Road Trippin': Citric Acid Entertainment booked for Bassnectar NYE in Nashville

Bassnectar.NYE.Nashville.400Nashville is the last place Bassheads might expect to experience Bassnectar live. But while Music City is better known for twang than whomp, its 11,000 capacity Bridgestone Arena is set to host the high priest of low end on December 31. The kicker? Citric Acid Entertainment, my newly launched talent agency, is providing a crew of roving performers for the event. It's true. I've known Lorin Ashton, the man behind the Cousin Itt locks, for a dozen years now and I couldn't be more amped about his ascension. While I got to gazelle stilt at 1st Bass Center in Colorado a couple years back, this is the first time I've gotten hired to provide an entire team. There will be nine of us in all—stilters, roller girls, a glow prop wizard, a “hoop-notist” and a parkour gymnast/videographer. One dancer and two Knoxville-based skaters are meeting us in Nashville; the rest of us are driving out from Colorado. T-minus 11 days to #facemeltgasm. Let the countdown commence.

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Neighborhood Menace: I'm Sorry Cupid

Yesterday's “I'm Sorry” Cupid took awkward to a whole new level.

 

I feel sorry for the man that resorts to an “I'm Sorry” singing telegram. It's most certainly a last resort of sorts—a hail mary. Whether the goal is embarrassing someone, cherishing someone or facilitating laughs, my singing telegram success rate is normally fairly high. “I'm Sorry” telegrams are a whole different ballgame, though. They bring down my batting average a little. I rarely know what I'm getting myself into. Yesterday was no exception, but I was up for the challenge.

 

No “I'm sorry” song is a miracle Band-Aid for magically curing all relationship woes. Still, I was determined to pick the most appropriate one for the occasion. Elton John's “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” Jackson 5's “I Want You Back” and Chicago's “Hard to Say I'm Sorry” were a few of the contenders. I settled on Sir Elton, rehearsing off and on for hours on end. My [power wheelchair-bound] customer kept calling over and over about one thing or the other. He was obviously nervous--understandably so.

 

I'd suggested the Cupid costume to tone down the gravity of the situation and inject a little comedy. Make the person you've wronged laugh and there just might be a window of forgiveness to shimmy through. The sender phoned again to say that the recipient wanted him present for the delivery, if I didn't mind postponing for an hour. I didn't, as it gave me even more time to finger my guitar strings and sing. He rang again once I was on the road to let me know he was running even further behind schedule. I wasn't about get irritated with a handicapped gentleman, so I thanked him for the update and continued on my way.

 

The recipient resided in a Denver neighborhood called Montbello. Montbello's population is primarily Hispanic and African American. Half naked white guy was on the verge of getting a lot of attention. I parked my car around the corner from the recipient's house and strapped on my feather wings. Not knowing whether the sender was there yet, I decided to walk up anyways. In the driveway, I met the recipient and her friend. Both were seated in power wheelchairs. Even though they likely despised being laughed at, they eagerly giggled at the scrawny man in the adult diaper and wings. Mission at least partially accomplished.

 

We waited. The initial awkwardness was soon diffused somewhat, as we initiated an entertaining conversation about my job, her relationship with the sender and more. Fifteen or twenty minutes later, a cop car crept up on the opposite side of the street. A 9 News anchorman had once joked on-air that he was “surprised Cupid didn't get arrested.” Still, in eight full years of playing cherub, I'd never once been hassled by police (though I'd been questioned one time in Boulder about impersonating an officer—guilty as charged). Johnny Lawman explained he'd received reports of a half naked man cavorting around the neighborhood. I decided against showing him I was wearing underwear underneath my diaper. He just wanted to make sure I was mentally stable. “That's debatable,” I thought to myself, but wisely kept my mouth shut. He jotted down my name and went on his way. Crisis number one averted.

 

The man in blue would not be the rudest of Orange's Montbello encounters that day. Yes, I'm referring to myself in the third person for comedic effect—moving right along. A brown SUV with a Hispanic at the wheel inched by next. “That Cupid?” he asked from the window. “Yes,” we both answered (the recipient's friend had been sent to fetch the sender from the bus stop). That answer apparently didn't satisfy his curiosity. He walked up, accompanied by two other men, a few minutes later. Was he worried that the anorexic-looking love messenger was going to overpower him in a fight? “Yous gotta get outta here, that's my brother's house,” he commanded. “This guy a friend of yours?” he asked the soon-to-be recipient (who apparently sublets from his sibling), almost as an afterthought. “Yes,” she said simply, probably realizing it wasn't worth going into great detail with the intimidating Mexican. He proceeded to park his vehicle just across the street and stare at us through the windows for the remainder of my visit.

 

The wait wasn't over yet. One of the two four-wheeling men called to report they were lost. The recipient would have to go find them. We both agreed it'd be best if I waited in my car until they all returned. More than two and a half hours after the originally scheduled delivery time, I finally walked back to the recipient's driveway. First, the sender paid me—always a plus in these situations. Next, we collectively decided the performance would be better inside the garage (as opposed to the driveway where we'd been waiting all that time). I thought it was a little weird that the recipient's friend was present, but maybe she wanted a wingman. Sir Elton served me well. I sang my heart out, presented the recipient with the dark chocolate I'd purchased at Whole Foods, and made my exit. The kicker? Sender called me the next day to thank me for a job well done.

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Stilt Life: The Nightclub Before Christmas

When it comes to portraying Pumpkin King Jack Skellington, the protagonist in Tim Burton's stop-motion animation classic Nightmare Before Christmas, official correspondence from Disney would be the ultimate measure of success. The way I see it, correspondence could mean one of two things—a cease and desist, or a job offer. I've received neither to date, but, considering how impressed San Diego club goers were with my debut stilt performance for Charmed Life Entertainment last December 16, either could easily be in the proverbial cards.

 

Hoop Charmer, Jenny Quest to her besties, is San Diego's most well-known hoop dancer—hands down. On the global stage, her most popular YouTube clip “Hilltop Hoop Dance” is approaching 60,000 views. She and I have been crossing paths for several years now at various events. Last June, we realized we had more than a little in common over dinner in Sin City. Consequently, I was quick to reply when she put up a Facebook post looking for insured performers. And when she inquired if I had any ideas for a Nightmare Before Christmas-themed event, the gears started turning.

 

Knowing intuitively that I could trust Quest, I booked a flight and began consulting Denver costumer/fabricator Nate The Average. Stop-motion star Jack Skellington was the goal and I knew Nate could help me pull it off. Airbrushing my entire head was an option from the beginning, but achieving more spherical volume via mask was ideal. Part of me was nervous about losing my personality inside a disguise, yet I was determined to impress Quest at any cost. First, Nate sculpted Skellington's rotund dome onto a human head mold with wet clay. Making a reverse mold of the clay was the second step. Nate wanted to make the actual mask out of a material newly available in Denver called Soma Foama. Unfortunately, we didn't have near enough of it to completely fill the mold, so we ended up going with a slightly lesser quality foam. The paint was still drying on the face mere hours before I departed for the airport.

 

Although Nate contributed two of the most essential costume pieces (the head and the bat bow tie), he wasn't the only person who worked on the project. Kelsie, my favorite Denver airbrush artist, painted skeleton hands onto a pair of black gloves. And my mom, who I affectionately refer to as Nancy Pants, made new stilt pants—once I'd picked out and procured the proper cloth from Denver Fabrics. Oh yes, and I spent hours upon hours upon hours hand sewing white cording up and down a black tailcoat I scored at Boss Vintage. The History Channel's Ancient Aliens kept me thoroughly entertained as I stitched. I was sewing on the plane, in the car and even in Ivy Nightclub's green room prior to applying makeup and strapping on Poweriser jumping stilts.

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Melodic Ambush: Clonin

Screaming “Free Bird” at a concert is more often a joke than an actual request, but the tune just so happened to provide a perfect melodic skeleton for the roast I performed in San Antonio last summer.

 

As many of you know, I’ve been a professional singing telegram messenger since 2004. The majority of my gigs are in the Denver metro area, with occasional exceptions in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and ski towns like Winter Park and Vail. The first time I performed one out of state was for my grandma’s ninetieth birthday party in Indiana a few years back. San Antonio was the setting of my second non-Colorado job. What occasion justified flying across state lines to sing a single song? My sister was a resident in the prosthodontics program at San Antonio’s University of Texas Health Science Center for three years (prosthodontics is a dentistry specialty that deals with reconstructive and cosmetic needs;). Although it was finally graduation time, my sister wasn’t the focus of the roast in question. The target was retiring program director Dr. Robert Cronin—Cronin to his teeth-restoring cronies.

 

My sister planted the seed several months beforehand. Eventually, she sent me a list of Cronin quotes that’d been compiled by a second year resident named Yves. Two weeks ago, I called her for additional context and selected the tune. Although I do sometimes employ original melodies, most singing telegrams are written to the tune of an appropriate and recognizable popular song. Think Weird Al. It generally heightens the emotional and/or comedic impact of the material. Skynard’s “Free Bird”, in this case, was ideal for the retirement-themed message. I wrote half of the custom lyrics the week prior and wrapped up the rest at breakfast and poolside on the day of.

 

Fair Oaks Country Club was the site of the fairly informal affair. Apparently, Cronin owns a home on the golf course there. Graduation guests, including our parents, my mom’s husband Darrell, sister-from-another-mother Mary, and our Russian friend Elena, ate dinner in an atrium facing the grounds. Once dessert was safely tucked away in our tummies, Cronin stepped behind the podium to kick off the evening’s proceedings with a few words. That was my cue to leap into action. Retrieving the various costume possibilities we’d stashed just outside the bar area, I snuck into the restroom to transform myself. My sister had lent me the kind of teal scrubs Cronin normally wore, as well as surgical headlamp glasses called loupes, so I started with those. Dan, another resident, had constructed a bald cap on the occasion of Cronin’s 69th birthday last January. Given my head is generally Bic’d hairless, I initially debated it, but ended up incorporating in the interest of increased comedic effect. The icing on the cake was a gray fake mustache I happened to have in my shaving kit. I grabbed my guitar and cheat sheet and crept up to the closest possible hiding place near the podium, a small wall partition that separated it from the nearby bar. And waited.

 

Each of the three graduating residents were invited to say something. My sister was last, by design. Her self-described “Oscar acceptance speech” was appropriately emotional and tear-filled; her sad tears paved way for the geysers of happy tears that spilled out of Cronin’s ducts as he shrieked high-pitched girlish laughter throughout the course of my roast.

 

“Clonin” (sample stanza):

 

One time, Cronin was lecturin’

Subject: Astra brand implants

Flubbed his words, Freudian slippage

“Astroglide,” on his tongue danced

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