Tales from the Green Room

Monday, September 15, 2008

So, a large part of any writer's life is shilling his work.

Or it should be anyway.

I hate it when I hear writers say, "That's not what an artist should do. I'm above that."

Well, I ain't. And I don't know many writers who are. You have to be willing to tell readers about your work. You have to spend time letting readers get to know you, on a personal basis. You have to sell yourself, and your wares.

Some shilling can be very glamorous; some is shit. I've appeared on a lot of radio shows at 6 a.m. where some dumbass morning DJ from some station with KISS in the title asks me, over and over, why I don't like, and I quote, "to bang chicks."

"'Cause my equipment's not wired that way," I once responded.

"Well, then, somethin's wrong wich'ur equipment."

Mass hysteria ensues from the "Morning Zoo."

I've also been on a number of TV shows, mostly local city shows, like "Hello, Topeka!" or "Good Morning, Butte!" But I'm willing to do it, because I believe in my work, and, I have to admit, I always have a good time. I think these shows give a good pulse of the city. And I like to mimic the local accent when I leave. It's an obsession.

So, I appeared this morning on "Take Five," a live, local morning entertainment show on the ABC affiliate in Grand Rapids, MI. And it was a blast ... a really good show.

But, for the second time in my life, something happened while I was waiting in the green room to go on air.

Background: Before any live show airs, all the sound guys come back to mic the guests up (clip goes on the waistband, wire runs up your shirt and you clip mic on lapel). Since the mics are always black, I usually wear black, so it blends. Then the producer comes in and ask if anyone has questions, which no one ever does, because you don't want to sound like a jackass.

I had mainlined a Starbucks, so I did have a question. I wanted to know where a bathroom was, but it was too late, since I was the second segment, so I prayed to June Allyson that I wouldn't piss myself on live TV.

So, today, before the sound guys leave, they turn and survey the room. They look directly past me, at two other men sitting toward the back, and ask, "Which one of you is Dr. MacGruder?"

I look at them, blinking. I have to ask.

"Umm, so how come neither of you thought to ask if I was the doctor?"

And the guys look at me, from head to toe, and I can read their minds: "No doctor gonna stack his hair two feet high, wear a skintight black BR lycra shit and a choker with a silver hoop, mmmmkay?"

Got me.

But I like to look pretty on TV.

And I think it's up to an author to AT LEAST resemble their author shot. I hate when I go to a signing, and I discover the photo was taken just after D-Day, and I'm like, "Hello? You don't look anything like Jude Law."

Which is why I guess I should be flattered that the only time I was ever mistaken for another guest was when a producer walked into the green room, tapped my shoulder as I was applying my lip shimmer and asked: "Bethany?"

I turned. Although my hair was in another stratosphere, and I was wearing a skintight blouse, I was not the 17-year-old champion fire baton twirler.

She arrived a few minutes later.

In a glitter leotard.

I even thought, right before I went on, "I wonder how I would look on-air in a sparkly unitard?"

But I'll save that for The Today Show.

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