Monday, September 27, 2010



Tell me you love me,” she says before gently grabbing my face and placing tiny little kisses on my lips. Delicate soft flits against mine. It’s 6:30 pm and I’m at a reading with the infamous Chloe St. Claire. Model turned actress turned model slash singer turned artist slash humanitarian actress. It’s the TV thing that wasn’t supposed to stay a thing for very long. My three and a half pages have become six pages and soon there will be none. We’re standing side by side with the writers, the actors, the directors, the producers and anyone else who isn’t necessary for participation at a reading. But this is different. Andrew fill-in-the-blank writer extraordinaire has called for a walkthrough reading.

She tells me “I hate how I have to be sad to play a happy character. It’s like lying and telling the truth at the same time. It’s not me.”  

Boy likes girl. Girl likes boy. While I’m here reading the pages out loud I wonder what happened to the old celluloid fairytales where love would conquer all in the end. Not like this. A girl is kissing another girl on page 15 while this man watches and then they’re all talking about it over dinner on page 16. At this moment I’m glad it’s Chloe’s turn at reading and not mine, but I keep following along with it anyway. Chloe is in true form the embodiment of the character I’m reading for but she’s already playing this other part like she’s me. I can’t help thinking that she’s better than me. Even when I lean in and kiss her while Andrew whatever-his-name-is, the writer says it’s not working I wonder if it’s my fault.

How can I be less myself and more like you?” This is what Chloe says over the table when I first met her six months ago.  No one could mistake Chloe for me or vice versa. She’s tall naturally blond sun-kissed and I am an average height brunette without much sun. But she sat in front of me with the very serious question and I just smiled without knowing what to say. It was the first time anyone had ever wanted to be me. Even I didn’t want to be me.

Mirroring. This is what actors do when they meet someone normal.” Alton explains this to me over lunch one day in the Sunset eight months ago. I’ve just told her I’m moving to LA to be an actress. She’s telling me this warning while wearing my Prada mules and my Chanel jacket with the same color hair and style that I have. Who are you if you aren’t your best friend?  I think that this is what people do when they meet someone new. Steal all the parts they love and copy them until you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. It’s a bit like leaching if you ask me. But no one asks me. You take enough parts and what’s left over isn’t worth anything. If you suck the one you truly love dry in a matter of months then where will you find it next?

Mid lip-lock with Chloe trying to get the scene right for the third time, I’m thinking about how this moment mirrors me and her. She’s no longer blond. Still sun-kissed. My paleness is warmer now and we both have the same length and color of hair. Am I the copy or is she? Her hands move in and she presses hard. More yells this writer. She grabs my waist and holds even longer. I wonder what’s she’s thinking. This has nothing to do with the lines.

So at this moment while Chloe is groping my breasts and Andrew what’s-his-name is screaming for more intensity I realize that she’s really me and I’m pretending to be someone else now. And it doesn’t matter when I wipe her saliva away from my face and he yells, “That’s it! Can you do that with Inza tomorrow?” Because she’s done it. Become me. A better version. And I’ve become someone else. Me with my three pages left, a mere walk on cameo in this TV thing can’t compare to the other person I’ve fallen into. That’s the real version of me, instead of her. That’s mirroring 101.

 “Do you want to come over?” Chloe asks me in the bathroom while doing a line of blow off the counter. I take a tissue and wipe my lips clean before reapplying more color. I’m watching me watch her in the mirror. Every detail down to her eyebrow shape is a slightly accentuated version of mine. There’s nothing original about her. She’s taken my nervous twitch and smile. Pursing her lips that same way I do. Lifting her eyes with the same arch and curve. These little unnoticed pieces are now her. She is me. Standing next to me in the mirror she says she’s impressed with my ability to jump into character after pushing her breasts up in the vintage Gucci halter. I think she’s lying because I need to prepare to be someone else now. But I say ‘why not’ instead of excusing myself.

I think back to the last few days before I left the city and always come back to that moment I met Alton for lunch in the Sunset. She wasn’t saying or acting any differently than she normally would have. In fact I think it was the one time she was most herself. Alton and I were inseparable aside from living arrangements several months earlier. She wasn’t me and I wasn’t her, but we were more the same than different and it could have gone on like that forever. Being me was who she was. I can’t remember the last time I’ve talked with Alton since that day. I can only keep remembering how much she looked like me and talked like me in all the other memories. Stealing my words and my look with the guise of friendship. There’s no real connection without the mirror to remind that you aren’t really you.

It’s a quarter to seven when I wake up at Chloe’s. She already up in mid tree pose and not breathing or concentrating. She’s too busy staring at her picture on the back cover of Entertainment Weekly that’s lying spread out on the foot of the bed. I smile when she breaks position and asks about the freckles on her face being noticeable in the picture. I shake my head while telling her they’re unnoticeable and then try to tell her something about the black and white contrast in the photograph when she picks up the phone and starts dialing. It’s then I decide I need a shower because she’s too busy trying to be her being a better me to listen to me.

Somewhere between the infomercial versions of Price is Right and Let’s Make Deal she’s talking with her assistant about a script adaptation for Dostoevsky that her agent sent over. She keeps sending it back and tells her assistant to call her agent about this problem. I smile and the assistant hits speed dial over the speaker. The conversation isn’t great. Chloe drops three “I fucking don’t want to’s” before ending the call. She throws the oversized script at her assistant before falling into a tantrum. The rant begins and something about her face reveals that she does have freckles. The phone rings again and her agent is on speaker once again. Her assistant hands me a cup of coffee and I start to read the Harpers Bazaar that’s on the table.

It’s fifteen after nine when my phone rings and I decide to leave the scene of dysfunction. Tucking out front door with my heels in hand and phone cradled beneath my neck I whisper into the line.
“Hel-lo.” I serenade into the line while quickly stepping into my shoes.
“Jemma darling, how are things?”
“Wayne Baby! Great.” I forget my place and scream. “Look, the place you set me up with has been fabulous. Thank you again…”
“Look Honey, I need a favor. And I couldn’t just have anyone call you for this?”
“Anything Wayne, you’ve been a…”
“Alex is coming into town today. He’ll be at the airport in four hours. Can you get him?”
“Of course.  I have a fitting in an hour and a half, but I should be able to swing it.”
“Thank you doll. I’m glad you’re enjoying things. Sorry to run, but I have to...”
“Oh. Well of course.”
“Bye Jemma.”
“Kisses. Wayne.”

Looking in the mirror is never enough.” This is the advice I get from a woman I might call mentor if she wasn’t chain smoking and eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger.  She’s telling me that the “mirror doesn’t tell the truth” while wearing something nameless you might find in a vintage shop in the Haight, although she insists it came from Versace circa 1982. And she keeps telling the wardrobe mistress she’s a 7 not an 11. I want to laugh every time I see her. But she’s right about one thing. The mirror is not your friend.

I’m thinking about the enemies not in the mirror when the wardrobe mistress is fighting with an assistant over another actress’s size. As the wardrobe mistress verbally assaults her entourage the young woman looks uptight and it’s hard to believe she was in that BIG movie last year or on the cover of Glamour this month. I’ve never seen a person look so scared of the truth as the wardrobe mistress pulls a curtain to shut out the enemies not in the mirror.

On my end of the room the pants feel far too tight already. But I’m at a fitting to make them tighter because the physical being of the character hasn’t truly been captured by my performance. As they are fitting me for the next smaller size of pants because this is what “the character” would wear, I realize that it’s how you see things.

Perspective is a way of life, maybe the only way? We all live inside this tiny little image of ourselves. It’s not how they see us at all. That doesn’t matter. It’s only how you see yourself that matters most in the world. “But how can you ever really know who you are if the mirror lies?” it’s what I’m thinking when I must have said it out loud.

“Take a picture.” This tiny little girl with the schedule for shooting whispers and hands me the latest script revision. It’s now three less pages most of which will land me on the cutting room floor. She smiles and leans in again. “Cameras don’t lie. And it’s not the mirror that lies… it’s your mind.”

On my last day in the city I took a bus and then a walk down by the Presidio and ended up by Crissy Fields. There’s this place in the city that I like to go to. It’s past the Marina before you get to Crissy Fields close to the Wave Organ. It’s a corner of earth where nothing looks like anything else. You look at three sides of water and see something different. Along the way there are no real residences unless you live on a sailboat or a yacht. I pass this part of the Marina where Wayne has a friend with a boat. A “somebody” who owned and lived on this boat. Passing. Remembering that it was close to where I went to this party once.

These parties always happened there but this one wasn’t great, filled with people that didn’t like each other like Reggie and Ashton and important people who mattered like Wayne. Adrian was there with me. Things were ok then before we left for there and... Most of the parties weren’t great then but you don’t know that until you’ve left them. That was when the tourists would show up. When things stopped being great the scene tourists always managed to appear. The teenage girls and boy with their Ugg boots, Converse and laced up jeans matched with some dying pieces of Heatherette matched with a laced up tank from Diesel under a vintage bomber jacket produced by Levi Strauss. Elitist brats wasting time and drugs on this party in the Marina for kicks wearing their faux scene clothes trying to imitate the scenesters who were already bored and leaving.

One time at these parties a body was found dead after the tourists arrived and left. The newspaper reports were of multiple rapes and assaults among the children before this body was found drawn and quartered hanging over the side of a boat in a net. A boat that someone who was somebody owned in the Marina. It was the rawest form of survival of the fittest. Baby scenes picking away the competition that looks exactly the same. The whole mess and scandal forced the owner of the boat to sell. There’s a rumor that you can hear the cries of the rape victims and see the pieces of dead flesh floating around in the waters of the Marina. Even in the chill of the breeze the view is spectacular. When I walk alone to the edge of the water I’m almost expecting to hear the screaming voices echoing through the organ.

Everything the same in nature is different without trying. Reflections in the mirror are nothing like the things in nature. Animals don’t have mirrors to see themselves. How can they know what they look like? By looking at each other. It’s in the similarities of each other that animals know what they are. There is no need for begging and borrowing.

You have to go. I can’t.”
“But you’re….”
“Shh. I can’t be happy for you and let go.”
“Don’t do this. I don’t want to let go.”
“Then don’t. You know I love you.”
“No, I don’t... Tell me you love me.”
Thirty seconds of jaw dropping silence follows the scene. It’s like real-life imitating art, imitating real-life. Inza’s back on set for the shooting and the intensity between her and Chloe is unmistakable as they struggle to break away from the kiss. It’s hard to believe that there’s no love between them. I can see why Chloe misses her. Maybe that’s why I went home with her. There’s just that piece missing in her that wants to be seen. To be loved. The mirror lies. The camera doesn’t.

I’m on a boat to Staten Island with this friend of Andy’s who I’ve only met five hours ago. Being on boats reminds me of Jemma and being in the Marina where those kids killed those other kids playing scene. I need a hit just thinking about killing and Jemma and looking for something in everything. I’ve been everywhere and no where trying to find something in everything. Alex hasn’t been at Andy’s since 4am and doesn’t answer his phone. Someone at Andy’s says he went to LA already. We weren’t leaving until tomorrow night. And I’m still trying to remember what happened when I was losing something somewhere this morning while taking a hit outside of Tiffany’s and what you were doing when the car disappeared. I keep thinking I need some candy to handle this memory that isn’t complete… while I’m ringing up Alex again the view is amazing. I tell this gorgeous woman about the view before she says that I’ll catch up to Alex in a little bit and not to take the candy. After she touches my hair she reminds me that she’s already booked my flight to LA to follow him and we’re just killing time. I like killing time with her it lets me like her smile. We’re talking about things that matter, when she giggles about the whores and Van Gogh instead of blushing like other girls might I know there’s more to this one than meets the eye.

Mirrors. How much of you, is really you? How much of everyone else, is really you? How original is original? Are we all beggars, borrowers, and thieves? We are all very different and the same. Try being yourself instead of what you think the mirror sees. Take a picture for perspective. Point being… step outside of yourself and you will see something different. Beautiful. Something worth seeing. See yourself how someone else sees you. From the ??? (perspectives)… excited about and will share more soon. enjoy. kisses. m. 

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