Seven minutes in heaven is a party game among teenagers first recorded as being played in the early 1950s. For those of you not familiar, it works like this: two people (usually of the opposite sex) are selected to go into a closet (or other dark enclosed space) and do whatever they like for seven minutes. It is common for the participants to kiss and make out but participants may also opt to talk, engage in other “activities” or depending on the chemistry, do nothing at all. Variations on the game include expanding the time allowed to any reasonable short period up to five hours.
So I pick up Calamity on a hot and sunny Florida morning, around 11:30 AM. She bounces out of her temporary place of residence wearing a short, flouncy, floral sundress, beige strappy shooties, long, dark hair flowing; her arms full of accoutrements for our long-awaited photo shoot. She unexpectedly compliments my hair color. I blush. We share an informal hug (her hair smells great) and jump into my vehicle and head to the studio. As I gingerly navigate onto the main road, I confess my poor sense of direction. Much to my relief, she generously offers to navigate via her mobile phone.
Five minutes into the commute she asks if we can stop for coffee. It suddenly dawns on me the previous night of celebrating Sarasota’s Black Diamond Burlesque’s 5th year anniversary show is tailgating her -- hard. I secretly commend her following thru with this shoot, with both excitement and enthusiasm no-less, despite her four short hours of sleep.
“Was that an Amish lady?” she exclaims! I presume she spied a woman with a white bonnet in full pilgrim-like garb riding an adult-sized tricycle. I confirm it is. I share what little I know about Sarasota’s unique Amish community. I make mention of the reality show’s brief recording here. She shrieks with delight, “Breaking Amish? I watch that show!” She goes on to tell me her mother wants to go to Pennsylvania for a week to see the Amish. She flirts with the idea of bringing her mom here, instead. I mention their restaurant success and she inquires what kind of food they make. I state, ironically, sinfully delicious comfort food and baked goods. As I admire her toned, bronze legs in the passenger seat next to me, I wonder to myself whether she would even eat it.
“Must-Find-Starbucks,” I repeat over and over in my head. “Anything will work,” she chirps as we pass McDonalds. Not good enough for Calamity. I like her and I respect good coffee so I veer twenty minutes off course for a proper caffeine fix. Iced coffee with milk and two Splenda’s for her; a venti latte, extra shot, extra hot for me. She giggles at my order.
We talk family during the commute. Her mom. Her brother. Both in Texas. Her freelance web-design career in pharmaceuticals. Her long-term career goals as a burlesque performer. Life in NYC for the past 16 years. I ask if she has a roommate. Much to my surprise she confides she’s married. To a Canadian. “He’s a photographer,” she says. I feel like I’m receiving confidential information. I feel special.
12:30 PM. We arrive at the studio, late; meet and greet all parties and I escort her to the makeup mirror to affix her eyelashes and lipstick. I show her my kimonos. She shows me her underlings; purple satin lingerie, a pair of sheer nude bejeweled panties, decadent rhinestone earrings and her ostrich feather fans. I direct her to the bathroom for changing but she before I know it she is peeling her clothes off. She slips into the purple number for our first set and we banter over whether or not she should wear the black lace waist corset.
She takes off her shoes. “My toes aren’t painted!” she asserts. Come to find out, nobody, not even a professional pedicurist, is allowed to touch her feet. She can’t stand having her feet touched. Thankfully, she has lovely feet.
For the next three hours I get to play dress-up with Calamity Chang. She’s like a human doll. Perfectly proportioned, skin smooth like silk, and completely hairless. I get to wrap her sashes, flip her hair, tuck and straighten her kimono, showcase her cleavage. At one point during a costume change, I couldn’t help myself; I blurt out, “You have great boobs!” She smiles and thanks me. At one point I even offer myself as a human screen while she is temporarily topless on set. Was I being polite or greedy? I will never tell.
It didn’t take long to realize this beautiful woman is super calm, cool, collected, creative and humble. As requested, she twists and pins her hair up for the bathing suit set. I tell her she looks great. “Really?” she questions, “I think my face looks fat with my hair up.” I assure her she speaks nonsense.
She fawns over our props; I am pleased. She shares that the Asian, black lacquered, claw-footed table reminds her of something her grandparents had back in Taiwan. Her parents, too, have a huge Chinese vase displayed in their home. When asked to pose with a small dragon statue, not only does she bring it to life; she balances it atop her head for something completely out-of-the-box. She also graciously stands on a 15 inch round, two foot high porcelain stool in high heels holding an umbrella. No complaints, no falls. Perfectly poised and purely professional.
3:30 PM. The shoot is a wrap. Her ride has arrived. It’s time to pack up and say our goodbyes. I’m hot. I’m thirsty. My head is fuzzy. I’m swooning after such a successful and stimulating afternoon – or as I now like to refer to it as: my “seven minutes in heaven” with Calamity Chang.
A special "thank you" to Helene at Burlesque Bible who was the first to publish this article on her website!