Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sex and the Single Actor

All kinds of TV shows and comedians joke a lot about pornos these days. So do a lot of us on social media. I think most of us have probably told a porno joke in our lives at one time or another. But there’s a real serious side to this for everyone, especially models, and actors.

I knew a few actors back in the 80’s, and even the 90’s who just got so frustrated by all the rejection in this business, that after a few years they just gave up and started doing partially nude print ads to supplement their income. It seemed innocent, and harmless enough to them, the money was good, so they kept doing it. Then after a while it became full nude print ads. Then it was just a shot step to doing porn in print. Apparently, the buy out money was very good for a days work. (I guess if you want to call it that.) Then when they were asked, it was pretty easy for them to just do full on acting in porno film VCRs, then DVDs, and even online. The money was even better. In fact, they made a lot of money for a few years. Some even got I guess what you would call porn fame.

They automatically were called porn stars and loved it. But guess what? When it was all over, they had their run, and if they wanted to move on to another career, or settle down and get married, have children, and move on with their lives, they couldn’t. Unfortunately, they found that their past kept catching up to them. It had pretty much completely ruined their lives. Everything from self esteem, to nobody wanting to hire them. Or if they started a business, people found out. If they did get hired by someone, their employers would find out, and they got fired.

Some even bought homes to try and settle down, but when word got around and some of the neighbors found out – they didn’t even want them living on the same block as their kids. Their past would always catch up to them somehow. It was really very sad, but they made those decisions, turned that corner, and now they were paying the price for it. It was as if they were now on a sexual offenders list or something. I guess being in that field was like a narcotic to them, because while they were doing it, the money, and all the attention they were getting was so alluring. When it was all over, they found that their past followed them everywhere they went, and they pretty much couldn’t do anything anymore. There are a few exceptions with a few actually making a transition to legit acting, but not very many.

Please don’t give in, no matter how bad it gets.

Sexual harassment is still a thing, for both males and females in the entertainment industry. So is sexism, especially for female directors and producers, but it’s slowly getting better. There are still plenty of perverts that will promise you work for “favors”. I heard someone jokingly say once, “Sleep your way to the middle.” So keep your guard up, especially if the casting call is to a residence. The online stuff I would be especially leery of. If you’re going to do any of that kind of auditioning on your own, be sure to bring at least bring a friend with you, and let some people know where you are going prior to leaving, how long you may be gone, and that you will check back in with them when you are done. For safety’s sake, please.

I went to a lot of castings in LA that were at private residences, but they were union, and through legitimate talent agents. Plus, when you get there, you see a pile of actors wandering around, so you kind of get the feeling that it’s okay or a zombie apocalypse. I booked a few jobs at places like that, so it does happen. Just be careful. If it’s not through your agent, I wouldn’t even take a chance on it unless it was at a regular business location and during business hours.

I met my wife in 1986, about a year after I started my new career path as an actor. She was outside the acting field, a few years older than me, but we were soul mates, and knew it after a year of figuring it out. We’ve been happily married for 24 years now. The secret for us is 2 things, we always kiss after sex, and we both have separate rooms to do our own thing in. With lots of space between them. I tend to be a louder person. I make a lot more noise, music, recording, watching stupid movies, and etc. I’m a louder person. She, on the other hand, likes her peace and quiet. She reads a lot, and also is an artist. She likes to paint watercolors. (Very talented one also BTW.) So, for “us” to really work, we both figured out that we each need our own space wherever we end up living. All I can say is we still love each other. It works for us.

In the late 80’s when we moved to California - everyone is beautiful out there, everyplace you go! We looked at each other in the car one day and said, “Okay, how about we can look all we want, but we can’t touch.” It was a healthy arrangement for us, because we could comment to each other, and joke about it – yet both still enjoy the scenery.

I have to share a story that happened to me back in Florida in 1985 before I met her. That was my first year in the acting world, and a nonunion agent tried to put the move on me! I went in for a new client / agent interview, and was invited to a “party” later on that night there at the office. Really? Me? Apparently, they were having these agent and actor orgy parties at the office after hours! I just distanced myself from the whole thing, I had only been an actor for a few months, I knew this was way inappropriate, I don’t want any part of it, and that some people were going to go down eventually for it. I was working in Florida, and it was from a talent agent no less. It was a nonunion agent, and during the interview there was this unusual talk about how she thought my bone structure was “interesting”. And that if I did this and that, I was promised I would get this and that…no, I don’t think so.

I got to find out first hand how uncomfortable it can be to be sexually harassed. I was insulted, and pissed off that this was happening to me. I was there trying to get representation, and hopefully a few jobs, not to get an STD. I later found out that they were having these “after hours” meetings with a variety of actors in her office.

Apparently they went too far with some of the other actors, and the agency eventually got busted about 6 months later for it. There was a lot of talk for months about the things that were rumored to be going on over there amongst my peers. Apparently it was a pretty happening scene. Not only did the whole thing make the news, but their state license was pulled, and they later went out of business. A lot men and women were caught up in this scandal. Some were there for the thrills, some just in hopes of getting some work. It’s not right. This was back in the mid 80’s, and, at the time, I thought it was an isolated thing, but it did happen, and I’m pretty sure now that it’s not an isolated incident. I expect it happens in some form in every city, all around the country.

Looking back in retrospect…I totally shoulda tapped that. (I’M KIDDING!) Had I done that it wouldn’t have gotten me a job anyway. Some of the actors who did get caught up in it had their “brand” hurt quite a bit, so I’m glad I stayed out of it.

I guess if it was under normal circumstances, she was a very attractive woman, and had it not been a work related thing, and had I met her somewhere else, not knowing how she was manipulating people, I would have probably considered dating her. I mean, she was a pretty hot looking agent.

When it comes to dating other actors. I’ve heard a lot of them say the same thing about it. While it may seem very tempting, and you might be thinking great, we are doing the same thing, and have a lot in common. I think most people realize that relationships like this usually turn out bad, or end up very uncomfortable. Dating people in your related field of work, whatever it may be, at the office, etc. it’s not a good idea.

For me, that may be because I didn’t start even dating until I was 20. I was a very shy kid, and lacked self confidence. I was worried about what others thought of me more than I did myself. Some small towns can do that to you. I was not exactly the hunk of the class, but I did have a few opportunities. It may also be that my actual parents were only 16 when I was born. Something like that affects you, and your decisions. I probably would have gotten an STD or something anyway. Looking back, I’m glad I waited.

I never really had strong self confidence until I became an actor.

Anyway, we see lots of people in the same career field in movies and TV all the time. Why? Because it happens a lot, and it hardly ever works out. That makes for great conflict, and it plays good on television. But you don’t need that in real life. Even a dorky looking guy like me got hit on by a few hot actresses, and I just didn’t want to go there. Once, with a stage wife on a film, and then even on a game show.

I did know of a few couples where it seemed to be working out, so there are exceptions. Some marry happily, and I think they are very fortunate. I think maybe what happens is they end up competing too much and it puts a strain on the relationship. We have enough problems already. And good relationships are hard to come by.

I guess if you are in a relationship with a non-actor you get more emotional support, and understanding. Trust me, you will need this at some point somewhere down the road.

On the other hand, living with a casting director, producer, screenwriter, or director could be beneficial. (I’m kidding.)

When you work on a SAG-AFTRA union feature film, the highest rating they have is “R” ratings. So, there is that possibility you might be asked to do some frontal nudity in a scene, or nudity from behind. You might even be asked to do what is called a “simulated sex scene”. Doing anything like that is a personal preference, if you are willing to do it, that’s up to you. Ask for specifics of what you will be expected to do. At least you know that if you are in a union film, that’s the most they can ask from you. So if at anytime during a casting if they want anything beyond that, it’s simply not allowed.

Most all the shifty kind of stuff you hear about happens in the print or nonunion world. So that is where you need to be particularly on guard for possible scumbags and perverts. I don’t think an actor should ever be asked to disrobe during an audition. Be especially wary of auditions that do not come from a reputable talent agent. Especially with online ads, newspapers, etc. It’s pretty common knowledge, but I’m just sayin’… The problem is that when it happens, nobody ever says anything, or hears about unless it makes the news or involves a celebrity. For us regular folks it’s hushed up quickly. The casting couch is still around, just that now it’s a $1200 airbed.

Personally, I didn’t need to worry too much. I’m not exactly the hot guy type, especially with my cloths off. But I did get a lot of partial nudity gigs that were comedic. All of them were union jobs in SAG-AFTRA, so I knew going in that it could only go so far, and that was it. Basically I disrobe…people laugh.

I had this one job in particular during a talk show that had a huge live audience. My job description was that I would need to slow motion streak across the stage as the interview was going on. So I come cruising out and crowd just erupts in hysterics, everyone is laughing and screaming at me. It about knocked me off my feet it as so loud. I was expecting something, but not quite like that. I was asked to just be a dead-pan wandering streaker with no expressions at all, and stroll on through. Here I am, the slo-mo streaker. I wasn’t completely naked, but it was pretty close. I was wearing a flesh tone G-String Speedo swimsuit. I looked like a dorky Ken doll. It was one of those Brazilian ones, about the size of a Triscut cracker! They used one of those pixelating blur out spots to make it appear as though I was nude. Sorry for that terrible visual.

Another job required me to be wearing nothing except a white diaper. That was some scary stuff, ans pretty humiliating, but hey, if it’s for comedy, and I’m making $600 doing it – all day long, all week long. No problem.

For another one I was in a very scant bathing suit actually taking a shower live on stage, also in front of an audience. I have to tell you, doing that that takes a lot of nerve to pull off. It may not sound like much, but when the crowd just opens up and goes nuts, it freaks you out. Plus we did a rehearsal before the show – but without the actual water. During the live shot, it was ice water they dumped on me. I was not expecting that. I was prepared for everything except that. When you are performing front of a live audience you only get one take, and you have to make it work no matter what happens, just like in stage work. So my focus was completely on that. Let’s just say I let out a YELP as it stunned the heck out of me, and some things got a lot smaller. But it was very funny. I froze my junk off. Good facial expressions though. Those pricks did that to me on purpose. I took a lot of bullets like that for comedy.

I guess the point is, if you are willing to look ridiculous, or even stupid and be the brunt of a laugh, you can make some decent money. I just hope none of that stuff ever shows up on YouTube.

If you are on an audition, or even on a job, nobody should come at you inappropriately. One suggestion has to do with the possibility that you get caught off guard by it. Even if you use common sense to stay out of situations like this, things can happen that you are not prepared for.

Some people try to use their power over your job to get to you sexually. If that happens, and I hope it never does, do not play the victim.

No job is worth the damage that this can do to your self respect. And performers need to keep their self respect or it will eventually destroy you.

Stand up to the person and make it clear that what they are asking for is not acceptable. These people are bullies. Back them down.

A friend of mine had someone in a position of authority on the shoot came to them after the day's work was done and try to physically intimidate her into having sex. He told her that he was stronger than her and that she couldn't stop him. She replied that he was correct, but that there was one thing she could do...scratch every part of his body that she could reach and then call his wife and tell her where to look. He backed off…

I’m not exactly the type that gets cast in lots of roles where I have a stage wife or let alone get to kiss a woman. The hunky guys get those. I think I’ve had about 12 different stage wives picked out for me by Hollywood people. They must sit around a desk and think, “This is what his wife should look like.” Then they would pick one out for me. Like this is some sort of Mid-Evil thing where they choose your spouse, and you have no choice, you have to accept it. It’s like platonic polygamy or something.

I have all these ex stage wives. And on the other hand, some of the ladies must be thinking, “I had this whole stable of men.” We never meet our stage spouses usually until the first day on the set. I just find the whole thing kind of strange. “Hi, this is your new wife.” “Eeewww, he’s not going to have to actually touch me or anything is he?” The range of types I got paired with was a little surprising. Everything from 300 pound rednecks in hair curlers, to super hot models, and everything in between. On this one film, I had a very attractive American wife. She was really nice, and fun to work with. At the wrap party, and then the screening, Marty was convinced she totally had the hots for me. I don’t know, I didn’t see it. It may have been because I was just coming off being cut from a Mel Brooks film, and I was so happy that my part just AIRED! Yes, residuals, screen credit for resume, etc.

Mostly I would get a stage wife in commercials, and the majority of them were very professional actors. We were paired up and expected to have some sort of chemistry, and most of the time, it worked, and we did our job.

And then there was a couple of times when my new Hollywood wife would be introduced to me on the set like that, I could see the eagerness and excitement would drain from their face as they laid eyes on me for the first time. You can just feel something like that, and it hurts a little. Then when they utter something like “Oh no” it kind of dings your self confidence a little bit. I just thought to myself, “Well, with an attitude like that, I don’t care how good looking you are…right back at you.” Lets get the job done, and get out of there. That kind of behavior hurts no matter how old you get. But most of them were professional actors, and they were easy to connect with in a scene.

Another time in particular sticks in my mind. I got hired for this insurance commercial that was shooting at the Museum Of Natural History. That seemed appropriate. We were to do a series of lines and then she would kiss me at the end.

The actual shoot was after hours, and the museum was closed. It was kind of creepy, there’s all these dinosaurs around and very dim security lighting. Tyrannosaurus Rex is standing there towering over us and everything. Every sound we made echoed throughout the place. It was kind of cool because nobody except the cast and crew were in there. So after reading our lines once for the director, and blocking out the scene, they had all this lighting to set up, so he let us wander around and check things out for a half hour.

This lady that was cast as my actor wife, was kind of average looking, like me I guess. I mean, she was cast as my wife, so you get the idea. She was very intelligent, and seemed pretty nice. I liked her. We wandered around checking out all the different rooms and the prehistoric exhibits in each one. It was like an unguided private tour, but in very dim light. It was romantically creepy. At one point, she said, “I’m getting a little scared in here, let’s go back to the set.” I was okay with that, it was a little disturbing with all these huge creatures looming over us.

So we get back to the set, and on action, we do our lines, and then she is to give me this nice long kiss. She was a nice lady and everything, but my first on screen kiss, felt like falling on a wet mop.

Sometime we get hired and asked to do some rather unusual things in this business. On this one job I was to be in a scene that was these four slacker Santa’s, and also this hot looking female Santa’s helper. One of the Santa’s is sitting on an old wine barrel sipping on a big brown jug, looking all wasted. Another one is sitting there smoking on a pipe. (Smoke machine behind him billowing out smoke and everything.) The third one is passed out on the ground, and then there was me.

I’m the scrawny Santa, with the hot looking helper standing next to me. Upon “action” I was to make this telegraphed very obvious move, grabbing her ass. She then is supposed to get mad and, swing her arm around to pretend slap my face. I then react back and that was it. She was this voluptuous looking woman in a Santa’s helper red mini skirt with a tight fitting red and white fur trim top. She could easily have been a super model, and might have very well been.

I wasn’t quite sure how to do this and not be inappropriate about it. So, I just asked her. I said, “Look, do you want me to just put my hand close?” “Or I could just lightly touch the small of your back so you will know the cue when to slap me.” “How would you prefer that we do this?” I was trying to be respectful. So she completely surprises me and says, “Go ahead and just grab a handful of butt cheek like you mean it.” “Let’s make it look real for the camera.” “Okay”, I said, “Just please don’t actually slap me okay?” So we practiced it once, I grabbed a solid handful, and she swings around and perfectly makes it appear like a real face smack but just missing me.

On action, we did the same thing, four takes. (Or should I say in four grabs.) I have to say, she was a very good actress, and willing to do what was necessary to make the scene look convincing. She was very professional about the whole thing. I grabbed her butt, and she swung that arm around each time perfectly, so it looked like I got walloped good, and did my reaction/fall. That was it, they had the shot they wanted. I thanked her for being so cool about the whole thing, we did contracts, and I went home.

I walk in the door and my wife says to me, “So what was your day like?” I replied, “Well, it was a rough day.” “I was paid $600 to grab a super models’ ass four times.” I had to cook dinner that night, and Tweet from the couch.

If you enjoyed my post, I have a Kindle book on acting that is $6. I know…that’s like a dollar more than a decent latte these days, but I think what I’ve been through, and my experiences will help you. Might even get a few laughs along the way. Check it out on Kindle, you can read the first few chapters, and see if you like my vibe. “An Actor’s Face” It’s buried in that site somewhere, please dig for it.