"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Can't Blame Them for Trying

Maybe because it's late summer and the heat is frying people's brains, or maybe because people who don't normally create and produce and have little preproduction experience are now creating and producing (nothing wrong with that; that's great!...) but there seems to be a bevy of people lately who just don't know the proper etiquette when it comes to auditioning talent for sexy and/or topless roles.

I submitted for a character in a play: "Rachel - Female, early to late 20s. Cute, funny and very sexy. A serious college student who happens to pay for school by working as a call girl."

Sounds like fun, right? I love being all dolled up in a hot outfit and being cute, funny, and very sexy. With the right amount of makeup, I can pull it off, no problem. I want to read for this role!!

And then, Yay! I get the notification that I've been selected to audition! Woo Hoo! Um, wait a second. I open up the email and read:  
 Please come dressed in your best "call girl" attire. You may be asked to model your sexy undergarments, so please dress your most flattering underneath as well."
I once did a show where my character had to wear lingerie onstage for almost the entire second act. I once did a show where my character had to wear a nightgown, and after our first and only dress rehearsal, saw that, on opening night, my gown (which was also so see-through, I had to wear a robe backstage to not feel so naked) now had slits up to my hips because the director deemed the gown "not sexy enough." I once danced backup for burlesque dancer Vanity Flair, wearing a bra, corset and short skirt onstage.

I have a very healthy body image, know how to flirt, and know which outfits in my closet make me feel sexiest. I even have some very sexy funderwear.

But guess what. You are not going to see them at an audition. Ever.

I'm an actor. I play characters who have sexy costumes chosen by a designer which are then fitted to me and altered in such ways to make me feel comfortable onstage. When I had to wear a strapless dress for a show, I mentioned to the director how I was worried that the dress could slip down my chest, or that I would constantly be pulling it up. No problem, she said, and had straps added. When I was onstage in lingerie, I wore my underwear, and then big black granny panties to cover Everything so that when I flashed the audience by accident, no one could see anything they weren't supposed to, which allowed them to concentrate on the show (instead of my own personal show).

Guess what you're not getting from me at an audition! That's right! Your own personal show! I am NOT showing you my underwear. My underwear is none of your goddamn business. If you want to see what my body looks like, ask to see me in form fitting clothes. Ask to have my swimsuit underneath, but I gotta say, you can probably tell if a girl has a good body or not simply by looking at her. And it's a PLAY! There are no closeups! Why are you so concerned with my underwear in the first place?!

So I did what any smart actress would do: I checked out the sides. You can tell a lot about a production just by the script. If the script sucks, so does the rest of the production because if they don't know what good writing is, they don't know what good anything is.

They said the script was a comedy but I could find no humor in any of the seven pages I read.

Because, at the very least, if the script was good, then I could still walk in there and audition, and if they cared to see my sexy underwear I could look all sexy-eyed and simply say I wasn't wearing any. That's an easy (and stupid) thing to bypass.

The audition turned out to be an easy (and stupid) thing to pass on as well.

What angers me, though, is how other actresses might not know that not only is this unprofessional and uncalled for, but is also unsafe.

Then I saw this posting on Craig's List [my thoughts are in bold]:

Hilarious SAG comedy is looking for a beautiful, supporting actress to play very important and memorable role in feature film. [Then why are you posting on Craig's List?]

This is a very broad comedy and this is a very important role. You will be in 4 scenes, all with the lead character. Need a beautiful, 20-something, Caucasian girl that can be very, very, very [okay, I get it!] sexy and funny at the same time. You must have many talents. [more than just being very, very, very sexy and funny at the same time?] There is nudity in this project, and that nudity belongs to you, so don't submit if you are not OK being topless.

If you're on the fence about doing nudity, submit and let's talk. This could be a career changing role. Shannon Elizabeth in American Pie is a good example. [Shannon Elizabeth is NOT a good example. She is only known as "The Naked Masturbating Girl from American Pie." She had a very hard time finding any serious work after that.] Do this role right and you'll have a comfortable career in the future. [name something Shannon Elizabeth has been in recently. Yeah, I can't either.]

Here are the benefits!

Good pay. It's a SAG film, you are in 4 major scenes and we'll pay you more than scale since you are doing us a favor by showing your boobs. [Showing my boobs WOULD be doing you a favor, I'm sure.]
Topless nudity is all the rage. [awesome selling point.]

Show off your assets while your young and forever be remember as being a hot chick! [oh yeah, good point: I'm just going to get old and ugly later. Why not immortalize my perky breasts forever on celluloid?]

Europeans don't even blink twice for toplessness. (Except the one that submitted and said she wouldn't do a topless scene.... and she still submitted) [oh good. that totally makes me feel better that boobs don't faze Europeans, and I feel superior to that dumb European who submitted and said she wouldn't do it. What an idiot SHE is!]

Boobs are awesome! Guys love them. Girls love them. [Don't forget babies!]

Okay, submit away...

Please, actress submissions only, none of the following:
-dudes [but what if they have boobs?]
-weirdos [but what if they are very, very, very sexy and funny at the same time?]
-girls not okay with nudity (there's a reason I stressed it so much. I get a lot of girls that write me long emails, send me pictures and close with "no nudity." It's a waste of time).
-musicians or erotic musicians (this includes composers!)
-someone asking me if my item is still for sale. Seriously?
-Nigerian royalty
-If you are a studio (especially with a 200 ft green screen)
-anyone altering me that I won a foreign lottery
-anyone under 18
-people that bring their boyfriends to legit auditions. This is a job interview. don't bring boyfriends. You wouldn't for any other job.
-People that won't show up. I block a chunk of time to meet with you. When you no show you are adding time for me to write up lists of people I will never call in again. [if you're looking for talent on Craig's List, I'm sure those no-shows are not missing out on any stellar projects.]
If all of this sounds awesome to you, and you want to gratuitously flash your boobs, go find it on CL and submit. It's a Union project, so you will be protected and bumped up for going topless. (If you ever do non-union boobie flashing, make sure you go over your contracts very carefully and feel safe!) I just find it very strange that this director isn't using breakdowns to find his professional SAG actors. That screams "watch out!" to me.

I did a horror film that switched directors and did reshoots, and when the new director asked me how I felt about showing my boobs in one scene where I'm going berserk and turning into a monster, I said, "I'm not cool with it." "No problem," he said, and he hired a woman who had a career in the adult business. I hope the movie goes to DVD soon; I bet I have a stellar rack!

I can do implied nudity. I might do some nudity if it's integral to the character's arc. If the director and producers want me to play a role with gratuitious nudity and I won't do it, either two things will happen: They'll either cast someone else or find a double.

And that's okay with me, because I have an industry rule that has saved me countless times from doing things I'm uncomfortable with, and I think it's a good rule for any struggling actress. It's my Struggling Actress Rule #1:

 Be proud to show the film to my Dad.


  1. I have never, ever, in my entire life, seen a legit breakdown that actually used the word "boobs." These people should be reported as they are disgusting perverts who are clearly just trying to get their rocks off in the form of a "real" audition. Sadly, I'm sure about 40 women fell for this shit.

    Not cool.

  2. I run a classic Hollywood blog, "Carole & Co." (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/), which as you can tell from the title focuses on Carole Lombard, and I know that in pre-Code days, she often appeared on film in lingerie. (In one of those films, "Bolero," her character is auditioning for a dance part and strips down to underwear and stockings.) However, had someone asked Carole to do that for a real audition, she likely would have replied with one of her famed blue streaks.

  3. btw:


    This? This is priceless.


Play nice.