It’s not often that you get to meet your (s)heroes. Let alone meet two in one week. In different states.
Last weekend, I got to go to Berkeley Rep with Hedgebrook to celebrate two productions: Dael Orlandersmith’s Black and Blue Boys/Broken Men and Eve Ensler’s Emotional Creature. Both shows were stunning.
In Black and Blue Boys/Broken Men, Dael portrayed a dozen male characters of varying age, race and status. The nuances in her performances transported the audience, made us believe she was a multi-racial chameleon, made us question what we thought we knew to be true about abuse, incest, rape and resurrection.
Emotional Creature focuses on the journey that young women in modern society undertake. Songs seasoned the show, interspersed with rhythmic dance numbers, multimedia slideshows and powerful monologues. I was transported back to middle school, to high school…I left the theatre thinking that watching this play should be mandatory to all girls before entering high school. (And boys, for that matter).
The reception that followed was a powerful estrogenius force of (mostly) women converging to reflect on the performance(s) they had just seen and meet the playwrights. Eve couldn’t stay long, as she was leaving on a 5:00 AM flight the next morning to Michigan to perform the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan state capital. To be mere inches away from her as she gave an eloquent call to action hours before that critical performance in Michigan is one of the most profound experiences I have ever had in my life.
I didn’t really get to meet Eve, per say. But I did catch her eye and say “Good luck!” as she headed out the door. I would say that almost counts as meeting her. I just tell people I met her. Keep it simple.
As we left the reception, Dael pointed to me and said “You are hilarious. And I bet you’re a damn good actor.” I was speechless. I don’t know if I even had the presence of mind to say thank you.
Fast forward to this past Friday. Kathryn Brooks has been writing a screenplay about time travelling drag queens. Sharon Needles needs to be in her movie. So we bought VIP tickets to see her perform at Neumos.
The preparations were intense. Many false eyelashes and other cosmetics of that nature were procured and applied. I had huge hair and painted-on eyebrows, both of which put me closer to god(dess).
We were two of the last people to get their picture taken with Sharon. This is an approximation of how the conversation went:
Kathryn: Hi, Sharon, my name is Kathryn Brooks and I’m a movie magician and I’m making a movie about time travelling drag queens and I can’t do it without you! (Hands her beanie baby with business card attached to neck). And this is my friend Katie and she is the love child of Lady Bunny and Tammy Faye.
Sharon: (turning towards me) Oh, I have a tattoo of Tammy Faye–
Me: I know, I was going to have a fake tattoo of you, but it didn’t come in the mail in time.
Sharon: Well, that’s okay. Beanie babies and Tammy Faye, that’s a good combo. (Camera clicks).
When we meet our (s)heroes, we are often speechless. We are slightly paralyzed by the royalty-like status they have achieved in our personal reality. But, ultimately, they are all just people, like you or me. Or Tammy Faye. Or beanie babies.
It is our responsibility to transform that paralysis and sense of wonder into a zest for living life that will, in turn, make us the (s)heroes of others. And so on and so forth.