#1 Marquee Girl
No stress, no pressure, just thoughts
Welcome to the show! You want me to take your picture? Gorgeous. Enjoy your night!
We’re going to go back a little in time today, if you don’t mind. Back to 2016, to one of my first jobs after college. I worked in guest services at The Fillmore Detroit, this old theater with giant knights in gold armor protecting the stage, a mural of cherubs on the ceiling, and a capacity for about three thousand people. Top two concerts there: Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighborhood and Sza’s Ctrl tour.
The job itself? Oh sucked, for sure. And for about a year I could convince myself the standing around was worth it in a theater so magical. After a while, my girl Lyndsey got me a job in the back doing wardrobe which was a welcome change of pace. And the first time a famous artist (guess who) eyed fucked me side stage during a costume change.
But while I was still getting paid $10/hr to tell people where or not they could party, I was very bored with my own thoughts while hair metal bands did covers for 2 hours. So I would create fantasies in my head, obviously. One that’s seared into my brain and lasted a solid four months was about the zombie apocalypse. I knew the ins and outs of the theater, so I knew where to store the goods, where to post up to have the advantage when the zombies came in, and where the most romantic kissing could take place. Oh, it was a blast!
Something you should know about me is that I have always had a thing for the “pretty boy”…it is what it is. Anyway, there was this one particular pretty boy, let’s call him Black Flag (he sometimes wore a Black Flag t-shirt. And I was not ready to admit that I am in fact an Art Fag). He was tall, chummy, and a die-hard Red Wings fan: the shining star of this workplace in downtown Detroit.
I was smitten and bored so I tried to be around him whenever I could. And in a job where you are assigned to stay put and monitor one entrance, it was very frustrating. He was a supervisor, so he had the power to walk around and would come by me as he pleased! I had to stand there and wait for him to come find me? Ugh, I was powerless. So the biggest move I pulled was asking to change the marquee outside after the shows, because I knew he did that. It was a great daydream, but in reality it was working in the middle of the night in freezing Michigan winter with a bunch of boys who had no idea how to relate to me outside of sex. I probably shouldn’t have sung along to Sex With Me by Rihanna while working, but sex positivity(!) and the job itself was pretty solitary, so it was fun to debrief at the end of the night with friends. They let me scream at them about feminism and I kept them entertained. Remember, this is Michigan: people might have thought I was weird, but they were always kind. Black Flag did his best, but my brain was running a mile a minute and I was only attached to the idea of him. In reality, I now realize I struggled to care enough about his masculinity. I didn’t want to make him feel like a man. We probably could have been good friends under different circumstances, but my strong-armed foreign policy approach didn’t make sense to this beautiful homegrown baby. You live and you learn, PSA: don’t force a vibe.
The first year, I had to work New Years Eve, where we were allowed to dress up. So I put on my most pop punk princess outfit and SLAYED: skin tight ombre green glitter dress, slits on both sides, and backless. Paired with white high-top Chuck Taylors and a baby pink pashmina to wrap around my arms, I felt incredible. I danced around all night twirling and shaking my ass. I was twenty-three and told no one was going to like me anyway, so I said fuck it, and turned up the volume. At our pre-meeting, we were all just standing around chatting like usual, and a bartender standing behind me announces, “Well, that’s one tall glass-” As I turn to look, I see our general manager Ben walk past and dart his eyes at the guy. It shut him up. That was it, silence. Ben moved on and meeting began.
There will always be creeps and I was asking for the attention, let’s be fucking for real. But Ben protected me and everyone else at the meeting from what? My own naivety and bad blood? At the time I was flattered by both men, but the older I get, the more I thank Ben for taking control of that situation and not letting this grown-ass man put me on the spot in front of all my coworkers. Thanks to Ben for being smart enough to see sexual harassment while it was happening, being strong enough to act, and for being kind enough to care. You’re a fucking king among men, Ben.
For what it’s worth, the job made me feel like Shoshanna in Inglorious Basterds. Donald Trump had just been elected president and the purity of my childhood was actively being destroyed with a wrecking ball. I was five hundred miles away from my family and just entering the adult world. I worked my ass off and felt very alone while I tried to find hope in the city of Detroit and the people around me. For the most part it worked: those are friends for life, and we made some great art! But eventually I realized I needed to make money, especially when my plan of falling in love and having my babies named Derek and Ashleigh sheltered by a white picket fence proved more difficult. Even if I didn’t get my happy ending with Black Flag, I’m honestly proud of being hot enough to become a marquee girl, to live out that fantasy. In a parallel universe three steps to the left, I run an old theater like The Fillmore Detroit, I swear.
To round this newsletter out - the medium of this first installment is pen and paper - I drew this about two years ago, a couple years after I left Detroit, at a desk job where I was also bored a lot of the time. I was doodling and a coworker pointed it out. I kept it because it’s joyous. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s motion to it and takes me back in time. This drawing here is my marquee :)
So step right up, don’t forget to feed the monster, and please enjoy the show!
Until next time,
ps. Someone please go see Jessie Reyez at The Fillmore Detroit on Nov 11 and tell me all about it, please and thank you!
(a mostly misc production)
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