DareMe: Becoming a Sparkling Beatnik — There Will Be A Show

beatnikHi Katie,

Writing to see if you’d be interested in “infiltrating” the Empire Revue for the November “Behind the Scenes” show. We’d have you attend a couple of rehearsals, and put you in a sketch, plus the closing song. We thought, if it’s cool with you and Motif, that this could be your dare for the month.

What do you think?


Keith Munslow

– sent Oct 7, 6:42pm, aka, my birthday

My heart stopped. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Empire Revue, it is a variety show that takes place on the first Sunday of every month. It is a mixture of sketch comedy and guest acts — usually musicians or comedians. The reason I nearly had a heart attack after reading that message was because in two and a half years I’ve yet to miss a show and being asked to be a part of it made me jumping-up-and-down happy as well as sick to my stomach. Most of my dares revolve around getting reactions from strangers; this was going to be a dare for my mind because it was gonna force me to overcome some intense fears. I do a lot of crazy things. You may even call me fearless. However, I’m saddled with severe social anxiety. I have so much trouble with my anxiety that if I get too nervous I evict my stomach contents. The thought of acting with these amazing people I’ve watched for three years made me nervous. The thought of singing in front of any of them made me want to lie down in the fetal position and cry. I almost did not take the dare due to nerves; however, it’s basically my job to make myself as uncomfortable as possible for your entertainment, and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If I didn’t take it I’d be kicking myself  for the rest of my life.

Challenge accepted!! 

Katie Lewis

– sent Oct 7, 6:46pm

The Empire Revue revolves around a core acting group named the Sparkling Beatniks. This group consists of Eric Fulford, Kate Teichman, Casey Reagan, Tom Rajt, Alan Souza,Kelly Seigh, Melissa Bowler, Nicky Mariani and Sam Bell. Then the house band playing between sets is one of my personal favorites, Superchief Trio, which consists of Pam Murray, Joe Potenza, Johnny Cote and the man behind the piano running the show, Mr. Keith Munslow.

Heading to my first rehearsal I arrived at AS220 at 6:30pm on the dot. My knees clacking together with anxiety while I stepped into the performance space, stage manager Nicky Mariani, probably seeing nervousness painted across my face, scooped me up and introduced me to all the beatniks. Shaking hands and introducing myself was such a strange feeling. These are people who I’ve seen act for years and they had no idea who I was other than that girl who wore bathing suits, Halloween costumes and even duct tape to their show. That starstruck feeling settled in as the beatniks conversed pre-rehearsal. Kate Teichman came over and asked, “How ya’ doing?” Words started spilling out of my mouth as if I was dying to tell someone, but also trying to convince myself I was fine.

“Good. Good. Nervous. But good. It’s just that I come to the show all the time and I’m really nervous to be in the show with you guys and I’m just nervous,” I said. Kate smiled and playfully rolled her eyes. ”We’re just a bunch of goofs here. Don’t worry. Leave the anxiety at the door.”

Just then, director and master of ceremonies Keith Munslow walked in. As he began setting up his Nord keyboard, the beatniks scrambled to set up tables and chairs for the group. As everyone came to sit around the table, I found a comfortable spot between Nicky and Kate. Keith explained my purpose to the group, and then they got right to work. Nicky took notes on what skits needed to be written and what needed work. Everyone split up into groups — approximately three per group — to work on writing. I had writing of my own to do. I wandered from group to group observing and taking notes. I was particularly excited to watch as Keith, Nicky and Tom pieced together lyrics creating the closing song, which has always been my favorite part of the revue. As the Beatniks finished their group work, they began to gather around the piano to help sing and write. I sat there in amazement thinking, “Are they speaking a secret music language?” It’s baffling, The wheels turn so fast in the minds of these creative individuals.

The song was finished and we did a full sing-through. I recorded it on my phone so I could listen and learn it for next week. I had a feeling that my memorization skills were not as developed as those in my company. Next on the list was to watch the Beatniks perform their pieces. Keith as director got the first crack at suggestions, then the rest of the Beatniks gave their two cents. They work so perfectly together; they are receptive and grateful for input and pat each other on the back whenever something comes out perfect. Before I knew it, my first rehearsal had come to an end.

As I packed up my notebook, the tone of the room slightly saddened, and the Beatniks’ faces washed over with concern. I realized they were talking about the Empire Revue’s very own star Melissa Bowler who had taken ill. The Beatniks chatted about how she was doing and who had paid her a visit. I felt oddly out of place in a room where such a personal topic was being discussed; however, it took all my energy not to tear up. Although I knew very little about Melissa, other than she was amazing in every form of entertainment she ever tried, I realized that we shared a similar problem. In that moment I was able to relate to what she was probably feeling. Through the years my health has been bad and even though my family has been there for me, I have felt very alone at times. Seeing the love written on the Beatniks’ faces, I could tell that they would do anything for Melissa. That warmed my heart  when I realized that the Sparkling Beatniks are so much more than an acting troupe — they are family.

A couple of days later, I noticed my hair was really long, but I couldn’t afford a haircut. So I did what any mature 22-year-old girl would do. I complained about it on Facebook. I got a lot more replies than expected, one of which was from Melissa Bowler offering to cut my hair on stage at the Revue! Should I trust her with my hair? Well, I never was one to turn down a possibly fun/awkward moment. And bam! My haircut was written into the show.

A week later I attended my second rehearsal. I walked through the doors slightly more confident, having taken the first leap already. All the Beatniks came back with their skits transformed, knowing exactly what their adoring crowd wanted for comedy and how to deliver. A couple skits still needed revising, so the Beatniks split into groups. Once again, I wandered between the groups wondering how they put on this amazing show with only four rehearsals. I was particularly intrigued by a sketch that Kate Tichman and Casey Reagan were working on that spoofed a romance novel. Funny and sexy seemed hard to pull off at the same time, but these two masterminds pulled it off beautifully.

Now was the moment I was dreading. It was time to be put up on stage and placed into a skit. I’ve done some acting in the past, but this was a whole different ballgame. What I never knew about the Empire Revue is that a lot of their writing is improvised. Why wouldn’t it be? The Beatniks are master improv performers. But thinking on my toes? Not my strongest suit. So there I am, sitting on stage, dead silent as Eric Fulford attempted to improvise with me. The poor guy just kept talking and talking, waiting for me to interject, which I never did. I just kept staring and nodding at whatever he said. Keith eventually cut in, realizing I needed clear instruction. I ended up in two scenes — one with Kate and Tom as a waitress in a cafe and then one with Eric as his patient. I now knew what to say and when I was on. The worst was over.

Before I knew it, rehearsal was over. I could have stayed forever watching and learning.

Sunday had arrived, the day of the show. It was 10:30am I was ready for morning rehearsal with all my costume gear in tow. We did a full run-through of all the skits and I was pumped. Stuart Wilson came in to help with choreography for the closing song. He gave me a ride home after rehearsal and I explained to him how nervous I was, and asked if he thought it was a good idea to let Melissa cut my hair. Stuart told me everyone is nervous their first time in the Revue,which I guess is true because every Beatnik I confided in shared a similar experience. Stuart talked about his experience with the show and told me how much he enjoyed being a part of the Revue whether with costume design, choreography or acting. “Keith is someone who will always help you out. He sets you up for success,” Stuart said.

It was 6pm; the show was only two hours away! I went back to AS220 and watched as the band learned new songs on the fly. I helped the cast raid the Empire Revue closet for costumes and I was even awarded my very own bright red Sparkling Beatnik t-shirt! When Melissa arrived looking amazing, she asked me about what we were doing for the haircut. I told her I wanted layers and she assured me, “That’s easy. I looked it up on YouTube. It takes like 20 seconds.”

We were all business while we talked about the skits, but all I could think about was how much I wanted to share my health problems with her. With no chance of stopping it, the words bolted from my vocal cords, past my teeth, off the tip of my tongue and out of my mouth. I spilled how I heard she wasn’t feeling well, and I knew what she was going through, and I’ve been there, and if you ever want to talk about it I’m here. She seemed a little bit shocked that I was so forward with my troubles and I’m not sure if all that came out of me with the hope of making her feel better or me feel better. Feeling alone is the worst feeling in the world. Sometimes having someone tell you their story is the exact medicine you need.

I waited downstairs in the green room. Guest stars, comedians and musicians began to arrive. The show started. I could hear the band playing that song that I’ve heard a million times. I heard Eric Fulford giving his introduction announcing the Sparkling Beatniks’ names and I waited with anticipation to hear my own. I put on my white apron for my first scene as a waitress. Done! It went off without a hitch. Next up was the doctor scene. I just got to tell you I make a hospital Johnny look good! Then came the haircutting portion of the evening. I was nervous, but putting 100% trust in Melissa. We stepped out on stage and I took a seat in the high top stool that was waiting for me. Melissa was on stage having a couple of whiskeys and saying that this could be a disaster. I felt her begin to twist my hair on the top of my head into a ponytail. Not being able to see what she was doing was a little nerve-wracking, and all I could hear was the audience laughing. I felt her take a fistful of hair  and chop it off. The audience gasped, but my hair came out pretty fabulous, I’ve got to say. Well done, Melissa!

beatbujIt was time to do the closing song so I got up on stage and had a blast! Then it was curtain call and the pictures show me smiling ear to ear like I just had the best day of my life. When exiting stage left, a strange feeling hit. It’s over? I don’t want it to be over yet. That was so much fun! I want to do more! I want to see more! I want to sing more! I was riding on an all time high and I was ready for another hit.

I greeted my parents and boyfriend in the audience and they told me what they thought and how excited they were for me. Then we sat at the bar as we always do after an Empire Revue drinking Moscow Mules. Life was good. Before too long it was time to say my goodbyes and thank yous.

This was one of the craziest, most fun, fantastic dares I’ve ever done. If you’ve seen me wear duct tape and have seen my modeling pictures, you might wonder if acting was really that difficult. But this was a personal fear for me to get over and I did it and I loved every second of it. The most amazing part of being a part of the Revue was not seeing how fast they can write or how witty they all are, but it was seeing how strong the bond is between all of them. Seeing that they are in fact a family, and they stick together and produce a show every month without fail for eight years. As the closing song said, “Come hell or high waters, there will be a show.”

The Empire Revue continues to perform the first Sunday of every month at AS220. They will also performing their second annual New Year’s Eve show titled “Ring in the Night.” The show will start at 10pm; however, there will be activities all day.

I can’t thank the Beatniks enough for inviting me to be a part of this show and for sharing their stories with me. It’s been a pleasure.

Check out the show! youtu.be/aCsePuLf2GU

DareMe: Well, Aren’t You Just a Tall Glass of, um, Beer

beerMe: Mmmmm. That has a full-bodied sip.

Vendor: Wow. How do you know so much about beer?

Me: Well, I drink a lot of beer.

Vendor: No you don’t.

Me: Excuse me?”

Vendor: There is no way you drink a lot of beer with that body.

Well, I guess that guy caught me. My mission this month was to attend Beervana, which is a national beer festival with over 150 craft beers. This festival is notorious for hosting beer connoisseurs, and I was to attempt to convince beer experts that I was one of them. I consulted Motif‘s publisher, Mike Ryan, who is quite knowledgeable on the subject, and he gave me seven key phrases to just shove into conversation.

That has a full-bodied sip.

The flavor has added layers of complexity.

What a nose!

This has remarkable balance.

That’s deceptively drinkable.

The taste is moderately aggressive.

That tastes pleasingly authentic.

Despite being gluten intolerant I took this dare. Why you might ask? Well … because I’m stupid. Basically, I am willing to do anything to guarantee Motif readers enjoy my silliness even if I make myself sick.

When you step into the main hall at Beervana, beer booths line the circumference of the room with a mob of patrons corralled in the middle. As I squeezed and pushed through the crowd to get to beer vendors, I began to realize there were a lot of people there I knew. A lot of people who knew me well. People who know I never drink beer. It just never sat well with me. When I drink it, I usually fall asleep in random positions and places after about two beers. Avoiding friends was an unexpected challenge. I didn’t want them to blow my cover.

I heard rumors about the pretzel necklaces. People string a bunch of pretzels onto a necklace and wear it around a beer festival. They nibble as they go to cleanse their palate and stay sober. The wheels started to turn — I wonder how many people will let me eat off of their necklace using no hands? I wandered around the fest chatting with vendors and patrons. The center of the room buzzed with conversation about what everyone was drinking and what they enjoyed the most. I snuck my phrases into conversation, but people didn’t really notice my vocabulary. What they did notice is that my actual taste in beer was apparently not cool enough for them because my palate was not as developed as theirs. I would feel judged if I was capable of feeling that emotion. I realized this beer fest was kind of like high school — those with similar tastes were cool and I was the dork.

There was one vendor (quoted in the beginning) who appeared to be stone cold sober. His comments on my appearance made for a silly accusation, but a fairly spot-on assumption. So kudos to you, sober man! My favorite part  of the night was the pretzel necklaces, which, just so you know, are not gluten-free either. I only got around to asking two women for a bite. They displayed their necklaces by pushing out their bosoms for me to shove my face into. It was a good time. Kind of like bobbing for apples.

This was my first beer fest and although it was fun, I’m not sure I will attend another. However if there’s ever a wine or vodka fest, you can count on me being there! All I can tell you, Providence, is sick to your guns and continue to consume what you love, but never be afraid to develop your palate.

DareMe: Oh, The Things You’ll See

mayoOb•liv•i•ous- not aware of, or not concerned about what is happening around one.

My job as the DareMe girl is to bend your everyday expectations of normal. It is my pleasure to get your attention, make you think about things, make you laugh and sometimes point out a problem you didn’t know was there.

My mission this month was to eat strange things in public, specifically mayonnaise. The dare consisted of emptying out an old mayo jar, filling it with vanilla pudding, and then watching as people look in disgust while I eat it by the spoonful.

In my opinion, seeing someone eat mayonnaise is not shocking. This is Providence and a lot of us pride ourselves on being weird. So I decided to up the ante as I usually do. I needed something else to consume, something that would provoke more of a reaction. If I passed someone eating mayonnaise I probably would not take notice; however, if I saw someone ingesting something potentially harmful I would definitely react and most likely try to stop them. I came up with the idea to drink Windex! Well, not real Windex. I emptied the bottle and washed it out, which is extremely difficult to do because adding water just keeps creating more suds that never seem to end. Then I filled the empty bottle with blue Gatorade.

I told my mother all about my grand plan to get the craziest reaction I could and she said that if she saw someone drinking Windex she wouldn’t bat an eye. This shocked me a little. “But why wouldn’t you?” I asked. “Isn’t Windex extremely harmful?” She said she’d try to stop a little kid, but if she saw an adult doing it, she’d assume they were trying to get drunk, were crazy, or both.

That response just put me in a whole new world of worry. What if I’m sitting down doing my dare and the cops see me drinking Windex in a public place? Am I going to get in trouble because technically it’s alcohol? When I come face to face with a bad decision, the lightbulb goes off in my head that says, “Bing! That’s a bad decision!” Then my brain, in the most bad-ass tone I have, says, “Let’s do it!”

With my mayonnaise label prominently displayed as if I was in a soda commercial, I began spooning lumps of nasty vanilla pudding into my mouth hating every second of it. I can’t stand pudding. It probably would’ve been easier if I just ate mayo. People just walked by casually doing whatever, like looking at their phone — not even noticing. After not a single reaction, I pulled my Windex bottle from my blue backpack and begun chugging the Gatorade, which I enjoy far more than pudding. As I mentioned before, Windex bottles are very difficult to clean and every time I lifted the squirt bottle to my lips, the pungent smell of glass cleaner hit me in the face. There goes that mental light bulb again. I probably shouldn’t be drinking this. Then I kept drinking it.

I went to three different places and got the same reaction from both the mayonnaise and the Windex — nothing! I was quite shocked and almost a little bit hurt! Windex contains both ammonia and ethanol. Consuming 2 ounces within an hour will make you drunk — really drunk from what I read — but 14 ounces within an hour will shut down your nervous system and kill you. The side effects of drinking glass cleaner include burning of the intestines, vomiting, and swelling of the throat. And nobody noticed me doing it! I thought of my mother saying that she wouldn’t stop an adult from drinking Windex because they might be threatening or crazy. I might understand that if I was a scraggly, big, seemingly crazy or threatening man, but I was sitting with my 5 pound dog Oscar, wearing my sunflower dress. I felt pretty approachable. There were many people who stood in front of me for little bit talking with their friends, people texting, and a lot of people taking selfies. It was unbelievable. Do people in the Providence Place Mall food court notice anything?

What I took from this experience was that people become so enveloped in their phone they become incapable of realizing what is around them whether it’s beauty, sadness or even someone who needs help. Stop looking at life through a screen! People survived this far without taking a picture of every meal they ate. Take a day off from your phone and look around you. You might notice a flower garden you pass every day but never enjoyed before or a crazy lady eating mayo.

Keep your eyes open, Providence, cause you never know what I’ll be doing next. I may be testing how many good Samaritan are out there or I may be riding a bike naked in downtown. If you’re constantly looking at your phone, you’ll never catch all the funny little things happening around you.

DareMe: Time Warp? Again?

leftIf a person ran up to you in a panic and asked you what year it was, you’d respond, right? If you answered, “No,” you are one of the curmudgeons I was afraid of running into with my most recent dare. My mission this month? Run into businesses, ask someone for the year and then when (if?) someone replied, yell, “It worked!” and then run out. People do this sort of thing all the time in movies and receive casual responses. But life is never like the movies.

I went into three different places and even though I am a bit of an eccentric, I had a panic attack at every single shop I went into. I video recorded my dare by sticking my phone in my bra with the lens sticking out in a new form of cinematography I call the jiggle cam. Moans and groans can be heard on camera before I walk into each place and once you hear me whimper, “I hate my job.” I love pushing myself to do crazy things, but I struggle with anxiety. I do things that have shock value every day, but for some reason, this dare made me particularly nervous and you can bet your bottom that I had a shot of tequila before I proceeded to make a fool of myself.
 My biggest fear about this dare was that people were not going to answer me, that they would just stare at me blankly and the joke would fall flat. Then what was I supposed to do? Just walk out?

I wondered what this dare would show about people. Would I catch someone lost in a moment of thought who dared to believe that magic and time travel is a possibility? Or would people not even entertain the impossible and be on to my gag immediately without allowing their imaginations to wander?

My first stop was a hotel with just two men behind the counter. I ran in in a panic and having nearly no control over the volume of my voice yelled, “What year is it?” The man was silent for a couple of seconds
 that felt like an eternity before he answered. Anxiety throbbing through my body, I slammed my hands on the counter and yelled, “Yes! It worked!” and then ran out the sliding glass doors. I’m sure that man is still very confused and if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for yelling at you.

The second place I went into was a bar in Pawtuxet Village. I was slightly less nervous to go in here because it was around 11pm and I hoped people were drunk enough not to notice one more crazy person among them. I readied my jiggle cam, sprinted through the doors, ran up to the bar and asked the bartender and everyone within earshot for the year. The bartender stuttered out, “2014,” while staring at my breasts, still rippling from the bound over. Turns out my chest was more interesting than the possibility of time travel.

The third place was my favorite. I chose a pharmacy because I needed to pick something up anyway. I ran in in a panic and asked my question. The lady looked slightly startled, but without skipping a beat replied, “2014.” I thanked her and ran out. Then I ran back in, headed up aisle two, grabbed a box of tampons and threw them on the check-out counter. “You can’t get these in the future,” I explained. She gave me a nod and a smirk; I paid and was on my merry way.

Everyone picked up on my joke and found it more confusing than funny. Maybe I should have worn a costume. But some day, time travel could be possible so keep your mind open. Life is so boring if you think you know everything. And nobody like a know-it-all … or a jokester, apparently.

Fluxus Cock Fight

rosecockfight3It’s hard to describe just what’s going on when a Fluxus event takes place. We explored it in more depth with Shey Rivera, the organizer and instigator of this series of surreal experiences.

At the Cock Fight edition, for example, there was the meditative, “What am I doing here,” experience of watching a woman in a bird mask cannibalistically baste chicken parts. Lots of chicken parts. But there was also the part where the audience participated in a pool-noodle-light-sabre battle royale, offsetting the energy of the evening in the polar opposite direction. Other highlights included amusing short films starring tiny, stop motion mice, and a woman trapped inside an endless sweater (that’s the best I can do to describe this fascinating, faceless, garment-transformation dance).

Fluxus will be off for the summer, but who knows when it might be back, or in what form. Here’s a picture from the cock fight. Can you spot the chicken?cockfight1

DareMe: Singing My Heart Out


Letting go of the fear and muscling through the pain was all part of being able to deliver Rice Krispie Treats with love.

What is Valentine’s Day all about? Is it just a silly lovers’ holiday that revolves around chocolates, flowers and obnoxious displays of affection? That’s all good and fun, but it all had to start somewhere. There are many legends that describe a Saint Valentine who, when marriage was outlawed for young men, continued to perform ceremonies for young lovers in secret. Lovers continue to celebrate in his name, which is a sweet story, but let’s get back to chocolates, flowers and all that fun sappy stuff.

This month’s mission? To deliver singing Valentine telegrams to people in their workplaces, completely embarrassing them and me in a couple of musical notes. I have always enjoyed singing and my voice isn’t too bad if I do say so myself; however, when it comes to performing in front of other people I get so nervous I want to puke. To do this dare, I was going to have to just let go of those fears.

Where was I going to go? Who to visit? What to sing? I’m not one to jump in head first until I do some research, so I looked up videos of singing telegrams to see what people sang and wore. Hoping for some inspiration, I was let down to find there are really no videos or tips accessible. I put posts on Facebook telling my friends what I was doing and looking for people to sing to. I didn’t strike much luck there, either.

I could tell this dare was going to be precious, and it had to be caught on film. I got in contact with Jonathon Schermerhorn, Motif’s own movie man, and together we narrowed down our destination list to two towns: Warwick and Providence.

I decided that if I was going to burst into people’s work in song and dance, the least I could do was come bearing sweet treats, so I was off to the store to find ingredients for Rice Krispie Treats and a costume.

It was the night before Jon and I planned to meet, and all that was left to do was make the Rice Krispie Treats. That night I went out to dinner, when I got out of the car, I felt a searing pain in my lower abdomen. I went into the restaurant hoping it would go away, but it got worse until I was squirming in my seat and crying uncontrollably. I kept telling myself that I could muscle through dinner, but halfway through I was singing a different tune. My insides were burning. It felt like I swallowed a dozen razor blades that were slowly making their way through my intestinal tract. I was feeling sharp pains in my kidneys, and it was almost too painful to take a breath.

My mother told me to go to urgent care, but I explained that I couldn’t because I had to make Rice Krispie Treats. Obviously, she did not understand because she kept urging me to go. It was nearly 10 pm, and no urgent care was going to be open. I was going on two horrible hours of pain when I decided I couldn’t take it anymore, got in my car and went to the emergency room. I saw the doctor, I did some tests, he prescribed antibiotics and I was out of there.

When I got home I ate something, took the antibiotic and felt better in just minutes. So I made the Rice Krispie Treats. But while melting the marshmallows I put my plastic spatula down a little too close to the flame and as luck would have it, when I picked it up, the melted plastic adhered to my wrist. Luckily, the hospital bracelet I still wore protected me from too much damage.

I finished the Rice Krispie Treats and hit the pillow at nearly 4 am. I woke up at 7 am to deliver my telegrams, but because of my exhaustion and the nausea from the antibiotic, Jon and I decided to keep it short.

At our first location, Bald Hill Pediatrics, we delivered a singing telegram to Penny. She’s my mom, but it still counts. I sang “At Last,” while she wore a princess crown, just so she would feel extra special, handed out my sweets, and we were outta there. Next on the list was Save the Bay where we were going to sing “Somebody to Love” to Isaac. I seriously underestimated how many people work at Save the Bay. It seemed like there were 30 people watching me stumble through the lyrics! I was fading, and since we had to go back to the Motif studios anyway, Jon and I figured we would sing to anyone in the office. We sang “Can’t Help Falling In Love” for Erin, our sales director, and Caitlin, our associate editor. Erin’s reaction was my favorite of the day because when she heard me sing, her jaw dropped, which definitely boosted my confidence.

This dare was a lot of fun, minus the whole hospital thing. I was proud of myself for singing in front of people and it made my week when people actually enjoyed it. I almost turned down this dare due to nerves, but I’m glad I went through with it. Providence, don’t be afraid to push your limits! Go ahead and stick your neck out for that thing or that person you love. You may just get your heart’s desire.

DareMe: Leaving My (Lipstick) Mark on 2013

1525580_10200212976766430_1819236747_nThere are two well-known traditions that come along with a new year, making a resolution and getting a midnight kiss. Resolutions have never really been my thing – I mean, they last maybe a week. The tradition of finding someone worth kissing when the clock strikes midnight is one I can get behind.

My mission this month was to give 100 kisses (on the cheek) and take a picture with each person before midnight. Everyone told me it would be an easy dare – probably easier for a single girl. My boyfriend was quite unhappy that I accepted this challenge. After much argument – I mean, conversation – we found ways to compromise and I was able to continue my mission drama-free. Keeping track of kisses seemed like it was going to be difficult, so I made 100 numbered tickets that I would pass out to each person I kissed. Now how to document? I contacted my friend and photographer Alan Sullivan who was gracious enough to sacrifice spending the eve with his family to document my shenanigans. For this stunt I wanted to be in a place that I would feel safe and not have to deal with surly drunks, so I chose AS220, one of my favorite places downtown. They were planning the Empire Revue New Year’s edition there. It attracts a lot of regulars, and I attend this show every month. One hundred kisses? I figured I got this in the bag. Boy was I wrong.

With my red lipstick in tow, I arrived at AS220 at 7 pm. The show went from 9 to 11 pm, so those kissing hours would be lost. I needed to start early. It was kind of awkward at first, and people seemed confused. I’m sure no one understood why I was asking for a kiss when they were trying to enjoy their dinner. But as the night went on, my lipstick marks were everywhere and word was getting around that it was a dare. As news spread, people became more relaxed and had fun with it. I even had friends and family pop in for a lucky new year kiss from me. All was going according to plan.

By show time, I only managed 45 kisses. That meant that after the show I would have approximately one hour to give 55 kisses. I was starting to get anxious. The show was fantastic. I laughed till my sides split, but as soon as it ended, I was reapplying lipstick and scanning the crowd for my next victims. Lucky for me, the Empire Revues cast, The Sparkling Beatniks, gave me at least eight of my kisses.

I ran into a few bumps in the road. A woman told me she really wanted to participate, but her skin was super sensitive and she was afraid she’d have an allergic reaction to my lipstick. So I blew her a kiss, we hugged and I counted it. Because New Year’s Eve is a holiday to spend with your significant other, I would ask men on dates if I could kiss them and they would reply, “You have to ask my wife.” Good answer, guys! I got turned down a lot, but every once in a while I’d find a fun couple who both wanted kisses. This was good because time was running out and group shots made my life a lot easier.

It was two minutes to midnight and I still needed to give five kisses. I managed two. I was down to 30 seconds and needed to give three kisses. I was barely asking at this point and practically stealing kisses. The 10 second countdown began and I needed to find my 100th ! In a frenzy, Alan and I searched for my boyfriend, screaming his name. When I finally saw him on the dance floor, I planted one on him just as the band erupted into “Auld Lang Syne.” I did it! It wasn’t easy, but totally worth it.

Providence, stop contemplating how to change you in 2014. Instead, make your resolution loving who you are. A new year is just like a new notebook with 365 blank pages. Make sure yours are worth reading.

DareMe: I Am The Ghost Of The Arcade

By Katie Lewis

katieGhostThis month’s dare took place in Providence’s newly renovated Arcade, which is located between Westminster Street and Waybossett Street and rumored to be haunted by the ghost of a shopkeeper who dwells on the third floor. My task:  to dress as the ghost and haunt … I mean, visit … the new shopkeepers.

To get into character, I consulted Providence’s own Rory Raven, author of Haunted Providence and other books about our state’s ghostly tales. The ghost’s name is Annie, and she and her sisters owned a shop on the third floor called Three Sisters Hat Shoppe. Annie fell madly in love with a man named James who worked just down the street. Her wealthy parents forbade her to see James because he was below her social standing, but no rules of society could steer Annie’s feelings. James used to visit Annie at the Arcade, which was their favorite place because it was safe from her family’s judgment.

James decided that in order to earn the family’s approval, he would need to make more money, so he hopped on a trade ship to seek his fortune in the Orient. Sadly, his trade ship sank for reasons unknown and James never returned. Annie never married or loved another man. Instead, she worked and waited at her hat shop praying that James would come walking through the doors. Annie’s faith in their love kept her going, and she waited in vain till her dying day. This is where it gets creepy. There have been reported sightings of Annie and James strolling the third floor in spectral form – turns out not even death could keep these lovers apart.

To complete my dare, I needed to look the part with a bun at the nape of my neck, a floor-length skirt, a button-up frilly shirt, and of course, a beautiful hat. Dressed in my Victorian best, I popped into the shops, welcoming the new shop keepers to the Arcade, and introducing myself as their new neighbor. I handed out business cards for my hat shop and asked if anyone had seen my beloved. Some people looked confused, but humored me. Others enjoyed playing along with me by showing me the ways of the new world. They even explained to me that it is acceptable in today’s age for women to wear pants and even dresses that show ankle. CRAZY!! I even mistook a couple of men for James and I ran up and hugged them exclaiming, “James, you’re alive! They told me you were dead! I knew you’d come back for me!” All the men I thought were James looked quite confused; however, no one turned down my embrace.


Annie and James, if you are out there, rest in peace, forever entwined in the throes of young love, and please try not to scare your new neighbors too much. Providence, all I can tell you is life is short, so live to the fullest, laugh often and most importantly, love like there’s no tomorrow .


Dare Me: Sci-Fi Speed Dating

Double Dare

By Bachelorette #4The challenge: Sci-Fi Speed Dating. At RI Comic Con. Dressed as Slave Leia, which, as far as I’ve been told (by people outside of Comic Con), is one of those ultimate guy fantasies.First, some disclaimers: I am a total geek. I can out geek many guys (and gals) when put to the test. I hang with some of the geekiest people around, trust me. I like my guys smart. And, yes, I made my own costume before the challenge was given.

The event starts with the ladies in the room where the host explains the code for “I want out of this date,” which has only been used three times in their three-year history. The guys come in, sit across from the ladies, and the rules are simple: everyone has a number and no names are exchanged. You have three minutes to talk to each candidate and then move on. If, at the end, you liked any of the dates, you put your contact information under their number so they can get in touch with you.

What transpired after that was not what I expected. First, every single one of the guys made eye contact with me for most of the three minutes which a) goes against the “nerd” stereotype and b) is certainly better than guys in a bar would do. I’m not going to say they didn’t look at all, but, if you are in costume, the point is to have people look. None of the dates said anything even bordering on inappropriate. I only got one bad (albeit clean) joke (and it was actually kind of funny, to be honest).

And yet, none of the guys came across as what I would consider truly geeky. Some were nervous, some were trying really hard to be cool and some were just working on being as nice as possible. What I was missing was the passionate “geekiness” – that particular spark that defines the class. For most, it was their first Con ever. There were even a few who didn’t recognize the costume (it’s Star Wars, for crying out loud – who let you into a Comic Con without knowing that?! Geesh.).

But three minutes only gives you a few sentences. And maybe they didn’t want to waste even a few precious words on something they thought I wouldn’t get anyway. But in this case, they missed the point. Intelligence and interest do impress me and I would hope it works both ways. Watered down personality is boring.

As I was leaving, the host thanked me for being the first nice “Slave Leia” they’d ever had. When I looked bemused, he said “Every other Slave Leia has come in here and treated our guys like shit.”

“Well, that’s unnecessary,” I said. And it is. For anyone – male or female. But maybe that explains why many true geeks didn’t even try, or even why those that did, felt it necessary to tone themselves down. If your fantasy is already rejecting you just for being there, why would you even try?

Kudos to all those brave enough even to show up. And shame on all those previous Slave Leias. Geek guys – don’t judge all women by that standard. Please keep trying. I promise you, the good ones are out there.

Will I call any of the numbers on my list? I haven’t fully decided yet. But I might have if I there had been one brave enough to let that true inner geek shine.

For more information on Sci-Di Speed Dating visit: http://www.facebook.com/scifispeeddating

By Bachelor #40Armed only with a T-shirt that looked like a giant snake, I picked up the “Dare Me” gauntlet – to represent the male perspective in another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. A land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. Yes, I crossed over into the Sci-Fi Speed Dating Zone.Created by Ryan Glitch, who travels the convention circuit throwing speed dates into the mix at cons around the country,Sci-Fi Speed Dating is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

The introductory pep talk alone was worth the price of admission ($10). Glitch performs his patter with the refined timing of a stand-up comic, and dances around the gray areas of offensive humor with disarming nimbleness, all intended to get participants laughing and put them at ease.

In the four years Glitch has been running the event, he’s scored five marriages (with two kids so far), 19 engagements, and hundreds of dates.

The first rule – no real names. Introducing yourself as a number takes a bit of getting used to, but it beats saying, “Hi, I can’t tell you who I am.” No one shouted, “I am not a number!” For all their collective comic-geekiness, none were old enough to get that reference. (ed. note –that’s from the “Prisoner” TV show from the sixties.)

You sit and talk with each numbered member of the opposite sex for three minutes – no more and no less. Then, the guys rotate while the ladies watch them. That’s a chivalry thing. Or maybe guys move faster. After a full circuit (there were about 25 stops on this journey), everyone writes their contact info for anyone they were drawn to, on sheets of paper dedicated to each number. You get the sheet that matches your number, and decide whether to call any of the people who gave you their info.

It turns out it’s hard to warm up in three minutes. You have a lot of costume-inspired conversations. A few about Star Wars vs. Star Trek. The guy ahead of me would pick three names and ask his victim whom she would screw, whom she’d marry, and whom she’d kill. From what I could hear, people took this question very seriously.

I met someone who worked for Joss Whedon (yes, THE Joss Whedon). That conversation could have lasted a lot longer. Other than that, I met, oddly, quite a number of librarians. At least six. Yes, really.

While no one I met wore her heart on her sleeve, most of them wore their favorite obsessions in their outfits – from Scooby Doo to Marvel characters, from steampunk to Dr. Who’s Tardis. Hair in dozens of fiery and not-so-natural shades, and more than a handful of bosom-inducing corsets were represented.

Ultimately, the best conversations I had were with the guys ahead of and behind me. While everyone else switched off every three minutes, these guys followed me around – or vice-versa – for an hour and half. We criss-crossed our conversations (a big no-no, under the rules, but also entertaining). The three of us at a bar might have had much better odds than we had at the event.

Nothing humiliating happened. There were some awkward conversational pauses, but none lasting more than, say, two and a half minutes. As dares go, it was painless, and the only stalker risk seemed to come from the guy dressed as a giant raccoon, who really wanted to know whom I’d like to screw, kill and marry.

All in all, it was a fun time. Best, I would say, if you’re under 30, like most of the participants. But entertaining even if you’re just someone who likes to meet a lot of people really quickly. Or if you like to mix your dating with wrinkles in the time-space continuum.

DAREME: Lewinsky, Sad Bunnies and Cupcakes

D-ri-ma-pumpkins-rsI received an interesting dare last week from a theater enthusiast. “I dare you to go to the Hope Street Farmers Market and first wear a happy mask and a then sad mask and see if people’s reactions are different.”

I liked the idea, especially because those are my two favorite things — playing dress-up and farmers markets. However, I didn’t want to invest in the proper mask, so I searched through my costume collection, which is essentially my entire wardrobe. The closest thing I could come to a happy mask was one I found in a RISD dumpster last Halloween. It was a giant Monica Lewinsky face mask with a shit eating grin, punctured teeth marks on the left side of her face, and a faint smell of pee. I remembered soaking that thing in bleach right after I got it, but the smell just wouldn’t go away. But, it’s priceless! I knew it would serve me well in the future for top secret assignments like these. As for a sad mask, I didn’t have one. But, I did have a full Playboy bunny get-up with the ears, tail, whiskers and pink body suit. Why not wear it with a frown? Genius.

I hopped on over to the farmers market, slid the Monica mask on and perused the different vendors. People giggled, pointed and smiled, and everyone seemed to be in a jolly mood. It’s summer time in Rhode Island, why wouldn’t they be happy? No one approached me, so I decided to take it upon myself to start some dialogue. I approached a woman in her late 20s and introduced myself. “Hey. My name is Yosefa. I have never been to this farmers market before. Are there any vendors you recommend here? I was looking for some good kale and …”

She looked at me, very confused, and said with her hands on her hips in a demanding voice, “What is kale? I like the cupcakes. And, who are you supposed to be and why are you wearing a mask?”

“Oh! Kale is a vegetable,” I laughed. So many questions. “My mask is Monica Lewinsky. I couldn’t find my hat and I just hate the sun beating down on…” She interrupted again.

“Who is Mara Kinsey?”

“No, no. MONICA LEWINSKY,” I corrected.

“WHO?” she asked even louder.

I lifted the mask so she could hear me better and said, “MONICA LEWINSKY. You know? The woman who…” and then I stopped myself because my eyes had adjusted to the light and I realized she was wearing a Justin Bieber t-shirt. “How old are you?” I asked.

“Twelve,” she said. She pointed right behind me. “I am on a summer camp trip.” I turned around and no less than 10 feet away was a swarm of prepubescents eating overly priced gourmet cupcakes. You know, the ones that look SO good, but you can never rationalize spending 5 dollars on a cupcake. Now, keep in mind the eye holes on Monica’s face were extremely small, my vision was horrible because I couldn’t fit my glasses inside of Monica’s head, and I had ZERO peripheral vision. But, seriously, besides the shirt, this girl did NOT look 12 years old. It’s the hormones in the meat.

But anyway, I apologized and she said, “Nah, it’s cool. I heard that name before. One time my dad told my mom he wished she would be more like her. Who is she anyway?”

Before I had the chance to make up an excuse that I was coming down with the flu or chickenpox, her camp counselor came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Hey Monica,” he winked. “Jessica, we gotta go. It’s singing circle time.”

“Well!” I rejoiced with relief, with Monica still on my head. “It’s been great meeting you two!” I turned around to walk away, but because I couldn’t see around my feet, I tripped and fell on a box of maracas that the counselor put on the ground. I screamed so loud that I scared myself and knew my ankle was either broken or sprained. The counselor ran over to the meat vendor, got me a bag of ice and asked if I wanted to join in their singing circle until I could walk again. I declined and decided to sit against a tree in the farmers market with my bunny ears on, ice my ankle, and just see what happened next.

Ten minutes passed and nothing happened except my ankle started to swell even more. Thirty minutes. An hour. Finally, a vendor approached me and asked if I was ok. “I hurt my ankle really badly, but I had a assignment to finish and I am waiting to…”

He stopped me. “I know, I saw everything.” He smiled and handed me a cupcake even though he was selling vegetables. “Maybe this will make you feel better, Monica.”

So, lessons learned: happy or sad, an overly priced cupcake is totally worth it and make sure you invest in some contacts if you plan on wearing a mask for Halloween or any other top secret assignment.