The Strange World of ComicCon

Know who this is? No? I  didn’t either until I spent Friday running around Times Square asking people Do you know who I am? NARUTO! Now I know he is a Japanese Manga character, his birthday was Friday, and onlythe people who attend comic conventions and the occasional Japanese tourist knows who he is.

He was my ticket into the crazy world of ComicCon (touched upon in my last post). Now that I am no longer employed as a pirate, I am a freelance promoter/brand ambassador/promotional model. That means I hand out a lot of free shit. Naruto swag was as good as it gets- I passed out $20 T-shirts, tote bags, plush toys, action figures- nice stuff; truly a shame I had no interest in the subject. I get paid to give people free stuff, dress up like a Japanese Manga character, and people watch at ComicCon. Not as cool as being a pirate, but still fun.

I was dressed in the orange outfit and black headband you see in the picture, joined by 30 other promoters in the same garb, running around ComicCon. They didn’t let me keep the outfit- a huge disappointment, I thought I’d solved What Should I Be For Halloween? ComicCon is very much like Halloween. In between karate moves (we were told to do them to attract consumer interest, I am NOT kidding) and passing out swag, I snapped pictures (on my SHITTY phone- apologies for the quality) of the patrons of ComicCon.

Sonic and Fox! These were among the only characters I recognised.
Yeah, no clue who they’re supposed to be. But they were thrilled to have their picture taken!
I think they might be characters in a comic they wrote themselves. That red face paint show “I am the creator” kind of dedication.
Recognize these ladies? Like Halloween/Ren Fair, ComicCon is an excuse for women to show T&A. But maybe you can’t tell that from this picture. My phone started taking extremely low resolution pictures at this point.
Can you see anything in this picture? It’s the true tragedy of my shitty phone. These guys came in dressed like aliens with SUPER detailed scary looking costumes. There were six of them and when they marched up to Javits Center there was seriously a feeling of invasion. I’m so bummed I failed to capture it on film!

Best people watching ever on the job, and that’s saying something as I’ve worked next to the Naked Cowboy!

Nerd Awakening

Renaissance fairs attract a certain kind of person.

Geeks. Nerds. (I know there’s a difference between the two; if I go back next year, maybe I’ll figure out what it is.)

I had a nerd-awakening this summer and I was completely unprepared for it.

I played hacky sack.

I visited a comic book store.

I learned at least the names of the super heroes represented on t-shirts worn by my cast mates (a shirt I’d always thought to be for Homestar Runner turns out to be for The Flash. Oops!)

I almost bought a superman hat because all the other pirates coincidentally had matching ones.

And one warm night it early August, just before a meteor shower, I lost my Star Wars virginity.

Yep, I’d never seen any of Star Wars.  My 2 nerdy neighbors (the finest men you’ll ever meet) told me they’d be gentle, popped popcorn, fired up a laptop, and held my hand through Episodes 4-6.  When we were finished, they looked deep into my eyes and made me promise not to watch the “abominations” of 1-3.

I ran around dressed as a pirate every weekend, is any one surprised some “geek” rubbed off on me? Really, you’d be surprise if it hadn’t.  I came back to NYC in a sweat. Not only was I worried I’d forget I left the woods and accidentally pee behind a tree, I was worried my entire identity had changed. What if I was no longer the hip, struggling actor but instead a nerdy, awkward role-player? I’m sorry but that’s no kind of New York cliché especially for the sake of this blog, mine was a valid concern.

Fortunately I worried for naught. I slipped back into New York City life almost as if I’d never left. I feel at home here, I really do. What am I up to? (“What’s up?” As we all love to ask.) I’ve been doing freelance promotions for the past month, making good money smiling and passing out free shit. Sometimes I’m on the street. other times at an event. This weekend I got a great taste of what my life as a “nerdy, awkward role-player” would be like, and made me think twice about dismissing it as a non-New York cliché.  I worked a gig at the New York City Comic Convention (ComicCon) an event I had heard of, but never quite imagined. Turns out it’s quite similar to a Ren Faire, including the prevalence of clevage but not turkey legs.

Here’s another reason I can not be a geek/nerd. My technology sucks. My phone is falling apart and even has a broken speaker so that it doesn’t ring (no joke). But on the bright side, it does vibrate and it does take pictures. Even a ridiculously low resolution picture speaks a thousand words. You’ll really see what I mean next post.

South Pacific Rolemodel

Every day when I walk to the subway I walk past Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre (I also walk past Juilliard, Alice Tully Hall, Laguardia High School of Performing Arts…not to make you jealous or anything…) South Pacific was just playing there and oh am I sorry if you missed that show. It was beautifully done and really would make anyone miss the classic Broadway musicals, Rodgers and Hammerstein. I was lucky enough to see it with my old high school friend. He and I had been in the show our senior year of high school (South Pacific is a terrible show to do in high school FYI, but especially when your high school is 60% Asian because non-traditional casting just doesn’t work in the show as race is the huge theme of the show.)

I’m sad the show is over, not just because it is a show I would have liked to see again (though it did have an airing on PBS of a live performance- you should check that out). I’m sad because on my walk home I will no longer see this sight: A man with a crew cut, a button up short sleeve shirt, and snug, high waisted (by today’s standards) pants looking like he’s straight out of WWII era, leaning against the wall smoking a cigarette (totally completing the 1944 image the cigarette does).

This was some guy in the chorus- I bet you the same guy every time- that I saw many a night on my street. He always made me smile, not just his picture perfect 40’s-ness but the fact that he defied everything the director of my highschool’s South Pacific said. Do you think Broadway actors do things to destroy their instrument like smoking? You can bet they don’t! Defies the costume designer too: Broadway actors don’t eat in their costumes, they don’t go outside in their costumes, they treat their costumes with great care, and so will you! Through college they did this to us too Do you think Broadway actors don’t know their lines 2 weeks before the show?? Broadway has always been the standard, we’ve always assumed it’s where everything is perfect and perfectly professional, and perfectly flawless and nothing less. But now I know the truth! I’ve seen it with my own eyes! Broadway is where you take smoke breaks between your scenes on the street outside the theater (where nosy little aspiring actresses will see you and get all excited)!

There was a dumpster outside the theater with general debris, “South Pacific Backstage” signs, and prop plants from the show. I thought about taking one as a souvenir but then decided I was above it. Had the same debate about asking my smoker to sign my program. I may be a nosy little aspiring actress, but I still have my pride.

Ten Posts, Ten Days

Well here we are. Ten posts later. Goal achieved!

Things I learned:

  1. I can do it, I can write every day, even when I don’t really want to, I can still do it.

  2. Blogging every day in the way I’ve always blogged is silly. 1000 to 500 words a day? Insane!

3.  You readers that I talk to said you couldn’t keep up with me! So if I blog every day, I’m going to have to change my style.

  1. I have trouble writing less than 500 words. Wordy am I.
  2. Without a doubt, quantity vs. quality. I wasn’t super proud of my posts the way I have been in the past when I’ve carefully crafted my words and done some editing. There were too many nights where I said “This would be a much better post if I didn’t have to post it NOW as it is 11:58PM!”

  3. I talk about my blog more in real life. I’ve said “I wrote a post about that!’ at least 5 times this week. That might be a bad thing.

  4. I now sorta kinda know what it’s like to be on deadline. There were a few evenings cut short- “I have to leave! I have to go home and blog!”

  5. Writing every day is inspiring. I am inspired and have new ideas.

  6. Though it is difficult for me, I can write a post under 200 words. I can even write a post that is a list! These are things I hope to continue working on in the future.

  7. I love it when people comment. It’s a little discouraging when you write 10 post and only get 3 comments written on them. (But those 3 comments were so awesome that it makes up for it.)

It’s worst when you ask something specifically to be commented on and then get no comments so I’m taking a big risk here: What your thoughts on my 10 posts in 10 days experiment?

Return from Bumblefuck

When you live in New York City, you might forget a world exists outside the five burrows. I can go for months without leaving the city and not even think about it. While I did miss it over the summer, it was really nice to get away. See what life is like outside this crazy bubble.

I never thought I would have to transition back to living in NYC, but I did. For the first couple days all city sounds were magnified, I didn’t jay-walk, and I kept accidentally smiling at people on the street.

A week in, I was back in the throws of New York, almost like I’d never left it.

And then I found myself walking through Central Park when I heard strains of very familiar music. I was having trouble placing it, and then I saw the musician:

photo credit: Dan D

Perhaps you can’t tell from the photo, but this is a street musician, in Central Park, dressed up in Renaissance balladeer attire. And he was singing Renaissance songs. I just can’t leave Bumblefuck behind! It keeps following me! And I must say, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Renaissance Faire Clichés

There are two things that come to mind when I say “Renaissance Faire”: Turkey Legs and Cleavage. Am I right, or am I right?

This is not me. This is what you get when you search Turkey Legs + Cleavage. Yes, I am brave/stupid enough to make that search.

I am not very comfortable with cleavage. This may be the reason for my wacky rather than sexy pirate. Cleavage just doesn’t come naturally to me (I’m more a member of the IBTC) and it’s not something I personally think should be forced. Many people do not agree with me on that. All those people go to Ren faires.

Every day at 2:15pm the entire cast, all entertainment acts and musicians gathered for the “Mid Day Parade”. This meant 15 minutes of walking  around the entire shire, waving at people on the side lines, and listening to my pirate captain bitch about the speed of the thing. Today “It’s too fast, I can not keep up, you know I have me a stiff leg.” The next day, “Wherefore is it going so slow? At this rate we will never get through the dern thing.” I started calling him Goldilocks on account of his belly aching. He hated that and that made it funnier to me. Ay Goldilocks, I say to this pirate with a huge gray beard, I pray that some day thou dost find a parade that is just right.

Through out the parade sidelines you’d see groups of women who came every weekend, always dressed up. For the duration of the parade they would bend over so their cleavage was on display in all its horror, gory glory. Oh Lord did I see some awful cleavage on display. Cleavage that would make you flinch if I described it to you (wrinkly! extra creases!) These ladies would call out for the attention of the men in the parade. That only got my pirate captain belly aching more “Oh God, must we be besieged by breasticles? Tis too much for me and I got but one of me eyes, t’other’s patched.”

On the flip side: Turkey legs! A wondrous rip off. Eight dollars for a huge leg of dry meat! I was constantly agog at the number of people who shelled out. On the flip, flip side they make a wondrous prop. Ripping of the meat of a huge turkey leg with your teeth and pronouncedly chewing it? That gets people’s attention. What gets their attention even more is if you challenge them to a Turkey Leg Duel.

I only came up with the Turkey Leg Duel idea the very last weekend. I noticed people are usually tired of their drumstick when there is still plenty of meat left on the bone. Combine this with the fact that turkey legs usually got sent up for the cast and no one usually wanted them, you’ve got a great combo. Challenge a patron to a duel, whip out  you weapon of choice- a turkey leg, you clash drumsticks with them and they let you win, even if you’re trying to let them win. It’s pretty funny. Challenge the sheriff of the shire to a duel (which is what I did the very last day) and a crowd will gather, as you and he passionately bash legs, no hesitation, as if your very lives were at stake. Turkey meat goes flying, getting all over the ground and your clothes. The sheriff grovels in defeat and announces you the Turkey Leg Duel Champion. A crowning achievement.

I had more than my fill of both turkey legs and cleavage this summer. Two things I do not miss about Bumblefuck. But Turkey Leg Duels? I’d love to bring them to the streets of New York.

Look Out for Children At Play

Last summer I confronted my mother, “I’m blaming you, Mom. The reason I have no maternal urges is because you never got me a baby doll when I was a kid.” She looked at me and laughed. “Honey, you never had a baby doll because you never wanted one. I’ve known since you were 4 that I wouldn’t be a grandma.” This confession left me so speechless that I neglected to point out a story she’d told me numerous times: as a child, she’d left her baby doll out in the rain over night and its face had peeled off. Any thing fucked up about me, I now blame it on that.

I listen to my friends moon over babies “That baby is SO CUTE I can’t stand it!” I shrug my shoulders. I listen to friends, “OMG I want a baby NOW. I mean, I know it’s not the place I am in life, but ahhh I want one!” Or “When I have a family, I’m totally moving back to San Francisco.” Such talk freaks me out a little. For me it’s not “WHEN I have a baby” it’s “IF I have a baby”. Big difference. Those same friends say, “Oh, it just hasn’t kicked in yet. Some day soon you’ll look a kid and your ovaries will ache.” “Uh..that’s what Midol is for?” I reply.

A baby starts crying on the subway, I switch cars. I suppose I haven’t been around them enough. Being an only child doesn’t help. My only babysitting experience helps even less. (It was a disaster. I was fourteen, I couldn’t get the kid to go to bed, and she peed in an armchair right before her parents got home.) I feel a little awkward around young children, like I don’t really know what I’m doing.

There are hundreds of children at a renaissance faire. Perhaps even more children than drunks (well, not after 5pm). I started out slow, admiring the “unicorns beautious princesses” rode (that would be a little girl- the princess- on the shoulder’s of her dad- the unicorn. Turns out dads get a kick out of being called a “unicorn”.) Then I discovered kids are really fun to play with. My imagination as an improviser must be good, but an 8-year-old kicks my ass, imagination wise. There is nothing better than the look of awe or glee on a kid’s face as a reaction to you.

There was a little girl, probably 8 years old, who came to the faire with her mother. She started off the day in street clothes, a little shy, but with wide eyes that were clearly seeing everything as wonderful and soaking all in. By mid day she had rented a renaissance outfit (yep, that’s something you can do at these fairs) and with her 21st century guise gone, her shyness melted away.    She was so engaged, taking in everything, incorporating it, remembering things you’d said before and asking questions about them, always ready to give me a new idea for how to make Sir Francis notice me or where we could find treasure. She was trying desperately to pick up the 16th century language, she came back the next day and by the end of the weekend had a remarkable handle on it. Her mother told one of the cast members, one of the few parents in the cast actually, that she had been struggling horribly at school. That the kids picked on her, she hadn’t made any friends, and she was miserable. Someone had recommended to her mom that she bring her daughter to our renaissance faire.

The girl and her mom came back 5 times over the summer, we learned they’d traveled several hours from Vermont. You could see how the faire actually changed this little girls life. That she was picked on for being smart and interested in learning and probably for loving imagination games. The she came to the Ren Faire and we actors accepted her into our world and you could just see how amazing that was for her, and the gratitude shone in her mom’s eyes.

I received a Facebook message from a little boy’s dad, thanking me for playing with his son

Thanks a bunch for being such a great Piratess to my son this last weekend (and also, thanks for being so patient). He had a blast and really enjoyed you and the crew. And he’s pretty convinced that he really wants to be the “first mate of the crows nest.” Take care and have a great Faire.

He hunted me down on Facebook just to tell me that. I was really touched.

So after a summer of playing “Let’s pretend” with kids (and adults) I definitely feel like I understand them better. Less awkward, more “Kids are awesome!” There have even been a couple of times where I’ve said “Whoa, that is a CUTE baby.” I wouldn’t go so far as to say the ol’ maternal clock is ticking, but I think the second hand might be quavering. That either means it’s broken or it’s getting warmed up. Only time will tell.