It’s been some 10 years since I thrust myself on the public of Melbourne with fruit attached to my head. A roving gig was passed my way and I thought, why not? Sounds like fun. I borrowed a costume and dragged my shaking boom boom and still foghorn voice to the Abbotsford Slow Food Market, where I sang Latin songs of love for the people and sashayed through a sometimes wary, sometimes welcoming crowd. And indeed, it was fun.
I’m funnier with fruit on my head and permission to be self-absorbed. I rely on the obscure and the beauty of two dimensions. When in doubt, brow beat them with a great big song, or one that floats past when they are least suspecting. I engage in plausible conversations about produce and many assume that I am, in fact, Latino and the songs I am singing, culturally authentic. Children are in turns, terrified or intrigued. Some run in wide arcing circles, infused with a joy that springs from witnessing such a spectacle. Others are drawn like magnets, to what they perceive as a spotlight, to bathe in the glow of being seen, hanging around my skirts like moths to a light.
Seeing and being seen. Melbourne crowds are no longer accustomed to random acts of performance as they were in the 90’s. So many avert their gaze, their comfort zone defined by the clothes on their bodies and the task at hand. Shopping. They are no longer prepared to engage in the unexpected, unless they have children. Any opportunity to distract their offspring’s attention for a moment’s peace is welcomed enthusiastically. Grown ups guard dropped, they participate vicariously. Very occasionally they actually join in… in the most unexpected ways. Those moments are precious as we abandon all expectation and indulge in a moment of random colour and movement for no other reason than because.