Matthew, thank you for taking some time from performing and sharing your pearls of wisdom with us... I believe the UK is ready.
For those of you who are not familiar with Matthew Silver, New York street performer and creator of Love Portal and The Wackadoodle Movement – you soon will be... and what a ride it will be.
Matthew Silver has been performing on the streets of New York for the last 9 years. He is an artist specialising in ad-libbed, audience participating, improvised comedy. At first glance he appears lost in his own mind. But what he is trying to promote through his many animated performances is self-liberation, acceptance, gratitude, kindness, laughter and above all - love. With a string of one liners and anecdotes fast becoming recognised globally (bkawk being the most familiar) his aim is to unite people by encouraging a world of non-judgement through a peaceful revolution starting with the self.
Matthew, I instantly connected with the message you were putting ‘out there’ on your ‘Unexpected Citizen’ video and I know I'm not the only one. How does it make you feel to know that you’re having such a positive impact on people?
It feels good because the cosmic forces did all the work. I just happened to be there and so did the NYU undergrad Rony Portillo who I didn’t know at the time. So we had no idea the video would have such a large reach. Usually the best things are like that. Organic. It wouldn’t be the same if the video was produced from a known name. When I was questioned for the video, I treated the filmmaker as I would treat any person, I would street perform in front of. With a lot of wackadoodle love and a positive message to share among the world. I go all out when I perform. So it feels good, that I gave my best, to a random person rather a business like NY times.
Can I ask why you choose to perform in such micro-pants? You’re certainly giving Peter Stringfellow a run for his money... Do you even know who he is?
I don’t know who Peter Stringfellow is. I perform in a speedo because I like how my body is hairy, and looks funny. It’s a sight to make people laugh and get attention. And when I do get attention, I always make sure people are smiling and having a good time. It’s also my way of celebrating the human body. Most of us cover it with a lot of clothing. The body is nothing to be feared.
I’ve heard you speak of fear, that if something scares you – you should do it. Can you expand on this?
As a human being we sometimes wonder what our purpose on this planet is. I know that fear is actually a cry for love. Sometimes following your heart, is going towards what’s blocking you the most. Fear is also blockage from following your heart. We make maps and plans to figure out where to go in life. Goals. To make it easy, one step at a time. Some of us have too many fears, but we want the best in our life always. Our goals may take too long, so we want to get rid of what’s in our way the most. Fear has been the main cause for most people from really doing what they want in life. That means we are sometimes our worst enemy. Knowing that should motivate people. Because it’s never really other people blocking our path, it’s just us and learning to be comfortable with who we are. It’s the process that matters most.
A lot of times our spiritual journey leads us to self love.
How are you coping with the recent, social media frenzy? I believe your videos are going viral.
It’s a lot of fun. I’ve had the opportunity to go on a live radio show in Philadelphia. Talk to some amazing people internationally through the internet. I know it doesn’t last so I’m communicating to as many people as I possibly can. The other end is that I’m getting too much communication. It’s making me focus too much on the internet when the focus is my street work and making the normal world without technology fun again. That is my main goal. To bring the wacky inner child back to the streets.
I’ve also noticed a huge female-fan-base emerging which must feel pretty great! In one of your short films – The Shadow Monster – there is a reference to ego. How do you honestly think all this admiration will affect you? And have you received any strange things from fans?
My ego has definitely gotten excited by the attention. And I’m constantly keeping that thing in check. Because at the end of the day I’m still a person. Random people congratulate me on the street, it feels good. It tells me I’m doing a good work. Nothing too strange. A lot of people just want to take pictures with me or do a video shout out to their friend. The strangest things that happen are via the internet. Facebook only allows 5000 friends and many people are getting upset with me, because I can’t add them. They demand that I remove someone to add someone. That’s pretty aggressive, so ignore that.
Tell us a bit about your open-mic nights - they look raucous.
A lot of times I am loud, my motivation is to make the room feel awkward and then bring it back with laughter. It’s a lot of fun. All my performances are different; I never rehearse, except by being in the moment. The performance is my rehearsal. There doesn’t seem like there is ever time to rehearse in real life unless you’re being paid to do it.
Outside of performance what makes you happy? Are you able to give 3 examples of first loves? (These can be anything) And perhaps 3 virtues other than LOVE which resonate with you... what in human nature inspires YOU?
Three first loves
A. When I first started making movies, with my mothers vhs video camera, that was a mind blowing experience as a child around 15. I was so inspired that I just kept making one short project after another. My parents gave me the opportunity to always show my work to them and inspired me to keep creating.
B. The first girl I dated, I was a late bloomer, I didn’t start seeing women until I was 28 - I’m 35 now. My heart fell deeply in love with her. It scared her and we stopped seeing each other after two weeks.
C. When I discovered the Beatles and John Lennon I was 25. I’ve been listening to them often, even right now as I write this.
A. To be wacky
B. Never be normal
C. Live a life filled with mythological adventures.
I’m inspired by peoples need to act silly and unleash their inner wacky child.
I see you did a radio interview with the Paradigm Shift guys who are big on community, awakening the soul and consciousness. How would you explain these things to someone who is maybe only at the beginning of a personal awakening?
I wouldn’t talk about paradigm shift. I’d talk about the simple ideas like kindness and respect for your fellow man. Don’t take a human soul for granted. Everyone you meet is an enlightening soul that wants to wake you up. Everybody is here to teach you something, all of it is important. What you focus on in life is very important. Look towards the light not towards the negative. Believe in your special power or it will die and nothing will be left.
You speak of Mythology and how it has the capacity to drive the imagination – which Mythological creature would you choose to be?
I choose to be the trickster. The in between of two polarities. The trickster keeps it confusing when things get too strict. A trickster is known as the gate keeper between what’s real and not real. It always keeps confusing. I like to confuse people in my film work and performance what is real and what isn’t.
How do you see your immediate and long term future professionally? More importantly, where do you want to go with it?
I want to use my performance skills to help boost up love awareness. I believe the weirder and more laughable I keep it, the better I can help love become the reality. Life is a paradox and it’s already the reality. My job is to keep reminding people over and over and over again. As humans we forget sometimes, we’re here to remind each other what’s good in this world.
Can you give us a little background info? Who were you growing up, what were your influences for who you have become?
I was born in Bergenfield, NJ. I always look to act out as clown for attention. I wanted to be the guy who made people laugh. Whenever I saw a Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, movie I flipped out. Entertaining people was important to me. I wanted to become a child star, eventually in High school I started making my movies, I taught myself how to perform and become the wackadoodle I’ve always wanted to, through film. I was able to cater the films to my performance. Robin Williams was a hero to me, when he did the movie Fisher King; he played a street character that lived in his own world of knights, princesses and dragons. It was one of the funniest roles I thought he played at the time. Here are some of my early high school videos; Disco Power was probably inspired by Jim Carrey. http://vimeo.com/8741545
Journey men, was probably inspired by Robin Williams from the Fisher King. http://youtu.be/kYwC3n7DDhk
Many of your followers have compared you with some all time greats – Gene Wilder, the cast of Monty Python... even Jesus! Who has made an impact on your personal thesis of life and who makes you laugh?
The artists who have taught me to be different and out there?
Firstly David Lynch, second, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and then finally - Jack Smith. My strongest for performance art became Jack Smith, because he created a character that was very real and maybe fictional. You couldn’t tell if he was performing. I learned about him through an amazing documentary called Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Through that film, I learned his mannerisms and his voice. They were already very similar to my performance style.
In an interview you referred to dealing with self-criticism. That you are always working on not judging yourself or what you do. It was an incredibly honest insight; of course, this is always the best place to begin when learning how to love yourself. What advice do you have for your fans regarding similar issues?
I’d tell people that judgement is a thing we were taught to do and it isn’t real. It’s silly mind chatter. There is healthy criticism and then there is judgment that makes people depressed and discourages people from ever starting again. We want to inspire people never to give up and reach their full potential. The truth is anything is possible. Judgement is fear based. Fear is an illusion love is the only thing that’s real. Fear is cry for love. People think love is a completely positive thing, it’s a spectrum. Love is a cycle, a process. We can’t judge people, because if you do, you hinder their ability to find real love in life. Love (people, life, animals) is meant to be in everybody’s life. You need patience and awareness to see the love that is already there. If you judge, your thinking, creating blocks to your awareness of its eternal presence.
In a world gone mad there is a lot of irony when others refer to you as being insane. So many boundaries need to be broken, sentient values re-discovered and acts of genuine kindness re-introduced as standard – do you feel we are able to reach a Utopian society? If so, then how? And is that why you are fast becoming a gardener of the soul by planting seeds of love through your comedy and windows of prophecy?
By being a clown that inspires love, I will help plant seeds at an increased rate. The truth is the messages of love are already planted; the fact that my last video went viral is a sign that people love, love. We are creatures of the heart and we’re here to inspire that in our brothers and sisters. I’ve been given a gift as an artist; it’s my responsibility to spread the good word. I believe we can reach Utopian society, because it hasn’t happened yet. We are destined for this to happen. We have the technology to help us do it. It’s just a matter of time.
Lastly – Do you have a favourite joke to leave your fans with? It could even be one you heard as a child.
Who knows if you live again. Fart your heart out NOW!!! B-kawk!
Well... what can I say? If you have found yourself here, reading, absorbing, understanding – it could be you are already on a fabulous journey of discovery.
What Matthew achieves next, who can say? All I know is that he has balls of steel and a mountainous personality. He’s an inspiration, and do you know why? Because he’s not constrained by the idealism's set by others, he’s free and if you have any sense – you’ll look for your own outlet of brilliance and help become part of the growing family of lovers and the loved.
Big love guys. Be free, be happy – be love!