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I had the delightful, if somewhat disorienting, experience of having lunch with Joan Armatrading back in either '87 or '88. I was playing the serpent in the first scene of The Magic Flute at Wolf Trap, wearing a costume that was as big as a car, and built like one, with wheels and a fire extinguisher for smoke-snorting nostrils. In point of fact, the only part of me you could see under the costume was my legs, and I wore painfully tight green foam monster gams that were so difficult to get in and out of that I didn't even bother stripping them off on breaks between running the scene. For one thing, the act of peeling them off also peeled off my tights and underpants, without fail, leaving me buck naked in a shared dressing room, so it was just easier to lumber around backstage with giant monster feet and scaly monster legs and a t-shirt until the end of the day.

I was sitting in the crowded canteen there, having my lunch in my giant monster legs, when a lovely British voice asked if I would mind sharing my table. I smiled up and said "by all means," and suddenly I was EATING LUNCH WITH JOAN FREAKING ARMATRADING...in MONSTER LEGS.

What a lovely, charming woman. I'd run into a lot of celebrities, and they were often exactly like you'd expect them to be--sort of preoccupied and disconnected. Ms. Armatrading, on the other hand, was just sweet and friendly and we talked about all sorts of things. I'd only known her music by way of my sister before, but I started listening after that. The lady's a treasure.

As she picked up her tray, she smiled, and said "by the way, I love your pants!"

JOAN ARMATRADING LOVED MY GIANT GREEN MONSTER LEG PANTS!

It was one of those wonderful moments that makes me glad to be me. Now, the monster legs had one more celebrity moment left, towards the end of the run of Magic Flute, too--I did my serpent bit, got slain by powerful operatic types, and lumbered backstage to the empty rehearsal room I'd been using as a staging area to get out of my monster legs. I flopped onto the floor, peeled off twenty pounds of green foam, my tights, and my underpants, and darted to where I had a pair of shorts tucked away, only to realize that the room was occupied and that I'd just displayed my penis to the Kronos Quartet, who were in there, innocently rehearsing, when this weirdo in monster legs rushed in, stripped to his bare butt, and ran across the room.

There really isn't much to say in such situations.

But...well, JOAN ARMATRADING LOVED MY GIANT GREEN MONSTER LEG PANTS!

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joebelknapwall

January 2013

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