Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco is doing a stage production of Erica Lopez’s Flaming Iguanas in April, and they asked me to come up and help out with the motorcycle scenes.

[A brief interjection into the journalistic objectivity: WOO! It’s so awesome that someone’s doing this stage play. The book is hilarious. If you have any sort of sense of humor, and haven’t yet read it, go right now and pick it up. Now. Off with you. And then go up to The Rhino and see the play. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll fall in love with Tomato.]

So, on Saturday afternoon, I headed up to The Rhino. I met Duca, the assistant director for the play, who was bubbly and friendly despite being obviously overworked and needed in about fifteen places at once. We fluttered around as she introduced me to the cast and showed me around the stage area. The motorcycle scenes are all going to take place outside in a little courtyard behind the theatre. It’s currently being used to store a couple of cars, and the weeds are winning the battle against a stone bench along the building wall, but once they clear that up, it’ll be nice.

After we flitted around for a while, Duca admitted that they didn’t actually have the motorcycles yet. Since I was there to help the actors with the motorcycles, this wasn’t so good. I made a couple of phone calls, and fortunately, my friend Sara was around and was able to donate her bike for the afternoon: a cute little Honda Nighthawk 450 that she’d bought from some short blue-haired chick last year.

Woo! I was going to ride my Nighthawk again! I drove my car over to Sara’s apartment and picked up the keys for the bike. I hadn’t been planning on riding, so i had, literally, no gear at all. Sara loaned me her helmet and a pair of gloves — the only gear of hers that would even remotely fit me, as she’s about 400 feet tall — and I played “dorky squid” all the way from 25th and Potrero back to the theater at 16th and Mission.

So, here’s your mental image: I’m wearing my black combat boots, black cut-off cargo pants, a black cut-off T-shirt, little black leather riding gloves, and a black Shoei that’s about two sizes too big for me. On the Nighthawk. Sex-ay! My shirt kept flapping up the whole way down Potrero, so I’m trying to hold it down with my left hand while (successfully, thank goodness) steering around SF’s potholes, buses, and insane drivers. It was, I’m ashamed to admit, all kinds of crazy wonderful fun.

I got back to the Rhino and spent some time chatting with Karole, the box office gal. She’s the only one around who actually rides — she says she just took the class and is already obsessed. We giggled and talked bikes until Duca showed up again.

I brought the Nighthawk into the theater courtyard and watched the rest of the cast’s rehearsal. It’s been a while since I’ve read the book, so I was laughing out loud the whole time. It’s really going to be a great show.

After rehearsal, the three actors who ride motorcycles in the play came down to the courtyard with me. None of them ride, and only one had ever even been on a bike before, so I spent a while going over mounting/dismounting. They took turns climbing onto the Nighthawk, sitting there for a second, then climbing off. Everyone seemed pretty surprised at how substantial the bikes are.

I showed them how to start the bike — especially how it was Very Very Very Important to make sure that the little green “neutral” light is on before hitting the starter button. Very Very Very Important.

Everyone did really well. The parts just call for the actors to sit on the bikes and rev the engines, and they were all laughing and getting a big kick out of revving the Nighthawk and yelling VROOM! The lead actress, Mirla, sat on the bike grinning from ear to ear and asked me about the MSF class and how she could go on to actually get her bike license. She’s so adorable. πŸ™‚ Go look at the flyer for the show — isn’t she a natural? I could see her riding around on her own bike. πŸ˜‰

And then, just at the height of everyone’s mirth, there was an accident. One of the other leads, Libby, was practicing sitting on the Nighthawk and putting the sidestand up and down, and she lost her balance. At first we all clapped and laughed when the bike tipped over — since, heck, everyone drops a bike — but then she started turning sort of grey right in front of us. We got the bike back up, so it wasn’t peeing gas on Libby, and ran over to help her out. She must have twisted when she fell and landed on her shoulder. There was some excitement as we ran around to get her ice, find a cell phone, call her husband, get her comfortable, etc. One of the other cast members offered to drive her to SF General Hospital, and that’s the last I saw of Libby. We’re hoping that her shoulder was “just” dislocated and that nothing broke. I should email Duca today for an update.

After Libby left, there was a bit of a pall in the courtyard, to say the least. Fortunately, Mirla is an actress through and through, and she hopped right back onto the Nighthawk and said, “OK! What did Libby do wrong?” It broke the tension, and we all got right back into playing with the motorcycle.

When it was time to go, I made some comment to Duca about not having any gear. “Hurmph!” she huffed in her great accent. “We will go to the costume office!”

And so, I ended up riding back down Potrero in my previous outfit plus a wonderfully horrendous large pleather fashion jacket with a little bow tie in front. It was stellar. I should have had Duca take a picture. πŸ˜€

All in all, it was a pretty crazy afternoon. I think Tomato would have been proud.

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