It was perfect that I signed my gig contract two months before New Year’s Eve, because the two weeks prior to the 31st, when everyone is clamoring to book talent for the biggest night out of the year, I was to be in the US on holiday with my family, with my Turkish telephone turned off. My performance was to be in Adana, in southern Turkey, at Inci Hotel.
After what seemed like a never-ending intercontinental journey comprised of less than restful neck-lolling, open-mouthed plane sleep and idle time at Heathrow, I returned from Los Angeles to my Istanbul apartment at one am on December 30th, only to unpack my suitcase, fall into bed at three, and wake up five hours later to head back to the airport.
I met my agent in Taksim where I was to leave via shuttle for Atatürk International. We’d cut it close–my costume designer had finished my NYE costume while I was in the States and sent it via cargo from Fethiye to Istanbul, where my agent collected it so she could hand it to me before I left for Adana. Sure, I could have worn any number of costumes, but everyone knows it’s good luck to wear a brand new one on New Year’s Eve. It’s important. Some people eat black eyed peas. . . .
My ride to the airport and flight to Adana passed in a blur. The delirium from being overly tired is akin to that of being overly drunk. Once I got to Adana, though, it was all smooth-sailing. A driver met me at the airport, took me to the hotel, and I was shown to my room. The first thing I noticed was that there were big posters throughout the hotel with my photo on them. Very movie starrish.
The guest services manager went quite out of her way to make sure I was comfortable, fed, and entertained. She even went as far as to take me out for Turkish coffee, complete with a psychic coffee grind and tarot reading. (2013 is going to be a successful year for me. Also, love is on the way. More specifically, sometime in the next three months.)
Inci is a four star hotel, but the treatment I received was five stars. The hotel’s tailor did the small but important final alterations on my costume, my food was brought to my room without my having ordered it, and I spent a wonderful afternoon in the Turkish bath and spa. In addition to receiving one of the top three massages of my life, (maybe the best ever), the hotel called in an esthetician just for me. I also had a garson looking after me: escorting me from my room to the dressing room before showtime, bringing me food, water, and wine, and keeping me to my schedule.
There were three events in the hotel: one in each ballroom, and another in the hotel’s nightclub. I performed in all three. The first of the three shows was tremendously fun. There was a lively crowd of families, groups of friends, and happy people of all ages, generous tips flew, and there was a stage that slowly rose into the air before floating back down to ground level as I performed my drum solo. I found it a bit weird that one of the DJs made it known to me that he was hoping for a tip for playing for me. Way to take the pleasure out of something I had already planned to do! At least he had the decency to look embarrassed about it. I cannot say the same about his fellow DJ, who approached me later about the same topic, and was beyond tacky about it.
The second ballroom had a weird energy to it. I don’t know whether the musician who’d performed before me had been singing melancholy songs about heartbreak and sorrow, or what, but when I entered the room, everyone seemed subdued, as though they’d all taken Quaaludes. They brightened up considerably once my music started to play, but nothing to compare with the first salon. I clapped a bit while I was on stage, as I’ve seen some Turkish dancers do to engage a clueless touristic crowd, but the only person in the audience to follow my initiative and clap along with any enthusiasm was a very happy and excited young woman with some apparent mental disabilities. After I performed on stage, I did a round of alatura–this is when I dance around the tables, encouraging others to dance. I danced with the ladies, their husbands, and their children–you know, being fun, being charming. Well, while lots of people got up to dance and filled the dance floor, and dozens of people beckoned me to pause for a photo, no one seemed to be tipping. I thought it was odd, and I daresay I felt a bit under-appreciated!
Well, who should be the first to tip me but a low-life pervert? It irritates me to recall the lout who copped a feel under the guise of tipping me with a flourish. Stunned and outraged, I pulled away from him defensively, and glaring at him, thought for a moment before slapping him across the temple with as much force as my bejeweled little hand would allow. My urge was to choke him as I’d learned in Judo, but I couldn’t. I had to be dignified and settle for a slap. My little garson hadn’t been much of a bodyguard, but the general manager seemed to materialize instantaneously. The sister/wife?? (if wife, poor thing)/female friend or cousin of my aggressor apologized profusely, blaming her comrade’s beastly behavior on his excessive alcohol consumption. The garson quickly ushered me far away from the scene, and the music played on.
My moral (morale) was pretty bozuk (means broken, read: low) at that point, but my performance time hadn’t ended, so I went back to the dance floor, which was far from the scene of the crime, and filling up, and joined the innocent and ecstatic young woman who’d been clapping with me earlier, along with her parents, for a dance. Just before my final whirl off stage to the sanctuary of the dressing room, a couple asked me to pose with them for a picture, thanked me, and handed me a 100 lira note. These two things helped to ease the eery feeling that haunted me from the prior incident, although it took a little while before I could shake the creeps completely.
Luckily, my next show wasn’t until half an hour later. The story of my unfortunate incident had preceded me backstage, where the musicians proceeded to tell me how well I’d done to slap the miscreant. By the time I went on stage for my third and final performance, I’d regained my composure and joyful disposition. The atmosphere of the third party was splendid, mirroring that of the first, and I closed on a high note. I was escorted to my room, where I slept blissfully for 4 hours, before waking up to breakfast and–another trip to the airport.
All in all, a mostly wonderful experience. Not to mention a lucrative one. Quite lucrative.
New for New Year’s Eve!
Costume by Pırıltıkostüm Moda