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The Wind Blowin’ Up My…. June 27, 2010

Posted by darpop in Uncategorized.

So there I was, with frigid wind blowing up my…let me start at the beginning. I was hired to perform at a huge show called KABOOM at Candlestick Park. Well, not IN the park exactly, we were in the parking LOT. We would be surrounded by attractions galore i.e. Melissa Etheridge and John Butler Trio rocking on a gigantic rock stage, synchronized to a world class rock soundtrack, plus expanded children’s entertainment (that’s where I was), local music and wine tasting, fireworks display and much more that would boggle the minds of attendees. I mean, this was a biggie!

I was performing with the Wackadoodles. Yes! I am proud to say, I am a Wackadoodle! Wackadoodles in Wonderworld will, if the planets align properly with the funding Gods, someday become a children’s show on PBS similar to Sesame Street. Where Sesame Street teaches letters and the alphabet, we Wackadoodles will impress upon the young the importance of saving the environment. That’s the goal. Right now we’re working to introduce the Wackadoodles to the general public and getting that funding!

I was the Wackadoodle emcee introducing various acts like a wonderful dance troupe who performed everything that was dance – jazz, hip hop, ballet etc., a hula hoop guy who did amazing things with the hoops over his entire body, a wonderful puppeteer and face painting. There were crowd characters dressed in way-out, really far-out, very creative costumes to interact with the crowd, etc. We had it all for kids of all ages. Fun times! We Wackadoodles were located at the Southern end of the parking lot. At the Northern end was the huge rock stage with speakers that looked like the Transamerica building. In between were all the lesser-known rock bands, wine tasting, food tents, you name it, and it was there.

Candlestick Park is right on the San Francisco Bay. It’s a favorite place for kite boarders and for good reason. The wind blows through there at warp speed. We were to perform every half hour from 3 – 7. I was wearing a black cocktail dress and spike heels, why, I dunno, but that’s what I was told to wear. I was also supposed to wear this enormous headdress made of ostrich feathers, but we decided, with all the wind, there was a good chance I could become a kite flying over the parking lot, so we opted for a much smaller headdress strapped to a helmet to keep it from blowin’ in that wind.

I start the show, the wind is blowing so hard I have to sing heading into the wind as if I were driving a dogsled through an arctic winter. This is not easy because the headdress I’m wearing only wants to go WITH the wind. I can’t take it off because I would look like a normal person who was waaaay over-dressed. The headdress identifies me as a Wackadoodle – one frozen Wackadoodle. My dress is short, with long fringes from top to bottom and no sleeves. The wind just doesn’t blow in one direction, it blows at me, behind me, underneath me, around me and my fringes are blowing all over everywhere. I learned you cannot control fringe in a big wind. They got stuck in my headdress, my microphone, my face and I’m FERR-EEEZING!!! The temperature is about 50 frigging degrees!!! The wind chill must’ve been in the 30s! Surely!

As I’m singing, I notice the dancers are wearing tiny, skimpy, yellow costumes and they’re huddled into this tight, little group. I see a big wad of yellow with many feet. But like true professionals, after I introduced them, they bounced on stage and went into their routine as if it were a lovely day in May – what troupers! In between acts, I wore my below freezing down parka, nice, warm, cozy – oops dancers are over, must intro the hula hoop guy. I go into my second song and suddenly the massive speakers across the parking lot crank up and blast forth with one of the big rock bands. My mouth is moving, I think I can feel my voice working but I can’t hear a frigging THING! There are small children standing around the stage with their little gloved hands stuck in their ears. Some of the parents are movin’ & groovin’ and I’m doing my best to sing “Over the Rainbow.” I wondered if they thought I was singing with the rock band. Who could tell! I thought I finished my song, not sure, but I pointed to the hula hoop guy who bounded on stage and began hooping. Every half hour we would run the show. Good thing we didn’t do a live recording because you would’ve heard – I WANNA PUCK-A PUCK-A AND I WANNA…some where overrrr the rainbowwww…PUCK-A PUCK-A…BABY, BABY…I WANNA…land that I heard of once in a…I WANNA YOU BABY BABY!!! Etc., etc. You get the idea.

Part of my Wackadoodle responsibility was to interact with the children. When the rock music wasn’t blasting, I would bring some little kids up on stage chat with them and try to keep them from blowing away. They were very sweet, very frozen little children. I wondered what-were-their-parents THINKING! One little boy about 6 really liked me and showed his affection by running up to me saying “My name’s Gabe!” then he’d punch me in the stomach and run away. The first punch took me by surprise. I say the first one – there were many to follow. Gabe became, for me, what the crocodile was for Peter Pan’s Captain Hook. Instead of hearing tick, tock, tick, tock I would hear the pitter-patter of little feet running up behind me and PUNCH! “I’m Gabe!” – pitter-patter off into the crowd. There was no place to hide from little Gabe. I couldn’t hide in our dressing tent, it was 7’x 7′ for all of us – 12 dancers, various performers and all the crowd characters. There was no floor in the tent only a flotsam of black bags, shoes and costumes.

As the day wore on the wind became windier, the rock music seemed louder, the temperature was becoming arctic and Gabe was getting sneakier. I still had my fringe on, but everything else felt below zero. There were thousands of people – thousands – everywhere, in all sorts of winter-wear sitting on blankets picnicking. They were all waiting for the appearance of the big name – Melissa Etheridge.

Finally, our show ended and I was off duty. There was no room in the tent to change so I changed into my nice, warm sloppies outside. A couple of dancers acted as lookouts to prevent a Gabe attack. After 4 hours I was kind of used to the cold, or I was hypothermic I couldn’t tell which. Oh yeah, there’s n-n-n-n-noooo b-b-b-b-business like sh-sh-sh-show b-b-b-b-business…

The Glamour! The Glitz! The…ow! June 7, 2010

Posted by darpop in Uncategorized.

Ah show business! The glamour! The glitz!…The pain! The bruises! The frigid weather blowing up my…well, perhaps I should explain.

I’ve been beating the bushes auditioning, working on two shows and doing one-nighters. No, not THAT kind of one-nighters, these are one-night gigs for corporations, clubs, benefits etc. Usually, the organizations celebrating making tons of assets while a large percentage of the rest of us “eat cake,” so to speak.

A couple of weeks ago, I was hired to perform in a corporate show in Carmel, California’s shi shi Spanish Bay golf club. Yes, the one at Pebble Beach where golfers drool over various holes in the middle of a patch of uber-pampered grass. Ok, I’m not much of a golfer. Chasing a little ball around a big lawn….hey, whatever floats yer putter.

So, I’m supposed to sing 3 songs, one very clever, funny song about San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge while wearing this extraordinary costume that LOOKS like the bridge! No kidding this thing includes cables, fog and a 3-foot high tower as a headdress. The 100-plus corporate executives were all decked out in black tie, expensive gowns with jewelry to match. They had been golfing all day as well as wined and dined, and during our show wined and dined some more as well as being entertained during the 4-hour dinner. Every course had a wine pairing, after all they were black tied and gowned, I mean really, pairings are a must. Right before every course we performers would do our stuff, let them eat and then perform before the next course. The room’s décor was a fantasyland complete with special effects throughout and a huge screen for more special effects. The tables were beautifully decorated and every place sitting had many wine glasses. No expense was spared for this one, the company must’ve really made a haul.

Ok, the show is moving right along towards dessert and my wearing of the glitzy Golden Gate Bridge costume. Much to my surprise the costume had been “re-designed”…huh? Wha? This I did not know. I also did not know what measurements they used. Turned out they used measurements that would’ve fit me when I was 10…when I weighed about 80 pounds. This is many years later – I’m not an 80 pounder. Well, that dang thing HAD to go on me! So, I was “helped” into it by the fella who owned the entertainment company. There was much grunting, pulling and pounding. I must admit our sound-effects would’ve been fun at some other time and in some other place but right then and there nothing was happening. The thing just DID NOT want to wear me! But the show MUST go on, right? So we just kept pulling and pounding!! The 3-foot tower was made with a backpack thing in which I had to be strapped – more pounding, pulling and snapping! Plus I wore a helmet that constricted my movement about 2 inches in each direction. After about 20 minutes of grunting, I was finally in the thing.

Now I’ve worn many a costume, but in this one I couldn’t sit down, I could barely move my head and let’s not even TALK about going to the bathroom! So I stood there for about 30 minutes waiting for my cue. After a while, I felt something begin to happen…it was weird… Oh holy mother of all the Gods…never had this sensation before…I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling that I wanted OUT! OUT of this thing!! Get this bridge OFF ME!!! Then I heard my cue…ok, I’m a professional, I can overcome this devil suit. So out I go to sing the song.

Song is going fine, crowd’s loving the song, loving the costume…the backpack starts digging into my shoulders, breathing is becoming more and more difficult, or is it psychosomatic…I dunno…but I’m a professional, I kept saying, I can overcome this. Finally – FINALLY end of song, and end of show. The cast members join me on stage to say goodnight. OH BUT WAIT!! Mr. Big! The corporate’s head honcho, the OWNER of the company and the boss of everyone in the room, including us, comes up on stage to “say a few words.” A FEW WORDS!! I’M DYING HERE! But the big boss is the boss, right?

Ok, I spent 30 years in the corporate world when the boss wants to say a “few words” – everyone lets him. Ah, but not just a few words will do, he wants to hand out awards! There’s an award for the guy who “got closest to the pin”…huh? An award to the guy who had the longest drive – what? Was he from out-of-state? No! He hit the ball the farthest – ok, whatever, I WANT THIS BRIDGE OFF ME I’m thinking to myself as I’m standing there smiling, applauding as best I can, for some reason I can’t get my hands to work very well…then I realized the backpack was cutting off my circulation and my arms were going to sleep. Oh swell!

Mr. Boss gives out awards to who sold the most, who did this better, who did that best, all the while we cast members were standing behind him on the stage. I’m sure it made for a lovely picture in the company’s annual report.

So, I’m thinking how does a bridge leave a stage gracefully? Do I just say what I wanted to say “Sorry folks, but I’m dying in this costume – keep hitting those balls and making money!” No, I just stood there thinking he’s going to stop any minute now….but NOOOOO! 20 minutes later – he calls his wife to the stage!!! OH MY GAWD!!! Now she’s speech-a-fying!!! Telling everyone how wonderful they are!!! I’m TRAPPED! I look at the audience and they’re all doing that “We absolutely adore you” thing that all corporate people do when the boss speaks. And when it’s wifey, you look even MORE adoringly! After all the wine they consumed, looking adoring and awake was not easy! Steady, I tell myself. I can overcome this. I don’t want to embarrass either myself, or our company, because it would jeopardize our getting hired next year…hey, maybe I can come dressed as the Tower of London! I’m beginning to hallucinate, thinking of things like having an earthquake, well, I’m a frigging California bridge, after all. Keep smiling….keep smiling…can’t…feel… my…arms…think of something else…..there’s noooooo businesssss like showwwww bussinesssss, like nooooo businesss I knowwwwwww…..

In my next blog I’ll tell you about the ” The frigid weather blowing up my….” Stay tuned!