Welcome back to Part Two of our talk with Tavis Maiden; yesterday we talked about his upcoming project, Tenko King, and how Kickstarter fit into his launch plans. Today we’ll be discussing how most people came to know him and his work, Strip Search, the nature of being around creative people, and how facial hair is critical to marital stability.
Fleen: Mind talking about Strip Search?
Maiden: Not at all.
Fleen: Looking back on it, what did you get from the show. In the sense of “If I hadn’t gone on the show I never would have ______ .”
Maiden: Swung for the fences. Strip Search taught me to swing for the fences.
Fleen: In the sense of take a course of action, own it, and don’t doubt your work because even it if doesn’t entirely work, it’s still yours¹?
Maiden: Like I said, I wasn’t ready to do Tenko King two years ago. Strip Search helped me realize that the only obstacles in my way were the ones I was throwing up myself. For me it wasn’t about the work, it was about me. I needed that time to realize that I need to be the one to speak up, and put myself out there. I’ve always been committed to improving my craft, but I haven’t been very good about putting myself out there. I’m a stronger artist and person because of Strip Search.
Fleen: It’s interesting to hear you say that; watching the series, you were one of the Artists that I thought was over on the realistically self-confident end of the personality spectrum.
Maiden: Just because I can push through my fear doesn’t mean I don’t have it.
Fleen: No, it just means that you’re a grown up².
Maiden: It’s interesting to me, because I am categorically introverted and self-analytical but no one would guess it.
Fleen: I know people like that — for whatever their situational requirement is, at times they just approach being on as a job to do. Not that they’re insincere or anything; just that when the extroversion-requiring task is done they’re back to being solitary.
Maiden: Yeah, I’m great one-on-one, but god help us if you put me in a “party” situation.
Fleen: And yet you lived in a house with eleven strangers, plus a filming crew, PA producers, and an unknown number of traps. Sounds like party times to me.
Maiden: Yeah, and it was terrifying. I loved it when it was just me and Erika talking at the table before anyone else woke up, or me and Mac³, or me and Amy [or any of the other Artists], but by day three we were all so comfortable with each other, it wasn’t an issue but oh my god, that first day.
Fleen: And it was only about a 20 hour day, I’d guess.
Maiden: Just about. Each day was so long that it made bonding really easy, and made it easier to forget about the nerves.
Fleen: What caught you most by surprise once you hit the house and the show started?
Maiden: How amazing everyone was — friendly, kind, thoughtful, and genuine — it’s what I’ve always wanted. I’ve always wanted to be in a group of caring artistic people, and live in a house filled with at least one unknown trap.
Fleen: To tell the truth, that camaraderie (what Mike called a hippie love commune) was pretty surprising to me, since it’s pretty much the polar opposite of reality/competition programs. Knowing Robert [Khoo, Penny Arcade's President] I didn’t think he’d seek to fill the house with borderline psychotics just for the drama, but I also suspected he’d have some surprises up his sleeves that would deliberately stress the situation to see how you’d all react.
Maiden: I think its the most genuine and real, reality show there is.
Fleen: What about the experience went exactly as you suspected it would?
Maiden: Nothing, I was sure I was going to go home the first day. No wait, I take it back — I knew there would be ping pong, that was a given.
Fleen: Did you figure that you would have heard of any of the other Artists? Watching episode one, seeing everybody’s face when Erika came in was a treat.
Maiden: I had never seen a picture of Erika, so when I asked who she was, and then later that night finally figured it out I felt like a huge dummy. I was expecting to know a few of the artists, and I have been a huge fan of Katie and Erika’s work but I’d never seen any photos of them in real life so I had to piece it together through conversations.
Fleen: If Strip Search season two was announced and Robert said, The fans asked us to have you back would you go in for another shot?
Maiden: Absolutely, I already volunteered to be a guest judge if there’s a season two.
Fleen: I volunteered to be a guest judge before there was a season one. Having seen what the show was like, I’m on the verge of begging.
Maiden: Let’s put it out there one more time. Robert if you need Guest Judges for Season Two, Gary and I volunteer.
Fleen: We can do a Beard and ‘Stache challenge.
Maiden: Done. Unless it’s shaving a comic into my beard then I’m out.
Fleen: Well, naturally. Can’t violate the sanctity of the facial hair. My wife would divorce me.
Maiden: Same here, expressly forbidden.
Fleen: So what’s up after PAX Prime?
Maiden: I would love to go to Emerald City Comicon as an attendee or vendor. Gearing up for Tenko King, which is slated to launch in March as well. Just making sure I have all of my ducks in a row, so that when the site is ready to launch, it is actually ready.
Fleen: If I were Robert, I’d already have a rough idea of when the Strip Search DVD set would be going up for pre-order, and exactly how much I’d be charging for the special edition autographed by all the Artists4. Been asked to hold any dates for signing?
I can neither confirm nor deny anything Robert may or may not say to me.5
Fleen: You’re mentally reviewing the NDA, aren’t you?
Maiden: You never know when Khoo’s listening.
Fleen: Sure you do. He’s always listening.6
Maiden: Hahaha, it’s so true.
Fleen would like to thank Tavis Maiden again for his time and candor, and would like to assure Mr Robert Khoo that our comments are all in good fun, we respect him immensely, and to please not have us killed.
¹ Best exemplified as the only possible survival strategy for people getting their asses chewed by Nina Garcia on Project Runway.
² Says the guy that doesn’t do drawings and realizes that every artist he knows has a pretty strong habit of artistic self-criticism. That would make the artists (and Artists) I know the most grown-up grown ups around.
³ Editor’s note: I am very disappointed that Maiden did not take the opportunity to make a totally ironic reference to the crappiest ET knockoff in history.
4 Or commentary tracks! Having the Artists in narrating their thoughts during the Thunderdome competitions? I have cash in my hand as I type.
5 As a side note, this is one of two wordings that I’ve gotten from various Strip Search Artists when they think they may run the risk of disappointing Robert Khoo; the other is I’m not at liberty to discuss that, sorry.
6 Listening … and planning.