get up at 7 a.m. and do our centering exercises. It's a six-day workshop. Then we do whatever. I'll find out and write about it.

I'll probably try to ski 40 days this year.

JC: So you've really become a big skier.

SG: I have my moments. If I ski 14 days in a row, on the 7th day I'm skiing well.

JC: Is skiing where you're finding your "perfect moment" now?

SG: I think looking for the perfect moment is deadly, or craving them, because they're always surprises. But I've had some really great moments on the slopes that keep bringing me back. Moments I'd call getting into the flow that I've never had before in my life. One in particular in Vail, being way out on outer Mongolia and having to get down to ski school to pick up my son or they'd treat him like a delinquent truant. And just getting into one of these flow situations where I was at the top of the mountain at the bottom and I really couldn't tell you how it all happened. Very mystical for me. Skiing is better than sex actually, because for me a good round of sex might be seven minutes. Skiing you can do for seven hours.

[ January 27, 2004, 10:37 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #2 of 3
Bad news: Fox news reporting that his body was found today.
post #3 of 3
What a tragedy. I lost touch with his work over the last few years: I had no idea about his monologue on skiing.

In the early 90's I stood in line to have him autograph one of his published monologues. He asked me why I was getting the book signed. When I told him it was for a friend, he wanted to know why she couldn't be there and followed that up with a few more questions. It was a mildly surprising exchange. I, the fan, didn't ask him, the celebrity, anything but he showed a sincere interest in some guy who just walked in off the street.

What a sad ending.
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