Alia Shawkat talks to The New York Times after completing The Second Woman

Image by Caroline Thompkins

Our season of Nat Randall and Anna Breckon‘s The Second Woman has wrapped at BAM, with performer Alia Shawkat proving a powerhouse through the 24 hours and 100 encounters with local participants.

She sat down with The New York Times’ Elizabeth Vincentelli immediately as she got off stage for this frank, funny and very revealing interview.

The below is an excerpt from the full interview – click here for the full interview>>

What do you think you got out of the experience?

I haven’t slept, O.K., I’m going to get poetic [laughs]. Here we go! What lives inside all of us, but definitely inside of me, is genderless, shameless, doesn’t feel guilty about her body, about her sex, doesn’t feel incompetent, doesn’t feel like she has to perform — just gets to play, just gets to have fun. Gets to connect no matter what anyone has that they’re willing to offer. And if they don’t offer anything, I get to turn off the music, so it’s time for them to leave.


Did you spot patterns of behavior among the men?

Yeah, 100 percent. They’re all different, but there’s also three categories that I’d be like, “Oh, it’s that one.” There was the young boy who was excited but nervous and couldn’t really look me in the eye, really sweet but shy. Then there was the older man who was really set in his ways, who had a whole story line in his head. The third was miscellaneous where I didn’t fully know, and those were the best ones.

The timing in my life was just really perfect. I was ready to say goodbye to a certain performance of femininity.

Alia Shawkat

Could you predict if they’d say they loved you or not?

No! The first four rounds I got a lot more “I never loved you.” My ego was a little hurt. I was like, “Jesus, this is rough.”

Were you surprised by how many men helped themselves to the food and didn’t bother handing you a carton?

Yeah, that was a big one. And there was only one guy who cleaned up [the mess after she spills the noodles]. He was a young, black queer kid early on, who was unbelievable — we were dancing. He was so fun and giving and playful. And then he cleaned up the food.


One man was especially intense, and at the end he threw the bill at your face.

Yep, and he said, “You’re weak.” He was acting to me, he was being a character, a New York actor. The energy was real, but he was coming in strong with that character of his — he wasn’t allowing me to access him. I turned [the music] off and kind of faced him, we were like animals. I just stood there because I wanted him to know he was in my [expletive] space. I was like, “Do you want to hit me? Is that what you’re going to try to do?” I was like, “I dare you to, I hope you do.” It was tense. I was slightly disappointed in myself that I didn’t handle it differently. I didn’t know what else I could have done.

Read the full interview

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