Wednesday, June 20, 2012

3 More Things Dirty Barbie Taught Me About Life, Love and the Universe


Guest Post by Elizabeth Derby
Well, DeeDee-holics, this is it. The night before the night you’ve all been waiting for.

In less than 24 hours, Dirty Barbie will make her triumphant return to the Live Arts stage in Charlottesville, VA. She’ll perform her one-hour piece of history for a sold-out audience, then do it again on Thursday—and again on Friday.

At this point, the only tickets remaining are the hottest in town: those to Saturday night’s Fancy Pants Benefit AKA Lavender Shortbread & Brand-New Material Fest AKA Champagne & Southern Cocktail Party AKA Dirty Barbie’s last night in C’ville for quite some time. Check out The Daily Progress’s excellent article about it here.

Personally, I plan to stake a claim in the very front row of opening night. I know I’ll laugh and probably cry and leave the theater waving my fist about Art and Honesty and The Importance of Self-Expression. No doubt I’ll feel the same stab of writer’s guilt I felt when I saw the show back in November—that gnawing sense that the world is full of clever, soulful women determined to tell their stories, and if I want to build my very best life I’d better stand up and join them.

On that note, I’ll forgo my creative writing assignment for one more night. I’d rather share five more things I learned from the last two weeks of my life—AKA my tenure as publicist for Dirty Barbie—and why this experience might just be one for the history books.

Lesson 4 (1-3 here). When in doubt, overdress—or underdress strategically.

The easiest method for giving away flyers (other than stand directly in the flow of foot traffic and thrust paper at every passerby)? Wear a skirt short enough to attract attention, then speak as soon as you catch someone’s eye. This probably goes double for dudes.

Lesson 5: Choose your names wisely.

You probably didn’t choose your own name, but you’ll have other opportunities to make this choice. You might have kids or pets or Pet Rocks, I don’t know, or you might create businesses or baby works of art. Thanks to Dirty Barbie’s kick-ass name, I stuck the message in spite of myself. Like the time I piped up in Spin Class: “there’s a [pant] seriously awesome [pant pant] show that you, like, [pant pant pant] have to check out” [collapse over the handlebars]. Fortunately, I recovered my breath enough to say the words “Dirty Barbie,” and a series of appreciative smiles and head nods spread like sweat waves across the room.

Lesson 6: Community is power.

Hive, tribe, group, team: social media marketers use so many synonyms that the word community sounds almost silly. But Dirty Barbie reaffirmed my respect for that oft-referenced notion of networking. Sometimes people do appear offline, in real, non-digital displays of artistic support or neighborly affection. From heartfelt cheers during Art Drinks shout-outs to promo stunt buy-in from local strangers, this show’s promotion felt organic and easy—comfortable as a woven sweater. 

When I moved to Charlottesville nine months ago, I never imagined any of this. If you had told me I'd stand on the mall wearing a small orange dress--well, I'd believe you up to that point. If you'd continued to forecast that I'd be armed with pink flyers, cajoling Lady Arm Wrestling fans into nights at the theater, I'd have reminded you, gently, that I was a writer. In 2011 I believed that by now I'd have scripted my way into an ivory tower, not labored over blog posts extolling small-town connections and my unscripted place within them. Believe me when I say, for the first and possibly last time ever, I am so happy I was wrong. 

Bonus Lesson as It Relates to Life, Love and the Universe: Whether you watch or write or live your story, be sure to enjoy the show!

And say hello if you go to Wednesday's performance. I'll be the girl with the glasses and inspiration-fueled mood swings.