You might recall me saying that the roof of my house was tarped by carnie freaks. In truth, most of them were actually just kind of weird, but one of them (Claire, if memory serves) really was the carniest freakedy-freak you'd ever care to meet. She had many notable traits. Let's enumerate.
I directly observed the following:
- She was an emotional trainwreck. Within the first minute of my arrival at the site, she was in tears, complaining that there was nothing for her to do because there weren't enough safety lines, and the boss wouldn't let her on the roof.
- She was the weakest link. If this had been an episode of Survivor: Carnie Roofers in Paradise, she would have been voted off the island. Clearly the crew had been hastily improvised, and, as best as I could figure out, she had been recruited because she was the sort-of-girlfriend of one of the other guys. She appeared to have no roofing skills whatsoever. This eventually led to a whispered conversation between myself and the boss in which I made clear that I was not paying their obscene hourly rate for someone to cry on my porch. His response was, "Yeah, she's not working out. I gotta lose that chick."
- She was drinking bourbon from the bottle at ten o'clock in the morning.
- She had tattoos all over her body, including extensive facial tattoos. Her eyebrows had been shaved off and had been replaced by ornate, tattooed curlicues. She also had an elaborate filigree pattern tattooed around the perimeter of her lips.
- She had dozens of piercings, the most notable being through the flesh at her Adams apple.
- Her hair was shaved in a strange, irregular pattern.
- Her attire consisted of a spangled, rainbow-colored, sequined top and cargo pants (the latter was apparently a concession to her "roofing" work - normally, she informed me, she wore hot pants).
- Her tongue was forked (the tip had been sliced down the middle for about three-quarters of an inch).
- After her initial breakdown, she was quite good company.
During our lengthy conversation, she claimed the following:
- She had run away from the circus several months earlier (see, she really is a carnie).*
- She had been at Burning Man when Katrina struck.
- While there, she had raised $30,000 for Katrina victims: "Man, I was right there with the best art and the best drugs in the whole world, and I didn't get drunk. I didn't get high. I didn't fuck anyone. All I did was raise money."
- In addition to being a "roofer", she was also a stripper, working at Big Daddy's in the evening. I confess I had a hard time imagining anyone paying money to see her naked, but maybe the clubs had to take what they could get during the Katrina-induced stripper shortages. And maybe horny FEMA contractors aren't too picky.
- She was going to be in Hustler (again, I found this a little hard to believe - see the previous item): "Yeah, I know this journalist for them who's working down here right now. You gotta promote yourself, you know. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I'm fucking him. Ha!"
- In her free time she was operating as a "one woman welcoming committee for the city", getting drunk in the Quarter, parading around with a tinfoil parasol, being the life of every party.
- As a part of her "welcoming committee" activities she would convince groups of drunken National Guardsmen to form human pyramids with her on top and take pictures of the spectacle.** Apparently, they never picked up on the political satire.
* Why does everyone always "run away" from the circus? Can't you just quit? "You know too many of our carnie-secrets. You can never leave!"
** Sadly, she did not have any of these photos herself as they had all been taken with the Guardmen's cameras. But they're out there somewhere.
Ask and ye shall receive.