Before I get into the whole issue of my Halloween costume, let me talk about the costume I wear the rest of the time, the whole other 364 days of the year. I am a cisgender woman, I have a feminine body, but my hair and clothes are definitely on the butch end of the spectrum. Skirts, makeup--no way! Seeing my short hair and button-down shirts, servers sometimes address me as 'sir', and when they do, I answer with a smile. Male, female, whatever you're seeing here makes me happy. I'll answer to sir, ma'am (or my favorite, what a bet-hedging bellman in Singapore called us: 'sir-ma'am'). I am a human being, I hold masculine and feminine energies in me, along with the reconciliation of both. It's all good.
So, Halloween. A night where you dress up as something completely different--a zombie, a witch, a superhero. Halloween was falling on the night of the Newcastle show, the last night of the whole Asia/Australia leg of the Morrissey tour. Different, different, how could I look really different? I thought back over what I'd worn to all the dozens of Morrissey shows I'd been to over the past few years. Oh dear, oh no--I realized I had worn the same costume to every single one: jeans and some kind of Morrissey t-shirt.
Right. Time to break this pattern of gender-neutral uniformity. I went to a costume shop in Melbourne and standing in the fitting room, looking in the mirror at my lovely curves and creamy white skin bursting out of a skimpy, low-cut, frilly little number, I thought, Yes! This is it! I'm sir, I'm sir-ma'am, but there's also this in me--full-on femme, all-out girl, and what a laugh it will be to show it to Morrissey and the band when we get to Newcastle! Yay! I booked Alyssa to do my makeup for the night. No holds barred, going the whole hog, it was going to be great!
And then I got scared.
Do I even have to explain why? This is the world we live in. A world where it's dangerous to walk down the street dressed as a girl. Newcastle's a bit of a rough town, Australian fans told me, when I asked them what to expect. Be careful. We wouldn't want anything bad to happen to you.
Nothing bad had ever happened to me dressed as sir or sir-ma'am, so I abandoned the frilly little number. It's still sitting in my suitcase unworn. Maybe some other time, right? Some place where it's safer? Play a Halloween show in New York or San Francisco next year, Morrissey, and I promise I'll go all-out, no holds barred. Pinkie swear.
But back in Newcastle, there was still the question of what to wear. With the frilly possibility of being a femme taunting me from my suitcase, I couldn't go back to just t-shirt-and-jeans.
And so I put something together.
Was it a costume? Sort of, kind of. It was more of a statement.
A statement that went something like this:
I am a human and there is a part of me that is very much a girl.
I get to wear makeup.
I get to look pretty.
The girl that I am is sometimes good, and the girl that I am is sometimes bad. And all of that is fine, because the girl that I am will always be safe, always be protected.
I felt fantastic wearing my statement.
And the Morrissey show that night, it was unbelievably fun. He sang Good Looking Man About Town! Because of My Poor Education! The stage was tiny and there was no barrier. Nora and I were standing three feet away from him. Sounds exciting, right? But it wasn't thrilling, it was instead this incredibly lovely calm. Like we has entered the eye of the storm with him, the place where all creativity springs from.
That creative energy possessed me for a moment. It's the only way I can explain how I instantly came up with the greatest heckle of my life. It was between songs. Morrissey, as he often playfully does, began introducing the next song by saying the title of one he had no intention of singing.
"My life," he intoned, "is an endless succession of people saying--"
Every Morrissey fan knows that this song title ends with the word "goodbye".
But before he could express this depressing sentiment, I heard my voice shout into the gap, "I love you!"
Wow, I thought, it's so true. At every single show, on the street, in airports, every single place he goes, all he sees is an endless succession of fans wanting to tell him the same thing over and over again: that they love him. But the Four in him doesn't want to focus on that.
It was the most Four-busting heckle in history. Did it get through?
I really think it did. He tried to come up with a negative comeback, fumbled, failed, dropped it and moved on to the next song. Because there was no point arguing. He knew he was beat. The truth is the truth. His life is an endless succession of people saying I love you. Thems the facts. End of story.
The setlist was so great, the fans were so sweet, it was the best show of the tour, an amazing finale, and for me, situated as I was, presented a unique opportunity.
I have written before about my go-nowhere attempts at invading the stage at Morrissey shows. Stage invasions for me are more symbolic acts. I'd like to get up there and give you a hug, Morrissey, but my pathetic writer's arms don't have the strength to haul my body up there, so here, let this book or letter I wrote invade the stage for me, it's much lighter!
But tonight, oh, the stage was quite low. There was even a convenient railing that could be used as a foothold. Deep into the show Morrissey sang Let Me Kiss You and I began feeling the stage-invasion jitters. Now? No, this wasn't an appropriate stage invasion song. But it was followed by What She Said. Yes! Now! This was the moment! Go for it!
I wasn't the first one up. That was good because the first invader captured security's attention while I climbed up. It was super easy. I was right beside a monitor, one of the big speakers that rested on the stage at Morrissey's feet, and it had a big handle on the side of it. I grasped it to haul myself up, praying that it would hold, that my weight wouldn't just slide it towards me.
But no, it held, and I was up on the stage. Standing three feet from Morrissey. This was it. Time to give him a hug.
But before I could get to him, security had dispensed with the first stage invader and were on me!
Aw! Seriously? No hug?
They were shepherding me away, and as I passed Morrissey, I held out my hand and he took it. His face was pointed in the other direction, towards the microphone he held. You know, doing his job, singing What She Said. But I had his hand, and held onto it as I walked away. He came with me. One step, then another. Then I let go.
Goodbye, Morrissey's hand. It was very nice to hold you.
All of this took literally seven seconds. It felt eternal.
I was guided gently down off the side of the stage, where I hopped down into my new spot to enjoy the remainder of the show, feeling very pleased with myself.
I am a girl. Sometimes I'm good, sometimes I do stage invasions. But I'm always protected. Always safe.
My book I Will See You in Far Off Places: A Memoir of Following Morrissey's 2015 South American Tour is now available on Amazon worldwide