I knew my acting career wasn’t exactly going to launch with a blockbuster smash hit with me playing a leading role… but I was a little put off by the first major role offered to me by my chain-smoking alcoholic agent. I was given the role of A 19 year old uneducated prostitute with one leg who was dying of AIDS. My only purpose in the film was to have the audience feel sorry for me, then die a gruesome death in an alley, so my prostitute (starring-role) friend could turn her life around and become a responsible thriving successful business woman. I was hesitant to take the role on several levels… but I did, because the last gig I did was a 5 second appearance in a pharmaceutical commercial where I was pushing a kid on a swing. And that was ten months ago… So I’d had ten months of starving for work.
So there it was… My first major role… A 19 YEAR OLD UNEDUCATED ONE LEGGED WHORE DYING OF AIDS!!! Niiiiice! “Way to score”, I thought to myself. I couldn’t shake the bitterness. But I needed to focus. I needed to actually “try” to get into this role, otherwise the role, and my career would tank and i’d suddenly find myself in some dreadful beige office opening and closing filing cabinets all day.
After calling Shirley (my agent) to accept the role, I headed down to the local pub to get shitfaced and really think about how I could play this role and outshine the leading actress. That bitch! I really wanted to come out on top (no pun intended). I had to swallow my pride and stop thinking about the lack of prestige in the role, and start thinking about the opportunity to better my acting career and make this thing happen!
After several Long Island Iced Teas, I started thinking (or maybe I wasn’t thinking) that it would be a good idea to head down to Lower Jarvis and talk to some real prostitutes about their lives, why they do what they do, and how they feel about it. For some reason I thought that they would open up to me, being a fellow woman… I thought it would be a good opportunity to connect with women from different walks of life. Street walkers… One notch below a porn star… The bottom of the barrel profession of desperation. Funny how many parallels there are to acting.
What I didn’t think, was that I would get the shit kicked out of me by 3 angry prostitutes just for opening my mouth.
But… that’s exactly what happened.
I approached a girl in her late twenties… She was wearing a very short jean skirt, pink pumps, and a low cut pink blouse. She looked fairly well groomed and didn’t appear to be destitute or too fucked up on anything (not that my judgment was that stellar after six Long Island Iced Teas).
I approached her nervously and cleared my throat “Umm excuse me, miss? Yeah hi.”
She turned her neck dramatically, shot me a nasty glance and said “What, in the fuck do you want bitch?”
“Umm I was just hoping to talk to you for a few minutes if that’s okay”
“What are you a cop? I’m just standing here waiting for a friend. I’m not doing anything.”
“No I’m not a cop. I’m an actress. And… Well, you see, I have to play this role that-“
“Oh HEEEELLLL NO” she said “You better make yourself disappear. And fast girl”
For some reason, I just thought that maybe she was afraid to open up. Like she was just a gentle soul fronting a rough exterior that I could crack. I wasn’t ready to walk away, and my severely distorted (liquid) confidence told me that she would come around eventually. I thought that it was only a matter of minutes before I had her crying into my shoulder pouring her heart out, while I stroked her hair telling her everything was gonna be okay.
I looked down and back up at her (still) angry eyes “Look, I’ll pay you” I said “I just want to talk to you, that’s all”
Suddenly she started walking towards me snapping her gum angrily and staring me down like a boxer about to administer a serious ass kicking. She put her thumb and her index finger together in her mouth and whistled loudly, two others turned the corner running. Before I knew it I was getting my hair pulled, uppercuts to the face, and heels to the crotch and stomach. These bitches were tough as nails and they were fucking me up!!
Needless to say, I got my ass SEVERELY kicked!
They left me lying on the pavement in a pool of blood as they walked away laughing calling me a “dumb bitch” and shouting things like “that’ll teach you to next time whore.” I thought of the irony of that statement… Them (the whores) calling me (the non-whore) a whore!
I wiped the blood from my nose and got up off of the ground, thankful that the Long Island Iced Teas had softened many of the blows.
The following week at rehearsal, I showed up (still bruised in the face) but ready to give it my best shot. My agent saw me and said “oh honey, that’s great. Who did your makeup?”
“It’s not makeup” I snapped
“Well whatever you did, it works” she said
I raised an eyebrow and got into character and played the best damn dying one legged prostitute I could!
Maybe those hookers on Jarvis were unjustified in kicking my ass, but they did what they felt they needed to. And could I really blame them? They suck dick and take it up the ass to make ends meet. That has to piss you off on some level. They saw the worst of people, the seedy underbelly of society. The pricks, the perverts, the sickos, the whackos, the jack offs, the wounded, the sick, and the beyond help! The only people that ever approached them were pimps, customers and cops. Kicking my ass was probably the best form of therapy they ever could have received. They probably worked out years and years of anger, abuse, and desperation with each and every landed punch.
So in the end, it was getting drunk, having my ass kicked by 3 hookers, and playing the role of a dying one legged prostitute, that made others take note of me, which resulted in further roles. And I definitely learned that there are far more efficient ways of researching a role than putting yourself in harms way.
Next time, I think I’ll just use the internet.