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 ActorsAccess.com 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),
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
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