Sunday, January 8, 2012
ATTEMPT AT FAME
Ever since I was a young girl I’ve always wanted to be an actress. I’d admire all the great actors and wished I could take their place on the big screen. The desire was so strong that I can still feel it lingering 20 years later. I wanted to experience the roll playing, the characters and the fame. I’ve never had any desire as strong to be anything else except a mother. So right before I met my husband, I was actively attempting a shot at fame. But as everyone knows my career of choice would have taken such drive and motivation that nothing like a boyfriend and eventually marriage and family could stand in its way. By age 19 stardom seemed so far off into the galaxy that my only chance at self fulfillment was love and family. My choice was a fair trade off but I’ll always remember that I couldn’t obtain my life’s dream.
I probably didn’t try as hard as I could have and I don’t know if it was in my cards. Sometimes I feel like my destiny was pre-determined and I almost didn’t have a huge say (more like a small say). I can’t complain though since everyone has dreams that simply could not come true, but when I think back…. I guess I made a small attempt.
Every birthday wish was the same, “Please! Make me a movie star?” When I was about eight years old my best friend and I went for an audition in
. Her father scouted it out in the paper because he was the type of dad who wanted to make his daughter famous. Since me and her where attached at the hips and both wanted a taste at fame, we went along together. The audition was for the movie, Mermaids with New York City Cher cast as the main star. All the eight year olds where taken into a room where we all sat in a big circle and answered simple questions like, “What is your favorite food?” and “What where you for Halloween?” Whatever answer I gave, my friend and walking clone would give the same. I remember the adults coming back to me with a little extra enthusiasm in their questioning. Even at age 8 I could pick up on someone giving me a little extra attention. So I held on to that excitement and immaturely assumed I bagged the role. Well, a week later the studio released in the papers that they were giving the role to an already established actress named, Christina Ricci. The news crushed me. I cried the whole day. My parents tried to console me but it was no use.
Mermaids turned out to be a pretty cute movie too. Not only was
Cher the main star, but Winona Ryder had the main role and Christina Ricci climbed the ladder to success right after her first movie. I should have known I had no chance just based on the fact that I look nothing like Christina Ricci. She had black short hair and a really round face and I had long dirty blond hair with a really oval face. My best friend on the other hand could have been Christina’s stand in since the resemblance was uncanny. But we were both brokenhearted and we still, amusingly so, feel jealous when we see Christina Ricci in movies.
When I was 17 I decided to get head shots taken because everyone knows it’s the first step in trying to land an agent. I decided to use the company who did my school’s class pictures. They were right in town and I knew they did a pretty good job so I made the appointment and set everything up. Not only did I go to the saloon that morning but I drove to Bloomingdale's to get my make-up professionally done. Everything was going great. I was happy with the results and rushed over to get my pictures taken, but when I got to the photographers, the door was locked and there was no one to be found. I left 100 messages but there were no returned calls. After hours of waiting outside and in the rain, no less…I broke down. My face was covered in tears. The make up had smeared all the way down my neck and my fancy hair due was ruined from rolling around in bed, sobbing. The owner of the company called back later that night and said they forgot about our appointment and that if I came in immediately they would do the shots and give me some sad little discount. But by then, I was yelling, “tell them to go f--- themselves!” in the background while my mother was being her nice polite self to them, over the phone. My mother was never really the type to get mad at anyone. She gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. She would say something like, “Maybe they are under a lot of stress”, or “Maybe they have a sick family member.” Its hard having an optimistic mother when you are an angry teenager because my thinking was, “Maybe they are a no good piece of shit who can’t run a professional business.” But as I get older, I can see how my mother is one in a million and her positive spin on life and people is something that should only be admired.
Anyway, I fell off the horse that day but got right back on the next. I looked up photographers in the yellow pages and found a company close by. I made an appointment to come in and see the man’s work. When I got there the creepy little fellow gave me the full tour and showed me his portfolio and art studio. He explained how make-up and hair styling would be taken care of by “his professional” and that I would be extremely happy with the outcome. When we finally sat down to talk over the numbers he pulled out a contract, started fast talking in some gibberish tongue and pointed to the dotted line for my signature. I took my time to read over what I thought was everything and innocently signed my 17 year old name.
I was so excited when the day arrived. I had a sexy wardrobe change and I was relieved when someone answered the door and was actually there for the appointment. I wasn’t too happy with hair and make-up though. His professional looked more like his teenage daughter or a volunteer who wanted to play saloon stylist for the day. She basically gave me a frizzy afro and went way to natural on the makeup. I could have done a better job myself. When it came time to actually take the pictures, it all felt rushed and unnatural with the strange poses he had me do, like squishing my boobs together with my arms while bending over just a little too much, if you catch my drift. I really didn’t mind these poses though. Even at age 17, that kind of attention didn’t bother me in the least. I think the whole posing for the camera thing interlinks with the whole stardom desire so I could soak that up all day, but then out of nowhere I felt nauseous, drained and pale. I struggled to keep my enthusiasm and each quick snap felt like an eternity. As soon as I got home I barfed and came down with the flu. Most likely caused from the day I was out in the rain waiting for the original photographer who never showed. That and my breakdown probably weakened my immune system.
A couple of weeks later the creepy little photographer called me to pick up my head shots. Before I hung up the phone to run over and pick up my reward he informed me to bring the rest of the cash so I could purchase my copies. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I already paid you.” There was a brief silent pause and then he struck, “Well, (ha ha) my dear. That was just the deposit. You haven’t actually paid for the pictures yet.”
“Oh NO!” I panicked. “It’s a scam” I immediately thought.
He proceeded to tell me that my deposit was the $1000 I already paid which was for his actual work ie: taking the pictures, setting up the studio and supplying the hair and make-up.
“But we discussed how it would be $1000 for the job?!” I insist.
“Oh No! (hahaha) It states right here in the contract that you pay the down payment first and then you pay for each individual picture.
Well, I looked over my copy of the god damn contract and in the smallest print you could ever imagine it states what he was saying but in some type of unknown gibberish. I felt like I had been shot in the back. My first impression of this short, bald, creepy weirdo was right. He was looking to make an extra buck by taking advantage of a desperate teenager.
I let my mother deal with him after that. She assumed that I didn’t know what I was getting into financially so she forked over another $2000 just to get my pictures and away from the whole mess. I was a sucker, my mother was a sucker for giving in and now 15 years later, I still hear stories about this scamming photographer who took advantage of a ton of people. Strangely enough, I have run into random people who have used his services for some kind of event and they all were extremely disappointed in one way or the other. As for my pictures…I wasn’t very pleased.
A year later, I trooped it into NYC and found a very reputable talent agency. They had set up a meeting and audition for me and of course they insisted I bring head shots. After nervously auditioning a couple of standard
Hollywood lines for two agents, they sat in their chairs and looked over my lousy, $3000 dollar head shots.
“Who took these pictures?” They asked with disgust.
“Why?” I gulped.
“Well, the lighting is terrible. They are so dark” “This is not even a real head shot with the way you are posed.”
After that I let the flood gates open and told them all about the scamming low life photographer from D---- Photography. The two men sympathetically listened and could relate because this type story was very common in their industry, however the money part shocked them, “You paid $3000 dollars for this?” Their mouths dropped to the floor.
They felt sorry for me, but that didn’t stop them from throwing my head shot to the bottom of the pile, or more likely into the garbage can. I never heard back from them but on a positive note, I did meet my husband (to be) a few months later and he kept my mind and heart occupied with other things. The years flew by along with my youth. My husband became top priority and then a new dream took over….my babies. I wanted them badly and this was a dream more attainable. I have my husband to thank for making that one come true.
My next shot at fame came recently. After self publishing my first novel, Missing Sosa, I was so excited to see my work in print that I was highly motivated to get it out there and expose it to the world. However, when you self publish it is almost an underground writers market where your book can go unseen, unheard of and simply put; impossible to sell. You have to do all your own marketing which means you have to invest your own time and money. Two things I don’t really have. Instead, I made cheap attempts to promote like face booking, I single handedly put flyer's all over neighboring towns, I had my library carry a copy and I pretty much begged little book shops to carry it on assignment (where they would pay me when and if it sold). But then one day I had what I thought was a big idea. There is a book store near my town called Book Ends. Celebrities who have written books come from far and wide to have their book signing in this little, but extremely popular store. Everyone from Yogi Berra to Bill Clinton, Jose Conseco, Mary Higgins Clark, Bill Cosby, Goldie Haw, Even my guilty shore pleasure, Mike the Situation has made an appearance. Absolutely everyone goes there for their signings. I didn’t even realize this until one day my husband and I were shopping in town when I decided to go in and pitch them my little novel. They hesitantly agreed to put it on a back shelf somewhere, hidden away where no one can see it, let alone purchase it. But I was happy with my days worth of self promoting, when I noticed a sign on the door that said Jamie Lee Curtis was coming that week to sign her new children’s book. Ding! A little light went off in my head. I’ve always admired Jamie since Trading Places, who hasn’t? And since she writes children’s books she must be a nice, sympathetic, understanding person, right? Well, maybe this type of person would take pity on a new writer who is also a mother, such as herself. My plan was to go to her signing and give her a copy of my novel with a little personal note for her inside.
I was excited with my plan. My letter to her simply stated that I am a big fan and I would be honored if she would accept a copy of my book, signed just for her. I also included that the book was self published and that I was pretty much a struggling, aspiring author looking for any means of promotion. It didn’t quit sound as pathetic as that but I’m sure she got the idea that I had a motive.
Jamie Lee Curtis has as much spunk in person as she does on the big screen. You can also tell how she is madly in love with children. My son got to sit right upfront while she read her book, My Mommy Hung the Moon and he even laughed at all the funny parts, which she liked because I noticed she gave him a nice wink. When it was time to get my copy signed, I clammed up a little like I always do in front of any celebrity. I asked her to make the book out to Anaya (me) and she looked down at my son and factitiously said, “Well, you don’t look like an Anaya.” Stupidly I responded, “No, Mommy’s going to hog this book.” I don’t think she liked that too much and come to think of it, she’s right. I should have had the book made out for Max. I realize now that I actually turned this unique event into a selfish experience for myself rather than for my son. I just figured he was four and wouldn’t remember Jamie but on second thought, I could have explained years later that Jamie signed his name to her book, but instead I was selfish being in self promoting mode.
To my relief, she did actually except my book. She had her security guard throw it in her bag. It’s been about a year and I never heard back from her but she could have just thought of me as the “selfish mother” who stole my son’s book and shamelessly tried to push my book on her. But no! That’s not me. I’m just a full time mom trying to get a little part time success.
Anyway, speaking of shameless…After the book signing, my husband pointed out Jamie’s agent to me on the street outside of the book store. Jake was outside when he overheard Jamie’s agent talking business on her cell phone. My husband has dog ears and can hear four conversations all at once. I am in such awe of that little talent since I can barley hear someone right next to me. As soon as my son and I left the store my nosey husband summoned me to run over and approach this big important person. I was already running on some adrenaline from Jamie expecting my book that I figured hey why not? The only problem was that she was still on her cell and I knew interrupting might not be a good thing in this case. I stood very closely by her side and patiently waited while giving her my most desperate puppy dog look. However, she was on the move now and I had to follow behind while trying not to embarrassingly jog after her in my heels. Eventually she noticed I was trailing and since my husband and two babies were also following my lead, she probably knew I was harmless. Amazingly, she got off the phone to see what all my pestering was about. I gave her my sad little speech, that went something like this, “Hi, I just self published this young adult novel. I just gave a copy to Jamie Lee and I am just looking for some exposure.” I handed her one of my Missing Sosa flyer's and tried to get my motive out as fast as possible, not to take up any more of her precious time. But in my anxiousness I forgot to ask what her name was and now I will never know who I gave my flyer to officially. I just hope that maybe that moment will pay off in the future. You never know, right?!
I myself have had my very own book signing. I set it up with a little book shop around the corner from my house. The reason I picked this particular location was because it used to be my wedding dress store that closed down and was taken over by the Raider Book Shop. The store caught my eye the same way my wedding dress did in the window. I instantly feel in love at first sight with my wedding dress. It was the first dress I tried on, it fit like a glove, it was unique with small colored, beaded flowers throughout and it just felt perfect. When I saw the book store it felt the same way to me as my wedding dress did and I said to myself, “that is where I will have my first book signing.” And so I did. But I am sad to say there was no turn out for my signing. I did my best to prepare for the event by advertising online and putting up more flyer's but only a couple of supportive neighbors and of course my boys came along. I only sold about 7 copies but at least the weather was as perfect as the weather on my wedding day. We all got to sit outside and just enjoy the gorgeous day while doing absolutely nothing. I chalked it up to a day of experience.
At least I can say I’ve tried and I am still trying. If I never become a published author than at least I have some memoirs that maybe my boys will have some interest in reading one day. And at least I know in my heart that I did make some legitimate shots at fame.