I wrote this article about Be Here Nowish, the upcoming web show that I’m very excited to be a part of, for the December issue of Dazed & Confused! Pics by Henrique Plantikow. Trailer at the bottom of the article.
New age culture is hella popular these days. Everywhere you go someone’s talking about what cleanse they’re on, their recent Peruvian ayahuasca retreat or how you just have to meet their shaman. The new web show Be Here Nowish taps into the zeitgeist, highlighting the humour in these newly trendy traditions and acting as a Portlandia for Los Angeles’s vast new-age community.
Be Here Nowish was created by Natalia Leite (pictured above with me) and Alexandra Roxo (below, red curls), who write, direct and star in the show. The story follows two sexually progressive New York girls who run off to LA in search of a spiritual awakening. What follows is a series of spiritual boot camps, crystal healings, plant medicine ceremonies, difficult yoga poses and sage-cleansed threesomes. Most of what happens in the show is based on Natalia and Alexandra’s own personal experience of the spiritual communities in both LA and NYC. “We’re not poking fun at any of these beliefs because the show is largely based on our lives,” says Alexandra. “We are simply enjoying the humour in rituals and ideas that we actually enjoy and are very respectful of. Like, paying someone $100 to clean your colon while telling you spiritual mantras is kind of ridiculous, but I would still do it, y’know?”
The show features cameos from members of TV on the Radio, CSS and CREEP, as well as featuring amazing people like director Ry Russo-Young, writer Liz Armstrong, actor Adam Carpenter and filmmakers Sarah Tricker and Dagmar Weaver-Madsen. And I play a part too, as a yoga-loving trust-fund lesbian! LOL. Be Here Nowish will be coming to your laptop this winter at ora.tv. To whet your appetite, I interviewed the girls about a handful of the show’s essential props…
Alexandra Roxo: This bundle of sage is used during a lesbian threesome to cleanse the room before sex. We’re interested in portraying lifestyles and sexual habits that don’t necessarily conform to what we see in other media. There are lesbian and queer characters on the show and sexuality is talked about openly. Although there isn’t anything that weird. Tantric sex, threesomes, gays, S&M, body bags – these are all pop-culture friendly, or at least things people have seen before.
Natalia Leite: In our opinion, a lot of lesbians on TV and in movies are very clichéd, and we wanted to create something more accurate to our community. Orange is the New Black is great for portraying lesbians, but then again, they’re in prison, so what does that tell you?
Tarot cards, witch oils, palo santo, vibrator
NL: My introduction to alternative spirituality came from my mom when I was growing up in Brazil. I have a memory of a strange man coming over to our house and throwing salt all over everything, then sweeping it out the front door. When I was a teenager my mom would secretly lay rolls of tin foil under my mattress – apparently it reflects energy. She was always doing weird stuff like that. I was like, ‘My mom is crazy.’ I was too young to understand any of it back then, but as I got older I was able to pick out certain parts that made sense to me, and eventually I found my own direction within the spiritual world.
AR: My mom took me to see my first psychic when I was 14. I’ve studied various types of meditation, I’ve gone to a free activist witch camp in the woods of Oregon, I’ve been a part of real pagan rituals, and I also grew up Christian in the south in the Bible Belt and regularly saw people speaking in tongues. So because Natalia and I have had all of these experiences personally, we’re able to tap into these varying elements of spirituality throughout the show. It’s all part of who we are.
Jar of “piss”
NL: When our characters first arrive in LA they undergo a spiritual boot camp in order to prepare themselves mentally, physically and spiritually for their plant medicine ceremony. One of the things the leader of the boot camp makes them do is drink a jar of their own piss.
AR: It’s called urine therapy, and it’s prescribed by many holistic doctors for curing a variety of ailments. Our characters are sort of freaked out by it, as you’d imagine most people would be.
NL: We used apple juice mixed with water for the scene. I wouldn’t ever want to actually drink my own piss. That crosses the line for me.
AR: I’ve done it.
AR: This is actually a sensory deprivation tool, but ‘body body’ became our on-set nickname for it because it really looks like one. This features in the show during a sex scene. The point is for the person inside the bag to go into a meditative black hole of sorts where their senses become heightened, allowing them to be further stimulated.
NL: I’m the one who had to go into the bag, and let me tell you it was not fun. They kept saying ‘cut’ and forgetting that I couldn’t let myself out, so I kept having to scream for help between takes. Also, during one of the takes someone accidentally sat on my head.
Linda Goodman’s Love Signs
AR: This is a book written in the 70s about forming relationships through the guidance of astrology. In the show my character uses the book to check if her sign is compatible with the sign of a guy she’s dating before they experiment with tantric sex. I’ve experimented with tantric sex. Something specific about that type of sex is that it goes in waves – your partner brings you really close to orgasm, but then waits, and then they bring you close again, and then they wait, and that goes on for a while, but when you finally come it lasts far longer and is far more intense than usual, and you and your partner can come at exactly the same time. There are also spiritual and energetic components to it – when you’re experiencing that pre-orgasmic state with someone for an extended period of time it can be very emotional, and you can achieve heightened levels of intimacy.
NL: I don’t know… It seems like way too much work for me. I’m a very spiritual person but when it comes to sex I don’t want to look into someone’s eyes and cry and try to connect with their spirit or whatever. I just want to fuck.