April 9, 2003

Today, I got a phone call from a casting director named E.R. asking me to audition for a Columbia film student’s thesis project.

I wouldn’t find this so unusual except for the fact that the one and only time I have appeared on screen was at the tender age of five, in a commercial for the local chapter of the ASPCA. They took me through the pound and asked me to pick out some dogs I wanted to play with for the commercial. At the time, I was about one inch tall and absolutely terrified of dogs, so I picked all the dogs that were both tiny and asleep. The ASPCA people, figuring rightly that a commercial featuring me surrounded by dogs in comas wouldn’t really further their cause, ignored my selections and found the four biggest, rowdiest dogs in the place. Then they led me to a tree stump, where I sat, paralyzed with fear, while the four dogs frolicked around me. The ASPCA people kept telling me to play with the dogs, but I really thought that if I attempted this I would die. Luckily, the camera was far enough away that the grimace of agony frozen on my face could pass, in those pre-cable-enhanced-reception days, for joy and happiness. Nevertheless, this experience put an end to any dreams I might have harbored of a lucrative career as a child actor, or, indeed, an actor of any sort. I appeared in various dramatic productions in college and am currently performing in my own show (which opened quite successfully last night, thank you), but the screen has not been a part of my dreams for over 25 years.

So imagine my surprise when I got a phone call today asking me to come in and audition for this film. I was completely baffled—why would somebody I didn’t know from Adam (well, Eve, to be precise) want me to be in a movie?

The mystery was partially cleared up when E.R. told me who’d given her my name and what the part was. A cousin of mine is a very successful casting director in Hollywood—she cast, among other things, The Amazing Spider-Man (in production), Pretty Woman, Witness, On Golden Pond, and the original Star Wars—and is working at the moment in a New York casting office. She overheard E.R. talking about needing to find somebody to play a drag queen for free in a student film, and said, “Oh, you should call my cousin Faustus.”

The thing is, she’s never met me.

What stories could possibly be circulating about me in my non-nuclear family that my cousin who cast Star Wars thought instantly of me for the part of a drag queen?

As long as nobody talks to the tabloids when I win my best actor Oscar, I figure I’ll be okay.

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12 Responses to Today, I got a phone

  1. Pere Ubu says:

    Of course, you could send the student your more recent film work 🙂

    Reply
  2. Chris says:

    Oooers! So? Think you can pull it off? Have you done much drag?

    Man, you just keep getting gayer and gayer!

    Reply
  3. Chris, I wouldn’t have thought it was possible for me to get gayer, but I think you’re right. The zenith of my drag career to date has been my lip-synched performance of Tammy Faye Bakker’s “America The Beautiful” medley at summer camp when I was 15. Unfortunately I don’t fit into that dress anymore, so I’ll have to find something else to wear on Friday.

    Father Ubu, would you believe that when I wrote this post I completely forgot about the recent film work you mention? (For those of you who have just joined us, Father Ubu is referring to this and this.) I suppose I could send him a reel or two, but, given the type of film it is, he still wouldn’t get a sense of whether I can do drag or not.

    Reply
  4. Adam807 says:

    I feel like you’d look like a short Bea Arthur in drag…

    Reply
  5. Jon says:

    If you’re in drag… do they put you up for Best Actor? Or Best Actress? Or do drag queens have their own special awards?

    Reply
  6. Jere says:

    You should use this as an excuse to meet this elusive cousin and do some family bonding. You never know what kind of work she could get you if she actually KNEW you. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Alex Elliott says:

    Jon asked, “If you’re in drag… do they put you up for Best Actor? Or Best Actress? Or do drag queens have their own special awards?”

    Jaye Davidson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his drag role in The Crying Game, although I seem to remember that there was some controversy at the time as to which exact award he should have been nominated for.

    Reply
  8. Well Linda Hunt won an Oscar for playing a man in the Year of Living Dangerously…she won for Supporting Actress so there is precedent for Jaye’s nomination.

    But Faustus…why did you cut your other movie career short??? Inquiring minds want to know where we can get those vids too… 🙂

    Reply
  9. Jere says:

    A person’s eligibility for an award has nothing to do with the sex of the character they are playing. It goes strictly by the sex of the performer. Expect Harvey Fierstein to be nominated for Best Actor in a Musical. I do not understand the confusion. Putting Patrick Swayze in a Chanel suit and heels does NOT make him a woman.

    Reply
  10. Stephanie says:

    Sorry, but the links you posted in comment #2, Dr. F., aren’t working. It could theoretically be my computer, but I’m pretty certain I’m not the only Mac user reading this blog. 🙂

    Reply
  11. Stephanie, try the links again–they should be working now.

    Reply
  12. Stephanie says:

    Ah, thanks much.

    Reply

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