I have worn body mics in a lot of shows; but during my most recent show (Irene – I played Geraldine O’Dare, Irene’s mother, and quite frankly, I rocked it thanks to a great director, staff, crew and rest of the cast – truly wonderful folks all), we were asked to handle the mics with special care.
For those who are not familiar, a body mic consists of your mic pack (wherein lives your batteries and includes the antenna for the mic) and your mic – which is on the end of a long cord that plugs into your mic pac. You place your mic somewhere on your face where it can pick up your voice; and you conceal your mic pack somewhere on your body. Preferably out of sight.
Some people place the mic on their cheek near the mouth, which requires a lot of mic tape (to tape the cord to your neck and to your face). Mic tape is notoriously unreliable, by the way. (It also means, every time you put your hands anywhere near your face you are in danger of hitting the mic which, not surprisingly, is going to sound just like somebody hitting a mic.)
I hate mic tape. I hate most kinds of tape because I am very allergic to many kinds of adhesive. So whenever possible, I opt for running the cord up the back of my neck and right across my head (under my hair or wig, as the case may be) and using bobbi pins to secure the mic so it sticks out just below my hair line in the middle of my forehead. I think this is less distracting than a cord running across your face; makes for a really secure mic; and the only way I’m going to hit it is if I have to say, “I could have had a V8.”
Also, because I have big boobs, I like to just tuck my mic pack into the side of my bra. Makes life really easy. That mic pack isn’t going anywhere, but I can get to it easily in case the batteries need to replaced or the sound people need to check it, or whatever.
Now, these mics were, according to the sound designer, very expensive and very delicate. That seems counter-intuitive to me. If I am paying a lot for a mic, I would expect that sucker to take a beating. But these particular mic packs are very sensitive to moisture. Since you have to concel said mic pack somewhere on your body, and your body is involved in performing a musical comedy (requiring acting, dancing and singing under hot stage lights), this again seems counter-intuitive.
Since I eschew the less convenient ways to secure the mic pack (using an elastic belt that goes around your waist or around your thigh, either clipping your mic pack to the belt, or placing the pack in a cloth sack attached to the belt), in order to protect the pack from moisture (i.e., body sweat), I had to put my mic pack in a condom.
That’s right a condom.
In this case, industrial strength (the sound designer’s words) big (trust me, I know a big condom when I see one) black (that’s the color they were, folks) condoms.
Much to my chagrin, it took me some time to master putting a condom onto a mic pack. Each time I tried, it would rip. I know in most circumstances a condom that rips is of no use. Turns out that is also the case when you are putting one on your mic pack.
After shredding a several condoms trying to provide my mic pack with appropriate protection from my body fluids, the guy running sound showed me how. Clearly, he knows his way around a condom a whole lot better than this fat old lady.
But I watched and I learned. By the end of the run, I was proficient in putting a big black condom on a mic pack.
Who says an old fat lady can’t learn new tricks?