Monday, 4 March 2013

International Pool-Side-Ho

I have, so far, had an interesting progression in the types of roles I have done for camera. I started out as a baker, with almost no makeup on and piece of linen on my head. I then played a stripper, progressed to a Vegas Showgirl, and most recently in January I portrayed a ‘Classy Hooker’. I would have called it a pool-side-ho, but we’ll get there shortly.

Two days before going on set, I received a phone call from my agent. From my photograph I had been chosen to do some work for a British action series which is being shot in South Africa. Now I know my dad watches the series, but that is about as much as I knew going in. I was of course interested in working with a British director. As a South African actress the word 'International' make your eyes sparkle and your mouth drool. When I received the confirmation email I saw that my character would be a ‘Classy Hooker’. I called my mom. “Well, if you’ve ever thought you’re not sexy enough, you now have your answer” was her response. Earlier last year when I was cast as stripper I made it abundantly clear to my agent that I was not prepared to do nudity, so at least I was sure of what was required of me in that sense.

Our spectacular location
So GPS in hand off I went for my two day shoot, on one of the worst roads I had ever driven on. Upon arriving on set I immediately headed off to the makeup ladies. They always know in which direction to send one. I did realise that there were almost no other women on set either. Slightly early, I was the first of the girls for the day to arrive, and as I signed in by the appropriate people I was handed a cerise pink card saying ‘Classy Hooker’ as a form of identification. As I queued three other girls arrived, with bleached hear tight t-shirts and tiny shorts. In retrospect this should have been my first clue. The three ladies were handed yellow cards that said ‘Hooker’. I assumed that we would be working together, and they were really friendly so I introduced myself and had lunch with them. A little while later I noticed another dark haired lady who had come while we were eating lunch. She had the most spectacular tattoos and a cerise pink card. Another dark haired lady arrived and the six of us, three cerise pink cards and three yellow cards were herded into makeup. We were divided between the makeup artists, and the false lashes were divided between us. One the ladies in charge came over with a ‘Look Book’ for us, as we were to we were to be Columbian hookers. Curlers were put into my already curly hair, and I was based, powdered, painted, lined and glued into place. I was moved into the main trailer for the finishing touches on my hair. The head of makeup grabbed me and looked at the girl seated on the swivelling high chair next to me. You could read the unimpressed look on her face as her hear was teased. The head of makeup laughed: 
“Honey we are not doing what you would choose to do. In fact, if you chose to do this I would be forced to stop you”
This broke the ice, and I could help but laugh as my own hair was teased into a high pony tail, and my fringe was teased over to one side.

Only I can manage to play a hooker and not wear my
heels in any of the shots! 
I was one of the last girls to be finished and as I made my way to our trailer (YES THE SIX OF US HAD OUR OWN TRAILER) the wardrobe lady in charge of us followed me in. Most of the other girls already had their gowns on over their costumes. That is another thing I had learned on set. Always take a robe. Firstly, it tends to get cold on set sometimes, and generally you don’t have anything with you, so it’s good to have when it gets cold. Secondly, if you’re wearing a tiny costume, and you have to walk past mostly male crews it’s nice to have the option to cover yourself.
I was put into a pair of tiny silver denim shorts, which I was just thankful I fit into, and one of the shiniest metallic tops with an open back I had ever seen. I was given a pair of colourful stiletto heels, given large gawdy jewellery and a rather cute pair of aviator sunglasses. We sat around in our trailer until we had to set to start the real work.

Now, at this point, as an actress all you have with you is what is going to be in frame, a cell phone you can usually hide in your costume somewhere and some of the other girls had their cigarettes with them. As we arrived someone from wardrobe, on set, would check if were completely camera ready. The wardrobe lady who had loved my top in the dimly lit and air-conditioned trailer realised the blinding and reflective potential of the shirt I was wearing in the sunlight and it was immediately decided that I had to change…post-haste as the director wanted to start shooting as quickly as possible. Abigail, who was the wardrobe lady in charge of us grabbed me by the arm and we went briskly into an out of the way empty room. 
“What underwear are you wearing?” As she had strapped me into my shirt I knew very well she didn’t mean my bra.
“Black boy cuts.”
“With a little bum cheek? Fantastic”
So as it turned out all she had with her was a black bikini top and a  bright pink crocheted dress. My underwear would be serving as my bikini bottoms. I had once proclaimed that I wouldn't do nude work, but underwear was completely fine. It seems that when you say these things you truly get tested. I was changed in a matter of minutes and in place to start rehearsing for the first shoot of the day.

The six of us were positioned around a pool with a river in the background. The cameras were ready. We had rehearsed our small action and knew what to do.

“OK ladies, robes off”
The three yellow carded girls were wearing only bikini bottoms…

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