Paper Dolls

Ok, so maybe this is not exactly about Offsets. But it is about international business relationships.

There I was … getting ready for another party. This time, I was at least in near total control as it was a local party. We were celebrating the launch of the squadron we had just help establish. The celebration would include an extensive lunch for the enlisted personnel and a golf tournament and dinner with entertainment for the officers.

I was approached at a reasonable stage in the planning about the entertainment for the dinner event. The planning ‘committee’ was just a couple guys keeping everything under wraps. They asked what I would afford, and I said to give me some options. First option would have been great – a locally renown singer – but her budget was out of my reach. However, the other offer was, after coordination, affordable. I gave them the go-ahead to book the act: The Paper Dolls.

You can probably guess the outcome, but here it is anyway. After an as-usual hot and humid golf tourney where I got (as usual) nothing but a consolation prize, we headed for a nice local hotel. I cleaned up and went down to ensure organization was proceeding properly, as I had my Boss and his Boss attending as guests of honor, along with all the officers of the squadron and all the supporting training and maintenance staff.

Dinner was outstanding. As we reached the dessert phase, I got a nod from the entertainment committee to come backstage. I had already cut the 50% check, but I had to write the final 50%. I went back stage, checkbook in hand. And, yes, you guessed it, the Paper Dolls are a Drag Queen entertainment group. There were a bunch of guys (?) trampling around in heels and hose and make-up but no wigs and no shirts. “Hey, how ya doin’” asked one guy in a baritone voice as he sucked on a cigarette. “Good – great – looking forward to this,” and I really was – having been one of the few ‘in the know.’ I cut the check, got a firm handshake back, and headed out to watch the fun.

Of course, all the VIPs were on the front row. The show began. They were great! Their lead singer was an alto with a fabulous voice – no lip-syncing. The dancing was typical for this genre. They had the ‘snake lady’ with a real boa who circulated through the VIP table. They got the boss and his boss on stage for an act. It was fun and tremendous.

The Boss’ Boss later refused to believe all the folks on the stage were male … having been backstage, I knew better but let him keep his fantasy.

Moral: Never discount the blending and acceptance of a different culture to outside influences. Many places are, in fact, very open – and that is how you as an international business person can establish your relationships necessary for that future business. So, always take care of that judgmental attitude!