Our holiday party tonight has a roaring twenties theme, which I find weird. Jack and I won’t be dressing up as flappers. None of our costumes are from that era.
When I was younger, I loved costume parties. I once used fresh green vines to embellish my fairy costume. Don’t do that. Little bugs crawled out of the vines and all over me because I ripped up their home.
When you dress up for a living, getting gussied up for a friend’s party doesn’t get your motor going. Several years ago, I used to dress up as an Italian cleaning lady, or a Swedish milkmaid, or a bag lady a few times a month. I delivered singing telegrams and comic roasts, which are customized singing telegrams, as one of these characters.
I loved it. My most performed character was Angelina di Linguina, the Italian cleaning lady. Why Italian? No clue. The woman who owned the talent agency dreamed it up. It’s a stock character in their gallery always available to book.
Angelina did a comic roast and striptease for the recipient according to the agency ad for the character. Weird mix, you say? Real comedy, but the strip, not so real.
The only strippers I’ve seen are on TV. The strip included dancing around to the song, “Respect” for a few minutes, draping your cleaning gloves over the recipient, and disrobing down to a T-shirt and shorts. My fellow gym members see more flesh than Angelina showed.
I’d call the recipient’s friend or wife up and get funny stories about them. I’d weave those stories into Angelina’s story about how they met and how she got no respect. The result comprised 5 to 8 minutes of funny commentary in a bad Italian accent and then 3 minutes of dancing and stripping down to shorts and tee.
Imagine walking into a stranger’s home and accosting the birthday boy. Most of the time the family and guests were aware of the joke and played along with enjoyment. Everyone had fun if it worked.
I had only a few scary situations. Mean drunks were the worst, I dealt with a couple. Then there are those family members who misjudge the patriarch’s ability to take a joke.
Those were the worst. The party got uncomfortable for everyone there. I finished up early and got the heck out of those situations.
When the economy died in 2008, the singing telegram and comic roasting work dried up. And I got too old to play Angelina. I missed it so much I wrote and performed a one-woman comedy show, Does This Happen to You? My show morphed into an ongoing blog and podcast under the same name.
My acting work consists of film and voice nowadays and occasionally a live performance. I jump at the chance to give a live performance. Performing in front of an audience is a special high.
My costumes take up too much space in my closet. I can’t bring myself to discard the wonderful memories of when I sort of impersonated a stripper.