Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Funque Autorité

So Saturday night the funk band played a fundraiser/dinner for the Eden Foundation, which is an organization that helps families with autistic children. It was the second year we’d played this charity ball, and it was quite a large event. I’d guess there were three to four hundred people, and the Hyatt where the event the was held was using their largest ballroom. This year’s theme was “Moulin Rouge.” (These types of events usually have a theme. I’ve worked dances that were sort of mild idealized versions of Carnival in Rio, a Casino in Vegas, a Winter Ice Palace, ya know… EXCITING.) The place was done up in faux 19th century Parisienne bohemian decadence, which for a Hyatt in Princeton, New Jersey essentially comes down to orange and purple tablecloths. OK. There were however, amongst the decorative trappings TWO pairs of hanging legs suspended from trapezes over the dance floor. I’ll repeat that. There were two trapezes (trapezia?...trapezium?) hanging over the dance floor. Sitting on each trapeze was a pair of legs with hi heels, fishnet stockings, and a can-can dress. That’s right: just the legs. No torso. No waist. No nothing but legs. Ralphie’s father from A Christmas Story would have been DROOLING. (It’s labeled FRA-GILE… must be Italian!) I guess they were trying to emulate the trapeze from the movie Moulin Rouge, but it looked more like the trapeze from The Silence of the Lambs… if that movie had had a trapeze.

Anyway. The place looked nice, but what was really interesting was that the event planners had hired ACTORS to walk around dressed in period clothing for the entire night. This was quite amusing to watch. As the guests first entered the ballroom, the actors (which were all dressed like 19th century French bo-HE-mians) were on the dance floor in a faux café setting, listening to a guy play accordion. (This accordion player guy was amazing. No, really! He played the shit out of his button box- It was quite lovely. I told Andy K that it’s incredible how some guys can play the accordion and remind you of kielbasa farts, while this guy can make a beautiful sound appropriate for banging prostitutes in 1890. But I digress..)

NOW- The ack-TORS (the main event planner kept calling them ack-TORS… picture that: she’s walking around with a MICROPHONE 15 minutes before doors open talking to people she’s standing RIGHT NEXT TO with the FULL BLOWN power of the PA system saying “and then the ack-TORS will help get the music stand back so that some other ack-TORS can leave enough room for the first ack-TORS to get blah blah…” grumph.) Anyway, as guests entered, the ack-TORS had about 20 to 30 minutes to kill, while just walking around, back and forth on a 30 by 30 foot dance floor, interacting with each other. I would say that each ack-TOR had about 3 minutes of schtick planned. Then they just started repeating it. Nice. How many times, in how many different ways, can you fake "hello, nice to see you" each other? MY FAVORITE ack-TOR was this one woman dressed with a lovely hat, bustle and carrying an umbrella. Every four minutes or so she’d walk over to the café table (where two “artists” were sitting) and say “Oh HELLLLOOOO!.... and pretend that she hadn’t seen Jacques and Pierre in AGES. Then a few minutes would go by and she’d walk over again and say “Oh HELLLLOOO!.... and pretend that she hadn’t seen Jacques and Pierre in AGES. Then a few minutes would go by and she’d walk over again … Now all of this is done sotto voce, where the ack-TORS are ack-TING the way they do on stage when they’re supposed to be in the background. So essentially, you have about 20 people fake talking to one another, repeating the same expressions and faux exclamations every 4 minutes or so, with NO SOUND coming out of their mouths. With 300 guests, these ack-TORS could have been cursing as loud as Marcel Duchamp with his dick caught in a bicycle tire, and no one would have heard them- (or how's this: they could have been screaming louder than Toulouse-Lautrec at the chiropractor…) but I guess that’s the way they were used to ack-TING. Very funny, and very surreal- ESPECIALLY with all of us in the band standing essentially RIGHT NEXT to them on the bandstand watching. Neet.

I have to say that they did all look great though, as their costumes where quite authentic. Another VERY cool thing was that THIS GUY was there. That’s right. They had a bug burly dude dressed up as the guy in this Lautrec painting. Cane, scarf, hat- EVERYTHING. Whoever this guy was (the ack-TOR) he NAILED the look. Really well done.

During the course of the evening, they would project period paintings up onto the four enormous video screens that were set about the ballroom. One of the paintings was another Lautrec called “At the Moulin Rouge”.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec At The Moulin Rouge

Now – oddly enough, this painting (or a large wall-mural version of it) used to be at the McDonald’s near my home when I was a kid. (That particular McDonald’s in West Orange NJ had a whole slew of Lautrec murals. I have no idea why.) Going to this McDonalds was a rare treat, and I always used to LOVE going there, but was absolutely TERRIFIED of this painting. The woman in GREEN in the lower right hand corner SCARED THE LIVING FUCK out of me. I never copped to this, but whenever we had to sit near this mural, I couldn’t look at her. She was just CREEPY. I think this subconsciously imprinted upon me a fear of strangely lit older women, which is why I always run out of the room and have a bizarre craving for fries whenever I watch Barbara Walters.

The dance went well, the guests were into the band, and I guess they raised a slew of money. Hoo. Ray.

No comments: