Lady Gaga and the Plight of the Starving Artist

Have you been to Artist Gumbo?  If the answer is no, you really should, because you’re missing some amazing talent…such as Kay Kron, a Chicago slam poet who is a neverending well of word-spinning enjoyment.  Kay, I welcome you to use that as a quote on the back of a future album or book.  At the March Artist Gumbo, Kay premiered a brand new piece that was inspired by our No More Starving Artists cause, and we wanted to share it with our readers in the hopes that you can be as inspired as we were.  While we really think you should see it live (find out more about Artist Gumbo at the bottom of the post so that you don’t miss stuff like this again), this will have to do for now.


Lady Gaga and the Starving Artist
by Kay Kron

There is thousands of dollars worth of lighting equipment

tinting the stage purple and amber

fiery rain drop spark showers are timed to go off

when the beat drops

the backup dancers smell like sweat and melting lip stick

when the audience leaves they’ll be covered in glitter

and other peoples fluids

And in some dressing room

looking into a mirror streaked with hair spray

you are going through whatever mysterious magic

shit you do before hitting the stage

Lady Gaga.

At this moment you are in Vegas – the city that stopped

the Colorado River from reaching the Atlantic with all its

bright desert oasis splendor

While I- I am in Skokie preparing for today’s third performance

of The Emperors New Clothes

the venue- Carter’s Elementary School, cafeteria

the audience- K-5

the set- pbc pipe and paint on canvas

we are not lucky- there is no circulation to speak of

and the ultra violet behind yellowing plastic

makes us look like we have malaria

During our last show a kid puked on stage

8 times, tried to run out and did the splits in his own

vomit with a little squeak. We kept going.

The crazy thing about good art is how fully so many people

identify with it and I know you get this a lot Lady Gaga

but I love comparing the two of us

both 23 year old artist blond girls in America coming from

privilege writing perverted poetry and seeking shelter in the gay community

and I know you’re smart in ways I can’t even comprehend

with life experiences rung from a city that wanted you naked

playing piano

But every time I hear ‘just dance’ walking through boys town

or ‘bad romance’ on the radio again I can’t help being insanely

jealous you made it all pay

While every morning I walk into my kitchen barefoot

pull my heart out of the freezer stone brittle – zip lock bagged

and ready for the sledge hammer of practicality

Wonder when I’ll stop trying to cash in my art for a decent life style

and just get work answering telephones.

I knew already I was never gonna make money

but I didn’t know I’d make nothing

I didn’t know how evil day jobs are

How much life they eat away

How horrifying- what they want me to do

to do is sell coffee –  with my voice and heart and brain and blood

they want me to sell coffee and

stop pressing my fore head into TVs trying to become pixels

Suburbia lied to me and so did the poets

You were right calling Fame a Monster

It blazes in me a cold fire

Fed on two years of

writers block trying to find escape route sentences jammed in

fingertips stuffed back in and traded for conversation to keep the silence away

Is the art in me dead? Three more weeks of children’s theater

and I’ll be unemployed. The financial umbilical cord

connecting me to my parents will turn back into steel- perfect

My guilt makes me feel masochistic

I watch your videos when I’m in the mood for self-loathing

poker face and the sound of keys frantically typing up cover letters

Hello my name is she’s got me like nobody and I am a recent graduate of the one that’s on his heart

I enjoy love glue gunning and am not the same without a gun

Personality test? OK

Do you enjoy working hard?- agree or disagree?

I think I’ll go with agree

how do I keep failing these? Another 45 minutes sacrificed to scantron

I follow them until they want me

You keep my pen moving

When you sing I can tell it costs you something

It costs me something to listen

Three nights ago I watched a boy dressed up as you

sing his heart out in a red sparkle bikini

She sucked but I can’t afford concert tickets

And as I watched her be you

I wondered how you’d look being me

That made total sense when I was drunk

You as me- sitting in the

apartment my parents bought me full of quilts my mother made

petting the cat I adopted missing half her teeth

wearing my glasses and pajama pants

feeling control over nothing in the world but your own pony tail

We can’t be that different

After the show the boy dressed up as you told me she liked my poem

I would like to think she was channeling something

Back in skokie

The children applaud

I am bow at the waste

A five year old wants my autograph guess I have to start somewhere

You’re the prey of the paparazzi

tucking bare legs into limousine

It is hilarious to me how much I love you

Its is hilarious to me how much I think you know I exist

Tonight I drink vodka-

Lady Gaga, cheers to you


Amazing stuff, and even better live.  You can check out original work from local Chicago creatives on the last Tuesday of every month at Artist Gumbo, which is presented by Dramatis Personae and the IAE.  The event takes place at  8 pm at the Black Rock Pub (at Damen and Addison in Chicago) and is a great way to mix and mingle with artists from all sorts of disciplines…and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing sandwich specials that they happen to have on Tuesday nights as well.  Trust me.  There’s no better combo than creative passion, delicious sandwiches, the IAE and a fireplace.

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