The Body Show: The Humble Egg | Nora Brooks

The Body Show: The Humble Egg

by nora

A cooking show about boiling an egg leads to a surreal trajectory through Julia Childs territory.

A kitschy 60′s cooking show for housewives becomes the catalyst which hurls the host into a private world of tangential madness and repressed memories of her grandmother. The simple act of boiling an egg forces her to publicly contemplate a succession of images from the vaginal opening of a hen, to slaves working in salt mines, to the virgin-devouring snake god of Ghana. The seemingly non-sequitur imagery comes together as she remembers the horror and heartbreak of her grandmother being forced to assemble hundreds of deviled eggs for a Hollywood dinner party. Against this surreal backdrop, we are reminded that all food is ultimately an act of violence. Based on Robertson’s 2007 Pushcart Prize-nominated poem, “How to Boil an Egg.”

The Body Show trailer from Jason Bahling on Vimeo.


The Body Show Benefit, Someday Lounge, Portland, OR, Nov. 6th, 2010
Short Film Night, Someday Lounge, Portland, OR, December 15th, 2010
Arts in Bushwick Site Fest, Brooklyn, New York, March 5-6th, 2011



Q&A with Nora Robertson

Q: I’m a chicken farmer and see hens lay eggs all the time. What do the eggs symbolize?
A: I’ve known a lot of people who were wierded out by eggs. Maybe they had an unfortunate experience at a natural history museum, or working at a diner. It seems like it’s because they’re unable to ignore that an egg is a baby. I think it’s almost impossible to talk about how we go about getting and eating food without talking about violence. I’m really fascinated by the idea of the housewife who can keep her family safe through hygiene and home cooking, because I think it’s a lie.

Q: Where is this desert?
A: The desert was filmed on location in the Oregon dunes, which look amazingly like the Sahara if you just cut the Douglas fir trees out of the frame.

Q: What inspired all this?
A: A major inspiration for this piece was my grandmother, who was the wife of the president of Capitol Records during a time when they were producing the Beatles. She had George Harrison over for dinner once. She regularly had to host large dinner parties, and she had a lot of techniques for entertaining. She was a big fan of making things ahead and freezing them so that a big spread would still be homemade. The pressure to get things right must have been overwhelming.



The poem that the Body Show: The Humble Egg is based on, “How to Boil an Egg,” is taken from a larger poetry collection, Body-making Cookery, that explores the many associations food has for us: personal history, politics, mythology, body image, desire. Gender, that reification. Food is almost never just food. It’s almost never just a way to keep our physical bodies going. Food, especially particular dishes, always has many connotations, and it’s my belief that when we take food into our bodies, we take all of those associations into the bodies of our selves. This is why people get offended when you don’t like the food where they come from, who they come from. By adapting this poem into a film, we explored certain iconic images of food and eating, our shared cultural notions of what is a wholesome way to feed ourselves.



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Our benefit cabaret and premiere screening was held at Someday Lounge in Portland, Oregon on November 3rd.  Performers included Arthur Bradford, B. Frayn Masters, Nathaniel Boggess, Margaret Malone, Gigi Little, and singer/songwriter Danielle Fish. A Voodoo doughnut-eating contest was judged by Shannon Wheeler, Tres Shannon, and Tiffany Lee Brown. Contestants included Brad Fortier, Matt Bors, Danielle Fish and Karl Kling. Sponsors included Voodoo Doughnuts, Bad Monkey Productions, Blackbird Wines, New Oregon Arts & Letters, She Bop, The Meadows and Pistils Nursery.

LIVE at the Body Show Benefit: Nathaniel Boggess from Nora Robertson on Vimeo.

LIVE at the Body Show Benefit: B. Frayn Masters from Nora Robertson on Vimeo.

LIVE at the Body Show Benefit: Danielle Fish from Nora Robertson on Vimeo.

LIVE at the Body Show Benefit: Gigi Little from Nora Robertson on Vimeo.

LIVE at the Body Show Benefit: The Voodoo Doughnut Contest from Nora Robertson on Vimeo.


Since moving to New York in 2010, Jason Bahling has premiered his latest experimental short video The Body Show with Nora Robertson, created a video installation for the 21st Biannual Electroacoustic Festival, worked as a gaffer and camera operator for two new screendances: one with Douglas Rosenberg and prolific choreographer Sally Gross; the other, an adaptation of Li Chiao-Ping’s “Pagoda,” set amongst the Wisconsin seasons. Jason recently performed in the piece “Spoken For” at the Raandesk Gallery and is currently exploring dimensions of color correction for film and video as a professional pursuit.
Nora Robertson writes fiction, poetry, reviews, and essays, which have appeared in such publications as Plazm, Redactions, Alimentum, Monkeybicycle, Citadel of the Spirit: Oregon’s Sesquicentennial Anthology, 2GQ, and Portland Monthly. Her recipe poem, “How to Boil an Egg,” was nominated by Redactions for the 2007 Pushcart Prize. Her performance work has been showcased in Portland in the Enteractive Language Festival, the Public Works series curated by 2 Gyrlz Performative Arts, Phase One: Words + Music, and Performance Works Northwest’s Alembic Series in Housebound; most recently, she produced and hosted the New Oregon Interview Series, which explores Portland’s evolving creative culture through interviewing the artists and culture makers themselves both live and for print. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Mark Russell is a writer and cartoonist living in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in publications such as Bear Deluxe and the McSweeney’s website. He is the author of The Superman Stories, God Is Disappointed in You and also runs a small press called The Penny Dreadful.



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  1. [...] here.  He (and Shannon) can also be seen in the Voodoo Doughnut eating contest in the upcoming Body Show Benefit on Nov. 3rd.   I’m being oh so modest here in my high heels holding one of Shannon and [...]

  2. [...] in a less serious context, catch him as a contestant in the Voodoo doughnut contest in the upcoming Body Show Benefit on Nov. 3rd at Someday Lounge, eating doughnuts creatively. Judged by Tres Shannon, Tiffany Lee [...]

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