TBS, part two.
I think I left off with the panties. One obsessive reader asked how I knew they were hand-crafted panties. I can’t put it into words but there is a certain lack of store bought tags (or tag remnants) in combination with simple uniformity and types of stitches that tip one off to if an item is store-bought or custom made. All four of us investigated the panties in question and we all agreed; store bought bras, individually crafted panties, skirts, and veils.
We kept no parts of the costume and thus I will not be cashing in on the lucrative on-line or local used panty trade…I have my own Japanese school-girl uniform from my high school job and if I had wanted to go into the used clothing fetish market I would have already done so….which reminds me of the time I left my backpack on the train and it got lifted and thus I lost one dance costume, one Lomo, an electronic dictionary, a copy of Wuthering Heights, and my keys*…my dear friend Kazu and his wife put me up for the night…but Kazu was less than helpful when he kept saying that I would probably not ever get my belongings back because there was probably some pervert, sitting at home, wearing my costume and slathering himself with peanut butter….but I’m getting off topic.
Once in costume we toured the set again to explain things to #4 and Circus Girl. This time the tech people silently greeted us with silly little grins. The few times I caught our images in one of the monitors or large mirrors I was struck by how much we looked like nothing around us. I am not a tall or wide gaijin. I am white and my build is not too deviant. I do not have flaming red hair and I stopped the annual bleaching my hair about 4 years ago. I am a gaijin who is used to attracting very little attention. I attract far more attention in my home country. But here we were in a land of black taped wires and industrial sized everything, the whole scene swarming with black-haired techies clad in jeans, turtlenecks, sweatshirts, and a wide spectrum of hip-but-geeky glasses. It was as if four reject Poppy-sprites had been transported to DJ Towa-towa land.
When every visual indicator shows that you are not from around here, that you are the other, it is hard to conform to all social guidelines because you suspect you’ll be allowed, nay expected, to be a bit different. I think that accounted a bit for my increase in curse words. “Fuck! Look-it that! There’s another huge painting of a sad clown playing poker! Who the fuck thought that would be perfect accent to the halls? And why do the clowns look so jaundiced? And why the hell didn’t I remember to bring fresh batteries for my camera?” (I highly regret not getting a picture of myself in front of any of the oversized paintings.)
Outside of the arena area they had taped off a section of floor to represent the set for us to practice on. #4 started to get us into formation to try to work out choreography, even though the timing of things was still a bit up in the air. Circus girl added some suggestions. #4 started to shut down and go strangely passive. Circus girl started to ask us all what moves make us feeeeeel goooooood, honey. #4 said nothing. I started to tell #4 that even though she obviously didn’t want to be there, she needed to snap out of her funk. Circus girl continued wanted to find what made us feeeeel good. #4 left.
The three of us started to iron things out, simplify, and after about 20 minutes I went off to get #4.
Now, I don’t know well you know me, but I have a certain practical peace-making persona that comes in handy here and there. It is usually used with a tint of tough love and on the behalf of others. I become the bitchy little pixie who is gonna get us through something and say everything that must be said. My voice gets very direct and deep. It involves telling someone how their actions are affecting others, needing to find out what the root cause of things are, if the situation can be changed or must be endured, and so on….it can be a little scary but it gets the job done.
I’d never worked with #4. So I just started out with, “I know you don’t want to be here, but you said yes and now you just have to be professional enough to not make this a horrid experience for all involved….”
#4 had not said yes to this farce. She had said no. Many times. And our teacher, who had already agreed to the gig and sold TBS on the fact we’d have a central professional leader…did not let her say no. #4 had apparently been reduced to tears by our teacher. Now our teacher isn’t an ogre, but she can be highly crazed-manic at times, and this was one of them. Our teach had been humorless and driven the whole week before she left for India.
So here was #4, who had also been told slightly different things about the gig, who had bigger dance appointments to fill in the evening, with an unorganized mess on her hands and some touchy feely Circus girl wasting time with what feels good and calling her honey. Here she was, in a cold partitioned dressing room, breaking out from pale eyes to pale toes in a stress rash. Here she was, face to face with a reject Poppy-sprite with Silent Film eyes who she has never worked with, who just KEEPS talking and listening…. not giving up.
And I alternated between stern persona, empathetic persona, and persona using humor to defuse a situation, until she returned to a normal color and was hugging and laughing again. I don’t know how I did it. But I did it. Those of you who have seen me go into social-fixer mode probably know better than I.
And, when the clouds lifted, as if on cue, Claudia came to fetch us. Cue the Adam Ant, it was time to learn how to disrobe an idol. The director brought out the white robe (accented with gold sequin trim and secured at the top and sides with Velcro) we would literally tear off and the light-weight Tut mask we would reverently lift off of the Idol. I must have done a good job up in the dressing room because #4 giggled along with me and one of her large stumbling blocks had been the fact that belly dancers were being portrayed as God-stripping lady-servants. As for me, the part of my brain concerned with dance had decided that there was no connection between this surreal experience and the art I enjoy.
We would be dancing in a circle around the Lil’ Tut after his man servants put his throne down on the run way. When he lifted his arms up to the sky and a musical DaDun! played out from the speakers, all four of us would tear at his clothing. The front girls would take the front panel, the back girls the backside. As I was the shortest Gaijin, followed by #4, we would be in front. Part of the trick to ripping the robes is remembering that one of each of the pairs of girls must let go, so as not to create a tableaux of servant girls playing tug-of-war with the master’s garb. The girl with the robe half (me) would then toss the robe the side. Then pillars of fire would erupt and we would lift off the mask. The girls in the back would carry off the mask as the front girls spun away, grabbed the robe halves, and danced off carrying the master’s robes.
The director and Ochi took turns being our idols. We asked the practical questions:
“How tall is Tusbasa? We want to make sure we can get the mask off him.”
“He is about my height?”
“uhhh…what will he be wearing under his robes?”
“Clothing, like me, but much cooler.”
After robe practice we ironed out the choreography, reducing it to 3-4 basic moves that would look good together and could be repeated indefinitely. I would be paired with #4 in front and Circus girl and Claudia would be in back. The horrid veils had the practical advantage of helping us keep an eye on our partner for any changes.
Then we went up to our ghetto to put on socks and jackets and wait for the camera rehearsal. It was then that we saw the other 4 gaijin, the throne bearers. They were four of the biggest body-building men I have ever seen up close, two black, one white, and one silent middle-eastern man. They sat talking about fitness magazines. How did I know they were the throne bearers before I spoke to them? The giant Anubus masks…we would later take comfort in the fact that they had worse costumes than we did.
(Thus ends part 2)
(Thus ends part 2)
*As off last night, all items lost were finally replaced. Thank you Wataguy. Lomogirl still enjoys her quirky lomoboy.