Maren Wade’s Confessions of a Showgirl: “The Double-Jointed Chicken Dance: A Cautionary Tale” Photo Credit: Patrick Rivera
One of my favorite words in the English language is “gig.” My ears perk up and I see dollar signs each time I get a call that starts with, “Hey, I gotta gig for you.”
The great thing about Vegas is there are a lot of gigs to go around. A gig is normally a one-time performance. Sometimes it goes well. Other times, you lay an egg.
It was the grand opening for a franchise chicken restaurant, and various dancers from the Las Vegas Strip were cast to perform in a show designed specifically for the event. Who goes out of their way to design a full production show for a chicken restaurant?
May I remind you, this is Vegas.
The show opened with a glamorous, old-Hollywood ballroom section. (It was a classy chicken joint.) Six male dancers were dressed in top hats and tails, and I was one of six female dancers in ball gowns, a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The next number involved a quick change. The men put on chef outfits and the women were costumed as … wait for it … chickens.
Those of you who have followed this column from the beginning, already know quick costume changes are never easy, and a quick change out of a ball gown is extremely difficult. Follow that with a quick change into a chicken suit? Now that’s fowl play.
I had 30 seconds to drop the gown, ditch my heels and slide into that padded chicken suit and massive rubber chicken head.
Now, the key to a successful quick change is in the preset. A preset is when you lay out each article of clothing before a show in the precise order and direction that is most efficient to put it on. We’d had just two rehearsals for this show and each time I was unsuccessful in making the change from ball gown to chicken suit in time. What’s that saying, “The third time’s the charm?” Whoever said that has a very different standard of charm than I do.
The opening ballroom number was a success. (I mean, it wasn’t Broadway; maybe way off Broadway.) Ballroom gown off, yes! Shoes off, perfect! Chicken suit on, done! Chicken head on, wait a minute. Why can’t I see anything?
That’s when I realized that I had preset my chicken costume backward. But before I could do anything about it, I was shoved onstage backwards. Well, forward for me, but backwards for the chicken. My arms, however, were facing the same direction as my body, so the audience was basically looking at a double-jointed chicken with arms flailing out of its back.
Meanwhile, I was struggling to turn my chicken head around so I could at least see, but it wouldn’t budge. So there I was onstage, running around like a chicken whose head wouldn’t come off! It was a dancer’s nightmare: Amongst a group of synchronized dancing chickens, I was the unsynchronized one wreaking havoc in the coop.
But I kept moving. I figured I was bound to hit one of the dancers who might help me or at least end up backstage. Either would be better than this feathery purgatory. Suddenly, I felt the ground falling away beneath my chicken feet. I was flying! No, I was sinking—falling right off the stage and into the audience, tits down and beak up.
I was so distracted by the roaring laughter that I forgot to be mortified. I have since become a vegetarian. Okay, I have a confession to make: I tried to be a vegetarian, but I only made it a week.