Thursday, March 09, 2006

three in a row, tick-tac-toe!

what a day, sports fans. what a day.

the first one was "buddy: the buddy holly story" at nola studios for 1pm, right next to studio 54 on the west side. i took the n/r from union square because i had a noon appointment with my eyebrowist and got there a little early. this time, the waiting area was filled with asians: they were having callbacks for the king and i and everyone was pacing, running lines, readying sheet music. eventually, a blonde wandered in. no doubt she was being seen for the role of anna.

the monitor was chatty and sweet. at one point, he blurted "congratulations on your audelco nomination for harlem song" -- and i told him, when i saw that i was up against leslie uggams, i knew i wouldn't get it. i absolutely loved her in thunder knockin' at the door. but that's another story...

there were five people ahead of me. just enough to relax and not get worked up until the very last minute. how would i handle this one? when i finally went in, i announced to the room that i didn't know the song they'd sent, that i'd only gotten it the day before and could we please bang it out around the piano. lo and behold, that's exactly what we did: i heard it only once and then sang it back to him, nailing it. one of them, an older gentleman who couldn't stop beaming at me, said "you look beautiful and you sound beautiful" -- i had to give him a hug and a kiss, he was so heartfelt about it. there was sunshine streaming through the windows in such a strangely idyllic way. it was a really lovely moment. we held onto it for a fraction of a second. and then with a "you'll hear from us soon" i was off to the next appointment.

this one was "rockstar" at 3pm. i jumped on the n/r to prince st. and got there a little early. there was something profoundly depressing about the whole ordeal. first of all, it was a downstairs/basement club that left me feeling like i was like stepping into an elegant cave. (hm. maybe that was the idea.) everyone was sitting around, wearing filthy looking clothing and filling out paperwork haphazardly and tuning up their expensive gear. you could smell the desperation. and it didn't smell like victory.

some people were strumming acoustic guitars and singing to themselves. everyone looked a little too happy to be there. a little too eager, a little too "on"-- a little too ready. something about it was straight out of central casting. and yes, i was the only black person there.

they had everyone in a long hallway until they'd signed everything that they had to, and then as a certain number of people left, a certain number would be asked into the other section of the set-up through some glass doors to the back bar, where they had a table and assistants scurrying around and cameras and so on. everyone's belongings moved with them, so the back bar area was a mass of everyone's coats and equipment bags and stuff. someone gave me a big brown envelope with a number on it. i was told to stick my paperwork it there -- the application and the release form, which i'd dutifully downloaded online and filled out at home. sample question: what rock star is most like you and why? i was going to say big mama thornton, but jack sprat was like, don't be obscure or arty -- you'll scare them right out of the box. and i'm thinking, even if it's the truth? evidently so. but whatever.

before i sang a note, i had to hold up that envelope and slate my name and where i'm from and all that rot. as my accompanist, jack had to sign one, too. but he didn't have to tell anyone how old he was. i did -- which infuriated me. when the assistant behind the table saw that i'd written the word "irrelevant" under the year for my date of birth, she insisted on it. when i told her, her face fell off. the point is, dino ("rah-rah-rah-rah-rah!") promised me that it wouldn't be an issue. the bottom line: tell her and be seen or don't tell her and walk out. jack was like, we can walk out now -- whatever you want to do. how cool was he at that moment? but in the end, yeah, i told her. and yeah, i stayed. i wanted to go through the process just so i could look myself in the eye later without wondering about what could have happened.

actually, what i had to sit through was much more revealing than i thought it would be.

i heard more than a dozen people and i saw almost as many do their thing onstage, whether i was peeking through the curtain at the back bar or sitting in the main room trying not to stare. strangely, no one could really sing. lots of pitch problems and sustaining notes problems and breath support problems. one girl went outside right before she was to sing so she could take a drag off of her friend's cigarette, to help her vocals. (!!!???) mostly, they all came out sounding affected and overly-wrought to the point where i felt genuine embarassment, especially when the songs they wrote veered towards more personal subject matter. like the last guy that dumped you or how much you hate yourself. everyone had pricey acoustic guitars. the guys overplayed. the girls could hardly play. and like i said, no negroes -- at least, not while i was there. maybe the other one showed up yesterday.

i sang "taster's choice" and steve miller band's "jet airliner" -- and i know how to sing and i know how to perform, so i'll leave it up to you and your imagination to figure out how i did. if they don't pick me, it won't be because i sucked. it'll be because i'm not 25 anymore -- even if i do look it.

the last audition was for "the nanny diaries" -- all the way west off of hudson st. i had to sit in this little production office with these well-dressed WASPy-looking old women and wait for almost an hour and there was a craft services looking table within eyeshot loaded with yummy things to eat and i was absolutely starving and yes, i was not the only black girl in the room. the other two were working for the company and no, they didn't speak to me.

i went into a tiny room and sat with four people. one operated the camera, one read with me, and the other two were very chatty cathy with me which put me at ease. we carried on a bit. it was like a cocktail party without the cocktails. i remember thinking, gosh these people are awfully nice for film people. but as it turns out, they're not from el-lay, so go figure.

the scene was a page long, only five lines from me. it was over as soon as it started. the next thing i knew, i was on the train home, wondering what happened...

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