Slash Coleman is a storyteller who hosts the show Slash Wednesday He is author of the “The Bohemian Love Diaries” and has a blog with the same title on http://www.psychologytoday.com/ . Here is a link to his website:
Q: How did you become a professional storyteller?
A: I began as a musician (a pianist and keyboardist) in middle school. First in rock bands, then in alternative bands and finally in jazz bands. In all the bands, I was always the one nominated to introduce the songs. What started with introductions that included unusual facts turned into long fictitious stories and me wearing costumes. Finally, in college my bandmates were like “You need to get your own show dude.”
Eventually, I began to perform and tour with my own solo shows and began making my living on stage telling stories long before I knew what storytelling was. Eventually, I got recruited to perform at the National Storytelling Festival and my career path found a place to call home.
Q: Every time I go to a gathering of writers I feel like I’m a kid at temple again. Why is writing so important to Jewish people?
A: I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer any questions for the Jewish people. In terms of my Jewish work most people think I’m a dude version of Sarah Silverman. With that in mind, I think Jewish people (at least the tribal members that I know) are, as a whole, super cerebral and writing and reading are good outlets for cerebral people.
Jewish audiences are often my least favorite to perform in front of. I’ll often look out to a sea of blank, unemotional faces. For a storyteller who feeds off that essential and reciprocal interaction that typically goes on between the listener and the teller, it’s been the kiss of death. I’m like “Wow guys, why did you come out tonight? You could have stayed at home and had more fun caulking your bathtub.”
Q: .What are the key ingredients to a good spoken word story?
A: On the edge of comedy there is often tragedy. A good story goes to a deep, true place that embraces the dark places while still honoring the light. It’s a delicate balance. Go too deep, too fast and despite the truth it comes off as therapy where the listener feels victimized. Stay too shallow and it comes off as a wispy anecdote.
Q: Why do you think blogging is so popular?
A: Storytelling is experiencing a rebirth which is reflected in our cultural obsession with personal true, unscripted stories. Reality television, The Moth events that consist of regular everyday people telling personal stories on stage, and blogging are all versions of this unscripted “writing-reality” phenomena.
When I was a kid I had a little green journal that had a lock on it. I wouldn’t have dreamed of showing anyone what I’d written. Today, we’re all hungry to see what’s inside that journal.
After living for so long in an industrialized, modern and materialistic culture, we now want things that are real. Fiction just won’t do anymore. Blogging is like opening up that locked journal for all the world to see.
Q: What made you interested in blogging for Psychology Today?
A; My blog is called “The Bohemian Love Diaries,” which is also the name of my book (a memoir) which is being published in June 2013 by Lyons Press. As a personal perspectives blogger, I felt Psychology Today would give the most appropriate platform to tell my stories about love and relationships (which are often way left of center) and develop an audience. It’s really cool when I create a post and see that within hours 3,000 people have read it.
Q: Why do you think romantic love written about and discussed so much more then other types of love?
A: Because Hallmark has cornered the market on it… and because sex sells. Really. My upcoming book deals with romantic love, but also other types of love including: the love between a father and a son and love between male friends. My award-winning solo show “The Neon Man and Me,” which became a PBS Special concentrated specifically on the platonic love between two guys after one of them dies. It’s not something our culture is used to acknowledging, but I think an awareness around it is long overdue.
Q: What is your strangest performance story?
Most people would say I’m a little strange and so all my stories are a little strange. Two things come to mind though. First, hecklers have made some of my performances a little strange. I’ll get a full blown heckler about once every 30 shows, the kind that requires a police escort out.
But I suppose it’s been the stalkers that have made my life more than a little strange. I’ve had three since I started. The strangest was a thirteen year old boy from Appalachia who started stalking me after I performed at his school. He started writing me letters posing as the pastor of his own church and then started sending me really strange text messages at all hours – things like “I’m in my Batman underwear,” and “I wish you was my Daddy.” I got pretty creeped out because I kept thinking about what happened to John Lennon and I didn’t want to send the kid over the edge, but I also felt like I needed to protect myself. The police were finally called and everything finally stopped.
Q: Who are some of your favorite storytellers?
A: My Dad and my Uncle are my two favorite storytellers. Although they’d never consider getting paid to tell stories, they are the absolute best storytellers I know. They both have the ability to keep the attention of everyone in a room, no matter what their age, for hours with their stories.
Whether it’s around the dinner table, which is where I often heard them tell their stories, or in line at the grocery store, while pumping gas, during a wedding toast or officially speaking at a family event, both of them have the uncanny ability to captivate others with their energy in profound ways.
Q: You’ve been featured on NPR and PBS, what would you like to say to Mitt Romney about public broadcasting?
A: Mitt, you come from a big family. Any single Romney’s you’d care to set me up with?
Q: . What experience in your life has influenced your stories the most?
A: My love life. As a free spirit and a romantic I take a lot of risks when it comes to love. I tend to chase shooting stars that burn out too fast or wild broncos that can’t be tamed. These sorts of mistakes have provided me with the material for my best stories.
Slash’s photo was taken by Chris Moore
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)