Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Worst Jobs I Never Had in Hollywood

By Barry Dutter

Over the past few months, I have written about some of the crappy jobs I’ve had in Hollywood. But wait till you hear about the jobs I didn’t take!
Shortly after I arrived in L.A. and started sending my pictures out, I received a call from an agent. He said he might have a part for me in a commercial. But he had a couple of questions for me first.
“Have you ever taken any sort of martial arts classes?” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
“Oh. Because we’re looking for somebody who is able to maintain a crouching position for a long period of time, and usually people who study martial arts have really good discipline when it comes to that sort of thing.”
“What sort of job is this“ I asked.
“Well, in the commercial, you’d be wearing a frog costume. You’d be crouching on a lily pad all day.”
“Oh. Um…” I honestly didn’t know how to reply to that. This didn’t sound like much of an acting job.
“Well, we’ve got a few other people we’re looking at for this one, so we’ll be in touch.”
I hung up the phone, not sure of what to think. I never did hear back from the guy.
As bizarre as that job would have been, I almost had an even weirder one recently. I saw an ad on Craigs List asking for hairy-chested men for an internet video spoof.
Being naturally hairy is one of my best talents, so of course I replied to the ad. Then I got a call from the casting director. He said he thought I would be perfect for the job.
“What’s this video all about?” I asked.
“We need a guy who’s willing to let us shave his chest-hair into the shape of a bra.”
Okay, now, that sounded pretty funny to me, but it seemed like one of those things that would be funnier to watch on the Internet than it would be to star in.
The guy offered a decent sum of money, and I gave it some thought. My first thought was, “I don’t want to do this video and then be walking around for the next few weeks with a chest-hair bra until the rest of it grows back.”
Then it occurred to me that there was nothing stopping me from shaving off the rest of my “chest-hair bra” as soon as I got home. I’ve shaved off my body hair before, and it only takes a few weeks to grow back.
I figured I could just go in to whichever studio they were shooting in, do the video, be out of there in an hour, and go straight home and shave off the rest. The money was decent for an hour’s work, so I tried convincing myself it wouldn’t be so bad. (All the while, I was conveniently ignoring the fact that this video would be probably be shown on the Internet from now until infinity.)
The next day, the casting agent called again. By this time, he was referring to the bit as a “chest-hair bikini top” instead of calling it a bra. I guess he figured that made it sound more masculine or something.
Bikini top, bra, what’s the difference? No matter what you call it, you still look like an idiot if you do it!
Then he dropped a bombshell on me. “We’ll be filming on Sunset Blvd.” he said.
Wait a minute. Did he say “on Sunset Blvd?!” As in, out in public? Not in a studio?
I had pictured a small studio shoot, with a tiny crew and maybe an audience of 25 or so. But to do it outside, in public, on one of the busiest streets in L.A.? That was a whole different kind of shoot.
This was a seeming more and more like a JACKASS stunt and less and less like an acting job.
I was trying to find a way to back out gracefully when I got an email later that day from the casting director saying the producers had decided to go with a different actor. They felt I wasn’t hairy enough for the part.
Funny thing was, I actually agreed with them!
If you’re going to do a “chest-hair bikini top” bit, you want to have an actor who is covered in hair from head to toe. I’m about as hairy as the average Italian-American man, but I’m not quite in Robin Williams territory.
This was the first time I ever lost a part for not being hairy enough, and I must say, it was quite a relief.
I’ve had some pretty humiliating jobs over the course of my acting career, but I can’t imagine one that would have been more embarrassing than that one.
Of course, that’s the great thing about Hollywood -- your next “worst job ever” is just a phone call away!

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