Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Chat with Don Johnson, Local Funny Guy

This is my friend Don, we had a quick chat after we'd shot his head shots back in June and I'm finally caught up enough to post it! Say hi to Don!

Me: First things first, Don, what book are you reading right now?

D.J.: I'm reading Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States.

M: Now that that's out of the way, tell me how you got into comedy! Who helped you along?

D.J.: at a very young age, first saw George Carlin when I was like 8 with my Mother at Melody Fair in Tonawanda. Life kept getting in the way if me trying it until about a year ago. When my best friend Kevin Thomas Jr (recently voted Buffalo's Funnest at Helium Nightclub) started, I would go and watch him at Milkie's. Back when we worked together we would egg each other on about trying comedy. Then a few years past we lost touch until I saw on fb he was doing comedy... the rest is history. 

M: I'd love to hear about your first show.
D.J.: Was at Milkie's on Elmwood. I went up right before my friend Zach Dietch. I ate my balls for dinner live on stage. It was horrible, it felt horrible... but I wanted to keep trying.

M: What's the best show you've ever seen?
D.J.: I saw Jim Norton a couple years ago in PA, Allie Brady opened and Rick Matthews featured. It was amazing. Best local show would have to be Kevin's performance at Buffalo's Funniest at Helium.

M: Do you have a favorite person you've opened for?
 D.J.: Since I'm fairly new I haven't really opened for anyone noteworthy, but I was honored to be on the Nietzsche's 10 year anniversary show.

(disclaimer: Don brought a prop air gun to the shoot which was incorporated by request. Mostly, he's sane and just wanted to use it as an analogy for the pressure performers feel to always "kill it" on stage)

M: Tell me about show you walked away feeling amazing after.
D.J.: Would have to have been my show at Babeville. It was a very warm and drunk crowd and I was high as a kite and more "on" than usual. It went well.

M: What was your worst show like?
D.J.: It's hard to remember my worst, Ive had some shit sets at Nietzsche's and Milkie's.
M: Lets revisit the South Buffalo one.

D.J.: It was the worst. Performing to literally 5 comics and two old local drunks who would try and heckle. The place has since burned down.
M: Anything you want to admit to? Like arson?

D.J.: They didn't even have beer on tap, they would just hand you a can like you're in your own basemen.

M: What's new and exciting for you?

D.J.: I get to be on the "Tales of Tyrone" show and you have no idea how honored I am to be apart of the Tits N' Giggles All Male Comedy Review at Rustbelt both at Nietzsche's in September.

M: Have a favorite joke?

 D.J.: My own favorite would have to be whatever I'm currently working on. I always get excited for new material. My favorite of someone else's would have to be Kevin Thomas's parking lot pregnancy test joke.

M: Tell the people know how to stalk you!
D.J.: fb, twitter, and instagram and I can be found hosting the filthy stage of Tudor Lounge every Monday, hanging out and performing at Nietzsche's & Helium most Tuesdays, Milkie's on Wednesdays and Goodbar on Thursdays.

M: And finally, if not this than what?
D.J.: Failure is not an option. Is all this going in a suicide note for when you stage my death?
M: Of course, first we need to get some insurance policies open...
D.J.: I'm not economically viable...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Small Business Profile on Awakened Astrologic

" For you, a comet, under a blue sky, leaves trail of color,
For you, a star, dreams of being able to kiss you, dream to hear your voice,
For you, full moon, keep vigil for you, my girl, keep vigil for you, my love. "
― Miguel Ángel Sáez Gutiérrez, Zori 2ª Parte

What's up, everyone? I've been pretty busy photographing a couple of extended profiles, lots of beautiful boudoir, and some pretty awesome kids.

 One such amazing business is Awakened Astrologic, the work of  #hotyoungastro Aaron Fried. I spent a couple of days with Aaron and his patrons during their readings and just generally getting to know him. It was a really terrific experience, especially watching people have "ah-ha" moments while interacting with Aaron and I'm really excited to share his business and passion with you!

 His typical healing work space is located inside of Inspiration Point at 483 Elmwood Ave., and it certainly made for a dynamic atmosphere. The soft music, happy shopkeeper (Claire), sweet smelling incense, locally handcrafted jewelry and trinkets, tapestries, books, and other lovely novelties make up the cozy storefront. It's only natural you would find Aaron situated in the back in a comfy chair, surrounded by beautiful artwork. 

(For those not in the know, astrology is defined as the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events. As a Metaphysical Medicine Astrologer, Aaron's mission is to help "you gain clarity into life's most pressing questions, and move beyond challenges," through practical, cosmic insights.)

 When we first spoke, Aaron told me he is 29 and tapped into his life's purpose at the age of 23 after spending some time discovering his inner yogi. It became immediately clear that he is compassionate and engaging with the people who's lives he enters, no matter how briefly. He tells me, "More than anything, I want to nourish and inspire the people who welcome me into their lives both personally and professionally."

 It was, at first, really intriguing to talk with someone who has a formal background as a mathematician and formerly taught calculus at U.B. because I had a much more casual image in mind when imagining what an astrologer yogi is like. Throughout our first conversation, though, I found myself suddenly realizing the two things went perfectly hand in hand for him. As he spoke, I came to realize that Aaron facilitates a lot of practical understandings in what might seem to some to be an abstract calling. Even, last Friday night, while speaking about some of these images that we created together, I heard the mathematician time and again. For him, his logical mind makes him quite facile in engaging with a technical art

I was also able to get some follow up feedback from one of his clients, Alex. She was able to answer some questions that I think will help a lot of others who've never experienced a reading like this understand what you gain from it. 

 Q. Hi Alex! Was this your first reading? If not how did it differ from a previous reading and who was that reading with?

a. This was my first astrology reading but I have had a few psychic and tea leaf readings. This was different in the sense that it was more of an over all an introspective reading. What's really going on very deep inside the mind and heart as my other readings were about my surroundings and my place within them.

Q. How did you feel throughout the experience? Did you feel welcomed, open, calm, or did you feel you were leading the reading, anxious, or uncomfortable?

a. Overall, I felt amazing, all day. I felt completely comfortable and at ease from beginning to end.
Q. What was your reading's main theme? Is this something you often find yourself coming to a head with in your daily life?
a. Relationships and a current state of learning and tuning into my inner being. All extremely relative of where my energy has been focused.
Q. What did Aaron help you become more mindful of? Did he encourage you to let go of anything and, if so, what?
a. Of course, very mindful. Aaron was very encouraging to continue the path I have been on.

Q. Do you feel you were easily able to navigate steps to accomplishing the previous?
a. Yes, Aaron has a wonderful way of expressing everything he wants to say. Making me see things very clearly as we talked things through.
Q. Are there any new insights about yourself you'd like to share since the reading?
a. Aaron and I share very similar insights but new ones evolved as well. Simply opening so many new possibilities and ideas. What made it extra special was taking one thought or feeling and expanding it to its full capacity and/or breaking it down to it's deepest core.

Q. Overall, were you impacted by the reading in a meaningful way? If so, how?
a. Very much. I cannot exactly put into words how I was impacted because it was so powerful. It is inexplicable. It definitely goes beyond the reading. Like I said, expanding and breaking down ideas truly opens up even more possibilities and knowledge. Time did not exist during the reading.
Q. What did you think of Aaron himself?
a. Aaron has so much depth within himself. He has so much to share. Truly an amazing and special person. I could go on and on.

Q. When you received the reading, did you have questions and, if so, was Aaron able to help answer them for you?
a. Everything was so fluid and one aspect guided to the next. Of course, I had questions along the way. Aaron was always able to answer them and sometimes then cross over into other dimensions or level of relevance. Truly a wonderful experience. I am so so so grateful.
Q. What was the best part of the reading for you?
a. Truly getting lost within the depths of our discussion. Both of us lost of a sense of time.

 He also, very occasionally, meets for readings within his own home. I had the opportunity to watch him work in both environments and can confidently say that he was equally on task in both locations. 

Lovely Lunations, hosted by Aaron, is a free bi-weekly series dedicated to attuning participants to the astrology of the present by exploring the energies of the New and Full Moons, and Eclipses. Each lunation (New & Full Moon), they intentionalize the celestial influences consciously and creatively. Witnessing the lunar cycles reveals the evolution of their intentions: New Moons invoke times of conception and Full Moons illuminate times of manifestation. We sow what we reap, so the purpose of Lovely Lunations is to gift you with the awareness that lets you be the master of your destiny.
Each edition of Lovely Lunations carries a unique glimpse into the cosmic energy of the moment, along with relevant insights and universal life lessons. Lovely Lunations features guided meditations and imagery to nourish, support, and inspire you during these peak times of the monthly cycle and to honor and appreciate the magical patterns of life energy that are common to the human experience.
Lovely Lunations is offered both as a bi-weekly podcast, “The Lovely Lunations Stellar Astrology Podcast” and as a live community event, “Lovely Lunations Live”, at Inspiration Point in Buffalo, NY. “The Lovely Lunations Stellar Astrology Podcast” is available on Aaron’s website, and will soon be available on iTunes. “Lovely Lunations Live”, at Inspiration Point, features creative expression in the form of music, poetry, visual art, dance, and enactments to illuminate the astral energies of the time. Lovely Lunations is sustained by Lovely donations.

To remain accessible and fulfill his humble desire to be of service, nourish, and inspire others, Aaron currently offers his readings to local Buffalo residents at the remarkably affordable price of $90 for a 1-hr intensive session. For non-residents of his local community, he offers readings at the regular fee of $150 for a typical reading. He also offers long-term coaching and guidance through major life changes as well as everyday mundane details of life through his technical art, which allows him to tune-in to people's dynamic and evolving life experiences. His goal is to make his work relevant and to be a rock of inspiration for his clients when they need it most.

Check out his website for a more in-depth look at what Aaron offers with his gift here and follow him on Facebook for any special offerings! You can check out the Lovely Lunations podcast or Lovely Lunations Live events page to mark your calendars for the next one!

If you are interested in a small business profile and in the Buffalo area, please get in touch with me via my website or facebook!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Funny Guy Clayton Williams, a Profile

Hey there! Since the weather's been all ups and downs the last week the small business shoots had to be postponed till later in this week! So, today I bring you a little Q and A with local comedian Clayton Williams.

 27 year old Clayton is a pretty swell guy who hung out and chatted with me over a session for his head shots. I've caught his act at my favorite funny bone joint, Helium, when he opened for Judah Friedlander and before he even opened his mouth I was in giggles. From his amazing hair to his insane Hawaiian shirt, this fella gets a crowd laughing easily just stepping onto the stage. Add that to his self-deprecating jokes and the fact that he sounds uncannily similar to Seth Rogan... let's just say you need to go check out one of his shows! We passed the time talking about his career as a comedian, his favorite person in the world (his grandma), the importance of smelling clean, and what's coming up for him soon. 

 Let's jump right in!

Me: Hey Clayton, how long have you been doing this? How'd you get started?

Clayton:  I got into comedy almost 4 years ago. I've always loved comedy and I was told about an open mic at Nietzsches so I went there to check it out. It used to be email only and every time I tried to sign up, the person running the room would say it was full, so I found another open mic at Mr. Goodbar and started there. Now I run that open mic

M. Any highlights from the show last night? (Clayton performed at the Riviera Theater for the 8th Annual Big Lebowski Party before the flick.)

C. Uh, getting to perform in a theater was really cool. It was the first time that's happened. The most interesting thing I guess that usually the comedy portion of that show doesn't go well because the crowd just want to see the movie. So it was a surprise that the audience were invested

M. That's really great it went well. Did you like performing for a bigger crowd? I always got so nervous

C. It's funny, that wasn't the biggest crowd I've performed for but it was different because it was a theater so the sound was really spaced out. Performing in front a large crowd isn't as nerve racking as performing for 6 people.

M. Ha, no, I guess not for comedy. Have you had to do that or do you mean when you're bouncing ideas off people?

C. I've done shows In front of like 12 people before. At open mics it's very common to perform I front of 3 to five non comics.

M. Ever bomb?

C. I've bombed. I've bombed a bunch of times.

M. What's the worst/best part of all this?

C. Best part is when you do really well, it's one of the best feelings in the world. Like, if drugs feel as good as that you can understand why people do them.
The worst part is the feeling that you never know that you're going to do well. One guy said "comedy is the only job where you don't know if you can do it everytime."

M. That sounds like an anxiety attack to me. Perks of the job?
C. Meeting really good people that you've looked up to for years. Free drinks at places.

M. So that was your first show?
C. Paid show? It was a new faces show at Mr. Goodbar. I was probably a year in

M. How'd you do?
C. I had a good set. I was bad but I got decent laughs.

M. Tell me about a show you did where you walked off knowing you were da bomb dot com.

C. It was a showcase I did that was being recorded for the managers of the other helium clubs. And I remember just doing super well on it, got an applause break and they kept laughing. It was the best feeling.

M. What's an applause break?

C. When the crowd likes something you did to the point where they stop, laugh, and clap.

M. Ok, so it was as self-explanatory as I thought it would be!

C.It is but it's still hard to explain cause it just seems weird.

M. Is there anyone you consider a mentor now, or when you first started?

C. I would say Mark Walton has had the biggest influence on me in buffalo comedy. He gave me my first paid show and he's helped me a lot. He also put me in charge of Goodbar cause he was moving to New York. Weird Al Yankovich is also a big influence on me comedy wise

M. Who's someone you really liked opening for?

C. The coolest and nicest guy I've opened for was this Magician named Justin Wilman. He was super cool to hang out with me and friended me on Facebook like 2 months after the shows we did. He was the host of cupcake wars.

M. I know you're funny, but what's the best show you've ever seen?

C. Kyle Kinane like 2 years ago.

M. What's big and upcoming for you?

C. I'm opening for Kyle Kinane in March, he's probably one of my favorite comedians right now and as I mentioned he was the best show I've seen in person

 Clayton will be performing March 10-12 at Helium. You can keep up with Clayton and find out when he's performing by checking out his Facebook. While you're at it, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram