Day 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 – I waited a whole week (Berlin, Germany)

I waited a whole week.  I waited out the 100-degree weather, the nervousness, the doubt, and the excuses to not street perform.  I waited across Germany from Dusseldorf to Berlin, through train stations, Turkish baklava shops, and angry Spanish strangers who let me borrow their phone even though they didn’t want me to.    I waited through children’s playgrounds where each structure I played on, I was followed by a pack of small kids wanting to be lifted up to the high bar or be pushed off a splintered wooden platform down a zip-line.  I waited while hanging upside-down in front of Turkish women with covered heads as I struggled to keep my shirt covering, at the very least, my bra.  I waited through a spectacular evening of open air Kronos Quartet and Philip Glass live to the old black and while DRACULA in Berlin’s Zitadelle (an old fortified castle surrounded by a lilli pad filled moat).  The sky stayed a beautiful cloud speckled blue for most of the movie and turned dark with the climax of the film.  I waited with “roadies” (i.e. the blessed gift of Berlin: to-go beers to enjoy on the street, subway or unsuspecting roof top found through an abandoned attic you might imagine a family of Jews hiding in not too many years ago).

All this time, this long long long week, I’ve been stretching my eyes wide open to catch the delicacies of humanity.  Opening my gills to breath any ounce of inspiration I can… and strangely, at the same time, feeling like a spectator of those who play the game of life.  I knew to get out on the playing field meant doing what I was most afraid of – street perform.

Now, writing about everything I’ve done inside the week before my first street performing experience in Europe, I realize there were a ton of gems, in fact, all of it is a gem, but somehow I couldn’t see that, couldn’t let myself acknowledge the success this trip has been thus far, until I got out there in costume.

Friday, July 16, 2010 was the Turkish market in Kreuzberg (the oh-so-hip gentrified young artsy district of Berlin).  For those of you in The States, Kreuzberg is like a Brooklyn, NY or Mission District of San Francisco on steroids.  I never had to speak German there, I wouldn’t have known I was in all-too-recently-communist-occupied-East-Berlin.  The market was hustling and bustling with an international crowd of young-ins, flirting African men, with button-cute French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish AND American ladies and gents.  Young families were abound and coconuts were being consumed.  Breads and dips were being toted to a wooden deck overlooking the market and the canal that rushed by underneath.  The patrons would enjoy their picnics with bottles of biere.

When we walked up there was a fully amplified band set up and waiting to begin their set.  I asked them if there was a list to sign up to perform, she said I could just go after her.  I was happy for this, but a little shaken.  My ruffly costume undies and bra were getting hot under my civilian clothes.  I sat down and thought out my entrance.  Luckily I had Andrew (recently re-named Ottoplatz or Crobag) playing Ukulele for me during the set up and during the “pass-the-hat” portion.   So, the musicians finished up and introduced me.  I jumped up quickly to not lose the crowd.  Crobag began playing his Uke and I began to dress… or should I say, undress.  I used the audience to help me get into costume.  The crowd began to get larger, market go-ers stopped to see what the &^%$#@ I was doing.  After much huffing and puffing I became a large white frothy ball – sparkly heels and all.  The audience spoke English so I spoke to them a lot to keep them responding, they were ready and willing to speak up.  It was good to see that the picnicking crowd had stopped eating and were just watching me.  Because of the wind my balloon wouldn’t stay put so I employed an additional audience member to hold it still on the ground while I stampeded for it in high heels.  He was brave and held on while I stomped on it.   By the end about 95% of the audience who had stopped by to see what I was doing gave me money!  And about 20% of the picnickers donated money to my hat – I’m thinking because they had been sitting there for at least a handful of previous acts and had been giving money before me.

It was a relief to do.  The response was just fine.  And I was happy to have broken the seal.  I will go to Italy soon and see what there is to be done there.  But reflecting back on it, it really just felt like another thing to do.  No huge triumph, just a relief.  I was simply exhausted, sweaty and hungry after.

So, we had a picnic by the canal, met a puppy, fed it coconut meat and saw a two-hour transvestite show that should have been 45 minutes.  Ludwig, the owner, gave us free tickets and everyone was dripping with sweetness so it was a good time.   As my exceptionally generous host, Mandy Hixon, put it, “the show was a combination of watching 12 year old girls lip synch in front of the mirror and a school talent show…”  There was one fairly wrinkly middle-aged tranny that I fell in love with.  He/She was the least concerned with how he/she looked and every time he/she came on stage he/she would not be able to refrain from laughing at him/herself.  He was well aware of how ridiculous they were being, knew he looked a like rough around the edges and just couldn’t keep it together.  This had me laughing long and hard, often far after the rest of the audience had stopped.

In short, what an odd and predictable process.  It all worked out perfectly, life is breathing through me and everyone I meet all the time, street performing is scarier to think about than to do and I like drinking coffee in Europe.


6 Responses to “Day 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 – I waited a whole week (Berlin, Germany)”
  1. Kim says:

    What a fun update! I’m getting myself all subscribed to your blog here – must stay updated on the happenings of Miss Summer! And how awesome that you got to stay with Miranda!

  2. Nrodger says:

    So beautiful! congrats!

  3. Richard says:

    Loved wending through your living german journal. Your summer spirit shines through your words and images. Thanks for spreading love.

  4. Evie says:

    A frothy white ball rolling through Europe–it’s just what they need, dear Summer! Show them how it’s done…

  5. Hillary says:

    Summer I am addicted to your blogs…..when will there be more?

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