Carl AKA The Creeper. Awkward auditions. Part 2.

It’s about 6 months or so into my LA experience – a casting comes through for a short film about a white girl who’s never dated a black man. This character has a love of hip hop, and figures it might be time to go beyond her usual dating preferences and try something new. It said it was a paid comedy, and I thought it had the potential to be quite a laugh.

I submitted, and not long after the phone rang. A Russian sounding man introduced himself, “Hey, I’m Carl, I’m the producer on the project you submitted for”. We had chats about the film, and he explained at the audition I’d be meeting with a guy who was playing the male lead, we would interact a little to see what the chemistry was like, and then go into the work. I was told to dress nicely, like I was going on a date. OK, seemed pretty straight forward.

Come audition day, I had no car, so was on the bus in all my dressed up glory. High heels, full face of make up at midday and a tight-ish dress. I didn’t have too far to go, but once off the bus, the street I needed to get to was blocked by a fence of sorts. The only option to get to the street without doing a massive detour (which would result in me running late), was to climb the damn thing! Picture me, in heels, hoisting myself over this waist high wire fence, whilst attempting not to flash myself at any passing cars. What was I thinking?!

I get to a gritty looking prefab apartment complex and walk into the dusty looking courtyard. I hadn’t anticipated it being a private residence, have no apartment number and start to wonder what to do. Did I save Carl’s number? My instincts are screaming dodgy, but I’m here, so I wait it out for a minute or two, looking up to the landing that squares the courtyard, when a tall black man in black slacks and a white shirt slinks into sight, and comes casually down the stairs.

He shakes my hand, introduces himself, confirms I’m here for the ‘audition’ and we proceed to stand there and banter a little. It feels somewhat awkward, but I’m just trying to go with the flow.

Then he asks me, “So, what do you know about this project?”. I tell him I spoke to the producer Carl and he told me a bit about the production. He queries “Ohh, you spoke to Carl did you?”. “Yup, yes I did. He was a Russian guy, I think”. His face lit up. ” He sounded Russian?”. “Mmmhmm”, I responded.

THEN, he does the BIG REVEAL!

“That was actually me! I was testing out my accents, and that’s so awesome you thought I sounded legitimately Russian”.

Cue, back up against the wall. “Whha, whaa, WHAT!? Are you being serious? Because right now you’re starting to freak me out.”

He goes on, “Oh, I don’t mean to freak you out, it’s just I’m not having a lot of luck with online dating, so I thought this would be an interesting spin on meeting girls and doing something different, ya know..!?”.

I can’t believe my ears. I feel frozen, stunned to my very core. At this point, I’m grateful a neighbor walks through with his child, providing me a flash of security it what now feels like an out of this world scenario.

I proceed to tell this guy what an ass he his, deceptive, dishonest and a waste of my time. I turn my back and start walking away when he says “Noo, but I seriously do have other projects I’m working on, there’s a bunch of stuff I’m doing”. I keep walking.

I call Actors Access – the reputed website where the casting originated, and report this scumbag. Then comes the email from ‘Carl’, apologizing, asking for another chance and sending me a link to his current project – him reciting poetry over moving black and white footage of naked women by rain stricken window panes – suggesting maybe this is something I’d be interested in!!!!!

Jesus wept.

As they say, the rest is history – lesson learnt, the hard way. And, thank goodness I’m still alive to tell the tale…

 

 

 

 

 

House hunting 101

28th of January, 2012

HUGE day in LA. Oh my Gawwwwwdddddd! Time to find me a new home.

My dear friend Frankie very kindly offers to be my driver and wing woman for the day. Little do I realise what a God send she’ll be! As we traverse LA in it’s near entirety, encountering in every port of call a new story and massive education in the share house market, I feel more and more grateful to have a compadre by my side.

We head to our first stop in Hollywood to meet with Dana. The first impressions of this potential home are not looking good; unless it’s a half way house you’re after. As I look down the drive way I realise the Californian bungalows so charmingly described on Craigs List are surrounded by filth, a dumpster and shopping trolleys laden with dirty blankets and plastic bagged personal items used by the homeless as mobile homes. I’m sure she said a lawyer lived here?! The bungalows of which there are 3 are an absolute disaster; they look hurricane ravaged and derelict. A loud voice diverts our attention. ‘Miss Aussstralliaaaa!’. Here is she is – our friendly host Dana with a scabbed up, half beaten and bloated face, wearing a ripped guns and roses t-shirt.  ‘Come on in!’ she cries. Two steps into this place, one glance at the rusty cess pit of a kitchen and we have to get out. I don’t know why or how we even made it this far. ‘I’m so sorry but this is NOT what I am looking for’. ‘OK, nooo problem’. She seems to vanish into a side room, or perhaps down a trap door as we rapidly step back into the driveway. Frankie and I quietly roll our eyes, until we’re in the safety of her car to momentarily ponder what the hell was that?!!!! Acceleration station and we are hooning up the street.

We navigate our way to a lovely looking house in the heart of Hollywood. I meet Nate who’s not long in from the airport having picked up his wife and kids from the airport. They’ve just returned from visiting relatives in Japan. He’s a musician and knows Australia well. He casually drops into conversation he’s been out there a lot to see his old friend Kate Cebrano. I take a look around, but despite his charm, the location and nice house, it doesn’t work. I’d be living with 8 people in total. Him, his wife and two adorable kids occupying the upstairs, and 4 random people, whom I didn’t meet, living downstairs in tiny bedrooms. There’s a pokey kitchen and dark communal living room. I start to think I’m never going to find something quite right.

We take a brunch break and head to a favourite spot of Frankies; ‘Toast’.

We enjoy a sumptuous feast and ginormous iced coffee, whilst contemplating the local fashion. Between a beige bandana worn as a sweat band and a man in a two piece matching camel faux suede suit with geometric patterning cut from its breast piece, I don’t know where to look. It’s like an early 90’s flash back. Later Frankie comes out with a magnificent quote; ‘LA is the place where fashion comes to die’. I wish I had photos to bear witness.

We head on to the next meet, north to Sherman Oaks (north LA). It’s a good location in terms of being near the studios (because of course I will be required to work there sooner rather than later), but it’s just a little bit away from all the action. I meet with Kelly, who seems normal. We climb the stairs of her apartment and there’s a plastic hospital like screen covering off an area and a sign that says Keep Out. I assume there are renovations or something of the sort going on, so I ask. Kelly responds that behind the curtain is where she lives! A la Wizard of Oz! She shows me the room. There are views of the majestic LA mountains, it’s an ok size, so I ask to see the kitchen. ‘Oh no, there’s no kitchen, one of the last tenants burnt it down’ she says. ‘But you’ve got a microwave right there sweetie’. I let her know that I like cooking and a kitchen is important, to which she seems put out. ‘Most of the people who live here are on the go. You can get ready meals from Trader Joes up the road’.

OH dear.

We’re back in the car and heading to Korea town (East LA). An area that’s fast becoming the new place to be with cheaper rent, great Korean bbq restaurants and close to the vibing Down town district. I meet Chris who writes recipes for a living. The house smells like cat piss of which he owns two and is extremely grotty. He’s a cool enough guy, but the gobs of hair in the bath tub make me quietly retch and the black near burn marks all over the carpet doesn’t really do it for me.

I feel deflated. I feel like my criteria is somehow too demanding. I want for too much. The right price, right area, cool people, a little outdoor space to flap my wings, transport near by….is that too much to ask for?!

We head to Frankie’s mate Sam’s house. Her and her bf have recently moved into a 1920’s Chateau style apartment block. There are a number of these stunning buildings dotted round LA with divine courtyards and artsy boho vibes.

We have some tea and chats. It’s a necessary breather in a mammoth day. So many thoughts are whirling round my head. What to do, what to do???

We head home and decide on a little unwind time at a nail spa just around the corner. There are two in one block ( not uncommon I discover, nail spas are everywhere). We take our pick and very gratefully kick back with feet soaking in hot bubbling water, magazines in hand and start the massage option on our reclining lounges. Ahhhh, bliss.

With toe and fingernails painted and recent celeb goss caught up on; we head home for a little down time before heading to a local bar called Winstons. It’s rammed, sweaty and big banging hip hop tunes fill the space. The crowd sings along to tunes I’ve never heard before, booties drop, hands wave in the air, couples gyrate. I’m dazed. The wicked illustrations on the wall catch my eye. I quietly take it all in. A beer or two later, I’m busting out power moves, taking it to the floor and back up again.Then it’s 2am and home time. Hallejuah, this gal is ready for bed! It’s been one seriously long day.

 

PRE LA DEPARTURE…

As always a last minute dash to get bags packed and the current bedroom restored to it’s former glory. I’ve been staying at my Mum’s and she’s been the ultimate host, as always. I’m the guest of honour, and now it’s time to go.

Rolling clothes tightly. Positioning them just so in my 14 year old backpack. The backpack that I bought at the age of 18 to take with me to Europe. This could well be it’s last ride -as the zips have grown weary and seams bulge and fray. A little panic- how’s everything going to fit???  What if it’s overweight?

Somewhere in the middle of this I finally connect with my beautiful English boyfriend. It’s been perhaps 2 weeks without real communication. On skype we have ‘the’ conversation… One that has been  brewing, one that unfortunately has to happen and breaks my heart (though in the mayhem I hardly have time to feel it). We no longer reside in the same city OR country…and the idea that we would be together forever has crumpled and the logistics have become too complicated. It feels all too rushed. And just like that…after a year of magic, it’s over. I love you Philly Benoir xxx

Next thing you know Mum and I, we’re in peak hour traffic going to collect my best buddy from town as she’s kindly offered to come out to the airport to see me off.. Mum’s stressing and I’m quietly anxious.

Eventually I am on my Air China flight. But! I am not flying direct to LA – I am going via Beijing. 11 and half hours worth of detouring. I’m in the aisle seat, someone sat next to me and no visable spare seats to sneak into for a little lie down later. The phone rings – it’s my mate Bianca, and Mum – saying a final farewell on speaker phone….awww, bless their cotton sox. I indeed feel loved.

The sun sets – a massive orange orb wrapped in thin Melbournian clouds.

Having flown Air China previously I have very low expectations, so when there is a digital touch screen on the back of the headrest in front, I feel a rising sense of  joy. Not the greatest selection of flicks and tv episodes…but it’ll definitely work for the journey ahead.

Read, eat, movie, read, tv, tv, tv (Bear Grylls-yeahh), eat, sleep for 2 hours, arrive.

Beijing – I was here just under 6 weeks ago on my way out from London (my former home) to Melbourne (my original home) for holidays. It’s clear and hazy. Long grey stretches of tarmac sail towards the horizon whilst multi layered plastic wrapped boxes strapped to whizzing cars deliver goods to planes.

Through immigration and the transit area to the next terminal.Now to find my hotel where I am going to spend the next 10 hours until my continuing flight departs.

I have been given a travel voucher that entitles me to 2 meals, a bed and a shower in a hotel – or so I think. For a 6 hour stop over or more this is a granted priviledge, I am told. I get to terminal 31 – hotel found, elevator, reception. “Lounge or hotel” I am asked upon presentation of my voucher. “What?, What??” I reply. “Sleep in lounge with snack, or hotel room four hours” she offers. These are the options and not what I was told to expect at the Air China Melbourne office. After much to-ing and fro-ing, a trip across the airport to the Air China desk and this ‘hotel’ receptionist is not backing down. I take the 4 hours in the hotel room.  The room is not much bigger than a closet, but I am truly grateful to see a bed at this stage and in the to-ing and fro-ing, combined with immigration, I’ve managed to kill an hour and a half.

Before you know it, I am back in the airport and hungry. Air China did not provide the 2 meals promised on my ‘hotel stay’, but I must admit I’m quite excited to explore the eating options. I am somewhat obsessed with Chinese food, and the following feast did not disappoint!
Starter – pork and radish steamed buns, followed by fishball and wintermelon soup, beef steamed dumplings with a main of chicken, veg and rice…it’s lunch, breakfast, dinner combined (God only knows what time of day I am on!) accompanied by steaming mugs of jasmine tea – and I am in heaven (:

Onto the next plane – it’s packed with hundreds of Chinese school children between 12-16 years of age on their way to America. I swiftly discover the plane has no inflight entertainment system, just a large sized TV screen for communal viewing in each plane section. Soon after I also discover my seat struggles to stay reclined for more than five minutes. I’m down and the next thing you know I’m back upright. Oh no… this is not looking good. I try to connect my headphones into some bang  bang action film now showing on the communal screen and despite flicking through multiple channels; there’s absolutely no volume. I find a friendly, fluent, English speaking airhostess             ( now this is a first on Air China) who takes my head phones and tries other seats for volume. Nothing. She apologises and explains she’ll go and reset the entire planes entertainment system whilst my fellow travellers are locked into their Ipads playing computer games and oblivious to my current pain. Boom, just like that and we are back on the airwaves. I take a moment to thank my friendly air hostess, but also express my disappointment in the lack of personal screen and viewing options on this flight. She apologises and explains the plane will be updated in a month or two (no good to me as this is the last Air China flight I’ll be taking) as it is coming up to being almost 20 years old. At this point I have a vision of one wing falling off, balls of fire and our plane plummeting into Eastern Siberia never to be heard of again.

The next thing you know there is a jamboree in the aisles. I’m trying desperately to sleep. I’m being knocked, my chair is still up to it’s old tricks, I’m deep breathing, I’m pacing, I’m counting the minutes and wishing for LA in a big way.

The sun rises. The west coast becomes visable. The ocean shimmers looking diamond studded. Tiny islands pop. The water turns golden. A wave of excitement and anticipation trembles. We’ve touched down. I’ve finally arrived. I’m sleep deprived, but oh so ready! GOODMORNING LALALAND! Buenos dias to you, to you, the City of Angels xxx