And so, I survived the Science Festival once again. It was a much easier event than the previous year, considering that they had paired me with a colleague that actually worked with me instead of the usual “bus throwing” tactics. So it was nice working with someone who was actually patient, supportive, and reasonable.
But I did get to see a kangaroo. And that was awesome.
Regardless, I survived, but I decided it was time to expand my horizons. I was planning to work as a marketing/programming director for this little underground screening room/theater that specialized in cult films and live Rocky Horror Picture Show performances. It was just a matter of time before I planned my egress from the Museum.
In the meantime, Charlsey, her friend Jeff and I decided to go bowling. With drag queens. The Neonopolis in Fremont Street had opened a new bar/bowling alley called Drink & Drag, which is fully hosted by the aforementioned gals while you get your game on. I was actually bowling a pretty good game for a while, but they have these special pins that, if they lead the pin formation and a strike is rolled, your group gets a round of free shots. And guess who rolled a strike? It’s an interesting experience, being cheered on by friends, fellow bowlers and drag queens alike, but my game suffered after that particular round of complimentary, and to be honest, I think that’s part of the “master plan” to make sure you don’t get a ton of free drinks. The sly and all too knowing wink pretty much confirmed that.
After that, it was work on a Russian film called 3 Days in Vegas, and back to the Billboard Music Awards, which turned out to not be as crazy as the previous year, but did have its own highlights:
• Two people in a joined zebra costume busting out the “running man” during LMFAO’s “Every Day I’m Shuffling” song. I’m not a fan of the song, but I did love that crazy dancing zebra.
• Me tripping on the stairs to accept a reward during rehearsal. I nearly faceplanted in front of 300 people, but played it off by holding up the award and saying “Well, you can tell how excited I am to get this. I lost control of my legs just getting up on stage!” And I managed to pull that off to a horde of screaming fans. They’ll scream for anybody on stage, those fans. It’s cool and surreal at the same time.
• Seeing Stevie Wonder perform a good 25-30 feet away from me. You could tell anyone over 30 years old as they immediately got up and got into it for him when he came out on stage. And he is good. Oh man, is he good. Like Lionel, he is also “The Business”.
I also had to review Le Reve at the Wynn, which was pretty cool (I’ve still yet to see O).
And then came time for my mini-vacation: The Forgotten City.
Basically, Forgotten City is “Burning Man Lite”, a regional burn that took place on the outskirts of Boulder City. I felt it important to “dip my toes” as it were as I was confirmed to go to Burning Man for the Summer. Besides, the majority of my campmates here would be the same there.
I stayed with a theme camp called the “Naked Tiki Bar”. To its credit, it holds true to its namesake, as it was a “clothing optional” camp once inside the bar. So I got well acquainted with my campmates pretty quickly.
It was all pretty normal until a zombie horde raided the camp. There was a zombie theme camp across the way who decide to add all us to their legion of undead, as so noted by the red ribbons they left on our arms.
The rest of the first night was an odd mixture of memories: Flame spewing horses, pedal cars shaped like bugs, a camp that looked exactly like an old Western saloon (of which my Deadwood background came in handy), a dance party that had electronica infused swing music from the 1920′s, the “Challenge of the Three Monkeys”, which is essentially “Truth or Dare” clearly meant for the “big kids”, and a lot of costumes and glowsticks.
Even breakfast wasn’t the most standard of events. There was a camp that was handing out coffees from all over the world, so Ron [another campmate] and I set out to find some). Our quest led us to a guy dressed as Toad from Super Mario Bros., and the following conversation….
Me: “Excuse me, we’re looking for the camp that serves coffee around here.”
Toad (or actually “1-Up”): “You want me to make you a salad? I’m not making you a fucking salad!”
Me: …. “So if I were to ask you to make me a Waldorf light on the walnuts… not happening, right?”
Me: “Well, do you know where the coffee is?”
We did find some iced coffee, however.
The rest of the day was spent on a fairly ludicrous pirate treasure hunt, a 600-pound pig roast, and as shark and flying carpet shaped cars whizzed around the drummers and fire spinners, they eventually had a big burning effigy:
And I beat the “Monkey Challenge”, becoming a “Master”. I was the first guy of the event to do so, but throwing myself into strange situations and challenges is pretty common for me.
The last day, teardown, was an all-day process, as everyone was recovering from the night before. But I had an audition in Los Angeles the next day, and I needed to get home.
As I started to charge my phone in the middle of clearing out the car, I happened to glance in the rear view mirror and see this dark brown cloud coming towards me.
I jumped out of the car and immediately closed the back hatch, and like an idiot, I turned around to see if I had made it in time. I barely had time to mumble “Oh, fuck” in resignation as the cloud blasted me full force.
I stumbled back in pain, my work gloves blown off in the process. I ran to close the driver door and bent down to try and catch one of the gloves when a new black mass formed over my head: The shade tent used for camp had uprooted and was bearing down on me.
“Shit”, I choked out as the tent landed directly on the car, its broken metal legs shredding apart and encasing me against the vehicle. I glanced up long enough to see someone’s wardrobe being carried away as the sandstorm left as quickly as it happened. I was caked in mud and debris, but otherwise unhurt, save for spitting out clumps of dirt. The car got minor damage, but if I hadn’t thrown myself against it when I did, I’d probably be wearing a tent through my chest.
But I survived, and was ready for my drive to Los Angeles the next day. Auditions are pretty standard: Go in, smile, take photos, do my run-through of lines, smile, and done. And hopefully, you’ll be called back.
I decided to leave early for home, tired from the previous weekend. I had just made it past the Los Angeles Convention Center of the I-10, when I saw a small, brown form in the middle in the freeway. I glanced at it momentarily as I started to think it was merely unfortunate roadkill.
And then its head moved.
Gut instinct threw my car into a hard brake, and I was out of my car before I knew it. It was only a passing car ripping past me at 70 miles per hour that reminded me of the gravity of my decision. “Well, this is the stupidest thing I’ve done”, I muttered as another car shot past me. “At least today, anyway.” But I was set on my new mission.
The kitten was huddled into a ball, terrified, and hissed at me when I came near. It immediately ran towards my car, where I noticed it was limping. It had been hit, but it wasn’t mangled. It crawled underneath my car, and behind my tire. So there I was, trapped on the I-10, having shut down the road while on foot, and now unable to move.
The driver in the car behind me got out and tried to help me. A cop, and later a roadside assistance guy pulled up trying to help me. I was trying everything to get the cat out, including jacking up my car to see if I could reach in. Again, the kitten didn’t want to be touched. The cat ran from one tire to the other, eventually leaving my car and hiding in the cop’s tire. While they tried to figure out, animal control was called. After assuring me that the cat wouldn’t be harmed, I went on my way.
And then my conscience got ahold of me. Also, I had left my tire iron behind.
So I turned around, navigating side streets and getting back on the I-10 to the mess I’ve made. When I got there, I didn’t like what I saw.
The kitten was limping and falling on the side of the road, while the cop and roadside guy stood by and watched. “Your fucking cat bit me”, the roadside guy snapped at me, holding his bloodied hand. “Sorry, but not my cat”, I said. I turned to the cop. “What’s going on with him”, I motioned at the cat. “Don’t worry. The cat’s got a broken leg. It’s not going anywhere in a hurry”, he said with a smirk.
I immediately decided that I no longer liked him.
“If that cat crawls out onto the freeway again and gets hit, all of this will have been for nothing”, I snapped at him. His smirk dropped. “Fine. Here”, I snapped again as I walked away from the cop to again hit the side of the freeway to chase down the cat.
The cat saw me, and tried to run away, only to fall and cry out. I crouched down, and held my hand out where it again hissed at me in return. “Whoa, hey, it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you”, I said calmly. “We just need to get you off the road.” The cat finally crawled under a small crack in the median, and cried. “I guess that’s good enough”, I said.
I walked back to the now pissed cop. “You need to leave”, he said. “At least let me give it some food until animal control shows up”, I said. “You need to leave now, sir”, he said, slightly advancing towards me. So I resigned, and left.
45 minutes later, some random guy in start and stop traffic rear ended me. Shredding my bumper. That’s karma for you. I didn’t get home until 11:30 that night.
At the Museum the next day, I got demoted out of the blue, with the only explanation management being “Because I am queen.” That was the actual, serious rationale. Honestly, if you’re not part of the British monarchy, a contestant on Rupaul’s Drag Race, or taking part in a beauty pageant, then no, you are not a “Queen”. That pretty much set my decision for what I needed to do.