So in my recovery from surgery this last week, I have been spending most of my time doped up on painkillers, propped up in a chair, binge-watching various and sundry television shows and movies on Netflix. THAT has given me some shyte to think about —
The kids love watching Glee, which I (and all of us in the FreakShow Family) have never seen before. I hate this show… BUT I really love Coach Sylvester’s insults to everybody. The actress who plays her, Jane Lynch, is really an amazing actress, performer, and improvisational comedienne . Life goals right there.*
I know that every kid who was ever in show choir or glee club (they are not the same thing) thinks that that is how their particular choir is – with the singing and the dancing and the bull shyte… but, it is NOT. I hate you for thinking so.
“Wait, Reverend Tommy Gunn! Leader & founder of the FreakShow Deluxe,” you say out loud to yourself as you read the previous paragraph. “What could you possibly know about show choir & glee clubs and those kind of things?! Are you not beyond those things?!?!”
Well… Yes, obviously.
BUT I will confess that when I was in high school I was in the local show choir – as well as the theatre department (cause, you know… nerd). Then in community college… and college… then university, too. Ug. I am an awful. Certainly, too, because the thing that got me moved out to California from growing up in Ohio was The Young Americans Song & Dance Company.
What a miserable time that was… EXCEPT it got me out to Hollywood, California (the first time) and did make an impression on me. Mostly, that I had no intention of doing show choir sorts of stuff, everagain. Especially since what it made me realize was how much I hated song medleys. I mean – I really hate medleys.**
For the record, my understanding is that the years I was in The Young Americans was the lowest point of the organization. I am not saying it was because I was in it at the time… but, I imagine my blue-haired, combat boot wearing, skull & crossbones spray-painted on my jeans punk rock self did not help anything. Honestly – I cannot imagine for even a moment that my being a part of it was a high point for the organization.
I did learn some seriously cut-throat shyte about this business we call show being a part of these show choir/glee club groups. Such as:
- You have to be ready to step up to the plate at a moment’s notice.
~ The Young Americans typically auditioned for parts in shows by having the director just point at you with no warning and saying, “sing something.” You had eight (8) bars to wow them… or sit the f*ck down. Having a bad day? Not ready when the director pointed at you? Too bad, so sad. It was step up or get out.
- The constant reminder there is always someone else ready to take your spot.
~More than once, I saw when even one mistake would happen during rehearsal, the performer would be pulled out and replaced with someone else. Easily. Seamlessly. It was a reminder that no one is “special” or “irreplaceable.” No one performer really makes a production. There is always another person for the spot.
- You have to fit in and tow the line.
~If you choose to join an organization, you need to fit in. The Young Americans was founded in the 60s with the intention of showing clean cut American kids singing show tunes (read: “NOT dirty hippies singing rock-n-roll”). It is what it is. I was never able to fit in to YA. Not that I did not try, but at the end of the day I was just too weird. Every member of YA had conservative haircuts and kind of looked like they were stamped out of a similar cookie cutter. But not me – and it always counted against me.
- There is nothing special about you. You are easily replaceable.
~Do not think this was not a tough one. There are no special snowflakes. You think you are special because _______ (fill in the blank here with any number of things including, but not limited to: liking show tunes & old movies, being gay, being straight, being molested, having your dad/mom leave, being abandoned, being whatever religion – including the really obscure ones… you get the idea). All it takes is a change in location and perspective to see you are not that special when it puts you face to face with people who are even more you than you are. Even for a punk-rock DIY kinda cat like myself – I was not nearly as anything as I thought I was.
“What does any of this have to do with taking care of yourself?”
Refer ack to my previous blog entry about Taking Care of Yourself (and the upcoming part 3 in this series), you have to be ready when the call comes in to take the gig and run with it! It is your chance to been seen and impress that audience of people waiting to see you (and shower you with ca$h!)
I regularly visit a doctor. Whenever something seems to be going wrong – I get it checked out. I have been looked at by all kinds of specialists and so on. I follow their advice as best I can.
“Oh, that is too expensive,” I hear some people saying. “It is too hard to make that happen – I do not have the time!”
I understand. I was the same way…
When I was younger, I did not go to the doctor very often, if I could help it. At times, lack of insurance was a big part of it. Of course, this was before the internet and WebMD. Before Doctor OZ and Doctor Phil. Luckily – there were some free clinics to go to. Most of the people I knew involved in tattooing and piercing were desperate to keep their businesses going under severe scrutiny – so they knew a lot about sterility, cleanliness, and taking care of wounds. I was also very lucky that my health was pretty good — and that I managed to avoid a lot of injuries. Whenever I had insurance through a job, I took advantage of trying to be seen for every possible thing every chance I could.
BUT catching things early is a good thing! I have a great doctor, now, who I do not keep anything from. She knows every single thing I do in performance and otherwise. She likes bringing in young medical students to shake up their perceived “truth” about health, safety, and the human body. She is never on me about changing what I do, as we have repeatedly gone over our processes and procedures and she has been very happy with them (as have most doctors I have talked to).
So when the doctor is like, “You have spent the past couple of years suffering from chronic bronchitis and sinusitis… that is not normal. And you are risking your voice and long-term health.” Well… then, I am going to listen, am I not?
Same thing when the doctor was like, “These stomach issues are concerning us – and the specialist and the tests we ran are pretty much saying that your gall bladder needs to go.”
I was like, “My gall bladder?!?!”
So, I let them take it out. Was a weird thing… especially since I have gone through most of my life with no surgeries of any kind (after a significant car accident just before I was 21 left me walking with a cane, I relied on a Hilot Master to help me walk again rather than have the doctor-at-the-time recommended surgery***). But, now, in the past few years I have had to get a variety of surgeries… and some dental work (also something I never really had to do). The hard part of getting older, I guess…
And, each time – it is possible this may be the time that ends my performance career. That is what weighs most heavily on my mind…
“Are you getting, yet, that taking care of yourself is not just about staying physically healthy?”
*quick aside: I used to substitute teach high school, and constantly insulted the students like Jane Lynch’s character, Sue Sylvester, GLEE. I loved to. My hatred for most of them knew no bounds. It is eventually why I have given up on politics.
**there is also the thing that I was really only a serviceable singer and just an okay dancer. Carry a tune, good stage quality, but absolutely positively NOT one of those great voices. Same with dancing – which I had studied for years and was “okay,” but not great. After being around so many really great singers and dancers finally made me realize that if I could not be one of the best – and was not enjoying it for that reason – then why do it at all? Now, I no longer sing or dance.
***not having back surgery is still, I feel, one of the smartest things I ever did. Master Sam told me that cutting into the body releases “the spirit,” and makes it nearly impossible to ever be right again. I hope, now that I have had several surgeries, that that is not correct — but, at the same time, I am older now so, really, what could my expectation be…?
THERE IS A PART 3 TO THIS THOUGHT PROCESS COMING…
BUT – Next week is something special. On 1/29/2018 is my review of So You Want To Get Into Performing 2018 edition by Scott Autrey.