Nancy Guppy Chats with Writer Rachel Kessler…On a Trampoline
By Nancy Guppy
September 26, 2014
Nancy Guppy bounces around with Seattle writer and performance artist Rachel Kessler
Known for witty performance art—as a roving retro secretary/improv poet in The Typing Explosion and a fake scientist/real poet in The Vis-à-Vis Society—Rachel Kessler is currently at work on a funny memoir, Christian Charm Workbook, about her religious upbringing and its impact on her understanding of womanhood. See her perform a slideshow from her book-in-progress at Hugo House (10/7, 7 p.m. Free. hugohouse.org).
LOCATION: The trampoline in Kessler’s Central District backyard, a sunny day in August
KESSLER’S DRINK: Americano, her fourth of the day
Nancy Guppy: Finish this sentence: Rachel Kessler is…
Rachel Kessler: A shy loudmouth.
NG: What was it like being raised by self-professed Jesus freaks?
RK: It was awesome. My childhood was really fun, and church was always really fun—you could bring your own tambourine and dance around.
NG: Do you have a spiritual practice now?
RK: I have my own private spiritual practice, but I don’t go to a church—I have issues with organized religion.
NG: Christian Charm Workbook is a memoir—what’s it about?
RK: It’s based on the title of a workbook I had in Sunday school about puberty. It’s stories about my experience growing up, being born again, being a teenage missionary, going to Bible college and then leaving all of that. And about failure and feeling like a hack.
NG: Your book examines the intersection of puberty and spirituality. Explain.
RK: I was always a sensitive, turned-up-really-high kid, but with the onset of puberty and all those hormones, I became even more wide open and sensitive to spiritual things.
NG: What did you want to be when you were little?
RK: A mouse or a veterinarian.
NG: As an audience member, what turns you on?
RK: Something where you don’t know if the performance is actually falling apart for real.
NG: Have you experienced an artistic high point?
RK: Last summer [creative partner] Sierra Nelson and I were at Smoke Farm, and we were wearing these camouflage suits and doing an interpretive dance in a field, and I thought, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done and I am so happy!”
NG: What will the audience experience at the Christian Charm Workbook performance?
RK: Four of my favorite writers will do little slideshows, and I’ll do a slideshow presentation performance of one of the stories. There is definitely going to be cake and a sing-along.
Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her show, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).