October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

... or as it's known in the ice show crowd - a gay man's favorite holiday!

Yes, any ice show worth it's salt, wait no - ice, had plenty of time on it's hands and a desire to change into a costume of their own choosing. Some of the ice shows went beyond the costumes with skits, awards and even choreography.

Now my halloweens are reduced to Disney princess costumes and screening the candy bag at the end of the night for the worst offenders to the teeth. I miss those elaborate parties.

So if tonight Disney, Holiday or one of the cruise ships, if you're celebrating before or after a three show day, please do a high kick for me!

October 27, 2008

Street Performers

...often of the juggling persuasion, trying to earn a little money.

And by street performers, in this city, that means walking out into some massive intersection during a red light to give it your all for sixty seconds or so. That's not that much time to both juggle and walk down the row of idling cars, hat in hand.

They remind me of so many that performed in ice shows and that is why I always give them some money.

In most of the ice shows I did, we had some kind of novelty act. We had poodles, badmitton players, a trampoline artist, a comedian who played guitar, gauchos, lots of jugglers, and of course those zany skating comedians who love to get cute with a bucket of water.

But back to the jugglers ... while these guys (and gals - often children) in the street are no match for Albert Lucas, there are pretty good. Even though Albert often did his act on the ice (how many years in Ice Capades and Tampa Bay's Busch Gardens?) he never had to dodge this traffic.

October 22, 2008

Immigration - Part 2

Back in my day, the going rate for a green card was around $5000. I had two offers to marry, one by a gay French man and the other a straight Canadian man, although it was never pursued seriously. I admit though, I did stop to think what I could buy for $5000.

I wonder, can anyone tell me, what the going rate is today?

October 20, 2008

Immigration Issue

This one hasn't gotten much play in the real election, but here's my two cents.

I just got fingerprinted this morning for my new non-immigrant visa. I will live in the country for two years and then go back to the US. Only took three months to get all the i's dotted and t's crossed. YIKES!

It reminded me of the issues we show skaters have faced in order to earn a mark a yen, a buck or a pound. (I know, I know, it's the euro now, but I was thinking of the Cabaret song.) A life in ice shows means packing up your suitcase and taking the show on the (foreign) road.

My first job in an ice show, for Holiday On Ice, came with explicit instructions NOT to tell immigration that I was coming into the country to work. But in 1983, an airline ticket from the midwest to Switzerland was very expensive, so wouldn't a single, 19 year-old coming in on a one-way ticket with a large, large suitcase raise eyebrows? I guess they didn't care so much at that time.

That has not been the case for the Canadian skaters who came to the states to work under the table(without a visa). They often got a grilling. One skater I knew told me he mailed his skates ahead of his flight, wore a suit on the plane, and never traveled with his address book in a carry-on. Another skater got held up in customs for a full day because she was planning to skate the summer in Japan, but rehearse in the US. Immigration officials didn't like that idea. Yet another skater said goodbye to family and friends at an early Thanksgiving dinner (Canada's thanksgiving) to drive to the states for a Christmas skating gig, only to be turned around at the border (immigration went through his address book).

As an American I'm glad I never faced that kind of scrutiny with the border to the north. But then again, I never got hired for any of the shows in Canada either.

October 14, 2008

The VP

Well, I've spoken on some of the issues. But what the election is all about (this time) is the running mate ... so I'll propose one too.

There are so many good, good show skaters out there, past and present. But I have to go with the one that fills the bill as the best VP - it's my blog after all.

Wayne Seybold

As you may have read the article on Icenetwork, he's now a mayor in Marion, Indiana. He could be a REAL candidate. Marion's population at the 2006 Census was 30,830. (Compare that to a small, random town in, say, Alaska at 9780.). He's got actual political experience. Always handy when negotiating contracts for big name skaters.

Plus, he's a great guy. He was the company manager of one of the dozen or so Nutcracker shows and kept our little skating family happy. He also managed to skate for only two minutes (out of a 90 minute show) and could take his skates off for good by intermission. Great time management right there.

And you'll have to trust me on this next one, but he got the "3 am phone call" in that show and rose to the occasion. Some egos, lots of chaos, and last minute re-choreography, all in one night. Suffice to say, he was cool under pressure.

Now I hear you saying, he won't excite the base like a certain mom of the other icy sport variety!

I've got that one figured out. He could have his sister, Natalie, at his side, literally for the rallies, speeches, even the inaugural -- maybe in pair position instead of this spiral one-- and she could excite the base.

Natalie's much, much cuter than you know who!

October 10, 2008

More Election Issues

Aaron of Axels, Loops and Spins wrote and asked me about Energy policy. (Confession - I just discovered his website yesterday and it's amazing! I can't believe I've missed it all this time.)

So here you go Aaron, two more policies for today -

Energy: As a show skater, you might think that we were/are athletes in prime condition and I would say, in my case, you would be wrong. Remember, the nice thing about skating the same show everynight ... you don't need to practice anymore. Your body goes on automatic pilot - even for the principals and their triple jumps. Of course, the showgirl diet of wine and cigarettes, may help one look better from a far, but doesn't really help out the cardio.

So for one Capades skater, who always picked between his A, B or C show, you can probably guess what he gave you on a Saturday matinee of a three show day. (That's a hint for you the next time you buy tickets for Disney On Ice. Don't go with the 10:30 am show on a Thursday.)

The best part of my energy plan was in Japan, where I got hooked on a drink from a tiny little brown bottle called "Real Gold." It was the perfect choice between shows, when I didn't want a big ol' sandwich to show up in my gut halfway between the bra and g-string costume. It was a combination drink of vitamins, caffein, and nicotine. Liquid Cigarettes that tasted like a Flinstones chewable! Mmmmmm! Couldn't get enough of those, because like real cigarettes, I got addicted.


War: I tried to stay out of them. But many times the dressing room was on the front line. They were often between the principal and understudy, but two chorus girls fighting over the same guy could produce some damamge too. In my tenure, I witnessed the usual screaming, swearing and backstabbing, heard rumors of costume tampering, planting evidence (of the snack food kind) and undeserved fines. But most of the wars did not go nuclear, because of the close quarters we were in. Living, working and socializing together. So unless you were planning to quit the show with your skates still on (it happened), you had to plan your attack carefully.

Stay tuned for the running mate - I'm vetting the short list this weekend!

October 8, 2008

Election Issues

Okay, as I was scrambling for a topic today ... (How do Lifeskate and Required Elements do it? Hats off to you!) I realized I've been too distracted reading up on the election.

Maybe living in another country right now gives me an excuse to hang on every word and every other article, but I've got to slow it down. I've known who I was going to vote for since the primaries and unless one of the candidates bites the head off of a chicken in the next debate, all the news I can digest won't change my mind.

So allow me to get back to the world of ice shows and answer the election issues as only a show skater would.

Economy: For skaters of the chorus variety, this is not a good outlook. Most of the shows I did, I was pretty poor. Right down there with starving artist/perpetual student status. Indeed, in Holiday On Ice, the skaters had to pay for their own hotel rooms (like Capades and domestic Disney), so sometimes by the end of the week, there wasn't enough money to eat. But on the bright side, that helped my weigh-in at the end of the week.

Health Care: What health care? Actually, I was covered in Holiday, but the rumor was try not to get sick in your first year, because you have to pay H.E.P.A. out of pocket first and then wait years for reimbursement.

It seemed a little better for Capades - as long as you got sick or injured on the ice. Hello workman's comp! Yes, there is the story of one skater who busted his ankle skiing on his day off, hobbling into work the next day, putting on his skates and gingerly walking to the ice backstage in order to fall and scream out "My ankle!"

It was a little better for me in Japan - where you were fortunately covered by government insurance, but unfortunately, I couldn't understand a thing the doctors said to me. I developed a nasty rash under my arms in the third month I got there (spread it down the pinwheel and earned the nickname "Germ Queen") and went to the doctor for medicine. In Japan, doctors earn money by how many prescriptions they provide, meaning I walked out with six different creams and no idea which one might work.

and finally

Foreign Policy: I skated in eight different countries, so I gained experience after being so naive at first. In fact, by my fourth show in Japan, I became the unofficial tour guide to Tokyo for the new skaters. From my own trial and error, I showed them the shopping highlights (Harajuku's Takeshita Dori), which bars to enter after the requisite stop to the Hard Rock in Roppongi (Deja Vu or the Train Bar) and where to hang out while you're completely spent - both literally and figuratively - waiting for the 6 am trains to start up (the upstairs of Mister Donut).

So there are my election issues. In my next post, I'll tell you about my running mate. I'm open to suggestions!

October 6, 2008

Required Skills for Showgirls

Climbing Stairs!

Went way out of town this weekend to a city with some ancient ruins. You know those tall, tall pyramids that were started in something like 200 B.C. when people had a lot more free time. Why did they make these things so tall?

And steep? Really steep? We had to walk down the stairs diagonally.

Halfway down and hanging on for dear life, I flashed back to my time skating, when we showgirls had to walk the narrow stairs, with blades - that add another three inches to the length - and without looking down at the stairs.

But I can hear you saying, Vegas showgirls make it look easy. They do, because they're wearing high heels which shorten the length of their feet.

Still, they can't look down either.

Stairs were a skill that took practice, although I looked like an idiot practicing walking down stairs during open ice time. Some were naturally better at it - not me - than others. And it seemed to have little connection to what jumps a skater could land. More about grace and an aversion to accidents.

One night I proved it was not my forte when I took one step at the top and slid off the staircase, about twelve feet down, landing on the ice in a big blur of red sequins to the horror of my cast mates. And by the laws of ice show etiquette, they couldn't laugh at me until they saw I was okay. When I didn't get up at the speed of light, the law of falling in skating in shows or competition, they had to sweat it out for a minute.

So, I'm grateful that yesterday I didn't fall back to my showgirl ways and tumble down the side of a pyramid or my next post would be about this crazy country's medical system.

October 2, 2008

More Skaters Reuniting

This is a call out to any of you who skating in Holiday On Ice .... Facebook wants to find you, say hello and get your picture. Please join up. It's a great way to find out what everyone's up to ....

Val Mileham Abraham is collecting all contact information in order to make it easier to keep contact for future reunions, connections, etc.

She has requested that we send her an email with our contact information. You can feel free to share as much or little as you like. this list will not be public... but used for mailing lists for reunion news in the future. For example, I gave Val all my info, I do not want to be lost in the shuffle, so she has mailing address, phone numbers, email, etc. You send what you feel you are comfortable with.

Please send to this email address which has been set up only for contact info.


And, thanks to some little birdie at the Prague reunion... there is a NICE, France reunion in the works for 2010. What better place to have the next one (aside from Vegas of course) than Nice in September, 2010. Roland is on the committee along with others, so this should be an amazing time for all. Thanks to the wonderful reunion in Prague we have an idea of how it is done WELL!! With enough notice we will reach those who might have missed out for Prague... we are not getting younger and who better to spend time with than those with such a wonderful experience in common. Who else can understand our laughter and tears.

So, start saving your money, start planning your holiday time... and get excited! If you are having trouble in the excitement area... just send Roland an email, he will get you going!!

In the meanwhile, send an email to Val... let's get the ball rolling!!

So start saving for Nice. Hope you can make it!