Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Sacred Sideshow

One year ago today (2/16/19) I did a show at my friend Christopher Place's place. I had just written some poems about my recent heartbreak as Vic Smith, and was excited to share them at The Big Top,  the name of the venue. When I heard "THE BIG TOP" I imagined a big luxurious tent, with a fancy bar and many plastic chairs in front of a large stage, for me to be reciting my heartfelt poems.

I was inspired to write the poems as my break up from a few months before was right in my face on Valentines Day, and I felt this was the best way to get over my sadness at the time. My buddy Faraaz, who I met in Ireland close to a year earlier was visiting Chicago with his cousin Lianna, and they were coming to see it. I also posted a video online promoting the show on V day to get the word out.

The day of, I wrote up the poems on some notecards for the show and made my way over to The Big Top for The Sacred Sideshow.

It was quite far on the South Side, I got off at Sox-35th on the Red Line, and I had to walk for about ten minutes. I was beginning to think that I was going to the wrong place and was getting nervous, as things began to look a bit desolate. I was soon entering a neighborhood of many apartment complexes, away from general civilization, and far away from my large tent with plastic chairs.

I arrived to the address. I called Christopher and he buzzed me up to go in. I walked up to meet him and all the different people. Christopher was wearing a black dress shirt, a rainbow bow tie, and black leggings, outlining his groin, so I gave him a hug.

He showed me the performance space, in the living room. It was a long room with pillows and cushions on the ground for seats on both sides of a strip pole with a mirror behind it, an ideal space for poetry.

Faraaz and Lianna soon arrived and made their way upstairs, it was great to be reunited almost a year after meeting them in Ireland. They seemed cool with the odd set up for the show.

We were catching up, meeting new people, then out of nowhere I see my Dad's friend/old co worker, Nick walk over to me with a beer. My first thought was that he had come to see somebody else.

"Nick, what are you doing here?"  I asked.
"We came to see you perform, Vic." Nick replied.
"Holy shit, how did you know?" 
"You posted it on Facebook!" 

I forgot about posting that video on there, and didn't think anyone would actually show up from my doing that. But, Nick came with his wife Jackie to see me perform, as they are big fans of Vic Smith. Nick also does an impression of me, here it is So, Lianna and Faraaz met Nick and Jackie, we all talked for a bit and the show soon started.

We were all ushered into the living room area to sit on both sides of the strip pole, for our highly intoxicated host to begin the show. Christopher began a long introduction of the evening. I sat next to Faraaz and Lianna and saw Nick and Jackie across the way,  "admiring" Christopher's groin.

I was going third and the first act was a guitar player, who played some covers and a few original songs. Then after that, the pole and the space was more utilized for my openers who were two burlesque dancers. They had a fun choreographed dance as they stripped to their panties and nipple tassels. Perfect segue for Vic Smith to come to da stage! Here's a quick video of Faraaz laughing and Christopher standing up shirtless.

I'd never performed with a strip pole as a mic stand, or to the audience being to the right and the left of me. But the audience was really fun and laughed a lot at the heartbroken Vic Smith.

We took a brief intermission, and Nick and Jackie left as their backs and knees were hurting from sitting down for so long. They were also a slightly bewildered by Christopher's attire and demeanor.

Some other acts consisted of ukulele playing, singing, and a Brazilian Jujitsu guy demonstrating some moves on Christopher. The closer was a seasoned stripper who used the pole appropriately. They had people vote on who they liked the most, and the burlesque act won. There was also a raffle, and some guy won 10 bucks, and he gave me a single as he said he liked me the best :)

It was a real fun show, then Christopher kept us around a bit longer to allow/force people to come to the stripper pole and share. There were a few long and awkward pauses before some people went up to speak, one of them being Lianna. We were soon allowed to leave after some speeches were made.
Lianna, Faraaz, and Vic

Faraaz had rented a car, and he drove Lianna and I to a restaurant near by to grab a late night meal. It felt like we were in a foreign country together again, as we were in an area I was unfamiliar with, and it seemed exotic.

They asked me how I came up with my poems and I told them about the break up I went through recently, and channeled that through Vic Smith. They helped me realize I was still in pain about everything that happened, and provoked me to begin some more healing soon after.

We had an amazing conversation. Both of them were so open to me sharing what I'd been through, and sharing their own experiences. They are so open and honest as cousins and I got a lot out of our short conversation over dinner.

It was a great night, and great to see both of them. Seeing them is rare as Lianna is at U of I in Champagne, and Faraaz was in Phoenix at the time and has since moved to Reno.

Since then he and I have kept in touch over the phone, discussing all areas of life every few weeks or so. He is a psychiatrist, so I certainly enjoy the free therapy sessions.

I am grateful to Christopher for putting on this show, and inviting me to play. It was certainly a different experience, as he is an eccentric dude. He's also extremely sincere and kind and open, and a good pal. I'm excited for the next Sacred Sideshow, and will let people know when it is!

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