Letters from My Readers

Dear Michelle,

What type of survival jobs do you recommend for actors?

For the past few years, I’ve had a steady gig on a TV show, but I worry what to do when the show gets cancelled.

I had a bartender job in a swanky restaurant; but since I worked evenings I could never do any theater or audition for student films.  Then I got a receptionist job in an office so I could be free nights; but then I couldn’t go to commercial or film auditions during the day.

One of my friends said to be a web-master; but geez, that field is littered with every broke musician in town; besides, I don’t have the money to go to school to learn all that boring crap.

Hugh “Barn” Laurie





Dear Reader,

Before I was so fabulously famous as a Reel Grok journalist; sought-after as a screenwriter; in demand as an A+ list actor; able to command ridiculously high fees as a creative producer; and just simply mobbed at my live performances, I, too, had Lousy Survival Gigs for Actors.

One of my earlier attempts was as a stripper in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.  This disgusting section of town is where all the sailors who are in port go to be totally robbed of both money and humanity.  And where women with no self-esteem go to be totally robbed of human decency, respect, or even good pay.

You would think this to be a perfect job for an actress, because we just looooove people to look at us.  But, you would be wrong.  It is MODELS who just want people to look at their fetishized bodies; actresses want to bring an audience on an emotional journey.  And…actresses usually have such fragile stability, such thin skins, such emotional instability, so being treated like a hamburger is not good for us.

They told me I had to take off my glasses to dance (glasses are not sexy.) Then, I couldn't see anything, so I just closed my eyes and danced.  It was actually my mistaken notion at the time that when they hired me to be a “dancer,” that they wanted me to dance.  Apparently (I didn't understand at the time because I was only 16) you are supposed to leer at customers while you're dancing, not close your eyes.  And you are supposed not really to dance, but more to bump & grind.

Then, if you do the proper stylized motions without any semblance of reality or human connection, the customers give you huge tips. Which you need, because you have to pay for your own jukebox at approximately $10 per dance set and 10 sets per night.  And you're making $7.00/hour before tips.

And then you're supposed to ask the customer to buy champagne for you; you're supposed to tell them, "Because it makes me feel all sexy," and the bartender brings you soda and charges for champagne.

Lovely business, really, taking advantage of loneliness and the need for contact with other members of one's species.

Nevertheless, it was a great disappointment to be fired, after I'd spent so much time forging the ID which showed me to be 21 so I could get the job in the first place.  One would think with such great forging skills I could have gotten a better job.

Oops, our time is almost up.

Oh, yes, you asked about a job for you; you were not asking for my history, were you?  And you are a guy, aren't you?  So this advice doesn't really apply to you at all, does it?  And this column didn't answer your question, not even one single bit, did it?

Sorry about that.

Well, our time is up.  You can give $150 to the receptionist on your way out.




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