Please do enlighten us...how DID you come to be hit in the face with a severed leg?
I can honestly only laugh about this because it was like six years ago. At the time it fucking sucked but in retrospect it’s as hilarious as it is intense, so strap yourself in, friend.
When I was in high school I worked on pretty much every production we did–if I wasn’t in the show, I did tech, and since I’m not much of a singer (for reals I sound like I’ve got a mouth full of gravel and only Tom Waits can pull that shit off), when we did musicals I was in the wings. Or, as in the case of Little Shop of Horrors, inside a giant fucking plant puppet.
Now, we were a little ambitious and decided to build our own Audreys instead of renting them from New York for a small fortune. The first two were hand puppets but the third one weighed a over a hundred pounds and required a full body harness and the last one was roughly the size of a VW Bug. (I’m not fucking exaggerating–this thing was engineered to swallow live actors, one of whom was wearing a fucking fat suit. ‘Epic proportions’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.)
I don’t know how familiar you are with the plot of Little Shop, so here’s a breakdown: nerdy botanist grows man-eating space plant in order to impress girlfriend of sadistic dentist. (I shit you not. Broadway is fuckin’ wild.) So this was my junior year and because my school was brand spankin’ new I had departmental seniority and for some jolly reason this meant that the ridiculously awesome title of ‘Puppet Master’ was levied upon me. The less glamorous reality meant sitting in a fucking box for most of Act One to sing to the twit playing Seymour and then getting strapped into some kind of mental bondage harness attached to a giant fucking flytrap made of felt and foam and PVC and trying to match the articulated mouth to the words of a voice actor standing fifty feet away on the stage right wing. This shit was a fucking job, let me tell you.
So Audrey 2.3 (as we called the third puppet) is supported by two long ‘crutches’ that are meant to take some of the weight so not all 100+ pounds of it is just hanging on my back. I’ve got my hips braced against a giant ceramic pot and my arms in these like fucking alligator jaws and I can’t see a fucking thing because the mesh is too dense and I’m sweating like absolute hell because BEING IN A GIANT FUCKING COCOON OF FOAM AND FELT UNDER THOUSAND-DEGREE STAGE LIGHTS WHILE HOLDING THE EQUIVALENT WEIGHT OF BILBO FUCKING BAGGINS ON YOUR BACK IS HARD FUCKING WORK.
Right, anyway, it’s a long story but the dentist dies and Seymour chops him up into little Dentist McNuggets to feed to Audrey 2.3, who isn’t big enough yet to be swallowing people whole (we save that shit for Act 2). Our second night of show Seymour is like kind of high on success from the night before and getting really overzealous with the feeding. He’s got a chum bucket of ‘body parts’–most of them are like intestines made of pantyhose and cotton wadding (tech people are ingenious) and that sort of shit–soft and harmless–but at the bottom of the bucket is the piece de resistance, this fucking stupidly realistic severed leg with a giant bone sticking out which was used on a film set for some kind of war movie and honestly I have no idea how we ended up with it, but it was gruesome and horrible and made out of hard fucking industrial plastic.
Anyway we’re like halfway through the song and it’s the big bombastic Act 1 finale and Seymour is absolutely fucking losing his shit and flinging intestines and kidneys and fingers into the puppet mouth and I’m like frantically grabbing them as fast as I can before they can go dribbling out again–if you’ve never seen this show you absolutely do not understand how fucking gross it is–and one of the intestines gets away from me. I need one hand for the jaw and one to grab the snacks and I’m like shit shit shit this intestine is sticking out of my mouth like a goddamn Cuban cigar and I’m leaning forward to grab it and WHAM. I get kicked full in the face by a severed fucking foot and honestly, I can’t even explain, it felt like getting a roundhouse to the jaw from a fucking kangaroo.
So I go reeling backwards–and bear in mind this freakin’ giant plant is in no way anchored to the floor, just my body–and I knock one of the ‘crutches’ off the back of the platform. Seymour is still belting his fucking lungs out, totally oblivious to the fact that Audrey is like imploding behind him–and 100+ pounds of man-eating plant suddenly drops off the back of the platform, drags me down with it and crunch crunch snap the weight cracks three of my ribs like fucking matchsticks. The song ends, the crowd goes wild, the lights go out and I’m falling halfway off the back platform, all the dead Audrey weight still strapped on and hanging on my shoulders and it literally hurt so fucking badly I couldn’t even breathe to start swearing.
Anyway thank God someone (unlike Seymour) was paying attention, and as soon as the drape closes Mushnik comes thundering onstage and stars tearing the plant open like it’s a deleted scene from Jaws or some shit, going “OH MY GOD HOLY SHIT ARE YOU OKAY” and I’m like “NO I’M FUCKING NOT I’M SUFFOCATING AND MY RIBS ARE BROKEN AND I’M PRETTY SURE I HAVE A FAT LIP FROM GETTING KICKED IN THE MOUTH BY A DISEMBODIED FUCKING FOOT.”
I spent intermission lying shirtless on the floor with a sack of ice on my back and enough tape around my ribs to stick a walrus to the ceiling and you know what? We finished the fucking show and did four more after that. Don’t even fucking tell me theatre people are not hardcore.
And that is the story of the time I got kicked in the face by a severed leg and a carnivorous alien plant broke three of my ribs.
Look around you and realize you are wallowing in a chumbiness you refuse to see. I dwell in in, meditate in it. Every day I slip in sensually and lovingly into chumb state of mind with the slow, exasperating onset of morphine. You only need to stop impeding yourself to find your truth.