CBC personality and long-time The ArQuives supporter Mary Ito takes the reins as emcee for The ArQuives’s 2019 Metamorphosis Gala at the Toronto Reference Library. Monika Deol, beauty entrepreneur and former VJ extraordinaire, had the mic in 2017. The two connected recently for a chat about pre-gala rituals and the unexpected experiences of working live on-air.
Mary: I just love the energy of The ArQuives gala – everyone is in the mood to celebrate and contribute to the amazing community here in Toronto. Monika, what was your experience like as emcee?
Monika: It was an amazing night — tons of energy, awesome music and a chance to connect with so many people. Our theme was Electric Circus!!
Mary: I was there and you rocked those library stacks! Do you have a pre-show ritual to really get the energy going before you do an event?
Monika: Honestly, I say a prayer. That’s been my ritual before absolutely every show or appearance I’ve ever done. That’s the last step. The first part of it is putting on my make-up!! The ritual of putting on my face is a huge part of getting focussed and creating the energy and personality that carries the night. I forget anything that happened in my day. I shut out any insecurity and negativity. I go over the evening in my head and start connecting the dots. Putting on my make-up has always been my me-time, usually the only me-time I get in my day. Even if someone else is doing it, it’s a huge get-centred and get mentally ready time for me.
And what about you, Mary?
Mary: I eat. I try to appeal to my baser instincts before emceeing an event. I might not get to eat if I’m too busy during the night, so I usually have a small meal beforehand. I think I must have a high metabolism as I can eat and not gain weight. This has not endeared me to my female friends…
For broadcasters, there is nothing like going live. It’s a tightrope of fear and exhilaration when you can’t control every detail. Monika, what’s the best of the live-and-unexpected experiences you’ve had?
Monika: Mary, at CITY-TV and MuchMusic almost everything I did was live and I have SO MANY experiences it’s hard to answer!! Sometimes on EC, we’d be in the middle of a song and the audio would go off in the studio but the music was still playing on the air…..so, there we’d be, “Just keep dancing, just keep dancing!!!” Literally dancing to silence!! And of course, I had to lead by example, so I’d be dancing away to the beat of the song in my head. I don’t think anyone at home ever knew.
Another time, I did a random interview in the street, and this very young lady went on about how much she loved and missed her boyfriend. When I said, “Awwww, where is he?” she replied, “In jail”. Oh, OK. So, that was a tough segue…..
Sometimes, guys in very famous bands would literally be coming on to you live on the air. Like, really????? But you had to steer them back to the fact that we’re both doing a job and you’re pulling an epic fail right now. In the niiiicest, most fun way possible, of course! ‘Cause it’s live TV and they may just walk off!!
You must have had some moments of live on-air drama, right?
Mary: Sure lots. But one happened just before I went on the air. I was hosting a live TV talk show and an hour before it started, I stepped out to the mall to buy something and fell down a flight of stairs. I scraped and banged up my knee and arm, ripped my jacket and had mud all over my skirt. People were assisting me and wanting to call an ambulance. I hobbled back to the studio where everyone went into action – cleaning, scrubbing, mending, drying. I limped onto the set just in time for the show to start. No one could tell… other than my open head wound. Just kidding.
So, I’m ready for anything to happen! Monika, any final words of advice?
Monika: I think it’s really important to have fun and a great party, but it’s also important to celebrate the reality of how far we have come as a society. How important it is for every one of us to live and let live. To love and let love. The library and archives documenting the journey really matters, as we continue on this journey of creating an empowered and open world for all.
Mary: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I’m so proud of the work The ArQuives has done and continues to do. It’s a unique organization that’s one of the best kept secrets in this city and the gala is a chance to let that secret out! Thanks for the great chat, Monika. Party on!