To be honest I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up to host an open mic and that too as part of the mother of all desi pride a.k.a. The Queer Azadi Mumbai (QAM) Pride Week. When the Gaysi team was informed of this spur-of-the-moment decision, they showed nothing but encouragement and support. Peers warned us of the difficulties of hosting an open mic and we had our own Guru Dutt moment * read: self-inflicted sadness *. But three years of hard work was at stake and Gaysi had to stand tall.
We only had 20 days to put everything together. And in the 20 days we had to:
a) book a location
b) get a good set of performers
c) attract an ever better set of attendees, and
d) get a hotty to host the night.
And since Panic is my second name… so I did and that too gloriously but thankfully help was on its way.
“Location! Location! Location!”
Excuses after excuses were given by various bars/pubs. But let me clarify it wasn’t the queer factor that deterred them, but the fact that they had no idea what an open mic was and “had never heard of such a thing.” If not that then it was their ridiculous monetary demands. Imagine 10 grand/PER HOUR for a tiny little bar that was not about to give us more than 20 chairs. Maybe he expected us to sit on the floor.
More importantly, if we had the thirty thousand rupees, QAM needed it more than some pub! With less than a week in hand, we were on the hotline with the manager at Big Nasty. At 10:45 at night when he got our proposal, it was almost shocking to hear the ease and assurance with which he opened his doors to us. He didn’t even give it a second thought, and his support brought the first touch of perfection to Dirty Talk (the event name was suggested by Lady Jughead & yes, her posts can be quite deceptive).
“The only thing that sells is entertainment, entertainment & entertainment!”
We had sent emails out, made a Facebook page, updated twitter and even tried to get online newspapers to list Dirty Talk.
We almost did everything short of giving people a lap dance in exchange for their act as part of the event. To be honest the initial few days were frustrating; most of the Queers I approached had a firm “NO” tattooed on their forehead. This, of course raises the question, who are we hosting a Pride week for? Especially, when it became apparent that Queers seemed only interested in being part of the clubbing scene during the week. The numbers are damning; 400+ Queers in Mumbai city and we were having trouble finding 20 out of them to be part of the performing team.
But determination was the key factor here and we thought “Screw the Queers, let’s get the straights”. After all, the Pride week is also about inclusiveness…right?
The time had come to bring on board some professionals! The funda of the evening was all about having a fantastic time, and what better way to do that than to bring in comedians and no ordinary ones mind you! Fortunately for us Karan Talwar, Karunesh Talwar and Varun Thakkur were most excited to perform.
Thankfully as the days rolled on, we started receiving requests to perform from the community.
Last but not least, we needed someone to string the whole night together. We had a few thoughts about who would MC the night, but none did fit the bill (basically we wanted Vidya Balan’s Dirty Picture reincarnation). Until one fine day, the fabulous radio jockey Miss Rohini was referred by a dearest friend. And praise the Balan Mata! Miss Rohini was booked…hooked…line & sinker.
Our special guest
Funnily enough till date people ask us how we managed to pull in an A listed Bollywood celebrity. And to be modest, we have no freaking clue!
However to break it all down – over a discussion of making THE perfect cocktail, he agreed to be part of Dirty Talk. What’s more, Imran Khan would generously follow up with us to see how he could help and if the planning was going well.
After sleepless night and half a day of nervousness, we finally reach Big Nasty all ready to set up. Posters were put up (after much struggle with the scissor, thread and plastic), chairs in place, sound check, screen check, stress check.
One mojito gulped down to ease the delicate nerves and then a wait for our audience. Before we knew it, Big Nasty was packed with over 150 people. There was no place to stand! We sat Imran down on a chair with some beer and let Rohini sing the “Ooo La La” song in her saucy voice. And did she charm the audience or whot!! We had people at the edge of their seats crying with laughter at our outstanding performers!
Unfortunately we had no space for last minute performers and also had to cancel a couple of performances due to time constraints. But we definitely do plan on getting our timings right in order to accommodate many more performances for Dirty Talk 2 (Coming Soon!!).
Let me sum it all up by saying, that putting this open mic together made me question my sanity, but it has definitely been one of the most fulfilling experiences.
Before I sign off; for all those who performed, attended and supported us from the sidelines, a BIG THANK YOU (and slurpy smoochie) from the Gaysi clan! This could not have happened without you.
And now moving on to Dirty Talk 2…let the nerves roll!