June 4th, 2010


Dr. Mercury Reads At Balticon

Dr. Mercury by Paul SulskyWriting about Balticon is like writing about theater - it's difficult to convey the whole experience.  If I tried to cover everything that happened at the convention, I would have to write a novella about it. So I'm just going to stick to the highlights.

This post is about Friday night, and it requires a prequel.


I had a reading scheduled for Balticon, and I was a little nervous about it. Not nervous about doing an actual reading - I love talking in front of people- but nervous about boring other people with the same stuff they've already heard before. Or maybe I was just worried about boring myself.

I wanted to take my reading to the next level, to do something memoriable, but something that added to my material, rather than distracting from it. Then I had the idea of reading as Dr. Mercury. Of course, I have this problem, where I am a complete weirdo, so it's sometimes hard for me to judge what will be awesome versus what will just make people cry.

But that's what friends are for - to push you out or to reign you in. I'm glad I have friends I can go to and ask "Is this Mad?"

So I went to my friend Kate and Holly, where I had near identical conversations, where we weighed the Pros and the Cons of reading for Dr. Mercury at Balticon. Both Kate and Holly assured me that performing as Dr. Mercury would be awesome, and that even if it did fall flat and didn't go off well, that I would be falling flat in front of my friends, and that they would forgive me.

There is no gain without risk. And boy am I glad I took that risk.

Dr. Mercury entered the reading to Lady Gaga's "Teeth" which is a song that wasn't written for Dr. Mercury, but really could have been. The opening lyric is this:

Don't be scared
I've done this before
Show me your teeth.

Yes, Lady Gaga. Oh yes.

Photo by Bruce Press, Bruce Press PhotographySee that expression Dr. Mercury is making? It's partly shock, because the room was completely full. Usually, and I know other writers understand this, readings have about five people  - if you are lucky - two of which are direct relations. This room was small, but it was packed - standing room only. I was stoked. Can I say that? Yes. Stoked.

The reading was part reading, part performance art. There is an audio recording, which I'll be posting soon, and lots of pictures, my favorite of which were taken by Bruce Press and Paul Sulsky who did this amazing job capturing the character. Mur Lafferty was nice enough to agree to be kidnapped for the reading, where she read a fantastic peice about Dr. Mercury that was written by Filamena Young.

Photo by Bruce Press, Bruce Press PhotographyLater, Mur read from "Her Side" which is a book we collaborated on together. There were early signed editions of "Her Side" available at the Con. Mur read from the most  sexual, bloody piece of the book. It was great. I think we may have shocked a few people. Which was perfect.

Being Dr. Mercury was great. She has attitude, she has style, and she gives me the opportunity to wear a top I've never gotten to wear outside the house before. Reading in her voice was fun, and hearing people laugh at the funny bits -throwing stones at dolphins- was such an ego boost. It's great to hear people reacting to my work. So often writing is an isolating thing, and though I enjoy having time alone, there is something amazing to hear people react to my work.

I am so happy that people took the time to show up to my reading. It was fantastic to see everyone. Thank you to Jared for helping me get dressed, to Richard for pressing the button on the boom box, to Susan for the boom box, to Paulette for recording and Bruce and Paul for the freakin' amazing photos.  It went better than I even imagined it could.

Sometimes taking risks pays off, which makes all the little mistakes on the way totally worth it.

A few notes about Dr. Mercury's top, because there have been some, rather, um, pointed questions.  I shall address them here:

Q: Oh no! Isn't that top uncomfortable?

A: The top, though it may not look like it, is very comfortable. I could wear that top all day. It's an expensive, well designed, lined, leather top. If you pay a lot of money for a really well made thing, that thing may LOOK uncomfortable, but feel marvelous. The top felt marvelous.

Q: It looks like you are about to have a fashion emergency! What if your boobs fell out?

A: I was a burlesque girl for two years. You do not become a burlesque girl for two years without learning something about how to prevent fashion emergencies. The girls did not pop out and could not have popped out, and even if they did pop out, you still wouldn't see any nip. Seriously. Burlesque Girl - I know how to handle boobs. Especially my own. Relax. Take this paper bag. Breathe slowly.

Q: What if I took a pair of scissors to your top? What then?

A: If you took a pair of scissors to my top, I might become as indecent as anyone else whose top you cut off with a pair of scissors. You can cut a t-shirt off with scissors and a person would be indecent.  Also, if you were to approach me with a pair of scissors and start cutting off the expensive top that my husband bought me, I cannot guarantee your personal safety, I really cannot.

Thank you to everyone who came out to my reading! Dr. Mercury may be back next year to read, we'll see how things go, but I know that even if I don't bring Dr. Mercury back, I am always going to bring something mad to the party, because even if it falls flat, or even if it's crazy, it's always worth it to try.
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