Today was about being a vampire. In the morning I went to the costume superstore in Clapham Junction and geeked out about makeup. Then I went home and dug through all the stuff I’ve sequestered over the years. I ended up in a moth eaten tailcoat from my grandfather, with one of my mother’s more showy 1960’s blouses, a collar and medallion from the shop, and shitloads of fake blood. So much of it. All over my face. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a hoarder.
Then fangs. I ended up with the “good” ones that you have to attach to your own teeth. They’re ace, if you have even teeth. You have to hold them for five minutes over each canine, only to discover they fall off almost immediately if the tooth is wonky. I eventually made it work for myself after repeated fails. My tooth needed half the recommended glue… By the time I worked out that my problem was overgluing, I’d spent 25 minutes of my life sitting in a chair holding a bit of plastic to my tooth for no purpose other than to see it fall off immediately.
Still, once finally attached they look brilliant! I got some proper scares out of people. For the first hour or so I wasn’t comfortable speaking, as the glue is slow to harden properly and it would be easy to drop a fang with lip pressure. As people arrived at the party I decided be a caitiff, hissing at them (no lips) and stalking them, trying to show up in their blind spots and getting a cheap scream. That alone was a delightful way to spend a few hours while the fangs bedded in.
I should explain – this was a job. I’d probably do it for fun, but I was being gainfully employed at a party to “be a vampire.” It was a loose brief, but I’ve worked looser. “Dress up as a vampire, scare people a bit. Then join the party and have fun.” Yep. I can definitely do all of those things. It was for a record label. So I knew I had to work at the costume and makeup. If one of the punters vamped better than me, I’d worry I wasn’t doing my job right. I also made sure that nobody could get into the party without some form of encounter with The Count. And delightfully, not one person I met was a dick. There were a lot of people crammed into The Vaults, drinking loads of free booze, and not one of them was a cantankerous asshole. Statistically unlikely. Well done Extreme Music for their 20th anniversary.
I worked my hours, then stayed for good conversations a while. I’d never normally stay at a party I’m working. These guys were great. But also the changing room we had used to vamp up – it was a party room once the guests arrived. There was nowhere to go where we weren’t on display. I couldn’t very well drop my trousers in front of the guests. J and I eventually left the party in full makeup and hit public transport. I had to be the tube vampire,. With a little wheelie bag.
The way home was flooded with strange little interactions. Another reminder of the power of a good costume. I’m glad I made the effort. And now I’ve got a shitkicking vampire costume that I didn’t even know I had. Perfect for my one man show about Dracula. Perfect to take to Switzerland and honour my father who is a Member in Eternity of The Dracula Club in St Moritz…
I have worked before as Dracula. Many years ago I did it for the Heritage Lottery Fund at a shorter event in the daytime. They provided their own costume. They still owe me £150. Every attempt I’ve made to get paid has hit a brick wall. I’ll still keep mentioning it until it’s paid or I die. It’s not like they don’t have the money…