We're the ones your mother warned your about...No, seriously. We are.

I am not an actress. I am not a model. I have no grand delusions of fame & fortune. My first piece for this site was going to be about driving cross-country. But when you've decided to start a site called nodignity.com and you get a call from HBO to be a whore - the math does itself.

HBO called. They want me to be a whore.
Like many people that come to LA, I was in need of money as I looked for a job. Since the temp agencies didn't seem to be working out at the moment, someone suggested I look into doing work as an extra. I figured what the hell, I'd give it a shot. I showed up at Central Casting on Visiting Day for non-union actors, gave them twenty bucks for my headshot, and figured I'd hear if they needed me. Considering that they do these days twice a week, and there were about seventy people there that day, I walked away pretty much assuming I wouldn't hear back from them, since I'm not exactly LA glam and lacking in any ethnic uniqeness that would make me stand out from the crowd.

Four weeks went by, and I'd pretty much forgotten about Central Casting. Then one day, as I was walking from one job interview to another, my cell phone rang. Not recognizing the number, I answered it, thinking it might be, you know, an actual job.

Claris : Hello?
Central Casting Chick : Is this *insert real name here*?
Claris : Yes, can I help you?
CCC : This is Central Casting. We were wondering if you'd be free to work on *dates here*. We're casting extras for a series for HBO.
Claris : Yeah, sure, I'm free then. Why not?
CCC : Well let me tell you what the part is first.
Claris : Why?
CCC : Because you'd be a whore.

That's right, boys and girls. Hollywood called and wanted me to be a whore in the Wild West. Seems there's a production in the works called Deadwood that's looking to staff its bar with whores, and someone saw my picture & thought I'd be perfect for it. Thanks guys!

I think.

The only catch is that I can't shave for a week beforehand, because they're going for full historical accuracy. Blech but okay. It's October, so we're moving to the land of pants & sweaters anyway, right? I ended the call, then walked to the elevator. As the doors closed, I sat there & realized what I'd just agreed to do.

And laughed.

Mom : so, how was your day?
Claris : Weird as hell. You?
Mom : It couldn't have been that bad. I'll bet mine was weirder.
Claris : HBO called. They want me to be a whore. There's no nudity, but I can't shave for three days before. Historical accuracy & all.
Mom : What? *insert Claris' full name here*?!
I never did get to hear why her day was weird.

I am not a pretty whore.
Went to Western Costume today - appointment for the costume fitting. Found out a little more about the production - it's a new series for HBO (Which is why you couldn't find it on imdb, DarkLady) - this is the pilot. It would seem I'm supposed to be a "Gem girl" ...and they weren't happy girls. We're not talking satin-wearin' can-can girls, here, kids. These were the unfortunates that spent time doped on opium & laudanum.

Break it down? I'm the 18th century version of a crack ho. Gonna make my mom proud. And just think - you know it'll be re-run at least five or thirty billion times. And, KitCat has informed me there shall be a special showing in Feb., as well as the joy of screencaps...You ever just have that moment where you look around & wonder if it's not time for new friends?

Meanwhile - Western Costume...it's the size of a airplane hanger. Walk in, register & stuff - was asked by what I'm guessing was a Production Assistant the following, while making sure I also knew that I would still be welcome to the set, and would be compensated monetarily for either. Am I willing to :
A) allow myself to be groped in the scene, ie., sit on someone's lap, or walk by & have my ass grabbedŠ
B) go for full frontal nudity from the waist up.

Okay then! Welcome to Hollywood. I said "maybe" to A, depending on what precisely they wanted, & a definitive "no" to B, thanks.

Waited about five minutes, meet the hair & makeup people. By the way - I look at the Central Casting timecard & see that I'll be making $13.50 for the time it takes to put on costumes. Pity I can't do this stuff more often. The hair person informs me that my hair is perfect for the part - turns out not having had my hair cut since last October actually can pay off - who knew? I'm supposed to put it in curls for the day of the shoot - which means I'll have to dig out my curling iron and buy a pack of bobby pins (pincurls, you see. That's what they want. *shrug*) I'm instructed "don't touch anything at all" with regards my hair. Really shouldn't be a problem...Which leads me to wonder how often they have people sign up & then between the fitting & the shoot suddenly decide, "Hey, I'm gonna be in a Western - I'll dye my hair blue!" I'm guessing it happens, since they felt the need to warn me against it.

Makeup man peers at my face, and suddenly I feel like Janeane Garofalo in that scene in The Truth About Cats & Dogs where she's at the department store & the mirror makes her pores look really big....but he straightens back & says, "Lovely. Won't have to do a thing with her. Just show up with a clean face that morning, sweetheart. I might actually have to make you down more so you look a little drugged up..."
I think that last one was a compliment. Still not sure. Anyway, let's move on.

So I make my way back to the actual costume portion...oh my. You should have seen some of the stuff that was in there. I had to refrain from going, "Wait! Can I just look at this for a bit?" every time we passed a new section. *grin*

Got measured by the costumer & her assistant, & the results made me feel like going to the gym for about a month. Let me be clear - the running to the gym impluse wasn't the costumer - she was very nice & at one point informed me that I was stunning. Of course, she told me this as she was pulling the strings on my corset, so that may have been a factor in her complimenting me at that particular moment.

It was rather like playing dress up, if, you know, as children we played dress up with holey army green stockings, loose blouses that had no support, and undergarments made with whalebones. I'm in an interesting array of patterns, that's for sure. Blessedly, it was decided that I should bring my strapless bra & I should be able to get away with wearing that under the costume. Thank the Powers, 'cause wow. Twelve hours in no bra doing a full day of work? Not in my world. At least, not comfortably in my world. They're ripping the lace off of the blouse that I'm to wear, which is probably good, since lace has never been my friend. I was supposed to wear these pointed granny boots, but after ten minutes in them, went, "There is no way I'll last eight or twelve hours on my feet. Do we have anything else?" Forget the foot binding the Chinese did - those suckers gave me a whole new respect for the women back then. Go Dr. Quinn. Instead, due to the fact that I'm a whopping size 10, & they didn't have any other canoes in my size, I'm wearing these men's ankle shoe thingys that are just slightly large & make me feel a bit like a duck.

But hey. As of now, I'm whore W-15. The costumer hands over a card with my number, intones slightly dire warnings about losing said card until the day of the shoot, and sends me back along my way.

It's all very cloak and dagger, you see.
Friday before the shoot. I still have no clue where I'm going. Drop a dime to Central Casting, and find out that such things are done with voice mail boxes. It's rather smart, actually. Instead of having to call a boatload people & give them directions, Central Casting simply records a voice mail message, then calls the people & tells them to dial up after seven (in my case) and punch in a code, then they can do everyone's directions in one shot. Not bad.

However, due to the fact that I was very, very busy that night going to dinner with my friends and bitching about the fact that our lives suck ass, I didn't remember to actually call until Saturday morning.

'Twould seem you can be cut from the list of extras. The voice mail announces that some people have been switched to a different time and day, and immediately invoked my "Oh, shit!" reaction. I didn't feel like rearranging my schedule temping again to do this, you see. Thankfully, my name is called for Monday, & I'm not cut. I don't know precisely what that signifies - does this mean I got through the private interviewing the judges did earlier in the week and will be able to compete in the swimsuit competition? We'll find out.

The message also reminds us all once again about the fact that we're not allowed to shave. Have I mentioned that we're not allowed to shave? 'cause they've only told me ten jillion times. Trust me guys - I remembered. Haven't used a razor since last Tuesday, and now not only feel like Bart Simpson's aunts, but am also kind of itchy. Bugger.

Claris: I'm gonna be the 19th century version of a crack ho. I am not a pretty whore.
Sam: What would that be, an opium whore? Crack is recent.
Should I get all supportive in response to that last bit? "I'm sure you'll be the prettiest whore on the set" just doesn't have a certain ring to it.
You see? You see? You need to start doing drugs right now. For your craft.

Into the Fray...