Shave & a Haircut…
You are watching a 1940s murder mystery scene and the camera pans to a close-up of an old black + white photo (a major clue). The 8×10 framed still, features two famous screen writers drinking at ‘Musso and Franks’ near Hollywood and Vine (think Dashiell Hammett – MALTESE FALCON). What … the picture is not real? The prop & publicity still departments are going to digitally age new shots instead of paying copyright fees for old archive material. Guess who was hired to be dressed in an original 70 year old rented Western Costume Zoot Suit as a writer? Hint … me. When I arrive Head of Wardrobe Guy casually mentions “Since no one had them in the 40s we’re shaving your goatee off and giving you a Clark Gable pencil-thin mustache” (I’m sure l will look just like him) “And leave your glasses off.”
The suit, shirt, satin tie and shoes look great and fit like a glove (coin that phrase). This is because I tell the truth and give my correct sizes in advance … except my neck. I like a little extra collar room so ties don’t choke me. The wool in the suit has a rich heavy texture I have never felt or worn. I feel like Nathan Detroit in GUYS AND DOLLS. A Wardrobe Gal notices my collar is a tiny bit loose and correctly accuses me “You’re a 15″ not a 15 1/2”. Guilty your honor. Luckily she laughs when I say “Sue me. Sue me. What can you do me?”
Walking into Make-Up there is a shirtless Muscle Man being transformed into the autopsy mortuary murder victim. He has been split down the sternum from chest to belly and badly sewn up to look like a Barbarian Frankenstein. Fake dried bloody wounds galore and he is as pale as a ghost (literally I tell you true). He can’t wait for them to finish so he can have a quick smoke before he will lie motionless for the rest of the day on a polished cold steel slab (and hold your breathe & don’t move a muscle on “ACTION” Bub). It takes them 30 minutes to razor shape my mustache. Adios goatee and I see my chin for the first time in 15 years. Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin. My boyfriend calls requesting a text photo pronto in full costume if you please. He loves this new look. But since all my current head-shots are already goateed to the max no can keepie chinny. Sorry Charlie.
Meanwhile several people on-set remark I look like John Waters (Gable’s gone and Garson’s got him). All of the Background Performers today are playing famous flashback 40’s characters. A middle aged Extra is a look-a-like for writer Anita Loos and she is determined not to break character all day. For a still photograph? After I hear her bark “Don’t crack wise Buster” 5 times before coffee, I am one of many who slide away from her quickly. She is pegged early as the crazy gal and spends all day proving us right. With Wardrobe silk gowning & dripping her in mink she looks amazing. They flip curl-ironed her hair too. Black Lace Hat & ruby lipstick. If she had just kept her mouth shut, “crazy” would not have been bandied about behind her back. It did not help that she talked to herself all day and she kept ordering imaginary drinks at the fake Algonquin Hotel set. Wake up honey this ain’t method acting and Marlon Brando skipped this call today.
At the end of the day I asked the 2nd AD for an “Allowance Haircut Bump’ for shaving my goatee off without prior notice. She said “yes” and correctly guessed it has been a while since I got my last Haircut bump. Repeat after me…shave and a haircut. Bump bump.
P.S. Big news. Next week I am shooting a speaking role on a Soap Opera. I’m playing an Airport Ticket Agent asked to identify a Fugitive. Spoiler alert…I’m no hero. Stay tuned.