September 9th, 2013 / 1:42 am
Behind the Scenes & Craft Notes & Random


Last week was particularly weird.  It was–is?–New York Fashion Week. This always means there is a lot that is happening in which I am not particularly interested in partaking but will end up doing anyway, because I am interested in the act of mistake-making. Every year and season I have a different approach to the fashion weeks, but usually it is a combination of excitement and confusion for what might possibly happen. [1]

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This year the surprise came to me as I was sitting on Houston eating the Whole Foods pizza slice my friend Brenna bought me. I looked like I smelled and  was wearing my favorite hat, which no longer exists because of this beautiful dog I was dogsitting.  Three short figures approached me and started talking to me about doing a runway show, and I definitely did not say yes and I was trying to be fully uninterested but maybe I wasn’t convincing. Initially, I did a stellar job at ignoring the email I received following the proposition, a message that emphasized how much they would love for me to stop by for the casting. [2] But then, two days later I got additional strongly-worded texts and voicemail messages. “We really want you!” read an SMS my ego believed, and there I was in an ugly white room with fluorescent lighting in Midtown.

Unfortunately, I had shaved and they liked me much more with facial hair and stinky, so in the end this was a waste of energy. But I was also rolling and attended the casting underwearless, swiftly adhering to commands such as: ‘Take your pants off, please.’

Perhaps I self-sabotaged, but at least I didn’t have to wear cowboy gear in public.

Picture 2


To keep the weirdness in perspective, I went to the midnight showing of the epic film The Room (2003) that occurs every first Saturday of the month at the Sunshine cinema, also on Houston. It was the first time I watched the film, but I had previously heard about it. Media attention has been given to the prowess of the film as a phenomenon depicting how even when artistic intentions go completely wrong in yielding an intended result, the audience may still find meaning in the art product. [3] Admittedly, the artlessness of the film is painful, but it is also breathtakingly amazing. It is not surprising the dedicated fans are able to enjoy the awfulness of the narrative tropes, the goofy acting and the painful attempts at visual allegories and implied metaphors.

Wiseau, the screenwriter, film director, film producer, and actor of The Room was at Sunshine, as he often makes appearances during such culty events. Talking to the fans of the film and responding to their questions before the film’s projection I was uncomfortable with the energy between Wiseau and the audience. Getting too fixated on the meta-irony of Wiseau’s existence, the audience seemed a tad lost in the joke. The President / RA of the Rutgers dorm seated behind me asked Wiseau how they could get him to their institution.

“Send email. I will send fees. I do this thing, I have done Harvard, Oxford.” 

He closed with a genuine sounding “I love you all!” This sort of statement often makes me feel very uncomfortable, because to me it sounds closer to: “I love you, because you give me value, you buy my product. I love you, because YOU LOVE ME.”

As I was leaving, I thought about the interview of the main female character I had read on The Awl, and I felt a little bad for her. To the 20 year-old who appeared in this project, the film was not a labor-intensive hobby


[1] For example, in the Opening Ceremony show of Sunday night, the attendants not only witnessed a runway full of dreamcars, but additionally breathed the same air as Rihanna.

[2] My thought process in regards to such “opportunities” is always very hesitant, because these mini-jobs often end up being a lot of work that is rarely fairly rewarded. The thing about “jobs” like that is that they take a lot of emotional energy for granted. In the end, if you are the casting agent’s second choice for an Amazon commercial or a Turkish credit card commercial you wasted time and did not make anything at all from the silly process.

As a person who writes, I am proactively disinterested in adding such labor-intensive hobbies. Additionally, the thought of walking a runway in front of people meticulously examining my appearance seems petrifying to me. I do not see how such emotional distress could possibly equal solely $200, or $1,000 in inventory I do not want.

(Being an extra for TV-shows on the other hand is totally worth it. There is so much decent food and you actually are paid to appear unimportant: a dreamy position.)

[3] This three year old Tom Bissell article does a thorough job at presenting the case of The Room as a cultish viewing victory. There are rigorous routines to be followed: spoons flying to the screen, quotes loudly screamed to the celluloid, baseballs thrown around in the theatre.

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