is my butt in the light?
austin is possibly my favorite city.
if new orleans were a person, she would be amy winehouse: self-destructive, raw, and the kind of drunk who gets belligerent and incoherent, yelling things like "i am the superbowl! i am the cosmic whip cracking." a hell of a good time to party with, but, you know the night is going to either end in tears, with a one-night stand youll regret in the morning, or in jail. and since none of those things are mutually exclusive, possibly all three. austin is new orleans older, slightly more mature sister. not the one who got married to her high school boyfriend and who now lives in the burbs driving a mini van and who has 2.5 kids. no, austin is drew barrymore: the sister who successfully completed rehab but who remains quirky, eccentric, free spirited and proudly weird, and who, on a dollar bet, would probably still flash a bartender for free drinks.
i was in austin for work and unfortunately missed sxsw bythismuch (my conference was monday - wednesday, but i flew out on friday to spend the weekend with t-rock and k.l.m.). because the festival just ended, no touring groups were coming through town. fortunately, austin has loads of other weird and funky ways to pass the night, and the best independent record store in the world, hands down. i should be ashamed to tell you how many cds i bought at waterloo records. i know; im the last person alive who actually buys cds. i cant help it. a trip to waterloo is like high fidelity come to life. i enjoy wandering around listening to any and every cd that trips my fancy, and talking to people who live and breathe music. i always find bands i never would have heard of otherwise, and in the process support both local independent businesses and independent musicians. i went to waterloo every day that i was in austin, and actually drove directly there from the airport.
we spent friday on a boozy cruise of austin filling our bellies with great food and a margarita i actually have dreams about (flavored with blood orange and chili powder. words just dont do its spicy-tartness justice). saturday we wandered around an artists market where i bought a ring (a size too small as though i could suck in and make my finger smaller), and where we ended up in what literally appeared to be an artists commune filled with people who, guessing by the smell of them, hadnt showered. ever.
saturday night we saw little richard play the ut austin quad, which, if it hadnt been such a sad mess, would go do in history as the best performance art ive ever seen. when you see little richard, you expect him to be the black liberace: over-styled, flamboyant and boasting about how pretty he is. what i didnt expect was for him continually offer to give his shoes to the audience. or to repeatedly make racial slurs or comment about how he wants a bunch of fat women to come up on stage. it was a sad and surreal experience where laughing or crying were equally appropriate responses.
in an effort to cleanse our palate, t-rock and i ventured to a party being thrown by a middle eastern restaurant that was closing down. the back of the restaurant had a mini amphitheatre set up with a stage and some nooks decorated with pillows and tapestries and promised a party till dawn. little did we know what we were in for. t-rock and i got there after 10 pm and settled in on a couple of vacant chairs. the first bellydancer to perform was wonderful, setting a high standard for the rest of the night. though it wasnt at all what we expected, we certainly werent disappointed.
after the first belldancer finished, women started swarming the crowds hand feeding guests, who they referred to as gods and goddesses, chocolate dipped strawberries. sensing that we had failed to b.y.o. enough to this b.y.o.b. event, t-rock ran nextdoor to procure more booze while i watched a drag king lash two women together with whips before ripping their tops off and exposing them in all their janet-jackson-on-superbowl-sunday finest. were they not still on stage wearing nothing but pasties, i dont think t-rock would have believed me when i told her what she missed.
the next act was a 30 minute fire dance routine which was 29 minutes too long for my taste. im not saying its not impressive to swallow fire, but after 10 times in a row, it begins to lose its impact. and when you drop your fire, or it goes out repeatedly, it makes you look like amateur hour. clearly she was not a bellydancer, or, a dancer of any kind, but your basic baton twirling former texas cheerleader who discovered hair dye and industrial music. (or maybe im just bitter because she performed a routine to facing east by thievery corporation which our company also dances to).
if you think the previous two acts had prepared us for what came next, you would be wrong.
the drummers, several of whom also doubled as drag kings, "performed" next, and i use that term loosely. the all female drummers formed a line behind the their king while s/he sang a song that went something like this: "spank my ass/make it red/spank my ass/make it red." naturally the ladies in waiting did as they were told. this segued into an improvised rap portion of the performance where the king told the other girls to "pull my pants down/is my butt in the light?/ is my ass red?/is my butt in the light?" which by the way, is my new catch phrase. at this point, t-rock and i were nicely buzzed on gas station wine and utterly fascinated by what was taking place on stage.
we were convinced nothing could possibly top what we'd just seen, but, this is austin, and weird is only a mic stand away. the next performer was a slam poet. now, i dont mean to imply that white girls cant or shouldnt do slam poetry, im sure somewhere in the world is a feminem slam poet; but, i am 100% convinced that they shouldnt perform poems called "to the single mamas and they broke ass baby daddies." while the rest of the beatnik, hippy dippy audience snapped their fingers in agreement, t-rock and i were doubled over, clutching each other and convulsing from the silent laughter that threatened to loudly erupt any minute, which undoubtedly would have gotten us a stern talking to from all the self-satisfied, do-gooders in the audience who did not approve of our "stifling of the performers expression of their goddess nature." we left before anyone could force us to trade in our pumps for birkenstocks or our chanel for patchouli.
all of this to say, i love austin. yes, its self-satisfied and masturbatory, but hell, so am i. not to mention it seems to have more tattoo shops and coffee shops, and in more than one case, tattoo/coffee shops, per square mile than any other place in the world.
besides, where else is a man going to follow you to your car meowing like a cat?