You may not have heard about the Mack the Knife incident… The Ruski works hard to be the most masculine, most daring, most dangerous burlesque performer that ever took the stage, and what better way to do this than to make an act where he cut his clothes off himself with a razor sharp Georgian bone carving knife? I told one of my workmates this was happening that night and she facepalmed, and said she’d check the obituaries in the morning. He HAD practised, leaving bits of shredded clothes all over the lounge, but we both knew that (true at the time) when he got on stage his enthusiasm doubled and his accuracy halved. Stage fighting with him was exciting.
Watching him on stage that night I realised something had gone wrong when I saw his hand shaking as he was trying to cut off his underwear. I was afraid he was going to circumcise himself. As it was he flashed half the audience when his hat drifted, and in a gay bar that went down well. One was overheard saying “Well… there’s my $5 worth right there”. What happened was, the trousers he used for the show were lined, and therefore much more difficult to cut, and when he got to the bottom of leg one he flexed his foot into the knife sweep and sliced the top of it, and he didn’t even notice. He apparently didn’t start bleeding until he was off-stage (adrenaline works like that) and I tracked him to the manager’s office where they had a meagre first aid kit. Locking ourselves into the men’s room, I cleaned up the many scratches over his other limbs and declared he’d need stitches for his foot, but he wasn’t going to A&E until after the show, so we bandaged him as best we could.
At A&E (Accident and Emergency clinic at the hospital) the triage nurse asked him what had happened, so he said “I was cutting my clothes off myself for a burlesque act, and I slipped”. She looked at him with a completely straight face, and said “All in the name of art, right?” I cracked up. He did say I didn’t have to stay with him, but I know how much I hate A&E, and company makes it better. Because his injury was very low priority it was about 5am in the morning before they were stitching him up (three stitches in all), and commenting favourably about his toenail polish. I got about one hour snooze before I had to get up for work. Before my workmate asked, I said “So… I spent last night in A&E…” She was extremely sympathetic, and volunteered to prod me during the day if I fell asleep at my desk.