The great thing I always say about public access is that it showcases
programming you would never see on commercial channels and there is no better
example of this than Seattle's Goddess Kring. Goddess Kring is the television
alter persona of Shannon Nicole Kringen a free-spirited, multi-media artist,
poet, dancer and model. The show is simplicity itself with a single static
camera shot and a black backdrop with Shannon emoting directly into the lens all
from her tiny Seattle apartment. Shannon communicates through improvisational
monologues and poetry as well as relating personal experiences while dancing
usually naked to music. Channel surfers in Seattle often stop for the nudity and
stay for the story.
The show is something of a video diary of
Shannon's thoughts, hopes, ideas and dreams. It hits you on a deeply personal
level almost to the point you think you're invading Shannon's privacy by
watching. But Shannon wants you to watch. She chooses the medium of television
to break that barrier between her and the outside world. In a society that's
become increasingly easy to hide in behind computer screens in air-conditioned
homes, Shannon goes out of her way to show that she has nothing to hide. If
alienation is the disease maybe Goddess Kring is the cure.
Goddess Kring is a show that will make you ask questions much more so than any
network tv program where the only question they want you want to ask is "What
useless, overpriced products should I buy?". The question people usually ask
about Goddess Kring is "Why?" which is the central question of life. Shannon
will say it's all about self-expression. Following the herd may be fine for some
people but not her. Shannon's doing her own thing. Why aren't you?
Before I begin the interview please read this short bio prepared by the goddess
Shannon Kringen born October 25, 1968 San Diego,
California. All my life I have been surrounded by art. My mother creates one of
a kind jewelry and clay vessel sculptures that look like something you would see
on Star Trek, Klingon-style - organic and futuristic both. My father writes and
records music and comedy, folk-style music and wild comedy. They had me and
divorced when I was four. I am an only child. My most vivid memories are of
playing alone in my room with a fake microphone singing and narrating my own
show! Both my parents are very liberal and open-minded yet self-critical of
their art. A tremendous tension was created by the support I got mixed with
warnings about mistakes and being “realistic” about dreams and goals. I am
introverted socially and have always had a mixed personality of wanting to be on
stage naked and sharing my soul just as much as I enjoy being alone quietly
creating in my head. After the divorce I lived with my mom mostly, saw dad on
weekends and went back and forth filling me with contradictory messages. The
emotional rollercoaster of my childhood is a blessing and a curse! It propelled
me into drama. We moved a lot from San Diego to Petaluma California to Whidbey
Island, Washington. I was nine when we stopped in Petaluma and lived at the
Evolution Art Institute with my mom’s boyfriend who made “space pod” sculptures.
I ran around creating art in clay, wood, metal, painting, silk screening and
wrote and illustrated books that I gave to the local kindergarten for the kids.
I remember feeling like I never got enough attention. My parents were still
growing up themselves and I felt like it wasn’t OK to need very much on any
level. I did not want to be in the way. I held a lot of feelings in and
pretended I didn’t need help in school, etc. My parents were like friends to me.
I love them both dearly. I am working through my anger. The mix of love and
neglect I received as a child seems to have given me the motivation to reach out
for an audience and share my secret inner-world that I hid as a child. Both my
parents are hard on themselves artistically. I feel I must break free from the
perfectionism that can kill ambition in creative people. I don’t think my
parents give their art enough credit. That is why I create “Goddess Kring” to
put my work in the spotlight my parents did not want to enter into! I want to
prove it is valid to use my will and freedom to manifest my desires and to
inspire others to express themselves as well. I graduated from high school in
1986 and went to graphic design school for three years. Then I took off one
night in a fit, quit my job and ended up hitch hiking through Mexico with an
Australian I met on a Greyhound bus! I came back to Seattle with a new sense of
freedom and began modeling for photographers after a friend took photos of me
that came out beautifully. All the shyness of my childhood began to melt away
slowly as I began modeling in front of cameras and for drawing and painting and
sculpture classes. Then I auditioned to dance at the Lusty Lady, a nude dance
place where customers put quarters in slots and watch us dance behind glass to a
juke box, and worked there for 2 years but was let go after I gained some
weight. The art modeling then took over full time. Being full-figured is great
for art modeling and not appreciated enough in erotic dancing! I took off again
to Australia to visit a friend and then to Europe to take photos of all the
great architecture. This led me to buying a video camera and transferring my
monologues from journals to video performance. I have been through many stormy
romances which really trigger a lot of emotional+cathartic monologues. I write
and record poetry in response to relationship drama. I now live in a tiny
apartment/art studio with my cat and focus full-time on creative expression and
have fallen in love with a man who has watched my video on tv for 3 years! End
of bio. I hope that makes sense!
How did you get started in cable access?
Shannon: All my life I have had this
shyness coupled with an intense desire to share on stage with an audience - to
connect and share my inner-world (explained in bio). The catalyst for my video
was a breakup with a boyfriend that had me feeling suicidal and hysterical. I
turned on the camera I had bought for a hemp show he was doing thinking I would
return the camera after 30 days and I just cried and spoke from my heart for 28
minutes straight into the camera. I felt so good after that cathartic
expression. I aired the video on access tv and entered the lottery for a weekly
show Goddess Kring. I rented a mailbox and the mail poured in! I had no idea how
many people would actually watch me. Channel surfers seem to catch me and notice
the nudity and body paint, facial close-ups and stop and listen to me. I was
also a guest on other shows before I had my own but was unhappy with the
results. I clam up and get real quiet with other people unless I know they are
supportive of my expression and sensitive to me. I did theater in high school
and was in choir. I have written in a diary since about age 13. The video is an
extension of my journals - a living documentary of my life. Video is perfect for
my shyness. I can create at home alone with total freedom and ease and share it
with the public. I combine my background in graphic design, modeling, painting,
writing, photographpy, poetry and music and mix all my talents into one medium.
I consider my video a political activism of sorts using my personal freedom and
encouraging others to question reality and be aware of freedom and use it! The
path that led me to video was not getting photographed enough as a child -
growing up with artist parents who are also perfectionists and critical which
creates tension within me - of feeling shame about my desire to express in such
a big public way which fuels my anger and feeds into my burning desire to boldly
express! I never fit in during high school much. Very conservative people freak
me out. I wrote about film and painted a lot. Being on the tennis team was the
most outgoing thing I did in high school. I began modeling and danced nude in my
early twenties at the Lusty Lady in Seattle and was an extra in the film
American Heart with Jeff Bridges which got me hooked on wanting to communicate
with cameras and connect with an audience.
What are the techinical aspects behind the show?
Shannon: Goddess Kring is a weekly
show 28 minutes long. I create it with 2 VCR's and a basic camera. I put a black
backdrop on my wall use one full spectrum light. I cut from close-ups of my face
to my torso cropped with movement and dance within the frame. It is
improvisational stream of consciousness dialouge directly into the lens. I
passionately share my personal ideas, feelings and experinces with the audience.
I seek to connect with them on a heart level and to encourage the viewers to
share their authentic selves with family and friends and the community in
general. I use colored filters on the lens to create different
moods/atmospheres. The show is very intimate and personal almost like a diary.
Production costs are very minimal. Cable access is free. I just invested in a
camera $500.00 and 2 VCR's $120.00 each and body paints and costumes - a few
hundred dollars over the years so far on that and videotape. I buy in bulk for
$1.20 per tape or so. I find that high-tech gear is not needed to create a
dynamic, compelling show. The content of the show means more to me than the
technical aspect. As long as the lighting is beautiful and the sound and picture
are clear, I'm happy with it. I also invest lots in marketing with xeroxed
stickers and posters and ads in the local papera and on my website. I put
posters up all over Seattle with wheat paste glue next to movie posters (legal
areas only). I get about 1,000 people each month visting my website! I find that
word of mouth and postering really gets people aware of my show very well.
How long have you done the show and how has it changed?
Shannon: I started video in
1995. I began speaking into the camera about my ex-boyfriend then turned to
painting my body with theater make-up and dancing to my favorite music and
gazing into the camera to share my emotional reaction to the melodies. The more
I create the more I realize I am trying to tap into my spirit. I use sensual
energy within me to get in tune with my soul. Sexuality and spirituality are
very close together. It upsets me how split off they have become in mainstream
culture. My work is also a political statement about freedom and letting go of
repressed feelings - being a sexual, spiritual, emotional, intellectual,
full-figured woman on tv who chooses to share her whole self many facets.
Visually I play with filters and fabrics on the lens to create moods and
textures. Candle light, colored and bright white light with shadow are all used.
I tape the show at home but feel like it is live when I record it. The lens is
alive to me. I sense the energy of the audience when I create. It is a dream
What advice do you have for others who are thinking about doing a public access
Shannon: It is a lot of work behind and in fronto
of the camera. You must be passionate about your subject and totally dedicated
to your show and not so attached to perfection. I see many people trying to be
like other shows which defeats the purpose. Why not be free and explore new ways
to use tv? I say keep the show title simple and memorable as well as the
techinical aspects. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Better to do an
imperfect show than no show at all! Don't let fear stop you from sharing your
ideas and visions. Make posters, cards, stickers and flyers and share them with
anyone interested. Let people know you are on the air! Follow your heart and
share what you are passionate about. Cable access tv is a great medium for such
diversity and freedom of expression. Use it!
You are pretty well known in Seattle. How often are you recognized?
Shannon: Every day usually! From one to three people say hello daily. I give
them a sticker or card if they seem friendly. What is cool about it is such a
full spectrum of people seem to connect with my expression e.g. eighty-year-old
kind women, teenage boys and girls, artists, business people. My dad works in a
law firm downtown and when I ride the elevator to visit him lawyers look at my
hand painted shoes and say, “Hey, you're that woman on tv aren’t you?”. I get
negative mail but no one has been rude to me in person. Some say they don’t get
what I do but am glad I have the guts to share. It is weird to get so
self-conscious and caught up in how I come across to people. It can block my
creative flow. I have done videos where I am so self-conscious I spend the whole
show describing my feelings about that! I just let it roll. My best shows are
when I am free and relaxed and tap into the trance state and just create from my
spirit. I let the past drop away and just create here and now. No past or
future. I love that blissful state of unlimited energy. That is god to me. I am
happy I am said hello to so much. It is great to know I am striking a chord with
many people. I also need to let go of that and share as much as I can and let
the work reach whom it needs to. Expression is so healthy.
You create spoken word-poetry which some describe as self- obsessed while
others comment on the sexual subtext. How would you describe it?
Shannon: All artists are self-indulgent.
The creative process demands it. I work as a channel or tool that the work comes
through. To create art and share it is to give to the people receptive to it.
People who are very judgmental seem to be blocked creatively in some way and
need to criticize others to calm themselves down. I recommend they express and
create what they want instead of judging others! My poetry comes from my sensual
energy inside my body. My brain and libido join forces and out comes a flow of
words. Musicians are the poets I study! Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tori Amos, Beck,
Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, Lauri Anderson, Lou Reed and growing. I
love many actors, musicans, dancers and film directors. Any passionate creators
with strong vision influence me. Poetry to me is about the sound of the words -
the emotional flow, pacing and rhythm. Metaphor and paradox - two of my favorite
things in this world!
Many point out that you're nude in your shows but you're usually covered in body
paint. Is it your own style or tribal?
Shannon: The body paint is inspired by
primal tribal energies but it is done entirely from my impulses... not directly
taken from any group of people. Celebrating the curves of my body - the natural
hair. I don’t shave. I treasure nature. I rebel against having to wear
conventional make-up and shave and hide my scent. Freedom and embracing grace
moonshone face... I feel free when I put the paint on my torso and face. It
animates the primal part of myself more fully. I do on ocassion wear no make up
and also conventional “beauty” make up. Freedom and diversity and expression of
many facets is the key. Challenging people’s ideas of how one “should” look and
feel and speak... The nudity and paint and emotional outpouring is all meant to
challenge the viewer - to ask questions to themselves and to me!
You're primarily a solo artist. Would you consider working with others?
Shannon: Solo work is my forte' for now
and my bliss. Being an only child has contributed to this. I may do some
collaboration in the future. I have worked with musicians mixing my vocals with
their music. I loved that experience and would love to create more in that
direction. It is hard for me because I have strong opinions and desires and
don’t like to let someone else take over. If I can be the leader I am most
comfortable - but I don’t like bossing other people around. I feel guilty so I
work alone! No guilt.
Do you ever perform live?
Shannon: Yes, over the past two years I have done
over sixty shows live on stage at various venues and bars around Seattle as well
as private gatherings and theaters. My live show consists of improv, monologue,
trance, chant and dance segments mixed in with spoken word I create. I have a
strange sense of shame on stage like I am holding the audience captive against
their will. When I air on tv I feel fine because people can turn the channel if
they want but live they are stuck with me! It is a luxury to share expression on
stage for the people. I debate whether I want to build up live performances or
stay focused on video. My big vision is to do gallery installations and combine
live performance with video screen next to me. I am very much an introvert. The
more I express in a public way the more I crave being alone at home surrounded
by silence. It balances me out to do both. Live on stage I wear a skin colored
bikini to be as nude as I can without getting arrested! It is sad that nudity is
thought of as dangerous by some and mainly sexual. I was able to be nude with
fifty other people recently at the Asian Art Museum in Seattle. Zhang Huan, a
very famous Chinese performance artist who lives in NYC, needed volunteers to be
in his show and I was one of them. It was 30 minutes long and included three
levels of scaffolding we climbed on and Tibetan prayer movement, Tai Chi, dance
and silent stillness. The piece is called Hard To Acclimatize and is on video
and still photos in the archives of the museum. We had 320 people watching live.
It was a wonderful liberating experience. We were moved to tears at the end and
remained nude for the reception in the lobby. Fifty nude people munching on
crackers and Champagne! Wonderful! We ran outside into the rain following the
performance and got soaked. It felt great.
Last year you created a 2nd show called Fertilizer. How does it differ
from Goddess Kring?
Shannon: Fertlizer is a metaphorical
journey into the paradox of creation. All things grow from decay. It is a video
poem every week. I create Fertilizer at the cable studio using blue screen and
luminence key layers and dub in spoken word I write and record at home. I
combine many layers of myself nude and clothed from my home studio and the
access tv studio. Goddess Kring is done entirely at home with live vocal and one
layer - me solo - no layered effects. Goddess is direct and confessional while
Fertilizer is abstract and whimsical. Goddess is emotional and Fertilizer is
Dance is a part of your performance art. How was it dancing at the Lusty
Lady in Seattle?
Shannon: Mostly, I have fond memories
of the Lusty Lady dance experience. It is run by women and the dancers earn an
hourly wage - no tips. This is great because dancers do not compete with one
another. There is much emotional and creative support between all the
performers. I have a bittersweet taste about being laid off because of weight
gain. I am healthy and well proportioned and many appreciate full figured curves
but the Lusty Lady felt all the dancers should appeal to the mainstream sense of
beauty. I no longer fit that mold so I was let go. I think all body types should
be presented! They did not mind natural body hair and no make up but extra
curves are taboo! My costume was a scarf tied around my waist and hand painted
heels on my feet. Feminists who consider nude dancing wrong are what really
upsets me. Women need freedom to express themselves and to tell a woman she must
not be a dancer is the same as telling her she must be one! It is a grey issue
to me. Not black or white. No entirely right or wrong. Mixed. I love moving to
music and celebrating sensuality. As long as I remain centered in myself and not
sucked into faking perfomance for others, I feel it is healthy. The same goes
for any job and art. If I lose my sense of self and feel empty like I am just
there to be molded into what the audience wants then it becomes destructive. The
creative god force has no limit of love and energy. That is the force I choose
to tap into as much as I can with all that I do in this life.
Who do you work for as an art model?
Shannon: I started modeling in
1992. I do it full time now. I pose for fine art photographers and art school
classes - drawing, painting, sculpting, portrait, figure, costume, short and
long poses. Recently, I modeled in a piece on KOMO TV 4 news here in Seattle.
They needed an aesthetically pleasing visual to attract viewers about breast
cancer awareness and I was their gal! I also model for medical students who need
practiceDoing exams! Recently, I worked with six other nude models in a photo
shoot about Moses and his wife. I was in the center surrounded by midwives and
Moses was behind me as I gave birth to a plastic baby. The photographs will be
used to paint from by the artist. It was great fun and I look forward to seeing
the finished painting! Over the years several hundred drawings, photos and
paintings have been done of me. There are many art models here in Seattle. Only
a few do it full-time like me. There is a core group of about six that I know
and talk to. I love modeling. It is like getting paid to sit and think and relax
and dream and play with different states of consciousness while art is being
created. I have also dabbled in some erotic photo shoots and magazines which I
don’t focus on but honestly share my experimentation. I enjoy the many facets of
modeling and can imagine doing it for decades. There are models in their sixties
which is very cool. I may be one of them in thirty years!
Do you still make “kring wear”?
Shannon: Yes, I handpaint colorful
designs onto hats, coats, backpacks, shoes, lamp shades, etc. I am very drawn to
shape and color that mimics nature. Organic whimsical curney lines -
asymmetrical beauty. My bodypainting is kring wear also! I would love to get
Dennis Rodman to wear kring wear in public and help me promote it world wide!
Kring wear on the basketball court! In 1996 I contacted Tori Amos’s fan club in
Florida and suggested I meet her backstage and give her a pair of custom
designed shoes. I sent handmade postcards with photos of my work and they went
for it! Ask for what you want and it works. I love to manifest my dreams. I was
given her shoe size and went to work. I met her backstage and shared a Goddess
Kring video with her and got a bit clammed up by my feelings of envy.…She was
kind and very centered and grounded - a very healthy performer. She wore the
kring shoes on stage at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle and thanked me in front
of the whole crowd! I was shocked but sad afterwards because I realized I should
have asked for more! I might have been able to speak with her again but I got
scared and felt weird about my desire for be on stage in as big a way as her. I
felt like the audience were all vampires trying to get blood from Tori, like
they didn’t have their own power and need performers to get it from. I am not
happy being in the audience and I wonder how many in the crowd secretly want to
express on stage and let fear stop them and live vicariously through artists who
have the strength and courage? I am one of those people who feels that burning
desire to express myself. To create a sacred space for kring and share in a big
way with anyone who connects with my work. I encourage all to dig deep inside
their hearts as I do and discover desires buried and go for manifesting them!
That is the power we all have as humans. Freedom to express our uniqueness and
unite with others through it. Paradox! Artists I admire are symbols to me of
courageous explorers who manifest their desires . Hundertwasser is a
painter-philosopher I love dearly. He designs buildings in harmony with trees
and Earth and spectacular paintings. His use of color is magnificent. Tori Amos’
use of sound and word and emotion is great powerful medicine. Yummy artists! I
think too many unknown artists think ambition is shameful! I crave that
connection with the audience. I express for myself and anyone watching both. I
love Madonna for that reason. She is so open and honest about her ambition. Tom
Petty is also very much into connecting and being heard by anyone who loves his
work. That is healthy. To share and let go of any shame about succeeding in
attracting an audience who loves your work. I have spent time holding back my
brilliance for fear people would think I was showing off. That is what
performers do! - show their talents. Some think I am not talented. They are
entitled to feel that way. I love my work, to be grounded in that is all I can
do and let people decide if it is good, bad or whatever. People need to be
encouraged to share authentically! I am open to sharing kring wear with all who
want to experience it.
Your spiritual quest has led you to travel abroad. Where have you been?
Shannon: I love to travel sooooo
much. Flying is so exciting. I hitched through Mexico for a month in 92, flew to
Australia in 93 and Europe in 96 and NYC in 97…so far. I want more! I do a lot
of “innertravel” in to my heart, soul, god - whatever you want to call it and I
find that outer travel helps stimulate me to remain fresh and in the present.
The present is a present, you know?! Inner and outer-journey is a passion of
mine. To see the differences and universals in all countries. I would love to
experience India and feel the vibration of such an intense place. In Australia I
was amazed at the birds full of color in the parks and lizards on the sidewalks.
Aboriginal art and dijeridoo music triggers much inside me. I am in love with
the dreamtime culture of the aborigines. I don’t study it officially. I am just
intuitively drawn to it and feel a kinship/connection…past life? I am drawn to
Indian culture here in the states but not any specific tribes just being free
and in harmony with earth. Tribal body painting really turns me on in a deep
level. I am a soloist culturally. I don’t feel attached to history or culture or
any religion or my Viking roots either! (I am Norwiegan, English, Irish and
Indian) I feel happiest when I am just Shannon. Unique human sharing from my
heart. Hear-art-heart.…I take many photographs of myself in the mirror as well
as hundreds of buildings, shapes, color, light and texture. I love to get in
that dream state where everything is new and free of judgment. History and
tradition do not interest me. Freedom and innovation attract me! Timeless beauty
and truth are what I seek. Freedom and peace. Compassion and heart connections.
That is what I feel as god…
What affect has the show had on personal relationships?
Shannon: I am not very social. I am
very focused on creating art, sharing it and supporting myself through modeling.
I have a few friends from the past who don’t support my quest - my ambition.
Some think it is too self-indulgent or a gamble. To them I say bye! I don’t
apologize for my focus anymore! I am an only child. I am close to both my
parents who are impressed with my video adventure, modeling and the amount of
fame I have attracted. I have a few close friends - all I met through my show.
They wrote me in support and we became friends. I am dating a wonderful man who
watched me for 3 years and began e mailing me. We met and put lots of kring
posters up all over Seattle and began a romance a couple months into the
friendship. I have dated some men who are freaked out by my public sharing. I
understand they had their right to feel weird about it…but man was it torture to
be with a non supportive person. I am now wise enough to never date anyone who
doesn’t love the whole me - introvert/extrovert/multi-faceted, ambitious artist!
The shows have helped me weed out phoniness from my life. I am a truthseeker. I
feel more like my true self in video than in social situations. I am very quiet
out in the world and very expressive in my art.
How do your parents get along?
Shannon: They divorced when I was four. I
lived with my mom and saw my dad on weekends. I cannot imagine them together!
They have only kept in touch because of me. They respect each other but don’t
talk very much. I see them both regularly separately. They are both happy they
had me and I am grateful I have such unusual parents. All 3 of us like our
solitude. We are all sensitive animal lover, liberal artist type people. I am
just now beginning to not feel so sad about not having a “traditional” family. I
can now appreciate the eclecticness of it all. The pros and cons of it made me
who I am today! I use the joy and sadness to fuel my heart for expression.
How did you get on “Spy TV” in the UK?(airing Feb. 2000 on channel 4 in
Shannon: Spy TV happened by
web connection. People in New York were looking for interesting shows to
highlight from around the country and they found my website, were impressed with
the quality and contacted me. I sent them a sample video which matched what they
were looking for. I am always open to that kind of synchronicity (syn-kring-nicity).
Anyone else out there want to highlight, interview or do a documentary on me? I
am interested! Yes!
Where can people see you on TV in Seattle?
Shannon: channel 77 cable access through March of 2000
Fertilizer on Mondays @ 11 pm
Goddess Kring on Wednesdays @ 10 pm
(Keep in mind my times will change beginning April – Sept. 2000.)