Sunday, November 25, 2012

The 12 Bands of Christmas Sing!

The first 12 Bands of Christmas Sing was a benefit for Cleveland Public Theatre, held on Tuesday, December 22, 1992. Featured bands included Jehovah Waitresses, Moko Bovo, Hostile Omish, Giant Jack Johnsons, King of Clubs, Hot Tin Roof, Jericho Turnpike, Chuck Mosbrook and The Electric Monkey, 6 Feet Under, The Waynes, Odd Girl Out and Rust (aka Slack Jaw).

All the bands were asked to play at least one Christmas-oriented tune, and it was perfectly all right if it were blasphemous.

For our part, the Guerrillas had written the “Six Hits of Christmas,” to be performed between acts. That night we climbed the million stairs ... there were a lot of people behind us, in front of us, passing us on their way down. We could hear the music and all the people up there. This was going to be our largest audience yet. We found the Green Room, which was very small, filled with guitars and aspiring musicians. We had no props, we had no costumes, it was going to be just us and one chair against the teeming throng.

“Hey guys!”

It was The End's Maria Farina! Maria was hosting the show!

She bopped into the Green Room to find us and give us the low-down. She was sporting a groovy new sequined vest and a flat-topped, wide-brimmed, Debbie Gibson hat.

“So what have you got planned?" she asked.

“Well, we have six short plays to do.”

“Do you need the microphone on the floor?" Maria asked. "You could do your plays between sets and maybe you can help me give away prizes.”

“Okay, cool, uh, we don’t need the microphone, though, we’ll just project.”

We moved out into the house to check out the scene. Man, there were a lot of people here. Guerrillas scurried into the seating sections during a particularly rowdy set by Hostile Omish (the boys intimidated Maria into churning butter) and handed out flyers for You Have the Right to Remain Silent!

Guerrillas were scattered about the space. Hostile Omish concluded their set. Maria looked noticeably disturbed by her butter-churning experience.

“How about that, huh?” The crowd cheered enthusiastically. “Wow,” she continued, “there’s some angry youth here ... Yeah!”

She caught my eye. “And now, here’s a very special treat -- the Guerrilla Theater Company!”

A smattering of cheers and cat-calls.

“They’ll be doing some sketches for you throughout the evening, and later we’re going to give away some most excellent prizes like they do in their show, let’s hear it for them!”

A polite round of applause as we appeared from everywhere to take the floor in front of the bandstand. Audience members got up in large numbers to get beer from the concession stand out in the lobby.

“Good evening, everyone!” I called out. My voice was thin and wispy, and it floated gently up, towards the ceiling. A large part of the crowd were talking and weren’t about to be quiet for us, not to mention the hubbub from the now very crowded lobby.

“Beginning New Year’s Day and every Friday and Saturday night from now until the end of time we do a show called --”

All Guerrillas: “'You Have the Right to Remain Silent!'”

“Make sure you get one of these flyers before you leave for a special discount --”

I was losing them.

“-- and we’re going to do a very special Christmas play for you now entitled 'It’s A Wonderful Lie'.”

And we did our little play, an indictment of the Savings and Loan bail-out, there on this small stage with people walking back and forth in front of us, struggling against the din. When it concluded we ignored the light applause and quickly did another one, about all the leftist things we want for Christmas, said thank you very much and beat a hasty retreat from the stage.

We performed some more sketches after the next band, and performed an impromptu “Trivia Round” with Maria to give away some prizes.

As soon as our shtick was spent, we grabbed our things and slunk away, even though at the rate things were going, the concert was going to continue well after midnight.

Another disappointing aspect of our not choosing to use a microphone, apart from the obvious, is that there is no recording of our having performed there.

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