Ten Reasons Why It Sucks to Be Fat in the Lighting Industry


Hello, friends and neighbors of light!  I hope this morning finds you happy and healthy, and brimming with enthusiasm to just go out there and kick today’s ass!

I write this post to talk about something that we don’t talk about frequently:  how our physical health affects our work in the lighting industries.  From Research Science and Photonics to Rock and Roll production, if you work in light and you have extra bacon around the midsection like me, you probably feel the pain that the surplus chub brings to the table.

I’ve struggled with my weight pretty much my entire adult life, and in 2014 I am going to win against the forces of fat.  Over the last three years, I have lost 80-something pounds of pizza from my belt line, and by the end of this year I plan to have gotten considerably closer to my goal weight of 200 pounds.   Usually when I need to overcome a challenge, I will collect information like someone with major OCD about that specific subject and then make a plan of action.  Right now, the plan is to talk about how being fat in lighting sucks in order to bring the subject to light, per se, wocka wocka.


So getting on with it:  

  • do you have a few extra butter rolls sitting on your belt line?
  • Is your headset belt pack padded over top by a layer of old cheesecake?
  • Have a hard time not getting that second (or third) serving in the Craft Services line?
  • Does the container you carry your tools in fit inside the container you bring your lunch in?

Then you too can commiserate about this topic!  I’m sure there are many, many more I haven’t even considered or probably have forgotten about in my days, but here are ten things that BLOW about having extra bacon around the midsection in the lighting industry!

#10:  GIG BUTT/Chub Rub


Come on, don’t pretend, you know exactly what the hell it is I’m talking about. Gig Butt happens when you’re outside, in the summer, loading in shows somewhere where it is hotter than hell, and you might not have showered in a day — not getting to shower every day happens on tour sometimes, ask anybody.  It’s when your thighs get red and irritated from your clothes and sweat and bacteria constantly rubbing together. It sucks the monkeys ass, And if you have worked and lighting, you have experienced this unpleasantness. However, when you’re fat, multiply this unpleasantness into something with a magnitude of volcano and fire/Brimstone, all that.  I lost enough weight at one point that I did an entire summer of shows, and the number of times I got gig assed was zero. Friends, it is totally worth losing weight simply for this single aspect.

#9:  Clothes Wear Out Faster

Frayed and torn old jeans

It might not seem like a very big deal, Or maybe something you don’t really think about, But when you have extra weight you actually put strain on your clothes as well.  And we people of size can really f*ck up some gear, can’t we people!  Big ol’ sweat salt rings around our collars; splitting the asses of our pants from time to time when they might catch a certain way when we’re kneeling down to straighten some cable or plug something into the desk; the random tear in a shirt that some of our chub caught on something as we walked by; all of these are symptoms of the condition of overweightitude.

#8:  Injuries


You know, it’s not hard to understand why having extra weight can cause a fat body to get injured by doing normal tasks in the lighting industry — we perform all kinds of sometimes unbelievable tasks, from hanging lighting from a ladder to climbing up inside lighting truss at height.  For a person of normal size and in good health/in shape, these tasks aren’t usually much of a bother.  But if you’re a person of pie, like me, just the everyday average task can really screw up one’s will to live if you happen to come down wrong off of something, or extra weight just bounced you off of something in the way, which does happen, people.  Fat is just unpredictable!

#7:  Balance and Flexibility


Let’s face it, lighting people – if you once were relatively thin, like I was once, things like climbing truss ladders and walking 20.5″ truss was a cake walk.  Now it’s really a cake walk, with me looking like the cake when I’m up somewhere off of level ground working.  It’s difficult sometimes when you carry extra weight to do the things that need to be done in the business simply because we no longer have great flexibility and balance like a person without some butt luggage to carry around everywhere we go.  Know what I’m saying?

#6:  Your Appearance (and Your Assumptions of Other People’s Assumptions of Your Appearance)


Friends, it is an unfortunate truth of our industry that the better you look, the better you feel,And the better you are perceived in our business. Disagree with me if you want, that is completely within your rights. But whether you’re in FOH calling the shots or coiling feeder in Dimmer Beach,  the way you look can play hell on your psyche.  When you are a person “of size,” like me, you are constantly wondering if people perceive you a certain way.  It’s called human nature.  Our industry is absolutely chock full of people who not only take excellent care of themselves, but look like they take excellent care of themselves.  Sometimes not being one of those people in a crowd of those people can seriously play tricks on our fat subconscious.  Or, maybe you’re one of those people who could give not a crap about how they look and feel, and if so, more power to you.  I never learned that skill.

#5:  PPE Issues


People, let’s face it.  They do not make PPE (which means Personal Protective Equipment — harnesses, etc) in sizes above Thick Cut Bacon.  What does this mean for us people with extra bacon around the midsection?  it means that either A) you’re climbing that f*cking access ladder in a harness that looks like you’re baking bread with rope wrapped around it, or you’re simply just not going to where it is required to wear said PPE.  You catch-a my drift?

I remember watching an episode of The Biggest Loser a few years ago in which Bob put on a harness with something like 200 extra pounds on it to simulate the pressure of someone who weighed 400 pounds on the show.  It looked like he was strapped with 25 pound sand bags and rolls of socapex.  This is how I imagine the extra weight on our bodies to feel like when we’re carrying around coils of 4/0 or rolls of socapex.

#4:  Location Limitations


Unfortunately, sometimes as a person with surplus love you just can’t go certain places that are required to work in lighting.  Sometimes this is up inside of the rig, sometimes this is inside of a theatre where you have to be Kate Hudson to fit anyway, and sometimes it’s just some cramped place you have to get to do something.  When you can’t see your feet, there are just places people like us won’t fit.

#3:  Exhaustion


Let’s face it, people — being fat is absolutely effing exhausting.  When you double up the kinds of work that need to take place in our industry and add that to having a couple extra rolls around the midsection, the result is just purely crappy.  Being overweight and having to work the schedule that we often have to work here in lighting can just completely break your will to do anything, including move.  It’s a fact!

#2:  Working in Hot Climates


Ok, this is one I hate almost as much as #1…

Being fat and doing shows where it is hot S-U-C-K-S.  SUCKS. It sucks sucks sucks to be fat and be COVERED in sweat after doing something as stupidly easy as unstacking cases.  It sucks to have sweaty white salt rings around the collars, back, and armpits of your black t-shirt because Mother Nature decided you needed to load in on a 100 degree day into a convention center than doesn’t have the AC on until show time.  It sucks to be fat and be sweaty on a show site where your pants just stick to you like white on rice and a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm.  So generally, as a rule of thumb, HOT DAYS + FAT GUY + SWEATY EVERYTHING = SUCKS.

#1:  TRAVEL Planes, Trains, and Automobiles


Now your mileage may vary on this one, but the number one thing that I despise about my size is traveling.  Economy seats are too small for people with wide asses.  Train seats in Economy are too small for people with wide asses.  If you’re still young and doing work where a handful of people travel in one car… well, as you can imagine, nothing good can come of stuffing one of us into a vehicle for long trips.  Being fat and traveling is like an exercise in patience — how long can I sit crammed in this seat with my knees halfway down my throat and my dough stuffed between each armrest, sweating, and miserable?


Wish me luck, everybody.  If you too want to get less fat, shoot me an email, let’s do it together.  A single twig is weak, but a bundle of twigs is strong.

5 replies
  1. S.
    S. says:

    I completely agree with all of this. It makes me sad. It’s not just the lighting industry, it’s the entire entertainment tech industry.

  2. Glen Gracia
    Glen Gracia says:

    Thanks so much for writing this – I’m right there with you, man. I want to lose weight for June (40th birthday in Vegas for a trade show). Count me in!

  3. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    I see what you’re doing, working that reverse-psychology-thinspiration on yourself. Whatever it takes, my friend. I know that you’ll feel tons (no pun intended) better having dropped 80 lbs. Having worked as in lighting most of my life, I agree that being small, thin and agile is a big advantage in many aspects of the biz. Nobody asks me to haul the 50 lb. bags of sand, but it’s another story when it comes to shinnying along a 6″ wide beam or scaling the back of a set on the 1″X2″ braces.
    Every body size has advantages with the right task matching, if you’re fit. But there’s a “Goldilocks” weight for every height that makes sense.
    Good luck on your efforts. Remember that hitting your target weight may not make you a totally blissed-out person, but you’ll live longer and feel better in the end.

  4. Blanton
    Blanton says:

    Met you at WFX. Way to go on the 80lbs. KEEP IT UP MAN! You have the right attitude, and gettin’ real with the reasons. Recently lost 30 lbs and need to lose 20 more. Thanks for today’s motivation. Hey, I am gonna live in this flesh can for the next 40+ years so it’s time to take care of it, and I’d rather enjoy it along the way!

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