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7:52 PM - FRI 1.12.18
A Tale Of Two Auditions (PT I)

A Tale Of Two Auditions (PT I)

There's a worry I always have after the holidays, an emotional trap I'm afraid I'm going to fall into (And have fallen into in the past).

From Xmas to New Year, when I'm struggling with depression and boredom, in part because nothing's happening with acting, I tell myself "I just have to get through the next couple weeks. Then the fucking holidays will be over, things will start back up again, and I'll be fine".

The trouble is, it ain't necessarily so. Because yes, things will start up again, to be sure...but there's no guarantee they'll immediately start up again for me.

And if I've gotten myself through the holidays, in part, with the promise of the sweet auditions to come, then those sweet auditions don't come...that can be a problem.

Well, I'm happy to report, 2018 has gotten off to a pretty exciting start (Actually, I'm not really that happy at the moment and things don't seem that exciting - I'm actually feeling pretty low right now - but I'm getting ahead of myself...).

I've had four auditions so far this month - two commercials, one theatrical, and exhibition.

Pretty sure the museum thing (At the Hammer Museum, to be precise) would have gotten by me if Josh M. hadn't brought it to my attention - I think he saw the notice on Craigslist, auditioning dancers "with experience or interest in striptease" for a live piece by artist Tino Sehgal titled "selling out", and he messaged me about it on Facebook ("Jim! I think this would be perfect for you. I looked up the art piece, and it involves a normal looking museum guard doing a surprise striptease in the middle of the gallery. You would kill it!")

My gut response was to say no - just because I've "broken the seal" on exposing myself for money (With the strip-club scene on Shameless, and the Vodaphone thing), doesn't mean I'm actively seeking out more opportunities to embarrass myself.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I should do it - Because it would be novel (I've never been a "museum exhibition" before, and how many times is that opportunity going to come up?), because it would be me getting paid to dance (While I still sorta can), because it would continue the assault on my modesty/shame (As Alec Baldwin once said of actors, "We're not in the dignity business", which makes my aforementioned modesty/shame a liability), and because, if nothing else, the audition would make for a good anecdote, and I could think of myself as being "brave" for having done it.

So I emailed the artist with a brief note, my attached resume, and a clip of the strip-club scene from Shameless.

And probably within a week, I got a response, inviting me to audition.

It was last Friday, at 10 am.

I was running slightly late, so most of the people had gotten there when I came in (Including Josh, who was also auditioning).

And instantly it was clear he'd been off in his description of the piece - It was clearly not "perfect" for me, because this wasn't a room full of unlikely strippers (As I thought it might be), it was a room filled with young, attractive people, probably a good 75% of whom were actual burlesque dancers.

Not sure how many of us there were - maybe 30? - but we were all in chairs lined around this conference/multipurpose room.

The artist introduced himself, and then we went around the room, introducing ourselves and talking about our connection to striptease, if we had one.

After we made it around the room (And me and Josh excelled during this part of the program with self-deprecating humor), I thought we might adjourn to the theater - the invite to the audition, mentioned the Hammer having a theater with a small stage - and do...whatever it was we were going to do (Never having done something quite like this, I didn't have a very clear idea how things were going to proceed - Would we be called in one at a time, or in groups, or what?).

The artist mentioned the stage, but said that since the piece didn't involve being on stage, we might as well just stay where we were.

That gave me momentary pause...but only momentary, since I'd told myself there was the possibility that, whatever we were going to do, we were going to do in front of everyone.

So he had us all get up, said something about "the silence being our music" (When I'd heard there was no music involved in the piece - the actual thing will be done in silence - I was very disappointed), and had us move around for a few minutes.

As I remember it, people immediately went into slow-motion, and went right to taking their clothes off, which was an interesting moment for me of "Okay, so this is actually happening...".

He stopped us, not happy with what had resulted (Which I found strange - I could have totally predicted what would happen when telling people "the silence is your music"), and said to "find your own rhythm" and "play some music in your head" and "don't forget to actually dance" - or words to that effect - then had us go again.

To be honest, I don't remember what I did exactly, but I don't think I took my pants off - I'm not sure I did anyway - not because I was embarrassed, but because I think I still had my shoes on, and couldn't figure out the logistics of getting them off without stopping to do it, or falling over.

The weirdness of it all certainly registered with me - I'm the only nudity I ever experience in real life (And I'm always alone when it happens), and suddenly I'm in a room with a couple dozen young people who are all getting very close to naked (And in the case of two gay club dancers, getting totally naked - Which made me think how, however nice a man's body might be, and my new friends' bodies were perfectly fine, flaccid penises just look...silly).

After the two go-rounds with the full group, he had about a third of the group go at a time (We didn't have to "solo" in front of the group, which was both a relief, and - oddly - a disappointment).

I was in the third group, so as things proceeded, I was half watching, and half trying to figure out how to best facilitate getting out of my clothes when the time came (I can dance, but I have no real experience stripping - Even the Shameless scene didn't actually involve taking much off).

Josh was in the 2nd group, and he was possibly the one person who belonged at the audition even less than I did - He's younger than I am, and I'd say his body is "nondescript" (He's just skinny) rather than "actively gross" (like mine), but unless he was hiding his dancing skills under a bushel, he couldn't move at all.

But that said, he did a pretty great audition, in part because he was on this whole other wavelength so you had to watch him (And consider how impressive it is that I'm saying that - I'm a guy who hasn't seen a live naked woman in quite some time, and they were all over the place) - I remember at one point, he raised one leg very, very slowly...then kicked off a shoe, which rolled a couple feet away.

The other thing that cracked me up was when he pulled off his belt, and lashed himself across the back with it a couple times - Nobody else, at least that I saw, was doing any S&M shit, so again, he stood out.

Then my time came.

I don't remember a lot of specifics of what I did (Josh had worked up some choreography the night before, while I decided that, since I wasn't sure what the guy was looking for or what he was going to ask us to do, to just "wing it" when the time came).

I know I'd taken my shoes off in advance - and maybe my belt, I'm not sure - and was dancing, in my head, to "Ladies Night" by Kool and the Gang.

Beyond that, I took it pretty seriously, not goofing on my looks, but imagining I was a stripper, bumping and grinding and pretending I was sexy.

I stripped down to my boxer-briefs - in hindsight, I wish I'd bought a thong ("In for a penny..." and all that) - but without a clear sense of how much time I had to work with, without an actual song, I felt like I stripped too fast, was dancing in my undies for too long, and kind of ran out of shit to do (Unlike the gay guys, I was not going to get completely naked, because - once again - flaccid penises, mine included, are just...silly-looking. Besides, the audition notice said, "Must be comfortable with partial nudity", not "Must be willing to do 'The Full Monty'").

After that, and when everyone was dressed, he had the entire group just dance, without emphasizing the stripping.

That was where I felt my most comfortable (Because it felt like "the pressure was off"), and I remember thinking "Well, for what it's worth, I've showed him I can dance, even if I'm totally not what he's got in mind" (He was looking for nine people for the piece),

One thing that's very interesting to me, writing about it now, is how few "visuals" I remember - Beyond what I've described, I have maybe four or five "snapshots" in my head, of sexually-appealing or otherwise interesting images/moments I noted during the experience.

And since I'm who I am (i.e. a lonely, horny guy who only saw his last naked woman because he paid for her), and this experience lasted at least an hour, that surprised me.

But I have some theories...

1. It was a case of "visual overload" - there was a lot going on at one time, so not much stood out beyond the overall "I'm in a room full of people who are taking their clothes off..." experience.

2. It was an audition - As I said before, even when I had the opportunity to just watch, I couldn't really focus, because I was busy thinking about what I would do when my turn came (I also wonder if there was some psychological "quid pro quo" going on - "Okay, I won't objectify you, if you don't objectify me...")

3. It wasn't the right "context" - I've now been in a few circumstances involving (partial) nudity in a performing context, and each time (Whether it was the Vodaphone shoot, the Shameless episode where Svetlana flashed me, or this), it has struck me, "This nudity, appealing as it is, isn't for me. This isn't my nudity". No one is getting naked for me, or trying to turn me on specifically, so in large part, it doesn't turn me on.

4. It wasn't actually that sexy. I think it could have been, theoretically, if we had been watching individuals performing for the artist and/or the rest of the group, or if everyone had been dancing to the same song, instead of everyone just moving around silently to "their own rhythm" or "a song in their head" or whatever.

But as things stood, to my eye, it didn't really look much like "stripping" - It was more like contemporary dance where people were slowly taking off their clothes, the kind of thing you might find beautiful or artistic, but not especially erotic (I think the silence and the fact that nobody's moves seemed really "directed" at anyone - though I put an imaginary person in front of me, and sometimes behind me, just to have someone to "perform to" - stripped the movement (Pun noticed, but not intended) of a lot of it's stripper vibe...which for all I know could be exactly the point of the piece.

Afterward, I had a short debriefing with Josh about the experience, and as we talked, a woman who'd also just auditioned approached us, complimenting Josh on what he'd done (And as I've suggested already, I was impressed myself) and telling me she was a big fan of Shameless.

In the time since the audition, I've been "all over the map about it", though I've continually been glad I did it.

I've thought just doing the audition was good enough, and I didn't "need" to now book the job. I've rationalized why I might still get it anyway (as unlikely as it seemed). I've thought I need to "get over myself" about my dancing (Basically "I'm not all that" and no one gives a shit if I can dance). I've told myself I actually wouldn't want to get it (It could be alternately tedious and difficult to actually do). Then (after a conversation with Mark and Jane), I decided it might actually be a pretty fascinating experience to have as an actor/performer (How would people respond to me as a silently stripping museum guard? Would they be shocked? Embarrassed? Amused? Intrigued? Would they flee? Would they stay? And how would I, in turn, respond to that?)

But I think where things are gonna land are that nothing's gonna happen, beyond just giving myself an interesting experience/amusing anecdote.

Which is fine.

And while I'm gonna continue not to seek out opportunities to get naked, it's nice to know that this is now something I can do if I choose to/if the need arises, without a lot of undue angst.

One nice thing that struck me, after this experience? I was thinking how I've told people about the two gay guys who got completely naked, and about their silly-looking "flaccid penises", and I realized that, the same way my talking about them is absolutely meaningless to them, there are people who walked out of the audition with memories of me being part of their experience ("There was this one guy who auditioned, who was older than everyone else and super-hairy...!" or whatever they might say) and that doesn't mean anything to me either.

And as an actor (As a person, for that matter), there's power in that realization.


Well, I had intended to make this entry about the "museum audition" and the audition I had for a Guest-Star on a Disney kids show earlier this week.

But I'm tired, and I wrote a lot about the one thing and don't want to make this entry an "ordeal", so I think I'm gonna stop here, and take the other audition up in the next entry...


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