A witch, an orphan, and The Phantom of the Opera walk into a bar. The bartender says "What the fuck?" The orphan says "Can we use your restroom?"
Last Wednesday night, my roommate announced that he would like to go to Las Vegas. I went over the pros and cons of the city, as I saw them. One of the largest cons (besides Celine Dion and iodine filled shrimp) on my list was the barrage of people who stand outside the casinos smacking flyers against their palms and sticking them in the front of your face. I referred to those people as soulless inbred pieces of shit. This week I call them colleagues.
When Zuzu called me and said that a company wanted to pay me $20 an hour to dress up as The Phantom of the Opera and hand out flyers, I thought...well, I didn't think anything, little green dollar signs flashed in my eyes, my dick got hard, and I began to drool. This is clearly a sign that I need to reconsider my career options.
On Thursday afternoon, I listened in on The Conference Call of the Damned. Dozens of people from around the country who, like me, had chosen to sell their dignity in order to play dress up, called and asked ridiculous questions of the incompetent managers running the promotion. When the managers felt they had distributed all the appropriate knowledge to us lowly pions, they deigned we could hang up the phone, one of my boneheaded colleagues shouted "I'm SanFranPhantom2004 on AIM, IM me." I considered donating some of my pride to him, but I know he'd only abuse it.
Friday night I went to see/participate in a show with Steggy and veritable who's who of my friends list (meaning that if I posted their journal names you'd be like "who's that? I've never seen them comment before"). Unfortunately, I didn't get to do any Insafemode stuff, but that's ok, I got to satirize Steggy AND hear a bunch of my favorite poets from MA. When I got home shortly after midnight, I sat down to watch John Stewart bitch slap Crossfire. The doorbell rang. At 1:05 AM some motherfucker was ringing my goddamned doorbell. Zuzu was that motherfucker.
We drove to her house, my humble abode circa 2000, and then again circa 2001. After some pistachios and chai, she gave me the first of the bad news. Chuck the Incompetent (what can you expect from a grown man who goes by Chuck?) had told both men in the promotion that they would be the phantom. The other guy being a 75 year old man. The other character in the promotion being Oliver Twist. Now, for the benefit of mankind, I was willing to concede that I should be the one dressed as a twelve year old orphan. So I put on the torn shirt, ripped corduroys, green neckerchief, and paperboy hat (I bet you'd like to see a picture of that you sick fucks). Meanwhile, Zuzu put on her Tracy Turnblad costume.
When I lived in the house with Zuzu, her husband and their son, the neighbors gave us lots of dirty looks. More than a couple of people believed that we were living some sordid swinger life. I can only imagine what these neighbors were thinking when they peered through the windows at 3 AM and saw Zuzu in a big wig and a housedress featherdusting while I wandered around the kitchen dressed like a twelve year old orphan.
The next morning Chuck called to give us moral support. He called Zuzu's house and told us how stupid the people from the California promotion were. He called the other half of our team and told them how stupid the Chicago people were. He also mentioned how hard it was to cast the New York show, what with all the black people replying to the ads. "You can't have a black Phantom of the Opera. That would be like a gay Oliver."
The promotion was scheduled to start somewhere in the city at nine. At 11 or so, we all met in a parking garage, introduced ourselves and walked out into the public eye. Actually we walked into auditions for the fucken Real World. Picture 2 men, and 3 women dressed in Broadway show costumes weaving through hundreds of 18-24 year old "reality TV" hopefuls. There were a few cat calls. And yes, by putting on ridiculous costumes and walking the streets of Boston we sacrificed a bit of our dignity. You can make fun of us for that. But while we're losers for pretending to be someone else, if your narcissistic ass gets a part on The Real World, you'll be branded a loser just for being yourself. May you all get stuck on Road Rules, trailer trash.
From the very beginning of Day One, I got all kinds of flirt play. Mostly from fairly hot looking women, but from a few Broadway geek gays, too. I was returning the flirt to one such boy when I noticed this really sleazy looking Skeletor standing in a puddle of his own drool. He limps over to me and starts talking to me about how much he loves musicals, and he's really happy that young men like myself are able to make money acting in musicals. Whatever, freak. After a few seconds of me obviously trying to ignore him without being so obvious that I drop character, he asks what high school I go to.
EWWWWWW. Look you middle-sighted Skeletor looking pedophile, I'm not at all flattered that you think I look young enough to be in high school. I felt like calling over one of the cops that was in the area and asking them to beat him with their nightclubs.
I understand the attraction to youth thing, but if I'm sixty years old and approaching what I think to be a high school student on the street in an attempt to get some play, I hope they taser my testicles and drag me back to the senior citizen concentration camp.
Don't get me wrong, I don't see anything wrong with old people and young people dating (I'm a little grossed out in most cases, but to each their own deviance) but old people harassing teenagers is just bleurgh. No amount of Viagra in the world...
The rest of the day was smoother than a queen's upper lip. People loved us. Hordes of tourists demanded to take pictures of us, and then took flyers by the handful. Not one was thrown on the ground. We were promotion whores. Around oneish we hit The Commons, where we were serenaded by a homeless man dressed as The Cat in the Hat. If I'm ever down on my luck, I will write an inspirational story about this man. At three we turned around, and began our pilgrimage to the car. All in all, a fantastic day.
The second day began the badness. Being smarter than the coma patient who dreamed up this promotion, I suggested we head to the Theatre District and hand out flyers about a Broadway themed television show to the people who were paying top dollar to go see Broadway shows. This is why they pay me the big bucks. Unfortunately, parking in Boston on Sunday near the Theatre District is an ugly zoo. It took, literally, hours, for us to find parking. While the women searched for parking Grandpa Phantom and I headed to The Wang to pass out flyers. We were quickly told to disperse.
When we met up with Zuzu, The Witch, and Thoroughly Modern Millie, we decided to hit up some high traffic locations that we'd avoided the day before. On the way there, we made a return trip to The Common. This time, instead of flocks of tourists, there was a mob centered around one of the park bench areas. The Phantom and I were leary of the mob, so we stood back while the womenfolk began pestering the people of the mob. That's when I noticed the cross. So did Zuzu and "Millie," both of whom backed off. Meanwhile, during a moment of silence for the homeless Christians of Boston, a woman in a witch costume was handing out flyers for a television show. Oddly, no one was struck by lightning.
Other highlights of the day included being waved into a senior citizen home where all the residents took pictures and flyers, and getting free advertising by the Duck Tours staff who took flyers, and pointed us out every time they drove past us, making sure to note the TV show we were promoting and when it airs. Go Ducks.
On our way through the North End, we encountered some sort of hockey team who took pictures with us. After the photos were taken, I handed one of the ugly monkeys a flyer which he refused. He said "I don't watch no Broadway shows" much the way a hooker will tell a cop "I don't suck no dick for crack money."
Around two o'clock we headed toward The Opera House, where The Lion King would be getting out. Unlike those assholes at The Wang, the lovely staff at The Opera House were more than happy to allow us to hand out Broadway related flyers to the people leaving a Broadway show. Right around the corner from The Opera House, a mob of people with photos snapped hundreds of pictures of us, and took hundreds of flyers. They were there to take pictures of The Yankees leaving their hotel room. And so it was that a mob of Yankee fans, Red Sox Nation, the audience of The Lion King, and five soulless TV promoters shared the same block in Boston, MA. We gave out ten thousand flyers. TEN THOUSAND in thirty minutes. They had given us five days to give out fifteen thousand. Chuck and his bosses should each fly out here to Boston and suck my cock for coming up with the "pass out flyers in the Theatre District" idea.
They won't. Chuck would probably have said something like "I hope you didn't give any tickets to the gooks or the spics. They don't like Broadway shows."
Now we had a conundrum. We'd signed up for five days of work handing our flyers. In one and a half days, the tickets were all gone. We decided as a group to call Chuck and ask him to send more tickets, hinting that we might need more, not letting him now that we were finished with the job. So Chuck mailed us out more tickets.
For whatever reason, we were forbidden to work on Monday (further proof that Chuck belongs to some weirdo cult for the creatively challenged). So this morning, the witch, the phantom, "Millie", Zuzu and I met in the pouring rain to hand out flyers in malls. This is, by the way, completely against policy in every mall in America. Incompetent Chuck and friends had not arranged any place for us to go in case of rain. I knew, having done my tour of duty as a mall worker, that handing out flyers on their property was going to get us in trouble. Once again, I came to the rescue. I harassed the nice folks of Borders and Barnes & Noble, all of whom were overjoyed to take stacks of flyers from us. Still, we had been contracted to hand the flyers out on the streets, so in my two size too small shoes (which I forgot to mention earlier), I trudged through the rain where angry suits, aging Valley Girls, and the sort of black-eyelined cutting pseudo-goth whose LJ name likely includes the word "bitch" "pain" or "vindicated" refused to take flyers.
There are five common moves used to avoid getting flyers:
Move #1 is the no-eye contact fly by. I approve whole-heartedly to this approach. You don't want the flyer or your time wasted. I agree that you have a right not to talk to me, hot and charming as I may be.
Move #2: The two handed cell phone approach. This says that you would take a flyer but your cell phone is so heavy that you just can't carry anything else. This is usually accompanied by a shrug.
Move #3: The head shake and grimace. Kind of like the no-eye contact fly by but with a "Fuck you for interrupting my very busy day of molesting children and stealing from the poor" cherry on top.
Move #4: Feigned interest. You listen to the spiel, ask questions, then leave without taking a flyer. Have you nothing better to do? I don't. If I did, I'd be doing it. Either take a flyer or go back to your job at Starbuck's.
Move #5: Arm waving hostility. This is accompanied by screaming and moral outrage. Luckily, none of the promoters in my group were the recipient of move #5. But while we were in Harvard Square in the wind and rain, we were interspersed with people trying to get donations and volunteers for John Kerry and a similar group for George Bush. One poor sap asked some liberal looking guy if he'd like to donate to Kerry. The guy got really indignant and began waving his hands and screaming "I've already given $500 to the Kerry campaign and $500 to the Democrats. Thanks to this ridiculous McBane law (his ignorance, not mine), I can't legally blah blah blah. Why can't you guys give me a pin or something so you know that I've done all I legally can. Stop harassing me blah blah blah." While he ranted, I asked the pro-Bush people for a stack of flyers, and stuck them in the manpurse the guy was carrying.
At the end of the day, wet, sullen, burly, blister-footed, I dragged myself to the bar where I have, on occasion, met my prospective publisher. I hoped she would show, see me in all my raggedy glory so she would be inspired to either speed up the publication/check cutting process or at least see the limits I was willing to go to get material for my next book.