Saturday, February 25, 2006

let the prepwork begin!

i'm spending the weekend working on audition material. there's kind of a lot of it. i'm really throwing myself into it with the hopes of digesting most of it down by monday. it's important to me, to get consistently good at auditioning, so if i don't get the job, it won't necessarily be my fault. besides -- what a colossal waste of everyone's time, to go into an audition and not be prepared. and it's tacky, too. it's like, why bother going in at all, if you're not going to learn the material and do your best?

i've got an audition for a martin short play called "fame becomes me" which sounds hilarious. it's broadway bound this fall. they're looking for an understudy for a lead role, any ethnicity. they want someone that's funny and that can improvise -- and God knows, that'll weed 'em out fast. they want me to come into the audition with the sides (which i'm memorizing) and a funny song. my first thought was, i don't know any funny songs but then again, of course i do -- "i'm tired" the song mel brooks wrote from the drop dead funny blazing saddles, as sung by madeline kahn. is that my favorite movie ever or what. and it's the funniest song i know.

wouldn't it be funny if i wore garters and stockings and heels and opened my wrap dress like a robe and dragged a chair around the room like dietrich as i sang it? with a huge angela davis afro on my head, 'cause that's what i'm rockin' these days. nice.

i also have to do impressions. i can't do any famous people. i just can't. who am i, rich little? i'll probably go in there and do my various and sundry family members, which is way, way funnier than it sounds. my father chewing me out long distance about where his grandchildren are that i'm supposed to have given him by now never fails to decimate the crowd.

and then of course there's rockstar: the series. this one is kind of a cakewalk because i already know a slew of rock songs. i just have to pick something that's appropriate and not freak out too much when it's time to get dressed and do something with my hair. they want me to show up with three songs, at least one of which should be a cover. needless to say, i'm leaning towards '70s blues rock that'll really let me sing but that's popular enough to recognize. that bad company song "can't get enough" comes to mind. we'll see. i'm also supposed to download the application from their site and bring it with me when i come in. it asks a lot of pesky questions and yeah, there's legalese to ingest and sign, probably before they'll see me. because isn't that the best way to make sure that i sign everything that i'm supposed to?

i'm going to talk to brad the programmer at Aaron Davis Hall about my one person show on reparations and maybe developing it there. there's an idea that i've been bouncing around with ken roberson about a performance art piece on blues music and a singular migration back down south. and my friend renee is choreographing something interesting that she wants me to be in, so i have to learn a song for that, too. but that's a little further down the pike next month.

so there's a lot of stuff going on. a lot to think about, a lot to organize. my friend is working until tuesday and my roommate went AWOL about a week ago, which has been dreamy, having the place to myself. perfect for walking around the living room in my underwear while i memorize stuff by repeating things like i'm insane and playing songs over and over and over. and yeah, messing with my baby taylor.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

hey, guess what?

believe it or not, i'm auditioning for rockstar: the series. (yeah, i know.) but i didn't go looking for this one, y'all. they called me. read all about it here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

kate's tamale party

i spent most of the day of the gig with the mammals recovering from kate's tamale party in williamsburg on friday night and the late night hang that inevitably ensued elsewhere in the bowels of downtown nyc. this meant drinking a lot of water to hydrate my throat and sleeping well past noon -- a habit i can't seem to break because my life and my art won't let me. thank God i don't drink or do drugs. i never got into it. i'm way too cheap. and vain. not that i think i'm the most beautiful woman in the world -- i just want to take good care of whatever i've got for as long as i can. besides, how much fun can i have if i'm not healthy? a late night hang in my world revolves around long conversations into the night with interesting people while i put my feet up and sip tea. strangely, most bars i frequent know this and are glad to accomodate me.

kate's from houston. her grandma in tejas sent her seven dozen tamales, so she sent out invitations and everyone pretty much came running, including quite a few texans, which is always a surprise. i forget that we are legion here, probably because, although i'm happy to meet another southerner in this neck of the woods, i don't look for it the way i used to. i've circled the wagons together, so to speak. i've got enough ammo and provisions to hold out until spring. but that tamale party was something else. lots of fixings to go with, like sour cream and beans and what not. copious amounts of foreign beer and tequila. and somewhere in there, kate pulls four half-gallon containers of blue bell ice cream out of her freezer -- the best ice cream in the world, and you can only get it in texas. she ordered it online. they shipped it next day air but only if she would order as much as she did, as the minimum. she had ice cream cones and everything. and then there were dueling iPods, wherein folks kept whipping out their playlists and foisting them upon the home stereo speakers. so one minute we'd be listening to iggy pop ripping into "i snub you" and the next it was the hollies "long cool woman" wow. it was like being in south austin at a backyard party -- except we were in billyburg. nice way to crank into the weekend.

if you want to know how the gig went, click here.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

the first day

last night, i made it to the gym a few hours before it closed. i ran into my neighbor chad. he and i have an interesting history. i actually met him when i was waiting tables and his boyfriend paul recognized me from a reality tv show that i did called "the it factor" on bravo. we chatted. they were looking for a place to live. i wished them luck. the end -- or so i thought. a few days later, they're both coming out of my building as i'm coming in. turns out, there's a vacancy down the hall from me -- and they took it! i guess we were meant to be friends.

that was a few years ago. i must admit, it's been fun having them around. they invite me over when they throw dinner parties. i housesit for them occasionally when they're out of town, which is great because they've got a huge apartment and a huge tv with a huge dvd collection. and i can always come over to hang out or whatever. somehow, they always know how many more white people have moved into the building and whether they're gay or not -- and they're the first ones to complain about it. two gay white guys whining about the the gay/white people in the mostly dominican/black west harlem neighborhood. ironic, right? hilarious, definitely. whatever.

chad had just come in to the gym, too. we both commiserated about how out of shape we were and how badly we'd been eating and all the other things you say when you're at the gym and you run into someone you know and you stand around talking when you're supposed to be working out. somewhere in there, a lightbulb goes off over chad's head and he asks me if i'd like to be his workout partner. we discuss it a little. the upshot of it all is, he's got somewhere to be from 9 to 5 so the only way that we can pull it off is if we go at 6:30am. the gym opens at 6am. can we pull it off? i say i'll do it if he will. and he says he will if i will. so we handshake -- and then, incredibly, we leave.

well, miracle of miracles. he called me at 6:20am and five minutes later, i step out into the hall and he's standing there, waiting. and we do it, we really do it: we go to the gym. i actually pushed myself somewhere in there and had a thorough little workout. we left by 7:30am and ran into donette, who was on her way there. what are you doing here, she squawked, you can't get anything done this early!

and she's right. but my commitment to myself is bigger than my inability to wake up before noon. and the end result -- a body that's even stronger and leaner and healthier than it is now -- will be even bigger than that.

we're giving ourselves until the first day of spring to get it together. that's only about five weeks away...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

yes, the answer is no

i didn't get the iPod commercial. doesn't that suck? when my agent called me and told me, i saw a winged sack of money with a dollar bill sign on it flying away into the horizon, just like on the bugs bunny cartoons. but i did have a go-see today for a sunglasses ad campaign. so who freakin' knows?

i totally have to say this: i am really sick of watching tv and seeing someone else doing the plum part in the commercials that i almost got. this iPod thing is going to be really bad because the ad will probably be everywhere.

oh, yeah. happy valentine's day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

instant callback, instant recall

i had an audition today for "the buddy holly story" at nola studios, a few doors down from studio 54. it's going up at the merry go round, upstate. my manager wanted me to do it because he thinks its broadway bound. that makes sense, especially after the elvis musical "all shook up" -- and wow, i think miramax produced that, too. actually, after the success of "chicago" all the movie production companies opened musical theater divisions to develop their movies into musicals. i've got an audition for a california workshop of "sister act" on wednesday morning. "the buddy holly story" is probably one of those feel-good musicals that's filled with songs that absolutely everyone knows, whether they're crazy about buddy holly or not. it'll be a real sing-along hit parade.

they wanted me for an r&b singer character, a la aretha franklin. of course the last thing i wanted to do was go in there and sing any aretha franklin because i figured that's what everyone else was going to do -- and how many times can you stand to hear "respect" in one day, even if it does sound great? (and let's face it, it probably doesn't.)

making my way up the street in the bright sunlight and the snow and the filthy slush, i had a flashback to a buzzcocks show that i saw there for free a million years ago when i first came to the city. i had a friend who worked for a rock concert promoter and she would give me tickets from time to time. it was a fun night and a good strong memory of my early time in the city. free tickets to rock shows?! how could i not be a happy girl with that in my life?

weird, the way the past can creep up on you out of nowhere.

so i went to the 11th floor and crash landed in musical theater hell. there was four or five studios in a section that shared a small hallway lined with what looked like church pews, and of course the overpriced junk food machines and the water cooler, with offices at the other end of the hall and a blackboard, clearly stating who was on first. the spillage was horrendous. nothing but "the young caucasians" as far as the eye could see -- most of whom were early twentysomething and visually tweaked to perfection, with their pumps and their audition outfits and their "books" of sheet music, arranged and notated just so. it was like i'd walked into the whitest place on earth -- seriously. i looked around and took it all in and i thought, i can remember when i wanted this. it sickened me, to imagine myself going to one epa after another and singing my face off, thinking that it mattered because i was talented. what a lie.

it was painful, watching them throw shade: the blondes, a little too friendly and eyeing each other on the sly. the brunettes with their pantene hairdos, just friendly enough. the chubby redhead, sitting alone, looking sideways at all of them. i was the only black girl there. and none of them were looking at me. nothing that i'm not used to. just a funny thing that keeps happening. and sometimes it gets to me.

i had to change my clothes. i had to do my make-up. i wrapped my hair in cloth because i was straightening it and i didn't want the dampness to undo my hard work. just a little black dress and some black pumps. nothing spectacular. i mean, hey -- i want to look nice when i present myself, but i know better than to think that my outfit will get me the job. it takes a little more than that to make it happen -- at least, that's the way it works in theater. film and tv (and video, too) i suppose, is another ordeal. people get put in movies for the way they look all the time. no one seems to care that they can't act. but i digress.

an older actress sat next to me. pretty and slim, with a short clipped jean seberg salt and pepper look, and a long dramatic black dress and jacket. her book was a nice and tidy zip up three ring binder in black leatherette. and her sheet music, like most of the girls there, was in plastic and color coded, and tagged with plastic labels. i looked at her sideways and leaned away from her, murmuring, you're scary. she laughed. i wasn' t kidding. we chatted for awhile. nice lady. somewhere in there, we talked about auditioning and working and i was like, it's not about getting the job -- it's about getting the audition in the first place. i can't audition for a show that doesn't have any parts for me. and she quietly agreed.

and then i went in.

what a warm sunny room, filled with warm sunny people whose names escape me. all i remember is that they totally loved me, for real. it was like a really great first date. i could do no wrong.they sat at the other end of a huge baby grand and a sullen looking pianist managed a friendly face when i plopped my book on the piano and didn't open it. after introductions were made all around, i impulsively asked the pianist to play a 12 bar blues in d. he actually looked a little confused at first. (wow.) i sang "stormy monday" -- why not? all they needed was to hear that i could sing that gritty old school r&b. i sang through it once, they loved what i did and then one of them said, you've got a callback! neat-o. then another one said, were you in "harlem song" and i was like, yeah and he gushed, i loved you soooo much in that show and i thought, why can' t anyone ever recognize me? why do they have to ask if it was me? i was the lead, for cryin' out loud. but hey, what am i saying. it's nice to be loved. (sigh.)

i went back to my things and the lady said, so how'd it go and i was like, i got a callback and she said, wow, that's great. and i went, well, like i said before -- getting the job isn't the problem. getting the audition is. her friend overheard me and congratulated me and i laughed and said, congratulate me when i get the job. i mean, wow. a callback is nice, but it's not going to pay my rent. all i could think as i left was, if i get this, i have to work 20 weeks for a year of health insurance and 2 weeks to get vested for my aea pension plan.

let's see if i get it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

no, i still haven't heard anything.

i'm kind of in the process of forgetting all about my little iPod week. if i was going to get it, they would have called me by now, i guess. especially if they're going to shoot on tuesday. then again, there's a nor'easter in full bloom right now (it's actually snowing sideways, believe it or not) and a lot of airports have shut down. like, most of them along the eastern seaboard. and besides, phil said he'd call me whether i got it or not. so maybe it's still up in the air.

renee is talking to me like it's a done deal. very amusing.

i'm wondering if i'll be able to do the interview/performance for WDVR's Blue Monday tomorrow night. it's in sergeantsville, new jersey -- 90 minutes away in good weather.

Friday, February 10, 2006

iPod callback?!

i got a phone call at the end of the day yesterday from phil, my commercial agent. i got a callback for that iPod commercial! i know. (i know.) it's so hard for me to believe because all my life, just about everyone i've ever met has always worked very hard to make me believe that i can't move. so when i try to dance, i'm really self-conscious unless i forget myself -- and that can only happen if i'm having fun. hanging out with kenny roberson and renee and babygirl and the rosas and all the other dancers i know has been really freeing because they're so inclusive and encouraging. they've always told me that there's nothing wrong with the way i move. i think somewhere in there, i started to believe them. now i've got a callback on an iPod audition that'll have me dancing in silhouette if i actually get it. wow. the dancers were right. and to think -- for the initial audition, i went in there with a pretty little dress on and my hair in a gigantic afro, and i danced around like a spaz.

phil actually thanked me for making him look good.

so i went back in: same time, same hair, same boots, same beat, different dress. it was a silk cowgirl number that's truly psychedelic. very bright, very gram parsons. renee didn't get a callback, so i went in alone. i went in early to change clothes and get it together because it was too cold to show up ready. when i came out, there were several auditions happening at once and so there was this really interesting visual mix in the main holding area where everyone converged. as i touched up my afro, a slim handsome asian man in a business suit struck up a conversation with me while he played with a deck of cards. he looked conservative but he really wasn't. quite the charmer, in fact. he was there for an callback for a new chewing gum. he wasn't supposed to tell me the name of the gum, so he told me anyway. and then we both laughed. i wasn't supposed to tell him the name of the band that was in the iPod commercial but by then i hadn't looked over the nondisclosure agreement closely enough to figure out who it was and why i wasn't supposed to blab. i couldn't audition until i signed that contract, though. oh, well. we wished each other luck and waved to each other slowly as he drifted back to his section, and i got back to my paperwork which really wasn't that complicated: if you want to be seen, you have to sign. period.

there was more information on the print-out this time, and it was hand-written:

Director's note for callbacks: we want energy. It needs to look untrained. Be creative. We want an ever-changing range of ideas and shapes.

immediately i thought, wow. maybe i could actually get this.

according to the girl at the front desk (who loved my hair), they called back about 30 people or so and they certainly need more than one. i saw griffin at the audition and the callback (we did a workshop of stew's travelogues together at the public) and he was like, "whoa -- you said you were going to get this when you came out of that valtrex commercial, remember? you said why am i auditioning for that when i should be seen for this? and now here you are! girl, you're gonna get this..." griffin was there for two callbacks, God bless him -- iPod and The Gum That Can't Be Named. he totally looked like a hippy. he had long dreads down to his elbows and he had let them down with a part in the middle and a band around his head. that was enough right there, as far as i was concerned, to get him the part.

this time, there was a choreographer in the room who emphasized the information on the print-out, which was a little off-putting because he really didn't say anything new or give any real direction. he was perched on a couch near the camera with his legs crossed, looking interested. the blonde was in better spirits and was really nice to me, which was a little off-putting as well. whatever. i said i'd do more of what i did in the first place and then i did it and then it was over. i turned to the camera to slate at the end and realized some snaps came loose and my totally-real-not-fake breasts were exposed. not falling out, mind you -- my lingerie is way too good for that kind of catastrophe -- more like popping out. i was genuinely embarassed. as i left, the choreographer goes, very nice. and i'm thinking is he talking about my cleavage or my movements? or both?

i called phil to let him know how i did. and he reminded me that if i got the commercial, i'd have to go to el-lay from 2/14 to 2/18 -- and i've got two gigs that fall on those dates! everyone will just have to understand when i cancel. i can't say no to a national commercial...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

iPod audition

the description of what they wanted was right next to the sign-in sheet. i took it when i was in for the valtrex commercial the day before, so i could look it over and ingest it. here's the gist of it:

We want people who look like 70's Hipsters, Neo-Hippies, who dance 70's style -- not polished -- lots of energy!!! Listen to the music, feel the music. These are cool kids with their own style and are great movers.

We're doing one minute or so of 70's dance. There will be a bongo drum in the studio, but only do something with it if it feels natural. Otherwise, it's a prop or something to ignore.


If we start seeing Pirouettes, Broadway or Hip-Hop, we will start throwing sharp objects at you. To be direct, no Ballet, Broadway or Hip-Hop.

It's 70's 70's 70's.

of course i thought about renee and asked her to come to the audition with me. i told her to call dana who agreed to come in, too. i figured i could sneak them in before or after me and they could just put my agent's name on their photos, no problem. but then my agent called back and said that if i knew of anyone else, i could bring them in. i gave them their names and they gave me their appointment times.

all of it came together so beautifully, it was a little weird.

i had no idea what to wear but i knew that my hair had to be in a gigantic afro. the bigger, the better -- and that was going to take a lot of work. i had a psychedelic looking dress but no boots. and then -- no lie -- the doorbell rang and my favorite ups guy presented me with a box -- boots that i'd ordered weeks before and forgotten about that matched the outfit perfectly. how creepy is that? i did a natural matte finish on my face with a red mouth and set out to meet renee at columbus circle but we didn't connect until we got to the audition. it was packed again and everyone was the same as they were before. even renee was like, why all the shade? it was fun, though.

before renee got there, i walked around the corner to the bathroom and almost walked into this tall dark lanky good-looking gay white broadway chorus boy doing pirouettes in front of a big mirror. i gasped and then i made him stop. "i didn't see the write up," he said after i explained his huge wrong turn -- grateful but somewhat defensive. "aren't you glad i did?" i replied. and we laughed.

it was the end of the day. the blonde that took me into the room had pretty much had it. as soon as it started, it was over. i don't even know what i did, but i'm pretty sure i looked like a spaz. but i had fun, so i'm sure i did well. i always dance great when i'm having fun.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

from Valtrex to iPod

i got called in by phil my commercial agent to do an audition for valtrex. you know -- the herpes medication. everyone's seen those commercials: young, attractive people relaxing in the sun and chatting in this intimate confidential tone about what they didn't know about their STD. i'm thinking, whatever. it's a national commercial. getting one would be like winning the lotto. i'm not imagining what i'd do with the money anymore. i'm just trying to get good at auditioning on-camera.

that goodness starts with how i look. i stood in the bright shining daylight of my bedroom window like a soldier and put on enough make-up to make it look like i didn't have on any make-up (which is a special skill, especially for someone that's as heavy-handed as i am -- thanks to all the theater i've done over the years) and then i skipped down to 10th Ave. when i got there, the place was packed with young urban hipsters. by that, i mean those attractive, trendy, mostly twenty-something city dwellers that always look slightly distracted as a rule yet somehow never fail to throw shade. i'm thinking, whatever. this hasn't even started and it's over because you ain't got what i got and i don't want what you have. it's so wrong to be done with the room when you walk in. wrong. but necessary.

the valtrex commercial was a breeze. i came out in no time and whaddya know? the hoarde was still there, milling about and struggling to not look at me. what in the world are they auditioning for? i thought. brylcreem? as it turns out, it was all about iPod. i was running late to meet simone and her little girl in midtown, so i called my agent to make me an appointment for the next day. why not? i'm as hip as anyone in that room. and i'm not just telling myself that so i can get hyped up to do the audition. i really am.