Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Inappropriate bookings

This was going to be a rant about agents etc who book drag acts into the wrong venues. However, on reflection, I want to illustrate the pitfalls of jumping to premature conclusions about a venue/audience on a first viewing.

Recently I got booked to perform cabaret (as opposed to a Ladies' Night) at a Conservative Club. I had already been told that I would be sharing the bill with 'a musical act' and a Four Seasons tribute act. So far, so good. On arrival it was to find that the event was, apparently, quite posh as the room was set out like a classy cabaret room and no provision had been made for my quick changes (a localised changing area). Eventually we found a stairwell for me to change in (classy!!). Then the punters started to arrive - all beaded frocks and black ties! I thought, shit, this is way too posh for my act; how will they cope with my normal foul language and sexual innuendo? Added to this, I had two hours before I was due onstage; plenty of time for my nerves to flourish.

The first section of my act, the quick change mime routines, went well enough, if a little restrained. Then I started my patter, heavily cleaned up for what I took to be a posh, intelligent audience. It wasn't going anything like as well as I expected and I couldn't understand it. About halfway through I thought, f*** it, I am dying here, let's pull the stops out and shock them into laughing. So I reverted to my usual foul-language laden routines and all of a sudden the room came to life. They loved every F-word, sexual reference and abuse of audience members that I usually do and I ended the set to rapturous applause and a request from the Entertainment Secretary to come back for a future booking.

That night taught me that you should never judge a book by its cover. Do what you do best and stick to your guns.

I have done several bookings in the last few months where, on arrival, I have thought 'Why have they booked a drag act?' But once I get on stage and forget about preconceptions, it usually goes well.