Propped up at the front desk of Meridian Day Spa I write. Today I am both receptionist and massage therapist. Last Friday I was a journalist. These are not acting roles, but the ventures on which I ride and survive. Coming to LA was more than just living the dream. It was a window to making creative dreams a reality – acting, writing, singing, recording and making my own projects. Giving birth to all the ideas that knock about in my imagination. I think I’m off to a good start.
Exactly five months have passed since I made my home in the City of Angels. It’s been a bumpy journey, full of highs and lows. Starting again is both delightful and fraught with doubt. There’s been an ebb and flow of excitement, promise, loneliness, frustration, fulfillment, magic, madness and exhaustion. As I type, I think of how much I’ve achieved in this short space of time. My cravings seem neverending; a hunger and curiosity that drives me forward. 7 years since graduating from acting school and many personal and creative mountains climbed.
When reflecting on my journey here in LA and the weeks and weeks of struggling to find work, a home, being offered measily wages, dealing with nut jobs on a daily basis, trying to understand the Hollywood brush off (where people literally say I’ll call you back in 5, and then don’t) I feel I am now gaining some stabililty. My head is slowly working out this city – a city unto it’s own. A rule book that changes it’s margins daily or on days can be non existant.
I managed to find work finally and have a part time position as a massage therapist at a lovely spa in the gay epicentre of west Hollywood. I work with a fabulous and friendly group of mostly gorgeous gay men and am developing some loyal clients that love the Brabenec style massage. ‘Dang girl, that was better than sex!’ annouced one happy client and another simply clapped as I exited the room repeating ‘Bravo, bravo’. Hilarious! The 50% pay cut is hard to swallow and relying on tips a whole new world of earning, but I am so very grateful to have this stability and appreciative customers. Up until recently I had a second job at another massage location very close to home in Koreatown – it was actually like working at a circus. Way too many indians and not one chief. It was a new business, losing money hand over fist. Somedays I’d sit for 7 hours and see no clients and as my wage was based on commision and no flat rate, I would leave without a penny in my pocket! A depressing and time wasting exercise. Korea town is dotted with cheap massage spots – the competition is rife and prices low; an hours relaxation massage at Lotus where I worked, cost a bargain price of $29. I was making $15. My fellow therapists were a Korean guy named Golden in his late 50’s with minimal English skills, a love of wearing fishing style or silky vests always emblazoned with an American flag stick pin and a tool belt with all sorts of unnecessary tat hanging from it. Golden was a character who somedays tried to have 3 massage clients on the go at once, bouncing from one to the other in a frenzy of hands and oil, pummeling and pinching. He had no second thoughts about having a chat on his mobile whilst massaging, or switching up the relaxation music to blast Korean talk back radio whilst I was in session. Then came Essence, the cherry on the cake. Essence started just as I was in throes of bailing out. A 22 year old, with sugar daddies in Beverly Hills that ‘pay her bills’, 2 kids and a completely uncensored manner meaning I heard all about her sexual exploits, family drama and fisticuffs. It was entertaining for about 5 minutes.
I keep busy auditioning – I’ve booked a few great projects, submitting for acting work, networking, writing odd articles for an online magazine, studying, exploring LA, dating, tapping away at my personal projects, pottering in my vegetable garden and working out. I’ve joined the gym across the road from work that has an outdoor pool and after 5-6 hours of solid massaging I slip across and do some night swimming under the Cali stars, then soak in the jacuzzi surrounded by gossiping gay men and serious faced, gold laden Europeans.
I’ve become a dab hand on the public transport system and somedays have traveled all compass directions and home again without a hiccup. Public transport gets a bad rap, but it’s served me at the best of times. It seems so many people have never ridden on it as it’s perceived as too difficult or inefficient. It’s certainly not the London underground, nor uber sophisticated, but it works and is cheap. A weeks pass for train and bus costs 20 bucks. Unreal! Although travel can be long and annoying at times, I relish the chance to read, script study, chat and look out the window. The character study one can do is priceless (: Saying this the convenience of a car is undeniable and in the coming months I’ll be looking to hit the road in my own vehicle, including home visits with massage.
So the smaller pieces have fallen into place. Hallelujah! Now it’s working towards something bigger – a break, some kind of in. A game of patience, hard work, luck and determination, plus a healthy sprinkling of faith. My life as an actress in LA.