Sunday, September 10, 2006

Art Hop Hopping

Yes! The South End Art Hop has hopped itself to completion after an amazing blow out weekend. Friday night was the first ever, STRUT: An Art Hop Fashion Event.

Without really knowing what I was getting into, I agreed to MC the show. But standing there Friday night, in the cavernous space of the Specialty Filaments Factory (think airplane hanger!), as hundreds of hip people streamed in, I began to shake in my spring green Camper wedges.

We had one rehearsal but there was no microphone so I didn't get to try out my spiel. I had spent the week practising different fashion announcer voices.

There was hyper and perky, over the top and drag queeny and low and snotty. I ended up going with the third one just because it seemed to project the best in that huge space.

I was perched up high above the catwalk on a little metal platform where Precious the DJ was pumping VERY LOUD house music into the massive former-factory. There were holes in the metal floor and I was pleased with my decision not to wear spikey heels. Water dripped from the ceiling which was a little creepy since it wasn't raining. My script was water speckled by the end of the evening.

As the room began to fill up, my nerves got tighter. "Why the hell did I agree to do this?" I asked myself. "Am I a glutton for punishment? This is terrifying!"

See, the thing is, I freak out before I speak in public BUT usually, once I start blabbing away, I settle into some weird comfort zone and I feel ok. But knowing this about myself never makes my pre-show stress any easier. I still go through lots of pain and suffering and insecurity every time.

To make me even more "comfortable," the raised platform where we were speaking from filled up with people. The head of the art hop decided to stand right behind me, just in case I wasn't nervous enough. And below me, streams of people continued to arrive and there were loads of familiar faces among them.

"Oh good, everyone I know is here to watch me make a fool out of myself and mispronounce everyone's name! Great!"

When Tyler gave us the go ahead to start, my system filled up with adrenaline and Precious the DJ brought the music down. I dived into my super quick intro and was amazed by how thin and high-pitched my voice sounded.

"Who is this freak talking right now? Sounds like a muppet on crack," I thought to myself as I blabbed away.

I kicked off the show by shouting, "And now everyone is when we...STRUT!" I had intended to purrrr the word STRUT but instead, it came out like more of a screech, kind of like a wounded animal. Ooops, not what I was going for at all - less sexy than it was dolphin-like.

Luckily, it turned out that no one could hear one thing I was saying. My dolphin screeches were not much more than inaudible white noise. A stream of people kept climbing up to our platform to tell me that they couldn't hear me down on the floor. I kept bugging a very busy DJ Precious to turn up the volume on the mic but nothing seemed to make any difference.

I tried to project my voice as loud as I could and annunciate as best as possible but I could tell the crowd surrounding the catwalk could not hear a word. The room was too massive. The mic's amp was too weak. Later, people told me that they could hear I was talking, they just didn't know what I was saying. Great! A job well done!

My main directive, that of letting people know who the designers were and what their companies were called, was completely pointless because I couldn't be heard. But hey, I had a fun time dancing on the platform none-the-less!

When the show was done, I was proud to say that I had only mispronounced one designer's name but then again, it didn't really matter since no one outside of the amp's limited radius could hear me.

I couldn't really see much of the clothing from the distant raised platform but the models looked like they did an amazing job and the crowds seemed really responsive to the designers. Much love was shared that night and the air was thick with strutting!

Margot and I wandered around the crazy, sprawling Art Hop event and marvelled at the hundreds of people and amazing art on display everywhere. After the fashion show, I was a little zonked but we headed over to the Green Door Studio to see the set of 11 bands that JB organized.

We were just in time to hear Nest Material who kicked out some awesome jams that went perfectly with the plump moon, warm evening and the feeling of freedom and self-expression that wafted through the air.

The next day was STRUT #2. I was looking forward to finishing so I could enjoy the remainder of my weekend stress-free in my PJs. And who knows, maybe the levels could be adjusted better and I could actually serve my intended purpose and be heard as I announced the designers' names?? Maybe?

The moment I climbed onto the platform, DJ Precious informed me that my sound problems last night were because I am a "girl."

"You're not pissed, are you?"

"Uhm, no, it feels good to know it is my fault that no one can hear me, thanks! Great ego boost before I get ready to do this again! Thanks!"

Apparently, during an earlier sound check, Precious could be heard just fine and it was only my feminine wispy voice that was impossible to hear. Ah well, there it is. I soldiered forward and hoped for the best.

Five minutes prior to showtime, we realized the batteries in the mic were dead. Walking with even strides ("I refuse to panic!"), I set off through the gigantic space in search of AA batteries. The amazing Brooke saved the day with batteries from one of her walkie talkies. Thanks Brooke!

There was another large crowd but they were less drunk and slightly less rowdy - well, it was only 2pm. The levels on the mic were adjusted a little better and some people could hear some of what I was saying some of the time. Oh joy. Well, at least that took some of the pressure off, even if it made my presence unimportant.

Ah well, despite these minor snafus, I was glad to be a part of STRUT and did end up having a fun time dancing to Madonna's "Dress You Up" and Timberlake's "Sexy Back" and having a bird's eye view of the amazing fashions. The designers turned out some amazing pieces, the models had fabulous attitude and Precious mixed the music so damn good.

All in all, a good time was had by all and I was proud to be the inaudible announcer who overcame her fear of public speaking long enough to stand up high on a platform and shake her sexy back to the rocking tunes.

Here is a video of Alison Bechdel and Phranc of California about their amazing art show which was another highlight of the art hop:

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