(above:  shannon age 10)

An interview with GoddessKRING 2000

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 herself...

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 world.

What advice do you have for others who are thinking about doing a public access show?

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 ethereal .

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 England)

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.)

UPDATE:  Sept. 2004-Dec. 2004 showtime sundays @ 12midnight on http://www.scantv.org in seattle. 

Check out the official Goddess Kring website!

Goddess Kring P O BOX 20355  Seattle, WA  98102 

1995-present creator/producer: Shannon Kringen