A few weeks ago I had my first public performance doing air guitar since I started training. I honestly focused a totally disproportionate amount of attention on the costuming rather than the air guitar part. I’m super pressure motivated and I really needed a reason to get the costume started so in that sense- it served it’s purpose. For weeks leading up to the show- I spent hours and hours gluing rhinestones, sewing on patches, and hand studding my denim vest. But practice? Nope.
I learned a few things after doing that show-
- Not to drink four ciders in a short period of time on an empty stomach. Ya might get drunk.
- Don’t get drunk and try to perform an unrehearsed, fast paced song for two and a half minutes in platforms and expect it to look really good.
- That headbanging for the entire length of said song while drunk in platforms is not a good idea. I had to google “how to cure a bangover” the next day I hurt so bad.
- Fuckin practice.
I walked away after that night feeling pretty disappointed in myself. It was definitely not a performance that I was super proud of. Was it funny? Yes. Was it awesome? No. So I started to beat myself up about it. But the feeling was familiar. It reminded me of back when I was new to burlesque. I was producing one of my first heavy metal burlesque shows and trying to get a Gwar act together for myself to perform that night. I was feeling really pressed for time so I used what little time I had on the costume and never even bothered to choreograph much of a routine. So when the time came to do the performance, which included multiple other people on stage with me, it was hilarious chaos involving me fake ejaculating silly string from my cuttlefish, killing a grandma, and moshing around with another performed dressed up as fellow Gwar performer Slymenstra Hymen. It was entertaining and funny and ridiculous but in the end- it was not at all what I wanted it to be. It didn’t feel like a representation of what I was capable of. Even though the crowd loved it, I was bummed.
Now granted, I’m very into being in the moment on stage and improv-ing much of what I do. It’s become sort of my thing. I think it can work to achieve a more honest performance where you’re connected with the audience if you have space to respond to what they’re responding to. Over the last seven years I’ve found a balance that works for me of developing a loose structure and certain marks I want to hit then filling in the rest with whatever happens. But to walk blindly into a performance with no real preparation and expect it to just turn out okay is naive.
So when I found myself feeling kinda low after this last air guitar performance I was quick to remember where I am now as a burlesque performer and how I got there. It made me feel a lot better to see a path that had already been traveled and to know that we all have to learn from our mistakes and not be discouraged by them.
It’s only up from here.