February 25, 2009

Shrimp in a Basket

"…was originally part of an evening called “Shrimp in a Basket.” The show began with me coming out as a sea captain with a cardboard parrot duct-taped to my shoulder. In a rich mixture of English accents, real and imagined, I welcomed the audience and assured them that if what they were about to see became unnecessarily avant-garde Walkmans would automatically drop from the ceiling; I reminded them that they should put on their own headset before assisting anyone else.

Then I scurried off…where I was hot-glued into a giant cardboard lobster outfit. This took about twenty minutes and was one of the quicker costume changes of the evening. I’d persuaded a friend to bring the accordion she’d bought that afternoon and entertain the audience with songs of the sea. By the end of the evening, after five or six sets of at least twenty minutes each, what she was playing was starting to sound pretty good, almost like music.

I reemerged with two women also in crustacean drag. We lip-synched to “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion,” although the audience couldn’t tell what we were doing because the lobster suits covered out mouths. The…stage was so tiny and the costumes, though exquisite, were so huge and fragile that we couldn’t do much more than just stand there while the taped played on a borrowed boom box. Because the tickets for “Shrimp in a Basket” were only $2.99, I think most of the audience felt it was enough for the three of us to just stand in front of them, being big and pink. Then we exited, and it was time for more songs of the sea."

Holly Hughes (from Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler)

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