I am always saying, the primary reason I love SL dance is the fun and friendship… the fellowship with kindred spirits. This is how I socialize. I recently made the acquaintance of two people at a dance show, a delightful couple possessed by a fabulous sense of humor and a warmth that draws people to them like moths to a light. Friendly and outgoing, I wanted to get to know them better. And then I found out they dance too! Kindred spirits. One of Second Life’s most charming couples, please meet the enigmatic Bert and Gert, if you haven’t already. They are a package deal, and every time I talk to them, they make me smile and laugh. They carry a joy that is absolutely contagious. Whether they are in the audience or on stage, I find myself enthralled by their mirth. I wonder if they are ever in a bad mood. They kindly agreed to allow me to interview them, as when I find treasure, I want to share it with others. Read on and find yourself enraptured by the whimsy that is Bert and Gert.
They met over six years ago on IMVU, at a mutual friend’s club. “Everyone was dancing on the bar (as you do) and he was dancing in front of me, and I thought he had a cute bum so asked him to be my friend! I had a special friend at the time so we didn’t get together right away but I started to visit him in his club, cry on his shoulder and tell him my romantic woes. It quickly became more than just a friendship.”
And then IMVU took their tipping cow off them. That changed everything.
Mind you, Gert had already made an appearance in SL, howbeit short-lived. “An old boyfriend from IMVU originally brought me here and dumped me. Some guy found me and left me in some sex shop. I was trying to fly out and got stuck in a corner so I shut the program down and deleted it. I think that AVI is still there! If you see a pile of bones in the corner of a shop someday, it’s probably me. After meeting and marrying Bert, we had gone as far as we could on IMVU and got bored with the same old thing every day. I had just seen a documentary on TV about SL so we thought we’d give it a try. We bypassed the knowledge center, as Bert said, ‘We’ll sort it out on our own,’ which is code for, ‘You sort it out and then teach me!’ We were noobs for a long long time, and I spent most of my early days underwater as Bert was always pushing me in! I think he wanted the insurance money.”
And then Bert spoke of the injustice of IMVU taking their tipping cow. “Gert and I were on another virtual reality site and they were taking back items which they thought were inappropriate, without any notice. We felt we were being undermined and treated like kids. They even took our ‘tipping’ cow, we thought it was funny to push a cow over haha, but I think Peta got involved with that one!” Thank you, IMVU!
The “Bert and Gert Show” came about as a natural result of their engaging personalities and senses of humour. “I think we’ve always been entertainers at heart. In fact, when we visited most people’s clubs before we started performing officially people would say, ‘Oh here comes the Bert and Gert show!’ Not sure if that was a compliment or not since they usually said it behind our backs! LOL! We were always thinking of ways to get a laugh out of people though. Sometimes it worked, other times well… let’s just say we have been threatened! Only been booted once but it was a nice flight. Just wish they had served drinks and snacks.”
Bert adds, “We saw someone doing an individual dance show on the site we were on, and we never realised that could be done on these sites, so we set about doing something we thought could be a bit more entertaining.” He continues, “Gert and I have been performing publicly in SL for about two years now. We do what we call ‘Entertainment Shows’, which include comedy, dancing and music. We used to use the chat box for our shows but now we are using recorded voice as it seems to come across better. Just recently we got some of our friends involved, as they were interested in performing too.” I think it is the use of comedy that really sets them apart from most dance shows. Their “Red Riding Hood” act is hilarious and a must-see!
First SL performance at their wedding reception
Gert reminisces, “Our first performance on SL was at our wedding reception. We did this little dance as an old lady and old man to the tune, “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” It was totally lame but we thought we were cool! Our friends encouraged us to keep performing here, as they knew we loved it. We had no idea what to do or how to do it, but we did our best. The first official show we did was in what we called our “spaceball” and gave it as a gift to our friends for Christmas. We did that show a few times, but due to a string of illnesses didn’t get back to it until recently. I was really inspired when a friend invited me to the Guerilla Burlesque. I was amazed and that night said, “I want to dance like that!” It was through their group that I found the Journey Academy of Performing Arts and started taking classes. The things I’ve learned there have really amped up our performances and as I learn more, I know our routines will continue to get better!”
Gert’s first official performance at JAPA
Part of being in SL and especially part of entertaining is the innate need to communicate with others, to bond with them on a deeply human level. Bert and Gert seem to be always entertaining others, even when not on stage. They are happy, and it shows, as people send out to others what they feel towards themselves. Making people smile and laugh is a part of who they are. It is what Bert likes best about being an entertainer in SL. “We love to entertain people. You can go in some locations on SL and nobody’s communicating in chat. It seems like there’s tumbleweeds blowing across the floor, so we’d start saying comical things to each other in the sim, and see what reaction we get. I know now that some people are talking on voice or skype or some other communication device and not just sitting staring at their screens in silence. Of course, there are some who sit in their dirty vest with a can of beer and holding a ciggy in their mouth, but I’ve stopped that now!”
Gert loves the process of creation that being an entertainer affords. “Picking out themes, music, costumes, building sets, choreography. To see the final process always amazes me!” The wonderment of imagination!
Beauty and the Beast
Gert’s least favourite thing about performing? “Fighting with Bert over our ‘artistic differences’ although in the end he always has to admit I was right! Haha!” Bert’s primary peeve is technical, as is for so many performers who spar with SL’s many server and lag-related challenges. “I hate worrying about SL having problems as it can spoil a good performance, not just for us but for other groups who entertain!”
Bert “Ice and Fire”
What are their own personal favourite acts that they have done? For Gert, “I dance and Bert lip synchs and does a great light show to ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams. People request it a lot and we’ve done it at almost every show we’ve put together.” No arguments there, as that happens to be Bert’s fave as well. “I think it must be ‘Angels’ as I sit there pretending to sing and operating the lights, and Gert dresses as an angel with particle effects.” Something about that is just sweet. Makes me smile!
SL romance can be precarious, downright heartbreaking. But this couple has found their happiness in loving one another and sharing their lives through this virtual environment. Did they just get lucky or do they have a secret? Gert shares, “Well among other things, I’ve been a wedding officiant. I believe only one of the marriages that I performed is actually still intact, and I’ve performed dozens of weddings! Having said that, I believe it can happen but am a bit cynical. Bert and I have been together six years, and I believe we always will be. I believe in our love even when the romance isn’t what it used to be.”
They genuinely appreciate what they have built together. Bert speaks about the fact that they don’t take each other, their love, or their slives (Second Life lives) for granted. For them, it is a priority in both lives. “Lucky for me, I have found the person I want to be with. Although we live in different countries, we get along so well and always talking on Skype. Unfortunately for a lot of people, they’re just running around grabbing hold of any affection they can find. They marry on here and after two weeks they’re off looking for someone else. I don’t think some people are aware there are humans behind the avatars with human emotions.” For Bert, SL is his outlet to socialize, fulfilling a need that his RL is unable to provide. “As I work shifts in my employment, I don’t get to socialise on my time off, so SL is an escape for me. And it’s where I can see Gert, albeit an Avatar, but it’s the nearest thing we have to being together.”
For this couple, SL is not just about performing. They have varied activities that they participate in, together, providing themselves with a balance of interests. Gert told me of some of their other SL pastimes. “We love exploring other sims and seeing the amazing things people have done. We love to laugh and make others laugh wherever we go. We love live music too, and have a few artists we love to see when we have time!”
I always wonder about inspiration. What or who inspires this witty, joyous couple who are graced with such a complimentary effervescent sense of humor? I found it absolutely precious that they are each inspired by the other! Gert says, “All of the artists on SL inspire me. Just seeing what they’ve created with their imagination and love of the performance arts encourages me to strive to be a better performer! I admire Bert the most, but don’t tell him. His head is big enough already!” Oops sorry Gert, don’t let him read that part!
And Bert’s inspiration? “I admire Gert, as she’s always trying to learn new things, wanting to improve our shows.” Gorgeous!
What advice do Bert and Gert have for people who would like to get into SL entertainment? Bert’s advice is, “It’s very time consuming and can be expensive, depending on what you want to do, but on the whole it is very rewarding, as you get to meet a lot of people and make some friends.” And Gert advises, “Follow your dreams!” Don’t hold back. Just go for it! This life is the time, and this slife is the forum. What else are you going to do? Might as well go have some fun. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy! And remember to utilize your sense of humor, for laughter makes everything fun and easier.
On a final note, I asked each of them what else they would like people to know about them. Bert’s revelation was nothing shocking. “I am a normal- ish person who likes a good laugh and friendly people. I Treat others as I would like to be treated, and you can’t go far wrong.” Fair enough, and too right!
But I was surprised by Gert’s reply. “I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m exceptionally shy. I love to be able to do things here that I wouldn’t be able to do in real.” I would never suspect that this inviting, charismatic woman is shy! I am grateful that SL has provided a medium through which she may expose her inner entertainer, as the smiles and laughter she brings to others is a blessed gift.
If you would like to check out the Bert and Gert Show, either join their entertainment group or simply friend them, and they will send invites out to you. This is one feel-good show you do not want to miss! It really feels like you are among friends, and the outrageous cheeky humor in some of the acts will make you glow with exuberance. GertTaylor Resident and berttaylor Resident. Bert and Gert Entertainment group joiner: secondlife:///app/group/b9fb59c9-749e-c395-7318-d0fc0b580855/about (copy/paste it into your local chat bar, hit enter, and click the link to join their group).