Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Monk's Favorite Moment of Folsom '05

Part of the appeal of an event like Folsom is the spectacle. People come for all manner of reasons; the shopping, the community, the costumes, the people watching, and to be entertained. This year, one of my goals was to take advantage of this fact, also the showman in me really wanted to get out and strut our collective stuff for the crowds in SF. We have come a long, long way since last year and I wanted to say show that off. Hence the rigging frame. Now rather than just a booth to display and sell our wares, I opted to drag a 12 foot tall steel arch down from Seattle and made it the centerpiece of our booth. Standing on a small stage underneath it, the plan was to perform suspensions on folks and draw in the crowds (and sell them some nice rope in the process). While there are a so many great uses of rope in the bedroom, suspension bondage is a showstopper. It is dramatic, beautiful and dangerous (if done incorrectly, ALWAYS get proper training before attempting suspension bondage).

Can I just pause for a moment here and say how much I love this job? Over the course of the day we (Griffin, Max and myself) got to hang up all manner of pretty boys and girls. Some were clothed (work safe) some were sorta clothed (not really all that work safe) and some, well some were just flat out naked (Work Safe? You’re kidding right?). Now the showman in me loved this part of the day. Once we started to rig, traffic stopped. Not just a few on lookers and curious types. No, we are talking hundreds of people stopped dead in their tracks and watched in awe as we did our thing. Nerdy would later tell me this, “I knew who you were hanging up and how much clothes they were wearing with out having to look up at you guys. I would look out at the audience. If they were mostly leather men, you were hanging up a boy. Mostly straight men, a girl. Mostly straight men with cameras, a partially naked girl. A massive throng of frat boys staring in mute lust… then you were hanging up trinket.”

Now lots of folks asked to be hung up. Due to the physically demanding nature and potential dangers of suspension, we limited our models to folks we knew, folks who were referred to us by friends and then to folks who, after having the risks explained and were willing to sign the necessary waivers, came up to us from the crowd. We turned lots of folks away, folks who were too drunk or had unrealistic requests. (For the record, suspension from a rope around your neck is really a stupid idea. Don’t ask me to do that for you). I’ll say that over the course of the day all our lovely models were great and great to look at… save one.

I had just finished hanging Galahad up so that VH1 could interview him for an upcoming TV spot. Still pretty early in the day, the place was not yet open and there were very few onlookers at the booth, save one. There was this old guy, now when I say old. I mean old, like he used to buy booze for Methuselah back when he was still a minor kinda old. Sure, Folsom attracts all ages but it is really disquieting to have an old white guy, clad only in a black athletic supporter, a collar, a black baseball cap and sneakers. Not exactly what one would consider “eye candy”. He asked about being suspended and we tried to politely blow him off. “Come back later in the day, we are not ready yet, the show is not yet open… etc” thinking he would get lost in the masses, went on about the rest of our work.

Exactly 2 hours later, he came back. About this time I was hanging up kitten in a fairly rigorous semi suspension (and having a grand old time) when I caught him out of the corner of my eye. Tambo was talking to him. Once Kitten was down she pulled me aside and said, “Look, that guy is back and he really wants to go up”
I glace over her shoulder at the guy who was waiting patiently for us, “have you explained to him that this is really tough?”
“Yeah, read him the riot act about it, but he says that this has been a life long dream of his”
Taking a page from the sex worker’s bible, I set aside my lack of interest (and my desire to hang up the cute red head who was in line after him) and focused instead on giving him a special moment. Something to remember.

Leading him into the booth and up onto the rigging platform, my first concern was the prominent scar running the length of his chest, A triple bypass, 20 years earlier. The human body is an amazing thing, capable of withstanding all manner of pressure and stress; however this one would require me to be extra careful save that I don’t break the poor guy in two. My intent is to not make this a very long suspension. Last thing I need is for this guy to die in my rope, so the plan was put him up and let him hang for a few minutes then bring his ass back down…. Fast. Using a massive quantity of rope on his hips and chest, he settled into the comfortable sling with a hoot of joy. Ok, he is stable, safe and seems to be having a good time.

As I lean in to check on his circulation he tells me this, “I lied to you. I’m older than I said. I’m actually 70”
“Damn, you are doing well for 70”, I lie.
“Wanna know why I lied?”
“I was just diagnosed with degenerative Parkinson’s. I’m not going to be able to do much of anything here real soon so I figured to hell with it. I’m going to do everything I always wanted to do but never had the guts to try, no mater what folks might say.”

With a smile I double check the harness to make sure it is secure and not going to bite into his flesh then let him enjoy his time, floating happily in the warm sun.

Later, after he sat in the shade drinking water and eating some food, he thanked us all for fulfilling a life long dream and made his way out. We all waved to him as he merged and was eventually lost in the sea of bodies.

Come end of day, as I was waiting in the van for the police to clear me to go onto the street again and start loading everything back up, I saw the paramedics lights as they rushed past my position. For a moment I worried, “Oh crap, I hope the old guy did not buy the farm today” Just as I finish the thought who do I see making his way past me on the sidewalk?

Yep, there he went. Still clad only in his jock strap and hat, but with a huge smile on his face.