Saturday, August 10, 2013

creating a/broad, August 10, 2013

by Cameryn Moore

A few days ago I was talking with a new gentleman friend here about my promo efforts and strategy here in Edinburgh. (Whenever someone listens to me speculate for more than a minute about psychology and motivations and gender dynamics and perceived deviancy and the sociology of public places AS THEY RELATE TO STREET PROMO… that’s when I know they’re really interested in me. Because why else would someone listen to me blather on about that shit?)

Anyway, I got on about the virtues of Sidewalk Smut as a promotional tool, that anyone seeing a sign that said “ABRUPT EROTICA, smut while U wait” and approaches to find out what’s going on, that person is demonstrating a certain willingness to engage in public discourse around sex that is one indication that they might also be willing to consider coming to my show. This is a different approach to what I am doing with my postcard and marketing materials, wherein I keep and use this title assertively to weed out bad matches from among my listeners; if it rubs them the wrong way just to hear the phrase “phone whore”, then surely, in terms of language, it would be too much of a show for them to sit all the way through. The show title is a filter; “abrupt erotica” is a lure, I tried to explain.

I’m learning that I’d rather be focusing on getting the green M and Ms only.

“Ah,” he said. “It’s the difference between whitelisting and blacklisting.”

Well, yes. He’s a computer geek, so that’s a good analogy for it in his field. Later I found other analogies for it too—auditioning versus being auditioned, casting a wide net versus throwing out a fishing line with one hook, cold audiences versus pre-qualified—but it all boils down to the inescapable fact that I do not want general, unexamined audiences in my show. At All. Especially not in the Free Fringe model, where I pass the bucket at the end of the show, because that means I get no money if they walk, but I wouldn’t want those people even if they buy a ticket in advance and bring three similarly general-audience friends with them.

This is swimming upstream against conventional wisdom here in Edinburgh, because we are told that, GOD, there are so many potential audience people wandering around all over everywhere, if you’re properly caffeinated and have enough flyers and you got your “howdy folks!” smile on, you can just scoop ‘em up and get ‘em into your seats like pick-n-mix candy in a drug store. 

I don’t know how true that is for “general-interest” shows, but frankly, I’m learning that I’d rather be focusing on getting the green M and Ms only. 

I’m not saying I’m not trying the normal approaches, the open program books and the outstanding line-ups that are starting to become visible at various venues, now that reviews are coming out. I’m still doing those, when they happen. But I am being much more discriminating about my approach, even with these old stand-bys. If they’ve got an open program book or they’re staring at the posters, I will start by asking what they’re looking for. If comedy, then sorry, can’t help and walk on. If it’s a massive line-up, I will ALWAYS check first to see what show it’s for, and how strong a correlation I can build between that and my show.

How do they notice me? With a drunken sneer, with a mean laugh, nudges and winks?

I’m getting very, very picky, in other words. I seek the places and activities and situations that are going to either WEED PEOPLE OUT or ATTRACT THEM IN, for the right reasons.

So, like, people stopping to look in the window of the lingerie/sex-toy shop next to my venue? Pre-qualified, in a small but objective way. People complimenting my Whorasol and wanting to touch the Fringe on it? Might have hooked them on that, and it gives me a chance to twirl my show title in front of them and talk about it for a bit. Ah, and for Sidewalk Smut, I get even more particular. Just because someone notices me doesn’t mean they are automatically a candidate to get a card. No. How do they notice me? With a drunken sneer, with a mean laugh, nudges and winks? Or rather, do they come to a halt with wide eyes or a disbelieving smile, do they circle around me cautiously with a group of friends, or backtrack and a “wait, what is it you do exactly?”

I may look like I’m typing away for my life, but I’m looking for all of this when there are people around. I will not raise my head from a half-finished piece of pornography unless I think they are a good bet. I will not hold out cards to the passing throng, “free comedy”, “free theatre”, “free comedy”, “free theatre”. This is not the way I can do it here. I do not want everybody here. I want the right people.

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