She Works Hard for the Money

"Performance..."

"Performance..."

A while back, I alerted readers via an email blast that C.C.’s output might wane a little during the summer, as a series of performance engagements appeared to be stacking up on the horizon. Well, I wasn’t kidding, and, obviously, the posts have been few and far between (although, hopefully the few have been C.C. worthy).

Well, one of the engagements is coming up on August 14, and is an entire evening of my original songs at Dixon Place. It’s called BIG RELEASE, and is a one-man show (w/ the help of Chris Woltmann on guitar) of 14 songs, 7 monologues, half-drag, half coming out story, 100% music concert: basically, it’s a big gay song fest.

Now, I proposed this show for Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival (which is going on right now: you can see Kenny Mellman’s [“Herb” of Kiki & Herb] thoughtful new show this and next week, and later in August, the “extreme” and seriously talented Jack Ferver will have a show up). Well, HOT! is Dixon’s summer queer performance festival. So, I made a special effort to make the show as gay as possible (well, as gay as my own tastes will permit).

That said–and I do have a point–I have made promotional postcards for my own show (as seen to the right). You know, the kind you see piled up in the window sills of bars and racks on walls in performance venues all over the city; the kind that even I rarely pick up from such locations but still feel obligated to produce and distribute. Although I do think there is something subconsciously effective about seeing someone’s promo card in more than one place. That’s the nature of advertising: The more we are familiar with something, the more likely we are to trust it.

SO, and to the point, I was thinking of a more effective way to distribute my post cards than just dropping them off at the usual hot spots. I mean, what better way could there have been to get my postcards directly into people’s hands?…Take it to the streets.

Which is exactly what I and the ubiquitous Michael Hart did last night in Chelsea. (Michael also took the photo of me leaping across Clinton Avenue in Brooklyn.)

I picked Chelsea because A.) gays who love songs should be my core constituency, and B.) I could wear my Tom of Finland t-shirt and people would actually find it disarming, even adorable.

But in said neighborood, this task–the task of passing out fliers for a performance–was harder than I had anticipated, and proved to be somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster, as the behaviors of New Yorkers on a Thursday night in Chelsea proved to be a rather complex mix of classic NYC jade, some genuinely interested minds, and, naturally, a creepy old letch.

(After the jump, Michael and I discover how the phrase “Performance…” is like the magic password for getting people to take the postcards, and a demographic breakdown of the street crowds by percentage…Trust me, it’s seriously worth the click-through!)

You like that, don't you?

You like that, don't you?

The brilliant discovery of the night was realizing just how much power the word “performance” had. When we first started handing out the postcards, not many people were taking the bait. But once we started tagging on the phrase “Performance…”, you know, like you would say “Free Massage” or “Shoe Shine”, it really began to grab people’s attention. And, it distinguished us from the street boys who were passing out fliers for trashy parties (we were jockeying for a position in front of Good Burger, but gave up once we realized the guy passing out fliers for some oily variety beau-hunk event wasn’t going anywhere). And some people really responded to “Performance…” with excitement. Even as like, thirty people in a row passed us while actively showing that there was no way in hell they were going to take any kind of flier–not now, not tonight (see below, “Groups: Not Into It”)–a cute waiter from the restaurant we were in front of reached around and said, “I’ll take one,” with a knowing lilt in his tone.

Overall, most people were, well, New Yorkers. But there were some pretty obvious demographic/behavioral subgroups that we couldn’t help but notice.

Here is the breakdown by %:

25% – Classic NYC Jade:

  • MO – Blinders on, winning the race, in their own world; your standard New Yorker
  • Appearance – These people come in all shapes and sizes, and includes most people on cell phones or plugged into iPods
  • Level of Attention Paid (out of 10) – Zero; they don’t even look at you or acknowledge that you’re trying to communicate with them
  • Emotional Impact – Surprisingly high; feels painful to be entirely disregarded by other human beings, even if they are strangers
  • Lesson Learned – Leave your inner “Catcher In The Rye” at home; these people cannot be saved from the flying off the cliff

10% – Pinkberry Customer

  • MO – Don’t fuck with me while I’m eating my Pinkberry
  • Appearance – Controlled, casual street clothes, usually accompanied by a group of friends or designer hand bag
  • Level of Attention Paid – 1; Just enough to look up from their Pinkberry to send a terrifying scowl in your direction
  • Emotional Impact – Seriously painful; Frozen yogurt more important than wicked awesome performance? Damn…
  • Lesson Learned – Don’t fuck with people while they’re eating their Pinkberry; the scowls are for realz scary

15 % – Groups: Not Into It

  • MO – We’re together and we’re sticking together
  • Appearance – Generally mixed, although there was a noticeable contingent of 20-something queens w/ Hollywood attitudes; some groups are formed when several random people cluster; even if they didn’t know each other before converging at the intersection, group mentality prevails
  • Level of Attention Paid – 5; they see you, they look at the thing in your hand, but if the first person in the group didn’t take your card, NONE OF THEM WILL
  • Emotional Impact – High frustration; the arbitrariness of the group’s decision not to take your postcard just because the first person in the group didn’t take it is infuriating! C’mon, people, don’t be mindless livestock!
  • Lesson Learned – If you don’t get the first person, don’t even bother: You’ve got leprosy

5 % – Groups: Into it

  • MO – Into penetration
  • Appearance – These groups resemble the “Not Into It” groups in appearance, but they demonstrate far more independent behavior
  • Level of Attention Paid – 8; If the first person takes the card, several people will notice you, some will also take the card suit, others won’t; individuals are generally doing their own thing; but it does seem imperative to get the first person to take the card
  • Emotional Impact – Excitement and free-flowing energy; Once you get a few people interested, you can let down your street armor and really tell people about your show
  • Lesson Learned – Do whatever you can to get the first person to take your fucking postcard

40% – Individuals: Basic Street Interest

  • MO – I’ll take it, but I’m not getting involved
  • Appearance – Mixed, focused; has at least 1 hand free
  • Level of attention paid – 7; a solid if fleeting 7
  • Emotional Impact – Satisfaction
  • Lesson Learned – I knew this would work!

5% – Individuals: Genuine Interest and Delight

  • MO – Awesome!
  • Appearance – Easygoing, fun attitude
  • Level of Attention Paid – 10; if only for the 2 seconds it takes for them to grab your postcard and say “Oh, cool!” before they move on into the dark night of the city
  • Emotional Impact – Worthiness, love…Hope
  • Lesson Learned – People DO get excited about a night of gay songs

And 1 Creepy Old Letch

  • MO – Come here, my pretty
  • Appearance – Creepy old letch
  • Level of Attention Paid – Uncomfortable
  • Emotional Impact – Fetal; panic; where the fuck is my therapist
  • Lesson Learned – What did you think was going to happen if wore your Tom of Finland t-shirt while passing out postcards for a night of gay songs on the corner of Eighth Ave and 22nd Street?

Have similar stories to share?…

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4 Comments

  1. i was the creepy old letch!

  2. Oh no you weren’t, girl! We have like, ten pictures of that guy, cuz he wouldn’t leave me alone!!!

  3. Brilliant– ah *remembering the ‘street team’ promo days. One day you’ll be so big you can hire interferenceinc.com to use their guerrilla tactics to get Tracys in your face! Can’t wait to hear the post show attendance stats

  4. amazingly interesting and sweet. I can’t wait to see you and hear your songs. Nice going, good, very very good.


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