Or: What I did for/on/around my 36th birthday, by Costume Imp.
I was actually forced to spread my birthday over a 2 day celebration, as I had to work on my actual birthday. December 1 began in my west Hollywood suite with coffee and phone calls.
I met up with DearEloise who is a dear friend and co-worker/theatrical wiz/travel partner (not to mention my masseur/acupuncturist for the past 5 years). I was really looking forward to our time together, as she departed our NYC for ‘weather and scenery’ this summer and I haven’t seen her in a few months!!
She drove over and picked me up and we took a lovely drive while babbling away in the car, getting caught up on what’s been going on in each others lives. We continued our tradition of dining outside in the sunshine whenever humanly possible by enjoying California omelet’s (with avocado) at a gorgeous little café/pastry shop. Heaven!! Yes, we will have that cinnamon stickybun with icing too, thank you very much!
We hopped back in the car for some more scenic touring and she drove me up over to her New place, which is going to be stunningly great when she gets moved in… We had some work to do in that department and I got to help paint!! Now before you begin to think that this is all very Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn and whitewashing the fence, remember that I love to paint! Hehehe And I’m always willing to paint for a friend. So I got to do some priming and painting and we talked about color for upstairs. (and I still love the chandelier boo!).
We made a quick stop for supplies and then we headed up the mountain to see the current place, which comes with its own personal palm tree (need I say more) and mountain views through surrounding bay windows. Delicious!!!
Then it was Imps turn!!! I enjoyed a fantastic 2 hour massage from the woman who knows my body best!! I love the addition of the heating pad on the massage table. Toasty warm. And it was nice to have that massage after my body was back under that deck again for the first time in 3 weeks!!! Work it out sister! It was heaven… any other peeps in LA that need a great pair of hands, call me. I’ll hook you UP!!
Then dinner and a foggy drive back to my suite (with my clean laundry) to say goodbye so that she could go home and I could pack up for my morning checkout and bus call.
Packing took a lot longer than it really should have, as it was now almost midnight and thus 9am in Europe. The phone started chiming, and lo and behold there was a happy birthday text from The Italian. He texted me the whole happy birthday song, which I just found amusing as all get out. He also wanted to know “Do we make a party tonight?”… (more on that later). That really made me smile and then of course, we had to text back and forth a few times… then back to packing!! Then I get the crazy lady happy birthday phone call just past midnight pacific time from dearEloise. Which you have to hear personally in order to fully appreciate it, but trust me; it’s freakin priceless!
Then I had to shower, set the alarm, and get to bed. Somewhere around 5am the texts from the east coast started the phone a chiming. I didn’t get out of bed, but they did wake me up (as we always set the phone alarm clock as backup on buscall mornings; ALWAYS!) (So be a dear and don’t text me at 8am eastern time when I’m on the west coast, thank you)!
I got up before the wakeup call at 6:30am, and made the coffee and took a shower and finalized the pack and was on the way to the staples centre by 8am.
Ah, the staples centre. This was a huge show for us, being LA and all. The stylist was in town, a lot of TV and press, more DVD filming, the record label, et.al. Between you and me, a HUGE day and show for us… As far as crew goes, we had a local who had toured for years (helpful) and 2 really good seamstresses. They were a bunch of nuts to be sure, but it was all okay. Trying at times, but ok! I even managed to get some work done during the day, in between my various phone calls and texting. Yes, I allowed myself to be on the phone during work, because it was my birthday.
Somewhere around 2:30 I decided that since I already had my earbud in, I would listen to a little music while I was rigging tux shirts. So I hit the button on the iPhone, and what would be the first song up but the mad scene from Lucia!!! I found myself singing along, and not so softly either; then I decided to really embrace it! :-)~ I had my coworkers and crew alternately looking at me out of the corners of their eyes, and then just downright laughing. Cause of course, they couldn’t hear the music, and suddenly there I am singing opera (me, singing opera) lmao… and Lucia’s mad scene none the less! “Il fantasama, Il fantasama!”
Now if you know me, you know that I wasn’t going to rest until HerSelf sang me a certain birthday song. I had steeled myself to brazenly walk up onstage with her during sound check and ask for it. Hehehe Anyhow, when sound check rolled around, there was an audience and tv camera’s present; which meant there was no way in the world that I was going to get away with waltzing onstage. (See, I am getting older; perhaps wiser?!) I told you this was a Big show for us… I didn’t sweat it, as I had backup plans!! I just reiterated to my boss (as I have, repeatedly, since the first day) that I expect to have a moment at the official meet n greet. (professional photographers sweeties, with whom I’m friendly even…) Because I am also going to own an autographed picture of the two of us together; so better that the professionals take it for me!! As a matter of fact, I’m going to have to rearrange the diva photo wall for this 8x10!!!
Oh was this something you didn’t know about Imp? Yah, I have a show poster collection (autographed) of all my broadway shows and most of my other nyc work. I also have a much smaller and selective collection of 8x10 glossy’s, autographed and framed, of my most favorite diva’s that I’ve dressed and worked with…
I digressed, but I reiterated my statement to my boss, who just smiled like she always does, like one whom is humoring a small child… but there was a sparkle in her eye that wasn’t there before. I now realize that this would be a great time to walk over to the roadbox and pull out my nice(r) dress(ier) shirt and put it on! I mean, I was already in my official show swag oxford shirt, but I felt it was time to be in something that buttoned all the way down the front!
We shuffled off to dinner and catering was packed!! We were a little later than usual arriving, but we found a table and sat down, ordered (they bring us plated food for dinner) and were enjoying our dinner when my boss excused herself with some random comment about switiching the laundry around. (she’s smooth, but I’m better I think). Shortly after her return the lights went out, and here comes a cake and a rousing chorus of happy birthday!! Everyone faltered @ ‘happy birthday dear….” as the cake hadn’t made it to the table yet, and nobody really know who they were singing too. It was priceless!!! And I didn’t have to blow out a million candles either, bless their hearts! My cake said (in candles) Happy Birthday!! Boy was it delicious. Our caterers had gutted a pound cake, covered it with chocolate frosting and stuffed it with strawberrys, blackberrys, and blueberrys. It was freaking delicious!!!
So I had cake and coffee before the show. Now the one supposedly ‘calm’ moment in my day is between dinner and the show, once we get the daily supplies packed away. All the costumes are set and we have an hour to just do little things before the show, like clean up and prepare for load out. It was during this lull in the day that my boss comes to me, with a big grin in her face and says, “what time to do go under the stage?” Knowing full well, that 8:15 is the magic time.
“I have a very important meet and greet that I need to you to do this evening, can you be late under the stage?” Yes, and Yes! I’m now grinning like a 5 year old who just discovered santa clause, because I realize what this is going to be. It’s going to be picture time!!!! Now I just need a moment to check my face and brush my teeth, cause heaven forbid I have even a hint of the Marlboro man on my breath when I engage Mama in conversation… all the while my internal monolog (which is usually NOT fit for publication) is chanting, “It’s my Birthday, it’s my Birthday!”
Now I’ve had brief conversations with HerSelf here and there. We have a preshow ritual when she enters on my side of the deck, this is where I say “Have a great show Ma-Ma!” and she replies “you too, Bay-Bay!” We’ve also had brief chats in the hallways when we met, but for the most part, we only see each other when we have somewhere else to be and time is of the essence. We wouldn’t want to miss our entrance, now would we?! It’s right around this time that I realize that I’m going to be standing in front of her, with only me (I can ignore camera’s and people) as her focal point… and I got scared and nervous. Two feelings that are not in my daily repertoire. These begin to be compounded by worries that I’m overdue for a Lucy moment (and if you have to ask, I can’t explain it).
So I’m there in the meet and greet room, with all the powerful people in LA, and I’m watching the flash bulbs pop, as everyone filters through, each getting their 30 seconds with HerSelf. Of course, I’m going last. It was great to be in the room and watch everyone and their reactions to my pop diva. (who really is one the most gracious people on the planet). Suddenly I realize that all the guests are gone, and it’s just the inner sanctum people left in the room; and me.
“Today we saved the best for last, didn’t we?! Happy Birthday Bay-Bay!! Can I have my picture taken with the Birthday Boy?”
Oh my god, will someone please pick me up off the floor?!
I’m thinking we will have a quick photo and then move, we gotta get this show up, and she’s not in her first costume yet…
She walks over to me and grabs me by the hand and pulls me into the photo area. I’m pretty speechless (how often does that happen, but there are so many things going through my mind, I can’t talk just now, and know well enough to just be quiet so that something stupid or completely inappropriate doesn’t fall out of my mouth). I’m thinking we are going to do a standing next to each other photo, like she’s done all night…. Oh no… she turns and faces me, I get the French blessing on each check and then suddenly I’m enveloped in the arms of HerSelf!!! Big old bear hug, with all the fabulous hair pressed against me!!
My knees were knocking people, literally! I know she felt me shaking, because she laughed about it. “OOHH, it’s like that, is it, Bay-Bay?”
I know I need to actually say something, but I am completely incapable of forming a coherent sentence. I mean, I thought myself immune to it, but I’m Completely and Utterly Star Struck. I mumbled something to the tune of ‘Thank you for taking the time to do this for me MaMa…”
She pulled out of the hug, and still holding me, looked me dead in the eye, “No Bay-Bay! Thank YOU for all your hard work, for all Your long hours, and for everything that YOU do, above and beyond the call of duty… we couldn’t do this without You!”
Ok, open the floodgates…. (I ordered myself NOT TO WEEP). I’m now 2 short steps away from being a blubbering idiot, and all I can say is ‘it’s all for you MaMa, it’s all for you!” Over and Over again. Shut up Imp, you are babbling!!!
“OK, Bay-Bay, let’s take some pictures!”
So I face the camera’s, and she slides right up next to me, pressing her cheek against mine, and once again I’m just shocked and amazed. I mean, here I am, standing next to my favorite female vocalist ever (a statement I don’t make lightly), having pictures taken on my birthday, and that Hair is everywhere!! I know I’m smiling like a complete idiot… so we take the pictures… and I take that moment of silence to rally myself and make an attempt to speak what is in my heart…
Something to the medley of, ‘I’ve followed you for years, and it is such an honoure and thrill to be working for you. I only want to work for you MaMa, it’s all for you, MaMa!”
The picture taking is complete, and she breaks the pose and I stop babbling…
Once again, she looks blesses me on both cheeks, and says, “Tonight! Tonight, I do this one just for You Bay-Bay!”
“Merci beau coup, MaMa; Merci beau coup!” Oh, my god, I’m so flustered I’m now speaking in tongues!! “Merci encore!”
Remember how I was going to get her to sing happy birthday to me?! Lmao How was I to ask her to sing happy birthday to me, when she just dedicated her entire evening performance to me?! I couldn’t; pure and simple, I just couldn’t ask for it. And I’m so OK with that.
In fact, I can now die a happy Imp. I mean, come on! What’s left? This is definitely going down in the history books and in the memoirs. I’ve had some pretty great birthdays, but this one… taking the cake!!
Is it possible to elevate HerSelf any higher on that pedestal I placed her on years ago?!
I stumbled back to my wardrobe room, completely on cloud nine! I had to take a moment to collect myself, and also to change back into my show shirt. I don’t wear my really nice clothes under the deck, as I like to keep them Nice, and I tend to rip my shirts on the hardware under there.
I hustle out to the deck, and do my preshow check lists and make sure we are ready to Rock n Roll! MaMa is making her entrance tonight on my side, so I get in another, “Have a great show MaMa!” and the reply as she goes sailing by, “It’s for You Bay-Bay!”
Now, I’ve completely broken the mold here, by discussing things that shouldn’t really be discussed in so public a forum, so we’ll just continue…
She mugged to me all during the first set. I always greet everyone as they enter the deck, checking on my dancers and peeps as they arrive, but I ALWAYS step out from under the deck and watch HerSelf’s entrance. I gain my energy and strength to run the show by listening to the screams and applause that follow that first moment when the screens lift and reveal my Diva on her stage. She always bows and acknowledges the 4 sides of the arena before she launches into her first song. This evening, when she was facing my side of the stage, she bowed and winked at me! Then she launched into the first number, and it was time for me to get back under the deck and start dressing my dancers.
Again, I have my routine, which includes getting a few people dressed, and then I ALWAYS (barring emergencies) step out to watch the second number, THE power ballad (the first one of the show anyhow). She mugged to me again a few times during the number, and I even got a pinky wave as she walked up the ramp past my station.
You know I’m in heaven!
Now it’s time to get back under the deck and get this show really rolling. I have important presets to do following the first set, as that’s when my dancers make their first appearance.
We basically got through the first set without any mishaps, but then it struck. Something happened, the technical glitch that we all fear in live entertainment. I’ll tell you the story in person later, but let’s just say for now that equipment got a mind of its own and one of the screens flew in by itself and wouldn’t fly back out. For the first time this tour, we actually had to stop the show (MY show)… HerSelf handled it very well and sang through the end of the set (three songs) before she told the audience to sit tight while we fixed our technical difficulties!
We stopped long enough that I wondered into her change area, and then threw my hands up in the air and exclaimed, “I didn’t do it MaMa, I didn’t do it!” We all had a good laugh over that!!
Then it was time to get back to work and finish the show. I’m glad to report that once we got rocking again, we finished it without a hitch!!
Then I sailed through load out on cloud nine.
I need to take this moment though to growl about my crew. They just completely stopped when the show did, and we just couldn’t seem to get them involved again. We had old timers, and they were tired (all of us, except for me, I think I could have done 3 shows and not lagged, it was my night after all). I ended up doing most of the work of load out myself, because the crew just wasn’t in it to win it.
All good. We got packed up and loaded out. Two different load outs, as the Artist and the Band had an appearance to do the next night in LA for the Grammy nomination event/concert. Some of us were staying in LA while the rest of us continued on towards Arizona. As fate would decree, my bus was staying in LA, while I was continuing on to AZ. This means I had to take the ‘dancer’ bus to AZ. Now I’m living the high life. They have a new swanky bus, complete with pillow top mattresses in the bunks! I still had to sleep on the bottom bunk, but THIS bus driver didn’t spend the night trying to see how many times he could roll me out of the bunk! Now getting on the bus at the end of a 20 hour day is NOT my idea of a good time, but this ride was pure bliss!!!
With all the other extra events we have done in the last week, we actually had a few days off here in AZ. I’m sitting in a very posh golf and spa resort, just enjoying the AZ sunshine and fresh air, and palm trees.
It continues to be bliss. This place is set on many acres of beautiful gardens, and the roses are stunningly beautiful. We are in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do but relax and breathe. Lunches by the pool, smokes on my back lanai, I’ve got my own bungalow and I’m enjoying every last minute of it. Our next show is tomorrow on Saturday.
Yes, it’s taken me 3 days to write this entry. I know so many of you are reading this, so do me a favor, and validate my 3500+ word entry today, and please post a comment. I don’t care if you don’t like HerSelf or if you do. I’m working hard at keeping you all updated on all the various events that this gig has given to me, and it’s nice to have a little feedback! Even if it’s only to wish this old man a happy birthday here!
It has truly been one of the greatest birthdays ever. I’m going to remember this one for the rest of life. I’m very sorry that I didn’t get to spend it with most of you, but we will have some celebration when I return home (briefly) for the holidays, or when I see you on the next tour stop.
I’m serious, if you made it this far though my missive; please post a comment for your favorite Imp!
Love and Light to you all! Viva la MaMa!!!!