My First Night as a Goddess for Hire: Part II
The dancers room backstage was narrow and small and yet absolutely perfect. There were lipstick speared mirrors with short glitter crusted stools along one wall. Every other surface and open wall space had neon paint and sequins splattered across it in nonsensical ways, as if for years dancers had hurriedly wiped extra paint and sticky sequins off on it on their way to the stage. I ducked under one of the many deteriorating pipes that popped out from the walls before snaking back into another. Taking a seat next to the mirror, I chose my spot according to the assumedly-known gogo code; if you're new, you get the shittiest lighting to get ready in. The lighting – or lack there of – gave off a reddish hue. I looked at myself as I whipped my make-up away.
I had done a good job, but it looked nothing at all like the photo my new boss had sent all of us through email. My attempt at copying the intricate lines and powder placement that coexistent together on this 2D lady's face to make a creature of fearsome beauty... slightly less than accurate. So, instead of going with the Mr. Peanut of the Golden City – maybe not the best comparison, but definitely my favorite – to some fancy art gallery opening looking like a creature from the blue lagoon, I decided to put a normal face on till I could make a final attempt before show time.
I waited for help – by now I was just wasting powder – but it was 10pm and not a sound was heard from the creaky stairs.
The email said 10, no?
I grabbed my phone and found the email from Stacy.
Yup, 10 o'clock.
I recalled my first and only time meeting Stacy before getting this gig and began to question what I was getting myself into.
It was also the first night I met Marco. He had seen me dancing at Mighty to some deep house being spun by one of the best Djs in San Francisco, Miguel Miggs.
We hit it off and within minutes I was assuming my soon to be usual position of trying to keep up with him as he pulled me by my hand into the start of a new life. After taking me backstage where I made a giggling fool out of myself while meeting the gorgeous Mr. Miggs, he brought me up to the front of the box where a sexy sadistic nurse was dancing so slowly and so smoothly that she seemed unreal. Her thigh high red buckle up boots and tiny costume oozed a surprisingly refined sort of sexual appeal. She just had something about her, a way of moving that made her ethereal even in such a generically oppressing costume. Her red silicon lips pouted into a seductive smile as she saw Marco approach.
“What do you want?!” Marco shouted over the music at her and pointed to the bar.
She mouthed something and he ordered us a round of Fernet.
The next day I sent her an audition video and that next weekend I was sitting backstage at Ruby Skye waiting for someone to show up and help me with my face.
At 10:30 I heard the staircase shaking heavily. It sounded as if Andre the Giant had learned that there was beer in the dancers room - and also wasn't still dead, hopefully... But I was startled to see a beautifully lean and lanky dancer appear in the door way. She lugged a decently sized rolling suitcase behind her and I assumed he was the culprit.
"Hi, I'm Deanna," she said in the middle of a heavy sigh.
"Natalie!" I said.
"Yeah, I gathered that," she added as she threw her case down by the first little stool and began fixing her eyelashes in the mirror.
She looked at me in the mirror, then stopping suddenly, turned her face to face mine.
"You're not wearing the make up?"
Remembering my previous struggles, I said, "Yeah, uhh, I-"
"Come over here," she said in an ode to a tired repetition.
I shuffled my way like a sullen school girl over to the tiny stool next to Deanna.
She drilled me about my dance background while fixing my face with inks and powders. She seemed a little less annoyed at my existence when she found out I had had many years of intense ballet training. I came to learn that Deanna was the sort of gatekeeper of the gogos. Stacy trusted Deanna's judgement, so for the past several years poor Deanna has been stuck testing, training, and or dismissing the new girls. She never complained, but now I understood her initial disdain.
I've always been a hands on learning kind of girl, so while Deanna was prodding my face I took a mental map of what stroke paths she used for future reference. I looked at myself in the mirror when she was done and felt a tinge of nostalgia at the face staring back. Stage make up was always fun to put on as a kid because becoming someone new is always exciting, no matter who you are. You scare people when you're walking down the streets, but you excite them when they see you on the stage; both are entertaining reactions. But I'm sure nothing was quite as entertaining as my reaction when I met Kitty, the second dancer to climb up the death stairs.