We started our conversation at Jeff’s Gourmet Sunday evening. It was cold and windy.
Marcus: "Bibliyoga is a body-soul workout….[connecting] spirituality to the body. "
Luke: "Can straight people do this too?"
Marcus: "It’s for everyone who wants that sense of eternal peace, healing and oneness."
Luke: "When did you get into yoga?"
Marcus: "It was about six years ago."
Loud speaker: "Marcus, your order is ready."
Marcus runs a lot of classes for men-only, "making men feel comfortable with their own bodies. …Not having to do difficult hip openers, at least at the beginning. …One problem with many exercise classes is that they make people feel less comfortable with their bodies, but this is about peace at every level."
Luke: "Men-only classes? I thought the whole point of yoga was to meet women?"
Marcus: "The whole point of yoga is to feel some enlightenment, to feel at one."
Luke: "So you don’t have to meet women to feel whole?"
Marcus: "There is an ancient yoga principle of modesty. It’s not about meeting people. It’s about meeting yourself…and through that conversation, that’s how we meet God. Through the breath, through the silence, through the calm…"
Luke: "I associate Brits with cynicism, but you’re not cynical. I don’t understand."
Marcus: "Why do you think I’m here in Los Angeles?"
Luke: "You don’t associate Brits with this more heartfelt form of communication."
Marcus: "There is a time and a place for cynicism and irony. The place isn’t America. There are good vibes here and positive energy and openness. Britain is opening up slowly."
"Here there’s much more freedom to be out and accepted."
"Spirituality is moving outside the traditional church/synagogue structure. People are looking for spirituality within physical-related things. It’s very exciting digging into the Bible, the Talmud, the Zohar and seeing all these physical references. The other thing I’m working on is one-man Biblical plays, comedies. I’ve been touring with them for around ten years now. There’s Solomon — King, Poet, Lover. Elijah, a story of prophet and loss, looking at sustainability and famine and drought issues. My latest play is The Madness of King Saul.
"I did my first one in the December of 1999 at the Limmud conference in the UK."
Luke: "How long did it take you to write that?"
Marcus: "Three months and twenty years."
Luke: "When did you get into Judaism?"
Marcus: "I was eight days old and I had a collision with a knife."
"I was raised traditional and I became more interested around age 19 at university. It was time to begin putting pieces together. It’s very much a journey. Sometimes it is more intense, sometimes it is less intense. It’s very much a relationship. It’s for the long term. There are fluctuating levels of feeling, but it is something I find grounding. It feels quite American to speak about this."
Luke: "Americans call this sharing."
Marcus: "The British don’t speak this way."
"In America, there’s this can-do attitude. That a president can get elected on the affirmation ‘Yes, we can!’ In England it would be, ‘Maybe we can. Let’s speak next week.’"
Luke: "I conceive of Orthodox Judaism as very traditional and not receptive to creativity. There’s the old joke, ‘How many Orthodox Jews does it take to change a light bulb? Change? We never change.’ So how receptive have you found Orthodox Jewish life to these creative things you’re doing?"
Marcus: "When people are comfortable in the source material and in their own skin, incredibly positive."
Luke: "And how often do you encounter that?"
Marcus: "On occasion."
"Look, it is the community I am aligned with and live with. It’s all good. Things are changing."
Luke: "How much stand-up comedy do you do?"
Marcus: "I try to minimize it."
Marcus: "Because it’s scary."
Luke: "Could anything be more scary?"
Marcus: "Possibly bungy-jumping without bungy."
Luke: "My LimmudLA experience was at the top of all my experiences in life and in Judaism. To me, it was the greatest thing I have ever experienced in Judaism."
Marcus: "That’s going to end up on their PR."
Luke: "No. They would never quote me. No established Jewish group will ever quote me."
Marcus: "Limmud is at the top of my Jewish experience to date because it empowered and enabled and allowed me to present my new work in a very supportive atmosphere."
The phone rings. I disconnect it. "That was a friend," I say. "We were going to discuss the relative hotness of [Dennis Prager’s] ex-wives."
Marcus rolls his eye.
Luke: "That’s because I haven’t done yoga and I am not spiritually developed enough to…"
Marcus: "I’m glad I’m on a classy blog."
Luke: "We thought that one of them looked like Keira Knightly."
Marcus, impatient: "OK!"
Luke: "Sorry. We are going to elevate, elevate, elevate."
"So where are you headed?"
Marcus: "I’m headed forward."
Luke: "Was there a moment…when you felt like you discovered your life mission?"
Marcus: "Yes. I was four years old and we were doing a school play of The Nutcracker Suite and I was playing a toy soldier. I had a black fuzzy busby hat and a red military jacket and I was holding a plastic sword and we were hiding behind a castle. And just before we popped up to start waving the swords, I thought, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Not waving swords and fighting…"
Luke: "But acting."
Marcus: "Communicating with people. Helping people feel good."
Luke: "Where were you in your youth in the social pecking order?"
Marcus: "Surely that should be obvious. Completely on the outside, too shy to speak to girls. And not cool. Very uncool."
Luke: "Do you think that coming from that is part of your desire to communicate?"
Marcus: "When people aren’t going down the conventional route, it is easy to get socially excluded as a teenager. Or when people aren’t leading a conventional lifestyle, it is easy to feel different from everyone around you. Unless you’re living in California. If I connected better with people in real life, I wouldn’t nearly be as driven to blog."
Luke: "I know that my desire to write comes largely from social failure. If I connected better with people in real life, I would not be as driven to blog. I was not at the center of the cool kids when I was in school."
Marcus: "Cool is over-rated."
Luke: "Are you sure?"
Marcus: "Yeah! One of the beauties of growing up is feeling more comfortable and knowing that everyone’s got their match, got their place, and it is just a matter of finding where you feel comfortable and what’s right for you."
Luke: "Did your parents worry about how you were going to make a living?"
Marcus: "They still do. I do."
Marcus finds that his one-act plays are significantly better received by audiences that speak English.
Marcus: "I feel like we’re sensing our closing question. Nearly?
"The interviewer is currently stroking his beard."
Luke: "I’m thinking."
Marcus: "Don’t think too hard. Just let it happen."
Luke: "Out of all the things you do, what do you think you do best?"
Luke: "OK. That didn’t work."