Sean, Michelle and I drove up to Columbia County this afternoon, and the bogged-down traffic made for a perfect four-hour session of gossiping about pretty much every friend we have, and of course, every family member. Apparently there is some discussion that a particular couple in our extended familial tree is about to get divorced, an act for them – that seems as inevitable as the rain.
Naturally the discussion turned to Sean’s own failed marriage, something that we conjure every week or so when we’re low on other topics. Sean still keeps in touch with T_____, even four years after she cuckolded and humiliated him time and time again, even as she still lies and leads others down the usual well-worn gutter of failed Hollywood relationships. I partially understand why he continues to keep in touch with her (my own desire to keep friends, even unreliable ones, for decades makes it seem less nuts) but it works Michelle into a fine froth.
Michelle pretty much hated T_____ from Day One, back in 1991, when the three of them toured together with the Citrus Singers all over the world and got to know each other’s foibles, pore by pore. I had an excruciatingly difficult time with T_____ myself, for personality reasons, but I always had a respect for the way she overcame her background and sought to better herself. It turns out “bettering herself” was the whole point for her, fidelity and shame be damned. It takes a drive that surpasses kindness into cruelty for her to have escaped her family’s vacuous lunacy, but I am disgusted that she had to use my brother as the first stepping stone.
T_____, me and Sean at the beach during a hurricane, circa 1993
When I think of her, all I can think of are the loud lives of desperation that middle-of-the-pack actors radiate throughout the sad, beating heart of Los Angeles. There are 24,000 T______s living between Venice and Los Feliz, all of them thinking they are one party invite, one one-night stand, one chance appearance on Change of Heart away from stardom. And that’s what it is to these people: stardom. They can’t think about anything else, which is why they went to LA instead of New York, where they might have a shot at actually “acting.” Sure, they’ll go to workshops and do little showcases in front of C-minus casting directors, and gossip about auditions after yoga, but these folks live off the invisible heat emanating from an alternate life where they are already famous.
I’ve directed a movie, which, even if it’s a failure, gives me pretty good perspective on getting parts in a film (and if The Pink House is a success, you better have listened to every word I say, beeyotch!). If I were an unknown woman actor in the five-year range north or south of 30 years old, I would be single-minded, almost to the point of medication. And this would be the schedule:
– start your own work-obsessed community of writers, directors and a few, carefully-chosen fellow actors and have a relentless schedule of new works. One of your writer or director friends will get a movie eventually, and you will be in it. meet like clockwork.
– stop fucking drinking. stop it right now. even if you don’t drink that much. you can fucking drink when you have something to celebrate. if you want to drink, go work in investment banking; those motherscratchers drink all the god damned time.
– do not go to any parties to further your career. a good party is fine once or twice a week to keep yourself from going batty, but going to parties every night to ostensibly “meet industry people” is the quickest way to utter, hopeless defeat. Sure, you’ll get a lot of cards and numbers (especially if you have big tits) but NONE of them will lead to real work.
– go on as many auditions as you can, and expect to get none of them. you need to be seen by as many people as possible, but not for the reason you think. you need the input of strangers to make yourself a better actor, and you get better every time you set foot in a strange room.
– extend your social circle as large as you can, and take your intense writing/directing coterie to Big Bear or La Jolla to pound out a show or two. importantly, always take one or two people with you whom you don’t know entirely – they will tell their friends and build up heat around your endeavors.
– if you date for love, then date for love… but if you’re dating for fun, don’t date another actor, even if they’re really hot. they can’t do anything for you, and they’re usually self-obsessed, crazy and come saddled with a myriad of affirmation issues. like the eviction man said in Roger and Me: “one poor person marries another poor person, you end up with two poor people.”
– lastly, try to be really good. take the advice of non-actors seriously when it comes to your performances. don’t let your ego get in the way of getting better. take classes and study yourself on film. On “The Pink House,” we had 61 speaking parts, and two kinds of actors: our friends, and the persistent. and we will work with the talented ones again, believe me.
There, I just saved you $21.95. You won’t need to buy that book.