So a lot of other things have been happening, some alluded to in the last post about Drew, that I meant to post days ago but didn’t go through for some reason and I backdated it. These events will get written about eventually I’m sure. I’m writing about what I want to write about at the moment.
Which is Renaissance Faires! My new New Orleans friends Marie and Alicia hired me last weekend to help out at their hair braiding booth at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. Saturdays they get busy enough that they need someone to host. Since I’m still here, I worked yesterday too.
I know my readers would love to imagine me braiding hair, but these designs require a lot more talent than I have. So I take appointments, measure hair, hand out combs, answer question and tell jokes while people wait to get their hair done. (I did my best to make them work in an Elizabethan context.) One woman accused me of just being there to bring in women “with that bouffant.” One girl told her friends I told jokes, and someone else chimed in “He tells awesome jokes.”
Everyone lights up when they see their hair done in the mirror for the first time. The younger the braidee, the cuter the braids tend to look on them. I like being able to comment on the shape of people’s skulls with authority. I have none, of course. But there’s always something nice to say when you’re soft-selling “ye olde braids.” Anything is Renaissancey if you say “ye olde” in front of it and goodness knows I did. It never got old for me. I played up my Rhode Island accent. I think it gave the right impression of a man playing along, but without the full commitment of so many people around me. A distancing effect. My costume was my normal pair of Clarks, khakis and a black shirt they lent me. I didn’t over-button it. The second day I didn’t even bother with the khakis and just wore the green cords I always wear. Not as committed as Queen Elizabeth and her hoops and make-up and all of that.
Lest you think I’m just a cynical jerk, I loved watching how much fun folks have. People are dressed up because they want to be. Particularly teenagers. I suspect they see it as a space where they can be a little bit more like the people they feel like inside and yet play it off as an act. I can relate.
It’s been years since I’ve been to King Richard’s Faire in Massachusetts, but I don’t remember it being as big as what I saw walking around the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. I love the idea of an immersive experience. I probably don’t need to tell you that much of the things you see are pretty anachronistic. Even ignoring the crowds not wearing costumes, many of the things for sale are just junk made overseas. This is also an experience that asks for more money every step you take. It’s quite an undertaking; it requires those funds.
While Marie and Alicia live in New Orleans now, they’ve the life on the road too. Appropriately, many people who work at ren faires still move from town to town in the modern equivalent of caravans.Marie lived for years in a 75 Airstream trailer. That’s how theatre worked for centuries, and for the Washing Well Wenches and Mud People it’s how it still works now. That’s what I was looking for when I took my show on the road. Am I going to become a renny? Well I’ve had offers. They all speak highly of the two day work week. They stick to where it’s warm.