So, a couple of months ago, I went to a casting call in Cambridge. Someone on Model Mayhem had asked for runway volunteers for an alternative couture show on New Year's Eve. I like runway shows, because I get to wear mad things that I am in no way responsible for storing or dry cleaning afterwards, and I thought it might be a good idea to have something to do on NYE besides watch movies and get the rats drunk.

I went down to the call, which happened to be at a tiny gallery I knew mostly because I passed it every time I walked to the dance studio. It's well-known locally for reeking of weed in the evenings (common) and being the home of a very large, very friendly creature who is either a small bear or a Siberian husky, and who will occasionally try to follow you down Prospect Street, if you look like you might have food or time for ear scratches (less common). I managed to forget my runway heels and had to borrow from another model, but did bring a hoop just for the hell of it, and spun it around a few times.

I did not break anything in the gallery, which I am proud of. I startled myself a bit, actually, when afterwards I realized I had had an entire conversation and moved around the room while sort of absently spinning the hoop around, juggling it from hand to hand. Perhaps I've gotten better at that than I thought.

Time passed. I heard nothing. Usually this means they have forgotten all about me, which means I am not in the pile of applications that made it to the final round of casting. I figured I was probably too short or didn't look like the rest of the girls they wanted, shrugged, and went on with my life.

Unexpectedly, an email popped up from the producer of the show. I would not fit any of the runway samples, but would I be interested in performing? They were running an 18+ burlesque room, and listing that and the circus hooping on my application had apparently gotten their attention. Certainly. There was some back and forth about theme and music choices, and a meeting was scheduled at the gallery's new location, a much bigger place around the corner.

I inquired at the meeting exactly where our venue was, mainly because it affects how naked I can legally be on stage. You can get away with thongs in Cambridge -- and C-strings in Somerville -- but not in Boston proper. Given where our call was and what they were asking for, I had guessed it might be First Night in Central Square, Cambridge, perhaps in the YMCA theater. It's a nice little place with a couple hundred seats, if they open the balcony. There are a few other theaters in the area that would be big enough for a fashion show, and which I know have hosted burlesque and other adult shows before.

I guessed very badly, as it turns out.

We are not in the Cambridge YMCA. We are in the Hynes Convention Center. Our production is an official part of First Night in the City of Boston. We have a grant and everything, albeit a small one. If you're not familiar with the concept of "First Night", it is essentially a gigantic party thrown by the city on New Year's Eve. Boston started it, although I think it goes on elsewhere now as well. It is one of two holidays taken extremely seriously by the actual City of Boston -- that is, the municipal government, as opposed to just the general citizenry -- the other one being Independence Day. Boston shuts down and turns downtown into a giant street fair, with bonus fireworks. The MBTA stops charging fares at about drunk o'clock in the evening and runs several hours late, in the interest of getting a million inebriated people back home without involving cars.

I was assured that the stage at Hynes does have a full light bank with color gels, in an apologetic tone, as if they were sorry that fancier gewgaws were not available. I haven't been told what room we're in, but last year's burlesque was listed as being in a 500-seat theater. I was advised to make sure my number reads well from a distance, as the room would be open and the stage would be visible throughout.

I keep thinking I should not be nearly so sanguine about this. My first thought was, 'oh good, that's on the Green Line, I can take the train right in'.


  1. That sounds pretty awesome. I think you'll do fantastically. :) I've always been interested in burlesque but never had the courage for it. Is it as much fun as I have heard it is?

    1. That depends on how you feel about being very loudly naked in front of a kerjillion people. I'm mostly naked a lot as a model, and it's not quite like that -- as a model, you're sort of passively there to be looked at by people who assess your clothes or the product or whatever. You're supposed to pretend you don't notice how much skin the model's showing, just the overall 'look'. In burlesque, the audience is cheering for you to take it off. You're an active participant, not the passive object of some stylist's whims. If the thought of the crowd openly shouting appreciation at the idea of your tits makes you suddenly shy, burlesque is not for you.


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