I recently performed for the third time at my alma mater, the Spence School, where I went to Kindergarten-12th grade, and as usual, it was so awesome and was my best audience of the year. Each performance there has been better than the last, because the girls keep up with me online in between performances and know my music before I come perform it, so they’re really excited to hear it and I’m really excited to perform it for them.

I was a bit nervous about this performance because it was the first one consisting of my new dance-pop music and none of my old stuff, and I wasn’t sure how much they would like it, but a few weeks before the performances I spoke to some of the girls on facebook and they said they were keeping up with my new music and loved it, so that made me feel more confident.

The performance was not only tons of fun but also really boosted my confidence in the quality of my new music. It is really fuckin’ good. I worked hard on it and made it the best I could and it really paid off because people really enjoy it. Also, performing with tracks is a totally legit way to perform because people still really enjoy what they hear and they get to hear everything as I wrote it, with the same sounds and all the back up vocals, and I think that is really important. Every time I played a song the girls were dancing along and having a great time listening, and they really cheered loudly at the end of each one. I still get totally exhausted singing and doing minimal dancing when I perform a song, and I don’t quite know what to do about that. Run and sing on the treadmill like Fergie?

The only drawback of the show was that somehow the camera didn’t end up taping the show at all. Not one second. Which REALLY sucks because I was hoping to get SIX AWESOME youtube videos out of this performance that really could have helped my exposure and been an EXCELLENT resource to use for bookings. It is the PERFECT gig because it’s great sound, great lighting, and a REALLY large and enthusiastic audience who knows and really enjoys me and my stuff. It is SO LAME that the taping didn’t work OH MY GOD. Not to mention that it was a really special 35 minutes of my life that I REALLY would have liked to have on tape. GODDAMMIT! Oh well, next time. Barf. Will try to get some great video from the Dec 19th show, where of course the lighting will suck and therefore probably so will the video. Goddammit goddammit goddammmiiiiiiiiitttttt!

Whew. Anyway. Focus on the fuckin’ positive, right? I AM SO ANGRY. Ok. Here are the wonderful moments from the performance:

1. I didn’t chicken out about wearing weird stuff. I did the show in my bright pink wig, my new silver sequin jacket, my black sequin tank, my pink tights, and silver boots, and dramatic makeup. I was considering toning down my look for the audience and then realized–wait a minute, this is what I do, this is who I am, and my fans expect me to do it. So I did it up! And everyone was saying how much they liked my wig and outfit and asking where I got my clothes and shoes. Right decision made!

2. Had the fascinating realization that when 12 year old girls in middle school don’t know you and you’re an adult wearing weird things, the experience of them asking you about it is totally different than when you’re their 12 year old classmate wearing weird things. When I was 12 I would get really upset when people at school questioned what I was doing or wearing and didn’t get it. Today, I just told them I was dressed like that because I think it looks pretty and it makes me happy, and that was that. Realized I probably should have done that in middle school, too. Probably wouldn’t have worked though. That’s middle school for ya.

3. Before the performance I sat down on the floor with the girls in the front, joking like I was a student waiting for the assembly to start, and ended up chatting with a lot of them before the show. It was a nice way to break some ice and was also cool because I went on to blow them away with my show and they were all so excited to tell me how much they liked it afterwards.

4. I did a lot of new songs in the show, including “Friday Night Forever” and “Hold For Your Lovin'” which the girls really loved. Was great to hear that people are really liking my new stuff because I think it’s pretty great, too. The girls also insisted on singing Texas Boys a capella with me, which was really fun. Can’t believe I remembered all the words off the top of my head when I haven’t sang or listened to that song in at least 8 months. Was of course great to hear the girls singing along and knowing all the words.

5. When I performed “Dance Dance Dance” the girls sang along, and it was quite a funny thing to see these tiny 11 year olds singing “I don’t care what you think, gonna flip my hair and sip my drink!” I inserted the words “of juice!” after that phrase the first time I sang it. Very funny. One of the girls said that was her favorite song, which I love.

6. The girls chatted during my songs and at first I thought it was because they weren’t listening but when I asked what they were talking about, they said they were talking about how awesome I was. I told them to keep talking. Heeeeeeey!

7. Got the girls to do a big “Heeeeeeeeeeeey!” with me, which was funny. The girls also made a big banner with my name on it to hold up which was sweet.

8. At the end of the show the girls asked where Socrates was, to which I replied, “Well you know that’s funny, I mean, it’s funny that you ask, because the thing about Socrates is, well, he’s…he’s dead, haha,” quoting the line from Annie Hall when she says that about her grandma when Alvy asks about her. I then explained that that was a joke from Annie Hall which no one in that room has ever heard of BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL BORN IN THE MID TO LATE 90’s.

9. After the show the girls all took my business card and then ran over to me to have me autograph each one. I gotta say, I LOVE signing autographs! It is SO FUN! Hope to do a lot more of it in the future. Plus the nice thing is, hopefully since I signed all those cards they hung on to them and used them to look me up on the web! (A lot of them did–I’ve got a LOT of pending facebook friend requests from the girls and the song plays on my page are way up today. Yay!)

10. A couple of the girls asked if I would come and watch their choir rehearsal, which I did, and they sang the song they were working on for me there. I could tell it meant a lot to them and I was really happy to watch.

11. A lot of the girls were really excited to see me and were telling me that they were my biggest fans and they wanted hugs and to keep in touch and everything. Love that! It’s so cool to be on the other end of the fan love, cuz I know how I feel about the people I’m a big fan of, so it’s really cool to think I have people who feel that way about me. Hooray!

All in all it was a great success and a great experience and next time I will do everything in my power to capture it on film NO MATTER WHAT and share it here! The teacher who books the assemblies said she’d definitely like to have me back, so I’m already looking forward to next year’s performance! Gotta get in on the upper school assembly too, and should look into other school performance opportunities out there in case they exist! ๐Ÿ™‚

A: You play on the street in New York for 3 hours!

So today I did my first real street performance from 1pm-4pm on 49th Street and 7th Ave. The day began with me feverishly constructing my outfit, which consisted of most of the materials I got from the amazing M&J Trimming store on 36th and 6th. I sewed 4 pink sequin belts to be combined to make a sequin corset of sorts, and made cuffs and a headpiece out of this awesome silvery disco-ball-looking material, which makes me look like a robot when I put it over my eyes.

I rolled my amp down to 49th and 7th and started my show and immediately knew that all that trouble I went through to get that permit was worth it, since the second I turned on my music, a bunch of teenagers started dancing with me and singing along, which made me so happy. Immediately I got a few dollars in my case, which was great! If only it had continued that way, but then it started to rain on and off, which threw things off a bit.

When it rained, I moved under the building overhang near the subway entrance, which was acoustically much better, but financially much worse. If it hadn’t kept raining I think I would have made more money, but I’m just happy about how well the performance went.

My dad came by in the middle of the first set which was great, and soon afterwards a few friends showed up to hang out as well. The Times Square security guy said that Britney Spears was a few blocks away watching the Wicked matinee and I almost died.

At the end of the day I had made 12 dollars, 37 cents and 1 Rupee. Now, just so you know, a Rupee is worth about 2.5 cents. But you know what? I’ve never even seen a Rupee before. And now I have. And it has a cute little animal on it. AND, I can totally use it as a quarter and no one will notice. ๐Ÿ™‚

So here’s what I learned from today:

1. Street performing is fun and not scary and totally doable.

2. Here are the people that like my music: gay guys, teen girls, some women, very old men. Here are the people who don’t like my music: 40-something dads from the Midwest who probably think I’m going to hell for dressing like a weirdo and thank their lucky stars their daughters are boring and timid.

3. I would do much better if I could busk in places where people are more apt to stand around rather than keep walking, and where there is a far higher population of gay men. Ain’t nobody from Chelsea hangin’ out in Times Square.

4. It is really fun to sing my music at the top of my lungs on the street in the middle of the day with lots of people around.

5. Street performing is more about handing out business cards and talking to people who want to talk to you than about getting people on the mailing list or making money. People who are going somewhere won’t stop and write their email down and won’t always throw money but I brought about 200 of my business cards with me today and I don’t have any of them left. Also, you have to go up to people and physically put the card in their hand. They generally will not come get a card from you.

So, next time I do this, I’m going to try to find a location in Chelsea or the West Village or a bathhouse or RuPaul’s dressing room.

Whoa, such busy times these are! Here’s what I’m working on:

1. Switching PRO’s. SESAC will actually help further my career with actual support and connections and opportunities. ASCAP is better for people who are already connected and making gobs of money than for people who need all the help they can get from all possible sources. Hoping this will lead to some great doors opening. It sure helped the woman who wrote “Womanizer!”

2. Trying to finish another new song by this weekend so I can give it to the band to learn before Wednesday’s rehearsal. Lyrics and melody are done but making the backing track takes mad time and thought.

3. Prepping for tomorrow’s show at the 2009 Dance Parade in Tompkins Square Park (on at 5:55pm tomorrow at the Main Stage). Just had a dance rehearsal with my childhood friend Yvonne, whom I’ve known since I was 7 and who’s now a pro dancer, and her fab friend Shyrelle. They are both amazing dancers. Was great to dance and learn choreography again. You know, I can really move. ๐Ÿ™‚ Made me want to get in way better shape, because there’s nothing more demanding of stamina than dancing and singing and entertaining all at once.

4. Collabing. Gotta write songs for two tracks from a fab woman I met at the ASCAP conference, had a remix made of “Everybody’s Crazy In New York” by DJ Identity and am waiting for two more remixes of my songs, one coming from Germany and the other from England. That happened from Myspace friending. It really does work! Also writing with the producer I sang for for the AIMP song pitching event.

5. Still myspace friending as much as possible every day I can, up to over 9,000 friends now. Almost at the original goal of 10,000 set both to get new listeners and create the impression that my stuff is worth listening to because a lot of other people are listening to it, which is true. People are really loving the music and I’m getting about 150 plays a day. 50 times what I got when I wasn’t using myspace often.

6. Studying music internet marketing and going to revamp my operations to be more effective.

7. Made a music video for “Can’t Stop (Remix)” which people have been loving. So proud of it. Check it at youtube.com/jccassis

8. Gotta record vocals for “Obsessed” and “Hands Off,” the two totally kick ass new songs I finished about a week ago. Time flies.

On the horizon:

1. New music videos, especially for “Everybody’s Crazy in New York”

2. New songs. I’m in a writing frenzy and having monthly shows is making me want to have new material at every single show.

3. Street performances, hopefully in Union Square, during the summer. Hopefully both full band and me with tracks and dancers. Can’t wait for that. Will be such a challenge, will improve my live show, grow my audience, and make some change. So so so exciting.

4. Almost ready for seeking out gay dance club gigs. Got a connection at Webster Hall, but not sure if that’s the right place to start off, rather than go when I’ve got a bigger following. But they have a small basement space that could be perfect. Still, I know that Therapy in Hell’s Kitchen has live shows, and that is a medium sized gay bar, so I should prolly see if I can start there and at similar small gay venues to have more intimate shows and get out there and meet/make fans. My music seems to strike a chord with gay men, which is exactly what I wanted, so I need to go to them and show them what I’m doing and see if they like it enough to start helping to build me up to where I want to go. If you can get a strong gay following, it can really grow from there. See Bette Midler, Madonna, Lady Gaga, etc etc etc.

Non-music:

Am looking into getting Invisalign to straighten out my teeth. Sick of taking pics that are ruined because the angle makes me look like I’ve been punched in the mouth one too many times. Need teeth that can be photographed from any angle and look good.

1000 business cards arrived today. Went through 500 really fast last time, wonder how long it will take to run out of these guys. Prepared to hand out a LOT of them tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚