I knew if I didn’t do it I’d regret it on the night. And I reckon I was right.
When the call went out to find 20 big fat ol’ bears for the Sleaze Ball show, I hesitated at first. It was not that I was nervous about appearing in front of a crowd; I’m a shy exhibitionist, more comfortable in appearing in front of 5,000 people than five. What I needed to know was how would this appearance fit in with my usual Sleaze Ball schedule of sex, drugs and general debauchery. I was assured that we would be the opening show and there would be plenty of time to do sufficient damage.
I was also assured that we would merely be props performing limited choreography and lolling around the stage looking butch. That myth was quickly dispelled at the first rehearsal when were handed what looked like meat cleavers on a stick and expected to perform a routine that would rival that of a Romanian gymnast. My hand eye coordination had hitherto been limited to reaching for the remote. It was clearly going to be a bumpy ride.
I didn’t know the half of it. Over a series of gruelling nights, a bunch of bears were patiently put through their paces in a performance that was to be more ambitious than any of us had imagined. Clearly someone had forgotten that we’d assumed our mostly ample frames by a dedicated routine of concerted inactivity. We limped out of rehearsal each night like bears with a sore head (and back and legs). If anyone told you that no animals were harmed during this production, don’t believe them.
When the big night finally came, we assembled backstage and I was certain that I didn’t know a single step. I found myself praying to the great bear god in the sky for guidance and support. (I was reassured as all the images I’d seen of Our Heavenly Father looked a lot like I will in 10 years’ time, so I figured he was on my side.)
It turned out to be true because, to the utter amazement of everyone involved, the show was a triumph. Twenty hulking, horny bears in leather butchers aprons and bare arses stomped and grunted their way across the stage to an interpretation of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Closer’ that even the twisted imagination of Trent Reznor could not have conjured. The crowd was frenzied in their appreciation of the most down and dirty show Sleaze Ball had seen for some time.
And what did I gain from the experience? Well it went some way in remedying my profound confusion between left and right. I can count effortlessly in multiples of eight (one two three four, twirl that meat cleaver, five six seven eight, bugger that boy.) I also realised I may have missed my calling, and if this writing gig doesn’t work out, I have a promising career as a purveyor of meats. But truthfully, flashing my chubby pale cheeks turned out to be a surprisingly life-affirming experience.
And what did the audience get out of the experience? Well I’m not sure other than a suggestion that bears have an unhealthy obsession with smallgoods. Certainly anyone with a morbid fear of cellulite and body hair would have been rocked to their core. But what I hope resulted was a community that had been served endless images of synthetic six packs abs and depilated epidermis was confronted with the undeniably erotic vision of an army of big bellied blokes and hairy bears demanding to be seen as desirable.
So what next? And now they’ve unleashed an unstoppable troupe of dancing bears, maybe we can look forward to marching bears for Mardi Gras, I’m polishing my dancing boots already (at least the boy is). And a one and a two and three…