photo by David Lisak for The Bristlecone Project
My full name is Eric Benvenue-Jennings. I was born Eric Jennings but I added Benvenue when I got married. My wife, Pam, did not change her name, which was a wiser choice. My hyphenated name has created many minor annoyances, so I usually just go by the original version. I sometimes write under the name Erwin Dink.
The only time I had anything resembling a career was from 2002 to 2018 during which time I owned, managed and taught at a hot yoga studio. I have three yoga certifications: Bikram Yoga, Tony Sanchez Yoga and Ghosh Yoga Calcutta. Before that I had been employed as a gas station attendant, landscaper, roofer, carpenter, retail manager, theatrical lighting designer, technical director, actor, computer graphic artist, print production technician, Macintosh systems administrator and website designer. Expert in nothing, competent in anything. In other words, a dilettante.
In the 1980s, I worked at Mama’s Royal Cafe, in the kitchen and on the floor. Most of the stories people tell about Mama’s in that era are true.
I got my first tattoo by Erno at Lyle Tuttle’s studio in the Tenderloin in 1983 (I think). I wasn’t planning on getting tattooed, but I was bored waiting for my friend Stephen while he was getting a piece. My first choice was a yin-yang symbol but Erno said, “Fuck you, pick something else,” for which I am grateful. My ink is mostly old school style and the majority of it was done by Keet in Atlanta. He’s the best.
During my years working in the performing arts, I worked with The Woods Hole Community Theatre, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, Seven Stages and Several Dancers Core, among many others.
Apart from my yoga training, I have little education. Grades 1–10 were at schools that apparently didn’t think it was important to teach literature, economics, history, civics or anything else beyond rote memorization of basic math. During 10th grade I was on track to drop out of high school but instead got transferred to an alternative program in Woods Hole MA, called Omnibus, that was taught by a bunch of progressive graduate students. I graduated from Omnibus in 1977.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse but I lived with that as a secret for most of my life. Which was exhausting and came with a host of emotional difficulties that I didn’t become free from until I discovered some great therapists and an organization called MenHealing for whom I currently serve as a Social Media Co-Coordinator. I also help with their brand identity including redesigning their logo and website in 2020 (which I already think needs an overhaul)
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