In which I discover that pretty much every green room is the same

I did my first catwalk show today. Whee!

I was wondering how this would go, exactly, and the answer to that is: Exactly like everything else I have ever done on stage. The performers are told to show up ON TIME for their call, on pain of death (or not getting to go on, which is the same thing for an actor), only to find that the director has already been there for two hours, doing the work of five people. Then they sit around gossiping and taking pictures of each other with their phones until the rest of the support staff shows up, somewhere between thirty minutes and two months late. There is a great deal of wandering back and forth, looking for people who are also wandering back and forth, and asking other people if they have seen which way the wanderers are wandering.

Somewhere in here, makeup, hair, and wardrobe get done. The main difference between runway and plays or general variety work is that if you're putting on a play, everybody knows what they're wearing weeks before the show, particularly if a costume has to be customized. As a model, typically what happens is that they do callbacks partly based on your measurements, usually waist size, because basically the only thing they cannot fix by troweling on eye shadow or sticking you in borrowed shoes is a dress that won't zip up all the way.

The main similarity between runway and plays is that everybody uses up their daily allotment of modesty in about the first ten minutes. The first time they hand around wardrobe for fitting, everyone tries to shuffle into a dark corner -- or scuttle off to the ladies' -- to change. By the time the show is over, people barely get through the green room door before they start getting naked. Depending on how chaotic things get, you might just have girls scrambling back and forth in stiletto heels, carrying their pants, or you might catch someone sitting at the middle of the makeup desk trying to change a front-hook bra without disturbing whoever is gluing on their false eyelashes.

Couture shows, even small ones, also tend to get weird. When you have a couple dozen girls who all need to coordinate, there's not a lot of stopping and thinking about whether you should maybe make some adjustments for individual people. Not a very big deal when you want everyone in matching eye makeup -- everyone who has eyes conveniently keeps them in the same place. For this one, the haidresser wanted us all to walk with our hair pinned up in artfully messy buns. They had a little trouble with a couple of the models whose hair was too short to cooperate; for most of the models, it was agreed that teasing some of the layers with a brush would be enough to give them the necessary volume.

The hairdresser backcombed my entire head.


I think someone did not think that one through very well.

The coordinator was helping with hair, and when she got to me, she motioned for me to hold up a hand, and dropped about half a dozen bobby pins into it. I looked at them, looked at her, and said, "Um. You are going to need way more pins than that." Fortunately, I have one of goddamn everything in my shoot bag, and that includes a little snap-closed container of cheap hairpins. I pulled about three dozen of them out of the giant marshmallow bun when I got home.

(The way you get that out, if anyone is wondering, is by standing under a warm shower until the styling product on the outside melts off, then flipping your head upside down and glopping on handful after handful of the cheapest conditioner you can find while picking a wide-toothed comb through it, working from the ends to the roots. Took me about half an hour.)

I have a blinding headache now, because I was wearing it like that for hours and believe me, hair is very heavy. Still a fun show, even if they only gave me twelve hours' notice and forgot to mention until we were already there that we were also going to have to perform for video. They had a lady there from CCTV, over in Cambridge. The coordinator mentioned at one point, off-handedly, that they expected the video clips to be viewed by "fifteen or twenty million people". OH IS THAT ALL. It's a damn good thing I'm not afraid of cameras.

I also got to have the "you cannot possibly be thirty" argument again. Twice! Although this is the first time I have actually had to present my ID to convince someone I wasn't joking.


  1. Those poor Victorian-era ladies with the giant ships in their hair must have also gotten splitting headaches at the end of the day. I can't imagine having, say, 10 pounds of extra weight hanging off my head all day...

    On the age thing: I've always looked ridiculously young myself, and still get carded buying 16+ games/movies at stores. At age 27. It's a little ridiculous at times, considering I look about 13 in my college pictures. At least I'll age well, if this stays up! :)


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