Sunday, 24 June 2012

Working it!

Last Monday was shoot day for me! And getting myself there was no easy feat. Sunday morning threw me to the rails, or rather the bowl, with a terrible bout of stomach flu. So this morning, with a handful of meds keeping my insides inside I left for Johannesburg.

And who would I park next to, at work, at Clive Morris Productions?

My call time was at 12:00 at Clive Morris Productions in Randburg. I passed various other television orientated buildings on my way there, and even got there without getting lost. I was one of the first of the actors there for my call, and as it would still be a while until we moved to our location we waited in a courtyard, outside in the sun. About half an hour after we arrived a rather skinny women, in well worn high heels and one hell of a pair of boobs entered the courtyard. She sat that there smoking a cigarette, and asked us if we were all waiting for the same shoot. We were indeed (could have guessed she would be a ‘hot stripper chick’ with us).  She then promptly removed a large bottle of Amarula and poured herself a tot. The second one she spilled most of on her skirt. And left again. It was barely 12 in the afternoon and we were about to start working and she was slinging liqueur back in plain view of the producer. Upon her return she asked if we knew what we would be paid for this job. I honestly did not really know, and I would probably have done it for free anyway. Someone gave a number, but she seemed somewhat unsatisfied: “I usually get R2 500 just for my butt, but then I suppose we have clothes on for this shoot”. “Darn tootin we do” I said in my head.

Location, location, location...
 Some time after this encounter pizza arrived. About an hour after that we left to the location for the shoot. The Lollipop Lounge. Now, to those unfamiliar to the Johannesburg area, the Lollipop Lounge is an honest-to-goodness (well, as in I’m speaking the truth, not that the club is ‘goodness’) strip club. Upon entering the premises we walked through strips of hanging plastic that would make any butchery proud and entered the inner circle of the Lollipop Lounge, erotic art work and stripper poles all there in their mid-day glory with the club’s cleaning staff cleaning like crazy (I won’t lie, a small part of my was really relieved to see the bleach and chemicals being liberally applied).

And it was off to wardrobe and makeup for those of us hired to be strippers for the shoot. I was quickly ok’d in my choice of outfit and shoes, and I went off to change. Now one of other ‘hot stripper chicks’ I had never met before but as it would strangely turn out we both grew up in Secunda (not the largest of towns). The two of us became a team quite quickly, especially when confronted with some of the other cast members. As we walked to the bathrooms to change one of which asked me what I did for living. I replied quite sheepishly that I was still a student and trying to working as a freelance actress.  She quite loudly and proudly claimed that she was not only a stripper, I believe it was for 16 years, but that she was also a single parent. I put my head down and changed.

Myself and my hometown companion made the change into our costumes quite quickly and headed off to makeup. I was already on the chair, fringe clipped up, hair tucked behind the ears and eyes closed for eye shadow when I heard a fellow actress enter. From the little experience that I have when I’m off to work on a set I don’t put anything but sunscreen on my face after I washed it for the morning. I gathered from the head of makeup’s voice (from now on Makeup Lady) and questions that the newly arrived actress was applying base behind me. The first question asked was if she was applying Almay. No, she wasn’t. The makeup artist then asked her to remove whatever she had applied on her face so that she could use the products that she trusted and was familiar with. The actress assured her that she had mixed some things together and the resulting product was similar to Almay. Makeup Lady asked her to take it off any way. I heard footsteps, and the clippety clop of heels and then the same voice, do you think I should wear the 8-inch heels? I heard Makeup Lady’s assistant, who was busy doing my makeup, snort and I felt her remove the brush from my face, I looked over my right shoulder, just opening my eyelids enough to see a pair of mule high heels, with the highest platform in the front I have ever seen, in combination with a decently high heel. The sole and heel of the shoe was made of that see-though perspexie plastic stuff. I closed my eyes and moved my head back so that the assistant could carry on with my makeup. I heard Makeup Lady ask how on earth she could walk on those stilts. The balancing actress defended them, apparently the angle is very comfortable (I have no idea what this means) and the heel itself isn’t so high due to the platform on the toe (that bit I could comprehend). The actress sat in the chair next to me so that Makeup Lady could start her makeup:
“What’s on your face?”
“Just base and powder”
“You’ll have to fly the base and powder”
Makeup Lady handed her a wetwipe: “Wipe it all off”
What ensued after this was some argument about her eyes being made bigger to which Makeup Lady said she was instructed to keep the eyes plain and make the lips bolder. Eventually the actress folded, but shortly started as new quest when the producer arrived. The new question was as to whether she should put in her blue contact lenses. At this point, my makeup was finish and I had to leave, even though I genuinely wanted to stay and see how exactly this scenario played out.  I did however have quite a self image boosting moment when the producer after seeing my earlier completely plain faced saw me when my eye makeup was completed: “Wow, eyes. Nice”

As I arrived in full makeup and costume I met my friend, under direction from the director upon a raised stage area complete with two poles. Luckily my job was to strut. As we were being given direction one of the lead actors walked in. I happened to know her from my university days. She greeted and asked if I was eye Candy for the afternoon. “Well would you believe it” was my very sincere reply. As someone who is in a contest of will with the scale, sometimes winning and often losing for many years being considered the ‘eye candy’ is somewhat of an achievement. The actress balancing in her 8inch heels arrived. One of the leads, who is a rather short portly women gave the shoes one look and proclaimed that she would like a donut on stilts if she was ever to wear those… I struggle to call them shoes.

Working, but not working it.

shooting in the lot, well, the parking lot.

No, working with strange people is genuinely one of the things I enjoy about being in the arts. However, one gets very many degrees of strange, as I am learning. Including extras who are more than willing to waltz around with a lit cigarette in a room littered with no smoking signs. As a non-smoker I really don’t appreciate the smell in my clothes, and as an assisted blonde the nicotine in the smoke can make my hair go yellow, so I avoid it like the plague and was quite shocked to said the said extra waving a cigarette around nonchalantly while most of the crew were to dumbstruck to say anything (a staff member had just complained about the actors smoking in the no-smoking areas).
Another incident included an extra running around in a tiny outfit, apparently unaware of the length of the…well…shirt and the fact that it was slightly see-through. I suppose it takes all types to make a cast. Interesting enough most of the male cast was not as an enamoured with her as one might think, considering our location.

So poles were worked, shots were taken, lights turned and the location itself created a lot of the laughter and fun of the day in between the shoots and the scenes. Wigs were worn, wigs moved in takes, and somewhere through the day you stopped realising that all the pictures on the wall had naked women in them. Cameras followed heeled shoes, and costume changes were made and I finished my work just before six. I signed my contract and climbed in my car for what was supposed to be a 45 minute ride home. Not so.

One gridlocked William Nicole, due to a non-function robot gave way to about 5 kilometres of driving at the speed limit, just to toy with me I think, and  then to a gridlocked N1 highway. An hour’s travel on the high only changed the length of the journey on my GPS by 3 minutes. Literally. Add that to the fact the my medication was working out of my system and my insides were desperately trying to become my outsides my journey was not what one would term pleasant.

Two hours and 15 minutes after I left the Lollipop Lounge (a woman looking at me in complete disgust when I walked out of the club and to my car in full ‘stripper’ makeup and a bag over my shoulder) I arrived at my flat in Pretoria. Upon my arrival home my mom jokingly said that since I had worked she would not be sending me my desperately needed pocket money for the month. I claimed that I hadn’t worked that much. My mom laughed: “The 135km back to Secunda would have been faster and when you’re home for a weekend I pay enough to last you the month”.  

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