Starting a viable online community is a quite a feat, and I’m often asked how I happened to create JokersUpdates.com (a far better question would involve how a model/actress morphed into an author/computer geek.) My pat response to the former: “I didn’t. I bought it off a guy who’d had enough.” Every now and then someone will ask, “Do you have a degree in computers or something?”
Indeed, but “or something” is also valid. That other question is far more interesting, and therein hangs a tale; but even a series of five massive tomes would barely cover it. I know this, because I was actually hired to do it... but I’m ahead of myself. Way, way ahead.
“A picture is worth a thousand badly-written phrases laden with adverbs.” (Close enough.) Therefore, I present you with my infamous virtual photo album: virtually non-existent, but I guarantee you’ll get the picture.
A friend’s mom, Louisa, made that suggestion over lunch one day. Then she did the unthinkable: she found a play seeking actors, and dared me to go read for a part. Most who know me are aware of what happens when I’m challenged with a dare.
At the audition of Noel Coward’s “There Goes the Bride,” I read for the smallest possible role, the maid. I’d never set so much a toe on a stage before, so I was delighted to receive a call back from the director. Not so much when I learned that the maid was a no-go, but somehow I'd been cast as Elvira! Elvira the bride--Elvira the lead.
There are two shots for your pleasure. In the first, I’m standing in a large theater wearing a pale grey body suit whilst my hands and feet are being sprayed the same color. The rest of the costume consists of some flimsy stuff that wafts around me even when I'm motionless.
The second photo is intriguing. The theater is dark. One can see the outlines of heads packed tightly together. On stage, a small spot is on piano music, barely illuminating a plain woman in her thirties seated there. A man, hands behind his back, is taking a long stride downstage. And that’s it: no Elvira.
Thank God that opening scene calls for Elvira to be off-stage, because I was scared shitless. Literally. The first words I ever spoke as an actress were emoted from a bathroom, door open, where I was seated on the throne.
Louisa again, of course. When I demurred, she explained that the American Academy of Dramatic Arts was second only to its British counterpart, the Royal Academy. She insisted that I go and audition for the venerable old school after preparing the prerequisite two monologues (drama, comedy) and a song. Of course I then had to relocate to Manhattan, bringing us to a doozy of a picture.
A girl from class, Donna, had invited me downtown to see her new apartment. We had a meal and went out to the balcony to admire the view. Warning: Donna was the very definition of a ditzy blonde. That night she had a small bottle of what she claimed was a new, legal drug. She promised that the balcony would be the perfect location to try it, as the wind would ensure we didn’t inhale too much.
“Not me,” I stated. No weird drugs. That was the late 70’s, so of course I smoked pot. But sniff some odd little bottle with the ominous title “Locker Room?” No way. Not in this lifetime. Out of the question.
This photo is, at first glance, rather boring. It’s solid black, unbroken by any light whatsoever. If it had audio, you’d hear my panicked wail, “Dial 911! That crap gave me a stroke and I’m BLIND!” followed by Donna’s howl of laughter as she sputtered “You doofus! The lights just went out in the city.”
And they had -- the great blackout of "77.
This is the only genuine photograph in the bunch, and it’s a pity I’ve managed to lose it in one move or another because it is fabulous. Picture me in the late 70s with blonde hair falling to a tiny waist, large green eyes, long, long legs. Gorgeous. (Hey, I can’t help that gravity has changed since then.) In a very elegant floor-length black evening gown complete with dangling diamond earrings, I stood leaning against one of those old oil lamps next to a Metro entrance in Paris. The photographer was muttering instructions and lavish praise in a throaty, sexy tone: “Left leg up. Non! Higher. Higher again. Oui! Oui, perfect, so beautiful. Now to throw the head back and stare with intensity as if man above you.”
I narrowed my eyes slightly as the turkey I was dating flitted through my mind. I grew furious, then threw all that hair back and glared at the sky. Click!
“Almost - now,...” Click! Click. Click. Click...
The shot is superb, if I do say so myself. The French have an apt phrase for it: “Haute Couture.” The Americans have even a better one “Sprained neck.”
If the first half of my album struck you as odd, the last half may strike you dumb. One of them, a real one, would be marked “NSFW” if posted on Jokers. So would another, come to think of it. I’m a bad girl, no question about that. The last photo is priceless. Hint: it’s actually animated, with a funky-looking female Joker head morphing into... now that would be telling.
Yet another cliche suits, here: “Good things come to those who wait.” (So do hemorrhoids, in my most humble opinion.) For once, this equation works in my favor as I’m simply waiting for my muse. You? Not so much -- the Preparation H is on Aisle 7 last I heard!
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