Juggler's World: Vol. 38, No. 4

Juggling in a `Tight Spot'

by Todd McLeish

I engaged in a difficult, almost life-threatening struggle to remedy the situation with both arms stuck down both tights.

[Todd McLeish and John Beers photo]
The discomfort of tights showing in his face, author Todd McLeish (below) works with partner John Beers.

After juggling for ten years and performing for three, I've found my niche in the juggling world. Some people are famous for chainsaw juggling Dr fancy passing patterns. But along with my partner John, I've cornered the "tights juggling" market. This is not to say that I use tights as a prop or that I hold my props tightly, but instead I juggle while wearing tights.

It seems that every time I'm asked to perform I'm asked to wear tights.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with wearing tights... if you're a woman or a ballet dancer, that is!

It started out quite innocently. The first big juggling performance John and I were asked to do was for the Madrigal Feast at Ithaca College, where we were enrolled at the time. It was a Christmas-time Renaissance dinner show, with performers entertaining the lord and lady of the manor and their 300 guests. These guests, the elite of Ithaca society, pay a hefty sum to be wined, dined and entertained. The motif of the affair called for medieval clothing, which meant tights.

Trying for the first time in my life to put on tights was enlightening. I began by putting them on backwards, which made the heel bulge from the top of my foot. I tried again. This time my big toe stuck through a tiny hole in the end.

Before going on stage I had to go to the bathroom. I can only imagine what the man in the tuxedo muttered to himself when he walked into the men's room and saw a pair of feet dangling below the stall door with tights pulled down around the ankles. I waited until he left to emerge.

John was having his troubles, too. It was time to go on but he was still in the dressing room. "I can't go on like this. I've got a run in my tights!" he explained. At no other time had we come closer to understanding women than at that moment.

Once we got on stage I realized my tights were far too long and I had the dreaded "Baggy Elephant-Ankle Syndrome." But that wasn't the worst of my problems. They were also too wide at the waist. Every time I bent over, I exposed myself to the lord and lady as well as to the paying guests in the cheap seats. We ended up getting quite a few laughs where there weren't supposed to be laughs.

John had a different problem. His tights were too small. In his first attempt to put them on, his foot went straight through the material. So he tried on another pair.

These, unfortunately, were black. I'm sure you can imagine what he looked like wearing his white jockey shorts under them. He would have been better off with no underwear, since the white fabric acted as a highlighter to this area of his anatomy!

In our short jester's costumes, John and I exposed a great deal more body than the other performers. While they ended each show with beads of sweat running down their faces, John and I got a draft up our, um... tights!

We performed at the Madrigal Feast again the next year, but again my tights were too large. While the waistband was up to my armpits, the crotch hung down to my knees. Every time I tried to pass a prop under my leg, it got tangled in the material.

I didn't let that interrupt the routine, but I wasn't prepared for the itch. Under the hot lights, my legs sweated and the tights made me feel as though I'd just walked through a patch of poison ivy. I just had to scratch. It was not a pretty sight.

I was sure I had learned my lesson after that one. But I just got a call to do another show. It's for a fancy restaurant in town that's having a Shakespearean dinner. The pay is good, but guess what I have to wear?!

Juggling in a `Tight Spot' / Index, Vol. 38, No. 4 / jis@juggling.org
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