It'd been a helluva week, and it was only Tuesday! In addition to writing for you beautiful people, I work in Academia. It affords me frivolous things, like food and rent. It was "Back to School" time....confusion reigned -- overwhelmed freshmen verging on tears, countless phone calls from parents in the first stages of separation anxiety, cancelled classes, transportation breakdowns, computer viruses wiping out my email!...
CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!!
But...like an oasis beckoning me onward, I had taken Wednesday off - and it was to be a special Wednesday, a Wednesday unlike any experienced in a long time, and I was ready. I was prepared. I'd read the book (Monkey Girl- Manic D Press). Loved it. I had the CD (Pass - Du Nord Recording, 1998). Play it all the time. I'd seen HER perform just the night before at the Make Out Room - live and in technicolor, on metaphorical fire, funny, eclectic, overwhelming, raw -- navigating the crowd through the mesmerizing storm of her tales of urban angst and suburban renewal. And, if that weren't enough, she did the most bad-ass "Robot" I've witnessed since the late 70's. Yes, I'd almost seen it all
--and now, on this momentous Wednesday, I was going to see...her toes!
I'd emailed Ms. Beth Lisick--the aforementioned HER as well as fabulously charismatic writer, spoken word artiste and front-woman of the most popular Beth Lisick Ordeal--the week before, suggesting a little "Day of Beauty." (Little did I know day would turn into night and things would get fuzzy around 12 a.m. Luckily Beth L., intrepid reporter, kept her wits about her-- check out her column on the SF Gate for all things music-related; stick here with me for all things righteous babe-related). Our get-together was to be just us girls- two Beths, two lovers of words, two unabashed bottle blondes - getting the semi-deluxe manicure/pedicure package, chatting it up, drinking champagne, gettin' to know each other and well, just relaxin'!
She took to the idea like a Bettie Page wannabe takes to a leopard bikini and emailed me back with a big 10-4, good buddy! The little cogs in my big brain started turning and planning our tete a tete.
But first, a little history: I met Beth Lisick about 9 months ago - she'd been dragged to my "fifth" 32nd birthday soiree by our mutual sporty, talented and lovable pal Chris von Sneidern. Suffering from a cold and having just plunked down a wad of cash for her first "real" car, Beth L. was overwhelmed and so we didn't have much quality time together. But I knew I liked her right off (it's a scientifically proven fact that all Beth's pretty much like each other, unless of course, they are missing the all important "b" gene, but I digress).
I decided I'd like to get to know her better, having heard all around nice things and being a fan of her work...but this was not the time. It's awfully hard to make small talk when you're head feels like it's about to explode, and all you want to do is sit in a comfy chair and sip something hot with an ample amount of medicinal booze in it - I let her sit in peace.
So, back in the here & now - September '99 - the cold and flu season is way past us, Summer is either here or over, can't really tell which. Nevertheless, it was time to reconnect with Beth L. and experience some good old fashioned pampering. Our plan was to meet at 4:00 p.m. at "High Class Nails" in Noe Valley (Lower Middle Class Nails would just not do - we were going deluxe, all the way baby!). I was running my requisite five minutes late, but managed to get to the salon just after Beth L.
I had in tow, neatly tucked away in conspicuous brown wrapping, a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Champagne - by virtue of its name, the *one and only* sparkling beverage for sipping during a pedicure - and two commuter coffee mugs for camouflage effect. Now, the very nice ladies at High Class Nails probably wouldn't have minded us breaking out the stuff in the shop, but I was taking no chances. I'd decided that disguising ourselves as a Noe Valley Lesbian Mom couple with our Starbuck's "coffee" mugs was probably a better idea, and only added to the je ne sais quoi of the whole experience. So, the bubbly was popped right there on the street, great care taken not to break any nearby shop windows, mugs were filled to capacity, and we headed in for our 4:15 appointments.
I'd booked us as just "The Beth's." We'd both worn jackets of the faux-fur variety, which worked nicely with the air of one-named glamour and mystery we presented. We were instructed to pick out a polish color, take our seats at adjacent stations, and dip our feet into awaiting tubs of hot, soapy, pulsating water. Now came a dilemma - as we were both eyeing the dark purples/burgundies/reds - I recalled seeing in Jane Magazine (I only buy it for the pictures...and I *do* also read the New Yorker) that this particular color type, or "VAMP" by Chanel, as it is saucily-called, was "soooo OUT." Did we want to be thought of as "out"?
Hmmm. Did we want to be pointed to and laughed at by small children? Did we want our friends and lovers to shun us? Did we really care? Hell no! We were rebels, we knew it and we went wholeheartedly for two various Vamp lookalikes!
Wanting this to be a very special occasion, of course, I'd taken care to do a little big toe shaving prior to baring my naked feet in front of strangers. You know those little hairs you get on your big toes (and don't tell me YOU don't have them....yours might just be very blond)--well, mine were wisped away Wednesday a.m. with the help of my lady bic and a little girly shave cream. I giddily informed my brave pedicurist that I'd done this just for her. In a moment of sweet synchronicity, Beth L. informed me that she, too, had shaved her toes that day! Ah, The Sistherhood - it's downright beautiful!
I had many things I wanted to ask Beth, but first and very important was, did she dye her own blond locks or was it a pro job? (let me remind you, dear reader, this was not a serious journalistic jaunt....it's hard to be that serious when you're getting tanked on champagne and your deliriously happy feet are in the throes of pedi-gasm). But I needed Beth's help and I needed it bad -- 10 years I'd given my hairdresser - we'd been through it all - red, black, blonde, pink, green/pink/blue at the same time! You name it. We'd done it. I thought we were tight. One day I find she's married and moved to New Zealand. The betrayal! And this after she'd done an extremely complicated retro Debbie Harry late 70's blond-in-front-brown-in-back thing to my hair. Could someone else re-create the seemingly un-re-creatable, without, instruction?? It'd been 4 months and even that "unfinished look" looks a little bit too unfinished after 4 months - I needed a referral, and I needed one fast - so I asked. Beth came through with names, suggestions, locales. I never doubted for a second she would. She will be the first thanked in my Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (and, of course, don't forget to check out my hair-it will look fabulous!).
I managed to eek out a few more compelling questions for Ms. Lisick between gulps of bubbly. She did a great job answering between her own sips. In hindsight, we're sure our nice attendants knew we weren't sipping grande double decaf latte espressos made from beans picked by Juan Valdez himself- they were very gracious about it and didn't bust us or mention our dirty secret. Plus the booze compelled me to order the two extra $8 foot massages, so everyone made out well in the end! Read on:
Beth B: I noticed at last night's show you were doing a little more singing mixed in with the spoken word pieces. Do you feel pressure to sing more as a way to reach a larger audience?
Beth L: I don't really feel pressured to do one thing or another. I'm just experimenting more with singing as a way to push myself and keep evolving, but it's also about giving the listener/audience a bridge to hold onto- like a chorus. I don't think I'll ever have it where I sing all the songs, but right now it adds something different which isn't bad and it's also fun for me.
Beth Lisick was born and raised in Saratoga, CA. She *still* holds the Saratoga High School Long Jump record which she set in 1987! I, too, have South Bay connections - family in Saratoga as well, college alma mater in Santa Clara, fond memories of my small post-college apartment in Sunnyvale (lots of beer, lots of Trivial Pursuit). We got to talking about the whole South Bay experience:
Beth B: You talk alot about Saratoga and the South Bay in Monkey Girl and also in your spoken pieces; "Weekend Warrior" is about a guy who lives and works in Silicon Valley. How did you feel about growing up in the 'burbs and how do you feel about the change in Saratoga.
Beth L: I liked growing up in Saratoga; it somehow seemed *more* suburban back then; my parents are the "oldest" people in Saratoga, that's how long we've lived there. I find myself telling people I live in the "flats" because there is such a division of wealth in the city now with the explosion of money in Silicon Valley - flats vs. the hills. My family is just trying to live the life they've always lived there - they aren't keeping up with the Joneses or the mass of people moving in.
Beth B: Do you think the suburban experience makes for more insight into the absurdity of "city life," which seems to be a big theme in your work?
Beth L: Well, yes and the same can be said backwards. I think alot about how one is affected by going from the city to a suburban environment and the inevitable differences they are confronted with and how they deal with those differences
Beth B: If you had a choice between Larry King, Barbara Walters or Howard Stern - who would you pick to interview you on a live show?
Beth L: I'd pick Barbara Walters; just because I think she'd ask genuine questions - it would be a real, old fashioned interview, not some sort of joke or chance to make a fool of someone.
Beth B: She interviewed Courtney Love and made it safe for Courtney to cry.
Beth L: I missed that one, but I heard it was great. I'll have to find it on video somewhere.
Dear readers, if you happen to have a tape of Barbara Walter's interview with Courtney Love, please consider forwarding it to Ms. Lisick before you tape over it with your latest entry into America's Most Embarrassing Home Videos (and, only the Courtney Love interview please, nothing seamy and XXX, okay?).
So, tootsies happy and polished, fingers lookin' shiny and ready to take on anything, we left "High Class" and headed out. I spent the rest of the day and night watching in awe as Beth L. strut her personable and journalistic stuff - everyone knows Beth and everyone likes Beth! It was awesome to behold. After crashing an investors-only restaurant opening to hear her good buddy Eli's stand-up bass playing and snag some free wine and upscale finger nosh, going to Cafe Du Nord for a listen to L.A.- based band Clear, and ending up at the Bottom of the Hill 'round midnight for a bit of the bluegrass/punk stylin's of the Bad Livers, this Beth B. was satiated, sleepy and ready to concede. Beth L. was still rarin' to go-there were hands to shake, babes to kiss and more venues to check out. She chauffeured me home, dropped me graciously at my door, and was East Bay-bound in her lovely midnight-blue-mobile before I could say pass the Excedrin. Heard she finished up with a stellar gin and tonic at Oaktown's latest Cool Spot, The Ruby Room. She's my Shero!
P.S. If you missed the Beth Lisick Ordeal's last two shows at the Make Out Room, I'm sorry... but....don't fret, check their website for upcoming shows - get your booty there, clap louder than anyone else, buy her a drink and say howdy!! Later, you can dazzle all your friends with the story of how you knew her "when" as you watch Beth's interview with Barbara Walter's on her post-Academy Awards show. If you miss out again, I guarantee, you'll be the one crying!
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