An Interview With Goddess Kring
By Tonya Stumphauzer
When I told people that my next interview was with the Goddess Kring, most of them responded, "who?" When I said, "you know, the Goddess Kring, the one who dances around naked on cable access, most of them responded, "ohhhhh yeahhhhhhh."
The Goddess Kring, aka, Shannon Nicole Kringen has become sort of a local legend around the Seattle area. She is the star of not one but two-cable access TV shows. The first and most popular is the Goddess Kring, a show which basically has Shannon in front of a camera talking for a half-hour, well, basically about herself and her spirituality amongst other things. The other is called Fertilizer. "Goddess Kring is done entirely in my own apartment studio using one camera and a black backdrop. It is my confessional show about my life and philosophy in a direct-stare into the lens way. A video diary. Fertilizer is done at the cable studio using three cameras and layered effects of vision and sound. The title is a metaphor about the paradox of life. Gardens grow from manure/shit. Fertilizer is more abstract than Goddess Kring. My life is the garden that grows from emotional chaos. Eyes are fertile. Fertilizer."
Interesting as it seems, it's probably not so for this native Californian who was born October 25th, 1968 to bohemian parents. Her Dad writes comedy and folk music and her Mom is a clay sculptor and jewelry designer who studies Hinduism. Shannon began a series of moves after her parents divorced when she was four. At nine she moved with her Mom to a placed called, "evolution art institute," an art commune in Petaluma, California. Shannon spent a lot of time alone exploring the art world. She began working with wood, clay, painting, silk screening and metal sculpting. While she says she was given a lot more freedom than the average child, there were times she felt neglected from "traditional parenting." Her Mom, who has been through five marriages (her father never remarried), had her boyfriends living with her and Shannon in a VW van. When Shannon was ten she moved to Whidbey Island, Washington, a rural area located North of Seattle. After high school, she studied graphic design and had a series of jobs, including two years of dancing at Seattle's infamous, Lusty Lady. It was here that Shannon got the bug for performing. She started modeling for art classes and has also traveled through Australia, Europe, and Mexico. "I am on a never ending quest to find my true self and to be an example for others that need encouragement to live their lives with freedom, adventure and authenticity." I talked Shannon via email about her quest, and need for public sharing.
(AgentMoody) How did you get started on cable access?
(Shannon Kringen) "syn-kring-nicity" led me here. Both my parents are artists who have shied away from the spotlight. I am on a mission to reveal my self. To communicate. In 1995 a boyfriend encouraged me to buy a video camera so he could do a political show about hemp. When our relationship ended painfully one night, I turned on the camera and did a 28-minute straight monologue about my feelings for this man, and I felt so freed up after expressing into the camera- I aired it as a show! It just snowballed from there. It feels totally like my destiny to share into the camera.
(AM) You've gone through some pretty rough times. Was there something that specifically triggered you to start doing video?
(SK) Many things led me to this place of video diary sharing. I was born very emotionally sensitive and learned to repress and feel shame about my desires as a child. My parents were working through their stuff and I felt I mustn't need very much to help them out. I use my expression to break free from my own psychological prison. One poem of mine that comes in a lot is-"trapped inside this prison shell, of low esteem of self and hell…I feel stuck on a shelf collecting dust. A wet nail begins to rust. Why can't I enjoy my lust...? Give me the magical fairy dust…." And it goes on from there. I have a rather fragile sense of who I am and whether I deserve anything at all. Video allows me to face this problem and move through it to get to loving myself and honoring my desire to give and receive love and healing energy.
(AM) My friend and I caught your show for the first time several years ago and I was amazed at your candidness. How have you been able to do that and what is the general reaction from people?
(SK) I feel compelled to share in a direct honest way for anyone who is interested in watching me. It is very cleansing. The reaction I get is diverse. From people fixating on the nudity/sensuality to those who feel a spiritual kinship with me, to people who see me as crazy or shameful for letting it all hang out (my emotional passion and sensitivity). Some view me as egocentric; narcissistic-who does she think she is? But they watch and tell me that none the less. I must be touching a nerve in them all. I am glad I get such a variety of responses.
(AM) What is the message you would like to get across?
(SK) I am a mirror for my audience. I share my authentic self and viewers either feel connected to me or separate. My dream is for humans to let go of phony masks and be honest with each other. I am happy with a video when I have tapped into my deepest soul self. I let go of fear and allow myself to use and feel my power in a loving way.
(AM) Why do you think people need to hear your message?
(SK) In my heart I feel a need to share through the mass media. People are free to choose what they watch. I hope my audience is encouraged to express their own unique visions by watching me do it!
(AM) Are there things about you that people don't know? Things you aren't willing to reveal?
(SK) Yes. I am very honest about my own personal feelings and desires but feel very protective of my family and friends. I am vague when I speak of others in my life. I was very upset over an ex boyfriend once who I still loved and regret talking so much about. My intent was to share my pain over the failed relationship-not to put him on the spot in any way. I was in a sad state and learned from that show that I need to only speak for myself. Revealing my pain in relationships is for healing. The catharsis in airing out my emotions is what I love. It brings healing in.
(AM) I know that cable access is a free-for-all when it comes to "do whatever you want" programming. Have you had a lot of negative feedback about what you do on the shows-like being nude on camera?
(SK) I have received much criticism about nudity being shameful. The staff at the studio are very supportive of freedom. I'd say 85% of mail is supportive and the rest very critical of my honesty. Nudity comes very natural to me because of the art modeling I do. It fits in with my emotional naked-ness to be physically nude as well. A few shows that had porno on were stopped. I have mixed feelings about that. Sexuality is a beautiful thing-but lack of empathy for the audience's reaction is the problem I think. My intent is to share sensuality with grace and beauty-sensitively with my audience.
(AM) Your shows are very centered around stream of consciousness, like you said a video diary. Do you have any idea what you are going to say when you start rolling the camera?
(SK) Yes and no. I write in my journal daily. Ideas pour out of me. Some poetry I have memorized and some I make up on the spot. I seem to get into a rhythm and just go with it for 28 minutes. Each episode has a tone that reflects my mood for the day. I am surprised when I watch my shows. I tend to forget what I say after each taping-and love to watch and find out what I did!
(AM) Because you are so candid about yourself on camera, how has it affected your personal relationships?
(SK) I am working through a lot of issues right now. Video is part of my healing process. I have angered some friends right out of my life because of my honesty on the air. I spend a lot of time in solitude creating and thinking. I tend to be a loner. I have a group of close friends who respect and support my need to express myself through the media-and am especially grateful that both my parents are close to me and validate my expression. My romantic life is the most challenging. I am currently seeking the man of my dreams! A male partner who is in sync with my introvert-extrovert mixture. Someone who is not afraid of my openness. Someone who shares a kinship with me and wants to build a family with me! What I put out there comes back to me like a boomerang. I am becoming very conscious of my responsibility in what I manifest. I use my video to see what I can attract.
(AM) Do you ever feel like you are being a bit vain or narcissistic, or are you just extremely self-aware?
(SK) I feel it all. I am working with my ego desire for fame and my heart desire for simply sharing my authentic self. That is the most common criticism I get. The narcissism issue fascinates me. If we don't know ourselves how can we have meaningful relationships with others? I choose to examine myself using my camera as a mirror. I also hope to inspire others to look at themselves and see who they are. I can be used as an example of that. We are so unique and so connected. I want to balance this out. Maintain the uniqueness of me and connect with others.
(AM) Have you changed over the last several years with the success of the show?
(SK) Yes! It's very validating to get so much feedback from fans that are tuned in. When I was five-years-old I used to sit on my swing set with a fake microphone and sing and narrate a show and now twenty-five years later it's really airing to an audience. I am realizing how much power I have in my life. Freedom and choices about what I do and express. I wasn't sure if many people would enjoy of even watch my show in this competitive world. It is a great honor to have people appreciate my work. I feel such a sense of purpose when I communicate into the lens of my camera. I have dreamed about it all my life. To share through the mass media-my ideas and feelings.
(AM) What has been your greatest satisfaction in doing the show?
(SK) Being amazed at how much attention I get. We all have so much power to manifest our dreams. People ask me how I can be so brave and I feel like it is so normal to say what I feel in a direct, honest way. I am proud of my comfort in sharing honestly. The Goddess Kring in me takes over and has no fear about expression and the Shannon in me is kinda watching it all and a bit shy about it…I am fascinated by fame. Communicating with an audience through the mass media. Sharing my stories with anyone who wants to watch-scratches a big itch I have!
(AM) What about disappointments?
(SK) How judgmental and cruel people can be. Although I must say the worst critic is me! I am harder on myself than anyone who has written me! My biggest obstacle is my own shame and guilt about desiring fame, attention, power and validation. I have an underlying fear that is it greedy to pursue my desires and that I should sacrifice myself and let others have what I want. I constantly have to not allow that voice inside me to stop me from creating and sharing my art. I must let go of that fear of scarcity and embrace life fully.
(AM) What other projects have you worked on and what do you have going on currently besides your cable access show?
(SK) I have a website which I call a shrine to authentic expression. I am putting together a CD of musical spoken word-poetry I wrote. I paint wearable art I call "kring wear." I perform in between bands with chanting and poetry/dance occasionally. I am into some heavy therapy and spiritual healing through my writing in my journals, reading a lot of metaphysical books. I model for artists for a living and I am going to audio-video school soon to focus my energies on embracing individuality and the unity of all. Creative expression and healing is my life purpose.
(AM) Part of your website invites people to come in and look at erotic pictures of you. Is this a way you feel you can help people feel better about their own bodies, or do you just enjoy having people look at you?
(SK) I say "fusion drives illusion to erosion," meaning seeing the oneness of all allows the illusion of separation to melt away. I mix spirituality with sensuality and intellect as well. All fused together. The erotic site is a reflection of this.
(AM) How concerned are you about being exploited? Then again, maybe you have nothing to hide?
(SK) My focus is on growing and healing. I put my work out there and learn as I go. I feel compelled to communicate. Trusting that gut urge feels exciting.
(AM) Who are some of your favorite artists? I know you used to speak of Tori Amos a lot. Do you look at other artists for inspiration?
(SK) I am touched by a mixture of actors, musicians and inspirational healer/authors. Gabrielle Roth has touched me greatly. She creates trance music and uses dance and rhythm as healing body, mind, heart, and soul. I love any artist who is passionate and comes from the heart. Hear-art-heart I say! Some that inspire me are Tori Amos, Beck, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Waits, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil, many others and growing. Ani Difranco thrills me with her own record company and focus of energy of expression her way. Tori Amos is particularly important to me. I painted kring wear shoes in her size and met her backstage in Seattle. She wore the shoes during her performance and thanked me in front of the whole audience. A very validating experience. I must confess-I was blinded by my jealousy and felt competitive with her though. Her music is medicine to my heart and soul. Her strength is very moving. I want to work through the issues of jealousy and competition I feel with other artists. There is room for all of us.
(AM) Now that you are sort of a cult figure around Seattle, do you feel that you have a responsibility to keep your message or your persona going?
(SK) My moods change a lot. At times I want to hide and be very private. But I always come back to sharing. I do feel a need to express my authentic self as fully as I can to my "tribe." Anyone who resonates with me. Kindred spirits need each other. Belong with each other.
(AM) Do you feel like you're a celebrity?
(SK) It is a strange feeling. When I get recognized I am both validated and freaked out. I am not into being cool, chitchat and parties. My life is focused on healing and creating video. I have always wanted to be a famous artist/communicator but I have mixed feelings about it. We are all human. Celebrity can be so superficial. I see it as an opportunity to communicate with a mass energy. I don't like the idea of being treated better or worse than anyone else because of fame. I like to entertain and inspire people. It gives me a strong sense of purpose to connect. I love my privacy at the same time. I love to walk near trees and hang out at metaphysical book shops.
(AM) Most of what I see what you do in your art involves self-exploration. How has the journey evolved so far and where do you expect to end up? Where do you see yourself in the future?
(SK) Life is an improv. adventure to me. I wish to keep creating audio-video art and see where it leads me. I look forward to traveling the world and sharing my journeys through video and writing and photography. My best experiences have been spontaneous. I would love to write an inspirational book and combine performance art with teaching/lecturing and travel around sharing it. I want to fall in love with a beautiful man and create a family. Live in a cozy house near the woods with a music-video-paint studio attached. To live close to nature creating art in solitude and share it in a big public way. A balance of inner and outer growth.
You can catch GoddessKRING on Seattle's cable access (channel 29/77) Sundays at midnight. Visit the Goddess Kring website at www.shannonkringen.com.