Equinox 1984

Posted by on Mar 20, 2014 in BLOG | 0 comments

Equinox 1984

After a horrible beginning to the historic year of 1984. I was about to perform in Carnegie Hall! I thought my life, career and luck had really changed for the better, but had it?

I had been hired by Shisiedo Cosmetics to dance with my then partner from the Martha Graham Comtemporary Dance Company, Charles Brown. Charlie and I were a perfect match – me pale as sea foam, he the softest latte. The costumer used tea to dye our leotards, so we would look nude on stage and I arrived at the hotel at one o’clock in the morning to begin getting into make-up. I was too nervous to eat, but there were platters of sushi and sashimi to keep us going through the night. It took hours for the artists to work on me. Starting with perming my hair — it was the 1980s, remember. The painting process itself was arduous. Lots of painting and powdering and painting and powdering. It was the first time they were bringing their technique to the United States so the artists were meticulous, as well as being nervous.

Our first performance was in the morning and then we were going to the Javits Center for the rest of the day’s exhibition and runway show.  I had never done runway before and as a dancer I was used to being the tallest girl backstage – not that day! I remember one of the models telling me she got paid $1,000.00 per turn on the runway; “You watch me. I’m going to spin all the way down and all the way back. I want to get a new condo in Florida.” I was getting paid $1,000.00 for the entire day and I thought that was a lot of money! She told me that if they wanted me to do anything extra to ask for more (I did!).

The last bit of my costume was peacock feathers glued to my back. I was painted to look like the bird of paradise and the feathers secured in such a way that they looked like they came from my shoulders and hair. Of course, my partner and I had a lift, so this was a bit of a technical concern that no one had thought to discuss with us during dress rehearsal. We figured out how to maneuver around the costume constraints about 30 minutes before the show began.

After the performance, my debut under a spotlight at Carnegie Hall, it seemed like I had stepped into a dream. My dream. This is was everything I had ever wanted, dreamnt of, hoped for. My mother used to joke she thought I was training to be a bag lady in New York City, but here I was center stage on one of the greatest halls in the world. I had made it!

All the sorrow of the past few months, the disillusion and despair over losing Sam Todd vanished for a few moments and I met my future with an open heart and anticipation of my future career. A few hours later, I was the star of the runway. Even the model who made so much money on her turns said I looked beautiful (something I had never felt). I was in a velvet strapless gown with a slit up the thigh to my crotch. Dancers never wear underwear and neither do models–I think I had on a nude thong but can’t be sure. I had never been the center of a paparazzi frenzy of flash photography and my teeth began to chatter. I hadn’t eaten anything but a little sashimi at three in the morning and now it was four in the afternoon. A kind photographer whispered. “Don’t move. You just have to stand there. Good. Now smile. Great. That’s it.” And the cameras flashed and I tried not to look scared. “Lick your lips,” another photographer said. I was at the end of the runway afraid my dress was going to slide off my tits because it felt like I was losing weight by the second and then the performer in me came to my rescue. I pulled the slit on the dress back to reveal my soon to be insured legs and began to flirt with the photographers and that was it. Masa Ohtake and the Chadwicks were smiling as I came back down the runway. I had earned my day’s wages.

That night we went out to the trending hot-spot and drank Mount Fujis from goldfish bowls. My lover kept smearing the bodypaint I was still in  with his kisses.  A few days later, Charlie began fielding requests for us to perform. He thought we could make a splash in fashion, as well as bringing dance to the runways and commercial TV.   Then typical of 1984 it all went to shit.  Two weeks after my premiere I dislocated my back in an Pilates studio accident and couldn’t walk. The doctor told me  I would never dance again. Then gave me a refillable prescription of pain killers and the nightmare–Sam outside the window calling up to us, Sam disappeared, another friend’s suicide–returned.

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