Like Tin Roof in Charleston, my Asheville venue was a shack – this time a pink one, slathered with weird cartoon murals. But I don’t think anyone would label it a punk club – it’s called the Odditorium, and it houses collections of oddities including a giant petrified hairball, a taxidermied one-eyed white rabbit, and Barbie heads floating in pickle jars. They regularly host freakshows, spelling bees, burlesque, and yard sales.
There had been a preview in the weekly paper, and the place was packed for my show. Among the audience were a honeymooning couple from upstate NY, two older ladies with expensive jewelry kvetching about when the show would start, a couple of herbalists who’d driven in from the country, and a quiet gentleman introduced to me as “Toybox, America’s Favorite Cartoon Witch”.
The opening act, the local Gaping Maw Sideshow, followed me. I prefer it that way, as I have an elaborate setup, but I’d also been warned that they might drive away some audience with their bodily fluid-drinking stunts. They had an interesting presentation style: a cruel character with wild hair named Grand Maw whispered, swung a lantern ominously, and tortured a girl who went by the name Misfit Toy. Foul concoctions were indeed drunk, and Misfit Toy stapled dollar bills to the flesh of her chest. After the show, she reached out to hug me, but I recoiled, as she was dripping blood from her staple wounds.
So far, I’d been fairly content touring solo; it’s hard work, but lots of freedom. But as I loaded out alone in the rain, I watched as Misfit Toy’s boyfriend gave her a big hug and words of support backstage, and carried her one suitcase to the car…I’ll admit I had a moment of self-pity.