Richard Simmons 'Til You Die

Indeed by Naima Lowe

A fantastic couple of days of conversation with Charlotte Cooper and many other rad fatties and friends has re-upped my excitement about this project.

I will be bringing Richard 'Til You Die to you in full effect on September 12, 2009 in conjunction with a screening that I've co-curated with Sara Zia Ebrahimi called Weighty Proposition: Films about Fatness, Bodies and Food. It is part of her amazing series, Flickering Light.
More information coming soon...
In the meantime, I give (all three of you) this: 



Some Outcomes by Naima Lowe

I've been sore all weekend long, and I can only assume that this is due to dancing my ass off with my most exuberant partner to date, Sarah. Sarah didn't have the most exciting outfit (dark colors and all) but she did fixate on several of the most delightfully ironic moves of the tape, including the "Hair Move," the "Egyptian" and the "I Will Survive" sequence. We also found ourselves getting increasingly annoyed at Richard's incessant insistance that we could "throw away those pounds."

At the climax of the tape, around minute 37, the bulb on my projector went out.

While Sarah seemed to think that this constituted the death blow that I've been waiting for, I feel a responsibility to adhere to the original terms of the experiment.

Experiments by Naima Lowe

So far I've played the tape around seven times. (Yes, I am that lazy.) I set up a projector and VHS player in my studio, and then invited some friends over after explaining a little bit about what I'm trying to do. I demanded that they wear fun outfits, gave them directions, and pressed play.

In the Beginning.... by Naima Lowe

Sometime around 1998-1999, a friend's mother lent Naima Lowe a copy of GoodTimes Productions' Disco Sweat, circa 1994. In her ongoing efforts to get healthy, Naima played the tape one time, getting through about twenty minutes before tiring of it and adding it to her growing collection of only once watched exercise tapes. Ten years later, in August of 2008, Naima was packing her apartment in Philadelphia and found these tapes, and found herself strangely unable to part with them. They had travelled with her to four states and at least five apartments. How could she possibly let go of it now that she was moving into her asbestos filled artists studio?

The tape remained in a stack for at least another four months, until in December 2008, it became clear that Naima's landlord in her artists studio was not going to be able to fix the heat anytime soon. So, in a desperate attempt to stay warm while video files rendered on her increasingly obsolete computer, Naima decided it was time to Disco Sweat.

Playing through a projector (coincidentally also from 1994), Disco Sweat filled the echo-y converted warehouse ice-box with analog pixellated colors and too many layers of nostalgia to even begin to peel back here.

As Naima punched, jumped, shimmied and kicked away the cold, she recalled that 1994 was a bad year to be fat and 15 years old. She wondered: "If I had known Richard Simmons then, would I still be fat? Would it have taken this long to learn to appreciate being fat? Or would I have learned it even quicker?"

She decided that the only way to find out would be to play this tape until it can't be played anymore. She realized that it was time for the dusty tape to see its end, but that the only way to kill it would be to play it until it can't be played anymore.

And so she jumped, and stomped, and leapt, and bowed, and bought a headband, and said: "I'm gonna play Richard Simmons 'Til I die, 'til it dies, 'til you die!"