15 August, 2006

Lightly Toasted

...I touch your lips and all at once the sparks go flying....

I wake to cold water. It's so cold, even the water in the Hot tap is cold. It's three in the morning. Happy Monday, I guess.

The drive home was uneventful, lightly trafficked and quiet reigned in the back seat. The BoringMobile behaved itself, except for the seat which always bites the backs of my legs and makes my feet go to sleep. No matter; it's comfortable, and fits gear plus family, which was the point.

Mimi Flambe appears this year, after all, at least for four shows. I was sad every time I looked at my beautiful, dust-collector banner. When Fluffy declined to write more material and opted instead for us to be Designated Street Performers this year in Maryland, I had mixed feelings. Fire being not an option at Maryland this year, when Kirk asked me to perform Mimi Flambe for Pennsylvania Ren Faire's Opening Weekend, I said Yes.

He puts me up in a hotel in beautiful downtown Manheim, PA, which sports a beautiful miniature golf course, a stagnating green pond with brown ducks or a blue heron, but never both at once, horse-drawn Amish buggies, field after field after field of lush green corn, the constant odor of manure/fertilizer, charming Victorian homes, and literally more used car dealerships than you could shake a stick at. Your arm would get tired.

We Independants mostly suffer through Morning Meeting, and fail to hear the announcement that the grounds will open at 10:45 instead of 11:00 AM, because it failed to be mentioned.

I spend my first hour being quietly atmospheric. My flight deck is crammed with characters, so I find a semi-shady spot with a good-sized rock for standing on, with a downhill breeze. Out come the giant bubbles, which never (never yet) fail to charm. A family wants to take me home. A woman mouths "I want that job" at me. A man critiques my bubble mix. "Too much glycerine," he pronounces, then advises me that vegetable oil works just as well. Perhaps I'll try it, now that I've already ordered a gallon of glycerine. Characters interact: "Oiye, lookee that! It be pixies! Oiye, come 'ere, come back, ye pixie!" and "It must be a thing of the devil! Look at it! It's beauteous and shapely! And there it goes, Pop!" Oh, he was talking about the bubble.

It's funny to note how a perfectly ordinary looking young guy with slightly shaggy hair who wouldn't deserve a second look wearing a TOOL tee-shirt dons a velvet doublet and suddenly becomes a dashing romantic hero. Provided, of course, he has a good jawline. All the velvet in the world won't help a weak chin.

There is an encampment of torture devices and torturers and torturees. I watch. One device, a head and hand stocks, is occupied by a patron-garbed gentleman. A torturer slaps him with a wet sponge. Another installation, a two-person leg-stock, holds a couple of enticing wenches. Their faces and feet are visible. A man tickles them with various objects, and they shriek almost convincingly. I know people who would find this appealing, but wonder when objects and activities traditionally labeled as "kink" wandered into the realm of "family entertainment."

I realize that I don't know the Designated Patrons here at PARF. Soon, soon, I will see my own beloved patrons, reconnect with my fan base, with the people who have loved me for ten years or more; some of them twenty years, and counting. And yet: "Mimi? Is that?" I turn. "I thought it was you! It's good to see you here!" And then, in a conspiratorial undertone, "You are still doing Maryland, right?" I nod. A look of relief. "Good. I'll see you in two weeks, then."

My first show is at 1:30 PM. Fluffy didn't want to do the show, so I rewrote a bit, moving back to my "Bob" show, and rewrote a bit more until what I presented was a Double Bob show. It went well, for me, for the Bobs, and for the audience. Kirk even pronounced my first shaky effort "good stuff," which provided validation for Primarily Decorative.

The mud show at PA is run by a guy I've know for twenty years now, who never really learned my physical language very well. Not surprising, as he has the attention span of a gnat. And yet he asks me who is still in Maryland that he would know. I mime a swordfight. He comes up with Hack and Slash. I draw my sword sideways across my tongue and then tip my head back to swallow, giving the trademarked arm gesture and snap that belongs to ".....Johnny Fox! Johnny's still there? That's incredible, what is he, ninety?" Hah, like you're much younger. I pull out a pretend clipboard, to indicate Carolyn, but he guesses Mary Ann Jung, which is also correct. I make an O with my arms, and he says, "Wow, Mark Jaster's still there, too?" Oh, you'd be surprised. I wave a wand and poof. "A magician. Uhhhhmmmm...." I hold a flower, smell it, ouch, thorns. I shake my hand and suck on my gloved finger. "Flower, pretty flower....rose. Rose." I do the magic thing again. "Magic. Rose. Mike Rose! Hah! I remember him when he was Brian Howard's partner." Right. I remember that, too. Funny that I never think of Mike as Brian Howard's first partner. I deliberately do not mention my ex-partner, who is still there as well.

In the afternoon, I do an organic "show," which is mainly just me and the bubbles and the patrons. They are tired; it is five o'clock and the sun has been strong. I interact with people who are resting, or waiting, or pausing. They assemble and disperse, and do not interrupt the storyline, because there is none. I finish when I see Kirk, waiting to bring the Living Statue to the Piazza.

Sunday's Morning Meeting is mercifully short. I work powder into my white base, apply liner and lips. Kirk asks the Independants, "Any problems from yesterday?"

The mikes at my stage weren't working at all.

There is dead silence. Kirk looks apologetic, then confused, then good-naturedly furious. The assembled bursts into laughter. It's a good start.

The second day goes much as the first. I see people I breakfasted with at the hotel, but they do not recognize me, for I was incognito.

At 'my' stage, a couple of well-garbed patrons from Maryland are righteously indignant on my behalf that I will not be performing fire there this year because of last year's 'incident.' "All the years Mimi's been doing fire, we said, and never an accident, and here comes this newcomer, and now Mimi can't do her fire show anymore. It's not right." Which was extremely gratifying. "We'll see you soon," they promise. "In two weeks."

That's right.

Two weeks.

(Kiss Of Fire; Georgia Gibbs)


Jon Busey-Hunt said...

Shit, *I* have a weak chin. Are you telling me this lavender velvet suit isn't helping anything??

Well, crap.

Cybele said...

Dude, not only is that lavender velvet suit gorgeous on you, your chin is damn near PERFECT.

Now, if only we could do something about that white powdered wig....

Jon Busey-Hunt said...

Sadly, Cyb? It's not a wig.

Stephanie said...

After having never seen the Mimi Flambe Show I'm heartbroken I will possibly not get to see it this year either ... unless you're doing it at PARF this Saturday?

Either way we love you - fire or no.

Cybele said...

Stephanie, sorry, only the one weekend at PARF. As for Mimi Flambe, it will appear again in some form. I worked as half of Firespiel for seven years, and Mimi Flambe alone for two, then Mimi Flambe- and Max! for the past, uh, five? I think, so be assured that my flame is not permanantly doused.