Interview: Truth To Power Cafe
8 Feb 2019
‘Truth to Power Cafe’ is a new international performance event wowing audiences from the Gold Coast in Australia to Zagreb in Croatia. On 28th February the event arrives at Gulbenkian at the start of a national UK tour. Up to ten participants from our local community will rise up and speak their truth to power in response to the question ‘who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?’ before a live audience.
Jeremy Goldstein, creator and host of ‘Truth to Power Cafe’ says “the show is a call to self-expression, to say what you’ve always wanted to say, and be the person you’ve always wanted to be, and in doing so, challenges the notion of who can take to the stage and have a voice in the process.”
Gulbenkian participants include award winning actor Otto Baxter whose films have been shortlisted by Canne, BAFTA and Raindance. Otto is also Down Syndrome and a drag queen, and part of Daniel Vais’ Radical Beauty Project Together they are working on a new collaboration with Royal Ballet.
Jeremy spoke to Otto and Daniel about their work:
Otto Baxter: I am new generation Down Syndrome. I’m very independent and master of my own destiny. I’m also an artist. Daniel’s work is fresh and daring. He has exposed me to the avant-garde in an international context.
Daniel Vais: We work in fashion, art, dance, and photography showcasing the intense beauty of people with Down syndrome. Otto is a true artist. His mind is fluid, ever-flowing, curious, and he loves to improvise.
Otto: We want to show the world how desirable and fashionable we are.
Daniel: Sarah Gordy, a Radical Beauty model and renowned actress said “maybe one day there will be fewer people like me with Down Syndrome. Radical Beauty images should be part of our cultural history saved for future generations.”
Jeremy Goldstein: Why fewer people?
Daniel: Eugenics. There are prenatal tests to determine the status un-born babies, and abortion rates are at an all time high. Whether you are Down Syndrome or not, we are all human, and sometimes we all suffer from low self-esteem and feel too ugly for this world.
Otto: I’m no different. I’m happy and I’m lucky to have Down Syndrome. Because of it I feel extra beauty and love for myself. I’m proud of who I am. It’s the best.
Jeremy: How do you deal with people’s prejudice?
Daniel: I have worked with people with Down Syndrome for a long time. I see how people treat them like zombies, trying to take their power away. They think they have no mind, no spirit and no choice, but it’s not true.
Otto: Even though people might see me as an oddity, I’m an individual and I’ve learnt to stand up for myself. I’m happy and that’s what counts. I don’t care what people think.
Daniel: Without love, we have hate, loathing, and abuse. Love will always win eventually. People with Down Syndrome have big hearts. They don’t judge, and their minds are sharp and intelligent. We need to hear their voices more than ever.
Otto: If I am fulfilling myself as an artist, I will always win.
Jeremy: Who has power over you and what do you want to say to them?
Daniel: I’m a punk. I couldn’t care less!
Otto: A lot of people have tried to abuse me, but I do what I want and I follow my dreams. This year I won the Alternative Miss Wilderness Festival, and I’ve just played Duckie and Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss Word at the Globe. Either you like me for who I am or you can piss off!
Otto and Daniel: We’re not scared. We’re going to stand up and tell the truth in the ‘Truth to Power Café’.