Performance Artist Countess Alex Zapak Laid Bare
Synopsis: The journey of Alex Zapak to get where she is today and the emotional heartache she has faced...
Introduction and Foreword
...In December last year I was kindly invited to the premier of “FaIRy TAil PuNK” by PR and long-time Facebook friend, Julius Just of Just Associates starring performer Alex Zapak. Being it was near XMAS and even though I didn’t have the foggiest of what I was actually being invited to, as I had never heard of Alex Zapak – the prospect of free alcohol always tempted me and so of course I attended. The stage was at the London Print Studios on the Harrow Road.
It was a surreal experience just walking through the door and after a few minutes of trying to acclimatise to my new surroundings I almost turned around and left. This was not a performance in the theatrical or cinema sense where the audience sit in orderly rows of seats. No I walked into a room with people strewn on Tracey Eminesque style half made up beds complete with blankets and pillows as well as more bodies scrunched across the floor. As I was to discover this was all part of the ‘experience’ and we – the crowd – were to be filmed as part of the show and this “the set,” as I was to discover, was meant to replicate Alex’s bedroom at home! Then, as if a sign that I should stay, from a side entrance I witnessed a slender, attractive brunette who was clearly naked and being wrapped in what looked like Clingfilm! Either I was about to witness some weird cult offering to the Bernard Matthews ready basted Gods or I was to be seduced by the impressionist charms of this woman. Either way it was going to be an “experience” and worth staying around to find out exactly of what type!
This was the lovely Alex Zapak or as she affectionately calls herself, “Countess” Alex Zapak and she would continue her journey to the stage hoisted aloft on a white cross naked apart from the food preservative wrap she sported. For those who have not heard of her – like myself at that time - I would wholly recommend you Google her after reading this article and watch some of her performances on YouTube and read some of her press. She is someone who has gone through the avalanches of life as many of us do (see ”How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”, “Steve Jobs IRIP 1955-2011”, ”I Believe In Angels”, ”Staying Alive”), but fortunately has survived to tell the tale in a very unique and eclectic way and, as I was to discover, has been described as, “The Femme Fatal of the Underground,” by Rolling Stone Magazine and actress Rachel Weisz said of her, “I have never seen anything like it. The best performer I have ever seen.”
Her show lasted for about 40 minutes – not all naked I have you mind, as she donned a sexy backless beige dress during her first montage, but I still stayed. Her songs and performance were about Love, Loss, Heartache, Tragedy, Death, Passion, Dreams, Twilight (her horse – not the film genre!) and concurrently Life and even though I didn’t necessarily understand everything she was trying to portray it still resonated with me; I believed there to be a powerful undercurrent for baring her soul to this world and I was eager to know more and to see if her story would fit in with the remit I have for my blog so I asked for this interview and it was granted. What follows is a synopsis of a 4 hour long very open and honest interview I had with her and my first ever interview…
...Through the course of the evening, I found Alex Zapak to be a charming, intelligent, beautiful, philosophical, bodacious and clearly a highly creative individual - even though that last quality was a given after the performance I had witnessed a month before. It was also clear we both had suffered through our lives and at points experienced deep depressions even though for differing reasons, but still conjoined under the umbrella that is LOVE. In many respects, her journey was driven by a passion to discover True Love and to be Loved Unconditionally, sadly never experiencing it as a child or through her adult years. Her life due to this has been a causal nexus of heartache peppered with highs along the way and this clearly emanates from her impassioned performances. Declining to tell me her age except as, “A wolf in full bloom,” she was neglected as a child by the very people we all place our utmost trust in – our parents. Love was something she knew very little of and so, as she grew older her natural distrust in human beings made it impossible for her to love anybody yet alone herself. In the interview she tragically cites, “I hated myself with a nuclear fierceness.” She didn’t have an identity, her self-esteem was pretty much non-existent and she blamed herself for not being loved, as many people who are emotional victims do because they are told it is their fault when of course nothing could be further from the truth.
The emotional disparaging relationship with her family took its toll and led to her feeling worthless and lost. Like a pretty butterfly that has had its wings clipped before it has even gained its pilot license or a beautiful eight year old girl who is in darkness due to the lack of unconditional love from the people that brought her into this world; that in a desperate attempt to Heal her solitude she covers herself in plasters in the upbeat, but ultimately mistaken belief, that these magical Healing Elastoplast’s will provide her with comfort and solace and keep her safe. A HUGE cry for help that devastatingly was never heeded by the parents that be…:-(x.
As discussed in previous articles including, “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”, “I Believe in Angels”, “The Lonely Goatherd” and “A Mother’s Love”, if a child is not subject to the care, love and attention that should be ingrained in every parents genetic code then it will most likely lead to difficult and more than likely - shattering consequences - down the causal line, especially when it comes to loving others and relationships. As I continued to ply Alex with red wine and chocolate rice crackers as we moved deeper into her life, she candidly told me that, as she entered her teens and subsequent adult years she became, “Greedy for love.” She was desperate for what she never had and so she entered "highly destructive" romantic relationships in a misguided belief because someone says they “love” you it doesn’t actually mean they do! “Love is the Agitator,” (see “A Mother’s Love“).
Guided by her experiences, estranged from her family and wanting to make her mark on the world, in 1997 Alex launched her first album about falling in love with all the things that are bad for you and the causal consequences they lead too. It was poignantly titled, “My First Suicide" and candidly expresses her emotions to the point of the said title and she produced and self-financed it by working as a "tragically bad" burlesque dancer! But even in times of great distress it can inspire some to great achievements and Melody Maker said of it, “Unique, brilliant…thrills as much as it chills.” However, using distraction techniques to get by and through the day is, I believe, just storing up further trouble down the line as you don't deal with the root cause of your situation/ depression - instead you are displacing it in the hope it can be forgotten. And even though you can sustain this for maybe several years, at some point it will catch up with you and this was to happen in Alex's case (see “Staying Alive“).
During the "sustaining" years things went relatively well professionally for Alex...She didn't have much money despite her family being wealthy, but as she says, “It’s all great coming from money but it is only equivalent to how much LOVE was exercised as a verb.'” In 2003, impressively Alex was handed UK Designer Magazine's "Woman of the Year" Award beating PINK and Kate Moss into 2nd and 3rd place respectively; and then in 2004 she divorced her husband and moved to New York City, USA and found relative accord with her art band project, “Countess and The CRR (Can’t Understand Normal Thinking, Rock Revolution) which played to packed houses and rave reviews in downtown New York. The shows produced and art directed by Alex Zapak, showcased radical and exciting transformations of image and sound from week to week to challenge perception and thinking and her reputation flourished to the point that she was crowned, "Queen of the Underground," by social diarist Patrick McMullen. As she says, “Life is a massive animal farm,” where society dictates your actions and behavioural patterns and only by breaking that Matrix (1999) style enforcement can one be true to who they are and potentially be FREE and Truly HAPPY.
Yet despite this success and being thought of by some, as one of the inspirations for Lady Ga Ga, she still continued to live in relative poverty in between a Sex Shop and a Fortune Tellers’, as being a creative she was never very good with the business side of things! She considers the positivity about being poor is that it forces you to be very ‘disciplined’ and provides one a perspective as an artist.
Irish author Lorna Bryne, writer of “Angels in My Hair” and “A Message of Hope From The Angels” makes this observation, “Many of us place too much importance on money and material things. Having some money is of course important but the Angels keep telling me to remind you that when you die you can bring no money or material things to Heaven with you. What you do bring with you are your memories and all the love you felt on this earth.”
She continued her life in New York which she loves and in 2009, Alex emerged with "FaIRy TAiL PuNK" which brought together a montage of her past and played to a sold out New York audience on its debut. She was even described as a visionary by certain quarters of the art elite. However, troubled times lay round the corner, as by never really confronting the root cause of her emotions and trauma from her childhood years and then into her teens and adult etc, she was effectively arming a ticking time bomb waiting for its detonation moment (see “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?“ and “Staying Alive“). Also by getting away to New York, she was in my opinion effectively running away from her problems at home and again not dealing with them.
The trigger turned out to be deportation from the USA to England last year for overstaying her visa’s welcome and she crashed harder than ever. Not only does Alex say she doesn’t like the UK – most likely due to hidden memories of her childhood being brought to the fore (oh and the weather!), this time she was forced to relive them in detail, as she had nowhere to go except back to her family home where it all began. Seen as a failure by her parents - she literally went to bed for a month and couldn't stop crying. This was Alex hitting rock bottom - just like I had done in Dec 2010 when I too couldn’t stop crying and a beautiful glowing Angel with the face of the delightful, intelligent (even though contrary to her belief - not so great at problem solving (in my humble opinion!)), furniture re-arranging expert and talented at making delicious Mexican soup, Modern Day Maria - came to my rescue and breathed life back into my soul (see “I believe In Angels“). In Alex’s case she was guided out of the darkness by being encouraged to attend therapy sessions for abused women by a “lovely lady” angel who started visiting her and in hindsight, as she now realised, she was a said victim. This allowed her to finally begin to talk openly about her deep rooted trauma and to understand why she felt this way and finally to start neutralising - in part at least - the pain and anguish she has been facing all her life.
As I try and point out in my articles and in my opinion – solving a problem at the root cause is the only way to diffuse correctly the pain and heartache so that it can never come back and haunt you…Bottle them up and this is what can happen and most likely – again in my opinion – will happen depending on the severity of the underlying traumatic cause. Sometimes though the only way back is to hit rock bottom in order to rebuild afresh with hope and sanity :-)x. And even though Alex is unlikely to be able to solve this at the root cause she is at least now dealing with the very emotions she has put off for so long, which will hopefully help her lead a far more fulfilling and stable journey through the rest of her life. Of course there will still be speed bumps in the path to causal discovery but generally smaller and more manageable (see "Wacky Races").
Alex is now back to her creative and talented self - maybe even more so than before her breakdown if this is possible - and finally found what may be her first real love who, as I pointed out, she would not have met had she not been deported and been through her "weepy" depression (as she calls it). This is hot on the heels of her successful and highly acclaimed launch of FaIRy TAiL Punk in London – the telling of her life story in episodic parts using moving images, music, poetry, story-telling and singing (with a bit of nudity thrown in).
Alex says, “Everybody’s car journey is different. Everybody sees different scenery on the way. A really important way to connect as Human Beings is to narrate what that car journey is like.”
In that respect, my journey has led me to believe everything is Destiny and that the Universe sometimes makes you play a hard game before you can fulfil your ultimate desires. In both mine and Alex's case (and I am sure pretty much most you reading this) that desire is to be Truly Happy and personally, I am not happy or at Peace and won’t be until I am invited round by the wonderful Maria for another bowl of her heart-warming and scrumptious Mexican soup :-)x, but I trust this is just a matter of time just as I wholeheartedly trust her. Dreams are there to be fulfilled and if life happens to give you a tough time try and take a step back and think well maybe this is meant to happen – this is part of my car journey - and if I can just hold on and navigate my way out to the other side, maybe True Happiness is just time pending. Today I always look for the causal connections between events in my life, as I can see why things happened throughout my past and continue to try and put the pieces together of this highly complex jigsaw in order to predict the future outcomes.
Being True to who you are as a Human Being, is a very important piece in the jigsaw that makes up True Happiness, as is being Truly Loved. As Alex says, “Happiness is MASSIVE,” and it is so important to, “Sing your own Song;” And that is something which bravely she has always done and “A FaIRyTAiL PuNK” is an inspiring modernistic fairy tale of her life.
Have a wonderful day and Celebrate Your life :-)
Ps. For more information on Alex Zapak contact her PR Julius Just at Just Associates, Tel: 08453885814, Email: Julius@justassociates.com
For more information on FairyTail Punk, click http://bankofimaginationstheatre.com (Warning: This website contains strong language and nudity)
[Also read Isaac's latest posts, "One Last Sleep", 'She Died in my Arms Tonight... RIP Mum, 1st June 1935 to 13th June 2014;' "A Kiss from a Rose", 'A Champagne and Rolex Affair...; "Sex on Fire", Making you Shine for Valentine's Day; an emotional aphrodisiac and Isaac's steamiest article yet...; "A Giraffe is not just for Xmas" and "The Bobby Ewing Shuffle", the follow up to “True Love at 15000,” an article stirred with beautiful love, showers, dreams and Dallas x... Other relevant articles include: "True Love at 15000", an article about 'coming of age,' wisdom, dreams and, of course, True Love...; "Let's Face the Music and Dance", the follow up to, "The Lonely Goatherd," and an insightful look at relationships and the lessons to be learned from our elders; "Scream and Shout", exploring Love at Xmas Time... Let it ALL OUT!; "Naked Fishes", a Birthday celebration of theSarayiahpost.com's Modern Day heroine, Maria; "Suicide Blonde", an unbridled account of how Isaac’s world collapsed and why he is still alive today to tell his story; "A Journey Becomes One", an article full of Heart & Love as Isaac Sarayiah Celebrates becoming a "Little Daddy," "Land of Hope and Glory - The London 2012 Games" Isaac's view on the London 2012 Olympic Games and, "Healing Power of Sand," Isaac's guide to Healing the Mind, Body and Spirit of Life’s stresses and emotional complexities and provide a path to True Happiness and Love x]