Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I guess some of us are just born city people.

I found this while sorting through some old boxes in the garage. I think this is from the fifth grade. We had to clip pictures out of magazines and write haikus about them. I never did well with poetry in school, but this made me laugh when I rediscovered it.
If you can't read it, it says:


Tall trees stand up straight
Pieces of moss on the ground
So harmless looking
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

One more thing about Koroneburg.

I knew there were bugs there, but I didn't realize they were mosquitos. They loved me, as is evident by the many bites I have on my legs and back. Maybe it's because it's an El Nino year? Anyway, lot of bugs. Obviously it's not the faire's fault, but if you know you're particularly tastey to mosquitos, you may want to avoid this one.


Yesterday I dragged my mom with me to the Koroneburg Old World Festival in Corona (get it?). It's a renaissance faire that takes place in a German barony.
As far as renn faires go, Koroneburg is a very mellow one. I visited it two years ago by myself and had a pretty decent time. Renn Faires seem to be best for me when I go with a group, but faires seem to have a niche following. I have only been to two other renn faires besides this one: the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Faire, as you know from my previous posts on it. Koroneburg is not nearly as crowded, but it does feel more personal. If the Renaissance Pleasure Faire is a big city, Koroneburg is a small, friendly town.
Koroneburg has some unique aspects to it. The biggest is that the park has actual buildings that look like little replicas of an old European village. I wish I had taken pictures, but my mom and I just enjoyed wandering around. I recognized many people from the last time I attended the faire two years ago, so it does have a faithful following.
My wish is that there would be more to do there, as it is a pretty small faire. The layout is sort of oval-shaped, with a more sparse, open area in the back. There is a stage where the Queen's Swordsmen perform. I've seen them both times I've been to Koroneburg and in Vegas, and their always entertaining. Also in the back is a water-dunking game and camps. There isn't a lot of entertainment, and pretty much all of it has a "pass-the-hat" procedure, so it feels a little awkward if you don't have tipping money (I came prepared for the Queen's Swordsmen this year). There are not too many food options, but the selections that they have are pretty nice. There are the traditional turkey legs and steak on a steak, but there are also sauteed mushrooms and even ice cream. Most of the food items are priced around $5.00, so you don't feel as though you have to choose between food or souvinieres.
As far as crafts go, there are some real winners. Apart from the usual items (costumes, leather goods, etc), there are hand-crafted wooden mugs (I loved the wooden flasks! Unfortunately, I don't have a link for them), magnetic broaches with nature photographs printed on them (not very authentic, but still interesting) and colorful, hand-blown glass-wear. One thing the glass-blower sold that I haven't seen at any other fair: mezzuzahs (also spelled mezouza). I haven't seen those since I lived in L.A. and I even got to explain them to my mom, since she'd never seen one. That was my "I feel smart" moment of the day.
As for costumes: most of the people I saw at the faire were in costume, but the level of authenticity was mixed. Two weekends during the festival, the park stays open until 9:00pm and both weekends have a theme. The first weekend was Robin Hood weekend and The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Erol Flynn was played in a tent. This weekend was Pirate weekend and The Sea Hawk, also starring Erol Flynn, was played. Since pirates have become popular, so too has lax costuming. You can pretty much throw anything on and call yourself a pirate, although some do it better than others. Knowing this, and not having complete costumes since my chemise fell apart at the Vegas faire, I threw together an old skirt with a silk blouse and some racey tights. I added some costume jewelery and ta-daa-- acceptable faux-pirate garb! Mom just wore normal clothes as we don't have any costume pieces for her... yet.
The regulars who attend this faire are very into their characters, but they are far mellower than their Renaissance Pleasure Faire counterparts. This is totally cool, though, as it helps with their distinct but equal vibe. The story is that the festival is being held by the Baron Heinrich Von Lauffer and you see him often. He's this big, pleasant man with a happy German accent (I can't really think how to describe it; ever hear Ludwig Von Drake speak?).
We stayed at the faire until it closed. Then we hiked back downhill to our car and noticed the smell of... poo. We smelled it earlier when we parked the cars, and my guess at the time was that horses were nearby. Leaving the parking lot, however, we took a wrong turn. The exit is twisty and confusing, especially in the dark. Following others doesn't help sometimes, as we did and ended up in a dark dead end. Then we smelled it.
"I think we're next to a water-reclamation area." My mom said. She was right. I turned the car around and tried to get out of there and back onto the street as quicly and as safely as I could, but the smell of sulfur and sewage filled the car. The only thing to do was endure it until we were back on the road and the park was far behind us.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

James Dean

   In April of 2000, I graduated from the academy. I did not enjoy my experience there, but I did learn a lot (as I've stated on here before). Towards the end of my year there, I heard that the tv movie "James Dean" was going to be partly shot at our school, which then occupied part of the Pasadena Playhouse. Any of the students who participated as an extra would get a SAG voucher for it. While a few of us saw this as an opportunity, there were many who brushed it aside. Even though there have been countless stars and working actors who started as extras, the line of work has a negative connotation. Theatre and film departments of colleges are breeding grounds for snobbery and the academy was no exception. Out of entire graduating class, only about five students signed up.
   Three of us went together and signed up with the extras agency working for "James Dean". It was in a nondescript building on a very busy street. The man who ran the business was very cocky, though he had nicer people who worked for him. They took our photos and had us fill out forms stating our info and what we were willing and able to do. An older gentleman who was helping me out spoke up when I reached a box asking if I was willing to do nudity.
   "Don't do that, honey." He said. "Your dignity's not worth that."
   It was odd at the time to hear someone say that. Before we graduated, some of my fellow classmates had done a final play where they all had to be completely nude at least once. While they all took it in stride and complimented each other on what great actors they were, I saw it as being forced to go nude or being denied their degrees. It's so easy to allow yourself to be taken advantage of when you're a young actor just starting out. But of course, there are other ways that a young actor can lose thier dignity than by disrobing for no reason.
   The day I went back to the school for the shoot, the adjoining parking lot was full of white trailers. I met with a PA (production assistant) who signed me in and helped me fill out my voucher. Then he told me where the wardrobe trailer was. The wardrobe lady fitted me with the lovely ensemble you see me in in the picture above. My clothing was authentic from the early 1950s right down to the undergarments. I'm not cold in the photo, it's one of those lovely pointy-cup bras! I received many comments throughout the day, such as, "You'll take an eye out with those things!" I even wore a girdle and shorts with (unprotected) rubber lining. Let me tell you, it was not fun taking those off at the end of the day, as the rubber burned my skin. 
   After going to the hair and make-up trailers, I went to extra's holding, which happened to be in the theatre our final plays had been performed in. There were not a lot of extras for this scene and we were all working as union. Everyone, including the crew, was super-nice! People were more than happy to explain everything to me and how it all worked. You got snacks from "craft services", but you changed your clothes (or used the restroom) in the "honey wagon". I thought that was odd.
   Some of the extras had had pretty interesting careers already. One woman (who was the one who took the above picture) was also the dancing lobster on "The Amanda Show", while another woman had been a dancer in the Las Vegas show, "Splash". We sat in the seats and talked. One guy slept, which I thought was an odd thing to do at the time.
   Soon, the director came out onto the stage. Mark Rydell was dressed casually and was just the nicest guy. He told us what the scene we were going to be in was about with a soft voice and the flaire of a storyteller. James Dean was in an acting class that garnered lots of respect from the entertainment communtiy. He was doing a scene with another guy who played the owner of a watch shop. James was going to play a man trying to steal a watch. But the acting teacher couldn't foresee that James would get really into the scene and try to beat up the other guy to get the watch. All of the other students would freak out and the teacher would have to break up the fight. And that would be that.
   Eventually we went into the classroom where the scene was being filmed. It was one of the dance classrooms. This was a room where I learned how to fence (I totally sucked), brushed up on my tap-dancing skills (kind of sucked at that, too, but I had more fun at that) and even acted in there on occassion (whether I sucked or not was up for debate ;) ). The director and his immediate crew were against the mirrored wall. I looked on the opposite side out the window to see a large light on a craned platform. The man guarding it was sleeping. One of the extras whispered to me that he was getting paid tons of money to sleep there. In front of us against the was wall, was James Franco. He was laying down on a couch, smoking. After he finished that cigarrette, he lit up another. From what I could guess, he's an actor who tries to immerse himself in his character, whether he's at work or not. Every now and then, he'd scrunch up his face or make a pouty look, and he looked like a photo of the real James Dean. I enjoyed that.
   A props man came around and gave us various items to use in the scene. He gave me some feminine horn-rimmed glasses, which I chose not to wear (because I was dumb) and I regretted it later when he approached me and asked me about it later. He didn't yell at me, but I felt bad and used or wore whatever props or wardrobe gave me from then on.
   In the scene, I sat next to the guy who was playing the actor James was about to beat up "for his craft". I would list his name, but I don't remember what it was. If it's listed on imdb, there's no picture by his name. He was a nice guy, though. He did a little bit with me before he walked up onstage to do the scene with James, which I thought was nice and went along with. Working on that scene was one of the times I got to do the most acting as an extra.
   There were a few shots for that scene. One was focused just on the two actors and the teacher and I'm pretty sure we weren't used for that. Another was behind us looking at the stage, and another was on us reacting to what was going on on stage. There may have been more, but again, it's been awhile.
   After shooting, we waited around a little, ate some lunch (I think) and then we were done. I turned in my costume, got my voucher and went home, not knowing how soon my next extra gig would be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Extra Work

I am about to do something that no woman is *supposed* to do: I am about to age myself. By that, I mean I'm going to describe events that will make you, the reader, figure out roughly how old I am. It's really not that hard to do anymore, given sites like facebook and what have you (and the description about myself on this blog) but it still is a taboo.
It was ten years ago this year when I left the academy and started my three year-long stint as a full-time non-union extra. Why three years as non-union, you might ask (if you are in the know enough to ask). I owe it partly to my magnetic personality, but mostly to the system.
Being an extra was a very exciting, depressing, angry and funny time for me. Whether I like it or not, it helped shaped who I have become. Also, along with my experience at the academy (which I won't go too much into-- it's just not as interesting), shaped my view on the entertainment industry as a whole.
Sitting in my room in a light blue photo box with water-color flowers on it, that my mom probably bought me from Kmart, sits almost all of my vouchers and check stubs I received from extra work. I think over the course of my "career" I lost maybe two vouchers in my trunk that were never seen again. I've been meaning to "one day" look at each one and remember what happened for each shoot. Then I wanted to either write a book or a screenplay about them.
But, as I previously mentioned, it's been pretty much a decade since all of that happened. I still have all of my faculties, but I'd like to write this down. You never know when something could happen. Some horrible catastrophe could prevent my story from coming out, though most of me thinks that's unlikely. What's more likely is I would prevent myself from telling my story, which has already been the case. When you're an actress completely starting out, there's a lot of things you're told you're not supposed to do. The same things happen in regular lines of work, but as far as I've experienced, never so much as in the entertainment industry. You get told "no" for so many things and soon you'll find you're telling yourself "no" to even the most obvious good opportunities.
And yes, that last paragraph was a bit of a rant without explanation. I'm sorry. All will be explained in the stories ahead.
Also, while this is my life story, this will be a truthful account. I know it's been ten years, but I'm not going to exaggerate. Some of it might be hard to believe, because the entertainment industry is silly like that. But I won't make stuff up like, "I was sitting in my unmoving car on the 405 south, when a pegasus flew down to my driver's-side window and said 'Get on my back and I will take you to the studios!'"
(But I have to tell you, that was one heck of a morning.)
As far a posting each entry is concerned, my goal is to do at least one a week. Maybe sometimes I'll do two, maybe sometimes I'll only be able to do one in two weeks. But I will be consistent. I would recommend subscribing to this blog if you want to stay up-to-date. I will be posting links to my updates on my facebook page, but keep in mind I only accept people as my facebook friends who I know. It isn't hard to become a follower of blogs on blogspot; you just have to set up a google account, log in and click "follow" on my page.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the stories.