Age 11, on Saturdays I sold blouses; at 12, I cashiered at a men's store. In NYC, claiming to be an experienced assistant, I was Typist-File Clerk at Hearst Publications, mostly alphabetizing card files -- my typing was hunt and peck. Later, became advertising director for Dance Magazine till I quit, because, after six weeks they asked for a copy of my college degree so I could get a raise. (I was fifteen, claiming to be a twenty-one-year -old graduate.)
It happened again a year later. I worked for Forest Neighborhood Settlement House teaching dance for two dollars an hour. With my invented credentials, that job paid for my own dance lessons. I resigned when they gave me a paper to fill out for their NY Board of Education files.
So I helped out a potter making pots for her kiln, ran a summer program at a playground in the Bronx, filed cards, ran errands, addressed envelopes, mopped floors, scrubbed toilets, painted the walls at the Humphrey-Weidman Studio Theater. Till one day, after folding and stuffing brochures about their summer course, with ridiculous bravado, I borrowed their card file. It was a list of colleges where they'd performed.
I put together a brochure, and booked a tour for myself and a possible dance partner. Handsome, tall, ultra masculine, (you might say "macho") Mark Ryder, leading man for Martha Graham, had a lot of theories of what a man's role in dance ought to be. (More about all that later.)
We got a first "booking." Then, we choreographed a program. What came first, the chicken or the egg? The booking got us going.
After that, I never had to have a paying job. We were earning a living that supported us in the un-fancy style to which I have never become un-accustomed.
Creating credentials for Karen's lawyers in Troy, for Ivy's mid-western club lady friends, Rose’s customers in Harrisburg, and all those inhabitants of Heart City, Oklahoma – there was no danger of being found out, forced to resign, or fired.
It's fun -- each project is filled with people I knew, know, have met, wanted to meet, almost met, bumped into, wondered about ... if you were one of them, I'll bet you wouldn't guess that a bit of you is there on the page.