TEEMING WITH GORGEOUSNESS
A Conversation with LAINIE LOVE DALBY
By Lori Zimmer
July / August 2012
Getting “blessed” in the middle of an art fair left me pretty apprehensive. I finally met Reverend Lainie Love Dalby when visiting her booth at Scope Art Fair, which was curated by my friend Daria Brit Shapiro. The booth, a myriad of bright colors, tents, sparkles, mirrors, and trinkets, was just as lively as the aisles packed with people at the fair, so when Dalby asked me if I’d like to be blessed, I thought she was going to take me somewhere more secluded, and I began to take a step toward the booth’s smaller tent.
Instead, Dalby simply asked me to close my eyes. That was when my expectations fell flat, and since I was in plain view of everyone passing, I figured I was just part of some art performance, and that I would not be receiving an experience myself. But I was completely wrong. The art chaos around me totally dissipated, and I was at once surrounded by a circle of sage and citrus. The only sound I focused on was Dalby’s incredibly calming voice (I want her to read bedtime stories to me) and the tinkling of a bell. She gently placed a reassuring hand on my head, and asked me to focus on some suggested thoughts. I couldn’t feel the busy gallery booths hawking art or the people walking around me in Dalby’s booth. I only felt this circle of sage and Dalby’s voice. I felt refreshed for the rest of the day, and my cynical self has now been given over to the power of art.
Aside from giving blessings, Lainie Love Dalby is a visual artist who stamps her colorful brand of creativity on everything she creates. Before she gave herself completely over to art just a few years ago, she lead multiple lives, managing many personas and careers for each. This need for diversity is evident in her work, as she expertly juggles performance, video, sculpture and interactive experiences to communicate her oeuvre. The certified reverend has reached a state of her own enlightenment, and is funneling her creativity and positive energy into her gorgeous art, which not only plugs the self-development of her viewers, but lets us use her art to get high.
Lori Zimmer: You’re a “Reverend.” How did you get into the business of blessing?
Lainie Love Dalby: For over 10 years, up until 2009, I lived as multiple personas, including as an internationally known dominatrix, a celebrity stylist, an avant-garde fashion maven, and a pop rapper, all constructed within my art practice and life. In moving between these shattered ego aspects of self, which I called “identity players,” I became a shell of myself. I was a full-blown hedonist and fame monster that was totally bankrupt financially, spiritually and emotionally. My life had become devoid of meaning, with a permanent flashing neon sign exclaiming “CLOSED,” and I had lost my personal anchor to what really mattered. I was in a full-blown premature midlife crisis that brought me to the precipice of misery and near suicide. I wanted to die, straight up. In that moment, I chose to live, fully and vibrantly alive, to make a difference and to find my truth. I chose to redefine what living meant for me, to not accept life as it’s given and to create my own rules. Nicki Minaj said it best: Everybody dies, but not everybody lives. My decision to let go of my old story was my first radical act of self-love and the beginning of my journey to come out of hiding. This decision led me fortuitously into a seat in the two-year Interfaith Seminary program at One Spirit Learning Alliance, from which I could help others drink from the well of courage, life, and ultimately freedom as Reverend Lainie Love Dalby. And the rest is history! For this, I am so grateful.
LZ: What can someone expect when they’re getting blessed by you?
LLD: When I’m blessing someone, we’re entering together into the here and now–dancing in the space of pure presence and the inherent potential of the present moment. We complete the work together. Because of this, I’m respectful that people are probably coming to the interaction with a little voice that’s saying something like, “Oh shit, what have I gotten myself into? Do I really trust this woman?” But I know once I share my unconditional love and act as a mirror for their greatness, the initial fear response passes, and they melt into the moment with me and receive a fleeting feeling of freedom, peace, aliveness, and the unexpected.
It is a respite from the overwhelming noise of our lives, a sort of moving meditation on their inner light and power. The focus is on getting people fully into their bodies, activating their 12 senses with the cleansing scent of sage and lemon, the melodic sound of the bells shaking to clear the energy, my soothing voice, the hand touching their forehead, and their heart creating an intimate trail of energy, spooling our fine heart threads into one united front. It’s like a spiritual elixir. You drink, feel fed, and desire more.
They begin to open up to something larger than themselves, and it gives them a flavor for more. In the best case, it leads them down a path to heightened depth of presence and many more deep breaths of pure life in the future.
LZ: You’ve been called the Lady Gaga of Consciousness and Spirituality. Do you think this is an accurate description?
LLD: I had been creating elaborate, wearable sculptures for over 15 years when Lady Gaga first came out on the scene. I was honestly unnerved at first when people would walk by me on the street and call me by her name based on my appearance. But that was only my ego feeling wounded. I didn’t want my personal brand of chutzpah to be unconsciously clumped into a pop phenomenon. But then I did a higher self-check and realized that we’re merely soul sisters united in spirit, pushing through our fears to live outside of the boxes of mediocrity, and helping others to do the same each day. We are quite possibly cut from the same monster cloth, if you will.
Together, along with Madonna, Eve Ensler, Toni Morrison, and countless other outspoken female artists throughout history, I am helping others to step out of society’s boxes, fight for social change, and show humankind how to live with authenticity and share our unique voices and imprints with the world. We are modern day Istha Devas (contemporary goddesses) that remind people to press their edge of becoming. The awakening of human consciousness is the overall goal, regardless of the form or title it takes. We are also helping to bring a greater sense of love, radical acceptance, and unity to a world so desperately in need of it.
I stand utterly grateful for the presence of not only Gaga, but all the incredible women on this earth, who have shared their gifts with the world as I hope we all can. I have no doubt that I will even be giving blessings to the Mother Monster & Madge one day soon! For like attracts like, movements build upon movements, and more powerful women are banding together each day to help heal our wounded world.
LZ: Was performing in a commercial atmosphere like an art fair weird for you?
LLD: I cherish any opportunities to penetrate the pop culture stratosphere with compassion, courage, and big love. I especially relished pushing the boundaries of human interaction, commerce, and art-making in the context of such a contemporary art world tradition as SCOPE Art Fair. I am forever grateful that Daria Brit Shapiro provided me with a platform for my ‘Diamond Den’ project so I could serve up some serious spiritual elixir to the art world masses, while also creating a risky and unforgettable environment that truly made the space and participants come alive amidst the safe and expected etiquette of the majority of the gallery presentations. I was able to utilize my art as a modality of healing and expanding oneself in order to shift consciousness, raise awareness, and ultimately promote social change. I became a channel for divine healing power, an urban priestess of the moment. It was an ultimate merger of pop culture, the sacred, and the 12 senses, which is a founding principle of my work in the world. The best part is that it pushed my own boundaries as an artist and spiritual leader, taking me to the next evolution of my work, which I will be premiering later this year!
LZ: Tell me about TEEM Gorgeous (or Dalbyworld?)
LLD: TEEM Gorgeous is a multidimensional social sculpture involving installations, art works, self-development adventures, and more to generate massive personal and social change. Art is profoundly human by nature, and TG begins with the premise that every being is an artist in charge of their own transformation. Because of this, your greatest masterpiece is creating a life that you would totally love and feel alive in each day. I merely serve as the catalyst for courage and creativity in the process.
I love the dictionary definition of the word “teem”–which means to abound or swarm; to be prolific or fertile–because it supports this process. Its other, even juicier use is, “to be or become pregnant with.” As for “gorgeous,” though it is only used as an adjective in the English language, I see it more as a noun. I envision it as the quality present in an object, thing, or individual that provides indisputable splendor and joy to the mind, body, and soul.
TG is also phase one of a larger plan that I am rolling out this year, merging my art and ministry into one massive movement, and I’ve decided to give PMC the exclusive on the announcement! I’m expanding my brand platform and will soon be launching DalbyWorld.com, an entrepreneurial endeavor that will manifest as an online immersive environment, serving to “level-up” your overall experience of life in the global village.
Get ready to be risky. Reclaim your inner life. Make something out of nothing. TEEM Gorgeous. And change the world.
LZ: What other candy-coated goodies and performances do you have in store?
LLD: Other than masterminding my new movement, I’m currently in an evolutionary process involving many avenues of expression. I’m writing my first book, which is part memoir and part spiritual guide. I’m continuing my wearable sculpture and photography series, “The ARmaTures of Awareness.” I’m also creating an online TV show, participating in “Art in Odd Places” this October with the performance Blessings to Remember You, and planning some elaborate surprises for Art Basel Miami this year that I am currently seeking sponsorship for. The most exciting goodie, however, is my upcoming Art for Awareness Online Gallery to support Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising, where the majority of the proceeds from the art sold will go to creating a local NYC event on February 14th, 2013 to fight violence against women and girls. Other artists can also donate works to the gallery. Visit www.LainieLoveDalby.com to find out more or participate. To keep abreast of the aliveness, sign up for my exclusive newsletter to stay in the loop on what’s coming next. Also, drop by and let me know what gets you feeling fully alive on Twitter and on Facebook. Be sure to use the hashtag #AlivenessAlert when tweeting! I can’t wait to give you all a blessing sometime soon!
Lainie Love Dalby is a New York-based artist. She is often called “The Lady Gaga of Consciousness and Spirituality.” She looks great in pink.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Edited by Jonathan Metzelaar
Photography by Jonathan Grassi
Design by Marie Havens
Lainie Love Dalby in NYC, 2012, All Photography by Jonathan Grassi