Lucy Lawless

The illustrious career of world famous screen legend Trip i-95-Service-Road-North

I had to turn down an audition for a tv commercial last week.

Work got in the way.

Thus ended my dream of stardom.

It started years ago, back before my parents turned their black thumbs to puttering around the garden, when my family lived in a rented, second-floor apartment overlooking the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Ah, the Cross Bronx Expressway, a…

…Excuse me…Ah, the Cross Bronx Expressway, a resected portion of I-95, America’s most beautiful viscus, stretching from Miami to Maine’s border with Canada. If you live on the east coast, and you’re eating an apple right now, chances are pretty good that your apple passed my house back in 1975.

Oh, we had a lovely time. The highway was our lullaby. Before we went to sleep, we’d say goodnight to our parents. “What?” they’d say. And every morning we would take our breakfast on the front porch, en plein air. We’d eat our Little Debbie Swiss Rolls and laugh and let the sounds of hydraulic brakes ease us into the busy day ahead.

I know. Little Debbies for breakfast, the most important meal of the day. It’s unconscionable. But we weren’t allowed to have brownies. Those were special brownies. Mother was very adamant on such matters. Milk Bones were for our dog, Trip; special brownies were for mother. She would eat two or three for breakfast and then she’d stare at the television for the rest of the day. Then Trip would turn on the television. Usually, it was showing Godzilla. I’m pretty sure there was a channel that only showed Godzilla movies. If not for mother’s special brownies, I never would have known about it. This distant, glamorous world of Godzilla. I wanted everything Godzilla had. I wanted a career, a family when I grew up, just like Godzilla. One Halloween our teacher brought in some face paint. “If you’re good,” she said, “I’ll paint your face so you can look like your favorite Halloween character.” She dressed some people as Michael Jackson. Others were Dracula (which was the same as Michael Jackson, except the kids who dressed up as Michael Jackson had glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth.) Then it was my turn. I asked to be Godzilla. But the teacher wasn’t familiar with Godzilla’s oeuvre. I tried to explain. The process flustered poor teacher. She hadn’t a clue about Godzilla. She ran out of patience and smeared a glob of green paint on my face and told me I looked like an idiot. But when I looked in the mirror later at home I could see she wasn’t too far off. I did look like an idiot. God, I miss high school. But the teacher didn’t discourage me. I continued my Godzilla studies. Everything I know about the world I owed to the franchise.

I was given a solid foundation in science.

But I could only realize my dream of stardom after moving to New Zealand. Only New Zealand could recognize my natural talents. I appeared in an episode of the long-running soap opera, Shortland Street, as “Man completely obscured behind intentionally placed segment of gypsum board.” Then, of course, there was my one-episode stint as “Retail-level Value-added Grain Merchant” in the critically acclaimed series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. And then there was…No, that’s it.

Yeah, so. On second thought, it hasn’t been an illustrious career—or any kind of career. It was more like a colossally ignominious waste of everyone’s time, which happens to be the heading under which you will find my resume on IMDB.

Which brings me back to last week’s tv commercial audition. I had pretty much told my agency when I started my new job that I couldn’t go on any more cattle calls. And for the most part, they haven’t called me, just like when I was going on auditions. Then last week, the agency insisted that I go out for this television commercial.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” the agent said.

“I have a full-time job now.”

“Come on, buddy,” the agent said. By adopting a familiar tone, she was winning my trust. “You’re perfect for this role.”

“So they asked specifically for a paunchy, thin-haired, ineffectual-looking boob with a distorted face?”

“Yes. You’re the first one that came to mind, buddy.”

I didn’t say anything, but I have to admit, I like being called buddy. One of my hind legs began to twitch.

“They really want you,” the agent said. “Because of all the work you’ve done in the industry.”

This is where the agent lost me. I had to wonder if she knew who was on the phone with her. What work “in the industry” had I done, besides irritate Lucy Lawless with my incoherent blathering about how bad the bagels were at the craft services table? And hadn’t this agent read over my CV?

But then, by “industry” maybe she meant the “adult entertainment sector.” Could this agent have known about the work I’d done under the pseudonym I took using the porn-star naming convention (ie, your first name is the name of your first pet, and your last name is the name of the street you lived on when you were five years old.)

“My work in the industry?” I said. “You mean they’ve seen the movies of Trip I-95-Service-Road-North?”

How to Get Through the Coming Winter

New Zealand’s winter is over. Those seven months really flew by, thanks to activities (and activity-related activities), which made the time go faster.

Northern hemisphereans should start thinking of fun things to do when their winter arrives. New Zealanders plan winter activities early in autumn, a habit northern peoples are wise to adopt.

To begin planning, take time over the next few weeks to answer these key questions:

  • What are my fun-time winter activities?
  • How many hours should I set aside for each fun-time winter activity?
  • Will I need to prioritize or will there be ample time and opportunity to do all my winter activities before spring begins?

If you have trouble answering these questions at first, don’t worry. Just imagine yourself doing all your favorite warm weather activities, except now you’re wearing a coat. Many examples may come to mind, so unfortunately, you probably will have to prioritize.

Here’s how. Write the numbers 1 through 5 down the left side of a blank piece of paper. Then quickly jot down a winter activity next to each number as the activities come to mind. Chances are you’ll end up with your top five favorite fun-time winter activities, from most favorite to least, because the more favored the activity the sooner you’ll have jotted it down.

A Top-Five Fun-Time Winter-Activities List may look something like this:

  1. Sorting organic waste from recyclables and placing them in their proper containers.
  2. Decoupage.
  3. Visiting a theme park/attending a sports event/grabbing a coffee with friends.
  4. Volunteering.
  5. Signing up with an agency to be cast as an extra in a television show, movie or commercial.

Remember, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Most likely, your top five will be different from other people’s, so there’s no reason to worry about “getting it right” or “keeping up with the Joneses.” The important thing is to have fun in the order in which you wrote down your fun-time winter activities, crossing each out one-at-a-time as soon as you’ve accomplished it. If you do this, your winter will go by in a speedy and orderly fashion.

Don’t believe me? Read my testimonial.

Signing up with an Extra Agency or How I Got to Meet Lucy Lawless: a Testimonial

My agency landed me three TV commercial auditions. I’ll never forget the first one because it was for a bread company and I really love bread.

I wanted the lead role of baker. The script called for the baker to “savor” a freshly-baked loaf. I would’ve been perfect. People always say I look like I’m savoring something. I have that look. I wouldn’t’ve even had to act. The agency, however, preferred I go out for the supporting Letter Carrier role, and I prepared for my audition with gusto.

My research consisted of opening, reading and discarding my neighbors’ mail indefinitely. I was already starting to think like a mailman. I studied mailman culture, eating only what mailmen eat, drinking only what mailmen drink and firing my automatic weapon at unsuspecting colleagues only at such times as mailmen do such things.

I did not get the part despite my preparations. It went instead to a German actor who arrived for his audition already wearing a mailman’s uniform. Typical German.

I didn’t have luck with my other two auditions, either and I was about ready to give up my extra career when the agency called one last time. They had a role for me, this time as a “featured extra” in an episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

I was cast as “Grain Merchant” and little did I know that my tiny part would grow to be a pivotal character upon which so many various plots turned, a role that was originally written for Russell Crowe––who happened to be busy that day––and that was slotted to be the title character of a spin-off series and feature-length movie (inspiring an inevitable porno version, The Groin Merchant, also written with Russell Crowe in mind.)

Little did the director know any of this either, so not everything went according to plan.

The day started ok. I arrived at the studio at 6:30 in the morning, quickly changed into costume and ate breakfast. As a featured extra, I was very good to the little people, the Non-Specificed Extras. I made tons of friends. I greeted younger extras with a comradely, “I’m wearing underwear older than you,” and I conveyed a certain bonhomie to the older female extras with shouts of, “Ready for your close-up, Gloria Swanson?” (Cougars. You gotta love ‘em.)

Then there was a snafu, and I ended up on set in the wrong location. I stood behind a table with two baskets filled with barley and blue peas. Behind me were a number of ewers on a plank dangling by two ropes from an upper room, the idea being that from my grains I brewed a mildly intoxicating beverage in an upper-room distillery I probably rented from a wealthier landlord. I was no longer a Grain Merchant but a Retail-Level Value Added Reseller of Grains and Grain-Products.

As things turned out, my “wrong” location was right where characters played by Lucy Lawless and Jaime Murray were supposed to turn a corner, so the director had no choice but to include me in at least some of the shots, a chance I  wouldn’t have gotten had I been standing where I was supposed to stand.

Lucy Lawless and Jaime Murray spent a lot of time there, too, obviously. They were very nice and chatted with the extras but after a take, an assistant director told me to “try not to look so terrified” as they passed. Later, Lucy Lawless heard my accent and asked where I was from and what I was doing there and instead of saying “selling grain,” like Jacquie later suggested I should have said, I gave the boring truth and, feeling ashamed of my boring answer, I tried to recover by pretending I had an OCD issue with the grain.

It was pretty lame and Lucy Lawless quickly lost interest and later I enjoyed a delicious roast vegetable casserole for lunch.