I have worked in 'the biz' for a long time.
Bottom to Top.
Flyering, Front of House, Security, Bar, Performer, Producer.
Most people see me as a maverick producer and host...with a tendency to swallow a sword or two. I see myself as an opportunist.
And one day I got meningitis.
Let me explain.
I have always been one of those people that views life through an espresso cup. I was a hardy gal. Touring, working and partying professionally for over 10 years.
My peers mentioned that I was on course for 'Showbiz Flu' of one sort or another. Safe to say something was going to get me. And the only person that didn't see it coming was me. Natch.
I was touring with La Soiree, I was producing my own shows; I was a mere week away from a big project I'd spent a year preparing. I was in Canada, doing something or other. I'd overdone it. Again. And finally, my immune system told me where to stick it. Via a Canadian mosquito. Bang! You've got viral meningitis.
Just like that, everything changed.
Blinking was tiring. Crying involved more energy than I possessed. All I could do was lie still, trapped with my thoughts.
And that was that.
I had no prior experience of how to relax, rest, and do nothing.
I stewed. I ground my teeth to stubs. I still have a permanent frown line in my brow from being furious. It was so bad that by the time the meningitis virus had gone, I was in a post viral hell of adrenal burn out and anger.
My work, friends, and purpose disappeared. How I defined myself disappeared. I was broken and spat out by the indifferent beast that is 'the biz'.
There are so many articles about how failure is what makes success. That it's only after you've lost everything that you really make breakthroughs. That when things go wrong you learn or move forward.
Every time I've read said articles, like most people, I've always thought "Oh f*** off."
And then it happened to me.
I had been the Queen of Cabaret. The face of red velvet, smoke and mirrors; and it was gone.
And then that moment self-helpers bang on about happened.
I ceased to give a sh** about anything.
Everything I had defined myself as was no longer possible.
I had (literally) nothing left to lose.
So I started again.
In a small $5 tent in Australia I began to play around with what actually spoke to me. I was drawn to three things. Phones, games, and cardboard.
A silly Gameshow based on the audiences phones.
They were divided into two teams. iPhones v Others.
The set was made of rubbish and cardboard.
There were no prizes.
The points were arbitrary.
Production value was clearly and intentionally non-existent.
Through my own wants I had inadvertently tapped into an unfulfilled yearning to be silly, violent, and to play with our phones all in the name of fun.
It started going crazy early on (but in very small tents).
From a $5 tent in Oz to a 600 capacity tent in London, it continued to build into a frenzy.
It seemed I was filling an (almost primal) need to get crazy and play.
Yup, thanks for the plug Miss B, but what has this got to do with Meningitis?
Ahem, yes. Well, when your health goes, clarity like no other emerges.
My meninges journey has taken away my reckless, feckless mission of obliteration. And replaced it with a care for the work, and only the work.
Its not fun going on a bender all night and hitting the stage hammered anymore. It is fun figuring out how far I can push it, artistically and comedically.
And how far can I?
Look around. Everyone and everything is so f***ing safe.
The phrase 'think outside the box' is so overused, the action clearly is NOT.
I used to run at a wall as hard as I could just to see what would happen. Now I kind of want to knock the wall down.
I do still love 'the biz'.
I emerged scathed and broken, but able to fix myself.
As long as I can create a world that speaks to my audience, and appeals to my funny bone, I'm here.
As to the rest of it?
It's the Emperors New Clothes.
It's not real. It's bitchy. It's dirty. It's cruel.
So if you don't like what you're doing - Don't Do It.
In the long run meningitis and what I thought were my dreams disappearing was exactly what needed to happen for me to find out what I wanted to do.
I'm not saying I'd recommend a debilitating virus and bad health...but it worked for me.
'Miss Behave's Gameshow' is on 4th, 18th and 25th September at the London Wonderground on the South Bank, London