Sunday, November 28, 2010

Guest Review on

Hey all,

Check Out a guest review I did for my friend Cool Hand Luke's of Lyric's Born's new album As U Were.
Read the Review

Monday, November 15, 2010

Debbie Does My Dad in San Francisco This Saturday!

It's a milestone homecoming. I'll be Performing Debbie Does My Dad at the Center for Sex and Culture this weekend on Sat Nov. 20th at 8:30 pm. And...I'll be sharing the bill with my Dad who'll follow up my show with his own side of the story!!! If you're in the Bay Area it would be amazing to have you join me and my dad!

Bobby Gordon in Debbie Does My Dad (a one-man play about growing up with a dad who was once a porn star) AND special appearance by his dad: Howie Gordon, AKA the Ghost of Richard Pacheco!

At the Center for Sex & Culture 1519 Mission near 11th St., SF

$15 -- space is limited, 18+ only

Debbie Does My Dad by performance artist Bobby Gordon uses spoken word theater to tell the bawdy and beautiful story of his experiences growing up as the son of a former adult film star. Gordon's father, Howie Gordon (Stage Name Richard Pacheco) won Playgirl Man of the Year Honors in 1979 and appeared in over 100 pornographic titles.

Nothing is what you'd expect in this show where the words "sensitive" and "male porn star" go together as easily as "masturbation" and "inevitably getting walked in on by your parents." Gordon offers an intimate window into his journey to come to grips his father's former career, and create a world where a man can be an emotional and a sexual being; a world where fucking and feelings can co-exist.

Friday, September 3, 2010

2 Scenes from Debbie Does My Dad

Here are two scenes from the work in progress showing of Debbie Does My Dad at the Drama For Life Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa this month. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's a wrap for Debbie in South Africa!

     We finished off the run of Debbie Does My Dad yesterday with a matinee at the Spaceframe Theater at the Wits Education Campus.  It was quite the difficult task to do the last show at an entirely new venue with under an hour to set the stage, lights, and sound.  HUGE thanks to Chanel and Desi who worked absolute magic to get the show ready to go in time to open the doors.
     We had a good crowd and again got a great response.  This opportunity to travel across the globe to present the art that I love to do filled me such a sense of gratefulness. Getting to share my work, see others, and engage in amazing conversations with artists from all different walks was such a rich experience. I am so thankful for people that value art. I am becoming more and more of a convert every day. *(I'll be posting video excerpts from the show when I return to the U.S.)
     With this festival I began a new focusing ritual before performing.  I walk around the stage and look at every seat, and I thank the person that I imagine will be sitting in it.  The person who may give me the gift of their time, energy, and attention. It makes me present and also feel the strong responsibility, that if they are going to give me their valuable time, I had better make good use of it.
     Shortly after finishing the run, I was a judge at the National Poetry Slam. Hectic. Damn.  The poetry was incredible, none of us judges could agree. AT ALL.  I love slam and I hate slam. It birthed me as a writer.  But I watched a lot of young poets leave the slam feeling nowhere near as proud as I think they should of.  I want to say LOUDLY that all of the poets I saw perform in Jo'burg last night were incredible. Please keep writing, and please let me keep enjoying it. Much love and respect.
      As I get ready to go to a game park for my last day in South Africa, a lot of thank yous are in order.  Thank you to MAKE ART/STOPAIDS for sending me here and to Drama For Life for taking me in.  Thank you to my Director George Watsky for giving the piece so much attention and care. Thank you to Steve for being the most gracious host I could ever dream of.  To Cathy for being my singing partner at every meal, and in between. Ok, just always. To Hanni for everything, and also for making a really delicious dinner. To Levinia and Lonwabo, and Eliana for the amazing organizing. You guys held it all together and us performers owe you so much. To Ntombi for organizing all of the poetry events and giving me the opportunity to lead a workshop. To all of the other performers/directors at the festival for moving and inspiring me. And finally, to all of the people who blessed me with their presence, energy, and beautiful noise at my shows, thank you so much. The warm response you gave me touched me so deeply.
     South Africa I hope to see you soon!

Keynote Lecture about Through Positive Eyes

      Putting yourself in the shoes of someone living with HIV and seeing the world through their eyes.  Doing this can help an HIV-negative overcome their stigma of HIV and HIV testing, and it can help an person living with HIV know that they are not alone, and can have a long happy life ahead of them.  This is the purpose of the international photography project Through Positive Eyes.
     It was also the topic of Dr. David Gere's keynote lecture at the second day of the Drama For Life Conference.  Dr. Gere is the co-director of the project with South African born and London based photographer Gideon Mendel. Dr. Gere spoke about encouraging empathy for people living with HIV around the world (the project has been done in Mexico City, Rio De Janeiro, and most recently Johannesburg.)  This empathy is reached by offering first person interactions with the HIV-positive participant photographers who share how they see through the world through images and first-person narrative.

CIDA from Through Positive Eyes on Vimeo.
      Sitting in the audience, listening to Dr. Gere's lecture, right next to Hanni Ress, was quite the full circle moment. Dr. Gere is the director of MAKE ART/STOP AIDS where I now work, and where Hanni used to work. My first interactions with HIV activism happened when I was a student working on a project in Los Angeles with Dr. Gere and Mendel that would later give birth to the modern form of Through Positive Eyes. It was coordinated by Ress and called HIV Positive in LA: 12 Stories.  Sitting together three years later at Wits University in Johannesburg, and having a moment to reflect on where the project has come was really remarkable.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Debbie Does the Festival a Second Time!

Post show reading with my production team Desi (left) and Chanel (right).
Wow. Another great show tonight for Debbie Does Dallas at The Nunnery.  On such a high from the Drama For Life Festival.  A second full house and a second standing O for the show, including my hosts Steve and Cathy, has me so utterly grateful.

Nomsa and I after the show

Also in the audience was my great friend Nomsa from the Through Positive Eyes project that I helped work on here in Jo'burg in March to fight HIV stigma. Check out Through Positive Eyes
On another note entirely, I saw My Brother's Bones today while I was on campus before my show.  It is a play created and directed by the Director of the Drama For Life Festival Warren Nebe.  Oh my god, it was incredible.  The piece tells the story of two brothers trying to bury their older brother and it brings up so many issues of inequality, politics, and family responsibility.  The two brothers struggle and struggle to find a burial place for their brother since they do not have any money.  They end up walking the streets of the city with the coffin causing a widespread controversy. I was moved. Deeply. 

Debbie Debuts at the Festival!

     Debbie Does My Dad debuted to a capacity crowd last night at the Nunnery at Wits University. It was an absolute blessing to have so many people show up to see the work, with a crowd even having to be turned away at the door.
     It was a race to the finish to set everything in time, getting lights and sound cues set just minutes before the doors opened, but we made it just under the wire and the show went off so well.
     I am so thankful to the audience who was with the work the whole way, laughing, letting me hear when lines resonated, and for going on the ride with me. The show dives deep into my relationship with my dad and his former career as a porn star, my own adolescence, and manhood. It was deeply gratifying and inspiring to share it with an audience, and feel the connection. This is by far the longest work I've ever created and presented, and through a writing and rehearsal process that seemed impossible, I had to just put my head down,
work each day, and hope that I would have something in the end. To come out of this process with something worthwhile, and to be met with a standing ovation from the audience on the African continent, over a thousand miles away from my home, was beyond anything I could have imagined.
     Two more shows now. Tonight and tomorrow afternoon. I'll try to post some video as soon as I can upload the footage to my computer. And I must say a HUGE thank you to the crew for the show, Chanel, Desi, Marta, and Simon. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clowns Without Borders are Amazing!

I went to a clowning show tonight. I'd never been to a clown show before. Clowns Without Borders performed tonight as part of the Drama For Life Festival, and it was so much fun. I was laughing almost the entire hour long show, got pulled onto stage to dance with the clowns, and on top of the great time the clowns showed us (and show to kids across South Africa in general) they also teach about HIV.
They really get it right. HIV education that tries to be fun is often heavy on the education and light on the fun, which completely defeats the purpose. Clowns Without Borders' Show was fun. REALLY fun. And the condom demonstration was not only correct, but hilarious. Definite highlight of the whole festival.
Please, go learn more about them. Clowns Without Borders

Ongoing Highlights from Drama For Life

Every day at this festival here in Jo'burg is filled with art about sex from every end of the spectrum. Funny, serious, energetic, brooding. On Sunday I saw a hilarious singer-song writer named Deep Fried Man perform "A Complete History of Sexual Activity" which was as funny as the actual history of sexual activity, which is to say, hilarious!

And there is an amazing new tapestry from the Keiskamma Art Project on display throughout the festival. I finally got to see it yesterday and I was incredibly moved. The piece is called the Keiskamma Guernica Tapestry and it is a "cry of protest at the ongoing deaths due to HIV and AIDS."

It references the famous Picasso painting of the bombing of Spain, and the tapestry is arresting, haunting, and stunningly beautiful.
Learn more about Keiskamma

Then that night I saw an amazing dance piece about sex/sexuality called sexscape. It was a tour deforce performance. Ive never seen dancers worked so hard. I had to go up to PJ after the show and tell him how incredible it was.

I have to give a shout out to the amazing people I've met/remet at the festival. Here are just a few. (From left Ntombi, John, myself, Bernard). I am blown away by the amazing people here involved truly powerful artwork of all different kinds.

And I've been staying with a great friend Steve. Steve's house is an oasis of warm and welcoming so far from home. A beautiful slice of Berkeley on the southern tip of the African continent. I'm truly blessed to be with such great friends.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The irony is so good. Porn at the nunnery.

This Wednesday night, I'm debuting Debbie Does My Dad, a spoken word theater piece about growing up as the son of a former porn star. And I am doing it at a theater at Wits University in South Africa called The Nunnery. It's almost too perfect.

(If you notice the red fliers on the wall, those are for the show!)


     I'm left inspired and humbled. Today I had the immense pleasure of getting to lead a workshop with 5 of the poets from the regional slam that I saw my first day in Jo'burg. It was really fun to just talk with the group of poets about what the scene is like in South Africa, and hear about what their processes are like.
     Then, we got into it. We focused mainly on performance. All of the elements that a spoken word poet communicates that aren't words; tone, body language, use of the space.
We read the writing on doritos bags as if they were love poems, a noodles bag as if it was a break up poem, and a toothpaste container as if it was about revolution. So funny, and really cool to watch the group really go for it.
     At the end though, to bring everything back to the sex/sexuality/HIV theme of the festival, the group created a powerful group piece about their own experiences with HIV and sexual education. I wanted to video, but made the disclaimer that if anyone was uncomfortable at all, I wouldn't. One person was, and I kept my promise. It was not a choice, especially after the group opened up and went on the ride for the workshop with me. I owe them such big thanks. I had a great time working with them, and I hope they did too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Drama For Life Festival Opening

     How do you open a drama festival in Johannesburg? Not a 21 gun salute. Try 21 poets, competing in the Johannesburg Regional Poetry Slam, competing for a spot in next week's national competition.  Really good poetry slams make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Less than 24 hours in South Africa, and I already felt it.
     The poetry slam was part of a day packed full of activities at Wits University to kick off the Drama For Life Festival.  Amazing.  I could say it again and again.  The slam began with the MC making the judges stand up, and telling the audience (many friends of the poets) to send their bribes in that direction. After that the poets linked arms in solidarity, and then proceeded to bless the stage and set the mic on fire. I took notes on some of the lines that moved me.

"I'm drawn to the delirium of it all...We dream alone apparently. Two people dreaming together is called a conversation."

"I've been bred to give to those with less, but how can I give to him and not all the rest."

"Casual sex turns us into casualties in casualty wards." - (the Dreaded Floet who got robbed and left out of the second round.)

"All things bright and beautiful, creatures big and small...piss me off!"

"In moments like this your body becomes religion, and not having all of you is tantamount to sin."

"Look behind you, at those who fought for your inheritance that you now use in vain."

"I gather that I am incomplete, but he is not what completes me."

"I would go back in time if I had the power, next time I'd use a condom. I wouldn't take a shower."

The poetry slam was followed by an inspiring opening ceremony at the Wits Theater, with speeches by Director Warren Nebe, Justice Edwin Cameron, and Positive Convention director Pholokgolo Ramothwala.  And then the art started again.  A hilarious performance by Miss Diversity and her dancers, an incredible dance show by the SKY Gumboot Dancers (Soweto and Kliptown Youth)
and the evening concluded with Deep Night, a stirring modern dance piece in the main theater.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drama For Life/Through Positive Eyes South Africa

Tomorrow I get on a plane to return to South Africa to take part in the Drama For Life: Sex Actually Festival, which uses theater to talk about sex, sexuality, and HIV. I am so excited to debut a new spoken-word theater piece of mine called "Debbie Does My Dad" which tells my story growing up as the son of a former porn star. I'll be performing in the festival, having the privilege of seeing all of the other works, and being a judge for a national South African Poetry Slam called "Lover and Another."
Visit the Drama For Life Festival Website
I'll be trying to blog while I'm there. There's no way to know what the festival will be exactly, but I am so open and excited to see what it is. Time for a plane ride to go find out.

The last time I was in South Africa was in March, working with a group of HIV-positive people who learned how to use photography to share their stories. The result was a stunning photography exhibition called Through Positive Eyes which will be on display at the festival. I wrote about the experience of the Drama For Life blog.
Read the blog post
Visit the Through Positive Eyes Website

Using Humor to fight HIV

I was in D.F. (Mexico City) this past month for work, collaborating with a local HIV/gay rights non-profit to create an anti-HIV stigma exhibition and campaign in the metro.  While there I had the privilege to lead a theater workshop with a group of LGBT youth group leaders, showing them how to use humor to open up conversations about safe sex and HIV.  I wrote an article on the workshop that the non profit I was working with posted on their website.

Read the article

Monday, February 15, 2010

Shotgun Art

At my uncle's ranch a couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to shoot a shotgun for the first time.  Clay pigeons were all we shot at. And being the Berkeley native that I am, I saved the shotgun shells and made an art piece with them.  It's in the western gun & flower aesthetic and is titled "Shotgun Wedding Cake."

An Open Letter to Pat Robertson In Response to His Recent Comments About Haiti

Draft 1
Go Fuck Yourself, you insensitive, cold-hearted, son of a bitch.
Excuse me.

Draft 2
Dear Sir,
Please go shoot yourself in the face and roll around on the ground in the middle of a salt factory.
Damn, I’ll try again.

Draft 3
Dear Mr. Robertson,
Before opening your mouth and making a ridiculous inhumane claim that the earthquake in Haiti was their punishment for making a deal with the devil, please first admonish yourself for the ridiculous claim that you are a decent, caring man of faith.
And Fuck You.

Draft 4
If you insist on ranting like a deranged lunatic then, please at least have the decency to do it on a street corner.

Draft 5
One year before the earthquake.
At 10 pm in a rental car outside of the hotel in Palo Alto we sat.
Me, my older co-worker, and a student just months younger than me, just months returned from a trip to Haiti.

He had been working with Partners in Health, documenting people’s health conditions. A well meaning, well mannered, well groomed guy who watched malnutrition reshape infant bodies and then returned to his old life, but nothing seemed the same.
He sat in the back seat seeking counsel from my co-worker who had dedicated his life to his community,

I looked back at him and his strained expression, his mind buckling, bending, and twisting back over itself, trying to make sense of a world with good people that would let
American wealth and Haitian poverty coexist.
One year before the earthquake.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beads for Development

When my girlfriend Halie went to Burkina Faso last year, I thought she would have an amazing time. I wasn't expecting her to co-found a women's beadmaking collective in a small village to empower the women and make the village more sustainable. But that's exactly what she did.

I'm so blown away.

Check out the amazing jewelry and support the women of Saint Jean, Burkina Faso at

Beads For Development Store

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Allison DePasquale, a friend of mine from UCLA, is in Haiti right now. The following is a conversation that she had with Meredith Pierce, a mutual friend. Meredith deleted her own dialogue, leaving just Allison's words about what was around her, and I found it very resonant and wanted to share it. If you feel the same, please donate to help in the relief efforts.

[1/21/10 2:39:27 PM] Allison DePasquale: its starting to feel like reality, the first week was a dream

[1/21/10 2:40:54 PM] Allison DePasquale: i kept thinking i just had to get through that one day, and then i would wake up and port au prince would be back

[1/21/10 2:41:11 PM] Allison DePasquale: but now its hit that this is the next several years + that this world is like this

[1/21/10 2:42:49 PM] Allison DePasquale: it was one minute, and everyone's life is changed

[1/21/10 2:42:53 PM] Allison DePasquale: i cant comprehend it

[1/21/10 2:43:58 PM] Allison DePasquale: haitians are very religious

[1/21/10 2:44:16 PM] Allison DePasquale: and every shock we have, the whole city would scream "jesus, please jesus" in creole

[1/21/10 2:44:30 PM] Allison DePasquale: and i swear, it felt like it was god shaking the earth, and i dont even believe that

Thursday, January 7, 2010

We can only handle so much

Look at our language.
Awesome is good.
Awful is bad.
Some awe is great.
But being full of awe is terrible.

my dad says it's ridiculous to try and understand
the whole big world
with these little brains that fit inside our relatively tiny heads.

it doesn't take too much awe to be too much, does it?

Fishing in Montana

I was in Montana for the holidays, where I learned how to fish.
On the second to last day, standing in the snow on the banks of the river with half numb fingers, I caught the first fish of my life.
The experience filled me with so much awe and respect.
It was the polar opposite of trivial.

Taking one life and making it into sustenance for mine. The death of the fish was very real. But it was also an experience that overflowed with life.

Don't Go

Boot camp? I thought you were joking.

You’re not. I listened too your explanation,

“It’s good discipline and I don’t have to join afterwards,” you said.

OCS Training, I never thought

I would be roommates with a marine.

I don’t get this.

I know how good a person you are,

Mind and heart, what part of you wants to sacrifice yourself for this?

You are no bully.

And now I am scared.

Scared to see you run off and join.

Embarrassed that I can’t stop you.

I closed my eyes that night and I saw you. Us. I imagined us as soldiers.

On the move, outside Tikrit sitting there in the aftermath of a car bomb,

The morning breaking into sweltering heat that we will not see the end of.

This is an open wound in a closing tomb

We will not get better.

We will not go home.

This is where our bodies have ruined

And our minds following soon

This is our last

Our time come to past.

Tense breaths give way only to no breath

This is an open wound in a closing tomb.

Desert sand blows over the body

Wiping clean the surface

U.S, army issued fatigue(s) already hidden disappear(s) completely

This is my nightmare matt. That you are at war lying on your back lost,

the human cost.

Earth shatters, what matters dematerialized

Mothers hold stitched material flags

Raise banners for lost sons

Burned up in dark deserts

This is my nightmare of dads in Baghdad body bags.

Our need to believe our political leaders is weakness of mass destruction

Led into biblical deserts but we will not walk out after forty years

We will not be stronger for it

We will just get the realization in hot desert sun that

This is where it ends.

I remember when we invaded Iraq.

I went to see Chicago that night with my parents.

Thinking about the war…and all that Jazz.

Conflict seemed distant and unreal

Like it could be playing in the next theater.

That was I how I wanted it.

Now It’s in my apartment.

Matt, I don’t want this.

Matt, you don’t want this.

You are too good a person to shift gears in killing machines…

Until you break, this game kills you or leaves you PTSD broken.

If you lose, someone dies.

I you win, someone dies.

I know you don’t want this.

I know your gentle soft nature.

Your selflessness, loyalty, your bravery,

You are the most honorable person I know.

And I know that’s what they want from you.

I know you’re intelligence, Matt how can you not see where they would take you?

How can you want to take part?

Take apart your own body and mind,

“I’ll be fine” you say

but what about the day you realize,

That you won’t make it this time.

And I’ll choke on my words burning my throat

because I would never dare say I told you so.