Monday, January 10, 2011

Parade Rest

First day of a new set of passengers on the Navigator and I am stuck in the pub unable to escape due to the welcome aboard parade that has taken over the Royal Promenade. As I watch the parade staff trying their best to look like they are having a good time strutting in garish costumes, I am glad that it is not a requirement for a guest entertainer. However, it reminds me of the days when I *was* required to parade in costume for a paycheck. Not on a ship but dry land. Not that it made a difference to my self-esteem at the time. I feel the angst of those who I watch now paying their dues.

It was a dinner theater called Charlies Place in FT Worth, Texas. We did a variety show for an audience that dined on gourmet spaghetti. It kept Sandi and I employed for a couple of years as bizarre as it seems now. And it did lead to meeting my first personal manager who brought me to LA and the rest is history as they say. The manager assured me my parading days were over. It is the only thing he came through on.

We changed shows every few months at Charlies Place and eventually did a show themed on all six countries that owned Texas in it's past. The cursed parade was part of the Mexico theme. In context of the show a procession of Mexican peasants proceeded the arrival of Coronado, the conquering hero. It became a musical number because we were so happy to be conquered, I suppose.

We were all dressed in muslin drag with sombrero's carrying various gifts for Sr Coronado. In reality the gifts were cheap border town souvenirs from Juarez. We paraded through the night club carrying the "gifts" trying to look and sound as Mexican as a waspy cast could. Only the guy who played Coronado was actually Hispanic. He translated a song for us to sing in Spanish at the conclusion of the parade.

My peasant was chosen to carry an awful interpretation of Christ on the Cross depicted in straw. I came to call it the "damn straw Jesus". I was at the time humiliated as a performer and offended as a card carrying Methodist to have to carry such a gift. It was pure sacrilege as I saw it, and hated every second I had to handle it. I will probably have to answer on judgment day for the way I treated the icon. I was as abusive as possible toward the prop hoping it would become so shabby looking they would have to give me something else to carry. It didn't work. All I accomplished was to make an already awful looking savior look more terrible.

They did have the good sense to put me in the back for the musical number. Consequently I never had to learn the Spanish lyrics. After the first phrase "Coronado hombre amado ..." I faked it with words like enchilada, taco, con queso and occasionally Desi Arnaz. In FT Worth, Texas no one was going to notice.

The show ended finally but ran longer than Mexico occupied Texas. There were other humiliations in performances to follow but none as defeating to my ego as bearer of the "damn straw Jesus".

So parade on my Royal Caribbean brothers and sisters. I can tell you that this too shall pass and some day if you are lucky, like me, they will give you a Tony in exchange for your goofy prop.
As you were,

1 comment:

Roomie said...

The Mexico theme show at Charlie's sounds VAGUELY like the opening number from another show that we were both involved in earlier in that were excused, but I....a dashing Spaniard in tights, as I should have been, carrying nothing but my oversized ego (I said it), but having to learn the Spanish w/o being able to just mouth something else....sound familiar to you...?
Carry on,
Oh, and while you are basking in the lovely Mediterranean or wherever you are , the snow and ice has begun to clear and it's 18 enjoy the gig....