A few days ago I had the pleasure of shooting pics at the Donnie Baker and the Pork Pistols show at Morty’s Comedy Joint. As I’ve said a few times I have no clue why Morty’s decided to let me in the door over a year ago but I’m incredibly glad that they continue to smile and nod and let me in the door. I’m at least to the point that I believe that I’ve earned my keep there over the past 15 months.
I’ve listened to the Bob and Tom show since I was …. since I was as old as my current children. Let’s say that. Donnie Baker has been a pretty persistent fixture in that space and while I admit that I have NOTHING in common with the character or his world view I don’t mind saying that I was thrilled to be shooting for the show. My visceral amusement was about a half a Heywood. Heywood Banks is, admittedly, my standard of amusement for everything in the universe.
Firstly, let’s go into Donnie as a character using the vehicle of photography. If you’re not familiar with Donnie, he is a … he’s a man of lesser means. Imagine, if you will, an adult version of Beavis and/or Butthead. He has a world of experiences that very few of us will ever share. The less sensitive might refer to him as “Trailer Trash” but I will eschew that moniker because really, he’s a guy who’s doing the best he can in a VERY complex world.
On the surface, Donnie is SUPREMELY confident. A fair proportion of the things he spouts bear the suffix of “…it’s State LAW.” But behind that bravado there’s a huge pile of insecurity. On some level he knows that he’s just not quite square with the world around him. I don’t know the man behind the mask, Ron Sexton, but there are real depths in the eyes as Ron (Donnie) takes the stage.
I do not claim grand expertise when it comes to the science of microexpressions but I see something in that expression. As I said in my Instagram and Facebook posts about this show, either Ron *IS* Donnie Baker or he is the greatest character actor of this decade. I have seen many faces on stage and I have stared at them through my lens and on my computer monitor but I have never seen one that spoke to me in that way. There are depths unplumbed in that face. So much doubt. So much uncertainty. But you’d never know it listening to him.
The night I took these pics I left home at 7pm and finally finished processing around 3 in the morning. So essentially, I spent a full work day on these. After that I blasted them all over Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I reached out to the Donnie Baker camp in private message offering my work for free. For a couple days… crickets. In those couple of days I realized my Innermost Desire. Unlike the majority of photographers, I don’t work for money. I’m not in this to be paid (though I do have a ‘Voluntary Contributions’ link on the site) but rather to be acknowledged. If you take my work and do something with it and give me nothing… I really don’t care. Because actually you DID give me something. You gave me the chance to BE there. I made my way through the crowd and crouched by the side of the stage while you did what you do. That, by itself, is amazing. But those crickets, that vacuous silence… that drives me to despair because it means that I spent my time in the pursuit of nothing, benefiting no one.
Tonight I received notice that someone was actually bothering to download something. Someone from Donnie’s promotions team had visited the website and snagged some pics. At that point all balance had been restored to the universe. I was still working for free but at least someone had bothered to care about something that I had taken such pains to craft.
One interesting point of interest was exactly WHAT they’d downloaded. I was particularly proud of the close-ups….
… because they showed the pure spirit of Donnie. But the promotional manager downloaded all long shots….
… which makes me wonder about the image they want to portray for Donnie. Perhaps my close-ups hit too close to the mark. Either way, I’m am glad that my time was well enough spent that they found something they could use.
At the end of the day, I realize that really I don’t need to be paid. I don’t really need to be acknowledged as much as I just want to be recognized. I’m happy to work my butt off for a tip of the hat. Would I love to do this for a living? To somehow derive a living wage from being a slave to the entertainment scene in the city? Of course I would. But I don’t expect it. Maybe someday but for now, I’m just glad that someone in Donnie’s camp knows who I am. Even if they forget it by the end of tomorrow’s breakfast. I contributed to the entertainment world if even for a fleeting second.