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they tell you not to do this…

April 15, 2010

Upon moving to Chicago (to the Wrigleyville area–rookie mistake), I found myself craving to get involved in Chicago’s performing arts scene. I was unemployed for the first three months of living here, and with a $600 monthly rent, I was also desperate for anything to take my mind off the stark realities of gradution. Plus, I did just spend thousands of dollars and four years honing my talent (singing). So, where to turn, in times of need (–any need, rather), Craigslist. Naturally.

Thus, I stumbled upon a certain posting that led me to a certain stranger’s basement–which is, of course, every mother’s nightmare (and popular premise for Lifetime movies).

It was a listing for a backup singer…(and don’t worry, the story turns out okay.)

A week after responding to the posting and two telephone calls and two long emails later, I stood outside the band leader’s door, ready to audition for this band.

“Knock, knock,” said my hand to the door.

Johnny (not his real name) opened the door. He looked normal enough, though he was sporting a suit, suspenders, and a wide green tie. Oddly, this is exactly how I’d pictured him.

“Well, the keyboard is in the basement,” Johnny says to me. 

BASEMENT.

I freeze for a second. An eternal second. . . . . . .

And maybe another second. . . . . . .

And. . . . . .

“Alrighie, let’s get to that keyboard,” I reply. (In the BASEMENT, I scream in my head). And in we go.

There’s one more part to this story, that leads me to think I really should be (more) committed (to my insanity).

He leads me down the crickety steps, one by one, step by step, my heart pounding more and more. Everything silent except for the creak of the stairs. We reach the bottom, then, he gracefully lifts one hand, and, with a simple flick, the lights turn on.

The sight set before me is a scene I shall never, most definitely never forget. The walls and ceilings, top to bottom, corner to corner, were covered, plastered, with porn.

Thoughts begin racing through my head. What did I get myself into, Should I run, should I stay,where’s my mace, should I scream, should I call the police, this is it,  this is itomygoshohlordinheavenjesusismysavior….

“Oh, don’t mind the porn,” Johnny says. “This was my room growing up. It’s pretty embarrasing, but you know, I don’t want to take it down.”

As soon as he says this, I begin to notice the cartoon drawings of Batman (tacked between the pictures of women in bondage), figurines of Superman and Kermit the Frogs sitting under the beautiful portrait of a (nude) pregnant woman (squeezing milk from her nipples). It really was harmless.

“Right, well let’s get to that audition.”

And so to bring you up to speed, I am still alive, and that was two Octobers ago. I was in the band for about eight months and I really enjoyed it. The concept of the band was pretty unique and the music, very original. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get it together enough to have a gig. So, last June, after the other backup singer up and moved to Kansas, I quit. I was out of contact with Johnny for almost a year…up until last week…

Suddenly, after cosmically dreaming about it the week prior, I find myself rejoining the band (for at least a month). At the end of this month we are having our very first gig.

And so, for me, tonight, it’s back to the porn basement…

Wish me luck. And don’t tell my mother.

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