I’m Ready For My Close-up, Mr. Guffman
The year before I met my husband (back when cell phones had antennas…can you imagine?!?), I embarked on Operation Sassification. It was precipitated by my devastating break-up with a guy I never liked in the first place (I used to have a thing for douche bags) and involved doing things that terrified me.
It lasted almost a year and culminated in a solo trip to Cancun’s Club Med (that’s another story…on another blog…one that my family can’t access), but it was an Introduction to Acting class that had the greatest impact on me.
Initially I was too embarrassed to tell people I was taking the class; it was very basic, with many exercises involving trust and improv. By the end of the course an interesting thing happened: I could deliberately, even joyfully – and without a hint of regret – make a complete ass of myself in public.
Two years later, I was having lunch with a client when she mentioned her excitement over an upcoming audition for a local production of the Rocky Horror Show. I mentioned my brief foray into acting and she encouraged me to try out for a supporting role (she made it clear that the role of sexy space babe Magenta was made for her).
The audition involved singing, which I’d never done publicly, so I bought a karaoke version of “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” from Grease and started rehearsing. I also made the Serb watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show, something I hadn’t done since my toast-throwing days in high school.
Seeing the movie without being drunk and pelted with food was a very different experience. I assured him that the stage version would have audience participation. Although he was supportive, I could tell that the Serb didn’t really get it.
On the day of the audition I had one goal: make it through the experience without barfing on someone. Seeing all of the cute, lithe blondes practicing their pitch in the hallway did not help. I entered the room and stood before the director, choreographer and piano player. I handed them my homemade headshot and meagre resume. They asked me a few questions and then told me to sing.
What I lacked in technique I made up for in chutzpah. I may have even thrown in some jazz hands. I left the audition proud of my effort – I hadn’t sucked and, more importantly, hadn’t puked on the director. I was psyched at the thought of landing a role as an extra during the “Time Warp” scene.
Later that week the phone rang. It was the assistant director, Becky:
Becky: “We’d like to offer you the role of Magenta.”
Me: “Say what now?”
Me: “Don’t you mean the lady holding the banana during ‘Sweet Transvestite’?”
Me: “I’ll take it!”
Needless to say, my client was not impressed. I, however, was ecstatic – doing Rocky Horror Show was a huge thrill. The people involved were amazing and the production was way beyond anyone’s expectations. I was singing, dancing and strutting onstage half-naked: I was as far from my comfort zone as I could possibly be. Despite some very Christopher Guest-like moments, the play was a massive, sold-out success.
And what did the Serb think? Why, he became an unofficial Rocky Horror fanboy, of course. Not only did he attend every single performance (including two shows on Saturdays!), he still makes me sing along with the movie whenever it’s on TV. Frank-N-Furter may be gone, but he’s definitely not forgotten.