Hello everyone! Thank you for watching the video for my first single: THOUGHT HE HAD YOU (FUCKED UP). I wrote, produced, recorded, mixed, filmed, and edited all on my own. Your support is greatly appreciated. Please share the song with your friends and follow me to get notifications of new work. Thank you all! I love you.
WATCH THE PREMIERE ON YOUTUBE: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2020
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Heaven on Earth is a creative project by actor and performer, S. Cummings.When Quarantine began, it became clear that the choices and frame of mind chosen in these months, would influence a great deal of the future. It is for this reason that S. chose to do all the things he had previously wanted to do, including producing and recording music and filming music videos… all on his own.”THOUGHT HE HAD YOU (FUCKED UP)” reminds us in moments where we feel that someone or some situation is our enemy, that we are the true gatekeepers of our perceptions and reactions, and that it is our responsibility and our responsibility alone to manage them. What power we hold!
CAPTURES FROM THE VIDEO
I went to Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico to be free and to grow. When I arrived, I said, “Zipolite, when this is all over, I would like to be a completely different person. Someone far more empowered.” It wasn’t my first time at this nude, extremely gay-friendly beach and so I knew my request would be met with learning experiences, as this is a magical beach town and everyone knows it.
It wasn’t long before I met someone. A guy. A Taurus. We were just walking down the beach and… the next thing you know, we were naked in my airbnb, doing what boys do, when no one is watching. But, it was clear from the first moment we met, this was going to be a learning experience. Initially we were overwhelmed with all that we had in common, but before we could revel in the details, the plot thickened. As it oft does. You see, this guy lost his job the very day we met. And before we did anything sexual, I spent some time comforting him as he cried on my bed. I have enough love in my heart, patience, and understanding to lend to a person in need, especially someone I have just met. So, I had no problem with this, but what I didn’t know, was that this information served as a kick to a metaphorical door, that slowly opened over time, to allow for a flood of circumstances that would color our lives and ask us to transform.
The next few days we spent together, unseparated. And it was on day three that the other shoe dropped. You see, the place where this guy was living, was provided by his employer and he was no longer employed and so… yes, you guessed it. They kicked him out.
His only options were to go back to his hometown, where the possibilities seemed, to him, to be limit-full or find a way to stay in Zipolite. Seeing this dilemma, I offered for him to stay with me.
I was not unaware of the possibility that the intention could exist within him, to take advantage of me. As a matter of fact, when we first began exchanging stories of our lives, I noticed that every story he told involved him cheating on someone, using someone, stealing something out of revenge, and so forth. He even admitted, “sometimes when I meet people, I make sure to make a good impression and I am very good and responsible with them in the beginning, so that I establish myself with them, and so later, I can completely stop doing it, all together, without it being noticed, because I’ve already established a reputation as a responsible, good guy.”
The possibilities were not lost on me. I had my own intention, which was to be of service. I know that everyone in this world is trying to find their way, and I have been practicing not taking the things they do, personally. And, to not be afraid to help someone who, perhaps, thinks you are unaware of the fact that they want something from you. In my life, it has been the selflessness of others that has shown me that is possible to be different. To exist in a different way. To live under a more empowering paradigm. And so, I used this opportunity as a chance to see how much I could be a lighthouse.
I also knew that, as someone who is usually very independent, when I find myself romantically involved with someone, I can somehow become very attached. And I wanted to see if I could be different.
Our first weeks together, were a breeze. This guy is a chef and so he cooked everyday. He even adopted a vegan diet while staying with me. And I paid for everything.
This guy is a Taurus, I am a Scorpio. It is match that I have been hearing about for years. The point of conflict being that a Taurus is typically concerned with beauty and status while the Scorpio is typically concerned with feelings and control. Could we overcome?
Flags of various colors were raised. The first, being, that the more time we spent together, the less he listened to me. As a matter of fact, he interrupted me on a consistent basis. A voice in my head said, “this is going to annoy you. you should get away now.” But, I really wanted to see just how unbothered I could be. In my spiritual journey, I have learned that, it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you deal with it. And I saw this as a challenge. How can you navigate this? How can you change the narrative in your mind to something more empowering?
He also slowly became quite dismissive. Literally waiving his hand at me to end a conversation. What an opportunity! I thought. These things that this guy has a habit of doing, just so happen to be things that I have let annoy me since the beginning of time; not being heard, being dismissed. In the “past” my ego would have taken control and attempted to set everyone in their place. But, over the years, I’ve become a different person. As a Scorpio, I don’t use my stinger very often, because I know I can hurt others. I tried an approach, previously unrealized.
“So, you don’t have to change your behavior for me. I understand that is how life works. I can’t make anyone else change, I can only change myself. What I will say, is that you are dismissive when speaking to me and I am not interested in that behavior.”
It was the most straight-forward, non-judgmental approach I have taken to these sorts of “issues”. And this guy was receptive. Initially. But, with a lack of space to digest my experiences, I found myself in a whirlwind. Each day, curious to know what would surface. For both him and me.
I was finding myself being defensive and in the moment being able to change.
I hadn’t done that before. Hearing myself and changing before I could even be noticed by the other.
I was learning to give people more space. I could see how much I would linger and attach myself and in these moments, I would think, “no, you don’t have to do that.” And I would walk away or go do something else altogether. I was beginning to love the challenge.
Then one day, this guy stopped sleeping in bed with me, without saying anything. This lack of understanding and communication seemed… off. To say the least. And this voice kept saying, “he is using you. he doesn’t like you, he likes what you are doing for him and so he is trying to slowly create a new reality without discussing it with you, so that he can have his cake and eat it too.” We had only been in each other’s company for about a week and a half.
Was this fear or intuition? I wasn’t sure. And the whirlwind I was in, kept me from being able to hear the difference. So, I asked him one night,
Are you finding yourself less attracted to me?
… No, why do you say that?
Well, you are slowly becoming non-affectionate and you’ve moved from the bed without saying a word.
No… no. Sometimes I feel like kissing you and being close and sometimes I don’t.
At some point early on, we decided to work on a video together for a song of mine. This video would serve as a launch to a kickstarter for an even bigger project, that would allow me to hire locals, who in this time, are looking for opportunities to make money and to pay him a fee for directing the next project which would help him open his restaurant. You see this guy has worked as a director, directing a documentary, which I found interesting. And I, just so happen to have all the experience I have in creating. But, from the beginning, our lack of understanding the other, stood in our way.
It started when he made the schedule on his own. “Why would you do that?” I asked. To which, I got no response. I could see that the schedule could use adjusting. I have been producing my own work and organizing rehearsals with dancers and other performers on my own for over 10 years. And as a performer, I have been part of such processes for about 16 years. So, at the very least, I had a foundation upon which I was standing. My goal in these moments, was to discover how I could use my talents in these situations without having an ego trip.
I was not unaware of the fact that I had more experience with these things than him, but I was also aware, that when one “doesn’t know” something and they have some underlying insecurity, when someone tries to help them, they might attack. I’ve seen it a million times and I saw the potential in him.
And so this was my challenge; how can I be assertive without trying to take control?
I suggested that we have a production meeting. Something standard, that could help us look over the details and have a better understanding of how we would move forward. It is worth mentioning that everything he wrote was in Spanish and on set everyone only spoke Spanish and while I am about 60-70% fluent in Spanish, it was clear to me that there were some details that I was not understanding. And little did I know, this request would be the end. Because, he refused to ever have a meeting and talk over everything. Refused.
It was surprising for me, as in The US, this would never be acceptable. He would be fired. And I couldn’t wrap my brain around why he always, always seemed to shy away from clarity. It was as though, he hated the notion.
I knew for myself that this is not the way I would ever enjoy working, but remember, I saw this as a challenge. I had to remind myself daily. “This isn’t how you would do things, but here you are, so how can you navigate this differently?” We began meeting the performers who agreed to appear in the video and red flags began rising immediately.
- He made the star of my video someone else, not just anyone, but a guy I previously had a sexual relationship with. AND someone he gave his number to right before meeting me. And I only discovered the details of this from listening to the explanation he gave the group. I thought, “this is why I wanted to have a production meeting.” He also flirted with this guy in front of me, while living with me, and I was paying for everything. When I said to him, “why would you make my video centered around someone else without us having a conversation about it?” To which he responded, “it shows humility when an artist can let someone else take center stage.” Which, duh, but why do you think this is a decision you should be making without me? The whirlwind was thickening. I knew a lot of what was happening didn’t work for me, but this was next level. It was bold. He would even try to manipulate me, asking me to go to the other room and set up lights for him when this other guy entered the space, in order to have the chance to be alone with him. Coming from manipulative parents, I could see through this. Crystal Clear. I spoke with the other guy, because I thought of him as a friend. I told him everything and said, “look, it’s not my business what you both do, but I’m just asking that while we are working you could just not flirt back with him, it is very distracting for me. I’m doing my best.” But, this seemed to serve as ego boost for this guy, who saw this as an opportunity not to be there for me, but to get closer to this guy that was living with me. The director also compared us, saying this other guy was better than me. Something I found to be wildly inappropriate. This other dude even echoed things that the director said to me in private, exact words, which let me know they were in communication, talking negatively about me.
- When meeting the group of performers, he described me as, “kind of an audio visual artist, well… I guess he is an audio visual artist.” It became clear that the person directing a video for me, didn’t even have supportive thoughts about me. He hadn’t even watched all my videos, or listened to what this process means to me, which is important when collaborating. He told the performers, “if you want to see an example of our work, watch my documentary.” And I thought, how is your documentary an example of OUR work? I have over 13 videos I produced on my own. But, somehow this has become about you.
- The first time I asked to speak with him was after a day of filming where I got no direction, I didn’t even know what was in frame or what he thought this moment signified for my character. I approached him and put out my hand, as to help him up from his seat and he pushed my hand away. He then stood up and puffed his chest. I said, “what are you doing is this some kind of defense mechanism?” to which he responded, “yeah, deal with it, because I’m not going to change.” I brought up the topic and hand and he walked away, with an attitude of not caring. I just stared at him, because I had never seen this behavior from him, BUT i had seen it from guys with insecurities in the past. He then pushed past me with such force that I almost fell over. In that moment, I said, “I don’t think this will work for me,” and immediately his attitude changed, he was compassionate suddenly, “no I know, it’s my fault. Please you are so enlightened, please don’t take these things I am doing personally. I don’t want my ego to get in the way of this project.” Another night, we were having the time of our lives, singing and running along the beach and as soon as we got home, he changed, he became hostile, almost like another person. He said, “stop saying nice things to me. I don’t want to hear it anymore. I don’t care if we were meant to find each other. Stop talking about it.” In this moment, I was rubbing his arm. I then removed my touch. “Oh, and now you stopped touching me. Why did you do that? Look, I get like this sometimes when I drink. I should go to bed before I say something I don’t mean.”
Surprisingly, we was still calling me “baby” and “honey”. It was all very confusing. He even accidentally said it in front of the group and the other guy and I watched him, catch himself as he did it and this moment was probably the most telling of all.
At this point, the only thing, that kept me invested was the opportunity to see if I could indeed get through this experience and find a way to not let these things that were happening bother me. To become completely unmoved emotionally by what was happening.
To finally become…
That, however, did not come to pass. The last day on set was filled with tension. He refused to speak with me, the artist, on set. He had an attitude with me, he never told me anything that was happening and he continued to flirt with this other guy in front of me. I did manage to find a way to not take the flirting personally. I was doing okay. We had so many things to discuss, we hadn’t completed all that we planned that day and we only had one more day of filming left. Even though all that was coming to pass was extreme and not a situation I would normally find myself in, I really felt pretty good by the end of the day, because I was getting better and not taking things personally. But, when he didn’t show up to our meeting to review choreography and scheduling. I was done. It was the never ending story. I was torn up, because I knew the others had no idea what was going on and to cancel felt like I was letting everyone down, but when I considered spending another 12 hour day with him and this energy, him ignoring me, giving me attitude, flirting with this other guy, this other guy now decidedly flirting back, I thought, “you know what, I’m not interested.” And so I canceled.
I sent a message to the group explaining that we were no longer continuing with the project. And it tore my heart apart. But, overall I was grateful for the experience. This experience showed me how I create problems for myself, how I sometimes give more than I should, how I often don’t take my time getting to know someone before moving forward with them, how sometimes I fall back so hard that I almost disappear, and how I could work even harder to understand Spanish. I don’t judge this guy at all, I love him. I gave him a place to stay for 3 weeks, I fed him, and I never held it over his head. I gave him money. I even spent $100 on a domain name for a website and designed it for him. I was there for him. When I asked for the footage to try to put something together with what we had, he said, “since we are no longer collaborating, it will cost you.” I could have tried to guilt him and such, but that’s not what I am about.
For his sake, it would be beneficial for him to learn from this situation, because there is a gap between his behavior and view of the world and the person he wants to be. But, instead of focusing on that, I am focusing on closing my own gap. Because I too, have changes to make. Lessons to learn. For example,
when you mess with the bull….
you get bull shit.
With this video, I wanted to try something different. I am beginning to see a style emerge in the videos I produce and before I get to comfortable, I am interested in shaking it up a bit and adding to it.
The concept started as a class on public speaking in a magic school. And the initial idea was, what does that look like? When you can use magic to elaborate and help tell a story or get a point across, what do you do? Given the time I had to complete the project, I adjusted the idea to “How to Be a Fuck Person 101”; a class on expressing your fuck person nature.
I realized that for years, I ventured away from using rap music, for fear of losing an audience. And then I realized I was limiting people in my mind by doing that, so instead, I did what I wanted. A call and answer. The gentleman gives his presentation and is interrupted by classmates who have bigger questions, such as, “Nigga, do yo tongue get wet or nah?”
This project reminds me not to judge people on the way they express themselves and not to assume that people aren’t open minded, but to instead, give them space to be what they choose.
And love them regardless of that choice.
I Love You.
I don’t own rights to the music. I produced and performed in the video. DJ Khaled, Drake: For Free Jucee Froot, Raedio: Eat Itself (From Insecure) Theriseofheavenonearth.com
Lady Liberty has been faced with her own reflection and now must choose; stay the same or face the ego. She is swept away to the land of Oz, where her strongest qualities personified assist her in this duel.
In learning about herself, LL has come to understand how much of what she boasts to be unique to her land, comes at the cost of others, is borrowed or stolen, and is not welcoming to all. It was for this reason I chose to begin the video with Tere Mere Beech Mein. The song, from the Bollywood film Ek Duuje Ke Liye, served as inspiration forToxic, unbeknownst to most who celebrate it. It speaks on the appropriation, lack of acknowledgement for said appropriation, and the ostracization of those who culture is borrowed from.
The Wizard of Oz serves as a backdrop. In my mind, the film centers around one’s personal development and some degree of “enlightenment”. The Tinman, Scarecrow, and Lion all serving as areas where once Dorothy felt scarcity (heart, wisdom, courage), but through facing fears, she is shown that she has had them all along. May we all come to that realization for ourselves.
The Wicked Witch serving as the ego; the aspect of one that attempts to keep them in a perpetual state of fear and hesitation. Facing the ego is a path to growth for us all. May you one day brave that journey, my friend.
I love you.
Heaven on Earth
SBCNSLY is one those songs that when I heard it, I felt the spirit of instant recognition. Before I even knew what this song was about, I knew it was me. A story came rushing to my mind, one not fully apparent in the video (which I enjoy), and I would like to share that story with you. It feels… It is… personal.
My initial idea consisted of a woman at a celebration of sorts, perhaps somewhere in South America. In my mind, it was Brazil. And she was enjoying herself, dancing and laughing during a festival. This was a big festival, one that everyone looked forward to. And she was the belle of all balls. To watch her dance and laugh, was to be inspired.
In all her joy, she turned around to see her significant other kissing someone else. And, feeling so hurt, she was unable to allow herself to accept that it happened, to show any signs of acknowledgement. Although, it slowly becomes apparent to all.
So, she continued dancing… Forever. She never stops, because she knows if she stops, she must face this reality. And so she dances her way out of the festival, down the street, across the city, for all eternity. Smiling and dancing. She becomes mythological. Everyone knows her story. It’s perhaps the first story children are ever told. And she does all this, to keep from feeling the inevitable pain.
For me, this represented a fear that has always lingered in my mind. One that I will someday face. Increasingly people are beginning to accept the idea of an open relationship and I always feared that my partner would find someone of greater privilege and social ranking and fall in love with it. Not them, but the access, the visibility, etc and leave me. This is not an original fear, but has shown its face here and there. But, I plan to face this fear head on, when that day comes.
Being in quarantine, having a film crew of just me, and having the time restraint of about 24 hours, I decided to simplify, to adjust the story. And so it became a combination of hers and mine. For me, it was about the fear of vulnerability. Just as the song… songs. I imagined myself in a wedding dress on my wedding day, wondering if I could actually do it. Be myself. Be goofy. Be focused. Be loving. Be Me. And be accepted by this person. Truly accepted, or would, upon seeing all that is me, they begin to judge me and turn me into their enemy. I imagined being so frightened of this, that I became a giant, out of pure frustration, looking out over the city, watching people, wondering how any of them manage to be so vulnerable. And the backup dancers, I imagine were her. The beautiful woman from Brazil, coming to support me in my lament.
May we all face our illusory fears and grow into that which we are truly meant to be.
I love you.
Six weeks ago, I started making micro-films and music videos at home, with no formal training and just my laptop. Here’s where I’m at now.