Somewhere back in the mid-1990s, I found myself living in the back office of the Offsite arts space, located in the DMZ in Santa Fe. Offsite at that time was in its first incarnation in a former auto body shop, a big shotgun space with concrete floor and one little room that housed by Mac LC2 with a dial-up connection. The roof of the office was where I slept, in a little loft area on a futon.
It was here that the Waxaktun Space Station project touched down one bright weekend when a bunch of counter-cultural luminaries from Santa Fe and Taos took the place over and proceeded to cover the concrete with sod to make for a comfy dance floor. Art critic Dean Balsamo, media critic Antonio Lopez, Reign of Toads publisher Kyle Silfer and Spiros Antonopolous, DJ and founder of the Souljerky Whirling Infinity Research Labs were among the co-conspirators. As Antonopoulus said at the time, "We're here to create an intersection point for making the aliens among us feel at home."
Whether the point of the project was to bring the aliens in from the cold or bring out the aliens within us all was never made clear, but it was one wacky party, that's for sure. Few of the folks present, (other than Balsamo, who was definitely from another planet) were wackier or more out there than Spiros - but who could've imagined that half a lifetime I would find myself in New York City witnessing him - and his company, now simply known as SoulJerky - receiving their first big round of funding for what is becoming a rapidly evolving yoga lifestyle and media company?
Yes, Virginia - EVOLUTION happens. What began as a rave production company in the nineties is now something "completely different." One thing that hasn't changed is that Spiros is still dedicated to creating intersections to allow interesting things to happen, and SoulJerky is certainly no exception. Arriving in New York City six years ago with his partner Erin Flynn to become a full-time professional DJ, Spiros took some yoga classes and found that the pull towards the lifestyle of yoga was more magnetic than the one towards being a DJ.
Souljerky.com, which at the time was just a blog, began to be used as a vehicle for some of Spiros yoga-inspired projects, which included TeaStall, where he dished out Chai Tea for New York yogis at six o'clock in the morning, every morning, as well as various yoga-related fashion, writing and travel projects. One memorable project had Spiros pre-selling 108 t-shirts for $108 a piece, then taking the shirts to India where they were blessed by wandering saddhus.
Today, Souljerky is a number of existing and planned projects all centering around the yoga lifestyle. While the blog is still the most visible and consistent aspect of the company, plans include yoga videos, an aruvedic cooking show, food products such as homemade ghee and chai mixes, and other wacky that I think are probably not for public consumption at this time, but which would certainly strike you as ambitious and fun. Also undisclosed is the amount of funding that the company has received - but let's just say they've got a fairly swank office a couple blocks from Canal Street in SoHo.
"What we did back in the day was to try to make the process of life more fun," said Spiros. "This isn't much different, except we're not partying now. But we're still living in the madness of being alive - only this time around, we're being a bit more contemplative and hopefully more engaged with ourselves and the world.