FRIDAY NIGHT PARTY - IANTHE
Written by Iron-K in 2013
The studio lights swung inward, leaving the audience in darkness as the second recording session of the night began. Rossi was seated at the desk at the front right of the wood-panelled set, raising his hands to encourage applause from the audience before the cameras at the front moved to focus on him.
"Welcome back to the Friday Night Party, where it's time for our second guest of the week...!" he called above the applause, a couple of stray whoops coming up as the audience settled. "She's a young lady who absolutely stunned the nation when she made her television debut at the opening ceremony of the Twelve Nations Games last month... she's a very talented performer indeed - so please give a warm welcome to Ianthe!"
As he held his hand up towards the entrance at the back of the stage on the top of the wide carpeted staircase, a spotlight swung up to illuminate the curtain draped across it. It twitched and a sandy yellow lizardess stepped out from behind it, pausing and her eyes visibly widening as she saw and heard the audience before her expression turned into a genuine grin. With just a hint of a blush on her cheeks, she waved to the crowd and felt for the banister on her right.
Rossi rose from his seat and joined in the applause as she descended the steps carefully, picking up her feet to ensure she didn't trip on the hem of her strapless silver dress. As she made her way towards ground level, the avian stepped forward and offered his hand, giving her a welcoming smile.
"How are you doing - all right?" he leaned in to say in her ear under the audience's applause.
The lizardess took his hand, grinning back, and enveloped him in a warm hug. "Fine!" she answered as she turned her head towards his, "It's just like opening night..."
Rossi nodded reassuringly, and as their hug broke off, he gestured towards the couch as he stepped backward on his way back to the desk. "Welcome, Ianthe - take a seat..."
Ianthe looked up and gave a wave to the crowd as she stepped over and lowered herself on to the famous couch, watching the avian as he seated himself behind the desk opposite, budging the rolling chair forward.
"Oh, it's so soft!" she said, making him look up.
"The couch?" he asked back as the audience's applause faded once more.
"Yes..." she said as she leaned back in it. "You must get the best budget..."
Rossi nodded. "Yeah, they blew it all on the couch so then they had to scrape the rest of the show together... how did you think I got the job?"
Ianthe giggled along with the audience, bubbly and bright, as Rossi glanced down at his cards. He ran his hands through his puffed white hair and then leaned forwards on the desk.
"So, Ianthe! Welcome to the party - and to television and... everything! A massive surprise star at the opening ceremonies - what's the last month been like for you?"
"It's been... well, complete chaos, really!" the lizardess answered. "This time two months ago I was still doing amateur theatre... and then I got a call from our director saying he'd had a call from someone who really liked my singing voice..."
Rossi nodded along as she continued. "They put me in touch with Russell, my new agent, and a voice coach, and a whole bunch of people, and they started suggesting things I could perform, and before you know it, I'm in a recording studio and we're putting work in on an album, and... then..."
"You've got some free advertising space right here," Rossi smiled as she paused for breath. "What's the album, when does that come out?"
"Oh!" Ianthe said as she changed tracks. "That's Rivers of Forever, and we're looking to get it out for the 20th!"
There was a shout from the audience, and Rossi looked up in confusion as a microphone was swung around to a rabbit who had stood up. "Rossi, ask her if it comes out on gramophone!"
Rossi sighed and rolled his eyes as the audience burst into laughter, Ianthe relaxing as she grinned with them. "Hah, they said they were looking at digital downloads, but I'll put in a good word for you, and maybe they'll do a special edition!"
"Grrgh..." The avian sagged but there was a smile on his beak as he nodded. "Yeah, don't worry, I only listen to music written before the 17th century..." He cleared his throat. "Okay, five minutes in and we've already given you your first heckler..."
"Hah, it's okay..." the lizardess continued. "It's happened once or twice when I was on stage, too... the things we used to perform were all amateur plays and such, and we rarely had a very big audience, so we... turned it into a way to bring the audience into the show. It takes a little creativity and improvisation, but it was fun, in a way! Like panto..."
"I know exactly what you mean," Rossi responded. "That's the way this show works, although... not as intentionally..."
Ianthe giggled again, and settled herself a little more on the couch, curling her long tail against her legs.
Rossi smiled as he saw her relaxing. "So, yes - we saw you were a very talented singer at the games - how did you first get into performing?"
The lizardess clasped her hands between her knees as she thought for a moment. "Well... that was something that continued from when I was in school!" she said, pointing forwards as she got back into her stride. "I always enjoyed doing school plays, and it was sort of my thing when I was younger. Then I finished my education and moved out here, but I found I missed it, so I started looking around for groups in the area, and just... went to one and asked if there was anything I could do to help!"
"So what was the first thing you did with them?" Rossi encouraged her.
"Well," she started, "I wasn't on stage at first. But there's always a need for extra helping hands on set, so I started out in costuming and backdrops, and then they asked if I could help read some lines... and then I started to get cast in things, and it sort of built up!"
"Hmph," Rossi smiled. "And if they were anything like the groups like that I knew in school, they'd have taken you in right away 'cause for them it would have been the first time any of them had seen a girl..."
Ianthe put her hand up to her mouth to hide her laugh from the audience. "I've never had that..." she smiled. "Although there was one guy who used to flub his lines whenever he was doing a scene with me... but I promised our director I wouldn't out him like that!"
Rossi's shoulders shook in a laugh as he looked back at her, gesturing at her dress. "Well, what can I say, I can't blame him - as well as being a great singer you're looking absolutely stunning tonight..."
"Oh, thank you...!" Ianthe's sandy yellow scales blushed pink under the lights as a chorus of whoops came up from the audience, and she glanced down at the dress again, straightening up and turning from side to side as she watched it shimmer under the light. "Your wardrobe department has a nice selection! I don't usually dress up this much - at least when I'm not on stage..." She flicked the hem of the dress as she leaned back on the couch again. "I guess it's going to be something I'm going to have to get used to!"
"So you're more of a casual dresser usually?"
The lizardess nodded. "I take after my mom, usually - lots of loose, flowing clothes and bead-jewellery. I'm a bit of a hippie in that regard, heh!"
"Peace and love, and all of that?" Rossi smiled, raising his hands off the desk in two peace signs, then quickly changed his mind and put them down again.
"Hah, yeah, very much so! Nice and relaxed and comfy - but you really have to go for it..." She raised a peace sign herself and dragged her fingers back across her eyes, shimmying a little in a dance move and smiling as a couple of cheers came up.
"So..." Rossi exhaled as he flicked a card aside on his desk, checking the next one. "We just talked about your acting love in school and everything - I mean, for me that's a while ago, but... for you, we're just talking a couple of years?"
"Yeah, I finished university two - no, wait, three years ago now!", Ianthe corrected herself. "Wow, the time's really flown..."
"That's right - not long until you find yourself on this side of the desk..." Rossi grinned. So... seriously, you're only... what, 24?"
"25, actually!" the lizardess answered. "I took a year out before uni to go travelling - I spent part of my time visiting friends in other countries, and spent a few months way out east doing some community projects with some of the more remote villages there - helping dig wells and build houses and so on."
"Oh, yes?" Rossi nodded, leaning forwards interestedly. "So that must have been a totally different environment from what you know now..."
"I actually really took to some of the tribal lifestyles they have out there," she replied. "It's harsher and more dangerous, but it's much... simpler, and more family-orientated."
"So, charity work and everything...!" Rossi whistled. "Could we have a sweeter, less appropriate guest for our Halloween episode..."
"Hah... well... every horror story has to have a damsel in distress, right?" Ianthe said, a grin spreading over her face as she spread her arms. "And... I'm in dis dress!"
A mighty groan came up from the audience, and Ianthe lasted about half a second before cracking into an embarrassed giggle. "Oh, okay, that was terrible - I'm sorry...!"
"Hah..." Rossi held his hand out to the audience. "Listen to that reaction - it sounds like you should be! Don't worry, though, it makes me feel a lot less guilty about what we're about to do here..."
Ianthe curiously raised an eyebrow and craned her neck up to see as the avian turned and ducked his head below the height of the desk, reaching for something inside it. After some rummaging, he emerged again with a crystal wine glass, which he held up to the audience before putting it on the desk between him and the lizardess.
"We know you've got that incredible voice - how high a note do you think you can hit?" he asked.
"Hah... oh, the wine glass trick?" Ianthe leaned forward and looked at it. "Um... I've never tried that before..."
"Ah, no - that's just for me to get me through the rest of the show..." Rossi reached down again and pulled out two large dark wine bottles, setting them next to the glass. As the lizardess giggled, he got up and strode around the chair to the right hand wall of the set, where a white lab coat was hanging. He picked it up by its collar, revealing the hook to actually be the handle of a lever set into the wall. "As it's Halloween, we wanted to set up some mad science - we know you have a lot of ambition, so we thought we'd go a little bigger..."
Ianthe scootched around on the sofa to see past him as he struggled to tug the lab coat on over his suit jacket, her head tilting slightly.
"Have you seen this show before, by the way?" he asked as he straightened the coat out and brought his hand up to grip the lever's handle.
"I... I'm ashamed to say I haven't!" she answered. "You're usually on at the same time as our performances..."
"No, don't apologize - that's good!" Rossi held the finger of his other hand up. "I wouldn't want you to know what's coming..."
He tugged the lever down and the lizardess smiled nervously at the enthusiastic response from the audience, gripping her knees slightly as she glanced around waiting for something to happen. She quickly turned as a curtain draped across a gap in the back wall of the set began to bulge outwards, eventually parting to drape backwards across a six foot tall cubicle styled to look like an ornate telephone booth that was advancing on to the set on a rail in the floor. She gasped and leaned backwards on the couch, both her hands going to her mouth as she looked it up and down - as Rossi moved over to twitch the curtains clinging to the top corners aside, a very large beaker prop on the top of the cubicle was revealed, filled with opaque dark green liquid with a layer of blue foam floating on its surface.
"You know, even though she's never seen the show before, I think she knows what this thing is!" Rossi addressed the audience as he made his way over to the couch where the shocked lizardess was sitting.
"Oh, my G... uhh, gosh..." she stuttered from behind her hands, staring at the device opposite her.
"Want to come over and take a look?" the avian grinned as he offered his hand.
"Aehhheh... sure..." Ianthe swallowed and took her hands away from her mouth, getting to her feet and taking Rossi's hand. As they walked over to the booth, she stared up at the beaker prop above it with a mixture of trepidation and glee.
"Now..." Rossi addressed the audience, waving down the rising cheer. "Our crew wanted me to try something out with you - we've heard of singers being able to shatter glass with their voices and we wanted to see if you were one of them!" He brought his hands up to the lab coat's lapels and stretched them down to straighten the coat as Ianthe flicked her eyes between him and the booth, whimpering through her smile. "So we're going to experiment - I'll get set up in here if you just stand back a bit..."
Ianthe giggled and took a couple of steps back dutifully, gasping as the avian opened the door to the booth. To the audible delight of the audience, he put one foot inside, but then hesitated on the threshold.
"Hey, do we have a lab... hairnet as well or something?" he called to the side of the set, motioning to his large white fluffed hairstyle. He shrugged, then stepped fully inside, and the audience screamed as he sat down, taking a pair of hearing protection headphones out from under the seat and pulling them over the back of his head.
The lizardess clapped her hands together with a delighted grin as she watched him run his hands back through his hair, a moment of anxiety visible in his eyes as he looked up at the spout above him. He tapped his hands on his knees as he waited for the cheers of encouragement to calm down.
"Now..." he attempted to cut through the noise, and broke into a small laugh as a couple of calls rose above the cheering. He pulled the left ear guard out as he spoke up. "Ianthe - if this audience don't manage to burst it before you can, what we'd like you to do is sing your highest note for us, and... I'm in here because I know it's impossible, but just in case it isn't... maybe stand back a few more steps..."
"Hah, okay..." The lizardess couldn't wipe the grin off her face as she moved back to stand next to the couch, assuming a straight-backed posture with one hand on her stomach.
"Ideally out that door and into the dressing rooms somewhere..." Rossi said from inside the tank, and Ianthe burst into a laugh, breaking her pose as she doubled over.
"Are you ready?" she said as she looked up, preparing herself in position once more.
"Yeah, go for it," Rossi answered with a nod, and let the left earpiece go so that it sprang back to the side of his head.
"Okay." There was a moment of silence as Ianthe breathed in, and she started a scale, getting gradually higher as the lights dimmed around her, spotlights picking out her and Rossi in the tank. A rising cheer came from the audience, exploding into a round of applause as she sang the final elongated high note at the top of her voice, the noise resounding around the studio - but there was no reaction from the booth. Before Ianthe's last note had finished, Rossi got up from the seat and opened the door, hastily stepping down to the floor again as the lights came back up.
"No, something's not right here..." he started, shaking his head as he lifted the ear protection clear, then looked up on hearing the groan of disappointment from the audience. "Oh, give me a break - do you have any idea how sure I was that they were going to switch it on anyway just then...?"
He breathed out and shook his head, looking to Ianthe, who was laughing along with the watchers at his relief. She took a couple of breaths to recover herself as the avian looked up to the prop beaker on top of the booth.
"That's still looking pretty solid..." he mused. "Tell you what, we'll give you another chance - do you think getting closer to it would help?"
"Oh... gosh..." Ianthe's laughs continued, but got gradually more nervous as she saw where things were leading, and she stepped forward giggling at the floor as the avian put his arm around her shoulders.
"This time you might really do it!" Rossi encouraged the young lizardess as they walked over to the open booth together, and she timidly approached it, putting her hands on the frame of the booth and looking nervously upwards at the inside. Her tail twitched, and she curled it around her ankle as she stepped inside and sat down, grinning out at the audience and flicking occasional glances upwards.
There was a mixed reaction of jeers and whoops from the audience as Rossi closed the door of the gunge tank, and he looked at them over his shoulder. "Come on, don't act like you didn't expect this was going to happen!"
"Expect? Nothing. Hope? Well..." the lizardess laughed as she squeezed her hands between her thighs. She took another look at the spout above her in the arched top of the tank, and burst into another fit of giggles.
Rossi leaned against the side of the booth with a smile. "Just out of interest, you did get the dressing room with the shower, didn't you...?"
"Er... hah, yes!" Ianthe nodded. "I... rather wondered why that was there..."
"Hey, it's just a precaution..." Rossi said with a wave of his hand, while very deliberately taking a few steps away from the gunge booth.
"I'm going to regret this, aren't I...?" Ianthe said to him, still barely controlling herself from breaking out into a laugh.
"It's the price of fame..." Rossi smiled back.
The lizardess closed her eyes and took a couple of breaths, a smile flicking over her face even as she tried to calm down. As silence fell over the studio, she wriggled up in the seat and straightened her back again, then began her scale, raising her arm in front of her a little more with each note as her head and face rose with it.
"La, la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la LAAAAAAAAAAA....!"
On the last note, the noise of shattering glass played over the stage speakers and a siren started up to produce a jarring dischord. Before Ianthe had time to react, a column of dark green gunge dropped from the top of the tank and burst into a dome shape as it spewed over her head.
Her final note wavered and dissolved into a shriek, breaking into a wail as her other arm came up instinctively, cutting through the splattering green dome for a moment before the goo splashed over it as well. Realizing that defending herself was hopeless, she flung both her arms down, shaking them to slosh curtains of the glop off, and tilted her head from side to side as she kept her face up, still shaking with laughter under the flow as the slime splashed out against the walls of the booth.
The dome twitched as the lizardess squirmed underneath of it, streaks of darker and lighter green falling among the slime and creeping over the gooey shape of Ianthe, mingling into each other as they went. Occasionally a patch of her sandy yellow skin would become visible through the streams of thick slime pouring off her head and shoulders, but being rapidly covered up again by fingers of green slithering down from around her neck.
She yelped as she felt the gunge crawling down her front, clasping a gooey arm across the top of her dress before realizing that was useless as well. She grabbed the top of it to hold it up as the slime flowed over it and adjusted it a little, shaking under the continuing downpour, and ducked her head forward, squealing as the gunk ran down her neck and back.
The gunge from above began to subside just a little, with air pockets bubbling out of the tank above and sending the dome spluttering back and forth across the soaked, green-painted lizard girl. She wriggled a little forward to get her face away and sat frozen with her mouth open in a delighted, shocked smile, her eyes closed as the gunge on her face drizzled around either side of her snout. As she brought her hands up to wipe her eyes, four thin streams of lighter green goo spewed at her from the top corners of the tank.
"Aaa-aaagh!" The lizardess gasped again and flailed under the new shower of goop, ducking and screaming with laughter as she made a scene of reaching up and trying to stopper one of the outflows with her hands, only for it to spray outwards chaotically.
As the gunge continued to flow on to the helplessly giggling lizard girl, Rossi stepped over to the desk and opened one of the wine bottles he had taken out earlier. He poured a glass out calmly, and looked over his shoulder back towards the gunge tank as the reservoir on its top finally ran out, becoming a rain of thick drips from the edges of the overhead pipe with heavy blobs of the blue shaving-cream-like foam sputtering down on to Ianthe's head.
"Gghh... gluaaaagh!" The bright green streams parted as well, and the lizardess was hardly recognizable - a mostly shapeless wobbling mass of slippery green, speckled with smears of blue foam. She raised her gungy arms out on front of her and flicked slime off her hands, producing a heavy splattering sound as it hit the floor of the tank, then wiped her index fingers carefully across her eyes before sliding her hands backwards, leaving streaky patterns across her forehead and crest horns as she grimaced at the slippery feeling of the gunge coating her head.
Rossi approached slowly, holding the wine glass out in front of him as the tank's foam pumps turned on with a hiss, gradually beginning to fill the booth around the gungy lizardess with more blue foam. Ianthe shrieked as the new wave started enveloping her, but managed a smile towards the audience as she stumbled to her feet, holding her hands out as the stuff bubbled over her tummy. She reached out of the booth to menace Rossi with an outstretched hand in a claw shape, gunge and foam dripping from all along her arm to the floor.
"Whoa!" The avian dodged back as the lizardess reached her hand towards him, and placed the wine glass into her hand at arm's length instead as the blue foam crawled and dripped over the door of the tank.
"Cheers, Ianthe - I'd say the experiment was a great success...!"
Ianthe sagged and wiped the back of her mouth before replying. "Haha... and I thought you said you liked this dress...!"
"Oh, don't worry - gunge washes out in... two or three months at the very most..."
"Heh, oh, is that all?" The lizardess blinked as gunge dripped from her forehead across her eyes, still breathing heavily with exhiliration. She scooped a handful of congealing green-blue off her arm and hovered with it before wiping it down her side with an audible squelch.
Rossi grinned and shuddered a little at the sound. "Ianthe, it's been fantastic having you on the show - you've been a great sport and I hope you get many more opportunities to appear like this. Well... perhaps not quite like this, but..."
"Heh, thank you so much..." Ianthe said back, dragging her free hand over her face again but not doing much to improve her cleanliness. She raised the glass and took a sip of the wine, leaving a blue-green streak on the glass from her mouth as she took it away.
The avian laughed before turning away from the gunge tank. "We're going for a break and she's going for a shower - give a big send-off to Ianthe, everyone!" he called as he stepped forward, blinking as the lizardess flicked globs of goop at his back. Slowly, the tank began moving backwards again, making Ianthe squeak as its movement made another green stream splash over her head. She gave a final wave to the audience before sitting back down again, the blue foam rising up and nearly making her disappear from sight into the slimy mixture, save for her hands which she kept resting on the half-height door. As Rossi joined in the applause on his way back to the desk, she raised the wine glass out at him again just before the tank slid back out of view behind the red curtain.
The first Friday Night Party episode in a while that didn't involve a vote! DF and Susi came up with a stunning lizardess character called Ianthe, and an appearance on Rossi's show seemed like a good choice to introduce her to her audience :)