An old adage to overcome stage fright is to picture the audience in their underwear. It’s meant to put the performer at ease, no doubt, in giving them a giggle and making them feel less vulnerable. Well… needless to say, this week a dramatic role reversal occurred. Somehow I was the one in my underwear, ON the stage, in front of hundreds of glaring eyes. The thrill!
Last year my housemate was on the executive team for the Vogue Charity Fashion Show here at Queen’s. This is an amazing group that brings together a variety of talents in order to raise money for a different local Kingston charity each year. Full disclosure: I auditioned in first year to be a model, and was promptly turned down. In typical Mad fashion, I think I was ahead of myself in dreaming of my life as the next Coco Rocha before the audition even went down. Nonetheless, from that point forward I had given up on being a part of this creative endeavour and felt I didn’t have what it took. Afterall, my modelling career curtailed in the 2nd Grade when my weekly lessons at Angie’s Models made me do a practice video interview and I froze (ask Slate about the video footage we have of this moment). I didn’t play the piano (or any instrument) because my stubborn ass wouldn’t go to lessons when Mama tried to convince me. Singing started and stopped with my role as orphan Annie in the town’s production. In all, I barely had an artsy bone in my body because I was basically a childhood quitter.
My Vogue hopes were crushed until last year, when my housemate Kath brought me along to most of the group’s social events. As a second year Masters student with most of my friends having flown the coop, I applied in hopes of meeting new friends, filling my time, feeling creatively inspired and giving back to something that mattered. I was hired as Co-Head of Clothing for the 2015-2016 Executive team.
And then came the opportunity I had envisioned back in first year when I strutted my stuff at the audition… open call for anyone on Cast & Crew to join the Lingerie scene. As the Head of Clothing, most of my role was behind the scenes. But walking in my underwear to a sultry tune across a brightly lit stage in front of an audience of a couple hundred? There was nothing behind-the-scenes about that. My enthusiasm was immediately pronounced. All about those once-in-a-lifetime experiences… all about embarrassing myself for a good story to tell. Bam, I was a shoe in!
We had rehearsal every Monday night from the Fall onwards. Rehearsal was fully clothed with the expectation that we practice walking in our heels. In the weeks leading up to the show, we took it to the next level. The first time we dropped trou was nerve wracking to say the least. First tops off, then bottoms. There was nothing normal about walking around a drafty old Queen’s rehearsal space in underwear and high heels. But it took all of 20 seconds for us all to look around the room, see beauty in the variety of body types, and realize we were all in this together. I think I can speak for everyone in saying that we left feeling empowered every single time!
Kare was immediately stoked when I told her I was taking part. When we found an outfit at Victoria she was quick to remember an outfit she received as a bridal shower gift and never wore (I trusted her word and didn’t pry further…). Genuine vintage Vie en Rose, baby pink lace, complete with a silk robe! I couldn’t have lucked out any more. It was exactly what I would have bought except we saved a whopping chunk of cash and I got to proudly rock my hot mom’s outfit. Paired with a bang pair of pink bedazzled strappy pumps and I was beyond excited!
It was now show week: since it was too late to execute my plan to get really muscular, I worked with what I had. I googled “food’s that prevent bloating”, went to the grocery store to stock up, and gained an ENTIRELY new appreciation for a life I could never commit to diet-wise. The second before stepping onto the dark stage was the most frightened I’ve been in awhile. What if I wiped out, what if I had a wardrobe malfunction, what if what if what if. I mean, I just wanted to look like Gigi Hadid or Gisele Bundchen - a flawless angel. Why hadn’t my wings sprouted yet? Where was all the sparkle!? As soon as I strutted my way to the front of the stage and stared into the audience, there I was. A Victoria’s Secret angel for a minute and a half. The feeling was everything we’d practiced for and more! Who cares if I had a bagel that day and it was making me bloat, who cares if everybody else in the scene had just returned from Punta Cana and made my skin tone look even more ghostly than it usually is? Insecurities were out the window and I didn’t even have to picture the audience in their underwear. There they were, staring up at me in mine.