Take 1x nerd, dissolve in a room full of stilettoed women. For charity, of course.
Gary is a single, 25 year old Sagittarian, who shares a communal space with his parents and plays what is probably an excessive amount of StarCraft. Gary is not very popular. People say he’s a borderline genius, perhaps because he had an abnormally large head as a child. Gary has trouble sleeping. He’s shy around strangers, and awkward even in his own company, so he doesn’t get out much. But Gary is my friend.
When I found out about the Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre benefit party at CCHQ, I thought about Gary. Sometimes, it’s nice to do things for someone else, for someone who needs it. This is what CCHQ and the South African Suicide Girls did when they organized a party to benefit the furry creatures taken in by the Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre.
The Wet Nose Animal Rescue centre is a ’right to life’ animal sanctuary that rehabilitates and re-homes, rather than euthanizing unwanted, abandoned and neglected animals. Not only do the folks at Wet Nose give animals a second chance by giving them refuge and care until they are placed in new homes, or reunited with their families, but, because the organization doesn’t euthanize animals (unless the animal is experiencing severe pain and suffering) they spend an incredible amount of time and energy helping animals overcome the problems they have developed as a result of abuse or neglect.
And this is what I would do for my friend Gary - I would rehabilitate him, at the very least, I would get him drunk and felt up by an East Rand girl. If I could pry him from his custom gaming chair and convince him to wear pants, just this once, I know I could show him a good time. I would take him to the party, buy him a beer. Maybe he would meet a nice girl, who was also into MMORPGs. Or maybe just any girl. Someone with hair, or a face. That would be nice.
I call Gary and tell him we’re going to a charity event to help animals in need. "Eh" is his reply. I tell him the Suicide Girls will be there, and some will be performing in a burlesque show. I can only wait out the long and eerily silent pause that follows, during which I try to avoid imagining what Gary is doing. I hear some anxiety-inducing shuffling in the background and just when I’m about to give up, and hang up, he picks up the receiver and says "I’ve put on my nice pants".
Thirty minutes later, we show up at CCHQ, the ornate, vermillion-walled antique store-cum-burlesque saloon that has become Joburg’s choice spot for alternative events, from the legendary indie-inspired Cellardoor Thursday nights, to regular Sex & Fetish parties.
Where’d I leave my keys?
Right away I can tell I’m overdressed, by virtue of the fact that I have chosen to wear both pants and a t-shirt, as most of the ladies here have seemingly flipped a coin to decide on tops or bottoms. Inside, we’re met by all manner of fishnet-stockinged and bunny-tailed girls and one quite uncomfortably bunny-eared chap.(Why is it always bunnies? Why is never cute to come as a turtle? Why do parrots always get the short end of the sexy-costume stick?) Anyway, the bunnies are all assigned with the very serious business of collecting donations for the real animals in very official looking tins, strung around very provocative torsos.
I’m not usually the Playmate type, but I realize that there are checks and balances in life, and if the exploitation of the human form is what’s required to feed the puppies of the world, then so be it. I scrape together some change and deposit it into a nearby collection tin, while awkwardly trying to avoid gazing, mouth agape, into the bustiered bunny cleavage.
The crowd in attendance is nothing short of dazzling, and look right at home in costumes from tutus to white PVC pants. I get the impression that these are not ’costumes’ for the CCHQ crowd, so much as just ’clothes’. There’s also a healthy mix of stereotypes here tonight: the red-leather clad goths, the bespectacled Benjamin Gibbard lookalikes in plaid shirts, the ’brutal’ skin-headed guys with tattooed necks. And everyone seems to be getting along just fine.
When I look around for Gary, I realize he is having a mild panic attack and has retreated to the bar where he is nursing two beers alternately. But with a little coaxing, two more beers, and an assurance that no one has logged into his Battlenet account while he’s been away, by the time the very sassy burlesque dancers of the Circus Gothica show take to the stage in sailor hats and stockings, Gary is in considerably better spirits.
The girls mesmerize the crowd with a couple of themed numbers, in which they are stripping sailors, cowgirls, dominatrixes and cheerleaders. Glitter happens at some point, as does a very tasteful flash of pasties. Across the room, my once inhibited friend is enthralled, and waves excitedly, mouthing what I think are the words ’BOOBIES’ accompanied by some illustrative hand gestures.
Amidst the lacy-gartered madness, the MC drops a couple of free gifts and the obligatory shot of Jager that no one really wants but will drink anyway ’cos it’s free into the crowd. He also mentions the cause and encourages the crowd to donate liberally. The Circus Gothica gals end their routine with a little rabbit (what else?) inspired number, and I thrust my way through a crowd of very flushed and elated men to find Gary, who is clutching a Suicide Girls print and murmuring, through an idiotic smile, something about getting girl-sweat in his eye. It’s amazing what a bit of underboob can do for a man’s morale.
We decide to return to the bar and celebrate a successful show when something magical happens. Something about the heady combination of girls with kitten tails and the ’animalistic alt-goth-indie-electro-fakeleopardprintglam’ the DJs are playing has brought our Gary right out of his shell, and before I know it, he’s dancing like he means it, having a seeminly good time and he’s even struck up a conversation with an actual girl. One with hair and a face, all on the same head. And then another girl. And then another. And, strangely, they all seem to like him too. He’s even a hit with the bunnies and Suicide Girls.
Gary Makes a donation, gets his print signed by sexy Skyla, and meets the gorgeous Hadess.
And he’s made friends with a selection of other folks too.
I’m not sure how it happened, but my little Gary has won them all over. Even the big guys with the sharkishly-thick, tattooed necks like him. The girls are pinching his cheeks and the guys are buying him rounds. I’m so proud. Turns out all he needed was a chance. He may not be perfect. He may be a little scrappy, a little nerdy, and not fully house-trained. But his enthusiasm more than made up for his lack of breeding.
All round, it seems the event is a success. The crowd parties till the early hours. The nice people of CCHQ manage to raise awareness, as well as some money and yummy canned stuff for the animals over at Wet Nose. You can help too, by adopting a little Gary of your own, or go to http://www.wetnose.org.za/ to find out more about them.