“ya know, any fool can hit the bulls-eye on his first try, it’s the second try that really counts”– the back of my mind as i’m heading to acentos
things started on a good note as, while i’m leaving my job, i see victor d., the older gentleman that i’ve seen at a few open mics (including acentos) i offer victor a ride to acentos and then pick up ray. the house is a bit thin when i arrive which is, pretty much, my worst fear. the eight slots open mic fills up quick though and jumps to nine right from the jump as fish puts on raul, who missed out on the last open mic– make that twelve as i have lily (with a phone in request), guy and jayme (our first acentos “virgin”) added to the list.
it’s 7:42 and i figure it’s time to open the show. fish gives me a mic little intro and it’s off to the races. the first half of the open mic is quick and to the point. readers are picked at my discretion to keep a good flow going on the mic. newcomer/veteran, male/female, comedic/serious, conversationalist/imagery or to put it really basic people.whose.work.i.know/people.whose.work.i.dont.know. this allows the show to have a good ebb and flow that never allows the audience to get to comfortable in their chair. i’ve seen a few open mics where it’s bad reader after bad reader, seen a host grab an old-timer by the collar and say “i need you to kick a piece, next!”
‘well, uhmm, i didn’t really want to read tonight. i kinda, you know, wanted to chill…’
“we are losing the audience. you are up, right NOW!”
i’ll say this– it worked, the old-timer got the crowd back on their feet and the rest of the night went great but if that host didn’t have an ace up the sleeve, shit coulda got ugly.
also seen venues where the host loads up the front of the open mic with all their favorites. nice strategy if you want to keep the same six poets getting exposure and positive crowd response. keeps your crowd really into the poetry as well, for 4o minutes, then they know that new people are coming up and the grand exodus begins. now you have a third of the house giving minimal love to a newbie trying to find their voice. tell ya this– if that had happened to me, when i started, i would’ve never got better.
ed hits the mic as feature and gives me a hysterical intro: “ed is very important to me and my friend…” i was laughing all the way through, ‘specially cuz it’s true. ed was the person who convinced me to turn the salsa poem into a slam piece but that’s a story for another time.
one of the wild things about performing is the energy in the room. it’s a very real thing and, if you’re good, you can make it do what you want. ed knows how to make it do what he wants. he did a wonderful piece about being “special” and was making fun of himself for two minutes before totally flipping the energy and converting all those laughs into genuine concern. mixing old and new, everything flowed well and the crowd responded perfectly to ed’s words… with a 103 degree fever! that’s dedication and a half!
the second half of the open mic started out with jayme, our first acentos virgin (virgin meaning this is your first time on the mic, a nuyorican virgin is anyone who has never read at the nuyo before but that’s the fuckin’ nuyo) i befriended j a few weeks back when i twisted her arm to judge a slam and have been encouraging her since to come to the mic. ‘you’ve never read before? well, how about next week? you know, nah, make it two weeks… you’ll be the first acentos virgin!” love it when a plan comes together… j did great for a first timer and had some real natural poise on the mic. it’s good to know that i helped someone get on the mic for the first time and did everything in my power to make it a great encouraging experience. ditto for lily who has some good verse just needs to get her voice to match up to her words. then, lo and behold, we had a second virgin… harmoney is a friend of hermen’s who has been thinking about taking the plunge and i hooked him up with a spot. also, a good first timer and i can’t ask for much more.
did end up turning away a good six people and even got one real long face. it hurt to tell people they couldn’t get on the mic… this week. i’ll look out for all of them next time around but one of my goals is to have a nice tight show that doesn’t run too late. as opposed to the last acentos were i was letting everybody get on the mic and had a way too long show.
another acentos in the book and things are looking bright for this series and am going to start booking through the summer.
oh, the afterparty was at beau sia’s whatever. it was the usual ruckus as rog, jayme and i met up with helen, omar & lynne. especially when we saw the meatloaf lookalike ” He has a name… His name is Robert Paulsen. His name is Robert Paulsen.”
hanging out with the dead.guy.in.the.subway.who.helps.out.patrick.swayze.in.’ghost’ lookalike “Get off my train!!!”
drove the crew home and got stopped at a police check point. in the strangest twist of fate, the young african-american officer was all gung-ho and wanted to get em for something, anything. then the white, ultra conservative, lieutenant was telling him to let me go. the youngblood wasn’t having it but the superior officer had spoken and i got over… big time. i got to fix that headlight, no way i can have this good a luck.
then again, i just brought some more good poetry to the bronx and helped usher two new peeps into the world of spoken word… some good vibes deserve to come my way. circles, ya know?