Last night I visited Dawn Kasper at the Shangri La Hotel in Santa Monica for her performance Lost Horizon, where she welcomed one visitor to a hotel room each hour for twenty four hours. The event was billed as so:
Each performance will be intimate and unique and could include (but are not limited to) watching television, singing a song, reading a book, walking around the hotel, ordering room service, making art, sleeping, taking a nap, telling a story, listening to records, drinking a beer, talking about the history of the hotel experience. No two performances will be alike, and all will take place in a room overlooking the ocean.
I drove through traffic, parked my car, and jogged (I was late) to Ocean Ave, a small wave of apprehension begot me. Should I have brought a comic relief prop? I was the last of 24 visitors, should I have brought coffee? Should I have prepared? But how? What was I expecting? Would she be giving an hour long dog-and-pony-show performance? Would she be clothed? Was I supposed to be clothed?
To give a some context to those last two thoughts, I was sent a text message and asked to show up alone to a hotel room to meet a stranger. I am reminded of Sherman Alexie’s recounting of his would-be-gay-encounter.
I knocked on the door of room 202 and Dawn, who was in high spirits, greeted me. She had some jazz records playing on her portable record player, which she had brought in her four suitcases of belongings with which she cozied the hotel room.
So what did we do? We stared at her hotel room’s amazing window view of the Santa Monica beach. I thought of taking a beach stroll. We unwound from our very different days. I asked about her prior guests. She mentioned a tandem bath and one masked friend, and that as a whole, she had been playing off the energy of her guests and letting that interaction guide the events of the hour. I talked about my sisters unfortunate New Years visit to Los Angeles. She put on another record.
We gabbed the hour away, and before we knew it, it was 9pm. We never got to walk on the beach like I’d wanted.
As I was headed back to my car, I first thought about how much fun I’d had. I then found myself thinking “how did my experience compare against the other 23 guests and their hours in that room?”
I then reflected on Dawn’s words, that each guest led their hour of events in that room. I realized I’d gotten exactly what I’d wanted at that moment. That was, laying on the hotel bed, decompressing, and lamenting that season 2 of Girls was a letdown compared to season 1.
the view from the hotel room, from Dawn Kasper’s instagram