This was the first event that I thought up for the Experimental Event Series. It might have even been the one that started it all. One of my favorite ways to brainstorm is to ask the question “What’s the worst idea?” or “What’s a horrible way to solve this problem?” When I ask that question I’ll get bad ideas that often spark the best ideas.
First, I had to get a bag of wigs. I had a couple wigs already but no bag and I didn’t want to share my wigs with strangers because they were kind of nice wigs. So I got online and bought $120 of cheap ones and borrowed a santa bag from a friend.
I needed a place to hold the event that had lots of passerby because I wanted to see if people who had never heard of the event would spontaneously come over and wear some wigs. So the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail came to mind. The boat launch on the east side at Festival Beach was the perfect location.
Here’s the event description I posted online.
I Got a Bag of Wigs. Let’s Wear Them.
This event is part of the Austin Events 2020 wall calendar’s Secret Unpublished Event Series.
Hey I got a few wigs so let’s go down to the park and wear them.
Things to know:
- This is for real.
- You are welcome to bring one of your own wigs if wearing one out of this bag weirds you out.
- If I don’t have enough wigs, we’ll have to share them.
- This isn’t at the boat ramp exactly, but between the boat ramp and Chicon. Look for the sign.
- This is event is free.
Here’s the official video:
So it’s 7pm or so and it’s about 90 degrees. I realize that 90 degrees is not an ideal wig-wearing temperature but oh well we’re doing this.
I park in the boat launch parking lot. I’ve brought: the bag of wigs, some chairs, my sandwich board that says “I Got a Bag of Wigs. Let’s Wear Them” written in my somewhat legible handwriting with boring white chalk, some business cards, a huge ornate mirror that I lean against a tree so people can see how they look. And a few drinks.
I do not have any of the calendars that I am promoting at this event. They had not yet been printed.
I set up about 10 feet from the trail where I know people can see the sign.
It’s time! The event starts! Let’s do this! I put on my blonde rockstar wig.
I watch the runners jog down the trail. No one is stopping. WTF. Maybe they missed the sign. I move the sign closer to the trail.
After 15 minutes still no takers.
Then, my friend Jason shows up. Jason’s typical haircut is a shaved head. He is the perfect person to need a wig.
Jason picks another rockerstar wig out (excellent choice). I take a few photos of him looking cool.
Despite the recent doubling of the attendee count, this fails to attract anyone running by on the trail. I am puzzled.
The runners look hot and sweaty. Who wouldn’t want to stop their timed run to put on a scratchy polyester wig with a couple of dudes that look like they are probably in a terrible Van Halen cover band?
Alas. Jason and I sit at the table in our wigs for another 15-30 minutes and shoot the breeze.
Then my friend Emily shows up. Yes! Now we’re getting somewhere.
I think it’s safe to say we the event is now crowded.
Emily finds a wig that suits her, puts it on then turns to the trail and starts shouting at runners: “HEY! HEY! Do you want to wear a wig? We’ve got a bag of wigs. Do you want wear one?”
Ah. Salesmanship. Jason and I are impressed. We had not thought of this.
Emily manages to get a woman to stop running, take out her earbuds and say “What?” To which, Emily repeats “We’ve got a bag of wigs. Do you want to wear one?”
The woman smiles in a way I can’t quite place and says no thanks as she puts her earbuds back in and continues her run.
“OK!” says Emily.
A few similar episodes with some other runners and then… Emily finds a taker.
The woman is drenched in sweat but agrees to wear a wig. It’s at this point that I start to worry about what we should do if later attendees want to wear that same wig. Is that gross?
Maybe. But maybe if you’re the type of person that will stop your sweaty run to wear a wig with strangers – with no explanation given other than there happens to be a bag of wigs – you don’t really care if some other enthusiast had previously worn your wig.
The woman is energetic and friendly and I attempt to explain how her wearing a wig will help me sell calendars that don’t exist as Emily helps her put on her chosen wig. It looks good. We take some pictures. She hands the wigs back, puts the ear buds back in and continues her run.
Emily is immediately back at work, shouting at runners “HEY HEY! WE GOT SOME WIGS!”. Then my friend Kim shows up.
I hope the fire marshal doesn’t show up to check capacity of this gathering.
While Kim is finding a wig for herself, Emily has recruited a couple who was putting their kayak into the lake. They had seen us as they pulled up to the parking lot and were curious. I offer them one of the lesser sweaty business cards.
After they leave, we get a few more takers (all thanks to Emily) before the sun starts falling below the horizon. We take a few magic hour photos, pack it up and then I head home, already wondering what I was going to do with all future revenue I would earn from the success of this event. The first thing I had to do was make a downpayment on the $120 of sweaty wigs.