The 20 Strangest Things I’ve Ever Packed for a Gig

Written by Kaitlin Bellamy

July 18, 2017

I have been performing since I was three years old. Of course, back then it was only dance recitals, and the most complicated thing I had to pack was my tap shoes. Since then, however, my duffel bags and makeup kits have gotten much, much weirder. You ever pack for your rehearsal or work day and wonder, “What WILL they think of me if I get pulled over and this car gets searched?” Well, that’s just business as usual for me. Here are just a few of the strangest things I’ve ever had to pack for a performance gig.

1. A Whole, Freshly Baked Bunt Cake

This was not for eating, but was used in a clowning bit as anything BUT a cake. By the end, it had been utilized as a sand castle, a hat and, finally, a spa-style face mask. To this day my clown nose still smells like chocolate.

2. Drag Queen Dragon

I once had to give a male dragon puppet a sex change. In the end, she looked fabulous. But the looks I got in the breakroom while I bedazzled and applied false eyelashes on a rubber dragon … And, as a bonus, she kept shedding glitter and Swarovski crystal EVERYWHERE.

3. Condoms

Condoms are honestly the industry standard for keeping your mic packs safe and dry. However, sometimes you simply forget they’re there. I’ve been accidentally dropping spare condoms from various gig bags for years now, and I never cease to be amused by the scandalized looks I am met with.

4. Ghost Light

Not the traditional center stage ghost light you’d imagine. No, this light was much more literal. I have — to this day — a little children’s night light, from IKEA, that is shaped like a ghost. His name is Carl, and I use him to illuminate the inside of my bag backstage.

5. Fresh Deer Hide

I used to perform at a Native American Historical Reenactment village, and once we were scheduled to do a demonstration on cleaning and tanning deer hide. So, we had to march through security with an intact (and absolutely disgusting) pelt. And let me tell you, we smelled GREAT afterward.

6. Live Baby Goat

Let’s just say, sometimes I have to use lively and memorable props. And baby goat kids are adorable, but unpredictable. Should you find yourself borrowing a goat from a friend, be prepared to clean up afterwards.

7. Severed Feet (Rubber)

You wanna really freak people out? Pull a bag of severed limbs out of your car. They may be plastic and rubber, but they look INSANELY realistic.

8. Collection of Hats Made out of Flower Pots

When you get a reputation as “The Unusual Propmaker,” which I did, you get some odd assignments. Among them, costuming the puppets we used as Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Which included making tiny little hats out of things like mugs and flower pots.

9. Post-Apocalyptic Goo

No matter how hard I tried, some of the slime from my “Apocalypse” escape game, where I performed as the prisoner the players had to help free, always ended up coming home with me. You think glitter sticks on everything? Try black glue and moss. Ick.

10. Working Humidifier

If you don’t know some already, you’ll quickly learn your own ways to fight your way through a show when you’re sick. And sometimes, those ways are heavy and inconvenient, and involve you locking yourself into a makeshift closet sauna between scenes.

11. Dry Ice

When I was performing for Mad Science, I got used to having all sorts of crazy experiments in my car. But by far my favorite was the dry ice. I always bought way too much on purpose, so I could play with the excess when my show was done.

12. Glue-on Fake Nails

Not something you want to have to apply in a hurry, but sometimes the role calls for it! It’s simpler than trying to paint nails in a hurry, especially for someone as uncoordinated as I am. I’ve lost count of how many of these I’ve used in my car.

13. Waterpik Toothbrush

Hygiene doesn’t stop simply because we are fully airbrushed, or don’t want to mess up our lipstick. So sometimes, you need creative solutions to post-lunch problems.

14. Working Floor Lamp

I once spent a whole show run toting a floor lamp back and forth. Our dressing room was barely lit, but we weren’t allowed to leave personal effects overnight, so I had to haul the lighting back to my car every night after the show.

15. Hot Pot

When you perform during flu season, but you don’t have a proper break room and JUST NEED TO MAKE HERBAL TEA, sometimes you have to bring your own appliances to work.

16. Boysenberry Syrup

Had nothing whatsoever to do with the show I was in, but I found my favorite (impossible to find) syrup at the store one day and absolutely refused to let it out of my sight! It was the only impractical snack I ever took with me to show.

17. Clown Soup

If you plan on developing a classic, white/red clown face, don’t leave your makeup in the car … I had to drive straight from work to a clowning gig, and my entire makeup kit exploded in the heat of my trunk.

18. Blue Jello

Had a quick-change once where I had to be covered head-to-toe in blue raspberry Jello. It took a LOT to cover me, so I filled my bag with both pre-made cups and the tools to make fresh Jello at show site, just in case.

19. Beach Ball Belly

We had to fake a pregnant woman in a show way back in high school, but nobody actually had the money to buy a high-end fake belly. Instead, all of us brought something from home to test out, and mine was the winner!

20. Hoverboard

I had to haul around a scientifically sound ACTUAL hoverboard. Made out of plywood, and powered by air, it actually lifted off the ground and was made to carry the weight of one child at a time, for Mad Science birthday parties. And it was amazing.

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Kaitlin Bellamy is a freelance performer and writer, with a theatrical history spanning more than 25 years. She embraces the philosophy that multiple jobs at once makes it impossible for life to get boring. Above all, she is passionate about the performing arts, and all that they stand for.