Friday, September 13, 2013

In search of an Abundant Font of Tupperware, or Suspended in Switzerland

There are so very many strange things that tour does to one's life.  I could start to list them here, but I'm already depressed by that list.  So let me begin rather with a cataloguing of the craziness that's been happening recently, on this very specific tour.  I am living in a small hotel room, underneath the Zurich airport.  This, in itself, is not so crazy unless you're me, and you got to be at home for a full 5 months this summer, blissfully at ease in your Brooklyn apartment with your husband and dog and friends and the like.  This is the longest I've been home in 13 years.  I counted.  This might explain why I am feeling more than usually wistful being so unceremoniously displaced.  One day, at the beginning of this week, I found myself here, equipped with a kitchenette, a small shower in the water closet, a double bed with pillows like crumpled up leather jackets, and a desk.  I brought the other requisites of a computer, portable speaker, and way more clothes than I need.

I find myself at the beginning of these experiences strangely without.  My short spare time is directed by what I do not have, rather than where I am, per se.  Besides the obvious, I am without scotch tape, without tupperware, without salt and pepper, without a clock, without sleep.  And it doesn't matter so much, actually.  There are so many other things to do, like build a show; write, translate and memorize text in German, meet new people, learn new songs, create a character, find a new way of moving, talking, and dancing.  Because almost everything that I do have with me, which is also a lot, is new.  This could explain why I usually overpack with hol(e)y, old clothes.

So, I try not to dwell in what I do not have.  It's tedious.  The list is so long.  But also because I have trained myself to know deeply that I do not lack for anything.  I have spent the summer swimming in the deep and supportive waters of my abundance.  Whatever I need, I have been learning, I need only to give and I will find it pouring out from the generous font of the universe.  And yet, what do I do now, give the scotch tape I don't have?  To whom?  Why and how?  I am certain of the abundance of tupperware in the universe, but I have not found the local font.    I find creative ways to save the leftovers of the surprisingly good dish prepared without salt and pepper, on what could be called negative counter space.   I prop up the pictures of my husband and dog and friends and the like on the edges of books or use toothpaste to stick them to the tiles.  They fall down in the night.  I hear them, because I am not asleep.  It's tempting to get up to replace them.  Standards.  We must have standards, even on the road.

Yesterday, I waited in our cold, beautiful circus tent for 6 hours until my time would be used to effect.  Today, they yelled at us for being 10 minutes late back from a lunch break I worked through anyway.  I'm not writing this post to complain.  It's just time I'm thinking about, and it's value.  Time, too, needs to be given away to be given back.   But in this moment, it is out of balance.  It will come back.

There is no director on this show, but there is a documentary team.  There is a producer, the handsome son of the richest man in Switzerland, and a choreographer, a Camden man who speaks in Spanish to the dancers and in condescension to some of the artists.  The more sensitive among them, takes offense.  They tell each other to shut up and the tension flares.  The documentary team blithely, curiously, films the dancers.  The highly skilled, beautiful, young, German acrobat being given the diva treatment is a friend of mine.  "Please don't go. Please don't go,"  I whisper to myself and try to communicate to his hardening eyes.  I don't want him to feel small, but selfishly, I don't want to do the show without him.  He is a friend from from at least 5 years ago.  And that makes him a treasure, out here, under the airport where everything and everyone else is new.   He comes back to the fold after several trips out of the tent with various powers that be.  He is breathing deeply, finally respected.  The choreographer is making pains to act extra jovial for the camera.  I keep wishing I'd at least put on lipstick, and just as quickly, I give it up.

Our circus tent is also under an airport.  The Air Force Dübendorf lets this kinky circus use a patch of their military base to set up shop for a couple of months.  Out the back of the tent, where the muscled and agile float above their various props, came rolling by a silver WWII transport plane.  The hawks above the field flew nowhere.  Just riding the thermals, wings spread, dead still in the air.

The character I'm playing is the Chief of Police.  A hard woman, engaged in the show to scrutinize the goings on and maintain a level of conformity, morality, and punish those who diverge.  My costumes were handmade by a Moldovian woman with whom I speak French.  Her costumes for me are titless corsets, fringed trains, and jeweled collars.  Besides not having the expected ample tits to put in the corsets, the costumes were not quite right.  She gave them away to some other unsuspecting dancer.  I will forage under the other airport tomorrow, the proverbial forest floor, for something more apropos.

By the way, the town I try to sleep in is called Kloten.  When I was 17, I took a senior year abroad in the Netherlands, and now, almost uselessly, I speak Dutch.  I say almost uselessly because at least I understood immediately that this Swiss suburb, if it was settled by the Dutch, was named very appropriately, Ballsack.

The beginning of tour is the hard part.  Please forgive my lack mentality.  I am lucky to be alive, an artist, and working.  It's just that every part of that sentence is also, just a little humiliating, on the road.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Higgs Bosun and You

Well well well, a basically unstable particle at the center of the universe explains a lot about this week, doesn't it?

Marion Dimali (Theatre Director, Vienna): "so, in what way ist the finding of the "god particle" explaining the election of the new pope, who is about to become the biggest scientific backlash since galileo galileis excomunikation in his bringing back of the devil to the katholic church? ;)"

G:  Instability of the material world, Darl; entropy is certain, the way things fall apart eventually. Like the papacy, my accounting, and all things bad and beautiful. The particles of us, even the God-particles of us, are temporal, finite and inherently flawed. There's something very reassuring to know that even God shows his crack when you get him in the right position. 

The Bindlestiff's 19th Cabaret and the New Joints downtown

Whereupon, our carnie NY clan, The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus are celebrating 19 years of throwing shiny things in the air and actually catching them, putting other things down an esophaguses (esophagi?) like Tequila and swords, the feather and fringe and fishnet and pinstripe plaid serve as ceremonial garb.  The ritual: raunchy jokes, weird skills, and derring do, so stupid or unbelievable you laugh every time, Kinko's slow and steady gentleman hobo welcomes everyone with a tip of the hat, and Mr. Pennygaff will surely take over to win the race, despite his recently blotto'ed assistant, the Mistress of gams and hams, Philomena Bindlestiff.  Adam struts his hilariously awkward, birdlike self, and the acts all strut their stuff, new and classic.  Where we all came up and through and will always be true - they are still persevering in the challenge of bringing quality live variety entertainment with grace and edge to  modern Americans.  Nice stuff, folks.

It was also the first chance I've had to check out the new Slipper Room.  It was recently renovated from being epic-but-hole-sized Burlesque Bar, into a super-stylie, 1930's Parisian cabaret room with Art Nouveau balconies (and Fleur de Lis wallpaper and all the details deco'ed deliciously).  Too bad there weren't enough chairs on the ground floor to see the show from down there.  Seemed like logistics got the best of them as there was plenty of room, just no chairs.  The backstage is also laughable, but with great wallpaper, featuring one tiny dressingroom off the stage with a toilet in the corner.  Can you imagine the teams of feathered fillies and drag queens and acrobats and jugglers warming up and squeezing in for last looks in the one little mirror?  The decline of production numbers in variety shows these days comes as no surprise, lets just say.  Can't wait to work there myself sometime, soon I hope.  Looks like a fun stage to skate on, and the sound and lights were terrific with great staff, I hear.  I've been anticipating this reno from afar, so it was very satisfying to be so delighted with the outcome.  One word to performers - look up or die (your roots before) playing here.

We dropped in at the new Duane Park in the old Bowery Poetry Club space after the show.  Also incredibly chic with white stenciled walls, crystal chandeliers and the smell of great food.  A gentleman with a tight suit and a killer voice emcee'd the much larger (then their other Tribeca) space with authority and ease, with the feeling of a practiced talent show winner but sadly none of the edgy surprise of your more downtown denizen hosts.  He introduced the ladies with enthusiasm and class, though, which is more than can always be said of some of your sub-standard, downtown denizen hosts.  One after the next, very beautiful, very poised burlesque dancers glid gracefully down the stairs to the tiny (eventually hydrolically lifting!) side stage.  They stripped in their own glamorous ways and then the most unfortunate person in the club (with the prettiest smile), the "stage kitten" in the Swarovski G-string and silicon parts crawled around the stage picking up dropped dainties.  She is obviously lovely but I felt so bad for her.  Darl, crawling is no good for you.  Either bend over cause you want to give the folks a thrill, or get a long stick, and put your gum on the end of it to pick up Salome's dropped veils.  I hear they will have aerials within the week and if the inimitable Ekaterina has her way, the vibrant Georgian contorsionist/aerial artist will help orchestrate the novelty-actization of the apparently sometimes strictly Burlesque affair.  Whoever works there will have to be pretty strong to keep up with it all, and be heard or minded, over the din of heady late-night appetites.  I, for one, would love to sing with that band.  Hot and tight jazz, gentleman.  Taking a first class header down those stairs someday seems perhaps too obvious to avoid.  Again, I can hardly wait.

The third exciting opening of the week was Stephen Michael Rondel's (Director of the former Children's Aid Society New Acting School and Sullivan St. family theatre company)  Celebration of Whimsy (aka The COW).  They just moved in, taking over the space from The Living Theatre who had been occupying for 6 years.  In the large basement space, the stage is large and reminiscent of the old PS122 (though not as wide or well funded) with industrial pillars cornering the playing space.  The bar will have a beer and wine license within the week, and the backstage is perfect: roomy and equipped with large desks, racks, mirrors.  Eventually they'll be fully moved in, starting classes for kids and adults, with all their production costumes put away, and the small room in the back will be made available for rehearsals or further storage.  The swirl of thespians getting all jazzed about their next opus in this accessible and exciting new venue feels good for the soul.  Rondel's monthly new works showcase is Muffins in the Window, celebrating 6 years of artists and audience together facing the giddy challenge of the new.  First Thursdays for the next 10 years, God-particle willing.  Congratulations, Stephen and Tyler and Greg and you all, on your new lease on life - you COW.  Moooo.

All in all, as I take in the state of the arts in NY, where my fellow freaks and fabulosities have been holding court in all the time I'm out there on the road, I'm impressed, thrilled, jealous, heartened by old friends and eager to join back in the fun of all the glitter, sweat, and tears that is the NY Downtown Variety scene.  If only I didn't keep running off...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mimi's Lament

It's raining, it's pouring, and our old dog is snoring.  I can't get myself to do any of the work I'm supposed to be doing - writing or rehearsing the new show, working on the music, editing the video (that we shot this weekend and then promptly left the cards upstate, making it impossible to edit - off the hook on that one).  Let alone prepare the looming taxes, unpack, even schedule rehearsal space or sign back up at the gym.  It's all a bit much.  Our dog, Mimi, is finally showing her age.

Mimi is an Italian Greyhound (Mimi is short for Milan), and at 14 years old she is about 72 in human years.  Until this past weekend we've always said she's still a puppy, because Grandma Mimi always greeted us with a tap dance and happily jumped 3x her body height to give our asses high-10's, if she ever smelled meat.  She is an elegant, yet goofy friend, with a big heart, highly articulated ears, long legs and a tiny waistline.  She is small of stature but enormous in bed.  Her breed was the first ever domesticated dog, designed to warm the beds of royalty.  When I got back from my recent 101 show, 5 month tour of duty, she and I slept together for 35 hours straight.

So, now that she's given to crying, collapsing, and not eating the homemade meals my wonderful Italian husband prepares for her, I am having a hard time focusing on the stupid comedy routines that I call work.  We go to the vet in an hour.  Wish us all strength.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rainbow Ball Antics

Earlier that day, I was asked to make a video that would introduce myself to the Viennese people.  "We should just have the camera at the ball tonight and see what happens," I said to my willing husband/cameraman.  Truth be told, I was saying "at the ball, tonight" as often as I could that day, because it was the first time I'd ever been invited to a ball, at least in public.  Little did I know.

To the Rainbow Ball patrons, let me say thanks for tolerating us amid your genuine glamor and for throwing such a brilliant after show party.  I made so many new friends!  None of the people in the video signed releases or knew me prior to these antics.

The show earlier that night was a little crazy.  See the next video...