When I say I work at a Renaissance Festival I always get very strange looks. Some people look at me with excited fascinations while others look at me with a raised eyebrow wondering if I travel around like a gypsy. No one really ever knows what to expect from me when I say this, and most of the time their original idea of what this means is completely wrong.
Here is the thing; I am not a Rennie. While that is the most convenient phrase to use in describing a Ren Faire performer/participant it isn't accurate. Hell I normally wouldn't even refer to myself as a Rennie amongst other people who work at Ren Faires. That word has all sorts of connotations to it that I don't fulfill. I don't travel the circuit, I have a 8-5 mundane job, I have a house with a mortgage, and a number of other things that makes me not really a Rennie.
There is nothing wrong with being a Rennie. I have friends who are very much Rennies, and I adore them. Their lifestyle is not conventional, but it works for them which is all that matters. I think it is kind of cool actually. It is just not my style, and I am not a Rennie.
The thing is, all anyone knows about Ren Faires is what they have seen in TV shows that have a Ren Faire episode, or from having actually visited a faire. There are some documentaries out there, and articles have been written, but none of them are really all that flattering. None of them are really accurate either because they only ever focus on one portion of that world.
Ask most anyone who works at a Ren Faire what they think about any documentary or TV show that has ever been made featuring a Ren Faire, and I guarantee you they will roll their eyes and groan. They always make us out to be these crazy dirty transients who are maladjusted individuals who would never make it normal society. They only seem to focus on drinking heavily, running around naked howling at the moon, wearing far too much patchouli instead of bathing, and being really sex driven and raunchy. They also make us come across as sort of like flaky hippies or completely obsessed with the Renaissance to the point that we only ever talk about it.
Yes most of us are history buffs and could tell you more about Renaissance Europe than a history professor could. Yes a good deal of us are into swords and fighting and will pursue such martial activities in our off time. Yes a lot of us will incorporate design styles into our homes and fashion that can be linked to Renaissance. These typically however are not overwhelming themes in our lives.
We have real jobs and other interests.
The shows never show you that the guy rolling in the mud smacking himself in the head with a frying pan is a CPA during the week. They never show you that the guy you paid to insult your friend is actually a published novelist. It will never show you that the Queen is actually a firefighter. It won't show you that the pirate is an ER doctor, or the village priest is on a surgery transplant team, or that one Earl is a federal marshal or that one Duke is an award winning news editor, or that there are a half dozen teachers out there, and any other number of mundane jobs. Heck most of us hold down some sort of tech related job which is so very not Renaissance related.
We are also have a lot of other hobbies and interests including tactical war gaming, paintball, photography, beer brewing, writing, gardening, competitive athletics, cooking, visual arts, dancing, improv acting, community theater, music, and so many other things. We are also mostly all pretty hard core geeks loving our sci fi, fantasy, and comic universes. I know plenty of us who would describe themselves as a Browncoat before they call themselves a Rennie.
Personally I think that would all be fascinating to know. I would love to see someone being so seemingly normal during the week and then going off on their weekend to be rather eccentric. Of course what I find interesting and entertaining is completely different than what most people find entertaining. I mean how many seasons has Jersey Shore been on?
Just remember that when someone says they do something weird that is not necessarily all they are. Your first thought of what their lives might be like may very well be wrong. They may very well be right, but you never know. Always ask to know more, and you may be pleasantly surprised by the answers you get.