instead of writing a waterfire recap, i’m writing about the thing i was so determined to not be doing this season. the forecast looked so grim for saturday evening. warnings of thunderstorms with heavy rain, high winds, and hail. i agonized about it all day, and in the end i decided to stay home. so, of course, the weather was apparently fine in providence aside from a few scattered showers early on. i spent the entire weekend beating myself up about it. someday i’ll learn the lesson of “it’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t.” running for shelter in a storm is always better than not trying at all.
How did you get started?
my first two performances were at dresden dolls concerts in october 2004. i had seen living statues a few times, and those concerts were the perfect place to try it out myself. i immediately fell in love and started busking in my hometown. the following summer was my first season at waterfire.
How long does it take you to get into costume?
now that i’m not wrestling with my hair to get it under a wig, it takes about twenty minutes to get into costume for lily. fifteen of those minutes are spent on makeup. i could probably do it in half the time, but i can be a little obsessive about my makeup, so i
of course, there’s also prep work that happens before it’s time to get into costume. all the clothing components need to be washed, then my top and two skirts get de-wrinkled [i prefer steamers over irons]. if my shoes are a mess [like having gum stuck to the sole] i’ll clean them up. i check the batteries for the tip jar lights and change them if i don’t think they’ll last at least another six hours. i make sure my supply box has enough white tape to mark my space on the garden ledge for waterfire nights, extra batteries for the lights, extra business cards, a bottle of water, and my makeup. then i need to get justin set up to take photos and videos. i gather up helpful things like an external battery and a monopod for my phone, clear out storage space on my phone, and check with him to make sure his camera battery is charged. if i’m dumb and leave most of this work for the day of busking, it can take me a couple hours to get my shit together.
Have you ever used any other props…. or just your parasol?
many, many years ago, i handed out flowers. by default, the flowers and the vase used to contain them became props. the same goes for the few attempts i made at handing out candy, or little trinkets like marbles and seashells. if something is in my hands, i have to incorporate it into my poses and movements somehow.
then i decided i couldn’t deal with the greediness of people when i handed out tangible objects. so ditched the vases and baskets, and picked up a parasol instead. i stuck with that for a few years.
then i decided i preferred the physical freedom of not using props. the range of poses and movements i can do when my hands are empty is so much more enjoyable than trying to incorporate props into everything i do. now i only have a little white umbrella as an “in case of sudden showers” back up plan. i perform with props at work with ten31 productions sometimes, but i generally don’t enjoy it.
have you ever performed as other characters? if not, would you like to try?
i’ve had a few other living statue and living doll type characters, though lily has dominated my busking career for quite a few years now. before lily there was jasmine, and cloud [my silver statue], and victoria, and the lonely bride, and masquerade, and a few others who were more for concerts than regular busking. i’ve done a few non-statue characters, such as a raven at some edgar alan poe events, a ghost at some slater mill ghost tours, fairies at some concerts [many, many years ago]… currently, i have twin characters that i will probably debut via photoshoots before using them for performances, and i have a crazy project of putting together a quad stilt animal costume for something completely different. in the longer term, i’m also planning on adding more variety to my living statue arsenal by getting back into metallics as well as more complex finishes.
When will we be seeing you in the Plymouth area again?
i’ve actually been thinking about busking in plymouth again. i stopped a few years ago because it reached a point of no longer feeling worthwhile financially, and i didn’t have as much time for it. but my life is taking some turns, and i may need that kind of supplement for my income again. i might test the foot traffic in my old main street spot next time i have a free sunday afternoon.
…and this is the perfect segue into announcing my plan to busk this sunday in downtown plymouth. i will probably aim for mid-day at the corner of main street and north street. the pity party is over, it’s time to get back out there.