I have had a lot of jobs. One of the most interesting was working as a production assistant. I would work for one day for a band that was touring in my town. I could be doing anything from running errands or grabbing food to taking the actual band members around in a 15 passenger van. Some errands were more interesting than others but all ended with a concert. In my mind, it made it worth it.
One day I received a call from a promoter that was doing a major pop act’s tour. They needed someone to sit in a room, take phone calls from the tour manager and get them things after getting approval from the promoter. There had apparently been friction between the promoter and the band but they were stuck with each other for the next 18 months. I was to be the go between for a couple of shows. I would sit in a room, the phone would ring and I would get asked for something like five reams of paper. I would ask the promoter representative behind me if it was approved and then send someone out to get it. When they returned with whatever it was, I would bring it to the band or tour manager.
For the most part I was asked for things that were necessary and easy. And by the second hour the promoter told me to use my discretion and just come to him if there was something I wasn’t comfortable approving.
The tour assistant was a lovely, soft spoken woman. She would call and say, “Hi Mara, this is Flo, we need….” And I would say it out loud in my little room and everyone would hear me. I would write the item down on the pad next to me as well as where I thought my “runner” should go to get it. I would tell Flo how long it would be or she would tell me when she needed the item.
All worked well for about three hours and then THE call came.
“Hi Mara, this Flo, we have a birthday for one of the back-up dancers today and we are going to need a few things.”
This is common when bands are on the road. They become a family and they find things to do as a family, including celebrating birthdays.
“We would like everything by 2:30. Can we get a phallic cake, preferably black with white candles, although candle color is not super important. As well as plates and napkins,” said Flo.
So I say out loud, “One black phallic cake with white candles, no problem.” Then write it down on my pad as well as the place I have purchased them in the past. You read that correctly, where I have purchased them in the past. It really was not that unusual to be asked for phallic or breast cake. I knew the bakery that would have them in stock. Don’t be judgmental, you don’t have any privacy on a tour so you need a sense of humor, most of the time a juvenile one.
“Great, thanks Mara. We also have a tradition for the dancers that we change up a little for each one. Today we are going to need 4 midget strippers, preferably female. Again if they could be here by 2:30.”
So I say out loud, “Four female strippers, wait did you say MIDGETS?” The room behind me, filled with men talking, instantly goes silent. And everyone is staring at me. Nothing will stop a conversation quicker. If I wasn’t slightly anxious, I would have started laughing.
“Yes, midgets, preferably female as it is a male dancer and by 2:30, please. Do you need anything else from me?”
Hmmm, now I get some strange requests, have even been asked for strippers and ladies of the evening but this is a first. Midget Strippers. I am not even sure where to get them, let alone in under 3 hours. Still, it is the job. “Nope, we are good. Let me see what I can do.”
The first call I make is to the nicest strip club in town. The one that not only have your boyfriends been to but you may have actually gone with them.
“Hi, is the manager in? I am working a concert over at the arena and we are looking for some entertainment.” I was not sure midget strippers was politically correct and I didn’t want to offend anyone. This was my first call. By the time I was on my third I was more direct.
“Hi, I am looking to hire four midget strippers and I need them in 2 hours, do you have any?”
All that was going through my head at this point was that I have a college degree and not one of my classes had prepared me for this job. After my seventh call, I was feeling desperate. But on the tenth call I finally received a promising lead, “You have to call Squiggy, he handles all the specialty dancers.” See, I knew there was a better term.
So I call Squiggy and I tell him what I need and that I now need it in an hour. He tells me it is not a problem; he only has one question. Wait for it.
“Do you want them with or without animals?”
You cannot make this stuff up! I told him we would go sans animals but every one of my friends (and even family) is still angry that I didn’t ask what kind of animals. I did NOT want to know.
At 2:30, four very pretty, very short ladies show up with 2 very big body guards. I walk them down to the dressing room where we have decorated, set out the cake (yes, we got a black one) and depart. I don’t want to stay. I don’t need to have my education enhanced.
I am almost back to my little room when over the radio I hear, “Mara, this is Flo, our guests need something to play their music on.” I almost fell over. The tour I was working on had 55 tour trucks, normal tours have 5. It had a truck that just carried Segways. No one had a portable speaker? Luckily, I had one in my office.
Unfortunately, this was not the strangest job story I have to tell you. On the other hand, this story is a perfect example of two great lessons learned. One, no matter the task there is always a solution. Two, be prepared for anything. Oh, and if you need a specialty dancer in Minnesota, call Squiggy, he’s got everything.