Words By Andrew Bucket, Photos By Brandon Weight
I was so excited for the Wizard Girl final auditions. I mean, I’ve always been such a fan. My favorite NBA cheerleaders are, in this order, The Laker Girls, The Knicks City Dancers, The Orlando Magic Dancers, and then our very own Wizard Girls, who I got to see live and in person at the historic Howard Theatre this past Monday.
I got to have a VIP bracelet, and I was confused because there were some really serious VIP seeming people in the top balcony. Guys were in suits, girls were in cocktail dresses and carrying Ciroc vodka around, and one be-cocktailed lady asked me if I wanted a drink! Well I said “oh I’m not sure just yet but thank you…” because hey, I’m not a real VIP and I was worried about my finances, if you know what I mean, but then another fellow who resembled the great legend of harmonica John Popper strolled up to the bar like it was no big deal and ordered 3 Ciroc amaretto and lemonades and didn’t even spend a dime. So I ask this gentleman if its an open bar and he just nods with that classic Popper wink, and I say, “When in Rome!”
I have 3 or 4 different Ciroc flavored vodka drinks and I’m having a great time looking over all the hopefuls head-shots to decide which of these amazing young women I want to vote for. They all seem so perfect for the job, it was a real conundrum. I ordered two more Ciroc vodka drinks and decided on a young woman named Rachel. She had kind eyes and a soft smile. She wasn’t as flashy as the other girls like Michaela, a blonde who was a clear shoe-in to make the squad. No I was fixed on Rachel– I imagined her to be the kind of girl I could date; people would say, hey wait a minute what is this Wizard Girl doing with this weirdo, but then they’d see us at a restaurant, talking about what we’d like to order and I’d show her a bisque I found under the specials and she’d go “oh that’s perfect I’m getting that.” They’d see there was something we understood about each other that nobody else did, like a private joke, or a secret language.
The competition began and legendary radio personality Eliot In the Morning came out, and everyone was so impressed that he made an effort to dress up. Under-dressing must be a hard habit to break when nobody ever sees you.
Eliot asks a judge about what he is looking for in a winner, and he said “I’m looking for a triple threat, someone who is beautiful and talented, but also who would be good for our branding and our community, and so talented and beautiful and a triple threat.” I got nervous. This was no beauty pageant. This was war.
They introduced the girls, one by one, as they ran out to the middle of the stage and did a little move and shake, you know, to give you a sense of their personality in motion. Michaela did a show-offy frontward flip with a lot of leg. Rachel did a classy, yet fun, chest thrust in a kind of hip-hop way.
We learn from our host, legendary talk-radio personality and social critic Eliot In the Morning, that the girls have been preparing all summer in dance classes and urban dance classes. This on top of having jobs like being dietitians, personal trainers, and even software engineers. I never got to find out what Rachel does but I bet by day she teaches kids with behavioral problems, that’d be a perfect match for me because I have those, and then by night she has a cool Etsy store and sells mason jars full of quirky buttons.
We get to hear from the ladies at this point, and they have all put dresses on. Renee says “I’m a ballerina that decided to try boxing and now this ballerina has a mean right hook.” Ho-hum I said. Then Michaela said something generic and barely audible. She wasn’t even trying, it was that obvious that she would make the team. I got closer to the stage to hear was Rachel said. She approached the mic and shocked us all! She did a rap! A total stand out. I wish I could remember what she rapped about but I seem to remember her saying she was from Pennsylvania.
I had two more Ciroc coconut vodka drinks just in time for the group performances. These were harder to watch because each group used the same song. I’m like, can we get some Eminem or some C&C Music Machine? I guess they wanted it to be fair. Anyway, I couldn’t see our darling Rachel anywhere, but Michaela was a huge presence in this event.
The contest began winding down, and we were all asked to vote. Eliot in the Morning demonstrated his wicked crowd-work skills when, while announcing raffle prizes, some teenaged girls booed him. He retorted “I knew you’d love these prizes.” Hilarious!
With bated breath I waited as they announced the winners. Michaela was in there, of course, but as if I was the only sane person in this place– Rachel was not on the list. It was an outrage. I felt there was no recourse but to leave in protest. So I ordered two more Ciroc vodka amaretto drinks and then I promptly left. It had been an exhilarating contest, and a long hard road for all of these hopeful Wizard Girls. If I can say anything about the evening it is this: for a little while, we were all Wizard Girls.