Sunday, September 21, 2008

Golf Digest

I had to wake up at about 4am to be sure I had enough time to shower, shave and make and eat my breakfast and be at the corner of 11th Ave and 47th St. looking to be picked up in a van and driven to a golf course in Yonkers by sunrise.

My job for the day was another modeling gig, but this time I had the opportunity to incorporate another interest of mine; yoga.  I was hired to do some yoga poses on a golf course for an article set to appear in a future issue of Golf Digest about how doing yoga can improve your golf game.
They started me right off right with a crow pose. And I held it for a LOOOONG time while they focused, set light levels, fussed with my clothes and made sure every blade of grass was facing the right way.

Through out the course of the day I only did about four poses.  The hardest was the headstand.  Not usually a terribly hard pose for me, but they had me holding the flag in one hand and only using one arm to support my headstand! Ouch.   I needed a massage after this.

The best shot of the day (IMHO) was one of my ideas.  I thought it would look cool to be in a Warrior 2 pose while lining up my putt, using the golf club as a plumb line in my front hand.

They told me the article is due out in the November issue.  Watch for it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Nude Modeling - Part 2

The Angelo Musco shoot was a blast, even though it did start raining and actually get pretty cold for a few minutes.  It was fun to play around in the chrome bottomed pool on top of an eleven story downtown building.  It was almost a shame that the photos were only of the underwater environment because the view from the pool was breathtaking.  The edge of the pool disappeared over the edge of the building and it seemed like you were sitting in a pool of water magically floating amongst the downtown high-rise landscape.  The sky was a steel grey and a light rain left droplets on the pools surface as we got our instructions:
1-float around, making shapes with our bodies.
2-don't make "underwater / holding breath" expressions
3-interact with the other bodies
4-entice the camera to join you


He plans to use all of the images he took to wallpaper the inside of a gallery giving the viewer the impression that he/she is underwater and being beckoned to enter further into the watery world.
Gallery opening in April in Chicago. Check out the finished product on Angelo's website.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nude Modeling



About four years ago I was contacted by an artist's agent in Santa Monica.  He had seen my website where I used to have a large collection of nude photography modeling I had done. The agent told me that the artist, Don Bachardy, was interested in hiring me as a model for his painting.  He dropped the artist's name like it was someone I should have heard of -- but I hadn't.  I Googled him and found that he was a well known, established artist and one-time lover of Christopher Isherwood.  He has painted portraits of such people as Mr Isherwood, of course, as well as Lillian Hellman, Tennessee Williams, W. H. Auden, E. M. Forester, and Igor Stravinsky.  This is a sample of his style.  And also a sample of the type of work he did with me.  Although this is NOT me.  He didn't let me have any copies of his work and this was what I could find on the Internet to give you a feel for his work.

I agreed to pose for him. I was flown to LA, put up in a Four Seasons hotel and hired to model for three nude days in Santa Monica. I know, it sounds glamorous and luxurious, but it was actually fairly grueling. This artist liked to work on one painting (one pose) for about an hour.  Have you ever tried to hold perfectly still for an hour?  No matter how comfortable the position, after about twenty minutes, I get a very strong urge to move.  Just move.  ANY MOVEMENT AT ALL would be nice.  But I had to remain motionless.  I called upon my yoga practice, my meditation and my acting skills.  They helped me maintain the motionlessness, but didn't do much for the discomfort.  After forty minutes it was real pain.  An ache in my muscles as if they were dying.  On occasion, he would let me move a body part that he wasn't working on.  But it did little to alleviate the pain because, although it was a relief to shake my arm, once I returned it to the position I was holding, the ache came back instantly. It was as if my body were rejecting that position.

That was three very tough naked days. I earned my money for sure.  Of course, its always nice to be contacted out of the blue and flown across the country and put up in a nice hotel, just for your body.

So, today I am at it again.  I was hired by an artist named Angelo Musco.  www.angelomusco.com
We had worked together about a year ago. He does a lot of nude work and uses groups of anonymous bodies in creative settings.  I've seen him using sand, milk, underground tunnels and now today, we're doing underwater shots.  

This should be much more comfortable than working for Mr. Bachardy.  I guess we'll just jump in the water, hold onto a large piece of material and create lovely flowing shapes with it and our bodies.  The only danger of pain would probably be the chlorine in my eyes and maybe a sunburn.  Actually, as I type this, its starting to cloud up and looks like rain.  Now I'm wondering if I'm going to be getting naked today at all.

Click here to read Nude Modeling - Part 2

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Jury Duty is Like Acting

I had never served jury duty before last week. As a resident of California and Washington states, when I was called to appear for jury duty, I had always claimed financial hardship due to the fact that I was a freelance worker....no work, no pay. But since I moved to New York in 2000, and they don't allow you to get out of your civic duty with such nonsense, I finally appeared when I got my first summons in 2004. I, of course, postponed my appearance as many times as I could and then I finally went down to 100 Centre St.* and appeared. And, although serving on a jury isn't exactly like acting, I thought there were quite a few similarities between the two. Enough that, while I was going through the experience, I kept being struck by how familiar it was to me. And I started to notice distinct similarities which I will expound for you now.

In show business, as in jury duty, there is a lot of waiting around. Arriving at the courthouse on Monday morning, we were told to go into the 'jury lounge' and wait. In films, this would be called going to "holding;" a place where the actors can gather until they are needed. You usually see lots of reading, ipods and cell phones here and as the day progresses and people get to know each other, you'll hear more and more conversations.

I was in the first group of names called, so then we went onto the "impanelling" or the "auditions" where the attorneys were "casting" their trial. They auditioned us with relevant questions to determine our eligibility, appropriateness and ability to be a part of the trial. Back in 2004, when I was first summonsed to appear, it was in the impanelling room that I gave my first "performance." I decided I didn't want to be on a trail, so when I was being interviewed by the lawyer who had a Spanish-speaking client, I played the part of someone who had a problem with people who didn't speak English. I was therefore excused from that trial and set free for another four years. In 2008, however, I was more myself. I was actually curious about the whole process so I decided I didn't mind going to trial and did my best at my audition, putting my best light forward and telling them how fair and honest I could be. (Coincidentally, the plaintiff in this case was a man who only spoke Spanish.)

After this lengthy process, we were all excused for lunch and told to report afterwards back in "holding" / "jury lounge" to wait for our names to be called. Just like at a chorus call or a combined audition, when you come back to see if you're on the list for callbacks, we wait until we hear our names called at the end of the day. Six of us had been cast. We weren't jumping up and down or calling our girlfriends to tell them we got it. But the similarity was still there. I got the part. I was intrigued. The judge / director came out to tell us how juries work and what to expect. It was like he was giving us our "script" and our "direction" or "motivation."

So we went home, told to report back in the courthouse at 10:30. In showbiz lingo, we'd say we were "called on set at 10:30."

Whenever you see a scene in a movie, say in a store, for example, all of the people you see shopping in the background who aren't speaking are known as Background. Most actors have done some kind of Background work. I've done my share. A lot of the experience of serving on a jury was reminiscent of that type of work. We didn't say anything, (Well, one of us had one line at the end of the trial. But that's it.) And yet they couldn't do the scene without us. We were held in a room until needed "on set" / "in the courtroom." The Bailiff was responsible for leading us into and out of the courtroom and passed along any concerns or questions we had to the judge. In films, the Background actors (also known as "extras") have what's called a "wrangler" who does all the same duties as the bailiff does; and serves as a liason between the extras and the director.

I was struck also how trials are like theater. The analogy falls apart here, though, I'm afraid, because now the jury becomes the audience as the attorneys put on these elaborate shows for us. The judge (director) moves things along and has the final say and we're just supposed to listen and observe.

In filmmaking, you work on a scene, or even a small part of a scene at a time. The same was true of a trial. We'd often have to break in the middle of a dramatic moment and the judge asked the bailiff to remove the jury. In effect shouting "CUT"--stopping all action. The attorneys conferred with the judge as the jury waited in the jury room. Just like when the lighting needs adjusting on the set of a television show. The director will call "CUT" and the actors are led off to holding while the tech crew adjusts the lights. When the set was ready (the attorneys properly reprimanded or paperwork cleared up) the jury was filed back in the judge would, in effect, call "ACTION" and the attorneys picked up exactly where they left off with the minor adjustment they had been given.

So yeah...
Maybe I need to get out more. Maybe there's lots more about life that is actually like show business. But I doubt it. I still think, despite its kinship with the trial system, show business is a unique and special creature.

*this isn't necessarily another way that Jury Duty is like acting, but I did appear once on the television show "100 Centre St." with Alan Arkin and guest star Denis O'Hare.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants

OPENS JULY 16

I'm having such a great time working with Duncan Pflaster, playwright and director of a wonderfully, smart and zany play. The cast he's assembled is very talented and brave and really nice people, as well. I feel a little bit like I'm letting the cast down in a way, by not being as funny as they are. I try to tell myself, "My character is just not one of the wackier characters. He's largely a voice-of-reason and used heavily for exposition."

But then, its hard not to wonder, "If my role were being played by Chris Cariker, would he be more funny?"

In any case... Were I not in this play I would love to see it. I can't wait until it opens. The costumes are promising to be quite delicious as the Broadway Bares costumer David Withrow is on board with us. Here is a link to our media page:

www.duncanpflaster.com/trevor.php


The nudity doesn't bother me. I'm not embarrased or frightened by being nude or being seen nude. People often tell me I'm brave, but I have to say, "No. I'm not brave for doing this. Bravery is facing something difficult or frightening without being afraid. And since I'm not scared of being nude, I'm not brave." But, actually, I looked up "BRAVE" in the dictionary and the second definition listed says "making a fine appearance" So, I may have to reconsider the way I'm accepting those compliments. :)
THANKS!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Shifting Gears

Tonight is the closing performance of "Pleasures of Peace" at Medicine Show. It's been a wild ride. I came into the project 'already in progress' and had some catching up to do to get up to speed with what they had been working on. We opened the show without really feeling ready, and actually had a few performances in that first week that weren't exactly as polished as we would have liked. The show found its stride by the third performance and has been growing, evolving and improving ever since. I am particularly appreciative of Paul Daniel Cloeter, who played Franz, the Swiss Guard, to my Tim, the Buckingham Palace Guard, in John Gruen's lovely play "Guards in Love." We literally rehearsed this intricate play twice before opening night. Were it not for our strong abilities as actors to be present and aware in moments of unknowing, we could have had a disaster. Instead, we grew with each live performance as we basically 'rehearsed' the play every night in front of an audience. I repeatedly heard audience members saying it was the most poignant, touching and well-done aspect of the evening.

Now, its all over. I leave the show with mixed emotions. Of course, there is the mourning one usually experiences at the close of a show. A cast and crew, working together to mount a production spends many long hours together. In many cases, we neglect our own families and friend due to our commitment to the show. Inevitably, a strong bond is created--only to be suddenly broken by everyone going their own diverse ways at the close of the production. Many promises are made (mostly sincere) to 'keep in touch,' 'have coffee' or 'see the next show you're in.' Unfortunately, as often as not, those are the last words exchanged between these people. So I'm sad to see this family disband.

There is also that eerie feeling that "I'll never say these words again." As actors, we create 'moments.' Any show is really a series of moments. Because a lot of the work we do to create a real connection to what we're doing and saying on stage is infusing our 'moments' with parts of ourselves. Some of the moments can hold a certain pathos or special significance. I know that I have certain moments in each show I've done that are quite meaningful and cathartic for me. And as I utter them on closing night, they often hold a particular weight; that sense that the period at the end of the sentence is so much more terminal. Like it's saying, "You won't be saying this again tomorrow night....not next week.... not ever again in this context."

On the other hand, I am also currently involved in rehearsals for my next project, "Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants" as part of the Midtown International Theater Festival and I'm looking forward to being able to fully immerse myself in this project. I've only been to a couple of rehearsals (I've been largely unavailable to rehearse due to my schedule with "Pleasures of Peace") but I'm impressed by the show and the cast. Its going to be a riot and I'm excited to transition into this world created by the masterful Duncan Pflaster.

So, it is a bittersweet transition as I'm shifting gears from the spectacular to the ridiculous. From the surreal and poetic to the bawdy and farcical. From Medicine Show to Cross-Eyed Bear. From one family of artists and friends to a new family. Until August 2, when "Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants" will play its final performance and the mourning will start anew.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pleasures of Peace

This is the final production of Medicine Show's 38th season. Which is impressive. This is the fourth full production I've done with Medicine Show. I've also been involved in a number of staged readings there. Barbara Vann is the artistic director there and has directed all of the productions I've been involved in.

Barbara has a unique way of working. She loves chaos and inspiration and being fresh and always breaking convention. She has a certain genius to her work. The downside of all this is that, as an actor, one never knows from one moment to the next what your intentions will be, who your character is, or what lines you will be saying. You could be working on a scene for a week and then she can come in and tell you she's decided we've been wrong all along and its totally something else. I've seen her take whole scenes away from actors who've been working on them for weeks, because they weren't present at a rehearsal when she wanted to rehearse it. She'll look at someone who is there that day and say "can you do this scene?" "Yes" is always the answer any actor would give. "Its yours" she would reply,"Let's work on it."

Anyway, here we are, a few days before a paying audience is going to show up and expect to see this show and I am at my wits end, to be honest. And, I can't really blame anyone but myself. All of the other productions I've done there went the same way. I'm in a pretty substantial scene at the end of the show that we have literally only rehearsed once. And when we did rehearse that scene, we spent most of the time talking about our characters. Not that I'm opposed to this kind of discussion, but when you are less than a week away from opening, and you haven't even run the scene all the way through, I'd much prefer to run it run it run it run it...and talk about it later.

We don't know what we'll be wearing, we haven't learned all the songs yet. She's still changing things. She doesn't believe in tech rehearsals. I am afraid that the first time we actually use the lights will be opening night. She often says, "you rehearse in performance." This is not my style. I'm more the type that likes to be very prepared. I like to work off script for most of the rehearsal period.

Anyway.... All of the other shows I've done here feel like this two days before we open. We always threaten to push back the opening because we're not ready, but we never do. We pull it together and it magically all happens on opening night.

There's something about having the lights on you, having your costume on, having the audience sit there, glued to every word you say, having the director finally quiet and out of sight, that makes it all come magically together. Its not perfect--not without its flubs. But the Medicine Show style is such that an audience member could never tell you goofed unless you tell them.

I have learned quite a lot about performing through my experience with Medicine Show and Barbara Vann. I always swear I'll never work here again, and then the show ends up being such a riotous blast of a good time, that I forget my vows and keep coming back for more glorious, messy, chaotic, artistic, torturous, intellectual, experimental fun.

My fingers are crossed although my heart is pounding.

Oh, and the fact that its 99 degrees out doesn't really help much either.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Feast or Famine

"Break" by J. Stephen Brantley, directed by Jonathan Warman and featuring Hunter Gilmore and myself had wrapped three weeks ago. As in any theatrical venture, this project brought together a group of disparate artists who work together and usually become very close and tight; like a temporary family. We traveled with this show to Provincetown, RI and also enjoyed an exciting run in New York as part of the EATFest with Emerging Artists Theatre. The role was a challenge and my partner, Hunter, was a blast to work with. So, when it all came to an end, it left me with an empty feeling of mourning.

I was going on auditions, but three weeks passed and I still hadn't gotten anything further than a callback for "The East Village Chronicles" at Metropolitan Playhouse.

Memorial Day Weekend.

Within a 24 hour period I heard from Roberto Cambeiro that I was invited to participate in a short play festival at Wings Theatre, I was offered a part in Duncan Pflaster's International Midtown Theatre Festival entry "Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants" and was asked if I could step into rehearsals at Medicine Show Theatre's "Pleasures of Peace" due to them losing an actor.
I was able to say yes to all of them since Pleasures of Peace performed in June, Prince Trevor performed in July and the Wings plays were slated for August.

In one day I went from grieving, lonely despondant out of work actor, to being booked almost all the way through the summer!

I'll say it again..."this is a crazy business" But I couldn't do anything else.

Well, I guess I better get started learning that script for "Pleasures of Peace"

Friday, May 23, 2008

This is a crazy business

I got a call from my agent booking me on a job on Long Island. I hadn't auditioned for it. They booked me based on my headshot and resume. She didn't give me much information, just the time and day, the amount I was going to be paid and that the wardrobe stylist would contact me. Fine. That's what agents are great for. Jobs out of the ether.

So, the stylist called, and we agreed that I would bring four different combinations of business casual clothing but I was warned to stay away from green. (TRANSLATION: I'll be working in front of a green screen)

I made a slight stink about not being reimbursed for my travel since I had to take a Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Islip and then take a cab to the location of the shoot. It's customary to be reimbursed in these situations. But I eventually let the issue slide, thinking, "what the heck. I didn't have to audition, it's basically like I'm doing the job for $50 less than I was originally quoted. Yesterday I didn't even have this job, so I shouldn't blow it over pettiness."

The only train I could take that would allow me to get to the location on time left New York around 7am and got me to Islip about an hour and a half before I needed to be there. But, the next train got in at 8:25, giving me five minutes to be on time to the location. So, I took the earlier train, knowing it was better to sit in a coffee shop with a book for an hour than to be late to a shoot. So, I arrived at Islip and I was a bit worried when I didn't see the fleet of cabs that usually await arriving trains. I walked a couple of blocks to the nearest bagel shop, got a delicious strawberry bagel and called a cab from my cell phone. I waited for that cab for literally 45 minutes and finally made it to the set with no time to spare. In fact, I had to call the producer from the cab to explain why it was 9:30 and I was still en route.

So, I arrive on set and, as anyone in this business knows so well, the WAITING begins. Still I have no idea what I'm going to be doing or saying or what the product is and if its going to be print or video. The producer offered me a glass of water and looked at the clothes I had brought. She chose my outfit and I went and changed. My next step was make-up. I waited about an hour and a half because the two women in the chair in front of me were both very 'high maintenance divas' according to the stylist. Once I got in the chair, my make-up was on in less than ten minutes.

More waiting.

I learned, only by evesdropping, that we were shooting an opening montage for a website. You know, those flash montages that you can click "SKIP THIS INTRO" to get past and right into the main site. I ended up being called to the set around 11:30am. There was a green screen on the set, but I was escorted past that to a desk. I was told my action was to sit at the desk and type on the lap top. The camera was going to pan around from the back of the lap top and across my fingers at the keyboard and then past them. My face wasn't even in the shot. And, except for my shirt cuffs, my wardrobe wasn't in the shot either. I was doing what I like to call a "hand job." So, I typed, the camera man panned and I was done in less time than it took to write this blog. I was wrapped and released. My job that day, earning me a good half months salary, was sitting and clicking on a laptop for about four minutes.

I took another cab and another train and was home in plenty of time to teach my Nia class at 5pm.

Is it me? Or does this just seem insane? I love my job.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Welcome

So. My web designer (or, more accurately, web re-designer) James Donegan suggested I start a blog. I guess he thinks -- as you all clearly do -- that the world desperately needs to know what I'm up to every minute of every day. My thoughts. My opinions. My world views.

Or perhaps you just want to point and laugh. 

Either way, you're here, and that's what counts!

I will do my best in the days and weeks to come to keep things current. Often, this page will serve as my "what's up now" page -- so that I can get things online in a hurry without having to go into making edits on the site "proper."

Be sure to comment a lot, too. That way, I don't feel like I'm writing to the ether. 

And enjoy!