FRESH YARN presents:

By Joe Smith

I've never been a real mime. No formal training, never "walked in the wind," never had any sort of mime act in any pure sense. I did it a few times for corporate gigs, but basically all that involved was getting dressed up in the costume and makeup, standing behind someone at a reception of some sort, and mocking them. But I have enough physical comedy skills, along with a few photos of myself in the makeup and outfit, to consider myself a professionally viable mime.

I was once a mime at a bank, only for a night, for the branch's opening party. And what had been mildly entertaining for a hotel opening crowd of 400 for 90 minutes was excruciating for a subdued bank gathering of 50 for two and a half hours. But it still beat the hell out of temping or catering, if only because it left me with a far more interesting story to tell, which counts for a lot. I'd take a five-week minimum wage job shoving camel shit in Bahrain just to be able, on my deathbed, to say, "Yeah, I've worked with camels."

So all that said, when I saw the casting notice on for a project called "Pornomime," I was intrigued. It was posted by a casting director I knew, and I was able to secure an audition. It was for a short film, to be shown only on some ad agency's website, it paid $3,000, and it was going to shoot in Prague. I'd never been to Prague or even thought about it, but I'm always up for a new adventure, especially one that pays $3,000. They faxed me the script.

The film was to feature a classic European mime -- white-face, back unitard, bowler hat, the whole bit -- performing in an old-world European town square. He walks stylistically into frame and holds a sign to the camera that says "The Pool Boy." Then it's your classic pool-boy-gets-lucky porn movie scenario, sans any actual disrobing or even another actor. The script detailed the progression: Pool Boy skims leaves from pool (with imaginary skimmer), is beckoned by gorgeous (invisible) woman from across the way, "walks" over to her (staying in place the whole time), etc.

It went on to describe the application of sun tan lotion, the awkward removal of bikini-top shoulder straps, and eventually the woman dropping any pretense of coyness, and coming on to our lovable Pool Boy. What followed was full on, hard-core, Bacchanalian, ass-slapping, jizz-gurgling mime debauchery. It went into great detail, and did not bother with any euphemistic niceties. I think it's safe to say it was the only script I've ever read with the stage direction, "He gobbles her box with wild abandon."

I sat at my desk reading it with what I can only describe as astounded glee. This would be the most obscene thing I had ever auditioned for. The more I read on, the dirtier it got. If the FBI were bugging my apartment, all they would have heard is occasional snorts of unbelieving laughter and the odd, "holy fuckin' shit."

A good portion of the thrill I got in preparation for this audition was simply the notion that this would be part of what I did professionally; that in two days I'd be in full mime regalia in front of a video camera in Santa Monica, with my dick in the ass of an invisible, non-existent woman, and if someone called my cell I could honestly say, "I can't talk right now. I'm at work."

I spent several hours in front of the large mirror in my bedroom, creating my routine. Some moves had to be abandoned, as it would be too difficult for the casual observer to discern what they were, and given that there'd be no actual woman to do them with, simply looked like an awkward jumble of limbs. But I pressed on. I was like an Olympic athlete watching tapes of my trial runs, honing my technique. One move I was particularly proud of involved me standing up and holding her with her legs around me, leaning back slightly with my hands around her ass like I was screwing four bags of groceries. Then, with the grace of a Chinese acrobat, I'd flip her 180 degrees into a standing 69. It was a thing of beauty.

On the magic day, I showed up with my backpack of mime stuff, thankful I was able to get there early to change, and didn't have to drive there as a mime, which I found out many of the guys did. I walked into a roomful of mimes of every age, size and shape. There was the rotund, bearded one with the red vest and the beret, the older guy with the beat-up hat and the oversized pants -- almost a Charlie Chaplin mime. There were a few half-assed ones, too; a guy in a black T-shirt and a pair of white winter gloves he borrowed from his girlfriend. When each new mime came in, he was offered the same gesture of bemused commiseration from the rest of us; the shaking of the head and the small resigned laugh as if to say "how 'bout this, huh?" We were a community, a brotherhood of Pornomimes.

One guy hadn't received the script beforehand, and knew only that he was supposed to show up as a mime. He read the pages there in the room, and the rest of us tried to guess which part he'd gotten to when he finally said "Jesus Christ, what the hell is this?"

When my turn came, I was prepared. I'd limbered up, donned my skin-tight black unitard and white-face makeup with black triangles under my eyes. I'd choreographed my scenario so that each specific act would be clear, decipherable, and creatively obscene. There was a bit of creative license to be had with the actual screwing. The script merely called for a variety of positions, running the gamut from missionary to "positions attained only during conjugal visits in zero gravity."

And I did them all. I did things to that invisible woman that I'm not sure are even possible with a real one. I knew I had one shot to be the best Pornomime I could possibly be. This was one audition I didn't want to walk out of wishing I'd put more energy into, been bolder, more interesting, more specific. If ever there was an occasion to make balls-out choices, this was it. I left that room proud, slightly erect, and blushing so fiercely you could see it through the white-face. I walked back into the waiting room, saluted my Pornomime brothers, and said, "She's all yours, fellas." When I got home I checked to make sure my passport was valid, and looked on the library website for books on learning Czech.

Alas, I did not get the job. Apparently some other mime gave it to her better and even dirtier than I did. I suppose there's a possibility that the job never actually existed, and that it was all a hoax put forth by someone with a very specific fetish, just to obtain that videotape. I'm picturing an ordinary-looking Kansas couple, huddled together on the pull-out sofa with the shades drawn, wearing nothing but white gloves and athletic socks, pleasuring each other while watching the fat mime with the red vest pretending to ejaculate on the face of an invisible, kneeling sunbather.

I suppose I've still got some good bizarre job stories. I've been the voice of a talking newspaper box, and was once a stand-in for Yo Yo Ma. But Pornomime would have undoubtedly been the biggest jewel in that crown. And though it's bittersweet to think about, it did irrevocably raise the bar. It strengthened my desire to have stories of outrageous experiences, ones that might counterbalance life's moments of toil or disappointment. So that perhaps someday, when I'm an old man, sitting around the Thanksgiving table with my loved ones, and my grandchildren ask me if I ever wrote a famous book or cured any diseases, I can smile warmly at them and say, "No kids, I didn't. But let me tell you about the time I threw a celebrity fetish party on the space shuttle and gave Maya Angelou a root beer enema."

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