When You Have 5 Places to Be, All At The Same Time…

Posted: December 4, 2012 in Acting, Life, Mom
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Even as I write these recollections, I have to admit to being a little nervous. I have told close friends about some of this before, but rarely have I been so open with so many. Having had it pounded into my head never to say anything, yet saying things in a “public” forum can make someone a little tweaky. I remember the first time I told someone about anything like this – I was probably 17 or 18. I swore them to secrecy, convinced they were going to die. When they didn’t, it was a bit of a revelation for me. Of course, by that time I had begun to see gaps in my Mom’s logic and that was my way of “testing” it further. By that point, we had a near total breakdown in our relationship.

I remember sitting in the office of what would become my new acting agent, JMB. The carpet was green, the color of money. Beautiful (and probably one of a kind) paintings adorned the walls of the spacious waiting area. There were modern art sculptures in the lobby that looked like giant mushrooms. We were here, looking to sign with them. You see, as I became more and more successful, my Mom’s focus began to shift towards “The Business” – running the day to day operations of my career. She had determined that Shirley wasn’t the best place for us. While Shirley doted on me, Mom decided that other people in the office were plotting against us. She insisted they refused to send me out on calls while Shirley was away. Shirley insisted that wasn’t the case. Mom disagreed, and broke our contract. I have serious doubts as to whether or not Mom’s perceptions about Shirley were factual – in fact, people “working against us” would become something of a pattern throughout my career. An alphabet soup of talent agencies pursued me – wanting me to sign an exclusive contract. We had decided on one of the biggest, and most reputable at the time, JMB. We didn’t decide this based solely on facts, feelings about the people we’d be working with, or anything. Mom decided that one of the owners was a “Russ” , and being offered a contract by them was tantamount to them offering to “make me”. I didn’t argue, because I was getting to do what I loved to do – I let the adults hash it all out, and I trusted Mom to know what she was doing.

When the dust was settled on the legal wrangling, we paid Shirley a percentage of whatever I made – on top of whatever commission JMB took. I still made money, somehow, but I think it was a bad deal – especially considering the whole premise was based on a likely delusion.

Anyway, sometimes there would be 5 auditions a day – all in different places. Some were last minute, and some were at the same time as other auditions. We had to prioritize, decide which commercial would pay the best if I booked it. I learned to eat fast food, and eat it fast. Sometimes I’d be running so hard and fast I’d only get one meal a day. We’d rush into McDonald’s, wolf it down, and go. I ate fries by the fistfull, and burgers in huge, gulping bites. The whole time, Mom was panicked we wouldn’t get to the audition – I had to hurry, we wouldn’t make it in time. In all the rush, I had to worry about not getting food on my clothes. Somehow, I managed to eat lightning fast and not get messy. It was a real high pressure situation. I don’t blame Mom for this…she was already sort of excitable, considering her mental health situation and this just amplified some of those traits. And it’s tough when you have two casting calls that both start at 2, and are across town from each other in NYC traffic.

 

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