Hairspray. Makeup. Sweat.
The smells are always the strongest backstage. The people are bustling, quietly rushing to their cues; whispering to their troupe members, nervously preparing behind the curtain.
Ladies and gentlemen . . . I stand just off stage left; listening, soaking in the feeling. In approximately two minutes I would step on stage; in two minutes I would put on my mask. My stage persona is waiting; hiding beneath my nerves.
I listen to the MC on the other side of the curtain; joking with the crowd, making them rowdy. Proper MC's are hard to find. This one has done splendidly so far, and as I approach the end of my two minutes, as the curtains rise, and the slow, lazy, beginning of my song echos through the speakers, he makes a stunning announcement of my name. I breathe deep as he says his last words.
You are not prepared for what we have in store for you tonight. I glide into the audience's view. I'm not usually tall. But tonight, my presence is too large for the entirety of the stage, and it leaks into the audience, spreading over them like thick honey.
My mask slides into place naturally; adjusting itself and nestling into familiar grooves.
I smile, I smirk, I flirt and I tease. Tonight, that's my stage personality: stunning, as the MC made me sound. The illusion I cast in front of the audiences' eyes is my pride, my joy. It feels so real to me I can almost see it, a story painted in motions and set free every time I look the audience in the eye.
It's my act, and it's born from practice, but is living off of makeup and deception.