Secret Self

Matt Singer Secret Id Kit

Last night, while avoiding homework by watching t.v. with the family, I stumbled into an episode of William Shatner’s interview show, Raw Nerve. It came on right after a 16 year old tribute to the Star Trek franchise. Odd juxtaposition.

The show had been taped in 2009 and his guest on the show was his long time co-actor and friend Leonard Nimoy.  Mr. Nimoy was discussing one of his first ‘ordinary people’ shoots, “Secret Selves”.

The project began in 2008 when Mr. Nimoy invited some of the denizens of Northampton, Massachusetts, where he shows his work in the R Michelson Galleries, to be photographed as “who you think you are”.  He wanted to create portraits of people’s inner alternate identities.

All the participants of the shoot were video taped being interviewed and photographed by Mr. Nimoy.  You can watch some of them at this site: <>.

The premise got me thinking and imagining who or what I might want revealed as my secret self.

I drew a blank.

Presently my days are spent as partner, mom, student, friend, corporate supervisor, sometime fine artist, survivor.  In previous incarnations I was a stay-at-home mom, bookkeeper, library technician, graphic artist, cake decorator, crazy person, victim.

Still drawing a blank.

I have an ex-sister-in-law, who was once married to the AH’s brother, Bucket.  She’s a bit of a changeling, a chameleon.

When I knew her back in the dark ages, she was the “perfect”, church going, small town, country wife and mother.   She had a great sense of humor and an understated intellect that was much deeper than any of the AH’s family could ever appreciate.

We lost track of each other after my expulsion from the Hatfield’s wagon circle.  The ubiquitous FaceBook allowed us to reconnect.  Turns out, she, too left the oh, so warm environs of the opprobrious Hatfield’s.

The sense of humor is the same but, the Chameleon has changed.  Aside from an ever evolving hairstyle, Chameleon has reinvented herself or rather become, who she was supposed to be – a writer, a photographer, actor, explorer of life and genuinely happy person.

Beautiful changing colours

What has this to do with my inner alter ego?  I found myself a tad bit jealous that Chameleon had the courage to find, and work toward, being her secret self, while I can’t even pull up an idea of whom I would choose to be for a photo session.

I guess I can placate myself by thinking that she has another inner self to yet reveal – exotic dancer perhaps? 🙂

Still drawing a blank.

Splat is a friend I’ve know for over 30 years.  He’s a special effects make-up artist. Really, he is – for the movies and television (The Patriot, Zombieland, & soon to be released The Three Stooges, among many others).  I remember him back in high school, experimenting with self-made, latex masks and pulling his eyebrows out by accident (always lubricate them first before applying casting materials).


He’s improved since then.

Splat has been living his dream.  I admire him greatly for sticking to it.  He’s told me that sometimes its hard, but oh, so worth it all.  He gets to live out alter egos quite a bit, maybe not quite his true secret self, but characters that he creates. That makes me smile.

Maybe a glimmer here.

I have yet another friend LC, who once had a lucrative career as a director of a lab.  She felt unappreciated and undervalued in that position and chose to leave it for what seemed a more self fulfilling adventure.

It was not to be.

But through a series of sometime severe growing pains, LC found herself as a teacher.  She nows enlightens college students to higher learning and understanding of the human psyche.  She’s found a different self to be and seems to be happier for it.

I do think she would rather be a globe-trotting, secret agent though, but that’s just my humble opinion.

It’s becoming clearer to me now.

As I think about my friends and Mr. Nimoy’s subjects, I have begun to realize I’m thinking too hard.

One’s inner or secret self is not about thought.  Its about feeling.  Its about those nebulous, moveable, visceral emotions that keep one going.

Still standing after being beaten up by life?  You’re a fighter, a super hero, a vigilante for the good guys, a dragon, a freedom fighter, a symbol of hope, heck you could be a piece of delicious warm bread – rising after being beaten down and coming back to give comfort and nourishment.

So who or what is my secret self?

A flamenco dancer? Mind scientist? World explorer? Jedi Warrior? Naughty Nanny? A Lion? Dragon or dragon slayer? Vampire? Brick Layer?

Oh, hell I don’t know.

Perhaps that is my secret self – I am a Janus, a Zaphod, Lon Chaney, Sr.  I wear many hats, looking forward and back, juggling the possibilities of what will be, what is, what was and remolding everyday never quite settling on any one thing.

Cop out? Maybe.

Would you be able to accept Mr. Nimoy’s invitation?  Could you settle on one representation caught in time?

Let me know.  Who or what is your secret self?

Splat’s website


  1. Exotic dancer? More like standup comedienne.

    Maybe it’s just ego, but I think this may be one of your best posts ever. Bucket suits him – or was that me? No, I think you pegged me perfectly with Chameleon. I looked at every one of Mr. Nimoy’s Secret Selves before I read your post and kept wondering what lay in store for me when I’d return to the post. Wow!

    As I looked at the photos and his price tags, I thought, “My secret self is Leonard Nimoy. Poised, professional, quiet, and able to create art from everyday people. I want to be Leonard Nimoy.”

    Then, I returned to read and with tears in my eyes for how you see me, I know how far you and I both have come and how far we still must go. I also, as I continued to read, thought that part of the secret to having a secret self is in the secrecy. Another part is in the revelation.

    I saw you and me, standing before Mr. Nimoy’s camera and perfect lighting as – are you ready for this? HATRACKS. You know how I love hats. Always have. We both wear so many imaginary hats, although you also have your share of physical hats, if I recall. I gave all of mine away in an effort to separate myself from the dark ages.

    But a hatrack is not what we are, nor what either of us aspires to be and then I thought I could stand before him dressed as a clown. But not just any clown. I’d be one of those clowns with the big hoop in the middle and flippy-floppy shoes, with a sad face and ever-flowing tears. Of course, I’d have a seltzer bottle and a bulbous horn.

    Ah, but then it hit me. You and I share similar secret selves. I still see the two of us in the studio, our family on the sidelines, waiting for us to appear, eager to see our secret selves, the who of us, the what within. Are you ready for it? Our secret selves: friends. Nothing more than what you see on the outside, but so much more. With Mr. Nimoy’s unique special touches, he could portray you and me, two battle scarred sisters, the ex-wives of the Bucket and the AH. That or exotic dancers. You did mean exotic as in belly dancer, right?

    Perhaps you are still a caterpillar in your chrysalis, waiting to emerge and you need more time. Don’t we all need just a little more time>

    1. Thank you for your wonderful reply. I had started to write a piece about our dark times (not all were dark, I know, it just seems that way at times), but when I saw the segment on Nimoy’s work the direction immediately changed. I had written this line in my writing journal – “Law made us sisters, but a common thread of stifled expression made us friends.” So perhaps your interpretation is not so far off the mark!

      I think Chameleon suits you. I tried others, but kept coming back to it, especially after I read that the colour changes are not necessarily camouflage. The change of colour is often a result of emotional shifts, not a want to hide, but rather a reflection of their state of mind. Cool.

      And sure you can think of exotic dancer as belly dancing if you like, I had something a bit more, um, risque in mind, but we’ll go with that 😉

  2. My hair color usually is an emotional response, so I suppose the moniker fits precisely.

    Remember “Little Egypt came out struttin’ wearing nuttin’ but a button and a bow – oh oh?”

    Mine would be more akin to ” Big Jamaica came out shakin’ all her flab a gesticulatin’ and asked where did the audience a go – oh oh.”

    Yup! You and me, sistah…we done with that part o his-tory.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s