My third journey down to Asheville, NC for ABSFest and my second time performing there.
Friday night June 3rd 2011
The adventure down started fairly normal, I picked up the rental car, packed it with my stage pole and left Bmore by 10:20 am for the long drive down.
It was a tedious morning and afternoon drive, for there was more traffic than I thought there would be. Ranging from being blocked in by trucks and then brief moments of open road, and then blocked in again… needless to say, I was getting cranky and I was maybe trying to to make up some time…and well… I got a speeding ticket. Yeah, damn it. Whatever.
Still pressing on, I saw a truck engulfed in flames with the driver standing in the street taking photos. And then I hit some real serious traffic. It actually ended up adding almost two (2) whole hours to an already 8 hour drive. I did not think I would be able to make it to the mini bus ride, which was to be departing at 8pm. Seeing as how I allowed myself plenty extra time for traffic but that time was being eaten away. I was very annoyed, I had a speeding ticket, damn it. Once the gigantic traffic jam cleared, I did not stop for anything, and just blazed through. Seeing the “Arrival Time” on my Garmen get shaved down minute by minute, as I blazed down highway 26 I thought there might be a slight chance I would be able to make it to the bus. The arrival time was reduced by about 10 minutes, and soon enough, I was driving by the square on Patton Ave.
I quickly swung my rental car in a parking spot in Asheville at 7:56pm. I shoved some money into the parking pay box and I ran. I ran towards the Friday night show venue, and saw a purple bus not too far in the distance. I kept running and saw people step onto the bus. I saw everyone file into the bus, but I kept running and soon enough there I was at the bus door. I stopped running, took a breath, said to the driver “Ah…I made it!” Stepped on and it pulled away.
Feeling pretty glad that after the longest drive to Asheville ever plus getting a speeding ticket that I made it to the bus just -in- time. The bus drove around and everyone inside would cheer and shout and wave at people outside, and it was more fun that I thought it would be.
After that I spent some time waiting for the Friday night show to start. Since it turned out that I would be waiting longer than I originally thought, I stood outside and met the talented and beautiful Lola Van Ella and Sammich the Tramp, and I was most excited to learn that they are from St. Louis! Well we, along with April LeQueen and Ophelia Cummings went to Thirsty Monk and got some yummy Lindemans beer, and it was great to site with them all and just relax and have a yummy drinkie and talk.
After we finished our drinks, we went back to BeBe Theater and the Friday night show had already started, I was able to catch a couple of routines before the end, but really I was so very tired after the trip. Not too long after that I checked into the motel and finally got some sleep.
Saturday June 4th 2011
Saturday afternoon was load in time. Most performers didn’t need a load-in/set-up time, but I sure did. I got to walk back and forth from the font door to the stage at Orange Peel for the heavy stage pole parts. Back and forth until it was finally time to set it up, and wow it was hot in there! The enormous fan on the ceiling of Orange Peel is great for the audience, but I realized that you can not feel the air when on the stage. It was warm out, the pole was so very nice and grippy, but I was concerned for my own skin and worried about getting too sweaty. I thought that since the show was at night, it would be a bit cooler. Yeah.
Once the stage pole was set up on stage, I left for a little walk around Asheville with Mourna Handful, but not too much of a walk because it quickly became time to go back to the hotel and take my second shower of the day to re-freshen up for the show. After starting in on the first layer of makeup, I went back to Orange Peel for the show.
Soon enough, all the performers arrived, and it was such a great feeling to see jugglers warm up before the show…ya don’t see that all the time. My stage pole was doing great, nice and grippy, but it was getting hotter and hotter in there. Quick tech run, and my only requests for lighting was to have them at about 50% brightness to lessen the heat on stage…anything to lessen the temperature would help. We filled out introduction information for Armitage Shanks, who was hosting the show, soon the doors were open and slowly but surely Orange Peel began filling up with the audience. Even though there were only two dressing rooms and they both were packed to the brim with performers, it was actually “cooler” being in the backstage area than out where the audience was, but really both areas were hot. I found myself going to the bathroom to stand around since it was much cooler in there that the rest of the venue.
Well eventually, the show started. And I have to respect the hell out of Maria Bella standing back there in a black vinyl jacket waiting to perform. My pole routine outfits are already pretty light and movable and I along with everyone else was slowly becoming a sweaty mess. I tried my best to keep cool, going to the bathroom to cool off, and soon a large fan was brought into the dressing rooms. I stood out to watch some routines, but since it was hotter out at the show than backstage I didn’t watch a lot of the show.
The first 1/3 of the show was over, and it was intermission time, meaning that soon it will be my turn to sweat on stage. Armitage opened the 2nd part of the show with a song, and then I got out there. I was so scared of being too sweaty and wet, I was terrified I would slip. My stage pole was moved to center by some fingers from 40 Fingers and a Missing Tooth, and I wiped it down and applied Dry Hands to the pole as usual. Only this time, the pole felt so dry it was almost slick, very strange. A few seconds into the routine, the dry feeling went away and I was officially sweaty. Amazingly I made it through the knee hold, and I see that next time I pole perform in a place this hot I need to put Dry Hands on the back of my knees. I did my whole routine, each move as planned, I just didn’t hold the poses as long as I normally do, due to the sweat. For the Brass Monkey I usually hold the pose and look out and smile at the audience, but that night I was looking straight down at the stage pole floor, and saw it coming closer to me ever so slightly, and I got out of the pose real quick. Then I did my shouldermount, superman, drop back, unziped the top and then I was done! I made it through the sweatiest pole performance ever, and I didn’t fall!
The rest of the show was almost a blur. And then it was the second intermission, and 2/3 of the show had passed, and then the third act began. Some of it I saw, some of it I was spending my time standing outside and cooling off. Eventually the whole show was over, and all I could think of was to break down the stage pole and get some food. I quickly started to take apart the stage pole, and my face felt so hot and red and sweaty. I got some help in breaking it down by someone that works at Orange Peel, he even brought everything down the little elevator and placed next to the loading area door. But I just couldn’t stop sweating. He suggested that I go take a peek through a door behind a curtain. When I went through this door he was pointing to, it ended up being the electrical equipment room – with Air Conditioning! Oh that room was so great at that moment. We both stood inside for a couple minutes, basking in the cold air.
After loading up my rental car with the stage pole, I talked to other performers and some audience members, but the Orange Peel was slowly emptying out. I knew of the after party, but really didn’t have the energy for anything other than eating and sleeping. I went one of the few restaurant/bars opened and ate with Maria Bella, Mourna Handful and Little Luna. And then slipped into my motel room for much needed sleep. I wanted to shower after all the sweat and grip aids on my skin, but really I was way too exhausted. Gross but exhausted.
Sunday June 5th 2011
Onto the Arcade for the Sunday brunch show with performances by DCs Cheeky Monkey Sideshow. The place was totally packed, and I ordered food that was never actually given to me. The show was cool, from what I could see, but I was so distracted by wanting the food I ordered to be placed in front of me. I was getting mighty hungry when the show was over. Lola Van Ella and Sammich arrived as the show ended. Since they hadn’t eaten yet and neither had I, we went somewhere else for breakfast.
We went to The Southern, where I had the greatest Lobster Benedict ever! It was so yummy, I still think about it. So, a little more walking around and then back to the hotel for some downtime. So much walking and talking this weekend, it was nice to sit and watch TV for a bit. The sun set and then it was time to go to Mo Daddys for the Sunday night show. There weren’t a lot of people there, I think most everyone was totally pooped by then. But I still made an appearance, got some food talked for a bit and then back to sleep.
Monday June 6th 2011
Loaded up the car, checked out of the hotel and was in downtown Asheville by 10:30am. Time sure flys walking around there in the heat, and soon enough it was noon. I ate at Ed Boudreaux , which is kind of tradition whenever I go to Asheville, walked around downtown a little more…and holy crap it was 2:30pm and I had a long drive ahead of me!
Getting back into the rental car, I set the Garmen to go home, and I amazingly made it to Baltimore in only 7 1/2 hours. I just drove straight home and only stopped once to fill up on gas.
And there you have it, my Asheville weekend concluded with returning the rental car (I couldn’t wait to get back to driving my beloved Forester) and getting more much needed sleep. I don’t know if I will do the festival next year, probably won’t just to try some other festival out that I haven’t been to yet. But this will hold the record as being the sweatiest pole performance that I have ever made it through.