Chez Deep

Chez Deep in Common Visions


Chez Deep is a project utilizing a queer family as a site for raising attentiveness to body and consciousness. Initially a drag collective of five gender-variant transhumans, Chez Deep has transformed into a family creating ceremonial evocations, grievances, and celebrations of post-human living through collaged audio and spoken narratives.

Chez Deep is Alexis Penney, Bailey Stiles, Hari Nef (2012-2014), Sam Banks, & Colin Self


“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” – Anais Nin

Desire. Surrender. Labour. Power. Sacrifice
A Manifesto in Five Parts


To desire is to move. The moment we begin imagining the ritual is the moment it begins. Our desire to be on stage is the desire to affect change, within one’s body – which is the earthly manifestation of one’s heart, mind, soul, relationships, energies – and within the bodies of the audience, and by extension the body of the earth. When we speak, She, or They, or It, listens, and talks back. The danger of desire is to expect. Desire is not want. Desire is need. And what we need, if we can be free of fear, we will receive, at least in this part of the world. We desire change, in the worlds and lives of others, so that they may know fulfillment of their deepest needs, their true life’s desire, as we do. Desire for a wider lens, a brighter light, drew us together. Five lights, desiring much, united under the desires of much more, we work in tandem.


We surrender in giving in to our needs, to the moment, on the stage that we create, on the pedestal on which we are placed. We surrender our individual egos to the greater power of the group, even as we remain separate, surrendering boundaries of one and other to become One, to come home, to truly move Deep within ourselves, to the emerging past and future processes of creation that have allowed us to exist on this stage, in this moment. We surrender our bodies to the greater motion of the forces of the Universe, open ourselves as portals of love to channel what simply must be, what is, what is becoming. It is a collective ritual and also a tool, a demonstration, a new form of science and scholarship, of education. We face and embrace the fear of becoming more than these bodies, tapping into forces beyond ourselves, to show how easy it is to live fearlessly, when fear is all you have to lose. We feel, deeply. We share our feeling. We let go. We dare to be weak, to be strong.


To see our desires enacted on earth is to labour. Our labour is prismatic, fracturing value systems of cognition, agency, and interface. Our labour is an unfolding process of communication as a family, beyond the media and economy of material existence. To maintain our relationships as a sisterhood is labour. Our interface is face-to-face, body to soul to screen to planet. It exists in practice, performance, documentation and creation, but also resides within conversation and energetic exchanges; in checking in. Our rehearsals are rituals for growth, in which we become tempered and anodized; strengthened and beautiful in our becomings. Our GroupMe thread is a litany, a liturgy. Every conversation, every communication, every time we share space, we are constructing the architecture of our collective home. Chez Deep refers not only to our collective, or its depth, or to our neighboring collective living spaces, but to the collective of spirit, body and energy that exists materially and immaterially in simultaneity. This is a new, but also very old form of architecture; our structures are social, political, aural, spatial; constructed by our decisions. Our labour is alchemy. It is sisterhood.


Our power is capability, capacity and action; with the authority and agency of a chosen family who labours and surrenders fear and pain. Our power is in burning our very selves in offering, transformation by fire and passion. Our power is the power to hold an audience rapt; to know stares, glares, shudders, shivers. Our power is the power to change by mere presence, thought, intention. Our power transgresses control and resides in a slackening of grips; lives through the surrender of expectation to instinct. Our power is over or under no one or thing. Our power rises from within. Our power exists not within the act of changing lanes but in expanding our perceptions. The road of Life is a field, in which we all grow and harvest. The power we wield is given freely and collectively. As five we stand in a circle, often in opposition, not contradicting but holding ourselves in tension, letting power build through our voices and bodies and words and choices until it becomes something impossible to hold, something that can never be owned, something that must be given away.


We sacrifice to thrive; to understand; to embrace mystery. We give without expectation of gain. We sacrifice our prejudices, our fears; our failures, our triumphs. On stage we sacrifice our talents and our love, give freely to finally let go, embracing finitude, finality; to spread beyond the bounds of our selves, our stage and even our dreams and spiral out into the beyond and seed life in the hearts and bodies of others; to empower. We sacrifice to a deity, a Goddess, who lives within us, as bountiful trees of life, and within those who need sustenance, but cannot provide. We sacrifice life to the All and the One; the Self who knows no Others; ourselves, from whom all comes, to whom all will come again. We give to clear space for the new. Our pasts, our present becomings, become the present for the audience, for those who see and witness. It is an exchange. A harvesting. We lose, to gain. We end, to begin again.


In March of this year, the Chez Deep collective – Sam Banks, Alexis Penney, Colin Self and Bailey Stiles – returned to the stage at Santos Party House in New York to perform their new show Gloria.  

Featuring full length documentation, as well as individual performances here, Gloria sees Chez Deep blurring boundaries and showing a more holistic way to perform [in] the world. It takes its starting point as drag performance, and quickly escalates in its intensity with self-awareness, brutality and honesty. Distinctly darker, grittier and more theatrical than 2013’s Common Visions, Gloria is more than just a “collaborative mixtape” of lip-synced pop songs.

Gloria is made up of a number of​ theatrical collaborative epics and soliloquies. From choreographed pop-group-esque dancing over Dream’s ‘T​his is Me’,​ to Bailey Stiles’ melancholy striptease over Janis Joplin’s ‘S​ummertime’ and Sam Banks’ glitched swagger over Jeremih’s ‘Planes (ft. JCole)’: there are few moments to catch your breath. Between songs an omnipresent “voice of God” (Linda Simpson) stitches everything together relaying its members’ personal experiences so that Gloria emerges as a story of death, violence, love, sacrifice, resurrection, fear and hope.

Through Gloria love and violence are intimately entwined. It’s almost a parable, almost a fairytale, and almost a prophetic vision of an apocalyptic future – but somehow there’s still flashes of hope.

was filmed live on location at Santos Party House, New York by cinematographer Daniel Rampulla with Tyler Mariano on second camera, with DJ support from Brother Bruno Coviello and lighting from the Santos staff.

Art and economics is central to the Money Makes the World Go ‘Round series –exploring art and artists in a global market in collaboration with Video in Common –to publish every fortnight from the last day of March to July, 2015. It features six artists from cities around the networked world. **

Watch the video embedded above or see here for Part One.


Featuring performances by Alexis Penney, Colin Self, Sam Banks and Bailey Stiles (you can watch all four in full here), ‘Four Walls’ presents Chez Deep as the holistic, “super futuristic” and androgynous troupe it is. Against global capitalism and for community (and with communities left behind); entirely in public; and without a single language of performing or hope for interpretation – Chez Deep’s lip-sync, dance and art-rooted performances are “the repository of questions, fears and anxieties about a lot of things.”

Their new performance, ‘Gloria’, explores “violence and the uglier sides of human nature in performance” (video coming soon). It’s something they’d rarely touched on, when they were interrupted by the landlord who’d instructed them to shift years worth of a previous tenant’s wood and rubbish from the apartment roof.  The rent in the apartment goes up by $100 each year, while Chez Deep’s financial means “seem to stay unchanged.” In the face of this, the house, like ‘Gloria’—and ‘Dea Nova’ before it —remains a model for “a deeper conception of home, of what a house can be; trans-dimensional, metaphysical, a deep ecology of how to be.”

Art and economics is central to the Money Makes the World Go ‘Round series –exploring art and artists in a global market in collaboration with Video in Common –to publish every fortnight from the last day of March to July, 2015. It features six artists from cities around the networked world. **


BLISCORD “Touch” featuring Alexis Blair Penney and Chez Deep

Chez Deep in Common Visions

Chez Deep in Common Visions from Drew Bolton on Vimeo.

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