Thursday, 29 September 2011

Story time

Yesterday I realised that I am still in holiday mode, because after putting on my mascara I forgot to apply my “Chuck Norris’ Extra-Strength Human Repellent (City Commuter Rush Hour Grade)”™ face. This is a vital topcoat for anyone contemplating a ride on the London Underground.

The Raqasa's audience had no idea what the fuck she was on about,
but soon realised that it could slip off to LOLcats without her noticing
But maybe my forgetfulness was just as well, because as a result I learnt a very important lesson about marketing yourself as an artist.

As the fickle fingers of fate had finagled it, yesterday was also the first day of Razia’s “Performance Prep Course” so such issues are more prominent in my noggin than usual. The course covers things like getting your stage face on (the subject of last night’s class – and yes, I have hi-larious pictures that I am trying to decide if I will share with you or not), how to structure a performance, booking yourself gigs and so on. Which, in a very tenuous way, brings me to The Story of the Paula Abdul-Loving Pamphleteer.

As anybody who has to contend with crowded public transport will appreciate, the only way of hanging on to one’s own fragile sense of self during all that unavoidable personal space invasion is to retreat behind an imaginary wall. This wall is often comprised of earphones, studiously avoided eye contact (usually aided by reading something or becoming absorbed in 'Angry Birds') and wearing a facial expression that conveys slightly less kindness and generosity of spirit than one of Anton LeVey’s publicity snaps.

The book I’m reading at the moment is Maximum Movies, Pulp Fictions: Film Culture and the Worlds of Samuel Fuller, Mickey Spillane and Jim Thompson by Peter Stanfield. Pithy title, and nothing to do with the work of Quentin Tarantino. I got on my train (no seat available, of course) and whipped the book out of my bag the moment I saw a guy cruising the carriage and trying to foist religious tracts on people. Undeterred by my iPod and book fortress, Religious Tract Man still had a go when he got to me. Dammit! I will never forget my “Chuck Norris’ Extra-Strength Human Repellent (City Commuter Rush Hour Grade)”™ face again.

Religious Tract Man (spying two words on the cover of my book): Have you seen Pulp Fiction?
Me (wondering what the hell he’s on about and trying to sound as unfriendly as possible): Yeah.
Religious Tract Man: I like John Travolta. Do you?
Me (having never thought about whether or not I like John Travolta before): Yeah.
Religious Tract Man (brandishing a pamphlet with a sunrise on the cover): Do you want a book?
Me: No, thanks.
You will notice that I made two crucial errors during this exchange: 1) I ‘engaged’ with him; 2) I said ‘No, thanks’ instead of ‘No, sod off’. Maybe this explains what happened about 20 minutes later when we reached my stop and he followed me off the train.

I was queuing to get into the lift at the station when I eventually became aware that someone was repeatedly and rather forcefully prodding me on the arm. Turning in the expectation of seeing someone I knew – or, at least, Clive Owen, come to his senses at last – I was dismayed to be confronted by Religious Tract Man, still trying to offer me his cheaply produced publication. Mercifully the lift showed up and we all piled in. That’s when Religious Tract Man got totally weird.

Do you remember the song Straight Up by Paula Abdul? No? Well, Religious Tract Man does. He started warbling it in the lift, acapella styles. It was actually kind of cool – because London commuters had to decide if they were going to pretend it wasn’t happening or start risking eye contact with each other. In the end (dude, it’s a long way from the platform to the street at Goodge St station), one brave soul took a pick axe to the icy layer of cool remove.

Brave Soul: Sounding good, man.
Religious Tract Man: You like my singing? I’ve got videos online – my name’s Neil.
There you have it – how not to market yourself as an artist. If you would like to hear a bonkers, but totally harmless, man with an average singing voice giving his all to minor pop hits of the late 1980s then get ready to hurl your Spanx in the air in celebration. You could have your prayers answered if you type “Neil” (or possibly “Neale”, “Neal”, “Kneel”, “Neel”, “Kneal” “N’eal”, “N’eil”, “N’eel”, “Nee-ell” or “Kneil”) into Google and hit “I’m feeling lucky”. Bonne chance!

1 comment:

  1. I'd say it's Kneel. It sure is a tie-in with his religiousness.