Helen poses a question that all performers struggle with from time to time:
Playing [the harp] next to the gents[' lavatory] to fund face cream is perhaps my worst failure of artistic integrity to date. So c'mon, you serious musicianly aesthete bloggers—how far will you go?
I sure hope others pick up this meme baton—I love the "what's your most humiliating gig" game! (There's always someone who's had to dress up like a chicken.) As for the singing job that most compromised my ethical foundation, I will let Leah Garchik, the SF Chronicle's gossip columnist, set the scene:
Charlotte and [former Secretary of State under Reagan & ex-president of Bechtel] George Shultz, Stanlee Gatti and Wilkes Bashford threw [former SF mayor] Willie Brown a 70th birthday party on Saturday night, in which a select gang of fewer than 30 lords and ladies, dressed to the nines—many wore medals—were invited to assemble at the Big 4. After the guest of honor had arrived, a devil showed up to lead the crowd outside "to a truly hot place,'' Grace Cathedral across the street.
There, they were greeted by a very large live sheep and several shepherds who beckoned them inside and away from the clutches of the devil. An angel descended the cathedral steps to lead them up, and the bronze doors flew open with organ music booming from the darkened interior. Angels on stilts, their wings surrounded by blinking lights, showed them the way through the church, past the candle-lit altar to the nave, where a banquet table draped in velvet and decorated with cornucopias of fruit, nuts and flowers was set up. A chamber group played, dancers and jugglers performed, and a choir of monks in robes sang "Amazing Grace'' and finished up with the "Hallelujah" chorus.
To elaborate further: There was a bar set up to serve martinis within the sanctuary of Grace Cathedral. The so-called "lords and ladies" were chowing down on a whole roasted pig—on Jesus's side of the communion rail. During Lent. The wait staff were dressed like altar boys. It is not entirely accurate to say we were singing "Amazing Grace" to Mayor Brown; rather, we were singing a parody: "His Amazing Grace." And for the record, we were not monks. There were four women and four men, and we were in screaming red sateen choir robes.
(At least we weren't the only ones who were appalled.)
OK, who's next?