Archives for posts with tag: renfaires


I am always surprised  when visitors to a faire say to me
“You must think I’m the biggest idiot!”
And I reassure them it is not true and not even close. I worked overnights at a convenience store near colleges  for two years, that’s a high bar I ask that most human beings not strive to beat. But it does make me wonder what they see from outside of the  fisheye lens of a faire participant so let’s share today.

To begin; I am super happy you have come today-no audience, no faire, no faire, no paycheck, no one to clap and give positive feedback, pluses all the way around. Do I care what you are wearing?-Generally I don’t and in fact if you came with a costume or a pouch or something else of interest, it gives me an excuse to talk to you and we can have fun chatting and playing. If I seem busy, please do catch my attention and we’ll work from there. If I seem to rush off, it’s not you, you may have caught me on my way to a stage and it’s not that I’m brushing you off but that it’s that time.

You think my swords are cool? Excellent! Tell me why and let’s talk about it. And this is how I have heard some cool stories of my own. It’s how we met the head of a Pensacola dojo who came direct from Japan, it’s how a lot of veterans tell us what they know, and it is how we get to hear some great things about families, ideas, techniques and the people who do them. Heck, sometimes it devolves to geekery about amine or World of Warcraft or Hobbits.

ImageSeriously,  I freaking love hobbits

You want to tell me about yourself- cool but please don’t monopolize me, because I have troupe members who need answers about upcoming shows, a tent issue, missing object or some ephemera with my name on it. And if I have my mouth open over a sandwich, yeah, I’ll probably have someone else answer your question.

A positive example of making an impact on us is that we see one another year after year and have a relationship and become friends, or even just buddies who see one another once a year. I love this and it makes faires special for the performers as well. And please never take it personally if we don’t recognize you right away. Just jog our memory and that will be enough.

And if you are a tiny person, and we see you grow up, that is special.

Not so special ways to get on the radar. Stalking, Heckling, Poaching.

I’m going to throw a couple of extra cautionary bits out there in the hopes that some folks will recognize their friends or perhaps *ahem* some personal behaviors.

We are here to entertain you and we don’t even mind a little familiarity, but we are not your trained pet. I will do some tricks by request but almost never by demand and evoking some small child in your triangulation scheme. just makes me dislike you more and I will find a way for it to reflect badly on YOU. And sadly for many, we don’t take tips for anything but our fire show so threatening or promising tips (see #3) simply doesn’t move us.

Violating clear physical, social and personal boundaries is another way to make yourself memorable. If we have a fight ring up with people using swords inside, it’s a terrible idea to bring a baby carriage through. If we are in in tights, you can ASK about the codpiece but (and I think this can be applied to a number of body parts) grasping and making honking sounds, not really funny. And personal-if you have to move aside a tent flap, step over a sleeping person and ask a question of someone with a face full of onion-sauteed sausage, you may well have violated a boundary and may not help yourself to what is in the cooler. (Without permission) Starting a philosophical discussion in front of the port-o-pottie is a bad idea for EVERYONE. These are all true and actual examples.

So in a nutshell: you come to the fest to have fun-we are there to make sure you have fun. We don’t judge you, after all we are here in outfits saying things that would be firing offenses elsewhere. We want to enjoy the ride along with you and your fun means quite a bit to us. But if you act in a way that is socially unacceptable outside of the faire, don’t bring it in with you. Please be one of our happy stories not “Oh no, it’s THAT guy, again.”

Taking a break from my ongoing series on joining the renfaire to talk about  who is writing this blog.

In the last blog entry I poked a little fun at those who feel compelled to tell you how smart they are. Well, keeping that in mind, I’m NOT going to tell you that but I am writing a little about myself and you can make your own judgment.

I attended King Richard’s Faire in the 80’s and was hooked, as is my husband. We hadn’t really thought about involvement with faires until my husband, doing his day job, ran into “Bob the Pirate” in HIS daytime job, hustling grade-schoolers through an ice-cream shop.

Shoot forward a bit and we started as part of sword group for a tiny but well-loved festival that was so close to home that falling out of bed was already halfway there. I won’t go into specifics but that group imploded and we started our own group. And we started with a bang by taking a contract halfway across the country. I won’t lie, we did sweat it and it was a near thing, but the end result is that we had a working performance troupe.

We also do scholarly work with sword manuals and physical practitioners.  This takes a certain mindset and patience level that isn’t found commonly, so having peers and discussion groups is fantastic and I enjoy this as much as performance.  I have a background that includes working at museums and presenting demonstrations so for me, the steps leading up to stepping out on stage are integral to all that I do for Phoenix Swords.

One part of these interwoven worlds is sexism and gender expectation.  That could be a series of blogs on its own but that’s not why I mention it. I mention it because it exists and if you decide to perform then one needs to think about how much energy needs to be devoted to dealing with the effects of this issue.   For me,  I do it with unflagging devotion and longevity and developing rhino-skin. It makes me angry when any gender is told “You aren’t allowed that role.” Historically there are examples of people who defy what we consider “conventional” and when we challenge that, well, then we are simply carrying a long tradition. So it amuses me when I am quoted as “that guy” when someone hasn’t met me in person. Not so amusing is being dismissed because of my gender, or someone’s expectation of my physical form.

I am middle-aged, female and overweight. I have arthritis and before practice on cold days it’s not uncommon to take some Advil because I know it’s going to help me keep moving. The flip side? I can climb stairs with little issue, can withstand travelling rigors pretty well, and know my stuff.  I have not spent the last 12 years sitting on the sidelines atop my hands . If you met me, I would not come across as threatening  or overbearing  and you would trust me to sit next to your kids or messenger bag. But I absolutely do know my sword history, how to hold certain types and use them, and am not even *remotely* interested in an “unzip and whip” contest because I am years past that adolescent need.  When I offer advice it is grounded with personal experience and will notice if slighted.

Most of the posts I’ll make here are pulled straight from our experiences as individuals or as a troupe.  If anyone has a question, I will answer if I can, tell you if I can’t and probably redirect you to someone who can take it that extra step if needed.  And even if I don’t receive comments regularly, I know this is being read because I can check it with the WordPress statistics. 😉   I’m just another person who has experience with being a performer and have flung myself onto this public forum because I genuinely want to help, share what I know and be a resource for others.  It’s not completely un-altruistic,  I’m chatting up the group! But it is genuine and if I can spare someone a selection of bad experiences with an anecdote, then Go Team Phoenix Swords!

Feel free to contact me, comment or suggest topics.