APPROXIMATELY 6,489 YEARS AGO – give or take a decade – I was in show business. My specialty? Make ’em laugh! (Which, if you know anything about show business, is actually rather a risky business.)
Well folks, the risk is ON! For I am coming out of retirement and am in the business of making ’em laugh, once again. Yee-haw! And THIS SUNDAY marks my big debut. (Or maybe I should say, come-back.) For I am reading one chapter from my book at a local bookstore in Pasadena CA, dressed up as a kind of British Fairy Godmother – half Margaret Thatcher and half Hyacinth, with just a dash of Mrs. Slocombe.
I can explain.
We set the date – January 31st. We set the time – 3:45 pm. And we had the location – Vroman’s Bookstore at 695 E Colorado Street. But when I walked into the store to study the signing area before Christmas, and I saw the rows of empty chairs waiting for an audience – something happened. Suddenly, my senses were heightened and I could hear it – the roar of the crowd. And I could smell it – the odor of greasepaint. And I could feel it – my heart surging with adrenaline! And all this to make ’em laugh!
And that’s when I began to plan.
I spent months shopping for the perfect costume. First, there was the wig. I needed BIG HAIR, with absolutely no bangs, to re-create that stern female Prime Minister look from the 80’s. I googled Margaret Thatcher, studied her hair, then scoured wiggy websites in search of the perfect do – big, bouffant, and bereft of bangs. It took days, but I finally found a wig I thought I could alter, so I ordered it.
I tried it on and found the bangs were rather rebellious. They refused to be swept up, back, and over, Maggie-style. Finally, I asked my hairdresser and she gave me the scoop. YA DON’T MESS WITH A WIG! Nope, not unless it’s made of real human hair and costs hundreds of bucks. Well, mine was synthetic and definitely cheap (sorry Margaret – no offense meant). So I put it on again and studied my image. Hmmmm. Maybe my British Fairy Godmother could be INSPIRED BY Margaret Thatcher.
She wouldn’t necessarily have to BE Margaret Thatcher!
Ah, here was freedom, and I was beginning to have fun. (Let’s face it – Maggie wasn’t really all that fun, now was she?) So I began to hear a certain voice in my head – which sounded quite a bit like Hyacinth from that old British sit-com, “Keeping Up Appearances.” Occasionally, she would take on a superior tone and resemble Mrs. Slocombe from “Are You Being Served?” But she definitely started out as Hyacinth.
And so, with Maggie out of my hair (literally) and Hyacinth now in my ear (figuratively), I began to scour websites for the rest of my British Fairy Godmother costume.
“Yes, dear. She’d definitely prefer those black opera gloves,” Hyacinth trilled in my ear, having steered me away from the white ones. “Madam’s pearl ring and diamond bracelet will stand out quite dramatically against that rich black velvet,” she advised, suddenly turning into Mrs. Slocombe, that snooty sales associate who could pick a customer’s pocket with just one sniff from her nose-in-the-air.
I ordered them all.
But I had a bit of a problem when it came to the suit. Oh, it was fairly easy to find a polyester blouse with a flowery pattern and two streamers to fashion into a big bow at the neck. There were plenty of those left over from the 80s. But where was the no-nonsense suit that went along with it? I searched for days, and finally I was stumped. Unless I had $400 to invest in a chic traditional woolen suit, I’d better re-think my costume.
And that’s when I found it. The heavens opened up, light shone into the darkness, angels sang a Hallelujah chorus from on high- and then I spied it, right there on the same vintage clothing website where I’d wasted DAYS searching for the perfect suit.
And there it was – the perfect coat.
A rich red, plaid, woolen swing coat with two fringed streamers at the collar – streamers that could be fashioned into a flowing bow at the neck, for that extra dramatic flair. Instantly enamored, I ignored the price tag and clicked the Buy Button.
The die was cast! And I was cast – as a British Fairy Godmother, with aplomb and style!
Ten days later the coat finally arrived, and I set aside enough time to don my entire costume – complete with big hair, black gloves, pearls and diamonds, chunky heels and seamed stockings. I peered into the mirror, fascinated by the woman who greeted me.
She was powerful. She was matronly. And she was magical.
I picked up my book, flipped to Chapter 9, crinkled my nose at the Fairy Godmother in the mirror – and began to read.
In what I thought was a British accent. But the longer I read, the more familiar the voice became, until suddenly I realized that I was no longer a British Fairy Godmother, but more of an American Drag Queen, a la Nathan Lane in The Birdcage!
But I liked her.
And when I practiced and practiced some more over the next two weeks, what finally emerged was a rather dignified, dramatic, hawkish version of Hyacinth, who might flutter like Nathan Lane one minute, scold like Mrs, Slocombe the next, and occasionally scowl like Margaret Thatcher. But all with the finesse and style of the perfect British Fairy Godmother,,
Well, that’s what I think.
If you live in L,A., why don’t you come and see for yourself? At 3:45 this Sunday, the 31st. At Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. You could be part of history – because we’re filming it for YouTube. And we’ll post it on this website, too.
Ohhh, I cahn’t tell you how very thrrrrilled I am!