Yesterday was the Health and Harmony Festival at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds. Ok the festival actually was 3 days, starting Friday and going until today. But I only painted yesterday (Saturday) Alison’s friend, Peri has a booth in the Goddess Grove and the idea had been to do some body painting and bring out the neons which are black light reflective for the big techno party last night. I was mildly surprised to see not only the 2 others I knew would be painting but another woman also set up shop with Peri’s group – apparently another friend was asked to play along. I was at the back of the queue and as each of the other painters had 2 customers to my ZERO I went scouting the rest of the grounds.
There was another face painter in the children’s area as well as a booth offering ‘free’ face painting. So I return to my last place position and get ‘lucky’ with 2 clients (whoot now I’m up $13 and its ‘only’ been an hour and a half) after more standing around a young lady comes up who does hair braiding she, it seems, is looking to trade spaces. Her space is ALL THE WAY across the grounds…so off I go again to check it out. When I find the right people (who did not exactly embody the ‘harmony’ ideal)) they say they are already doing face painting so no, I’m not welcome there either….so back I go to the Goddess Grove.
At this point it’s around 1:30pm and when I return there is ANOTHER face painter working in Peri’s area. Huuu, I sez to myself, this really isn’t working for me. I make my apologies to Peri explaining I think we’re a little overstaffed and pick up my supplies to find a new spot. I land along the walkway at a cross roads and promise myself to try it for an hour and if nothing good comes of it I will pack up and go home. After 20 minutes I have been asked where the bathroom is 4 times and directions to other places twice. I’m done in this spot!
As a last ditch effort I decide I need to approach the face painter in the children’s area – maybe he’s a business man and I can make a deal. When I arrive in the children’s area Diego is working with a troop of performers and not staffing his booth. Finally after 10 or so minutes I interrupt him and explain I’m a face painter without a country and ask if I could paint at his booth. He explains to me that usually he takes FIFTY percent!! But in my case he’ll go with thirty. Knowing I can go home or make 70% I accept the 30% fee. I set up shop and have an instant line.
Diego concludes his parade with his performers half an hour later and calls me into his tent (while I still have a huge line) asks me to count out and pay him his 30% “just so we’re on the same page”
He then proceeds to say ‘no waiting’ to the line and takes 5 kids in and sits them around himself on low stools. Diego’s way of painting is different from mine, in that he does several strokes on each face and moves down, like an assembly line. Often this means that each kid gets the same / similar look. Diego’s samples are mostly feathery multi-colored eye masks which he tailors to the child’s favorite color scheme. He does this by dipping a brush on some sort of water color (?) crayon –( and yes I mean a crayon as in small cylindrical thing).
About 10 minutes after he begins and my little friend Samantha has just reached my chair Diego calls out that there is a melt-down and I must take over a little girls design. I answer just as soon as I’m finished with Samantha I would be happy to do it Diego replies ‘NO, now’
What happens over the next 7-8 minutes is nothing short of a melodrama. The mother calling him various things including ‘talentless’ and him tying to give her the money back, changing his mind and saying ‘you’re paying me for what I did’, with her telling me how horrid he is, with him telling her, and then me, that if she didn’t apologize to him and the whole crowd that I would be told to go home as I wasn’t really supposed to be there anyway and concluding with him saying ‘this isn’t working’ and that most likely I should just leave. Meanwhile I’m just trying to duck and cover. I’ve never gotten in trouble for being too good before.
After she leaves and insists on tipping with a $5 -- as he doesn’t get a percentage of tips. Diego decides the answer is for me to move my set-up inside the tent – and to get rid of my photo board (no photo board! Doesn’t he know I can’t paint without my photo board!!) So Samantha’s mother helps me move my table into the tent and we begin anew.
It takes a full 2 hours for him to finally say ‘whew, that woman’s energy has finally left’ ….ah hhmmm.
Diego ducks in and out over the next couple of hours and we have a comfortable work environment. The next problem doesn’t arise until its 8 something getting dark and Roger wants to come pick me up. Diego has gone to dinner an hour earlier and never reappeared. I still need to cash out with him and have no idea where he is! And while I really don’t want to even touch the cash without him being there I am forced not only to break out his 30% but to leave it along with my card with the coordinator of the children’s area. (yes, I realize this is very risky) I leave with several hundred for the day. Diego’s cut total has been $141
Then this morning I get a call from him asking how I would like to settle up! Only to be followed by a second call an hour later confirming the receipt of the money….
So , was I better off having done this event or not? Should I have stayed in the goddess grove (where they apparently each made $100 a day)