Things For People

No strong convictions about this blog site to speak of. Just occasional musings inspired by things that transpire outside my window: LAPD helicopters searching for fugitives, transvestite prostitutes wrestling with their pimps at 3am, and the chubby kid next door who sings in the shower 4 times per day.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Excuse me sir...

I had my first commercial audition in several months the other day. Occasionally I forget that I moved to Los Angeles to find work as an actor. I've become a pretty good waiter, though. Sometimes I even wash my uniform. I was instructed to show up at an address dressed as an upscale clothing salesman for a commercial that will air in Korea. That was all of the information I received. Sounded easy enough. The location was in an industrial area of downtown often referred to as skid row. It's an interesting melting pot that brings together a wide array of cultures. In many ways it resembles a U.N. retreat for tourists looking to experience immersion into a foreign society without actually leaving home: Little Tokyo, Little Bootleg Knockoff, Little Crackpipe Ho, Little Are You Looking At Me Hard? I made two professional mistakes before arriving at the casting location: 1. I hadn't stapled my headshot to my resume', 2. I hadn't left early enough to make sure parking would be available. My roommate assured me that a stapler would be available at the casting office, because "they have to staple the Polaroids to the headshots." She's an actual working actor, so I relied on her expertise to solve the first dilemma. To resolve the parking issue, I squeezed into a spot that allowed for my bent license plate to slightly caress the soft underbelly of the bumper of the car in front of me. I walked through an alleyway covered with gang-tags that indicated who owned the bricks on the lower quarter of the wall. I guess the business owners who pay taxes on the property own the top 3 quarters. But don't mess with the Eastside 50s. They own the bottom quarter. It says so in spray paint, so it's official. I entered the casting office and approached a Korean man serving as the gatekeeper. "Can I borrow your stapler for my headshot?" "I'm sorry, we don't have a stapler." Great. I have managed to fail at the most rudimentary level of any audition. I looked around at all of the other actors waiting to audition. Their headshots were all stapled to their resumes. One actor had a black bag that was large enough to contain a wide assortment of office supplies. "Can I borrow your stapler?" "Sorry, I don't have one." He had a stapler in that bag. I know he did. But he knew that I would have an advantage if he let me borrow it. I had to find a stapler somewhere before I went into the audition. I saw a man at a copy machine. Surely he had access to the coveted but elusive stapler. "Is there a stapler around here that I can use?" "Sorry, we don't keep staplers down here." "Hmm. Okay." Are you kidding me? What kind of an office building doesn't have a stapler? There is a copy machine the size of a Yugo, an artificial river running through the bottom floor of the building with decorative bridges allowing pedestrians to cross the river, and wall architecture that looks like an M.C. Escher illusion, but no stapler? It was as if the TSA had made a clean sweep through the building in case someone might eventually leave the casting office and hijack an airplane with a stapler. I needed a plan. I approached the Korean gatekeeper, whistling a happy tune in my head to make myself appear real innocent-like. He didn't know I was whistling a happy tune in my head. I just thought that if I was whistling a happy tune in my head he would surely know that my intentions were nothing but noble. "Do you have a bathroom here?" "Just across the bridge at the back of the building." The happy-whistle-tune in my head became the theme-song for Mission Impossible. Or maybe it was Spy Hunter. Or Peter Gunn. In any case, it was something covert. I casually sauntered across the bridge over the mysterious ancient indoor River of Lies and Stapler-Hiding on my way to the "bathroom." Surely there was an unoccupied office with a stapler sitting on a desk somewhere in this building. I would hold my breath, walk as if walking on air, tense my muscles as perspiration beaded upon my brow, and staple my headshot with ninja-quickness, escaping long before the absent office worker could smell my fingerprints. In the distance, I heard the familiar sound of fingers typing on a computer keyboard. Cautiously, I followed the direction of the sound, looking out of the corner of my eye to ensure that the Korean man at the front desk wasn't monitoring my relative distance to the bathroom. I observed a man diligently working at his computer. Near his computer screen sat the mother of all staplers: an Aceliner. "Excuse me sir, can I borrow your stapler?" "Are you talking to me?" Her voice confused me a little, as I was sure that the person I was talking to was a man. "Oh, sorry, I mean, ma'am." Think of something to cover yourself idiot! "I'm so sorry...I'm half from a distance you looked like a man." I could barely detect the scowl from behind her thick, coke-bottle glasses. As she handed me her stapler, she calmly and unemotionally said, "Boy, you're batting 1000 today aren't you." "I just...I..." "Just save yourself and don't say anything else." "Yes, ma'am." I stapled my headshot and resume as if I was doing it with my pants down in front of this lady who looked like a man. "Sorry." As I exited her office, she said "Good luck." She didn't mean "good luck." She wanted me to die. Die right there in her office. From something ugly. Like a mace or hammer. I walked back across the indoor man-made River of Shame and Disgrace and took my seat in front of the Korean man who looked at me like he knew I never went to the bathroom, even though I had asked where the bathroom was. "Mr. Adam, you're next." He pointed at me. Not in an indicating way, but in an accusing way. Like I had told people that Kim Jong Il had a funny haircut and I was going to pay handsomely. I sighed, and slowly walked up the long spiral staircase. (As I took each step, I remembered the first audition I ever had, 6 years ago. It was in Dallas. I was so nervous that my hands wouldn't stop shaking. I went into the bathroom to calm myself. I decided to pee with my headshot in my hand, managed to drop my headshot into the toilet while I was peeing, and peed all over my own face. All over my own ridiculous face, smiling up at me from inside the toilet bowl). As I reached the top of the staircase, I wished I had taken some business classes in college, so that I could do some business with the Power Point and the neckties and the meetings instead of this. The staircase led to a room resembling a doctor's office. There wasn't a bed or any medical supplies, but it was all very clinical. Behind a table sat 3 Koreans who didn't acknowledge me. I stood there patiently, weirdly. One of the men looked up. "Oh, sorry. Go over there and get the blouses." I walked over to the wall and picked up two women's blouses. "Stand in front of the camera. When I turn the music on, start dancing." I can't dance. No matter how hard I try. I can tackle pretty well. I can't dance. He pressed play on a boom box and a techno song came on. "Action." I started dancing, I guess. "More subtle, like you're having fun." I wasn't having fun. I felt naked, beaten. I danced some more, I think. "Okay, that's enough." The 3 men sat back down and looked at some paperwork as I stood there holding the blouses. "Okay, you can go." I hung the blouses back on the wall and made my way down the staircase. As I exited the building, I encountered a stray dog pooping on the grass in front of the casting office. He growled at me as he pooped.