January 27th, 2010
I almost got hit by a “student driver” this morning. It’s been so many years since “puberty Jax” sat in that death seat. The driver’s ed days just came flowing back to me as if I was 15 years old and given the not so wise opportunity to operate heavy machinery. Our instructor was an attractive middle aged African American man who was a heavy cologne wearing, cigarette smoking and mustache sporting guy. This man probably saved my life, his life and the lives of everyone else on the streets of Greensboro, North Carolina with his “super break” that resided on the floor by the passenger seat. Carleton Herban was his name. Good man.
One of the most vivid memories from Driving University were the videos. “Death on the Highway” or some variation of that title seems to be the name of most of these films. However, one vignette from these videos seems to have never escaped my memory. The theme was, “Driving while too happy can be just as dangerous as driving while angry and upset.” The footage involved a woman driving while thinking, “I wish I were a model.” Then there is a fuzzy lit dream sequence that involved her in a very 70’s photo shoot. This went on for several minutes. Actually, for most of the video. I learned little to nothing about driving but absorbed key insight as to what it would take to be a model for JC Penney.
I’d been wanting to do a little more on camera work these days. However, the competition for reputable film and television is fierce. Yes, I just used the word fierce. I needed to aim lower with exactly what type of film work I should be pursuing. Like an actress in a drivers ed video. For example. But the reality is that there is no urgency in making more of these instructional films as the ones from the 70’s still seem to be in demand. Plus, they have a mystique. I did audition for a late night 1-900 chat line girl. I was turned down for having a college degree. My only other option: Karaoke Video Asian Girl.
I know it might seem odd that I am researching this as a career option as I am not Asian. But sometimes I feel Asian. For no apparent reason. In my effort to gain knowledge of how to break into this industry, I went undercover as a craft services cart operator to gain insight on what it takes to segue from the stage to being an Asian Girl. In a karaoke video. Walking on the beach. Wistfully.
I was very excited because the video for my research work was to be set on an exotic beach in Okinawa, Japan. It was a little disappointing to learn that it was actually being filmed on the Jersey Shore. I did learn quite a bit as I observed the video production in process. The song was "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. Good choice. There’s nothing like a petite Asian woman pensively (with a touch of melancholy) walking along the shoreline that will inspire drunk American singer wannabees to sing an 80’s one hit wonder. Since this was a low budget production, they had a crew member blow the woman’s hair since they couldn’t afford a fan. The biggest surprise was that the bouncy red ball in these karaoke videos was actually an actor in a giant red fat suit. Interesting note, he was a dickish diva on the set. He got ticked off at the director of photography for interrupting a very intense scene, ripped into the guy, at one point telling him he was going to "kick his f--king ass" and threatening to quit the set unless the man was fired. "I want you off the set! You prick! No, don't just be sorry! Think for one f--king second! What the f--k are you doing? Are you professional or not?" Next thing I know, the red ball angrily bounced off the set and knocked over my craft services cart. We lost a lot of good sushi that day.
The video couldn’t go on without the red bouncy ball. The Gods must have been looking down on me because the director grabbed my arm, said something in Japanese and the next thing I knew was that I was wearing a red bouncy ball fat suit. My film career had begun. I know this wasn’t where I intended my path to go but I can't complain. The pay is good, I'm in great shape from constant bouncing and I've gotten more work. I dot the lower case “I” on Sesame Street. The most amazing development is that I've found love. With a blue bouncy ball. We just had a bouncy baby ball. He’s purple.