Friday, May 28, 2004

All One Show Biz, Part Two (read Part One below)

Note: This isn't really done but I'm putting it up now so no one thinks I've abandoned my self appointed and doubtlessly futile mission to rescue what's left of the dance from us. Promise you I'm going to be faster from here on out.

When I first heard the Itzhak Perlman story I was so tickled that I waltzed up to some underemployed schnook in a turkey suit and yelled "Itzhak says it's all one show biz." The poor guy just stood there bemused while I had intended reassurance. I was a belly dancer, he was a turkey, and Itzhak was a violin virtuoso and we all were engaged in the same activity: performing art in public places. We were kin. So inspiring.

This was way back when I was getting hired to embarrass the boss otherwise known as performing the lunch hour bellygram. Not bad pay, not much art. Despite my intention to entertain dazzlingly most of these dates involved little more giving the female junior staff a tour of my costume after causing some poor man deep upset by merely showing up. By this measure the best boss ever was the one who dived under his desk. A few bosses with more aplomb tried to get a bit of face back by asking me if a) I did that in bed, or b) if that was all I was going to take off. For this I had taken a few years of lessons and cultivated an already dynamite torso.

As for Turkey Boy, I have no way of knowing for sure but in my imagination he'd recently been "don't call us, we'll call you" yet again from something being workshopped in Hoboken. If his profile was typical his credentials included a drama major at, let's say, Northwestern, followed by a couple of years of acting classes. Probably he read the trades daily, hopefully circling possibilities and then waited in lines all over town to drop off his headshots with casting directors. Perhaps he'd had been getting called back just often enough to keep him hopeful.

And Itzhak...well, Itzhak was jetting between the New York and Israel Philharmonics alighting only for recording dates. He was collaborating on film scores. He was all over PBS acting as if violin virtuosi are regular folks like the rest of us. We will not discuss the years of practice, superb training, incredible self-discipline and extraordinary talent it takes to produce a world class soloist.

Then there's the money... I'd go back to my real job with $75 to $125 in my purse from a fifteen minute boss embarrassment. Turkey Boy I'd bet was doing it for minimum wage. And Itzhak? Why ask?

Matters haven't changed for the better over the years. Instead of being exotic belly dancers have become ubiquitous so boss embarrassments have become scarcer but public stunts are more common. Theater people however are still scraping along waiting on tables or doing whatever supports their dreams. And Itzhak is on his way back to Avery Fisher Hall.

"All one show biz," my foot! Nonetheless, it was sweet of Itzhak to say so.

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