The two hours beforehand freaking out were also stressful. I was particularly concerned about reading to a predominantly South Asian audience, which I've never done before, and certainly never done with sexual material. And Kevin was sick, so he couldn't come, which made me quite mopey for a while. Ditto Angeli with the sickness, and my sister got the date wrong. So none of my friends actually showed up, and I felt a bit isolated beforehand, which wasn't so much fun, but mostly overshadowed by the memorization terror. So that's all the bad stuff.
That said, the night overall was a success. Most of the performers were women, and we all showed up at 5 to set-up -- I was quite amused to see that most of them had white guys in tow (boyfriends or spouses or whatever); it at least made me feel as if my piece would have some relevance to the other performers, if not to the audience. :-) The audience, as it turned out, was mostly my age (rather than my parents' generation, which would have been more intimidating given the material) and they were extremely kind. About seventy-five people who clapped uproariously for every performance, which was very heartening. And afterwards, lots of people came up and told me they really liked the piece, and a few even said that they thought it was important for me to get up and say the stuff I said. So that was all great.
And apparently, as expected, my sheer terror came across in positive ways for the performance, since people thought I seemed very sincere and appropriately stressed by the material. The advantage of writing about emotionally-charged material -- performance nerves translate well. It wouldn't work nearly as well if I were trying to do stand-up comedy, for example, where it's helpful to appear relaxed. :-)
All the other performers were good too -- this woman Sarwat in particular blew me away with great poetry and a gorgeous singing voice. Interesting video installations, along with photography and sculpture too -- just terrific energy and skill all around. There was a Muslim woman in hijab doing stand-up comedy, which I've absolutley never seen before, and she was fabulous. So that was all good. I'm glad I did it, and glad I went.
Shmuel asked what I wore, so in case anyone else is curious, I went with the close-fitting jeans, my sleek black heeled boots (the short ones, that mostly hide under the jeans), and a thin white-button down shirt with three-quarter sleeves (french-cuffed), tailored and fairly close-fitting (but not too close -- skimming the body, rather than clinging), with a lacy white bra underneath that you could just see the outline of if you were standing near me. Sexy, but in a restrained, casual sort of way. At least that was what I was hoping for. :-) It felt right.