June 25, 2016

Nude Girls Sit On Cows...To Cure Them


To cure them.

To  cure them of what?

To cure them of being a cow?

To cure the girls of being nude?

This is a classic "teaser" from 1965, a time when attention grabbing was much simpler than in 2016.

The year was 1965.
I was seven.
I remember the first party that I ever went to at Johnny Mercer's house in Missoula, Montana   Yeah.  Even his name was cool.  He had a Beatle cut, and a stylish little Beatle suit.  I probably was sporting a crew cut, but I still had all my teeth.   Only a year later, I was to chip my front tooth, and had to bear the shame of a silver cap over my front tooth.

I guess I was Gangsta before my time.
Johnny's party was co-ed, which was also a first, and the music that he played was of course The Beatles.   Rubber Soul was my favourite. A certain song about a girl named Michelle, planted an attraction in my head some 10 years ahead of the time when a certain Michelle would come into my life.
Consider that I met my future wife when I was in my last year of high school, bored with the status quo, I decided to take an acting class at Capilano College, travelling once a week from Richmond to North Vancouver.There I met many very cool people, including a skinny girl with long black hair named Michelle.
She had a psycho boyfriend at the time, which cool girls did.   I had a girl that I was "in love" with who was younger than me, but who was also going out with an older guy named Jim.  Later in life our paths would cross again, as Jim was re-born as I Braineater.
At Cap College we had a teacher named Kayla Armstrong, who was from New York.  Doesn't get any hipper than that, kids.  She was smart and edgy and inspired us all.  I met other friends in this class, including local actor Robin Mossley.  Kayla and her husband Robert put on a series of one act plays, and Robin and I were given the challenge of performing Edward Albee's Zoo Story.
Even then I was being typecast with the psycho roles, so Robert switched it up, and cast me as Peter, the quiet mild mannered guy who encounters an outsider named Jerry.  As Wikipedia states:
"Peter and Jerry meet on a park bench in New York City's Central Park. Peter is a middle-class publishing executive with a wife, two daughters, two cats and two parakeets. Jerry is an isolated and disheartened man, desperate to have a meaningful conversation with another human being. He intrudes on Peter’s peaceful state by interrogating him and forcing him to listen to stories about his life, and the reason behind his visit to the zoo. The action is linear, unfolding in front of the audience in “real time”. The elements of ironic humor and unrelenting dramatic suspense are brought to a climax when Jerry brings his victim down to his own savage level.
Eventually, Peter has had enough of his strange companion and tries to leave. Jerry begins pushing Peter off the bench and challenges him to fight for his territory. Unexpectedly, Jerry pulls a knife on Peter, and then drops it as initiative for Peter to grab. When Peter holds the knife defensively, Jerry charges him and impales himself on the knife. Bleeding on the park bench, Jerry finishes his zoo story by bringing it into the immediate present: "Could I have planned all this. No... no, I couldn't have. But I think I did." Horrified, Peter runs away from Jerry, whose dying words, "Oh...my...God", are a combination of scornful mimicry and supplication."
Even as the "quiet guy", I was the killer.
Later that year, I was to play the role of Charly in my high school production of Flowers for Algernon.  Charly was a mentally challenged adult, who is given drugs that make him a genius.  Unfortunately, like many drugs, they wear off, and Charly returned to his simple minded ways by the end of the play. Thinking  back I cannot imagine memorizing all those words, when I am dumbstruck now even trying to memorize the words to Born to Be Wild!  But that then, and this is now.
In another one act play at Cap, I played the troubled violent man in Tom Walmsley's play The Working Man, where in an act of stupid Method bravado, I kicked a fellow actor in the head.   This actor happened to be Susan,  the best friend of this girl Michelle.  We can all laugh about it now, but at the time, even I was horrified by how "into the role" I had become.   
Two years later, I was at Langara, taking theatre there, when a teacher sent me into battle in a game of "status" with another fellow actor.  By the end of the "scene", I had the poor guy in tears.  I would now see this as irresponsible direction by the teacher, and certainly, a confusion in my young mind as to the difference in how to play a character versus inhabiting a persona, that was becoming far too comfortable.

A few months later, I was forced to sit in a lighting booth in the dark during a technical rehearsal, while my  actor friend was able to go see Patti Smith, my hero, at the Commodore.  I decided then and there that acting was not my gig.  I needed to live life before I could play someone else's life.   I was drawn to the punk aesthetic of DYI, where I could be actor, performer, writer and director all in one.   The sugar water of the early punk scene drew my "human fly" ego to it, and it has never let go.
Somewhere in all that confusion of ego, performance, sexuality and sound, I found my way to bring a certain girl named Michelle back into my life.   Fate was calling me.  Like nude girls sitting on a cow.