I arrived at the opening night party for Capital Fringe Festival sweaty and tired. The day had been spent trying desperately to keep up with my retired father, who does a mall-walking program any day he isn’t golfing. The plan had been to walk three or four leisurely miles, followed by lunch at the mall, then a quick stop home to shower and decompress before heading out to the festivities -- my plan, anyway. His involved six miles, quite fast, the last two of which I spent limping and complaining while he told me to stop ‘being a wimp’. Our lunch came right before I dozed off, exhausted, sitting in a lounge chair in his living room. So no shower, and no chance to shave my legs either.
“It’s David Sedaris with a guitar,” says a promoter for the show Sex, Dreams, & Self Control. The artist in the show, Kevin, stands meekly by, his hands full of cards he hasn’t given out.
“I’m not really good at this guerilla marketing thing,” he confesses to me. “I just feel like if your show is good, word of mouth should bring people to you.”
Les from Attack of the Big Angry Booty agrees, “but I didn’t have many people at the first show, and I’m an out-of-towner, so here I am.” Word-of-mouth won’t help you if you don’t have the initial crowd.
“So is your show good?” I ask.
“Actually, it is,” they both answer. I believe them both.
The doorman had on a krav maga shirt. Maybe I could track down a DC class. The doorman teaches krav maga in private lessons, which is awesome. Wait, the doorman teaches krav maga and shaolin kung-fu. Not wanting to hover and be a pest, I grabbed his information and started to wander.
“Tell me why someone should see your show,” I demand of a man wearing a fake-boob bra.
“Topless women sword-fighting.”
“Really?” I haven’t registered the fact that he’s dressed as a topless woman. His companions elbow him.
“We’re promoting Uncorseted,” they hiss.
“Oh, sorry, that’s the other show. I’m in two shows, this one and Bare Breasted Women Swordfighting,” he tells me. “Come to both, they’re both funny.” But I can’t drum up passion for what I now suspect is guys, dressed as girls, whacking each other with fake swords. I can catch that for free on YouTube.
This is turning out to be an in-crowd kind of party, and I am on the out-crowd. It’s all staffers and people with shows they’re promoting. Half of them recognize the other half. A mailman invites me to Pepe! He’s very engaging and I’m sure the show is amusing, but I have no real interest in seeing a ‘mail order monkey musical’. I hate monkeys… for no particular reason.
Not much else caught my attention, so I stood inconspicuously, sipping my first ever ‘Natty Bo’ beer and snooping into other conversations.
“I’d forgotten for a second that, knowing each other, and our friendship, does not actually lead to intimacy," I overheard one gay guy say to another.
Someone else remarked, “Natural Bohemian is good beer, and the $3 price tag makes it even better.”
“I don’t use paper,” said a girl coming out of the bathroom. I knew she was talking about paper towels as she shook out her freshly washed hands, but I couldn’t help snickering. You had to exit the gate to get to the bathrooms, and I confided this tidbit to the doorman on my way back in.
“What’s great is you can tell by the fading of the stamps which guys washed their hands,” he replied.
The girl of my dreams passes me her card over the shoulder of someone in the crowd, and I’m hooked. It wasn’t her face that drew me; I barely saw her. It was her aura, an extreme sense of presence sometimes found in actors and certain public figures. I’ll have to make time to see The Girls Inside.
But the best reason to attend the Capital Fringe Festival? When you bring yourself to the festival, it’s your openness to a good time that allows you to have one. It happens because you are there to experience it. Or, as Rozi said to me:
“Because Rozi’s there!”