I decided to share my experiences as a performer, so with every performer story entry I will share two stories with you, a bad and a good or maybe just an interesting one.
I think it is important to see the two-sidedness of the industry and understand, that it is really not about you, when you think it is.
Me and the major theater
This topic surfaced the other day in my kitchen between me and the Baby daddy.
I was suggesting that it might be a good idea contacting the theater for a possible contract after the baby, because they did contemplate having me as a regular piece of the show back in 2013, but the whole dealing just did not end right. He got pretty outraged and asked me why on earth I would wanna be in a shitty show, that nobody goes to watch, with all my international fame and feathers. That I would be lowering too much with it, etc., etc. Baby daddy does love me on all levels.
My points were, things have changed, as a mother I wanna do my best and that includes the longest breastfeeding period I can possibly afford this future little man.
The story itself
I was approached to take part of the first Barcelona burlesque festival, needless to say in 2011 I was in the clouds, so happy. This, recently reopened mythical theater wants me in a line-up next to Catherine D’lish, Ursula Martinez, Jess Love and all the others, woowww.
Especially regarding the fact, that a year earlier I left Bcn very disappointed with performance as a whole. (Discrimination? Yup, hon, if you’re not catalan and hipergay or willing to sleep with whomever you need to, just bury yourself)
Festival was pretty much the best ever I attended to this day. Show was dynamic, the line-up was over the top. Even the competing newcomers showed very high skills.
(So far, the festival is a blast every year, I still recommend going to this event)
Downside, no fucking proper rigging… My ahh so prepared silks act had to be modified into an improvisation on hoop… absolutely not bad for that year though.
Straight forward 2013.
I just jumped off a plain with an aerial hoop and a suitcase, ready to take back my city! I had the first shows nailed with a producer I used to work very well, looking for contracts, decided to rent a place in the forthcoming months.
First job right in mentioned theater. Great! Now they installed a truss, 9 meter high rigging point, supersweet!!
First technical check.
The owner walks in. We met briefly, but I never thought she remembered me or anything (my humble side).
Straight to me, she was very happy to see me back, was I staying for longer. I told her I was moving back.
Booom! How would I feel about a steady contract, all legal, insured, etc, 7 shows a week, would I be cool to learn some coreographies in the show etc. I should come down and see the most recent show, invited.
Anyways, office gets the papers done will call in 2ish weeks.
I literally left the place with tears of joy in my eyes…
Just to get them turned into real ones in about 2 months.
Nothing is done until it is done. – never forget that. Don’t get too excited.
So, a girl from the office was to call me. I had this funky feeling about her from the beginning… (hush, don’t listen to your instict, she must be lovely, blabla – said my conscious mind… while the unconscious said, trouble ahead)
3 weeks pass.
I kept doing the parties, so I was all around the theater every other week. Nothing.
I got my ‘manager’ (*khm* – best friend and occasional assistant) to call, erh-umph excuses, they would be in touch…
Another one or two weeks pass.
You see, at this point I was a full-time performer (like always as not for pregnancy), so I needed to schedule my shit in order to do anything.
So on a last attempt I dragged my ass up to the office to clear this up.
There was ‘my gal’ and it breaks down to the fact, that the owner never said, what she said, the offer was rather to have me a couple of times, if needed (wtf???) for certain events. The festival? Most likely yes, but they would contact me anyways…
Yuppi fucking yaaay!!! and thanks for making me loose about 2 months with excitement about nothing.
Life goes on, story does not end still. If you were to think that was not humiliating enough, you were wrong.
So the festival approaches, the way I actually get to know I was not in it? You bet. The promo video comes out.
Then the Festival is on. I GET A CALL. omg, with suspicion… I hoped it was not the dragging around for nothing again….
They want me to go in for a rehearsal, the coreorgrapher needs to see me and try me.
Now this sounded more professional.
I’m there, the ‘world famous’ coreographer 3 meters in front of me, his assistant running up and down, every communication going through 4 different people’s mouth (I am not exagerrating here!!).
Nothing. Could I come back tomorrow, the corepgrapher is way too stressed to deal with anything else, than the rehearsals… Sorry for dragging you around so much.
Evening, invited to the show. I went alone, going to say hi to my gal, I see her talking to the one single ‘performer’ I would never share the air with.
She was there for the very same reason!! Apparently the coreographer (remember so ‘world famous’ that he could not communicate only via 4 messengers?) would choose, based upon ‘PROFESSIONAL’ measures… (like skills, dance skills, you know, maybe a casting????)
No casting nothing. The decision was already made.
She took the deal for a 100 euros a night, that is 25 euros per number, two weeks contract.
I never got to be offered a price, and believe me I was not about to accept this.
She won. I lost.
The news were full of how the theater was on the verge of bankcrupcy. Now I could see. I met the dancers, that left that time, half of them, after 3 months without being payed.
The theater survived, I did two more gigs there, than I never returned.
Loosing against a better competitor is something you can take, inspires betterment.
Loosing against a joke of a ‘performer’ is simply soul draining.
Strange detail as well, while on the verge of bankcrupcy, they did get to hire Bambury Cross, and I do doubt she was to be anything cheap. (getting her from London, renting a place, etc.)
Bottom line, you cannot be a prophet in your home country or pseudo-home country either.
Story begans in 2010.
The resraurant was called Joke Circus.
Do you remember myspace? I do.
So one day, shortly before the 2010 LBF, I get a message written in the shittiest English ever, the kinda you wouldn’t even answer so bad. Let along through myspace.
It is a Turkish dude interested in hiring me, Chaz recommended me. Scattered, language barrier, not even the dates were very fixed… Altogether, something you would never take seriously, but I thought harm it cannot do to answer anyways.
It was for Istambul (superexciting!) for a brand new place. So, I decided if they agree to pay the trip upfront, then my, at the time maybe escalated (I thought, while I was still underpricing myself) fee, I was good to go.
It took up until almost last minute to close the deal, I was to go almost straight after LBF, since I was already confirmed to appear there, it was the Icelandic vulcano year, so shit got pretty complicated all the way.
At the closing night of LBF, I remember Velma asking for my availability the next weeks and me being sorry for being booked right after… we either suspected that we were to meet withing the next week at the other far end of Europe 😃.
LBF, with all issues, shenanigans, travel problems, etc., went off. Some major housing drama back home. Limbo between Budapest and Bcn started. Drama with icing on top.
(Additional relationship advice: you know these partners, with whom everything turns into major drama? Yup, ex-hubby was one of them, get the fuck away from these people, when it starts, without further waiting, because it will only get worse)
So by the time I was to catch the flight to Istambul, I couldn’t even think of being worried about the what ifs. The proper Turkish airline flight with food and all was so soothing, after days of saving my stuff out of my own former (and actual) home and literally being homeless for days, that I could just not expect anything.
I arrive, I get picked up by a shoffeur, cool, excitement setting in.
It could be the best and the worst experience, anyways, two weeks in the exciting land of where my actual not artistic name comes from.
I arrive, cute little 4 starry hotel…
I get the suit!!!! WTF? Great. Relax. Unpack. Stretch. I was to be picked up every evening for performance, soon to meet Anji and Mert. (the dude with funky english)
I think we had technical check in the afternoon. The restaurant was lavish, luxurious, I swear each fork was to be over 4000 euros of worth. I guess in the west we miss some point about luxury… and hospitality.
Do I know Velma? She is here too. That was the beginning of a friendship.
I was also introduced to the other restaurant, where our daily lunch was to take place… on the top floor of a shopping mall, if can imagine delicious turkish food! I asked for the daily turkish meal every day.
I repeat, the west has serious things to learn about hospitality from the Turkish.
I enjoyed every bit of my stay, the sushine, the city,the food, all of it!
My mom came for visit too, hotel and food payed for her, too.
What else can you ask for?
I was more than lucky, yet it took me years to realize the importance of all this. To have this all sink in. The luck. The blind luck I had.
I also realized I could have asked for the double of the fee I was asking… beginner, I thought… (yet, I was very well payed)
Secong chapter was Cyprus last year.
The difference between what there is and what we perceive
I was deeply depressed at the time of the Turkish contract, constantly being paranoid about my artistry.
I was a very insecure performer, especially as a circus act. They had 3 Mongolian contorsionists, and a Ukranian multiskilled yougster fresh out of circus school. Needless to say, I felt like shit.
What was I doing there? I was obviously below the level… I thought.
The fact that everyone had a longer contract also confirmed my feelings…
Yet, 4 years later I was called, because I was a great act and they did love me back in 2010.
So don’t beat up yourself, you might as well be a lot better than you think you are.