Friday, April 21, 2006

I feel bad for actors.

When I was a wee lad of about 6 or 7 years old, I was enrolled in some acting workshops run by a local children's theater group. Although people who know my babbling loud ass now would be shocked to read this, I was a painfully shy child. I used to hide behind my mother's legs when we ran into someone we knew in the grocery store and I rarely talked to any adults other than my parents. My Mom thought the workshop would be a good way to boost my confidence and make me a little more outgoing. She also clearly sensed, on some level, The Uncontrollable Gayness Within Me and knew that this experience would help me tap into my latent fagosity.

I took to acting like Whitney Houston to illegal drugs - I was hooked. Not only did I learn to come out of my shell but I fucking loved performing. I may have been an asthmatic, depressed, be-spectacled kid with braces but onstage I shook all of that off and became my character. Before the curtain would rise I'd be backstage wheezing myself silly and trying to remember the prayers we learned in Christian Science Sunday School so I could heal myself and all of that bullshit. P.S. they never worked. But once I got onstage the combination of adrenaline and my own personal dedication pushed all illness aside and I'd often walk off stage with my lungs in perfect working order. I continued to perform in plays all through high school and I had tons of different roles from the father in The Sound of Music in 8th grade to the Catepillar in a production of Alice In Wonderland. When it came time to look at colleges I wanted two things in a school: queers and a theater program (as if the two aren't going to naturally co-exist). I got accepted at Sarah Lawrence College and was on my way to fulfilling my dreams to become an actor.

But something happened in college that stopped me from wanting to act anymore. It seemed like all the people in the theater department were totally horrible except for maybe myself and 10 others. Everyone acted as if there was a spotlight trained on their every move and they were so loud, competitive and annoying I found myself hating them all. The only people who got cast in faculty directed shows were these talentless, brown nosing assholes who I wanted nothing to do with. After being in a couple of plays my freshmen and sophomore year, I quit doing theater altogether. But my desire to perform found another home as I taught myself to play drums and began to realize I loved playing music about 1000x more than I did acting.

And I thank fucking Lynda Carter or whoever too, because I really can't imagine a more depressing profession. Very few people from my theatrical past have ever made it anywhere or are even remotely successful at their chosen career (and a teenage crush-sized sigh for that last one). I have seen a few people I knew in some really bad commercials and I feel so lucky that I fell in love with punk rock and indie music, where it is/was okay to not try and be massively successful. I can't imagine how bummed out I'd be right now if I was still a struggling actor and all I could show for it was a non-speaking extra role on some CBS sitcom or a commercial about Axe Body Spray (no I am not linking to that shit). But these are the actors who make me truly grateful I gave it up:

-Actors who do STD commercials. Shit, I sure hope it pays well because you are so not getting laid for a really long time once those air. No matter how positive you feel about this new way of controlling your genital herpes.

-Those struggling actor/comedians who get stuck doing shit on VH-1 or E! TV where all they do is comment on stupid celebs like Paris Hilton or the Olsen Twins and their biggest celebrity oops or something. Like you're gonna be cast in anything other than a revival of the Policy Academy series. Shown only on TBS.

-Actors who never get to do anything besides utter crap. I mean, maybe I am being unfair. Maybe Ryan Reynolds is super happy to be in movies like Van Wilder or Just Friends. I hope so, because it would be so depressing to find out he dreams of doing Shakespearean theater or wishes he had the current career path of like, Joseph Gordon-Levitt or something. That would bum me out beyond belief.

See, I get to have my pleasant memories of my theater fag past and retain the dignity of knowing I was never rejected for a guest spot on Reba. That and the memory that I got to see Andy Comeau's butt multiple times during the summer of 1990 when we shared a dressing room as extras in the American Stage Festival's production of Frankenstein. Because really, it was always about the potential to see naked men for me.

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