A habanero may be hot, but performance art that consists of eating these things isn\'t. Photo of habanero chile from WikiMedia Commons. Taken by w:User:HighInBC with a Canon PowerShot S3 IS.

But Is It Art?

And why are you so addicted to it, hot or not? Armin has the answers.

published Thursday, July 8, 2010

Our advice expert, semi-retired actor-director Armin Zaphiratous, has the expertise that denizens of the theatrical demimonde need when whipsawed by doubt and confusion. We invite you to Ask Armin anything and everything, theater-related or not. He's here to serve.
This week: Armin on theater addiction and performance art.
►Dear Armin: I'm a theater artist...but I hate it. I'm sick of it. Seriously. But every time I get offered a job I take it. What is wrong with me?

Dear Addicted
: This is an intervention! You're an addict! I had a heroin thing in the '80s and it's exactly the way I feel about theater without all of the shaking, agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating, yawning, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goosebumps, nausea, vomiting and prison time. So, what you need to do is handcuff yourself to something too large to fit through whatever door is between you and a theater. That'll do it!—YOURS, ARMIN
►Dear Armin: I recently witnessed a performance art piece in which a woman sat in a chair and put an entire habanero pepper in her mouth and ate it. She didn't say a word or make any expressions. Her face turned beet-red and she began sweating profusely. Then she swallowed it. And she did it again. And again. It went on for nearly an hour. Her clothes became soaked and frankly, she began to stink. The five of us in the audience watched uncomfortably. I wanted to offer her some water, but that wasn't part of the program. I’m as open-minded as anyone, but is that kind of art really necessary?

Dear Unimpressed: I have a pretty hard and fast rule about this sort of thing. If it figuratively stinks, it may be Art. If it literally stinks, it's absolutely not Art. Piles of crap and carcasses are not Art no matter how modern the museum. I'm sorry. Theater is hard enough to sell to people without the possibility that something like this might be the worst night of their lives. I'm sorry that you were subjected to that. I hope it's some consolation that she woke up at 4 a.m. with fire shooting out of her bottom.—YOURS, ARMIN
We invite you to Ask Armin via email at Go on and ask. When he doesn't have enough queries to ponder, he bothers the hell out of the TheaterJones editors. Also, we don't stand by or even agree with all of Armin's advice. So don't hold us responsible if things go terribly wrong.
 Thanks For Reading

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But Is It Art?
And why are you so addicted to it, hot or not? Armin has the answers.
by Armin Zaphiratous

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