"Everybody’s talking at me…I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’…only the echoes in my mind…"
You know, people, I’ve done a lot of interesting, some might even say strange, things in my life. But I now know that you haven’t really boogied on the dance floor of bizarre until you’ve wandered the streets of New York City in a cow costume. This is what we authors call "living the dream."
Yesterday, we filmed the book trailer for GOING BOVINE. Often, book trailers are beautiful movie preview-style promos for the books. Which, I think, is a very good idea. Very good idea. We decided to mix it up a little this time. You only live once.
My spectacular publicist, Meg "I Am So Down with This" O’Brien, ordered me a cow costume online. Kinda scary to know that niche exists, but whatever. For you fashionistas out there, I will describe: A basic summer white with lovely black spots, a sweet minx of a tail, detachable cow-face-bonnet that sat fetchingly on the head, and…rubber udders. Not gonna lie–the udders were incredibly disturbing and not just a little pornograhpic in their placement. (The costume was for a tall person. I’m five-foot-three. I’ll give you a minute to work out the visual. *supplying hold music* You’re back. I can see from the look on your face that you need a picture of Clive Owen to restore your equilibrium. Here you go:)
*Sigh* Clive makes everything better.
The inspiration for the video was one of my favorite movies of all time, "This Is Spinal Tap." "A ‘mockumentary,’ if you will." And while I don’t choke on my vomit or anyone else’s vomit in this video, I do get to play the ukulele. And by play I mean make a sound that vaguely resembles what it would sound like if I removed the skin from a live cat. Which you shouldn’t do because that is awful. (Remember: Mr. Fantastic Fiction says be careful with figurative language: libba-bray.livejournal.com/26535.html) I had the pleasure of meeting all the guys at Wheelhouse Communications www.wheelhousecommunications.com/ : Chris the Directing Genius, Mark #1-the Sound Wizard, Mark #2-the Camera Guru, and Eric the (God Help Him) Editor of this later on. Honestly, I do not envy these guys. It was seven hours of shooting and a lot of improv, let’s-throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks, up-the-stakes insanity. They have the task of turning that random lunacy into two minutes of somewhat coherent narrative structure while I chill in my backyard. (Good luck, guys. Let me know if I need to ride over with a cake and a therapist.) I have the idea they will rock it.
The first shot involved having me walk two blocks on Broadway from a newsstand to the Random House offices. Lots of people yelled "Moo!" Some said "Got milk?" One guy offered me money, and I didn’t want to know anything more about his life. I had to sing "It’s a Small World After All" lots and lots and rock gently to get back to my happy place. And then–what are the odds?–this family of four comes up to me. I think they are going to ask for directions or if they can snap a pic of the crazy woman, but the mom says, "Excuse me, are you Libba Bray?" Now, I have never ever been recognized anywhere, sometimes not even by my friends and family, so that I was A) recognized and B) recognized while wearing a cow suit, well, I don’t know what to say. The teen daughter, the lovely Kate, was a fan of the Gemma books and had read my blog mention of me in a cow suit and there you go. So I had a lovely time chatting with Kate and her family, who were in from Calgary, and Kate, if you’re reading this, I hope you had a great time in NYC and sorry that my bovine activities kept me from sitting and having coffee with you. Have fun in D.C.
After getting a few shots on the street outside Random House, we decided to walk from 56th Street down Broadway to Times Square (44th Street). It was a beautiful day, and I was having such fun talking music with Mark M., the Sound Guru, that I honestly completely forgot that I was wearing a ridiculous cow costume with swinging utters. (Those who know me can believe this. In fact, when I started to tell my husband this story, he interrupted with, "You forgot you were in a cow suit, didn’t you?") Occasionally, I would look over and see someone staring and think, "What’s HIS problem?" Bloody tourist. And then I’d remember, Oh ri-iii-ight…. We shot some footage in Times Square, while singing, dancing clowns in neon rainbow wigs performed a routine in the background, which is actually the default setting in my head most of the time, so I felt right at home. I’m also going to be in a lot of tourists’ "New York is crazy" photo albums.
Then we walked back up Broadway to Random House with a few stops along the way. LOVED the guy who clapped hold of me and told me what a pretty, pretty Holstein I was. The guy who kept insisting I should look him up, that he was Al Gore’s right-hand man. Really. Al Gore. He worked for Al Gore. And I could tap into his YouTube account if I wanted. (Is this the new equivalent of "come see my etchings"?) Al Gore’s name was dropped so many times that I wanted to tell Mr. Scary Dude that he was contributing to carbon dioxide poisoning every time he spoke, and in the interest of saving the planet, he should shush now. Mr. Scary Dude really, really felt that I should look him up, while I really, really, REALLY felt that he should take his hand away. I don’t know everything, but I have the idea that Al Gore’s right-hand man would have a dental plan. Also, that he would not be wandering Times Square with his fly open. Just saying. Then again, given the proclivities of the Clinton administration, perhaps that’s their version of the Freemason handshake.
Once we got back to Random House, we did many, many shots (that’s film shots, not alcohol, though when this is all said and done it may look like we were all drunk. I swear, nothing harder than bottled water.) I played the ukulele, which everybody appreciated SO MUCH, and I could tell by their cringing and tears that they were holding back the flood of love they felt for me right then.
We broke into Random House Childrens’ publisher Chip Gibson’s office, and I resisted the urge to rearrange all of his personal objects and furniture so that when he came back on Monday, he’d feel confused and watched and unsafe. LOVE Chip. I did, however, sit in his chair and touch everything of his. Then I chewed his gum (top drawer on the left in case you’re there) and ate one of his Pixie Stix, which, it turns out, is crack in granulated sugar form. Ten minutes after ingesting it, I felt like I wanted to rob a bank, write a drag musical, and cheat Death at poker. Instead, I had to content myself with the RH costume closet, which, due to their annual Halloween party, is incredibly well-stocked. I especially loved the purple frock coat which to them said "pirate" but to me said "Prince, 1984." People, if you know what I’m talkin’ about come on and raise your hands. "Wendy?" "Yes, Lisa…" But I digress.
Then came the mock interview with the brilliant Chris who would patiently feed me smart questions and wait to see if I would actually answer any of them with something resembling linear thought. He was screwed on that front. I was so wired-tired that words were coming out of my mouth as if they had hit override on my brain. At one point, I got on a riff about Jamba Juice and I have no idea why. Like I had to keep saying the words Jamba Juice as if I were an obsessive-compulsive touching her shoes. At 4:30, Chris called a wrap. I got to change out of the cow costume, which left me feeling oddly naked. I had become the cow. We were as one. I had truly gone bovine. Because I’m a method writer. That’s how I roll, people. What it is.
I rewarded myself with a Jamba Juice and then googled the dude who claimed to be Al Gore’s sidekick.
He so lied.