Naked Lunch

Following the clothes-changing debacle, I thought I’d never hear from Marcus again. Instead, I got a text message the next week.

“New script. Call me.”

He must be paying by the letter.

The inevitable message-decoding attempts ensued. Does he just want to share some good news about a project? Does he need actors for a read-through (unpaid, no doubt)? Or could it be that there’s a part for me? More likely he had sent the text to the wrong person. But I had to call him; besides, this could be a chance to overcome the Swiss Miss setback.

We agreed to meet for lunch at The Couch on Dean Street. I hoped it wasn’t a prelude to a casting couch. We caught up on the gossip from the Cannes crowd. Cannes is like summer camp for the film set – only with more money and booze. Marcus said he was almost done editing his documentary. I told him Cheri couldn’t come out in daylight for a few more weeks. It was two drinks before he explained his text.

“We want to make a movie about the Kennedy’s and we need a Marilyn. You’d be perfect.”

Wow, I couldn’t believe it. All of those crappy auditions I’d been on and here, quite possibly, was my big break on a platter. Unless – oh my God – what if I sucked at playing Marilyn? She’s a legend and I’m the girl who couldn’t even get a KFC ad. My mind was racing, but I pushed my doubts aside.

“Sounds fabulous. I’d love to do it.”

“There’s only one thing – “

The catch.

“Lots of nudity. Gratuitous nudity – let’s not pretend to be artsy. That’s not a problem, is it?”

“Umm, well…”

“It would all be shot very respectfully.”

“Uhhh…” I downed the rest of my Bacardi. “Well, you did see that I have some trouble taking off my clothes,” I tried to joke.

Marcus chuckled. “Not a problem. We’d start the shots with you already naked.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said, when what I really meant was I’ll think about how many hours I’d need to spend at the gym and how many expensive lotions and creams I’d need to remedy, improve or at least cover up even my slightest imperfections.

“Good,” he said, and then ordered another round.

“Make mine a double,” I said. Body double, I prayed.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Sometimes the need for glamour at one’s destination exceeds the needs for dignity on the journey there. It’s the Machiavellian principle applied to glamour: the trends justify the means.

I have, on occasion, been known to put my make up on while on the tube (not known exactly, as I wouldn’t do this in the company of anyone I know). Although I have gotten my daily make-up routine down to 4 ½ minutes, sometimes I just cannot get out of bed that one-half of a snooze alarm earlier.

It was much easier – or less of a public spectacle at least – when I used to drive to work. The main reason I refuse to learn how to drive stick is because one hand must be on the wheel, while the other must be free for mobile phone calls, eating breakfast, changing the radio station and, most importantly, make-up application. I once woke up so dreadfully late that I drove to work with a few rollers in the back of my hair. A head scarf only partly concealed this ridiculous vision. Large, dark sunglasses were required to complete the look and avoid recognition at stoplights or in traffic. Do not try this at home.

The other day I had to rush from my temp job to an audition and back again, all over my lunch hour. The only way to do it within a reasonable amount of time was to hop in a taxi and change clothes en route. I needed to go from business casual to Swiss Miss between London Bridge and Baker Street. I expertly did my hair in braids before wriggling a skirt on over my trousers. The trickier bit was doing the shirt change while trying to retain some level of modesty. I’ve done this before: it involves careful timing, skillful gesticulations and some ducking out of view.

Unfortunately, during this delicate process, the taxi driver jerked to a stop to avoid hitting a cyclist. My nimble maneuvering was thrown out of whack and I popped up from the back seat arm in neck hole and head trapped mid shirt – not my most graceful moment. I scrambled around to get the shirt right-side-up and my arms in their respective armholes. I quickly composed myself and looked around, as guilty parties often do, to see if I had been caught.

I had.

In the car next to me Marcus, the director from Cannes, was looking right at me and chuckling. By the next stoplight, I had a text message “Nice one, Lucy.” At least he didn’t have a camera phone.

Soul Food

Walking into the waiting room for an audition is often like walking into some strange hall of mirrors. The Casting Director has a brief to fill and, until you are a known actor, you fit the brief based on height/weight/ hair color/looks. So you walk into a room and see 15 versions of yourself. It can be surreal.

I got an audition for a KFC commercial. Not exactly the product I’d like to be known for hawking, but I heard a rumor that the job paid £10k, so I went for it. (Besides, it’s really hard to say “no” to your agent.)

The audition was held in some dance studio near Bond Street. I hoped there would be no dancing, partly because I’m not a dancer and partly because I wasn’t wearing the right bra for it.

The waiting room was more of a holding pen. I got a glass of water and found a seat. I could hear several people singing in the next room. I asked the woman next to me about it.

“This is a group audition, they’re having everyone sing.”

That’s when I realized I hadn’t walked into the usual blond assemblage. I was sitting in between Aretha Franklin and her twin sister.

“What kind of singing?”

“R&B – didn’t your agent tell you?”

No, not really. True, I had singing on my resume, but not R&B. I mean, I can comedy sing, or sing karaoke (sometimes the same thing). Maybe I could fake my way through a chorus, but R&B? I scanned the room for an escape route, but then I realized if I ditched the audition, my agent might ditch me.

About 30 of us were ushered into a room complete with mirrors, ballet bars, a sound technician, a cameraman, a keyboardist and Terrance, the Casting Director. The keyboardist played a few notes we’d all have to sing as a group. No words, just “Mmm, mmm, mmm” – apparently a commentary on the tasty chicken. Then we got in a semi circle to sing one by one. Terrance told the girl at one end to “start on C and then scat”.

“What does ‘scat’ mean,” the hapless girl asked. I was glad she was the one to ask because I was clueless as well.

As the scatting inched its way around the circle, I could sense my impending embarrassment. I futilely tried to practice in my head until – all too soon – it was my turn. “Mmm, mmm, mmm.” I hit the notes well enough, but then I began my disastrous scat. Terrance mercifully cut me off quickly.

Thankfully I was not the worst one there as I had feared. Really, I like to set my sites higher than “not being worst”.

When the last woman finished, he had us stand in a line then pointed to about five women and asked them to step forward A Chorus Line style. The rest of us were unceremoniously dismissed.

The following month, I caught a glimpse of the ad on TV. It was three customer service reps trying to sing about how good their food was with their mouths full – hence the “Mmm, mmm, mmm”. I didn’t hear any scatting.

Later I found out that the Advertising Standards Association had received a record number of complaints about the ad. Although nudity on TV is acceptable (after 9 p.m. of course), apparently talking with your mouth full is not. The British simply cannot abide bad manners.

To Die For

Being glamorous is easy when you have a personal assistant, a chef, a stylist, a hair and make-up team and time to work out two hours a day. Unfortunately, I have none of the above. It has been an indulgence, however, to go to a top London hair salon every six to eight weeks for highlights, a cut and blow dry.

When I told Cheri how much it was costing me, she immediately whisked me to the nearest Superdrug, picked out a Garnier Nutrisse box and told me she would do my hair for free – or almost free. I would have to do her color as well; we’d make a DVD night of it.

I don’t know why I said yes...maybe it was the name of the color she picked – “Champagne Fizz #82”. I’ve never been one to turn down champagne. Or maybe it was the chance to redeem myself.

About a year before, Cheri had me do her home hair highlights with a new paint-on dye kit. It sounded easy enough and, after all, I had done an oil painting course in college. When she washed out the hair dye, I realized my creation was less Titian and more Salvador Dali. It looked like she had a blonde bowl cut on top of an auburn bob. Cheri shrugged off the results: “I’ll just fix it next time”. I can’t say my reaction would have been as subdued, but I tried to be encouraging: “it doesn’t look that bad,” I lied. Thank God it was winter so she could wear a hat.

So there we were a year later, watching Six Feet Under re-runs, drinking Bellinis and taking turns mixing solutions while wearing thin rubber gloves. I did Cheri’s hair first. I was relieved there were no paint-on highlights this time. Then Cheri did mine. “Do you think I should have done a test first? I do have sensitive skin,” I asked. “Don’t worry,” she urged me, “that’s just legalese so you can’t sue them. I never do a patch test.”

She coated my head in a mass of gooey dye and set a timer. About five minutes later, my scalp started to burn. I decided I would not abandon ship. People have endured worse in the name of beauty. But I did clench my fists so hard I almost gave myself an instant case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Cheri’s time was up so she washed out her solution. When she returned from the bathroom I was relieved to see a lovely chestnut color. I had redeemed myself.

Then my egg timer rang. I washed out the color and looked in the mirror. It took a full minute to register, and then I yelled “It’s ORRRANGE!” I ran into the living room. Cheri’s first words were “DON’T cry!” (I cried over one bad haircut and have not lived it down.) She tried to calm me “use the conditioning rinse”. I leaned over the tub and let the water rinse through my pumpkin-colored locks until all the blood rushed to my head. All I could think was that Cheri had finally gotten revenge for the blonde yarmulke.

A few washes and a blow dry later, my hair was really more of an orangish hue. It wouldn’t be too bad as long as I stayed out of direct sunlight for six to eight weeks. Luckily, that would not be a problem in London.

One Hour Photo

Now that I have an agent, I only have two more of my stated goals to achieve: get paid acting work and become Fabulously Successful.

Getting an agent can be a key to the former, if not the latter. But first I had to tell her what I was and wasn’t interested in doing. Theatre – yes; theatre in education – no. Feature films – yes; student films – no. Indies – yes; undies – no.

Towards the objective of getting paid acting work, I have gone on a few auditions. The first was really just a photo shoot. I told Cheri about the audition.

“It’s for Fitnesse, you know, the cereal.”

“Oh wow, you got an audition for a serial!”

“No, not a serial. A cereal. You know, breakfast – the most important meal of the day?”

“Right. Yeah, that’s great. Uhh, breakfast is important.”

I don’t know why I was even sent on the audition. I’m not a model. No matter how much America’s Next Top Model I watch, I still can’t seem to get the poses right. (Note to self: must learn to use self timer on digital camera.)

As it turned out, they wanted “real-looking” people, not models, so they put the call out to actors. At the audition, I had to fill in the standard form: shirt size, dress size, trouser size, shoe size, height, weight, age. It all feels a bit demeaning. Once they have me on film, why do they need all those other things? If they are going to do the casting based on size, then why not just ask my agent to fax the details and save me the trek to Kentish Town?

I see the photographer’s assistant hand the next girl in line a form to sign. She took a dubious glance at the questions.

“It’s for wardrobe,” the assistant clarified.

I pretended not to notice or care, as if I’d filled out similar forms a hundred times before.

When I got called into the studio, I was expecting to walk onto the set of a full photo shoot. It was just one woman, one camera, no special lighting.

“What’s your age?”

I lied.

“Okay, face the front.”

I tried what I hoped would be a flattering pose.

“No, just keep your head straight and face the camera straight on.”

I did.

“Now turn sideways.”

“Like a mug shot?”

“Ha ha, yeah, sort of. Okay, that’ll be all.”

Afterwards I called my agent: photo shoots – no.


Although short of being controversial, “The Method” is still a much-discussed and debated technique (and not only on Inside the Actors Studio.) To boil down The Method technique, the actor calls upon his/her own past emotional experiences to create the character’s emotions. So when your character’s child gets run over by a train, you think about when you had to put your dog to sleep. Does The Method mean that actors with dramatic and turmoil-filled pasts have an advantage over actors who’ve had a happy and uneventful existence?

I’ve noticed that some great actors, while not renouncing The Method, have stated that they don’t draw upon personal experiences – they try to be “there” with their character and feel what the character is feeling, not what they’d be feeling in a similar situation. This got me thinking: yes, you can use The Method to become a good actor, a competent actor, even an entirely believable actor. But great actors have something else – probably something on a different plane. It’s about letting go of who you are; not holding onto it.

The follow-up e-mails I sent after the showcase seemingly paid off. I got an audition for an agent. When I got the invitation I was so excited; I jumped up and down, then quickly thought it must be a scam. However, I called Equity and the agent was legit, so I prepared a monologue.

On the audition day, I sat in a waiting room (really just an area sectioned off by a black curtain) with a few other tall blondes. Agents need to fill their books with all types, and not too many of any particular type, so it looked like we were all competing for the same opening.

I heard some yelling from behind the curtain – part of someone’s scene, I hoped. When the yelling stopped, an assistant opened the curtain and announced it was my turn. As I walked in, I immediately regretted wearing the spike-heeled boots. I was teetering all over the place. No balance… and I hadn’t even started the monologue yet.

I delivered part of a scene from a new play called Married Men. My character was talking about how she never sees her workaholic husband. Nikolai, the Easter European director listened intently. Then he said “Very good. Now, what do you think she was feeling inside? Is she angry?” I remembered the yelling, and didn’t want to do a repeat performance of the last victim. “I think she’s really sad, actually.” Nikolai told me to think about someone that had made me sad. “Now, let’s hear what you would say to them.” After improvising a scene, I was instructed to do the monologue again, “in your own time…”

I thought about being there; being the character and not me; being on a higher plane… and then, I thought about putting my dog down. I gave the monologue, and I cried.

So maybe I’m not great, but I can be good, which – was luck would have it – was good enough to get an agent.

L.A. Story



Lucy McGinn’s meteoric rise from “quirky neighbor” to A-list celebrity was a Cinderella affair. This is her story. This is the E! True Hollywood Story.



Lucy grew up in a small Midwestern town where she caught the acting bug at an early age. Along with her childhood friend Betty, she used her tape recorder to make her own radio dramas. In high school, she starred in plays like Snow White...



And The Wizard of Oz.




Oh she just had that spark. She really made a great lion.



Mrs. Tomak recognized talent in Lucy’s high school performances and recommended that she start taking classes at the local drama school. Lucy tried her hand at the local theatre scene, but it wasn’t until she moved to London that she got her big break.





It was in London that Lucy began making a serious career out of acting.



I always knew I wanted to be an actor and London just felt like the right place to be.


After a stint at the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, starring as “Viola” in Twelfth Night, Lucy was able to land an agent and quickly got sent on auditions around London. A string of rejections nearly led Lucy to give up, until she received a call from an old acting classmate. There was a role available in a Soho Theatre production that was perfect for her, and they needed an understudy. Lucy jumped at the chance and, like every other understudy, hoped the lead would get strep throat. Instead, a tube strike left the lead unable to make curtains up and Lucy took center stage. Not only did she steal the show, she impressed one very important audience member.




When Lucy filled in for the lead at the last minute, she had no idea that Harvey Weinstein was in the audience. Weinstein contacted Lucy’s agent the next day. There was a Miramax film being shot in London the following month and Lucy was asked to do a screen test for the small but memorable role of “quirky neighbor”. The movie, Victoria Station, went on to gross more than 50 million domestically, and it wasn’t costar Joaquin Phoenix that had Hollywood buzzing. It was Lucy McGinn.



Lucy was great to work with. We had a lot of fun. Why has it taken Hollywood so long to discover her?



Victoria Station led to a string of other commercial and critical successes including: Business Class, I.T. Girl and Killing Thyme. But there were bumps in the road ahead...




After three top-grossing films, it seemed Lucy had no where to go but --





Lucy bounced back with her comeback film Stopwatch which she co-produced with Drew Barrymore’s production company Flower Films.



When Lucy came to me with that script, I knew it was going to be a hit. It's such a powerful film and it really, really touched me, you know?



Lucy’s comeback was awarded with a Golden Globe and an Oscar, and she hasn’t looked back. After a late start, and a lot of hard work, Lucy McGinn became an “overnight success”. A string of hits, an Oscar and her own successful production company. Lucy’s story is an E! True Hollywood Story. The only question is “what will she do next?"

*Deleted to avoid bad luck.

Gone in Sixty Seconds

There are so many reasons not to date actors: they’re flakes, they don’t have steady jobs, they’re short. But when the only people you meet are actors, sometimes it’s unavoidable. I knew Rich was a rising star when I first met him. Objectively, he was attractive enough. He had black hair, green eyes and a killer smile. He did that grungy “I don’t care”/hair slightly greasy look to T.

But the thing about Rich was he had that spark. It’s not something you can really define, but everyone knows it when they see it – Star Quality. Star Quality on its own can take an actor pretty far, but when you combine it with actual talent, it’s an unstoppable combination. True talent is one of those qualities that can more than make up for deficiencies in other areas. It’s why guys like Lyle Lovett can nab girls like Julie Roberts (even if only briefly).

I met Rich in acting class. He was the one with whom everyone wanted to do scenes, discuss notes and be friends. It was a Tuesday class and not a lot of people went out afterwards, so we went for a coffee: him a latté, me a cappuccino. We starting hanging out, rehearsing scenes, watching DVDs and daydreaming together. I knew I wasn’t falling in love – I was mesmerized.

Then it happened. Someone else decided to tap into his Star Quality. Not another woman, a producer/director. He was going to star in an independent film by the latest Sundance sensation. It was to be filmed in France. He’d be gone for several months, but he wasn’t leaving for another three. He decided there was no point in us continuing to date. I guess I agreed.

I looked into his green eyes and the spark was gone. In its place was fear. Fear of success? Fear of blowing his big chance? I didn’t know. It was as if his urban cool was dissolving in front of me. I gave him a goodbye kiss and confirmed: the spark was gone.

The Crying Game

The completion of a major project is inevitably followed by a period of “now what”. The Fringe wasn’t exactly the big break I need but at least it’s a good résumé builder. The end of the Fringe was a big party. The whole thing is supposed to be actually – if you’re not developing a slight hunch from 30 pounds of flyers strapped to your back. At least I made some good contacts. But it’s too soon to touch base – everyone needs some time to come down off the Fringe high, even critics/producers.

I’m not ready to take on another big production, mainly because I need a day job to pay for luxury items such as rent. Acting is one of those professions in which the supply (of actors) far exceeds the demand. There’s always someone willing to do it for free, so if you want experience, you have to work for free, too. I realized that, barring immediate paid acting work, I needed to get a job. So I pondered ideas for a day job that would still allow me to audition as needed:
• Bartender – too smoky
• Waitress – too cliché
• Receptionist – too much talking, could damage vocal chords
• Retail – too tempting to blow meagre wages with in-store discount

I settled on temp work and signed with a reputable agency in Richmond last week. On the tube ride home, I decided to shake off the post-Fringe slump. What I needed was written goals:
1) Get an agent
2) Get paid acting work
3) Become Fabulously Successful

It’s good to have goals.

I walked home from the tube station feeling more optimistic when a desperate-looking girl approached me. “I lost my wallet and I need to get to Clapham.” In her frantic babbling, she had an explanation for everything: the pickpocket also got her mobile phone and she didn’t know anyone’s number by heart; she’d tried calling the bank from a payphone but couldn’t get through; etc., etc. I felt bad and gave her two quid. After all, I’ve lost my wallet before and it’s a nightmare. Helping her made me feel better about my situation. In five minutes I’d be on the couch watching E! News Live and heating up some pasta – how bad could things be? That poor girl had to take two buses across town and hope someone was home to let her into her flat. I glanced back to see if she caught the bus. Instead she had dashed across the street and I could see her gesticulating to a young couple – obviously telling the same sob story. She even cried real tears! At least someone is getting paid acting work.


10 a.m.
After several hours of flyering yesterday with 30 pounds of flyers in my backpack (not an exaggeration), we only had a dozen people in the audience. I’m feeling pretty beat up but I have to get back out there and pass them out again today.

11:30 a.m.
Did I mention I'm covered in mosquito bites? I don't even know how I could possibly get so many on my butt – I’ve been wearing jeans every day. Did they bite through them or did they somehow get into them? Ewww!

2 p.m.
It’s raining and I’m covered in mosquito bites and a streaky fake tan. There is no glamour here. Maybe that’s a good thing. The Royal Mile is d-e-a-d.

6:40 p.m.
I found out that The Scotsman is coming to review the show. Great – no time to recruit friends into the audience; it would take them too long to get here.

9:30 p.m.
I was feeling confident by the time it was curtains up and we had a good crowd. The beginning of the show went fine. There were some technical difficulties (bad sound cues, etc.) and then halfway through the show, we lost the crowd. I don't know what happened and worse, people said I looked nervous. I think it's because I talk fast and use my hands.

11 p.m.
I’m feeling quite despondent and have suddenly realized why so many performers use drugs… anything to get your mind of an impending bad review. I’m just going to bed instead.

2 a.m.
Can’t sleep. I hope we don’t get listed as a “Fringe Turkey”, a one-star show that has its own section of The Scotsman’s web site. Although I’m sure over the years plenty of great performers have been Turkeys, but it’s a small comfort.

8 a.m.
I bought The Scotsman. No review. Maybe they won’t print it at all.

10 a.m.
There are two flyerers for every person out this morning.

There are more people out now. The Friday crowd is kicking in. I ran into some friends from London on the Mile. We agreed to see each other’s shows, only to realize they are on at the same time.

1 p.m.
I wandered into Plaisir du Chocolat for obvious reasons. I thought I’d get some lunch, but they only have dessert so I had a piece of chocolate mousse cake. Things could be worse. I really want a cheese sandwich though.

2 p.m.
I need a cheese sandwich like now. My back is killing me. Is it irresponsible to get a back massage when your show is losing money?

3 p.m.
I really must get online and check The Scotsman for an online review.

6 p.m.
I got my cheese sandwich, which also had unwanted green onions and mayo, but let’s be realistic – this is the U.K. so there’s going to be mayo. I’m sitting in the theatre’s bar because there is nowhere else to sit. I rarely drink before shows but today red wine is needed for my aching back. It’s cheaper than a back massage.

6:30 p.m.
Bobby came rushing into our tiny greenroom which is not only the size of a supply cabinet, I think it actually was at one point a supply cabinet. He had a printout of our review. They said the performances were “adequate”. It could be worse.

7 p.m.
I can’t believe it – it hasn’t rained all day.

9:15 p.m.
We pulled it together and had a great show after last night’s disaster. Things are looking up.

10 p.m.
It’s raining.

Dirty Pretty Things

There are 1700 shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and five of them are productions of Twelfth Night: one youth performance troupe (£7), one traditional performance (£9.50), us (£9) and not one but two musical adaptations (£10 and £12). With start times ranging from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., you could literally watch Twelfth Night all day long.

Bobby has ordered even more flyers and we’re all on flyering detail. I am perfecting the art of flyering. There are hundreds of people on the Royal Mile passing out flyers, some in Fruit of the Looms and chicken feathers, some doing belly dances and others offering “free hugs” for anyone who comes to their show. To have any chance among this hullabaloo, you must follow the five simple rules of flyering:

1. Know your audience. Drunken city-boy types are not coming to see your show, even if you put your number on the flyer. (N.B.: they may skip the show and turn up at the bar afterwards, which really is a bit rude, don’t you think?)

2. Make eye contact, but don’t be creepy about it.

3. Smile. When someone takes your flyer say “thank you” – you have a better chance of sealing the deal.

4. Crucially, you must know where to aim the flyer. Don’t block anyone’s path, this will irritate them. Don’t hold the flyer too low – it makes you look embarrassed about your show. Don’t hold it too high – no one is going to go through any effort to grab your flyer. You must hold the flyer waist high (their waist, not your waist). Your target can grab it and continue their forward motion unimpeded. Then hopefully they’ll read it as they walk, ignoring all other flyerers along the way. Or they might toss it on the ground the second they pass you by – best not to turn around and look. It can get depressing.

5. Finally, you need to catch people’s interest. Hollering “opening night” doesn’t work because everyone opens the same night (or thereabouts). Talking about your reviews is useless. If you’ve just opened your won’t have any to begin with, and Fringe audiences know that any review can be gold mined for marketing-friendly words like “brilliant” even if in context the reviewer said “a brilliant example of why the Fringe gets a bad name.” The only thing that works is “two for one!” and although Bobby doesn’t like it, I want to fill seats any way I can because I hate the idea of there being more people on stage than there are in the audience.

It’s my fourth straight day of flyering, my back is aching from carrying 20 pounds of flyers in my backpack and I’m starting to lose my voice from saying “two for one” thirty times per minute. To top it off, it’s raining. It has rained every day – at least a little bit – to remind us all that even though Edinburgh is a beautiful, friendly, fun city, there is a reason why we don’t live here (besides haggis).

Carrying an umbrella while flyering is an impossibility, so I don my red windbreaker and put up the hood. With the rain soaking the bottom three inches of my trousers, my glamour has reached new heights. A man walks past from behind me and unknowingly bonks me on the head with his umbrella. I just laugh and smile as you do. Two seconds later, a guy who had just walked by came back and said “I changed my mind” then took a flyer. The elderly woman he was with looked down at my picture on the flyer and said “oh she’s pretty”. “That’s me!” was my surprised reply. She looked down at the flyer and up at me, took a bewildered pause and said “oh”. The two turned to walk away. “Thank you” I yelled after them, followed by a meek “two for one”.

The Closer

Getting ready for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been a whirlwind. Somehow, when I met up with Bobby at Patisserie Valerie two weeks ago, I accepted the part, agreed to help promote the show and signed a contract all before our cappuccinos arrived. He must have worked in sales – he knows his stuff: Always Be Closing.

The production is a modern interpretation of Twelfth Night; I’m playing Viola. I guess I was the only one who auditioned who was tall enough to pass as the twin of Ben, the actor playing Sebastian.

In preparation for the show, I had to muscle my way in to Toni & Guy for a last-minute haircut by using phrases such as “photo shoot” and “international tour”. So I exaggerated a bit. It was urgent. Rehearsals have been going fine but I must admit, I think we spent more time arranging our cast photo than blocking the scenes. I suppose there will be 15 thousand flyers printed, so we want to get it right.

We took part in a Fringe Fest Preview show last night – 10 minutes of stage time preceded by at least an hour of chaos while the producer/actress who organized the event waited for one person to arrive. (Press?) The “person” never showed and a few audience members started leaving, fed up with the endless waiting. The actors had similar feelings and we just stared at each other with that “what are we doing here” look on our faces.

When we finally performed, our 10 minutes of hard work was rewarded with exactly one free beer each. It’s good to get paid for a hard day’s work.

The preview performance helped iron out some of the kinks – well for one scene anyway. I still had to memorize the dialogue from the other two hours of the production.

Bobby seemed to recognize the panic starting to creep in as I made this realization. He swooped across the room to extract me from the self-obsessed producer/actress’s conversational stranglehold, proclaiming he had to give me some acting notes. When we got outside, all he said was “just go home and learn the rest of your lines.” Always Be Closing.

Working Girl

Looking for work in this industry is more difficult than most, and not just because there are more actors than jobs. A lot of it is who you know, and if you don’t know anyone, chances are you don’t get much work.

In most industries, a company can get sued for discriminating against you based on gender, race, age or simply based on your looks. In acting you can only get jobs if you are the right gender, race, age and look. Talent is secondary, unless you are already a name in which case the make up department will happily make you a prosthetic nose (Nicole Kidman) or let you wear colored contacts (Cameron Diaz) to suit the role. The rest of us are stuck with our God-given mugs and we must apply for jobs accordingly.

I perused through a weekly industry publication which lists upcoming auditions. The front page is filled with great roles in exciting upcoming motion pictures, shooting in locations like Montréal, Madrid and Romania. But the fine print requests “please hold contact until a full casting breakdown is issued”. The only problem is, a full casting breakdown is never issued, at least not anywhere that I have access to.

There are however plenty of opportunities to work for free, especially if you are:
- Greek-Cypriot/Lebanese children
- A Latin/Mediterranean/South American looking female, late 20s – early 30s, sensual and sad
- A model/dancer with good acting talent with a maximum height of 5’7” (unless they mean Kate Moss, there are no models under 5’7”)
- Have a Geordie accent
- Look like Elvis

I received an e-mail about another casting. It is for a photo shoot with some possible TV work hawking a skin care product:

“Careful and specific applications for: Caucasian actress. She should be elegant, confident and well grounded. Perceived age of 45 years old; however, we are looking to cast younger women who look older than their age as their skin will be better (there will be several close ups). Please note ages on suggestions. Skin tone on the face must be smooth. The actress must be extremely attractive with fantastic skin. No dialogue.”

Now, I think I have good skin and, sure, I can play elegant, confident and grounded. But I’m not applying for the role out of principal. Besides, I don’t want to limit my dating chances down the road if some guy sees the ad and thinks I’m 45.

I wonder how hard it is to do a Geordie accent.

Fifty First Dates

I have a no-fail first-date skirt. It’s a red pencil skirt that I bought a few years ago at a surf shop. I love surf shops, and not just because being there means I’m on a sunny beach vacation. They just make me think of my alternate universe, the one in which I own a glam beauty shop by the beach instead of trudging to auditions in a smog-filled city.

When I wear the red skirt on a first date, I always get a second date (even if it’s one I don’t want). It’s not outrageously flattering – it fits me the same as any other skirt – and it’s knee length, so we’re not talking micro mini here. I even get whistles when I walk down the street. Maybe it’s a Pavlovian/running with the bulls thing.

So since I usually think of first dates as an audition (for him, not for me), why not think of auditions as first dates? I wore the skirt to an audition for a profit share show that’s going up to Edinburgh next month. The lead actress got a job as an understudy in the West End, and they needed a last-minute replacement.

I thought the audition went well. Afterwards, the director asked me a few questions, complimented me on my teeth, and said he’d call the next day.

Two days later while still waiting for his call, I wondered: “Did I rely too much on the red skirt and not enough on talent? Or maybe he lost my number? Or maybe he tried calling, but couldn’t get through. Or maybe he left a message, but misdialed and left it on someone else’s voice mail? Why, why, why hasn’t he called?”

I considered e-mailing him just to follow up, but what if he doesn’t check e-mail very often? Instead I thought I’d send him a text message. How much trouble could I get into in 150 characters or less? I entered the carefully thought out message: “Hi Bobby. I had a good time at the audition. Hope to hear from you soon – Lucy”. Straight to the point – not too needy.

I stopped myself just before hitting send. Who was I kidding? It would make me sound desperate. I popped in my Shakespeare in Love DVD to take my mind off the audition. I bet Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t have to wear a red skirt to get that part.

The next day I got back from the gym to find Bobby had left a message. Apparently he knows the three-day rule.

I love that skirt.

Pretty in Pink

Across from me on the bus this morning sat an attractive girl, probably mid-twenties, brown hair, big brown eyes: the picture of summer in head-to-toe pink.

Now as an actor, you’re meant to be an observer of people and what with her directly across from me, and having no reading material, I had no choice but to observe. I noticed her pointy-toed pink shoes, her sparkling earrings, the striped pattern of her skirt and oh – a diamond solitaire engagement ring on her French-manicured hand. Brides-to-be are the only ones who I ever see with a French manicure, and it is July – she must be getting married really soon.

This theory was bolstered when she was rummaging around in her bag. She just held the other hand out, fingers slightly spread, as you would when your nails are drying, or when you haven’t gotten used to your fake nails yet. I concluded the nails were fake.

Except I looked a little closer. Her other hand was out of her bag now – why was one hand darker than the other? I casually removed my copper-tinted shades to get a better look. The nails were fake because she had a prosthetic arm. All the way up to the elbow.

So much for being observant.

But then I thought – I really could see her eyes, her blank yet pleasant expression, the way she was so put together and didn’t need any makeup, the way she carried herself, and maybe she’d just like to know that the arm was the last thing I noticed.


I went to a short film festival with Olivia where I met Gail, a stylist with an office on Harley Street. She agreed to meet with me, which I was hoping was not just a tacit indictment of the black and white Urban Outfitters mini dress, circa 2003, that I was wearing.

She painstakingly helped me go through my closet, where I learned that

1) I should not wear turtlenecks

2) I have too much black

3) I need shoes (Hurray! Guilt-free shopping awaits!)

4) I must get rid of all of my old baggy t-shirts; there are only so many shirts I need for working out.

But the best thing of all was that she helped me overcome my F.O.B. (Fear of Belts). I have dispensed with my old Gap belts from when I was wearing jeans to the waist – it’s all low rise now – and I now have a lovely collection of red leather, silver chain, copper medallion and brown breaded belts.

I did not relent to Trinny and Susannah’s “magic knickers” (besides, I’m not sure where to buy them), but I did need some good foundations. I took my trusted friend Cheri to a tiny Italian lingerie shop in Soho. Within moments we were each ushered into dressing rooms and tag-teamed by three Italian ladies adjusting straps, fastening hooks and analyzing shapes with frenzied enthusiasm.

Minutes later we both walked out of the store in a complete blur, having spent way too much money for such small amounts of fabric. But might I say, those Italians know their boobs. We both looked and felt great – a feeling I suspect will last approximately as long as it takes until our MasterCard statements hit the doormat.

I also took care of some essentials. I filled up four charity bags for Oxfam, took two dresses to the tailor and decided to spruce up an old suit with some new buttons. Gail recommended a shop called “Button Queen” near Bond Street. I pictured a girly, glamorous palace of buttons, bangles and some sort of illegal business going on in the backroom. (Really, now much money is there in buttons? They must be laundering money for something.)

Instead I found two curmudgeonly old men in a tiny, dim shop. One had a crazy eye that looked as if it had been staring at buttons for the past 50 years. Occupational hazard. Nevertheless, I found my buttons and revived my old DKNY.

Now the only problem is I still have nothing to wear.

Eyes Wide Shut

Rehearsals with Kevin steadily improved and we felt we were ready to showcase our scene from Eyes Wide Shut. (Despite the fact that Tom and Nicole shot this very scene for three weeks straight to get it right – a luxury we did’t have.)

We changed the kissing so that he’d be kissing my neck – only for a few seconds until I interrupted him with a question. One thing I should have considered earlier on was that this was a bedroom scene and thus required bedroom attire. We decided on boxers and a wife-beater for him; black pantyhose, a camisole and one of his blue work shirts for me. (He’s not all that tall so the shirt could have been longer, but oh well.)

I really had to work on anger for this character, which was difficult to trudge up after years of well-practiced conflict avoidance. After one long day of rehearsals I met up with my writer/producer friend Olivia for a film screening; it took me awhile to realize why I felt vaguely agitated throughout the first half of the rom-com – residual rehearsal anger. I probably should have started with a passive-aggressive scene instead.

Kevin and I were confident after our dress rehearsal and were pleased with our second-to-last slot in the running order. This was a lunchtime showcase at Soho Theatre so there were bound to be some busy agents who were latecomers and would miss the first few scenes.

I had normal-sized-head headshots and my new business cards ready to hand out afterwards: “Lucy McGinn, Actor/Producer”. Everyone’s a slash something and I don’t /model, /sing, /write, /direct or /dance. Besides, it’s hard for someone to make you prove your producing skills… at least not in an audition. I did produce a student fashion show in college, so I decided that would count.

When it came time to do the scene, we waited for our cue behind a long black temporary wall (a makeshift backstage where barely two at a time could pass abreast, in the spots without piles of props). Kevin tried kissing my neck backstage to make the opening more realistic.

The scene was great. It was intense. I’m not sure if anyone noticed though because Kevin decided to undo more than the agreed-upon two buttons on my (his) shirt. So I had to do most of the scene with my shirt hanging open revealing my lacy black underpants to the world. It was a bit much for lunchtime. At least the anger was real.

Afterwards all of the actors were eager to add “/salesperson” to their business cards and get networking with the agents. Unfortunately, the producers kept us all cooped up behind the fake backstage wall until the agents had time to make a break for it to avoid the impending mob. Some of them left their names on a sign-up sheet, but for most it was the usual entertainment-business mantra: we’ll call you.

Head in the Clouds

The last time I got headshots done, the photographer decided to do some “artistic” cropping. Unfortunately for me, this meant that the top of the photo was cropped across my forehead, leaving me looking as if, beyond the borders of the photo, I had a giant conehead extending into infinity. Needless to say, I decided to look for a different photographer when I needed new headshots for the showcase.

I met with three photographers. The first, an artsy slacker type, really emphasized that he specialized in getting the photo to “really look like you”. That’s fine, but I don’t want to look like me, I want to look like Claudia Schiffer. Otherwise, what am I paying him for?

I also met with a boho chic photographer whose idea of originality was to have her clients pick from her collection of 11 different stools and dining room chairs to pose on “to bring out your personality”. Unless I can pose on a massage chair at the nail salon, I don’t know what a casting director is going to learn about me from a chair (although personally, I’d never hire someone who would choose the wicker one).

Finally, I got tipped off about a New York photog who was passing through town and was taking headshots for a day to make some extra cash. This guy had done photos from several up-and-coming models, actors and comedians in NYC, and he was cheap. He was perfect.

I arrived late to the photo session – damn traffic (I told him). Damn make up (real story). I had to get my eyebrows looking like twins and figure out which lipstick would look best in black and white. It’s a lot of work!

He told me which side was my best side (good info) and snapped away while Chris Martin sang in the background.

I always thought a photo session would be like a scene from America’s Next Top Model. However, when you’re on a budget it’s not possible to get a team of make-up artists, hairdressers and stylists. If you’re lucky, you get your best friend to sit in the room to tell you when you have hair stuck to your lip gloss.

I suddenly wished I had practiced posing in the mirror to get the right angles, but this just isn’t normal past the age of 16. So I relied on him saying “chin down, head to the right, eyes to me”, etc. It was very technical; there was none of the Austin Powers “give it to me baby, yeah, yeah” that I had hoped for.

When we were done, I thanked him, gave him a cheque and asked him not to give me a conehead.

One False Move

I’ve been rehearsing with Kevin, my scene partner for the showcase. We met at The Actors’ Centre to discuss scripts and drink some Rustoleum disguised as coffee, then read through some scenes to get a feel for how we might work together.

We had to pick something that was five minutes long with enough range in each character to showcase each person’s talent (or what we hoped would pass as talent). He rejected my suggestion of Broadcast News, as he was too attractive to play the Al Brooks role. (Holly Hunter: “THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ME!” – a classic.)

I rejected some of his car chase/bimbo-storyline suggestions. We finally settled on a scene from Eyes Wide Shut – the one where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are arguing in the bedroom. He thought he was as cute as Tom Cruise and I knew I was as white as Nicole Kidman. We didn’t really think about wardrobe. That was my first mistake.

So we met up a few times, ran through lines and watched the scene from the movie repeatedly (probably something we should have avoided). That was the easy part. Then we had to become more comfortable each other so we wouldn’t have any awkwardness on stage. Building trust with your scene partner is key to a successful performance.

“Well, Lucy, we need to get comfortable. How about you give me a blow job”: his attempt at humor.

Blank stare: my attempt at a response.

At some point we realized professional help was needed, so we worked with an acting coach. He took us through the typical exercises: what animal do you think your character is like? What is she really thinking? What does she want from him?

Yes, yes, yes – I’d done my homework. But then – “He’s going to kiss you at the opening of the scene. You’re going to have to make this look real. What can Kevin do to turn you on?”

“Um, nothing,” I thought. Although I agreed he was better looking that Al Brooks, he didn’t do much for me. Besides, he was short.

I called to mind the famous Laurence Olivier response to Dustin Hoffman’s method acting for Marathon Man. Rather than trying to create feelings that were never going to happen, why don’t we just “try acting”.

If I can pull off this kiss, I’ll know I’m in the right business.

House of Wax

Twins. I never bothered much with my eyebrows until years ago when I read that un-groomed brows are wasted potential. Not wanting to let the potential of my only facial hair go to waste, I made an appointment at a local salon.

“Your eyebrows grow in two different directions,” I was informed by the beautician, “don’t worry, eyebrows aren’t twins, they’re sisters.” So she waxed and tweezed away, taking a bit too much delight in her sadism-disguised-as-beautifying.

“Take a look.” She presented me the kind of round mirror with a long handle that you only see in salons or on Snow White.

“Oh,” I gasped at her handiwork. “This one looks like it was adopted.”

Bikini Beach. On a Caribbean holiday, Cheri and I adventurously bought some Green Aussie Wax which had packaging that let us know it was “As Seen on TV”.

Cheri went first, heating up the wax and applying the long plastic-backed strip for the prescribed amount of time. When she peeled it off, we expected to see a Chia-pet-like miracle on the strip and a patch of smooth skin on her inner thigh.

“This wax isn’t coming off!”

“What? Try again with the plastic.”


“I’ve got wax stuck to my legs!”

“Hmm, let me see that box. You must have done something wrong.” (After all, I had seen this on TV.) Defiantly, I warmed up my wax – five seconds longer than Cheri had, as I was sure that would make the difference.

When I attempted to rip off the wax strip, it hurt so much that I instinctively smacked my hand on the wax-covered area to diminish the stinging.

Ninety minutes and two showers each later, we both still had bikini lines that could qualify for Mme Tussauds. My hand was just as bad (by the way, have you ever tried washing your hair with just one hand?). As we walked to the beachfront café, our shorts increasingly stuck to our legs with every stride.

I thought if I could meet the people behind this scam-of-a-product right now, I’d love to shake their hands.

Short Cuts

Dealing with rejection is a part of this business. You can’t take it personally. When you go into an audition as an unknown, 90% of getting the part is looking the part. No one wants to be stereotyped, but let’s face it – I’m probably not going to get cast as a sun-drenched native Caribbean beauty, no matter how far spray-tan technology advances. You just don’t get to play against type until you’re already big – like Renée Zellwegger in Bridget Jones. (Why couldn’t they just hire someone who was already fat instead of having her scarf down Snickers Bars at every meal? But that’s another matter.)

So when you don’t get that callback, you just have to figure you were too tall, too young, too old, too blonde, too American or too whatever. I like to go with too tall. Did you ever realize how short most actors are? They won’t cast an actress opposite a diminutive Tom Cruise-like actor unless she a) is married to him or b) is a supermodel making her first – and usually only – major motion picture.

I saw Nick Nolte on the flight back from Cannes (that guy has some scraggly luggage by the way – think Down and Out in Beverly Hills). The guy looks huge on screen, but in person – let’s just say although he could still take me down in a dark alley, if I had the right heels on I’d have a fighting chance.

My theory on short actors is this: think back to high school. The tall guys played basketball or baseball, the big guys played football or wrestled. That leaves the little guys for plays and musicals.

When you go to an audition, or a first date, it’s best not to pin all of your hopes on this being “the one”. High hopes and low expectations is the way to go. So when I got an e-mail telling me I got into the showcase I auditioned for a few weeks ago, I was elated. I could be seen in front of agents and have a chance to get to that next level. What scene would I do? Who would be directing? What would my scene partner be like? But then, as I toasted myself with some imported Crystal Lite (a poor gal’s Cristal), I began to think, “Hey wait a minute. Does everyone get in? Is this a scam? Should I even bother?” It’s the old axiom: do I want to join a club that would have me as a member?

Finally I decided to take it for what it was – an opportunity. Besides, maybe my scene partner would be cute. But let’s face it, he’ll probably be short.

The Cameraman

Camera crews have a way of making you feel important, although in Cannes it seems Ferraris and De Loreans work pretty well, too. Tip: if you want attention, hire five guys in matching red t-shirts to follow you around with a camera. Suddenly everyone wants to know what’s going on, who’s being filmed and how they can get in on the action.

Unfortunately, I don’t quite have the budget to hire a posse. However, Jason’s friend Marcus happened to be making a documentary on the Cannes Film Festival and needed to get some footage from the aspiring actress point of view. We decided to do a poolside shoot on the rooftop of the Noga Hilton. I declined his offer to be filmed in a bikini – and not just because my skin is so white I could audition for a Storm Trooper. It was cold up there! So much for improving on London’s weather.

Marcus interviewed me for about two hours (“plenty of tape – let’s keep rolling!”). I’m not sure if that was a good sign, or whether it took him that long to get the needed 15-second sound byte out of me. After all that rambling, I really don’t know what I ended up saying, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t mention my enduring thoughts of stalking Harvey Weinstein in a misguided effort to replace Gwynnie as his new muse. Pretty sure.

Marcus and his sound guy Steve took Cher and me to dinner to celebrate the taping. I just didn’t feel as important anymore without the camera rolling. I think two hours of non-stop chatting exhausted me of anything interesting to say. We ordered dinner and I felt important again, making use at last of my high school French/Franglais. (So I thought “escalope” meant “scallops” – it’s an easy mistake.)

As Cher and I walked back from dinner, we were suddenly ambushed by three photographers demanding to take our picture. Wow – the paparazzi! I assumed they must have seen me being filmed at the Hilton. We obliged, showing off our well-rehearsed feet-to-the-side, shoulders-to-the-front, hand-on-hip S-curve poses. It helps fight back against those 10 extra pounds the camera adds.

“What publication is this for,” Cher asked the one who spoke the best English.

He chuckled and said “Come back tomorrow and pick them up for 10 Euros each,” then pointed to a large board with photos of all of his similarly-posed victims, and a price list: €9.95 for an 8 x 10, €7.95 for a 5 x 7.

Thank goodness we rehearsed the S-curve. If we’re going to be posers, we might as well be the best at it.

The Player

As far as I can tell, all routes that lead to being fabulously successful have at least one stopover in “the playground of the rich and famous” – Cannes. I decided that I must check out the film festival scene so I’ll know what to expect in the future. Besides, I needed to get away from the unseasonably cold London weather.

My friend Cheri, or Cher as we’ve decided to call her this week to up-glam her a notch, cashed in some favors, trading on her Silver Hilton HHonors status (attained from business trips to exotic Aberdeen, Manchester and the like) to get us a room at the Noga Hilton.

We arrived to a bottle of wine and a mass-produced personalized note from the manager…so far so good. We dropped off our bags, changed into our specially-selected Cannes outfits (no belt for me) and took a beachside stroll down La Croisette.

Living in London and having a perpetual propensity to be late for work, I have developed a very efficient system of making my way through a crowd. The three main elements of snaking through sidewalk clutter (a.k.a. other pedestrians) are: perfecting the pivot, developing a method for gentle “accidental” pushing and hubristic determination – to be used in various combinations.

It’s also important to not get distracted by evangelists, people spray painted in metallic colors pretending to be statues (as if standing still were a talent) or other impediments to forward motion like the guy in Cannes who balances cats on his arms – or something – I didn’t stop to look.

We decided to brave the beach crowd and meet up with an actor I know, Jason, who is the quintessential English playboy with no apparent need for a day job. After eight mobile calls back and forth – “Are you before the giant movie screen or after,” “Are you closer to the beach or the sidewalk?” – we spotted Jason in his tiny Burberry swimming trunks and Versace sunglasses.

Cher and I received cheek kisses (considered extra glam in the States, but just baseline here). We got comfortable on some stolen hotel towels and hoped to unearth some insight as to where the glam parties would be that night. Instead we politely avoided drinking the only remaining bottle of beer and introduced ourselves to Jason’s friends, while he flitted up and down La Croisette looking for producers, hot chicks or both. Finally he came back to our stolen towel haven.

“Did you guys see that guy with the cats?”

“Yeah, he was amazing,” I lied, and cracked open the warm Heineken.

Practical Magic

I’m at a fashion crossroads. I’ve been travelling down The Gap Street and I’m afraid it’s come to an abrupt end where it meets The Glam Road.

Becoming fabulously successful is hard work, and you have to dress the part. To prepare for some serious shopping, I consulted every glam girl’s trend bible: In Style magazine. After perusing a few pictorial spreads showing how to replicate celebrity styles at mortal prices, my eyes froze upon what can only be described as a fashion sacrilege.

The title of the article was “Six Perfect Pairs of Moccasins”. I can just about accept that some people might enjoy metallic ballet-style flats, or sequined slippers that parade as shoes, but moccasins? Unless you’re Pocahontas, there is simply no need to wear moccasins – ever. No amount of color or decoration will elevate these above Hush Puppy penny loafers circa 1981.

I promptly recycled the In Style and turned to the television for shopping inspiration. (Distractions are needed after the deposing of a deity.) I stumbled upon a marathon of “What Not to Wear” re-runs. I’ve now learned so many rules about what NOT to wear, that I have nothing TO wear.

Adding to my pre-existing, irrational fear of belts, I am now told not to wear color with black and that I shouldn’t leave the house without something called “magic knickers”.

That evening I tramped back and forth to my closet hoping for something – anything – to reveal itself as the perfect outfit…in the same way I’ve been known to intermittently open the fridge door hoping that the perfect sandwich will somehow appear even though I haven’t been to the store in weeks.

Finally, I settled on jeans and a black shirt and decided that I could indeed leave the house because, after all, I bring my own magic to my knickers.

Two-Weeks' Notice

By now I should have learned to plan on an hour to get anywhere in London. I went to an audition near Spitalfields market – only three tube stops away – so I figured half an hour was plenty of time. The rehearsal room was only a few doors down, they said. I left according to schedule and all was fine. I had even factored in the five-minute wait at Angel tube and the three-minute wait to change trains at Moorgate. Unfortunately, I had not planned on the 10-minute walk from Liverpool Street to the audition (they must have a different definition of “a few doors down”).

I walked swiftly and, with my trusty “A to Z” map in hand, I got to the place only two minutes late. Practically on time. Someone walked in just after me – phew. It’s always better if you’re not the last one.

I vocally warmed up this morning (if singing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in the shower counts), but I have had a cold for over a week now. We’re talking serious phlegm, and no tissues in my enormous-should-have-everything-I-ever-need-in-it handbag. I’ll just pop to the loo when I arrive.

I looked around. No loo.

“We’ll just close all the windows and door to block out the street noise,” the director said.

This is London, so there is no air conditioning. Great. I am sweating like a madwoman from the tube and the walk. I just need ten seconds to blot off the sweat with my compact and come up with a creative way to de-phlegm.

“Lucy, why don’t you sit on the couch and we’ll start with you? You don’t mind if we tape this I hope.”

So my sweaty face is preserved forever on film. Hopefully she’ll destroy the tape before I’m fabulously successful.

Despite the beginning, I felt the audition went quite well. She taped us in some “real” conversations and told everyone to discuss their first time. No one would say anything, except one guy who said his first sexual experience was with a horse. He declined to provide further details.

I read for a few scenes and then the director said they’d have callbacks in two weeks.

I’m out of town in two weeks.

Boogie Nights

Today I had an audition and a meeting.

The audition was at a castle-like building and I read a scene from Proof. The character I played talked about her hair during the scene. Yes, I am having a fabulous hair day! Rock.

I’m auditioning for a showcase which would be put on in front of agents, casting directors, etc. No guarantees as to who will be there, and you have to pay to be in it. I thought “I could put on my own show for this amount.” But then, they have name recognition and are doing all the work.

I wasn’t nervous. I no longer get nervous.

Afterwards, I met with a director about a TV show pilot. They were casting for a few parts – something like an Asian girl and an Indian guy, I don’t really remember, I just know I was neither. I contacted the guy anyway because I got his name from a friend of a friend, and, well, you know how it goes. It’s all about networking. He said let’s meet up. The e-mail exchange went like this:

"How mobile are you?"

"What’s your nearest tube stop?"

"West Finchley."

I look up West Finchley on tube map. "I’ll be in Highgate on Tuesday for an audition..."

"Want to come up after your audition? It's only three more stations to the north. This, incidentally, is not a lonely, miserable man's pathetic attempt to lure a lone blonde woman into his lair. The missus'll be here."

Trying to ignore obvious attempt to meet at his house, "No problem, I can come up to West Finchley. I don't know how long the audition will be, it could take 15 minutes or an hour... so is there a coffee shop near the tube where I can wait for you? We could plan to meet at 5:30 if that works for you."

"Why not just swing by the old homestead, Lucy? As noted, this is not a lonely, miserable man's pathetic attempt to lure a lone blonde woman into his lair. The missus'll be here."

Right, I get the point. Is this a power struggle? Or just utter laziness?

I get to the guy’s house and my first thought was: where’s the missus? No missus. Okay… I look around, there are purple drapes and gold velour pillows and there’s a framed certificate on the table for “canine psychology”. We talk for awhile, he hands me a flyer for an upcoming show Tits ‘n’ Aspirations. Good title. I read more “His solo show about his experiences as an upscale pornographer (that is, senior editor of Larry Flynt Publications)”. I take another look at this guy. He’s wearing a tank top which is off center, covered by some sort of retro sports jacket. I have stepped into a frame from “Boogie Nights”.

I read a couple of scenes, one as a headmistress of a school and the second as an obese teen. He says he’ll get in touch with me.

I step outside into a torrential downpour. I get completely drenched from the waste down (the umbrella only provides so much coverage). I then get hit by a tidal wave brought on by a passing van. I laugh while walking to the bus stop, and a soaked girl going the other way passes me, laughing too.

When I finally get home, my shoes are trashed, but my hair still looks great.