All photos by Martin Kyle of Pernmoot Photography.
On June 23, 2012, there was a Dirty Barbie benefit at Live Arts here in Charlottesville, Virginia. We sold $100 tickets for a cocktail party, the show, dessert, new never-seen before-material, an open bar and dancing. All proceeds would go to helping me take my show and my team to the Edinburgh Fringe Fest. It sold out...here are my tips to how to have a successful benefit. I don't have tips on how to do it and not go crazy. Good events are "full immersion" (as Ray says) things. The dunking may make you crazy.
1. Find a completist. Not a perfectionist. A completist.
This is Kathy Doby. This is a Barbie cake. You bake a cake and then you stick a Barbie in it, and then you decorate it with pearls. You make her a bodice out of icing. I mean, you do if you're Kathy Doby, who is one of the best completists I've ever met. Forget perfectionists. Find a completist and your life will get better instantly. Yes, she'll complete you. Completists make things perfect in a sneaky way. They make you happy. They make your people happy. They think it all the way through and then they deliver. BOOM. TOTALLY. In March, she asked me if she could help me with anything, and I immediately said, "Yes, please help me with the benefit on June 23." We didn't really talk about it much more until three weeks before the benefit. She decided that the party favors would be handpainted wine glasses. She organized a group of ladies to come to her house and paint 70 wine goblets. She said it was a great time. She thought that there should be Barbie cakes. When I told her we should go "eclectic Southern cocktail party" -- she was on it. She found a Barbie car with a sunroof and put a dish of nuts in the top. She strung up Barbie clothes. She sprinkled Barbie shoes about. She brought vases and red velvet cupcakes.
2. Set a price tag that makes your head explode a little each time you hear it then plan an event that's better than the price tag.
3. Get over the fact that your one-woman show has never been a one-woman show.
The amount of help I've had is staggering sometimes. Sometimes I think what have I dragged all these innocent people into and then sometimes I think I'm so glad I'm not working at a bank and sometimes I'm so glad that the process now involves more people because I used to get so lonely in the basement rehearsing. The truth is...it's always been populated...with the past, with the people who always ask me "What are you writing?" with the people who come to the show, with the people who are donating their money to send me.
|Ray and Stephanie and Mary help me!|
4. When someone asks, "Oh! Who's the benefit for?" Say, "Me."
More than once someone would hear about the benefit (usually because I was talking about it) and they would say, "Oh! Who's the benefit for?" What could I tell 'em? Not for lost kitties. Not for wounded soldiers. For me. To take my bahounkas (that is not Scottish for Barbies) over to Scotland and trot my stories upon those famous stages. Your $100 goes to me.
5. Get Kathy Doby a wingwoman and ask your friends for one more thing.
Stephanie Ryan signed on as Kathy's partner. That woman can lay out a cheese plate that will make your head spin. Someone complimented one of the producers on the food. They said it was all so good and that it seemed homemade. Baby, it was. I bought the booze and I bought a ton of kebobs (thanks, Sticks, for the big discount!), but for the rest of it...I asked my friends to make a dish and bring a bottle of wine or a six pack of good beer and drop it off between 4:30 and 6:30. Sian at Market Street Wine Shop helped me figure out the pours. Christina made bruschetta and brought beer. Carla made delicate veggie wraps with peanut sauce. Jen made shortbread...oh the shortbread...it went on and on like that. I have wonderful friends.
6. Promise shrimp kebobs and champagne and shortbread with lavender essence.
6. Promise more than you think you can deliver.
|unusually thoughtful before a show|
I'm usually just dancing to Lady Gaga on Pandora before the show, but for the benefit I had promised new material, and this would be the first time I had covered this ground. Some heavier shit. I came up with a formal answer to the most frequently asked questions from the talkbacks. It was "intense" I heard. Hold it down and wear it out and flip it to the backside and pop it in your pocket and make like a bandit and then slip into something that sometimes fits and call it good, right?
7. Listen to the optimists on your team. They believe it will sell out even when you've only sold 13 tickets.
Because it's so much harder to rally on your own, meet regularly with your team. Over a bowl of tomato soup, we (Will, Ray, Elizabeth, d) rallied. We rallied. It sold. Huge part of my budget and we did it. Honestly, I didn't believe it would, but they did.
8. Don't stop to do laundry. Buy more panties at Kmart.
9. Find a way to get on the radio.
Many thanks to Brad Savage for having me on his morning show on opening night! After this aired, the last third of the benefit tickets sold! Thanks, Brad and the 106.1 listeners.
10. When Kathy Doby tells you it's okay to go downstairs and do "your thing", go downstairs and do your thing.
She's a completist. She's got it. Get out of her hair. Go do your little thing. That thing you do. Go play with your makeup.
|working on the extra material|
|with Mary Coy in her Dirty Barbie t-shirt|
|talkback after the show..why is my hair so frizzy?|
11. Dance. Always. Before bed or instead or like your life is a damn good country song.
|dj and dancing stylings of Mendy St. Ours (another completist)|
Interested in donating to the Dirty Barbie Goes to Edinburgh Campaign? Click here.