April 25, 2020 – Saturday
File this under “Random Tamara Stories”…
written more for my kids than for anyone else! 😉
The photo above is from December of 1990 or thereabouts, when I got the gig of doing backstage massage for the Grateful Dead. How did this come about, you ask? Well… continue reading for the answer!
I finished college (NYU, TSOA) in December of 1990.
I graduated from Hingham High School in 1987 and was accepted to begin a NYU (Tisch School of The Arts, Circle in the Square) in the Fall of ’87. I took college courses during two summer semesters — when I was 15 years old [Skidmore – Saratoga Springs, NY], and when I was 18 [Dartmouth – Hanover, NH], and also packed in as many credits as possible each term of college. As a result, by December of 1990 I had enough credits that I was set to graduate from college a semester early [with a major in Drama (with a focus on mask and clown work), and a minor in French].
For fun, here’s my I.D. card from Dartmouth from the Summer of 1988! Continue reading below the image! 🙂
My diploma still says that I graduated in 1991… because (‘merica!) I wasn’t able to pay my final college tuition bill until several months after I completed my studies — and so really my diploma marks the date I paid my final tuition bill, not the date I actually finished school. #SMH! I also don’t think that NYU ever credited me for my minor in French – but perhaps I will petition for them to fix the record… some day, ”when I have time…”
But let’s go back a bit before that!
For the 1989/1990 school year (which was technically my Junior year in college, and was my last year taking formal classes at NYU) I lived in Paris; I moved there very early in the summer of 1989 (to study with the Theatre du Soliel) and didn’t leave France until late-May (or possibly early June?) the following year (1990). [While I was in Paris I shared a dance-floor (on more than one occasion) with Baryshnikov…but that’s another story!]
This photo below is me (far left, white t-shirt and jeans) at the airport in Boston the day I returned from Paris (early-summer 1990). My friends (Jeff and Paula Mine) picked me up at the airport – and then another friend (Chuck Jones) drove me up to New Hampshire for my sister’s college graduation. [Continue reading below the photo!]
While I was away my beautiful niece, Chloe was born (on May 19, 1990) to my sister at Dartmouth. As I understand it, my sister was the first woman (ever) to give birth at Dartmouth during finals week in her senior year and still walk down the aisle for graduation with all of her classmates! When she received her diploma, she did so with her newborn baby in her arms! I came home from France (with a suitcase full of French baby clothes!) just in time for this day (my sister’s graduation from college). And then, later that summer, I headed out to California to work for my mother, in her business selling ceramic wind chimes out of a small storefront she owned on Sir Francis Drake, in Fairfax (Marin County), California.
Summer of 1990
Marin County – California
That summer (1990) I worked at many of the very first San Rafael (4th Street) Farmer’s Markets, selling my mother’s hand-made ceramic wind chimes. Mom’s boyfriend at the time (Spencer) also joined me at the market a couple of times to see if he could sell his honey…. (that’s another story!)
My mother had raised us (me + older my sister) as a single parent and supported us solely with the sale of her ceramics. As far as the wind chimes went – she made quite a few different designs, but one of her more popular lines of wind chimes was her “professional” series — where she made wind chimes with different profession themes – like “Doctors”, “Lawyers”, “Fire Fighters”, “Chiropractors”, etc. Here’s a picture of one of her wind chimes that someone is selling on eBay this week (continue reading below the photo) !
Farmer’s markets & festivals all over Northern California
That summer of 1990 I actually sold her wind chimes at farmer’s markets and festivals all over Northern California. I would pack up the minivan the night before, and then wake up at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. to get to the festival and set up my booth in time for opening (and then I would usually sleep in the van at our booth for the duration of the festival, and head back to Fairfax when it was over). My whole life we all helped the family business in this way (I was my mother’s Regional Sales Manager in the Boston area when I was 16 and 17 – managing five retail locations!), so I didn’t think twice about helping in this way while I was home for the summer.
One day a chiropractor came to my booth at the San Rafael market. He actually had a booth at the market too – set up right across the street from me, a couple of booths over. He bought a $35 Chiropractor wind chime, as an excuse to flirt with me. [It was the only wind chime I sold that night – so there was a lot of time for flirting!] My car (my mother’s car actually) was parked behind my booth, and he said he liked my car — it was a red Nissan 300Z. It turned out he also drove a Z – an older 280 model – in sparkling metallic gold! [This chiropractor dude later became my husband — and then, shortly after that, he became my ex-husband ;-)… but I am getting ahead of myself.]
At the end of summer, I went back for my final semester at college, as an intern [with the Home for Contemporary Theater and Art, in Tribeca]. It was during this time that I got to meet and / or work with John Leguizamo; Ann Hamburger; Eve Ensler; Randy Rollison; and many others. My new Chiropractor boyfriend came to visit me in New York City; we had a lot of fun together, and were very much in love.
When I finished my internship (December 1990), I could have stayed in NYC to try my hand at making a living as a professional performance artist (as I had been planning to for most of my life), but instead I did the stupid thing — don’t ever do this, kids! — and followed my “heart”, moving to California to be with my new boyfriend, the Chiropractor!
It was winter in California – which meant… Grateful Dead California Winter Tour! This was relevant because my Chiropractor beau was:
#1) a HUGE Grateful Dead fan, and
#2) fairly well-connected in Marin County (which is where everyone in the Grateful Dead was living at the time),
…so as soon as I moved to California (moving in with my mom for the first week or two before making the jump to living full time with the my boyfriend) he told me that he got a gig as a backstage Chiropractor for the Grateful Dead!
He knew that I had had extensive massage and bodywork / relaxation training as an integral part of my performing arts conservatory program with Tisch, and that I was really good at bodywork [even though I was not a certified massage therapist], and he asked me if I wanted to come with him to be a backstage masseuse for the Dead while he was working as the backstage chiropractor! I was just 21 years old; I had never been to a Grateful Dead show in my life (and was therefore not a fan at all) but I said sure!
The “closest thing” to a Dead concert that I had ever attended prior to this was Bob Dylan and Tom Petty at SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center) in 1985! Other than that, my “concert-going-history” was decidedly not in the realm of the Grateful Dead: Barry Manilow – c. 1977 (first concert ever!), Donny & Marie – c. 1978!, The Monkees (twice!), UB40 (on the Boston Common!) and The Bangles (with the Hoodoo Gurus opening!).
And that’s the story of how I ended up doing backstage massage work at several Bay Area Grateful Dead shows between December 1990 and 1993. And to answer your questions;
- No, I never gave Jerry a massage — just everyone else ;-).
- And to answer another question: YES, this was really massage (with massage tables and everything!) — not something called “massage”!
There was a whole virtual city set up backstage at the shows; it was quite spectacular and I wish I had taken pictures — the amount of catered food was obscene, and my ex saved at least one life (a woman who was having a seizure from a drug overdose) during this time!
[I recently sold my backstage pass from some of those concerts on eBay… not sure why — I probably had thought it would sell for more than $14! 🙂 But you can see me wearing it in the first photo above.]
What were your jobs soon after that?
[…& other interesting stories…]
- 1991/1992 – Secretary / Office Manager / Receptionist for the Early Childhood Education Center at the Bernard Osher Marin Jewish Community Center. [Why yes, there was an incident with an active shooter on campus during my time working there (!!!) ]
- 1992/1993 -Secretary for the Secretary to the Director for the Planning Department at the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. [Yes, I got to go all the way to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge when I worked there – that was cool.]
- 1993/1994 – Office Manager / Development Assistant / Executive Assistant at Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California. [I had the opportunity to work with so many amazing artists during this time… too many to count… but this is when I first met Mel Chin!]
- 1993/1994 – Development Intern / Development Assistant (and Assistant Event Coordinator) – Berkeley Repertory Theater Company [I had the opportunity to work with some of the top chefs in the world on the first “Narsai Roast” held at the Claremont Hotel!]
- I started my business (consulting) and officially began working for myself in 1997 – although it seems I had 1,000,000 other gigs before then!
What was YOUR first job out of college?
Feel free to share about your first job below, via a comment on this post – I would love to learn more about my readers this way!
Thanks for being here, thanks for reading and for sharing my posts!