I am not a fan of Weird Al Yankovic. In fact, his music (if you can even call it that) induces a physical reaction in me. I detest it. That is why it is unfortunate that I have been chosen to be a cheerleader in two of his performances for one night (working in a college theater department has its downfalls). The positive side to this is that I'm going to be paid fifty buckaroos, which is scarcely enough for the personal sacrifice I will be making by associating myself with him onstage.
This is an unvited one night stand.
Dreadfully, the night of the show has arrived and my dance partner, Julie, and I are backstage. Luckily, she is one of my best friends, but has a more positive outlook on Al's music. I am making my best attempt at not judging her for it. Our own personal dressing room (thank god I have somewhere to hide) has a door that is emblazoned with the word, 'cheerleaders.' And we, cheerleaders, have been charged with the creative freedom to coin our own dance moves to Al's song, "Smells Like Nirvana." Along with a portable stereo and CD with the song on it, we have also been instructed that our persona should be that of angry, disaffected goth cheerleaders.
Well, this shouldn't be too difficult for me.
Al shows up with his weird hair (way too long and way too kinky), his weird clothes (a Hawaiian shirt, tapered jeans and black and white checkered Vans) and walks down the sterile white hallway with his entourage. How did Al get an entourage? I ask myself this question while Julie and I pull our costumes out of the duffel bag. I have no answer for myself and neither does she. The costume is a black fitted, stretchy tank top, typical black cheer skirt and blood red pom poms. Fantastic. We retire to our fitting room to begin with our dance routine. I have been sentenced to two full hours of "Smells Like Nirvana" on repeat. Fabulous. Our lazy, disinterested kicks and rahs, which, for me, are genuine, take form and complete our routine. It is two hours before the show and the catering has arrived.
At least I'm getting free food out of this.
While I sit there voraciously attacking the chicken and rice on my Chinet plate, I turn my head to look at the table behind me where Al sits. He hovers over his plate, carefully securing his long locks with his left hand while he taste tests his food. Uh oh. Al is getting up. He doesn't like the food. It's not what he wanted. His people scatter to come up with an alternative food source and appease his needs.
Who knew Al was a diva?
Finally, the show begins and I am ever closer to ditching this popstand. Julie and I practice our routine like good cheerleaders should. Waiting on the side of the stage behind the black curtain, I find I am not even nervous -- turns out disdain is a good panacea for stage fright. The lights are bright and I can barely see the audience, but I can tell that they must really like Al because they are standing up and some are even swaying side to side and moving their hips, smiles on their faces.
Heavens no! This guy actually has fans?!
We shuffle out onto the stage with surly looks on our faces - though my disinterest is not feigned. We have to do this twice tonight, though we have been given the 'privilege' of watching the remainder of the show once our bit is over. I am coerced, by Julie, into agreeing to watch but only under the condition that I get to look like I am not having any fun. Everywhere I turn there are geeks rockin' out in Hawaiian shirts, tapered jeans and checkered Vans, many of which get the experience of their lifetime - to come backstage and meet the Ultimate One. One woman, who could pass for Al's twin, has a poster and a CD for him to sign and a camera so they can take a picture. She tries desperately to spark a conversation with him about past shows, but he's too important and has other business to tend to.
One of the roadies asks the assistant stage manager, who happens to be a good friend of mine, where he can score some pot.
Maybe that's how Al got so weird.