Monday, June 17, 2019

June 2019 Meet Our Artists: Nicky Sunshine

Our Members, Fiscally Sponsored Artists, and other program participants represent a wide range of career stages and disciplines. We love them - and, as fellow artists, we're always inspired by them. With this monthly feature, we hope you'll feel the same way!

What inspires you? I'm inspired by socially and economically challenged communities. My mission in my art and comedy is to uplift others. My current solo work seeks to raise awareness about police harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and the complexities of sex work.

What are you proud of? Despite the low pay and often unfavorable working conditions, I have been a professional stand-up comic since 2005. I have performed at Caroline's, Gotham Comedy Club, The Apollo, and The Laugh Factory. As an artist I suffered from low self-esteem and low wages. I embarked on a 10-year period of sex work. I went to jail, struggled with bouts of binge drinking, and found myself in a toxic, manipulative relationship with a married man. I was able to emerge from this chapter in my life and start writing a one-woman show, "Confessions of a Massage Parlor Madam." I want to use my show to encourage others to never give up on their hopes and dreams.

As an actor with a security clearance, I helped train government managers and National Institute of Health employees for 15 years. After working through my childhood traumas and emotional blocks on the FYI Network reality show, A Question of Love, my boyfriend and I will wed in June 2019.

What are your goals? To use stand-up comedy, theater, improv, and writing workshops to educate, reduce harm, and spark conversations about issues affecting my community. Low self-esteem, negative child conditioning, abuse, exploitation, homelessness, lack of resources, and lack of familial ties are contributing factors in why someone would engage in commercial sex. It is dangerous work.

My show/true life story "Confessions of a Massage Parlor Madam" addresses these issues. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and it’s never too late for a second chance. Incarcerated individuals, people in recovery, women who have suffered abuse, and the homeless need to hear this positive message: It’s never too late to pursue who you want to be. Never Give Up. My art is a reflection of my life and I won't stop creating despite my setbacks and personal demons.

Do you have any advice for your fellow artists? I wish someone had explained the importance of "attitude." Rejection is inevitable. Rejection shut me down and made me feel bad about myself. It’s a part of the artistic journey. So is criticism. It’s important to have a resilient attitude.

I wish I had understood the power of networking. Entertainment is about relationships. Focus and consistency is important. In my younger years I wasn't focused enough. Professional relationships can mean so much. I wish someone told me that. I isolated myself and should have had a buddy system with a fellow artist. We could've encouraged each other. Instead I operated in darkness choosing fast money over pursuing my art.

I wish someone told me to work on my confidence and self-esteem. I wish someone told me that substances and alcohol would ultimately do more harm than good.

How did you find The Field? I joined Wow Cafe Theater. The community there is very encouraging. We exchange a lot of information. A fellow member told me about The Field.

Note: Since joining The Field, Nicky Sunshine was invited to perform an excerpt of "Confessions of a Massage Parlor Madam" for our Fielday 2019 Work-in-Progress Showcase on June 15. Learn more about this special event.
©Nicky Sunshine

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